Things I’ve learned this week (updated)

  1. Taliban, my “new” bike* has got a sticker on it, proudly announcing that it’s made from “Ferrocarbon”. Wow! That’s some super space-age high-tech stuff, surely? Oh, hang on. “Ferro” = iron? Iron and carbon… oh yes, that’s steel. So it’s got a steel frame. Wow. That’s great. So much better than manky old aluminium or carbon fibre.
  2. Riding in the blazing heat makes you hot, sweaty and stinky.  If you are already hot and stinky from a 3 mile cycle ride home in the blazing heat, a large dollop of baby sick, applied down your bare back does not improve your aroma.
  3. If a co-worker cycles to the pub and back, parking his bike next to yours on his return, don’t be totally surprised if you find that he’s accidentally locked your bike up instead of his.
  4. Cheap bike locks that look butch can be removed in 3 minutes with a hammer and a hacksaw. If you know what you are doing you can have the bugger off in 20 seconds.
  5. If you stop your bike to ask a white van driver why he carved you up and he responds by shouting “fuck you” through the closed window, pointing and laughing at him will make him so cross he will actually try to run you over. So this one is best attempted while he’s stuck in traffic that you can get past easily. It is very funny though.
  6. The only remotely interesting things to happen to me always seem to involve bicycles in some way.

* “New” as in “given to me by a friend because he hated riding it so much”. It might be slow, heavy and a bit crap but… er… um… Anyway, Taliban puts the “fun” into “fundamental”. And the “mental”.  And, presumably, the “da” too, but I’ve no idea what that means.

Virgin on the ridiculous

I got an email from Virgin today. I’ve got a pay-as-you-go thing on my mobile phone where there’s no contract but it’s paid by direct debit.

“Lately, we’ve been thinking about the way you use your phone.”

Ahh that’s nice. They have been thinking about little old me. And here was I thinking they were a bland, faceless reseller of T-Mobile airtime. I feel all warm and cuddly now.

“Some people mostly make calls to friends and family on the same network and other people make calls to all sorts of networks. So we thought our tariffs should reflect just that.”

Translation: There were some people who used their phone in a manner that meant we weren’t milking them sufficiently. We’ve changed our tariffs so everyone gets screwed properly.

“That’s why we’re introducing some changes. They’ll make it easier for you to choose the tariff that’s right for you.”

Ahh, that’s lovely. Thank you for making it easier for me to choose. But how are you going to do that?

Ooh, I know. How about putting up the prices on my tariff and then offering me an alternative that’s even more expensive? You will? Oh gosh! Thank you Virgin! You really are the company that cares about making choices easy for me. That choice might cost me and arm and a leg, but it’s worth it because it’s easy and you’ve been thinking about me. Aaaahhhhh. The warmth and fuzziness is overwhelming me.

Excuse me while I vomit up a kidney.

It’s not the price increase that bothers me – you can charge what you want and I’ll take it or leave it, but don’t increase prices and then try to convince me that you have my best interests at heart and are doing it for my benefit.   Oh, and the “we’re a groovy friendly company” wankspeak doesn’t make you appear as anything other than a bunch of money-grabbing faceless corporate tossers who are desperately trying to cover up the fact that you are a bunch of money-grabbing faceless corporate tossers.

Things I don’t like

I haven’t been almost run over by a bus for a few weeks now and to be honest, it feels a bit odd. Maybe fate is storing up a biggy for me? Look out for reports in the papers of someone being simultaneously squished between two buses and a BMW. In the meantime here is a nice easy piece with some feeble bleatings that I thought I’d chuck in for lack of anything better to write about. Oh, and by “easy” I mean easy for me to write. You’ll probably hate it.

Here is a list of things I don’t like. Original, eh?

  • People who make these sorts of lists and miss out world hunger, peace etc. What is the worst thing about living on this planet? Is it being unable to program the video recorder or running out of bog roll? I don’t fucking think so. How about watching your loved ones die from malnutrition because of famine, war, genocide or one of the other myriad ways that us humans have found of being complete and utter bastards to each other? Oh, sorry, that doesn’t count because there isn’t a comedy angle. Hello genie from the bottle. Three wishes? I’ll get rid of traffic wardens, make myself a millionaire and add an inch to my knob. Fuck everyone else. Twats. Yes, I do realise that I’m getting a bit worked up about a situation that is unlikely to actually occur in real life but it’s the principle that counts.
  • The christian god and possibly some of the other gods too. Sorry, this might start getting a bit more humourous soon but in the meantime consider that this world and all the horrible things that go on in it (see point 1 above) was created by a god that knew it was going to happen (omniescent) and could have prevented it (omnipotent). So he’s either watching us suffer for his amusement or he’s a bit incompetent. Oh, what’s that you’re bleating on about? Free will? Complete cock and I’ll tell you why. I’m not a god (no really), but I do make things that have the potential to hurt. I’m thinking about some of the precision mains-powered equipment I’ve built for students and researchers to use as door stops, hammers etc. Now, am I infringing on their free will by covering up the dangerous high voltage bits so they don’t kill themselves? I know – in future I’ll leave all the wiring exposed, knowing full well that eventually someone is going to kill themselves on it, and simply explain to the judge all about free will and how it’s not really my fault that someone got fried. That’ll go down a treat. Or should I just do what god apparently can’t, and carry on making things that work properly without causing unimaginable suffering? Yes, I know that god doesn’t really exist but it’s the hypocrisy of christians thinking that only they can be truly moral, whilst worshipping something that’s either truly evil or really stupid that gets me. I really shouldn’t care about it.
  • People who use the word “Literally” when the mean “Metaphorically”.  No, you didn’t “literally laugh your head off” because there isn’t a bloody stump on the top of your shoulders.  There is, however,  a squidgy lump with a brain in it that can’t use the English language correctly.  “Literally” means that something is exactly as you say it, and people who use it for emphasis literally make me vomit.  No, of course they don’t; that’s an example of how stupid it is.  Earlier on this evening Zoe Ball said that the fate of the contestants on that Grease is the Word thing was “literally in your hands”.  Well, Zoe, let me tell you that the only thing in my hands at the time was my head, as I pondered the irony that such a brilliant human being as Johnny Ball could have such an empty headed tart as you for a daughter.
  • Microsoft. Ooh, I’m going after the hard targets here, aren’t I? I’ll keep this one short. Huge company makes massive profits selling cheap stuff for lots of money by having a sales team who know how to manipulate the cretins that make purchasing decisions at work for the poor sods that have to use their crappy software. The poor sods learn to handle it at work and want to use it at home too, thinking that it’s normal for software to be buggy, slow, hungry and traitorous. Of course it’s far more complicated than that but I can’t be arsed to go into it here. In the meantime, please download Ubuntu Linux and see how good life can be without Microsoft shackles. You don’t need to install anything, just burn it to a CD, insert and reboot. Your computer’s hard drive will remain untouched but you might be touched by how different your computer behaves.
  • Complicated VCR programming procedures. It’s traditional. Fuck it – why not?
  • Running out of ideas after only 4 sections. Ummm…

He’s dead, Jim.

Jen bought me the third series of the original Star Trek on DVD for xmas, completing my collection of all three series. Yay! 80 episodes of trekky goodness. The only trouble is that watching so many episodes in such a short space of time results in a blurring of that thin line between reality and Star Trek. It was the same when I used to play Doom for 4 or 5 hours every evening. Back in the real world, I’d start pressing walls to see if there was a secret door and walking sideways round corners in case there was a monster waiting to pounce. It actually got quite disturbing – seriously. I was having genuine flashbacks during the day. Although I’ve not actually walked into a door yet, I’m still half expecting them to schwiish open as I approach.

So in the spirit of my current mental state, I’ve been thinking way too much about things that happen on Star Trek, particularly things that happen to those “security” people – the ones in the red shirts that act as a buffer between death and the important members of the crew. They are known as the “Expendables” and I’ve been working out how long one of them could expect to survive. So here is my handy guide to your life expectancy, should you ever be unlucky enough to find yourself in the position of an Expendable under the command of Captain Kirk.

You start off with an average life expectancy of around five minutes. This is the time from beaming down with the landing party to having your salt sucked out, being vaporised by a carpet, impaled by a giant spear, blown up by an exploding rock etc. Various factors can increase or reduce that time and if you can increase it to around 40 minutes, you might make it to the end of the episode. Good luck!

  • Do you have a name? If the captain actually refers to you by name, you can expect to live longer than if he calls you “you there” or just waggles his phaser at you while telling you to go off on your own to look for some hideous monster that has already killed 20 people and is impervious to phaser fire. Yes: Add 10 minutes
  • Do you say anything? Having a line can be your ticket to the end of the episode. Spending that extra money on you to have you say something instantly makes you a larger investment, more valuable, and more likely not to be reduced to cube of basic elements and squished. Be aware that this doesn’t count if your only line is “Aaaaarrrgghh”. Yes: Add 20 minutes
  • Did your father go to the Academy with the Captain? You’ve got it made if he did. Things might look bleak for a while, but rest assured that the Captain will make sure you stay alive in order to regale you with stories about their exploits at the end of the episode. Please try to look interested in them, even though they are mostly about how Kirk used to dress up in women’s clothing “for laughs”. Yes: Go to the end of the episode
  • Did you go to the academy with the Captain? If you did then you are totally fucked. Sorry. You might as well get a phaser and just kill yourself right now to avoid the unpleasant death that awaits you. Feeling pain over the loss of an old (but previously unseen and unmentioned) friend is something the Captain does best. And a lot of. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get hit by a lightning bolt on the way to the transporter room. Yes: Subtract 40 minutes, keel over and die right now.
  • Is there more than one expendable? On each trip, at least one expendable has to be squished/impaled/fried/drained before the situation can be officially classified as dangerous. The ship’s health and safety officer did object to this policy but Kirk put him in a red shirt and beamed him down to the nearest planet. His replacement stopped objecting. If you are the only expendable then it’s going to be you. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. However, if there are two then you’ve got a 50% chance to make it past that first squish/thunk/sizzle/slurp. It’s the ones that get sent off to scout the area that tend to come to the nastiest ends so try to hang around the Captain – but not too close in case you get between him and something aimed at him. Yes: Add 10 minutes.
  • Is the music going “de de DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH de de doo doo”? You could be in luck – that’s the music for someone important being in trouble, which means whatever wants to kill you is otherwise engaged. Expendables don’t get anything more than (at most) an orchestral sting as they are killed so if you are still alive, run away. Run as fast as your legs will carry you. Run and hide until everyone else has gone home. Yes: Add 5 minutes
  • Were you about to get married before the current crisis interrupted the service? As you didn’t actually get married she won’t officially be your widow and won’t get a widow’s pension, so take out as much life insurance in her name as you can. Accept that there is no question of you surviving the episode. You might still be moving but you are dead. Please make sure your will is up to date and say your final farewells to your family. Yes: Subtract 40 minutes and accept that your widow-to-be will soon be being “consoled” by the captain.

Good luck on your trip down to the planet. As you prepare to die, here are some sites to keep you amused:

Wikipedia definition of a Redshirt

Star Trek inspirational posters