Thursday, 27 March 2014

Words Mean Different Stuff

I note with raised eyebrow an email from my local zoo inviting me to a "Bear Opening". Are they really going to open a bear? In public? Surely that is only of interest to clinical ursologists.

Wait though - that's not what it means. Maybe it means there is an opening for a a job offer. Well, I don't think they'll get many applicants, as bears are notoriously poor at responding to emails in a timely fashion...

...ah, no, it actually means the zoo is holding a public opening ceremony for its new bear habitat, with TV vet Steve Leonard, in support of the charity...the charity...oh, the irony! This event at the new bear enclosure at the zoo is in support of the charity "Free The Bears". Enough said.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


The wife and I went to witness small A's appearance in a netball tournament at a local primary school the other day. It was one of those "nice" contests where they mix up the players with pupils from both schools in each team, and hand out tea and cake at the end. After four matches, A's team won, despite her being completely non-aggressive. It's as though she thinks it's impolite to get in the way of an opposing player who's shooting at goal, even when that is exactly what she's supposed to be doing. Ah well, there are far worse ways to be. Actually, the main reason her team won was that the two goal shooters were about twice as tall as every other kid in the room. The advantages of varying growth rates in 10 to 11-year-olds!

Anyhoo, dear reader, this is not the reason I felt moved to create today's post. While we were sitting waiting for the contest to begin, one of the other parents leaned over to make conversation. His opening line was "hello, are you A's grandparents?" Well, my friends, I cannot tell you what expression this caused to cross my face, but the gentleman in question recoiled visibly. For a couple of seconds I literally could not think of anything to say as an apoplectic fugue coursed through my temporal lobe. Finally, I just said "no!" and managed to avoid thumping him.

He did have another go. "Parents? Oh, sorry", and smiled apologetically before going on to say nothing else at all. I do not feel that I've made a friend.

The wife blamed the incident on what she insists on referring to as my "old man hat". This is a stylish and modern flat cap from Next for Men, which I happen to think I rock. I suppose it is possible that my zipped-up hoodie looked a little bit like a cardigan, but still, I am clearly no-one's grandpa. My dear mother on hearing of the incident apparently remarked "oh, well, he's always looked older than his age".

Well, I have since subtly canvassed independent opinion and come to the conclusion that many people think I am younger than I actually am. These people are undoubtedly correct. Balance is thereby restored to the cosmos.

And I do rock that hat.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Where Can I Find A 300-Metre Cocktail Stick?

A note came home today with my daughter's half-term homework assignment. I was pleased to note that it was about science, but less happy that it did not appear to have been thought out properly. The task was to make a 3D model of the solar system - fair enough - but the teacher took the trouble to include a chart listing the relative sizes and distances of all the planets (including Pluto, but I won't quibble about that). She also suggested using cocktail sticks to show the planets orbiting an orange Sun (literally an orange), and constrained the maximum size of the model to 60cm across.

I had to point out that if the Sun was represented by an orange of, say, 7cm in diameter, then Pluto would need to be a mere 0.1mm across, and fastened to the orange by a cocktail stick of length 297.37 metres. I don't believe this is what was envisaged.

Friday, 19 October 2012

What Doctors Don't Tell You Because It's Outrageous Tripe

In the little coffee shop/newsagent at the technology park where I work I noticed today the new magazine "What Doctors Don't Tell You" (ghastly website here). I only had to read the cover to become speechless with indignation. Among its lead articles we find "I Avoided A Hysterectomy Through Diet" and "Sunbathe Your Diabetes Away". I mean, really, it would actually be quite funny if they weren't shamelessly exploiting people's health fears and natural distrust of "Big Pharma" to sell vitamin pills and other diet supplements.

If I may be permitted to mix my metaphors for a moment, there is so much outrageous bollocks in this steaming pile of offal that it's hard to know where to begin - but fortunately, the cavalry is coming. Check out the Sceptical Letter Writer's comprehensive guide to all the unsubstantiated and overblown nonsense within the first issue. I was going to write to the Advertising Standards Authority, but apparently there's already a major multiple complaint in progress.

If you know anyone who might be at risk of being sucked in by this...this...let me just make it clear once frickin' money-grubbing cynical scaremongering lunacy, then please, direct them to Ron's wholly excellent piece or the Quackometer post about it in the hope that they may be saved.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I just came across this IM I sent in 2008 in answer to the question "why are you so cross?":
I am in my mid-forties and have achieved none of my half-arsed goals. The man I see in the mirror is liked a tired, fat version of my Dad, which is not how I naturally feel inside. I seem unable to inspire or help you in your various struggles. I have lost the prop of my faith, which at least used to keep me unreasonably optimistic. My daughter is growing up fast, reminding me that the past is dead, and that I am, ultimately, dying. I note that the world at large generally fails to appreciate my brilliance, which annoys me and yet at the same time feeds my "told you everything is crap" mentality. AND my feckin' ear is blocked.
I can now report, dear reader, some progress, in that my ear is no longer blocked. Onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What Is The WOCOTD?

In a no-doubt-doomed-to-failure attempt to inspire myself update the blog regularly, I am instituting an occasional daily feature: v0idation's Word Or Concept Of The Day, or WOCOTD, if you will. In an interestingly self-referential way, this idea could actually be its own first item, but that seems a little too bleakly ironic for a Tuesday. So my inaugural Word Or Concept Of The Day will be...
A typical Lycranthrope display.

No, not lycanthrope, meaning werewolf, but LYCRANTHROPE, meaning, essentially, were-cyclist. One who transforms into a brightly-coloured two-wheeled menace at the slightest provocation. He typically arrives this way at work, and then after disappearing into a toilet, stairwell or large cupboard, reappears looking normal and human again. In the afternoon he will stop working a little before everybody else to give himself time for "the change". As well as the colourful plumage, the typical lycranthrope wears an expression of self-righteousness and disdain in the face of his tubbier, shamefully motorised colleagues.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Dark Lord of Ventolin

I was walking with small A to school this morning, when we noticed Edward Scissorhands on the path behind us. Far from being alarmed, A said "I think he's wearing a wig, Daddy". It soon became clear that Edward Cardboardfingers would be a better name for him, and after clocking several refugees from Fame and two giant bananas we deduced that the local high school must be having some sort of non-uniform day.

I dropped A off at school and started back, past a few footballers, some mad scientists and one guy in a purple morphsuit. I had mentally awarded the best outfit prize to a Mexican cowboy when I heard heavy asthmatic breathing coming from just around the corner. As I rounded the bend I came face-to-face with none other than Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, dressed from head to toe in black velveteen and sporting a homemade cardboard helmet covered in silver foil. The poor guy (or girl - hard to tell really) was wheezing like a clogged hoover (which put me in mind of that other Dark Lord), but the overall effect was outstanding, and full marks to you, whoever you are. Kudos! You made me smile. Who says the youth of today lack imagination?

Wait, though...what if it wasn't a kid from the school...