Sunday, June 29, 2008

I suppose it's only a song...

I can't say I'm much of a fan of our national anthem, with the possible exception of Brian May's instrumental interpretation of it.

For that matter, I'm afraid I can't admit to being particularly patriotic either. I've nothing against the royal family but they hardly stir up any sense of national pride for me and neither does the sound of the opening bars of God Save the Queen.

Now the American national anthem is another story altogether; there's something about The Star Spangled Banner that just feels truly anthemic. I've only been over there a couple of times so I hardly qualify (nor am I tempted) to apply for citizenship, but whenever their anthem is played it really seems to invoke an atmosphere of national pride among Americans.

A few years ago, the Dixie Chicks ruffled a few feathers with their comments about George Bush but I think their version of their anthem for the 2003 Superbowl was truly moving. Take a look at this...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Slow but sure...

I had an enjoyable, if typically excessive night out last night so today has been a predictably quiet one.

Result of the day though was discovering this morning that I've finally passed my next weight loss milestone having lost over two and a half stone now. There is still some way to go but it's reassuring to think that my persistence is paying off albeit a bit slower than I might like.

It's funny, when the scales were moving in the opposite direction, I hardly remember weighing 16 stone-anything at all, but on the way down its taken 14 weeks to shed it again. Still, all of the advice seems to say that it's better to lose weight in little and regular amounts.

Of course, it's easier when I'm in my usual weekly routine of diet and exercise so it will be interesting to see how I fare next week while I'm off work...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Storm before the calm...

It must be a gift, I can't figure out how they do it.

It occurred to me when I got to the office this morning that I've barely touched my holiday allocation for this year and we are nearly halfway though. Little wonder I'm knackered.

So unbeknown to anyone else, I studied my Outlook calendar, the office holiday planner, found three weeks with nothing much planned (the first one being next week) then dropped a quick email to my manager for sign off and approval.

My request can hardly have left my PC when the influx started. The rush jobs started to pour in, all time consuming, all jobs that nobody can really do but me and for some reason, all need completing by the end of the month, or by the end of Q2, i.e. by Friday.

It always seems to work that way - you work yourself into a frenzy preparing for a week off, then endure a week of the same catching up when you get back. Still, holidays just have to be taken (we have a use 'em or lose 'em policy) so I'm making amends by planning my activity accordingly for next week.

What have I got planned for the week? Well it sounds a bit like the shipping forecast zone between Shannon and Bailey...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tap into the weekend...

This afternoon's activities have been mostly Tap related, but for once I haven't been to my favourite pub or even revisited one of my favourite films, I have been on a quest for one of these:

This is a ceramic tap gland and if it makes you feel any better, I hadn't seen one quite like this until a couple of weeks ago either. Any taps I've dismantled before had a simple rubber washer that could be replaced in an instant, but no, I had to inherit taps that were different. Surely all I had to do was just nip down to B&Q and get a replacement?

Incidentally have you every tried to use the B&Q website? It's about as user unfriendly as you could dream of, but fortunately, the people in store are usually the exact opposite.

Today was no exception - I showed the existing one to the assistant who readily explained the difference between the four seemingly identical replacements I had in my hand. The only difference apparently being the splines at the top which are designed to fit a multitude of tap levers and handles and as nobody seems to have established any standards, this in turn means there a lot of different ones.

Long story short, after 20 miles of to-ing and fro-ing in the car, lots of helpful people but nobody stocks the model I need so I came home and re-fitted the original again. Except that for some reason it doesn't drip anymore. I ought to be delighted that I've saved some money but on reflection I'm probably worse off when I think of the petrol I've used...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not that I'm really interested...

It's no secret that I have little interest in club football and with no UK participants, the European cup tournament wasn't likely to capture my imagination. All the same, I agreed to take a team in the office sweep stake and was less than impressed when I unfolded the slip of paper and read "Turkey".

Then Tuesday morning, Rob (the sweep organiser) called across "not such a bad draw after all then?". Completely oblivious to the action the night before, he updated me on the remarkable comeback from 2-0 down against Czech Republic to win 3-2 in the closing minutes.

So I feigned a little interest this evening as I was home and had the second half on the TV while I caught up on the aforementioned blog reading. It seemed they hadn't managed another last minute escape and with the score still at 0-0 they went into extra time. With only a minute or so to go, Croatia scored with the commentator exclaiming "...and the last minute heroes are themselves knocked out in the closing minutes" but apparently not, Turkey still managed to cram in an equaliser with literally seconds to spare.

On to penalties where it had to be said they won more convincingly (if a game could ever be won convincingly by penalty shoot out). So who knows? They face Germany next who will hardly be a pushover but if they get though that game I'm looking at a windfall of at least 16 quid. Woohoo!

And if I win I might just spend it all on kebabs...

And here's another thing...

I thought I would also take the chance tonight to start catching up on my blog list on the left, many of which I have been neglecting for longer than I care to admit.

So far I'm only down to the second one and Birdman led me to this excellent article...

Musical Interlude...

OK, so now you're over the initial shock that I've decided to stay on on a Friday night, take a little look at this.

The Fratellis set a competition on YouTube inviting anyone to send in covers of their favourite Fratellis song and fortunately for us, Stevie Riks decided to send one in. I'm sure I've told you all about Stevie before, he's something of a YouTube celebrity and quite frankly it's about time we saw him get a slot on prime time TV.

Anyway, here is his video and there is something very wrong in the world if it doesn't get first prize...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Quite surprising really...

It's turned out to be a day full of surprises today; some nice ones and some not so.

Nice: Despite last night's little sojourn to my favourite hostelry, I woke up really early this morning completely free of any ill effects.

Not so: Bathroom scales still moving in the wrong direction. (OK, I always said weekends don't count)

Nice: Took advantage of the bonus waking hours by getting the breadmaker and washing machine going then set off to Tesco to join the inevitable queue for petrol. But there wasn't one. And hardly anyone in the supermarket itself for that matter so home again and unpacked before 8:00am

Nice: Managed to get the car loaded up to return Dad's tools that he'd left in my garage and found a parking space right outside their house. In the town centre. On a Saturday morning.

Nice: Whilst there I learned that Delcatto's "have a go hero" antics from Thursday paid off with his would be assailant destined for a court appearance. Good on yer Delcatto - a lesson for us all there perhaps.

Not so: Also whilst there I discovered my mobile phone had started playing up again. A few times in recent weeks the earpiece stopped working so you coudn't hear dialling tones or voices at the other end without turning the external speaker on - not much use for private conversations.

Nice: Of course, that was all the excuse I needed to treat myself to a new one

Not so: I'd kept to the same network and manufacturer to help transition of numbers etc. but this new one just wasn't playing. Looked like a very boring afternoon's work ahead.

Nice: Persistence paid off

Not so: I was interruped mid cursing at phone/laptop by the postman. What could they want? I've nothing due for delivery. Well not for a few days at any rate.

Nice: Turned out it was a present from Pete Frenzy who very kindly sent me a St Louis Cardinals calendar. Thanks very much Pete - I guess I can finally take the 2007 arch calendar down from the kitchen wall!

Not so: On the subject of the USA, I thought I should check on the cactus seeds I brought back with me. Having finally got around to planting them a couple of weeks ago, they've since failed to show any signs of life.

Nice: I would appear to be the owner of a new prickly pear! (even though it must be all of 5mm tall).

Nice: We don't usually do Father's Day in our family (his choice as it is purely commercial), but as he has been really helpful replacing my fence over the last few weeks, I've invited Mum & Dad over for Sunday roast tomorrow. The beef is done and chefs prerogative titbits would indicate it's going to be another tasty one.

So here we are, dinner already prepped for tomorrow, two loaves baked and a third about to go in, after which I'm looking forward to a leisurely evening catching up with the Doctor's adventures.

Oh and I've finally set the ball rolling on another long overdue project, but I'll tell you more about that another time...

Friday, June 13, 2008

No shortage of stupidity...

This isn't the first time I've come on here to witter about irresponsible journalism and I highly doubt it will be the last.

As we all know, we are midway though a four day tanker driver strike in protest over pay and I have no issue with that; we are lucky enough to live in a society that allows us to take such actions when we feel unjustly done by.

So what is the first comment to come blurting out of the BBC news?
"There is no need for panic buying - there is plenty of petrol available as long as people don't panic buy"
Public reaction?
"Well if there's any chance at all of a shortage, I'm going to make sure I'm alright and top my tank up"

I know people who go weeks without having to top their petrol tank up. Others who just buy a tenners worth every now and then paying little attention to how much they are using. Little Sis has been known to go for years without having to buy petrol (sorry Sis - just kidding!). Seriously though, there are some of us who drive economical cars, have no feasible public means of travelling to work but genuinely need a tankful of petrol every week or so.

I'm not saying my case is special or that I personally deserve special treatment after all, I chose to apply for a job where I did, but the newsreaders blabbing on about "potential" shortages and drivers from other companies being turned around at picket lines is just spreading the widespread panic they purport to be warning against.

Many years ago in my supermarket shelf filling days, I remember someone putting the word about that there was going to be a pepper shortage and we just couldn't keep the stuff on the shelves. People were coming in and buying pots of pepper quite literally by the dozen. How much pepper can you possibly consume for fuck's sake? I think I've only ever bought two or three in the whole time I've been responsible for buying my own food.

I've a good mind to flush them all out by starting a rumour that white pepper becomes radioactive if stored for more than 20 years and see the fools who have still got tons of it go running to their local news stations.

Oops, I appear to have published such a ridiculous lie on the internet...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Anyone for tennis...

The weight loss appears to have hit another plateau despite my best efforts on diet and exercise. I'm quite happy to post on here when things are going well, but I admit it is frustrating when you are exercising hard and what little you are eating is the right stuff, yet there are no tangible results. Still, Rome wasn't built in a day and I don't expect a thinner Seany will be either.

Progress on the Wii tennis has provided an unexpected insight today though. Although I've finally broken through the 2000 skill level with no new competition in sight, I still doubt I'll be anywhere near Wimbledon this summer (unless I could persuade some of the furry litter patrol from the common to join me in a few verses of 70's nostalgia).

More than usual today, the incoming crap at the office was relentless and more kept pouring as fast as I could deal with any of it. Everything was going wrong, everything was critically important and all of it needed dealing with immediately. That's when the tennis analogy hit me; no matter ho hard I try and keep batting the balls elsewhere, there will always be somebody ready and waiting to serve up a load more.

Hey ho. Only two days to the weekend when I fully expect abstinence to become a stranger again for a few hours...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The power of advertising...

I was just sat in front of the telly minding my own business when an advert appeared for a Lexus Hybrid and although I wouldn't mind upgrading the car, I accept that those are well out of my league.

It was the music that caught my attention initially and the fact that it sounded like the same music from the Scottish Widows advert (not that I'm in the market for one of those either).

Now the internet being the wondrous thing that it is, I soon discovered that both companies were in fact using the same music in their advert and before I knew what was happening, I was facing a sudden compulsion to sell my guitar again...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tea break over, back on your heads...

I returned to work this morning and within minutes of reaching my desk, it was as though I had never been away leaving me yearning for another holiday.

The 163 mails waiting in my inbox hardly came as a surprise and despite my leaving an out of office message on, people kept sending their mails in by the virtual sack load, presumably in the hope that I would return from my holiday early.

The perennial squabble fodder of the office air conditioning units reared its ugly head again while I was away, which I quickly dismissed again today with the indifference that it duly deserves.

There is still a plethora of secretive whispering about the place. Some changes are definitely afoot (not to mention long overdue) and there was a time when I would have been more concerned but experience reassures me they are most probably of little, if any, significance to day to day activities and in the meantime, it serves to make certain individuals feel important while they wander about with their encrypted mutterings.

On a brighter note, I managed to escape a couple of minutes early so that I can dedicate this evening to some serious me-time. Or if the local weather forecast is anywhere near the mark, some pretty prompt boat building.

The post title? Well it's such an old joke I just assumed everyone had heard it, but just in case, you can find it here...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

You could have put money on it...

Well the week of carefree eating, drinking and running machine avoidance yielded predictable results. If the bathroom scales are to be believed (and they should be as I've just bought some new ones) I've managed to accumulate an additional 4lbs since last Friday.

Sure, it's a little disappointing perhaps but there are three very good reasons why I'm not overly concerned:

1) It was a weeks holiday and my idea of holiday is to focus on enjoying yourself with diet and exercise being the last things on your mind

2) My original target was to lose 1lb a week and even after last week, I'm still over 1lb ahead of target overall

3) I'm much more preoccupied right now with how I really don't feel like going back to work tomorrow...