Sunday, 15 January 2017

Unexplained Phenomena


Being in a ruminative mood, I'd like to discuss how I'm fascinated by the countless examples of unexplained phenomena encountered in everyday life.

Why, for example, is it not only expected, but absolutely guaranteed, that when we order an Indian takeaway, the following conditions (at least in my house) will always be true:
1 - at least one small part of the kitchen worktop will be stained yellow by the curry, a stain that will be resistant to every cleaning chemical in my house;
2 - I will be wearing a shirt with at least some percentage of white within its design, and;
3 - I will spill some curry down the shirt, making it effectively useless for a work context, except on occasions where the car windows are misted over and I need a rag to wipe them.

In order to examine these phenomena more closely I shall be opening my own university, the University of Minutiae Inc, where PhDs will be available for students to research such irritations of everyday life.  I am already on the lookout for a number of engaged, forward thinking, and most importantly gullible students that can deliver research in the following fields:

  • Parcel Delivery - a keen student is needed to carry out a root cause analysis to establish the reasons why parcels are only delivered when you are not in the house, why the local mail depot, which you must visit to obtain the parcel, is only open between the hours of 3.30 and 3.45 in the morning (and is located approximately forty miles away from the nearest human habitations, only reachable by private transport)
  • Internet Technologies - an easily distracted student is required to research the design of clickbait websites (i.e. "Click here for 15 amazing photos the CIA doesn't want you to see of Taylor Swift telling you how to be a millionaire with a free iPhone!") in order to discover if the websites do, in fact, have a finishing point where you can stop reading them at last, and en route to the finishing point, to see if there is any actual information of photos the CIA doesn't want you to see, Taylor Swift, how to become a millionaire, or how to get a sodding free iPhone.
  • Food - a hungry and imaginative student is required to carry out a inferential analysis of the food within one thousand peoples refrigerators, in particular considering if any of the food in fridges actually went bad by the "Use By" dates on the packaging.  They are also to review the contents of the so called "salad crisper" or "vegetable drawer" to see if, at any point, food is removed from this location to be eaten, rather than just thrown away after going mouldy.

A special UK-only doctorate will be available to someone who wishes to study Argos, an oddity which survives despite combining the worst elements of both internet and high street shopping (you have to go out to the shop to buy what you want, but you don't get to see the item until after you paid for it!)

And of course, there is one very special fellowship available for anyone who can explain why there's such a demand for gym's that are open 24 hours a day.  Who are these people that need to exercise their quad muscles at 2 o clock in the morning, instead of everyone else who is busy being asleep, or possibly drunk and eating a pizza whilst watching reruns of Cagney and Lacey?

We look forward to your interest.

Monday, 9 January 2017

New Flavours

I saw on a bottle of cordial in our kitchen a label saying "new flavour".

Woah! New flavour?!? They've invented a new flavour?  That's truly amazing, and I think not overdue.  With science and technology nowadays I think that we're far too stuck with old flavours based on current foods and fruits, we should be experiencing all kinds of weird flavours which aren't like anything else we've ever tasted.

So, what is this new flavour?


Orange & Peach.

So, not a new flavour, just two old ones combined. It's like me saying that my shirt is a new colour, by combining green and blue.  Perhaps I'll name it bleen.

Orange & Peach, It's not even two unusual flavours.  You always get apple and blackcurrant, and orange and peach, or orange and pineapple.  manufacturers never mix the two lead fruits, you never get orange and apple together, and heaven forbid the secondary fruits get a bottle of their own - blackcurrant and peach?  Get outa town!!!

I'd love for them to go further, let's have some proper fruit mixtures. Lychee and lemon? Cherry and Quince? Gooseberry and Apricot? Coconut and mandarin! Let's see some weird fruits!

And why stick to fruits?  Steak and Lettuce?  Rabbit and Kite? Marmoset and White House?

Or, obviously - Gin and Tonic!

Cheers!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Mister Seahorse



The above photo is of one of my son's toys, named "Mister Seahorse" mid-maintenance.  It's a blue battery powered seahorse that, when pressed, glows and plays various lullabies.  He's had it for some years, but still enjoys having it in his bed when he gets off to sleep.

The trouble with having a battery powered song-singing toy is that about three times a year the battery levels drop to a low enough level that the song becomes slow, out of tune, and basically gives the indication that the seahorse is drunk, or possibly dying from listeria or some such infection. Leprosy, or Typhoid, perhaps - my knowledge of what infections make artificial seahorses lose their ability to play music is not complete.

And of course, the only time that we discover such an event is at bedtime, when my son is tired, ready to sleep, and quite keen for me to clear off and the seahorse to do its job.

So when it happens, as you can imagine the seahorse has to be very swiftly taken away for battery replacement to minimise the emotional distress that a tipsy seahorse can cause.  While I'm frantically fixing the seahorse, I'm always very slightly creeped out by what, to me, feels like carrying out major surgery on a seahorse (albeit a glowing and singing one), by pulling its guts, spine, and skeleton out and frantically testing batteries from our battery drawer to find three (three?!? Who designs a toy that needs THREE batteries?!?) that have sufficient juice in to keep Mister Seahorse singing away for a few more months.  Once done I then have to shove all the innards back into the seahorse skin and magically it works. I'm not completely sure how this counts academically but I feel that I ought to be awarded an honorary degree in something, Medicine, or Electrical Engineering perhaps.  Offers from universities are welcomed.

At any rate, I'm pleased to report that normal service is indeed restored, Mister Seahorse is fully back in action, and my son sleeps peacefully once again.  Therefore, it's time for a beer :)

In other news, my son has invented a new mathematical concept, called "splatting".  Watch the video of splatting calculations now! (and stay tuned to youtube.com/ravenswingthog for the UNCUT version to be released soon!)

Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy New Year!


Happy new year!

Rather horrifyingly, I've had a very productive evening and this is actually the third blog post I've written (four if you count a guest post), hopefully meaning that at least for the next week regular and maybe even vaguely interesting blog posts will be published.

Today marks the last day of my Christmas break before I return to work, and it's been a nice break, with plenty of unhealthy food and alcohol consumed (and I still have a good amount of alcohol to work through!)

Now for me (and quarter of a million other people in my locality) 2017 has a particular relevance to us, because 2017 is the year that Hull becomes the UK City of Culture.

Hull, a city and port in the North of England, I would venture to say has not always attracted the highest of opinions.  I myself was not a great fan of Hull, until I met my wife, and she introduced me to the more continental parts of the city (which I didn't realise existed).

Hull does have its good points, some decent museums and art galleries, places to visit, shopping centres (although it does have a tendency to open new shopping centres which simply drag the custom away from the other centres, making them struggle), and in the Avenues where I reside (aka the HU5 commune) it's quite pleasant and on good days almost cosmopolitan.

Unfortunately I was away from the city for the launch of the city of culture year, which I'm led to understand consisted of quite a few fireworks, but there is now supposed to be an entire year of events in and around the city. If you're looking for somewhere new to try, you might want to check out the Hull 2017 website and the events calendar.

I'm determined (at the moment anyway) to try to do more creative stuff this year, I don't feel that many of my blog posts are the best that I can do, so I'm hoping to do more and better quality.  By all means, I'm always interested in guest blogging (both bloggers on here and me blogging elsewhere) and any ideas for meet ups, collaborations, and so on, both on my blog and on my YouTube channel, are welcomed. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Greetings!


Merry Christmas to one and all this fine day (Christmas Eve actually, as I type this).  We're on the verge of another Christmas Day, and all that it entails.

For me it'll be a fairly busy morning of opening presents, seeing my parents for a massive breakfast (rather than the traditional Christmas dinner my parents have a huge breakfast, and then snack as needed throughout the day), presents, seeing my gran, and then back home for the rest of the day, and some dinner later.

Featuring this year will be my Christmas cakes, one iced and with marzipan, one just iced, and one totally naked (except for tin foil which will hopefully be removed before anyone eats it!).  Hopefully they'll be nice, or at least the amount of alcohol in them will distract people :)

I'm quite tempted to have a session watching the Food Network tomorrow, bearing in mind their plan for the day:
In summary, 21 hours of Adam Richman eating well over twenty five pounds of food. It sounds amazing.

It's been ages since I made a video, so I finally did one this morning - it's a bit random, but hopefully entertaining, with a bit of Christmas-relating wittering, singing, jokes, and at one point the camera phone even gets abducted, which wasn't planned!



Anyway, I do hope that whatever you're doing, you have a good time over this holiday period.  Do, as always, drop me a comment, and let me know what you're up to!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Twas the weekend before Christmas...

... and I've still got a fair few things to sort out before the big day.

Mainly wrapping presents, there's a few left to buy which my wife is doing today (in return I've been posting parcels for her latest sales from her Etsy shop - do take a look at www.denkaidesigns.com) but I'll need a good couple of nights of wrapping presents next week.  I quite like wrapping presents, if you've got some good Christmassy shows on the television it's quite nice.  I do need to buy a few cards also, we don't generally do cards for people, except for close family and friends, I'm feeling a little guilty as my son received loads of cards from his classmates which showed up in his book bag from his last day at school, it simply never occurred to us to do cards!  Perhaps we might get some "New Year" cards for everyone for when school starts again.

I'm writing this blog post whilst having some small amount of glitter on me - last night a few people from work went out (well, a lot of people from work went out actually last night, in various groups) and at one point I had glitter liberally sprinkled on me.  This morning I woke up, and my wife said "I think you need a shower."
 "I do?"
 "Or a wash at least."
 "Why, do I smell?" I asked - I didn't think I did, although I was feeling rather dehydrated from the night before.
 "No, you're covered in glitter."

I took quite a few photos last night, I have no idea why I took this one which appears to be of peoples feet.

For lunch me and my son went to the local cafe for a snack, I ordered him beans on toast and a bacon sandwich for me, when they arrived he declared that we should "split it" which, I discovered, doesn't mean share, it means he eats my sandwich and I can eat the beans on toast, unless he's still hungry after the bacon sandwich, in which case he eats both of them.

Looking far too happy as he eats my bacon sandwich

How are your Christmas preparations going?  Let me know if you're all sorted and just waiting for the big day, or if you're yet to start!

Finally, some excellent news, this is probably the last post where I say "Time is running out to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards 2017!"

Votes for the awards do have to be in by the 19th of December so if you haven't already voted, please head over to http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/blog-thog and pop a vote in.  I'm shortlisted for 2 categories, Lifestyle and Digital & Technology, you can vote for both categories in one go from the link above.  It's only by your votes that I have a chance of getting shortlisted, so please do vote if you haven't already :) Apparently you can vote regardless of where you live, although it's the UK Blog Awards all that means is that the blogs have to be in the UK, not the votes.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Time Out


We've got a mouse in the house at the moment.  I'm not a fan of mice (read here for more) in the house, in the wild they're absolutely fine, but not in the house.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen this evening, and it decided to pop its head out from under a kitchen cabinet and look at me.  This particularly annoys me, as I'm convinced that it knows innately that what it ought to do is keep out of sight, and only run around when no one else is in the room, but it refuses to even do this, and is obviously only showing itself to frustrate me.  So I jumped up and down, banged on the counter, shouted at it, and prodded a knife under the cabinet where it was lurking, to show that I really meant business.

However, I'd overlooked that recently we've been very firm in enforcing the "no shouting" rule with my son recently, and he came in the kitchen, and told me to go and sit on the stairs on time out.

And my wife backed him up.  Off to the staircase I went.

At least I got a couple of photos out of it :)


Time is running out to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards 2017, votes have to be in by the 19th of December if you haven't already, just head over to http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/blog-thog and pop a vote in.  I'm shortlisted for 2 categories, Lifestyle and Digital & Technology, you can vote for both categories in one go from the link above, thanks!  Basically in each category the eight blogs with the most votes get through to the final shortlist so every vote really does count! Thank you again :)

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Sleeping In

 Jane was on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, well it was perhaps not a desert island, but it was very nice, with the sun shining and all that sort of thing.
 Then a shark leaped out of the water and ate her. She tasted like chicken.

 Sorry, I'm trying to stay awake, and it's a bit difficult.

 You see, it's my night when I can stay up late, because in the morning I get to sleep in while my wife kindly gets up with the little one, and part of me is just determined to play on the computer for a while, because I can.  But I'm really good at being asleep - I've slept on a submarine, on a jeep safari, in far too many cars to count, sofas, floors... if I get a chance to sleep, I'll sleep.  Loads of TV shows, and loads of films, seriously, far too many films to count.

 The key thing seems to be whether my mind is being kept active.  For example, if I'm going somewhere in a car, I'll be awake, because I'm going to a place, and I'm thinking about what I'm going to do when I get there.  On the way back, I've done the thing I was going to do, and unless I have a reason to be awake (like if I'm driving, for example) I'll just go to sleep.

 Right now, I'm pretty tired.  As I write this it's 10pm here, and basically to stay awake I need sweet stuff, or coffee.  There's a bit of dinner left over, but I'm not in the mood for that, I need a shot of sugar or caffeine to keep me going.

(Writing pauses while I go and make a coffee, and eat two small chocolate balls)

(Writing continues to pause while I grab a blanket because it's getting chilly)

(The blanket smells)

(Sod it, let's crack on anyway)

 That's better.

 I've always suspected that we aren't designed to sleep the way we do, by staying awake for sixteen to eighteen hours straight, and then sleeping all in one go.  I bet that we're supposed to sleep in periods, yes perhaps with a longer period overnight, but with naps as well.  It's reasonable for young children and older people to snatch forty winks in an afternoon, I bet I could get used to having a nap too.

 Anyway, I'm going to struggle on :)  maybe I'll push through being tired and feel better. Or maybe I'll fall asleep at my desk!

Don't forget to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards 2017 if you haven't already, just head over to http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/blog-thog and pop a vote in.  I'm shortlisted for 2 categories, Lifestyle and Digital & Technology, you can vote for both categories in one go from the link above, thanks :)

Friday, 9 December 2016

Be Warned...



My wife, you may be aware, has started making and selling needleminders, which are magnets used in cross stitch for holding fabric and retaining needles.  As is the requirement for anything nowadays, various social media channels have to be employed to maximise the visibility of my wife's Etsy shop (well worth a visit at www.denkaidesigns.com).

I don't often query my wife's decisions, because she is unquestionably both smarter and scarier than me, but this is an exception, because she has asked me to look after her Facebook page, as she handles the Instagram, makes videos, actually makes and sells the needleminders, and so on.

After warning her many times of the questionable wisdom of letting me loose on her page, I have accepted the challenge, and I have scheduled several posts to appear on her page (https://www.facebook.com/DenkaiDesigns) over the upcoming days.  And I welcome all suggestions on things to write about on her page, as things stand I've used the loosest of loose links to tie factoids to her hobby, writing posts along the lines of "It's probably going to be cold today... Cold like a needleminder that has been accidentally left in the fridge. Check out my Etsy shop to buy a needleminder, but don't leave it in the fridge!" so if you can think of any topical yet tenuous links to needleminders then please let me know.

So, if you would like to keep an eye on the nonsense that I've prepared for her page, do go and Like her Facebook page.  You might regret it, but don't say I didn't warn you.

PS I am absolutely delighted to be in for the public vote of the UK Blog Awards 2017!  What this means is that I need as many people as possible (yes, that includes you reading this) to vote for me, if you have 30 seconds, a name, and an email address, your vote could be the one that gets my blog up into the top 8 which will then be looked at by judges.  So it'd wonderful if you'd head over to http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/blog-thog and put a vote in for me.  I'm shortlisted for 2 categories, Lifestyle and Digital & Technology, you can vote for both categories in one go from the link above, I would really appreciate each and every reader taking a minute to vote for me.  Voting ends something like the 19th of December, so vote soon!  Thank you :)
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