The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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7:14am on Monday, 1st September, 2014:

Razor Sharp


I charged my electric razor to the maximum before setting off on holiday, so I wouldn't need to bring my charger.This is normally fine, but on our flght last night (aside: which took off an hour late) it decided to turn itself on. I found it completely dead this morning.

No problem! I have an emergency backup manual razor in my toiletries bag. It's years since I last used it. In fact, the last time I used it, the original blade unit had come off and I had to buy a new pack of five. This time, while rooting around in the bag for the razor, I found the original blade unit.

It's quite hard to type with a cut on the tip of my middle finger.


8:52am on Sunday, 31st August, 2014:

Levels of Necessity


From this week's Essex County Standard:

Why "should" and not "must"?


11:42am on Saturday, 30th August, 2014:

Teeth Truth


We're going on our summer hols tomorrow, a little later than usual but the only time all four of us could fit it into our busy social calendars. As usual, the house will be guarded by a father-in-law armed with a strimmer, so the burglars among you may wish to look elsewhere for easy pickings.

It was with some alarm, therefore, that my wife announced late on Thursday evening that she had toothache. It seemed to be in a place where she didn't have a tooth, though, as the molar in question had been extracted many years ago. She was worried that it could be to do with the tooth in front, but the next day it was no longer hurting. She had some swelling, but no pain. She tried to book a dental appointment all trhe same but it was too short notice. Nevertheless, she remains worried in case it flares up while we're away (in Italy).

It was thus something of surprise when she awoke this morning to find that the cap off an entirely different tooth had come off while she was asleep.

Her teeth may be trying to tell her something...


11:48am on Friday, 29th August, 2014:

Suicide Non-Bombers


The government is raising concerns that radicalised British nationals are heading off to fight in the Middle East, in case they return and start a bombing campaign back home. However, I think they ought also to be discreetly watching people who are heading to Liberia and surrounding countries. Suicide bombers can kill scores or even hundreds of people. Suicide ebola-carriers could kill millions.


5:49pm on Thursday, 28th August, 2014:

Putting on the Ritz


I tried one of these today:

Cheesy biscuit plus chocolate. Who said they didn't go together?

Well, whoever it was, they were right. I won't be trying that again. To be fair, though, I thought the other one I had with LU biscuits (whatever they are) in it tasted the worse.


8:23am on Wednesday, 27th August, 2014:

Quids In


The recent televised debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond regarding the up-coming Scottish Independence Referendum was again a hit-and-miss affair. Personally I think it would be disastrous for Scotland to hitch their wagon directly to the EU rather than to the EU via the UK, but probably not make a lot of difference to the rest of the UK if they chose to do so. I don't get a vote, though.

Here are some points that the Better Together campaign might wish to note:

1) By accepting Salmond's constant reference to Scotland as a country, you're handing him the initiative. Although it is a country, you'd be better off referring to it as a nation.

2) Salmond's insistence that an independent will get to keep part-ownership of the pound in the form of a monetary union is backed up by his belief that the UK will have to capitulate or Scotland won't accept its share of the UK's national debt. The UK can reduce its national debt by the amount due to Scotland whether Scotland likes it or not. Whether Scotland accepts it or not is irrelevant: what matters is whether the financial institutions that Scotland will want to borrow money from will associate it with Scotland or not.

3) The UK's gold reserves are, thanks to Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the bare minimum required to gain entry to the euro. If Scotland does have to join the euro as one of its ill-considered plan Bs, it won't be able to immediately as its share of the UK's gold reserves won't be anywhere near enough.

4) Salmond is trying to change the referendum to a vote against the current coalition, a bit like what happens in by-elections. He accused Darling of supporting the Conservatives, hoping that Scots who hate the Conservatives will turn to independence. Independence is a long-term decision, not a short-term one. Just because the Conservatives are almost wiped out in Scotland now, that doesn't mean they'll always be so. They used to be the largest party; indeed, most Scots nationalists were Conservatives 50 years ago. Darling really should have taken Salmond to task over his short-termism.

5) The written constitution that Salmond wants for Scotland includes things that really shouldn't be part of the constitution, for example not allowing nuclear weapons on or in Scottish territory. Some of those decisions are nothing to do with independence and shouldn't be in a written constitution, either. They're policy matters for the government of the day.

I have a feeling that there will be a lot of undecided voters who will vote yes when they're looking at a ballot paper. If Scotland wants to become another Eire, well good look to it and I wish it well, but voting for the charisma of one party leader is not the way to decide on a nation's future.


11:33am on Tuesday, 26th August, 2014:

Wrong Line


One of the greatest benefits my ancestors thought fit to bequeath me is that of never getting a headache. I like to mention this from time to time so that the other 199 people out of 200 who do get headaches can be envious.

I inherited my superpower from my mother's grandfather, who also never had a headache. It's one of the cornerstones of my understanding of why I don't get headaches. Today, however, I learned a disturbing fact: I had attributed the condition to the wrong great-grandfather. It wasn't the Scottish one who stung himself with bees to get rid of rheumatism (my mother's maternal grandfather), it was the Yorkshire one who never ate a banana (my mother's paternal grandfather).

This has really shaken my sense of identity. Still, it doesn't alter the fact that I don't get headaches, so tra-la-la!


1:31pm on Monday, 25th August, 2014:



From the BBC News magazine:

Red hair is the rarest of hair colours, and accounts for only 2% of the world's population. The highest percentage of natural redheads in the world live in Scotland, with 13%. Ireland comes in second at 10%.

BBC News went to find out why redheads are so unique.

When even the BBC uses "unique" as a synonym for "uncommon", it's time to think of a new word to mean there's only one of something. Following the example of German word construction, the obvious solution would be thereisonlyoneofit, but I suspect that this doesn't really have the succinctness necessary to catch on.


3:29pm on Sunday, 24th August, 2014:



I was planning to mock an advertisement for Manchester Metropolitan University I saw on CivFanatics earlier today, but I closed the window by accident. No problem, just reload the page and wait for the ad to show again.

Well, the ad didn't show again — not in the 15 minutes I continually reloaded the page, anyway. There were a few ads for phones, one for the New York Times, one trying to raise money for Syrian refugees, one for mortgages and the rest for games. Well, I assume this one was for a game:

Looks legit...

They weren't just for any games, though, they were free games. OK, well two weren't (Lego Fever and a Farmville knock-off), but the rest were:

Of these, Rift showed most by far: maybe half of all the ads were for Rift.

Two of the games had more than one ad for them:

There were another two for Bleach, both advertising it as being in live open beta rather than being free (or dead open beta). One of them was of a different crazy-looking guy and the other was for a different woman with boobs bigger than her head.

There was also one as that was both live open beta and free:

The thing is, if every game is free, "free" rather loses its impact. Indeed, it starts to look more like "suspect": you know they're going to try get money out of you somehow, but how?

Hmm, a game with gameplay that's all about avoiding paying... Yes, that could work.


11:16am on Saturday, 23rd August, 2014:



There are some weird 50p coins out there:

Nice to see that Britannia has got out of her wheelchair to play some bowls, though.


12:56pm on Friday, 22nd August, 2014:



Someone left a message on my university phone number back in, oh, I don't know, March or sometime. Ever since then, the phone in my office has been ringing every 15 minutes. I don't know how to stop it, but in part that's because I haven't looked: I actually like having it ring every 15 minutes as it means I don't get so absorbed in something that I lose track of the time and miss appointments. It also means I don't nod off (well, not for more than 15 minutes anyway).

Today, there was no ringing of my office phone. There was yesterday, but not today. Someone must have reset the system; either that or messages expire of their own accord after enough months have passed.

I'm thinking I should maybe call my number from home and leave my own message on the answering system to reinstate my handy time-reminder. I don't suppose the people in the office next door would complain if I didn't, though.


7:50pm on Thursday, 21st August, 2014:



From this week's MCV:

244? Hmm, I'd be interested to see a list of those, given that there are only 193 member states in the UN (plus two observer states and 11 non-members); even FIFA has only has 209, and it includes countries that are parts of states (England, Wales, Scotland and Northerin Ireland count four times, rather than just once for the UK).

What is it with MCV and geography?


7:56pm on Wednesday, 20th August, 2014:

Joking Aside


Look up a list of English language idiomatic expressions on the Internet — they're not hard to find. Choose one that's a bit descriptive  — "water under the bridge", say, then use it once in a sentence both literally and as an expression: "I argued with my wife about rerouting a river, but it's water under the bridge now". Voila: an easy-to-construct and mildly amusing joke.

"I bought an umbrella this morning. Well, I was feeling a bit under the weather."
"A castaway asked me to give him a job, but I said no. He looked washed up to me."
"I'm always arguing with my brother about Photoshop. It may sound trivial to you, but he blows up everything out of proportion."
"The waiter said I looked like the kind of person who would steal pepper. I took it with a pinch of salt."

Congratulations: you are now capable of writing a joke capable of winning the best joke award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Puns also work. Next time you want to think of one, climb up the inside of a church steeple and be inspired.


5:53pm on Tuesday, 19th August, 2014:



I was in London today to meet an old friend. I diverted via the Tower to take a look at the ceramic poppies they have there for the centenary of the start of World War 1:

It's a lot more powerful than I was expecting it to be.


6:51pm on Monday, 18th August, 2014:

Lorry Names


My flights to and from Münster were booked using Flybe, but the aircraft were operated by Stobart Air. As any driver on UK roads knows, all Eddie Stobart lorries have female names (most of which have two components; three or one exist but are quite rare). I didn't see a name on the aircraft I flew on, but I did see names on the service vehicles:

The little truck on the left is called Julie. The air fuel tanker on the right is called Gasolina.

I think they may have made up one of those names...


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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).