Chuck it aaaart

downloadMrs Gnomepants: So we might get our lovely period bath re-enamelled rather than buy a new one. Its a lovely original cast iron bath.
Ma Gnomepants: Why would you want to do that? Oh buy a new one instead.

and

Mother-in-law – Why have you made your own cake? You’d have been better off buying a shop bought one.
A bit later..
Sister-in-law phwarr this cake’s lovely
stegzy Oh yes. Its delightful. Really chocolatey and moist. I’ll have another slice there should be plenty seen as your mum would prefer a shop bought one.

Ma Gnomepants Get yourself a new vacuum cleaner
stegzy Why? Whats wrong with the one I’ve got? I’ve only had it for 4 years
Ma Gnomepants It doesn’t suck right. I think it’s broken
stegzy Mum…Its either full or the pipe is blocked. Bit of poking about Ah yes. Look a big ball of cat hair and paper blocking one of the pipes. And look, it sucks….Thats saved me £100

My mum and the wifes mum are part of what I call the “Throw away” generation. The throw away generation tend to be aged between 50 and 80. If something breaks, whereas their parents would have endeavoured to fix or mend the broken item themselves or have the item repaired by someone else, the “Throw Away” Generation simply chuck it out and buy a new one.

junkMy Dad was born on the cusp of the arrival of this generation. If a hole appeared in one of his socks he used to darn the sock and prolong its life by a further 2 years. Similarly if something mechanically simple breaks, my dad will take it apart and have a look to see if he can repair the thing. This attitude saved me loads of cash as a kid when my over used joysticks for my Commodore 64 would break. A simple twist of the screws and a blob of solder would often fix the problem. Likewise with bicycles, bits of furniture, plumbing, general repairs or whatever, if a simple patch and repair could be affected it would. My mum however, is the opposite. Even the slightest tear of fabric in something and it must be thrown out and a new one bought. Note I said thrown out. Rarely are such items given away to anyone other than family and even then prolonged usage would receive comments such as “Why don’t you buy yourself a new one?” or “I see John Lewis have a sale on “.

I suppose the post war years and the post rationing years promised that generation exciting and disposable things. Instant Car! Just add water! or Our sofas are made of 100% cheap and nasty non-biodegradable polymer based materials. SO cheap! Why buy one? Buy four! If one breaks…chuck it out! Hurrah!!. Their rationed parents and grandparents looking on in bewilderment. “Hey wow look Ethel! Dorothy has bought yet another labour saving device! Gosh do you remember when you had to spend all day Wednesday working on the mangle?”.

So we come full circle again.

Things break
I’ll have a look at the thing.
Assess if I can fix it.
Ask my dad if he can fix it.
Buy a new one but keep the old one for spares.
Get bollocked by the wife for keeping shite that I’ll never get round to fixing
Dispose of thing in recognised place of refuse disposal.

Even when in our house where we have separate bins for recyclables and compostables. After the olds have visited we tend to find things in the wrong bin. I think if Liverpool council hadn’t had a “If you don’t compost we’ll frown at you” campaign, the olds would still be chucking out plastics and glass to landfill. Although to be fair my dad has always separated his bottles and papers, but mum just puts anything resembling rubbish into the bin. I think my dad separates the bottles because when he was young he could take bottles back to the shop for the penny deposit and newspapers were always useful for a variety of purposes. Whereas my mum sees that as a bit lower class and although my mum comes from the roughest arse end of Garston, she sees herself as having worked her way up to near the top and is quite proud.

The wife’s mum tends to just lump everything into the same bin despite constantly being told by her daughters that there are greener ways to do things. Though to give her her due she does switch everything off at the wall when she has finished. Not something I can hold my hand up and say I do religiously and she doesn’t drive a car (my dad drives a petrol guzzling Ford Focus) so I suppose that off sets some of her carbon foot print slightly.

I read this…..Is it right? Are your olds part of the throw away generation? How about you?

Joseph Wiseman – Making the world a better place – Part three

I once read an article was about physical assaults on driving examiners, how they are on the rise and how the union of driving examiners says it’s all down to the culture of not taking No for an answer.

Pint glass
A pint in a pint glass

Having worked in the service industry for some years now I am all too familiar with this culture. For example:

stegzy – How can I help?
Self-opinionated Wankstain – I want you to help me put 3 pints into this 1 pint jug please.
stegzy – Er. I can’t it’s against the laws of physics.
Self-opinionated Wankstain – That’s not acceptable. I want to speak to your manager.

or

stegzy – How can I help?
Over important Fuckwit – I need you to help develop a transparent, dynamic and flexible framework strategy to empower our co-workers to heighten their productivitity using spoons and blu tac.
stegzy – Surely that will require several think tanks, a working group and a number of cross-departmental forums. It can’t be done!
Over important Fuckwit – Nonsense! You have to have several corporate lunches and at least a couple of away days to arrive at such decisions! You can’t just pluck something like “It can’t be done” out of the ether!

Or

Scruffy smackhead tramp – ‘av ya gorranny change der lah?
stegzy – no
Scruffy smackhead tramp – in dat case am gonnarav t’stab yer

Such is society today. No doubt brought on by the Culture of Now and propagated by the increasingly annoying “Everyone’s a winner” mentality and non-competitive environment they seem to be rearing children up in today.(I tell you this. If and when I have kids of my own they’re so going to be home schooled. None of this Hitler Youth conditioning that seems to go on in schools today). Some people, it seems, really do not expect to hear the word no when they ask for something.

Calc
Can I put OSX on this please?

From the simple:

“Can I put Mac OS 10 on this calculator?”
“No”

To the more complex

“Can I put Mac OS 10 on this calculator?”
“No”
“Why?”
“Because you can’t”
“Well find me evidence that you can’t because I don’t believe you”

and the more absurd

“Can I put Mac OS 10 on this calculator?”
“No”
“Why?”
“Because you can’t”
“Well get onto Steve Jobs and demand that he do something about it!”

And not just in IT, it’s similar in retail environs

“Can I have a pizza please?”
“I’m sorry this is a hardware shop”
“Well that’s not my problem is it?!”

And in Libraries

“Do you have a book on the history of pink rhino race meetings held in Milton Keynes between 1999 and 2003?”
“Erm. No”
“Well you bloody well should have! Call this WH Smiths!?”

DrJuliusNo
Do you know Dr No? No?

It seems we don’t like to be told no. No is not the answer we like to hear. However it is often the only answer available

“Which Doctor was played by Joseph Wiseman and starring Sean Connery in the film of the same name?”
“No”
“Correct”

I am of the opinion that all that is required is a large scale public celebration of the word “no”. Tshirts, badges and hats escribed with the word “NO”. The constant playing of “No Limits” by 2Untalented. Banners and kites. Hot air balloons and zeppelins. Feel proud of the word NO as a forbidding word. Embrace it with open arms. Take it to bed with you and touch it up. Say NO today.

Its easy isnt it?

Ok thats a bit simplistic. Its not that people dislike the word no. Its just people don’t like negativity. It is negativity that we should embrace. Use it to our advantage. Those people banging on about how we should all be POSITIVE in our actions and thoughts are basically fueling this epidemic of violence. We should be more negative. So next time the driving examiner says

I’m terribly sorry. You havent passed

Cheer for joy! Say out loud “Thankyou!”. If you feel necessary kiss the examiner on the lips. Remember you have celebrated bad news and that is a just cause. So you failed your driving exam! You can now go and sit in a pub all miserable and resentful. Alcohol consumption generates revenue. Revenue is good for the economy.

The next time the shop man says

I’m terribly sorry but I don’t want to serve you because your eyebrows meet in the middle

Don’t hit him. Thank him. Such negativity is good. Your eyebrows probably do meet in the middle and that is probably why people call you wolfie behind your back. Go home. Shave. Become self concious. Become reclusive. Let that anger, paranoia and resentment build up. It’s good for you! It helps raise the blood pressure which means your heart is pumping faster. Surely that is better for you than it just beating as if you were calm and at rest? Accept that you, like many other people, are disfigured by excessive eyebrow growth. The shop keeper isnt going to get your money. It is your money that he needs to keep the protection racket away from his counter which is probably already splattered with his blood and covered by his bruised body. The police are probably already investigating. Such negative actions create employment. Employment creates revenue. Revenue is good. Think negative. It’s good for you and society.

Instead of calling the bus driver a twat because he refuses to change a five pound note. Call him a patriot. His negativity is exactly what this planet needs. So you have to walk the nine miles home in the pouring sodding pissing rain. You will no doubt get some sort of pneumonia and require care in a hospital or somewhere. The care you receive will be provided by nurses. Jobs that will need to be filled. So you might lose a lung or become infected with MRSA. Just think of those lawyers you will be employing to fight for compensation. So the lawyers will take 80% of your award as a fee. 20% is awful! Blow it all on beer and fags. Keep them revenue coffers overflowing.

It isn’t your duty to be negative?

Be like an electron. Be minus 1. Be black and white and in reverse. Be negative.

Censor this

It started about the 17th September. Groups of people from all walks of life gathered in Wall Street in America in protest of the growing corporate culture. The movement is called Occupy.

 

There has been frighteningly little news about this in the British media. I’m not saying it has not been reported; it has. I am not shocked by this as unless children get hurt or someone famous gets arrested at the event it was unlikely it would get reported.

 

Monitoring the news this week has been interesting. Very little in the way of actual news. Slow news week. Slow news. Nothing to worry about…move along…But scratch beneath the surface, read between the lines and you notice things.

 

Little things. Like the problem with the Blackberry mobile phone network. Curious that it happens here just as the Occupy movement swells in Europe and, indeed the UK. Cast your mind back to the events in August. Riots organised by youths….USING BLACKBERRYS. Cut off the network. Invent some crap about a server malfunction. Cut off the communication of the youth. Prevent gatherings and organised flash protests. Then what happens? The problem spreads to the US. Coincidence? Maybe.

 

Then there’s the disappearing links on Facebook. I tried sharing a link to a news story drawing attention to the movement. Mysteriously it vanished a few hours later. I pasted a link in a comment to a friend. It too mysteriously vanished. Paranoia? Cake?? Misdirection?

 

Something stinks. I don’t like it. When people start disappearing, it will be too late.

 

 

Further reading:

 

http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/occupylondon

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002993390797

http://occupylsx.org/

http://www.occupytogether.org/

http://occupyeverything.org/

Buying stuff

In March my contract with my mobile phone provider, O2, is up for renewal.

After much deliberation, illness and snow bound cabin fever I pondered my options. I could end my contract early (costing £60), start a new contract early or just wait until March.

March seems like forever off. It isn’t. But it feels like it is. Besides, I haven’t had a gadget fix since I inherited the wife’s laptop. So I did a little spreadsheet and worked out my current spend through my current contract.

My contract allows 400 minutes and 500 texts per month but no data discounts. Which, in hindsight, is daft as I use data services a hell of a lot these days. My previous contract also lacked data service and looking back at my bills I was paying ridiculous amounts of money to faceless executives allowing them to play golf in Surrey on Wednesday afternoons.

I currently have a Nokia N95 8GB which is a good phone. It does it’s job, it allows me to make and receive calls, send texts, take photographs and video, find my way to places using the GPS and play Snakes when I’m bored daft.

Sadly it doesn’t really allow me to write notes without mucking about and the proprietary software that allows the phone to communicate with my PC sucks hairy monkey balls.

Coupled with the fact that lots of the kids I see these days have iPhones which, to me at least, just seem like fashion accessories and expensive ones at that, getting a new phone this time was going to have to be thoroughly investigated.

Initially I was going to opt for the Acer F1 to go with my Acer desktop and Acer Laptop. I was all set to click “BUY NOW” but I thought I’d better check the GPS first as GPS is something I do rely on at the moment for Geocaching. As it turned out some reviews claimed that the GPS functionality of the Acer F1 was a bit pants so my itching mouse finger held off clicking “BUY NOW” until I compared other phones for their reliability.

And there it was. The HTC HD2. The phone that I just had to have. I watched videos of people reviewing it, I read articles, sought out software and even tidied up my Outlook in preparation.

By this time it was Wednesday afternoon, I’d found the best tariff for my needs on buymobilephones.net, compared the competition and benefits via my spreadsheet, filled in the application form and clicked send. It was 3.30pm, the site hinted that it very well may be possible that I could have my phone within 24 hours, which I thought, would be Friday…or Saturday at the very least.

Buymobilephones.net sent me a confirmation email an hour later. Excitement swelled inside me causing me to cough more from this wretched cold I’ve been suffering from. More mooching and reading and trying to find anything I could about my new toy.  The confirmation email said that they would send another email when my phone had been processed.

I waited

And waited.

Waited a bit more.

Still nothing. A whole day passed. Snow storms had cut off most of the UK and yes…I thought maybe a bit of snow would hamper my hopes of getting my phone for the Friday. Indeed by 6.30pm that Thursday evening, a further email was sent by Buymobilephones.net to say they were coping with a 24 hour back log due to “seasonal demand”.

Fair enough, I thought, the weather and excess demand would hamper anything. By Friday evening I was getting restless. I still hadn’t received any further emails. Three days had passed. Where was my order up to?

Saturday. Same thing. No email…nothing….

See…this is what happens to me. I buy things online with the expectation that they’ll come a day or two later. When they don’t I get really miffed. I miss the high street store option of walking into a shop. Mooching round for the item I want, going to the checkout. Paying for it. Going home. At least then, the excitement was contained by my journey home. This waiting for buymobilephones.net to get their act into gear is killing me. Now I’ve got the little voices in my head saying “They’ve lost your order” and “There’s a problem with your new mobile subscription set up”.

Had it not been for my horrid cold, the snow and the ice and the lack of high street shops selling sim free mobiles, I’d have risked the drive into town to buy one today. This is symptomatic of the culture of now (CON). I have given into the CON. CONsumerism has bitten me and I must have a new toy…I must I must I must.

I looked at the prices of my old mobile phone, my old Acer Laptop, my old Playstation 1. All of these items cost shit loads when they were new. Now…you can get all three for just under £200. I need to remind myself….electronics and keeping up with the Joneses….bad game to play. I never win.

For every season

Ah food. My favourite subject. I took a trip to Barnsley Market on Tuesday and was amazed at the colourful displays of fruit and veg at the greengrocer stalls. Such diversity at such a wide rane of prices. That got me thinking about how the culture of now fueled by the supermarket’s thoughtlessness on providing what the customer wants regardless of the cost to the environment has made us forget to think responsibly about food. Sure I like a banana all year round, but some things, such as strawberries and apples, just don’t taste the same out of season. Soft fruit especially, as this becomes flavourless and generally pants out of season. Then I thought, how much do you know about the seasonal availability of fruit and veg in your part of the world. These days we tend to forget that fruit and veg are seasonal and we just nip down the shops for some imported veg like we might nip down to the electrical store for some imported electrical goods.

It is worth noting, however, that I do “try” to buy seasonal British produce wherever possible, but as supermarkets are able to import huge sacks of fruit and veg from anywhere in the world, it can be hard to find such produce in them (except, it seems, at small scale greengrocers surprisingly) even though I try to check the country of origin for fruits and veggies.

Cost

When I first started shopping for myself, as in buying food to eat for the month, I was living as a student in Sheffield. It was 1992. Prior to that, my experience of shopping was two fold.

  1. With my mum and dad who would stroll round the supermarket putting whatever into the basket and paying for it all at the checkout on their debit card then getting narky when the bill came to something ridiculous.
  2. With my nan who would adhere to a strict budget, totting up how much she had spent in her head, paying the exact total in cash.

Quick Ma, he’s on about them darn supermarkets again.

Potty time

At around about the age of 2 I was introduced to a delightful receptacle known as the potty. I can’t remember the time really, but I know that that basic training put me in good stead for using the toilet. As a lot of my tutelage in such matters came from women I still prefer to use the cubicle rather than a urinal, something many of my male friends scoff at and mock me about. Yet I am, relatively recently, now able to choose which receptacle I want to use though 75% of the time the cubicle wins.

Now, I realise that the basic family unit of the 1970’s (mum, dad, siblings & pet cat) is somewhat different to today’s family unit (mum, mum’s partner, estranged father, estranged father’s partner, step and paternal siblings) but surely that should be no excuse for the way I perceive things going in the noughties. Indeed, one might argue there is no excuse for such behaviour in any generation (except maybe physically or mentally disabled people), but there really is no excuse for pissing all over the seat and the floor.

You see it was instilled in me from an early age that the appropriate urination techniques are as follows:

Ensure toilet seat is in upright position
Undo fly
Take out willy
Aim willy at bit of porcelain just where it meets the water (so as not to make too much noise)
Relax
Urinate
Shake (more than two is classed as a wank)
Put willy back
Do up fly
Wipe any spillage with tissue
Put used tissue in toilet
Flush
Leave

Some may argue that I should also have included “Lower seat” in between “flush” and “leave” but it reminds 50% of the public that men stand up to do their weewees.

However, it has come to my attention that in the age range of say 18-25 there is a distinct lack of appropriate toilet training. Rather, I believe some mothers would prefer their male offspring train themselves and instead of castigating them for piddling all over the seat simply wipe it up for them because in their eyes that is what mothers do and that telling their male off-spring off for pissing all over the place might cause them to become closet homosexuals or golden shower fetishists.

Today, I entered the male toilets in the College in which I still work so that I might perform some ablutions. My first “doh” was the puddle of liquid on the floor in which my trailing shoelace was now lain soaking. The second “doh” came because some oik had decided that pissing all over the seat was more appropriate than careful aim. Tissue, soggy tissue, lay all over the place and the cubicle smelt like someone had been drinking haddock juice or at least had a really bad urinary infection. Simply, there is no excuse for such behaviour. Especially at the age 16-19, which most of the boys here are. I dread to think what their homes are like.

Rubbish

Another gripe at the moment is rubbish.

In the UK most of the council refuse collections are fortnightly. The reason? There’s not enough land fill in which to put the rubbish people are generating. Personally I think it’s a splendid idea. Especially as Mrs G and I only seem to generate half a wheelie bin a week after recycling. I know in some parts of the UK frightful hauty toff types (the kind that drive little Jonny 35 yards to the school gate in their fuck off massive 4×4’s) have been whinging about how they have to put up with the smell of rotting cabbage (answer darling, get a fucking compost bin!) and rats (they’re there because you don’t close the fucking wheelie bin and leave bags out as well you dirty scutters).

Yesterday I arrive home to the usual pile of shite through my letter box (bills, offers of sexual favour, letters of merit) and a leaflet from a private bin collection agency.

Tyke Refuse collection or something. A licenced refuse collection agency offering lazy non-recyclers the opportunity to pay £75 a year to have their bins emptied by them on alternate weeks (ie when the council don’t collect). But what is the TRUE COST OF CONVENIENCE? The rubbish they collect still has to go somewhere doesn’t it? And if there are two companies (the council and the private) collecting rubbish surely that means twice the rubbish to be disposed? The fortnightly collections are there to encourage people to recycle more and not to carry on as if there is no space shortage.

I said to Mrs G, if I was on the council I’d revoke their waste licence.