My much neglected pet blog is still going. You know, just in case my inane witterings aren’t enough for you.
Monthly Archives: January 2008
Regular readers of The Magnificent Frog (both of you) will recall my seething anger at the constant chatter regarding horoscopes. In short it is my fervent belief that horoscopes are inaccurate, misleading, superstitious nonsense. They rely on vague feelings of luck* and wishful thinking to predict anything and utilize vagaries and ego massage to sell themselves to gullible fools.
Fear not though for a light shines through the murky miasma of psychic advice. Forget about the future in heavenly bodies of burning gas, dismiss the Chinese horoscope of funny animals made of five elements, discard the dripping entrails of your latest sacrifice. A foolproof method of understanding yourself has emerged. It is not based on esoteric charts or convoluted formula but on genuine and careful opinion and fact. Yes, fact!
I present The Stars as Determined by The Stars: Oscarology.
*I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
– Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Third president of the United States
The phrase is “You can’t eat your cake and have it” not “You can’t have your cake and eat it”. Clearly if you have a cake then you can eat it but if you eat a cake you no longer have it.
You can have two cakes but if you eat one you’ll only have one left. So you can eat one cake and have another but but it won’t be the same cake.
If you tell me that I can’t have my cake and eat it I will point out your error and insist that you purchase or make an eccles cake for me.
Make your own Eccles Cakes
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Pre-heat oven to 220°C
- 500g flaky pastry
- 25g melted butter
- 50g candied peel
- 100g sugar
- 200g currants
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and butter and cook over a medium heat until melted
- Off the heat, add currants, candied peel, nutmeg and allspice
- On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry thinly and cut into rounds of about 0.5cm thickness and 10cm diameter
- Place a small spoonful of filling onto centre of each pastry circle
- Dampen the edges of the pastry and draw the edges together over the fruit and pinch to seal
- Turn over, then press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the cakes
- Flatten and snip a V in the top with scissors. Place on a baking tray
- Brush with water and sprinkle with a little extra sugar
- Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes (220°C) or until lightly browned round the edges
- Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
- Try not to eat them all at once!
“Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.”
Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC), from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Death is a part of life. None of us want to go there, but we will. Before I was born, I did not exist. I suppose one could say that I was not alive before I was born. When I die, I will return to the same status I had prior to my life – I will not be alive. From what I remember of being “not alive,” it was not unpleasant or the slightest bit inconvenient. From a non-religious perspective, death is not something to be overly afraid of. Death is simply the way of nature. It is a part of evolution and change.
With that in mind I’ve been pondering methods of approaching death. Like most people I’ve known a number of others who are are no longer alive.
The “I can’t wait” Death
It’s been said that suicide is painless but I don’t even think that could be true for the people dying. it certainly isn’t true for those left behind who live with the guilt of wondering if they could have done anything to save the deceased. There probably isn’t but that doesn’t stop the guilt.
The “What the fuck?” Death
This is reserved for the sudden and unexpected death typical in a motorbike accident. One second you’re pootling along a country lane at 90 miles per hour and the next you’re park of the road. You didn’t even see what hit you.
The “I give up” Death
Usually as a result of a long and often painful illness. The suffering simply overwhelms the individual and consumes all their attention. In the end death becomes a welcome release.
The “You ain’t takin’ me alive” Death
This is a way of living where you focus on fighting what’s killing you. Like the “I give up” death you really need some notice of your impending doom. People who die fighting are very focused on survival.
The “No-one here but us chickens” Death
Rather than fighting against death or accepting it there are people who would rather just avoid the subject. They are the people who hide the illness from themselves, miss doctors’ appointments and pretend that if they can just pretend that they aren’t ill then death won’t come to claim them. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
The “It’s not fair” Death
This death is reserved for people who like to focus on themselves. Failure of the body is somehow the responsibility of someone or something else and these people really don’t like that. However as long as the focus is on them they have the satisfaction of other people’s pity.
The “Can you leave the light on” Death
As much as I’d like to mock there are plenty of reasons to fear the unknown and while may think I know what happens when life ceases I don’t know. I do know that it’s inevitable and wasting your dying moments in fear isn’t how I want to go out. Now, if I’m cowering under the bed when an axe wielding manic ends my existence then I at least have an excuse.
The “If I pray hard enough” Death
The ultimate form of bargaining is to try to escape a permanent death by giving something in exchange for eternal life. I could be devotion, prayer, charity, sacrifice or having lots of children to continue your legacy. The person who is going to die is trying to continue in some way in order to escape death.
The “Whatever” Death
Death, being the great unknown that it is, as well as pretty much inevitable is nothing to fear. The state of concentrating on life requires an ability to live in the moment that most people simply cannot master.
The “I’m on fire” Death
People who get set on fire tend to run around screaming as the flames consume them. What they should be doing is rolling around on the ground to put out the flames. Logically that makes sense but there’s not a lot of logic in the survival instinct. People who approach death in a blind panic tend to spend a lot of money on insurance policies that have clauses that invalidate them.
Can anyone think of any more?
My Gran was born on 15th October 1911 in the East End of London. She had twelve children, six girls and six boys, all survived to adulthood. She outlived her husband by twenty years. She had red hair and the fiery temper that is associated with redheads and Londoners. Her laugh was infectious as was her wit. My dad was always scared of her despite being a good foot taller and twice her weight. I think that she ruled my uncles and aunts like the matriarch that she was, sometimes with terror but often with the quiet confidence of a queen who knew that she would be obeyed.
To her grand children and great grandchildren (and even a few great-great grandchildren) she was a little old lady who always had a little mischief in her eyes. I thought that she’d live forever or at least till her hundredth birthday. Sadly this was not to be.
She died today after a short illness. I can pretty much guarantee that her funeral will be the last time I see most of my extended family.
DEADLY SODA CANSVERY IMPORTANT PLEASE READThis incident happened recently in north Texas. We need to be even more careful everywhere.A woman went boating one Sunday, taking with her some cans of coke which she put in the refrigerator of the boat. On Monday she was taken into Intensive Care Unit and on Wednesday she died.The autopsy revealed a certain Leptospirose caused by the can of coke from which she had drunk, not using a glass. A test showed that the can was infected by dried rat urine and hence the disease Leptospirosis.Rat urine contains toxic and deathly substances. It is highly recommended to wash thoroughly the upper part of soda cans before drinking out of them as they have been stocked in warehouses and transported straight to the shops without being cleaned.
A study at NYCU showed that the tops of soda cans are more contaminated than public toilets i.e.. full of germs and bacteria. So wash them with water before putting them to the mouth to avoid any kind of fatal accident.
My ratty friends would be very offended by such falsehoods.
Rat urine is the same as human urine in that it contains toxic waste fluids like urea and some bacteria but is virtually sterile. At least when processes by healthy kidneys.
- Leptospirosis can be contracted by exposure to the disease that is typically excreted by infected animals (including rats). The most common source is river water in rural areas.
- There is no actual verifiable media source for these stories. You’d think that the media would love to sell more papers by reporting a health scare but none exist.
My ratty friends thank you for not perpetrating such terrible lies against them. They can now take a rest.
I have been reading Greta Christina’s blog over the last few days and I’ve been particularly amused by the Are you Smarter than a Celebrity Psychic? entry. Have a read it’s a really good blog. I can highly recommend the entry on Atheists and Anger.
However if you are too lazy or too busy because you are at work then just run with the meme and make some predictions.
The rules: Make five predictions about world events in 2008: political events, natural disasters, celebrity gossip, etc.
Post them in the comments here, no later than January 15, 2008. Predictions should be things that reasonably might or might not happen; totally obvious predictions such as “The sun will continue to rise in the East” and “Saturn will not crash into Jupiter” will not be accepted. However, credit will be given for partially correct answers, since the celebrity psychics do that when they score themselves. Credit will also be given if events can be interpreted to fit the prediction — ditto.
Here are my five predictions:
Well known celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (Bradgelina) will announce a split and will go their separate ways.
Hillary Clinton will be the first female president of the United States of America. I’m only saying this because the democrats will probably win and I’m certain that Americans will vote for a woman before they will vote for a black man.
England will experience freak weather conditions on an unprecedented scale. I include heat waves, snow storms and\or tornadoes. None of these will stop me from getting to work though…unfortunately.
There will be a large food scare in England akin to the salmonella, BSE, or bird flu farces of recent years. I don’t know, maybe it’ll be the turn of vegetables to receive some bad press.
The west will go to war against a major nation in the middle east… again.
Now, what are your predictions?
Re: Your letter demanding £7.92
I am somewhat confused by your letter asking for payment of £7.92. You failed to indicate what the amount represented and I have certainly not received an invoice for this amount. Furthermore you will be aware that I have ceased using your service. I wrote to inform you in October that you had failed to uphold your part of the contract and that I was terminating it. You kindly refunded me for the service that I had paid for but was unable to use due to your incompetence.
Forgive me if I don’t choose to ring the 0870 number indicated on your letter but past experience has show me that I will invariable be on hold for up to an hour before getting to speak to someone. The person who I do speak to will either not speak any English at all or will have such a strong accent (Indian, Scottish or Irish) that I will be completely unable to understand what they have to say. Even if we do manage to communicate the customer support person will either be unable or unwilling to help or will just lose all record of the conversation. Hardly surprising if they have to deal with disgruntled customers like me all day long. If you don’t mind I’d rather not pay for the privilege of calling you to sort out your mistakes.
With regard to the sum that you claim is outstanding I will not be paying it. Even if it turns out that I do owe you the money I shall not be paying the bill. You sent me a cheque to refund me for service charges billed and for compensation. If you are so incompetent as to forget to deduct a fee for an outstanding amount then I hope that my non-payment will serve as a lesson to you. Tiscali could so very easily have done better.
Besides which you should be aware that I know that you will never refer such a small sum to your legal team to threaten court action or to try to recover the money. It simply isn’t cost effective for you to do so. However if you do decide to try to recover this money rest assured that I will make it as difficult as possible for you even if it costs me hundreds of pounds. Furthermore I will do my utmost to advertise your poor service to as many people as I can in order that customer confidence in you is weakened.
Why would I do this? The answer is simple. You failed to treat me with the respect that a paying customer deserves at every opportunity that you had and I choose to treat you with similar contempt.
I had to renew my train season ticket this morning. I was flabbergasted to discover that my fare had increased by 11%. Clearly you’ve been saving money by not advertising the fare change and I must applaud your attitude to cutting costs. Having said that it would still have been good to know in advance.
After recovering from the initial shock I began to ponder the implications of such a hefty price increase. A rate of inflation would be about 3% so you have added an additional 8% to the cost of travel. I’m actually looking forward to a commensurate improvement in the level of service.
I expect that 8% fewer services will be delayed or cancelled. This may well improve services enough that only 1 in 10 trains are delayed which would be great. I could even manage to get to work on time every day for nearly a fortnight given averages.
I expect that staff will be 8% more helpful. This might be a bit of a stretch as it would require doubling the number of helpful staff as my experience is that only 1 in 12 staff are helpful. Curiously the same proportion actually go out of their way to be obstructive. The other 10 just seem to stand around gossipping.
I expect that the station will be 8% cleaner or at least that rubbish will be removed 8% more often. i.e. about once ever 11 hours.
I expect the train to be 8% less crowded. Given the price increase I suspect more people will choose to drive to work so you may actually exceed my expectations on this point.
I imagine that you are getting the idea now. I expect a general 8% improvement in the service to match the 8% above the inflation rate increase in fees. Kindly arrange for this to be delivered or reduce the fees accordingly.