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Archive for the ‘Gripes’ Category

A run of bad luck

Of course I don’t actually believe in runs of bad luck but sometimes… let’s see in the last couple of weeks, we discovered the new house needs re-wiring, our son-in-law is deathly ill in hospital, in our own home the heating system is bust and need replacing – some leak in the back of the oil boiler. We found out tonight that the place in Spain has been burgled… and just to round it all off I’ve just had my first Windows 7 blue screen.

What next… outbreak of nuclear war…… flue pandemic (oh yes we already have that)….

Call me Dick!

Not content with insulting the majority of the UK’s small businesses,  Alan Michael Sugar (or cheap stereos as I remember him) has now managed to upset everyone else…(notice I didn’t use his title as I cannot FOR THE LIFE OF ME think why they gave him this – the guy is a disaster). Probably for the first time in history SMEs are in agreement with the TUC as he NOW has a go at women!

Apparently this is nothing new to anyone who watches “the apprentice” -  I watched 5 minutes of one episode and that was enough for me.  Sarah Veale of the TUC says that AMS has a “dated attitude that makes working life a real struggle for women” – well, and why not – he’s already made life difficult for our SMEs – whatever next?

The best possible outcome of this and about the only one that would leave AMS with any credibility at all (if that is possible) is for him to WALK. GIVE IT UP PAL.

Origin of Species

So now, apparently, Kirk Cameron (apparently an actor) and a buddy in the states are about to release a whole load of “origin of species” books into US schools (good) but not before adding a prefix blaming Darwin for World War 2. You have to wonder how such a lovely country can raise such a lot of fruit and nut cases…. read on as they get ripped to bits.

Darwin “Too Controversial” for the USA – Give me a BREAK!

As the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close, I find this deeply, deeply worrying…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6173399/Charles-Darwin-film-too-controversial-for-religious-America.html

In case you’re short of time – an extract…

“Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.”

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as “a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying”

So I’m guessing the mountains of fossils etc are just a theory. It’s hard to fathom how such blind ignorance can flourish in a “free” country. As for Hitler, they can’t even get that right! He was a member of the Catholic church. Most trouble-spots in the world today involve countries who are highly religious.

Can you believe such an attitude can be prominent in the Western World in the 21st century?  None of which would matter if America was not in military terms the only remaining “superpower” – as our religious friends would say… “Lord help us”.

Airports to turn away “Swine flu” Passengers

Ah-ChooDon’t you just love it – after doing absolutely nothing until it’s too late, we’re now seeing knee-jerk reactions all over the place – now it’s the airports – according to the Times, those with “headaches, sore throats and runny noses” will be refused boarding.

I can see it now “are you carrying any sharp objects?” – “No”.  “Could anyone have interfered with your luggage?” – “No”. “Have you been involved in any terrorist activities in the last 5 years?” – “No”.  “Do you have a headache?” – “Yup”.   “Officer – arrest that man!”.

This reminds me of Foot and Mouth – Maureen and I live in part of Northumberland that had foot and mouth and in the middle of it, we travelled to America – from Newcastle to London – change – London to France – change – France to Chicago.  When we got off the plane – there was a notice up in O’Hare Airport – “Passengers coming from areas affected by foot and mouth come this way” – this was entirely voluntary and therefore entirely a waste of time – but what they wanted to do was … sterilise your shoes!!!  Think about that for a moment -  surely the thing to do would have been to sterilise our shoes BEFORE we got on the plane in Newcastle, hence avoiding leaving F&M all over the floor of the plane and passing it to those passengers who DIDN’T live in an F&M area.

Similarly – despite doctors saying this new move is an UTTER WASTE OF TIME, the airlines are going to let you move around the airport – infect everyone THEN at the last minute – stop you getting on the plane – while of course letting those who were sitting, soaking wet next to you in the long-stay car park BUS and  who you’ve just infected but who are NOT showing symptoms, happily travel to the 4 corners of the earth. Even if they have infra-red scanners there is no way that’s going to do any good if you’ve JUST been infected.

Assuming I don’t cough in the airport and end up spending the summer in sleaze-‘n’-disease infected, financially-ruined Britain, I’m going to my cave in Spain, armed with my VICKS and I’m STAYING there!

The ODEON – The Opposite of Customer Service

As fervent cinema fans, my wife and I regularly go to the cinema.  Something about the atmosphere I like and particularly i like to settle down with my favourite snack – Nachos with Cheese and Jalapeños – pronounced hah-lah-PEHN-yo unless you’re an expert in the cinema in which case you’d pronounce them JALEEPEENOSE in a Geordie accent.

A few weeks ago we popped into the Odeon (formerly UCI) cinema in Silverlink in Wallsend and I was rather disappointed to see that they’d changed the all-important cheese sauce to something like looked a little more regurgitated and sloppier – and thinking about it – not that tasty.   This is particularly annoying because most American cinemas I’ve visited seems to have the same artificial, out-of-a-tube flavour cheese sauce whereas the UCI cinemas here always had great cheese sauce.

Anyway, the quantities were ok so though I protested internally, I didn’t bother to gripe officially, but I remember agreeing with Maureen that we’d be better off at the MetroCentre Odeon next time.

BAD mistake.  The MetroCentre for those not in the know is Gateshead’s premier shopping centre – used to be the second largest in Europe (though the supermarkets here are tiny and choice-restricted compared to say, some of the Carrefour in France or Spain) and when it opened it was a joy to behold – with sparkly new cinema, robotic policeman that talked to the kids and moved about – then it moved about, then it stopped, then they took it out.  Thinking about it most of the good new ideas they had, they took out – but that’s another matter.

Anyway, as usual I stood in the queue to be served up my snack by the highly experienced Odeon staff only to find it was training day and they had some real characters in.  As it came to my turn I ordered my Nachos with Cheese and Jalapeños and as one inexperienced hand came out to take my cash, the other handed me a pale imitation of my normal treat. Instead of a large happy looking pile of green hot delights…. there were SIX JALEPENOS.

I looked disappointedly at the sad excuse for a snack and asked politely if I could have a few more?  “Sorry sir, we’re cutting back, you’ll have to pay if you want more”.

A very CUTTING look followed by the announcement that I’d been using this cinema for several years and never seen anything so pathetic led to a swift apology and a doubling to 12 Jalapeños in swift order… but as I sat down to enjoy the film, I noticed… the cheese…. they’ve done it again – watered down plastic CRAP!!!

Most folk with any sense long ago abandoned the idea of buying obscenely expensive fizzy drinks at the cinema – instead we all go off to the shop opposite the cinema and buy obscenely expensive drinks over at the shop (to put this in perspective a can of coke at the supermarket is what, 40p or similar in a pack?  Just short of £2 at the value-for-money shop in the Metro-centre – great eh!

Well, I’ve decided they can stuff it, if they don’t care about their customers enough to feed us consistent quality, from now on I’m going to put some extra effort into finding the now elusive Doritos Cheese dip (glass jar, used to be in all supermarkets, now sadly missing from most) and bring my own supplies in TOTAL to the cinema – at tremendous saving.

ODEON – I hope you’re reading this – and the first chain to bring out an alternative to the Odeon – you’re history!

Newcastle Airport – the Epitome of International

Funny old thing – I’ve never been to Newcastle Airport at night to pick someone up – despite having been there so many times it feels like my second home, I’ve always been the one travelling!

Tonight we went to pick up my nephew from the USA. He’s 20 and  he’s actually in Northern Ireland at the moment and decided to pay us a visit for a fiew days. Anyway, his flight from NI was supposed to be in at around 10pm and as is often the case, when we got to the airport it was delayed by 30 minutes. No problem, we thought, it’s a Saturday night, lots to do at the airport.

Except there wasn’t a SINGLE THING TO DO. 10pm on a Saturday night and the "International" airport was a like a GHOST TOWN. WH Smiths – closed. Greggs – closed. Shops – non-existant. Some of the car rental places were closed, the rest had cameras in place of people. If I were coming in from another country to the airport at that time of night I’d be thinking I’d landed somewhere in the THIRD WORLD.  Over at the "International arrivals" section the chairs are ripped, making it very clear to visitors that we’re in a recession and can’t afford to repair things.

When the flight came in Maureen was of course ready to finish off her coffee when I reminded her that it can take at least 10 minutes for the bags to come in… and for the first time I realised there is no indication externally of when the bags are on the treadmill – for what effort it would take to make that information available to visitors so we at least know when to expect travellers to emerge.

Interesting experience – marks out of ten? two!!! A FAR CRY from a truly international airport which would acknowledge passengers from different time zones and not look like a CEMETARY at the early time of 10pm on a Saturday night!!!!

Lets spend MORE to help the helpless why don’t we

In a recent newspaper article in the Northeast, Coun Mark Wilkes refers to the "new form of heating" known as ground source heating and suggests that he’s started a petition to invest in this "new" form of heating to install the pumps in social housing.

In fact, geothermal heating is far from new. Wark social club fitted this some time ago and I’ve been looking at it as a domestic source of heat. Sadly, individuals usually do not have enough land to harness this efficient source of heat (effectively taking heat from underground and concentrating it to a useful temperature needs a lot of square footage).

I did object to the implication that we taxpayers should pay for it’s use in "social housing" – don’t we pay enough already and get next to nothing back for it? I wonder how many tax-payers the councillor asked before coming up with that little gem?

A better idea by FAR would be to use the space under new constructions to offer such facilities to ALL. There is no reason other than the will and start-up costs why any new or refurbished large area (football fields etc) could not be fitted with underground pipes – outside the back of our house is a massive field – the farm uses only the top of this and yet a couple of metres down there is an almost limitless source of heat.

Someone might encourage farmers to diversify by offering this form of heat to villagers? Indeed once could argue that given that there is a vast area to tap UNDER our green and pleasant FIELDS all over the country – perhaps a change of law to gain access to that heat might be something worth considering. Just how far down from the surface DO farm owners own? If they’re digging the land up ANYWAY… would it not make sense where appropriate to install piping for geothermal installations, especially on the edge of villages…

Solar power in Spain - a photo by Peter ScargillCommunity power and heat – as against power from the grid and heat using nationally distributed materials – is an idea that we’d be fools to ignore. If someone popped up to my place and offered to plug me in to half-price hot water or heating I’d jump at it.

Another area that seems to be largely ignored is that of water power – sure we put generators on large rivers – but it hasn’t stopped raining in the Northeast for months and all of that energy down every single stream… is simply going to waste – I’m convinced given the right gear I could power our house off the stream in front of it – but I’m sure if I did the water board would throw a fit. Solar power works for countries like Spain (see image of one of MANY solar arrays over there)  and they really DO make use of it. Perhaps it’s time to make better use of the resources we have here.

Shop thy neighbour

I have never in all my days of reading the local papers, read of such a horrendous scheme as that reported in the Newcastle Journal today, proposed by the police in Swarland near Alnwick – in which they propose that neighbours anonymously shop drivers they THINK are speeding talk about abdicating responsibilities!! The first thing that came to my mind when I read this, was the McCarthy era in the USA in which residents were encouraged to shop potential communists or even Russia under the thumb of the CCCP.

How on EARTH would someone who does not drive a car be able to accurately gauge whether or not a driver is speeding and does ANYONE really believe we have the self discipline NOT to shop those we dislike? Given the opportunity to anonymously and safely shop a speeder I’d imagine a healthy minority, perhaps the majority would use this as an opportunity to shop the fellow who persistently uses up their parking space or perhaps the neighbour who’s been rude… whatever happened to accountability?

There are many schemes for slowing down motorists, the much-hated speed bumps being a prime example, solar-powered warning signs being another this is NOT the solution and it will bring out the worst in people. This pathological hatred of motorists would not be so bad if our police were more successful with other types of crime like burglary. How about letting us bash the life out of burglars as many of us would love to do that’d be a more useful way of doing the law’s job.

If someone shops me on suspicion of breaking the law I want to know who they are so I can sue them when their accusations are proven false! This is not right.