And the point is what?

So this woman climbed on the bus the other day with one of those mega prams that appears deceptively small but has 4×4 wheels that run over your feet if you don’t watch out because the wheels are spread like a squatting spider below the seat.

She had child who was getting too big for a pram, a shopping bag and a snack in hand. Curiously I looked at the snack. (I am naturally greedy.) It was a clear box of Quorn veggie cocktail sausages that she was scarfing at speed. Quorn was something I was unfamiliar with before moving countries because South Africans tend to look rather mockingly at people who don’t believe in meat. Quorn being the big brand name for a company that turns soya into a dizzy variety of meat-like products from sausages to mince to breaded chicken cutlets.

Mo Farah endorses it so it must work, even for athletes. And we are not above using a bit of the mince (with its strange squidgy soft tofu texture) to bulk out our normal lean beef mince when in economy mode. But I am not really a Quorn fan.

Looking through the opaque shopping bag I noted it contained a pot of carrot and coriander soup and a pack of ‘Lincolnshire style veggie sausages’ by a supermarket brand.

This to me was even more absurd than Quorn as a brand. This was clearly someone who believed in being a vegetarian for some reason – health/religion/love of fluffy animals – I have no idea. She was probably teaching her kid to be a veggie too. But obviously in denial about the lack of animal in her diet. Why on EARTH would she fill 2/3 of her shopping of imitation meat products? Surely if you are going to be vegetarian, you should embrace the plant. Enthuse on how you can spice and season and appreciate the delectable freshness of vegetables. And what is she teaching her child? Don’t eat meat but let me make your palate accustomed to things vaguely umami meat-ish?

I can fully understand why these products exist on the market but frankly, basing your diet around them is absurd. If you can’t work out how to live on eggs, nuts, cheese, lentils and vegetables maybe you just weren’t cut out to be a herbivore.

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Filed under Food, modern living

Unique codifier

I’m not really a fan of hugely unique names for children. I think naming your child ‘Apple’ or ‘Lourdes’, even if you are a celebrity, something akin to child abuse. I’m never too sure some of the old names that went quaintly and quietly out of fashion bouncing back was a good idea either, even if I like a sense of history. (See the host of Rosies and Emelias and Gerties and Noahs that popped up for awhile)

I am starting to see the merit in giving children not too common names, even if not too unusual, as my parents somehow succeeded in doing. I also really like my surname more than Plus One’s. I tried to explain to him this is because it is far more unique in the world than his.

Lately I’m really valuing the merits of this. I am finding the projects I’m working a through pain in the backside because so many of the names on the projects are repeated. It’s inconceivable how many times a Dave and a Mark and Smit and an Addams or whatever has been repeated. Sometimes the first names. Sometimes almost surprisingly the surnames too, or variations thereof. So Smit and Smith and Smuts. Not really the same but similar enough for someone like me with an auto fill function to my email to hit the wrong person. Likewise for the first names.

Sometimes I get lucky and the wrong first name still has some relevance to the email. Sometimes the person is so out of context in terms of project and job function this results in quizzical emails back with the person on the other end clearly questioning my competence.

I exaggerate slightly quite how often this has gone wrong but if you ask me, once is one time too many.

I fully understand now why my old boss said, after we hired someone with the same first name as him, after three months of misdirected calls and a really delusional misdirection aimed at a twentysomething just starting out life with an active social life instead of a staid director in the prime of managerial hell, ‘We are NEVER employing someone with the same name as me ever again. No,’ (to the other director trying to placate him) ‘If that person really appears to be so AMAZING you want to hire him, he can bloody well change his first name if he wants to work here.’

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The things we surf

Was just debating the stuff I have looked up on the internet over the past year. And what these idiotic search engines that stalk and memorise the sites I go to must profile me out as.

My searches have included:

  • Video footage of a guinea fowl running (they cheer me up no end without fail)
  • Where is Dawid Malan the English cricketer from because with a name like that can he really be English?
  • World War 1 flying aces
  • Properties near my house
  • Places – tourist traps, hotels, transport – where I might one day go holiday if I had a sackload of money
  • Furniture
  • The option of getting an owl as a pet – specifically a burrowing owl
  • Body fat muscle ratios of women
  • How to make a yorkshire pudding
  • Restaurant menus in places I will never go eat at due to location/price/menu choices
  • How to grow various vegetables (which I have promptly never bothered to grow)
  • Random items on Amazon – rarely books – that I might one day want to own from jewellery to toasters
  • The fourth state of matter – I thought there was only gas/water/solid but the Science Museum said plasma counted (I think it was plasma)
  • Currency exchange rates
  • What time the shops open
  • Where is the bank
  • News24
  • Which universities were top in the world
  • Cellphones that could explode on planes
  • When a Brazilean musician is touring again internationally

The thing that I really resent is that these searches ARE being tracked as I’ve been getting adverts appropriate to these random searches.

Just a pity that if these people had any sense, they would realise there is no correlation between what I read on the internet and my own personal reality half the time.

 

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Doggy style

I was talking to one of my siblings who has a friend with three dogs of varying sizes and shapes who are all an integral part of his lifestyle. The dogs often go travelling around with him as part of a rambunctious furry family. This has, however, lead to aspirations of human grandeur among at least one of them.

One of the dogs apparently flat out refuses to sit on the floor. He will always gravitate to the nearest chair and failing that, if kicked out by an ignoble human, will contemplate perhaps the dog basket. But never the floor.

‘But what,’ we asked, ‘does he do if he is out and about, surely there must come a time when he’s (dog) tired and needs to sit down?’

Apparently he flat out refuses to do this and will wander around forlorn for ages looking for a vacant chair.

Sometime though even this proves impossible as there just isn’t anywhere to sit, whether dog or human.

But apparently ┬áhe has come up with a solution to this – the floor STILL not being an option.

He simply sits on top of one of the other dogs. I’ve been told that they have become accustomed to this situation occurring and have learned to live with it.

Whatever means must in order to be kept in the manner accustomed…

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Human/Animal Rights

So I had a call today about an industrial unit which has basically been repossessed. We’ve always had a suspicion the rodent problem in the area may be due in part to this unit which was a ‘flour factory/bakery’ . I’ve seen reports of health and safety issues centred around cleanliness in the days when it was open.

Anyways. It’s been locked up for a few months now and at last inspection I was told there was a cat inside that had refused to leave. Although somewhat concerned about it, they were unable to chase it out and eventually decided it might be getting in and out via some other means although the unit looked sealed up. (Same as the rats)

It emerged today skinny but alive and very keen on rubbing its flea ridden self up against the guys taking stock of the situation. They called the RSPCA who, I believe, referred the case to a cat charity who said they would come past to pick up the animal. Who had clearly somehow survived on drinking water from a tap and rats/birdseed/coffee/flour/kidney beans or who knows what that the place is still fully stocked with. I assumed it was feral but the guys were informed by the neighbour this WAS actually it’s home – unlike the definitely feral furries who roam a few units down and who’ve I’ve seen lolling in the sun and doing unspeakable things in public. It had been brought in as a pest control measure by the owner who had left behind not just a fully stocked unit but his ‘rat trap’.

A few hours later I had a call back. The charity had now back tracked on coming to pick up the cat and were now claiming it had ‘roaming rights’ and should not be interfered with. We suspect the shelter might be full.

Either way. Someone tried to pick it up (fleas and all) and got scratched for his trouble. Probably a lawsuit in that somewhere if the scratches get infected. They then tried to chase it out but it wised up to its possible eviction and scuttled away. They’ve had no choice but to lock it back in for another few days until we work out what to do about all the contents in the unit, which will now include one evasive kitty.

We can only assume if it survived this long it can manage over the weekend. Even if it can’t, we can’t apparently interfere with its ‘roaming rights’ for the time being.

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Ferry nice

Plus one insisted that he didn’t like planes and somehow forced upon me the idea that it would be better to travel by train and then ferry rather than fly to Europe. Personally although I part see his logic, I also think it is part demented because you are now limited to places the ferry goes to and from for holidays. And YES you can get all the way to Bilbao, Spain like this but it takes a bloody long time and my holiday time is over by then. And then you’d probably rather be on a proper cruise ship known for luxury rather than practicality like a ferry.

It was the most surreal experience getting the overnight ferry from England to France. The one other time I did it before I was part of a massive youth group and we all jumped excitedly from a coach to run around the ship for a few hours before sinking into an exhausted heap somewhere like a litter of puppies. I have no recollection of actually eating anything or doing anything particularly constructive on the boat or indeed that it took that long, which it must have.

This time around there was just the two of us as foot passengers on an overnight journey. We had a rudimentary little cabin with two bunk beds, pale pink duvets and a teeny bathroom pod with toilet and a shower with surprisingly hot water at strong force. It was exactly luxury but it wasn’t slumming it either.

A lot of people had chosen to skimp on the cabins (there are, to be fair, also more people than cabins) and had taken the ‘sleeper seats’ instead. You could see some were seasoned travellers at this. They came on board with cooler bags of supper, their own blankets and pillows, tracksuit bottoms and the determined look of people ready to camp it out in public. I’m pretty sure they also had a car to return all these belongings to having said that.

To be fair, the ‘sleeper seats’ have more – much more – room than economy cabin class in an airplane. But the seats still don’t recline all the way down and you still land up napping with the hope that noone nicks your bag while you are asleep. (This is probably just ME being paranoid as a South African thinking like that having said that.) I did think however it probably wasn’t too bad when, on the return journey, I could feel the boat moving and in the windowless cabin had to lie very very still or risk feeling very very ill because I am one of those fools prone to motion sickness and highly confined spaces with artificial air blown into them don’t really help.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the ferry. It had a proper sit down restaurant and a canteen fast food one and some random cafe up top plus a bar with horrendous live evening entertainment. Not to mention a whole duty free shop, two tiny cinemas in a basement somewhere and a games arcade for the kids. I’ve always thought of ferries as highly practical big boats like buses on water that just tote you from one side of the harbour to another, not something that had actual facilities on board.

Am I totally sold on this being the way to travel every time? I’m not so sure. But I think I could be biased by the slight sea sickness and the fact that it is really hard to see the world from a boat like that. If, indeed, you manage to get a window at all.

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Filed under Holidays, travel

Technologically challenged

So someone pretty close to me – I shall not say who because it’s frankly idiotic and embarrassing – upgraded their phone.

I complained the day I synced my fingerprint to my work phone, I clearly had really rough skin or a big cut or something on the day. But it does not recognise the whorls about 90% of the time. Fortunately, the technology allows for five fingers to be imprinted. And my other finger mostly works.

So this other person says but they don’t think five fingers is enough… We all looked confused. Most people have a preferred finger or two per hand so four is usually more than fine with a spare for a loved one to get into your phone.

The phone this person used to use was just touch activated. Apparently (and we had a demonstration of how this worked) they sometimes use the one hand or the other. And almost all digits, including the RING finger. ‘HOW,’ demanded their other half incredulously, ‘are you using your ring figure on your non-dominant hand to activate the phone? Why wouldn’t you use your index finger, or maybe your middle finger which is longer? And why use the hand you don’t use for anything else?’

‘Oh, you know,’ said the person, ‘sometimes you are sitting there working and then the phone rings and you choose the closest finger.’

‘And it is your ring finger?’

‘Yes and then you know, sometimes the phone is on one side of the table and then maybe it’s on the other so you want to use your other hand and then when it’s IN your hand you want to use another finger… the phone needs to be able to accept more fingerprints because this is confusing to me.’

Perhaps, my dear. But only confusing to YOU. The only person I know who tries to apparently hit all sorts of random digits at random locations to activate their phone.

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One of those Africa moments

Flew back through OR Tambo a few days ago. I left going through the departure gates with what I thought was ample time but it turned out everyone and their dog was trying to leave the country. (Or so it seemed.) Chaos in the queue as people rushed to get through before their planes departed.

I did wonder why some people left it til the last minute before trying to get through the gates. Some had genuine issues because SA does have the fun issue that you can’t book luggage and yourself directly through when you transit but have to check in and check out again for connecting flights if you touch on international space.

But there were people who just being plain crazy. And ironically, a lot of the crazies were British. Usually in Britain they are proud to queue. This is ACTUALLY a thing. They frown on people who jump the line and make tut tut noises and will often verbally abuse you if you try shove your way in. In Africa however, away from their homeland was another matter. There were a number of them getting really jumpy, shoving forward even though they had loads of time (I suppose we all need time to shop for giraffe curios) and getting really irate with the customs officials and the passengers around them. As if it was somehow our fault for getting in the line in front of them.

This one bolshy woman literally elbowed out in front of me. Then stood there berating the customs official about the queue and quizzing him how long it would take to get to the departure gate. I’m not too sure what she thought he was going to do if the answer turned out ‘it takes half an hour to walk there’. As it is he told her there was loads of time and she should get moving. But she stood there yelling at him for awhile anyways.

Which meant I couldn’t go get my passport cleared as she was now blocking MY way and making herself even later in spending this completely futile time screaming at someone.

She should have looked on the bright side. Security compared to England may have full body scans etc but is relatively fast moving as they don’t really like swabbing every fifth bag for explosives and drugs.

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Diary Reads

I have to admit I’ve often thought if I was to become a bona fide author I’d consider a diary format novel. It has the simplicity of being able to start and stop and rant at random for long or short clips as it suits you. Because that’s what real diaries probably do.

The one possible exception being Anne Frank’s diary. I’ve always found that a tedious and difficult read, not to mention depressing. Almost every entry lasts forever as she had nothing else to do except write. Poignant yes. But I’ve never managed to share the enthusiasm so many others have for the book but saying that out loud is a no-no. Like admitting you are a blatant racist who kicks puppies for a hobby.

I took the latest Bridget Jones’ Diary out the library. I detested the first book and never read the second as consequence. Funny enough, I don’t mind the movies as much. My issue with the books are they really are written like someone who can’t be bothered to put words down for eternity but feels compelled to write something down. In truth, they also read a lot like emails from a certain member of my family who assumes you already know the context of whatever the story is. And who leaves out random words that would help the flow of language because somehow this works out as ‘abbreviation’ and ‘time saving’. Bridget Jones’ Diary is written in exactly the same same style. The style of one who knows better but can’t be asked to spell check or pause long enough between brain and keyboard to ensure that all the words in their heads have actually made it onto the page.

Most of all though I detest how ridiculously sanctimoniously fortunate Bridget is. Oh, yes, of course, especially in the third book she has undergone great personal tragedy. But then many others have too. Most people do not, however, manage to live in the very centre of London (even if it is run down and noisy) by themselves in a one bed flat. They don’t manage to not only stay employed despite blatant incompetence, personal issues and hangovers but get promoted, moving steadily onto a dream job. Despite gross indecision and rash behaviour have the option of landing a few men at the same time and being given enough second and third chances to pick the right one. They don’t naturally land up being able to somehow stay on the borders of Hampstead Heath where property is at a premium playing at being scatty, bohemian and despite everything, ‘lovable’.

I remember rewatching the movie when I was single and convinced I’d be alone forever. I still have those days. The movie was screamingly more funny than I remembered because I WAS now old enough to be that singleton, which hadn’t worried me so much when I first watched it. And tragically more sad when it ended and I realised in frustration Bridge had, despite everything, landed a man, The Man. And I was still, like she was at the start, sitting on my sofa in my PJ’s, in a dead end job, single, with no clear indication how to move on.

 

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Bit of paranoia

Time for me to renew my travel insurance. I tend to keep an annual multi trip policy that I let expire and then randomly renew before I think I’m going to step into international waters again for whatever reason.

I HATE going through this. A friend told me to just buy and stop overthinking as it probably won’t make a blind difference what I do, the policy holders will wriggle out irrespective of who they are if I try claim. Why is it we assume insurers are part of the rings to hell and out to screw us all over? Possibly because I have never once successfully managed an insurance claim for anything I’ve ever been insured for.

Nevertheless it doesn’t stop me on a paranoid mission to scour the comparison websites, the ‘unbiased’ reviews of people who have purchased policies I have an eye on and ultimately, the greatest penance of all, trying to work out how much of the small print has shot me dead in the water before I’ve even begun the doggy paddle.

I’m actually quite indifferent to baggage or money loss being insured. I figure that’s why you should probably not travel with anything too valuable and these claims are near impossible to prove anyways. WHO still has the receipts to all their electronic goods and valuable luggage items? (Even as I write this I can tell someone is putting up their hands proudly, looking at their neatly indexed and filed folder of expenses.)

I’m more concerned about a policy paying out for medical bills. Not ‘serious’ ones like an emergency tooth filling or a bout of food poisoning or a few stitches. But actual serious ones. Ones that require a stint in hospital and the sinking feeling (literally) you are too ill to deal with the bills of the hospital and travelling back to wherever ‘home’ is. And the repatriation of my body and maybe someone to accompany me, dead or alive. These claims are hard to test without actually claiming on them though.

In the meanwhile I searched for five star reviews. HOW is it possible an insurance policy with only three stars has over 95 activities covered? While one with five stars has only 31? (Which, incidentally, exclude all sorts of things like safaris, motorcycles and kayaking (even on water like glass, limiting you pretty much to walking.)

I’m telling you it’s all rigged.

But they know that I know that to travel without anything is really asking for it. Like jumping out a plane without anything strapped to your back. As opposed to jumping with a heavy pack that MIGHT be a parachute that MIGHT open before you impact on the earth. (And MIGHT even be covered in insurance!)

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