The Blog of Zakspade

December 2017 Archive
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End of an Era
Sunday 31 December, 2017
Tonight I want you to drink and make merry, my friends, for this is the end of an era!

Never again shall we see the period 1AD - 2017AD, for it will have passed and gone; never to be seen again. We have been a part of a history that will never be repeated.

Quaff and rejoice!

 
The Death of Nelson
Friday 29 December, 2017
As part of a creative writing course, my class was given the above title. We all were given 15 minutes to write a descriptive piece, but what I knew about the Battle of Trafalgar would cover the back of a postage stamp if written in crayon, so...

When I got home, the house was full of a strange quiet: the sort of ‘quiet’ that has a certain negative quality. Its cause is usually a lack of activity from many potential sources, all conspiring to remain silent.

The family were all sat in their usual TV seats. However, it was switched off. No one spoke; no one.

Until I spoke up.

Well, I fired off a few salutations in order to create some activity in the hope of a return to normal sound. It was intended to, but it didn’t. There wasn’t even a grunt.

Then it hit me. No slobbering tongue had to be contended with. No eight stone of dog had to be forced to sit down. No signs of impending breakages due to an over excited ‘hello’.

Nelson was gone.

 
The Tooth Fairy
Thursday 28 December, 2017
There was a rustling in the eaves and I went up into the loft space to investigate.

Wires and trusses showed signs of being chewed. Something was up there destroying the place. A search was urgent.

It turned out to be a small creature, just as I expected. It had gnawed at everything it could find as it grew hungry after having been trapped when I last went up to get the Christmas decorations out.

I held it in my hands and it fluttered its little wings; looking at me with a sweet little face that made me melt.

Then it bit me and flew off.

Fang fairy, more like!

 
My PC is Dead
Wednesday 27 December, 2017
Not really what you want to wake up to in the morning: a police officer slumped over the roses in the front garden.
 
Promotions
Tuesday 26 December, 2017
I scoured the TV channels looking, but could I find what I was seeking? Could I heck as like!

Trading Standards will be hearing from me, I can tell you. The whole thing is a con. Something probably cooked up by those sports channels run by media tycoon people who torture kittens for fun (or so it says on the website I found while searching for what I sought).

Fans of pugilism can only be disappointed by its lack on a day called 'Boxing Day.'

Still, there are other promotions out there. For instance, it is 60% off sofas...

 
Happy Christmas!
Monday 25 December, 2017
A first!

No, not Christmas - I understand there have been a few of them. No, this is the first time I have uploaded a Blog entry On The Day.

The problem is that being in a position to do so, I am devoid of a writing topic.

Unless it is about Christmas.

So, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’

Or, good morning!

 
Japanese Construction Set
Sunday 24 December, 2017
Yet again, Facebook delivers!

Who in their right mind would suggest such a title?

Time for a Trumpism: Just imagine fitting all those people with funny eyes into a box.

Hey! If he can do it and become the leader of what is claimed to be the most powerful nation on earth, then it has got to be okay for me to aspire to similar greatness.

 
Cosatto High Chair
Saturday 23 December, 2017
Seen on a Facebook selling group.

The Rattle Test Drop resulted in a bounce rather than shattering, so it didn’t seem that high when I tested it.

 
Elvis is Back
Friday 22 December, 2017
Spotted on Facebook.

Huh, the lack of good grammar and spelling demonstrated by some people!

It is ‘are’ rather than ‘is’ and they have misspelled ‘elves.’

Christmas, or otherwise, there is never a write time to get the written word wrong.

 
Finished Another Today
Thursday 21 December, 2017
Successfully, I might add.

The proof is that I am writing today’s Blog entry.

 
Tuesday was a Mixed Day
Wednesday 20 December, 2017
So much happened on Tuesday that I find it impossible to include everything in today’s Blog entry. The aeroplane in the garden, the UFO on the roof, the earthquake in the garage, and the reindeer in the cellar, are but the merest sample of the things that happened yesterday.

A crazy day - I didn’t even have a cellar until the reindeer showed up.

It was that sort of day, and far too much to write about in my Blog - so I won’t bother. In fact, I don’t think I will bother writing anything at all today - not even these words.

 
Being Ill When You've Booked it as Holiday...
Tuesday 19 December, 2017
...is a high probability occurrence when you are Santa.
 
I Don’t Know Who These People Are...
Monday 18 December, 2017
...but they have a lot to say.
 
Brown Bread to be Healthy
Sunday 17 December, 2017
Yes, the New Year almost upon us. Brown bread will purchase a year’s gym membership and concentrate on its wellbeing before wasting the remaining nine months by eating pizza while sat on the sofa watching Saturday night TV on Thursdays (ah, the wonders of PVR recording technology).
 
Brains Out - Drive!
Saturday 16 December, 2017
Oh the madness that is Christmas traffic!

I had cause to head into the shopping centre yesterday. Not to shop, you understand, but to meet someone.

The multi-storey car park recommended to me had a queue stretching back two junctions prior to the entrance, so I gave that a miss and set about looking for somewhere near to where we were supposed meet.

Then I spotted a nearby parking area with spaces! In I drove and tucked my car into a parking bay at the end of a row. As is my way, I snuggled my car up against the side of the bay as far from the adjacent car as possible so as to give both them and myself a buffer of free space unlikely to lead to doors banging paintwork.

Setting off to find a payment meter, I wondered at how there were free spaces available. It seemed odd given the stationary line of traffic I saw nearby. I put it down to my now being a few minute’s walk further away from the shops.

The first meter I approached was defaced and devoid of a functional display, so I marched on looking for something into which I could pop some change and obtain a parking permit in exchange.

Upon walking a fair way I come across a working payment meter which featured a now legible tariff notice. When I read the rate I realised why there were free spaces in the area. I made my way back to my car anticipating a search elsewhere for somewhere that would not empty my bank account in such a ruthless manner.

The sight of cars rushing about as if due to Brownian motion, the impatient toots on horns, the near-misses as drivers decided their need to get somewhere transcended all notions of traffic rules or common politeness, was rather entertaining. It didn’t fill me with joy knowing I was going to have join in with the madness if I were to find somewhere to park.

When I got back to my car I saw that the vehicle I had parked next to had gone and someone else had occupied the bay. Unfortunately it had been parked by one of those out there who were devoid of brains or decency as they had parked as close to my car as possible without actually straddling the parking bay lines. The cushion of free space I had strove to maintain was gone.

Inwardly I cursed. It was easy enough to get into my car but getting out of the bay was going to be tricky as they had also parked as far forward as the lines permitted, but I rate myself as a competent driver and reckoned on it being a tight squeeze but not impossible.

Out I crept from the tight spot and was nearly out when I felt a degree of resistance which wasn’t overcome as I gave it a little more gas, so I eased off, reversed back to where I started and got out to check the immediate surroundings.

I now had a nice white smear down the side of my car from the low bollard I hadn’t noticed.

Feeling slightly miffed now that I had managed to collect a scrape along the side of my previously pristine car, I no longer had the heart to join the rest of the Brains Out Brigade rushing about looking for somewhere to park, and so I headed home to find my stash of T-Cut.

 
Is it Just Me?
Friday 15 December, 2017
It could be a good idea to rename this Blog to The Post Office Blog.

Standing next in line, I watched the person in front place the small package on the scales to be weighed.

‘Pass that through please, sir.’

He took it and lobbed it onto the space in front of the counter clerk.

If I politely asked for someone to pass something to me and they chucked it onto the desk or table at which I was sat, or at my feet, then I’d consider it extremely rude.

Or is it just me?

 
Odd and Even
Thursday 14 December, 2017
The rain hammered down while I looked at the clock trying to judge how late I could make the trip to the post office and still manage to beat the last collection.

Each time it eased off and stopped, I got up and put my coat on, whereupon it would again pour as if trying to empty the sky in a single go. I would return to the sofa and wait again - all the time watching the time carefully with growing concern.

After a few rounds of being teased by the weather I decided that enough was too much and threw on my rain cape and grabbed my three small parcels. I left the house holding them under the all enveloping waterproof cloak so as to shield them from the torrential rain that was now not falling.

As I walked the half mile to the small post office the cloud cover began to break up and I was left looking like a badly erected tent blowing in the wind that had replaced the rain, but at least I was taking my three parcels at last to the post office.

With hints of weak sunshine about I walked into the shop in which the sub post office resided, ignoring the glances from others who were baffled by my choice of attire. My odd appearance was a small price to pay for managing to take my three little parcels to be posted, unmolested and undamaged by the formerly inclement weather.

Walking up to the counter, the woman saw my face poking through the small opening at the top of my mini marquee and smiled. Her eyes darted to the main window at the front of the shop which showed a brief burst of sunshine and said cheerily, ‘Beat the rain, did you?’

Yes, I was providing smiles for everyone, but at least my three parcels made it here to be posted.

I took them out from under my voluminous and redundant storm cape and placed them both on the counter.

Two.

There was an entertaining moment as I rummaged about under the waterproof tent material before I realised that I must have dropped one of them as I walked here self consciously.

Two.

They weren’t even really my parcels - I was doing someone else’s bidding. I had no idea which was missing.

I retraced my steps back home and looked carefully along the way for the third parcel so I might return with it to the post office and have it join with its two former companions.

The sight of a giant plastic bag dashing about the place was even funnier when it found the errant package.

I ran back to the sub post office to inject it into the postal system as quickly as possible so as to beat that last collection.

Three becoming two was an education: rain capes make you wetter than the rain does when it is not falling and you are running.

 
Micro Brains
Wednesday 13 December, 2017
My Internet access is playing up.

When I contacted my service provider I was told they were aware and their engineers were, ‘working on the problem.’

Connectivity drops out for about 20 seconds at a time and it is very intermittent.

When I managed to get past the recorded apology and speak to a real person, I was told it was only a minor disruption - which I understand to mean, ‘We will fix it when we get around to it.’

Sure, no pr blem, I under tand how something that is so rand m is not an issue w rth worrying my elf over.

 
Cracking Job!
Tuesday 12 December, 2017
In the fight against software piracy, Microsoft adopted a practise known as activation.

It is that nice process whereby you buy a licence for the use of a product and then pop online so that they can establish it is genuine and mark it as such so you can use it.

Nice - what could possibly go wrong?

Well, I replaced a hard drive. I reinstalled the retail copy of Windows 8 used on the previous disk on that computer. Upon attempted re-activation I was told the serial number was now blocked by Microsoft - no explanation.

I used the support options open to me and requested a phone call from them only to be told the same thing and was again refused a reason for why the serial number was now being blocked (blocked being the term used by Microsoft online and over the phone).

It felt like I had bought a car and the key no longer started it because the manufacturer felt a need to disable it and refused to tell me why, nor could I reason with them.

So I ended up hacking a copy of Windows 8 that I had legitimately purchased through big name retailer and had used for a few years without issue.

What does someone do if they don’t have the ability to get around their misapplied control over what you bought in good faith?

It now works and is fine, but for anyone who fancies a free copy of Windows 8 Professional - I now have a version floating about that can be installed on any PC you like, ‘activated’ then upgraded for free to Windows 8.1 Professional - it’s a good job I didn’t do it to distribute the thing.

Well done Microsoft - cracking job!

 
Snow Joke
Monday 11 December, 2017
On Sunday morning I woke to snow.

It wasn’t the usual stuff that falls in this area. No, it actually covered the ground and turned it white!

Ah, it reminded me of when I was a kid and when snow meant snowball fights and snowman building.

However, one thing I do not remember is everyone panicking.

I used to travel to school via a bus over a distance of about three miles. It was a double-decker and it was a dedicated vehicle. There was no one on the bus except a driver, the bus conductor, and about fifty screaming and yelling kids. There was many a time when the conductor yelled for quiet because the driver was unable to concentrate, or he objected to us banging the floor above his head.

Despite my memory of snow bringing white roads and picture postcard scenes, I never recall the bus ever being cancelled or the school being shut because of it.

Maybe rose coloured spectacles or perhaps we, as a race, were hardier back in those days.

 
Headphones
Friday 8 December, 2017
I like listening to music and radio entertainment. What I don’t like is the headphone lead that winds about me when I do so without disturbing others.

If I am listening through my mobile phone, and I put it down beside me, than there is a hugely dramatic moment as I stand up for anything when I either remember the phone sat on the coffee table is tethered to me, or I don’t.

Similarly, when attached to my laptop or Mac and listening to stuff through them and someone knocks on the door, I end up messing about stopping whatever is playing and disentangling myself before I can manage to convince whoever knocked that someone is in.

I read a review for a cheap Bluetooth set and I bought a pair via Amazon.

Goodness, what a revelation!

I can listen to what I want and not have to worry about breaking my neck, wires or audio port each time my presence is needed.

It gets better - I can now answer the door to the postman and sign for a package while still wearing them and only look slightly daft.

 
Fake News
Thursday 7 December, 2017
Trump tells press conference that the only way North Korea will listen is to drop a nuke on them.

May agrees that if she were pregnant, she would have an abortion.

Ant and Dec have jumped ship and confirmed that they will work for Sky from 2018.

DUP stiff Tories over Brexit negotiations.

Wild monkeys claim rights under UN charter 123.2 that states, All shall be recognised as free to chose as they wish.

One is true. The rest are appealing to someone or other. All are ridiculous. I’m in training to write for a tabloid.

 
Calm
Wednesday 6 December, 2017
It has been a bit hectic the last few days. A number of writing deadlines all came up together (again), but they have all been met. My fingers are relaxing now and have asked me if they can be despatched off to a country club somewhere so as to enjoy their free time.

But then, how would this Blog be written?

So my fingers are still here; a little miffed, but still here...

 
Again, Again
Tuesday 5 December, 2017
It was approaching 1pm. The blue Ford Focus estate car swung off the road and onto the footpath causing me to change direction. Two women, dressed ready for bed, emerged from the car and rushed into the post office.

There was no gunfire - all they were after were stamps.

I thought The Three Amigos was a one-off, but Just the One Today told me it wasn’t. And now a pattern was appearing before my eyes - and it was fluffy.

 
Ah...
Monday 4 December, 2017
Last week I told a friend that Christmas, this year, had been postponed until after the royal wedding in the spring next year.

‘That can’t be right! They haven’t set a date yet!’

‘They don’t need to be specific. All they need do is wait until a date is set before announcing the new Christmas period.’

‘That’s ridiculous; people need more time to make plans!’

‘Yes, but it has been decided not to allow Christmas to take focus away from the upcoming nuptials.’

I posted a fictionalised form of the exchange up on Facebook because the ‘Ah...’ came quite some time after the conversation started.

 
A Gesture of Faith
Sunday 3 December, 2017
I have been battling with a puppy and hand signals lately. Every time I try to gesture him to lie down, sit, or give me his paw, he moves towards me and tries to sniff out a treat in my hand - whether I have one or not.

Oddly enough, I woke up this morning and spotted an article on the question of the use of voice commands or signals that a Facebook Friend posted late last night. Talk about timing!

However, it hasn’t given me any insight into how to overcome the inquisitive nature of the puppy short of my cutting off his nose (unlikely - he is too cute and fluffy).

I guess I have overdone the treat training, methinks...

 
 
Standing at the head of a post office queue, waiting patiently as the multiple parcels I wished to send were processed, I was bored.

I took to reading things placed about the counter - nothing in particular but anything to pass the time and avoid my brain leaking out of my ears and making off to seek fulfilling entertainment elsewhere.

My eyes fell upon a stand containing leaflets advising of Christmas posting times. The rack was made from clear Perspex and it allowed me to read the lower portion of the advice-bearing pamphlet within.

Your guide to our sexual services’ was what I read.

The position of the holder was such that a bend in the material from which it was made allowed me to read the material held by it but, depending on my viewpoint, it distorted the text. As I swayed and moved my head, the words shifted and I could see that it actually read, ‘Your quick guide to our seasonal services.’

I was greatly amused by the result of the partial obfuscation, becoming rather preoccupied by the effect of the clear plastic upon the words, bobbing gently as I played with what I considered a visual delight.

‘Sir, are you alright, sir?’

The counter clerk was addressing me in a concerned tone and the person behind me had tapped me on the shoulder breaking me from my semi-trance.

‘Yes, sorry, I was reading, er, I was reading,’ and I pointed off to the side in the general direction of the fixture that had captivated me. I decided that an explanation was going to be far too complicated and time consuming to properly account for my flight off to another place.

 
Getting Old?
Friday 1 December, 2017
A ‘few’ years back, I lived in Poland. The memory of having done so entered my head as I walked to the post office in the sunshine and bitter cold.

I was wearing a supper-warm coat with an equally toasty woolly cardigan underneath. However, the bracing breeze was taking a toll on my face; especially my forehead. I was extremely uncomfortable and suffering.

At the time of my walk the temperature had risen a degree or two above freezing and it was not enough to consider bearable: I was keen to get to that post office and inside away from the torment that was a brightly shining sun accompanied by a total lack of warmth.

Why did my Poland experience come to mind?

Most days there I walked miles through the city centre from lesson appointment to lesson appointment and at some point during that day I would stop off at the post office to send my latest batch of letters and postcards. During the winter months, daytime temperatures would sometimes hit a ‘high’ of minus 12 degrees Celsius.

It was never too cold. I wrapped up warm and carried on, as did the indigenous population bustling about the place.

Early morning starts were worse with the temperature once dipping to minus 22 degrees Celsius.

How come these days above zero figures give rise to so much discomfort? Am I getting old?