Blogathon 16/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

The male condition plus ageing brings strange things to our bodies.

Middle-aged spread.

A paunch.

A full-on beer belly.

If we’re lucky, none of these.

If we’re unlucky, all three.

But also the gift of something else.


A receding hairline.

A balding spot.

Complete balding.

If we’re unlucky, all three.

But also more hair.

It sprouts.




So we try, some of us anyway, to keep the hairy burden in check.

We trim, we pluck, we shave.

We attempt to keep the hairy menace at bay, but it always returns.

Today I took another regular step in my ongoing forwards/backwards battle against my fiendish follicles, as they seek their free-range freedom.

Today I visited the barber. Again.

Since March I have been going to a barber in the centre of Nottingham.

It’s more expensive than the people I’ve been using in West Bridgford, but unlike the people in West Bridgford the expensive barber in Nottingham knows how to trim, how to shape, and how to get the very best from facial hair.

The ‘new’ barber, though, does more than haircuts and beard-trims.

They also serve…

The Barber of Stellaville

The Barber of Stellaville

Blogathon 15/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Regular readers (Hello Mum!) might remember that Plusnet and I have been together for about 12 years, through six house-moves, and also branching out into a business I started up a few years ago.

And regular readers, again, might remember that I began to get unhappy with Plusnet’s service recently.

I mean, charging me for superfast broadband, whilst actually delivering mediocre broadband?

That’s just taking the pee.

Especially as I was paying through the nose for phone and broadband, because I was out of contract.

But who, in their tiny mind, is going to sign up for a year  (or 18 months or two years) of superfast broadband with a company that is only going to deliver mediocre broadband?

And pay superfast broadband fees?

Well, not me. Obv.

So I got on the dog and phone and asked Vodafone what they could do?

And they said ‘about 70 down and 15 up, and as you are a superloyal customer* we’ll do it for a supercheap price’.

*superloyal because my business mobile services have been with Vodafone for about ten years.

Well I said ‘yes’, obv.

On Saturday the new router was delivered.

Switchover day was Monday.

At 6am Monday I disconnected the old Openreach modem and the router.

And plugged in the Vodafone router to the mains and phone line and it worked straight away.

At that time bandwidth was about 45 down and 10 up, but all the advice from Vodafone was that I should give it a few days for things to settle down.

A week after the switchover, I’ve just run another speed test:

Vodafone broadband speedtest

Vodafone broadband speedtest

Yep, that’s good enough.

And for half the price I was paying Plusnet.

Blogathon 14/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Now you know that I like a drink, right?

No, not that sort of a drink.

Well I do like that sort of a drink.

But sparingly.

I can’t remember the last time I had one of those drinks.

Oh yes. About three weeks ago.

I had a pint of cider shandy.

Because, you know, I’d really have a skinfull of booze and get on a superbike and ride it down Nottingham’s A52 ring road.


And before that the last of that type of drink I had was…




No, I can’t remember when.

Anyway, this isn’t about that kind of drink.

And actually I’m not sure what it is about, but here we go.

Last night, after battling my way back from dahn sarf, just off of that London, we went out.

For pizza.

On the way back, we were driving through West Bridgford, when we saw a young lad, standing at the side of the road.

He was about 14yo, holding up a banner sign.

It said (something like):

Home-Made Elderflower Cordial, £5/bottle

So we stopped and bought a bottle.

Why? Why would we?

Just because we wanted to give an enterprising young lad a bit of support.

I’m the only person in the house who would drink that kind of stuff, so I took it to work this morning, and cracked the bottle open after lunch.

And you know how it tastes?

It tastes exactly like Elderflower Cordial.

So now I have lots of stuff to drink at work, because I took a new bottle of squash concentrate in this morning as well.

And a new container of instant hot chocolate.

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

Blogathon 13/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…


I went to Weybridge today.

Weybridge, for those who don’t know, is dahn sarf.

It’s sort of on the outskirts of that London.

A bit.

The route was supposed to be A46, M1, M25, and another instantly forgettable, pot-hole riven, lumpy, bumpy, shockingly badly maintained A-road.

But my CrapNav diverted me, because of a heavy load of traffic on the M1.

Surprising, eh?

So my route was actually A46, M1, A43, M40, M25, and then another instantly forgettable, pot-hole riven, lumpy, bumpy, shockingly badly maintained A-road.

The A46, M1, A43, M40 bits were fine and dandy, and I was able to ‘make progress’ (as DVSA tell us we should) in fine style.

The issue was the totally foreseeable problem-pit that is the M25.

I sat in my comfortable car on the M25, admiring the crumbling concrete and deteriorating tarmac infrastructure whilst trying to avoid eye-contact with everyone around me.

Avoiding eye-contact would have been so much easier if we had been attaining the DVSA mantra, and ‘making progress’.

Unfortunately we were not.

Indeed, for 45 minutes I made no progress at all.


Not nun. That’s different.


The people dahn sarf were very friendly.

The receptionist told me where to park in the massively huge car park (nb, not the M25) where I would avoid getting a parking ticket.

Yes I know.

Some bays in that car park reward cars that park in them with a hefty fine.

Well that’s fine.

That’s fine!


*wipes eyes*


During a break in proceedings, about halfway through the second meeting of the day, the meeting delegates went for a walk around the massively huge car park.

It was a nice day, so why not?

As we walked around the perimeter of the massively huge car park I noticed a thing.

Several things.

Staff were sitting in deckchairs outside their building.

Sitting in identical deckchairs outside their building.

Yes, I discovered when I checked with reception later, yes, the company supplies deckchairs for staff to sit on, so they don’t accidentally pick up any leaves on their clothes, or ruin their immaculate hair products, or accidentally taint themselves by coming in to close contact with a worm or a beetle (not John, Paul, George, or Ringo. The other sort).

My first thought, obviously (because I am that kind of a guy) was along the lines of ‘Awww, how sweet that the company does this!’

My second thought, obviously (because I am that kind of a guy also) was along the lines of ‘You soft, southern, shandy-drinking bunch of losers. Fancy isolating yourselves from Planet Earth in such a way. You should get some worm droppings on your jumpers, just like we northerners do’.

And then I went inside for a continuation of the day of meeting fun.

But seriously.

Company deckchairs?

Whatever next?

Company deckchairs

Company deckchairs

Blogathon 12/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

At about 5.45am tomorrow I will be setting out for Weybridge, the Paris of the South (as nobody every said).

My first meeting is at 9am. My second starts at 12.00.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is excellent, so I’m looking forward to making the trip.

M1, M25, A317.

It’ll be a lovely trip cutting through the sheets of traffic on the ZX10R.

But no.

I have been talked out of making the 300-mile round-trip on the Ninja.

I am, honestly, disappointed I was talked out of it and glad I was talked out of it, in about equal measures.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against long rides.

When I used to hang around with OMG we’d think nothing of legging it to Wales for a cup of tea, zoom around a mountain-top or several, and then leg it back home.

Or zip down to the sarf coast for a cup of tea and to look at the Southsea view and then zip back home again.

And SWMBO and I are planning a round-Scotland motorbikeathon next year on our respective machines.

It’s just the ‘after cutting my way through the intensely mental and overbearingly heavy southern traffic on the world’s best high-speed filtering machine, would my cuttingly incisive brain still be capable of calculating the square root of 410 to seven decimal places?’

20.2484567 if you care, being expressed as:

√ 410  = 20.2484567
Thus:    20.2484567  x  20.2484567 = 410

Probably not.

And indeed probably knot.

So instead I am going to make the trip in a newfangled machine called a ‘car’.

Apparently they’re all the rage.

It’s even got an infernal internal combustion engine, but it doesn’t deliver anywhere like the 220bhp my (recently) uprated Ninja produces.

Which is a shame, obv.

Also a shame is the complete lack of filterability.

The thing just doesn’t filter.

I’m so used to folding in my mirrors, dropping down to midrange second gear and slicing my way through traffic.

But tomorrow I shan’t be doing that.

I shall be sitting in a chair, listening to the wonderful Shaun Keaveney on BBC6Music.

Surrounded by thousands of other motorists, whilst encased in this:

Temporary transport

Temporary transport

Blogathon 11/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

The subject of today’s photograph of an everyday object is commonly called a sack of crap.

No, this isn’t a continuation of yesterday’s horse manure airing.

Not that you’d want horse manure to be aired, as such.

But still.

We had new broadband today.

But this isn’t about that, not directly.

This is about a different sack of crap.

I would like to introduce you to our colour printer/scanner.

It’s an Epson XP 245.

Epson, the well-known manufacturer of printers, and XP 245 meaning eXtremely Pisspoor printer number 245.

Like all printers, the Epson XP 245 is supposed to just sync to the WiFi router and then sit quietly, waiting silently for orders, in exactly the same way Douglas Adams’ talking toaster doesn’t, in the HHGTTG.

The Epson XP 245 doesn’t do that because it falls at the first hurdle.

It. Won’t. Sync. To. The. New. Router.

It refuses to.

It just sits there, WiFi indicator flashing from amber to green in a mocking gesture of ‘I’m doing something but I’m just not doing what I’m supposed to.’

I’m sure My Lord Blackadder would have had something witty to say about it, some acid-burning critique on its degree of usefulness when compared to a drinking straw in the possession of an astronaut marooned on your anus Uranus.

In face, if this little device was as useful as a drinking straw in the possession of an astronaut marooned on your anus Uranus, it would at least have some semblance of tiny speck of order in a universe of chaotic string theory.

As it is, it doesn’t even meet that lofty height.

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you the utter sack of crap that is the Epsoon XP 245.

Feel free to gloat at its semi-sentientic recalcitrant, almost self-aware puddle of belligerence:

Oh look mother, it's a sack of crap

Oh look mother, it’s a sack of crap

Blogathon 10/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Stable management (not as in keeping everything shipshape and Bristol fashion) is a widely-encompassing term for, amongst other jobs, shovelling horse manure.

Now that Prem is sound in leg and back, and he’s turned out all day, he only has to be mucked out once a day.

Such a relief!

As with any other job, mucking out a stable of horse wee and manure needs the right tool.


Here they are.

A pitchfork for shifting hay bedding around.

A stiff broom for sweeping up.

A giant pooper scooper for scooping giant poops.

And a wheelbarrow.

The contents of that wheelbarrow are this morning’s mucking-out waste.

Stable management tools

Stable management tools

Blogathon 09/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Electronic data, in all of its forms?

A good thing? A bad thing? A bit of both?

I ‘own’ 1.75Tb of electronic data.

Audio files (music tracks/albums and various recorded interviews) comprise about 35% of that.

30% are videos, and either completed, or partially completed video projects.

The remaining 35% are a combination of documents and spreadsheets, backups of content of various websites and databases, plus a code repository for various software application I’ve written.

For ease of access I’ve mapped a network drive across the LAN to the NAS IP address.

I use the NAS, locally, every  day.

My entire music library (including iTunes podcasts) are all saved in a subdirectory in z:\

So are all of my writing projects; past, present, and future.

So my NAS is a pretty important place.

Which is why I’m currently backing it up, to a 3Tb EDD.

I got a text from my NAS this morning.

It told me:

Wassup Dude! One or more volumes/Disk Groups/iSCSI LUNs/SSD caches are degraded. We suggest you replace the failing hard disks with healthy ones for repair.

I thanked the deity of RAID, which creates a volume and spreads that volume across multiple hard disks so that if one disk fails, the other disks in that volume carry on working, with no data loss.

I bought the Synology Disk Station DS-211 NAS server (and therefore the storage disks inside it) in August 2011.

That doesn’t sound that long ago.

But it’s been on 24/7 ever since then, and has also been through four house moves over those seven years.

And it’s saved my backside more than once, through being my total backup repository.

Not to mention being my entire digital library.

But with one disk failed, it is time to consider a new NAS.

So I’m about to place an order for a Synology DS418, and four 3Tb drives.

For the RAIDing.

And once I have installed it, it will be time to say goodbye to this little chap:

Synology DS211

Synology DS211

Blogathon 08/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who in this land is fairest of all?

(as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originally wrote, but Hollywood mucked about with it)

On Amazon we are watching ‘Grimm’.

It’s a US/Canadian series about a descendant of the Brothers Grimm who can see actual monsters which are disguised as people.

Preposterous notion, obv.

I mean, if you want to see monsters you just need to watch the Parliament Channel and they are there for us all to see.

This is a screenshot of Grimm.

It’s a bit ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ for people who have lost the ability to think for themselves.

Yes, I suppose I am being a bit snobish.

But so what?

Buffy is excellent.


The television.

Or the Haunted Fishtank as it used to be called.,

There’s just nothing on.


Haunted fishtank

Haunted fishtank

Blogathon 07/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

There is a device that has been the cause of disagreements, rows, arguments, and outright warfare (probably).

There is (probably) at least one of these devices in every household in the UK.

And yet they are not outlawed by international law.

They should be.

But this isn’t one of those troublesome ones.

This one is very helpful.

It makes the garage door go up.

It makes the garage door go down.