Saturday, April 30, 2005

Getting Things Done 1

I've admitted in the past that one of my major faults is Procrastination. Well, not any more because I've bought The Book That Everyone's Talking About: "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.

As you can see from the bookmark, I've actually started to read this one. This is an advance on "The Procrastinator's Guide To Success", which I've still not got round to reading!

Maybe David Allen will become my guru and prevent me behaving like this guy!

Watch this space....

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Pillow Talk

This is surely the ideal gift for those who want to make their partner an offer they can't refuse?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Tongue Lashings

Just because the space for information on the Web is virtually infinite doesn't mean we should put any old dross on it! The Cult of Celebrity is something that I really don't buy into, but I certainly cannot understand what would possess someone to make a collection of photographs of "Celebrity Tongues".

But, you've guessed it, here it is! For some reason there appears to be far more female tongues than male ones: I wonder why that is? My friend Soapy Goldfish may be interested to see that Ms Angelina Jolie has 4 tongues in the collection. I'm afraid they're only thumbnail images Soapy....


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Joy of Tests

I've sat quite a few examinations in my time, and so has Wosog. We both hated studying for them, and we were extremely glad to reach the stage in life where we didn't have to do any more of the bloody things. We thought we could relax, but no. We now have to see the children through their exams!

For most of her secondary school career Gdog worked like a wee dervish. She thought that she wanted to study medicine, and she knew that she needed the maximum number of 'A' passes to get into medical school. At the end of fifth year she decided she didn't want to do medicine, but her previous academic exertions meant that she gained multiple university offers to study psychology. As a result, sixth year at school was really quite a relaxed affair, knowing that her exam results that year "didn't really matter". Unfortunately, this somewhat laid-back attitude has been carried on into her university studies, and it has been complicated by irrational urges (a) to earn some cash, and, worst of all, (b) to have a social life! As her degree exams loom on the horizon, Sog and Wosog, inveterate worriers that they are, feel concerned that she is leaving too much to the last minute.

Gsog, on the other hand, has always been difficult to motivate. He'd like to have big money as an adult---he's just not that keen on actually earning it! If Gsog was on the TV Quiz Mastermind his specialist subjects would be (1) Inline Skating, and (2) Work Avoidance. Sog once admitted that he was a very inefficient studier, and often took multiple "breaks" between bouts of studying. Gsog takes lots of breaks too: he just forgets to come back to work at all! The extent to which Sog and Wosog need to lean on Gsog to try and force him to study makes them both feel that they should get some sort of certificates from the Scottish Qualifying Authority too when/ if Gsog gets his!

Is there a self-help group out there for the parents of teenagers? Maybe we should form one?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Not God's Gift

George W Bush may think he's God, but an international survey shows that females don't think he's God's Gift. The poll of 11,000 women in 15 countries by that august journal Esquire asked them to rate him out of 10 with regard to sex appeal. The Self-styled Leader of the Free World failed to register much more than two!

I thought power was supposed to be an aphrodisiac?

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Parking Spot of the Beast

the parking spot of the beast
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

This picture was uploaded by an American photographer with the Flickr name bunchofpants.

Maybe this is where the Traffic Warden parks his car?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Evil Weed

One of Wosog's few faults is the fact that, despite detailed knowledge of the associated risks, she is a cigarette smoker. Over the years I have tried on numerous occasions to persuade her to stop with very limited success. In fact, the more I go on about it the more determined she seems to be to keep puffing until it kills her: as it may well do.

A while ago I decided to use the BBC Health website which has a system whereby you can enter various details, and it works out your life expectancy. "Great!" I thought, "I'll enter both our statistics and show Wosog how much sooner than I she will die because of her smoking!" Of course, when we entered our respective information the site predicted that she'd still live 10-15 years longer than me! Back to the drawing board....

The nice sign above shows Italian nicotine addicts where their next fix can be purchased. It was interesting to experience in Rome for the first time a country that already has a ban in place on smoking in confined public places. However, as Wosog pointed out, it's not so onerous in a country where the climate often provides the option of eating, drinking and smoking outside.

Because of the large number of people expected to be returning from the Papal Funeral we decided to leave early for the airport on Saturday. However, the streets were pretty quiet, and having arrived early we decided to check in. It was signs like the one above that made Wosog realise that Rome Airport was totally non-smoking, unlike Prague Airport which had one bar where the addicts could gather to "shoot up".

To say that Wosog became a tad irritable is to understate the situation. We still had to scour the airport for a smokers' haven: but there wasn't one!

However, all was not lost. In Prague we found a little smokers' oasis where Wosog smoked 2 cigarettes and I passively smoked about 10! As you can see from the packet, the Czechs don't really want people to stop smoking: they want them to "Start"!

I ask you, is this the way an intelligent woman should behave?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

....and a Funeral

Papal Funeral: Colosseum
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

It was odd being in Rome in the days approaching the Pope's Funeral. Watching the television in the hotel, it felt as if the eyes of the World were on the city where we were. For the days leading up to the event there had been numerous helicopers flying overhead, presumably on their way to the Vatican. We saw large numbers of Poles arriving, many of them teenagers, some carrying flags. The media circus, to coin a cliche, was seen assembling near St Peter's square and large screens were set up in various public places, including the Circus Maximus. The preparations had obviously been made for some time: long rows of chemical toilets appeared and Red Cross personnel were everywhere handing out bottles of water to anyone who wanted one.

On the morning of the funeral there was virtually no traffic (it's impossible to imagine Rome with no traffic at all), and all the shops and tourist attractions were shut. Usually you can decide whether to go to somebody's funeral or not, but in this case the ceremony was everywhere. Not being religious, we felt like reluctant observers of the event, although we were never made to feel unwelcome. We went for quite a long walk including the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum and the Piazza del Popollo. It was weird to see the Via del Corso virtually empty of cars on a Friday morning! As well as being able to see St Peter's Square on the large screens, the sounds of the ceremony were broadcast on high quality sound systems.

After the event, the city gradually came back to life. The real high fliers headed off in their helicopters. You couldn't help feeling that for many of them this had been just another photo opportunity, with a bigger audience than most. Lesser dignitaries were whisked through the growing traffic escorted by police cars with sirens blaring, and motorcyle cops, some of whom stood up on their bikes with both hands off the handlebars to direct the traffic! Ordinary mortals simply walked quietly away, content that they had shown their respect for a great man.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Four Good Days....

Fountain near the Piazza del Popolo
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

As my regular reader may have gathered, I have always been a bit of a pessimist. Previous experience with Italy, as well as recent events might have made me reluctant to consider it again as a holiday destination. We arrived in Rome on Monday last to be told that, basically, the Vatican was off limits. If I hadn't previously seen St Peter's Cathedral, the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel I think I would probably have had some rather uncharitable thoughts about the recently deceased Pope.

We decided, however, that there was enough to see in The Eternal City to use up our time there without visiting the Vatican. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say we did a lot of walking and I took a lot of photographs. Despite the unpromising 5 day weather forecast on the Internet, it was very sunny Monday to Thursday: enough to give me quite bad sunburn on my forehead, which is rather high these days. We re-experienced superb Italian ice cream, and even better Italian food: although this time we tried eating Kosher food in a restaurant in the Jewish Getto. They didn't seem to mind serving non-Jews---I certainly wasn't asked to demonstrate that I had been circumcised!

It's amazing how quickly you feel at home in Rome. It's noisy, crossing the road is a nightmare, it's not that clean, and there's graffiti everywhere, but there's something so welcoming about the place. And as my friend in the picture demonstrates, there are so many interesting things to see, even when the Vatican is closed for business.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Fairly Atraumatic Journey

Sorry it's taken me so long to start posting again, but I only got back from Rome on Saturday, and I've spent most of my time since then uploading some of my holiday snaps to Flickr, sad git that I am.

We flew on Czech Airlines to Rome via Prague. We chose Czech Airlines because they were cheap, but I did have slight concerns about boarding the plane and finding propellors attached to the wings. I was very pleasantly surprised: the plane looked like any other Boeing 7whatever I had travelled in, the food was marginally better than average, and there was only a slight delay in our departure for Prague. I've never been to Eastern Europe, and I had visions of Prague Airport being like something out of a John le Carre novel! It is, in fact, a small but expanding international airport with better facilities than many I've visited.

Rome Airport was also a lot posher and better organised than I expected from our previous visit 5 years ago. Our suitcase actually arrived, and we didn't have to wait too long for it. We stepped onto a train that left immediately for Termini Station. After the customary attempt by the taxi driver to rip us off for the short journey to our hotel, we ventured onto the streets of Rome for the first time.

Driving, or being driven, in Rome is a frightening experience for the uninitiated. The streets are extremely noisy: often for no apparent reason. There are hundreds of scooters, and a growing number of tiny cars, not all of which are made by Smart. There don't seem to be any lanes, as such: cars going in roughly the same direction appear to flow (albeit somewhat turbulently) like fish in a shoal. Assertiveness is the order of the day, for only the strong survive (or at least accumulate the fewist dents)! Cars are parked on every available space: and some that aren't really available. If you leave too much of a gap between you and the guy in front, some smartass will stick a scooter or a Smart car in it!

We finally arrived at our hotel, which was supposed to be much fancier than those we usually use, and imagine my astonishment to find that it was. Blimey, I thought, if this carries on I'll have nothing to whinge about!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Bad Timing!

One of the burdens of being a living, sentient being is the fact that we all can ponder, but few of us can know when we are going to die: when the giant roulette wheel in the sky will stop, and our number will be up.

I saw a friend of mine who lives in Israel recently. He told me a joke about the last days of Yasser Arafat. Apparently, Arafat was on his death bed, and he asked his physician basically "How long have I got doc?". His doctor replied "Well Yasser, we don't know exactly, but we do know you'll die on a Jewish holiday." Arafat then said "But how can you know I'm going to die on a Jewish holiday". To which, of course, the physician replied "Well any day you die will be a Jewish holiday!".

Another powerful man, Pope John Paul II, has been very unwell for several weeks, but it would seem that even he had no way of knowing when his time would come. If only the Vatican authorities had thought to ask me, I could have told them it would be on or around the 4th of April. "How could you know this, Mighty Sog?", I hear you ask, "Is it because of your extensive undergraduate medical training, your 2 postgraduate diplomas, your Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, or the deep insight into the human condition that 16 years as a GP has given you?". No, it's because Sog and Wosog are flying to Rome for a city break on the 4th of April, and they really didn't want to arrive in the middle of one of the biggest funerals the world has ever seen!

But that's life---or, I suppose, death---for you!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Who Do They Think They Are?

In general I'm in favour of the EU, but I find its burgeoning bureaucracy and lack of accountability worrying. I wasn't too suprised, therefore, to find this piece on Yahoo! News.

As a proud Scot, I could feel my hackles rise as I scanned through the article, then my eyes flipped to the date at the top....

This wasn't the first time
I was almost caught out on April 1st, Diamond Geezer pulled an even better, and unfortunately even more plausible, stunt.

Come to think of it, Bloggy, in my last post, looks a bit unlikely doesn't he?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Not Frigging Robots Again!

As both my readers will know, I have a minor obsession with robots. Well it was only a matter of time, but some technical whizz kid has come up with a blogging robot!

I'm not sure why he had to look a bit like a moss covered log with rather feeble eyes on stalks and an incongruous orange nose. Surely a robot with such an important function should have a much more serious appearance!

Anyway, I've had a look at his blog and, to be honest, I'm not impressed. But guess what? The sodding thing has got just as many hits this month as I've had!