Thursday 28 October 2010

A Lot to Think About.

And a fascinating animation. Watch it, as an antidote to all that crap on TV.


Tuesday 26 October 2010

24 Hours Later

Well, I'm still here.

I tore my bed-sheet. I was dreaming that the bad guys had wrapped me in canvas, and set fire to the warehouse, and I was struggling to get free before I burned up.
I got free, but the sheet's dead. Got another sheet and went back to sleep in the cave but I had to keep the fire roaring because I could hear the wolves. I sweated and shivered and roasted all night.  Slept most of the day.
Didn't go to work, sounds like my boss is coming down with the same symptoms...
I'll be there tomorrow. I think it's over. Might even eat something soon. maybe.

Monday 25 October 2010

Pathetic Moaning Continues

I ache all over, and I'm shivering. Struggling to  stay awake. No interest in eating anything today. 9 in the evening and I'm going to drag my poor unco-operative body to bed, and hope tomorrow will be a better day.
Argh moan mope.
Moan mope argh.
Writing this is a triumph of the mind over the dumb insolence of the body.

Garghhhh! maybe I've got zombie-itis for halloween.
Not flu, can't be, I've been jabbed by a pointy needle against that.
Sleeping sickness? Malaria?

Wash hands after visiting blog, it might be contagious.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

A thing that makes no sense.

I was in the supermarket, hungry, which is a bad thing to be when pushing a trolley, because all sorts of things you'd never normally buy suddenly seem like a good idea.
And no, ladies, I'm a man, of course i don't have a list. Nor am I absolutely sure what's already in my kitchen... So I'm going to get amounts of stuff I have already, but hey, I like it, so it'll get eaten... Well, maybe not, maybe it will go mouldy and I'll chuck it out, like the grapes that were such a bargain.....

Anyway, the point of this was... I was looking at frozen pizzas, no, I didn't buy any, I was just ogling them... And- there's a whole genre of "stonebaked" pizzas.
But the damn things are frozen, pasty things with unmelted cheese atop them.  Stonebaked? If I had a stone oven, they might be. Otherwise they're going to be electrically steelbaked pizzas.
Do they make the pizza dough, sling it onto a hot stone for ten seconds, then chuck some toppings on, bag it and freeze it? Because it seems to me that I'd be  the pizza baker, not Goodfellas.

Friday 15 October 2010

Bang OUCH!

This blogger does not do twitter, but if he did, he would  have tweeted an expletive at approx 15:45 gmt.

I was repairing some outside stairs, ones with timber treads. The wood, despite various anti moss and algae treatments, had become somewhat slippery in wet weather, so after much head-scratching, we decided to put a grip surface of expanded galvanised steel mesh on each tread.

Good idea, it works well. I put my carpentering hat on, repaired and replaced several treads, including a brilliantly scarfed joint that a real carpenter would not be able to fault (I'd be standing there with a hammer and a wrecking bar, so he'd be well advised to keep a straight face and say "Look at that perfect scarf-joint!")...

And then that steel mesh. It's razor-edged when you cut it, but I was careful, and lost almost no blood.
Fixed down with about 250 clout-head galvanised nails.
I got to about 237 without mishap, then THWAP! steel hammer, finger. I'd been doing that tough, manly, two strike routine, none of that girly tap-tap-tapping..  a tap to set the tip into the wood, a thwack! to drive it all the way home.
My phone rang, my mind had been doing zen stuff, floating, leaving the body to get on with the job, but the phone intruded, and conscious brain zipped back into place and OW! OOOOOO! I howled.

I'm tough. Really tough, honest.
Well. Maybe not. Right now, several hours later it's doing that red-flashing throbbing stuff. Like in the cartoons.
My plan now involves a couple of hours of pathetic moaning. Why am I telling you all this?
Because in lieu of having somebody kiss it better, or stick a hello-kitty band-aid on it, I need to garner a large dose of sympathy from the internet.
Sigh. Maybe I should just take an aspirin.
If it needs to be amputated, I'll let you know.  The more cynical of you may realise that as the finger's not even swollen, and the nail's only got a little bit of darkness behind it, that I'll live, and won't need crisply starched nurses to murmur comforting words.... Sigh.


(And that, folks, is why twitter will never get my business. How could I moan about hammering my pinky in 140 characters inclusive of spaces? I'm verbose. Twitter? get stuffed.)

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Smash Crash Bang!

I  was, a while ago, lounging in my bathtub, half asleep, reading a detective novel, sipping tea, and trying not to drop the book into the water, when CRASH! BANG! SMASH! outside.
What the? I could hear voices, but not what was being said.
"Call the police!" I think. It takes me a while to get out, shrug on some clothes, and step out the back door... Blue flashing lights..... Fire crews. Three houses down. I go round to the front, find a cluster of neighbours, five fire engines, two ambulances, two rapid-response paramedic cars, a couple of unmarked but blue light-strobing police cars.
Firemen, suited up, masked, coming out of the house yelling "Clear!".
Then the fire investigation team, more police....

The house in question is occupied by a group of teenagers. Nobody knows much about them, but it seems nobody was in.

Lots of flashing lights, curious bystanders, stink of burning plastics, I go back in, nothing to see here folks, move along.
My bath's gone cold.

And the book's underwater.

Monday 11 October 2010

R.I.P. Jimi Heselden

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a lot of jokey stories in the world's press, and across the internet about the man who owned the Segway company being killed whilst riding one.
The twitterati  have had their laughs at "Segway Chief Drives off Cliff".

Segways are obects of derision around the world, despite the fact that they're very clever inventions that somehow don't really seem to have a role just yet.
You can bet Jimi Heselden had an idea or two of roles to come. One was in giving back mobility to those military personnel who come back from combat, having lost the ability to walk. He just gave a thousand segways to U.S. "Segs4Vets", valued at $5million, "Forty-eight veterans, including many receiving treatment at the U.S. Army's Walter Reed Medical Center, are scheduled to receive the first of the Segways on Oct. 6 at the Marine Corps War Memorial. The program has distributed more than 500 Segways in the past five years to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who sustained injuries limiting their ability to walk."

Who was this man? Well, Segways weren't the major part of his business, they were a sideline. What made his fortune was far less trivial.

He was Jimi Heselden.  Born into a tough, working-class estate in Leeds, northern england. Grew up in an area where career choices are few, education is often scorned, and crime is too often the career of choice. Jimi chose work, hard work. He worked as a miner. Until he was made redundant. With his redundancy payoff, he started a new company, sandblasting steel structures to ready them for painting, but he had a bit of a problem with landslips near his workshop, so he needed to build a retaining wall. But he couldn't afford the conventional way, the heavy reinforced poured concrete structures. Instead, he had a bright idea, he bought a load of steel mesh, and a lot of polyproplene textile, made the mesh into rectangular boxes, his sisters sewed bags of textile to line them, then they stacked them, and filled them with dirt. A tough barrier wall for a fraction of the usual cost. The idea wasn't totally new. Julius Caesar used a similar system, of wicked baskets filled with stones, as did mediaeval soldiery, but it was a system largely forgotten.
He built a seawall, in an eroded piece of coast, proving the idea's versatility.
But where the invention really took off was in war zones.
Up to then, soldiers filled and stacked sandbags. Jimi supplies flatpacked crates that could be filled with desert sand, or any available dirt, by bucket-loaders and backhoes.
Or huge containerloads that could be deployed by two men and one machine.

He became a rich man, but he never forgot where he came from. In this year alone he gave over £20 million to help the underprivileged of this, his home city, he sought actively to give jobs to people who were at the bottom of the pile, giving second chances to those whose lives had taken bad turns, and he paid well above minimum wage, seeking to give people back their sense of worth, of self esteem, by valuing them.
When the factory came in on time with a deadline-critical order for troop protection in Kosovo, he took the workforce on an all expenses paid holiday to Benidorm.

If you've served in Iraq, or Afghanistan, Bosnia or Kosovo, you've probably been sheltered behind "Hesco".
If you're in the U.S., and there are emergency repairs to river banks and levees near you, thank Jimi, for his Hesco Bastion.
U.S. military procurement recently ordered some$50 million worth.

Today over two thousand people attended his funeral, held at his factory, because the church wasn't big enough to take all who wanted to pay their respects.
One of those was a sergeant who flew from Texas.
He said that, since surviving a rocket attack, he'd wanted to write and thank the man whose invention saved him, and was devastated to hear of Jimi Heselden's death:

"Sergeant David McGregor, who flew from Texas for the funeral, said: "If it wasn't for Jimi's barriers, I would never have gotten out of Iraq. My wife and children would only have a flag to remember me by.""

I should spend more time editing and writing, but I've run out of time, need to go sleep, ready for an extra-early start tomorrow. So, for the hurried text, and poor layout, I apologise.

Spare a moment's thought for a big-hearted man whose death was unfairly mocked by people trawling for an easy laugh. I've done the same myself, in the past, when I've failed to stop and think about the real person involved. 

Jimi Heselden deserves better.

Disclaimer: I'm not in any way connected with Hesco, other than that I live within a couple of miles of the UK factory.
However, in the early nineties, I first noticed Hesco and their product, and said, "If I had some money, I'd buy shares. This company's going to be big".
Alas, I had no money, so all I can claim is a certain amount of forecasting prescience.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Pachydermal Callisthenics

You may have wondered how they push the corks into champagne bottles.

Job done, one's chauffeur brings the car, now it's time to go home and relax.

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Monday 4 October 2010

Well, I'll tell ya,

... the horse said, If you fellers all vote for me next month,  the first thing I'll do when I'm in office?  I'll make good my campaign pledge and get that moustache-tax repealed.
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The Captain...

...Always got stewardess Nancy to act as look-out whilst practising his kleptomania.
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Saturday 2 October 2010


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Snee and Mullet

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Oil Disaster off Australia. The front fell off....

"During the latter part of the voyage, the vessel encountered rough seas and heavy swell with predominantly west to south westerly weather. Problems were first noticed at about 2200 Western Standard Time (WST) on Saturday 20 July when it was found that the forepeak ballast tank had filled with sea water causing the vessel to trim by the head. The vessel was about 55 nautical miles (nm) north west of Lancelin. At about 2000WST the ship was noticed to be down by the head. Speed was reduced and course altered to 090T to bring the weather on the beam and ease the effect at the bow. Efforts to pump out the tank were unsuccessful and it was found that serious structural damage had occurred to the ship's forward hull section. At the time of the incident the wind was westerly 35 knots and a gale warning was current.

At 0300WST Sunday 21 July the damaged bow section broke off causing the collision bulkhead to fracture and expose No.1 cargo tanks to the sea. Cargo oil was spilled and subsequently fire broke out from the bow, probably as a result of arcing from exposed electrical cables. At this time the Kirki was 24 nm south west of the West Australian fishing village of Cervantes, 245 kms north of Perth. The weather was severe, force 8 winds from the west/south west, rough seas and heavy swells."