Thursday, 13 September 2007


One of the joys of working in a large organisation is the occasional email from people who clearly are not used to typing, or probably even writing. For example:


It reads like a ransom note. Perhaps he's a kidnapper in his spare time. I really don't understand why some people are incapable of writing in lower case. Do they hold the shift key down accidentally with their huge knuckles as they type? Or do they engage Caps Lock deliberately so they don't have to bust their brains working out where the big letters should go?

I know what it is. The Gumbies have finally learnt how to use email.

Situational Obviousness

It was with a familiar feeling of resignation that I attended a mandatory Situational Awareness course at work the other day. Previous experience shows that these company-mandated tick-the-box training sessions are usually dull squared.

In the event, it was OK. There were, however, a couple of truly impressive examples of tautology which I feel I must share with the wider world:

1. "Things that are difficult, aren't easy, are they?"
2. "You've got to experience experiences in order to gain experience."

Move over, Socrates.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

National Karma

Yesterday a Eurostar train screamed into St. Pancras station, empty but for a few journalists, taking just over two hours to get to London from Paris across the shiny new High Speed 1 track. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Londoners were taking much more than two hours to get from, say, Liverpool Street to St. Pancras, thanks to industrial action on the Underground. There you have British life in microcosm.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Much Largest Than World

I offer you a direct quote from this morning's spam. It looks as though it's arrived in English via, I suspect, Russian or Serbo-Croatian. Other than that, I believe it speaks for itself:

"Blondes always giggled at me and even gentlemans did in the municipal WC!
Well, now I laugh at them, because I took M_E GA D IK for 7 months and now my member is much largest than world."

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Wind Farms Not In Windy Places

So the UK government is spending "hundreds of millions" of pounds on wind farms which aren't viable because it isn't windy enough. Is it me? Do you see people setting up cattle farms on cliff faces or planting forests in the desert? Isn't it mind-bogglingly obvious that they should've checked how windy a place was before building a wind-powered generator there?

Perhaps they're so used to generating wind themselves that it didn't occur to them.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Lost Beach Ball Trauma

My wife, 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter (A) and I were at the beach today with a friend and her kids, and naturally a game of "beach ball catch" was initiated. Unfortunately this instantly became "beach ball chase" as the wind kept grabbing the wretched thing and tossing it towards the sea. Very soon the game had developed into "kids throw the beach ball up in the air and laugh at A's daddy running to save it again". After five or six 300-yard dashes and mumbled curses I said, "ok kids, no more throwing the ball now". One of A's friends asked if he could hold it, so I said yes, and we started back up the beach. Then the little rascal threw the ball up again with a chuckle, and I was off again, the sole competitor in the Over-40s Shingle Stumble. This is what you get, I thought, for playing with a bag of air on Hurricane Beach.

Anyhow, this time I didn't quite make it, and the ball flew into the sea and started bobbing mischievously further out of my reach. I couldn't get it, so I headed back to the family and the dreadful sight and sound of little daughter tears. We tried to comfort her, but she wasn't interested in the idea that the ball was having an adventure, she just sobbed that she wanted it back.

"I know exactly how you feel, darling," I said. "When I was little my ball fell in the sea, and Grandpa swam out to try and get it, but he couldn't make it." Suddenly that memory came flashing back to me. The ball is yellow, with red wavy lines and blue spots...I'm watching it bobbing out to sea...Dad's swimming after good...that awful feeling of loss. My dad died at the end of 2003 when A was just one, but she still remembers him and misses him. I looked up. A's yellow beach ball was still in sight, the wind blowing it in a straight line towards the pier about half a mile away. The coast curves there, and I realised that with any luck the ball would return to shore at some point way off in the distance...before being drawn out for good on the ebbing tide. My brain ticked a couple of times, like a dusty grandfather clock in the attic. Suddenly I yelled "I'm going to get it!" and sprinted off down the beach, vaulting over groynes, leaping over pools, I'm SuperDad, unstoppable, invincible...

The wife told me afterwards she noticed the moment when I stopped running and started wheezing. I'd hoped they would've given up watching by then. But I kept going. I think in truth I was on some belated quest for closure. The only time I ever remember seeing my Dad in the water, ever, was on that beach long ago when he tried to save my silly ball from drowning. Well, fortunately the laws of physics didn't let me down, and the ball came in on a wave just about where I thought it would - about a mile away from where we'd started. Oh yes!! Now I know what it's like to win a marathon! The World Cup! YES! I did it!! Hahahahaha! In your face, forces of disappointment! For once I made a snap decision that didn't turn out to be stupid, dangerous or just plain wrong! I saved my little girl's cheap piece of plastic from a very slow trip to Holland...

Of course, by the time I returned, flushed but triumphant, she'd forgotten all about it and was enjoying a Wild West train ride. But that didn't matter. Somehow, I've closed some connection that was unresolved. I feel I've done something, strangely, for my Dad. And when I put A to bed, she told me I was the best man in the world.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Document Holders

Yes, document holders. Those rectangles of plastic suspended over one's desk on a bendy arm that are supposed to assist you as you type by, well, holding documents. But it seems they are cunningly designed to frustrate, annoy and even injure, without at any time providing any sort of physical support for paper items. I did think their sole purpose was to periodically tip your work onto the floor, but the reality is much more sinister. You only have to attempt to move them slightly, and they will bomb your foot with a block of lead heavy enough to secure an aircraft carrier (but strangely unable to stop a weightless piece of plastic from tipping over on your desk). As if to reinforce the maleficence, you notice a tiny legend embossed on the base as you pick it up, taunting you with the words "Warning! Base is heavy".

I make no further comment. Alles ist schlecht.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Turkey Elections

Well, I wouldn't vote for one. I'm a chicken man. Chicken Man! Burning out his fuse up here alone.

Bikini-clad women mow lawns in Memphis

Oh yes, they do! This is, of course, a silly season news item I saw on Yahoo, but I find the title amusing. I'm going to keep an eye open for similar texts with a view to compiling a Virtually Useless Phrasebook for translation into Popular and Interesting Languages of the Earth. Here's one to set the standard: Man marries dog for luck, then dies. I chuckled for ages over that.

Just one more topical item to mention for now - Spy-squirrel menace strikes Iran. There's even a paste-up picture of a squirrel in Middle Eastern combat gear.

As Expected

My first failure came when I failed to create the promised Grandfather Paradox post immediately. My second was when I totally forgot my login details as I tried to create this post. My third is happening now, as I have lost interest in explaining the paradox, so I'm not going to bother. Check out the comprehensive Wikipedia entry if you're interested. Chaos, chaos, all is chaos! Fabulous.

I do actually have something to say today, but I'm going to create another post under an appropriate title - or will this be my fourth failure?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Another chance to fail

Ah yes, another blog, another chance to forget, or indeed, not bother, to update my burblings. fact, I can hardly be bothered to write anything in the first place. I'll just hop and skip over to the second place straightaway, and tell you why the so-called Grandfather Paradox is in reality, no paradox at all. See the next post! How exciting.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the blog title is a reference to a quote from Richard Dawkins: "Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators". This is a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur. I also wear socks.