Monthly Archives: October 2011

Handbags and Sad Tags

The page that appears after you have published something in WordPress to tell you that you’re “far-out!“ (or “Boss!” as it told me yesterday) does more than just that. It lists the tags and categories you used in a post that you published just half-a-second earlier, implying that you have the memory of a goldfish, and then says “to get more traffic, why not add these tags:”

Some of their suggestions are quite bizarre. After my “Autumn” photo challenge, for example, it suggested that I add “bales of hay”.

And after my post a couple of days ago about the perfect sandwich its suggestions were “toasted cheese“, “lava lamp“, “French stick“, “film character“…. and “navel fluff“.

Do they really believe that they will get me more traffic? I mean, just who would be loser enough to Google “navel fluff”?

Anyway, I have Googled “navel fluff”.

There is a Wikipedia site, of course, a font of information for those of us who would not otherwise know what navel fluff is. It tells us that it is also known as navel lint, belly button lint, belly button fluff and pupik lint. While I might have guessed at the others I didn’t know the last one, though I can’t see myself using it in conversation, I’d have to explain what I was talking about and it would look as if I was showing off, and a man who has to show off about about knowing an esoteric word for navel fluff is a man in need of professional help.

The scary thing is that it is not the first site on the list. It is topped by Graham Barker’s Navel Fluff Collection, which is “the incredible world of navel fluff (lint), featuring the world’s biggest and longest-term collection of an individual’s navel fluff, with photos”.

I have not clicked into the site. There are some dark places where a man just should not go.

Anyway, I have added the suggested tags, and if I find that people really are coming here after typing “navel fluff” then future posts will also include the tags “earwax” and “toenail clippings”.

After all, even if all I all I attract are nutters, traffic is traffic.

Where Begin I Do

Sidey’s Weekend Theme this week is to write a story beginning “Once upon a time..” and ending with “..and they all lived happily ever after.”


Once upon a time there was a young, dashing, impossibly handsome blogger named Tinman. Unfortunately, ladies, he appears only in the first two paragraphs of this story, so be-still your beating hearts.

It was true to say that when it came to blogging he was in a class of his own, though it is equally true to say that there are two ways of looking at that sentence. Like all other bloggers he regularly received comments from spammers. One day while going through these he hit “allow” instead of “delete” on two of them, and so it was that Service Plumbing Sacramento and Cabbage Soup Diet Review met for the first time.

Spammers are a misunderstood breed. People think of them as salespeople from far-flung countries writing in badly translated English. In fact they are a race, like the gypsies or the Celts, and Spam is their actual language. They comment on as many blogs as possible, day after day, in the forlorn and lonely hope of meeting someone who will allow them into their Commenters Gang.

Now, thanks to Tinman’s dumb-assness (ok, he appears in this paragraph as well) they had found a kindred spirit. Service Plumbing Sacramento clicked into Cabbage Soup Diet Review’s link (no, that’s not a euphemism), left a comment on her site (“this is a greatness post with many helpful, I am hopefully return someday”) and she replied “this is thoughtfully content with I am improving, have added link smiley face”.

They began a correspondence via e-Mail (neither of them, of course, had a spam filter, which meant that they were both friends with a surprising number of Nigerian princesses). She learnt that Service (they were on first-name terms by now) actually sold products for male, er, plumbing, such as Viagara, Cialis and Penis Enlargement Pills, which does admittedly prove that some of the stereotypes about Spammers are true. He learnt that Cabbage (first-name terms are not always a good thing) was a fanatical believer in the health benefits of cabbage soup, which turns you round and smelling of earth. Eventually he shyly proposed that they meet in person (“Perhaps some coffee would increase you happiness traffic”) and she equally shyly replied “I am grabbing your Feed”.

They recognised each other on sight, he by her greenish tinge, she by his well-serviced plumbing. Over a long candle-lit dinner they spoke of their loneliness, their sense of rejection and the amount of money that they had lost to Nigerian princesses. By the end of that evening love had begun to bloom.

They eventually got married, Service Plumbing Sacramento clicked into Cabbage Soup Diet Sacramento’s link (ok, this time it’s a euphemism) and in time they had two children: a boy named Dehumidifer Ratings and a girl called Discover An Australian Accent, who’s first words were (this is genuinely one of my spam comments) “a lot of listeners australian accent noises weirdly unfamiliar”.

In time the family moved to the spiritual home of Spammers. This is the tiny statelet of Spam, situated near Turkey. There Service continued to sell his products to hopeful and desperate men, Cabbage held cabbage-soup-diet parties for her bewildered neighbours and Dehumidifer and Discover grew up in a school with classmates such as Coupon Codes and Russian Kettlebells.

And they all lived happily ever after.

(Authors Note: It is customary to state that all characters are fictitious and any resemblance blah, blah, blah, but in this case I can’t, all the names above are those of Spammers in my spam queue at the moment, though I may be being a bit unfair to Service Plumbing Sacramento, who is in a fact a genuine plumber).   

AFI Friday

Those of you who sit hunched at your computer each day, pressing the refresh button over and over again like one of those perpetual motion birds anxious to read my daily words of genius (no, you’re anxious, not the birds) the second they are written, or even those of you who come here to laugh scornfully at my self-delusional belief that such people exist will have noticed an emerging pattern.

For those of you who don’t the pattern is discernible in the calendar on the right, where it appears that I am attempting to play Connect Four against Father Time.

I have not posted anything for three consecutive Fridays now. The reason for this will strike people as extremely odd, as indeed it struck me when I realised it. I am one of the few people on the planet who gets depressed on a Friday evening.

I do like my job, but it’s not as if it’s the centre of my life. Neither is it all that important, I do not save lives (though I might, did I mention that I passed my First-Aid exam? Can I mention it again?), I do not work for an organisation doing essential charitable work, I am not even a lollipop-lady making sure that children cross the road safely. It’s just an ordinary office job. I am always very busy and I know (not self-delusionally this time) that I do the job extremely well, so I do get quite a buzz out of it and the weekend is there to wind down from that buzz.

While most people wind down gently, like the Duracell bunny as its battery gradually runs out, I slump down violently, like the Duracell bunny as it runs over a cliff. As soon as I leave the office I begin to feel depressed. I know that this is not really depression (believe me, I know what depression is) but it is a feeling of dejection that I just cannot shake off.

Thanks to WordPress and its Postaday, for all that I slag its topics, I have forced myself to post something each Friday anyway, but for the last three weeks I just haven’t been able to bother. The first week I persuaded myself that I was worn-out after the First-Aid exam (did I mention – oh, forget it) and last week I was out after work and persuaded myself that it was too late when I got home, although it was only ten o’clock and I hadn’t had anything to drink so it was no real excuse.

Last night I got home from work at twenty-to-eight and was in bed by half-past. I’ve given up making excuses.

It’s only a Friday thing. It’s now Saturday, I’m in great form and the words of genius are just flowing onto the page (and off it again, sadly, to be replaced by this shite). The weekend has officially begun.

So don’t worry if I miss the occasional Friday. I’m not sick, I’m just weird (ok, that’s not a good sentence to send out onto the internet, I’ll try again):

So don’t worry if I miss the occasional Friday. I’m not ill, I’m just a bit daft.

(Oh, and the title? Well, the A stands for “Ah”, and the I for “It’s”).

Multiple Choice

Today is the day of our Presidential election.

I’ve mentioned it before, in the post where I declared my intention to stand as a candidate. That never happened, mainly because two men in dark suits with dark glasses (I didn’t know we had a CIA, I was quite impressed) arrived at my door and told me not to go for it. They said this blog showed that I would be a “loose cannon” President, since I have a penchant (they said that too, though they rhymed it with “pendant”) for inventing stories such as, for example, this one.


...and Miriam

Anyway, they did find seven people obviously less loose-cannonical than I am, though you wouldn’t know it to look at some of their histories. The sheer number of the candidates has made each televised Presidential debate, with each of them standing behind a little lectern, look like an episode of The Weakest Link, though the presenter has not worn black leather like Anne Robinson and winked at us all at the end (which is a pity in some cases, Miriam O’Callaghan would have looked great, though Vincent Browne not so much).

The office is largely ceremonial. The President does have some powers, some of them quite important, but essentially he or she is there to be a unifying figure for the people and an ambassador for Ireland both here and abroad. The last two have grown into the job and been terrific, so we can only hope for the best from this current lot, who at the moment range from the dreadfully mediocre to the simply dreadful.

This guy is the favourite to win

after the previous favourite imploded spectacularly during the last debate on Monday. His name is Michael D. Higgins, he’s been around politics since the time of Pitt the Younger, he’s a poet, a raconteur and frankly a bit of a windbag (look who’s talking, I hear you say), but basically a decent enough guy.

I can claim no credit for the picture below, but I thought I would share it with you all anyway:

My own opinion is that once that picture appeared on the internet Michael D should have replaced his own staid poster with it.

I reckon he’d have sailed in.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Possibility and Opportunity

Last week’s Photo Challenge was “Possibility.” I took this photo on Friday, just before I took the written part of my First-Aid exam:

and I was going to suggest that it offered three possibilities:

  1. That I would pass;
  2. That I would fail;
  3. That either the trainer or one of my workmates would ask me why I was taking a picture of a blank exam paper, and would I like a bit of a lie-down and some medical treatment from a room full of First-Aiders.

Anyway, I decided that you’d all had enough about me going on about the First-Aid course and wouldn’t appreciate another post about it, so I chickened out.

That was then, this is now, it’s nearly a week since I mentioned the course so I reckon you can handle it now (Did I mention that I passed? Can I mention it again?), hence the photograph above.

This week’s challenge is “Opportunity”, which seems pretty similar, so I’m doing the two together. Today I was at a course (don’t worry, it was related to work, it had nothing to do with First-Aid and I’m not going to write about it) which ended at 4.30, which meant that I was in a part of Dublin that I’m not often in at a time that I’m not often out, and it gave me the opportunity to take this:

People who know Dublin will know that it’s the Custom House. People in the UK may think “that looks a bit familiar”. If you do, watch out for the Guinness “snow at Christmas” ad, the one that ends with “even in the home of the black stuff, they dream of a white one” (it’s October, they should start showing it any day now). The ad starts with a man walking his dog, then looking at his watch and seeing the 24 change to a 25, and that’s the building he’s walking past.

For those of you not from here or the UK who are feeling a bit left out, the building was designed by James Gandon. Until I checked it about five minutes ago I thought he had also designed the White House. He didn’t. He also didn’t design the Sydney Opera House, Ellis Park In Johannesburg or the Beehive Building in Wellington, but I’m sure he was thinking of you all when he wasn’t designing them.

Anyway, I walked around a corner, saw the building in the sunshine, saw it’s reflection in the river and straight away thought “wow, I have to take a picture of that”. I wasn’t thinking of my blog, or photo challenges, or anything else.

I think it’s the final proof that this Weekly Challenge, which I started doing as a joke, has turned me into a photographer.

(PS. Apologies to any of you who came here within the past hour and discovered that there was no actual picture of the Custom House in the post. I may now be a photographer, but it still doesn’t stop me being an idiot).

First Word Or Last

A quick look back at the suggested topics that WordPress have come up with during the time I’ve been engaged in studying is an exercise in disappointment. “Do you prefer to have the first word or the last” for example. As a answer I need only go back to all our childhoods and to the following exchange:

“My dad’s bigger than your dad.”
“Yeah, well you smell of wee.”

Which of these two little gits (and future political debaters) do you reckon felt best after that conversation?

Expensive Tastes

I’ve missed the WordPress topics while I’ve been studying. This one’s a real gem:
“Describe the perfect sandwich. You have up to $5,000 to spend. Be creative.”

Five thousand dollars is about four thousand euro. I have owned eight cars during my lifetime and only two of them have cost more than this.

I think that the only way to tackle the topic (other than to laugh scornfully and write about something else) is to take a sandwich that I like and see what more expensive foodstuff might replace each ingredient. I am going therefore for the toasted-cheese-and-ham-on-white-bread, which will now receive the Pimp my Sandwich treatment.

White bread is very cheap, mainly because it has all the nutritional value of navel fluff. I will have to replace it with one of those French sticks that protrude from every shopping bag during every movie (interestingly no film character has ever been seeing eating one of them, opting instead for takeaway Chinese or pizza, which makes you wonder why they bother shopping in the first place). The cost of a French stick is less than two dollars, which leaves a long way to go, though by baking it in French wine and escargots it may be possible to raise the price to a tenner.

Toasting a sandwich in a toaster costs about two cents in electricity, so I will toast mine over a live volcano. This will involve buying climbing-gear, a tent and, in order that I can see to blog at night, a lava lamp. That last sentence is there solely in the hope that I will be fined by the Joke Police, which will help increase the cost.

There are more species of cheesies on this planet than there are of insects, but, while some are dearer than others, few of them will burn much of a hole in my five grand (actually that‘s not strictly true, some of them are so toxic that they might). I’m opting for caviar-and-saffron brie, and I’m opting for it in Easi-Singles, purely because of the additional cost of packaging each individual slice.

Virtually every animal on earth is more exotic than pig so replacing the ham with something more expensive should be a doddle, but each possibility has its drawbacks. Penguin would taste of fish. Panda may have bits of bamboo in it. Lion might contain nuts, possibly those of an antelope.

I am going for rhino. After all, crushed rhino-horn is very expensive, so just imagine what a whole crushed rhino must cost.


French stick:                                        10.00
Climbing-gear, etc:                              500.00
Lava-lamp fine:                                    750.00
Caviar-and-saffron brie:                           70.00
Packaging of the cheese:                     120.00
Rhino:                                              1,500.00
If time is money, the cost
of the time wasted in writing this:        2,000.00
The cost of the time that at least
one of you will have spent checking
that all this added up to $5,000:              50.00

Total:                                              $5,000.00

Or I might just spend a fiver on a toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich and fly to Barbados to eat it there.

Tough Game, Tough Job

I watched the Rugby World Cup Final this morning (or last night, or maybe tomorrow, depending on where you are reading this) and really enjoyed it, it was a really terrific, hard-fought game.

I had only one disappointment. Throughout the tournament New Zealand out-half after out-half got injured, and today their third choice player had to go off and their fourth choice came on instead.

And fair play to Stephen Donald, he played very well and I’d hate to wish injury upon anybody, but I kept thinking “it’s not a very big country. How many more out-halves have to get injured before they have to bring Laughykate on?”

Anyway, my abiding memory of this tournament will be this guy, who greeted the teams onto the pitch before each game with the Maori version of a vuvuzela:

Whenever you think your job is really tough just remember that someone, sometime had to stare at that guy’s arse for about nineteen hours while he put on that tattoo.

How Very Convenient

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “All Mod Cons”.


It was not going too well.

The year was 1957, and Mr and Mrs Zanussi were tough, plain-living, hard-working Northern folk (I am not going to specify the country. All countries have Northern folk who believe that they are tough, hard-working and plain-living while their Southern compatriots are big softies, although this is not a theory that I ever intend to voice in any of the Red states of the southern US). They loved their son David dearly, though they often harboured a secret suspicion that the hospital had mixed up two babies at birth.

For David was a brilliant young student with astonishingly inventive ideas and a particular interest in “labour-saving devices”, a phrase which bordered on sacrilege to the Zanussis. With his schoolmates Peter Siemens, John Miele, Stephen Smeg and foreign-exchange student Jean-Luc Moulinex-Foodprecessor he had entered the Young Scientists Exhibition with a project entitled “The Home of the Future” and Mr and Mrs Zanussi (or Father and Mother as David referred to them, and indeed as they referred to each other) were now at the Exhibition, staring at the drawings and plans displayed by David and his team with the same expression that Mr and Mrs Walton would have worn had John-Boy returned to Waltons Mountain wearing a Jet-pack.

Mother was staring in perplexity at the drawings of the kitchen. “There’s a box here that says ‘washing machine'”, she said.

“Yes,” said David. “It’s a machine that will wash clothes.”

“How?” asked Mother.

“Well,” said David, “the idea is that you put the clothes into a big drum and it spins around. The clothes rise to the top of the drum and then flop to the bottom and the whole things starts again. It has the same effect as beating clothes against a rock in a river.”

“Will it work?” asked Father.

“Yes, we think so, though it does have one flaw. It hides one single sock in every wash, but I’m sure that problem will be sorted out by the time it goes into production.”

Mother wasn’t listening. She was staring at the next box on the plans. “This says ‘dishwasher'”, she said. “All the plates would break when they drop from the top of the drum.”

“It doesn’t work that way, Mother. The dishes are bombarded by water.”

“And how will this water get hardened porridge off a porridge-bowl?” asked Father.

“Oh, Father,” said Mother. “They’ll have midgets working inside the machines scraping it off with a finger-nail.”

David was about to correct her, but Father had turned his attention to a big room at the side of the house. “What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s a garage,” said David. He sighed (he often harboured a secret suspicion that the hospital had mixed up two babies at birth), because he’d been dreading this, but ploughed on bravely. “It’s where you park your car.”

I see,” said Father, just as David had known he would. “When I grew up I had three brothers and two sisters sharing a room with me (“and it never did me any harm”, thought David) and it never did me any harm, but you’re saying that a car deserves a room of its own.”

“Well most people won’t keep their car in it,” said David desperately, “they’ll keep old paint-tins and a hopelessly knotted garden-hose in it instead.”

The ensuing silence showed that this hadn’t helped. Worse was to follow. A look of pure horror was beginning to cross Mother’s face.

“Is that a toilet indoors?” she finally managed to gasp.

“Yes,” said David proudly, “you’d never have to go out in the backyard ever again.”

“Now that is impressive,” said Father. “I wouldn’t have to read a wet newspaper on rainy days.”

“But what about, well, odours,” whispered Mother.

David was about to mention pot pourri, then thought about how long it would take to explain what it was, how it was pronounced and how it was spelt. “Well, you could open a window,” he said lamely.

“I wasn’t referring to me,” snapped Mother. “I never fart.”

“Of course you don’t, Mother,” said Father loyally, and totally untruthfully. He had a quick look at the other parents and the other students. The words “mon dieu!” and “sacre bleu!” were featuring a lot in John-Luc’s explanation of how you could have an electric shower in a cubicle full of water without frying yourself. John Miele was trying to explain why cooking food in a microwave was perfectly safe whilst drying a cat in it wasn’t. Peter Siemens was fending off questions as to why you’d need more than one TV when (in 1957) there was only one TV channel. Stephen Smeg’s mother had fainted when she’d been told what a bidet was.

Father gave a tiny nod of the head to the other fathers and all the parents said “well done” to their sons and left. They all went to the bar across the road where the men got beers, the women got vodka-and-tonics and Mrs Smeg got a large brandy.

“Well, it’s a brave effort,” said Mother eventually.

“Yes, but they’re living in a dreamland,” said Father. “I’m just glad they didn’t suggest something really daft, like, I don’t know, a bathroom in your bedroom.”

Be Patient

I know that there has been a certain sameness about the topics of this week’s posts, but I am hoping that you will be patient with me, especially if I promise not to make any pun whatsoever about the word “patient”.

The fact is that I haven’t sat an exam of any sort for about thirty years and so the First-Aid exam tomorrow is perhaps preying on my mind more than it would if I were normal more used to them.

Until this course began I knew little about human anatomy. Thanks to David Beckham and the 2002 World Cup I knew what a metatarsal was, I knew enough about abs and pecs to know that I don’t seem to have either and I was aware that de hip-bone connected to de thigh-bone.

I do still have a long way to go (while answering sample questions today I was asked to name the three types of bleeding (arterial, venous, capillary) and wrote down “artillery”) but I have learned a lot and am hoping for the best tomorrow.

After which I promise never to mention the course again.