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Showing posts from 2008

JP's Christmas Message

If you were hoping for something profound, I'm afraid that you're going to be disappointed.  If thoughtful and profound is your thing, you're probably better off waiting for the Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas message.  I say probably, though, because I've just seen the BBC Headline which tells me that his message is going to be about not waiting for heroes to solve the world's problems.  I always think that it puts a bit of a dampener on things when the media announce what people are going to say in a speech, but in this case I hope that it's just something of a cliff-hanger.  As a message in itself, it's a bit nice-but-pointless.
Personally, of course, I hope that he really encourages people to think about the Christian faith.  The message of the Christian faith, of course, has not changed since last year but don't let that put you off having another think about it.  Believe me it's worth it, and the birth of Jesus really is something to c…

everybody dance now!

Normally, I'm not overly enamoured by people who interrupt my morning commute with their unnecessarily loud (but oh-so-cool) ringtones, or feel the need to share their music with their fellow passengers in glorious low-fidelity sound.
This morning, however, I did raise a smile when I heard one of JP's Top Anthems.  It was suitably random and a good way of breaking the monotony of a Monday morning train journey.

Incidentally, with reference to my last post, I didn't mean to come across as something as a Scrooge. I might object to the idea of making unnecessary political statements, but I have to admit that Alasdair was right.  Cards are a great way of keeping in touch, "Winter Greetings" or otherwise.

lighting the seasonal blue touchpaper

I know that we had this debate last year, but I’ve once again found myself wondering what the point is of a card which says “Winter Season’s Greetings”.I’ve not (yet) received such a card myself so before you worry, I’m not being rude in an ungrateful sort of way.Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop me having an opinion. 
Personally, I feel that such a card implies that the sender is a bit self-righteous.The message conveyed is a bit “I’m not celebrating Christmas. Get me and my political correctness.” 
If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, then I’m not going to stop you.But it’s a bit pointless to send a card if you’re not celebrating anything.You wouldn’t expect to send a “Summer Season’s Greetings” card in August, would you?Besides, what’s wrong with wishing those of us who will be celebrating it a “Happy Christmas”?What’s wrong with enjoying the festivities of Christmas, even if you don’t believe?You don’t have to pretend that it isn’t really Christmas.This whole “I don’t want to offe…

back with a rant

..as opposed to 'back with a bang' or however the saying probably goes.  You wouldn't expect any less, really, would you?
Getting down to business, I've had a few experiences recently in which I've been very frustrated by the selfish and unhelpful attitudes of some people in what I would term 'customer facing' roles.  Some might say that this is nothing new, but it has annoyed me nonetheless.
For my first example, we'll head to Three Bridges station, because tradition dicates that I should talk about something train-related once in a while.  Last week, I was on the platform at said station and I saw the electronic sign which told me that the train I had hoped to catch was 'Delayed'.  
Maybe it was unreasonable of me to have wanted to find out some more details, but approaching the Southern employee outside the door marked 'Information' seemed like a logical step to take.  He couldn't tell me how long the delay was, but did go to great l…

Remember, Remember...

Exactly one year ago today I sat on the train home from my first day in the office as a working man* and I blogged. If I were in a negative frame of mind, I might be disappointed by the fact that I am not joining the rest of the nation and celebrating this momentous anniversary by letting off a few fireworks.   I might also be disappointed that at whatever time in the evening it now is I am in an office of sorts with no windows.  Especially when the rest of my colleagues here have gone out for dinner, and I need to be on shift because of the way the slot chart is. But perhaps surprisingly I am not in a negative frame of mind at all.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  For one thing, I really enjoyed my dinner just now.  That too is perhaps surprising, given that I had to rely on the supermarket on the way to work, the microwave here and a fork which I'd managed to borrow.  Even given these low expectations however, I can safely say that my Tuscany Salad and Hollandse stamppot: Hutspot …

JP's World at One - Taking the Michael

Today I'm going to break with my recently developed tradition of referring to articles from the BBC News Page.  I'm not even going to talk about trains.I had to do a demonstration for a customer first thing this morning, which didn't start quite as well as one would have hoped for.  I felt that the only thing I was demonstrating successfully was Murphy's Law, when one of the Windows computers decided that it was a good time to lock up, and other various minor problems all occurred just as the customer arrived.  You might have said "it was one of Those Days".Someone evidently has a sense of humour though.  Whilst I was getting the show back on the road I logged in to my email.  Those of you who use Gmail might know that sometimes a 'Quote of the Day' appears at the top of the inbox, and starting me in the face was "If at first you don't succeed then maybe failure is more your style - Quentin Crisp."  Talk about Taking The Michael.Fortunat…

JP's World At One - Speed Cameras In Swindon

It's lunchtime, and from my current base in Amsterdam I like to keep an eye on the world through the lens of the BBC News page.  It's gone one o'clock as I write this, and it's probably not one o'clock as you read this, but I hope you'll forgive me and allow for a bit of Artistic License with the title.You would have thought that I had far more interesting things to talk about in Amsterdam than what's happening in Swindon, and - fortunately - you'd be right.  I do.  But I haven't yet had time to perfect my writings, so you'll have to wait for JP's take on the Dutch capital.  In the meantime, I can't resist passing comment on this BBC News Article.Specifically, I want to draw your attention to the quote by Labour councillor Derique Montaut, who apparently opposed the decision."I think speed cameras locally, nationally and internationally, have shown that they're one measure - one of many measures - that can be used to regulate sp…

one word weather with JP Mandela

Cloudy.>>This is for Gareth's benefit.  I couldn't resist, but I really must get to work now.

just a stranger on the bus

I read this BBC News article with some interest.

Obviously I don't agree with what the advertisement says, but I think that anything which prompts people to consider God can only be a good thing. That said, I did smile at Steven Green's comment:

"Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large."

In this case I have to say that the advert makes some very misleading claims. To claim that 'God probably doesn't exist' implies that the possible existence of God can be quantified in some meaningful way. Let's face it, although the writer of the advert is entitled to claim that they don't think God exists they cannot prove anything.

Secondly, I would like to question the implication that not believing in God will stop you from worrying and ensure that you enjoy life. What rubbish.

It will be interesting to see if the usual 'don't preach at me brigade' object to these adverts in the same way as they object to Christian advertising, b…

Double Dutch

I have taken to using Google Chrome as my preferred web-browser, and I rather like it.  It's got a clean, clear interface and I find it quite intuitive.  Admittedly I felt a tinge of sadness when I decided to uninstall Firefox but I didn't have any use for three browsers.  I don't really like having more than one web browser, actually, but like it or lump it there are still one or two sites which are too archaic to support anything other than Internet Explorer.Anyway, despite all the things I like about it, I have now inadvertently discovered something which annoys me.  Maybe I've missed something here, but the fact that I'm in Holland does not suddenly mean that ik spreek Nederlands and always wish to search google.nl.Hello from Amsterdam, by the way.

hoping for the final countdown

In recent weeks my Facebook Mini-Feed has been increasingly populated by countdowns for one thing or another.

Invariably when I log in I learn that someone is one day closer to their wedding than they were when I logged in yesterday, or that someone else is 9 hours closer to their loved one than they were when I checked on my way in to work, 9 hours earlier.

Maybe this sudden trend has been encouraged by the wet summer, or a new feeling of Autumn Blues, but nevertheless some people need to get out more.

variations on a theme

If you've been keeping up with my new found blogging pace recently, you will have known that the last three posts on Tuesday centred around my experience with a jobsworth Revenue Inspector and the hour and a half I had in Swindon thanks to his mean mindedness and lack of any reasonable human judgement. Not that I'm bitter, or anything.

Anyway, whilst I was on the train home today my quiet reading* was rudely interrupted by a gaggle of yobs** who boarded the train. They were shouting at each other up and down the carriage, swearing, banging on the windows and generally acting as though it was some kind of mobile zoo.

Unsurprisingly, when the conductor made his way in to the carriage he discovered that most of them were travelling without a valid ticket. I watched in anticipation hoping that he would throw the book at them and was disappointed when the mild confrontation with the first group only led to them being thrown off the train at the next stop with no further punishment…

Why FGW could learn a lot from 'Spoons

Part Three of JP's Great Journey Home also comes to you from the comfort of the Wetherspoon's in Swindon, whilst I digest my rather good Gourmet Burger (with Side Salad) and generally Reflect on Things.The food, it has to be said, was excellent. My expectations were admittedly quite low, but that just makes it even more impressive and I am certainly feeling suitably replete.The background music is also helping with those Feel Good Vibes, and my frustration with the complete jester of a Revenue Inspector is slowly melting away.What has really impressed me with this particular joint though is the attitude of the staff. Both the barmaid and the guy serving the food have been extremely friendly and extremely helpful. I get the impression that if they'd had to inconvenience my afternoon they'd have done so in the nicest possible way, with a sympathetic smile. They would probably even have apologised.Take note, First Great Western.

Greetings from Swindon

If you've read my last post, and the title for this one you will hopefully have put two and two together and not made five. Jobsworth Revenue Inspector got his way, and the Train Manager was unable to allow me to stay on the train with my current ticket. I think I'm as annoyed by his unnecessarily aggressive manner as I am by his decision, and wonder how people like that sleep at night.Anyway, it's not so bad. Swindon has a Wetherspoons and I'm sat with a beer whilst I wait for my Gourmet Burger. Bonus. One might say that I am using the time more productively than I would be if I was sat in the Sensory Garden in the rain. Unless of course you happen to possess binoculars and a Train Spotter's Notebook.Despite my surprisingly bouyant mood* if you do know any First Great Western Revenue Inspectors and have an opportunity to ruin their day please seize it gladly with wide open arms. It will make the rest of my pint taste even sweeter.
>>*If you are thinking…

When I'm annoyed, I blog

In case you were hoping that this post title referred to an exciting new single or album I might be planning to release I'm afraid that I'm going to have to disappoint you. The subject is nothing clever and there is no double meaning. Basically, I'm annoyed and I'm going to blog about it. Cheer up, though, I've not had a good train related rant in a while.Had you asked me an hour ago what I thought of First Great Western I could not have been more positive. I have travelled with them a reasonable amount recently and my experiences bear no resemblence to the poor reputation they seem to have gained. I have found the trains to be consistently clean and comfortable, and the staff to be consistently friendly and helpful. That's certainly more than could be said for a lot of train operators.But it's so often true that one bad experience can destroy a whole raft of positive ones and that's how I'm feeling now.The journey I booked online has two ticke…

Just talk to her, Dave!

Regular readers (if I still have any) might not be surprised to learn that I've come to the conclusion that it is probably impossible to pull on public transport just by smiling at someone.I could, if I wanted tell plenty of non-stories at this point. Last Thursday, for example, I was on a train when I exchanged smiles with an attracive young lady. Then I alighted*. The End.Yesterday, therefore, I seized an opportunity to take the plunge and ascend to the next level by attempting to initiate a conversation. I was waiting at a bus stop in West Wales when I was joined by an attractive blonde, who could possibly be described as sort of Joanna Page - esque. "Morning," I said."Hello," she said in response.So far, so good, you might think. But now we descend back down to the depths of the 'non-story' for the conversation didn't exactly flow beyond that. We both suddenly developed the need to send a text message or otherwise seek solace in a mobile …

finding the answer to one of life's important questions

Quite some time back now, I wrote about the time I had my hair cut by someone who'd covered their own hair with a hat.

Fast forward to last Friday, and I found myself in another branch of the same establishment desiring to have my luscious but manly curls chopped off. Inadvertently, I was now in a position to answer a question which might have been bugging some of you for a while.

Is it better to have your hair cut by someone who has covered their own hair up, or by someone who has no hair at all?

I'll save you the suspense and tell you that on this occasion I'm quite happy. My hair is neat, well cut and not really wonky in any way. More importantly, I don't look like a thug, although that was down to my choice of style and not the competence of the person wielding the clippers and the scissors. I don't think I was particularly unhappy last time, but the fact that I've not been back to the establishment since might speak for itself.

FIA Bias

After watching the nail-biting finsih to today's Belgian Grand Prix I was very disappointed to learn that Lewis Hamilton was stripped of his win after a Stewards Enquiry, especially in light of the fact that the Stewards decided against penalising Ferrari for the incident in the last race. This isn't the first time that the cynic in me has come to the conclusion that the FIA is biased in favour of Ferrari, and I'm inclined to agree with Jeremy Clarkson's comment in this month's issue of Top Gear when he noted [about the German Grand Prix] that as per usual the car prepared by the team with the most money won.

Kake, and the existence of Flo

Given that many people still seem to come to this Korner of the Blogosphere in search of cake, I thought that it was about time that I had a cake themed-post.

In light of the ongoing debate about the existence of God (see the previous two posts), I want you to imagine that you've popped round to visit me for tea and that I've served a cake. Let us also suppose that I say that I have a friend called Flo, whom you've never met, and that she made said cake.

The cake happens to be very nice and you ask me for the recipe, which I don't have. As would be perfectly reasonable, you might start to speculate about the cake's ingredients or how it was made. It would be a little bizarre, however, if you suddenly questioned whether or not I really did have a friend called Flo based on the discovery that apricot jam had been used to stick the icing on. Even the existence of self-raising flour doesn't invalidate the possibility of the cake being made by a friend called Flo.…

atheism is a matter of faith, not science: the debate continues

Following the letters page in last Wednesday's Metro and the follow-up comment on this post I’m pleased to see that the beginnings of a debate are brewing, and I intend to use this post to pick up the baton again.

Unsurprisingly, I’m going to start by responding to the aforementioned comment. I apologise if my tone was deemed to be a bit sharp, but I have no hesitation in defending the point I was trying to make.

According to dictionary.com, faith can be defined as “belief that is not based on proof.” As there is no proof that God does not exist, belief that God does not exist (i.e. atheism) must be faith.

Now, I take your point that “as human beings we are always revising and fine tuning what we hold to be true based on the evidence to hand, what we discover and our ability to determine what is probable or improbable.” To digress slightly, that is why switching on the Large Hadron Collider is going to be something of a milestone, as it could either serve to prove a theory or force a…

Atheism is a question of faith, not science.

Or so said the sub-headline on the letters page in Wednesday's Metro.  I couldn't have put it better myself...

Another one of those failed railway romances

Those of you who've been here often, or who read my column in Impact* last summer are probably bored of my tale of failed romance when an attractive young lady smiled at me on the train, I smiled back, and...nothing else happened.Yesterday I was given a second chance, when as my train pulled out of Swindon I looked up to find the attractive blonde across the aisle staring at me.  As is my custom I returned her smile, and sat back in my seat thinking how the moment of leaving Swindon had just become brighter still.  I settled down to watch 'Battle of the Bishops',** but my concentration was hampered by the fact that I continued to exchange the odd smile with the beau opposite.  I even like to think that she was staring at my reflection in the window, but my hunch would be that I am mistaken on that one***.  Anyway, she got off at Reading without so much as a backward glance, and that, as they say, was that.>>*See what I did there?  Forgive me as I angle for a bit of a…

Hands up who voted for short, fat, hairy legs...

There was a humorous article in yesterday’s thelondonpaper which reported the discovery by a “top London scientist” that “men find women most attractive if they have big breasts and shapely legs”.You don’t say. I agree, of course, though more so on the point about the legs than the breasts, if I am honest. Maybe the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” springs to mind, but I’m not overly fussed about massive huge breasts.When it comes to what women find attractive about men though, I was surprised and perhaps slightly disappointed by the report.Broad Shoulders – tick.Long upper body – hmmm.Short legs – Oh dear.Whatever happened to tall, dark and handsome?

if it's still broken this time tomorrow...

I've had the privilege recently of spending quite a bit of my day onboard an Airbus Flight Training Simulator. For the purposes of pilot training, the whole cockpit needs to visually resemble the real aeroplane, right down to the last detail. So, on the circuit breaker panel behind the seats you will also find various items you’d also expect to see at 30,000 feet in the real deal, such as a container labelled ‘Gloves’.
In some cases it’s possible to be a bit creative, perhaps with the aim of saving money. So the gloves in the box are obviously not vital for crew training because on the Simulator I discovered two hand shaped pieces of cardboard*. When it comes to the item labelled ‘Crash Axe’ on the other hand...
>> *Incidentally they’ve not been there since the beginning of the week, so whoever thought they’d avoid petty theft by not supplying real gloves was possibly mistaken.

thechurchtimeslove

I think I might have mentioned before that one of the things I like about the londonpaper is the londonlove section. In particular, I’m often amused by the texts sent in by people trying to take an exchange of smiles on the Tube to the Next Level.Sometimes I think that people need to be a bit more original, because “I’m the brunette who smiled at you on the Jubilee Line” is not particularly eye-catching (even if smiling at someone on the Tube is noteworthy these days) and could illicit all sorts of dubious responses from people trying their luck. On other occasions I can understand why an exchange of numbers never happened in the first place; I can’t say that I’m especially well-versed in this sort of thing but I’m fairly certain that “I really did have some cold-sore cream in my bag” is not a follow-up to a great chat-up line. I also wonder why some people bother when they end their messages with such gems as “you drove off in a gold Nissan Micra”. Gold. Micra. Both wrong.Anyway, I m…

JP sins cardinally

I’m not really sure what defines a Cardinal Sin, but I’m fairly certain that I committed one recently. A guy on the train was wearing the same tie as me.I positioned my copy of the Metro to conceal this fact, and as I buried my nose in to the pages even closer than usual I shot a furtive glance across the aisle to make sure that he hadn’t noticed. I then glanced around at the rest of my fellow commuters to ensure they hadn’t noticed either. I’m not sure what this glance would have achieved, as anyone pointing out my offence would have risked committing a greater social faux pas, but I feel that on this occasion I got away with it.I wonder if this is what women feel like when they turn up somewhere and someone else is wearing the same outfit?

a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break

In case you're wondering, I don't smoke. But I did think that it was ironic that to watch "Would I Lie To You?" on the BBC iPlayer I had to confirm that I was over 16 by simply ticking a box.

you knew that I'd be back

I have no reasonable excuse for my long silence, so I'm not going to bother wasting my time making one up for you.

I've been away for so long that I feel like I'm shouting in to an echo filled cave, and all I expect to hear back is the slow drip, drip of water in the distance.
I may as well say "hello" though.

women bishops

If you've been keeping up with the news recently, you won't have missed the fact that the Church of England's governing body (General Synod) had an emotionally charged vote on the issue of Women Bishops at the beginning of the week. It's certainly an interesting and complicated issue.  Personally, I am saddened by the fact that the main picture painted of the church in recent weeks has been one of division and apparently irrelevant bickering, whilst the good news of the Christian message has been left unproclaimed.  I would. however, like to offer one or two thoughts on the matter. Firstly, a comment was made in a news report I saw that "both sides were taking their arguments from the Bible".  There is a popular, if ignorant argument which claims that the Bible is full of contradictions (and therefore unreliable and irrelevant).  Unfortunately, I suspect that such comments have only served to reinforce such a notion, whilst my perception of the news report is…

Faster. Harder. JP!

This time I do have an excuse for my absence because I've been away.  I have now returned, with a tanned body to die for, and might even have a few things to say which don't involve trains.  Watch this space.I don't think I've missed much in the meantime, aside from the fact that Gazza is to wed Shezza.  Or so the tabloid headline I glimpsed in Budgens just after I got home informed me.  It's all been happening here.  Who is Shezza, anyway?That said, there are a couple of items on the BBC News Page this evening which made me smile.  Firstly, it looks as though it's going to become cheaper to pop and not stop thanks to some bizarre tax law.  Maybe we should find some way of running our cars on Pringles.  The article is also quite interesting because it outlines the new guidelines on what constitutes a proper tomato.  I don't know how I ever slept at night before.  Is it me though, or is the start of the list of characteristics a bit, shall we say, Durex? Sec…

better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick (but only just)

It's been a while since I've taken the time to complain about anything train-related, so I'm going to rectify that with a short moan.  Rejoice, or bear with me as appropriate.My commute takes me about half-way to London, and at the end of last year I paid a four-figure sum for the privilege of holding a Season Ticket for this.  You'd have thought, therefore, that when I actually want to travel all the way in to London I'd enjoy some reasonable savings, given that I only have to buy a ticket for half the journey.  If like me, however, you did think that, you thought wrong.  Especially when it comes to Saver Returns, as I found out this weekend.  I paid £15.70.  If you want to pay for the whole 1 1/4 hour journey in full, you pay £15.10.  The saving didn't even cover my Krispy Kreme doughnut* on arrival, and given that my Season Ticket works out at substantially more than 60p for that part of the journey I feel a bit short-changed.Rant over.  Rejoice, or bear wit…

Turning 3...

I have just realised that it was three years ago yesterday that I first surfaced in the Blogosphere.  How exciting, and how fitting that I chose to write a post today about cake.  Obviously, it would be better on such on occasion to celebrate by actually eating cake, but such is the reality of the virtual world we inhabit.It would probably be the Done Thing now to reminisce about my time in the Blogosphere and look back over the last three years, but I'm afraid that I don't have time now to reel off such a spiel.  It's all there in the archive though, so please do peruse to your heart's content.  You might find a few hidden gems - life in Oxford was generally more blogworthy than it is now.  Had I still been there this year I'd have celebrated my birthday with all the festivities of May Day and Ascension Day rolled in to one.  The excitement would almost have been too much!Has anyone been journeying with me since the very beginning?

It's all about the Kake

I notice that I am still getting a steady flow of people landing in this corner of the Blogosphere in search of JP's Kake Korner.  If that's you, I'm sorry, but I do hope that you'll take the opportunity to break your journey and look around anyway before moving on.  I believe that the site you are after can be found hereThe cakes (kakes?) look pretty good actually, and if I lived anywhere near Maryland I'd be sure to pop by.  If I lived in Laurel itself I'd probably be quite fat by now.  Many thanks to Della for taking the time to comment and help me understand what most of my visitors are actually looking for. In case you didn't see it, here is what she said:"JP's Kake Korner is an awesome little bakery in Laurel Maryland. I happen to be lucky enough to be employed there by the multi-talented Diane the Cake Lady. We make delicious custom cakes for all occasions. I would direct you to our website, but it's being updated and just doesn't do…

By way of an apology

The trouble with writing in this context is that sometimes things don't come across quite as they were meant.  Furthermore, even though I do have the option of checking what I write before I blurt something out in to the public domain I sometimes get caught up in the passion of my argument (as it were) and risk speaking my mind before engaging my brain.Not for the first time, I think I've got it a bit wrong.  Obviously I have strong feelings about the recent ruling on IVF treatment - as I commented on the last post, I'm going to stick with the sentiment that I don't like the implication that a father figure is unimportant.  But equally, I know lots of people who, for one reason or another, have not been brought up by both parents and I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise if I came across as harsh or ignorant; I certainly didn't mean to offend.

What happened to responsibility?

The last few days have seen some major ethical issues being debated in Parliament.  I am generally disappointed by the way in which the voting has gone, if I am honest; something which probably won't surprise you.I'm worried about potentially dangerous precedents which have been set, and wonder where the line will eventually get drawn (particularly regarding such things as hybrid embryos).I think that Kester makes a fair point here about the IVF issue, and the fact that the father is no longer seen as important.  Children aren't a commodity and should ideally be brought up by a parent of each gender.  We all need a good male influence and a good female influence.I was also disappointed by the abortion ruling, and one MP really wound me up when she put forward the argument that she'd "had an abortion at 21 weeks and it was so important for her because she just wasn't in a position in life to bring up children".  I have no sympathy for her in that situation…

Talking of nobs...

Perhaps unsurprisingly I was not impressed by Labour's campaign for the by-election in Crewe, which seems to be trying to woo voters on the basis that the Conservative candidate is a 'person of wealth or social importance' (or nob).  This BBC Video makes for interesting viewing, and highlights just how awful the Labour campaign is.  Harriet Harman pointedly judges the Conservative candidate on the basis that  she *thinks* he is a multi-millionaire.  There's some waffle about being 'excessively privileged' and when it's pointed out that Ms Harman would certainly fit any reasonable definition of that phrase she bats it away by claiming that she's "not making an issue of it" in her case.  That may be, but something in me thinks that Edward Timpson (the Conservative candidate) isn't making an issue of his background himself either.  It's only come about because of the blatant hypocrisy of Ms Harman and her ilk.I should add that I don't…

Isn't it spelt with a k?

As I approach three years in the Blogosphere, I see that the cowardly art of the anonymous 'insult' is still alive and well...

Selling Out?

It's possibly been well documented in the past that I am not the world's biggest fan of Microsoft. I've not followed the extreme trends of some (I didn't write this webpage using vi, for example) but even so, I'm definitely more Firefox than Internet Explorer and more Gmail than Hotmail. I've always been pro Open Source and I do really like Linux. If there was a quick and painless way of running Linux on a Tablet PC I'd be tempted, but needs must and I'm happy with XP for now.
However, I've just discovered Microsoft's Windows Live Writer, and against my principles I'm giving it a go. You may have noticed that I've been quite quiet in recent months, and one (just one) reason for that is simply that I've become a bit disenfranchised with the Blogger user interface. For a start, I've found the site to be painfully slow recently, to the extent that writing new posts and adding comments to old ones has become quite a chore. Besid…

Shaken but not stirred

I was relieved this week to get the news that my colleagues who are currently out Chengdu are OK following the recent earthquake. I was however amused by the way in which the email was worded."(they) are well (which is excellent news), although they are a little shaken".You don't say...

Has someone beaten London with the ugly stick?

On my travels today I've been able to take in a braod spectrum of the nation's newspapers* and I'm wondering what all the fuss regarding the new Sex and The City movie is about. To be fair, I'm a man and I've never seen the TV series, but even so, I can't understand why it's such big news that some older bird has turned up in London in a green dress and a silly hat. Even taking her age in to account, she's not really that much of a looker.

Talking of 'not being much of a looker' I have to say that I was very disappointed by the lack of eye candy as I crossed town earlier on the Tube. I hope that this isn't a sign that Boris has banned more than just booze, but on the plus side it did mean that I didn't feel the urge to try and nonchalantly appear to be cool and sophisticated.

>>
*I say broad spectrum, but it wasn't entirely unbiased; I decided against pulling the Guardian from the rack in the Waitrose cafe, because I had no des…

Sensory Delights

I'm at Swindon station, where I have just discovered the 'Sensory Garden'. Someone has fenced off a bit of the platform and thoughtfully placed some pot plants and some benches within the enclosure. I kid you not. Someone else has thoughtfully left a copy of The Times. Is there a better place in which to enjoy the glorious sunshine?

JP reappears, waving the blue flag for London

It's been really very quiet in this Corner of the Blogosphere recently. I've not looked at the site statistics, but I suspect that I really am now only talking to one of you. And you've probably only found yourself amongst the tumbleweed by mistake.

Whilst you're here though, let me talk to you about tomorrow's election in London. I've never been one to shy away from dipping my toes in and having a political opinion, and it would be wrong of me to let tomorrow pass by without passing comment. As I've said before, I'm a Boris supporter, and if I had a vote, he'd certainly get it. Happily, the opinion polls seem to suggest that many people have also seen sense, but if you're unsure, or are dithering, allow me to explain my choice.

I know that some think that Boris is a bit of a buffoon, but I stand in the camp holding the view that underneath that image he's actually quite intelligent. I also take the view that it's good for the mayor …

entering the fray

Some of you have probably been paying attention to my recent post on "the purpose of religion". Chrisp was probably right when he said that no-one would have the strength to wade through 25 posts, and perhaps I should have stormed in with the pepper spray and called it quits.

However, I've not had time to respond for a while, but have some thoughts of my own. So to quote the wedding service I attended yesterday, "for richer for poorer, for better, for worse...", I shall now make an attempt to distill some of my thoughts.

I was hoping to tag a comment on the end but there seem to be some technical difficulties with that, so I'm taking the rather brave step of putting it all in a whole new post. On the plus side, some of you probably wouldn't have bothered scrolling down anyway, This would have been comment number 26 on this post, so I hope you'll forgive me if I don't respond to everything, if I've missed something important, or if I'…

Socks and Helium Balloons

I think that perhaps Gareth was right, when he implied that this post is perhaps in danger of causing a riot. Underneath it all there is an interesting debate going on, and I shall wade in with my thoughts in due course, but there’s been another small drought in this Corner of the Blogosphere recently, and I feel that I should address that issue first.

If you were the one who received a random text last Wednesday reassuring you that I was wearing Wednesday’s socks I apologise for the inconvenience. It was an ‘in joke’ (he says, trying not to admit too obviously to the fact he has Days of the Week Socks, on the basis that it might not be A Good Thing). However, as per the second half of the message, if you did happen to have a cold, I do genuinely hope that it’s better.

Wednesday was a particular day of Faux Pas for me, but it was all quite amusing. Being Holy Week (the week preceding Easter), I took part in a church service that evening as part of a series looking reflecting on the …

Alleluia! Christ Is Risen!

I expect that the Anglicans amongst you are thinking "He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!"

Happy Easter!

the purpose of religion

One of the things which featured in the recent debate on this post is the idea that “religion should be about improving oneself”. This has got me thinking; ‘religion’ of course takes many forms, but in the vast majority of cases I disagree with this.

To paraphrase MarkC, religion is certainly something which as a by-product might help with “improving oneself”, but however you measure self-improvement it is not the sole point, certainly not in the Judeo-Christian case.

In fact, if your sole aim is to “improve yourself”, why waste your time playing around with the trappings of religion? Most religions are based around the idea of faith in God, and that, surely, is the point.

Considering Christianity specifically, Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” and so ‘religion’ should not be in danger of becoming all about worsh…

Things are looking up...

Two things have happened in the few minutes since my last post, which have brightened my morning considerably. Firstly, the woman who was filing her nails with impressively annoying volume is no longer sat behind me (and consequently my teeth are no longer gritted and my blood pressure is no longer rising).Secondly, I have procured a copy of the Metro. This is always a Good Thing, but I was particularly amused by today's front page. There's a sequence of photos showing some bloke trying to drive his car at apparently excessive speed across a flooded bit of road. He failed, and somehow, if that wasn't embarrassing enough someone's decided to tell the nation's commuters... Defined by user

If I turned and stared, would you get the message?

It's amazing what irritating things one has to experience as a commuter. I only wrote here recently about the amorous Germans I encountered on my way home, for example.Today the woman behind me is filing her nails. She's been doing so for some time and it's making one of those noises which makes me want to grit my teeth. In the scheme of things, I guess nail filing isn't abnormal but I'm wondering just how many fingers this lady has. Blood is starting t boil.Incidentally, it's been great to watch the debate on my previous post. I've been very busy recently, but I'll wade in with my penny-worth before long. Watch this space.Defined by user

Beginning the week with a quotation

Propagating the view that my blog is like buses - nothing for a while and then several posts at once - I'm going to pop my head up again, for one last time this evening.

Whilst reading the comments beneath the Times article I referenced in my previous post, I came across this:

"It never ceases to surprise me that apparently intelligent people, who ought to know enough history to understand the nature of socialism, nevertheless keep getting fooled."

I rather liked it.

Environmental Issues (again)

Not for the first time I'm worried about the fact that when it comes to the environment people don't always consider the big picture.

Today, for example, I read about Virgin Atlantic's headline grabbing First Commercial Biofuel Flight. Aside from the fact I don't see how a special plane running three of it's four engines on standard Jet fuel and carrying no passengers qualifies as "biofuel" or "commercial" I have big reservations about the whole thing. Last week I read in New Scientist that the draining of the Indonesian Peat Bogs for biofuel crops is one of the biggest causes of CO2 being released in to the atmosphere. It was noted that Indonesia isn't part of the Kyoto Agreement. Have I missed something or is it really as bad as it seems?

Then there are the new plans for the London Congestion Charge, supposedly with the environment in mind. If you were wondering why I'd never vote for Ken Livingstone here's one of many good reas…

Mmm, das sieht sehr sexy aus (Zwei)

After I wrote my last post, the couple opposite were mercifully interrupted by a child throwing a bottle of water everywhere. Normally that would have annoyed me as well, but on this occasion it was the lesser of two evils, as they say.

Anyway, this afforded me the opportunity to see if I was right, and before I got off the train I asked if they were from Austria (I had nothing to lose, after all). I was wrong, they were from Germany. Bavaria, to be precise, which does have it's own strong dialect, but even so. *JP hangs his head in shame at his inability to accurately detect Germanic accents*.

JP thinks a bit about American Politics

Like a lot of you, I'm sure, I've been enjoying keeping a beady eye on the build up to the American Presidential election. In some ways this is another good thing the Metro is good for, as it allows me to have my daily fix of such matters from the comfort of my train to work.

However - and perhaps you can blame the Metro for this - I'm fairly clueless about the policies upheld and promised by each of the various candidates, and therefore who I'd vote for if I could.

My thinking is that in an ideal world I'd probably be a McCain supporter given that the Republicans are the more conservative end of the spectrum. As far as I understand it, at least.

But then it seems to be generally accepted that the next president is likely to be a Democrat. I don't want to play the game of "voting for the party who's most likely to get power" but I probably should have an opinion about which of the Democrat candidates I prefer. Currently that's Mr Obama, witho…

Mmm, das sieht sehr sexy aus.

Speaking from (on going) bitter experience I have learned that one of the less desirable things to do after work is sit opposite an Austrian* couple who are evidently "very much in love". As ever, I'm on a train and it's not as though I can avert my eyes for their canoodling is clearly reflected in the window. I thought that Austrian people were stereotypically prude but I might be mistaken. Unhelpfully though, as I think of stereotypes the thought has just passed through my head that the girl repeatedly kissing the bloke opposite might have hairy armpits.Sorry folks, I just had to share that.>>
*I think they're Austrian. In between the 'mmm' and the giggling I can definitely hear 'German with a heavy accent'.

Shouldn't you be taking the plank out of your own eye, Mr Darling?

It's an all too regular feature of this blog that I rant about the government interfering with the running of the railways and then laying the blame for anything which isn't right squarely at the foot of the Train Operating Companies.

Fortunately, angry though I was with Mr Darling's "First Great Western should get a grip on the franchise or risk losing it" (..."because we want to run the trains ourselves"),
someone else has done the ranting for me on this occassion.

Enjoy.

humorously unhelpful?

I was reading a book at work today (about C++, he says, hoping not to sound like too much of a geek), and I came across this helpful little tip about ANSI:

"ANSI...is pronounced "antsy" with a silent 't'".

before we get to Sharia Law...

...I want to talk about this article in which a gay man has won a £47,000 payout after not being offered a job as a church youthworker. It might not surprise you to know that this has really annoyed me.

Quoting from the article,

"In his evidence to the original tribunal, Bishop Priddis said anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage would have been rejected."

As it says further down, this is the crux of the matter, not sexual orientation. On this basis, the fuss made by Stonewall was misguided, and thanks to their campaigning (and doubtless the media portrayal) we have an incident which makes the church appear homophobic, when it wasn't.

Now, you might or might not agree with the idea that anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage would have been rejected. But it's part of the teaching of the church, and as I've said before, I feel that it's important that leaders do their best to be exemplary. No-one is perfect, but as people so often cry "…

starting the pre-empted debate

Those of you who read comments on this blog will note that Dave has made reference to the comments made by Rowan Williams about Sharia law. Unfortunately I've not yet had time to read up properly on it, and my beloved Metro wasn't up to the challenge of equipping me for educated debate. Blame the fact that I've been very busy in the last couple of days*.

I'm bound to wade in and have my say at some point but in the meantime I'd like to start with what Dave had to say.

"Interesting. If ever there was good evidence as to why any religiously biased character shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Parliament, this is it."

Like it or lump it, atheists are also "religiously biased". Food for thought...

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*And the fact that Dave agreed with me for once on something; I've been in a state of shock.

don't scare me with your driving, or I'll sue

I read in the paper yesterday that some of the passengers on the BA flight which crashed at Heathrow last month are to sue - "for developing a fear of flying, and possible hearing damage". Is there nothing which some people won't sink to in this increasingly greedy and unfortunately sue-happy society?

Following a discussion over lunch at work, I'm happy to concede that if injury - e.g. hearing damage - has incurred then it would be nice if some money was available to cover any necessary treatment costs. But doesn't travel insurance cover that? Or the NHS? Besides, I'm sceptical that anyone suffered hearing damage in a crash which didn't involve a sudden drop, and which many passengers just assumed to be a heavy landing.

As for "fear of flying", see the title of this post. If that's the trend you wish to embrace...

Personally I think that if you buy a ticket to transport you at 500 miles an hour at a height of 35,000 feet then you've go…

anywhere is within walking distance...

...if you have enough time.

would you sell this woman a kebab?

As ever, I'm on a train, Metro in hand. Being a Saturday it's a day out of date, but nonetheless I've found something to pass comment on.It would seem that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been desparately trying to go back on what she said about Britain's Streets not being safe, and an aide made the point that she recently bought a late night kebab in Peckham without being afraid. But it transpires that she had a Police guard when she did so.

Stephen Crabb quite rightly asked "what's happening on Britain's streets when the Home Secretary needs an armed guard to buy a kebab?"

Furthermore, I'd like to ask why she was buying a kebab in Peckham anyway. I can't quite picture her being on a drunken night out, and the words "shameless publicity stunt" spring to mind.

Obviously with the media discovery of the police guard this back-fired a bit. I'd also like to ask therefore why in a country where we don't have enough police, and appa…

Now that I've started using Blogger to upload images....

Image
...I can post this. Surprisingly, for my mobile telephone, the quality isn't that bad. Any hope that I had of not having to explain what the image is of however still went out of the window because I didn't have a wide enough angle lens to get all the text in.

The trough has "Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association" engraved alongside it. I found it in Hyde Park, and was amused.

I wonder what sort of person has "member of Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association" on their CV? And does anyone know what the association actually does, beyond providing this key facility in the centre of London's biggest park?

For the benefit of both my readers

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Good Times...