An Embuggerance

12 03 2015

An Embuggerance indeed.

BBC News – Obituary: Sir Terry Pratchett.

Rest in Peace, you wonderful, creative man.

As quoted by Aunty Beeb:

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday in 2009 he was sanguine about his prospects.

“I intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod, the latter because Thomas’s music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven.

Oh, and since this is England, I had better add, ‘If wet, in the library.’ “

Witticisms from his books would keep us here all night, so let’s just end with:

“Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you”; Terry Pratchett – Small Gods

The perfect excuse

6 02 2015

According to the august aunty Beeb, too much running is bad for one. That’s good… my ankle was starting to hurt, and I needed a few days off the circuit, as it were.

The Vancouver Sun Run draws ever closer and my bloody FitBit sneers from my wrist if I dare to even consider watching a drama on TV.

My daily regimen consists of a sprightly walk at lunchtime – weather no matter (this is Vancouver – you’d be a bit limited if you were fussy about the rain). In the evenings I’d been alternating between the gym and a run, followed by walking the dog.

Once my ankle started to flare up (in sympathy with the hamstring and calf cramps that had preceded), I decided that perhaps this “mind over matter” thing had its limits. It wasn’t so much the low level pain. It was the blunt fact that I’m not getting any younger and am well and truly out of warranty now. I don’t think you can get the spare parts any more.

The last few days have seen me and devil-dog having über-long walks in the evening instead, rather than my run. This is much more gentle on my ankle, but I can still keep a decent pace, and it even seems to loosen up my ankle a bit. The added benefit is the hound drops straight asleep as soon as we return.

Anyway – all that just to say that the BBC concurs… too much exercise can be seriously bad for you. As bad as doing none at all! It can cause your body to reconfigure itself (and not just in the abs of steel way). Your very heart muscle can change in response to the extreme strain it’s being asked to work under, and that, dear reader, can be a very very bad thing indeed. So – as in many things, moderation is the key. Of course, sex and chocolate are exempt under royal decree, but it goes for pretty much everything else.

BBC News – Training very hard ‘as bad as no exercise at all’.

BBC: Ice-cream vans never used to be so hard to catch

OK – wait over

31 03 2013

Well done – your wait is over.

Here’s some snaps of the chocolate nests made from Shredded Wheat and melted chocolate, as per Aunty Beeb.

IMG_0236 IMG_0237 IMG_0238


Are you patient?

31 03 2013

Every year, my kids go all sentimental about the UK and dig up an old Easter favourite “edible craft” from the BBC.

Here’s the link and the attendant photo.

Shredded Wheat Nests.

Source: BBC GoodFood – Shredded Wheat Nests

If you’re patient, I’ll post a couple of photos of their version when they come out of the fridge…


Red Nose Day!

15 03 2013

Happy Red Nose Day to all my UK readers!

For those unfamiliar – this is a comedy-centric national children’s charity fundraiser in the UK (and I think Australia) done every 2 years. Formally, it’s called “Comic Relief”. Started not long after Live Aid‘s music-oriented success. I believe it was launched by the great Lenny Henry with support from his friends Rowan Atkinson, Jennifer Saunders (and his wife Dawn French of course). Been going a while now…

Every 2 years they have a new red nose design and silly T-shirts. I have one from last time with the classic Morecambe and Wise… with red noses. After the first couple of outings they branched out and started doing larger stick-on noses for cars and even buildings. The money is focused on kids – both in Africa and locally. The point though is that it’s fun! You see people doing sponsored walks with invisible dogs, pushing peas with their noses – all manner of things to raise money for children’s causes. The dafter the better.

Learn more here.

Red Nose Day 2013

Red Nose Day 2013

I was reminded it was time (along with my biennial Outlook reminder) by this photo on Blipfoto: A view from her shoes on Blipfoto :: Red Nose Day! :: 15 March 2013.

Cute kids, and just look how proudly he sports his Scout promise – I’m guessing he’s Beaver Scout aged. Their mum must indeed be proud.

Why did men stop wearing high heels?

25 01 2013

Gender questions can be quite vexing.

We tend to make vast assumptions based on our own current experience and be uneducated on historical aspects.

For example, in the 1600’s the height of masculinity was to be indicated by the wearing… of high heels!

Today? Not so much…

The BBC has an interesting piece on the matter: BBC News – Why did men stop wearing high heels?.

The Why Factor is broadcast on BBC World Service on Fridays at 18:30 GMT. Listen to the heels episode via iPlayer or The Why Factor download.

BBC News – Mushroom soup claims fourth victim in California

27 11 2012

Oh dear…

BBC News – Mushroom soup claims fourth victim in California.

The Amanita family, according to Wikipedia “is responsible for approximately 95% of the fatalities resulting from mushroom poisoning, with the death cap accounting for about 50% on its own.”

At a lecture I attended at the Vancouver Mycological Society, I learned that an Asian edible mushroom  – The Straw Mushroom – was very similar in appearance to the young “Death Cap” and that recent immigrants to Vancouver quite regularly ate the latter by accident, resulting in poisoning. Perhaps this was the case in the BBC story… a little further South.

Wikipedia: Young Death Cap

Wikipedia: Safe-to-eat Straw Mushrooms


“We’re still so British about sex and condoms…”

2 11 2012

An interesting article about how the UK is still stuck in the Victorian age when it comes to sex and sexual health. (No surprise to anyone who knows a Brit, I’m sure…)

Incidentally, I have eaten at Cabbages & Condoms in Bangkok (such an interesting place name, don’t you think?) They do indeed have condoms instead of after-dinner mints.

“Funny tasting chewing-gum”

“Ah – but what bubbles!”

BBC News – Condoms: Why are we still embarrassed about using them?.

What a load of rubbish! – I feel violated.

7 10 2012

So a few days ago, I learned (via the ever reliable BBC) of a blog chronicling the migration of British English into the day to day American English usage. I recommend it if you have even a passing interest in language and its changing usage. Innit (Which alarmingly didn’t trigger a spell-check error with WordPress!). Not One-Off Britishisms is its locale.

So anyway, I liked what I saw, and signed up as a groupie, er – I mean “follower”. The reward for which is the occasional notice of there being a new posting. The other day, I was rewarded for my herd behaviour with a notice of a posting called “Rubbish” moves south. This tells of a semi-official notice from the City of Philadelphia informing its citizens of a change in their refuse collection schedule.

“Rubbish” it seems is becoming used as an alternative to the more usual Americanism “garbage”. This is made fun of in my circles by saying it Frenchified as “ga-Barj”. In the same way we ridicule the popular US chain store Target, by calling it “Tar-jey”. How did I get here? Ah yes… refuse collection!

So, I live in Surrey, BC. The city started a wide-spread advertising campaign months ago to pre-warn its tax-payers that they would be rationalising and simplifying household refuse collection. This was done under the auspices of reducing the amount of rubbish entering the landfills by being smarter about recyclables – organics as well as the more usual glass/paper/metals/plastics. No problem there – all for it, in fact.

Then, the new bins started to arrive. In order to simplify (there’s that word again – take note… it’s important) the collection, every household was issued with three bins, colour-coded for (you guessed it) simplicity to differentiate waste, organics and recyclables. These bins are pretty large (240L) and in the UK would have been referred to as “wheelie bins”.

They’re massively over-engineered so that the special (and therefore presumably EXPENSIVE) dustbin lorries can automatically pick up the bins and tip them into their innards. Having witnessed the collection of similar bins during our holiday in Victoria my observation was that this automation came at the expense of much manual set-up on the part of the dustbin men. Instead of just picking up a dustbin and lobbing its contents in the back of the lorry, they now had to load up the special bins onto the proper hooks at the side of the lorry, wait while they were hydraulically lifted (slooooowly), tipped, shaken and returned to the ground for wheeling back into position.

There were lots of apparently friendly statements saying not to bother writing your address on the bins as they were all uniquely embossed with a number so they can be identified with the correct address. We occasionally have gusty winds, and it’s always an amusing game trying to retrieve your bin lid out of a neighbour’s tree. These city-provided bins have flip-tops and presumably are immune to that particular problem. Not least because they weigh about the same as a minor continent even when empty. It remains to be seen if the raccoons can figure out the new challenge.

Anyway, the 1st of October arrived – “first day with the new bins”. We dutifully wheeled out our bins, and equally dutifully measured out the requisite 1m spacing between them (well – not really, I’m not that anal!), facing the specified direction (they’re embossed with arrows for the hard-of-thinking) and not under any offending trees, all as per the simple instructions (All 4 pages of them. This is a rubbish bin we’re talking about!).

I went to work, safe in the knowledge that despite the city now requiring me to hang on to my rubbish for two weeks instead of one, it was all so much more simple, it would be worth it. Doing my bit. Community spirited citizen. Yeah – all that bollocks.

And then I came home. Initially I had my usual irritation at my teenage offspring having not bothered to retrieve the bins from the side of the road. There used to be one rubbish bin (plus or minus the lid depending on the Beaufort Scale) plus a couple of blue recycling bins – upturned to indicate they were empty and not available for filling up with rainwater today, thank-you very much. I know it all sounds incredibly complex, but it seemed to work pretty well.

Now there were three minor industrial installations to be moved, but same difference – teenagers could walk past a writhing hydra without noticing it. So, having deposited the car in the garage (pronounced ga-ridge, me being from Yorkshire), I went back to the street to retrieve our lovely new bins after the loss of their virginity. Ask how it went. Tell them the next time would be less awkward.  Maybe suggest that perhaps that dustbin lorry wasn’t the right one for them. That kind of thing.

And then I stopped dead.

I’d been “written up”!

It turns out that this simple collection actually involves only putting 2 of the 3 bins out each week. To put out the wrong bin results in the binman having to go to the trouble of writing up a citation and sticking it on your bin. A badge of honour, I reckon. I wonder how many I can collect before the bin gets so ridiculously heavy that they stop adding them.

A violation?! Are you kidding me? For putting out the wrong bin? Notice numbers 3 and 4 on the list! They can refuse to collect your rubbish because you didn’t space it out correctly… or someone (presumably from out of Surrey, or is that Airstrip One?) inadvertently parks within 2m of your bins, no matter how carefully you yourself space them. I have a good mind to park next to the mayor’s bins on collection day. See how universally the rule is really applied.

So – you can imagine this put me in a bit of a strop for the rest of the week. I hate bureaucracy, and particularly when it has been justified in the name of simplicity.

As I came home on Friday, I noticed one of those large electronic notice boards they use to warn of impending roadworks. This one was informing residents that bin collection would be on Monday as usual (it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada), and specifically which 2 bins to put out. Needless to say – I forget which they were. Since then I’ve noticed two more such electronic noticeboards on major ingress routes to White Rock/South Surrey. (I still can’t remember which 2 bins are the ones to put out).

It’s nice to know that it’s so simple the city has to pay for such “in-yer-face” (yet apparently ineffective) reminders to its taxpayers.

Maybe they just ran out of violation stickers last week…

Honey, do I make you blue?

6 10 2012

So it seems that theez leetel French bees have been scarfing back blue M&Ms. From a biogas plant in Alsace. (Is it just me, or does that read all funny? Your name’s not Al, is it?)

More on it here: BBC News – French beekeepers in Ribeauville abuzz over blue honey.

BBC News - French beekeepers in Ribeauville abuzz over blue honey