Month: July 2014

Computer Love…

itchyscratchyblog

…I call this number for a data date.  (Name that tune)

Thinking about life without computers and technology seems simply impossible now. They have invaded our lives, be it socially or for business, in so many ways.  I guess it’s mainly a good thing but I sometimes hanker for the good old days.

“The Here and Now” versus “The There and Then”.  How we do it and how we did it.

  •  Contacts:
    now I scroll down a long list on my phone, press a small part of the screen and bingo – A phone call is made. (Or a text… etc.).  Back then I had them written down in my address book.  And back then I actually knew my (and others’) phone number
  • Calendar:
    Now I have an “app” on my phone where the active lives of my children (not me you understand) are recorded.  However I still have a…

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Computer Love…

…I call this number for a data date.  (Name that tune)

Thinking about life without computers and technology seems simply impossible now. They have invaded our lives, be it socially or for business, in so many ways.  I guess it’s mainly a good thing but I sometimes hanker for the good old days.

“The Here and Now” versus “The There and Then”.  How we do it and how we did it.

  •  Contacts:
    now I scroll down a long list on my phone, press a small part of the screen and bingo – A phone call is made. (Or a text… etc.).  Back then I had them written down in my address book.  And back then I actually knew my (and others’) phone number
  • Calendar:
    Now I have an “app” on my phone where the active lives of my children (not me you understand) are recorded.  However I still have a calendar on the kitchen wall and it needs a pen (remember those).  I spend more time syncing my phone and the wall calendar than actually doing the events.  An interesting marriage between the now and the then.
  • The Internet:
    Used for essay research (copying), and general finding out of stuff.  Back then we had to walk to a library (look them up on google if you don’t know what they are), and look in an encyclopedia or something.  Libraries now, what remains of them, are populated by parents with under 2’s who like a story but can’t quite google yet.
  • E-readers:
    See library (demise of) above.
  • Banking:
    There was a time when I could only get cash from an actual bank, and then only during business hours.  Now I can get it anywhere, ATM’s, shops, pubs etc.  The cashback culture gives us so much more opportunity to get into debt.  Mind you with internet and phone banking I can at least discover my debt faster.  Back then I would have to rely on the post office to deliver the bad news.
  • Cyber crime:
    Back then if someone wanted to rob me they would have to stand on a street corner wielding a baseball bat.  Now neither me nor the “robber” need leave the comfort of our own homes.  The bonus, l guess, is that I don’t need to visit the downgraded Epsom A & E for stitches.
  • File storage:
    Computer hard drives, CD Roms, memory sticks and even something called the cloud now keep details of everything we own.  Yet many of us (guilty as charged) still end up printing copies of everything and using a filing cabinet.  (Again, Google it).  If it rains doesn’t a cloud burst?  Where does my stuff go then?
  • Teamer:
    Software that organises the selection of my kids’ cricket teams.  Great if players/parents actually bother to respond.  Back then I would get a phone call and have to make a decision, yes or no, and then on with our lives.
  • Communication – Verbal/visual:
    People(my kids for example) are surprised to hear that mobile phones (Cellphones for my American reader) were originally designed only to make phone calls.  It was years later that texting began. Before then l would need to be in the house to receive a call and my mobility would be restricted by the length of cable attaching the phone to the wall socket. Back then I also had to be in the same room as someone if I wanted to see them. Now Skype and the like mean I can look at the person I am talking to but they’ll never see the rude gestures I am making out of camera shot.
  • Communication – written:
    Dear old email.  We all do it and to be fair, unlike letter writing, it is fairly instant and is a great way to keep in touch.  However how many times had I had an email from someone sitting at the other end of the office.  Get up and walk to my desk you lazy git.  At least then you can be sure that what you say gets to the right recipient.  Clicking send is fraught with danger.
  • Entertainment:
    Back then entire summers were spent at Chris Martins house playing an everlasting game of Risk.  Now you play a number of games against a number of faceless people who, especially in Scrabble, are probably cheating.
  • Commerce:
    How much shopping is now done on the Internet?  It is not impossible to order something online and get it faster than by going to a shop. (I did this recently with a fridge – ordered and delivered same day).  Computer giants are wise to this and it’s only a matter of time before we can only shop on eBay and Amazon.  Trust me – it’ll happen.This is just the tip of the iceberg but to my mind, one thing is certain…
  • Computer Love:
    Yup, you can get that online too these days.  No more do men and women employ the “three S’s” (shower, shave and ****), before hitting the local nightlife in the hope of meeting someone who wants more than one thing.  Now simply go online, upload a 10 year old photoshopped photo, make up some stuff and Bob’s your uncle.  Instant life partner.  I read somewhere recently that 60% of relationships now start online!  Not sure i believe that but I assume the next statistic will be that 50% of divorces start the same way.

…life was so much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got a bike…

…you can ride it if you like.

Or not…..

Thomas and I went in to town this morning and we were almost hit by a cyclist.  I will admit we were being a bit inconsiderate.

By crossing at the trafffic lights when the “green man” was on we were clearly being inconsiderate by making it more difficult for the cyclist to ride through the red light.   When I said (and I quote myself) “Red lights apply to cyclists as well”, I was called a word beginning with C.  So….

Dear Cyclists,

I appreciate there are a lot of stupid drivers/people out there who, amongst other things, do not show respect to cyclists. However, despite what some of you might think you are not exactly perfect yourselves.

Some Comparisons:

Cost of decent car: £thousands
Cost of decent bike: £hundreds

Cost of learning to drive before being allowed on the road alone: £hundreds
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost of Insurance before being allowed on the road: £hundreds
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost to car insurer when in accident with bike caused by car: £thousands
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost to car insurer when in accident with bike caused by bike: £thousands
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost in penalty points to car driver when in accident with bike caused by car: various
Cost as above to cyclist: nil

Cost in penalty points to car driver when in accident with bike caused by bike: nil
Cost as above to cyclist: nil

Some facts:

I see more cyclists than cars going the wrong way down one way streets.

I see more cyclists than cars going along FOOTpaths.  (you’ll notice the stressing of FOOT)

I see more cyclists than cars going through red lights.

I see more cyclists than cars dangerously swearving in and out of slow moving traffic.

I see as many cyclists as car drivers texting and talking on the phone.

Two things amaze me with all this.  When I have questioned cyclists about the above (or seen interviews with them) many do not seem to think they are doing anything wrong.  Also,  given the fragility of their mode of transport (when compared to a large lump of motorised metal coming at you, or a large lump of road doing similar) you’d think they would be more sensible.

I should point out that I am both careful and considerate when driving and approaching cyclists on the road and will continue to be so.

I would also like to point out that the rules I have to abide by on the road also apply to you.  ALL OF THEM.

However given our experience mentioned above (nowhere near the first either) The following now applies.

If I am there (on foot) when a cyclist runs a red light I will not be held responsible if they fall off because I am legally crossing in front of them.
Should they fall off I will, while they are getting up, call the police and if at all possible, have them arrested for dangerous riding.
If there is any damage to me, my family or my posessions I will (given their lack of insurance)  pursue it through the courts.
I will take witness details to aid the above.
I will photograph the guilty cyclist and post the photos online.
If possible I will name and shame online too.

I have had enough and War is Declared.

I see this stuff all the time:  http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/motoring/motoringnews/cyclists-bad-behaviour-caught-on-camera-11363891666224

PS: If Gabby Logan is riding her bike whatever she does is fine with me.

OMG…

…Txting can boost spllng an gramer.  WTF, you’d need a GSOH to believe that!

An article on the BBC website suggests texting can improve spelling and grammar.  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27816819)

Sorry but I have a different POV and I did LMFAO when I read it.  GR8, I thought, more excuses for the lack of basic skills shown by school children.  The research (using a massive 160 children) suggests the most creative texters were the better spellers.  No Shit Sherlock.  Another way of putting that would be to suggest that there are some who can spell and gram (!) reasonably well anyway and the remainder, whose grammar etc. is not so good, can still text.  (I am going to leave that even though it is not a particularly well written paragraph!)

As the psychologist suggests, texting abreviations are often phonetically based but phonics is  generally only used on the young.   At some point you have to step away from it and “learn” to spell.  That many fail in this suggests underlying issues and continuing to use text abreviations will, in my opinion (IMO),  set the child back further.  it is also possible, of course, that our language is a pain in the neck.  Certainly as one who studied Spanish at school that language is so much simpler than ours.

Iuj eble dirus ke adopti simplan lingvon, ekzemple Esparanto, estus pli facile por ni ĉiuj.

What would be more useful would be for this so called psychologist to find out why the so called weaker students are failing.  Grammar and spelling were, I believe, around long before texting and there were many who couldn’t do it then.  I know this for a fact – I went to school with some of them.  Some might argue I am one…  I am sorry to say this but the fault doesn’t solely lie with teachers, despite what some areas of the media might like to suggest.  I did a small straw poll among parents I know and was actually surprised at the result.  Most read stories to their children when they were young.  But equally most did not read WITH and LISTEN TO their children read when they started school.  This was in the belief that it was schools job, not the parents!  These parents, in the main, are intellegent, well educated people and I actually cannot understand how they can behave like this. For the record my youngest is 9 and we still listen to hime read.

I am often critical of the standard of teaching (solely based on personal experience) and I can very much support that opinion with evidence.  However thankfully, again in my experience, such poor teaching is rare.  What is more common is the lack of resourses.  Different children learn in different ways and our education system doesn’t allow the time and resourse to give each child what s/he needs.  Again in my experience prep and fee paying schools seem to have a higher success rate but that is, I should stress, very unscientific arrived at!  I am not a fan of private schools either.

I should also say that many can and do succeed despite poor grammar and spelling.  One boy who lived close to me during my schooldays was not the most intellegent being and (unknown to his mother but known to me) often skipped school.  He now runs 2 successful taxi businesses and lives in a nice expensive house.  On his Friends Reunited page he says very simply “I run 2 taxi ferms”.  Point made.

For the record:  I know my grammar and spelling  are far from perfect and I deliberately did not strive for perfection in this piece!  Actually I rarely check such things on anything as I tend to write quickly and publish before I lose my bottle!

Equally for the record and again in my opinion the system needs to do two things.  Get rid of under-performing teachers (sorry unions but they do exist).  Remind (some) parents that they do have a responsibility to their children.

And finally:  Third thing, Get rid of Michael Gove.

I am a rock…

…I am an island.

Or, to be more accurate, marrooned on one.

So apparently I am allowed, in my version of Desert Island Discs, 5 things to keep me going.  I will assume that the island has a “storecupboard”, the marooned persons version of the essentials store favoured by most cooking programmes.  The storecupboard will consist of the following:  Trees to burn for cooking and heating. (the trees also have large, soft leaves, ideal for personal hygiene reasons)! Rocks, including a really big one with a cave and small ones to make tools to chop down the trees.  There should also be some rocks of a suitable colour (luminous orange would be good) to spell the word “HELP” for passing FedEx aeroplanes to see.

 

1. Fire

Until Daniel Defoe turns up to research a book about my adventures I will need to set light to some of the trees for the aforementioned cooking and heating.  Not sure I can take too much notice of global warming issues here.

2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Excellent book in its own right but would also be an invaluable reference “bible” and survival guide.  Would also be a handy last resort for burning if I run out of trees.

3. Shotgun

If a plane load of kids does crash on my island I will need to shoot them before they actually get up to the stuff outlined by Mr Golding.  I will confiscate the conch as well.

4. Gabby Logan.  (Clearly number one choice but I thought it better to hide it in 4th.  After all most people will have stopped reading by now)

As a knowledgably sports presenter she would be an invaluable fireside companion to discuss important issues relating to various sports.  For example; Was Kenny Logan an overrated winger?
Yeah right – you believe that don’t you?

5. Marks and Spencers Food Hall

You don’t really think I am going to catch, kill and cook my food do you?  M&S provide an excellent choice of ready meals and a nice selection of accompanying wines.  And besides Gabby doesn’t deserve to go without…. food I mean.   M&S would also sell Neurofen and similar therefore avoiding me getting a headache.  Gabby wouldn’t want me to get a headache would she…  (and what’s the betting I get in trouble for the last couple of sentences)?

Short, sweet and finished.

 

I made wine from the lilac tree. Put my heart in its recipe

itchyscratchyblog

It makes me see what I want to see… And be what I want to be

This whole thing is actually a rather sad excuse to reference this piece of musical excellence…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT38CIgRse4

…but read on anyway!

Following a recent revelation that a combination of honey and cinnamon can cure just about anything (http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/honey.asp) other important research has now come to light.

Recently discovered diaries by no less an authority than Jeffery Bernard (remember him? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Bernard) have suggested that alcohol can have some very positive effects.

It can, like honey and cinnamon (allegedly), make you live longer.  A small amount af alcohol, notably red wine, apparently contains antioxidents that can benefit your heart.  Clearly this can have an opposite effect on your liver but you can’t have everything!

Do you have a bladder infection?  If so flush it out.  Alcohol is sterile so simply drink more, visit…

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I made wine from the lilac tree. Put my heart in its recipe

It makes me see what I want to see… And be what I want to be

This whole thing is actually a rather sad excuse to reference this piece of musical excellence…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT38CIgRse4

…but read on anyway!

Following a recent revelation that a combination of honey and cinnamon can cure just about anything (http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/honey.asp) other important research has now come to light.

Recently discovered diaries by no less an authority than Jeffery Bernard (remember him? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Bernard) have suggested that alcohol can have some very positive effects.

It can, like honey and cinnamon (allegedly), make you live longer.  A small amount af alcohol, notably red wine, apparently contains antioxidents that can benefit your heart.  Clearly this can have an opposite effect on your liver but you can’t have everything!

Do you have a bladder infection?  If so flush it out.  Alcohol is sterile so simply drink more, visit the toilet more, job done (sic).

It also gives one the ability to fly:  How many times do we see stories of drunken men (yes it is usually men) leaping from high places with the assumption that they are invincible? One story has a young Russian jumping out of a 5th story window twice, and surviving with minor cuts and bruises (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/weird/drunk-survives-five-storey-fall-twice/story-e6frev20-1225697113693?nk=2b39bdcdaab2031c0239bc3f719feb1b)  The argument being that his nervious system was numb and that aided his survival.  *Please note: despite this example the ability to fly tends to be brief and one directional.  Plus landing safely is not guaranteed and is rarely attained.

It can keep your brain alive indefinitely.  (Which may explain the use of the word pickled for a drunk).  However the rest of you tends to have to be dead first.  Then you brain is removed , put in a freezer safe container and voila, it can be kept for you until a cure for cirrhosis of the liver is found and your cryonically preserved body can be repaired.

While you brain is still in your body alcohol (or ethanol – CH
3
CH
2
OH
for the scientists) can,  help the neurons in the brain resist wear and tear that can lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life.  (according to one study – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903110)

Another report, from a study of Australian men, suggest sensible amounts of red wine can aid the libido by protecting against erectile dysfunction.  (apologies if you are eating while reading this).  My admmittedly unscientific brain would dispute this given that the Aussie males definition of red wine is a gallon of Fosters mixed with a couple of cochineal insects.  Might also explain why the wife encourages me to open a second bottle on a saturday night.

The common cold:  Studies in Spain suggest that drinking 8 to 14 glasses of red wine per week lower the risk of getting  a cold.  Wieh I was a child I once ate a bottle of aspirin, one of thses explains why I don’t get colds, even when the rest of the family succomb, – I know which I prefer to “blame”.

Younger and fitter.  Drinking is not known for helping people look their best, but the special antioxidants in wine (such as phytochemicals and resveratol) can increase energy levels and combat signs of ageing.

Another option is alcohol free wine.  Liquid sugar in effect and doesn’t warrant another  mention.  Alcohol free beer is slightly better given that the beer is made normally and then  it is frozen to remove the alcohol.  Most have a bit of flavour (flavor for the US contingent) EXCEPT for Kaliber, made by Guinness, which is shite.

So effectively alcohol has the same life preserving properties as honey and cinnamon, arguably more – I sure know which I prefer.

Now where’s the beehive?

 

 

Land of Hope and Glory…

…Mother of The Free

A question I was recently asked and something that has, although perhaps indirectly, been on my mind for years.  Is there a link between patriotism and racism?

Those who would have England solely populated by white English (Or Britain by white British) turn first to the flag as a symbol of their “vision”.  It is a dilemma for some to decide whether they are English or British so for now I will assume that they (we) are both.  England is my country of birth and it is a part of the Union of GB and NI.   We will not, at this time, extend this to debate whether we are also European!   UKIP would have a view there I assume!

I know there are many who shy away from the flag of St George because of this association. Indeed I recall reading of a Magistrate who allowed a pub to have and extension to celebrate St Patricks Day but refused the same pub a St Georges day “late one”.  That pub, I believe, was in England.  The reason, as far as I can surmise, must be linked to the racist card.

For many many years this type of thing has made me shy away from my country’s flag for fear of being labeled, albeit unjustifiably, as one of those.  I cut my teeth in this subject in the days of The Anti Nazi League and in those days the flag was the clear “badge” of the National Front.  I had friends in those days who were undoubtadly patriotic but like me shied away from the flag.  Indeed the first time, at least as an adult, (and I have been one of those for some time now) I can recall wearing a Union Flag was on a London 2012 t-shirt.  I thought long and hard before doing that as well.  Conversely I will wear an England rugby shirt (with small flag of St George on the sleeve) without worry and with pride.  The same cannot be said for a football shirt mostly, now I think about it, for the thugish links rather than racism and partly, in truth, because I am not that keen on the game any more!

Years ago I knew someone who would constantly give the Alf Garnett view of “Blacks coming here and taking our Jobs”.  The best friends of that same person were his next door neighbours, an Indian family for whom, for some reason, the Garnett principle didn’t apply.  I didn’t think to ask why.  The Garnett attitude, albeit fictional is a classic example of the way some people link patriotism and racism and, especially at that time (up to the late 1970’s), was often mirrored in real life.

In modern times many of our most successful sports stars were born of immigrant parents, indeed a good number were actually born overseas.  Despite this there is apparently racism around, in football for example.  Although, like the National Front of the 70’s and 80’s, sports racism appears to be directed at black players.   People seem to forget that a good number of our best cricketers and rugby players are from places like South Africa.  But they are white.  That’s just ignorance.  Racism but not patriotism.

If Mo Farrah, as a man born in Africa, can now carry his adopted country’s flag with such pride surely I can bite the bullet and join him?  He, and many like him, have have embraced patriotism so why can’t I?

Do I need to change my outlook?   I get most upset when England loses a rugby international or a cricket match.  However I don’t always support English/British club teams in competition against overseas teams.  Clearly I have at least one patriotic bone in me but I still cannot shake the fear, and I guess that’s what it is, that wearing a flag will label me.

Having been thinking about the original question while writing and I would say that Patriotism isn’t really a form of racism.  The two clearly don’t need to be mutually exclusive.  It is just sometimes used by a small minority as an excuse or reason for hatred.

As for me personally:  I’m not sure I can change now, it’s been too long.  So I guess my newly purchased flag will have to be returned…

…that or therapy.