Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chilli sauce with that?

Yes, I know I have used the picture above before, but it so fits the area and the season that it justified re-use, and anyway, many readers may not have seen the virtual Christmas card "The Erith Nativity" before, so I am recycling some electrons accordingly. Quality stuff, as I am sure that you will agree. Click for a larger version.

Has the 99 bus got some way of distorting space and time, like a double – decker Tardis? I just spent over half an hour waiting in seriously sub zero temperatures for one to turn up, whilst three others shot past in the other direction. The 99 route has been extremely unreliable since it was extended to Bexleyheath a couple of years ago. The buses bunch up, so that you get a convoy of anything up to four following each other in close proximity, with then a vast gap in the service. I have spoken to the supervisor at Plumstead bus garage about this problem, and they acknowledge it as being a pressing issue. They tell me that when the route was extended, it still followed part of the old 469 route around Slade Green. The 469 was a small and relatively maneuverable single decker, whereas the 99 is a double decker with all the handling ability of a pool table. Personally I think this is only part of the issue. The current route is very long and composed of a number of distinct stages. The bus controller needs to be more proactive, and turn buses around when they are bunching up, but to date this is not happening.

I also note that the customary Christmas “amateur drinkers” have made their annual appearance; public transport is currently littered with these victims of the office party. I see the usual winos and proponents of the trampagne lifestyle on a regular basis, including the unfortunate scrote who sat on a small child which I wrote about a while back. I saw him again this week; he was being somewhat better mannered, though to be honest I was itching for him to kick off, as my response would have given him something to think about.
Whilst I am writing this bit, The Royal Standard (see Google Street view of the place, embedded above) is hosting an office party; I am sitting in the conservatory at the rear of the building, next to a radiator, typing away on my Asus netbook; the only other people who are sharing the conservatory are blokes who come out for the relative peace and quiet in order to telephone their significant others. I get ignored, and get to be privy to all sorts of private conversations, It is all quite surreal, like being the priest in a beery confessional.

Fast forward a couple of days; it is now Sunday afternoon; the traditional time for the Maggot Sandwich to get an update. Quite a bit has happened in the meantime. I was tucked up in bed at 1.30am on Christmas morning when I heard the front door letterbox banging; fearing Santa had just found out that my chimney was blocked - (hello? Have you heard of central heating Saint Nick?) I stumbled downstairs and switched on the light to discover a pizza and kebab delivery leaflet on the doormat. Someone had been out in the early hours of Christmas morning, delivering junk food takeaway flyers! On top of this, it was for a place in Spital Street, Dartford. Anything delivered from there to Erith with be a cold, greasy and soggy mess by the time it arrived. Besides which, who in their right mind would be delivering leaflets in a sub zero temperature, well after the Devil's dancing hour? Madness.

Traditionally the Christmas period is when all of the amateur music radio pirates come onto the Shortwave radio bands. The splendid chap who maintains the Shortwave DX Blog is the UK premier authority on such illicit broadcasting activity. I have been extremely busy this Christmas, and have not been able to devote nearly as much time to Shortwave listening as I would normally hope to do. Follow this link to see what stations have been on, and what are currently broadcasting. As well as my JRC NRD 345 desktop H.F Receiver, I have a classic Sony ICF 2001-D radio which is generally regarded as the best portable receiver ever made - see a photo of it below. I bought it new, in 1987 from the then Sony Centre in Bexleyheath; it cost £399, which was an absolute fortune to me back then. With hindsight, it is one of the best technology buys I have ever made. It is well made, still performs as well as many table top receivers, and has possibly the best interference reducing synchronous detection circuit of any radio, ever. The ICF 2001-D was standard issue kit to BBC foreign correspondents for many years - the radio was made by the professional broadcast arm of Sony, not the consumer electronics wing; it was apparently so expensive to make that it was years before the radio broke even. My model is still working perfectly, and sits on my bedside cabinet, where it serves as my main alarm clock / radio on a daily basis.

I seem to be a nutter magnet; I was sitting once again on the 99 bus from Erith to Upper Belvedere this morning, when a rather elderly gent came and sat next to me; nothing odd in that, you might think. The bus was virtually empty - almost completely devoid of other passengers, which did get the old alarm bells ringing, and my gut instinct was not wrong. The bloke started regaling me with how the current cold spell was a pestilence sent by God as the start of the end times, as a punishment for "drugs, homosexuality and pop music" in his words. He rambled on semi coherently whilst I pointedly tried to ignore him. Once I got to my stop and managed to squeeze past him, and off the seat, with him still ranting away, I said - "you need to get some help - you're a nutter!" I just hope I don't encounter him again; there is very little more that gets my goat, than someone trying to push their opinons on unwilling others.

The video this week is pretty much self explanatory; it is a short and very easy to follow tutorial on how to set up your own free website using the Google Sites application. I have several websites, some of which you may know about, and some you may not. I have used the Google Site tools, and I can confirm it is extremely easy to use. It lacks the end to end polish of Apple's iWeb application, but the difference is, Google Sites is completely free. Please leave feedback below, as always.

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