Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No Place Like....

Guess what? Further to my woeful previous post about how unpleasant flat hunting is, we've actually found a little "castle" for Gdog to inhabit in The Big City. Unfortunately, she probably won't be able to move into the flat until July, so she'll just have to put up with us till then!

She has various ideas about how she would like to furnish the flat (with my money). I thought it might be worth showing unfamiliar readers the current state of her bedroom in the flat (left) compared with the usual state of her current bedroom at home (right). I'll let you draw your own conclusions!

However, Gdog assures us that she will be a changed woman when she is living on her own: cleaning the flat regularly, keeping partying to a minimum, eating healthily, getting plenty of sleep and studying like a wee Trojan. What was that shadowy creature that floated past my bedroom window going "oink oink?"

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Mine of Misinformation

Grateful thanks to If Then Else for pointing me in the direction of The Uncyclopedia.

We've all heard of The Wikipedia, that excellent collaborative source of free, pretty accurate information. Well The Uncylopedia is free too: it's just not quite so accurate! Take, for example, the article on Tony Blair. Now I'm no political expert, but I think one or two of the "facts" may be not quite right. Just to show I can take a joke, the article on Scotland is an absolute hoot!

If I didn't know better, I might think The Uncyclopedia was taking the "pedia" out of The Wikipedia....

Saturday, March 26, 2005

No Big Deal!

Further to my post on the Vatican's reaction to "The Da Vinci Code", it seems that some of the Catholic hierarchy have heard of "The Oxygen of Publicity".

Friday, March 25, 2005

10 Things and Counting....

When I first posted about 43 Things in January my first Thing was "Stop Procrastinating" and I had 277 fellow procrastinators. I’ve made definite progress with my procrastination habit, partly due to the impetus of joining 43 Things, and it is a mark of the continued success of the site that I now have 1034 fellow sufferers to bond with!

There are currently 16091 members, but for some time people were signing up, simply listing the Things they wanted to do and leaving it at that: pretty pointless! Now more and more people are making entries about their Things, and in turn more members are commenting on the entries. This interaction is what the site should really be about.

I know the whole thing seems a bit geeky, but I genuinely feel that having my aims listed on the site encourages me to focus on them and get some helpful feedback from fellow failures around the world!

With a bit more development, 43 Things could be as successful as Flickr (which has recently been bought by Yahoo!). Maybe we all should buy some shares now….

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jack The Lad

Went with Wosog last night to see Jack Dee in concert at The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. I've seen him several times on the telly, and I've always thought he is one of the best British stand-up comedians. The concert didn't disappoint. There was no warm-up act: Jack simply walked on stage and, apparently effortlessly, thoroughly entertained 2000 people for 2 hours.

True professional that he is, he was totally unaffected by the hecklers: in fact, he cleverly integrated their comments into his act. The number of topics he covered in the time was amazing. At the interval he asks members of the audience to send him text messages, and he responds to these at the end. I'm not sure if all the messages he read out were really sent during our concert, but they were very funny. As Jack sourly commented "These are not supposed to be funnier than the act!". Unfortunately, he decided to give the less glamorous area of Sighthill a bit of a drubbing, but I think anyone in the audience who didn't live in Sighthill would have thoroughly enjoyed the concert!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Thanks For Nothing....

The scenario where a doctor tells a patient that they have cancer is an oft-discussed classic situation. It's the subject of many jokes, but I can assure you there's rarely anything funny about being the doctor concerned.

General practitioners don't often have to give this sort of bad news. That's not to say that they don't frequently see patients with cancer: in fact, they are usually the first person to suspect it. Confirmation of the diagnosis tends to require investigations, and these tests are generally carried out by, or are only readily available to, specialists in secondary (hospital) care. Once the tests have proven the diagnosis, it generally again falls to the consultant to tell the patient the result with somewhat variable sensitivity and communication skills.

Recently a lady in her 50s, who rarely consults, attended my surgery complaining of breathlessness and a cough. She had otherwise been reasonably well. I examined her chest, and did a simple test of her respiratory function. This test showed a very low result, and I told her I suspected she had chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which are sometimes diagnosed late because the breathlessness comes on over a very prolonged period. I gave her an inhaler to try, and later some oral steroids. I decided to get a chest x-ray to see if this confirmed emphysema. In fact, it showed what is almost certainly a right sided lung cancer. This may have already spread to her bones.

When she came for her follow-up appointment I was a bit apprehensive. It's one thing giving this sort of news when you think the patient expects it, but it's another when you've led them to expect a more benign diagnosis. She came to the appointment on her own, and it didn't seem fair for her to get news like this without the presence of, for example, a family member for support. In fact, when I told her what was suspected she actually smiled and told me she was not at all surprised! She had been feeling unwell for a while, and she was relieved to know at last what was wrong.

I think her prognosis is likely to be poor, but at least we've now identified the enemy she must fight against. She seemed to feel that was something worth thanking me for.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Quite Cool!

I think this is, as they say, quite cool! What do you think? (Stolen from Bifurcated Rivets).

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Here's One I Prepared Earlier....

I'm not sure what the BBC television program Blue Peter is like now, but one of my few childhood memories is of numerous presentations on how to make various priceless objects from "found" materials, the main ones being, as I remember, wire coat hangers, Fairy Liquid bottles, and, of course, the indispensable sticky backed plastic. Imagine then, if you will, my delight at coming across a web page that shows you how to make a wallet from duct tape!

I was relieved to find that the Blue Peter website does have a section on things to do. The show's pets look just as cute as ever, and the male presenters look almost as dorky as John Noakes, but the girls are absolute babes! When I think that we had to make do with Valerie Singleton!

I was interested to note that if you run your pointer over the home page pictures of the presenters and pets they all make a noise except for Shelley the tortoise. I think this is most unfair. I'm sure tortoises would make a noise if we all just had the patience to wait for them to do so! As for Simon, is he really saying "Christ!" (controversial) or "Cripes!" (less so): you decide.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Really Got Them Rattled

Like millions of others, I was recently fascinated to read Dan Brown's publishing phenomenon "The Da Vinci Code". Best sellers are ten a penny, but this book appears to have captured the imagination of the world, having been published in more than forty languages. With most books that would be success enough, but this novel has spawned the publication of several books that elaborate further on the evidence to which the Da Vinci Code refers. The Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code is a good example.

Today on reuters.com (via Boing Boing) I came across an account of of an interview with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in which he basically says the book is a pack of lies and right-thinking folk (Roman Catholics in particular) shouldn't buy it. Apart from being a rather lame attempt at stable door bolting, the piece seems a little thin on detail. One would have thought that the mighty propaganda machine that is the Vatican, could have come up with a point-by-point rebuttal of Dan Brown's thesis. I suspect that account would not grace the best sellers lists, however.

I hadn't got round to reading The Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code yet, but this sort of reaction from the Vatican makes me all the more intrigued to find out a little more about the subject. Perhaps the good cardinal hasn't heard of the phrase "the oxygen of publicity"! Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Kingdom for a Horse!

My Kingdom for a Horse!
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

I don't have much interest in the Royals, and I feel that the argument that they pay for themselves by encouraging tourism etc is really wearing pretty thin. It certainly can't be said that this outrageously dysfunctional family can act as any kind of role models for the rest of us!

My brother in law Bilosog sent me this picture as an e-mail attachment recently. I instantly recognised our batty Heir To The Throne, but that horse looks really familar too!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

All That Jazz

Wosog's Jazz 1
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

After all our recent motoring trepidations, Wosog today took delivery of her new Honda Jazz. She drove it, with Sog in the car, to the Nearby Metropolis. Sog drove it back, trying to ignore Wosog's foot on the "imaginary brake" on several occasions. Wosog has never had much confidence in Sog's driving ability, even though he's not had a major accident in well over 20 years of driving.

Gdog has now been shown all the controls of the car but, despite the fact that the recent accident was clearly not Gdog's fault, it's fairly obvious that Wosog would rather she didn't drive it for perhaps a year or two! There seems little prospect of that happening.

Friday, March 11, 2005


one with the earth
Originally uploaded by javajive.

How's this for a sunset? It's from 27 year old Brandon Hoover, who is fortunate enough to live in Java, and has the Flickr name javajive. Why not check out his other photos? He's clearly a very talented photographer, but living in such an exotic location must help a little bit!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Needs Some Remedial Work....

Rural Decay
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

Sog and Wosog are currently on the lookout for a little flat for Gdog to inhabit while she is attending The University of Life in the Nearby Metropolis. Gdog has made it quite clear that she cannot bear the thought of living with us for the next few years. She wants her "independence" which appears to mean having her board, lodgings and utilities paid for her by someone else, but not giving her generous benefactor the opportunity to scrutinise or, God Forbid, criticise her comings and goings. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind a slice of that sort of independence!

Anyway, this exercise has given the older Sogs renewed exposure, after many years of protection, to the joys of house hunting, and the intricacies of that mysterious language Estate Agent Speak.

For those unfamiliar with the Scottish system, most houses have an "offers over" price. Many years ago offering 5-10% over this price would have given you a good chance of securing the property. Now if you can't bid 25-30% over you may as well not bother (as we have found to our cost)! One good thing is that some of the leg work of house hunting can now be done over the Internet, but you still have to translate what the schedules say into what they really mean. For example, "needs some remedial work" or "ideal for the home improvement enthusiast" probably means that the kitchen and the bathroom both need totally gutted and replaced. "Studio" probably means that you can wash the dishes, watch the tv and answer the front door while sitting on the toilet. "Convenient for local transport links" tends to translate to built next to a railway line/ the M25 etc.

Anyway, assuming we do manage to buy a charming, deceptively spacious apartment that benefits from a door, several windows and two bedrooms (aka one bedroom and a cupboard), at least I'll have something new to worry about in the form of an even bigger mortage. I was starting to get a bit relaxed in my old age....

Sunday, March 06, 2005

First The Good News....

A Friendly Face
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

Went for a walk this afternoon and came across this really friendly horse. His face was in shadow, and the fill flash fired, which spooked him a bit. I've never really appreciated what people see in horses in the past, but this one had such a welcoming expression (ok, I know it's anthropomorphism)!

As for the bad news, Gdog decided to give Wosog the DVD of "Gone With The Wind" (GWTW) for Mother's Day. I think I've mentioned before that Wosog and I have quite different taste in films. She loves GWTW, I hate it!! It lasts Forever for a start, and then there's That Music (You know: "NaNa NaNa....NaNa NaNa etc., etc"). It may have won 10 Oscars, but it does nothing for me. I'll get Gdog back for this....

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Before and After

Before and After
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

Wosog's car has finally returned from the body shop looking good as new. We're hoping Gdog can get a bit more practice in it before Wosog trades it in for a Honda Jazz (such clever little cars)!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Rabbiting on....Or maybe not!

I wasn't sure what heading to give this post. My first thought was "50,000 Bucks or the Rabbit Gets It", but I settled for the above. The gist of savetoby.com is that some fiendish So-and-so is threatening to kill this loveable bunny on 30 June 2005 unless he is paid $50,000 via the website.

The site shows you multiple pictures of Toby going about his various activities (no, not that one!). Also given are a number of recipes in which Toby might be a less than willing participant. Finally, we are offered the opportunity to buy a limited list of Toby-related artefacts, including the mouse mat above.

I'm not convinced that I should wish this enterprise success. If it did work out who knows what other cuddly, harmless little creatures might be held to ransom? Could Charles Kennedy, MP sleep safely in his bed at night? Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Sideways Glance

Went with Wosog on Sunday to see the film "Sideways". We didn't originally plan to see this film, and I had no idea that it had five Oscar nominations. If I had realised that it was directed by Alexander Payne, who directed "About Schmidt" I might Have had higher expectations.

We both really enjoyed the movie. The Paul Giamatti character in many ways reminded me of me with his rather bookish, angst-ridden personality. Interestingly, his somewhat unlikely friend, played by Thomas Haden Church, made me think of Gsog. This was not because of his insatiable sexual appetite, although God knows we still may have that to look forward to, but more because of his rather simple view of the world, his total lack of of responsibility, and his complete inability to delay gratification of his desires.

The film had a nice structure and a satisfactory, if slightly open, ending. I may well buy the DVD when it comes out.

Strange Web Site

Can't remember where I came across this website. I'm not sure if it's the same each time you view it, or if there is some sort of random element built into it.

If you have the patience to watch it for long enough it mentions accordions, which are, as we know, the Devil's instrument!