Sunday, November 01, 2009

Buses and Bread Jazz.

The 99 bus route between Woolwich and Bexleyheath has been undergoing more richly deserved flak; the buses bunch up - you can find yourself waiting 30 minutes or more, only to have three turn up at once. I recently spoke to a bus controller at Plumstead, who said they were acutely aware of the problem. He said that it was partly caused by the convoluted journey around the houses at the Slade Green part of the route. They inherited this from the old 469 route, which used the smaller and more agile single deck buses. The 99 uses double deckers as shown in the photo above (click for a larger view). These have difficulty in navigating the narrow streets around Slade Green station, especially if there are a lot of parked cars. Apparently the bus company have asked to modify the route, and this is currently in consideration by Transport for London. I have been doing some research into the who bus clumping issue, and it would appear to be a phenomenon that has undergone some academic research; you can read an article about the subject from New Scientist by clicking here.

Additionally (and who says I don't plan these things?) I have developed a new theory over the past couple of weeks. It encompasses irregular and unreliable public transport, the woeful lack of public toilets in this country nowadays, and the propensity which many have for going out for a quiet pint on the odd occasion. I call my theory Wee Mileage. The aforementioned factors create an artificial boundary as to how far one can travel from home, if intending to indulge in a tipple whilst out and about. Once you have left the hostelry at the end of the evening, there is a finite amount of time available for travelling before one will be compelled to pump ones' bilges. Obviously this will vary between individuals and their personal bladder capacity / ability to hold on, the amont of liquid they have imbibed, and the ambient air temperature.  I am presupposing that one does not cheat and avail oneself of a convenient bush or dark alley. Wee mileages seem to be higher when employing a cab, mainly due to the fact one can take a last minute leak before starting the journey, and the cab will take you door to door with no waiting around at a chilly bus stop or draughty railway platform with the bladder clock ticking. This is the principal reason that I have never attended the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival at Earl's Court. The exhibition hall is admirably equipped with public conveniences, but once you leave the venue and head back to civilisation from West London the trouble starts. One would have to navigate the tube back to Charing Cross (it is possible to make a loo visit there - though if memory serves, they have the temerity to require an admission fee). After this it is fifty minutes overland by train to Erith, in a train that has a loo - but that is always locked and out of use to stop vandalism. Just too much to endure - and thus far too high a wee mileage for me to even consider.

I am sure that someone more mathematically inclined could reduce this set of half formed musings into an equation. I did start making some rough drawings of an engineering solution to the problem; my solution involved some rubber or polypropylene hose, a small tap, and a couple of rubber bands. The whole idea was to create a pipe from ones' underwear, which would lead down your trouser  leg to one side of the foot. When the user felt the need for relief where no conveniences were available, he could stand over a drain or gutter,  turn the tap and let rip at leisure. Passers by would be none the wiser. My solution was modelled on the system of trouser based bags used in The Great Escape to dispose of the tunnelling earth - they dropped it out of the bottom of each trouser leg, then scuffed it in. I excitedly told Ian of my invention, only for him to tell me that the Japanese have been marketing such devices for several years. My dreams of fame and fortune were shattered; I had hoped to do for weeing in public what Trevor Bayliss has for the wind up radio. Oh well.

One thing I really appreciate at work is the fact our lunches are heavily subsidised; we have a choice of several hot dishes including a vegetarian option; there are a wide variety of pre packed rolls and sandwiches, jacket potatoes with various fillings and a large salad bar. One real clincher for me is the custom sandwich and baguette bar - the catering staff will make up a totally bespoke sandwich from a wide variety of fresh ingredients at your request. You can really go to town and point out some really unusual filling combinations - a sort of free form bread jazz, if you will.

I have found online a short ten minute documentary all about the world's smallest country. Many people in the U.K are totally unaware that this tiny sovereign state exists a few miles off the Essex coast. It is the old sea fort, the Roughs Tower, located seven miles outside Harwich, which is now more properly known as The Principality of Sealand.  Years ago, whilst I was working for Radio Caroline, I was offered the chance to spend a few weeks on board Sealand. I used to spend many evenings talking to Sealand's chief engineer, Mike Barrington using an old CB radio on the bridge of Caroline's ship the Ross Revenge. Barrington had formerly worked as no. 2 engineer on Caroline, so he was a great source of information and advice for me - almost like a technical support helpline via radio. For various scheduling reasons, I never made it onto Sealand. Something I regret today, as it would have been instructive.

Following last weeks' video clip and comments in respect of Steel Panther, their gig at Wembley Arena in support of ZZ Top was reviewed in the Times - click here to read it.

Viz magazine celebrates its' 30th birthday this week; I read it on a semi regular basis, and I am a dedicated fan of their Profansisaurus.

October the 28th was Climate Fool's Day. This was set up to mark the sceptics' view on the climate change debate. It is safe to assume that many people have started to become sceptical concerning the dynamics of so called man made climate change. In recent years there have been seen to be many inconsistencies in the proposition that we have changed the Earth's climate with our pollution. You can read more about the Climate Realist's views here. Personally I can see valid arguments on both sides, but it does currently seem only one opinion is given any public air time, and if you question the science used by the global warming people, one gets looked at as a crank. I am just asking for a more open and informed debate based on sound, verifiable science, rather than the current half baked new age hippy clap trap we currently have to suffer.

Asus EeePC 901  554

I have spent the last couple of days with my Asus EeePC mini netbook (photo above), trying to update the operating system from Ubuntu Netbook remix 9.04 to 9.10. Something that should normally be pretty straightforward and painless. Not this time unfortunately. Many applications broke, or had weird unexpected dependancies. I ended up hosing the installation and starting from scratch. I have told the Asus that if it does not behave, it could end up with PC BSD Unix on it instead...

In my only minor concession to last nights' Halloween shenanigans, I have found the following video online; it is a cover version of Ray Parker Jr's seminal early 80's hit "Ghostbusters" from the excellent comedy horror movie of the same name. The band are called Hoobastank - and no, I have not heard of them either. See what you think and feel free to leave a comment below, as always.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhhh! The "wonder" of the 99 bus route.
    All life is there as the saying goes.
    Must admit just before the route changed to encompass Bexleyheath it was an almost "Golden Age", buses were regular, clean, new etc now they turn up a roundabout near when they should sometimes give or take sometimes 40 minuets for a service that supposed to run about EVERY 10 MINUETS!!
    Interestingly though I have noticed when I have a day off Trinity School now have teachers to chaperone the kids on the bus, quite impressive! And I have to say there is one Teacher I've seen who puts me in mind of a dominatrix school Marm' and the Van Halen track "Hot For Teacher"….Hurr! Hurr! Hurr!

    Wee Mileage…Hmmm…great phrase!
    I completely understand what you mean about bladder pressure Vs. distance travelled but unlike you I think it's less of a factor (but then you are older than me HAHAHA!)
    I think your also missing out on another Pewty-ism a "Bladder - Clock" cos it's it does feel like a heavy second hand ticking when the pressure's built up.

    I dunno crowing about your free lunches at a time like this? DON'T YOU KNOW THERE'S A RECESSION ON??! And by LAW we are supposed to beat our chest, blame the Government and wear hair shirts.
    Or something.
    It sounds FAB.
    The lunch that is not the hair shirts.
    "Free Form Bread Jazz" has a certain…image to it where as "Progessissive Free Form Bread Jazz" to me conjures up the flip side: a hideous images involving Bloater Paste, Pumpernickel and the like…

    Sealand, so good they named it twice. As Wikip' tells us it has a total Area claimed of 550 m2. That's about 1/89th the size of one wing of Pewty Acears (if memory serves me, that would be the North standing where the Data storage, secondary armourmnents and old copies of Sinclair User magazines are stored in climate controlled conditions). I'm still slogging my way through the applictaion to become a subject of Peasmouldia (

    Oh how sad am I that I missed the Steel Panther gigs? Some of the most catchy "hair-rock" anthems you could ever wish for. Imagine 80's Def Lepard mixed with Motley Crue and Bon Jovi but with some of the most offensive, un-PC lyrics ever laid down to acitate. I find myself singing "The Shocker" on a regular basis…