Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gaviscon to the rescue .

Driving back from London on Thursday night I experienced some stomach pain, low down on the left. It was quite a localised pain as though somebody had kicked me there. I also felt very thirsty. Oh dear, I thought, maybe I have picked up a nasty little bug. When I got back to the farm I drank a litre of water before going home. At home I had a mug of coffee and a mug of squash before going to bed. Trouble was that I did not need another pee before going to bed so I knew something was not quite right.

I was awoken a few times in the night with stomach pain in the same localised area. I got up, drank some squash and still no need to pee.

The next morning I felt rough but walked Barney as usual and came home for breakfast. I could not face my cooked breakfast and Barney had most of it. Then I took out of the kitchen cupboard a box of Peppermint Gaviscon and ate 4 tablets before leaving for work. I was fit for work but felt really rough as though I had been in a nasty fight. Still, I thought, take things steady and in stages. The first driving block was 2 hours followed by a break. In my break I had a big pooh and my urine was back to normal, so I knew that things would start to get better. To be sure I took another 2 Gaviscon tablets as my next driving block would be 4 hours 15 minutes.

Half way to London I wanted to be sure of things, so I did a "Matthew" and pulled into Membury services for a 10 minute comfort stop. Plenty of wee and a good fart so I knew I was on the mend. The pain was still there but it was reducing a little.

Before leaving London I took another 2 Gaviscon tablets because I was still feeling rough and it is a long day's work. I drove back to Cardiff without an unscheduled comfort stop. When I got home I had the usual coffee and biscuits before going to bed. I wondered how I would feel today and when the stomach pain would stop.

I woke up this morning like a new man! I had a good night's sleep and did not stir once. The stomach pain had gone overnight and it was like it had never happened. So the nasty little bug I had picked up had been sent packing with the help of Gaviscon. I could feel it working as soon as I took the tablets. It is a dampening feeling in your stomach as the chemicals calm activity down.

I am not in the business of product placement but these Peppermint Gaviscon tablets give so much relief  that I feel they are worth a blog post. So, if you have a bad stomach ache, try those Peppermint Gaviscon tablets because they worked for me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Corporate language.

The use of corporate language really annoys me and it is spreading across the UK everywhere. I am used to the droning on by the nationwide company about "customers" rather than what these people actually are: passengers.

Today I have received a letter from E.ON - our energy supplier. The company has a new Chief Executive called Tony Cocker and he has written to all his account holders, who he calls "customers". Tony likes this awful corporate language that annoys me as he writes...

I want to change that, which is why at the beginning of the year I set up a 'Reset' programme that is intended to review all of the activities we perform as a business to ensure that our customers perceive them to be simple, clear and fair. Since then we have consulted extensively with customers from all walks of life, as well as with organisations such as Consumer Focus and Which? We have taken that feedback on board and started to do something about it.

...Help, pass me the sick bag somebody, this is awful corporate language. It is bad enough in my workplace from the nationwide company but to read a letter in my own time in my own home is awful. Come into the real world Tony because your staff and householders are not fooled by this fancy corporate language. You can dress it up all you like but what it comes down to is which company is it cheaper to read your electricity and gas meters. It has always been cheaper over all for me to buy my electricity and gas from E.ON - that is important to me and not this fancy corporate language that simply annoys rather than builds trust or loyalty.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Phoenix Conspiracy by Richard Sanders .

Raidan is the model commander of the Phoenix starship doing his job keeping the Empire safe. He is well respected when suddenly he attacks and destroys some Rotham starships. This is totally out of character and he is arrested. No body knows why Raidan became a rogue commander and Calvin Cross decides to find out why he did it.

Okay, this novel is science fiction but I do enjoy all conspiracies. It is set in the future but the problems of races and cultures is very contemporary. The battles and challenges raging through these galaxies are no different to the present day land wars and conflicts going on every day in our world. This novel gets off to a great start because you do not know why a celebrated starship commander put his whole life on the line. It does not make sense but you travel with Calvin Cross to discover the truth.

Along the way there is a good range of characters who help Calvin in his quest. Not all the characters are human...

Three aliens stood up briefly and then sat down again on the only other platform. They were rotham, humanoid in appearance except for their golden eyes, scaly-crimson skin, and generally smaller physiques. They could also grow tails but most had them removed right after birth. All three present were male and wore the lavender uniforms of Rotham Military Command. Their hair was as black as oil, common for rotham, but braided—a style symbolizing status in their culture...


"A human, actually." He tapped his console. "Err... now I'm not so sure."
"What do you mean, not sure?"
"It's a modified human, sir."
A chill traced Calvin's spine, rippling through his body while flashes of buried memories came to mind, images from his deepest, darkest nightmares.
"What kind of modified human?"
"Database lists it as a type three remorii."

...The plot develops at a good pace and you feel that something dodgy is going on. Characters say strange things to Calvin and you suspect members of his crew may have a hidden agenda. On one outstation people are after Calvin and are trying to kill him, so the heat is on. Maybe Raidan was right to attack the Rotham starships and the Empire is corrupt. Sadly around 80% through this novel the conspiracy angle drops to zero and it is boyish battle in outer space between aliens and humans. After this battle Calvin does find out why Raidan destroyed the Rotham starships and this leads the way to a sequel.

The Phoenix Conspiracy is available as a free Amazon Kindle eBook of 1404 KB and was published in 2011. Richard Sanders is only 25 years old and I hope his writing will improve as he gets older. This novel is okay as a freebie but as a conspiracy it fails because it lacks depth of deception. The conspiracy is shallow and rather far fetched. The Phoenix Conspiracy starts off as a great mystery, develops well but then runs out of steam and begins to disappoint. There was potential for The Phoenix Conspiracy to be a great novel but the lack of hidden workings let it down. It does provide escapism and is an easy every day read that I will vote 3 stars on Good Reads because it is simply Okay.

If you want to read a good conspiracy, then there is one that I can really recommend, Body of Lies by David Ignatius and I think Richard Sanders could learn a lot from it too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The level is down and the sound is a little different.

We all get used to computers and take them for granted. We read displays and react accordingly. This happens in all walks of life. At work I switch on the electrics of my allocated coach, read some displays, press some buttons and do my walk around check.

In my car I switch on the ignition, watch the display boot up and when it is ready I start the engine. Easy peasy with with no warnings displayed. Lately I have noticed that when I feather the foot brake the sound is a little rough as though there may be some dirt on the discs. It comes and goes but seems to happen more often when Gail is with me in the car.

Further inspection showed that the brake fluid level had dropped to the minimum level in the reservoir. So I started thinking to myself, the MOT at the end of February showed that the brake pads were wearing low. A lower fluid level in the reservoir indicates brake pad wear. That rough sound when I feather the foot brake could be badly worn brake pads. The car has covered 50,600 miles from new on the original brake pads. Ah, I thought better get this checked out at a garage as it might be time to get new disc brake pads.

In the UK garages are notorious for ripping motorists off by replacing items before they are really needed. Bearing this in mind I went to one garage and asked for a brake inspection. The fitter declared that I needed new pads AND discs and the cost would come to £200. I said thank you and that I would shop around. I went to the next garage which was a branch of National and asked for a brake inspection. The fitter came into the reception area and asked me to follow him into the workshop. He then explained the condition of my disc pads and discs by showing me the grooves scored into the discs. I was free then to examine my own discs and pads. I asked how much it would cost to fix and he quoted me £180 which I was happy with.

I know that very often when discs pads are worn you need to replace the discs at the same time because this is the nature of the beast. I also know that garages do rip motorists off by replacing discs when they do not need to because the profit is welcome. Where National scored with me was not only because they were £20 cheaper but because the fitter showed me what was wrong and I could see with my own eyes and feel with my fingers that this was not a con. Trust is hard to earn with motorists today but showing them the worn components rather than simply claiming it is worn out develops a confidence and trust so often missing.

And the new brakes, marvellous - quiet and smooth. Thank you National.

Friday, June 08, 2012

The new toy .

Whilst away on holiday in Norfolk, I purchased a new toy. We took with us the laptop that runs Windows 7 and Gail took her tablet computer that runs Android. As readers of this blog will already know, I am not a fan of Windows and run Lubuntu with LXDE on our desktop computer. So there we were in Norfolk doing mobile computing away from home and it got me thinking. I played about on the laptop and noticed how much Gail was getting from her tablet. She was unsure about getting an internet connection at the Premier Inn, so I set it up on her tablet. I noticed what a simple whizz it was to use her tablet. The next day she showed me what her tablet could do as I had not taken an interest in it before. Well, that was it and the seed was sewn. I then started thinking about getting a mobile computing device.

I started with an open mind and considered buying a laptop, a netbook or a tablet. Each device has many advantages and disadvantages. I was very much impressed by Gail's tablet and all the things it could do with the technology behind it. I decided to buy a tablet and wondered which screen size to plump for. I wanted something really handy and portable that I could take along to work if I wanted. I already have an Amazon Kindle and I think it's size is ideal for reading at home and taking to work. Therefore I was in the market for a 7" tablet computer.

A quick look around the net showed that the best value deal that week would be a Samsung Galaxy 7" Tab with a free upgrade to 32GB for just £199 at the Carphone Warehouse. I have now done the steep learning curve with my new device and I am very happy with it indeed. My Galaxy Tab is very easy to use with loads of features pre-installed. It is a very good piece of kit to use both at home and away. I can now sit next to Gail on our sofa rather than use the desktop through the archway of the dining room.

The use of an Android tablet is very different to desktop computing. It's best use is through Apps (Applications) that are optimised for mobile devices. This is different as you use the tablet as an appliance rather than a computer. The focus is different and many commentators are warning about the dangers of tethering and the way the internet has developed. But using Apps on a tablet within these walled gardens is very easy and the quality is good.

The design of the Samsung Galaxy 7" Tab is good and I have found nothing to complain about. I like way you can personalize it to the way you want it to look. I like the many options available so that you can get it to work just the way you want. It is like having a top of the range smartphone but with a useable 7" screen and not having to pay a monthly rental. Battery life is good and the touch screen does it's job.

I am very happy with my new toy and I now realize just how much computers and mobile phones have moved on in the last few years. Tablets are a step forward although I still like to go "old school" once a week and bang away on this traditional desktop computer running Lubuntu with LXDE and a real keyboard at my finger tips. It is horses for courses and with my tablet I now remember Lisbeth Salander and her Palm hand held computer in the Millennium Trilogy novels.

Which news App have I downloaded and like the best on my Android tablet? No surprises, it is the same as the best news website on the internet and it is British. Have you guessed it yet.... come on Matthew, your hunch is probably right...The Guardian.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Snatched off the bus.

I was miffed that I was unable to go on holiday to Egypt because I was admitted to hospital. I have always enjoyed my foreign holidays and loved to potter about wherever we stayed. In the past we have had holidays in Turkey and I really used to enjoy travelling on their local bus services. These buses were called a dolmus, were of various seating capacities and provided very cheap, high frequency services all over Turkey. The fares were peanuts and it was great to travel about with the locals. It really added to the holiday experience as you felt as though you went to the real Turkey rather than be processed like a tourist. I never had any problems whatsoever and could recommend a "day out on the Dolmus" to anyone, just look at the map and go for it.

What a shock I got tonight when I switched on the internet and read this report from AFP ...

Briton kidnapped by Kurd rebels in Turkey is freed

(AFP) – 10 hours ago


A British tourist who was kidnapped by Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey at the weekend was freed on Monday, officials in London and Turkey said. The 35-year-old man was described as being in good health and is to be taken to the main southeastern city of Diyarbakir for brief questioning about his ordeal, a Turkish official said on condition of anonymity. The Briton was snatched on Saturday by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who had stopped the bus he was travelling in between the Black Sea city of Trabzon and Diyarbakir. In London, a spokesman for the Foreign Office confirmed his release, but declined to disclose his identity. "He has since been in touch with his family in the UK. Embassy officials are speaking to him and are offering consular assistance," the spokesman told AFP. "The British ambassador in Ankara, David Reddaway, would like to express his gratitude to the Turkish authorities in securing his release." No details were immediately available about the circumstances of the release. Saturday's abduction came amid an upsurge in activity by the rebel group, which last month kidnapped 10 people from a village in the Kurd-dominated southeast. The motive was unknown.

...Thankfully the 35 year old British tourist was released and is in good health with one hell of a tale to tell his work mates when he gets back home! Still, it would not put me off travelling on a Dolmus, maybe I should buy a Kurdish phrase book just in case.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Annoying female habits.

Women, they have some annoying habits and we can learn to live with them. Even so, women can be so damn annoying. Over on Yahoo! they have a list of 7 things women do that drive men mad .

So I read the article and all 7 issues are annoying but which one would get my vote as to being the most annoying? Simple, it was not even close between the 7 issues, there is only one simple winner by a lot way...

Annoying female habit 7: Incessant talking

We’ve heard that women are estimated to say around 20, 000 words a day – which is an awful lot compared to the paltry 7, 000 estimated for men – so we understand that she needs to get her daily nattering fix, but why is it always at the most inappropriate times? She was quiet all the way through the family dinner when we needed her to break the awkward silence, but as soon as we start getting to the competitive part of a multi-player game with our friends, she just won’t shut up about how cute the neighbour’s cat looks when it sits next to the rose bush. To make it even more annoying, the actual part of the story she was getting at whilst rambling on about the neighbour’s cat, was that the cat’s owner now works at the grocery store down the road. Ladies, if you’re going to talk, pick the right moment and please, just get to the point.

...Okay, there is another side to this and there is a link to another page called 7 things men do that drive women mad . And what do I think is the top thing that men do that drive most women mad? That one is simple to answer also, Annoying male habit 2: Selective hearing. This is obvious because all men are so fed up of the incessant talking from their partner, that we simply switch off when our woman is nattering away.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Raf I'm No Angel by Raf Nadroy.

This book is a long narrative told in the first person of the life from childhood to 50 of Raf Nadroy. He is an American male of Spanish descent and was born in New York. This is a good tale of a man growing up, who finds love and work as he copes with problems in relationships and business. He is very self deprecating and realizes his mistakes and missed opportunities. He explores many social problems in America and how some people like himself have a strong work ethic but others rely solely on benefits and other hand outs.

Raf meets a good range of characters along the way but his love life leads to many problems.  He has two failed marriages and you develop a strong empathy of Raf as he is a good worker and tries really hard to make things happen and work out good for everyone. The relationship with his second wife is very well described and their problems explained. I understand all too well where he was coming from!

I liked this book but will only vote it 3 stars on Good Reads for one simple reason. Raf I'm No Angel would have been voted good with 4 stars rather than okay with 3 stars if someone had proof-read and corrected the text before publication. I have never read a book with so many mistakes. A spell checker had been used and all the words are valid but not the right words in context. This sloppiness spoiled what could have been a good book as the reader has to correct and guess so much of the time. Raf I'm No Angel was badly edited by Joann Piekut Everria, what was she doing and why did she not correct all the mistakes? I thought proof-readers or beta-readers were two a penny but this failing sadly lets this book down.

Raf I'm No Angel was written in 1994, although it was published by Amazon in 2011 and is available as a 634 KB Kindle eBook. Raf Nadroy has a bright urban writing style that is easy to read. He does ramble on quite a bit in the same way as a friend talking in a pub can go off-topic but return to the thread of the story after a short while. There is not a strict time line in this narrative as bits are thrown in here and there before Raf returns to the time line. There is a gradual shift through time as the book develops but this is not absolute and things do crop up out of order. The general structure of this book is of short paragraphs and you get the impression that he wrote this book as a hobby, with a couple of paragraphs written every day after his day job. To illustrate his writing style I will end my review with a selection of quotes from his book...

It was no use. She tried but could not stay in school, because of the hunger of her and the small children. Not only that, she had to walk almost a mile just to get to school, because of the lack of money for carfare, to and from school...

Yet, the beautiful Japanese girl, or I should say women because she must have been fifteen years my senior. She felt that she was taking on a CHERRY-BOY-SON. To them it was a real turn on if a boy never had sex before. What a different world. It truly excited her, but after I had finished she quickly left the bed room for her trip to the bath room to wash up. Upon her return she was saying, NO, you no CHERRY-BOY-SON, YOU-NO-CHERRY-BOY-SON. You come to much...

After ringing up my item her next comment was, "If there is anything else you want just let me know". I looked and smiled at her and gave her my thanks. She again said, "If there is any thing I could help you with just let me know". I looked again at her eyes and said thank you once more. The next words even hit harder, "Do you understand what I am saying". This time my words were, yes, I do and I am honored, and again I thank you. This time I played the make believe itch on my nose game and exposed my wedding band. She saw it and again her reply was, "I understand, but the offer still stands"...

I remember, I always loved to go down on her and the way she moved to my action truly turned me on. After that moment I recall laying on my back and Lady Dawn would gently lower herself on to my face. It would drive her wild. I even let her finish in my mouth, then it was not over just yet...

That was when I decided to file for divorce from her. I was told that by my friend Manning, years before he passed away. If you see your former lady with another man and it does not bother you, that's when you are ready for the divorce...

Oh there are plenty of jobs for little money and work as if you were getting paid twenty dollars an hour. And I heard many a time by the locals, and I Quote them, "Nigger Jobs"...

The New Yorkers daughter was no house maker. But I am sure she was a good fuck. Most young women are that way today. They grow up so fast and could even become make up artist in Hollywood but they cannot wipe their ass properly after going to the bath room...

...The ending was okay and I felt that Raf was well aware of all the mistakes that he had made. He only did the best that he could do at the time but sadly things did not work out for him. He was just unlucky the way his life unfolded and although he always worked so hard to make things work, sometimes with women there is little any man can do to make their relationship last.

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