Monthly Archives: August 2011

Two Hundred More

(I came here this evening and this post took me totally by surprise. Then I remembered, as you might, that back at the end of July, when my internet was working only sporadically, I tried to pre-schedule a post for August 1st, but set it for the 31st instead. This is it….) 

WordPress celebrates its 200th topic suggestion by asking what would you like 200 more of?

It helpfully points out that this is not as easy as it might look. “You may love your car,” it says, “but would you really like 200 more of them?” This certainly gives chastening pause for thought to the many of us who were going to write down that very answer (I might still go for it, since I would surely be able to find at least one set of car-keys when I was in a hurry to be somewhere).

It then says “you may like to be smarter than your friends, but would you really like to be 200 times smarter?”

This suggestion reveals more about what WordPress thinks of its friends than it possibly intended to. In any case I find it somewhat baffling. 200 of what, exactly, would make me 200 times smarter than my friends? If I got 200 more, er, Intelligence Quotients this would bring my IQ up to say 330 (don’t know exactly what it is now, don’t care). This would probably make my brain sizzle and spark and make my head practically translucent, it would make me the giant that other intellectuals stand upon the shoulders of, but it wouldn’t make me 200 times cleverer, since IQ scores are not exponential, as far as I know. 200 more brain cells, again as far as I know, would make sod-all difference to my overall intelligence.

I could have 200 more brains, but only if I kept them in jars upon shelves, and late night TV viewing leads me to believe that such scenarios usually end with a crocodile of villagers making their way up the hill toward your house armed with pitchforks and flaming torches.

Mention of giants earlier leads me to the thought that another 200 inches (in height I mean, behave) would add 16’8”, bringing me to 22’1”. This would make me unpopular at the cinema, struggle for suitable clothing (I’d have to wear a circus big-top as a sombrero) and totally unable to drive unless I tied my 201 cars together and steered from the back one.

200 more Euro a week would be nice but would not be life-changing. 200 more coffees a week might be, though, since my pacemaker would probably burst into flames.

If I got two more hundreds in my hundreds and thousands, would I simply end up with thousands and thousands?

In the end I’d settle for two hundred more useful topic suggestions from WordPress. And whether 200 times smarter or not, I am well aware that there are two ways of looking at that sentence.

A Mug’s Game

Laughykate said it first. She turned to my post on Saturday and said “I read this post and all I saw was FORTY-THREE comments!!!” This now stands at 52 (one of which was simply replying to her) and is by far the most that I have ever received.

There are a couple of reasons for this, of course. One is that it was part of Six Word Saturday, in which an increasing number of people participate each week and we all comment on what each other has written, so I will always get more comments for these posts than for others.

Another is that I got up at 7am on Saturday, mostly because my friend Goldeneyes is on holiday in New York and I was anxious to see how the hurricane was affecting the city and her (she’s fine), but by posting at that time I got to be second on the 6WS list (what time do you get up at, Tilly?), so obviously more of the others read it than would have if I had done my post very last thing on Saturday night.

The third reason (“couple” is a word that can mean anything) is that, as you may have noticed, I am trying these days to reply to comments. The fact that I rarely did this before has always been a source of guilt to me, when people go to the trouble of saying something they deserve the recognition of a reply. The problem is that people rarely come on here and say “this post sucks monkey nuggets” ( a phrase from this Six Word Saturday post which I swore I would use sometime), everyone tends to be very kind and complimentary, and there are only so many ways in which you can reply “thank you, glad you liked it”.

Anyway, I am trying. This means that 26 of the 52 comments are mine, which does take some of the gloss off it. It’s like friending yourself on Facebook.

Fourthly (“couple” is a word ….) the real star of the post was the mug. I defy any blogger not to love it, and not to comment profusely about that love.

But it does make me wonder if this blog is going in the wrong direction. Perhaps there is a huge potential readership out there desperate for a blog devoted to tableware. I may test this over the coming weeks, whenever I can think of nothing to say. I can post pictures of my Yellow Submarine mug, my United Nations mug, my Betty Boop mug and my Monk mug (my family think I act like him sometimes). I can post pictures of the china tea-set that we were given for our wedding (assuming that I can find it, since of course it has never been used). I can post a picture of Tinson2’s Hogwarts mug, my “I Love My Daddy” mug and Mrs Tin’s “World’s Greatest Mum” mug.

I can then move onto our plates, our bowls and our saucers (of which we only have one or two, since we are a mug family and we don’t have a cat).

After that it will be on to cutlery, which will give me a chance to show once again this picture, from a post from nearly three years ago:

It’s what happens to a knife when you try to unblock an office shredder with it while the shredder is still running.

Considering my heart is run by a small metal box full of electrical impulses, it may not have been the brightest thing I ever did.

Filter Tip

Those of you from countries with more culinary taste than these isles may never have heard of Spam. (I had thought that the USA was among those countries, but intensive research, or looking up Wikipedia as it is more commonly known, tells me that 3.8 cans are consumed every second in the US, and that the town of Austin, Minnesota, where it is produced, is known as Spam Town USA).

Spam is a rectangular slab of meat sold in a rectangular metal tin. It is the colour of an Irish person’s shoulders after his first full day on a Lanzarote beach (“Sun Cream? No way, sure how will I get a tan?”). The phrase “shocking pink” is the only way to describe it, the shock being that something that pink could possibly be considered edible. To further whet your appetite it has what Wikipedia calls a “gelatinous glaze”. In other words it is covered in a peculiar jelly-like substance like semi-frozen Vaseline.

What animal it is made of, and what part of what animal it is made of, is a complete mystery.

But not as big a mystery as why its rival on the market when we were kids was called Unox Luncheon Meat. It does not do to have a vivid imagination when tucking into that.

Anyway, you can tell that I have very little to write about today when I tell you that I am bringing Spam up (as I’m sure has happened to it many times) purely to ask this question:

Do you reckon the Spam company even bother trying to send email?

Many, Many Happy Returns

Sidey’s weekend theme is “Birthday Party”.


“Surprise party?”


“Why not? Surprise parties are great. The person always gets such a, well, surprise.”

“Not in this case.”

“Why not?”

St Stephen sighed. “Because, St John,” he said, “we’re talking about Jesus here. It’s very hard to surprise someone who knows everything.”

“I bet we could do it,” said St John, obstinately. “I bet he’d never expect it.”

The words “Yes I Would” sounded simultaneously inside all of their heads.

St Stephen sighed again. The date was December 21st, 1999. Jesus’s 2000th birthday was now just four days away, and the little group who had formed to arrange his birthday party still had nothing organised.

“Look,” he said, “let’s just keep it simple. What do you need for a good party?”

“Food, drink, entertainment,” said St Luke.

“And fireworks,” said St Christopher, “remember, it’s a special birthday.”

“What will they make of that down on Earth?” asked St Stephen.

“They’ll think it’s thunder and lightning, just like they always do.”

“And we’ll need a birthday card,” said St Luke. “You could design that, Val.”

“Nah,” said St Valentine, “I only do mushy ‘roses are red’ stuff. You need to ask St Hallmark.”

“Ok,” said St Stephen, picking up a tablet of stone to start making a list. “Food, then. What’ll we have?”

“Cocktail sausages,” said St Anthony.

“He’s Jewish,” said St Stephen.

“Oh. True,” said St Anthony.”Guess we’re stuck with manna, then.”

“And Angel Delight,” said St Valentine.

“Very funny,” said St Stephen. “Manna it is, then. We can do a manna casserole, a manna curry, a manna lasagne.”

“Sounds heavenly,” muttered St John, who was still sulking over the surprise party.

“And a manna cake,” said St Christopher, “with candles.”

“Two thousand of them?” said St Paul.

“It’s going to be a very big cake,” said St Christopher, “there are a lot of us up here.”

“But nobody could blow out – ” began St Paul, then remembered who he was talking about. “Forget it,” he said.

“Right,” said St Stephen. “What about drink?”

“Vodka,” said St Petersburg, the Russian.

“Nectar,” said St Paul without thinking, “it’s the drink of the Gods.” He suddenly realised what he had said. “Er, in myths and stuff.”

“Wine,” said St Luke quickly, to break the stunned silence. “We know he likes that, from that time he was at Cana.”

“Wine it is, then,” said St Stephen. “Now, what about entertainment?”

“A kissogram,” said St Patrick, “we could get one of the angels to come dressed as a policewoman.”

“How did you ever get to be a saint?” asked St Luke.

“Patron Saint rule,” said St Patrick. “Every country has to have one, and I was the holiest Irish person they could find.”

They all thought for a while about the Irish. “Yeah, makes sense I suppose,” said St Luke eventually.

“Anyway, NO kissograms,” said St Stephen. “Remember, his Dad’s going to be there. Any other suggestions?”

“Magician?” said St Anthony.

“God love the poor sap if we got one,” said St Stephen. “Can you imagine pulling rabbits out of a hat in front of someone who’s pulled the whole universe out of nothing?”

“Yeah, tough gig,” said St Luke.

“Karaoke,” suggested St Christopher.

The others glared at him. “This is supposed to be Heaven,” said St Luke sternly.

“Sorry,” said St Christopher.

“Ok, since no-one has any sensible suggestions it looks like we’ll just have to go with the Heavenly Choir,” said St Stephen. “They do a very good version of Metallica’s Enter Sandman.” He looked at his list. “Are we sure we’ve thought of everything? We’re not very experienced at this. How would they celebrate a birthday down there, if you know what I mean.”

“They’d do everything to satanic excess,” said St Patrick. “They’d drink too much, all get off with each other, there’d be at least one punch-up and they’d all end up with hangovers that would make them suffer for all eternity.”

St Stephen glared at him. “I didn’t mean Hell,” he said, “I was talking about down on Earth.”

“So was I,” said St Patrick.

Oh You Pretty Thing

It’s time again for Six Word Saturday

and this week I must proudly say:

I Have Got A Lovely Mug

I’ve always known this, of course. Johnny Depp’s eyes are the same colour as mine, George Clooney has exactly the same number of ears as I have and my name and Brad Pitt’s often appear in the same sentence (though admittedly the sentence is “Tinman looks absolutely nothing like Brad Pitt”).

But my Adonisness is not what I’m referring to here. I am referring to this:

I bought it online here at the Literary Gifts Company (have a look through their whole website, there are about a million things on it I’d love to have). I got it after seeing it on my friend Speccy’s blog, so if you all decide to buy one (and who could resist) then if you’re reading this, LGC, it’s really she who should get the commission.

But does it work, I hear you ask. Does using it stir my muse whilst I am stirring my tea?

Well it inspired today‘s post, so I’d have to say so far so good.

(For more Six Word Saturday posts, go here:)

Just When You Thought ….

This is from our local freebie paper:

The article reports that a man called Brendan Moran spotted the fish “while diving off The Men’s on the seafront”.

I have lived in Greystones for 26 years and had no idea that there is a section of our seafront called The Men’s. Perhaps there isn’t, perhaps they mean that he dived in off the roof of a public toilet.

(I feel that I owe it to Brendan Moran, without whom this post would not exist, to tell you all that the video of his encounter can be viewed in full at his website

When I was a child growing up a few miles further up the coast the biggest threat to the men fishing off the wall of Dun Laoghaire harbour (don’t blame me, Spellcheck, that’s the name of the town) was that they might be pulled into the sea while trying to land what would invariably turn out to be a Tesco supermarket trolley. Such fish as they would occasionally catch would be tiny unidentifiable little brown things which they would look at in disgust and throw back into the water.

It never seemed to occur to them that they might be simply catching the same fish over and over again.

But if ever people doubted the theory of global warming then I offer the arrival of this new menace in evidence. If a fish that Google says is found normally in “tropical and temperate seas” has decided that the waters of Greystones are warm enough to swim in (and trust me, there are few people in our town who would agree with him) then something must have changed.

It’s just as well that we are an island, or we would soon be overrun by all sorts of creatures from warmer climes, such as rhinos, or elephants, or lions. As it is they have no way of getting here.

Unless they hitch a lift on the back of a giant Scorpion Fish.

Nothing Doing

WordPress’s topic is “Try to Think about Nothing: What Happens?” They then suggest we describe it in a short post.

The second sentence hints that they think we won’t be able to do it, but since nothing is generally what comes to my mind whenever I am confronted by my netbook and a blank white screen, I reckoned it should be easy enough.

I gave it a go this morning. I looked at the clock on the netbook, noted that it was 7.07, and resolved to try and think of nothing until 7.12. I was determined to succeed, unlike Dan Ackroyd in Ghostbusters who was told to think of nothing and promptly thought of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

I immediately got a picture in my head of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

I shook my head metaphorically (at least I hope it was metaphorically, I was on a crowded bus) and decided to try again. I found that I was listening intently to the Duran Duran song that was on my iPod, so I turned it off.

But not before I started thinking about Yasmin LeBon.


Which reminded me (I can’t think why) that I read somewhere that men think about sex every seven seconds. It took me a long time to get that out of my head, and then longer still to think about whether that sentence needs re-writing or not.

I sneaked a look at the computer clock. It was 7.09.

Looking back up at the screen I noticed how many red squiggly lines Spellcheck had applied to my post so far. It doesn’t recognise the “Puft” in Stay-Puft, which is fair enough. It recognises neither “netbook” nor” iPod”, which seems odd in a service that exists only to help you deal with technology.

It recognises neither “Yasmin” nor “LeBon”, which tells you a lot about its compiler, and I spent quite a few seconds thinking that he needs to get a life, or at least some magazines.

Most interesting of all though, is that there is a red squiggly line under Duran, but only under the second one.

This reminded me that I noticed once before that Spellcheck recognises the word “Scooby” yet not the word “Doo” and I thought for a while about the sheer daftness of that.

By that time it was 7.38, I was three stops from mine, and while I’ve utterly failed to think about nothing I have written a post that I had no idea I was going to write.

I must try to think of nothing more often.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Flowers

This week’s challenge is a bit of a problem, coming as it does just a couple of weeks after the topic was “colours”.

Even WordPress themselves used flowers to illustrate colours. So did I, which leaves me a bit stuck. And for those of us who like to try to make up for our lack of photographic skills by having fun with the narrative the topic is quite limited. Flowers are flowers, there is not a lot you can say about that. A suggestion by Mrs Tin that I use pictures of flours is definitely cheating. Still, this is for her:

(I already used photos of bottles of Red Lemonade in a previous Photo Challenge, so it’s only a matter of time before the staff in Tesco ask me to stop coming in, taking pictures of their merchandise and walking out without buying anything).

It’s not just me who’s disappointed by the topic. Bedouin Arabs sitting at their computers in their tents (the internet is everywhere) read the topic and said لا يمكنك أن تكون خطير (“you cannot be serious” in Arabic), sighed and then trudged out to take a photo of the only cactus within two hundred square miles.

Eskimos in their igloos said “erkpakpok! akritomayok!” (“flowers! stupid!” in Inuit) and went outside, cut a hole in the ice, and dropped their laptops into it.

Still, I must try. This is from our own front garden:

I’d forgotten it was there, to be honest, and only noticed it this morning because my mind was full of flowers, rather like the Woodstock generation. It’s lovely, and its only drawback is that we can’t think of anywhere to hang it, and it won’t stand up on its own.

This is a house near where I live:

It frankly looks like the floral version of one of those houses that has lit-up snowmen and Santas covering every inch of them at Christmas. I am vowing now to return in October (the sacrifices I make for my art, it involves getting off the bus one stop earlier) and photo what it looks like then, it will probably look like Sleeping Beauty’s castle about half-way through her hundred-year nap.

I love this:

It’s a garden about the size of a kitchen table on the quays in central Dublin, but the owners of this garden have not let its titchiness hinder their love of flowers.

These two signs are at the southern entrance to our town:

The signs are in Irish (four languages in one post, in your face Stephen Fry). As you enter the town you see the “failte”, meaning welcome, and as you leave you see the “slan”, basically meaning sod-off.

I think they’re the ultimate in tackiness, whereas at the northern entrance we have this, lovingly maintained by the owners of the pharmacy across the road:

It just has to be the coolest flower-pot on the planet.

Morning Routine

The bus arrives just after seven, having sat tantalisingly close at the traffic lights just twenty yards away for over one minute, since the lights at Roches Pharmacy are the worst co-ordinated ones in the developed world (the undeveloped world don’t have traffic lights at all, and let me tell them they’re not missing much). I climb the stairs, fall (fairly literally) into the seat I usually occupy these days and put the ticket back into my wallet and then lift one butt-cheek off the seat while I slide the wallet back into my pocket. Then I open my man’s handbag backpack, take out my netbook and remove it from its little sleeping-bag . I turn it on, place it onto the seat beside me and, while it is slowly waking up (am I the only one who thinks computers used to come on more quickly?) I take my glasses and my iPod from my coat, then take off said coat. The netbook proudly announces itself ready with that embarrassing and horrible Windows7 greeting by then, so I type in the password (“bumber”, from an old Tinhouse story) then wince as it mades its final “I’m awake” squawk.
I put on my glasses, make sure to put the case somewhere where I won’t be able to find it when I get near the other end, put the iPod in my ears (no, not all of it, obviously) and turn it on.
I bundle my coat so as to make a table for the netbook, try it, find it’s not right, the netbook slips forward. I re-arrange the bundle and try it again. Then again. Finally I get it into a position where I can type without having to hold the netbook with one hand (God knows I’m slow enough already).
By this time we have just reached the roundabout at the bottom of the hill between Greystones and Bray so I cling to the netbook for dear life (its dear life, it was very dear) while the bus sweeps left onto the roundabout, drives right around it and then swings left off it). We start our journey along the Southern Cross Road.
Seven minutes have elapsed since the bus first hove (what’s the present tense of that?) into view at my bus stop, but as last I am ready to write.
If only I had something to write about.

Here Lies

Sorry, I’ve had a really mental day, got home just now, so I’ve gone for this WordPress topic from 11 days ago, suggested they say by “Lauren from Cemetary Travel Blog” – (in fairness, Loren does spell both her own name and the word “cemetery” correctly on her blog):

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Well, I’m thinking something like:

In Loving Memory of Tinman
1957 – 2268

I think that would do nicely.