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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/30/2014 in Blog Entries

  1. 3 points
    Many years ago I wrote a piece on the internet about my departure from a company's employment in scathing terms. Back then I wrote how the place would close and the site redeveloped. It has been announced that such will come to pass, my prophecy having been proven correct. Working there in the good ol days was a different experience than you normally get in warehouses today. There were no agencies involved in finding jobs there, a family atmosphere, and good rates of pay. The rot set in when the influx of young lads and the retirement of older women made the atmosphere much more like a school playground. The change from old fashioned hierarchy to modern style office class system reduced peoples motivations to work toward a career and a future in the company, making careers a lottery rather than the result of hard work and merit. Finally, the older hands were gotten rid of by hook or by crook, seen as obstructive and stuck in their ways. Truth is, they knew their jobs whereas the new generation of workers, managers or labourers, did not. New ideas haven't helped. Placing the management of warehouse production in the hands of a sub-contractor has done no good. The idea was to let a specialist handle it instead of the hamfisted efforts of what amounted to amateur managemnt, but profit proved hard to achieve. So the company has finally decided that it's time to give up, uproot, amd start again elsewhere. Good luck. Welcome Back It was great to see W back at work. I wasn't on the premises when it happened but he'd been crushed by a forklift truck whose driver (the very same driver who nearly knocked me flying once before) hadn't been too observant. Luckily his injuries weren't too serious and now he's fit to resume duties again. Is it just me or has W grown up a little? His experience seems to have done him a favour. Not So Welcome A politician claims that older people voting for Brexit have 'shafted the young generation wholesale'. What a load of nonsense. Far too many young people are lazy, indifferent, and assume that the world owes them a living. That's the sort of world that being a member of the EU has encouraged. If forcing the younger population to work toward an independent Britain they can be proud of is shafting them, then shaft away. Some might see this as hypocrisy given I spent the better part of the last decade as unemployed. I would point out that I was not given the choice, and ultimately, I was thrown to the wolves by the Job Centre who see stopping peoples money as a positive move. That was despite making nearly ten times the quantifiable effort to find emloyment than I was officially expected to achieve. So I got shafted. And as the spokeman for the Job Centre proclaimed in a television interview, I too found paid work within six months. Not the success story that the Job Centre wanted to advertise me as, but one of those who got off their bottoms and went to work when the opportunity presented itself. Why should ex-EU Britain be any different? Not Welcome At All The EU were clear that Britain would not be punished for choosing to leave the Union. They are keen to avoid giving Britain favourable terms to prevent encouraging other members to opt out, and indeed, there are sentiments of that sort evident in France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Spain, and probably other countries. Nonetheless the EU are demanding a high price for leaving, a 'divorce bill' they're insisting on. Since Britain used to be one of the major contributing nations within the EU, the proposed bill can hardly be seen as simply a necessary legal payment but rather an attempt to squeeze whatever they can at the last moment, a feature of EU administration that has been clear for a very long time and one of the reasons people have become dissatisfied with EU membership. The other reasons are the covert suppression of national identity and the influx of migrants assisted by the open border policies of the EU. Why are we so suprised that this is happening? The Roman Empire went through a similar process, becoming larger, bureaucratic, corrupt, facing ever increasing immigration and political uncertainty, not to mention rebellions and at least one break-away empire (that included the British Isles curiously enough). If ever there was a reason to see the value of history, current events are proving it like nothing else, especially since the EU exists to recreate the Roman Empire in a parallel sense. Gildas, a sixth century monk, described Britain as an island 'Rich in usurpers'. He wasn't wrong. Unwelcome Weather Of The Week Saturday overtime. Mandatory. Grumble as I might I had no choice but to turn up to work. The weather was supposed to be about sunshine and showers but toward the end of the shift all hell broke loose. I have never seen hail like that in England before. Neither had the Goans, who raced to the door to experience the sort of weather that probably doesn't happen in India. It doesn't normally happen in England but we didn't let on. Although the hail was not as fierce as some countries in the world expect, for England, it was pretty impressive.
  2. 2 points
    Some of my work colleagues are not too impressed with me right now. Pfah. As if I care. The reason is that one of the youngsters is having his birthday celebration today and I have no intention of turning up. Truth is he's always kept me at arms length as it were, and never really conversed with me. No problem, but his big party is therefore of no importance to me whatsoever. Another colleague attempted to persuade me to turn up during the queue for the end of day attendance scan - I told him I was indifferent and why, right in front of the whole shift. I certainly don't mind carousing but as an afterthought? No, I don't need popularity like youngsters do, and I don't need to get drunk just to have a good time. Get A New One Once in a while the top boss in a huge multi-national corporation will pop in and look around. As you might expect, when there's a threat of someone important wandering around the workplace, managers suddenly get very insistent on tidiness and activity. If you work for a Japanese company as I do, the issue is worse, because they have all sorts of expectations. Even if you work in a warehouse full of dust producing cardboard packaging and oil soaked parts, workers must be clean and spotless. I discovered this on my way back from break as a pair of managers assessed everyone passing by for adherence to uniform code. I failed because my hi-vis was a little dust and oil marked by lots of activity (I'm not the cleanest worker in the world as I prefer to get things done). Okay, I admit it, it was no longer a bright yellow but instead had become a sort of faded cammo pattern of dull green and grey. The subordinate team leader demanded my attention and quietly told me to get a new hi-vis. That's an order. Yes sir. The New One Doesn't Work That new tyrannosaurus of a cardboard baler is proving a problem child. We're all shaking our heads and muttering "I told them so" as the machine fails to work reliably straight from the installation. It is a big issue of course. The amount of cardboard we go through is vast - one of the mechanics working on the new machine could not believe how much cardboard our company has to deal with, a feature of having to deal with bulk supplies of auto parts that must be delivered in pristine condition, and whilst he spoke, the yard outside was filling up with temporary bins full of the stuff. They even called overtime specifically to help clear it. Now parts of the machine have failed and must go back to Germany to be redesigned and manufactured. You know, for months I was essentially the only associate working on cardboard waste within the warehouse, dealing with smaller boxes whilst the bigger external machines took care of larger packages. Now they have a regular crowd of workers trying to cope with the load and regularly get swamped. One of my colleagues said that things were easier when I was baling. Feels nice to be wanted doesn't it? Sigh. Oh well, the next order has been passed to me and packages full of auto parts must be decanted into stillages for the production line. So that's another load of oil soaked impact bars then. I can see why my colleagues want to get drunk. Screenie of the Week It's a long bank holiday this easter so a spot of virtual flying is called for. I just love those big propliners and cargo planes, this one - a Douglas C124 from the Cold War era is no exception, seen here flying important cargo and probably a few sailors on a free ticket from a naval base in the Puget Sound to Alameda in sunny California. Enjoy the pic... Drunk in charge of that wonderful machine? That's just criminal. I had a lovely evening - instead of loud crowd noise, thudding metronome beats in the background, and all the hot sweaty jostling for another drink, all I heard was the mighty rumble of four large capacity radial aero-engines. Heaven. Oh all right, I admit it, I also indulged myself with a spot of heavy metal guitar. Hell too Well, the holiday isn't over, and I have more time to wander around the supermarket to find something different and interesting.... Aha... That bottle of White Rum looks good....
  3. 2 points
    Happy New 2015! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. It’s traditional at this time of year to have a sort of review of the past year, outlining key events and so on. Since I did bugger-all of any worth whatsoever in 2014, I won’t waste your time. Instead, I’ll tell you what I’d like to achieve in 2015. As ever, for those that don’t really know me (which is all of you – this blog is kept strictly a secret from anyone I actually interact with, just in case they laugh at me), some context will be required before I tell you my dreams and goals for this year. When Young OfClayton (That’s me. Pay attention!) hadn’t had the joy and ambition ground away out of him by life, he went to college, full of dreams and aspirations for a bright future (what a gullible and naive git he was). His first year at college was utterly wasted because most of the time he should have spent learning stuff was actually spent playing snooker. Anyway, through what must’ve been divine intervention, he actually passed his exams and his coursework and was accepted for a second year on the course. The course was a sandwich course, and the second year was spent working. This was good for Young OfClayton, because your evenings and weekends are your own, and nobody gives a shit if you waste them on non-productive pursuits. The third year saw Young OfClayton back at college, with a very different attitude to the waste-of-space that barely scraped through his first year. Things would change this year; no more would I waste my time playing snooker. And true to my word, I didn’t. Instead, I wasted my time playing ‘Elite’. I feel I must explain what Elite is, though I’m sure 90% of my audience are familiar with it. It was a video game played on the BBC Micro. It was the original and seminal space trading game, in which you played the pilot of a spaceship. The aim (unsurprisingly) was to fly around and shoot things. It was a really, really playable game that you could easily become totally immersed in. The graphics were ground-breaking, the universe it existed in was believable, the action was thick and fast. It was . . . just . . . totally . . . frickin . . . awesome. And I played it a LOT. As an aside, there is now a new game called ‘Elite: Dangerous’. This is effectively the same game, by the same people, but brought up to date. If the ‘white-lines-plotted-on-black’ of Elite was awesome, can you imagine how awesome it is when displayed using 21st century computer graphics? Mere words just cannot do it justice. It is the Mona Lisa, The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Vth, Grand Unified Field Theory. It is a thing of unrivalled joy and beauty to behold. So, what are my hopes and dreams for 2015? Basically, I aspire to spend every hour not spent sleeping or pissing, playing that game. However, I know deep down in my soul that this ambition is never meant to be. Mrs OfClayton won’t let me. I haven’t asked her, but I know she would never allow it; what sane woman would? Instead I shall have to squander my time fulfilling my responsibilities to my wife and household, earning the respect of my community, and being a productive member of society. What a waste!
  4. 1 point
    Almost Christmas. I say that with a distinct sense of freedom and joy, not because it’s the festive season – Bah! Humbug! I say this because this year fate has spared me the usual barrage of Christmas songs. You know the ones I mean. All those songs that radio stations, supermarkets, and those not blessed with a sense of music play at this time every year ad nauseum. Hardly heard any of them this time around. Makes you feel good to be alive. A Noble Deed It’s going to be ten years since I became Lord Rail. All in all, it hasn’t impacted much on events, other than making a few people rather critical of me, including a couple of claims advisors, one of whom actually swore at me in public when I politely made him aware of my new found status. Another claims advisor attempted to crush my title out of significance with rather less rude language. They both failed. What next for the Caldrail autobiography? What can I do to offend conformity, advance the cause of individualistic idiocy, and generally make life a bit more interesting than visiting supermarkets at Christmas? Hmmm… Let me think…. Adopting Nature May I introduce you to Ronald? He’s a robin, the red breasted variety (although they do seem a bit orange rather than actually red), and has taken up residence at my workplace. Haven’t a clue what he finds to eat, probably subsisting on leftover sweeties when things are quiet. No food on the shop floor please… Okay, the boss is gone. But this is a bumper time for Ronald, because rules go out the door at Christmas as the boss brings in boxes of chocolates to reward us for a year of dedicated hard work and constant gripes. Seeing as this was the festive season, I suggested the company adopt Ronald as a mascot. I have no idea what Ronald thinks of this honour. He flew away. How Not To Get Home My last shift before xmas is done! Yahoo! Can’t be bothered to walk home in the rain so I opt for a bus. As much as I detest buses, even I have to confess they do come in handy occaisionally, like going home after the last shift before xmas. You could tell it was the festive season. Whilst I normaly have to wait ages for a bus to arrive, I had no sooner gotten to the bus stop when my ride arrived. I’ve long since learned to take my backpack off before getting on, but this not being a patient driver, I stepped aboard, pad the fare, got the ticket, and found myself entangled in the straps as I struggled manfully to fit into the seats. Slipping on the wet floor, cursing at the lack of movement, the bus accelerating and braking like an entry at Le Mans, boy oh boy, that was a test of manhood. I;m pleased to say no-one made any sarky comment at all. They must have seen me struggle before. What? Last Christmas? Oh heck, please let this not become an annual ritual…. Mammalian Connection of the Week A little while ago I finished a late shift and as I often do, I stopped at a lonely bus stop to rest for ten minutes before walking four miles home. The bus schedule finished hours ago you see. So I was there, guzzling my energy drink which I keep handy for such occaisions, when movement down on the pavement caught my eye. A fox! Not really that unusual, certainly not in that area with plenty of supermarket refuse bins to forage for food. This one hadn’t seen me, trotting happily along the pavement, looking in good health and really picture postcard perfect condition. Then it noticed my surprise. When you surprise a fox like that, some scarper immediately. Others freeze until they decide to scarper. This one froze. But it was odd. I was looking straight into that foxes eyes and expected the usual look of startled horror at encountering a shabby tired out human being. I saw something else. Although alert and poised to move as instinct demanded, for just a brief moment it looked as the fox was wondering if it could approach in a friendly manner. Scrounger behaviour rather than genuine friendliness, I’ve seen squirrels adopt the same begging action, but the sensation of empathy however misinterpreted is genuinely a deeply rewarding experience. Instinct got the better of it and the fox scarpered. Happy Christmas, Mr Fox.
  5. 1 point
    I wonder what qualifications are required to become a bus driver? Not that I'm especially interested myself, it's just that I witnessed two drivers changing shift discussing Schrodinger's Cat, a piece of scientific philosophy used to illustrate quantum uncertainty. Good grief. What next? A law demanding drivers must have a Master's Degree in Quantum Mechanics just to drive a new-fangled electric vehicle? One wonders how the future government of Britain is going to make that happen. Half the kids I witness in my area learn to read and write Grafftti rather than English. I speak with some experience on this. There's a bunch of young lads utterly and wrongly convinced I'm gay. That's bad enough, but they insist on letting me know they think so. Worse still, a hard core of them are hell bent on coercing me into admitting it. The other night, on my way home through a side street in the early hours of the morning, the driver of a car wound his window down and asked "Queer yet?". Well, these attempts at bullying have been going on for some time. A few have already fallen foul of anti-social legislation courtesy of the Police. One wonders what life is like at school these days. Bullying went on in my day, just like it always does, but this intense psychological intimidation is well beyond anything I experienced as a child and points clearly to a complete failure of modern education practice as much as what passes as parental upbringing these days. At the bus station, I waited for passengers to disembark as usual. A toddler, no more than four years old, came off the bus commenting on a small item with an habitual expletive which was shocking to hear from someone so young. I looked at his mother who gave a resigned expression. Well, there's a young man destined for a loud but undistinguished future. Rather like a bunch of lads believing their opinions matter. Will they ever learn? And Now For Something Completely Different There's been a change of strategy from these lads lately. Having failed to convert me to the condemning world of homosexuality, they now want to portray me as a shoplifter. They even claim they've seen me in the act. "You just wait" I hear. "You'll be sorry" from others. Well, I do have to point out that coercion, abuse, and false accusation could land you with a hefty punishment in court, and as far as I can see, all you're going to do is prove my innocence. Please carry on. Bird Of The Week Lately I've heard the sound of an owl from the countryside around my place of work as I leave at the end of a night shift. It's rare to hear one, never mind see one. But the other night I saw it, startled by the approach of a car and flying ahead of the equally startled driver. What a size! I didn't know owls got that big in Britain! Be afraid, mice. Be very afraid. Brexit Footnote October 31st has come and gone and still Parliament has obstructed the determined efforts of the government to realise the decision made in a referendum more than three years ago. I'm saddened that so many now blame our bus loving Prime Minister for failing to reach the conclusion, but isn't that a little dishonest? I mean, the reason he failed is parliamentary subterfuge. Politics some might call it, but I wonder how many people listening to accusations of our Prime Minister's supposed dishonesty are aware of how much dishonesty is being blatantly pushed in front of the public by his opposition leaders? Parliament claims to speak for democracy. No it doesn't. Parliament be damned.
  6. 1 point
    Fame! I'm gonna live forever I'm gonna learn how to fly Those of us scarred and traumatised by the 1980's will no doubt recognise lyrics from that song belonging to a television series which I'm pleased to say I managed to avoid entirely. But what is fame? A reputation? A state of being? A mysterious blessing from fate? Curiously enough, people generally either see it with some degree of religious awe or an excuse for utter contempt. I made the mistake once of describing myself on my CV as 'known worldwide' for one thing or another. At the time I considered that appropriate given the attention I was getting on the internet, though to be truthful I never counted thousands of followers on social websites. I naively thought it would add some colour to my dreary collection of dead end jobs and idle interludes. To my suprise the manager of a certain catering company, interviewing me for some worthless office job, asked "So you think you're famous?" Erm... What? No, I don't think I'm famous. "It says here," He said, looking at my CV before him, "that you're known around the world.". Oh good grief. Well I explained that fame was a measure of attention people paid to you, that it was not an on/off switch, more like shades of grey. I did not use the word 'famous'. If I thought I was, I would've described myself as such. "To me this says you're famous" He snarled, holding up his copy of my CV and pointing at it like it was evidence of criminal behaviour. No point being reasonable with this sort of attitude, so I quite correctly told him my name was mentioned in print and that was good enough for me. I didn't get the job. I did learn to fly eventually. Still working on living forever though experience suggests I might struggle with that one. Audience With King George I seem to be getting into the habit of an annual visit to STEAM, Swindon's modest railway museum. It's not a bad experience, and the dummies in period costume are disturbingly real at first glance. A young mother just ahead of me was fooled, she suddenly realised that the old lady sat at a typewriter behind a desk wasn't quite as alive as she thought. I always enjoy that open door to a small office where the manager is telling his employee that if he's late for work once more there'll be a parting of the ways. I like the way the museum starts with this administration background, moves on to stores, then trades, then a diorama of wartime steam engine manufacture with two female mechanics chatting, until finally you wander into a large space with just Caerphilly Castle on her own, a full on express steam locomotive from those glorious days of God's Wonderful Railway. Looking a little shabby these days, but still a powerful exhibit. Secretly though I have another engine to visit. The first GWR King class, No.6000 George V. Not because I especially like that class of engine, or I admire the technical excellence, or respect the history of that particular locomotive, but because as a little boy I briefly stood on the footplate when it had stopped at Swindon station. George had been retired from mainline service long before. On one particular day though, a special train was due to pull into town and my mother took me and a friend along to see it. By sheer chance, I happened to be standing by the cab when a kindly engine driver kidnapped me to experience that forbidden metal cavern where the crew drove this engine for real. I remember the darkness with the firebox closed, the patina of grime, and a few burnished copper pipes. Truth was, I felt a little intimidated, and didn't have the questions the proud crew were hoping to answer. So they kindly returned me to freedom. Of course George is now somewhat cleaner in the cab, bereft of any coal or water in her tender, her firebox cold and empty. Machines are always female, whatever the name. It's hard to describe how I feel when I pause at the top of the steps to look around the empty cab. Part of me is pleased to be there. Nostalgia for that brief insight into a lost era, sensing that attachment to a piece of history, a complex and powerful machine, built by craftsmen in days gone by. All the same I cannot help feel sad the engine no longer steams, no longer moves. All that noise and motion of George in her heyday gone, possibly forever. Like visiting a disabled relative stifled by the regime of an old people's home, it's time to move on, so I pat the side of the cab wall. Great to see you again George. Audience Waiting Back in those heady days of the eighties, my main concern was striving for fame, to live forever, to learn how to... Well, you know the score. It was a time when music stores were commonplace, where you purchase all manner of instruments, gizmos, and accessories to help you on your way to rock stardom. When did I last play a drumkit in public? Must be more than twenty years now. You would think it would be all forgotten, but a reputation is a hard thing to suppress, whether justified or not, and let's be honest, I've never shied away from reminding peple that I used to be a working musician. I passed a bunch of lads lurking in an alleyway between shops on the high street. I heard them point me out, debate the merits of asking me to fill the vacant spot in their band, until one bright spark observed that I was almost old enough for a bus pass, that irrevocable indicator of old age and disqualilication for entry into rock stardom. My music career died long ago, but it seems fate just won't let me me forget it. Audience of the Week The pubs have closed for the night. So gangs of revellers tramp up and down the road outside on their way to a nightclub or maybe just struggling to get home without falling over. Most laugh, shout, or throw punches at each other. Some however continue to make appraisals of me as they pass. Scorn, anger, and amusement. So it seems everyone has an opinion about me, good or bad. Just the price of fame I guess.
  7. 1 point
    The other day I strolled into a music store in my home town, thinking of upgrading some recording equipment. It’s been a while since I took music seriously and having been unemployed for the better part of a decade, I could hardly afford to. But, with money in my pocket, time to splash out and get ready to impose my music upon the unsuspecting world. “They don’t make those any more” Said GK, someone who has sold me all sorts of instruments and gizmo’s for the last thirty years. After a short converstation, it was clear that music was not the hobby it had once been. I looked blankly at him for a moment and in that moment of awakening I said “Heck, I’m getting old….” GK couldn’t stop laughing. But I’m beginning to realise what a fantastic period of history I lived through as a young man. The days when you could walk into a computer or music dealership and buy just about anything are gone. The world has changed, and not for the better. Changing the Country The hullabaloo over Brexit continues with continued calls for a second referendum. Really? Didn’t anyone realise it was going to be difficult? Fact is, we had a vote, we voted to leave, that’s it – it’s going to happen. As much as EU strategy is to have our legs wobble at the sheer scale of our endeavour and ask to come back with our tail between our legs, Britain is made of stronger stuff. Or at least, some of us are, given how much whinging the remainers are making. But what do I hear from Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader? Renationalise everything. His radical new plan to save Britain is more or less to recreate the seventies when left wing politics still had some clout in this country. I well remember the seventies, and it wasn’t a high point in British history. Terrorism, strikes, the Three Day Working Week with the family sat around of an evening by candlelight, rubbish bags piling up on the streets. If there was any solid reason for keeping Corbyn out of power, it’s the 1970’s. Change of the Week There I was, walking home after a late shift in the wee small hours, when I spotted a fox. No, two foxes. No, three foxes. That’s a little unusual. But what startled me was that one of those foxes actually growled at me. Foxes don’t do that. They just silently retreat or flee. Not this scruffy young fox, as it turned to face me once it through the gates of the local park. Bared teeth is alarming in a dog. But a fox? Disturbing.
  8. 1 point
    A fine day with a deep blue sky and some fleecy high level cloud. Great when you have time on your hands but having to trudge four miles to work is a rather wearing prospect. Needless to say, I was sweating. As I strode along the old canal footpath I could see a bunch of workmen ahead. Like all British workmen you spot in the wild, they were not working. They sat idly in the shade, observing my approach and long experience told me I was going to receive a comment or two. It's the British way. "He should be just like us" Said one of them, clearly not impressed with my individualism or perceived character. One of his colleagues agreed. Really? Just like you lot? The thought occurred to me as to what the world would be like if everyone conformed to their working class normality. No music, no radio, no television, no pubs or clubs, no films to dazzle us with special effects, no computer games to waste our spare time, and no-one to make the booze they might well be waiting to consume on the weekend. Nothing to look forward to but the opportunity to pass comment on passers-by. What kind of world is that to be proud of? Nature always finds strength in diversity. With good reason. I like my individuality and why on earth would I want to be merely one of a crowd of layabouts, anonymous, ordinary, just another non-entity the world is full of. Ah, some might say, and some do, but I failed. Yes. Correct. My plans for super-duper-stardom in my youngers days quickly got dashed on the rocks of reality. But hey, I tried. That makes me an also-ran, not a spectator. Which would you rather be? Music I saw a review in my local paper for a Judas Priest album. I've never really been a fan of their music but I respect their ability and longevity. Thus when I read the gushing praise I thought it might be worth catching up with where they are now. So I purchased their latest offering and lo and behold, it was as you might expect. Well performed, excellent production, a work by a band who know what they're doing. Then having finished listening, it occurred to me that I hadn't remembered any of the songs. It was nothing but an album of heavy metal wallpaper, making all the right sounds, doing all the right moves, but a production line of riffs and beats that pretty much failed to engage with my love of tracks that stand out for indefinable reasons. Sadly I doubt I'll feel the need to play it again. Compare that to another performer, Florence and the Machine. I was unaware of their existence until they featured in a televised event on the Beeb. I was impressed by the female vocalist's energy, her willingness to reach out to her fans (quite literally, it caused a near panic among the security crew), and the songs were interesting, varied, and I imagine for some, about relevant subjects. Buy her latest album? Oh yes, and I wasn't disappointed. Three tracks stood out, Ship To Wreck, What Kind of Man, and Queen of Peace. I still hum those tracks to myself regularly. That's success in music as I see it. Sorry Mr Halford, I know you're delivering what your fans want, but it's just a day job for you, isn't it? Connected I stopped at a Subway earlier for a quick snack and sat as I often do facing the outside world so I can watch people going about their irrelevant business outside. It struck me that everyone, literally everyone, in my field of view of the busy Saturday morning high street was staring down at a device in the palm of their hand. I suppose it's a sort of security blanket, making them feel that they're part of a group, that they're in on what is going on around the world, even if it amounts to videos of people falling over or endless sequences of pets caught mimicking humanity against their will. A whole crowd of spectators, going around spectating, because it seems they have nothing else in their lives. "Your phone is rubbish" one work colleague once mentioned when I checked my device for the unrealistic prospect of having received contact from the outside world. Yeah? Really? So what?
  9. 1 point
    It was bound to end in tears. A movement of cold air from Siberia plus an Atlantic storm coming up from the Bay of Biscay. Swindon rarely gets any snow despite being inland. Usually the worse areas are the eastern half of England, Scotland, and Ireland This time Swindon would not escape. To be fair, we were on the edge of amber weather warnings and didn't get hit as hard as some parts of the country, but up to foot of snow in Swindon is almost a natural disaster of memorable proportions. It was fun watching the foreigners at work. They were transfixed by the heavy snow flurries, constantly wandering to the nearest door to gaze at the unaccustomed weather. You would think the Poles were used to cold weather and the odd snowdrift, but they too shivered in the bitter English wind and moaned about the snow, though one or two snowballs were smuggled into the warehouse for special targets. A lady from Columbia simply had to take photographs. Lads from Goa stared at the unfamiliar sight of whiteness and suffered from the cold, which at around minus five centigrade was something a great deal less than the tropical sun of their homeland. In fact, on Friday morning I phoned the hotline to see whether the shift was going ahead. Nope. Cancelled due to inclement weather. So was my water supply at home. Oh great. I know. I'll phone the landlord. Sorry, he said, there's nothing he can do. Oh great. I know, I'll phone a plumber. Sorry, the receptionist said, there's nothing they can do. Frozen pipes you see. Yeah, I think I get the message. So I trudged back and forth buying bottled water and anyone who has been in that situation quickly learns how much water the average person gets through. The water came back on by itself. That was a little odd given the temperatures hadn't risen, but hey, let's not complain. Later last night the valve in my toilet cistern decided the new water supply was too much and popped open, releasing water all over the floor. I was lucky to hear the noise, and realised there was a problem. Water was spreading around the bathroom and probably downstairs too. An emergency! This is a job for.. erm... me. I don't know anything about plumbing. Quick, shut the water off. The inside tap was jammed solid. Quick, shut the water off on the outside tap. jammed solid. When you're in danger, when you need help, you need the Plumber - if you can find him. I phoned a series of numbers with 'Please hold' or simply no answer. Saturday night you see. Emergency call outs and 24hr service don't count for a lot when they want time off to socialise. Eventually I got through to one. My toilet is flooding the house. "Sorry Love," The lady answered, "But I've got nothing before Tuesday". What?!!! Your advert is in front of me. It says you deal with emergencies. "Yes, but we can't deal with it before Tuesday,.Sorry". Eventually I found a plumber willing to come out and assist. Only problem was he insisted on cash and probably wasn't keen to get his hands dirty with his domestic routine upset. Eventually I put the phone down on him. As luck would have it, the lady downstairs had called the landlord and of course chivalry won out over being capable. Toilet restored to working order. Panic over. The world is returning to sanity. From The Land Of Snow I watched as Putin gave his 'state of the nation' speech. He really is an old fashioned dictator, isn't he? The west was to blame, and Russia would not be pushed around, so here's the list of new weapon systems we're putting together to push the west around. With a belligerent President Trump - who will no doubt be keen to earn his wings by ordering a war somewhere or other as democratic leaders often do, and not just the American ones, it does not bode well. NATO troops already stationed in the Baltic states to ward off potential Russian expansion and the evening news talking about a new Cold War. Oh great. Well at least our Prime Minister, Theresa May, is upbeat about Brexit. Good. At least then we won't have to deploy long range smart cruise missiles to get a few concessions in negotiations with the EU team.
  10. 1 point
    Things just get more and more awkward every day. It really doesn't feel like I'm in control of my life any more, and to be honest, there's every reason to believe someone is interfering in my business as no opportunity to disrupt my income is being missed. Well, for the time being, I'm back in the saddle, working at the Honda car plant. Don't get me wrong - this is not my dream job in any way whatsoever, but it will pay the bills for a while. My colleagues, many of whom are being taken on at the same time as me, come from a wide variety of countries. There are of course the ubiquitous Poles, as well as Hungarians, czechs, Goans and other assorted Indians, Italians, Egyptians, and at least one American appeared on the radar today. Two of my female colleagues wanted to know who he was, and with typical working class forthrightness demanded "'Oo are you then?". It turned out it was the Vice President of Honda USA on a visit. Result. On the negative side the 'full training given' turns out to be rather less full and more sporadic. I even had to walk away from one trainer I was assigned to because he admitted he didn't know what he was doing. The trouble, so the agency informs us, is that Honda don't normally take on so many temps in one go. There's certainly demand for them - I've had a total of five agencies trying to hire me for the same job. I know, the scheme to earn five times as much has occurred to me, but I tried that once before in another warehouse - it doesn't work. Also Not Working My grand plan to learn some Polish has hit the rocks. Not through want of effort, it's just that the Poles shorten their vowels so much that their language is almost impossible for us lazy English speakers to get right. I've had one young Polish lady reduced to hysterics by my continued efforts to say "teabreak" in Polish. The word is said something like p'sher'va, but as easy as it looks, she just giggles and says it again in clipped Polish preciseness. Vending Machine Of The Week The works canteen has a row of typical vending machines for snacks and drinks. They do work, as it happens, as anything not working is not the Japanese way. So, having no cash to spend, I decide a cup of free cold water would do. Number eighty.... Aha... I now have to chose whether I want Strong, Normal, or Weak water. Really? My trials are nothing compared to one colleague, FJ, who is the only temporary worker to receive full training, knows everything, and thus is respected and consulted by all despite this being his first job and only present for a week so far. He's even decided to go on the night shift to get away from all the fame and fortune. His choice of breaktime tipple was Beef Soup. Strong, naturally, as he always chooses Strong. Big mistake, FJ. When it says Strong, it means it. Now he buys cans of fizzy drinks and looks forward to his girlfriends curries to get through the day, and breaks out in a sweat whenever Beef Soup is mentioned. Personally, I 'll stick to water. It doesn't seem to make any difference which strength I choose.
  11. 1 point
    Warning: This blog contains the word 'shit', and possibly other words like 'shit'. If you're not comfortable with reading the word 'shit (or other words similar to 'shit'), then I advise you not to read on, just in case you encounter the word 'shit'. You have been warned! (About the word 'shit'). Hello everybody. Welcome to the GhostOfClayton Twice Fortnightly blog. Comfy? Off we go. Disco's here, dat goes der I genuinely doubt that anyone has followed this blog from its early incarnations, and who could blame them? After my long hiatus, I read a few back to help me get into the swing, and was quite disappointed by how amateurish ‘Past OfClayton’ sounded as he penned them (we shouldn’t expect too much from him. As I established in an earlier blog, that boy’s an idiot!) However, if by some strange quirk of fate, you have followed it from its early beginnings, you’ll know that I often spend New Year’s Eve in the club in the sleepy little village of Aquis of the Romans (at least ever since Mrs OfClayton put a stop to me working in sunnier climes over the festive period). This year will be no exception, but I will have a job to do. The Aquis of the Romans Residents’ Association have members who are always regaling the others with tales of the glory days of New Year’s Eves in the Club. How a disco would be held, and huge numbers of village residents would come along to party the dregs of the old year away, and celebrate the coming of the New Year. How so many people turned up, you could barely squeeze in the door. Halcyon days! So a few of the guys (mainly aging rockers such as yours truly) hatched a plan. We could beg, steal or borrow some disco equipment, each make up a playlist of suitably rockin’ tracks on our phones, plug the latter into the former, and “Hey, Presto!” a cheap disco. All washed down with cheap beer, and the Landlady’s Pie ‘n’ Peas (you can’t beat foods that are combined by use of an ‘n’ . . . . bangers ‘n’ mash, fish ‘n’ chips, etc.) The perfect evening. Task list: Beg/Steal/Borrow disco equipment. Done. Arrange food. Done. Print tickets and posters. Done. Get a list of popular disco tracks. Hmm. Problem. Any member of the zero-sized group of people who have followed this blog right from its humble beginnings will know that my taste in music isn’t all that suitable for use in a disco. Any of you care to help me out with requests? Forking Hell The trouble with being a tour guide is that no-one’s going to get rich off it. That means that alternative employment must be sought to bridge the gap when not doing it, and this year I have been lucky enough to secure a new position (albeit only up until January). It’s covering a health and safety position in a Warehouse during a busy period, and I have to say, I’m enjoying it very much. There are all sorts of very blokey things like huge articulated (unlike some of the drivers) lorries coming and going, forklifts buzzing about, and some really, really high racking (with associated really, really high trucks to reach those dizzy heights.) I have to wear hard hat, safety glasses, steel toe capped shoes, and a high viz jacket, because of all that danger. I love it. That’s why I hope no-one I work with ever reads this blog. You see, I am a fairly typical second child. OfClayton Major (my elder sister) has a very sensible, responsible, safety-minded personality, whereas OfClayton Minor (me) is much more of a risk-taker; not quite ‘Death or Glory’, but very much ‘Shit or Bust’. In short, not the sort of individual you’d want to keep you safe from, say, being impaled on the forks of a passing stacker truck. “It’ll be right”, is always my response whenever Mrs OfClayton relates her latest worry to me (telling me I shouldn’t be using chainsaws whilst up trees, and the like) . . . And yet here I am, still alive. So I must’ve been right all these years. Anyway, just to show what a day in my life is like, please have a look at this (surprisingly good) forklift training video – it’s in German with English subtitles.
  12. 1 point
    Warning: You might nod off while reading this blog, so make sure you’re positioned safely, and that the area around you is free from hazards. In order to protect your safety, I’d better make it just a little bit steamy, just in case. Ah! Now you’re interested . . . . Anyway, are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. Welcome to GhostOfClayton’s Twice Fortnightly blog. Allow me to introduce myself to new bloggees. I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses. I deal my own deck, sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces. Yes, that is another song lyric. It would take more of an effort of will than I can currently muster, to summon up the motivation to look up who sang this. I was always curious about the lyric ‘I deal my own deck’. Is that maybe a little euphemistic? Probably not. It was penned quite a while ago, long before we started to live in such cynical times. 50 Shades Are we living in more cynical times? Certainly the times are more sexually open than they once were. A sex shop opened up near us a couple of years back. Sorry . . . an ‘adult store’. That’s nothing new, I know. A sex shop opened up in our town when I was about 12, much to the great delight and amusement of my schoolboy chums and me. The windows were obscured, and middle-aged men in raincoats with their hands in their pockets were regularly seen walking furtively in and out. That last bit’s not true. I never saw anyone going in or out. Which is probably why it closed down soon after. But this new adult store seems all very overt, and aimed at the young, experimental couples market, keen to find new ways to pleasure and enjoy one-another. Far from the boarded-window shame of the 1970s sex shop, this adult store even goes as far as to stand an advertising board on the verge of the A road, opposite. I first noticed it when it said ’50 Shades toys now in stock’, together with a picture of a collection of sex toys (some of which I really couldn’t identify, or imagine how they were used). This was clearly an attempt to jump squarely onto the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ bandwagon. Have you read ‘50 Shades of Grey’? I haven’t. Here’s what I know about it: it’s about a rich guy called Mr Grey. We know he’s rich, because he owns a dungeon, just for sex. Now I don’t own a dungeon, but even if I were to allocate one of the rooms at OfClayton Towers just to be used for sex, it wouldn’t stay that way for long. Within a couple of weeks, I would be putting other things in there. Christmas presents is a good example at this time of year. Mrs OfClayton would start hanging washing in there to dry when the weather outside wasn’t suitable. It’d be a great place to keep all the things I’m getting ready for my next tour . . . . and wouldn’t it be easier in January to dump the Christmas decorations in there, ready to be put up in the loft the next time I go up (but you can bet they’d still be in the sex dungeon next December). That’s how we know he’s rich – there are no socks on the radiators in his sex dungeon. Then there’s the female protagonist, Anastasia Steele. Now, that name wasn’t just plucked out of thin air. A lot of thought, even maths, has gone into that name. It is calculated to the nth decimal place to be just sexy enough, without being a pornstar name. Imagine, if you will, someone called Anastasia Steele. Conjure a picture of her in your head. You are imagining someone attractive, confident, not to be messed with, but with an underlying vulnerability ripe for exploitation by someone rich enough to have a recreational sex dungeon. I am hugely attracted to Anastasia Steele, but deep down I know that my attraction is to be forever unrequited, because my BDSM dungeon has got Boxes, Decorating Stuff, and a Mower in it.
  13. 1 point
    Warning: This blog contains a word that I’m not sure about, but may be a swear word. I don’t even know how to spell it, so you’re probably on safe ground. Welcome to GhostOfClayton’s Twice Fortnightly blog. Allow me to introduce myself to new bloggees (yeah, right!). I am a tour guide specialising in hiking tours of Hadrian’s Wall, and am widely regarded as the thinking woman’s man-totty. 50% of the previous statement is true, which should be a guide to how much of the following you should believe. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. How to reach the moon in 200 very easy steps Is getting your hair to the moon the same as ‘you’ reaching the moon? If not, how much of ‘you’ would have to reach the moon to say ‘you’ had reached the moon? Is a strawberry dead? These are the sort of philosophical questions that I won’t be touching with a barge pole this week. What they do do, is give me the opportunity to tell those of you who haven’t already heard about it, all about a really exciting endeavour that’s doing the news rounds at the moment. You see, a blog is a very powerful tool for good. I can use it to reach out to all of you (alright, both of you), and spread the word about how you can make the world a better place (arguably). I am referring to a little enterprise called Lunar Mission One. You can read all about it on their website (www.lunarmissionone.com), or you can hear it from my inexpert and opinionated self. The decision is yours. Ah . . . you’re still here . . . . good choice. You see, some boffins have taken it upon themselves to put a probe on the moon, and are funding this gargantuan project using kickstarter money. This is the on-line equivalent of sitting outside Marks & Spencers with a begging bowl and a bored dog, although the ends are considerably more worthy than four cans of super strength lager. So, what is my incentive to dedicate part of the OfClayton Fortunes to this very worthy venture? Well, at the cheaper end (three British pounds) you get “Our eternal thanks”. Nice, but as OfClayton Senior used to say, put eternal thanks in a bucket, and you’ve got an empty bucket. Part with more wonga, and the benefits steadily increase, through a subscription to the newsletter, membership of the ‘Missions Club’, and so on, until (at £60, you can ‘Reserve your place in space’). Yes, honestly. No doubt, you are now dreaming of the moment you place your boot print in the dusty Lunar regolith and say something hugely profound about the size of your step, before a bunny hopping tour of a cratered landscape, under the patient gaze of the blue marble that is Mother Earth. No. Put that right out of your head. ‘Reserving your place in space’ bags a few kilobytes on a USB stick (or similar) for you to write your digitised photo/message/symphony, etc., and that USB stick will live out eternity on the moon. At least until some far-future astronaut tries to plug it into his iPhone 42 and a ‘501 error’ is returned due to compatibility issues (even after he switches it off and back on again.) No, you will need to have to start shelling out much more before ‘Your place in space’ is realised. £200 will put you on the moon. Not all of you, granted. You will have to leave a small part of you behind. That small part will consist of everything that isn’t a single strand of your hair. But you will be on the moon for eternity. Do I sound cynical? I am not. This is fricking awesome stuff. I wish it well, and really hope it comes off. That’s why I’m blogging about it, to try and spread the word. Look, I’ve even put sensible tags at the top of this blog. My track record isn’t good for taking tags seriously, so that should tell you something. So, will I be investing? I’m still torn. My ‘easy come, easy go’ attitude to money is apparent to anyone who has followed my adventures so far. So, yes, it would be quite plausible if a few quid did ‘easy go’ towards this laudable enterprise. Trouble is, when you have an ‘easy come, easy go’ attitude to money, and you need some money to fulfil your duty to the second half of that attitude, you find that the money you gained from the former half already ‘easy went’ somewhere else. Sod it . . I can always sell a kidney. It’s not as if I’ll be taking it with me on my trip to the moon. The Moon on a Stick Looking at the above, it’s apparent that Mohamed won’t be going to the Mountain, figuratively speaking, anytime soon. So you know what you want? You want the Moon on a Stick. Ha Ha. A large group of people will recognise that catchphrase, albeit a Venn Diagrammatically discrete group from the group of people who read this (i.e. you). Hold onto that thought, though. Clarity will come later. As most (both) of you know, I spend an awful lot of time in planes, trains and automobiles. I used to listen to a huge amount of music to while away the hours, but fan that I am of good music, I did start to yearn for something a little more intellectually stimulating after Regina Spektor’s ‘The Calculation’ came round for the 6th time. It was then I started listening to Podcasts. Now, there are prolific podcasters, and high quality podcasters, but very few who manage to pull off both tricks at the same time. One podcaster who seems to achieve this with a reasonable degree of ease is a comedian called Richard Herring. He, along with his comedy partner of the time (a guy called Stewart Lee) were very big in the UK in the late 80s and early nineties, but then disappeared from the schedules to a degree. Stewart Lee is now back on the small screen now and again, but Richard Herring has eschewed the strict requirements of language/behaviour/taste imposed by big broadcasters, in favour of the more experimental (and un-censored) comedy vehicle that is the internet. Now for that moment of clarity I promised you earlier. A sort of catchphrase of Richard Herring’s when he and Stewart Lee were on the telly was, “You want the Moon on a stick.” You might think that the above two articles aren’t too closely related over and above the inclusion of the word ‘Moon’. Not so. You see Richard Herring is also using crowd funding to raise cash for comedy projects delivered over the internet, and I’d also like to use the power of the blog to spread the good word. www.richardherring.com is where to go to donate, or to find routes to all his free comedy material. It has my personal recommendation. It will make you laugh, and therefore make you happy. So which should you invest in? Furthering the knowledge of the human race, or furthering the happiness of the human race? That’s another one of those philosophical questions I won’t be touching with a barge pole.
  14. 1 point
    The cull against badgers and foxes has started. Poor things, but Bovine Tuberculosis causes too much expensive bother and our rural mammals have to find out the hard way, mostly because they have inherent communication difficulties in dealing with human beings. A bit like teenagers then. The work undertaken at the Old College site has sprawled out onto the pavement for some time now, meaning that the pavement is temporarily closed. That results in big plastic barriers and metal warning signs, which because I happen to live next to a pedestrian crossing means the signs are left outside my home. Until, that is, Saturday night, when inebriated teenagers collide with signs designed to be visible. Crash bang wallop, and the following morning the signs are laid out across the pavement until the end of the week.. Some idiot teenager decided that my reason for walking through a local park was to find homosexual partners, telling his companion (a male his age, I would point out) that I was better off looking in a certain part of Swindon. Actually I'm better off not looking at all seeing I don't do blokes, but then, I wasn't aware that homosexuals prowled Swindon's green spaces searching for quickie sex or maybe more. Thanks for the warning. Somewhat curious how you came to know that. "Need a bit o' help, mate?" shouted another idiot from a passing van as I approached a pedestrian crossing laden with a weeks shopping Not from a Drivers Mate. Heading for a certain part of Swindon? Have a nice day. And then there's that little pest who mutters threats every night, proclaiming my home is his, and that all my property is his too. No, they aren't. So shut up and go away you silly little boy. Get yourself a hobby, like stamp collecting or acne clearance. Alternatively, for something more adult, I'm reliably informed that exciting activity can be found in a certain part of Swindon. As much as farmers suffer the aggravation of badgers and foxes, we townies have to suffer the aggravations of teenage idiots. As far as I'm concerned the government are better off culling them. Confromtation of the Week "Don't look at me like I am an idiot!" The young man snapped at me. I'd taken too long to reply to his indignation that I'd been insisting on his turning down the volume of his music in the quiet zone of the local library. Although he was using headphones, the sheer volume meant that anyone within a five hundred yard radius could hear those tinny hisses and clicks. When I'm working against the clock in the frantic browse for gainful employment, the high pitched club anthem is distracting to the same degree as a naked blonde librarian telling me to come upstairs and get it big boy. Only more irritating. In fact he'd already called me an idiot in front of a librarian on duty fully clothed, and whilst he pretended to comply with the requests made by the librarian and also by a security guard at my behest, he'd pushed the volume back up again as soon as they'd gone. Mate... Calm down... "I am calm" He replied angrily, quickly switching to a menacing tone "I am always calm. You would not like me when I'm angry." I didn't much like him at all. I have no sympathy for defiant teenagers. However I was struggling not to burst into hysterics with his comic book machismo. I've heard more convincing dialogue in a Steven Seagal film.
  15. 1 point
    Around 2011 we saw a massive influx of new members, they had wonderful names like xxxcialisforyou, or pokersupergames or even less imaginative like xfgUlkzzio... They did not post much and the few that did got quickly deleted by the moderators. On the surface they didnt bother anyone. Oh boy were we wrong. Those were little bastards that try to exploit known bugs in the software to get a foothole in the server and that all for one thing only. Use the site to send emails. If anyone remembers the many problems with the site startet around 2011. On top of that my host told me that my site has unusual high traffic (which we didnt) and shut down the site a couple of times without notice. It got so bad at one stage that the site was for months offline. No one could help. The hosting company insisted that it was my fault, but didnt tell us what exactly is the problem. You must know our host was a very big company, with apparently very smart people but unfortunately not very caring ones, so they basically didnt give a f++++ what happend to our site. By accident i stumpled upon a little canadian company and they managed to quickly identify the problem and fix it. Internal email and notification should finally work again as usual. Lesson learned, new members that sign up and dont post within a month are deleted, sorry to lurkers, the spammers spoiled it for you...
  16. 1 point
    Was it something I said? Apparently, yes, it was. You might want to sit comfortably at this point because I want to begin this sorry tale of miscommunication. Too late, I've started. It was a dark and stormy night when I fired up the computer to search for employment. No, I'm lying, the weather's been quite reasonable lately and it was mid morning at the local library, so the only risk was a librarian moaning about my military surplus trousers and an ugly stare from the security guard who for some strange reason gives me ugly stares. Clothes do strange things to people in Swindon. My Gap hoody has made me the mortal enemy of a youth gang, off duty servicemen mock my baseball cap, and people in the bus queue down the road complain that I never change my clothes. Oh good grief. I change my socks every six months or when they fall apart, whichever happens first. Hey, I'm a single guy. What do you expect? Anyway, I'm obliged by my Job Seekers Contract to use the government's Universal Jobmatch website. So I pulled up the site and searched for gainful employment. As it happens I found a vacancy. Woo hoo! Somebody wants a Warehouse Operative. You would expect at this time that I would read the job description and see if the job was right for me. Nope, I'm also obliged to apply for the jobs I find. So the company, location, hours, pay and conditions are actually largely irrelevant. Oh... Hang on... Where's the 'Apply' button? There isn't one. Now that's suspicious. Just a phone number to a job agency. So I pulled up the agency website and searched for the vacancy. Not found. Even suspiciouser... No alternative but to phone the number provided then. The one good thing of using an ordinary telephone is that the recipient can't see my clothes. Heaven knows what reaction that would have caused. It dawned on me after the woman answered that I'd phoned her once before concerning another Warehuse Operative job. I seem to remember that for some inexplicable reason she threw a hissy fit. I might have hung up on her. I'm thoughtful like that. Wouldn't want her trantrum to cause her any embarrasement. This time we discussed my sporadic career history and for some inexplicable reason she gave me a lecture on the ramifactions of health & safety legislation in the workplace. Can she see my clothes somehow? Eventually I managed to get a word in and she moaned that she was only trying to help. From this point it sort of got worse. I think she was trying to control the conversation and couldn't handle a jobseeker trying to get her to impart information slow enough to write down. Woah! Slower! You spell your last name how? "I don't like the way you're speaking to me" She said. Here we go again. She said that the other time too. I might have hung up on her again. Primate Alert "I know you can hear me" Someone said outside my home. The weather's been a bit humid of late so the open window was too much of a temptation for him. He simply had to make some kind of taunt, threat, insult, or a reminder that he wants me to believe he's the most dangerous dude on the block. You know how it is when you're young, trying to make a name for yourself in the 'hood. Well, youngster, you're right. I can hear you. The real problem you have however is that I'm still not listening. Migration Of The Week There's an advert on television that comes around quite often. It reminds us that Yellowstone Park is an active volcano and shows a bear relaxing in the grass with all the time in the world. "He has no idea" Says the voiceover. Apparently some of the animals do, because they've been spotted leaving the park by the nearest convenient tarmac road. No-one told the bear obviously. Right now he's probably wondering why he has a national park to himself. So while the grizzly bear is headed for extinction the local bison have evolved to the point where their brains now comprehend the purpose of tarmac roads. They haven't quite managed to invent the internal combustion yet but I guess hooves are something of an obstacle to drawing blueprints. On the other hand maybe they simply decided that grizzly bears are not good neighbours.
  17. 1 point
    I was watching one of those Police 'fly on the wall' programs recently. Not sure which, there's quite a few of them. Police Patience On Patrol? Motorway Mental Cases? Worlds Wildest Policewoman? Don't know. Anyway, this particular program featured Police action from my own home town. It was a little wierd watching them chase a joyrider outside my home. Given the date and time of night, I was undoubtedly at home, playing Grand Theft Auto into the wee small hours, tutting about yet another police siren whizzing up and down the street. Such is life. Nonetheless crime does go on around us. Just last night I was woken by something, suddenly aware that the diesel generator powering the array of amber and turquoise lights in the Old College site had gone silent. A distant command "Stop!" was clearly audible. Sadly life isn't quite the same as television or film, so there was no "You'll never take me alive copper!" and whatever drama took place, it was done largely silently. You never know, I might see the drama replayed with exciting commentary on television next year. It does appear however that for someone life did get a bit more dramatic. This morning I left the library having completed my job searching for the day, and saw two police cars parked in the square. You do see policemen at the library sometimes, and once I watched a troublemaker manhandled out of the building. No-one seemed to know what trouble he had actually caused, but since he was definitely a bit irate, shouting at the policemen to let him go with references to their parentage, then by the rules of television documentaries he was guilty as charged. But today there was no action. Just those police vehicles, but I couldn't help thinking that something more sinister than a tantrum had occurred. Then I saw the constable on guard duty outside a bookies. So something had gone down. A van labelled as belonging to the forensic team turned up to show what a serious incident had taken place. Journalists milled around outside with oversized cameras and busy phone calls. People like me stood around waiting for something to happen. Of course, it already had. The Case Of The Missing Eunos Cabriolet Nope. Still no leads on the fate of my stolen car. Not even after watching a documentary about police action in my area. But at least I know the first names of several police officers and their favourite make of car. You never know, could be valuable information in my enquiry. Issue of the Week This has to be the huge concerns of subsidence in my area given the huge chunk of the hillside recently removed by building contractors. My home is, and I quote, "right on the firing line". Rather worringly I have noticed a few new cracks in the wall though not so serious as the 1885 Baptist Chapel at the other end of the alleyway, which is no longer fit for use and has a huge great steel support bolted on the side to stop it falling over. Currently disused? I'm suprised no-one round here has thought of nicking it.
  18. 1 point
    I went to a gladiator talk by the celebrated Roman scholar Garrett Fagan, author of: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-author=Garrett%20G.%20Fagan&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AGarrett%20G.%20Fagan It was quite entertaining, but that seemed to be the point more than shedding much light. But I will try to share a few points, esp on new unpublished findings. Well, he showed some stone carvings of arena antics freshly unearthed. I forget if old or new, but there was a lot of bear vs man battles. Not lethal, but actual boxing matches or just a guy hiding from a bear behind a screen that rotated on a pivot. Kind of like a bullfighters cloth, but fancier. Anyway, he seemed to drive at the artificial theatricality of the animal and human battles... not so much actual violence. Half way to modern wrestling for TV, it could even approach circus type acts with people or animals suspended in the air with ropes. Gladiator losers seemed to frequently be given mercy, and their costumes were not that of actual foreign fighters. Just fantasy costumes, but they would be highly trained in that role and no other. Showed much rigging for releasing animals, etc, and some strange but common setup for "ramp fighters". Then in the q and a portion, he seemed to lose the plot. Serious issues were raised, like were christians really never executed in colluseum, which he seemed to dodge or give flippant or sensational answers. I think he did know the answers, but wanted to keep the jovial tone. Or his jokes about his water bottle containing gin were really true. He gave the impression of a common phenom of a UK scholar (including Dublin in UK, ha ha) who goes on to higher income in the US with crowd pleasing skills... probably gets perfect approval scores by his amused but not too educated students. He did give some nice "great courses" lecture series on Romans though.
  19. 1 point
    I have to offer my most sincere apologies to members of the UNRV site who put in so much time and effort to keep the community alive and vibrant, and of course to Viggen/Christian who does so much to really keep up with the promotional efforts. Most of you know him as the guy who wields the vitis around here anyway. As much as I love this site (which I hope can be evidenced by all the work that was put into it over the years), its obvious that I've been largely absent for a considerable time in any meaningful and recognizable fashion. The site marches on without me for the most part of course, but my waning participation causes a certain deep personal anguish. With my career promotion a couple of years ago, the increasing responsibilities have taken on a life of their own, and it's all I can do to manage them while also keeping some semblance of family life in order for my wife and boys. I'm not complaining by any stretch, as there are definitely advantages, but its obviously made my presence on UNRV woefully inadequate. I really just figured it would be a good idea to make some sort of statement as to my activity level here. World and human history remain a personal passion, and the UNRV absence does not equate to a lack of reading or ongoing self study - I wish I had the knack for book reviewing that some of you seem to have but its not something that comes together very easily (I actually find it terribly stressful). Alternatively, at some point I'd love to add to the narrative that I started so long ago (and it sure wouldn't hurt to give it a few solid edits), but I have to be honest with myself and accept my own limitations (both on time and perhaps more importantly the actual ability to write anything). With that said, I'm resolving myself to start interacting more frequently with the site and the forum. I miss doing it and I miss the conversation in its many forms: from heated debate to simply providing a few reference links to the occasional passerby. It's neither a promise nor a threat , just a personal statement that I felt like making. So what I'm saying is - sorry I haven't been around much, but I hope to remedy that shortly - and thanks so much for making this such a great destination for Romanophiles. Cheers, Chris