Thursday, May 27, 2004

Wooo. We have a holiday booked. Yeeha, off to foreign parts with hills again soon. Well, in mid-August anyway. Which is sooner than September when we went last year so hopefully we won't have the rain issues to contend with this time. Austria rather than Switzerland (and with the stops on the way in Germany rather than France) which will enable us to decide where we prefer. Also a fraction cheaper and an extra day away in to the bargain. So into anticipation mode full swing now. Mind you, the Supreme web site hasn't been updated for this year as yet so I can't just cut & paste the description in to here. So more details when I can be bothered to type them in.

Yesterday was a long and tiring one for the Flexible bus routing seminar up in Hyde (just outside Manchester). Actually, it wasn't as tiring as I was expecting despite leaving home at 0600 covering 450 odd miles and getting back at 2000. And I did about 350 of those miles in the driving seat. Ended up going with Ray from the CT team rather than anyone external so at least I knew him. It did mean spending all day trying to get the conversation away from cars though (he only seems to have that in his repertoire).

The journey itself wasn't too bad. Familiar teriitory up the A1 as far as the Sherwood Forest roundabout. Which was a bit odd to be doing without Joan in the car but meant I was also able to control where we stopped for food (cue evil grins and some nice pancakes at the OK Diner). Then instead of heading right to go on up to Newcastle we turned left and cut across the peak district instead. Which was absolutely lovely. Lots of rocky outcrops and steep drops at the sides of the roads, sheep and drystone walls in the fields, lovely stone cottages and just generally pleasant views. (OK, so we did have to drive round Sheffield as well, but even that is far from the industrial horror it used to be). Basically, I really enjoyed getting a bit of vertical scenery around me and as a consequence am in a more heightened state of holiday anticipation than I was after booking it on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the seminar itself was not as useful for me. The first speaker was excellent and I now have a pretty good understanding of what we can and can't do when it comes to flexible bus routes. Unfortunatley the other three got progressively less interesting as 2 covered a lot of the same ground and the last one was talking about a research project. Not exactly gripping stuff. Oh well, it was a nice day out overall.

And the coincidence machine was working overtime on the way home - the only chance I've had to listen to the radio in the afternoons for months and who should get interviewed but Tony Hawks, whose book I am in the middle of. Very strange how these things happen.

It has occurred to me that I haven't done much waffling about tv on here of late. We are still watching stuff, so here's a quick list of things we have been impressed by recently:

Hustle crime drama from the other side of the fence for a change. Much like a British version of Ocean's Eleven (but with a team of 5!) covering a range of different scams. I particularly enjoyed the way they played around with the format, used effects and breaking the fourth wall to have charachters explain plot points directly to the audience. The only problem was that they stuck to the usual UK pattern and only did six episodes in the series. But they are promising more for next year.

No Angels sort of medical one, but focussing more on the private lives of the nurses involved rather than the slicing people open or sticking pills down their throats. A bit rude in places but at least honest about what goes on in life (and death) on the wards. Good fun and also some great music used in the soundtrack.

Murder City and Murder in Suburbia which both offered a slightly different take on the police side of crime drama with the former being highly serious in places and the latter being very light-hearted.

The usual suspects - Casualty, Holby City, ER - have all had their share of eyeball time as well and performed to their usual standards.

And from tomorrow Big Brother is back for the summer so that should provide some entertainment...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Got to feel ever so sorry for Joan right now. Having had the tooth/crown thingy fall off a couple of weeks ago, then get stuck on again, it decided to break off properly on Friday night. She finally got in to see the dentist about it yesterday (very inconsiderate of them not to work weekends!) and had what was left of the tooth pulled out to make way for a proper false one in replacement. Having been through three extractions last year I knew exactly how she felt and was very pleased that Marion saw fit to send her home from work for the rest of the day. Still a bit sore this morning but from what I could see it looks to be healing up OK. Poor thing. It would have to be an eye tooth too, to compound the pain with an obvious gap for a couple of weeks (he promises the replacement will be in place before she goes to Rome at the end of June). The only light at the end of the tunnel there is that hopefully it will ease up on the sinus problems she has suffered over the years that stem from the dodgy tooth. Fingers crossed.

Otherwise we had a pretty good weekend. Lawn-tested the new mower, watched the Grand Prix. That sort of thing. Also found the time to finish Stronghold and despite the second trilogy being more of a continuous tale (the first lot have several years between each book so stopping for a break is not so much of a cliff-hanger) I have indeed turned to non-fiction again. In this case One Hit Wonderland by comedian Tony Hawks. I've been aware of him on tv and radio for years (and generally find him to be pretty funny) and while I knew he had written three sort of travel books based on bets this is the first I've dipped in to. Actually the third he wrote, but as I got it free I'm not complaining about starting in the wrong place. And they are all independent of each other anyway so it makes no odds. In this case the tale of trying to get back in to the charts (anywhere in the world) nearly 20 years after reaching number four with the Stutter Rap by Morris Minor and the Majors. Proving good fun so far and I will no doubt obtain the other two at some point.

I think I may have set a new record on length of 1 to 1 this morning. Should have started at 10, finally kicked off at about 1030 and got back to desk at around 1320. Not bad going! Oh well, now to crack on with the jobs set during it...


Another blast of nostalgia was caused by this hoary old email that seems to have surfaced again:

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokey's' on our wheels.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags - riding in the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.

We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms. (Well, we did have the ZX81, Spectrum etc)

We had friends, we went outside and found them. We played elastics and street rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt.

We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no law suits. We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played knock-and-run and were actually afraid of the owners catching us.

We walked to friend's homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

This my friends, is surprisingly frightening, and it might put a smile on your face:

The majority of students in universities today were born in 1983. They are called youth. They have never heard of We are the World, We are the children, and the Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel.

They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Nena or Belinda Carlisle.

For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has existed since they were born. CD's have existed since they were born.

Michael Jackson has always been white. To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can't imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance.

They believe that Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible are Films from last year.

They can never imagine life before computers.

They'll never have pretended to be the A Team, RedHand Gang or the Famous Five.

They'll never have applied to be on Jim'll Fix It or Why Don't You. They can't believe a black and white television ever existed and don't even know how to switch on a TV without a remote control. And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone.