Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Up to November 2008 there have been 489 people from 38 countries who have flown in outer space. Space is defined as anywhere above the Karman Line 62.1 miles up.
What is the closest any human has been to the centre of the earth?
The crew of the bathyscaphe Trieste dived to a depth of 6.77 miles in the Pacific Ocean in 1960. This put them 3,952 miles from the centre of the earth.
When have been the coldest winters in the UK?
The coldest winter on record was 1684 when coaches travelled along the frozen River Thames. The winter of 1962-63 was the coldest since 1740.
Still its over for another year. Is this the time when we say to everyone we meet, ’did you have a nice Christmas?’ and everyone says ’Yes thanks, it was quiet though’. Why does everyone say that? How can it have been quiet, the whole thing has taken more organising that the Normandy landings, everyone in the country (or the world as far as I know) has bought enough food and alcohol for several weeks. All normal routines and working patterns have been totally abandoned, yet it has still be ‘a quiet Christmas!’
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
But they went on to say that snow on the ground doesn’t count, it has to fall from the sky on Christmas Day to be an official White Christmas. What’s that all about? There is snow on my roof, snow in the street, snow all around, but it might not be an ‘official’ White Christmas!
Who decided that there were rules to apply on whether it was a White Christmas or not? Do we have to fill a form in and apply to have ‘official White Christmas’ status awarded?
If it isn’t an officially designated White Christmas, do I have to take the snow on my house back to the council and say ‘sorry but its not an official White Christmas, so I can’t keep it’. In future years will I have to describe this Christmas as ‘the Christmas that looked like a White Christmas, but it wasn’t a White Christmas’?
I am lost now, I don’t know what to do.
There was always a stories like the one of the miserable old man that lived alone in a big house with a big garden and the local children would creep into the garden and steel the apples from his apple trees. The man would be so miserable he would chase the children with his stick and shout at them to ‘clear off’.
Then one Christmas one child would sneak into the garden and they would become friends and have an adventure and the man would turn out to be jolly and let all the children have the apples from his trees in future…………….. Makes you think.
Well just a thought for the children near me when the look at my apple trees -
‘Get lost and buy your apples at the shops like everyone else!’
George Michael - December Song
Judy Garland - Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Shirley Bassey - The Girl From Tiger Bay
(Not a Christmas song but its got sequins, white feathers and diamonds, what more do you want for Christmas - and it’s a hell of a song)
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
So this means two things, on the day itself I wont have anyone to share the burden of the nightmare that is Christmas Day and since we wont have exchanged presents with family my sister will come up for a long weekend in January and we can do it all again. I know this will happen as it has happened about seven out of the last ten years.
Two Christmases in one year, let joy be unconfined!
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Another night of bad weather across the country with some snow fall in the South. Thousands of people stranded across three counties for the night. There is to be a Government enquiry into what happened and what went wrong. A Government enquiry, is that really necessary? I know it wouldn’t be pleasant for those affected - but a Government enquiry?
Let me save the Government some time and money:
- it is winter
- it was cold
- it snowed
- it froze
- the roads got blocked.
Now can the Government please have an enquiry into what the banks did with all our money, who got it and why did we have to give them two hundred thousand million pounds.
Talking of which, according to Government figures the banks received £40,000 from every household in the country as part of the bailout. I wrote to my bank to tell them to just deduct my £40,000 from my mortgage and to let me know how much my repayments have been reduced to in time for next months payment. I also said I knew how difficult times were for them and as a gesture of goodwill I wouldn’t be charging them £40 for my letter.
Leon Jackson was much maligned but I quite liked him. Great version of When You Believe and who can forget his duo with Kylie Minogue - well you obviously because you had forgotten he sang with Klylie!
Mr Leon Jackson and When You Believe
Mr Leon Jackson and Miss Kylie Minogue
Monday, 21 December 2009
In the first stage, when the caller says ‘how are you today sir’? Say ‘I am very well thank you for asking, and it is so lovely of you to call just to ask me that’. Then hang up. This will leave the caller a bit puzzled as they now think you think they just called to say hello. They may decide you are a little odd and remove you from their list at this early point. If this doesn’t work, then move on to the second stage.
In the second stage when they ask ‘Could I speak to... ?’ You say ‘of course you can, I will just put you through’. You then put the phone down and watch TV, have dinner or whatever you were doing when the phone rang. Go back every couple of minutes pick up the phone and say ‘Still putting you through’. After about three or four times you will find they have rung off. If this does not deter them and you find you are still on their list, move on to the third stage.
In the third stage they are clearly not easily put off so you will have to speak to them for a while. This one can be a little tricky as you have to spot what they are giving away free quite quickly and home in on this aspect of the call. In my recent experience they were offering me a free phone, clearly what they weren’t telling me was that the ‘free phone’ would end up costing me a fortune on a new contract.
So as soon as they mentioned the ‘free phone’ I said I was absolutely delighted that they were going to give me a new phone and I asked them to send it to me immediately as I couldn’t wait to receive it. Then hang up. You won’t of course receive a new phone but the next time they call you can say you still haven’t received your new phone and ask when you can expect to receive it – or you can ask to be put through to the complaints department as you are getting annoyed that you haven’t received your new phone.
If this still doesn’t stop them calling you will have to try the techniques in this the fourth and final stage. If your caller has got through to this stage then clearly they are very determined so you will have to be prepared to be persistent and creative in your dialogue. My recent experience got to this stage and the conversation went a bit like this.
‘I am sure you will want to reduce your phone bill’
‘I don’t really spend a lot on my phone so I am quite happy with what I pay’
‘But I am sure you will want to reduce even that amount’
‘Why are you so sure about what I want, you don’t know me, we haven’t even met’,
‘I know we haven’t met, but most people like to reduce their phone bills’
‘Do I have to meet you to have my phone bills reduced?’
‘No we don’t have to meet’
‘Ok, but I still don’t know how you are so sure I want to have my phone bills reduced’
‘Well alright, I shouldn’t have said I was sure you wanted to have your phone bills reduced, I just made an assumption that you would’
‘So are you now saying that you are not sure I want my phone bills reduced?’
‘Well yes I suppose I am’
‘So are you saying that you want to keep my phone bills the same as they are now?’
‘No I’m not saying that’
‘Well what are you saying, you don’t sound very sure’
‘Well I am sure’
‘’But you said you were sure I was sure a minute ago, and now it looks like you’re not even sure what it is you are sure about’
‘I am sure!’
At this point he seemed quite cross and hung up. I haven’t heard from them since.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Christmas has for many centuries been a time for the giving and exchanging of gifts, particularly between friends and family members. A number of figures of both Christian and mythical origin have been associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.
The most famous and pervasive of these figures in modern celebration worldwide is Santa Claus, a mythical gift bringer, dressed in red, whose origins have diverse sources. The name Santa Claus is a corruption of the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the fourth century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on the 6th of December came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts. Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, and enquired about the behaviour of children during the past year, before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, (corrupted in English to Kris Kringle), and the date of giving gifts changed from December the 6th to Christmas Eve.
The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular, in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of six notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city's non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition, was reinvented as Saint Nicholas. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City. At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops' robes. However as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire. Nast drew a new image of "Santa Claus" annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.
Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.
600 new viruses are released to the internet each month. 80,000 viruses now exist. In January 2003 the Slammer virus infected 75,000 computers in 10 minutes.
Does everyone have a phone?
57.8% of the world’s population have never received a telephone call. Furthermore, 75.3% of the world’s population have never accessed the internet.
If you were to add up all the presents in the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ how many would there be?
364 presents are given by ’my true love’ throughout the ’Twelve Days of Christmas’ 184 birds, 140 performing (or milking) people and 40 golden rings.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
‘Can I speak to Cheryl’
‘I’m sorry but I think you have the wrong number’
‘Well I think she changed her number recently’
‘Then you definitely have the wrong number’
‘She works on the night shift team’
‘You have the wrong number’
‘She hasn’t been there very long’
‘You have the wrong number’
‘Do you know what her new number is?’
‘If you don’t know her number then why do you think I know her number? You have the wrong number’
‘You haven’t been very helpful’. Then she hung up!
How is it that if someone dials the wrong number it becomes my problem that I have to solve by finding out what the correct number is!
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
He needn’t have bothered for me as it is not my concern what he does, but since he has put the information out there maybe I can make an observation.
The apology was what I call a ‘celebrity apology’. This is where a celebrity makes a public apology but it doesn’t mean ‘I am sorry and I wish I hadn’t done it’ it means ‘there has been a lot of fuss in the press about something I did and I have just realised it might affect my future earnings so I had better say I’m sorry even though I don’t know what I am supposed to be sorry about, and even if I didn’t know its no ones business but my own’.
There is also the element added to it that they are only sorry at the point that the indiscretion becomes public knowledge, which really means ‘I am sorry I have been found out – not that I did it’.
You might be sorry that you have an affair, but if you have dozens of them then you’re not really sorry, it’s just your way of life. So I do wonder why he has apologised publicly I know he makes over $100 million dollars a year and that would be incentive enough for anyone to do anything to protect future earnings, but he already has a $1 billion dollars so how much more does he want.
It is just as well I’m not rich – I don’t think I understand how it works.
Penny Smith did say she thought it was warmer in her fridge and she might now sleep in it – good idea Penny you might keep better!
Monday, 14 December 2009
So you need to wear shoes in the house at all times from now until after the holidays. This is because postman love to put those ‘sorry you were out’ cards through your letter box. Even though you are in but you don’t the door bell because they didn't ring it.
If you already have your shoes on you can chase after the postman as soon as you notice a card being popped through your letter box. If you have to change into shoes before you race after the postman he will be long gone before you have your shoes on.
Fashion tip If you do have to put shoes on to go after the postman - in this scenario it is ok to put on the first pair of shoes or trainers you come to - they don’t have to match your outfit.
I always give next doors little girl one to herself. She is getting a bit older now, think is six now, so she came round last night with a card for me that she had made herself at school.
I said it was very nice, but why was Shrek playing with some giraffes? She said it wasn't Shrek and giraffes it was Father Christmas and his reindeer! I said well it looks nothing like father Christmas and that and maybe next year it would be better if she bought me a card. Don't know why she seemed a bit upset.
Next door had another baby year before last - on new year’s eve , if I remember rightly, ambulances racing up and down the street sirens going full blast when I was trying to get ready to go out, no consideration for others - so I suppose that will be another card next year!
Worryingly I knew what he meant.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
We had Kimberley Walsh with the crowds in South Shields - funnily enough she was the least orange person there!
Lovely to see Cheryl and Simon standing arms around each other as Joe sang the song as the winner. Louis got into the spirit as well by putting his arm around Dannii - for about three seconds until Dannii told him to get off!
Download available now - in the shops on Wednesday.
It was wonderful - oh and the acts weren’t bad either.
Waiting the result as I write (doing this while the rotten Paul McCartney is on - can’t bear him.
Best performance of the night George Michael.
Joe or Olly to win? Sorry Olly but I think it has to be Joe.
Second songs with Michael Buble, Robbie Williams and George Michael only showed how far the finalists have to go to get to that level. Can’t blame Joe for being overawed singing with George Michael but think he has done enough to win tomorrow’s final vote.
Friday, 11 December 2009
In case you are wondering, the tune is from Jerry Springer the musical
Thursday, 10 December 2009
The day starts quite well as you are encouraged to eat a large breakfast – this is fine for me as I consider breakfast to be the best meal of the day. You can have anything you like, even things you would normally consider to be an evening meal is permissible. The general rule of thumb is that Christmas day breakfast should be about the same calorie level as that for a normal full day.
There are only certain things you are allowed to eat for Christmas Day lunch. Suggest a Lancashire hot pot or fish and chips and people will think you have gone mad.
There is a range of things you are allowed to eat, turkey, goose, beef etc. (turkey being the most popular). But whatever you choose, it has to be the biggest of its kind in the shop. It is not unheard of for people to buy a 20 kilo turkey for two.
There are a number of difficulties with the meal and it starts at the point you go to the table. You are required to:
· navigate (if you are from a large family) your way to a chair that is the proper height for the table so you don’t have to eat the meal with your knees in your face;
· sit at the table wearing a paper hat;
· pull Christmas crackers in the hope of winning something you are going to throw in the bin;
· eat vegetables that you don’t like and would never go near for the rest of the year;
· consume vast amounts of potatoes cooked in several different ways, e.g. boiled, roasted, duchess etc;
· eat sausage, bacon, stuffing (don’t ask) which alone contain enough fat to give a small elephant a heart attack ;
· work out how to keep gravy off the cranberry sauce;
· talk to the other people at the table;
· say ‘I shouldn’t really’ when asked if you want more alcohol, then say ‘oh go on then it is Christmas’;
· eat a Christmas pudding that takes four hours to steam cook, but still has the consistency of liquid concrete.
Then two hours after eating the biggest meal you have had all year, you have to consume another meal.
This meal is the beginning of the different ways that you are going to eat turkey for the next day or two. You are also required to consume Christmas cake, chocolate cake, biscuits and more alcohol.
By the time you have reached this meal the alcohol is not compulsory but it is advisable to take it to get you through the rest of the day\evening.
Tips for getting through the day
Each time you go past the central heating thermometer, turn it up a degree. No one will notice the gradual rise in room temperature but this will help everyone fall asleep after dinner so you don’t have talk to them.
If you are exchanging presents on the day and you have to buy a present for someone you don’t like – buy them a big, heavy or awkward to carry present, (or if you are advanced in this regard, something that is all three). This means they have to work out how to get your present it home. This is especially effective if they have travelled to you on foot so they can have a drink and then have to carry a six foot set of step ladders home in the ice.
Note: Christmas cake is a bit like Christmas pudding only it is cold and solidified. A single slice has the same calorific value as a pie and pea supper, ten Mars bars and a packet of Wotsits.
Actually no, since you ask, it wasn’t interesting, but it does explain why we don’t usually hear Moss speaking!
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Shopping for babies is not really my thing but took a trip to Mothercare to see what I could get. It is a whole new world of things I never knew existed and there was another shop next door - mamas and papas - which I think had the edge on Mothercare.
Lady in the shop was very helpful. Looked at a few outfits and decided on a … don’t know what you call it - a thing you put babies in I suppose.
Went next door to Borders to get a card.
Borders is now on its way out and it’s a pity coz find it convenient having shop on the Retail Park - saves me going into town to buy books. Did notice they had 20% off all their books as they are closing down but that is a bit odd as when I get books there they have them, either 3 for 2 or buy one get one half price. So in effect the cost of books have gone up in their closing down sale!
Perhaps that is why they are closing down.
I noticed they had some toys and things and I thought I might get something for my friend. There was a display of teddy bears and they looked quite cute so thought I would get one. Don’t know what is wrong with me - but be going sentimental in my old age.
Anyway the display of bears was quite big so I set to finding the one I wanted, I had them all out the display and lined up on the floor.
The woman came over and asked me ‘Can I help sir’
‘I want one of these bears’ She pointed at the one I had in my hand and said ‘I’ll take that to the till for you’
‘I don’t want this one, I want a different one’
‘They are all the same sir’
‘No they aren’t I want a good looking one, this one has a squashed nose’ I held it up to show the woman, ‘and that one is cross eyed’.
The woman just looked, ‘Well once you have finished interviewing the bears, bring the winner over to the till and I‘ll wrap it up for you’
After about 15 minutes I chose the bear I wanted and thought I would have a quick look at the books - see if there was anything I wanted.
The same woman came up to me. ‘I see you got a bear - it must be very pleased to have passed the interview. But could you carry it more carefully, you have it by the throat and your upsetting the children’.
Why do I always get difficult people serving me!
Sunday, 6 December 2009
In the early days of Batman he used to shoot people but this stopped in 1940 after editor Whitney Ellsworthy complained about Batman shooting some mutated man. Batman first appeard in 1939.
Val Kilmer was the best Batman - but he’s looking a bit rough now. Val Kilmer is 50 on New Year’s Eve.
Guests this week Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson. Don’t really get Lady Gaga, but nice to see Janet Jackson. Was it just me or was the sound a bit funny? Think she was miming - and what the hell did she have on? She looked like Kevin Webster the mechanic off Coronation Street!
So we have the finalists Olly, Stacey and Geordie Joe. Interviewed by Dermot after the result announced, Olly didn’t know what to say, and who knows what Stacey said.
Danyl Johnson lost out - but then I guess he has struggled in the press right through the completion - maybe we will hear from him again - maybe we won’t.
It was a bit poor really Geordie Joe did the best cover - but even then ‘She’s out of my life’ is not a Jackson favourite for me.
Second songs were better, but oh no Stacey if your going to sing a Queen Barbra classic - get the words right. Can’t believe she got the last word wrong - for future reference the last word is Somewhere - its sort of the point of the song!
If you want to know how it should be done - see Barbra sing it live
They keep giving Danyl Whitney songs to sing, and no one does Whitney like Whitney, but he manages to pull it off. On the subject of Whitney - heard her new song the other day - looks like a winner, lot better than the come back song.
Who is in the final, difficult Joe and Danyl yes - and either Olly or Stacey to lose out. Pity coz Olly was my favourite to win.
JK Rowling has made £526.54 per word written in Harry Potter books. She has made £576m in total and is the world’s biggest selling living author.
What’s the lowest score anyone’s ever got on Mastermind and what was their specialist subject?
The lowest non-celebrity score on Mastermind was 7 by Colin Kidd. His specialist subject was World Chess Championships. The lowest celebrity score is 6.
How much was the first TV?
The first mass produced mechanical TV set sold for $150 in 1928, which is $1,800 in today’s money.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Had a bit of an incident on the train. The lady with the refreshment trolley asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for a sparkling water. She handed over a bottle of water and asked me if I wanted a glass?
‘Do I look like Conan the Barbarian?’ I responded
She didn’t like that and gave me a cold stare with pursed lips as she picked up a glass and placed it (rather forcibly I thought) in font of me.
‘One Glass’ she said
‘It’s got a chip in it’
She removed the glass picked up another glass and placed it in front of me.
‘One other glass’ she said.
I stared back at her, my mind racing. I wanted to point out that actually it wasn’t a glass it was a plastic beaker, but I am not easily goaded into argument and she did look a bit frosty so I left it.
‘Do you want anything to eat – we have bacon flatbread but I haven’t got any cutlery. You will have to manage with your fingers’.
I looked at her and raised and eyebrow.
‘So nothing to eat then’ she concluded.
‘No thank you’.
A few minutes later she was back down the carriage with an armful of complimentary newspapers.
‘Paper sir’ she asked as she walked past.
‘Yes thank you’.
She handed one over. ‘Would you like me to turn the pages over for you’?
I sensed and adversary with skills of an equal status. ‘That won’t be necessary thank you’ I replied as she moved on.
The rest of the journey proved uneventful apart from being five minutes late. Gave me just enough time to pop into The Queens hotel and leave my bag with George – the concierge.
A warm welcome from George is guaranteed but he always begins our chats by asking me if I have come down all the way from Newcastle again. He says it like I have travelled by foot from Peru. I don’t know how far away he thinks Newcastle is.
Left my bag until I returned later to check in.
I have had some disastrous experiences at hotels but The Queens is my preferred hotel so is usually event free.
Couple of hitches this week. The bathroom was the coldest bathroom in the Northern Hemisphere. Some problem with the window so it was permanently open about half an inch – not much but more than enough when the outside temperature is -3C. I compensated by having the bedroom thermostat on full blast at 32C.
When I use the restaurant the ladies there look after me very well. They know I don’t have tea or coffee at breakfast and have my own table. I am the perfect customer for them as they don’t have to do anything and can leave me on my own and they are the perfect waitresses for me as other than a ‘good morning’ they leave me alone.
Bit of a surprise this morning when a new chap was standing guard over the restaurant entrance. He dutifully (even if needlessly) took my name and room number so he could tick me off his list.
I could see my ladies hovering in the background looking on a bit nervously as the new chap attempted to take me to a free table as he marched off due East to guide me to the table he thought I should sit at. I turned to face the opposite direction and headed due West to my usual table.
He seemed a little surprised and a little cross when he got to his intended table and turned around to see I wasn’t behind him and was in fact already sitting at my table at the opposite end of the dinning room.
My ladies were soon bustling around me to turn my tea cup upside down so any other new people knew I did not require tea\coffee.
Calm was once again restored.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
If it is someone you want to see you can say you have just come in, invite them in and take off your coat. If it is someone you don’t want to see you can say, so sorry but you were just on your way out! It works I have done this for years.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
I considered saying nothing and letting this outrageous breach of English language usage go unchallenged but the urge to intervene proved too much and I had to point out that stripes are vertical straight lines whereas hoops are horizontal straight lines.
The conclusion being that he did not have a beautiful striped teacup – he had a beautiful hooped tea cup!