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Archive for May, 2006

A very annoying day!

Yesterday was an absolutely brilliant day, even although I had to stand in a queue at a bar for about fifteen minutes listening to two very loud Americans having this conversation:

1st American: “Do you think they sell food in these places?”

2nd American: “Sure do, hon. Don’t you recall us being here on our last visit?”

1st American: “Oh yeah! Gee honey, it’s so good coming in here now that they’ve got the smoking ban in place. It was STINKING before”.

2nd American: “Stinking’s not the word for it. The place STANK!

1st American: “Last time we were here I could smell it on my clothes all day. I had to rinse my hose out at the hotel and I could still smell it…”

2nd American: “That’s smokers for you! They don’t give a damn about other people. They are happy to throw their vile, disgusting habit on to other people”.

1st American: “They might not care about the damage they’re doing to their own health, but some of us want to live a healthy life-style. Have they never heard of the dangers of passive smoking?”

2nd American: “Smokers are totally selfish! They don’t give a damn about the damage they do to other people’s health or the environment. It’s a FILTHY DISGUSTING HABIT AND THERE SHOULD BE AN ALL-OUT BAN ON IT. And I’ve noticed there’s more of them smoking on the street now, so we still have to breathe in their disgusting fumes”.

1st American: “Just think of the money they cost their health service!”

2nd American: “Those ADDICTS don’t deserve any health service! They should be refused treatment! They’ve brought all that bad health on themselves! And did you notice that two of them were smoking out there near that little table that’s been put outside? If we wanted to sit by the road we’d be subjected to their disgusting smoke!”

1st American: “It’s a little on the chilly side to sit outside, Ted. If I’d have known you wanted to be out in the open I’d have put on an extra sweater…”

2nd American: “THAT’S NOT THE POINT! If I’d had wanted to sit there they would have contaminated my air by their filthy habit!”

After another ten minutes or so of listening to the feverish rantings of these two seriously obese Yanks, we finally got to near the top of the queue. The Americans had no idea what they want to order, despite clearly-placed menus plastered all over the pub walls. So they had to discuss it at length with each other and then question the bar staff on every single possible variation of the pub meal:

“What’s in the relish? Is that low-fat mayo?”  “I’m allergic to garlic — what’s the alternative?”  “You do wheat-free buns? My wife is gluten intolerant”.

They finally waddle away from the counter, clutching trays stuffed with enough burgers/fries/cake to feed a family of four for about a week.

I quit the ciggies a while back but some people’s obsessive ranting about smoking almost makes me want to take it up again. They should watch out, because the Health Police will be coming for them soon enough.

Anyway, today was rubbish because of passwords. Practically everything you do on the internet requires passwords and nearly everyone knows that you should not use the same password for all internet procedures. But despite having a carefully-kept little password list, I’ve still came up against the ******* totally annoying, aggravating, ‘I’m-ready-to-scream’ inducing message that is ‘your password has not been recognised’, on not one but three occasions today. It’s against the laws of chance. It’s a conspiracy. The Gods are against me. This stinks much, much more than ciggie smoke.

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Miracles do happen

I've just had a look at Stephanie Quilao's Back in Skinny Jeans blog, where she draws attention to Janet Jacksons recent unbelieveable amazing weight loss. Seemingly, it only took Ms Jackson fours months to go from this:janet_jackson2.jpg to this: jjackson.jpg

Stephanie (a self-confessed fan of Janet) questions whether this svelte new figure (complete with six pack) was achieved through entirely natural means and draws attention to the possibilty of some degree of lipo and 'diet pill popping' going on (in addition to a fair dose of Photoshopping). Mmmm, now let me just have another look at those photos.

Four months, you say? Entirely possible. People can be so cynical these days, don't you think?

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milliejacksonbacktotheshit1.jpg 

It’s true, because I almost choked to death on a mouthful of water today when someone drew my attention to the above image on The Museum of Bad Album Covers site.

 Now think about it. You are a woman. You are a singer. More than that, you are a conventional-type woman singer (as opposed to the Courtney Love variety).

What more effective method to promote your new album than to have an image of yourself (in full evening attire) sitting on a toilet pan, with your drawers at your ankles. Just to further impress your existing fans and yet-to-be buyers, you then come up with a catchy album title — and what better than: Back to the Shit. It’s just so right, somehow.

Just make sure that your expression on the album cover subtly indicates that you’re putting that toilet bowl to good use, and you’ve got the whole package going on: style, glamour, class… I love it.

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It’s all her fault

180px-SigmundFreud2.jpg I’ve just been reading in the Metro that IVF mothers are ‘putting babies’ lives at risk’. Seeminly these uncaring monsters women have a higher risk of developing a condition where the placenta covers the cervix and cuts off the oxygen supply to the embryo. Later on in the article it is mentioned  that this condition is ‘quite rare’ and that it will it will take several thousand pregnancies to be able to get enough data to make any recommendations (so some more guaranteed funding there, then).

 So, something (any number of variables, really) may or may not cause a condition, which is rare in the first place — yet this piece of non-information still leads to the screaming headline above. Of course it would do, wouldn’t it, as the ‘villains’ of the piece possess two interlinked attributes which not only contribute to the slaying of the innocent and — lets face it — practically everything that can and does mess up a persons psyche. Yes, they are not only women but they are also (attempting to become) mothers — now there’s a potentially lethal combination. And we all know that mothers are responsible for much of the ills in society.

The real villian of the piece is that old shyster, Sigmond Freud. Admittedly, women got a pretty bad press pre-Freud but his nincompoop theories made it official and gave mother-blaming a whole new supposed scientific legitimacy. Everything and anything that a person does and feels post-infancy can be linked to some damaging event in childhood and it is almost always related to some action or inaction of  their (penis-envying) mother.

Thankfully, Freudian psychoanalysis has been well and truly de-bunked in recent years (the medical scientist Sir Peter Medawar described it as “the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the 20th century”) but Freud’s damaging untruths still live on in our em… collective unconscious.

I used to think the one redeeming feature of Freud’s theories was that he ‘discovered’ the subconscious but I now know that Plato was writng about it some 2,500 years before Freud raised his ugly, bearded head.

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Boo

boo.com is back (well, that's what someone is trying to tell us).

Anyone who's had even the vaguest notion of going into business for themselves will almost certainly have heard of boo.com. The company went belly-up in a spectacular fashion just months after launching their state-of-the-art online clothes store in the late 1990's (but not before they managed to get through around £100m of its venture capital).

One of the company's founders, Ernst Malmstean, had the good sense/nerve to write a blow-by-blow account of the rise and demise of this most infamous dot.com failure in a cleverly-titled book: boo hoo (well I like it). About a third of the way through the book your head's in serious danger of disengaging from your neck as a result of all the head-shaking it brings on. They what? What the hell were they thinking? Money was bleeding from them in all directions (and, as is usually pointed out — it wasn't their money in the first place). No-one can accuse Malmsten and his partner Kajsa Leander of not thinking big — they were about as far away from bootstrapping as you can get. Every time they hit a problem they just threw money at it and brought in another 'expert'.

To be fair to them, it is probably the case that the whole concept was ahead of its time and boo would have had a much better chance of working today, given the widespread use of broadband and other advances in internet technology. But back then, their website was so 'advanced' that it didn't work in terms of customers actually being able to buy the products (a minor glitch, I'm sure you'll agree).

So now there's a new boo website up with the announcement that 'boo is back' (I don't know who owns it and can't be bothered to find out but I read somewhere that it's a woman in Ireland). Interesting. I wonder what someone is up to. Given that the boo name is so well-known (admittedly for the wrong reasons) it is one way to get a fair amount of cheap publicity for some venture or other.

By the way, my spell-checker (or speel-cheeker) isn't working and I really, really need it.

Another thought I've just had — can WordPress ban you for making too many checks on your stats? I think I check them about eight times a day and I'm not kidding. And they never get any better.

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Moving on

I've just been reading a thought-provoking post on Petites blog. She was saying that it was a year to the day that she got up the courage to admit to her partner (and father of her child) that their relationship wasn't working and it was time she moved on. She's had a pretty eventful and turbulent year since then and her legion of faithful readers (including myself) have followed the highs and lows of her new life sans 'Mr Frog' (is it just me, or is the 'Mr Frog' nickname a bit on the cheeky side?).

Anyway, what she was saying (if you're still here and haven't swanned off to Petite's place — damn those popular bloggers) is that she feels she's finally reached a point where she's 'happy in her own skin' and comfortable with being single again. That she's glad she took the chance.

It was the 'taking a chance' bit that got to me.  I've read or been told on countless occasions that it is the chances we don't take that we live to regret. I know, instinctively, that it's true — only I forget (or 'choose' to forget). I need to pin a notice up somewhere, just as a reminder.

In terms of breaking-up long-term relationships, I don't believe it's purely fear of the unknown, or a reluctance to cause pain to a partner, that makes us stick with people and situations that aren't working. Sometimes it's because we think we've invested too much in it just to let it go — as if, by doing so, we're admitting it's all been wasted time. And the longer it goes on the more tied up we become in the whole paraphernalia of being a couple or a family unit. Disengaging yourself from that is messy and scarey and too easily put off until another day.

Only for some people that day never comes and one day the sickening reality dawns: they've 'made the best of things' and missed out on what might have been — and all because they did not take the chance.

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to write much about Big Brother 7 here (yet) *evil laugh* but this programme is going to be almost unavoidable in the UK for the next few months. Even people such as ourselves, who shun such low-level so-called entertainment and prefer to spend our leisure hours in more cerebral pursuits (watching Hollyoaks) will have it inflicted on us by selfish flatmates and inconsiderate relatives.

Last night, for instance, whilst perusing a tome of Philosophia Mathematica, my eye was momentarily diverted away from the page by the antics of one the the first contestants to enter the BB house —  ‘Shahbaz’:  determinedly Glaswegian, screechingly camp, sickeningly touchy-feely, cross-dressing windbag (not that I’m not going to like him).

 As his souped-up Mrs Doubtfire tones invaded my brain-space, I found myself thinking, ‘why does he have to be Glaswegian?’ Now I’d have to put up with yet more ‘Weegie’ jokes from my Edinburgh-born housemates.

If you live in Scotland you’re no doubt aware of the friendly(ish) rivalry between the residents of Edinburgh and their neighbours in Glasgow. As I have affection for both cities — having been born in one and having spent most of my life in the other — I thought I’d give my unbiased account of the whole business.

Generosity

It is unfair to say that the people of Edinburgh are mean — it’s just that the boundless generosity of Glaswegians is so overwhelming that Edinburgers will forever live in their shadow in that respect. If you call around unexpectedly at the home of an Edinburger near mealtimes (the height of bad manners, surely) you will be met with the phrase “you’ll have had your tea”. Note please, that they’re not asking if you’ve already eaten but are in fact telling you that you’re getting nothing out of them; not a sausage. Even if they’ve just been to Sainsburys and done a big shop and even if they have vanloads of groceries parked in their driveway, there’s no possibilty that a morsel of their food will pass your (starving) lips.

Glaswegians are quite the opposite. As soon as you ring their doorbell, or even if they just catch a glimpse of you passing by on your way to work or the chip shop, and even if they don’t know you and you have never before set eyes on them — they will attempt to feed you, whether you want it or not. This will happen even if their fridge and their food cupboards are entirely devoid of contents and even if they don’t have a pot to piss in. If necessary, they will make you eat an imaginary meal with them.

Friendliness (to strangers)  

Once you get to know them, Glaswegians and Edinburgers are equally friendly. It’s their inclination to strike up a conversation with a strangers which sets them apart. And no-where can this be witnessed more clearly than in doctor’s waiting rooms.

 No-one in Edinburgh talks to anyone else in a doctor’s waiting room. It’s an unwritten rule (just like the one where you don’t make eye contact with anyone at a bus stop). Even if the doctor is called away on an emergency and there’s only two of you left sitting there for a couple of hours, the other person will prefer to re-read the copy of Country Life that they first made acquaintance with when they came in for their Measles booster in 1974. If you do attempt to strike up a conversation with them — even of the most innocuous sort: “ah, the night’s are fair drawing in, are they not?” — you will only be met with a noncommittal nod and thereafter will be studiously ignored.

Glaswegians, on the other hand, will quite happily talk about (and possibly show you) the boil which has led them to the GP’s door, before getting ripped into what they see as the failings of the present government, the state of the pavements, why Hogmanay is not he same these days and why they believe that Lord Lucan was, indeed, innocent. Sometimes it all gets a bit much and you have to leave before you start bleeding from the ears.

Accents

It is a truth, self-evident, that when it comes to accents, Edinburgers have the upper hand when it comes to consistancy. Take a person out of Edinburgh and ten or even twenty years later they will still sound the same as the day they left (apart from Sean Connery, who is a man apart and barely mortal).

Glaswegians, however, do one of two things when they move away from the place of their birth. The first option is that the Glaswegian adopts an American accent. This can occur even when thet’ve spent their entire exile from The Dear Green Place in some leafy Suffolk glade and the nearest they’ve ever come to The States is the odd outing to McDonalds. You might find that hard to believe but I can think of at least a dozen people of my acquaintance who have taken up this strange affection.

 But there’s a far worse fate that can befall a Glaswegian who decants to distant climes: they can become very very very exaggeratedly Glaswegian. This happens even if they’ve lived in the Ukraine since 1946 and had, in fact, left Glasgow as mere infants. This tendency becomes worse if they are at all exposed to another Glaswegian (or even anyone who is perceived as possibly having some vaguely Scottish heritage). And if they happen to get hold of a copy of The Steamy, then all restraint is abandoned and everything they say for the next year or more is incomprehensible to even the closest members of their own family.

 In time, the dire day arrives and they end up (God save them) talking like GMTV’s Lorraine Kelly (who isn’t even a real Glaswegian, but has adopted our dulcet tones because she knows the accent comes high in the ‘makes you sound sincere’ polls).

There are a multitude of other differences between the lovely people of Glasgow and the fine people of Edinburgh but I’ll have to give them a miss, seeing as this whole blogging business is taking up too much of my time and I still have not finished my business plan.

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