Monthly Archives: October 2009

Chart Wars

Two posts ago I mentioned that I was number seven in a Google search for “wombat sphincter”.

As Laughykate then pointed out, that post went straight into the chart at Number 3, but later in the day KickOuttheJams reported it had dropped to Number 4.

Did you see what demoted it though?

I was overtaken by WordPress’s Category Listing for “wombat sphincter”, even though the only actual post in it was mine. I feel like a burglar who’s just robbed his own house by mistake.

Their title, though, means they deserve to be ahead of me. “Wombat Sphincter – Blogs, Pictures and More on WordPress”.

Neither Laughykate nor I ever promised pictures of a wombat’s sphincter. And, since I presume they’re not readily available on Getty Images, I can think of only one way of obtaining such pictures, and believe me that won’t be happening any time soon. My digital camera’s not especially valuable, but that doesn’t mean I’m planning to stick it up a marsupial’s rectum.

And… “Blogs, Pictures and More”? What could “More” possibly mean?

Once when I was at school we had to write an essay about any topic at all. Since I was an impish fellow a smart-arsed git I decided it would be funny to write about “the full-stop at the end of this essay”, since every time I started a new sentence I was writing about a different full-stop to the one I’d been writing about in the sentence before. This gave me the chance to spout existentialist crap about the impermanence of all things, and about how unreal reality is in reality (aren’t you glad I didn’t have a blog back then?).

As if the teenage me doesn’t sound annoying enough I then ended the essay with something like “and isn’t it ironic that by ending this essay with a question I’ve effectively rendered the whole thing meaningless?”. It’s a tribute to my English teacher’s tolerance that I’m not wearing the essay-book internally to this day.

Anyway, the reason I’m dragging up this embarrassing memory from the past is that I’m doing something very similar here. Once I post this God knows what Google’s list will look like.

Back last Christmas I accidently produced a “Googleblatt”, a phrase that gives the search result “1-1 of 1 results”. Just by writing about it I made it cease to exist, of course, and I feel that I’m in the same time-warp, Doctor Who-ish, mind-bending area now.

I think I’d better end this post, before my brain melts.

The Big Four-Oh (-Oh)

So, my 400th post, and a chance to defend Wikipedia.

People warn you to beware of Wikipedia, telling you that the information on it cannot be trusted (there’s a great Dilbert cartoon where one of the charcters says “I once passed a gallstone so big it became Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration”, and when one of his workmates says “I find that hard to believe” he replies “Give me ten minutes than check Wikipedia”).

I have to say, though, that I’ve just looked up “400” in it, and this is the opening sentence:

400 (four hundred) is the natural number following 399 and preceding 401.”

Now that’s accurate. Not very interesting, maybe, but accurate.

I defy Encyclopaedia Britannica to do any better.

(As you’ll have gathered, I’m now reduced to writing posts based on what number they are. Expect a post about Levi 401s tomorrow).

The Hit Charade

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve finally found out where my blog stats are. They list the most viewed posts of today, yesterday and this week.

Obviously the more recent ones feature most each day, though sadly not in numbers that are likely to make me a household name anywhere except in my own house. Every day, though, my post Stuck On 99, written as my 99th post, gets eight to ten hits.

I used to wonder why this was, till I found a new section which lists what phrases people use to get here. Every day a number of people come here after typing in “Agent 99”. Again I wasn’t sure why they’d end up here as opposed to, say the Get Smart movie website. Then it occurred to me. I typed “Agent 99”, not into Google, but into Google Images, and the first picture of Agent 99 brought me to, well, me.

I’m not sure about this, but I think I read somewhere that the more hits something gets, the nearer the front Google will put it, so now that I’m in first place I will stay at the front in an ever-increasing circle of cause and effect.

Laughykate knows how this feels, as Google now recognises her as the world’s leading authority on the wombat sphincter, occupying both first and second place in their listings (I’m delighted to say that I’m seventh, though only because of a post in which I referred to her). One day Mwa will be recognised as the Queen of Gay Porn, and we will all feel proud that we knew her before she became a legend.

You don’t feel so thrilled to have had over 24,000 hits once you realise that a substantial number of the people who come here are only visiting because they wanted to look at pictures of an actress from the 1960’s. One can almost sense their disappointment when they find, not more pictures of Barbara Feldon, but some Irish bloke wittering on about the girls he fancied when he was young (the post does include photos of both Mrs Peel and Purdey from the Avengers, though, so hopefully that’s some consolation to them).

I am quite proud, though, of the fact that if you type “Worth Doing Badly” into Google I’m now top, since there was a time when you had to add the word “Tinman” before I appeared at all.

Anyway, as I say, I discovered the truth behind people’s obsession with my 99th post today. It’s not all that interesting (no change there, I hear you say) and I wouldn’t have bothered to mention it at all, had co-incidence not intervened to give me a reason.

Because, co-incidently, this is my 399th post.

I’ve looked up Agent 399. You get nothing.

Cloudy, With a Chance of Cloud Later

The title of this post may have led you to believe that it’s going to be yet another one about derealisation, and my life with a head permanently full of cotton wool.

In fact, it’s not going to be even as exciting as that.

In her comment on yesterday’s post about Bloggers Block, Mwa has suggested Mrs Moon’s solution to “start by writing about the weather and the rest will come”.

Since Mrs Moon is both a better and more frequent poster than I am I have decided to follow the advice.

I must start though by pointing out that Mrs Moon lives in America, a land which, not content with the traditional Four Seasons, actually also has a “hurricane season”. This gives American weather a certain advantage over Irish weather as a kick-starter for people suffering from blog-constipation. The opening sentence “last night our neighbour’s car blew over our house” will always stir the creative juices better than the one “last night it rained”. 

Because that’s what Irish weather is all about. We have just the Four Seasons – Spring (stinging hail season), Summer (sudden downpour season), Autumn (damp mist season) and Winter (driving sleet season). You’ll notice that none of them mention sunshine, or snow. Global warming apparently has homogenised Irish weather, turning it into twelve dreary months of monotonous sameness.

This  probably explains why a report in the Irish Examiner today states that 98% of Irish children have been abroad by the time they’re 16. Their parents bring them, terrified that they will get rickets or become goths from the lack of sunshine  and Vitamin C in Ireland. Indeed, it’s a wonder Edward Cullen (from Twilight, I had to ask Tingirl his name) and his vampire buddies don’t move here, they’d be able to go out both day and night (look, Mwa, I’ve quoted an article from today’s news and mentioned a well-known film character, this is actually working).

People from sunnier climes like Spain or, well, anywhere really, like to say things like “but we love your weather, it’s so varied”. They have no idea how this rankles with us. They  are the ones with the variety – they can be pleasantly warm, stiflingly hot, or in the pool having a dip to cool off. Wetness, on the other hand, is like virginity. There are no degrees of wetness – either you are wet, or you aren’t.

I’ ve wondered what they think is so great about our weather, and have come to the conclusion that they’ve heard our phrase “raining cats and dogs”, and think that we mean it literally. And while this certainly would add variety, it still wouldn’t be all that great. After all, it would be unlikely that thousands of cats and dogs would fall vast distances out of the clouds without at least some of them, er, relieving themselves on the way down, and a shower made up of dogs, cats and animal poo is the kind of thing that would have made the people in the Bible nostalgic for the good old days, when all they had to deal with was a simple plague of frogs.

In summary, as you’ve probably guessed, our weather is crap.

So there you go. Over 500 words, many of them different. Thank you, Mrs Moon. Thank you, Mwa.

Any ideas for tomorrow?

Once, Twice, Three Times a Baby

In a frantic bid to rid myself of Bloggers Block, I am posting this photo of three photos:

SP_A0088

We found them over the weekend by the method by which most things are found in the Tinhouse, i.e., we were looking for something else. The three pictures were together because we had intended putting them into a frame years ago, but never got round to it.

The pictures, in order, are Tinson1, Tinson2 and Tingirl, and each picture was taken, in the same pose on the same armchair, on the day on which each baby was six months old. When Jo asks why I don’t show my kids my blog, it’s because I occasionally do things like this to them.

(Brief digression: just as I was typing that sentence, the guy on Sky Sports News was announcing that Everton’s striker Jo has been dropped to the bench for tonight’s match).

And that’s really all there is to say about the photo.  The really eagle-eyed among you might notice that Tinson2 has a photo of Tinson1 on the table beside him, and experienced parents among you will know that our babies did not always look that happy.

Any of you in the mood to be critical of our parenting might look at the size of Tinson2 and conclude that we fed him on a diet of Big Macs and lard. All I can say in our defence is that he didn’t stay that shape, and indeed now is so thin that I think he’s about the same weight as he was in that picture.   

So,that’s it. Nothing else to say today.

If I don’t think of something soon, I’m going to post pictures of their fridge drawings.

And you don’t want to see a six-month old’s drawing of a fridge, do you?

Small is Beautiful

Look at this, what I bought yesterday…

SP_A0083

It’s a netbook, and it’s smaller than a, than a, than a … desk diary (sorry, I closed it over there to get some idea of what I could say it was smaller than, and turned the bloody thing off).

We do have a desktop at home, and I also have a laptop. It’s a Panasonic Toughbook, bought when I was self-employed and had to bring it around a lot, and it’s the size and weight of a paving slab. Apparently it would withstand a bomb-blast, which is of dubious value since I probably wouldn’t, and in any case it’s unlikely that my gentle posts would attract such retribution (if the Greens, to name just one bunch out of many potential perps, haven’t tried it on Twenty yet, I reckon I’m fairly safe).

The problem is that Mrs Tin’s many committees force her to spend most of her time on the desktop, and Tinson1’s laptop, used in a perpetual rota by the three Tinkids, takes up the Internet Cable in the kitchen, so I wasn’t getting to use my laptop much in the evenings. As a result I was having to write my posts in the office, which is of course not ideal because it’s likely to get me fired totally unfair to my employers.

So this is an attempt to get me to do my blogging in the evenings. I borrowed one from a friend for a couple of days, got hooked, and went and bought one. I’ve set it up, charged it up, and read the warning specially written for people like me, those who wear an Intel-like sticker saying “Pacemaker Inside” (I would so love to get that on a T-shirt, or even just on a badge). Apparently I’ve to keep it at least 6 inches away, which oddly enough I had fully intended doing. I know it has a very small screen, but I’m not feckin’ blind.

I’ve written before that I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to geek stuff (Microsoft actually have a paperclip that knows more about Word than I do), so I was probably the only person on earth who didn’t know that Windows 7 was being launched yesterday. I’ve been meaning to buy the netbook for the last week, but it was only yesterday that I found time, so it was by pure co-incidence that I ended up owning a piece of technology on the very day that it came out. This does not happen to me often. Only once have I owned a make of car that was still being advertised on TV when I bought it. I got a photocopier just as people moved to multi-printing, got a fax machine just as people moved to email,  and took up blogging just as people began to Twitter (I wish you’d take it up Tinman, I can hear some of you say, this post would have been over 431 words ago).

Yet suddenly I own Windows 7 (look, they gave me a T-shirt, it’s on the right of the picture) and all my kids and workmates are very impressed.

I have to say I don’t understand the fuss about Windows 7. Back in the last century I had a computer with Windows 98 on it, which I’m assuming was 14 times better.

I may not know a lot about computers, but I know how to do maths.

Other Lives

The problem with having a secret internet life, with alternative names and activities, is remembering that not everyone knows it.

Recently in our house Tingirl and I were looking through the massive book mountain that has grown in the hall outside my bedroom door for a particular book. One of the books in the pile was Philip Pullman’s book The Tin Princess.

”Look, Honey, that’s you,” I said, and exactly as I said it I thought ”she has no idea she’s called Tingirl.”

She looked at me as if I was an idiot which, in fairness, at that moment I was.

Then last night Tinson1 arrived home from college, and I asked him how was Archery Class. Again, I realised one millisecond too late that it was Bardson1 in my Shakespeare post who is actually learning archery.

I wonder do superheroes have this problem?

”Bruce, did you watch The Apprentice last night?”

”Of course not, Mother, you know I was saving Gotham from Catwoman.”

”What did you say?”

”Er, I said I was waving my bottom at a fat woman.”

”Really, Bruce, it’s time you got a girlfriend.”

Have a Break

The tiny white dot in the centre of this picture is the International Space Station, visible as the dawn comes up over the golf course at the bottom of our road. If you think the photo is pretty crap then you should bear in mind that it was taken at 6.55 am on the Sunday I went to the football match in the UK, that at that stage I had been up for 26 hours, and that less than two minutes later I was in bed and asleep. In the circumstances it’s a miracle that you’re not looking at an extreme close-up of my thumbprint.

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The Space Station was pointed out to us by one of the lads in the car as we made our way home, and my addled, sleep-deprived, drink-befuddled mind started to think about it. And I’m still thinking about it, with just one thought in my mind.

What do they do on their day off?

John Tracy

John Tracy

I’m presuming, of course, that they do get time off, though this may not be true. The first and best known Space Station operator was John Tracy in Thunderbird 5 back in the 1960s, and he seemed to be on duty 24/7, since he was up there on his own, and since presumably distress calls to International Rescue did not just happen between 9 and 5.

He probably wouldn’t have been able to fill days off anyway, since in those days TV ended at midnight, the Internet didn’t exist and, er,  his hands couldn’t grip anything (sorry).

Thunderbird 5But these are different times, with trade unions, health regulations and maximum working hours legislation, so I reckon the lads must have at least two days off a week. And what can they do?

They are not, of course, the only people effectively stuck in the office on their day off. People who work on ships or oil rigs have much the same problem. But a ship is much bigger, and there are gyms, bars and of course the game of Deck Quoits. Deck Quoits is mentioned in all ads for cruises, but no-one has a clue what it actually is (perhaps it’s a form of Polo, but with sea-horses). There is also the possibility of occasionally watching two lovers standing at the front of the boat, like a figurehead, blocking everyone’s view of the giant, looming iceberg.

The Space Station is much smaller, though, & I’m guessing it’s hard to squirrel yourself away somewhere with a good book (or book yourself in somewhere with a good squirrel), out of hearing of what’s going on. What would you do if you heard the rest of the crew discussing some problem that you reckoned you knew the answer to? Or (less likely, admittedly) if an iceberg appeared dead ahead?

When I was self-employed I sometimes had to work at home when the Tinkids were very young. It takes a lot of self-control to hear a crash, followed by a childish wail, and sit thinking “no, I’m at work, it’s not my problem”. Similarly you’d have to be very Tradeunionised to sit listening to your crew-mates yelling “Red Alert!” while the Space Station computer intones “hull breach in twenty seconds” and think to yourself “well, I’ve ten minutes of my break left”.

And if you do come out of your room to flip a switch/fix a leak/shoot the iceberg, do you get paid overtime?

I wrote ages ago about how these poor guys have to drink each others pee. Now I’ve come to realise that they don’t really get time off either.

It’s not all glamour and moonwalking being an astronaut.

 

New Kid in Town

One of  the thousands hundreds couple of people who comment here, Sas, has started his own blog.

The story of my blog and Sas, or KOTJ as I will now have to call him, is proof that the world is a very small place indeed. We played cricket together years ago, but he was reading this blog and commenting without either of us knowing that we know each other until I wrote the post about having to speak at the cricket club dinner.

Anyway, after he wrote more and better Nursery Rhymes than I did in my post last week, I suggested that he start his own. So he has (I feel like I’m its Dad, think I’ll buy some cigars).

His first post is about John O’Donoghue’s resignation. Have a read & see what you think.

Still Here

Sorry, I am still here.

Sometimes nothing interesting happens in my life. Sorry.

I’m trying to get one of the Tinkids to fly off in a balloon (or score against Liverpool via one) just to have something to write about, but they’re being obstinately sensible.

Don’t worry too much, though (not that I reckon you are). Things rarely stay sensible in the Tinhouse for long.