Sunday, May 29, 2011

Laptop vs. soup.

The Furniture Liquidation Store has finally closed its' doors after nearly four weeks of announcing that the final day was today - typical of the furniture business. The Nemesis Thai Boxing Gym has already started replacing the current knackered shop frontage. It will be interesting to see how the place changes over the coming few weeks.

Whilst climbing the stairs from the platform to the station exit at Woolwich Arsenal station on Tuesday afternoon I was confronted by three tracksuit encased Chavs, who had just climbed over the passenger barrier at the station entrance - they were that keen to avoid paying for their tickets. They then ran down the stairs, led by a bull terrier of indeterminate but overtly agressive parentage (why do all such dogs get outfitted by their owners in brass studded leather pseudo bondage gear?) I managed to avoid the scrotes as they ran to board the train, but would have loved to have put my foot out and watched the nearest one tumble down the steps. Rail staff have told me that outside of the rush hour, up to two thirds of passengers have not paid for their journeys. This puts the burden on the honest ticket buyers like you and me. The scum think the world owes them everything, when the exact opposite is true.

I work for a huge multi national professional services company that has been voted as the best large firm to work for on numerous occasions in the last few years. I spend much of my time in their Canary Wharf headquarters office, where I am responsible for most of the technology in the building. One of the benefits of working for such an organisation is that employees get a heavily subsidised lunch, from the Sir Paul Smith designed staff restaurant. I have been so busy over the last few weeks that I have foregone lunch in order to get all my assigned tasks completed on schedule. This Friday I decided that enough was enough, and that I would treat myself to a well deserved lunch break. One of the food options available is what is known as the Chef's Theatre, where the chef stir fries ingredients in a wok to your order - it is pretty much a Wagamama type experience, with stir fried noodles, meat, fish or tofu and a selection of vegetables cooked to your order. A healthy and tasty lunch option. I chose stir fried tofu, sweet pepper, carrot, bean sprouts, ginger, chilli and peas in a vegetable stock with Soba buckwheat noodles. The dish was prepared in a wok on a high powered induction hob in front of me in little more than two minutes. Rather than eat in the restaurant, which can get a little on the crowded side, I elected to get the meal served in a waxed card Chinese takeaway style container, to eat at my desk. On reflection, this is where events started to go wrong. I returned to my desk, and moved to push my almost brand new £1,400 Lenovo X201 mini laptop to one side; I was concerned that drips from the noodle broth might otherwise land on it. As I did so, the waxed paper container, full of noodles, vegetables, and the best part of a pint of spicy broth suddenly fell apart, and the contents landed straight on top of the high end computer. It was completely drenched in hot vegetables, tofu and chilli infused soup. I quickly upturned the computer and switched off the power supply, but it is looking likely the machine is past fixing. I shall most probably have to order a replacement early next week.

The graphic above shows a map and explanation of the Erith Art Trail. The town has a number of specially commissioned public works of art, including the hideous and notorious Erith Fish Sculpture, which continues to remind me of a huge psychedelic "Mister Whippy" style turd, crapped on the town by some gigantic passing alien creature. Still, if you click on the map above, you will be able to see a full screen version, and read the accompanying explanatory text. Some of the art is rather nice; some not in my opinion.

A couple, Len and Yvonne Arnold, from Erith have been nominated by Lord Sebastian Coe as the torch bearers for the 2012 Olympic Games. The couple run the Europa Gym in Fraser Road, and have been instrumental in training many of the young athletes. I am no fan of the games, but I have one hell of a lot of respect for this couple, who went as far as selling their house to fund the gym. You can read more about the story on the Bexley Times website here.

After last weeks' news that the Maggot Sandwich had reached its' 30,000th reader, I have been doing some detailed analysis of the traffic on my blog, and one surprising thing has immediately become apparent. One particular posting has had many more page views than any other, and I have a had a hard time working out why. The entry, from way back in August 2006 is called Wheel Nuts and WD-40, and concerned with my good friend Colins' then Land Rover, which had been parked behind my house for an extended period of time. This entry has been viewed a staggering 927 times to date. I am at a bit of a loss as to why this particular entry has been viewed so many times; the only reason that I can think of is that someone has stuck a link to it in a Land Rover users web forum or the like. In a blatant attempt to drum up some additional new viewers, here below is a photo of Colin's latest acquisition, a Land Rover Series IIA from (I believe) 1969. He's in the process of restoring it, hopefully to be ready in time for this years' War and Peace Show at Detling.

Bexley Council are about to sell off the last two public toilets in the whole of the borough. There will be no public loos whatsoever for the use of the rate payers in the area. As I have previously written, there have been times when I have been caught short through no fault of my own, and had to resort to going into a McDonald's to drop my guts. In Erith, the no more than four year old public toilets attached to the Erith Health Centre have been closed for over a year now, even thought they are in fine fettle. The signs posted outside say that it is due to vandalism. I suspect that the real reason is that there is a commercially run Cyber khazi nearby, though it gets very little use; the local winos and druggies wee in the bushes down the side of the health centre, and have been known to poo in the waste bins located on the terrace at Erith Riverside Gardens.

I know that public toilets are expensive to run and maintain, due to the labour costs involved, but there is a danger to public health and wellbeing if they are removed on the sly, as would appear to be the case with Bexley Council. You can read more about the sorry state of affairs on the News Shopper website here.

I frequently get asked how one should go about choosing a new television; I guess it is because I work with technology, and help support a very large Audio Visual estate - the office I spend most of my time working in has over ninety TV's with screens of 42" and above in it; the largest screen is 108" and had to be ordered directly from the manufacturer. This is all despite me still owning an ancient CRT screen as described last week. Anyway, here is a link to a detailed article on how to choose the correct TV screen size for the viewing distance available in your property; sitting too far away is just as bad as sitting too close for a given screen size. Read the article and feel free to leave a comment below.

The photo above shows me, Nick Jackson and Gerry Wright in a pub in Tottenham Court Road in the summer of 1991; we were being interviewed by Offshore Echoes magazine about our then recent stint on Radio Caroline. I look about twelve years old in the photo, and Nick even younger. The first Gulf War was recent history, and the pub was bang next door to the Iraqi Cultural Centre. Later that evening we went for possibly the worst curry in history, in a restaurant that made Fawlty Towers look like the Savoy. Ah - the memories.

Now that President Obama's state visit to the UK is over, I wonder if you noticed that in his presidential motorcade there were a number of GMC vans with blacked out windows. His car, "The Beast" is well known about - to the point of getting a London congestion charge fine. The vans have been somewhat more of a mystery; I think most observers surmised that they probably held a number of burly Secret Service bodyguards - the truth is rather more Tom Clancy in nature - check out the short video clip below.

Cool or what? Imagine what could happen if a bunch of chavs in an old Citroen Saxo was to cut one of those vans up. I would buy a ticket to watch, that's for sure.

There have been several occasions recently when I have featured photographs of commercial ships moored in the River Thames at Erith. I do occasionally highlight local companies, and this week is no exception. One thing the moored ships have in common is that they are nearly all managed by Rochester based Armac Marine Management - the ships seem to be modern day equivalents of "tramp steamers" - ships that carry varied cargoes between the UK and a number of ports around Northern Europe and the Baltic. You can see a list of their small fleet of cargo ships by clicking here.

Local MP David Evenett is launching a campaign to encourage tourists to visit the Borough of Bexley. Whilst I think this is a laudable endeavour, I do wonder how successful it will be. The are is not exactly swimming in attractions; There is the award winning Danson Park; the William Morris Red House in Bexleyheath is one genuine cultural venue worth a visit (though personally, if anywhere near that location, I would be more than a little inclined to head at flank speed to the nearby Robin Hood & Little John, which has yet again won Bexley CAMRA pub of the year). You can read more about David Evenett's campaign to encourage local tourism here.

The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park have opened a new gallery, dedicated to their recreation of the Tunny decoding machine this weekend. You can read about it, and view a short video report on the event by clicking here. If you have any interest in intelligence, the birth of computing, engineering or code breaking, I strongly recommend that you visit the place - it is amazing, educational and very humbling.

The main video clip this week is of a very young Rowan Atkinson live on stage with his famous school master monologue. Not a single rude word is uttered, but it is still utterly hysterical - good old fashioned innuendo and immaculate comic timing.

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