Archive for July, 2007

Six Degrees

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Since I’m off on my hollies, here’s a bit of fun to keep my loyal fans busy.

Since I started my fab new job, Ive spent a lot of my spare time downloading the contents of Radio 4’s “Listen Again” pages to my MP3 player to give me something different to listen to on the train: This is why, over the last few weeks, I’ve been enjoying an old series called “Take Five Numbers”, where maths genius Simon Singh tells us something about a particular number. One day last week I was listening to the programme based on the number 6, in which he told us about the various incarnations of the “Six Degrees of Separation” game. Most people know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, where you can link anyone who’s ever been in a film to Kevin Bacon, never using more than five intermediate actors: So for example, Barbara Windsor was in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and so was the then child actor Phil Collins: Phil Collins was “Balto” with Kevin Bacon, so as the link only has two steps, Barbara Windsor has a Bacon number of two.

The whole thing started with a social networking experiment in America where people chosen at random had to get a message to a target person in Boston – the only rule being that they could only pass it on through intermediaries whom they knew by first name. The average chain length was six. A later version of the game – once e-mail had become popular – used e-mail to send messages from person to person around the world. Again, chains averaged at six links.

So, here’s our own Gottleblog version of the game: I’ve given you three challenges – take part in one or more and see how you get on.

  1. Click on a link to one of the websites I link to over on the right hand side. Then click on one of the links from that website, and keep going until you’ve made six moves: The only rule is that you mustn’t link back to a site you’ve already been to in the chain. After six moves, see where you’ve got to. You might find it most interesting to choose links that seem to take you as far as possible – in terms of geography or subject matter – each time, but that’s up to you.
  2. If you’ve got a bit more time, do a similar thing – but this time jumping from link to link, see how many steps it takes to arrive at the website of the British Antarctic Survey
  3. Finally – and this one’s a bit chain-letter-ish, so please be sensitive in who you include as not everyone likes them – an e-mail experiment. Cut and paste the following text into an e-mail and send it to one person you know:

    You’ve received this e-mail from someone you know as part of the Six Degrees project being conducted over at GottleBlog, www.g0tlg.34sp.com. Please feel free to not take part if you’re uneasy about it, but it’s only a bit of fun and we hope you’ll join in.

    Please forward this e-mail to one person you know: Only one, this isn’t a chain letter and we don’t want to fill people’s in-boxes with junk. As you forward it, please add one to the following number: 1. If the number is six, please don’t send it to anyone in your address book: Send it instead to 6degrees@duell.org.uk, and tell us a little bit about yourself: The town or city where you live, and one interesting fact about you, perhaps. Keep an eye on the GottleBlog website where we’ll publish the results once there’s been a reasonable amount of activity. Your e-mail address will not be published or retained, and you will receive TWO e-mails as a result of the project: The first will be an autoreply to thank you for taking part, the second to tell you when the results are published.

Send your webclicking results and any observations about the project to 6degrees@duell.org.uk and we’ll see what happens!

Recording

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I’m off on me hols tomorrow.

Panic not, however, loyal chums: I’ve left a set of cheesy cheating pre-written blogs for your entertainment, the first of which will give you something to do to keep you entertained. In fact reading GottleBlog in my absence might be more fun than when I’m here :-)

In the meantime, I’ve got a favour to ask you all: I’ve been following the BBC Radio 4 series “Hut 33″, a comedy about the Bletchley Park codebreakers in the second world war. I get it from the Radio 4 “Listen Again” website, record it on my computer and convert it to MP3, then listen to it on the train. The last episode is this coming Monday lunchtime – anyone fancy recording it for me? I could wait and take it from Listen Again when I get back but I’m not sure how long programmes stay on there, so I’d rather know someone’s getting it for me! MP3 would be best, but any format wil do, I can convert!

Please?

Gossip

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Back in the far-off days of long ago, when I was Health and Safety Drone for Jellies R Us, I used to work sometimes with my opposite number at Amalgamated Jelly Ltd. The two companies were quite closely connected anyway, and of course being in the same line of business we had most of the same issues to resolve, so it was a mutually beneficial relationship – or so our bosses decided anyway :-) .

I had an e-mail the other day, from robin@amalgamatedjelly.ltd . I was a bit confused, because I didn’t know I’d given anyone there my personal e-mail address, but then I remembered that I use that address for contact through the health and safety discussion group I belong to – so it had obviously come that way. Anyway, the e-mail just said “Are you the Paul Gottle who used to work at Jellies R Us?”. I replied that I was, gave a prcis of what I’m doing now and finished with a joke about someone we both know, but none of you do, so I shan’t repeat it here.

I had a reply today: After the usual salutations (and a continuation of the joke about someone we both know etk), it finished “When I get a moment I’ll e-mail you from my personal address: I’ve got gossip you’ll like”.

Ooh! I wonder what it is? I’d like it to be that the manager who made me redundant has been sacked for being an ostrich-hole, but I bet it isn’t that good! I’ll report back (in suitably anonymised terms, of course) when I hear :-)

UPDATE: Ha ha ha ha ha! Chickens home to roost or what!!!!!!!

UPDATE UPDATE: In response to JG and Jenny’s comments: When I got my redundo, the justification included the fact that there was a Head Office health and safety advice service which could provide the sepcialist advice I was giving. It’s now being closed down :-D
This also means that the Head Orifice employee I used to call “Captain Charisma” is going to be out of work. I wouldn’t normally wish that on anyone, but in his case…

Sunshine in a Rainy Week

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Well, it’s been quite nice today in my part of the world. I know it hasn’t been so good in many areas, with huge swathes of countryside under water. The Raynet group have been on standby to go and assist with flood relief operations, although we’re second on call at the moment.

Anyone seen the pictures from Stratford on Avon – or Stratty, as us lovers of the town call it? My mate Colin is a paramedic in Stratty, I sent him a text yesterday to see if he was OK and haven’t had an answer yet. :-( I’m a bit reluctant to phone him, if I ring up and he’s just got to bed after coming off shift he wouldn’t be happy.

Fingers crossed, prayers and positive vibes to all those affected.

Old.

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

I got on the bus this evening.

This was the bus that takes me from the office to Waterloo. Unlike last Friday’s experience I knew it was the right bus because it had “Waterloo” in big letters on the front (it also had “India” on the tyres, but that’s another story and a very old joke).

It was one of those “bendy” busses. They’re quite fun to ride, although one day last week I tried standing in the actual “bend” bit to see what it was like – a bit unnerving is the answer. This evening I went right to the back and took up a standing position in the aisle, there being no seats left.

Can you guess what happened next? Can you? Can you?

A young lady stood up and tried to give me her seat.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take a couple of Sanatogen and have a little nap.

Ready or Not

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I only realised this morning that I haven’t had any paperwork from New Wine: They confirmed receipt of my booking ages ago, and I know I’ve been accepted for team – but I need the final confirmation to actually get in through the gate when I get there. I think I’ll be making a phone call in the morning.

Today involved finishing packing the caravan and pumping up its tyres, as well as some normal packing and doing oild and water and stuff on the car. Oh, and finding Sarah’s umbrella in the boot. It also involved getting in a major strop with myself when I couldn’t find a key bit of caravan equipment – and an even bigger strop when I found it, fallen down behind a dustbin in the garden. Luckily I think it still works.

A few bits still to do, but nothing major: I think I’m on schedule!

Big Harry Deal

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Apparently the last book in the Harry Potter series is out.

Am I the only one that doesn’t care? I saw the first film – I was at Jan and Andy’s for the weekend, and it was on “Sky Movies Plus” or one of them. It was OK, but I saw “Die Another Day” the same weekend in the cinema with Jenny, and thought that was much better. I haven’t bothered with any of the rest.

Anyway, apart from a haircut, today has been spent on New Wine preparation. I’ve been to Tescos to buy my groceries for the fortnight, done most of the caravan-related packing, and repaired the caravan lights. So I’ve only got a million jobs for tomorrow and I’m ready to go!

Paging Mr Noah

Friday, July 20th, 2007

No blog yesterday. Sorry about that.

With the forecast rubbish weather, the Raynet group was put on standby: Since the call came while I was in London – and we couldn’t contact my deputy – it all got a bit frantic for a bit, making sure everyone knew. Thanks to Julian, if you’re reading, for handling the call-handling bit of the job. So with that – and the fact that I was late to Hospital Radio, AND we were one short there as well, blogging had to wait. Sorry.

The Raynet call never came, so I headed off to work this morning. London got off fairly lightly – it carked it down for about 45 minutes at lunchtime, but apart from that it was a fairly nice day. That didn’t stop the allegedly-Londoncentric BBC news website, mind you – on the page labelled “Berkshire floods” there were pics of cars floating down the road. A page of pictures of people standing in water up to their ankles was headed “London struggles in major flooding”.

Mind you, I’d just got on the train home this evening and was congratulating myself on the fact that MY train was running on time. It did, until we got to the landslip just outside Winchfield :-( . The track was quite impressively flooded, so at least it was worthwhile.

And I learned something interesting this evening too. Not every bus that comes past the railway station goes to my house. Luckily I realised and got off before it’d taken me too far in the wrong direction.

Credit Where It’s Due

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

…but first, and following on from yesterday’s post – you’ll see I’m now proudly wearing my “net violator” badge over there on he right :-) .

Regular fans of Gottleblog will know that I’m usually not shy to criticise the Daily Mail – last bastion of right-wing England and a regular source of biased and not-totally-accurate reporting from the world of Health and Safety.

So I have to give credit where it’s due: in yesterday’s paper, the Roy Hattersley – “In Search of England” column carried a story about the Health and Safety Laboratory, and the work they do in investigating accidents and learning lessons to stop repetition. Hattersley even acknowledges that the lab staff explained how some of the loony measures blamed on Health and Safety – he quotes a dustman refusing to take a desk away – were just a convenient excuse and nothing to do with safety at all.

I never expected to say this about the Daily Mail – but a good positive well-written article!

Authority

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

On last Friday’s “The Now Show”, John Holmes read out a reader’s letter about something called “NetAuthority.Org”. He HAD to be exaggerating – there couldn’t really be a website like he describes, could there?

Well, there is. In the interests of a cheap blog, I went and had a look at it to save you the bother. It starts reasonably enough…

The online world is teeming with pornography, depravity, blasphemy, and all kinds of hate propaganda. It is our mission to define a set of guidelines to which all information posted on the Internet must adhere, and to hold responsible those who would knowingly break those guidelines.

Seems reasonable. Until you read some of the guidelines:

Thou shalt not post pornographic material.

OK, don’t like the obviously biblical tone, but go on…

Thou shalt not post hateful material.

Can’t argue with that.

Thou shalt not post materials concerning bestiality, including interracial relationships.

Bestiality? OK, I can see why that’s…hang on? Interracial relationships? Yep, it’s a loony right-wing so-called Christian fundamentalist website. I say so-called because that sort of filth quite plainly bears no relationship whatever to Christianity.

What’s really funny is the “badges” page:

If you are the webmaster of a site that is in violation of the Internet Acceptable Use Policy, it is your responsibility to indicate this on your website until the offending content has been fully removed.

You should indicate your site’s non-compliance by including one of the following graphic badges…

Yep: They present you with a series of badges to post on your website to identify it as one that doesn’t comply with their acceptable use policy. So – although I don’t actually know whether I’d comply or not – GottleBlog proudly presents…

Recognition

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Some of you will remember the “KFC story” – if you don’t, here, have a linky on me: Linky.

I went into the buffet on Southampton station this morning: Anna – the usual early-shift server – was there, accompanied by her new assistant Anna. I don’t know if all Polish counter staff are called Anna, or just the ones at Southampton, but it certainly has the potential to get confusing. Anyway, as I walked in, Anna(1) put something in the microwave and Anna(2) asked “Can I help?”. Before I could say anything, Anna(1) told her “Bacon mini roll and a medium black coffee”. She then took my bacon roll out of the microwave, gave me my coffee and waved me on my way.

It’s nice to be recognised.

Wet

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

You already know that this is Sarah’s **th birthday weekend, and that yesterday was Sarah’s Birthday Bash (part 1 (or to be accurate part 2, ‘cos she also went out on Friday with her fambly)).

Today was part 2 (or part 3…): Firstly Jenny and I went for brekkie over at the local Weatherspoons (I’ll do that again): Then it was over to collect Sarah to drive down for her Geocaching Chums Beach Barbecue Birthday Bash. There was barbecuing, kite flying and geocaching. And then there was rain…

The funny thing was:

  1. We were happily watching the thunderstorm over the Solent
  2. We could see it was carking down in the thunderstorm
  3. We could see the thunderstorm was getting closer…

…but it didn’t occur to us to start running for the cars until the rain actually got to us.

We needn’t have bothered – we couldn’t have got any more wet if we’d jumped in the sea, so we may as well have ambled back and put up with it. Still, it did mean that twelve of us then got Sarah’s Birthday Bash part 3 (or part 4…), back at Sarah’s house with the communal towelling-off and dressing in Sarah’s old (but dry) clothes.

I REALLY need an early night now.

Ooh My Head…and Arm…and Legs

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Yesterday was Sarah’s **th birthday bash (part one). A crowd of us went tenpin bowling, followed by a meal at a restaurant.

My bowling arm hurts – and so do my legs for some strange reason.

My headache I think I can ascribe to the beer at the restaurant. Still, I bet Sarah’s got a MUCH worse one!

Don’t Talk to Me

Friday, July 13th, 2007

I only realised yesterday that there’s something else I like about where I work now, that I hadn’t noticed before.

I like to read. But at the Jelly Factory (may the fleas of a thousand camels infest its gelatine store), to sit in the canteen at lunchtime reading a book was tantamount to hanging a big sign round your neck saying “Hey, come and talk gerbils at me! Boring weirdos only!” Reading the paper- especially doing the crossword – was a definite invitation to every halfwit to come and “help”.

So it was lovely as I looked round yesterday – book in one hand, chicken katso from the Japanese takeaway in the other – to realise I was in a room full of people, most of whom were reading and all of whom were respecting the others’ rights to enjoy their book in peace.

A little less peaceful was the telephone: M’colleague asked me to go over and listen to a message someone’d left on his voicemail. After much ranting and swearing about the incompetence of our organisation (perhaps he should’ve experienced Jellies R Us as well) he finished with “I don’t reckon you’re in London at all – I reckon you’re one of those shp shggng1 pasty munchers in Cornwall”. I’ve been called some things in the past, but as far as I can remember, “shp shggng pasty muncher” is a new one.

1 And to save you asking, the nts are to ward off odd Google searches

This is the Sound of the Underground

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

There’s often a busker in the underpass outside Waterloo station.

Some of them are guitarists and singers, but my favourite is the xylophone player who’s usually there on Wednesdays: he’s not the best musician, but he’s the funniest. Now I have no musical talent whatever – any of you who’ve heard me trying to sing can vouch for that – but I DO know that usually, players of keyboards, xylophones, glockenspiels etc usually play the melody (which is a musical term meaning “difficult bit”) with their right hand, and the bass line (“easy bit”) with their left. Apparently you can get left-handed keyboards these days which are the other way round, but that’s not the point.

This particular busker is more clever than that: with his right hand he plays a medley from “Fiddler on the Roof”: with his right, something I’ve never managed to recognise, but it’s obviously a totally unconnected tune.

It sounds bloody awful, but I’m sure it’s very clever. Or maybe I’ve misunderstood what’s going on.

Going Up

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Those of you who notice such things will have spotted that my “cache hides” count has suddenly jumped to ten!

I haven’t been busy hiding things, sadly – I’ve got two ready to go out, but I’m not that organised yet: Those of you who read Omally’s blog will know that he’s sold his fabby flat and he and the lady Maddy are moving up country – north of Winchester, in fcat. That’d make his caches a bit far away to maintain, so I’ve adopted four of them for him. I’ve got a feeling I’ve got the four muddiest, but hey-ho! I’ve found them all, luckily, but I ought to get round and visit them sometime.

The only other thing to say is that something happened at work the other day that I’d REALLY like to tell you about – sadly some things just have to remain confidential. Suffice to say it was VERY funny :-D .

Going Down

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

I’ve been copying some more CDs to my MP3 player.

In the deepest recesses of my CD collection I found “High Land Hard Rain” by Aztec Camera. Not long after the album came out I saw Aztec Camera live at the Gaumont in Southampton: Stone me but they were rubbish. They’re probably the only band I’ve ever seen who’re better on a studio album than in a live concert. Except perhaps Runrig, but they were SO rubbish when I saw them that they were a bit of a sepcial case.

Anyway, that live Aztec Camera concert wasn’t where I bought the CD: I know that because the concert was back in the days when hardly anyone had CD players, and Compact Cassette was the music lovers’ format of choice. Yes kiddies, Gottle really is that old. I remember buying the CD – I was shopping in Debenhams in town with Jenny, although I’ve no idea why: I’m guessing it was probably about 1993.

The point I’m leading up to – rather slowly – is that the CD still has the price tag on it: 14-50, and that was an average price for CDs in those days. A couple of weeks back I bought “The Best Disco Album in the World Ever”, a three-CD set of unashamed 70s memories, and it was twelve squid. Worse still, Amazon have “High Land Hard Rain” new, for less than a fiver!

I know technology gets cheaper as it becomes more popular, but there can’t be many things that are cheaper now in price-tag terms than they were in 1990.

Stepping Out

Monday, July 9th, 2007

…which is, of course, the title of my fave Joe Jackson song. But anyway…

I’ve embarked on what may prove to be a bit of an adventure.

Some of you – Jenny and Sarah to be exact (UPDATE – And now MMMM too) – already know what it is, and those of you I talk to face to face, or on MSN, will probably know soon (Jenny – feel free to tell Jan when you see her). Meanwhile – I’d like to tell the rest of you, but I’m a bit shy about what gets posted in a blog, you never really know who’s reading.

That’s something of an ongoing problem – blogging is supposed to be cathartic, but I’ve never really been comfortable posting openly about things that are bothering me. I’m quite happy for you lot whom I know about, to read whatever I have to moan about, but you never know who’s going to read it. What if I moaned about something at work, only to find out that the bosses are reading? One of my readers, we all know, has had just this problem :-( .

So – I’ll probably tell you all about what’s going on one day. Although on past performance, I’ll probably delete it thirty seconds later and e-mail it to half a dozen of you instead.

And finally for today, a couple of bon mots I overheard in the rest room at work today1:

In a conversation about what a wild boozy weekend someone had –
“How did you manage to get up this morning?”
“I didn’t go to bed”.

From two people standing by the vending machine:
“It’s too early for chocolate”
“It’s never too early for chocolate”

1 For our forrin readers, “restroom” is a room where you rest. What some of you call a rest room, we have a different name for.

Amazing!

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Just when you think there’s not much to blog about, the BBC News site comes up with a doozy. If you follow the linky, you’ll come to the story about a 70-year-old US woman who has been left bruised and bloody after an unexpected clash with police who came to arrest her because her lawn was dry and brown.

Hang on – arrested because her lawn was dry and brown? I hope those police never come round my house. Mind you, it used to be illegal to drive a dirty car in Russia, so I’m glad I don’t live there as well.

I’ve been a bit busy today: It was Ickle Godson’s birfday party in the wilds of Sussex, but with planning for two events next weekend, plus New Wine only a couple of weeks away, there was no way I was ever going to make it. I hope the card I sent got there in time. I’d planned to compensate myself for missing it by getting out for half an hour this afternoon – there’s a new cache within easy walking distance of home – but in the end I didn’t even have time for that. And the day isn’t over yet.

Still, it’s been productive, and it was all things that needed doing :-)

Going Underground – or Not

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

So first…I did a cache on the walk from Waterloo to the office yesterday! There’s a series in London based around old underground stations that are now closed, and Going Underground – Not Anymore (number 3) is one I pass every morning on the way in. And now I’ve logged it!

Yesterday’s main event of course (other than 9 hours in the office) was the team night out at somewhere called “The Bierodrome”. Hmm…it occurred to me after the second pint that I worked at the Jelly Factory for 19 years, and NEVER went for a drink with the people I worked with. Anyway – with apologies to our chum Maris Piper for nicking her strapline – fings wot I learned last night were:

  • There are still pubs – or at least one – that don’t sell ANY real ale. Amazing. I gave up after three pints and switched to gin1
  • Leffe is amazingly strong for Belgian lager
  • I learned something else there – but decided not to blog about it. Jenny, it’s what I texted you about at eleven!2
  • If you get the train that gets into Southampton at midnight, you’ve missed the last bus by half an hour. Huh. So much for the city that never sleeps – more like the city that never wakes up

1 Those of you who know my usual taste in spirits might be surprised by that. But if they don’t sell real ale, I’m certainly not trusting their whisky.
2 Further details may or may not be forthcoming.

Booze

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Another cheesy cheating pre-written one, I’m afraid.

I’ve no idea where I’ll be when you read this: We’re having a “team night out” from work. I’m part of a team of 12, and we’re hitting the pubs of the West End, and I’m a bit scared. Apparently the last one of these, m’colleague Russ didn’t get home until 7 the next morning – not because it went on that long, but because he was too shetland-ponied to get the right bus home, so he just got on and off busses at random until one took him somewhere he recognised.

The rest of the team are quite good fun, so I’m looking forward to it – although there don’t seem to be too many real ale pubs on the itinerary, I HAVE been promised that the place we’re eating is pretty fab. I don’t remember ever having lobster, so that at least will be a new experience. And although it means I’ll miss the gym, I’m told my credit card’ll get a decent workout…

At least I won’t have Russ’s problem – all I’ve got to do is get on a bus heading south from the West End and it’ll go to Waterloo. Then as long as I achieve the right train, it’s bound to get me to Southampton. Or if I don’t wake up in time, Weymouth…