Month: November 2015

Mistress of the Bad Dad Joke

The bloke often tells me that my jokes are terrible.

Obviously, I am hilarious, so he is wrong. He needs a sense of humour transplant or something. Or does he?

Whilst pottering around looking at one of the many Yankee Candle displays in town, we were mocking the names and smells of some of the offerings. Turns out White Snow actually smells like mens urinals, I am informed.

Me: What do you think Angels Wings smell like?

Bloke: Dunno. Depends on how longs he’s been down here.

… and my jokes are bad? Hypocrisy! This did get a chuckle out the shop assistant who’d been listening to us mocking the goods in her shop.

Personally, I thought ‘I make the meanest omelette in town. I only use one egg’ was incredibly witty. When a pea escaped my plate, and I informed everyone that ‘I just peed all over the table’, I just about gave myself a hernia laughing at myself.

I think he’s just jealous that my ‘bad dad’ jokes are better than his.

Hmph!

My 5 favourite words

Yup, I am sad enough to have favourite words. Here they are:

  1. Lethologica. The inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word. How cool is it that there is a word for this? Especially one that in itself is more difficult than some to remember?
  2. Spaghettification. The theoretical stretching of an object as it encounters extreme differences in gravitational forces, especially those associated with black hole. Just the meaning behind this, being so far away from that you’d expect, makes it awesome.
  3. Acatalepsy. An ancient skeptical view that no more than probable knowledge is available to human beings. It’s a word that sums up the attitude of ‘It’s been done, so never try’.
  4. Cockalorum. A self-important little man. We’ve all met many. There are plenty in our government. It’s pretty awesome that it is summed up in a word.
  5. Hebetude. The state of being dull. I have this upon waking up every morning.

Britishism – The Tea Queue

I got chatting with a Hungarian colleague at work whilst in the very small kitchen my department shares. This kitchen is small enough that you can only barely squeeze two people into it at once. At certain times of the day, you will find people queuing up outside, awaiting their turn at the kettle. I termed this the ‘Tea Queue’, and my colleague commented that those two words together summed up everything British.

Now, my colleague hasn’t been living in the UK all that long – and she told me a story about her own experience of British Rage when she inadvertently jumped a queue. I felt kind of bad for her – she hadn’t been here long, and had been in a rush to not miss her bus. The bus station is very busy, and the stops quite close together. She hadn’t realised that the long queue she ran past had been the queue for the bus she was aiming to catch. This resulted in a woman in the queue giving her a massive scolding, which has stuck with my colleague even now.

Here’s the thing. In the UK, we’re conditioned to honour the queue. Queue jumping is one of the biggest faux pas you can commit. Seeing queue jumping in action will incite us to fury. However – the majority of people do not mean to be rude, I find. Sometimes, they make an honest mistake. Queuing may not be such a huge thing where they come from. In all the times someone has queue jumped in front of me, I generally find that a polite ‘Excuse me, I think you missed the queue here!’ usually results in the queue jumper looking a bit embarrassed at their mistake and taking their proper place in the queue.

Granted, swallowing your rage can be difficult – especially on a bad day. But I find it pretty sad that all too often, people will let loose their rage without realising that people sometimes have just missed the fact that there is a queue. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t give someone a bloody good telling off if they are unrepentant of their rudeness when you attempt to politely correct them. Still. I wish that the woman who told off my colleague had been a bit nicer. I fear that my colleagues first impression of Britishism may be tarnished somewhat by this experience, and that makes me sad.

Above all, the main Britishism should be politeness first, and fury at impoliteness second.

Show, don’t tell.

The place where I work is very multicultural. It’s a large company, with offices around the world. This means that sometimes, you cannot help but run into a bit of a language barrier – especially when talking more technical things, as you’ll often get with software development.

I was explaining to some German guys about how to use a code review tool we use here, but unfortunately, we were verbally tripping up over each other, even though their English is very good.

So, what to do at this point? They suggested that maybe we could set up a Webex meeting, and I could show them my screen and talk them through everything.

Now, Webex meetings and screen sharing are both awesome tools in the arsenal of computer related tasks when attempting to send knowledge across the pond, but they can be time consuming. You have to schedule time for the whole event, and there’s always one person who has a problem getting into the meeting properly. I came across another solution, instead.

I used tinytake, and made a video of what needed to be done. This application is all sorts of awesome. For free, you can record a specified area of your screen for up to 5 minutes. If you want more, you have to pay for it. Regardless, a minute and a half of recording later, I sent out a demo video to the nice German folks, and they were up and running properly 5 minutes later. No muss, no fuss. More importantly, because it was a video without sound, no more confusing each other. Language barrier – smashed. Hoorah!

I’d highly recommend giving the app a whirl. Not just for busting through language barriers, but I believe it has scope when trying to explain to *anyone* how to do something on their computer without being confusing or caught up in jargon.

Blogger Recognition Reward

Well, I got nominated by the awesome bobaandgames for a blogger recognition reward, which makes me feel all kinds of awesome. Thanks for that! I figured I needed to hold up my end of the whole thing and write up a Blogger Recognition reward myself. This is great, as it gives me the opportunity to share some of my current favourite blogs! Winnage all around!

So, here are da Rules:

  1. Write a post explaining why you started blogging along with a few tips.
  2. Nominate some of your fellow bloggers.
  3. Comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

I started blogging mainly to have something to do. I was just coming out of a bout of depression, and was eager to keep myself busy.

I never settled on a topic for my blog, beyond ‘things that interest me’. I’m interested in many things, so I decided to not limit myself to just one thing. As a result, my blog is now something a bit like a diary. I write about the life lessons I learn, things I’ve done, the people who influence my life, and just any random thing that pops into my head. As it turns out, people seem to enjoy reading it, so I have no reason to stop!

In terms of blogging tips, my main one is this – write about what you are interested in. Don’t write a post for the sake of it. By all means, pick a topic, but don’t force it. Also, dip your foot into the waters of the blogger community pool a bit – you’ll find really interesting people!

This is getting wordy. Oops. So, without further ado, here are my blog nominations (you will probably spot a theme here)

gamecomplainrepeat – I love this blog. One of my favourite game blogs!

tastingeverything – This blog will make you hungry.

karinateuma– Food Is Life. Truest blog title ever.

feedingonfolly – A blogger after my own heart.

wavemotionfist – One of my first followers, and a fabulous gaming blog to boot.

How to be an arsehole – flat tenant edition

I live in a flat. There are 11 flats in total here that share both the car park, and the two bins that are emptied every monday by the council. The bins are quite large, so there is not usually a problem beyond the council ‘forgetting’ to empty the bins over the summer months.

Here’s the fun bit. Every time one of the tenants opts to leave for pastures new, they seem to think that it’s totally fine to fill up the bins with all their offcast junk on their leaving day.

Today, a new low was reached. I’ve opted to write an open letter, since I seem to have few other options.

Dear arsehole,

I know who you are. Sadly, I no longer know where you live. Hence this open letter. Thank you for filling up both of the rather large bins on a Wednesday with all your rubbish. Those of us still living here are incredibly grateful for yet another week of binbags being ripped open by the local wildlife because we can’t fit them in the bin.

2015-11-25 16.51.14
We have 2 of these rather large bins.

In particular, I am most impressed with your decision to offload your rather large collection of polystyrene balls without bagging them first. This was a stroke of genius. Not only do we* have the pleasure of cleaning up the additional mess caused by people being forced to leave their bin bags out, but we now have the additional joy of putting up with a faux snow-storm in the car park every time there is a slight breeze. How christmassy! Such a shame you won’t get to enjoy it, given that you have left for a home that is likely free of polystyrene balls.

This begs the question – where did you get all these polystyrene balls?!?

You sir, are a wanker of the highest order. Enjoy your new home.

* aka: me, because as you noted last time this happened – it’s awfully nice of me to sort out the rubbish that has been left out to rot by the bin men as they refuse to take anything unless it is in said actual bins (‘elf and safety, see), and also left there to rot by the other awesome flat tenants here, who seem to think that cleaning up their mess is not their problem.

UPDATE 26/11/15

So, myself and another neighbour teamed up to try and clear up as much as possible. We loaded up 12 bin bags with polystyrene balls. I came out this morning to find that the neighbour had been back at some point, and abandoned all his other unwanted stuff by the bins to! So, my car is now loaded up with bin bags, an electric radiator, a bin, a mop, and a bucket. Off to the skip I go on my lunch break tomorrow. Thankfully, the landlady has promised to arrange an extra bin collection, so we should get to a point where we can actually put our rubbish in the bins again. Hoorah?

At least the coffee shops sell different flavours.

This weekend just gone saw me and the Bloke have a wander around town, looking for inspiration and mainly just getting out of the house.

We lamented a while over how all the shops sell the same things – which is something that is becoming more and more of a problem. You go into a shop and see something that looks really unique. In this instance, it was a make your own cardboard clockwork dinosaur. We spent a while playing with it in the shop, then found the same thing in the next 4 shops we looked into. Sigh.

You then get curious, and decide to check it out online. Amazon sell the same thing for around £5 cheaper than we saw in any of the 5 shops we found it in.

That’s a problem. In this case, it’s twofold. First off, if you can find the same thing in the majority of the shops you check, it discourages looking in different shops, as there is a lack of variety. This is something that has infected the independent shops in the area as well as the usual chain culprits. Secondly, if it works out both cheaper and more convenient to buy it online, then what’s the point in heading into town at all?

It’s no wonder that the high street shopping centres in towns around the country are being taken over by a gazillion coffee shops. I’ve been trying to be good this year, and buy gifts from the city centre, but I feel like I’m just ripping myself off and wasting my own time doing it. Meaning that I’ll probably be doing the majority of my Christmas shopping online once again this year.

 

It’s not Christmas yet. Stop it.

Over recent years, I’ve been getting more and more annoyed at Christmas starting earlier. Some people around here started putting up their Christmas decorations in October. October!!!

It’s insanity. I love Christmas decorations as much as anyone else – they’re shiny, glitzy and wonderful. But this whole ‘start earlier every year’ just smacks of feeding into a celebration that has become crazily consumerist. November is apparently the time to start showing Christmas films on TV.

I’d have no problem if we could stick with doing all of this shenanigans in December. The main problem I have with Christmas these days is that I’m already kind of fed up with it by Christmas day, as I’ve had Christmas rammed in my face everywhere I go for 3 months prior to the actual event.

I get why the shops do it – by starting earlier, they get more time to sell over-priced glitzy tat in the run up. It’s a shame that few have clocked on to this – buy all the things like wrapping paper and decorations in January at a discount, and you’re all set for next Christmas. Save yourself money, and feel smug as you get to avoid the screaming hordes of people doing their Christmas shopping.

The other thing is presents. We get encouraged to spend a crazy amount to prove our love for the people in our lives. I stopped buying into this idea quite a while ago. The people I buy presents for often have most of what they need, so I tend to buy practical things that don’t cost an arm and leg. Last year, I brought my Dad a new frying pan. Seems boring, but it’s what he wanted, and he’ll get to use it for years to come. This year, I’ve put money towards a new vacuum cleaner for my sister.

I may be seen as somewhat ‘Bah, humbug!’, but I’m not actually too concerned about that. I’ve been getting overdosed on Christmas. Whilst I’ll never pack it in completely, I do find that each year I’m caring less and less about it. Mainly because the focus has shifted away from spending time with loved ones, and more to buying shiny expensive things.

I guess the main message I’m trying to get across is that I think it would be pretty awesome if we could go back to keeping Christmas to December. I also doubt I’m the only one who shares that sentiment.

5 Silly things I did this week

I occasionally do very silly things. This week has been worse than most. I’m not sure why.

  1. When making custard tarts, I carefully measured out the butter I needed, and went to put the remaining butter back in the fridge. Except I didn’t put it in the fridge. I put it in the bin.
  2. I went to empty the bin, and forgot to take my keys out with me, locking myself out. Luckily, I had a window open, so I was able to get back into my flat. I got covered in cobwebs and all sorts, and sprained my wrist with this little adventure.
  3. Put the timer on my washing machine so that it would do a load over night. Neglected to check the program, and woke up the next morning to washing that had only been through a dry cycle, and nothing else.
  4. Neglected to check if the bloke actually likes custard tarts (since he generally eats everything). Later found out that of all the sweet things out there, he actually has a hatred of custard tarts. Oops! More for me, I guess!
  5. Forgot to add the tuna to the tuna pasta bake. I realised half way through, and added it later. Thankfully, it still tasted good.

The actual annoying things about Cambridge

I came across an article on the local news site this week – 13 annoying things about Cambridge.

Whilst I can agree with a few of them, things like punt touts have never bothered me – I moved to Cambridge from a city that is more obnoxious for it’s slew of charity chuggers. Which are far more irritating. The punt touts have never bothered me, since a short ‘Thanks, not today’ generally results in being left alone. Not so with charity chuggers. Really, until you’ve been practically chased down a high street by a monk shouting ‘Gurangha!’ at you, I’m not sure you can claim annoyance at punt touts. Then again, the southern end of this country does have a strange attitude in talking to strangers – as in, you do it rarely, if at all. Strangers are scary, or something. The north end of the country is much more likely to want to know your business and get in your face about it. Maybe that is the source of the irritation.

Many of the other problems are down to the local council. Whilst they get many things right, they are incredibly anti-vehicle. So it’s no surprise that parking becomes an issue. Take away the majority of free parking spaces, build housing allocated with 1 1/2 parking spaces (how do you get half a parking space? Seriously…), and poor public transport options, then you’re going to end up with overpriced parking, and people parking inconsiderately due to lack of options. Supply and demand, that has been artificially created by a council that seems to think that a bike is the answer to everything, without considering that people need to do things like carry shopping around, or deliver goods to the businesses in the area. Frustrating does not begin to cover it.

The other side of the problem is that Cambridge is actually a nice place to live, regardless of the problems. It’s close enough to London (whilst still being cheaper) that it is viable for commuting. Which of course means that the price of housing is incredibly high, and getting higher. That said, money is tight. More houses get built, but it’s not enough. The knock on effect of the extra housing is that more people live here – meaning the traffic gets worse. The infrastructure of the area is only now being considered (improvements to the A14 and updating a woefully inadequate train station). Of course, these things take time – but at least these kind of improvements are actually happening now. It’s frustrating, sure, but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. One day, the work will be completed.

In terms of things that are actually annoying about Cambridge for the average bod though? When I compare it to where I grew up, I find myself counting my blessings. It’s a vibrant area that does not get neglected in terms of government funding, and it shows. Try visiting some of the northern cities, and you’ll find a hotbed of supermarkets and call centres and little else – because their industry was closed down and sent abroad. The lack of investment up there means that first world problems such as pretty buildings is put on the back burner while they try to keep on top of such things as keeping the bare minimal public services running with minimal funding.

A lot of the annoyances listed in the linked article are annoying, yes – but it’s not all bad. At least the money is there to build the new houses, sort out the train station, and faff around with things like parking machines and ‘customer satisfaction’ surveys. As someone who grew up in a place that didn’t get this kind of investment, I struggle to get too irritated by these things. I guess it’s hard to appreciate just how good it is here if you haven’t seen the sheer ineptitude or lack of interest in other cities in this country. That is what irritates me.