Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sometimes you think "oh yes!" .

Sometimes something catches your eye and you think "oh yes!" . We all know those occasions that appear out of the blue and brighten up your day...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson .

This novel is about the mystery of Harriet Vanger, who went missing over 30 years ago. There are 2 main characters - Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist and Lisbeth Salander, a hacker who is the girl with the dragon tattoo.

This book is a best seller but I disagree with the hype around the story and the author. I agree with Henry Goldblatt of Entertainment Weekly when he writes...

Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s crime trilogy about crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his hacker lover/pal Lisbeth, in my view, is poorly written, ridiculously plotted, and (yawn!) incredibly tedious.

...The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an easy read but I am glad that there are better books out there. Having read the book I do not want to see the film. This book would not encourage new readers to take up reading as a hobby. This novel has 533 pages that were published in 2005. This book was translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland in 2008 and is Issue One in the Millennium trilogy. This story fails as a mystery and it can't be described as a thriller. It is like a soap opera.

This tale washes over you as the many mundane details fill the text. Who would want to solve the mystery of the missing Harriet Vanger, as the prospect of resolving her disappearance is not very good. The plot lacks realism as what single girl could afford to only work part time and be so choosy and unreliable? This novel has a very shallow plot with no likeable characters. There is nothing to recommend about this book. Sadly there is no humour and there is nothing special about this story. There were no real surprises in this story and I took nothing away from this book. Reading this novel is like walking in on a television programme that is already running and you are glad that you have not watched it from the start.

This book is slow and rumbles along until page 196 when some vanilla sex begins but this does not liven up this sorry tale. When you get to page 454 you discover Lisbeth's problem . There is no thrill about the ending to this long tale. This book is poor and I vote it only 2 stars on Goodreads as I rate it a MISS.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Does my bum look big in this?

All over the world women ask "does my bum look big in this?". Second to that they fear that they have tucked their knickers into their dress or skirt when leaving the toilet. Third must surely be demonstrated by this woman on Yonge Street...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Turn the heating down and use your brown fat instead.

Ever wonder about the size of people coming out of their homes? Ever wonder about women always moaning about feeling cold, demanding that the heating is switched on or turned up? Ever wonder why fat people moan about the cold but slimmer people just get on with life? Well, research has been done and having the heating on high could also pile extra pounds on your weight. Experts say many of us now keep our homes so cosy that we no longer have to burn as many calories to naturally warm up our bodies. The research, in the journal Obesity Reviews, said there was a direct link between ‘reduced exposure to seasonal cold and increases in obesity in the UK and U.S.’.

If the body is already warm it does not need to convert a ‘brown’ fat known as adipose ­tissue into energy to generate heat, the study said. Brown fat was previously thought to be present only in infants, playing a vital role in keeping them warm, but recent research found it also in adults. This latest study suggested that prolonged exposure to comfortable warm temperatures may permanently reduce the body’s ability to burn this brown fat. Lead author Fiona Johnson said: ‘Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life. This reduces the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress – meaning we’re burning less energy.'

...So, there you have it. Turn the heating down woman and use your brown fat, I can see you have plenty already! We as a species have evolved over the years and have this ability to burn fat to keep us warm in winter, so use it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Moron of the week.

And my vote for moron of the week is very clearly Waw Tricks for he is the very silly man featured in the video below. This was a very stupid video to make and this incident could so easily have been a fatality. The video would have shown all that was needed at the inquest though. I trust that impressionable young people will not try to copy this lunacy or try to go one better. I do not think that this video is a fake, judge for yourself...

Train Ran over a man

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to dress the right way.

It amazes me the number of men you see wandering around with ill fitting trousers. You know the sort, crotch hanging down towards their knees and their knickers showing at the back. We know they have bought a size too big and need to employ a belt. But no, they think they are cool and insist on wandering around like a plonker. What can you say to these men? I was at a loss until I read this gem on Facebook by a friend called Colin...

The next time you see people with their pants riding low, congratulate them on their weight loss!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Catching a cold.

It came as little surprise to me to read that...

When you catch the bus you are also at risk of catching a nasty bug that has come along for the ride.
Researchers found patients who had recently travelled by public transport were six times more likely to visit the doctor with an acute respiratory infection.
However, this did not hold true for those who used buses or trams every day - perhaps because they had built up immunity over time.

...I have worked on buses and coaches since 1978 and I do not suffer from colds. It has always amazed my wife Gail that I never seem to catch a cold but she picks up a cold at the drop of a hat. We believe this is because I have developed an immunity because of my work on buses and coaches. This is backed up by transport managers who warn new drivers coming into the industry, that they will suffer many colds within their first 3 months of employment but they will become immune after that. This is after all how the human immune system should work. So, forget all those magic potions, just have a sniff of the passenger next to you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The advantage of being a Womble

I annoy Gail by not throwing things away. Things that are replaced are sometimes not put out with the rubbish but are put away into the garage by Gail's Womble of a husband. If I think that something may have further use, then being a bit of a Womble I hide the item in the garage, which unlike the kitchen, is my domain.

So, we were both excited yesterday with the purchase of this new computer with a fast AMD Athlon II 170u processor . I moved our computer desk and unplugged everything from our old HP Pavilion. I plugged everything into place and switched the power back on. First was the monitor and on comes the light. Second was the computer system box and on comes the light. Third was the broadband router but no lights came on! No power or WAN or DSL lights came on our broadband router. Damn I thought, it was working fine with the HP Pavilion, all I have done was switched it off and on. That is very bad luck. I remembered when the old broadband router failed in February. That router had lights that appeared to show it was working but it was faulty inside and had to be replaced. This new router did not even have lights working on it to claim it was working, as though there may not be any power getting into it. Then I remembered that I had not thrown away the old broadband router but had "wombled" it away into my garage.

I got the old router out of the garage and tried the old transformer with our new router. Hey presto! I was awarded with a power on light and then a boot up sequence of WAN and DSL lights. We were back online with no purchase of a new router needed at PC World or similar. What a relief and a reward for being a Womble! I have never had a transformer fail before and thankfully both transformers and plugs looked the same.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jumping forward 2 generations.

Gail and I invested in a new computer today. Our HP Pavilion was showing it's age and we knew that one day it may expire. Rather than risk being off the internet when the old computer failed and having to find a good buy straight away, we decided to buy early! We were shopping in ASDA the other day and noticed they had for sale an eMachines EL1352 for just £247.00 - this was too good to miss so we snapped one up today! We now have a computer with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. This is 4 times more memory and disc space compared to our old computer. Also the operating system has moved on 2 generations from Windows XP to Windows 7 Home Premium.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sex and games for the Aged .

Saga, the holiday company stands for Social Amenities in the Golden Age but lots of people refer to this company as Sex and Games for the Aged or Send All Grannies Away. Saga do cruises...

...and this week, the aptly named cruise ship, the Spirit of Adventure, owned by a Saga sister company and with 350 elderly cruisers aboard, was steaming across the Indian Ocean when it was approached by pirates. The passengers’ black-tie dinner was interrupted as they were moved to safety in the middle of the ship.
Mrs Susie Browne, 73, a grandmother of five from Enford, Wiltshire, was among this capable crowd. She said: “Everyone was so calm. We all just sat there on the floor in full evening dress as the ship sped up to get away from the pirates. No one made a fuss.”
Mrs Browne tells us that they were even entertained in their captivity. She said: “The pianist played a bit, but thankfully not for too long.”
After about an hour, the pirates were left behind, normal dinner service was resumed and the ship continued its journey from Madagascar to Zanzibar at a more stately pace.

The pirates' speedboat came within "several hundred metres" of the the Spirit of Adventure, said the cruise ship's spokesman Paul Green. "A set of well-rehearsed procedures were put in place, including informing the relevant naval authorities and implementing security measures on board."

Guests were in the lounge for 45 minutes before the all-clear was given once the pirate ship was 10 nautical miles away. "It was within close range for 10 minutes and came within several hundred metres of the Spirit of Adventure," said Green. "There was no attempt to board and there was no firing at the ship."

...So, that beats a coach trip to Blackpool! These passengers take it in their stride and it is all a part of their holiday experience. You can still have adventures even past retirement age.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre .

Meet Tommy Brue, the owner of a posh private British bank in Hamburg. He is contacted by Annabel Richter, a lawyer assisting an illegal immigrant called Issa Karpov. Many authorities want to arrest Issa Karpov and deport him back to Russia or Turkey, where he is the title of this book "A Most Wanted Man". The story unfolds where Tommy Brue, Annabel Richter and Gunther Bachmann of the German intelligence service, work together in the hope that Issa Karpov becomes a free man and achieves his dream of studying to become a doctor.

This novel has 416 pages and was written in 2008 and published in paperback in 2009. It is a realistic tale about the international war on terror. John le Carre's writing style is very polished and uses a very large vocabulary. This story develops at a good pace with a well developed plot. You may think that Islam and the war on terror are difficult subjects to write a novel about but John le Carre has done such good research that the realities of this story read like a dream. John writes with such a neutral balance about the war on terror that it makes this story so easy for the reader to follow.

The reader gets and understands the whole picture of everyone just trying to do their little bit and the right thing. The banker, the lawyer, the Turkish Muslim family and the intelligence community are all trying to do their best for Issa Karpov. John explains how counter terrorism agencies do their work and describes how good interview techniques can bring good results. As the story develops you begin to wonder about Issa Karpov and you start to have your own doubts about him. A few things do not add up and you wonder how much of the truth he is telling everyone, is he genuine or a fraud, is he a criminal or a terrorist?

Throughout this novel there are plenty of moral and political issues that the reader is forced to think about and form their own opinion. All the characters in this story are well developed and by the end of this book you reach a very sad ending and feel that all the characters have been betrayed. You are left with a sense of loss as you close this book and think back about it all. You then wonder who is winning the war on terror and how the work of many professionals can go to waste due to their country's special relationship with America.

I think that A Most Wanted Man is a good book and I shall be voting it 4 stars on goodreads . I rather enjoyed watching the More 4 documentary broadcast on Friday 10th December 2010, when Jon Snow interviewed John le Carre at his home in Cornwall. I saw this television programme before I started reading this book and John's voice does come out in the book as the character Gunther Bachmann of the German intelligence service. Because of John's old real life day-job as an intelligence officer with MI5 and MI6, you can be sure that his novels reflect real life rather than fantasy. John le Carre is an author of the old school, writing his novels in longhand using a pen and paper. He then edits his draft and tears the paper before using staples to piece his sections together. I was very surprised to watch this old school style writing technique on television but his finished books demonstrate just what a first class author John le Carre actually is.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No trousers on the Tube .

On Sunday 9th January 2011 there was a flash mob event that was organised on Facebook which took place between 15.00 and 18.00 in London. It was called the No Trousers Underground/Tube Ride (No Pants Subway Ride) 2011: London and was part of a global campaign by the group Improv Everywhere , which causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.

It was something different and the numbers taking part have grown over the years. As our lives are more and more governed by petty restrictions that are put upon us, it is good that these events take place. Enjoy the video below as other passengers wonder just what is going on. The flash mob were instructed not to appear to know anyone and to keep a straight face. It is good that people can still stand up and be counted in a city where the police have been very rough with protesters recently.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The broken shelf .

On the 16th December 2010 I wrote on this blog about the end of Book Army , the online book reading club. Because Book Army finished I looked at the options available and decided to open an account with shelfari . I transferred my rating stars for 65 books across to the shelfari website. On the 28th December 2010 I posted on this blog my review of last man standing by David Baldacci and then went onto shelfari to update my profile with a review and star rating of this book. I tried to login in and was awarded with a webpage that stated ...

Shelfari is off reading a short novel but will be back soon!

...Well, day after day I tried to log onto the shelfari website but each day I got the same message...

Shelfari is off reading a short novel but will be back soon!

...So, I have waited long enough now to post my review of last man standing by David Baldacci. I have given up on shelfari and as far as I am concerned shelfari is simply a broken shelf that will never be fixed and should be sent to the recycling centre. I will not attempt to log onto shelfari ever again. So now I have gone for my second choice of the 16th December 2010 and have opened an account with goodreads , which I believe is the biggest online book reading club in the world.

Forget the star rating for the 65 books that I copied from Book Army to shelfari, that is gone for good. The Book Army website is now closed and that information is inaccessible. I can't log onto the shelfari website so that information is also inaccessible. I can't be bothered to trawl through this blog to transfer my book star ratings onto goodreads. I have decided to make a fresh start and my profile on goodreads shows that I have read only one book called last man standing by David Baldacci. Future book reviews and star ratings from this blog will be posted on goodreads. I still enjoy being a member of an online book reading club because it is good to read what other readers think about books that they have bought and read themselves. It means that as a reader you can cast your net far wider than the best sellers list and enjoy books by less popular authors who may have very limited advertising budgets.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Are white girls 'easy meat'?

A controversial report in the Guardian today asks if white girls are 'easy meat'? Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme yesterday, Jack Straw, the former home secretary said: "These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they're fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically," he said.

"So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care ... who they think are easy meat.

"And because they're vulnerable they ply them with gifts, they give them drugs, and then of course they're trapped."

...Well, I do not think that white girls are 'easy meat'. The fact that these girls have white skin and their abusers are British Pakistani men, does not come into these sexual crimes. What happens is that if you give a vulnerable street girl of any skin colour gifts or drugs, they are very likely to return sexual favours. This is human nature and has nothing to do with skin colour or ethnic background. It is the same the whole world over, ply a girl with gifts and their knickers will come down. White girls are not 'easy meat' and are no different to girls with darker skin.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Come Fly With Me on BBC One television.

I am very much enjoying a new comedy series broadcast on BBC One television called Come Fly With Me. This programme is set in a busy airport and on the departing and arriving flights, featuring characters played by Matt Lucas and David Walliams. Come Fly With Me is a mock documentary in the style of Airport and Airline. You have a narrator, Lindsay Duncan that adds further reality to this spoof of day-job documentaries. It was not recorded in a television studio but 2 real life working airports. What the viewer gets is a comedy programme that is like a regular documentary but where the participants tell you what they are actually thinking, rather than their company charm school lip service to customers. Many viewers are aware of the many problems in the transport industry and this programme highlights these issues and pokes great fun at them. Last night a passenger at check-in claimed that her child was a lot younger than he clearly was - passengers often try it on to get a reduced fare or free travel for their child. This is fraud and the passenger always claims that their child is big for their age.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams came to fame with their hit comedy programme called Little Britain. Over time Little Britain became a little tired and it lost it's edge. The comedy of Little Britain was often puerile, lacking in depth and rather repetitive. Come Fly With Me is fresh and the characters are so very different to those of Little Britain.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams play a large range of characters which demonstrates the diversity of the workforce in the travel industry. What they play very well is women but not in a drag artist way. Matt Lucas and David Walliams look and act like regular women everywhere, whether they are working or travelling as a passenger. They do not glam themselves up or overstate their clothing. They act and appear as regular women, it is only because you know it is Matt Lucas and David Walliams acting, otherwise you would take them as women without a doubt and not men in a dress. These guys know how to cross dress and look the part without raising doubts.

I vote Come Fly With Me a hit and look forward to future episodes of this excellent comedy television programme.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Put the right money in the slot, you muppet!

Laughing out loud at the South Wales Echo yesterday...

CARDIFF Bus pocketed almost £28,000 in excess payments in just one year from passengers without the correct change to pay their fare, we can reveal today. Frustrated travellers criticised the policy which means drivers are unable to give change to passengers who do not have the right amount of cash. Bus users overspent by £27,756.91 in the financial year 2009-10 – an excess of more than £500 a week.

Passenger Craig Pearce, of Llandaff North, said he could not understand why drivers were unable to give change to customers, and said he thought the £76-a-day surplus should go to charity. He said: “If you use the Stagecoach buses, they give you change – if one company does it, why can’t another?”

...Well then, Craig Pearce - you are a stupid muppet! Just look at the fares charged on Cardiff Bus. You have only 2 choices - a single journey within Cardiff for £1.50 or an all day unlimited travel ticket within Cardiff, Penarth, Llandough, Dinas Powys, Sully & Wenvoe for £3.00 - and you cannot be bothered to tender the exact fare! Any overpayment by lazy passengers like yourself goes into the company account. This very small extra revenue is used to support the business of running a frequent and reliable bus service for everyone. The Fast Fare, exact fare only system has been in Cardiff long before I moved here in 1991.

Exact fare bus services are also employed in other large cities around the UK. The reason for Exact Fare bus services is simple - it takes time for passengers to board a bus and tender their fare. If this involves the issuing of change to the lazy and inconsiderate passenger, the boarding time is increased. When you have a high frequency city bus service, you need so many buses to do the route to that frequency. To maintain that same frequency and give change to the lazy and inconsiderate passengers, you will have to operate an additional bus into the workings. This additional bus would incur the full operating costs of an extra bus but the revenue gained into the company would be the same. Therefore the revenue per vehicle would be lower on change giving routes and would affect the company profit and loss over the year. When revenues are tight, this shortfall in revenue per vehicle could enforce a fare increase for all passengers across the city. Then you would have a fare increase for everyone because of a few lazy and inconsiderate passengers who cannot be bothered to tender the exact fare and demand change. Over time the other passengers would discover that the driver can issue change and human nature being what it is, more and more passengers would not have the exact fare. Slowly boarding times would increase and extra buses would have to be operated to maintain the frequency of the services with an inevitable fare increase for all.

I have driven buses in Bristol where change is given. When I moved to Cardiff in 1991 I got a job driving buses for Cardiff Bus. I have 6 years experience of driving buses in Cardiff and the Fast Fare exact fare only system really works. It is really efficient and boarding times are fast, making the whole bus service very efficient. So Craig Pearce, of Llandaff North, if you want to waste everyone's time and money then catch the Stagecoach and leave the Cardiff Bus to considerate passengers who can be bothered to get their act together with their £1.50 or £3.00 as they walk to their local bus stop.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Silent Witness on BBC One television.

I really enjoyed watching the second part of Silent Witness on BBC One television last night. As a lover of crime thriller novels, this programme is my cup of tea. It was right for the BBC to broadcast this programme of consecutive nights. I thought this story called A Guilty Mind was well written with a very good plot. There was a lovely humour running between all the characters, which was very witty and dry. I loved the part of Naomi Silverlake, which was played by Sinead Keenan ....

... she did some lovely acting playing a very scary woman.

I look forward to the next episode of this excellent series of Silent Witness. Hopefully Sinead Keenan gets some more work on the strength of her performance as Naomi Silverlake. Well done Sinead and Timothy Prager for writing an intelligent and entertaining television programme.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Someone Else Will Put It Back

We all change our minds sometimes. Especially in supermarkets. There’s so many bright lights, colourful signs, and no one in their right mind is going to turn down the opportunity of 10, 000 extra reward points for a triple pack of dragon fruits they’re never going to eat. But do you ever wonder what makes someone dump a bag of popcorn in with the diced beef? Or swap a six pack of Fanta for some bleach? Honestly, just think of the poor staff who have to clean up the mess. Or maybe even the poor guy who buys a pack of frozen prawns that was left on the hot chicken counter for 48 hours before someone put them back.

This is one of my pet hates whilst shopping in supermarkets. The laziness of some people is simply beyond me. You do not go into a take-away food shop, order a meal which is then served to you and then decide you want something else. The same applies to pubs and garages, you do not order lager when you drink beer and you do not put petrol in your fuel tank if your vehicle is a diesel. Now there is a blog called Someone Else Will Put It Back for these incidents to be recorded.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Don't want to get up in the morning? Try the iSleep .

If the thought of getting up in the dark to go to work annoys you, why not set an alarm call on a flash Apple iPhone 4. Alarm calls failed to go off due to a problem with the popular gadget's clock. The glitch was experienced by people with the latest handset, the iPhone 4, as well as those who have downloaded the most up-to-date software.
As a result, users were left unable to clamber out of bed on New Year's Day – and not just because of the effects of the night before. Alarms also failed to go off on Sunday, frustrating people planning shopping trips and visits to family. Apple has been forced to issue a statement admitting the problem on their handsets, and promising it will be resolved soon.

My mate Matthew has one of these flashy iPhones and he regularly starts work at around 04.40 - I hope his alarm did not fail resulting in many angry passengers awaiting his rather late arrival into Cardiff Central Station. Matthew pokes fun at my rather old model Nokia 3410 which is my mobile telephone of choice. This trusty mobile telephone does all I want it to do, I can talk, I can send text messages and it has an alarm clock that wakes me up in Bradford. Matthew laughed his socks off when he caught sight of my mobile technology and said I should invest in a modern smartphone! No thank you Matthew. Of course I am a very rich man and I possess another mobile telephone. This is a later model Nokia, that I use purely as an alarm clock at home here in Cardiff. It is bigger than my Nokia 3410, which is small and handy for my platform coat pocket. This larger high technology mobile telephone was introduced in 2002 and I am a proud owner of this tried and tested Nokia 3510 . Do I want to upgrade to an iSleep? No thank you, I will keep what I have got and report to my depot on time!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

They always gave me the willies!

I have never liked hot air balloons and having lived in Bristol for 20 years, I have seen many, many hot air balloons flying around. There is a big hot air balloon factory in Bristol called Cameron Balloons and you often see hot air balloons lifting off from nearby Ashton Park. Even as a schoolboy the thought of these hot air balloons always gave me the willies. A balloon under flames whilst you stood in a basket was sheer madness to me! The balloon could go up and down but there was always the risk of fire whilst you stood in a flimsy basket. Your destination was governed by the direction of the wind. Would you get me up in a hot air balloon? No way sunshine, even if it was a free ride! The whole idea seemed like madness to me and was only an accident waiting to happen.

So, you look at the picture above and can see why I would never go in a hot air balloon. A man and a woman were killed when a hot-air balloon crashed at a bowls club in Somerset on Saturday. The balloon came down on the green at Prattens Bowls Club, in the village of Midsomer Norton. Emergency services were alerted to the accident at 9.47am. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the balloon burst into flames as it hit the ground with a loud bang. Barry Dando, the chairman of Prattens Bowls Club, said: "A hot-air balloon has come down and I understand from eyewitnesses it came down at some speed onto the bowling green. Witnesses said flames were seen coming from the basket, which came down on land at Prattens Bowls Club. Robert Biggs, who was walking with friends, said: "It first sounded like a plane in trouble. It was more of a whistling sound. We looked up, there was a break in the cloud and this hot air balloon came hurtling down." He said the basket was not intact when it came down and the canopy was trailing up. "It came straight down about 400 yards from us. It came down and there it was slap bang in the middle of the bowling green," Mr Biggs said.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]