Saturday, August 29, 2009

Online news stories

Hands up if any of you have not heard about the bizarre case of Jaycee
Dugard re-appearing after 18 years of alleged captivity in the home of
a known sex offender and his wife… Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

If you haven’t, then have a look at these two news reports on the
online BBC News website …..

I was amazed to hear both Phillip and Nancy pleading not guilty to a
whole host of charges against them, including the alleged kidnapping
of Jaycee 18 years ago. Either the couple are both delusional or are
hoping to get some of the charges against them dropped by plea-bargaining
or whatever.

There’s another interesting news story here …

The News Corporation is about to introduce charges for readers to look
at its online news. James Murdoch (son of Rupert) thinks that the BBC
has an unfair advantage in being able to offer free online news to its
readers, whereas Greg Dyke reckons that it’s the decline in advertising
revenue which is the cause of the financial difficulties facing the
commercial media (newspapers, TV and radio), and that the BBC has
nothing to do with the situation.

Would you pay to see news articles provided by the News Corporation,
when you could look at similar articles free on charge on the BBC News
online? I wouldn’t.

However I did buy a copy of The Times today, and had a read also of
someone else’s copy of The Guardian, looking at the news coverage and
other articles. Mrs C and I like doing the weekend Jumbo Crossword
(the easy version) in The Times, and we also like to have the TV Guide
for the coming week. We read other sections of The Times as well,
though I’m not interested in the Sports section (which is unusual for
a bloke, I think).

The long term job prospects for journalists don’t look very good, as
it looks as though newspapers will disappear, except for the free
ones which are crammed full of adverts… and which go straight into
my recycle bin (along with all the unsolicited flyers for pizza and
curry houses in the area).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

French kisssing

Carrying on from yesterday's theme, as regards what's acceptable
behaviour in public, how do you feel when you see a couple French
kissing say in a shopping centre, or a couple kissing when lying
down in a park?

During my short time at Guildford Tech back in the 60s, when I was
doing Zoology A level again (to improve my grade), I witnessed a
couple of fellow students having a good snog, just outside the
classroom door. They seemed to be totally engrossed in what they
were doing, almost making a meal of it.

I rather fancied the girl, though not the lad, who was even more
weedy than I was. He must have had a lot of charm and a better way
with women than me. I've always been socially inept, as regards
getting any conversation going with new people ... so I was never
any good at chatting up girls.

I went into the classroom, followed straightaway by the Biology
teacher, who was an assertive spinster in her late 50s. Shortly
after she started the lesson, in walked the couple looking rather

The teacher said in an loud and angry voice ....

I sometimes think about a scene in "Red Dwarf", when Lister (played
by Craig Charles) was kissing a beautiful alien woman. The scene
then flashed to another showing that he was in fact snogging a giant
bug. Very funny.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What is decent or indecent, these days?

There’s been some news coverage this week about men’s swimwear, with
some people / officialdom saying that tight fitting swimming trunks
must no longer to be worn, and that shorts must be worn instead. This
is because skimpy swimwear can be too revealing, and that children
should not be viewing men’s genitals (especially when the trunks are
wet or have slipped slightly in position).

For some 20 or 30 years, I had a pair of maroon trunks which lasted
well … well that is until the elastic started to go in the left groin
area. I’ll spare you the embarrassing details but I eventually threw
out the trunks, after Mrs C had complained a few times that the trunks
were ... er ... too revealing. I now have a smart blue pair a bit
like “Blue Hawaii”, but I reckon I’ll have to go and get a pair of
baggy shorts, if a general ban on swimming trunks were imposed.

I recall a funny incident with the red swimming trunks. I was driving
our large Land Rover when on holiday in the Whitby area one summer. It
was a damp and misty afternoon, when I was driving along a country
road, with Mrs C and our four girls in the car also. The girls were
playing "catch the ball" with the trunks, when suddenly they flew out
of a side window onto the roadside … it was a bit like watching a
Harry Potter movie … they flew out of the window as if by magic.
Everyone was laughing, except me. I stopped the car to retrieve them,
and there was more laughter, as I got back in the car feeling cross.
“We were not amused”.

A week ago, I overheard some laughter on the street outside our house,
so I went to have a peek out through our first floor balcony window.
I spotted an attractive young couple (possibly students), who were
about to walk underneath our balcony. The bloke was Anglo-Asian, and
was chatting away on his mobile phone to a friend. His white girlfriend
was snuggling up to him with her right arm down inside the front of
his trousers … much to my amazement. She was fondling his crown jewels.
His other arm was around her shoulder as they carried on walking down
the road. A little further on, he started to cry out as if he was
having an orgasm (while he was still on the phone). I felt quite
shocked at the time by the whole episode … but then I felt envious.
“Lucky b-----d”, I thought.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getting sharper images in Blogger

I’ve been wondering how come photos in Flickr are so sharp. I googled
this topic and found an interesting article by Michael Zhang.

When you downsize an image for internet use, it’s obvious that you’ll
lose some pixels during the process and so you'll lose some quality in
your image. However, Flickr sharpens up low-resolution images for you.

I’ve been amazed by the sharpness and high quality of Jo(e)’s photos
on her blog … just look at two of the photos on her current page …
the pianist in August 20th’s post and the basket of peaches in
August 17th’s … both are phenomenal (as most of her photos are).
A right mouse click on one of her photos shows that the photos are
from her Flickr site.

Here’s how to upload your pics from Flickr to Blogger …

I’ve also been looking at an article, on how to get sharper pics
with your camera, which you might like to look at.

So I thought I'd have go at uploading three photos onto my Flickr
site (click on the sunflowers on the RHS). These are photos of my
granddaughter Little A, when she was younger. "Acopy1" is the
result of uploading my original photo (4MB in size), as suggested
by Kevin. You'll see that the images look great when enlarged.
The other two are smaller versions (500x333px), the second of which
has been sharpened slightly in Gimp.

I'll upload Acopy3 straight into Blogger to see what this looks like
(uploaded as the largest version)...

I think you'll agree with me, that this looks fuzzy compared with the
photo (Acopy3) on my Flickr site.

Next up, the same, but this one is via Flickr (500x333px size)...

Next, the same, but digitally enhanced in Gimp.
(This is free photo-editing software ~ Filter>Enhance>Unsharp Mask)

Not so nice, I think.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Beach in Nottingham

There's no need to go to the seaside, as it's here in Nottingham,
during school holiday time. Lots of sand and a huge paddling pool
plus other amusements, all in our city square. What a wonderful
idea. It's packed full of young children by mid-morning.
(I've also added a photo of the Stars & Stripes ... to cheer up
folks in our greatest colony).

The photos are sharper on my Flickr site (I wonder why?). I've
just checked out the sizes of the Blogger photos ... 320 x 214 px,
and when I've compressed them to that size, the nearest size I
can get to this is 321 x 214 px. Unfortunately, uploading them at
this size made no difference to the fuzziness. I'm with Old Blogger
... perhaps it's time to change to New Blogger?. I'll check out the
sizes of pics on New Blogger sites next.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Less expensive phone numbers

(This is for UK readers really)

So how do you feel about being charged more to phone your bank
and other businesses? Also, having to queue up for ages, waiting
for your phone call to be answered, (while the phone meter is
ticking), and listening to those annoying messages, eg “sorry
you’re being kept waiting, we are trying to connect you, your
call is important to us” … yes, especially when we’re paying
7-10p a minute for the call, and you, the business, are getting
a share of this money. What a rip-off.

So I invite you to check out the less expensive/free phone
numbers for your bank, etc, on here…

I have posted on this subject before, but I think it's worthwhile
keeping an eye on how we use our phones.

I put “Lloyds TSB” into the search box of this site, and got lots of
alternative phone numbers for a range of Lloyds TSB businesses.

Mrs C and I bank with another bank, but for years we’ve been using
an 0845 phone number to contact its Customer Services. By using the
saynoto0870 website a few minutes ago, I’ve found out a much cheaper
phone number to use. Brilliant. :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Great TV

Mrs C and I watched some excellent TV programmes in the past few days,
including …

"Who do you think you are" with Kim Cattrall (of Sex in the City fame)
making an emotional journey, researching what happened to her maternal
grandfather, who abandoned his wife and 3 young children over 60 yrs ago.
He took off one day, all of a sudden, leaving them to fend for

Single-Handed” … a gritty cop drama, filmed on location in Ireland.
We watched part 2 on catch-up last night.

If you’d like to see it, watch Part One first of all, to get a taste
of what’s going on between father, Gerry Driscoll, and his son, Jack.

One of my favourite TV comedy shows is “Mock The Week”. Unfortunately
it’s no longer available on BBC I-Player. I think you can watch it on
catch-up on Virgin Media TV for a seven-day period after each broadcast,
which I’m hoping to do tonight (as one of our nieces dropped in to see
us last night while the show was on). It’s also repeated on the telly
one night in the week.

Another TV series we're watching is Economy Gastronomy ... it's great to
see TV chefs creating tasty food that doesn't cost too much.

A couple of recipes we fancy doing (from this week's show, Episode 2) ....

Spicy chicken thighs with byriani
(we'd use Quorn chunks instead of chicken ... the byriani looks brilliant)

Chocolate brownies with soft centres ... yummy.

I’ve been typing all this on a Word document this morning … I’d got to
the end of my first bit on Kim Cattrall, when Windows Vista shut down
my computer without any warning for about 5 minutes to do one of its
updates. Bloody annoying. Vista didn’t reinstate my document for me,
so I had to start again.

I was chatting about this with other folk yesterday, and one of my
friends pointed out that this doesn’t happen with Windows XP … in XP,
you get some warning, and you’re able to postpone the updating process.

WHY? WHY? WHY ... do you do this in Vista, Messrs Microsoft?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A little tinkle of bells

Mrs C and her mobile are usually inseparable, but not so yesterday,
when I sent her one of my rare text messages to say that I'd bought
a load of strawberries and raspberries. She'd gone out to meet up
with a couple of friends for lunch ... aren't women civilised,
compared with blokes?

Anyway, I'd just got back home with some shopping, switched my mobile
on and sent her the text. An instant later, I heard a familiar Nokia
chime, from my mobile I thought initially. I turned round and saw
Mrs C's mobile on the kitchen surface (being charged up).


I also came home yesterday with a huge piece of second-hand kitchen
surface, which a timber merchant very kindly gave me free of charge.
Getting it into the middle part of the car (and out again), was
diffficult ... as it was very heavy and when up-ended it reached my

I'm building a plinth to go inside the end of our study/small bedroom
wardrobe, on top of which we'll have a small safe fitted, and then
I'll build a shelving unit around that. This will help me tidy up all
the clutter from the bedroom floor and surfaces, and basically hide
it all from view (never to be seen again).

I measured up the floor area for this plinth (after removing some
carpet), only to find that all the sides of my "rectangle" were
unequal and set at odd angles. Mrs C suggested using newspaper to
create a template for the cut-out, which worked well, apart from
the fact that I've cut one of the sides a bit too wide to fit the

It's hard work sawing through a hefty piece of worktop. So I'm thinking
of buying a circular saw tomorrow, to make the whole job a lot easier.

My next post will be from Casualty at the Queens Medical Centre.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two of our grandchildren

Here are two of our grandchildren, Little A and her brother
Little J, both under 3 years of age. They were away in London last
week, staying with their cousins, so Mrs C and I missed them badly.
Little J is now standing up on his own, (holding onto things), so
it won't be long before he's toddling around.

click on pic to see larger version

Sunday, August 09, 2009

How will we manage with less oil?

I’ve been thinking about this for some months. A time will come
when our current oil supplies will dwindle. I’ve looked at
erudite articles on current oil supply on Wikipedia, and where
our all oil comes from, but they all evade the question of how
long will our currents reserves last?

I’ve read speculation that we’ve got another 20-30 years left
before oil supplies will be badly hit, so we’ve got this amount
of time to lessen our reliance on oil and to step research and
provision of alternative sources of energy … this means
harnessing wind, water and sun power to produce electricity for

I’m not a devotee of nuclear power … I think that nuclear power
stations are hazardous – these are future Chernobyls waiting to
happen on our doorstep, and also I don’t believe there are safe
ways of long-term storage of nuclear waste. However, I do accept
that we may need some nuclear power stations to back-up and
stabilise our electricity supply, but the fewer the better.

So have a think about what our future transport will be like,
when the oil starts to run out.

We will electrify our entire railway network, and we’ll have more
high-speed trains to be able to nip around the country, and to
link up with our European neighbours via the Chunnel. So that’s
good news.

We will be using electric cars to get around, to do our shopping
and to visit family & friends. Instead of petrol stations, we’ll
have electric battery exchange points, especially on our motorways
… a bit like the old days, when we used to change the teams of
horses for stage-coaches, at staging posts. At night time, those
of us with garages will be able to charge up our car batteries
with our home-produced electricity from wind turbines and solar

Electric shopping trolleys will become more fashionable, not just
for use by the elderly and disabled. At our local Victoria Centre
car park, I asked the chap who looks after the fleet of ESTs,
whether these could be “suped up” to run at higher speeds
(faster than 8 miles per hour). He said that they could, but
owing to the fixed amount of battery charge, the distance they’d
cover would be shorter. So if you think about using electric cars
for long-distance journeys - you will have to travel around much
more slowly, say about 30 mph, so as to conserve battery power
and to be able to travel longer distances.

So, our motorways will become havens of peace, as we all tootle
along at about 30 mph. Gone will be the huge lorries, blocking
two motorway lanes as they try to overtake each other. Wonderful!
In future, our hauliers will have to use the railways or use the
canals again, which will breathe new life into our waterways.

The military and the emergency services will have access to the
remaining supplies of oil, so that ambulance crew and
fire-fighters can dash off to help folk. So if you like to travel
at speed, then sign up for work in these services.

Electric trams will become the norm again in all our cities, as
these will be the fastest way of getting into work. Inner cities
will regenerate, as people move back into them to live, rather
than live miles outside them, in the countryside or in distant

And what about commercial and holiday air travel? This will be
phased out gradually. Air space will be reserved for military and
rescue use only. Our Royal Navy will be nuclear-powered, and all
other shipping will be wind-powered. So, it will take 6 weeks to
visit our relatives in New Zealand, as in the old days. Package
holidays will be taken either by train, or by wind-powered boats.

Let’s give some thought to Jeremy Clarkson and his colleagues,
the presenters of fast car TV shows. There won’t be much fun in
presenting car shows, with cars that run like electric milk floats.

So, I’ve thought of a new role for Jeremy and his co-presenters
~ chariot-racing ~ Ben-Hur style.

What fun that would be, seeing a bronzed half-naked Jeremy, with
his long hair streaming in the wind, charging round on a chariot
in competition with his mates. Now that would be a real spectacle.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

About me

I am …

…rather forgetful
…occasionally deaf (depending on what Mrs C is talking about)
…mildly dyslexic (as regards words & numbers), & my words come out
jumbled up occasionally.
…was born in England & had an Anglo-Irish grandmother
…a reader of “The Guardian”, but have been heard to say at times: “Let’s
nuke those commie bastards!”
… in my 60s, have film star looks, and have a cheerful outlook on life.

… so I’m eminently suitable for nomination as the next Republican
candidate for President of the United States.

(Well, I live in what could be described as the 51st state of the USA
… it won’t be long before we’ll all be swearing allegiance to the US flag).

God Bless America, and Sarah Palin!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Flickr blog

Occasionally when looking at other people's blogsites, I have
a peek at their favourite websites. I spotted "Flickr Blog" on
Gordon's site, and I'm really amazed by some of the lovely
photos I've seen on it.

Here's the URL ...

I invite you to have a look at some of the spectacular pics ...
for instance the Balloon Launch on August 2, Shooting The Surf
on July 17, and Manhattan-henge on July 13. So, I'm thinking to
myself about where in Nottingham I could find something similar
... looking to the East at sunrise, and to the West at sunset.

I've also had a look at the Flickr search facility, where you
can look up recipes. I found a recipe for a vegan "cheesecake",
which I can't imagine I'd ever get round to making, unless we'd
had a vegan guest. However the Blackberry-lime teasecake looks

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Last of the Summer Wine??

Here's a photo of Clegg, Compo and Foggy, psyching themselves up for
an arduous cycle ride along the Tissington Trail in Derbyshire ...

As you can see, two of them are having a good laugh about something,
but what might that be? Answers/captions please ...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Two conversations this week.

Conversation between mother, Babba, & her 2 and a half yr old
daughter, Mini.

Mini had been watching “Noddy” on the TV, who had met his
friend Tessie Bear, who was prettily dressed in a hat, a dress and shoes.
M: Babba, bears don’t wear dresses, do they?
B: “No, they don’t Mini.”
M: “Babba, bears don’t wear shoes, do they?”
B: “No, they don’t Mini.”
M: “Do bears wear hats?”
B: “No, they don’t Mini.”
M: “Well, actually they do, Babba.”

Another conversation between a couple of elderly friends
this week, one of whom is either a bit dotty or can’t hear very
well (she’s aged 99).

“How’s Stan?”
“Oh, he’s just died.”
“Well, give him my regards when you see him.”