Monthly Archives: December 2008

Rising in Your Career

So, back to work yesterday morning, coughing and spluttering like my first car.

And I had offered to be in first to open up before eight, but then found that CIE has messed with the timetables, because real people public servants don’t work this week, so the only train that would get me in before eight was at 6.30, so I’d to get up at 5.30.

So then I left work early, went to bed at five yesterday evening, and slept right through till 5.20 this morning, when I got to do it all again.

But, to stop myself feeling bad about it, I’ve posted this picture:

sp_a0010

I know it’s not a great picture, if only because your correspondent is an idiot, but it’s taken at the Coldplay concert, and at the top you can just see a man sitting in a chair suspended above the audience, working the spotlight.

There’s not a chance they’d get me into that chair.

Suddenly I feel a whole lot better about my situation, man-cold and all.

Google Ogling

Holemaster made a comment on my Christmas day post (yes, I know it’s only two posts ago and doesn’t need a link, but I’ve only just figured out how to do that, so you’ll have to indulge me).

He said I come up second in a Google search for sheep liniment, and hopefully he will be along himself sometime to explain just how boringly his Christmas was going when he made that discovery.

He’s right, though (yes, of course I looked), and it set me to trying to find other combinations of words that would get some of the rest of you onto the first page of a Google search (I never said my Christmas was exciting either).

First off, typing “Russian madsers” brought up HM’s own post about the polar bears in second place, and changing Russian to Russia, which is what he actually said,  put him top.

“Dwarf Leprechaun Outfit” puts Laughykate fifth on the front page, where it is in fact the first item that’s an actual post and not an ad for kiddies’ Dwarf or Leprechaun outfits (some people should just have their children taken away from them).

“Shag contraception free” is all you need to ask to contact XBox, though in fairness that could be said for most men. Amazingly, though, he also makes the front page if you type in “two little ducks”.

Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, “Dogs Bollocks” doesn’t bring you to K8 or indeed any of her awardees. More disappointingly, “the inn should never be full” doesn’t get her on the first page either, though she goes top if you limit the search to pages from Ireland. “Old My Arse”, the title of the first post of hers I ever read, gets first place, but since it’s a title rather than post content that feels like cheating (though cheating who? – it’s my game), so I’m settling for “unscrew one bulb in each light sequence”.

I’m sure there are a lot of other ways I could have got to Jo’s site, but I’d a particular target in mind, so after a lot of experimenting I found”RSI stupid pad thingy lesbian” got me to her post about her new laptop, and one of my favourite remarks since I started reading blogs:  “How do I stop myself getting RSI from the stupid mouse pad thingy I’m not good at using – I’d clearly never make a lesbian”.

And that was to have been that. But then, just to see if I could get myself top of a page, I typed in my made-up word “Keyshitatrandom” from this (sorry) post AND I GOT THIS!!! –

“Results 11 of 1 for keyshitatrandom. (0.07 seconds)”

This apparently is called a “Googlewhack”, a Google search query that returns a single result. Not only that, but Wikipedia says it’s a “Googlewhackblatt” (a single word that returns a single result), and then gets all Star-Trekky about how finding such a word and then writing about it destroys its uniqueness. So once I publish this it will be gone forever, so I’ll be writing about something that doesn’t exist. If I leave it alone, however, then it will, as long as I never say it does.

Kinda cool. In a very nerdy way.

And I had this filed in my catch-all “How Do You Categorize This?”, but after making this discovery there’s really only one place it can go.

Goodbye to All That

It’s over.

At the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, the 11th, 12th and 13th holes are known as “Amen Corner”, the most crucial and difficult part of the course.  If you’ve played through these three holes and you’re score is more or less the same as it was when you started the 11th, you’re regarded as having done well.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day are the Amen Corner of my festive season, and this year my situation is more or less the same as when I started the 24th, in that I am still (a) alive, (b) sane and (c) married, though in some of those categories only just.

I’ve written light-heartedly about how Scrooge-like I am in my attitude to Christmas, and have really neither the courage nor the penmanship to truly explore here the real awfulness of these few days if you’re a person who feels awkward in social situations, who is cowed by large family gatherings and outbursts of affection, and who then is filled with self-loathing because of his spiky and ungrateful reaction to invitations to such events.

I’m not going to go much further into this. I just had to say something, somewhere. All these relatives are well-meaning and wonderful people who think they are doing something nice by inviting us round to their house, and if I were normal then I would think so too.

I think my attitude may come from the fact that we were raised in London far from any family, so the three Amen Corner days were always spent in our own flat, with our own Mum and Dad, playing with our own toys in our own time. I want our own kids to remember Christmases as time spent in our house, not as an endless series of treks around the homes of the aunts and uncles.

That last paragraph, though, is intended as an explanation but not a justification. It should be possible to regard family gatherings as events rather than chores, especially as there are no arguments or hidden issues in either my family or Mrs Tin’s. I don’t know why I can’t do it, and never really could.

Sorry about this post, but I’ve written it after spending most of the night awake and I’m going to publish it before I can change my mind.

Oh, and I’m getting a cold.

In Fields Where They Lay

angle-with-shepherdsAfter the Angel vanished, there was a long stunned silence. Eventually the First Shepherd spoke.

“You both saw that too, right?”

“Sure did,” said the Second. “I was sore afraid, so I was”.

“Oh, thanks be to Jesus,” burst out the Third Shepherd. ” I thought I was the only one who could see him.”

The other two stared at him. “Thanks be to who?” said the First Shepherd.

“Erm, dunno,” said the Third Shepherd. “The name just popped into my head.”

“Weird”, said the First Shepherd. “Anyway, what was he on about? It was a bit hard to hear him, what with him appearing suddenly in a blaze of light and frightening the shit out of the sheep like that.” He sniffed and then looked down in disgust at the sole of his sandal. “Literally, it would seem,” he added bitterly.

angel-shepherds2“He told us to Be Not Afraid,” said the Second Shepherd, ” then he said he was bringing us tidings, whatever they are.”

“That’s right,” said the Third Shepherd, “then he said a baby had been born in Bethlehem.”

“Big deal” said the First Shepherd.

“Yeah, but he said that the baby was a King, and we should go and worship him,” said the Third Shepherd.

“Wow, a King,” said the Second Shepherd. ” Imagine what people will say when we tell them that.”

It was the Second Shepherd’s turn to be stared at. “Tell them?” said the First Shepherd. “You don’t think we’re going to tell anyone about this, do you? Look, we get enough slagging in the village about spending all night up here as it is. They keep asking do the sheep wear make-up, and lately they’ve started going on about someplace called  Brokeback Mountain, though to be honest I don’t get that bit. If we turn up and say we saw an Angel of the Lord they’re going to think we’ve been drinking the sheep-liniment.”

“Well, we have been,” said the Second Shepherd.

“Yes, but only a couple of pints,” said the Third Shepherd, ” I mean, you have to keep warm somehow.”

They sat in silence for a while. The First Shepherd picked up the sheep-liniment bottle, inverted it hopefully, then sighed. “Anyway, a baby, you say? We could just pop in and say hello.”

“After all, it’d be rude not to.”

“And it’d be warmer than here.”

And,” said the First Shepherd, “there might be a bit of a session. After all, most new parents just put an ad in the Bethlehem Times, thanking the staff of the Maternity Hospital blah-blah-blah. People who can afford to hire an actual Angel to announce the birth can’t be short of a few bob.”

” You’re right,” said the second Shepherd. “There’s bound to be a few drinks. There might even be cigars.”

“Ok, let’s go,” said the First Shepherd.

“Wait,” said the Third Shepherd, “we’ll have to bring presents.”

“Why?” asked the Second Shepherd.

“Because it’s Christmas.”

“Because it’s what?” said the the other two in peace and harmony.

ugly-turkeysnowmanThe Third Shepherd buried his head in his hands. “Look, I don’t know where all this stuff is coming from. I just keeping getting images in my head of a big green tree with little bits of fire on the branches, and a happy fat man with a white beard, and a huge bird that looks like a feather duster that gets cooked and has leavened bread shoved up its bum, and something called the Greatescape that just happens over and over again, and a flying chariot driven by big animals that look like cows, only they have trees stuck to their heads, and a white round man with a carrot where his nose should be, and everyone wearing a crown, only the crowns are made out of a sort of light papyrus, and all the inns being closed for one whole day, and all the time in the background there’s a grumpy man made all of something silver going ‘ho, ho, fucking ho.'”

“Well, there’s only one thing I can say after that,” said the First Shepherd, “Jaysus”.

The Christmas Break

christmas-pain1I read a thing a few years ago about the type of injuries that hospitals typically have to deal with at Christmas. I can’t remember the exact figures, and for once Google has let me down, but essentially these were the type of things the article was on about:

  • x number of people will be admitted with broken wrists after falling backwards off their chairs when pulling a cracker;
  • x number of people will spray their Christmas Trees with water to keep the pine needles from falling off, but will do this while the lights are plugged in, and will electrocute themselves;
  • x number of people will crack their skull by striking it off the toilet cistern when getting back off their knees after vomiting.

joey-turkey

No, sadly, not like this

There are also less salubrious, and hopefully apochryphal, urban myths about men presenting themselves in A&E because they’re, er, trapped in the turkey. In the mathematically-impossible likelihood that I ever felt the urge to do what they were apparently doing, if I did become trapped I’d saw off my own mickey and bleed to death sooner that turn up in front of a female nurse with some ridiculous tale of tripping while carrying it naked (as you do) to the oven. Some people seem to have no sense of shame.

There are even less salubrious tales regarding turkey basters that I’ve pushed so far to the back corners of my mind that I think they can see Narnia behind them.

Anyway, to brighten all your spirits on this Christmas Eve, here are Tinman’s predictions, based on no scientific research whatsoever, of the type of injuries that Dublin hospitals will have to deal with over what is aptly termed the Christmas Break:

  • Five people will set fire to their hair by forgetting to take off their paper crown before lighting the Christmas pudding;
  • Seven people will burn the insides of their mouths after discovering that, while chestnuts roasting on an open fire sounds lovely in the song, in the real world they have the consitency and temperature of firelighters;
  • Three people will swallow pie-slices from Trivial Pursuit;
  • Six guys will choke while hurriedly swallowing their chewing-gum upon realising that the hot girl in the office is standing under the mistletoe;
  • Thirty-four husbands will be hit by buttons flying off clothing that they’d bought for their wives, having no idea what size she is, and having insisted “of course it will fit you, try it on”;
  • Two people (let’s be honest here, two blokes) will accidently headbutt each other while air-guitaring the bit of Bohemian Rhapsody where “to meee” ends and the guitar solo starts;
  • Four parents (of either gender) will be hit in the eye by a Brussels Sprout spat out forcefully by a child who had insisted on trying one;
  • One person (again, a bloke) will catch pneumonia after sleeping in the dog kennel because he was sent to collect the turkey, slipped in for one pint and came out after the Butcher’s was shut.

And finally, at least one parent (probably of a spoilt only child) will have to be rescued by firemen after trying is prove to said doubtful child that of course a man can fit into the chimney.

Anyway, Happy Christmas to all of you who read this. Have a great time, and take care.

Tinman

Daddy Long-Legs

In a conversation with QuietScotsGirl and myself, TallNeuroticGirl told us she is planning to buy her dad a suit for Christmas.

QSG said she would not feel confident in selecting a suit for her dad, but then TNG’s dad is a farmer from Longford, so presumably there is just the one type of suit called “farmer’s suit”, with large pinstripes and a row of biros in the breast pocket, and all she’ll have to decide is whether to accessorize it with a cap or a hat.

stilt-walker1

TNG's dad

And she’ll have to pick the right size. And this is where her problem arises, because her mum insists that her dad has a 39-inch leg. TNG has tried telling her that nobody has a 39-inch leg (and believe me, if TNG doesn’t, then no-one does) but her mum is adamant.

QSG asked does he wear trousers up to his nipples, á la Simon Cowell. I suggested that TNG should buy a pair of 39-inch trousers, if there are any such things, just so she can say “I told you so”, when he waddles around like a diver wearing flippers.

And then, because all this depersonalised crap has dulled my Inappropriateness Sensor ever so slightly, I heard myself say “of course, your mum only thinks your dad has 39-inch legs because he has told her that this (holding my hands about four inches apart) is nine inches”.

Fortunately she laughed. Still, I have to cure this somehow.

Do You Like Coldplay? Why, Of Course

Note to self: Never Slag Coldplay Again.

Last night Mrs Tin and I went to see them with the tickets that I won (cool if that link works, first time I’ve ever tried).

They were awesome.

sp_a0015

My pathetic attempts at camerawork don’t begin to do them justice. They were exciting, fun and very engaged with the audience. I’m sitting here listening to them on iTunes as I type in an attempt to re-create the buzz (for all that I’ve slagged them before, I actually own three of their albums).

I can’t honestly call it the best gig I’ve ever been at, since I’m old enough to have been at the Stones at Slane in 1982, but it was a pretty good second.

We looked at the stars, and how they shone for us.

HHFH

The sunny disposition that normally radiates from this blog like a streetlight haze over a large city will be slightly dimmed this week, as the season of peace, goodwill to all men and the 24/7 playing of Fairytale of New York reaches its zenith.

There are people who love Christmas, and it is safe to say that I am not among their number. The number I am among at the moment is about seven-and-a-half grand, which is the balance on my credit card. I am spent, in every possible meaning of that term, and it’s only the start of the week.

I tend to think of Ebenezer Scrooge as a do-gooder wuss who caved at the first sign of hassle. How the painfully jovial Spirit of Christmas Present might have reacted to being simply told to fuck off, or how any of them might have dealt with being sprayed with holy water or garlic were options that he never chose to explore.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of great things about Christmas. I love the look on the Tinkids’ faces when they see their presents on Christmas morning. I loved it when they believed in Santa, and we had to leave out his bottle of Guinness (how does the fucker drive?) and the carrot for Rudolf (eating Rudolf’s raw carrot after the Tinkids went to bed was generally the only healthy thing I did for the whole holiday).

But I hate the hassle, and the bustle, and the fact that Dublin’s Lord Mayor lit the Christmas Lights on November 9th this year, to encourage us all to shop earlier. And the fact that Midnight Mass has gone. And the fact that going to mass on Christmas Eve fulfills the Christmas obligation. And the fact that carol singers seem to think that Jingle Bells and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer are carols. And all the excess.

K8 the GR8 has already written this great post

http://www.cackaloo.com/2008/12/06/the-power-of-one/

about houses like this one:

tacky

Seriously, when did we become such a nation of gobshites? Where’s our sense of restraint?

Now, it is a sign of the mass of contradictions that Christmas awakens in me that, despite all I’ve written in this post so far, I am the only one in the office who has his own Christmas tree.

This is it:

xmas-tree

It sits at the crossroads of the four cubicles of GoldenEyes, QuietScotsGirl, Blondiebird and myself. It’s so petite that the perfectly ordinary houseplant on GE’s shelf looks like a giant triffid about to devour it, or like Laughykate’s family about to devour yet another neighbouring farm (you thought that comment had sailed straight past us, didn’t you LK? How much of NZ do you own?).

Anyway, that’s what I think Christmas Decorations should look like. If I lived alone, or really was master in my own house, I’d have a tree like that at home. And nothing else. And I’d take it down on the 27th, because I always feel stupid plugging it in on the 29th or 30th.

Anywayagain, that’s my Christmas rant over with. Sorry if I’ve spoiled your mood. And sorry about the title. And yes, the three H’s in the title DO stand (in no particular order) for ho, ho and ho.

Different Strokes

Last October, just one week after the banks had run crying to the Government like small boys running to their mammies because the big bad world wasn’t playing fair with them, Anglo-Irish Bank’s Seán FitzPatrick made his now legendary speech in Greystones.

The Chairman and former Chief Executive of the bank most in trouble, whose imminent collapse had forced the other banks to contact the government, decided he would dispense some advice about the forthcoming budget.

It’s time, he said, that the Goverment tackled the “sacred cows” of child benefit, state pensions and Medical Cards for the over-70s.

His speech was loudly lambasted by columnists and letter-writers, but most of them felt that it was simply bad PR and a sign that he was out of touch with the realities facing ordinary people. We thought he was a pillock, and moved on.

Turns out though, that he’s not just a pillock, he’s a corrupt, greedy, self-serving chav. Just before the end of Anglo-Irish Bank’s financial year each September he would borrow €87 million from Irish Nationwide, pay-off the loans he had in Anglo-Irish, and the re-borrow the money in October. In this way the bank didn’t have to report that it had lent €87m to its most powerful employee. And he’d been doing that each year for seven years.

He has resigned, accepting that what he did was “inappropriate”, but stressing that it was not illegal.

burglarIs he sure? People have been buying shares in Anglo-Irish for years now, unaware that 35 per cent of its current capitalisation value was owed to it by one man, its chairman. I suspect that’s very close to being fraud.

Two other members of the board have resigned too, but the bank has an Audit Committee, a Risk and Compliance Committee, and a Financial Director. All of these people either knew of the cover-up, or are useless. Either way they should go too.

And as for our gobshite of a Financial Regulator…. he’s apparently known about this since January, but only told the Government this week. In other words, on the night the Government negotiated the bail-out of the banks, the Financial Regulator knew that the bank with the biggest bad-debt exposure had hidden loans of €87 million outstanding from its Chairman, and he decided to say nothing.

The Financial Regulator

The Financial Regulator

Over the last few years the banks have been found to have cheated customers on exchange rates, facilitated and indeed encouraged tax evasion, and helped banjax the economy with ill-judged and reckless lending.No-one’s been fired. No-one’s gone to jail.

The Government  says it has to cut costs as much as possible. According to the Financial Regulator’s own 2008 Income and Expenditure Budget (Google is just brilliant) it’s going to cost €29.719 million this year. If the Government closed the office down completely tomorrow, it could save this money, and spend it say on cancer vaccines for 12-year old girls.

Would anyone notice any difference in the way the banks would be run? Doubt it.

A Panther that is Positively Pink

Blondiebird at work is a real girlie girl. She apparently has 40 pairs of shoes (even the other girls slag her about this).  And she loves the colour pink, drinking water out of a pink glass that she brought in herself, and having a pink laptop. She turned up at the water-skiing last summer in pink wellies. She’s twenty-seven.

Yet she is in no way a stereotypical blonde, in that she’s actually quite shy, can drink pints to outdo any of us and is far from being dumb.

But when someone sent me this, I knew she’d love it:

https://www.keyboardforblondes.com/index.cfm

Click on the small keyboard at the bottom to see what’s printed on the keys. Also have a look at the 10 reasons to want one.

Seemingly it functions as a real keyboard. I’d almost love one myself.

Actually, they should do a bloke one. The backspace key could say “ah, shit”. The Home key could say “Pub”. Control, alt and delete could be replaced by just one butoon that says “Kaboom”.

Anyway, for the Christmas Party BB decided to get her hair done. And she is technically no longer Blondiebird, she’s now Brunette-with-just-a-hint of-purplie-bird. She looks amazing, but will always be Blondiebird to me ( if only because BB is easier to type than BWJAHOPB).

And also to TallNeuroticGirl. BB sits in the cubicle infront of mine and TNG sits on her right,  and they bicker all day long like an old married couple. “I’m still going to call you a blonde,” said TNG yesterday, ” and I’ll still eMail you blonde jokes”.

“Yes, but at least she’ll understand them now,” I heard myself saying before I could stop myself.

Next thing one of those little stress balls flew over the wall between BB and I and hit me full in the face.

It just goes to show that that those balls really work. Blondiebird said she felt a lot better after that.