Sep 29

I’m not one for nature, but every now and again it throws one hell of a scary curve ball that shows that sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. Go read and wonder what’s down there – and if you like, go visit the page with the audio file and listen to it too. I’m not going to say anymore, just wonder.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous (tip of the hat to the inestimable Kottke.org for this one) with the Million Dollar Homepage. One of those simple ideas that has you slapping your forehead and crying out “Why didn’t I think of that?” at the top of your voice. Then again, what was that they said about one being born every minute?

Sep 24

Sometimes you just never see those blasts from the past coming. Sitting today watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (yes, my tastes in TV are just that bad!) and who appeared on it as a special guest but good old Mister T himself. That whoosh you may have heard today was me being whisked back to the 1980s, by the way. Sorry about that. When I was young I was a major A-Team fanatic, and seeing Mister T helping a team of builders do up someone’s house took me back to the days where Saturday tea-times were filled with gunfire, heroes being locked up in fully operational equipment sheds, crazy pilots and Cylon cameos in the opening credits.

It’s funny because MCF recently wrote about icons of the past, and how sometimes the time comes to let them pass. What he wrote was true, and was as usual excellently written, but I’d like to add something to that: sometimes the time does come to move on, one step at a time, but sometimes the nostalgia factor is hiding around the next corner, waiting to leap out on you and hit you with a blunt object.

Sep 16

Okay okay, last time I go back to beat the hell out of this particular dead horse, I promise. At least until the next time. Today two major supermarket chains promised to reduce petrol by 4p a litre at all of their petrol stations across the UK. Nice to know that the fucking retailers can do something while Gordon Brown – Chancellor of the Exchequer for the United Kingdom and the man who oversees the infrastructure that takes 67% of the price paid at the pump as tax – did nothing. Well, he probably had a cup of tea, did a little browsing and played some gameboy. However, in terms of actually doing something to help it has to be said his contribution this time around wasn’t exactly stellar.

We should not have to depend upon the mercy of retailers to salvage a situation when it looks to be moving towards becoming untenable. Retailers are not motivated by the goodness of their hearts or a sense of social responsibility, they are motivated by profit. Nothing wrong with that, because it’s what they are there for after all. Governments, on the other hand…

Come on Gordon. I voted for you lot. I even have a sneaking admiration for you and believe you’re going to be the next Labour PM. Hell, I even think you’ll do alright in the job. I believe in your positions and principles on most stuff. I like the fact that you and old Tone have made centre-left a viable position to take politically. The only thing I would ask is please, please please please start to act like the young, decisive and honest government we voted in in ’97. Please.

Sep 15

Last night I had the frustrating experience of trying to remember how to do something in Photoshop and failing miserably every time I tried. The entire experience was made all the more frustrating because while my failing, rusty memory couldn’t supply the information I needed, it could supply the fact that I definitely knew how to do it before. I started using Photoshop years back and am largely self taught: there is no greater way to learn than to muck about with menus, try out various options and see what happens. Well, no greater way than structured learning and being taught by an expert. That might win. Spending hours running into a brick wall in your own cerebellum though, that just sucks.

In the past I have created video and DVD covers for my own use, worked on books and promotional material for events and have even designed websites and other graphic elements for other people, but it all grew out of me just enjoying messing about with Photoshop. It’s a hobby that I haven’t had much time for lately and I really need to make more time to get back into it.

Today I spent about 20 minutes messing about with a silly design job, first in Fireworks and later in Photoshop, and I realised just how much I enjoyed the whole thing. It wasn’t anything great or impressive, but it was the first time for a long while (browsing and blogging excepted) that I have sat at a computer and purely enjoyed myself. I’m not the next big thing for the design world, but I have some game. The sad thing is, I had even more a while ago and it’s time to get them back…and I get to have fun doing it too.

Sep 14

The good: Spooks is back! Woo, and if I may be so bold, hoo! An excellent series, launching its fourth season on BBC One with a great two-parter. For those of you who may not have picked up on this show, please do so and enjoy some excellent TV. In these days of insipid, moronic, brain-death inducing reality TV I believe good programming needs all the support it can get. Be warned though, it pulls no punches, but it is a better show for it.

The bad: Driving around this evening trying to find a petrol station that hadn’t run out thanks to panic buying. Not being a panic buyer myself, I was royally pissed off when my usual payday routine of filling my tank became a trawl around town to find a forecourt that hadn’t closed because of the sudden surge in demand.

The good: As you might have noticed, it’s payday! Ahhh, payday: that sweet time where I am, at least for a short time, a rich man (biddy biddy bum optional). Of course that is before the bills come along and kick me back down into the fiscal doldrums like the prole I am.

The bad: With petrol prices going up faster than a rat up a drainpipe my payday “rich man rush” doesn’t last very long anymore. Furthermore, with big old Gordon promising no help from the government to bring the prices down, it seems it’s only gonna get worse. Gordon, on the off chance you’re reading this, thank you for the lesson: if I ever find myself in a job that pays a six figure salary and someone else pays for the petrol needed to shift my fat arse from A to B, I will immediately turn around and comprehensively kick every poor bastard at the other end of the economic scale square in the nuts. At a time when other EU governments are starting to actually stand up for their citizens, it’s good to know you’ll happily collect the fuel duty, shrug your shoulders and heroically blame OPEC.

The good: Scrubs season 2 is now out on DVD! Another quality show to enjoy.

The bad: Scrubs season 2 being sold out in my local supermarket, and by the time I had done the great fuel hunt, it was too late to look anywhere else. Oh well – at least it’s doing well enough to sell out quickly. Maybe there are some people out there besides me who don’t like reality TV.

The good: Not even feeling guilty as I use this lazy-arsed format for a blog entry. Hell people, I’m not even ashamed of my piss-poor structuring this time around, but I promise better in the future.

The bad: Firefox actually managing to crash on me (yes, that’s right, super-stable Firefox on super-stable Mac OS X: believe me, I was shocked because it’s the first time Firefox has ever gone tits-up on me so badly that I’ve had to force a quit) and losing my first draft of this. Yes, with links. No, I didn’t save it. Yes, this could also be filed under “The criminally stupid” as well as “The bad”.

The good: I look over at the couch as I type this, and I see my better half curled up on the couch, asleep. She dozed off an hour or so ago while watching TV, and when I look at her everything else just melts away and I can’t help but smile. Petrol prices? Pffff, who cares. That’s for tomorrow. For now all I can see is her.

Hell that’s not just good, it’s the best.

Sep 12

I’m having one of those very special days where everything I try to turn my hand to immediately goes into “frustrating” mode. I try to pick something up, I knock over three other things. I try to type any word, I get it wrong (about five times this morning I have had to retype several documents in which I refer to my working with various different studnet requests). One of those days that brings to mind a silly little rhyme someone once told me:

God bless the happy moron
He doesn’t give a damn
I wish I was a moron
Oh christ, perhaps I am!

I can’t help but be utterly convinced that there is a truth in there somewhere. I’m not exactly the sharpest tool in the box, but if I was slightly more moron-esque I think my frustration levels would be waaaaaay down from their usual level.

And if anyone has any idea what a studnet would request, answers on a postcard please, or just stick them in the comments.

Sep 11

It’s been a few months since I started this blog, and it strikes me now that I should be starting to expand the look a little beyond the basic Blogger template. And so, I turn to you, my readers, for a little feedback. Anything you would like to see changed? Any blogs that have a feature you’ve loved and would like to see ripped off – er, that is, implemented with a loving homage – here? Let me know. I have some design skills and it’s time to try to bring my A game on this one.

Also, my blogroll will soon be getting tidied up and expanded a little, as will my website list. The egg is about to expand – and I need your help to make sure it expands in all the right ways.

Sep 06

MCF recently invited his readership to judge five tales, spun in his usual inimitable style. As is usual with the mysterious cloaked figure there was a twist and all of the tales turned out to be true: the only thing was that one of them didn’t actually happen to MCF. One of them did make me laugh, but I suspect not for reasons known to MCF at the time he was writing it.

At one point MCF bemoaned the price of gasoline in his area, which at one point rose to a whopping $3.75. Now I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that was per gallon. So you can imagine the laugh that escaped my lips today when I went to put some petrol in my car and found that unleaded was up to 93.9 pence per litre. Note that that isn’t per gallon, it’s per litre. Per fucking litre. I’ll leave the maths up to the Americans in the audience. My name is Fawndoo, buyer of expensive petrol. Look on my prices ye Americans and compare.

One day I will share with you my bitter rant about how I’m tired of the government lining up in a neat queue to kick me in the balls just because I own a car. One day I will share with you the plea I run through every time I see the petrol price rise three times in one week. One day I might even share with you the hope that one day the Chancellor and his cronies will take a break from kicking me in the bollocks and might actually try to cut down on some of the highest fuel excise duties in the industrialised first world.

But not today. Not today.

Sep 03

Today my better half and I hot a local shopping mall for a little wander. Motivated by the sunny weather, the fact that we needed to go by the post office to pick up a parcel and the distinct lack of funds available since this is the last week before payday, we decided to make this a “window shopping” trip. You know the sort – you spend a lot of time looking in shop windows going “ooooh” because you can’t afford to spend anything else inside the shops. That said it gives us both a chance to indulge our inner shopping snobs by looking at stuff that we just wouldn’t give house room to, so it isn’t so bad.

Among the sights and sounds of the day, some of my favourite moments include:

1) Sitting in Subway having a sandwich and watching a young boy sit down outside with his father and gaze lovingly into a shopping bag which contained his brand new PSP. I’m not kidding, this kid was looking at it with genuine love in his eye and a goofy grin on his face. If I was that PSP I would be expecting a candlelit dinner and a walk in the park based on the look he had on his face. Of course there would be no peripheral action and he would only get to my circle button, because I wouldn’t be that kind of handheld console.

2) Seeing some poor sod dressed up as a dragon handing out leaflets for a child play area that parents can use to park their brats while they get some shopping done. We don’t have many hot days in Scotland, but bless me if this unlucky bastard didn’t manage to get to wear the heavy dragon costume on one of them, and have to pose for pictures with just about every child that approached him. I might moan about my job, but they haven’t made me dress up like a mythical creature yet. That said I haven’t checked my work email today, so you never know.

3) Being called over to my better half’s side while we were wandering in Whittard’s tea shop, and looking on in amazement as she pointed at a packet of tea and with some disgust whispered to me, “Look at that! Monkey pickled tea! Ewwwww!” While she wondered whether the monkeys pickled the tea or were pickled in the tea (and, presumably, whether or not she shouldn’t call this one in to the RSPCA), I bent down to pick up a pack of this most curious stuff, only to find that the label actually read “Monkey picked tea“, a reference to days gone by when people trained monkeys to climb to inaccessible areas and pick the choicest tips for fine tea. They don’t do that anymore, but the name has stuck. As has the image in my head of a poor teamaker fighting with a chimpanzee and shouting “Get in the jar, you bastard!” as it “oooh ooooh”s back and flings faeces with a fierce intensity and frightening accuracy.

Of course, I never misread things, oh no. 100% accurate, that’s me. I didn’t look at a book titled “White Ghosts” and think for a moment it was actually “Shite Ghosts” because there was a price sticker in the way. I didn’t once look at a newspaper stand with the headline “Mobs deface Dewar statue” and think they were talking about some famous statue of a conscientious objector and not realise they were in fact talking about a statue of our now dead First Minister Donald Dewar (thinking it meant de-war like de-commission or de-grade). Oh no. 100% accurate me. Always thinking.