Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Look Ahead

In the previous blog I failed to mention the certain sense of irony I felt, standing in the lobby with the receptionist trying to find out what was happening. As with many hotels they were open for conferences and meetings. And they were hosting a meeting this evening. The signs were all out when I arrived. And the irony, considering the hotels poor foresight, it was a meeting of physic clairvoyants.

A Biblical Problem

Some rapid changes to plan today saw me needing a hotel in Norwich for the evening. So at lunch time we made some calls and booked in to one on the outskirts which seemed ideal.

Now, I don't know if you know Norfolk. But it takes rather longer to get places than you might imagine. The A11 is seemingly endless. So I set off in plenty of time (many of my formative years were spent on the Norfolk Broads, I know what to expect). Sure enough there were problems on the road but I got to the hotel in just over two and a half hours. Not the best looking hotel, but a hotel none-the-less. Went in. Gave my name. Signed the necessary. Wandered up to my room. Put the key card in and the door opened. Only for me to be faced by a pile of clothes on the floor, the tely on, and a shower that had obviously just been used. Thankfully I couldn't see the occupant. But I definitely had not asked to share a room.

Back down I went. Explained the situation. The receptionist looked at me as though she didn't believe me. But I convinced her that a pile of clothes on the floor wasn't what I hoped for. She looked on the system. Then looked again. Then went to a little cupboard and looked through loads of paperwork. Said "oh". Looked at me. Looked away. Asked me to wait. Went away. Came back. Went away again. Came back with someone else. They opened with "we know what's happened, we double booked". Now I admit I am not always the sharpest card in the box but, to be honest, I had already worked that one out. It was then that they admitted that there was no room at the inn.

I am now in a different hotel!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Too Cool For School

101 Writing Tips

1 Every sentence should make sense in isolation. Like that one.

2 Excessive hyperbole is literally the kiss of death.

3 ASBMAETP: Acronyms Should Be Memorable And Easy To Pronounce, and SATAN: Select Acronyms That Are Non-offensive.

4 Finish your point on an up-beat note, unless you can’t think of one.

5 Don’t patronise the reader-he or she might well be intelligent enough to spot it.

6 A writer needs three qualities: creativity, originality, clarity and a good short term memory.

7 Choose your words carefully and incitefully.

8 Avoid unnecessary examples; e.g. this one.

9 Don’t use commas, to separate text unnecessarily.

10 It can be shown that you shouldn’t miss out too many details.

11 Similes are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

12 Avoid ugly abr’v'ns.

13 Spellcheckers are not perfect; they can kiss my errs.

14 Somebody once said that all quotes should be accurately attributed.

15 Americanisms suck.

16 Capitalising for emphasis is UGLY and DISTRACTING.

17 Underlining is also a big no-no.

18 Mixed metaphors can kill two birds without a paddle.

19 Before using a cliché, run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes.

20 There is one cheap gimmick that should be avoided at all costs…………..suspense.

21 State your opinions forcefully-this is perhaps the key to successful writing.

22 Never reveal your sources (Alistair Watson, 1993).

23 Pile on lots of subtlety.

24 Sure signs of lazy writing are incomplete lists, etc.

25 Introduce meaningless jargon on a strict need-to-know basis.

26 The word “gullible” possesses magic powers and hence it should be used with care.

27 The importance of comprehensive cross-referencing will be covered elsewhere.

28 Resist the temptation to roll up the trouser-legs of convention, cast off the shoes and socks of good taste, and dip your toes refreshingly into the cool, flowing waters of fanciful analogy.

29 Don’t mess with Mr. Anthropomorphism.

30 Understatement is a mindblowingly effective weapon.

31 Injecting enthusiasm probably won’t do any harm.

32 It is nice to be important, but it is more important to avoid using the word `nice.’

33 Appropriate metaphors are worth their weight in gold.

34 Take care with pluri.

35 If you can’t think of the exact word that you need, look it up in one of those dictionary-type things.

36 Colons: try to do without them.

37 Nouns should never be verbed.

38 Do you really think people are impressed by rhetorical questions?

39 Pick a font, and stick with it.

40 Sufficient clarity is necessary, but not necessarily sufficient.

41 Less is more. This means that a short, cryptic statement is often preferable to an accurate, but drawn out, explanation that lacks punch and loses the reader.

42 Sarcasm-yes, I bet that will go down really well.

43 The problem of ambiguity cannot be underestimated.

44 Never appear cynical, unless you’re sure you can get away with it.

45 Many writer’s punctuate incorrectly.

46 Colloquialisms are for barmpots.

47 There is a lot to be said for brevity.

48 To qualify is to weaken, in most cases.

49 Many readers assume that a word will not assume two meanings in the same sentence.

50 Be spontaneous at regular intervals.

51 The era of the euphemism is sadly no longer with us.

52 Want to be funny? Just add some exclamation marks!!!

53 Want to appear whimsical? Simply append a smiley :-)

54 Some writers introduce a large number, N, of unnecessary symbols.

55 Restrict your hyphen-usage.

56 Choosing the correct phrase is important compared to most things.

57 Some early drafts of this document had had clumsy juxtapositions.

58 Try not to leave a word dangling on its own


59 The number of arbitrary constants per page should not exceed .13.

60 Use mathematical jargon iff it is absolutely necessary.

61 And avoid math symbols unless ? a good reason.

62 Poor writing effects the impact of your work.

63 And the dictionary on your shelf was not put there just for affect.

64 If there’s a word on the tip of your tongue that you can’t quite pin down, use a cinnamon.

65 If somebody were to give me a pound for every irrelevant statement I’ve ever read, then I
would be very surprised.

66 Strangely enough, it is impossible to construct a sentence that illustrates the meaning of the word `irony.’

67 Consult a writing manual to assure that your English is correct.

68 It has been suggested that some words are absolute, not relative. This is very true.

69 Be careful when forming words into a sentence-all orderings are not correct.

70 Many words can ostensibly be deleted.

71 In your quest for clarity, stop at nothing.

72 Complete mastery of the English language comes with conscientious study, notwithstanding around in bars. Moreover the next page. Inasmuch detail as possible.

73 Sporting analogies won’t even get you to first base.

74 If you must quote, quote from one of the all-time greats (Cedric.P. Snodworthy, 1964).

75 In the absence of a dictionary, stick to words of one syllabus.

76 Steer clear of word-making-up-ism.

77 Readers will not stand for any intolerance.

78 If there’s one thing you must avoid it’s over-simplification.

79 Double entendres will get you in the end.

80 Vagueness is the root of miscommunication, in a sense.

81 Don’t bother with those “increase-your-word-power” books that cost an absorbent amount of money.

82 Self-contradiction is confusing, and yet strangely enlightening.

83 Surrealism without purpose is like fish.

84 Ignorance: good writers don’t even know the meaning of the word.

85 The spoken word can look strange when written down, I’m afraid.

86 Stimpy the Squirrel says “Don’t treat the reader like a little child.”

87 Intimidatory writing is for wimps.

88 Learn one new maths word every day, and you’ll soon find your vocabulary growing exponentially.

89 My old high school English teacher put it perfectly when she said: “Quoting is lazy. Express things in your own words.”

90 She also said: “Don’t use that trick of paraphrasing…… [other people’s words]…… inside a quote.”

91 A lack of compassion in a writer is unforgivable.

92 On a scale of 0 to 10, internal consistency is very important.

93 Thankfully, by the year 2016 rash predictions will be a thing of the past.

94 There is no place for overemphasis, whatsoever.

95 Leave out the David Hockney rhyming slang.

96 Bad writers are hopefully ashamed of themselves.

97 Eschew the highfalutin.

98 Sometimes you publish a sentence and then, on reflection, feel that you shouldn’t ought to have been and gone and written it quite that way.

99 Practice humility until you feel that you’re really good at it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Steep Approach To Garbadale - Iain Banks

I am a wee bit late blogging this. I finished reading it a week or so ago. But anyways.....

I can understand why Iain Banks is not everyones cup of tea. In some ways he meanders through a story. It takes you in circles, occasionally down cul-de-sacs, sometimes teases you with a brief glimpse of the motorway. But it is this wandering that I like. I know that the story won't really end, it kind of fades out, and you feel that the characters are off to live more life than you will know about.

Banks understands about people and about what goes on in their brain. And it is the characters that he works on. The story around them merely gives a medium to express their thoughts. Garbadale is no different in this respect. And it is highly enjoyable. You want to be with the lead character as he confronts his inner demons, even more so when you realise that what he is trying to find out could destroy him. You want him to succeed and to grow out of the boy in which he has become stuck.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Trot On

A while ago "A" had her first riding lesson. And she is still doing it. She seems to be loving riding. And, although admitting to some bias, actually I think she is doing well. Also the instrutor seems to think she is doing well. It is so much more fun than taking her to ballet. The only advantage of ballet was that I could take a book and my iPod, and disappear into my own world for a while. At the stables they seem to have realised that I am fairly comfortable around horses (I have not, and will not, admit I am a vet). This means that they ask me to lead a horse each week. Usually "A"s although I have also helped with other riders. Now some of you may be a step ahead of me here. Think about what leading might mean. Yes they do walking, which is fine. But they also do trotting. And also trotting poles. I haven't qute worked out why people at work almost fell on the floor laughing at the idea of me trotting over poles. I think they are cruel.

Hup Two Three

Two days in and still using my Wii Fit. In fact the whole family is using it because the balance games are great fun, if incredibly frustrating. You always want one more go to try and beat your score. But I reckon the real reason it will work as a weight loss incentive for most people is because it represents you with a little character. When you have designed your Wii Mii (pronounced We Me for the uninitiated) the d..n thing asks your height and adjusts your Mii appropriately. That would be OK but then it weighs you. And adjusts your body shape as well. So while you may have designed a tall, slim, athletic looking Mii, the Wii rapidly turns you into something shorter and rounder than you were really hoping for. And I suspect whenever I think about having a packet of crisps my little Mii will pop into my head and stop me.

Heartbeat - Scouting for Girls

The video is disabled for embedding on You Tube so I can't show you. Suggest you go there and take a look.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wii Fit

Oh my. Oh my giddy aunt. Well that's an interesting experience. My Wii Fit arrived today. And I have jt used it. And you know what, it may work. I have never laughed so much while still getting exercise. I have to admit I cheated on the press ups. Everything else I tried as well as I could. And I have a long way to go. I ahve set myself a target weight, now I just have to keep using it. But certainly more fun than going down the gym. And my personal trainer seems nice too!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Men At Work

Available to watch at the Farmers Weekly website but I thought I'd make it easy for you to see the kind of thing I get up to:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rear View

Bad Day

This is why I am glad we don't have open plan offices:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

An Evening With Blowers

This evening we went to watch "An Evening With Blowers". For those who don't know "Blowers" is one of the Test Match Special commentators. But before you roll your eyes, little of the evening was stories of the cricket. Most were of his life. Of meeting Ian Flemming (the Bond arch enemy with the cat was named after his father). Of meeting Noel Coward. Of getting into the being a journalist for the newspapers, followed by the BBC. It was very enjoyable. He is very amusing to listen to.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not Just Another Day

I hate not being able to blog about work. The thing is, work is so much of what I do, sad though it may be work is "me". I love doing it. I enjoy it. I lose time in it. And a day like today I see something that I have been working on for a long time. And seeing it makes me smile. Made my day. Gave me a buzz. And I can't tell you about it. So frustrating.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


A little while ago I posted saying I couldn't show the animals I had seen that day because I thought you wouldn't want to see pictures of ringworm. Luckily some days are nicer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008


Toy Guns

It is surprising enough in itself that it takes a court to decide that being sent into battle with inadequate equipment is a breach of your human rights. That Des Browne then thinks he may appeal against the decision beggers belief.

There is obviously a difference between equipment that breaks down vs inadequate equipment. Nothing can be 100% reliable and things will break, especially in hard conditions, and that is just life (or not in this case). But there seem to ahve been a number of occasions when soldiers have been sent into battle without body armour, without radios, without decent guns (when a model is proven to repeatedly fail then that moves past the normal "break down" defence).

Soldiers are going to die in battle. Sadly it is unavoidable. But they have rights, and they should expect their country to do the best for them, to at least reduce the chances of them dieing by providing them with equipment up to the task.

If the MOD really do appeal against this then I am afraid it shows a blatant disregard for human life, and an incredible distain for those willing to risk their lives for what we hold to be right.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Year End

A year ago I was installed into the chair of King Solomon. Last night it was my turn to do the installing. I really enjoyed the evening. I was rather nervous beforehand. I have had trouble learning my lines - a lot of things on my mind, difficult to concentrate, things plotting against me at the times I thought I would be able to do some learning - and I had failed to make it to a single rehearsal. So I was very worried that it would all go pear shaped. Especially as, of all the ceremonies, this was the one where the most pressure lies on the Master. It really was a case of being in charge throughout. And luckily in control as well, because it went well.

The year has gone quickly. Everyone said it would. I managed some good things (I believe). Could have done more. But generally happy. And last night was a wonderful way to end. I was presented with a Past masters collar and jewel, made even more special by the fact that they were previously my fathers and he presented them. OK, I might admit to tears in my eyes at the time. Very emotional moment.

A great, fantastic, and very enjoyable evening.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Shop Till you Drop

The Japanese have taken the humble barcode and revamped it. These are just some of the wonderful designs that they have come up with. I can see these becoming collectors pieces and shopping will take on a completely new slant. Rather than poking loaves of bread for the springiest we will be shuffling through the packets trying to find the one barcode we haven't yet got.


Oh I'm in trouble. I vaccinated the cats the other day {no, nothing went wrong, I may not be actively vetting every day but I can still amange a vaccination without doing a trude}. The problem is that "A" found out this morning. She was distraught. Not that I might have hurt them but that she didn't see it happening. She currently thinks that she wants to be a vet so missing an opportunity to learn (!) was greeted with tears. She came up to me this evening and earnestly asked me if I would wait for her next time. Whoops.

The Feeling - Love It When You Call

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Knowing how some of you rather like cuddly creatures I thought you might like this picture of an asiatic lion cub. {Oh, and in no way to make you jealous, I've treated one of these, well a lion cub but not an asiatic one}

Twisted Light

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


One of those days when a lot happened and I am itching to tell you about it, but I can't because it is work, and if I told you I'd have to shoot you.