Monday, December 31, 2007

Talk Radio

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that stuff to you all! I'll do a post about Christmas soon, if and when I can be bothered -including pictures of Turkor, Destroyer of Worlds. That was before he was defeated in a monumental battle involving Cranberry sauce, home made stuffing and piggies in blankets.

What I'd like to talk about today though is the radio. Since I got my more awesomer DAB radio (see previous post - oh! Nick and Kara got me the accompanying speaker to go with it for Christmas, so now it's full of stereo goodness! :D), I've clearly been listening to a lot of Radio. Mainly I've been listening to the shows I would normally download as podcasts or on the BBC listen again thingy. So instead of a half hour of Russell Howard I now listen to the whole Sunday morning show on 6Music. Highly recommend, very funny indeed. In fact, 6Music has been something of a revelation to me; they seem to employ an inordinate amount of comedians to do their radio shows which is a genius idea. Steve Merchant on Sunday afternoons, John Holmes on a Saturday morning. And Vernon Kay is a good in the mornings when you've had all you can stomach of Moyles and you really need to wake up for work, so Wogan is definitely not the ticket!

Anyway, there is a Dark Side to radio. I have a friend who listens to the radio a lot, mainly as background noise - and so has LBC on a lot - just to listen to the nutters calling in.

I listened to this station late last night and I couldn't believe what it was like. Essentially the format is that you get someone who believes everything they read in the Daily Mail and give him a radio show late at night. Then people call him up and give him their opinions on things. That's about it really, that's the extent of the complexity. So you have this bilious little man complaining about things like 'Winterval' (this wasn't last night, I'm saving the best until last). For those that don't know what this is, I'll explain the facts. Birmingham City Council launched Winterval in order to attract business to Birmingham's newly regenerated town centre. It ran for 3 months and was intended to cover all the major winter festivals. Winter. Festivals. Winterval. See what they did there? So it covers Guy Fawlkes, Diwali, New Year, Hannukah and anything else you can imagine. The Bishop of Birmingham complained they were trying to PC Christmas by pandering to the 'Politically Correct Brigade' (do they get a uniform do you think?) and the tabloids, like the Daily Mail, pounced on it and blamed the Muslims.

They did the same thing this year, despite the fact that Winterval was ended 9 years ago thanks to the reactionary, lazy hacks that populate our media.

Anyway, the kinds of people who phone in to this show at 1am are the kind of people who write those articles. Only these ones probably can't write........so actually exactly like someone who writes for the Daily Mail.

As I say, I was listening to this show and they start off sort of legitimately - commenting on the state of the air pollution in Beijing and how it will adversely affect the athletes in attendance at the Olympics - this is actually a very real problem. Thankfully, all semblance of a reasonable discussion fell away in the face of stupidity tinged with a healthy dose of xenophobia and bigotry. I am going to write some of this down next time because his exact words fail me, but here is the gist of his contribution to the airwaves:

1) All Chinese people smoke like chimneys so the pollution will benefit their athletes. - I think this was sort of intended as a joke but the use of the words 'those people' and 'they're funny over there' kind of indicated where the rest of this as going!
2)
They're weird over there, they invented paper and explosions. - this is a direct quote and appeared completely unrelated to anything else he was saying.
3) - And this is my favourite. - How can they be so advanced but still eat using knitting needles? (at this point the host chips in with 'environmental concerns' about disposable chopsticks). Both the host and caller then started complaining about how difficult it was to use chopsticks, especially with their 'slimy food'. Essentially saying that they couldn't grasp the most simple of concepts, so it should be banned.


I do love that the dreams of Empire still live on in talk radio - If it's not the same as we do it in Britain, it must be wrong!

I'll do a better job of reporting this stuff in the future, it is an absolute mine of idiocy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Completing the Digital Circle

So I was shopping online for presents at the weekend, one of the things I bought was a DAB Radio for my Mum's kitchen. I decided to get a her a refurbished top end one ratehr than a mid-raneg one for the same price, it's a pretty sweet PURE model. She won't understand why this radio is better, but 'it won't crackle and hiss' should suffice and so long as she doesn't look it up anywhere she won't complain that I spent more than 29p on her at Christmas time.


There is no danger of her reading this, I would be missing several internal organs by now if she did.

Anyway, whilst shopping I stumbled on a DAB Radio I ended up ordering for myself:



And yes, the volume does go up to 11.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Office work and the Coffee flavoured beverage

I work in an office. You're jealous, I can tell. We have ancient coffee machines in the kitchen area, 2 of them. One of which at any given time is broken, both of which (when working) dispense a hot brown liquid. The designers of the machine were told what coffee was, where it came from and when people like to drink it most often. They then went away to design the machines with malice of forethought.

These people were the same people who designed Sony Sonic Stage software - a piece of software that could only be made worse if the monitor were to shoot pins into your eyes while you used it. They are the same people who are responsible for Paddy's hated automated announcer. They are the ones that pay Gary Bushel and stop him from dying horribly and painfully. They hate you.

So they designed a machine that not only breaks at precisely 8:17am every morning but got someone who has never tasted coffee before to make the beverages for the machine so that what you get is an artist's impression of coffee. They then took this machine to the people responsible for things like this in our company. These people are not bright, they are kept away from sharp objects and count drooling as chief amongst their hobbies. The evil faux coffee machine designers sell their device to the hapless droolers, taking advantage of their docile and vapid nature - putting the machines on a 10 year maintenance lease that costs a fortune.

In short, I am buying 2 coffee machines next year - one for my desk at work and one for home. In the mean time I am very lucky in that I am British, so although I prefer lots of coffee in the mornings, I can run entirely on tea for weeks at a time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wikipedia Meme

Nicked this of a friend on Facebook (Alyson), don't normally do MeMes but I like this one!

"Go to the Wikipedia home page and click random article. That is your band's name. Click random article again; that is your album name. Click random article 15 more times; those are the tracks on your album."

Band Name: Siemomysł of Pomerania
Album Name: The Scarlet Citadel

Track 1: Aristolochia cucurbitoides
Track 2: General Medical Council
Track 3: Cooperative Research and Development Agreement
Track 4: Trial of Saddam Hussein
Track 5: Viking FK
Track 6: Vanilla Sky (soundtrack)
Track 7: Anthony Lowther (of Marske)
Track 8: Lord High Commissioner
Track 9: Donnybrook!
Track 10: Shelly Manne
Track 11: List of asteroids/132701–132800
Track 12: Lestko
Track 13: KYRE
Track 14: Francisco Herrera the Elder
Track 15: Trans Caribbean Airways


Also, you should all buy a Single that is released today by a band called Circle 3. So go do it already!

Spare Parts

When I was little, if my dad saw a car that was vaguely similar to ours he would put his foot down and gleefully shout 'Spare Parts!'. This was great fun, though I did get funny looks off people as I would shout 'Spare Parts!' at passing cars whilst we walked down the street. Take heed of the influence you have over young children!

Another thing I did when I was very young was pick up a Donor card when I was at the doctor's surgery; I was about 6 I think. I'd seen adverts on the TV about people, who would otherwise be dead, walking about being grateful to some poor individual who was unfortunate enough not to be. All because the dead person carried around a bit of card which said it would be OK to use them as spare parts for someone who may otherwise die. This seemed like very good sense to me, even at that tender age, the only bit that confused me was 'Why the card?'. My mum said it would be OK if I carried one about so long as I understood what it meant, I said something about Dr Higgit poking my eyes out and gluing them to someone else - what could be simpler?

She did try to explain about the card, but it's difficult to explain to a 6 year old how anyone would not carry the card around with them.

There's this story on the beeb at the moment that prompted this post. It's not the use of ex-addict's organs that concerns me (I have no doubt the Mail and the Sun have 'Crack Transplant Horror!' or some such as a headline today), but the fact that there has to be a debate about whether or not to let people opt out of the transplant scheme, rather than opt in. This is a much more sensible process. This way, all the people who are simply to lazy to fill out the forms, or are ignorant of the fact that they need to do so in order for their organs to be used will be eligible to help save lives in the unfortunate event of their death.

Of course there are the hardcore religious who will opt-out because they interpreted some words in a cobbled together fairytale to mean that they aren't allowed to help their fellow man. Ironically making Jehovah's witnesses less Christian than most non-Christians. These are stupid people and can be forgiven to an extent but there will be a small number of selfish, horrible people who will opt out for even more spurious or self serving reasons, at some point one of these may require a transplant and it will be interesting to see how they would be dealt with. Personally I think we should go for the nightclub approach - 'If you're not on the list, you're not coming in'.

So. If you haven't already, go get a donor card until this retarded state of affairs is put right.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

School Dinners

Is pretty much what we get in the work canteen. Early 90s school dinners where the meat has been recovered from the bits that Mcdonalds won't use.

On the menu today? Turkey, stuffing and cranberry pasty.

Oh the humanity.

Of course if I had the sense to bring in my left overs from home, I wouldn't have this problem but as we've already discussed, I'm a moron. Greggs is is then!

Good Days

So far today I've been head hunted, always an ego boost (yeah, like I need it!) and found this:



Now if only they could make it hover and make the proper PacMan noises.....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cash in the Attic

Yes, that's right. I am using the name of a ropey daytime TV show as a dubious segway to my post. I really am THAT desperate for material. No one is cooler than me.

So I have a MacBook at last! I haven't posted anything here with it yet, you would have noticed - it would have looked slightly more beautiful than the other posts. At least that is my understanding of how these things work - I'll probably write something on the tech blog at the weekend about it. Or not as the case may be ;)

Anyway, I also now have an iPod - I know, I'm an idiot. I am trying to remove my need for the PC in the flat so that I am solely using the laptop but Zune doesn't work with Mac. Like ever. So I bought a Nano - which was idiotic because they simply don’t' have the capacity I would need to replace the Zune. So then I replaced it with an iPod 80. I know, really I know. I'm not a huge fan of them but it works on Windows and on Mac so.....

Anyway, all of which brings me to the post title - see how I got there by glossing over my barely simian fiscal reasoning? I am digging through all the crap I have wasted my money on over the last couple of years - Saturday is when the main dig begins - and then I am going to launch an ebay extravaganza with bargains galore. It'll be amazing and I hope to make upwards of 37 pounds.

In other news, I will be moving my TV (currently used as a Monitor, TV, Xbox Display) and the 360 into my Room With A Table in an effort to make it more front roomy. We are considering buying furniture for said room but I wouldn't hold my breath - most furniture has no buttons and the technology really hasn't moved on since the invention of the chair. Hover-chairs - that'll get me to IKEA. There aren't many things that can't be improved by adding a Hover aspect to them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hullward Bound!

Tomorrow I am off up to Hull for the first time in over a year! In the inimitable words of the great Oscar Wilde - "w00t".

It will be awesome, staying with Emi until Tuesday - meeting up with a whole bunch of people I haven't seen in years on Saturday and generally drinking and being merry. OK, slightly less frowny.

Amongst the people I haven't seen in a while is Emi's hirsute boyfriend Paddy, who I was looking forward to seeing until he said some deeply accurate hurtful things about my blog and the upcoming egotrip podcast. Beards are highly flammable, that's all I'm saying.

Errrm. There will be a strid there, which is always a spectacle. I am hoping to meet up witha few old housemates too, but will have to play that one by ear - and by that I mean wait for a phone call from Gemma. Anyway, it will be awesome despite the fact that due to McFly commmitments a key Hannah ingrediant is missing. I will try to remember to take photographs or at least steal other peoples.

Oh yeah Emi is taking us on a field trip to Santa's grotto on Sunday - I hope to perform a daring raid and make my fortune selling spinning tops and candy canes on the black market.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Apple Online Store

[/Rant]If you only ever listen to one piece of advice that I give, listen to this. Never, ever order anything at all from the Apple online store. It is the single most painful online shopping experience I have ever had and by some considerable degree. They are awful, it's taken 2 weeks so far for something to arrive that they have in stock so I shudder to think what happens when they have to get soemthing in.

My advice? Go to the store, ignore the online thing - even if you get discount through work - because they don't have the first clue.[/Rant]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post production

We recorded some stuff last night, and I don't think it's completely awful. Luckily Nick spoke for some of it so there are some actual facts in there. We did go through quite a lot and we are currently bumbling through a post production process so there is less of me and less random pauses.

Anyway, watch this space - we are organising some hosting as Nick seems to be under the misguided impression that people who aren't Olivia, Hannah and Pete will listen to us. The problem is, as I say, we weren't sure how much stuff we'd need as we assumed it would mostly be cut but as it turns out we are keeping a lot of it - and the editing is actually quite time consuming. So, it'll be here soon.

This will be a podcast of indeterminate length but we are going to try and keep it under 45 minutes for the most part and we are including handy chapters so you can skip the bits where I go off on a ramble. All comments, suggestions and pleas to make us stop should go to geeksnammo[at_symbol_here]gmail.com. This doesn't mean we are sticking with that as a podcast title, we just couldn't think of anything else!

[Addendum] Nick is in work from about 1am tomorrow and I am in from about 5am. It's unlikely we will do anything further with this until Wednesday night! I might see about putting a random audio clip up here that didn't make the edit in the interim.[/Addendum]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Podcrastination

I've not been blogging, instead choosing to spend ridiculously long hours at work. That's right, no one knows how to have a good time better than me.

Anyway. Podcasting, it is happening and soon with our semi-official, first recording happening on Sunday (possibly, maybe). Current working title is the 'Where the F*!K is my Macbook?!' edition. Unless of course Apple pull their finger out.

I thought I needed to post something, you are all getting a little too interested in the mechanics of the forbidden love between man and velocipede.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Invasion of Privacy

We are in a terrifying times at the moment, in the US and UK you can be held without charge for looking a bit foreign. 'Anti-Terror' laws gradually erode the freedom they claim to protect. There is an MPAA backed bill up for a vote in the US that, if passed, will enforce educational institutions to subscribe to media download services. the idea is that it will prevent piracy. This does two things : firstly it assumes peer to peer file sharing guilt on ALL students, regardless of whether they own computers or not. Secondly it places the onus on the University concerned to enforce the useage - basically making it the business of the US government to secure revenue streams for large media corporations. The penalty for non-compliance? The revocation of federal funding for the institution concerned. An analogy for us Brits: London has it's transport budget removed because someone shoplifted from the Virgin Megastore.

It won't pass but the very fact it;s made it to the floor is mind-boggling.

But that is nothing compared to the travesty that has happened in this country - it's a step too far by an overzealous and controlling state that could spell revolution. That's right, a man can no longer have sex with his bicycle in the privacy of his own room without "The Man" getting involved. It was only a matter of time before the nanny-state mentality of this labour government started to encroach on the sacred love a mentally unstable Glaswegian (is there any other kind?) shares with his velocipede, but who could have predicted that it would happen so soon?

Friday, November 09, 2007

More on meetings...

Currently on a conference call playing buzzword bingo. Just gave myself bonus points because one of the sycophants added a d to the word Strategy. Stradigy. Nobber.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Zen of Meetings

Meetings at work can be the bane of your life when you have 'shit to get done', they certainly interfere with my working day on an increasingly regular basis.

I've had a meeting where Nick and I implemented something that someone else disagreed with and tried to get reversed. We said that people really like it, it was easy to do, had minimal impact and lots of people want to use it. His argument back was 'In many ways that is part of its downfall'.

Unfortunately, his worst fears were realised and it stayed put and increasing numbers of users took advantage of this terrible and apocalyptic break from tradition. Even now we suffer the effects of pleased clients and users.

Anyway. Meetings. Sometimes they can be incredibly useful - especially when you have nothing pressing for them to interfere with. For example, this morning I had a meeting which could have caused me some frustration had I not finished a bunch of work (the correct plural term for work) before leaving last night. Rather helpfully this meeting came with an agenda and a set of previous minutes, all nicely numbered, which helped my productivity no end.

The Agenda is essentially a numbered crib sheet, you can skim read the agenda and see where your input is expected and, so long as you are vaguely aware of what number in the agenda you are at, you can get a lot done whilst appearing to participate in the meeting. Though this may not be that important as on many occasions agenda items can be kind of like talent contests - one person does most of the speaking in the hope of convincing everyone else in the room they have some useful abilities or skills - resolving whatever issue is on the table is of minor importance. These people are a friend to your productivity and they should be encouraged as they are unlikely to interrupt you with requests for input or your opinion.

During these parts of the meeting you can use the otherwise lost time to do other things. For instance, improve your creative side by working on your drawing skills - who knows? This could possibly lead to a future career change provided you attend enough meetings:


Fig 1: Extract from this morning's meeting.

Writing your grocery list is another excellent way of appearing to take notes and also serves the purpose of reducing the amount of time it takes you to order the food from your desk/pick it up at the supermarket during your extended lunch break.

Once you are proficient at both drawing and writing whilst appearing to pay attention, you can combine these skills to design increasingly elaborate world domination plans and draw sketches of underground lairs/minion uniforms/biomechanical supercreatures with deathrays and chocolate milk dispensers. These are just some suggestions, feel free to think of your own chocolate milk dispensing variations on the world domination theme. It can also be healthy to draw representaions of any antagonists at the meeting in various scenarios involving your inky doom-bringers - red pens can be a help here but it's a lot harder to conceal what you are doing if you brink a full set of coloured pencils and finger paints are a dead give away. It's all about moderation people.

There are myriad other possibilities, just remember - make the meetings work for you! Good luck everyone!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Gadget of Doom

I suspect the Macbook is going to have a similar effect on me that the new phone did. ie demonstrating that Windows Mobile really hadn't come as far as I'd thought. The problem here is that my Windows PC is becoming increasingly unstable and wobbly so there may be elements of Transference. Anyway, I'll save this for the techblog - but if you see elements of fanboyism please eviscerate me and remind me of things I've said about those types in the past.

I'm so very weak!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Journals in Hypocrisy

The title of this post will become clear, but I am going to discuss my awesome weekend of awesomeness first. In brief.

Rob Shipley, friend and colleague headed towrds the light on Friday, it was his last day at this company. Also Don Pedro Ramirez - international latini lover, arrived for a visit for the weekend. The inevitable drinking until we couldn't feel our faces ensued, inclduing a lovely curry at Lal Akash - I was going to put a photo here but they are on the home PC.

Saturday saw me cooking a lot of food and myself and Pedr taking the newly formed Wisconsin NFL franchise - the Cheddar City Cheesey Poofs - to an unbeaten run in the 2007 season on Madden '08 on the 360(8 and 0 so far ;)). The uniform of bright Edam Red and Double Gloucester Orange proved a hit with the fans, who were glad of no longer having to support the Evil Green Bay Packers. The Cheesey Poofs play at Cheddar Gorge stadium. Yeah, it took us hours to come up with that one.

I also made curry. It was awesome. Grown men playing 360 all day. That's right, no one is cooler than us.

Sunday we went to the Strand to check in to the hotel but they were running late on check-ins so we ditched the luggage and headed up to Wembley (photos on facebook, will put some up here eventually). We watched the game between the Dolphins and the Giants, the weatehr actually helpled the dolphins somewhat and it ended a tight 13-10 Giants win. The experience of goign to Wembley and actually watching a regular season NFL game was awesomeness, we then went to Sports Café to catch the Pats, 49ers and Jets games and Pedr also wanted to watch game 4 of the World series.

Met a bunch of people there who had also travelled down for the game who were very chatty (clearly not natives of the South East ;)). Seems to be a disproportionate number of Tynesiders who are NFL fans!

Monday I was off work, so obviously got called up 3 times before 930am which was fun after drinking until 3 in the morning.

After putting Piotr on the tube to Euston I decided to mooch about London for a bit and wandered aimlessly - ended up by Whitehall, Palmall, some other places. Eventually wound round to Regent Street which is where my big troubles began. I ended up in the Apple Store and nearly convinced myself to by a MacBook then and there - all my brain needs is a tiny bit of space and it latched onto the 'You were going to buy a laptop soon anway' thought I'd been havign and it was away! I escaped with my wallet intact for now but I doubt it will last much beyond the end of the month because I am an idiot.

Yes, I still hate many of the things Apple do but I've hardly been in love with Microsoft all these years. Maybe I should just get a 400mhz 386 and install Ubuntu on it and be done with all of these commercial giants. But then, that wouldn't be as pretty which is apparently what matters.

I hope I don't have to start wearing rollneck sweaters if I become a Mac.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breaking News - No One Fucking Cares!

There should be an International Law that forces all self-proclaimed news sites to have a Diana filter. This could serve multiple purposes, not least of which would be documenting who are the Diana conspiracy theorists and excluding them from any and all public debate on any subject - they clearly lack the ability to apply logic and reason to any situation.

The Diana filter would immediately remove all the pointless, worthless crap that is written around a sadly departed over priviledged socialite. Seriously, 'Poor me I live in a Palace full of treasure'. It's apparently blasphemy to say this but I didn't care for her when she was alive and, thanks to the Daily Express and everyone who still seems to think that this is in any way news, I care for her less now.

I check the BBC daily and the news stories from the 2007 inquest (I think it's an annual event now, kind of like the Queen's speech) this week:

Today - Diana Spoke
Yesterday - Diana chased and possibly hindered by Papps
Yesterday - Car in front of Diana on the road
Tuesday - Scooter may or may not have been ont he road at the same time as Diana
Monday - Spitting Image puppet of Diana to be sold.

I kid you not, this is just what I remember from glances at the 'most emailed headlines' link on the beeb. Who's emailing this crap to their friends?! And how do they still have friends?! Essentially the top emailed stories this week are 'Diana had the ability to speak', 'Other people in France use roads' and '80s puppet based satire enjoys brief rememberance'.

The irony that the same media that killed her is the same media that sheds crocodile tears and feigns interest in "finding the truth" now is not lost on me ;)

Of course, the biggest advantage of a compulsory Diana filter is that none of you would have had to read this ;)

Ending an abusive relationship

For the last 13 years I've endured your abuse. Your lack of communication in my times of need have left me anguished for days on end. Just when I am at the end of my tether, you kick me while I am down - when I try to fix things, to make them better - you don't answer my calls and when you do you just give me the run around. And then you charge me for the privilege!

This measured and deliberate abuse ends now, I've found someone else - you and I are through.

I'm sick of your gnarly old Natwest facade, your 'admin charges', your inability to do anything without me coming into your understaffed branch and proving my existance to you. In short, you smell of poo and now I have a proper job I amm in a position to move my accounts somewhere else. Do you know what a mobile phone is? First Direct will text me with my account status, they'll text me whenever I tell them to. They have a cool website (though I think the fact they have apodcast is a bit weird).

So screw you Nastywest! I got me some First Direct love!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Let the good times roll.....or at least wobble a bit

I had a big thing about hunting for a new flatmate, being sensible with my budgeting and all sorts of other incredibly dull stuff here until I realised that it was all crap and no one cares. Instead I am going to tell you that I am going out for the first time since Hannah's awesome visit last month (post still to come - work in progress for the ever elusive new site). I only tell you this because it will be the first opportunity I will have had to test out the camera on the new phone! You're on the edge of your seats I can tell. It's Nim's birthday bash and it should be good fun. Also meeting up with Mair in London tomorrow night for a catch up and drinks, so two in one weekend!

It's nice to go out because I want to, not because it's a weekend actually - I only decided to accept the Nim invite when I woke up today, I was going to be all sensible and just do tomorrow but what's the point in being good if you can't reward yourself a bit? ....... As opposed to my previous budget plan which was to reward myself extensively and without pause in lieu of being awesomely good.

There seems to be a bizarre response to the podcast idea, none of you seem particularly horrified - I'll look into it - I may even start with an NFL special report pre-Wembley while Pedr is down visiting. I should probably mention it to him at some point - but he'll read this. Pedr - we can cut this short, you'll say you don't want to do it and say you’re embarrassed etc. I'll likely agree, and then we'll get drunk and argue about how I think baseball could be much improved by making the ball a time bomb that goes off randomly. You know it makes sense ;)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mattcasts

I'm considering doing an infrequent podcast, because my ego really is that deluded. I say me, I mean me and Nick. Nick doesn't know yet but I'm sure he'll be thrilled. It's probably yet another whim that will pass but I thought I would warn you.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Weight gain 3000

I've become more portly in my dotage because I am lazy and don't take much exercise. Apparently saying you are going to exercise doesn't cut the mustard.

Some people say that drinking lots of beer and alcohol in general gives you a beer belly and makes you fat. This isn't true, at least not directly. Not in my case, I don't care what these so called 'Health Professionals' tell you.

As the completely indisputable evidence provided by psuedo-science tells us, soft drugs lead to harder drugs. I assume this means you progress from the occasional spoon of Night Nurse to a hardcore Benylin habit. Anyway, where am I going with this analogy? I'll warn you that it's a tenuous link at best but I'm hung over so you can all sod off.

So, Alcohol doesn't make me fat - but Alcohol leads to kebabs and breakfast. And much like spending increases to match your income, my body has grown to accomodate sausages and kebabs. I get drunk, I get hungry so I eat lots of things that aren't good for me. Also I wake up starving - I don't normally eat breakfast but after a heavy night, if it's a weekend I grill half a pig's worth of Porky White's sausages and maple cured bacon. I grill tomatoes, heat up some beans, poach some egss and toast a load of bread. All of this goes onto a plate and is promptly demolished.

This kind of behaviour has got to contribute to my ever growing moobs and it's time the drinks industry stood up to its responsibilities and provided free gym membership to all those affected by ARSES (Alcohol Related Stupid Eating Syndrome) or, better still, a personal trainer. An idiot would suggest that I could just exercise some willpower, but as the description suggests, that person would be an idiot.

Casing point - last night was the project meal and I got hammered, abandoned this post half written to get fish and chips.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Podcastables

Hi! It's me again! Just thought I would write about the awesomeness of Podcasts. The new phone is quite cool in this regard, it will subscribe to podcasts and I can download them right to the device. I still haven't found a way of automating it but give me time. Anyway, so I've been looking for half decent podcasts to listen to, some recommended to me by Nick and one or two I found myself. So far, however, there are only two that held my interest.

Firstly - Russell Howard on 6 Music podcast - very funny show without all the boring musicky bits! :D Clicky to Download

The second is This Week in Tech or TWiT. Obviously a geekfest but also very funny, especially John Dvorak. Clicky to download. Incidentally Dvorak has quite a good ranty blog here.

Anyway, any podcasty recommendations send them my way, I made the mistake of downloading Moyles from the BBC who I am pretty sure I used to like - though I can't think why anymore! Anyway, point being I wouldn't bother with that one ;)

Delayed response

Hi! I haven't forgotten you, I've just been lame. Hannah came to vist a couple weks ago and I took her to Thorpe Park and a comedy gig for her birthday. Lots of other stuff is happening too but I need to sort that post out, hence the delay on other stuff. Bear with me, if i can actually muster some effort I will get a lot done this weekend ;)

You're on the edge of your seats, I can tell.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Techno-Mum

A snippet from a conversation from my mum - this was after the usual 'We checked the obituaries and didn't see your name, so we assuemd you are still alive' and update on every member of the home town conversation.


Mum: So I set up one of those thingies and wrote you a letter and used that bit that you wrote down and it said it doesn't exist.

Matt: I have no idea what you just said, were you just picking words randomly out of a dictionary?

Mum: I have enough of that off your bloody father, don't you start!

Matt: OK, so start again - what exactly are you trying to do?

Mum: The email thingy! I made one, wrote you a letter and the thing you wrote down it says doesn't exist.

Matt:...... oh right - my gmail address? I'm sorry, it was in May and some things have happened between now and then. So you used jones.mg@gmail.com?

Mum: Yes! that's the one!

Matt: Well it should work....I'll tell you what, give me your email address and I will send you an email, that way you can just add me to your friends when you get it.

Mum: OK, all right then. You're dad's on the PC playing his silly games at the moment. You send me an email, and if it arrives I will give you a call to let you know its arrived.

Matt:......

Mum: Hello?

Matt:....Was I adopted?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

shiny new toy

Hah! As you can see my new phone is way more awesomer than any other phone ever. FACT! Now does anyone know of any symbian software that will let me upload direct to blogger? Blogger mobile appears to be down and currently i am emailing this stuff in from my phone.

test

Room with a view

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Reaper Never Sleeps....

Awesome. I smoke, I drink, I eat lots of things like cheese and pie. Now apparently the fact I generally sleep 4-6 hours a night means that death is even closer. Stupid scientists! If they didn't spend all their time working out the many and varied ways in which I am going to die we might have some better stuff and I wouldn't mind the dying young because i will have lived to have seen it! Instead all of that effort and brainpower is wasted working out new and improved ways of ruining my fun.

Dying young doesn't matter so long as you've lived to enjoy hoverboards and jetpack equipped squirrel/cow hybrids.*

*This also explains why all depictions of 18th, 19th and many 20th century scientists are so dour - they all knew that they were generations away from this pinnacle of human achievement.

Phonetastic Gibberish

Hehe, gibberish is a great word.

Anyway, over on my Techno-Whine you may have seen that I've decided to get a Nokia N95 instead of any of the other phones I've been blathering about. There is some vague attempt at a logical argument as to why I should be getting this phone. I cite both financial and technical reasons for the choice, and some people may be fooled by it. The logic does make some sense, and if you don't know me you would give me the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately, most of the people who read my blog do know me. What they know most is this : I'm jonesing for a new gadget, this one is new and shiny and it does almost all of the things I want it to do without being Apple or Sony.

I think the techno-blog is making me schizophrenic:


Techno-Whine Matt: Ah yes, the natural logical conclusion is for me to get the N95, for you see blahblahblah [insert tenuous logic and misdirection]

RantAMatt: So it's not just because the HTC isn't out and you want to replace your perfectly serviceable phone for something newer?

TWM: Errr....No! 'Cos I could have switched to T-Mobile, they have it available from next week!

RAM: Yeah, but that would end up costing you about 450 quid more over the course of the year - what with the discount you've been promised from Orange? I mean, you're a gadget freak and everything but you're not a blind, lobotomised monkey with no hands - you have some small amount of normal person's reasoning abilities.

TWM: Ummmmm..... The only reason I didn't think of the N95 before is because I didn't realise you could export contacts from Outlook and then...

RAM: You do know that I'm you right?

TWM: Errr...

RAM: You're not right in the head, I should never have given you your own writing space.

TWM: I'll be good....



Ah well, at least I have someone to talk to.

Friday, September 21, 2007

[Boring geek Waffle!] Ongoing Techno Saga

I've now moved my techno-whining here

The Kinks

The first ever album I bought with my own money was by the Kinks. I don't have many early childhood memories but I do remember this distinctly. I had a battered old tape player radio thingy and we went on one of our regular trips Mold market.

Anyway I was looking for something or other and my dad took me to a stall that sold cassettes. Now the next memory has probably been rose tinted somewhat.

What my brain tells me happened:

I was poking through the rack of tapes and I picked up the Kinks tape (I think it was a singles compilation of some kind), my dad made some approving noises and I bought the cassette. I left with a feeling of a job well done and I listened to the tape relentlessly - I'm not sure what happened to it but I think it broke.

What probably happened:

Similar to above but I was probably whining about having to go to Mold market - it smelled, was usually raining and my parents used to split up. This always presented a dilemma - do I use my devious child cunning to wander around with my mum, thus receive snack foods and sweets but suffer her trying to buy me shoes that were made with asbestos, acid and nails just because they are 3 pairs for a fiver - or do I go with my dad, forgo the sweets and snacks but have the possible hope of looking at power tools. On this occasion I went with my dad and I almost certainly started with cassettes more suited to a boy of my tender years but was 'encouraged' towards the Kinks. Most probably because the older artists were much cheaper. The approving sound was almost certainly an accurate memory and undoubtedly along the lines of 'Thank Christ you're not your mother's son!'. The feeling of satisfaction and the ultimate fate of the cassette remain the same.

The whole thing about not being my mother's son is understandable. She likes Neil Diamond. Couple that with the fact that she is a singer and it's a recipe for mental scarring. I don't mean that she is a singer really, more someone who sings. Badly. It's a quirk of my family that we compensate for the entirety of the Welsh nation by being utterly without musical talent or ability in any guise - especially singing. I usually have the good grace and consideration to remember this - my mother on the other hand feels no such obligations.

Everyone thinks my mum is lovely, she is a spherical whirlwind of a woman who is ace. However, it must be remembered that we were always made to choose between two evils as children. Example. Baking day (Saturday to the rest of you). Do we stay in the kitchen negotiating who gets to lick the bowl, who the spoon and who the whisk whilst enduring the ocular assault of her singing, or do we bid a retreat and spend the morning leaping off the shed roof? Which in itself brought a different kind of vocal abuse from her if she caught us. (What is it with mothers and their inability to watch their children diving headlong off garden structures/trees/bedroom windows?).

Anyway. The Kinks, i think they are awesome. The Beatles never appealed to me, I don't think their music is particularly good. This statement appears to have become against the law over the last 10 years, the very idea that someone thinks Paul McCartney is a cock and can take or leave the music of the Beatles seems to be some kind of perverse criminal act. I'm not saying they were crap, there are some tunes I quite like but I don't generally care for them. The Kinks I really like and for a lot of reasons but mainly the irreverence I think.

So The Kinks Rool, the Beatles Drool. Or something. (All this because Plastic Man played on random on my PMP on my way in this morning)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Flapjack Deception

I love flapjacks, they are more awesomer than most if not all other snacks. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is the lie that they tell with their appearance.

They are all oaty you see? Lookit all the oaty goodness!:



Healthy right? hah! That's where you are wrong! Who the hell just eats oats? What are you, some kind of weevil?! No, this marvel of modern confection is bound together with about as much butter and honey as it's possible to cram into the space allowed. This results in the flapjackey goodness you see fore you!

Now, much like the Hobnob some people will attempt to claim that the varieties that are coated in chocolate are superior. These people are deluded idiots and should be pitied. The beauty of the Hobnob (essentially a crunchy round flapjack) and the flapjack is the fact that they have a thin veneer of an appearance of being good for you. Go slapping low quality chocolate all over them and that illusion is shattered.

No. Unadulterated flapjacks and hobnobs are the only way forward.

I brought this up for many reasons:

a) I think the only thing I've blogged about recently that I've enjoyed is probably biscuits

b) I bought flapjacks and ginger bread men from the supermarket yesterday. I am embracing my old age by having a store of biccy like things in my desk draw to have with my tea at work :p

c) It's this or do some work. And nobody wants that.

.....The Flapjack Deception. Anyone else think it could work as film title? Kind of a cereal centric Bourne like film. Sod it, I did the hard bit and came up with a title, you lazy lot can do the plot!

Relocations

They've moved us about in the office at work - something to do with under utilisation of deskspace. I'm not sure I understand, I had a desk for my two work stations, a desk to the right that I put a printer on and also housed my 'big pile of stuff' filing system and a section of a minion's desk to the left that was used for lunch/coffee/tea etc.

Anyway we moved, and I now have a window seat over looking the bit of grass outside and the car park. It's way more awesomer.

I now sit nearer to all the people I generally have to talk to about various things, so really it's a lot better. One side effect though, is this - Each team seemed to have it's hardcore cynic but now we are all concentrated in one part of the room, playing buzzword bingo and generating new corporate slogans. One of our biggest triumphs was with our old strap line which used to be 'Solutions that Matter'. One of our lot finished it off - 'Solutions that matter, people that don't'.

As with many things, I'm a raging hypocrite of course - I tend to be what is known in management speak as 'a go to guy' and even on occasion have a 'can do attitude'. To the rest of us, this translates into 'I've had an idea but I have no clue if it's possible or how it might be done, best ask someone else'. Anyway, I get involved as about 1 in 20 of these ideas has a glimmer of hope in it, a faint glowing ember of sense that can be brought to life just so long as you can usher it away from management before it gets crushed beneath flow charts and minutes from meetings about what font to use to describe it. So. Cynnical with an occasional flash of optimism.

Point is this, there is a concentration of cynicism in about a 10 foot radius in this building an I fear for the fabric of reality. The Universe doesn't end with a bang but with a 'I'll believe that when I see it'

Friday, September 14, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Orange mercenary

I'm definitely getting old. I just decided to do something sensible. It's incredibly out of character and hopefully it won't spread, but I'd ask you all to keep a close eye on me in case I start talking about beige.

Anyway, my exciting mobile phone saga continues. I can tell you are all on the edge of your seats, so I won't hold back. As I'm sure you'll recall from previous posts, my main reasons for moving to T-Mobile were to do with their data charges and the shiny new HTC phone that is coming out.

Well. Today I got a call from Orange - the conversation was quite lengthy, so I'll summarise:

O - "Hello Mr Jones, sorry all our other customer service people are so crap at their jobs - did none of them tell you that due to the vast quantities of cash you've spent with us over the years you are entitled to 20 pounds a month of any of our tariffs?"

Me - "No - I said 'I'd like to leave' and they said 'OK then'. It seemed like something of a risky customer retention strategy to me at the time but I didn't like to say anything. What about the data charges?"

O - "Well we cap that so the most you'll pay, if you use at least 20MB every day is 30 a month. Which is still cheaper than switching, because of your discount. They didn't mention that?"

Me - "No, as I say - 'OK then' appeared to be their master plan to get me to stay.....actually one of them did say 'what a shame' but quickly recovered herself from her emotional outburst and proceeded to imply that I was letting her down"


And so on. So I am back in my previous quandary. Do I revert to plan A and get myself a camera phone so I can actually have a camera when I go places? This is a much stronger possibility now I've seen the results of the K810i. Or do I continue to wait for the new HTC shinyness to come on to Orange? I have 4 weeks to decide but I am getting gadget itches and I should pick up a free one before I go spending money again!

It's quite good, I've only been semi-sensible - it looks like I am still driven by my gadget senses so perhaps it was a false alarm after all....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

They try to make me go to iPod I say...

Sadly the answer is probably yes,yes,yes. I'm not interested in the iPhone, only interested in a Mac if I don't want to do anything too clever or complicated but the MP3 players are very good. The software is arse, but if I'm honest the Zune software isn't too hot either and it has no podcast support.

Most importantly though, is that it's new and it's shiny. Particularly the iPod Touch, and the new nano phatty.

I am going to be good though, I am going to wait until Canada and give Microsoft a chance to come up with a decent Zune or for iRiver to pounce ;)

I just thought I would put this up because earlier in the year I was raving about the Zune, but I am flexible with my gadget loyalties and won't say something is good just because I like the brand (*cough!*iBoiyz*cough!), it's not all about the badge and if something stands still like the Zune appears to be, then I am going to get my fix elsewhere - even if it means drinking from the Devil's cup :p

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What ever happened to....?

My new website? Yeah, about that....

I did majorly stall on that one, as is always the case with me. I'm back on it this weekend though, decided to have a go at building my own blog engine so am learning php right now. Check back in 6 months to see what the new thing I absolutely 'have to know before I continue' is ;)

Monday, September 03, 2007

More of Matt's Amazing Planning

So I'm switching mobile provider to T-Mobile - this is for many reasons I shan't go into to do with tariffs, reception, service blahblahblah..... one I will highlight though is this:


Another is that they have the best data useage charges - £7.50 with a 1GB fair useage policy. But anyway, this is besides the point - this is about my genius planning abilities and how I conspire to sabotage myself at every turn (not too hard, I'm not the sharpest knife in the draw).

The problem I have is that in my infinite wisdom I cancelled my Orange contract last month (gave my 30 days notice) wih the intention of ordering my T-Mobile phone and contract this week - thus facilitating a seemless transition. Yeah, I know.

So unsurprisingly my new phone has yet to be released and I have about 4 days left on my Orange contract before I am phoneless - this means that for the few of you that are subject to my random texts and missives I shall be disappearing from the mobile world for the imminently forseeable future.

Of course a normal person would have just waited until they were sure and dropped the contract when they switched over, but this approach wasn't nearly convoluted enough, and lacked the bizarre logic that is commonly associated with most of my actions - on the plus side there are a few souls who'll benefit from a brief respite from me ;)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael Vick - Nothing like a bit of rhyming slang

I won't bang on too uch about this, it's been all over the US news for months. For those unaware (not sure there has ben much saturation outside the US) - here it is in brief:

Michael Vick is a very famous NFL player and also a very talented one. He's about to be convicted of running a 6 year dog fighting operation out of his home called Bad Newz Kennels. his operation included him being involved in the fights and executing fighting dogs, also running the gambling operation.

In 2004 he signed a 10 year $130 million dollar contract with the Falcons with a $37 million dollar sign on fee which made him the highest paid sports player on the planet. Last year he earned $8,401,980 and that was just from the Falcons and none of his many endorsements.

That means he did this for fun.

Here's how you treat dogs. Animals like Vick and his compadres on the other hand - how about they are submitted to the same fate as the creatures they tortured and killed for kicks? Seems fair to me, bu then I am not a very nice person.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If evolution were left up to people in marketing.....

......we'd all be sat in caves trying to work out if rocks are edible.

I'll give you an example. This example does involve me revealing that my Saturday night consisted of cider, chili and the Witchfinder General, but you already knew that I am a classy classy party animal right?

Incidentally, as an aside - the 24 year old director of the Witchfinder General, Michael Reeves, often clashed with Vincent Price about his over acting. The story goes that Price eventually lost his rag and snapped 'Young man, I have made 84 films! How many have you done?', 'Two good ones' came the reply.

Anyway, back to the subject. Before this awesome film came on I found myself watching QI on UKTV Gold, or some channel like it. When the ads came on, I phased out as you do and pootled about the kitchen cleaning up after my cooking - when I came back in I was greeted with the words :

'The most advanced piece of technology you will ever pee on!'.

Now it seemed to me that it was an incredibly bizarre thing to be proud of, and it was said with great American accented gusto. Like all the best innovations the world has ever seen should first be unrinated on before they could be taken seriously. It's an odd criteria because as we all know, men will pretty much relieve themseleves anywhere and on anything when caught short - especially after a few drinks.

Then the ad continued and, rather disappointingly, was for a pregnancy test, which at least added some exclusivity to the tag line. If it was for a product that was a bit more unisex, I would imagine trading standards would have a flurry of complaints from drunks insisting that they once pissed against a Lamborghini Diablo and that surely that was waaaaaay more advanced than the thing on that bollox advert.

This in itself is odd, it's certainly a statement that would mke a man sit up and take notice. Not so much the weeing part but the 'Most advanced piece of technology......' part. [Delete]That is a line to sell things to men[/Delete] That is the kind of strap line I would expect to see in something aimed at men. Just look a razors, Gillette have a business model based entirely on adding more blades to razors - 'Each one shaves closer than the last'. Pretty soon we'll be flaying the skin of our faces, allbeit with an aloe vera strip and gentle battery powered vibrations. But it'll be OK because 'It's the most advanced razor in the world!' and it will sell like hot cakes. Women, in my limited experience, would rather something which says 'This works really well[Edit] and is better than product X because.....!' and couldn't give a flying toss whether its made out of the same stuff as the NASA moonlander or not. They really didn't think it through - pregnancy tests are something of a necessity and selling them in the same way as you would sell a new TV seems slightly odd to me.

On the other hand it has made me remember the product, if only to mock it and think of jet powered pregnancy tests, hover pregancy tests etc.

Having said that, in the world of 'technology that you pee on', how much competition is there to get the coveted 'Most advanced thing you will ever pee on' title? I can't think of any other products you have to wee on to get them to work. How advanced are the toilets aboard the ISS?

Biscuits, squows and things you wee on. I told you I was classy.

*If you check out the comments you'll see I ballsed up in explaining what I was driving at re: advertising directed at men vs that directed at women so I edited the post. It's probably no clearer but I know what I meant so I'll stop caring now :p

Friday, August 24, 2007

Non-published Therapy

This is kind of an addendum to a previous post. I've found that simply typing out my more visceral thoughts without publishing them is having quite a cathartic effect whilst actually saving you from reading about precisely what I think should be done with reality TV and anyone involved in it (In this case).

This means I can focus what you actually get to see on here, the important business of biscuit worth, why hasn't God yet made the Squow and other amazing special reports,

Really I should write something about the irony of my use of the word 'Cathartic' to describe what I write, given its alternate meaning. I'm sure you guys could probably write that one yourselves though ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nicecup of tea!

During the great biscuit debate I stumbled on this awesome website called nicecupofteaandasitdown. This is possibly the best domain name I have ever seen with the possible exception of infinitecat. They even do biscuit of the week which is awesome. While they don't declaim the bourbon as a harbinger of evil, they do say that pretty much its only worthy feature is its uniform size and thus could be used as some standard biscuit measurement. On the other hand they don't praise the Hobnob nearly enough for my liking - it really should have a page unto itself.

I also discovered that the inventors of the Bourbon were also responsible for the Garibaldi - another crime against confection.

I have yet to discover anything goodly about this biscuit.

Writer's Ramble

Over the last couple of weeks I've drafted and scrapped about 7 different blog entries but lost the desire to put them up here about half way through writing them. Among the subjects: Chicken and its status as a 'superfood' in ready meals, the rubbishness of salmon, cous cous - semolina by any other name, Steve Jobs and fanboiyz, Mac temptation.... I forget the rest.

Anyway, I got half way through them and they either degenerated into something I didn't want to write or I just got bored. I actually wrote one about work just for the purposes of venting some frustrations but there was no need to post it as by the time I had bashed out words like 'retarded, sub literate baboon', 'goat-ee beard growing, power suit wearing waste of blood and organs who has trouble reading pop-up books' and various other choice phrases I had lost the will to bother worrying about it anymore. Also, who the hell cares about my day? lol!

So basically, in the absence of anything funny to say about Chickens in capes; Salmon in batter; tepid cous cous with a dollop of jam on served by a surly old woman in a pastel tabard; Steve Jobs' Messianic delusions or my apparent weakness to Mac's (not because they are any good but because they are pretty) - I haven't posted anything. I started writing this one in the hope that inspiration would strike, as it is it hasn't. Although I am very proud of the fact that I have been blogging for 2 years and the most lively debates I have managed to start are about creationism (a few different posts about that!) and the inexplicable popularity of the bourbon biscuit.

Actually not inexplicable, lots of people think that cats aren't Evil bundles of malice just awaiting their opportunity to overthrow humanity so that we all become slaves under their vicious dominion. So it's not entirely surprising that bourbon biscuits are not widely recognised as the crunchy brown sandwiches of Satan poo that they actually are.

Actually that didn't turn out so bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Broken Biscuit Mystery

Once again I have turned my incredible powers of insight and perception to one of the pressing issues of the day.

When I was little, back when fire was merely the stuff of a madman's dreams, my mum used to shop at our local supermarket. She had 3 boys plus my dad. This is basically the same as feeding a plague of locusts. Locusts with a thyroid imbalance. Anyway, she bought a lot of food and so had to economise. One of the best things she used to buy was bags of broken biscuits. These were large bags filled with random assormtents of broken biscuits, that hadn't passed muster to make it into their normal retail packaging.

These things were awesome and contained huge amounts of biscuity-goodness for very little cash. Now while I admit I don't shop at the same place as my mum used to, I do shop quite a lot because contrary to the evidence of my blog I am actually all growed up. But the broken biscuits of my distant youth no longer seem to be available. Has biscuit forming technology really improved so much that every biscuit produced is pristine and perfectly formed? Or perhaps biscuits are made of tougher stuff these days? (Certainly not the case with Rich Tea biccies - blech!). And if that is the case then surely these scientists and engineers could have been better employed working on cures for diseases and making hoverboards? Were broken bisuits such a pressing issue that such time and effort to reduce breakage was required?

If any of you know of retailers of broken biscuits in the Surrey area please let me know, I miss the surprise of biting into a biscuit and discovering that Orange Creams actually exist.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Alchemy of Confectionary Part II

Last year I made a plea to Cadbury. It was a plea to stop their madness. Sadly they didn't listen, and we are all paying the price. They thought they could play God, they thought that the natural order of things did not apply to them. They thought that by transmuting Egg into Bar they would conquer the confectionary world.

The Fools.

I warned them in strong terms of the dangers of playing with forces beyond their understanding but still they continued to sell the blasphemous bar. Not one, but two women succumb to John Prescott's charms, yet still they continue. Tony Blair is made Peace Envoy to the middle east and still they continue. Floods beset our lands and still they toy with the forces of nature.

Someone needs to take a stand against this filth, against this violation of all that is good and pure in this world. But no one person can do this alone - we must each find out who the sick, sick, perverted freaks are who buy these diseased chocolate bars and stop them. By any means necessary.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tony Burrows - Prolific 60s/70s Popster or Devious Murderer?

I personally contend the latter. The man even brags about his wicked deeds, one only has to analyse the lyrics to popular love ballad "Love Grows(where my Rosemary goes) to see the truth behind this sick and brilliant killer.

"She ain't got no money, Her clothes are kinda funny, Her hair is kinda wild and free" - Tony cruelly mocks a poor girl who has clearly fallen on hard times who perhaps can't afford the latest fashions or the price of a good hairdresser.

The second verse is as follows:

"She talks kinda lazy, And people say she she's crazy, And her life's a mystery - Clearly Tony has started some vicious rumours about her being mentally ill, and that perhaps her behaviour is inexplicable by normal standards.....but for what reason?.....

Sadly, the reasons become all too clear in the sinister and devilish chorus:

"Love grows.." -Love here clearly means a woman's love - Tony has woven a tale in which the poor subject falls for a charming facade. We all know from our knowledge of floristry that a woman's love is denoted by pink carnations. Clearly he is growing Pink Carnations....but where?...

"...where my Rosemary goes - Here the song takes a sinister turn, Tony has quite obviously murdered Rosemary in cold blood. 'Goes' in this sense doesn't mean where someone happens to go to, but rather in the 'it belongs here' sense. 'The salt goes in the cupboard', 'The milk goes in the fridge', 'Rosemary goes under ground, in the allotments'. He's murdered the poor woman, after publicly destroying her character and in a final cruel joke has planted pink carnations over her resting place

and finally the chorus finishes with this chilling line:

"...and nobody knows like me..." - Without evidence of a person, body, murder, motive or even any crime at all the Police are powerless to act against this madman


The Face of Evil....

After destroying Rosemary's character in public, her disappearance would not of raised any suspicion as she was 'crazy' and a 'mystery' - a perfect crime. One day we can hope to bring Tony Burrows to justice, but that day doesn't look like it will happen soon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Celebrity Child Names - White goes too far

In a move that has stunned parents and parents-to-be across the globe, White Stripes front man Jack White revealed the name of his first born baby.

From our own correspondent:

"Henry Lee" - the name hangs like a convicted 15th century turnip thief in the stunned silence of the press conference. A silence broken only by the unrestrained retching of the normally Iron-Stomached Hello! reporter, and quiet but open weeping from the OK! contingent.

White, wisely, kept the conference brief - one can only imagine that this was to prevent a potential lynching by the outraged parents present. Soon reactions from responsible parents across the globe start to flood in.

First in the door was mother of 3 Katie "Jordan" Price, mother of Princess Tiáamii. "I think it's a disgrace! How is that child supposed to live with a name like that? I don't know how things are in America, but here we expect our celebrities to behave a certain way. How are chavs supposed to pick names for their children with that kind of example?!". Her sentiments were echoed by Bob "Jesus" Geldof in much stronger terms. Sir Bob, father of Fifi Trixabelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie (also legal guardian of Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily) demanded "immediate action from the American Child Protection thingy! Or whatever it's called....". When pressed on what kind of action, he was heard to mumble something about not liking Mondays and the need to press his linen suit with enormous rolled up wads of cash whilst preaching about curing poverty.

Last in the first line of Brits to criticise White's choice of baby name was floppy haired, eighties, Duran Duran front man and New Romantic - Simon LeBon. "The man simply has no excuse for picking a name like that. Take me for instance, I have 3 children, and I have no objection to Jack following my fine example. All you need is a Dulux Colour chart and you have infinite baby names! My three are Amber Rose Tamara, Saffron Sahara and Tallulah Pine and I only used their Spring range!"

Then it was the turn of the Americans. From the Vegas show hacks like Penn Jilette (father of Moxie CrimeFighter) calling for White's blood, though that was mainly for his stage show with along Sooty impersonator and partner - Teller. Later in the day Cher, mother of the ironically named Chastity, was heard to demand a return to "traditional Hollywood values". Even going so far as to suggest legislation regulating against "naming one's offspring based on anything other than a whim or flight of fancy".

Actress Shannyn Sossamon (mother of Audio Science) said that 'We should all follow the forward thinking antipodeans in their naming culture, where only backward bureaucrats prevent perfectly normal and legitimate naming practices'.

New Zealand couple the Wheatons have been forced to name their child Superman (Nicholas Cage - father of Ka-lel, approves) purely because of the stone age government not allowing them to call the poor child 4Real. "We're hoping he won't get bullied at school to be honest. After 4Real was rejected we really had to think on our feet" says Pat Wheaton. "Yeah, we think he'll be right though - we reckon there is someone called Keith starting the same year as him so little Superman should avoid any being picked on stuff". Asked about Jack's choice of baby name, they responded with now all too familiar vomit and horror. "That's awful! What's he trying to do to that poor child?" exclaimed a now inconsolable Sheena.

From this harrowing experience, I can report that there has been an unbelievable coming together of parents across the world. They are all uniformly appalled by the selfish; self aggrandising, sickening and virtually criminal disregard for potential damage such stupid a naming convention may cause to a child. There is a fund that you can all contribute to that may persuade Jack to rename that poor boy.

The front runner right now is Fustian Charade.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Optimus More Awesomerus

Bored of your standard PC Tower? Of course you are, we all want one of these puppies:

Surrey encourages Global Warming

Seriously, like this county could become any more intrinsically Evil. I bet if we dig hard enough we'll discover that Celine Dion has roots here...."This is for the Children". Really, cos it looks to us like it's for the huge sacks of cash you screeching harpy.

Anyway, Surrey and it's quest for Palm trees in Horsham. To lay it entirely at the feet of Surrey may seem a little extreme to you, but first you need to see Surrey in the same way as that Island in Lost* in that it has it's own character and personality. Stop seeing it as a place where people live and more like a big, greasy, introverted money and hope vaccuum and you'll get a good starting point.

So if I want to travel anywhere I have to take the train or some other public transport. Something I was doing for years before I moved down here, coping without a car very well thankyouverymuch! And nothing has really changed in terms of the coping and need. What has changed is the pain, hassle and expense of going anywhere that isn't here. If you go by train, the fares seem to suggest that they are going to take you to your destination on a gilded, supersonic hover-train. This is not the case. Not at all. Think Dutch Veal calves.

The National Express can be really good if you get one of their cheap fares and manage to locate a direct service that has a short journey time (for short, read 'under a week'). While you're looking, can you also pick me up some chicken teeth and rocking horse poo?

So, you may have guessed I have been off on my travels. I went to Plymouth to visit Laura for a weekend of booze, junk food and Transformers. It was very more awesomer and a good time was had by all. Well, by me. I'm sure you'll agree that's the only bit that matters. We had drinks, we mooched around Plymouth and went to see Hollywood amazingly NOT shatter one of my childhood memories. Was great to see Laura again, and meet her 'Vince from The Boosh'-esque blokey and consume soem ropey take aways. the only flaw was that it all in all it was a total journey time of 15.5 hours to travel 400 miles.

All of this started kicking my gadget senses trying to persuade me to buy a car again. Which is frustrating because I am all in favour of public transport but there isn't enough of it outside London, it's too expensive and the entire system appears to be run by blind monkeys with no hands. No, that's wrong. Blind Monkeys with no hands that instead of bananas and stuff, can only subsist on a constant supply of the public's money that has to be fed to them by Celine Dion tribute acts.

Maybe it's not all Surrey's fault that it's difficult and expensive to go everywhere. Maybe just because everything else is dificult and expensive here I don't have to lay the blame of Public transport and my ultimate move towards automotiveness firmly at it's feet? Nah....sod it! Global Warming starts and ends with Surrey. "Burn the Big 'ouse! Are ya with me laaaaads?!"

Tomorrow - How the Daily Mail started the inquisition.......

*I gave up on Lost half way through season 2 after it disappeared up it's own arse and my urge to kill Jack, Kate and Sawyer could no longer be contained. As ever, a lack of actual knowledge will not prevent me from commenting.

FOX Vs the Beeb

BBCi main story - China makes a kind of dolphin extinct.

FOX main story - Barry Bonds breaks all time home run record.

Both internationally important and ground breaking stories I'm sure you'll agree ;)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

FOX News Rocks!

It's true, I love FOX News. I love it for so many reasons. I don't know if they still do it but you used to be able to get some FOX News stuff over here late at night, certainly the Beeb used to do a thing where they would show ABC for an hour at some point in the early hours.

FOX News is unique though. It's like a cross between a brainless red neck and a Daily Mail reader. Like some kind of unholy union between the worst qualities of each to produce some bile spewing, ill-informed, white supremecist TV channel. A great thing about it though is the fact that all you need is the tiniest element of free will and the ability to read and you are immediately better informed than every single person involved with the channel, and it becomes a comedy channel.

Unfortunately I am in the UK so am not blessed with the benefit of listening to Republican rent boys Bill O'Reilly or Geraldo Riviera. On the plus side they have an awesome website which is an absolute mine of comedy gems. Today I popped across to see if they had reported on the guy who built a '65 Mustang out of empty Budweiser Cans.

I dutifully clicked on World News and then I was about to click on Europe when I noticed something. Here is the menu list you are presented with once you click 'World News':

World HOME
War on Terror

Col. Corner: David Hunt

Col. Corner: Ollie North

Iran

Iraq

.....
other countries/regions in big list
.....

Europe

Princess Diana

Natural Disasters

.
.
.


Princess Diana, apparently, is now a geographic region and/or current world event. Either that or....... Mrs Redneck may have cheated on Mr Daily Mail? FOX News could be involved with a paternity test, but who with?! Well there is only one publication which lives and breathes Diana, a paper that has managed to shoe-horn the name of a long dead woman of priviledge into every single headline and supplement since 1997. That's right! Is FOX News really the Bastard love child of the Daily Express?! All we need is for Geraldo to pick up his old job as a Jerry Springer wannabe and we got ourselves a show!...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Brainiac

It's the Challenge Cup final at Wembley on the 25th August, Saint Helens play Bradford today in the semi final and we have a pretty fair chance of beating them because the Saints rock and Bradford are evil. I have it on good authority that they eat babies - it's true. They aren't as Satanic and wicked as Leeds and nowhere near as underhand and Anti-Christ like as Wigan, but they are still evil.

The problem I have, as always, is that I'm a moron. I have booked tickets to get home that weekend so even if we beat The Bulls I won't be at the final. Last year it was at Twickenham, an armpit of a stadium that they should pay people to populate not the other way around - so I could stand missing a Challenge Cup final there. This is Wembley but I'll be at home - sucks to be me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More wedding Shenanigans, PokéFaustus, uppance.

Since the predicted clamber of excitement asking for more details of my thrilling adventures I am going to talk first about Nick Brooks, friend and colleague. Hmmm, that sort of sounds like the opening to an obituary.....

I'll start again. Nick is going to marry Cara. This was already a very cool thing, not least because they are doing it at Niagra Falls no less! Also, for reasons best know to himself, Nick asked me to be best man. This is very cool, though I have yet to tell him that I've never successfully been best at anything, even if all that's basically being asked is that I am the best at following my biological fate. I am hoping there is no bear wrestling or running involved.

I'm not entirely sure what it is I am supposed to do beyond getting him drunk, securing a traffic cone and writing a speech that will result in me being banned from all future such engagements. Anyway, the upshot is that in February it looks like I am Canada bound. As such I have decided to kill a flock of birds with a single matrimonial pebble. First I am obviously going to go to Canada, where I plan to spend upwards of a week having a brief mooch around. Then down to the US, stopping in to visit the Maja and some other places along the way. After that I want to fly to Houston to visit an old University friend who lives out there, working for Pi Studios. Then maybe a couple days in Dallas (TBC).

In total, I hope to be in North America for about 3 weeks - hopefully the trip will span over pay day lol!

In other news I noticed Final Fantasy 3 was available for the DS so all the abuse I took for ordering Pokémon was for naught as there was another very good game I could get instead. However, it appears that pre-ordering with GAME is akin to signing your name in blood on a contract made of human skin that is being held by a suspiciously sinister individual with a sanguine complexion and a penchant for throwing his head back and laughing like a Bond Villain. Basically I couldn't cancel, my soul it appears belongs to the Pokémon. Serves me right too, my uppance has clearly come.

PS

Any Best Man advice would be appreciated, most people have the good sense not to invite me to weddings so I really have no idea.........Nick - you weren't meant to read that bit.....

Monday, July 23, 2007

The news in brief......

It's been a while I know! I am going to give a mini-update and let you tell me which you would like to hear about properly first! (If any).

OK so first off - went to La Marché in Italy and had the best most relaxing time with some very more awesomer friends, Emi and Hannah. We were staying with Emi's dad who is a Chiropractor in Communanza. We were right up in the middle of nowhere and no one spoke English which was quite refreshing. I have nothing bad to say except that, on the whole, Italian bread is crap. Now bearing in mind that I spent best part of 5 days there, and the only negative I can think of is the bread, we can conclude I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and the company I was in. I was, obviously, a source of some wonder and amusement as my skin tone, on the Dulux Colour Chart is 'Frightened Milk'. So, I have some pics on facebook but if you want to hear more about this before anything else vote now! (Including the harrowing tale of how I nearly lost a leg when I received a mortal wound whilst swimming).

OK then I came back to work, I've decided to temporarily put my moving plans on hold - I think I was getting a bit ahead of myself - another 6-12 months here will be good for my career in general and the houses aren't going anywhere in that time.

Big news is that I have ordered the new Pokémon game for my DS, which Hannah ranted and raved at me about - and once she explained it to me she was right to do so. I remember Pedr and me taking the piss quite a lot when it was around as a 'phenomenon', but I had no idea quite how massive and childlike it was really. All I know is that the console games tend to be excellent, so I am willing to buy one. However, that argument falls down when you find out they are sending me a free stylus with a little Pokémon on the top of it. That's right; no one is cooler than me. Hannah was mortified when she found out that her favourite band Mcfly (which is waaaay cooler than Pokémon apparently) will be launching the game. [Edit] I should really highlight this a little more strongly. I am 30 yeasr old and I am buying a Pokémon game. Even my low reserves of shame are struggling to deal with this fact. I am still, however, buying it. If rob can't use this as insult ammo, there is no hope for that boy.[/Edit]

Went to lunch on Sunday with April for a chat and a catch-up. We went to J Sheekey, which apparently is very famous. We intended to stick to the set weekend lunch menu, but we got a bit carried away. If you ant a foody post, let me know and I'll do that first!


Then I went for drinks with Keiron and Natalie who have just moved to Bow - Kieron for the first time living further than 1 mile from the University of Hull, Nat moving from Hertfordshire. Once done there, went off for drinks with Rob and his Hannah (tiny tiny Hannah), then home with a very spinny head!

OK, that's the synopsis of my July, I'm sure I missed stuff out but I'm back now! muahahhahah!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Specifically for Julie Gong

Here is why you need to upgrade to an XBox 360 Julie. It's the only way to be more awesomer.



All you losers with real lives couldn't possibly understand. hehe!

More gallivanting

Off to Italy for 5 days or so tomorrow, up in the mountains of Marché apparently. Looking forwrd to doing absolutely nothing for a few days!

Photos to follow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tagged

Well sort of, Olivia didn't play favourites, or she couldn't be bothered thinking of names lol! Anyway.

Tagged

‘The rules are simple. There are 9 questions (3², each of which has 3 answers, to give a total of 27, or 3³. The whole point is that the questions are somewhere between eclectic, banal and downright bizarre, so that you can answer completely truthfully without actually giving much away. Just put down the first three answers that come to mind if you can’t work out the “most appropriate” three.’

Objects Within One Metre Of You

1. My work PCs (yes I have a few, the more you have the more important you are - that's the rule!)

2. Mobile Phone

3. Zune

First Names of People You Sat Next To At School

1. Simon

2. David

3. Phil


TV Programmes You Won’t Watch

1. Big Brother (and all Big Brother Related shows)

2. "Talent" contests

3. Anything with the word 'Celebrity' in the title


Favourite Trivial Pursuit Categories

1. Art & Literature

2. Science and Nature

3. History


Superpowers You’d Like To Have

1. Telkinesis (don't need flight if you have this! - you clearly have not spent the inordinate amount time thinking about this stuff as I have 'Liv! lol)

2. Regeneration

3. Not Getting Fat


Newspapers, Magazines or Periodicals Read Regularly

1. I tend to randomly select a bile rag when I can be bothered to give them my time, just to recharge the Rant Cells.


Songs You Dislike (...oh so many....)

1. Anything by Lilly Allen, especially after what she did to Oh My God.

2. That 'Acceptable In the 80s' song - Calvin Harris is one of the people we should be reserving for conversion into BioFuel.

3. Brimful fo Asha.


Blog Posts of Your Own That You’d Recommend.

1. I'd really give it a miss if I were you

2. Seriously, that's not the name of a good post

3. There really ism nothing to see here.

People you'd like to tag.

1. anyone

2. who wants

3. to join in

Powers of the Throne

Considering the USA is a Republic, their President's powers do seem to bear an awfully strong resemblence to those of our monarchs a couple of hundred years ago. With Dick 'Is it an old man or is it a game bird' Cheney merrily removing the process of Checks and Balances by declaring himself the 4th Branch of Government, the Patriot Act wiping out various pesky sections of the constitution that prove problematic in the War on Free..errrr..Terror.

All I'm saying is, if your president starts walking round in an Ermine trimmed Cloak and a Gold 'n' Diamond hat, start getting worried. That's of course if you don't become a Theocracy under the religious right first.

On the other hand Prudence appears to be improving our slapdash, informal constitution (think of it like the halfway point of a student project, cobbled together research based ont eh original Magna Carta but nothing properly written down yet) by removing powers from the Prime Minister. Now brace yourself, this may come as a shock. I think this is awesome - that's right! I said something good about our governement! The rumour according to the Beeb is that our new PM is going to eliminate his power to declare war without the approval of parliament. Cool eh?

I hope the next US Pres reverses some of the awful damage Dubyah has done. He's pissed on the constitution, destroyed any reputation at all the US had in the International community, wrecked the US economy, treated veterans like dogs and any number of other things. They need someone who actually has the ability to read the job description and who has the spine not to surround himself with sycophants and cronies. I think the people really need to look at this tactic of ALWAYS re-electiing incumbants - whether it be to congress, senate or the Whitehouse - it clearly isn't the most genius of ideas!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Can't go long without a rant...

This story both annoys and amuses me.

Basically they are saying their human rights are infringed because they broke the law. It's your car, if it's not stolen and it is caught speeding you are liable for it unless of course someone else named by you or who comes forward, admits to and can prove they were driving the car. At least that is my understanding.

This man Francis says something like 'I will continue to fight for our freedoms'. Well how about fighting for the hundreds of children who are killed each year because arseholes like you think it's their right to break the speed limit? I got caught speeding and I probably got a harsher penalty than I deserved, first offence and all that but I am not about to whinge that the law preventing me from increasing the risk of harm to others is against my civil liberties!

The easiest way not to get caught by speed cameras is not to speed. The one thing I dread becoming when I get a car again is one of these drivers who thinks the world is out to get him. If I ever start whining about car charges, let me know!

Stronger, faster, better.......

Well it's a couple months on and Sam the Welsh pygmy has had more scans. I only include one on this post because I don't want you all fawning over your screens, which would happen if I included the whole set.

LOOKIT!



As you can see, the baby is already a superior being to any of you great unwashed. You can tell, just look at the poise with which el bambino holds in the amniotic fluid. The superior cranial capacity, the powerful limbs, the keen intellect and power shines through! Master/Mistress of all he/she surveys!

Some of you may think I am not being objective, but that's only because your baby isn't as good as Sam & Niall's.

Stag Weekend Tomfoolery

I'm off to the West Country in an hour or so with Rob and 18 other people to engage in RoboMatt's stag weekend. It all looks good fun.


We are staying here:




Looks like it's beers this evening. Tomorrow we are having Sumo Wrestling and Archery in the grounds followed by paintball in the afternoon. I suspect the teams will be 19 enthusiastic 'friends' Vs RoboMatt.

Then it's off to the bustling metropolis of Tiverton town for beer induced shenannigans! Sunday is a round of golf, lunch and home.

All very civilised but I'm sure we'll get a traffic cone from somewhere - Photos to follow.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Out of the Wilderness.......

I am for the first time in 2 years giving serious consideration to moving job. Despite many things that infuriate me, I really quite like working for my current company. Like any large concern there are politics and various other gripes but as a company they aren't horrible to work for. I'm grown up enough to know that wherever I work these problems or similar ones will rear their ugly heads. My main reasoning is about where I live, I'm getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to buy anywhere because I happen to live in Surrey.

My flatmate is moving in to his own place and I will be renting off him - the rent will be similar to what I could be paying on a mortgage in pretty much any other area of the country except for London. So bitching and whining about my company/staff manager aside I am just looking at my overall goals and one of those is to get my own place. I've seen similar jobs to mine for the same or more money in cheaper areas like Ipswich or Harrogate where I can buy houses for less than small studio flats where I currently live.

So watch this space, I may actually start sending my CV out shortly and changes may be afoot. Though I am aware that I tend to get itchy feet after about 2 years in one place so need to think about it a bit more carefully.......

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On a lighter note....

Lots of people I know went to Glastonbury this year and for the first time ever I was actually jealous. I mean, The Who were playing - come on!

Jealousy aside, I now own a tent. I have also never gone to a multi-day festival. I've now decided that I am definitely going to a summer festival next year. This is takign a worrying turn though, as originally I was planning only the Download festival (bit more rock oriented you see?). But now my brain is telling me that there is no reason why I can't do Glastonbury AND Download.

I find myself hoping that Glastonbury has one of it's years where it has a line up that I am only half interested in, though I suspect that this will not be the case!

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

That's right Tony Blair is gone! He's finally stopped talking about it and slung his hook! After weeks of travelling around the world shaking hands with people who don't hate him (hence not travelling around Britain) he is handing in his resignation as a Prime Minister. This is a good career move for Tony, instead of implementing American foreign policy in the middle east whilst ignoring domestic issues, he can just concentrate on doing what he is told by the Whitehouse.

This will be a great weight from his shoulders!

In all seriousness, I despise the man so much because I voted for hime twice - once because I believed in much of what he stood for and the second time because he was the lesser of two evils. In my opinion Tony Blair is the biggest cause for political apathy this country has ever had. He gave so many new hope. After years of Tory mismanagement of public services, illegal arms trades, funding genocidal maniacs and accounting that would make ENRON blush people were genuinely excited at the opportunity to welcome a new premier. Instead he discarded his principles and let us all down. Who can be arsed to vote when you have it thrown back in your face like that?

I know it sounds like I am saying everything he did was crap but I do know that he's done some really good things, but unfortunately that doesn't cut it when put in the balance. He is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people in East Timor and other countries across the world after reneging on a pre-election commitment not to sell Harriers, Saracens and Saladins to ropey regimes (a cushy deal instituted by the Tories). He's failed to keep Britain's commitments to the Tsunami fund. I could go on, but basically there is too much easily avoided death and failure on his hands for me to praise the good he has done. Sadly, everything that the Tories of the late 80s and early 90s were guilty of, he continued. As time went on he lost his backbone, he traded reform for celebrity and a retirement fund.

I can't bring myself not to vote, so I've been voting liberal democrat. They believe in proportional representaion as their key tennet, and taxing the well off more than poor people. This is awesome to me, the only way we will see real change is if there is a hung parliament and the Lib Dems are invited to form a coalition - the only way they would agree to that is if their partners agreed to electoral reform (you know, so we have a democracy instead of the farce we currently have). Well, that was the case until Menezies Campbell took over the Lib Dems and stated that any coalition would no longer hinge on that one policy of proportional representation. Thanks Menezies - who do I vote for now?

OK, that's my politics for the month - sorry had to be done! ;)

No such things as a free lunch

It's been a funny few weeks, I've sat down to blog a few times about things I found funny and thought would be entertaining but when I come to write it down I change my mind thinking it too whiny instead. My levity has suffered of late I think, with my words sounding more serious than I intend them at times so I've been a little more cautious. Don't worry, it won't last.


This one is a nit of a whiny one though and I make no bones about it! It's a dilemma you see - My staff manager wants to take me to lunch tomorrow but I'm not sure I can sit opposite him for longer than 10 minutes without telling him exactly what I think of him. On the other hand, he is buying. My two great loves of Food and Ranting caught up in an impossible battle. Will sitting next to a lying waste of blood and organs put me off my dinner? Or can I survive the day until he goes away for another 6 months?

Answers on a postcard.

 
/* -----------GOOGLE ANALYTICS TRACKING CODE-------------- */ /*------------------END TRACKING CODE-------------------- */