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The Great Flying Hoax
Tuesday 20 July, 2021

Published in my local newspaper under the name, Jago Phillips, who is a UFO-nut, conspiracy theorist, and general all-round advocate for Them and Us as:
200 tons yet able to fly? Aviation must surely be a modern-day hoax

- o - O - o -

Things are returning to normal shortly. That means the great lie of the air industry can be maintained.

It is incredible how many holiday makers and business travellers really believe that dirty great lumps of metal can fly. From the Wright Brothers Hoax of 1903 to the present day, the flying deception has thrived.

Passengers are herded onto dummy airliners and once they are settled, they are subjected to knockout gases which then allow carriers to move their unconscious customers to buses and coaches in which to be transported to their expected destinations. At the other end they are taken onto replicas of the aeroplane they boarded at the start and an antidote is pumped through the air conditioning so all come round.

Long haul ‘flights’ tend to require travellers to be out for longer as shipping takes a good while when having to move people internationally. The result is what is colloquially known as ‘jet lag’ – disorientation and weariness ascribed to time differences between far removed locations. The truth is that it is down to the effects of being unconscious for long periods after chemical incapacitation.

Whole industries have been built upon the deception. Manufacturers have been set up to build things which no rational human being really believes can exist in the sky far above. Likewise, airline operators have grown into behemoths of obscene proportions which exist only to fool as much of the population as possible. Pilot training is all about kidding otherwise normally adjusted members of society into perpetuating the lie. They learn and practise with crude simulators. More advanced models are used when furthering the process of tricking them into believing they really are piloting a metal tube containing a cargo of real people through the skies.

Does anyone believe that humankind has developed something weighing over two hundred tons, fully laden, that can fly? Does someone really expect the population to swallow the story that today’s society has the technology to do so such a thing, as well as reach for the stars? Manufacturers using today’s technology can’t even build a car which allows an owner to change a headlamp bulb without having to strip the front end; or a computer that just works without being required to have a degree in computer science.

Hoodwinked and sold the world’s greatest hoax.

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Darwin on Space
Tuesday 27 July, 2021

My local newspaper under the name, Darwin Beagle, as:

Without a doubt dogs would win this space race malarkey

- o - O - o -

I was listening to the radio the other day. Okay, I was snoozing while my owner was listening to it. But whatever, I got to hear about a chap called Richard Brownstone being fired into space by a rocket thing with wings.

Then another voice on the radio said that he didn’t really go into space because he only flew about fifty-something miles up and space is defined as being sixty-two miles above the ground. The discussion between the voices became quite heated and I remained still and smug, resting upon my rug which is zero miles up in the air.

I will admit that I don’t know much about space and rockets. However, I do know that the first animal to orbit the Earth in a spaceship was a dog. It was a Russian Siberian husky crossed with other breeds and certainly not a pedigree such as myself. Truth be told, she was basically a mongrel.

Apparently there is a race between Richard Brownstone, Jeff Baysauce and Ellen Must. I suspect that specially designed spacesuits that allow them to crouch down and put their feet in big starting blocks would be required. Or they could hold the race on the ground so as to not have to wear spacesuits, but then that probably would be called a ‘ground race’ or something.

Two more people would be needed. One would fire the starting pistol and the other would be at the finish line. No, wait. No, that is three people. There has to be one at each end of the finishing tape. So there would have to be another three spacesuits.

Suddenly racing on the ground is looking a better idea.

If I were to be invited to take part, I would have to wear a special spacesuit of my own design. Obviously it would have to have four legs rather than two, and it would need to be smaller. But the most important thing would be to design a helmet that had a special visor I could flip up when one of the space race competitors offers me a chicken treat. A spacesuit that doesn’t allow for accepting and eating treats would be a very poor spacesuit.

That’s why the first animal to orbit the Earth was a dog. If I were part of this space racing business, then I would probably win. A beagle made it to Mars before any of those who are racing, but like me, it remains very quiet.

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The Great Hoax
Sunday 1 August, 2021

A local magazine under the name, Phil O'Hara, as:

The Great Hoax

This publication always uses my titles for whatever I write. As this was a rehash of the piece I wrote for my local newspaper (see Tuesday 20 July, 2021 The Great Flying Hoax as Jago Phillips), and as I didn't want the title to give the theme away, I dropped the word Flying.

It isn't unknown for writers to recycle the words they have written, as long as the markets don't overlap. It is also worth noting that publication rights allow it unless a contract specifies otherwise, such as syndication etc.

- o - O - o -

Things are returning to normal. That means the great lie perpetrated upon humanity by the air industry can continue once more.

It is incredible how many holiday makers and business travellers really believe that dirty great lumps of metal can fly. From the Wright Brothers Hoax of 1903 to the present day, the flying deception has thrived.

Would-be airline passengers are herded onto dummy airliners and once settled, they are subjected to knockout gases which then allow carriers to move them while unconscious to buses and coaches in which to be transported to their expected destinations. At the other end they are taken onto replicas of the aeroplane they boarded at the start and an antidote is pumped through the air conditioning and a planeload of revived aeroplane passengers have arrived!

Long haul ‘flights’ tend to require travellers to be out for longer as shipping internationally takes a good bit more time. The result is colloquially known as ‘jet lag’ – disorientation and weariness ascribed to time differences between far removed locations. The truth is that it is really the effects of being unconscious for longer periods after chemical incapacitation.

Whole industries have been built upon this deceit. Manufacturers have been set up to build things which no rational human being could believe can really float or pass through the sky far above. Likewise, airline operators have grown into behemoths of obscene proportions which exist only to fool as much of the population as possible. Pilot training is all about kidding otherwise normally adjusted members of society into perpetuating the lie. They learn and practise with crude simulators. More advanced models are used when furthering the process of tricking them into believing they really are piloting a metal tube containing a cargo of real people through the skies.

When looking overhead, do we really believe we see aeroplanes passing back and forth along designated ‘air corridors’ amongst the clouds? I’m sorry to have to break the bad news to you – what is seen are optical illusions. The human mind likes to play tricks. If one is told often enough that manmade monstrosities can fly, then eventually it is believed.

Does anyone believe that humankind has developed something weighing over two hundred tons, fully laden, that can fly? Does someone really expect the population to swallow the story that today’s society has the technology to do so such a thing, as well as reach for the stars? Manufacturers using today’s technology can’t even build a car which allows an owner to change a headlamp bulb without having to strip the front end; or a computer that just works without being required to have a degree in computing.

Oh sure, science means being able to launch hundreds of tons of metal into the sky so it flies, but science knowledge can’t combat the common cold which has been around for much longer than the 1903 Wright brothers hoax...

Hoodwinked and sold the world’s greatest porky. Or the prospect of freedom has overwhelmed me!

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Climate Change
Tuesday 3 August, 2021

My local newspaper under the name, Louise Penfold, as:

Climate change must be the reason for my wine enjoyment

I checked and checked, but it rather looks as if whoever wrote the title in the paper missed out a word or two with the result that it is almost exactly wrong.

- o - O - o -

We hear a lot about climate change these days. Many experts in various fields are keen to point out the effects of unexpected weather patterns. However, it is hard for me to absorb the finer details of what they are saying when so much of it seems irrelevant to me.

I’m not claiming to disbelieve it. Far from it – in fact I find myself experiencing adverse outcomes due to the changes. It is just that none of it seems to relate directly to what various scientists, crackpots and world leaders are telling me.

For instance, there have been times when I have taken a glass of wine out into the garden with me and a sudden and unforecast deluge has forced me inside in order to shelter against being soaked. When I venture outside after the unpredicted downpour has abruptly stopped, I return to my wine to find that the glass has filled and the contents have been watered down and reduced to a spritzer without the bubbles.

It is particularly upsetting when the wine is something like a Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and it has been ruined by rainwater. While wine from a £5 bottle may well be improved, the same cannot be said if the bottle costs nearly £50. So I am particularly aggrieved by changes in the weather that have the ability to inflict such carnage.

Mind you, it isn’t just rain that is a problem. More frequently I am discovering that the levels of humidity, along with increased sunshine and high temperatures, are causing much by way of upset in terms of curtailment of wine enjoyment. Recently I have poured myself glassfuls of delightful wines and found that they have evaporated while I relax in my garden to read a book. Again, when drinking a wine that costs less than £5 a bottle, it is nothing more than an inconvenience, but when you find that you are getting through two or three bottles of a £60 Château de Beaucastel, in an afternoon, then it becomes a rather unsustainable financial drain.

It is clearly a climate change issue. There is no way that I am drinking every last drop. The only explanation is that the wine evaporates and is lost to the air. It is either that or squirrels are stealing it. I definitely have a drink problem, but I fear it is driven by the weather.

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The Life of the Web Master
Monday 9 August, 2021

At university I was required to create and maintain a website. As I was doing a Computer Sciences BSc degree, it seemed very sensible.

However, what I did was author it using Windows Notepad rather than a dedicated web authoring application. All I was required to do was was have a presence. So a photo and some words telling visitors my favourite colour and fast food, was all I did.

I learned how to write HTML when it was simpler than it is today.

Consequently I never moved on very far from those days - hence the simple (boring) appearance of The Blog of Zak Spade.

What I write is important to me. The stuff concerning web and techno wossiname isn't.

When it was suggested that I update my online archive of published words, I underestimated the time and pain it would take to do so.

Feel free to check out My Other Writing (the link will always appear to the top left on the Blog). Apparently the web stats will tell me whether I have wasted hours of my time populating it. All I need do now is work out how to access those web stats and try and understand what they all mean...

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The Bleeding Obvious
Tuesday 10 August, 2021

My local newspaper under the name, Phil Wilkinson, as:

The bleeding obvious is most certainly missed!

I do enjoy a good grump over things. When writing as Phil Wilkinson, that is what I do. Typically I will read the local paper and pick something to have a moan over. I've been doing it since somewhere around 2011, so if I don't get a badge for it I will become even more grumpy!

And as if to add to the thrust of the piece... Some moron at Central Bedfordshire Council gave the okay for roadworks on the road through town which is slated to last four weeks (commenced yesterday). Now there are no routes available to anywhere which don't include long waits in stationary traffic...

- o - O - o -

Planning in the Leighton Buzzard area puts me in mind of the BBC series, Fawlty Towers. I fondly recalled all twelve episodes upon reading a letter in the LBO detailing the somewhat oddball traffic management strategies employed by those who clearly do not live in the area.

I am so glad to learn that I am not alone in believing we are effectively a backwater which is totally misunderstood by bureaucrats back at Central Bedfordshire Ivory Towers. In fact, I strongly suspect that a very large majority of residents in the area are aware of the problems we experience and know that merely slowing things further by introducing obstacles, just adds to the problem.

On that note, the 1979 episode, ‘Basil the Rat’ comes to mind. Basil Fawlty says to his wife, “Can't we get you on ‘Mastermind’, Sybil? Next contestant Sybil Fawlty from Torquay, special subject the bleeding obvious.”

The nonstop farce, known to some as infrastructure planning, continues. Most in the area see and understand it as apparent idiocy. When it is pointed out by local residents, it is tempting to suggest that such comment is merely stating the “bleeding obvious,” but it seems not to be obvious to those who keep coming up with the ‘brilliant’ ideas.

It has been mentioned before: we have a fixed and limited number of arterial roads in and out of the area. No amount of roads crisscrossing the new developments changes that number. We now see the effect of restricting just ONE of those arterial roads. Am I correct in understanding that planners want to extend said restrictions in order to stave off further congestion? Is someone ingesting something hallucinogenic?

It might be that the problem isn’t planners residing in a tall tower oblivious to the actual effects of their pronouncements. Could it be that Central Beds Council employs space aliens who have never set foot on Planet Earth? How else could things be obvious to so many people, but not so to those who formulate and implement plans that adversely impact the very people they claim to be helping?

I suppose it is bleeding obvious to many local residents that those from the planet Zog don’t have a clue about where we live. While bleeding obvious to members of the Human Race, I fear it isn’t registering with the little green men.

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Stairs
Friday 13 August, 2021

Writing and maintaining a Blog can be tricky at times like this.

In my street there is no house number 13. The same is true of a number of streets in the area in which I live and I suspect it is true far wider afield.

Hotels are known to not have a 'floor 13' so as to not upset those with either triskaidekaphobia or an ability to harbour totally irrational beliefs.

I tend to avoid passing people on the stairs. This is for two reasons: the first is that I don't want to accidentally knock elbows and end up falling down a flight of stairs. The second reason is that of not knowing whether the other person is superstitious. I am most certainly not superstitious. I might have some odd ways, but conducting my life according to random numbers or ritualistic shenanigans, really isn't going to happen.

But I don't wish to impose my self perceived rationality upon others. So I don't pass people on the stairs...

That had me wondering whether to omit the date at the top of today's Blog entry. I spend hours trying to decide. The pain was intense.

Then I decided to include it because my horoscope didn't warn against it.

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Sleep
Sunday 15 August, 2021

I usually don't respond well to a lack of sleep. However, when I was (much) younger, I tended to manage quite well.

As a teenager I was into Dungeons & Dragons. A group of us would meet together on a Friday evening and play into the morning. It wasn't unknown for me to work all day Friday - meet up with my friends that evening - play to around 6am - then pop back home for a quick bite and change of clothes before heading into work for a morning's overtime.

Once home again at 1pm, the rest of the day would pass as any other Saturday and the usual Saturday night would be spent doing the things that nineteen-year-olds do on Saturday nights.

Then I grew old (I hit twenty-nine) and such a combination of days and nights would reduce me to a drooling fool slumped in a corner.

Then a couple of month's back I found that I would read or watch a film until past midnight but still wake up between 5am and 6am. I wouldn't be tired. I would try to stay in bed and get back to sleep, but it was usually a waste of effort on my part.

For the first few weeks I would get up and enjoy a normal day. Sleep would never come again until it was gone midnight and I'd wake between 5am and 6am. In fact, for a few days it was nearer 4am! I anticipated a meltdown and was always on the lookout for somewhere soft to land should my brain decide that enough was enough.

However, it suddenly seemed that my body was happy with four or five hours sleep in any twenty-four hour period. It was quite puzzling.

It was put to me that as people age they require less sleep. It sounded plausible, but I was mystified as to why it seemed to have kicked in so abruptly.

Before dropping off to sleep at 1am in the morning, I resolved to investigate the matter in depth the next day so as to ascertain the veracity of the assertion and see if I could determine why it had come my way so swiftly and unexpectedly.

I woke to the alarm at 7:30am and felt shattered. I was too tired during the day to dig into anything dealing with sleep. Research was supplanted by a constant need to try and remember my name.

The months of requiring next to no sleep seem to have vanished. If I now don't get to sleep by 11pm, then I am exhausted if I am woken before 8am the next morning.

Either I have become twenty-nine again, or some complicated biological explanation exists. Either way I feel as if I missed a wonderful opportunity to go clubbing.

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Squeak
Tuesday 17August, 2021

I like the car I drive. I think it likes me, but it never says much, so I can't be totally sure.

When I test drove it, there was a hint of a squeak coming from somewhere underneath. I supposed it was something touching and rubbing occasionally.

After a week's ownership the squeak was quite consistent. At first I thought it was just something jiggling about under the car as I drove. Then investigation revealed that it was the steering. Driving in a straight line had the squeak, but because the steering is twitching there is the squeak.

Negotiating a small roundabout driving through a housing development told me it was steering-related. The long squeak as I turned the steering wheel from straight to full lock was hard to ignore.

When raining the squeak lessened, but after a few weeks it was rather pronounced. Delving into the stuff under the engine bay and about the steering mechanism didn't have me find an obviously loose heat shield, or similar, touching and dragging on a moving part. Additionally, what I thought was emanating from the front right seemed to be from front centre, front left, front right depending on the position of the stars.

Back to the garage from whence it came, I decided. Up on a ramp and have a peek. They'd probably find in in two minutes and fix it in three.

After a full day of trying, they discovered a few things. When the car was raised and there was no weight on the front wheels, there was no squeak. None of the mechanics could determine whether the squeak came from the right, left or centre. Whatever the squeak was, it wasn't the suspension as they degreased and checked the lot (hence the full day).

Upon getting the car and the squeak back I was told they wanted me to book it back in and they'd swap over the steering box in case it was the cause!

Not a huge issue for me as I'm not paying anything to have this remedied. They told me they'd be in touch to arrange things.

And that was a couple of weeks back and I've had no joy speaking to the right chap since.

Meanwhile the squeak is louder and impossible to ignore. Also it really sounds like something it touching a moving part that is linked to the steering and making a noise in the process.

I once drove to work in a car that made a 'meow' sound every time I negotiated a roundabout or a junction. Upon arrival I had the bonnet up and found a cat wedged tightly behind the battery.

No mouse nest has been found.

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Too Late!
Tuesday 17 August, 2021

I had a piece published under the name Phil Wilkinson last week in my local newspaper and I never use any particular name two weeks on the trot. This was a pity because I was particularly aggrieved at how the market town in which I live has almost been cut off from the rest of the world by moronic planning on the part of Central Bedfordshire Council:

I wanted to vent and make a point, so Jago Phillips galloped to the rescue with a piece that became titled by the paper as:

Too late! My prophecy has come true and aliens are rife among us

- o - O - o -

I have been warning people for a very long time. However, would anyone listen? No, everyone dismissed me as a crackpot. Mention of invasion by space aliens was enough to have people think the word, ‘loony.’

That was despite my revelation of their invasion plan. Leighton Buzzard was chosen as a starting point because of its proximity to major routes, along with the London seat of government being relatively close. At the same time it is considered to be a quiet backwater which wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention from the authorities as the invaders established their initial force.

Well, my words of warning were unheeded. Nothing has been done to head off their maliferous intent. They are currently paralyzing the area by setting up road closures and roadworks. Once it becomes impossible to physically get in or out of the area they will cut off power to the region. They have been practising this over the last few years by turning off neighbourhoods for short periods. The idea is that it will cause electronic communications to collapse if the power outage is over the whole area and not just places like the High Street.

At that point they will have cut off Leighton Buzzard from the rest of the country. Then they will be free to billet their invasion soldiers in the new houses which they caused to be built through careful installation of fifth columnists within the planning department of Central Bedfordshire Council. No word of the occupation of part-built new homes will be able to get out to the headquarters of the many developers who think it was their idea to cover the whole place in what are effectively barracks.

Even as I reveal the full horror of what is set to befall our wonderful town, there are still detractors who try to publicly reject everything I have said. They seek to ridicule me with the labels they apply. However, look around you. What do you see? Is the disruption really the result of careful planning and execution by an authority which is benefiting the area? Or, is it strangulation by a military force intent on subduing resistance ahead of the main invasion?

In the past you may have asked, ‘Can anyone really believe Jago?’ Now I ask, can anyone really not believe Jago?

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Archie and Birthdays
Tuesday 24 August, 2021

Published in my local newspaper under the name Archie Cat as:

This whole birthday malarkey seems such a waste to me!

- o - O - o -

Another of my human servants has celebrated something they call a birthday. It is a peculiar thing which, I hate to admit, causes me great confusion.

One of my humans placing food and water down for me is an act which makes perfect sense. However, when that same human voluntarily puts what looks to be wrapping paper on their head which then keeps slipping down over their eyes, it seems both odd and fatuous in the extreme.

The other aspect I find confusing is that of eating food merely because it is there. Normally members of my staff will either eat when needed or do so at predetermined mealtimes. On the other paw, the dogs living here will eat whatever comes near their mouths. When birthday celebrations are not part of life, I think of my tame humans as being a little way above the level of the dogs who share my house. However, when a birthday comes along, they seem to slip down the evolutionary ladder and become somewhat lessened in status. Arguably, they are then merely on a par with the canine contingent.

Then there is all the wasteful expenditure of energy in the guise of something known as ‘party games.’ If they were to put as much effort into my needs as they do for such activities then there would be a more regular change of my comfy cushions in all the rooms of the house.

It wouldn’t be too bad if it only involved members of my household, but there are always humans unknown to me. I have no idea what their names are, but when I think about how there is never a need to learn the names of my staff, why would I bother with those of the strangers who turn up and seemingly eat lots of food just because it is there?

A smaller human noticed me near the table and he offered me the filling from a tuna sandwich. He seemed quite tickled by me accepting it. Then he stroked me. Naturally, the little human had the right idea, so when he once more proffered some tuna I again accepted and ate it.

This birthday malarkey is usually rather tedious, but if the humans could get rid of the party paraphernalia and concentrate on the giving of tuna to their master and superior, then I think birthdays are something I could grow to accept.

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The Clicking
Wednesday 25 August, 2021

Another traipse to my local post office. Another opportunity to burn in the sun, get wet in the rain, or be run over by a mad homicidal lorry driver.

Okay, the latter is less likely, but as my town grows and expands according to the whims of planners who don't understand how a quart can't be poured into a pint glass, the chances are probably on the up.

Today was neither hat nor brolly weather. Not too hot and not too cold. I almost expected a perfect bowl of porridge to materialise in the air in front of me.

No rain. No sun. No lorries being driven at speed on the pavements. Just a clicking.

I couldn't hear the clicking. It was more a case of feeling it as I walked. Every other pace; click, click, click.

As I rolled over the ball of my right foot, a clicking reminded me that I was dosed up on anti-inflammatory drugs and that I was going to pay a price once I arrived back home.

Step, step/click, step, step/click, step... Asymmetrical and annoying. However, it would mean that sitting down would be accompanied by just the one sore foot. Perhaps a blessing which would have me rejoicing as I set about hopping about the garden yelling and shouting about how good life is for everyone.

And at least my dogs would only stand a 50% chance of of crushing the bad foot.

Happy days!

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The Rules of OCD
Friday 27 August, 2021

Rules are there to ensure we all get along. Without them society would freefall into chaos and anarchy. Rules are good.

There are the rules of the road. By and large they are responsible for the ability to drive a car from home to work without witnessing hundreds of injuries and deaths on the daily commute.

Rules are good.

Then there are the rules of the dinner table. Use cutlery from the outside inwards as you make your way through the many courses laid on. No need to be embarrassed by not knowing which knife to use. Use the rules.

Rules are good.

Let’s not forget the rule of law. Take it all away and it wouldn’t be safe even in one’s own home. Imagine trying to watch Strictly while some miscreant loudly levers open your front door with a heavy duty screwdriver. No one would bat an eye because forcing their way into your home to steal or murder isn’t breaking any rules. We need those rules.

Rules are good.

Are there rules of Nature? Yep. Things with big teeth tend to eat those without big teeth. Therefore it is best to keep away from beasts with big teeth.

Rules are good.

Turning the bedroom light on and off five times and placing ones slippers exactly 2.5 centimetres apart and pointing due south is important to some. It may mean the difference between managing to get off to sleep or remaining prone and awake all night. If it helps, then such rules are good.

Rules, rule! Okay?

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Batteries and 2FA
Tuesday 31 August, 2021

I can imagine people asking, "What on earth is he going on about now, 2FA?"

For those who haven't made the connection, 2FA means two-factor authentication. And those who think it is just a geeky thing might like to make sure that they own a mobile phone and that it is always charged and ready to work.

Eh?

Well, there is a drift towards 2FA by companies who have a presence on the Internet. It used to be something which only affected those trying to reset a password or similar. However, it is now becoming something encountered when trying to access one's bank account, shopping or email.

It works like this: you provide an ID and password. The website then tells you to input a numeric code in the box below which they will send to your mobile phone. No choices. No options. Just do as you are told, slave.

If you never supplied a mobile number then welcome to days, weeks, or longer, of email ping-pong while you try to get their tech support to help you.

Note the mention of mobile phone number. Try and ask them to email it to you or use a landline. No chance. Code sent. Done. Not their problem if you dropped in down the loo last night or forgot to charge it.

Suddenly the importance of batteries in terms of 2FA has been promoted.

What about those who don't have a mobile phone? I spent many years working in IT and resolutely refused to have one. I didn't want to be at the beck and call of an employer.

I once watched a colleague hurriedly chomping down a sandwich as he trotted back into the workplace because his boss had asked him to fix something while he was on his lunch break. I swore that would never happen to me, so I never had a mobile until quite late.

Did I mention I worked in IT? I am no stranger to the Internet. Yet, if I were still working in a similar role, I'd probably still not have a mobile phone. And websites insist I have a mobile phone?

What happened? Did 1984 pop up while I was sleeping?

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What Zebra?
Thursday 2 September, 2021

My tendency is to shy away from driving anywhere these days. The word 'motion' seems rather inappropriate when referring to the act of trying to drive through my town. However, occasionally I have no choice, and so it was this morning.

I trickled towards a zebra crossing in the centre of town and pulled up behind the three cars which had stopped to let a mother and child cross. Then the Land Rover directly in front of me indicated they were turning right and proceeded to go around the two vehicles ahead of it and made the woman and child midway across the zebra crossing stop to let it push past.

At a guess I would say the drivers of the two cars it drove past, and the mother, were as surprised as me when they saw a flatbed Land Rover decide to ignore the rules of the road and all notions of civility and common sense.

What made it all the more unbelievable was that it remained in my sight because there was traffic up ahead and I could see it made no attempt to bypass any of it, despite the fact that opportunity to bully past the unfortunates  stuck in the slow snake of traffic was greater and safer.

Had I not witnessed the event, I would have never believed the Land Rover was the same vehicle being driven by a person who had removed their brain only thirty seconds earlier.

I suppose it takes all sorts to clog up the roads of my town. I just wish that the more proficient morons would wait until I was safely home and driving nowhere.

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Early Hours
Saturday 4 September, 2021

For various reasons, I had cause to visit the loo in the wee hours. Did you see what I did there?

It was around two-thirty. That's the two-thirty that comes after midnight and not the one in the afternoon.

It was dark outside, as is fitting for such a time in this part of the world. It was quiet. Nothing moved and nothing stirred. Except that I'm fibbing.

Through the open window of the bathroom I could hear the sound of a dog barking in the distance. It was quite a way off and I would never have heard it were it not for the fact of my nocturnal activity. It was quite faint, but I couldn't help but think that whoever lived nearer would be somewhat upset at the barking if it had woken them or kept them from sleeping.

Then I heard the man's voice.

For ****'s sake! Shut the **** up!

It was equally far off and faint, rather suggesting that it was the same location as the dog.

The dog came back in the only way it seemed to know - it barked some more.

Shut that ****ing dog the **** up or I will ****ing shut the ****er up for good!

The dog barked.

If you you don't shut that ****er up, I'll ****ing have the Old Bill here to shut the ****er up!

The dog barked.

Given the apparent distance and volume, it seemed to me that whoever was filling the air with expletives was doing so at a volume which was destined to have the 'Old Bill' over there, but not to deal with a barking dog. Instead they would be attending to a call out to address the extremely loud, abusive and vulgar ranting of someone who seemed to have 'lost' it and was probably doing a better job of waking their neighbours than was the dog.

Back in my bedroom I picked up my mobile phone and fired up the webcam pointing at the area in which my three dogs sleep at night downstairs. There, in the black and white forced by the use of infrared, were three dogs. They were all on the one bed, using each other as pillows.

On went the sound and I got to hear the loudest noise they were making. The beagle was snoring.

Unless his snoring became that of an earth shaking nature, I guessed no one would be screaming at the tops of their voices to, Shut the **** up!

Dogs checked, I went back to bed, glad I had closed the bathroom door in case the barking and shouting in the distance was joined by the sound of a police siren which might wake me up...

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Speed Cameras
Tuesday 7 September, 2021

For a while now drivers across the country have been labouring under the misunderstanding that speed - sorry, safety cameras are there to catch anyone who travels faster than the speed limit on any particular stretch of road.

Not around here.

I have a theory. Speed (again, I apologise), safety cameras are on the roads in and around the area in which I live so as to identify and reward anyone who comes close to the speed limits.

The whole of the town centre is set to 20mph. The only people who get close are the pilots of the low flying helicopters and aeroplanes that plague the town.

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Highway Entertainment
Thursday 9 September, 2021

I have had the misfortune to be required to drive from my small town to the much larger affair nearby during the morning rush hour these last two days.

It hasn't been pretty.

I tend to work out how long it will take then add a bit to allow for me being laid-back over the whole thing and I try to anticipate potential points of congestion. Generally I arrive without being late, nor flustered through having had to drive like a fool to arrive in time.

It also means it is relaxing enough so I am free to be entertained by the shenanigans of others who seem to have timed their trip to the minute and seeming cannot afford to be delayed by a single second.

One driver hurtled up a dual carriageway - chopped lanes as if undecided whether to tuck in behind another car, or hold up the much faster BMW doing at least 90mph, and then, once appearing to have decided to hog a lane on the outside they dived across the lanes so as to barely make the slip road off said dual carriageway. Such guys are always entertaining.

In the past there have been equally entertaining socially inadequates providing my smiles.

The big 4x4 that came around a large roundabout at great speed and was confronted by a 7.5 tonne lorry. Maybe he should at least indicated if he wasn't minded to take the blind approach at something approaching 45mph.

Then there was the geezer in the Merc who pushed his way to the front of a double queue of vehicles trying to navigate a busy roundabout and who then pulled over, blocking one of the lanes, so he could make a telephone call...

There have been a great many more entertainers of the highways who have given rise to much mirth and jocularity over the years.

However, the funniest ones are those in distinctive vehicles which blast past me - usually overtaking on/approaching/exiting a roundabout and seven or eight miles later are passed by me because they picked a bad lane to be in because of not watching four or five cars ahead.

That last type is always funnier if they had hared off into the distance in the first place at high speed and I haven't gone over 55mph at any point...

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A
Tuesday 14 September, 2021

Possibly the start of a journey. Guides exist that describe such treks as A to Z experiences. Indeed, we have all heard of the London A-Z.

However, what if there are more than two points in one's travels? I suppose it might still start with A and include additional letters to denote points along the way.

But what if one were to travel to a starting point agreed among multiple travellers?

"We'll all meet up at <place> and go onto <destination> from there!"

I'm sure we've all been there. Would the resulting journey be considered B to Z, or should it be counted from one's own start? What about the others in the party? If they all referred to the place from where they set out as A then multiple places would be seeking to lay claim to being A, and it just wouldn’t do.

The whole premise may come across as waffle, but think for a moment on how inexactness in communication gives lawyers a career and all your money. The argument over whose A is the A meant by someone who wants to pay a great sum to the owner of A is a question which will line someone’s pockets handsomely.

From that it might be said that the only true A to Z is the path taken by your money to someone who practises the art of argument.

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B
Friday 17 September, 2021

Be careful! That's the label that should be appended to all social media. Thoughts about to be Posted ought to attract a banner asking if one is sure that what has been written is to be committed to the Internet.

Emma Raducanu won the US Open in fine style recently. Many people took to social media to congratulate the success of a British player.

And British she is. Brought up in the UK - educated in the UK - trained in the UK - holds joint Canadian and British nationality, but regardless of the joint aspect, she has lived a full and exclusive British life.

In an attempt to raise the fact that many of those who were proud of Britain having produced a great winner are the same who are seemingly wish to bar any and all immigrants to these shores, I pointed out, via a response to a social media Post, that her parents (Romanian and Chinese immigrants to Canada) brought their child, Emma as a two-year-old onto Britain, which makes her an immigrant.

It raises a technicality which many crowing about her success (usually the mainstream/tabloid media) are happy to overlook as they gleefully report and support arguments for the banning of any sort of immigration to the UK.

The problem is that Posts tend to be rather immediate. It was taken as being rather a negative viewpoint about her success.

I certainly hadn't any intention of knocking her or the success of the British teenager.

In an attempt to dig myself out of the hole I had inadvertently dug and fallen into, I sought to clarify my argument. Instead of doing so it looked like someone trying to justify a stance which wasn't justifiable.

The episode taught me something about myself: I am far better at putting forward a cogent argument or point after some thought but am rather poor when doing so as part of a virtual conversation.

Was I being negative about Raducanu? Not intentionally. The thrust of the original Post was induce naval gazing amongst anyone who fell into the anti-immigrants/Raducanu supporters group in a manner I thought would hit home without having laboured the point.

Whatever I write for publication is read, re-read, edited, re-written if required, edited once again, and finally slept on before submitting to whatever publication I am in favour with any particular week. Subtlety is not something I excel at when thinking on my feet, obviously...

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C
Monday 20 September, 2021

C is the third letter of the Latin alphabet. As such it could reasonably expect to find itself on a victor’s rostrum. However, who remembers those who come third?

That said, where would we be without the letter C? So many interesting and useful words are started by C and the English language would be far poorer for its loss. For instance, take, circus, circumference or circumcision. Three words covering entertainment, mathematics and possible trauma.

Also, words that could use an S instead.

Okay, what about cat, cook or catch? The joys of pet ownership, eating, and playing.

And words that you could start with a K.

Maybe C would prefer to be forgotten.

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D
Tuesday 28 September, 2021

D-Day approacheth. I’m not sure that everyone, or indeed anyone in power, has faced up to the possible fact that it is bearing down upon us like an increasingly rare HGV as we walk across a motorway.

Remainers keep harking on about how the UK HGV lorry shortage is the fault of Brexit. Brexiteers argue back that the UK is suffering from the effects of Covid-19. Both sides seem unaware of the fact that across Europe there is an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 lack of HGV drivers. Poland – when looking at the size of its population in comparison with the UK – is particularly hard hit.

It appears ironic that the traditional suppliers of labour, and a potential solution to the HGV lorry driver shortfall, seems to be suffering more than the UK.

Of course, there are some who do see the bigger picture. They are aware of the Europe-wide problem. However, those who are determined to argue for a case regardless of the facts then claim Brexit is still to blame because it upset the HGV driver apple cart.

Yes.

And let’s not concern ourselves with the truck driver shortage in the good ol'  US of A. The current deficit runs to around 50,000 to 60,000 drivers with the number predicted to be around the 100,000 mark by around 2023.

Interestingly, in Australia there is said to be a 61,000 vacancies. Or rather, there were. That figure comes from 2019, before Covid-19 was a twinkle in a bat’s respiratory system.

A worldwide shortage? And before Covid-19? Really? What’s the connection to Brexit?

Naturally, there is no connection. What is really concerning is that the data for the issue are easily found and the picture is easy to see and understand. So why are we reading and hearing so much about how Brexit or Covid is to blame?

Read and listen carefully. None of the ‘reputable’ media are claiming any connection with Brexit although some do allude to a Covid cause. However, they happily give voices to those who are making the claims and then they trade upon the hysteria created.

Think of it like this: run page after page of scientific reports from flat earth believers and create readers and listeners wonder whether the world really could be flat after all given that so many people are claiming it.

But, regardless of one’s beliefs over Brexit or the effects of Covid-19 upon driver training and tests provision, the fact is that there is a driver shortage. The ridiculous and panic inducing reporting is blinding everyone to the most important question which isn’t actually, Why?

The shortage it there. The job doesn't pay well enough to attract people. The stress attached to the job is having older drivers retire quicker than new blood can be brought in.

So, what to do?

Remember the argument many years back for getting lorries off our roads and transporting stuff across the country by train? The idea was to use smaller vehicles from rail distribution points and reduce our reliance upon the dirty great articulated lorries for which we presently cannot find drivers.

It was a simple idea which Big Business deemed too expensive. So now the choice appears to be this: invest in drivers or invest in rail transport. Note that the word, invest appears twice.

Unfortunately, the idea that Big Business would stoop so low as to reckon on investment meaning something good for society rather than purely their bottom line is so ridiculous as to make me stop writing lest a rich and well off Fat Cat sends me a nasty email...

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E
Thursday 30 September, 2021

E-vehicles are going to save the world. They will be solely responsible for the removal of all pollution and greenhouse gases. There will be no more man-made toxins produced which will kill our planet.

That’s one view.

Another is that the electricity required to power our green transportation will need to come from somewhere. That might mean restarting a few coal-fired power stations so as to make sure we don’t deny electric kettles the electricity they require. Imagine society breaking down because kettle owners find they are unable to make tea or coffee when their televisions are off due to a power outage.

Not to worry, governments around the world have huge projects in place to generate electricity from the wind, waves or the sun. Renewable energy for all!

Except they haven’t. Yes, there is lots of talk about it and one doesn’t need to travel far in developed countries before seeing giant turbines slowly turning on the horizon or in a field adjacent to whatever road is being used.

In the UK, almost half of our electricity now comes from renewable sources. Wind alone gives us nearly a quarter of our needs. By the time we are all driving around in e-cars, the total will be 100%.

Or maybe not; or at least not in other parts of the world.

Currently China produces more electricity than does the USA. The growth in demand has rocketed alongside the expansion of the Chinese economy as it heads towards domination of the world’s manufacturing market. In fact, having passed the USA’s electricity output in 2011, China now produces more electricity than the USA, India and Russia combined.

Over half of that electricity is produced by coal-fired power stations...

So, while one part of the world strives to reduce pollutants, another adds more. However, don’t allow yourself to be mired in a China Vs The-Rest-of-the-World argument. It is a much wider issue.

Imagine you are a medical doctor working with an organisation such as Médecins Sans Frontières and are located in a remote area miles from an adequate power supply with which to charge the batteries on their e-4x4. Or that emergency dash to the nearest big town to save the life of a mother and soon-to-be-born baby can’t be made because their 4x4 e-ambulance needs to be tied to the solar cells outside the village a bit longer.

Except it is night-time and that ‘bit longer’ doesn’t start until the sun comes up.

Any argument along those lines that one wishes to make against e-vehicles pales into insignificance once the scale of the toxic metals and chemicals required to manufacture one of them is multiplied up by the number of those nasty hydrocarbon burners currently in existence and destroying the Earth.

There are well over 30 million licensed vehicles on the roads of the UK.

Now, let us assume that the number remains static so the number registered when new is matched by the number which is taken off the road. In 2020 there was a dip in new car sales to 1.6 million. It was 2.3 to 2.5 million in each of the preceding three years. Before then you have to look back to 2009 to see new sales drop below two million.

I don’t think it would be unfair to suggest that we are likely to see two million new cars being added to our roads each year. That would mean decommissioning two million electric cars each year in the future – assuming things remain as they are and car ownership doesn’t increase in line with population expansion.

Disposing of the materials that go into making an e-vehicle isn’t easy. Now multiply the difficulty by at least two million.

I forgot to mention and emphasis the fact that the number referred to is specifically regarding passenger cars and does not include commercial vehicles of any size or shape.

That’s a lot of batteries and stuff to get rid of each year, and a lot of electricity to be generated. It is a hugely bigger matter than the current situation being addressed. Remember that very few e-vehicles have reached their end-of-life.

Yet.

The crazy thing is that we already have facilities to ecologically dispose of ‘normal’ vehicles. It is tried and tested, and it works when policed properly.

Now, the next time you are out in your car, play this little game. I call it, Spot the SUV with Just the Driver in it.

Look at how many different types of combustion-engine car you can buy. Quite how it can be legal to buy something that returns 7mpg when on the School Run, I just don’t know. Imagine it only legal to produce a car to a set design. It is entirely possible to produce a low emission vehicle which could attain 40mpg in town and carry five people.

Mind you, it would probably barely reach 100mph. It wouldn’t manage 0-60mph in less than 12 seconds. That said, it wouldn’t add any appreciable time to your journey, given the speed limits which exist. Nor would it be jostling for the title of Top Planet Killer either.

What if the only choices you could make were colour and size (small, medium or large)? What if everyone used the same tyres? What if everyone drove a vehicle with the same emissions as everyone else?

All manufacturers could make cars which would be cleaner, but they’d never sell them when pitched against the overweight, accessory-laden fuel-guzzling, electronic gadget peppered cars that fly out of showrooms these days.

Picture a world in which it was illegal to manufacture a car that could reach 150mph and only do 7mpg, or less when trying to reach that top speed! No cars weighing so much that they caused even greater pollution through a need for frequent road repairs.

Forget introducing an arguably flawed solution. Just stick with what is known and understood. Legislate against vehicular obesity and excess. Make laws that allow the manufacturer of a lean, mean, clean but low performance car much more attractive than the planet-destroying mega-car that takes up two car parking bays at your local supermarket.

Ask yourself this when you next look at a shiny megalith of a car, Do you desire it or do you need it?

Perhaps making it only legal to sell what we need rather than what we desire would probably remove the drive toward eventually poisoning the planet with crushed e-cars in the future...

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F
Friday 8 October, 2021

Effing and blinding doesn't really help to fill a fuel tank. No matter how loud or inventive one is, a forecourt pump won't deliver the stuff any quicker - no matter how long the queue to the filling station snaked.

When a new school is mooted, locals and parents of would-be pupils tirelessly campaign against opening them anywhere near pubs or other less than salubrious locations, but often filling stations are never mentioned.

With the language I'm hearing of late, I wonder why not!

So why do so many drivers do it?

I suppose the act of having to part with large sums of money only to see it vanish into something that will burn it, would be enough to rile a saint. Add to that the pain of having to queue for quite some time in order to reach the pump in the first place and you create a frustrating situation.

Something will have to give and usually it is the vocabulary of the person wielding the fuel pump nozzle.

But whatever the reason, some of the utterances I have heard of late are definitely not suitable for the ears of our youngsters. That said, it was never that rare to hear a 5-year-old saying eff this and eff that when trying to stand their bicycle against something.

Who am I trying to kid? We all know that 5-year-olds don't stand their bikes up - they just throw them to the ground. But they still eff and blind about it at times. I can only assume that they hear it at home or there is a filling station near their school...

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G
Tuesday 12 October, 2021

I'm sitting in my car, waiting. It is not worth my while driving home because the person I dropped off will need to be collected and I'd spend more time driving than I would at home. So I am watching the world go by.

There is a cycle way directly in front of me. During the hour I have been here, I have not seen a single bicycle. Mind you, there have been a great number of pedestrians and every so often one of those electric scooters whizzes past.

The town in which the car park is located is part of the nationwide e-scooter trials and so they are a fairly common sight. That same town is criss-crossed with cycle paths because it has always proclaimed to be extremely bicycle friendly.

Which is odd. As far as I and the law is aware, electric scooters are not allowed on said paths but are restricted to the road. In addition, only those hired through one of the trials are legal to use in public. So quite why they are so commonly seen on cycle paths lauded to be for pedestrians and cyclists, I cannot understand. Perhaps it is a question of policing the matter.

And what is this? Yes, it is a pair of police officers! They are slowly travelling along that same cycle path. Pedestrians are giving them a wide berth and the riders of the e-scooters that appeared at the same time as the officers seem to have decided that the road running alongside the pathway is a better route to take.

The dogwalker travelling towards the officers has drawn in their charge and locked the extendable lead so that the dog can stray no farther than arm's length of their master.

Did I mention that the officers were on horseback?

When the sun is shining it is always nice to see horses making their way to wherever their riders point them, no quicker than an amble as they soak up the sun.

There is a clue to the reason for the disquiet I am feeling in the is in the name; cycle way or cycle path - label as you see fit. Quite why two officers needed to be mounted on horses, I cannot imagine. If their radios hailed them, then there is no safe way for them to step up their pace so as to attend an incident. From where they appeared in my sight, there are no contiguous stretches of grass or dirt on which they may travel.

I wouldn't fancy being in charge of a horse in a populated area when sudden changes of direction or speed might be required when tarmac is the only surface upon which I can ride it.

Cycle way. Hmm. Ah, yes! Now I know what it is that bothers me! I know for a fact that the police operating in the town operate bicycles. A bicycle can travel faster than a horse down a cycle path without the constant fear that someone might be seriously injured or killed. And they can be sped up to allow officers to rush to incidents.

The little one walking with their mother who is tightly holding their hand to keep them from wandering into their path is probably saying as they point, “Look, mum, it's a gee-gee!”

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H
Wednesday 13 October, 2021

The letter ‘H’ was inadvertently conceived by Greek philosophers as they sought to determine the answer to crossing rivers without getting their feet wet.

What we know as a bridge these days was unknown to the people who gave us trigonometry, geometry and bath salts. Crossing bodies of water always involved getting wet unless a boat was used. As flight hadn't been invented, ravines, canyons and hidden dips were impossible to negotiate without employing ropes and pulleys.

Thinkers of the day came up with ways to express the problem so that they could then extrapolate and determine possible solutions. The ‘H’ was eventually born.

Each bank was represented by a single upright line. The greatest minds of the day struggled with working out how to get from the first line to the second.

One day a simple farm boy saw the pair of lines displayed at a market he was attending and asked what it meant. The great thinker displaying the board told him that what it represented was beyond his ability to comprehend, but the boy persevered and insisted that the old man try and explain it to him.

It was while all sorts of mathematic expressions were being scribbled across the diagram as part of the explanation that a single line was drawn between the two upright lines. The boy asked what that meant and the old man’s eyes opened wide as he realised that he had stumbled upon a way from one side to the other as he had tried to provide understanding to the boy.

He immediately ran a bath and undressed before running through the market shouting, “You reek, sir!” to everyone man who obviously hadn't dressed in a fresh toga that morning.

The boy picked up the diagram and thought, “Hmm, clever. That horizontal line bridges the gap between the two upright lines,” before suddenly exclaiming, “I know! I shall call it a bridge!”

Initially the people of Ancient Greece thought him mad. However, the idea caught on and before too long, bridges were everywhere.

Being a mere boy, he didn't think to take out a patent on the idea. Consequently bridges never earned him a penny and he died in poverty and without the fame he deserved.

However, detailed research by me has revealed his name.

Aeferbeen Gullible will always be remembered now that the Oxford English Dictionary has elected to place his surname at the start at the top of the section titled ‘A’ in recognition of what he has given the world.

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I
Monday 18 October, 2021

I want, I want, I want!

It sort of sums up where the world is headed.

Me, me, me!

Competitiveness over resources is Nature's way to test the fitness of those who prosper and survive.

Survival of the fittest.

However, many species are ‘social animals’ and the human race is one of them. That said, we live in a Big Society which is looking to have become too large to fit into Nature's model of societal self benefiting groups.

Within the society which has brought us wealth and a greater standard of living compared to years gone past, there are mini societies. As they seek to address the various schisms, marketers aim at youth cultures, the pink pound, the grey pound, owners of pets, owners of houses, those who don't own property; the list is long.

The society we think of as being The One is at best, fragmented beyond anything Nature expected. Too big and unwieldy, it barely limps along with a crutch provided by something called legislation. Whereas at one time the rule of law served to maintain class order and social distinction, these days it is beginning to look more and more like a sticking plaster over a society structure beset by decay and disorder.

It is percolating down to such mundane things as road use. Not so many years ago, the rules of the road were intended to help guard against mayhem and chaos which would cause death or injury. These days it is becoming a way to curtail anything which may disrupt traffic flow along routes and byways which are carrying numbers far exceeding anything that may have been planned for when said road was originally built.

The same applies to business. It applies to socialising. Legislation is designed, and now exists, to rein in any behaviour which has the potential to upset the extremely fragile society in which we now live. Future resource shortages; be they water, oil, power, land or anything we tend to buy with money, will become taken rather than bought.

There is no ‘i’ in team, but there is a ‘me’ and there is an 'i’ in ‘society.

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J
Saturday 6 November, 2021

What is a blue jay? Is it a hyperlink in the form of the 10th letter of the alphabet?

I read that blue jays are known for their intelligence and I find it worrying. For certain, I don't like the idea of a hyperlink on a webpage being smart. The Internet and A.I. seem like a sinister idea to me...

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K
Sunday 14 November, 2021

What is it with young people? In the Olden Days the polite response to, "How are you?" was, "I'm fine, thanks for asking," or something along those lines.

Then came the shortened reply, in keeping with the seemingly headlong rush towards everything being done immediately at little or the lowest cost achievable.

"OK."

Note the lack of, "Thanks for asking."

But it didn't end there. No, the current crop of humanoids have decided that even that can be shortened in the quest for brevity and resource protection.

Now an inquiry after the wellbeing of another will illicit the response of, "K."

Mind you, those who reduce communication to single letters in the name of efficiency are still keen to buy water in plastic bottles.

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L
Tuesday 16 November, 2021

While I understand that some pop stars and celebrities favour single word names, I don't see how a single letter does anything other than just make it quicker to write their label.

The likes of Madonna, Louise, Cher, Eminem and Adele are but the tip of a very large iceberg of celebrity naming brevity.

While Sting denotes a man known for both music and acting, Oprah champions the non-singers. It is fairly easy to find celebrities who are in either or both camps. However, I found supermodels seemed a little less attuned towards the single word naming convention.

Then a supermodel turned up who doesn't just fit that scheme: she blows it out of the water by just using a single letter!

Yes, the Australian supermodel, L Macpherson.

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M
Friday 19 November, 2021

Em, the shortening and friendly version of, Emma.

Or, to the lexicographers out there, the description of a type of dash used as punctuation. The em-dash as opposed to the en-dash.

The difference?

The length of the em-dash is that of the width of the letter ‘m’ while the en-dash length is the width of the letter ‘n’ and therefore shorter.

That's good to know at parties, especially if trying to chat up someone called Emma and you want to know her as Em. Or you are called Emma and despise being called Em at parties by people you don't know...

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N
Wednesday 24 November, 2021

N is the fourteenth letter of the alphabet. That means there are eleven letters between it and the letter Z.

I've never fully understood the sandwich boards carried by crazy old men because they never state which letter is being referenced. If they are starting at M then I get it. Likewise with O.

But not A or Z.

Of course, it all hinges upon an accepted letter order. I can't say I've ever read a rule that states that the alphabet has to be in the order it is generally spoken. Indeed, I've heard it recited in reverse to the accepted sequence.

However, if I accept the order as commonly used, then I have to question whether I have missed a reference to any particular letter. After all, when it is claimed the N is nigh, then I have to ask, “To which letter?”

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O
Monday 29 November, 2021

Back around 1981 I wrote a song called, Oh-oh!

If you don't remember it, or weren't born, then don’t worry. It never charted. Actually, it was never recorded. I still have the lyrics somewhere. It would be the work of a few minutes to reproduce them up here on my Blog.

Once I have dug them out.

Back soon.

Just a moment.

A search isn't proving fruitful. I know they are in a notebook. Faded blue cover. It was an old copybook from school which never saw more than a couple of page's use. So I repurposed it.

I can see the cover in my mind’s eye. The process of finding it has slowed as I wonder who first used that term, mind’s eye.

Thinking, thinking.

Finally! I recall that it was Shakespeare who popularised it by having Hamlet say the words to Horatio.

The trivia hasn't helped me find the notebook.

It has, however, caused my mind to wander and I then find myself thinking of another song; one that has the lines,
I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in,
And stops my mind from wandering,
Where it will go.

What was that song? Who performed it? The notebook can wait while I rack my brain for an answer. Then it comes to me: Fixing a Hole by The Beatles.

The biggest clue was in the remembered lyric. I should have realised sooner. The time wasted hasn't made it any easier to find the object of my search, and I still haven't found what I'm looking for amongst the pile of junk so far assembled.

Wasn't that a song? I suspect it was the group, U2 and I trawl through my music collection and come across, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For on the album, The Joshua Tree from 1987.

I now have a mixture of records, CDs and assorted notebooks and scraps of paper scattered across my desk. No one should have to be faced with trying to look through so much stuff just to find a tatty notebook with dubious content. It just isn't worth it.

Then it comes to me. I threw it out sometime in the early 2000s when it became obvious that it was increasingly difficult to find anything useful amongst the piles of obscure items which were threatening to swamp my life.

Oh.

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P
Friday 3 December, 2021

Those of a certain age will recall the television quiz show, Blockbusters, when it was hosted by Bob Holness.

It was targeted at 16 to 18 year-olds (the general age range of the contestants), but which appealed to a wider spread of ages.

Regardless, it was a young audience. That might explain the never ending popularity of the running joke which accompanied the show when a particular letter was selected.

“Can I have a P, Bob?”

I never understood it. What is so funny about wanting a vegetable?

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Q
Monday 6 December, 2021

It was quite some time back, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Or last week. Sometime.

I was living in Poland. The place was extremely Catholic at the time, so it was quite noticeable when I spotted two classic, buzz-cut, blond-haired, suited Mormon missionaries setting up a small stall in the square in the centre of what was then my home city.

Instead of seeking food before I set off towards my next student that day, I wandered over to chat with them.

It turned out that the taller of the two had been in Poland for quite some time whereas the stockier chap only arrived less than a couple of months earlier. The three of us chatted.

Then a Polish woman came over and the ‘newbie’ talked religion with her as she had picked up some of the printed literature and was reading it. The conversation was in Polish.

When she left I commented upon his grasp of the language, with it being good enough to talk theology with another. Mine was only good enough to buy food so as not to be found dead of starvation in the gutter.

Apparently he had started to learn Polish when he knew for certain that he was to be posted to Poland. That was about three months ago. I had been living in Poland for a good while by then.

Regardless of what one's religious leanings are, that is dedication.

However, although the square was bustling with throngs of people moving through the area, their stall remained quiet.

“You've not exactly attracted a queue to your stall,” I said to the shorter man who had earlier been discussing the Bible with the woman.

“A what?” he asked, obviously confused.

“I think he means a line,” the taller of the two drawled, with the aim of educating his colleague.

Communication is a funny old thing.

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R
Thursday 9 December, 2021

I dedicate this blog entry to pirates everywhere.

Across the world, people who choose to wear eye patches; perch parrots on their shoulders; have a leg cut off to make way for a wooden substitute; and mount a hook where they once wielded a hand, are ridiculed and turned into figures of fun.

It is not acceptable. If ‘body shaming’ and ‘fat shaming’ are considered wrongdoings, then surely ‘pirate shaming’ cannot escape criticism.

To that end I propose that the UN investigates the issue and promotes a determination to remove all forms of such discriminatory practise. That way, a sizeable minority will find they can lead the lives they wish; lives that reflect their way of life; lives which are based on their beliefs and cherished desires.

It will ultimately lead to a world in which no one will ever find themselves oppressed.

No one!

R, no one!

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S
Sunday 12 December, 2021

Looking for inspiration, I turned to Wikipedia to see what it had to say about the letter ‘S’ and I was surprised to see that one of the finest sources of information on the internet had deigned to allot some 1,446 words to it.

But not a single mention of S Club 7.

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T
Saturday 18 December, 2021

“More tea, Vicar?”

Not too controversial. However, it could be.

Imagine the ‘vicar’ is no such thing. Why? Who are they? Or the tea is laced with something; such as poison or a date rape drug. Now, that would be disturbing.

How controversial can it get?

It might be worth remembering the next time a ‘vicar’ turns up at your home. Any hospitality offered could wind up being misconstrued. Your social standing might head south.

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U
Tuesday 21 December, 2021

In 1991 my aim was to cycle to Turkey with minimal planning. I took maps but was sure my nose was good enough to give me direction.

Travelling alone, I was able to decide to visit Poland by train from Berlin.

A super-flexible, cavalier approach to planning - and my poor language skills - led to me being in Berlin at Schöneberg instead of Schöneweide, with only an hour to make the journey across Berlin before my train departed.

The difference in the two place names didn’t register while grabbing a bite to eat instead of making my way to the train station in good time. To me, a ‘Schöne’ was a ‘Schöne.’

I arrived at the small Schöneberg S-Bahn station and was unable to find the main terminal from where to catch the Poland train. I asked a few Germans who all thought I was mad: who in their right mind would think that trains left here to go anywhere outside Berlin?

A German, understanding I was in trouble pointed out my error. He realised I was in danger of not making Schöneweide in time. He tried to give me directions; suggesting an appropriate route to Schöneweide. Unfortunately there was a lack of communication between us due to my inability to understand his German.

I hadn’t managed to secure his name, yet my new German friend was going to lead me across Berlin from Schöneberg to Schöneweide!

I had no money on me other than Sterling which had been handed in along with my travel documents after I had left my belongings on a train upon arrival at Berlin Hauptbahnhof the night before. My faith in help for travellers was high.

Having walked everywhere within Berlin, I didn’t understand the train ticket systems. I need not have worried as my German friend did all the purchasing with his own money, taking four different trains on our rush across Berlin.

On the final train leg to Schöneweide I tried to make my benefactor take Sterling for the tickets he had paid for. I assumed the looks received from other passengers were down to the nature of the spoken German passing between the two of us.

The reason I was unable to understand the German he spoke finally dawned on me: he was inebriated! Schöneweide was only a couple of stops away and my guide got off.

I see from the Berlin S-Bahn/U-Bahn map in front of me as I write this, the journey is simply two overland S-Bahn trains, with a single change at Friedrichstrasse.

I had many lucky days on my travels. That was one that nearly turned my hair grey.

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V
Sunday 26 December, 2021

Engineering, television, film and counting.

V-blocks are always handy – providing that extra pair of hands when that thing just won’t remain still and stable while a file or other tool is brought to bear upon it.

The television series, V, has long mystified me. Was the later series a remake or a sequel? Was there a made-for-television film hidden in there, somewhere?

I enjoyed the 2005 film, V for Vendetta, but I wonder if it were meant to be prophetic and show where we are headed these days.

The Romans counted in base 10 as per the modern way. What they didn’t do was use Arabic notation. Hence the seemingly deliberate attempts by film makers and lawyers to obfuscate numbers by employing a number notation which was being supplanted by the eleventh century.

Now, if I were a lawyer, I would have meant, Five-blocks, the TV series, Five, the film, Five for Vendetta and, er, the number five.

But I’m not, I didn’t, and I have zero intention of doing so.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that the Roman Numeral system doesn’t have any way to denote zero...

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