Sunday, December 05, 2010

Missing the mushrooms.

A week that has been dominated by the weather; I won't bang on about it, as pretty much everything that needs to be said has already been said. If you want to read some analysis and comment about the woeful state of South Eastern Trains, and their recent almost non-existent service, I would heartily recommend the excellent 853 Blog here. The photo above was taken by me last weekend, prior to the arrival of the snow, and shows a number of tugs moored just off Erith Riverside Gardens. Click on the picture for a larger view.

The BBC news website features a story about a woman from Chatham who dialled 999 to report the theft of her snow man. I had to read the story twice before it sank in. The woman should be prosecuted and fined for wasting Police time. You can hear a recording of the incident here.

I was due to attend a reception at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday afternoon this week, as part of one of my roles at work; unfortunately I had to give it a miss, due to the terrible weather conditions and the almost total lack of public transport at the time. I have had to work from home for most of this week, which actually has been rather productive - I found that you don' get so many interruptions and distractions as happen when in the office. Nevertheless, I had to miss the parliamentary bash, and also a meeting I was due to attend with newsreader John Suchet on Friday. I don't get to attend many jollies, and missing two in the same week was a real pain. I am sure many people have far worse tales of woe than mine. 

Ian sent me the silent video clip below; it depicts probably the worst way to test bullet resistant glass possible. I initially thought that it was a hoax, but after several watchings, I am convinced that the clip is genuine. Have a look and comment below.

I made the mistake of watching two BBC drama documentaries back to back this week, as they have just been made available on YouTube. One was filmed in the mid 1960's, and the other in the mide 1980's. Both deal with the same subject matter, but with different approaches. The programme from the 1960's was The War Game, and the one from the 1980's was Threads. I urge you not to watch either if you are of a nervous disposition. They both are utterly horrifying, dealing with the consequences of nuclear war if it had ever happened in the UK. I recall seeing Threads when it was first broadcast on BBC 2 back in 1984, and it remains the most frightening and powerful piece of television I have ever seen. 

If you still want to watch these two pieces of ground breaking television (The War Game won an Oscar for best TV documentary) - ironic, as it was not shown on British television until 1985, as it was regarded as being too shocking for the public to watch. You can find them online. The War Game is here. Threads is available here. You have been warned - they are both graphic and shocking.

A new version of the Flock social networking web browser has just been released. Flock used to be based on the Firefox code, but in version 3.5 the browser has been built using the open source Chromium web browser instead, and it certainly seems faster because of it. You can visit the Flock website here to download the free and open source application. Personally I don't do any social networking (I detest FaceBook and Twitter, and mainly steer clear of the social aspects of Flickr). I am happy with Google Chrome for OS X as it offers lots of screen real estate and is very quick and secure. Incidentally, I was checking my Flickr photo account earlier this week. I get quite a few requests to become a contact, which I usually agree to, as being a Flickr contact does not grant any special access privileges or other access escalation. I received such a request a few months ago, and half read it before saying OK. I was doing some administration on my Flickr account, and went to check my contacts list to find the following person (Not Suitable For Work) was one of my online contacts. I didn't know who she was, but once I did a Google search on her name, it turns out she does get about quite a bit! I have never met or been in contact with her, and I have absolutely no idea why she would have linked to me. Very strange indeed. I guess she is trying to drum up business for her own rather dodgy online activities, and I am just one of many unwitting advertising targets.

Google Earth version 6 was also released this week; it is available as a free download for Windows, Apple OS X and Linux. There have been reports in the technical press that have now trickled into the popular media as to how metal thieves have been using Google Earth imagery in order to pinpoint buildings in order to steal lead and copper from their roofs. You can read an account in the Telegraph by clicking here. In a related article, the Telegraph also features the story that bosses at YouTube are employing extra people to police uploaded content, looking to block pro Al Qaeda videos. Bearing in mind, approximately 35 hours of video gets uploaded every minute, this could be a difficult task. Anyway, back to Google Earth 6 - you can see a short video explaining the updated application below.

Something I originally noticed, and mentioned during the last cold snap, back in January; I don't know if you have noticed over the cold period, that however much snow and ice lays on the pavements of the U.K, there is one area that remains permanently precipitation free. Any guesses? The cast iron manhole covers over the sewerage system. It does not seem to matter where you look, the sewerage system is frost free. The reason for this is down to some fairly complex biochemistry governing the breakdown of organic matter to release nitrogen compounds. In more base terms, poo generates heat. All clever stuff - all I need to do now is work out a way to turn it into a viable alternative energy source - one could say that it was a green alternative to conventional power generation, though to my mind calling it brown would be rather more accurate. The chaps on Top Gear created a car powered by methane released from poo some time ago; if memory serves, it was not exactly that successful. Still, as the old saying goes "Where there's muck, there's brass".

I featured a story about my thoughts on the refurbishment of Woolwich Covered Market a few weeks ago; I emailed Greenwich Council and posted my thoughts on the Plumstead Integration Project website. I have been contacted by a chap called Harry who seems to have similar ideas as myself. I hope to meet with Harry in the near future to discuss what, if anything we can do to rescue the dilapidated and under used building. I'll report back with an update shortly. 

Guilty pleasures - we all have them. I know one highly educated and erudite chap at work who will not miss an episode of Neighbours, to the point he has every episode recorded in case he does not get home in time to watch it live. One of my guilty pleasures was the now defunct Mushroom Double Swiss burger from Burger King. I loved the meaty, yet melted cheesy mushroominess of the burger - okay it was quite greasy and no doubt packed to the gills with too much salt and cholesterol, but it was very tasty indeed. The burger was withdrawn from the menu in the UK many years ago. I, along with many other people wrote to Burger King UK (in the days before Email) and to their credit, the Mushroom Double Swiss was brought back onto the menu for a short time, but only to disappear for good in around 1996. Most other countries still have the burger on their menu, and some bright spark has now set up a FaceBook group called Bring Back the Mushroom Double Swiss. I wonder how it will go? I am not holding my breath.

I read that Stella Artois have had to recall a large number of bottles of their vile and gassy lager after shards of broken glass were found in some 250ml bottles. The story was reported by the BBC News website, and you can read it here. In a rather more refined and civilised manner, this weeks' main video clip is a short documentary about the making of the Fuller's London Pride TV commercial I featured recently. You can see how they recruited James May, and what went on behind the scenes as they shot the commercial. Please feel free to leave a comment, as always.


  1. Threads is a particularly haunting film, I remember seeing in when first shown on TV in the 80's when I was a relative youngster. I managed to obtain a copy of it on DVD a couple of years back and it is still a shocking film. I believe there was a similar film made in the US but I can't recall the title.
    I haven't seen The War Game though- will check that out.

  2. Hi - the American film you are thinking of is "The Day After" which was heavily influenced by then current U.S policy. It is very sanitised, safe and homely compared to either UK film, as the Internet Movie Database entry confirms.