King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Monday, December 31

On Old Year resolutions

This time last year I made new year resolutions. I didn't make a song and dance about them, I just made them in my mind, and tried to stick to them. I can now report I was (relatively) successful. There were only 2, but they were both effective.

1) Not to drink (at all) and drive. Not even a pint, preferring Kaliber and such like.
2) To lose weight. I can say I have successfully lost 2 stone on this time last year, and that's even following the festivities.

What about you 'orrible lot? Did you succeed or did you fail?

Oh, and blwyddyn newydd dda

Saturday, December 29

On holy crap

Last night, mellowing out and having polished off the last of my Glengoyne 10 year old single malt, I was surprised to suddenly see a bright flash. No warning, no heavy rain nearby, nothing. A very bright, very thick and very close bolt of lightning struck a mobile phone transmitter not a mile from this very location, and the thunder that came with it was so loud it actually shook the windows. The power then pondered for a minute before going altogether, just as I was looking for the lighter to light some candles 'just in case.'
<- (The view at 11pm last night.)
The power came back a few times, before going again and finally staying off for what must have been an hour. I'm guessing the local substation was smelling a bit, because then the identifiable lights of the Western Electric Land Rovers could be seen climbing all over the substations in the village with fluorescent jackets and powerful torches. The power came back on about half an hour later, and sort of stayed on all night, only cutting 3 times. As I type this another Western truck has just driven past, I'm guessing finishing what he should have done last night.

Oh what fun it is to live at the top of a mountain.

Friday, December 28

Turnip, or should that be Swede?

22 years ago this week, I took my first of 3 trips to Sweden to see my father. As a testosterone brimming teenager, this was about as effective as sending a chocoholic to Cadbury world, as I dribbled over one Swedish blonde after another. Stockholm is an interesting place. Being in Scandinavia (Translation: vastly overpriced on everything) it meant my first trip was taken in darkness almost all of the time. We'd get up in the dark, have breakfast and a shower in the dark, leave to go out for the day in the dark, and return home 2 hours later (after a refreshing hour of daylight) in the dark. My father, at the time, had a small apartment within walking distance of the city centre. The main problem was the walking would be done in -15c temperatures, and being a 14 year old, I wasn't keen on that. This meant waking up Hagar. Hagar was a red Volvo 240 with an attitude problem. It wouldn't start in the morning, preferring to groan, grumble and fall back to sleep. Much slapping and swearing and he'd stir into life. Now the other problem with Hagar was the fact that he was a Volvo. All the car parks in the city centre were indoors, and all were crammed to the gills with Volvo 240s. We struggled each and every time to find grumpy Hagar after we went out for shopping. Whilst there, my father took us to Gamla Stan (the Old Town), for a meal in a posh Italian Restaurant. I'd ordered my usual Lasagne, and whilst sat at the table, I noted the large pot of parmesan to sprinkle over my £25 dish. I like my parmesan on Lasagne, so I liberally started to sprinkle it all over my plate when my father asked "Why are you putting sugar on your lasagne?" The damage was done, and being a £25 dish, he made me eat it. This could be why I dislike sugar to this day.
We'd gone out there primarily to help my father move from the city centre to a delightful suburb called Solna, which looked like the typical eastern bloc town full to the brim with concrete blocks of apartments. He didn't have a lot to move, so he decided to take us out of town to buy some new furniture in a small flatpack furniture store called Ikea. We picked up 2 or 3 £10 wardrobes (incredibly cheap for Sweden) and then went for a coffee in the cafe, where my father acquired (*cough*) some nice new cutlery, plates, cups and saucers. The apartment seemed nice enough, with views of the bus station and the stadium. The problem, unbeknownst to us, was the landlady. She had access to the apartment all the time, and did. My father couldn't get out quick enough.
When we returned 3 months later, he'd left the Solna (spit*) apartment and moved into a small house in a place called Jarfalla. Whilst in Jarfalla, we had instilled plans to move to Sweden. We chose our bedrooms, we learnt about local schools, we were all for it. We even went out and got a pet cat. A delightful little chappy called Barney, named after the bear. He was cuddly, purry, and would play for hours running up and down the hall. Another memory of Jarfalla was a Sunday afternoon walk. It was bitterly cold, and we decided to visit a local castle called Skoklosten. Everyone else was dashing for the warmth of their cars as the sun set, but instead we headed into a forest for a walk. To this day I don't think I've ever been so cold, but what stood out was how quiet and tranquil it was as we stood on the edge of a frozen lake that day. Returning home to the quagmire that was my life with my mother was difficult.
Whilst the custody battle had ensued, we didn't get out there much. We must have returned a year or so later, again at Easter. My father now had a large house with garden and garage, miles from Stockholm in a place called Balsta (now interestingly, apparently where all the drug dealers live). The house was upside-down, with my bedroom downstairs and the lounge and kitchen upstairs. I'd make jokes that this was so that you could look out over the snow in the midwinter. Whilst there this time, we took a day trip that apparently the locals do at least once. The ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, via Oland, was a well known day trip for teenagers. The lure of cheap beer was too much for them, and as the day progressed we watched the entire ship's compliment of passengers slowly sink into alcoholic oblivion. My father, meanwhile, must have left his senses behind. He could be found up on the main deck, sunbathing (!). We flew back to the UK a few days later.

I have never returned since. I'd like to, but for 2 things that bother me. 1) the price and 2) the people. Everything is going to be even more expensive then it was back then. I've been reliably told that you don't get much change from a tenner for a pint, and this would scare me. Secondly, everyone there seems to have removed their olde worlde culture, and replaced it with the lifestyles of the MTV generation. This, again, doesn't appeal to me. But the local population of sex kittens would soon make up for this. One day... *sigh*

*Solna (spit) became the family joke. Every time we saw anything mentioning the name, we'd say spit after.

Thursday, December 27

Christmas Parodies

To make up for lack of video yesterday, I thought I'd introduce you to the best Christmas parodies. You'll find next year as you walk around the shops hearing the usual winter musical fare, you'll be singing these instead.


Tuesday, December 25

A very lazy Christmas...

... and a lazy blog post

Monday, December 24

Tying up loose ends.

Most importantly, wishing all my lovely readers (and the duck) a Nadolig Llawen, and a polite reminder a liver is for life, not just for Christmas.

And can I be the first to wish you all a very happy Easter, and don't forget to start buying those chocolate Eggs next week.

Secondly, for those mugs daft enough or tight enough to take up Sky's offer of free broadband, here's how to avoid using their shite hardware, buy recovering your username and password from their router.

First of all, get the password into a text file here (presuming their router is at
And then download the file by clicking here

I wish I knew that yesterday, it could have saved me a 6 hour call out.

Still, I have copious amounts of alcohol in the house, and a liver who seems to have taken leave of absence. All I need is a hedge to be sick in. Have a good one.

Friday, December 21

Microprocessor Appreciation

Standing around, saying "oooh yes, that's a nice Motorola 68000," or "this Intel 80387 is the woofer's knackers," is not in the main a viable course at college. A HNC in this course, is however, a viable learning path, and one that I took. I put it on my CV as the course's official title, but I tell everyone what it really was, which was computer electronics. I am qualified to look at a silicon chip, and tell you it's knackered.
The course was 12 solitary nerds, 10 pervy blokes, one large middle aged woman, and one tasty Essex girl (who only lasted a month). The actual course was run from 9am until 9pm every Wednesday, in Southend's academic haven that was the South East Essex Technical College. The start of each week we'd be given a task, and by the end of the following week, we'd have to present the task, automated and electronified. The first week would be spent usually heading to the pub for the afternoon, and then some serious work in the evening finding out and theorizing the problems. It would also be the time where we would partake in the student pastime of 'fannying about.' The mirth and woe of firing up the gas soldering iron, and shouting "catch!" before throwing it to some poor sod. Everyone had blistered hands with either "cetzA" or "citsilaeR" burnt into their palms. We'd also experiment with things we shouldn't.
One week, someone told me in an Obi Wan Kenobi voice "never short out a charged capacitor." And so, after much rummaging around, 3 of us found a whole half-farad capacitor locked away in a cupboard with "Danger: High Current Capacitors. Do NOT short circuit" written on the door. we started off with a 9 volt, low current charge.

"OOoh, sparks." as a lick of lightning went from the high voltage probe to the capacitor's prong.
"I dare you to lick it."
"You can fuck off."

Instead, we whacked up the charge. 20 volts at 1 amp. We knew the capacitor was charged, because it was bubbling and starting to smell. With heavily asbestos gloved hand, I stepped forward with the only thing I could think would take all the charge at once, One 40,000volt insulated flat-bladed screwdriver, and like in Ghostbusters where they were told not to cross the streams, the world seemed to end.


I went blind. As I stood there for a second, wondering if I was in limbo, heaven or hell, I heard a voice. Through all the buzzing that was now going on in my ears, I distinctly heard outside in the corridor, "That was a capacitor." Realising I was still a mortal (just), I thought "oh fuck. I've blinded myself." I went to take off my safety glasses (we lived with them on, just in case) so I could rub my eyes. I then realised I could still see. Looking at the front of the glasses they'd become peppered with burnt oily paper. The capacitor was now a very blackened empty cylinder, smoking away in front of me. The other two had disappeared, and were last seen heading in the direction of the toilets at the end of the floor, one's eyes bulging and the other one giving us his best "boilk" rendition. Dr. David Evans (the course organiser and Welsh lead tutor, and known colloquially by us students as "sheep") appeared with a face like a recently discharged 500 millifarad capacitor.

"oops" I said.
"mumblemumblemumblemumble" he said, incoherently as my hearing was still shot. His body language said it all though. He wasn't best pleased, but from what I gather he still regales what I did to his students today.

Ah, fame at last.

Thursday, December 20

A New Dawn (no, not the canuck)

As the sun breaks on a new day, another chapter in my life begins. Today, for the fourth time, I have a new step-mother. My father, the poor soul, has embarked on his latest marriage. The banter amongst people in the family is amazing. Such gems as...

"Again? What's this, number 12 or 13?" (his oldest sister)
"Don't fuck this one up" (his daughter)
"Will he never learn?" (his other sister)
"So I'll have another granny?" (his grandson)
"Not you again" (the wedding license office)
"Order that new car for Christmas" (his divorce lawyer)
"Try to make this one last longer then the journey home" (his son)

Seriously, Congratulations Dad. We're all glad you seem to have found a soul mate in Pam. Best wishes from everyone in this neck of the woods.

Wednesday, December 19

Spiders on Drugs

No. Time. To. Post.

Spiders on Drugs instead...


Tuesday, December 18

On being rubbish

Yesterday I had a callout, and I'd like to say the place was a dump. I mean, what a tip. There was rubbish everywhere, everyone that worked there was trashy, and the owner talked nothing but garbage.

(just how many puns can a man make about working for the local household waste depot?)

I spent all day there, either removing Vista, or upgrading XP home to XP pro. The long and the short of it was that I know have permission to go a-rummaging through their old borked PC skip any time I want. I can feel a major Xmas upgrade session coming on...

Monday, December 17

The long and the short of gaming

Being a fully paid up member of the Dead Gamer's Society, I thought I'd talk about games that have and haven't impressed me over the years. When I first got a ZX Spectrum back in the mists of time, there weren't many games available so many hours would be spent playing the same ones.
The spectrum came with a tape with 10 programs on it. The first of these was a game called "Thru' the Wall," or wall for short, and was nothing but a basic knocking bricks variant of Pong. The hours played on this must have been truly epic, and the whole family would even join in. We'd also spent real money on a Space invaders clone called Space Raiders, and this would provide hours of entertainment itself. My first Christmas present after getting the Spectrum was a delightful graphical program called "VU-3D," and whilst not a game, again kept me entertained for hours.
What must have been about a year, and I finally got my first 'proper' game. A company based in Leicestershire had been set up, and were churning out one game after another that were truly awesome behemoths of the gaming world. Ashby Computer Games (ACG) or soon to be called "Ultimate, Play the Game" were the Ferrari of the computer games manufacturers. I got my Christmas money and spent all of £5.50 on a game called Atic Atac. This simple affair of running from one room to another shooting ghosts and vampires had us sat for days. No one really knew what the ultimate aim was, but we didn't care, and many (many many) hours were wasted trying to complete it. Then I got a new game that would be even more addictive.
Jet Set Willy was (and still is) the perfect platform game. The tales of the Millionaire Miner who has to clean up after a humongous party before being allowed to bed was probably one of the longest games ever played by the 8 bit generation. This wasn't because it was addictive, but because each month new hacks would appear in magazines so you had every possible way of completing the game but it still didn't happen! One week you'd have unlimited lives, the next all the bad guys would disappear. It was something that would happen for years, and became almost trendy to say you'd had your JSW poke published.
Fast forward some 20 years to today, and lets look back on games I have played for the PC. One that stands out was a game that is still available today but now for the Nintendo DS. Settlers, by Bluebyte, was first published back in 1993. My mate Ian had it for the Amiga, and my Saturdays would be spent at his house, playing a two player game against each other. It became almost religious, Settlers, followed by a Pizza delivery, and the loser would pay. I even have the latest permutation (Settlers 6) on my desktop as we speak, and whilst not as playable as the first one, it still gives the buzz I need as a game addict. Another game that has been steadfastly on my PC for a long time has been any of the Westwood classics, Command and Conquer. The archetypal real time strategy has a huge following worldwide, and it's latest release C&C 3 went straight to the top of the charts in the summer, and has been there ever since. And finally I come to the winner for the longest game ever accolade.

Total Annihilation is 10 years old this week. The RTS was set seriously in the future, and the array of weapons was staggering. To make it last even longer, people have continued to make newer weapons, units and buildings, thus creating a game that is as fresh as ever today. I still have this on my (newly formatted) PC, and I can see no end to it's playability. I have thousands of extras for it, I can play it against 9 computer players on hard and still win without a single loss, but I still enjoy every second of playing it. As a self proclaimed game addict, I'd like to become 'clean' but with class games like this, I can't see any respite in the near future.

Sunday, December 16

R.I.P. Stravvy

Last night on the way home, I turned into my road, and there laid out right in the middle is Strav. Strav was 3 years old, and named after my sister's dog. She'd been hit by a car, and obviously whoever hit her must have known, but didn't stop, check her, move her to the side, or anything. She was left to bleed to death in the middle of the road when I found her. Already rigamortis had set in, and so I'd guess she'd been there for an hour. Being a parent, I have sort of become immune to these things, but I still feel terrible for her.

Still I'd like to think it was quick.

Wednesday, December 12

Small Car Vs Big Car?

Apologies for lateness of today's post. I have been slowly but surely restoring everything back onto my PC. Anyway...

I don't like small cars. Apart from the fact I look like a sardine when crammed into a small car, I doubt they are as safe as the larger brothers. I'm well known for driving a white Volvo, in fact I'm on my fourth 440, and have also owned a 480. I like them because they don't look like every other Volvo on the road, I know where to buy spares, and I can service almost all of it myself.I also like to know that I'm fairly safe in a crash. Unlike something small, like a Corsa or a Smart Car...

Tuesday, December 11

The day AOL killed my PC

On Saturday I did another victim of AOL's software. Their PC kept crashing, and the only thing in their eyes they could do was to press the reset button on the front of the case. Eventually, the drive decided it had had enough, and started to break. Fortunately they had SMART, so the computer warned them immediately. After the job (new hard drive, windows reinstall, etc etc) I said I'd take the old knackered drive and see if I can recover their data. They had photos, documents and the usual stuff to recover, and ZAR would normally do the job admirably.
So, yesterday morning I plugged the drive into my PC, ready to read off their data. "Please insert boot disk and press any key" came up. I checked, and my 80Gb Windows drive had disappeared, so I unplugged their drive. My drive still didn't appear, so after much tooing and froing with cables etc, I took out my drive and plugged it into a second pc. Now, in a mild state of panic, I realised I might have lost the data on it. Not to worry though, because I have it on a RAID5 array, and all I needed to do was set up the second 80gb as master.
Only that was now missing as well.
I could see the 250gb Sata with all my installs etc was there, so to check that the drive data was in tact, I went to put in my Ubuntu CD to read the drive. And promptly found that I couldn't open the DVD drive either. I now have a bog standard DVD ROM drive and a 20gb with my windows install on it, and in front of me I have my 80gb drives with a ":-(" drawn on the front of it. I think I have resigned myself to the fact I've lost everything. Photos, documents, emails going back 9 years, addresses. My last resort is to buy an equivalent drive from ebay, and swap the main circuit board underneath the drive. If it fails I've lost the cost of the drive, but if it works I'll be 1000 times happier.
So there you have it, the day AOL killed my PC.

Monday, December 10

The A - Z of Essex English

Arst Past tense of 'ask'
Bave to wash oneself
Choona an edible fish purchased in a tin and usually prepared with mayonnaise
Danstez one or more floors below
Ejog a small spikey animal
Fantin jet of water for drinking or as an ornament
Grand a sports venue
Haitch the letter of the alphabet between g and i
Ibeefa the Spanish holiday island
Jafta? "Do you have to?"
Kaffy a Girl's name
Levva material made from the skin of an animal
Maffs the study of numbers
Nartamean? "Do you know what I mean?"
Oaf a solemn declaration of truth or commitment
Pans an Annsis Imperial weight system
Qualidee good
Roofless without compassion
Seevin very angry
Tan ass a modern terraced house
Ump upset
Vacher a document which can be exchanged for goods or services
Wannd up tense
Yafta "You have to"
Zaggerate Suggest something is better or bigger then is true.

Saturday, December 8

"Do as I say, not as I do."

Here, for your delectation, are some of the things my father says on a regular basis, and what they really mean. (My father knows this is coming, and no offence is intended...)
  • "I had to go to the stores for some essential supplies" - Translates as "Beer run."
  • "She was about 22, blonde, and had legs up to her chin" - Translates as "About 50, divorced, tattooed, and someone who wouldn't kick me out of bed."
  • "I walked to the bank" - Translates as "I drove to the bank"
  • "He was asking for it. If he'd not been careful I could have hurt him." Translates as "The fucker broke my nose"
  • "I needed the fresh air, so I walked home from the bar" - Translates as "The local cop was outside, so I decided not to drive home from the bar"
  • "She asked me if I'd like to fuck" - Translates as "She asked me if I'd like to fuck off."
  • "So I stood up to him. I told him to shut the fuck up." - Translates as "I stayed quiet, and discretely gave him a dirty look."
  • "I once sat next to Joan Collins on a Transatlantic flight." - Translates as "I once read a Jackie Collins on a Transatlantic flight."
  • "She was all over me, and wouldn't leave me alone." - Translates as "I had a wet dream about her."
  • "I'm going to get broadband working properly when I get over there, or I'll sue BT." - Translates as "I haven't a clue how to get broadband working over there, so I'll blame everyone, including BT."
  • "He was driving like a nutter, and went straight into the back of me." - Translates as "I was in reverse, and didn't see him." *cough*

Thursday, December 6


Yesterday, being my day off, I went shopping. One of the better places to shop is the northern edge of Swansea, and is one of those out-of-town shopping experiences. You'll find everything to spend money on, Pissy World, Currys, Comet, Asda, Tesco, Halfords, all the usual places. My car's been misbehaving, probably due to the damp, so I popped into a motor factor's to get some new plugs. On the way out, I started to pull onto the main road with the aim of turning right. This was my mistake, because the car in the distance on my right was going a lot faster then the 30 he should of been. I realised that with maybe 200 yards left, he wasn't slowing down, so I reversed as quickly as I could. You would, wouldn't you? Unfortunately the VW Golf behind me wasn't so pleased to see a hulk of a Volvo reversing towards her, and I hit her.


Now, I got out. I apologised. I had a choice, get hit by the 4x4 that was bearing down on me, or get out of it's way. Call me daft, but that was the better option. She didn't seem to think so, and we went back to her office a few units up so we could talk about the damage. My tow-bar had gone through where the fog light at the front should have been, but she didn't have them, so it was just a plastic grill. I offered to replace it, but she said she wanted the local dealership to replace it. I then offered my mechanic in a proper garage to replace it, but she again refused. I may have shown my frustration at her, but it was becoming apparent that she was a spoilt little brat. She told me how her little baby was worth a lot of money, but in my head I worked out that it was 9 years old, and not even a top of the range. I came to the conclusion the car must have been worth £3000-£5000 at most, and no matter how much she moaned and bitched, she can take it to the insurance company. A bit pissed off at the thought of being stitched up by her, the local dealership, and my insurance company, I realised something.

What if she'd driven into me? Could she prove otherwise? I was fair. I offered to pay for the damage. She just wanted to get more out of me.

So there you have it. Me reversing into her, or her driving into the back of me. Good luck to her, that's all I can say.

Wednesday, December 5

Clapping and Vista.

You can applaud this site if you want. If you do, what's the fastest you can clap? 2, 3, maybe even 4 claps a second? Well, how about 14?

And after sitting there, being amazed at a man pulling funny faces, how about something courtesy of my father. We all hate Vista (don't we?), or at least we should because it causes us 'engineers' so many problems. So much so, someone has made a realistic advert for it.


Tuesday, December 4

Unfavourite favourites

I know for a fact you all have website favourites. You must do, or how else do you get here? Being a paid up member of the firefox crew, I have a toolbar with my most common links that I visit. Each and every morning, I sit down with my first cup of tea, check my mail, see if the latest porn bit torrent has downloaded, and click my links. It starts off with Scaryduck, then Misty, then me (purely to read any comments in the correct order, not the order they arrive in email). Then, for no reason I can fathom other then hopefulness, I check Ricardipus (1 post a week if we're lucky), Dawn (She's obviously just come back from some Canadian sabbatical), and TRT (who I understand why he doesn't want to post). I then most recently added Zoe's link, but to be honest I've yet to read anything to make me smile, let alone laugh out loud. I then have my 'edit blog' button, so I can write this drivel.
Less used buttons do exist though. My Adsense link, to check how much money this site has earned me. The Volvo 480 Owner's club, when I want a dose of automania, and Freecycle when I want a bargain (aka free stuff). Finally I have Bloons TD 2, for when I have 15 minutes to spare (normally whilst on hold to AOL)

What links do you have and use a lot, and what do you have and hardly use at all?

Monday, December 3

More on AOL

My neighbour (3 doors away) asked for my help with their broadband. They're on AOL. The software was crashing the PC, so after a lot of optimizing, I summised that it would actually run better on XP then on 2000. I also mentioned moving ISP, and when they found out it was half the price, they agreed to move. Phoning up AOL to cancel, they put me onto the pleb hired to make them stay customers. The usual "We'll match the price, we'll even make it cheaper," line was used, but I said they weren't interested in that for 6 months then another 12 months at full price. They then had the cheek to tell me that the broadband for this area was slow, and the offer they had was very good for the 512kbps connection they were getting.
"Hmmmmm," thinks I. "Strange," I said, "3 doors away I get 2.5Mbps." She denied that was possible, saying the exchange didn't support any faster.
"So," I replied, "what you're telling me is Plus Net are working miracles and getting 5 times the speed for half the price?"
"We can't explain why sir, but we can assure you that that's the only speed you can get."
Caught with their pants down, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, December 2

Separated at birth

My brother-in-law, "Cuz'n" Doug

Willie from the new film "Fred Claus"

Saturday, December 1


"I had a thought about going through the rougher parts of Slough, which made me cough and hiccough."

And who said English isn't obvious?