27 Oct 2012

Cackle, snicker, scratch

Sixteen years, one month, twelve days. That's the amount of time we've lived in our current abode, and tomorrow we become the longest term residents at our end of the road when Mike ups for pasties new. Good luck Mike! It now falls to B & I to dispense the wisdom of elders to the small but friendly crew of neighbours we are lucky enough to be surrounded by.

Well, our elder statespersons' status isn't strictly true, for over the road and three doors down from Mike lives the quite strange Larry who moved in a week before us with his then wife. On the day we moved in Colin, who was helping us lunk boxes about, and I had a cup of tea over there, and that was the first and last time I've spoken to him. You see, it turned out that Mr & Mrs Larry were, and in Larry's case probably still is, quite barking mad. Both of them worked at a local mental hospital, and their working environment must have rubbed off, for they were forever rowing, culminating one night when Larry had locked himself in the bathroom to avoid being hacked to pieces by his banshee-wailing carving-knife wielding nutjob of a wife.

We know this because you could hear it all from our side of the road, and at 3am no less. Not for the first time the police were called. Eventually and inevitably Mr & Mrs Larry split up and she went back to the Isle of Man..."Today I are been mostly biting my lower lip and going "squeeee"..."

You might think Larry comes out of this ok, but his then neighbour made the mistake of asking him how he was and there followed endless visits at all hours, and incessant phone calls. This poor guy eventually split up with his Mrs and left the area. Probably nowt to do with Larry's harassment but it can't have helped!

Luckily for the rest of us for the last few years Larry has worked permanent night shifts so we rarely see him anyway and when we do there is a noticeable increase in walking speed!

Any of you remember a quite awful AOR supergroup from the 80s called Asia? Well, they released 3 albums up to 1985, split up, reformed in 1992 and have been releasing forgettably bland albums ever since. This year sees the release of their twelfth album and 2012 is also their 30th anniversary. Anyone doing a Google search for it will have to type in the prosaic title they gave it, probably unwisely. You try typing "Asia XXX" into Google and see what you get! :)

This weekend sees the first Merseyside derby of the season. For once we go into the game way ahead of "t'Shite", as they are known by the more intelligent footy fan, we have a better team, and they don't have a single player I'd have in our team ahead of one of ours. That is why we'll lose 2-0. I hate derbies. Still, at least we'll still finish ahead of them in the table come May next year.

A bit brass monkey today, is it not?

13 Oct 2012

Byte the pillow

I've bought a laptop, ostensibly for work but it will probably get far more use at home. I bought it from a guy on EBay for the princely sum of £151, and spec-wise it's not far behind my desktop so a bit of a bargain methinks. I'm typing this wibble on it to test out the keyboard to see how it copes with my Neanderthal typing skills. As you probably know, some laptop keyboards are pants - stand up HP - and the benchmark for workhorse keyboards in business use at any rate has always been IBM (now Lenovo) Thinkpads. A similar spec Lenovo laptop to this one from EBay would have been at least twice the price, and I'm a tight bastard at the best of times, even when I'm spending "work" money, which is essentially mine anyway. So far so good, the keyboard is a lot better than an HP for starters, and is as responsive as a Thinkpad although it doesn't have that "hit me baby, one more time" feel of the Lenovo beastie.

My new toy arrived two days ago and the first thing I did was a thorough virus check, nothing found; then a trawl through Windows Explorer to see what if anything the seller had inadvertently left behind. No donkey or any other porn I'm glad to say, but he did leave two work email accounts on Chrome with saved passwords! Unfortunately he's not in MI6 and neither is he Karen Gillan's bikini line waxer, only a mere golfing instructor. Judging by the subject titles of his work emails, which were largely unfathomable, I think he's also some kind of motivational coach. Anyway, the seller was told of his faux-pas and the email accounts duly got deleted along with the sundry videos of fat blokes and fat women taking practice swings on the golfing range. Oh, he's also into downloading movies from Torrent sites, a couple of those went too, along with a few episodes of Top Gear. A golfer into Top Gear? Whatever next? :)

I don't know about you, but I would have been a damn sight more careful if I was selling a computer on EBay!

Sticking with the world of pooters, this toy came with MS Office 2010 installed, another saving. At work I still use the 2003 version as Office has become the victim of the "new improved" bug that affects everything these days, and is always a step back from what existed before. I was going to say "nearly always" but I can't think of a single thing that has actually been improved by being "improved", if you get my gist. I know one person who has gone into this subject several times and left a trail of dead longer than a queue to slap John Terry who would agree with me totally.

In MS Office 2003 everything you would ever need was along the top tool bar, but from the 2007 version onwards even simple things like spellchecker are on a completely different tab. If you want to do anything even slightly complicated, like pivot tables in Excel, you need a roadmap the size of Wales to find your way round the bloody thing. Virtually everything about the new version of Office sucks big ones.

And now for something completely different. The once mighty Team Squonk have been going to pub quizzes for as long as I care to remember. As I've no memory, that may be two weeks or twenty years, but it must be ten years at least, which for me is the problem. Just lately I've become quizzed out; it's nothing to do with our recent downturn in fortune as these things tend to be cyclical; no it's just I've become a bit bored. Added to that is the distinctly down-at-heel Victoria Inn, a pub where they frequently run out of essentials and the state of the pipes is enough to give you a headache the following day after two pints. The only saving grace has been our current quiz master, who I can safely say is the one of the best we've had in all our years quizzing.

So, a break was called for. As this coincided with Mr Quiz's annual two-week foreign beano, we decided to frequent The Lamplighter, only a few hundred yards as the pigeon flies from the Vic as it happens. They have everything the other pub lacks, including toilet paper! Not sure about the quiz master who after we won our first outing there by several points did not appear to be too chuffed with our victory, so much so that calling him monosyllabic would be an overstatement. The turn out that first time was 22 people so we won £22, easily at that.

Slightly embarrassed at our trouncing of the opposition we thought we'd give it one more go for fear of outstaying our welcome. Well that was the opinion of B and moi at least, and how more wrong could we have been! The second outing last Wednesday saw the pub full to bursting including a couple of teams we recognised from past encounters, there being well over 50 people there. It was close between us and the two other teams, and going into the last (music) round we were 2 points in the lead. We got 7 and the second team got 13, which included a 5-point bonus question we couldn't answer, so we lost by 4 points. So much for our over-confidence! At least it makes it easier going back; oh and one more thing, they had Oakham Inferno on, one of the beers made by The Best Brewery In The World. Nice!

The good point was a £10 drinks voucher for next week for coming second, the slightly worrying point is that we've also decided to go to the Malt Shovel music quiz on Monday. We'll have to do better than our frankly disappointing effort at the music round at The Lamplighter is all I can say.

My quizzing appetite has been re-kindled by the change of venue, but I can't say I'm looking forward to returning to the Vic...we'll see how it goes.

Yes, I quite like this keyboard....

Finally...a goat goes into a Jobcentre and asks the desk-jockey in perfect English for some work. The stunned clerk suggests Billy applies to the local circus. "The circus?" sez Bill, "Why would the circus want a welder?" :)