Friday, 31 August 2012

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes


Fashion critics will tell you that you could stick a designer label on the most mundane, everyday item and some silly fashion victim will pay big bucks for it. Well, sadly, they may be right. Following on from spring/summer 2011's sell-out acetate shopping bag (below), Jil Sander is now flogging a glorified brown paper lunch bag for a whopping £185.

Now, who's this "Jil" burd? Never heard of her.

Best of British?

Radio 2 has chosen 10 songs as "the soundtrack to British culture"- from Dame Vera Lynn to Amy Winehouse and The Shamen, which they believe represent modern Britain, charting a journey from the Second World War to the present day.  They form part of a new landmark series, The People’s Songs, which will be broadcast next year and aims to tell the story of Britain in 50 records.

Life in the Green Lane

Cost of living in Dublin Infographic

Click to Enlarge


England's first great industry was wool.

Follow the Arrows

After scoring four goals in a thrilling 4-3 Capital One cup win against Stoke City, League One Swindon Town have been tipped for the job of providing Arsenal with advice on how to score goals against Premier League opposition.

Arsenal are yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season, and with their strikeforce making more poor decisions than a man doing last-minute Christmas shopping, Arsene Wenger may turn to the Wiltshire club for some tips.

“Our attack is definitely missing something,” conceded Wenger.

“The main thing we are lacking is someone capable of getting the round bouncy thing into the netty area of the pitch.”

“Our strikers need to be less predictable and maybe a little harder to work out”

“At the moment the only thing that defenders are struggling to work out about Gervinho is where his hairline starts.”

Swindon worthy winners

Swindon outplayed Stoke for large periods of Tuesday’s game, and despite tries from Kenwyne Jones, Jon Walters and a conversion from Peter Crouch, they emerged worthy winners.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis revealed that he had no complaints about the result, but was keen to reiterate his desire to strengthen his squad due to a series of neck strain injuries that have weakened his midfield,

“Hopefully we can bring some new players in before the transfer window closes,” he said.

“I’ve got my eye on a fly-half and hopefully, with the help of the board, I’ll be able to make an offer.”

“We also need to be more aggressive in the scrum, so I’m looking to bring in a new tight-head prop.”


Then & Now

Nick Clegg has called for an emergency tax on very rich people, despite this not being included in the Coalition budget a few months back.

“We need an emergency tax on rich people, and we need it urgently,” he demanded.

When asked about the budget that he voted for and, presumably, as Deputy Prime Minister had some say in drafting, Clegg looked confused for a while before conceding: “oh – THAT budget.”

“I think you’ll find that old budget was when we all had loads of money,” he said, speaking of March this year. “There’s a recession now. Hadn’t you heard?”

“Besides, we had to lower taxes for very rich people to stop them leaving the country. If they’d left the country we wouldn’t have been able to collect this new Rich Tax.”

Liberal Democrat Conference

The proposed Rich Tax is expected to be on the agenda at the Liberal Democrat conference, due to take place in Brighton next month.

“We’ll have a chance to debate it, and following this we’ll decide whether it is adopted as official party policy and then presented to George Osborne as a LibDem demand,” said an activist.

“Then we’re all going to leave the convention hall, step out onto the front, and take a massive piss into the wind.”


Falling Short

QPR manager Mark Hughes has revealed he is still looking to add around 20 to 30 players to his squad before the transfer window closes on Friday.

Whilst being happy with deals for Andy Johnson, Ryan Nelsen, Rob Green, Samba Diakite, Fabio da Silva, Park Ji-Sung and Junior Hoilett, Hughes admits there are still some areas of the squad that need strengthening.

QPR kicked off their Premier League campaign in dismal fashion as they were hammered 5-0 at home by Swansea City on the opening day of the season.

And Hughes will be hoping for results to improve quickly, as he looks to acquire a wealth of experienced players near the end of their careers to sit out most games.

“We’re delighted with the signings we’ve managed to complete so far,” said the manager. “But there are a couple of areas where we may be looking to bring in five or six fresh faces.”

QPR attacking options

Hughes stressed the importance of improving the squad’s attacking options with currently only Bobby Zamora, DJ Campbell, Jay Bothroyd, Djibril Cisse, Jamie Mackie, Rob Hulse and now Andy Johnson available to him up front.

“We’re hopeful of bringing in maybe three or four strikers in if we can get them. But we will see. What we don’t want to do is rush into spending money on players who won’t have an impact on the squad.”

“We want players at this club who are hungry for success and willing to give their all to sitting on the bench as well as sitting in the stands or indeed outside of the stadium.”

Hughes continued: “Luckily we already have a great bunch of players who are willing to work tirelessly to be uninvolved in the majority of our games, so hopefully only a few minor tweaks are needed.”

“I think the squad could do with 20 or 30 players to come in before the transfer window closes. But we would be lucky if we were to achieve that, so we will have to wait and see what we can do between now and then.”

“Luckily, we will have Kieron Dyer fit in time to feature in his solitary game of the season, so that is almost like a new signing for us.”


Life and Death Vital

About 6 500 motorists were forced to pay £130 for using the Zil lanes, which were allocated to transport athletes, officials and the media to events during the Olympics.

Transport for London (TfL) insisted the "vitally important" 48 km (30 mile) route "went well", with a 98% compliance rate yet they still happily trousered £845 000 in fines.  TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport insisted they were not simply trying to get money out of drivers, saying:

"We had no interest in unnecessarily penalising drivers and, with a very high compliance rate of around 98%, the overwhelming majority followed the requirement to stay out of Games Lanes when they were in use."

I wonder how vitally important the lanes must have been, because for the Paralympics official lanes total a mere 14 km (8.7 miles), which is much smaller than the Olympic Route Network.


The world's first roller coaster opened in 1884 at Coney Island New York.

Looking Forward to Our Visit

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
(click images for detail)
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
Thirty five years ago I had yet to be born, but artist Scott Weaver had already begun work on this insanely complex kinetic sculpture, Rolling through the Bay, that he continues to modify and expand even today. The elaborate sculpture is comprised of multiple “tours” that move pingpong balls through neighborhoods, historical locations, and iconic symbols of San Francisco, all recreated with a little glue, some toothpicks (100 000 as it goes), and an incredible amount of ingenuity. He admits in the video that there are several toothpick sculptures even larger than his, but none has the unique kinetic components he’s constructed. Via his website Weaver estimates he’s spent over 3,000 hours on the project, and the toothpicks have been sourced from around the world:
I have used different brands of toothpicks depending on what I am building. I also have many friends and family members that collect toothpicks in their travels for me. For example, some of the trees in Golden Gate Park are made from toothpicks from Kenya, Morocco, Spain, West Germany and Italy. The heart inside the Palace of Fine Arts is made out of toothpicks people threw at our wedding.
See the sculpture for yourself at the Tinkering Studio through the end of June. Photos courtesy of their Flickr gallery.
UPDATE: Rolling Through the Bay has been moved to the American Visionary Art Museumthrough September 2012.
From Colossal 

Lower Than Poor Taste

The owner of this clothing store in Ahmedabad claims he is completely unaware of the connotations of using the name Hitler, suggesting it’s merely a “nickname given to one of the proprietors' grandfathers.” Rajesh Shah,who owns the shop told The Times of India:

"Hitler was a nickname given to my business partner Manish Chandani's grandfather because of his strict nature. Frankly, till the time we applied for the trademark permission, I had only heard that Hitler was a strict man.  It was only recently that we read about Hitler on the internet."

Shah complains he had to spend Rs 40 000 on the banner, and says he won’t change the name unless he is compensated.

What an ignorant man.

Buttocks or Crotch?

Courtesy of Letters from a Nut — an often hilarious collection of "prank" correspondence, written in the mid-90s by comedianBarry Marder to a selection of unsuspecting recipients — comes a letter in which, under his pseudonym Ted L. Nancy, he asks a sensitive question of one Albert Meyer, then-President of theAmerican Seating Company. To his credit, Meyer even manages to respond with a solution of sorts.

Transcript follows.


Ted L. Nancy
560 N. Moorpark Rd., #236
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

July 10th, 1995

901 Broadway
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Dear Mr. Meyer:

I had a seating question and I was referred to you because I understand you manufacture stadium and arena seating. My question:

When entering or exiting a seat in a stadium which is the proper side to face the person sitting down? Rear to them or crotch to them?

I am always at a quandry when this problem comes up. To hence: last week at a sporting event I had to leave my seat. There were a row of people - ALL FROM THE SAME FAMILY - that were sitting down in a row. I exited my seat, stood up and faced away from this family. Then I moved down the row realizing my buttocks were not 2 inches from this whole guy's family. I had shown an entire family my rear end! But then again If I had turned around and moved down the aisle THAT WAY, wouldn't that be worse?

Stadium seating is the only situation in life where you can show whole rows of people your butt or crotch. And it's acceptable!

Can something be done about this seating? Should the rows be changed? I suggest a single row straight up to the top. You walk into the stadium you simply find your seat number and go up until you get it.

Question: Is there a gracious way to exit?
Thank you, Sir, for your response.


Ted L. Nancy

Albert Meyer's response:


August 3, 1995

Ted L. Nancy
560 N. Moorpark Rd., #236
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Dear Mr. Nancy:

Your letter on crotch or butt first was most interesting. In fact, in all 38 years which I have been in this business it is probably the most interesting question I have ever been asked. I have shared your letter with numerous of my colleagues, and they have also found it most interesting.

But alas, we have no good answer. Your idea of a single chair has merit, but unfortunately would greatly reduce the number of chairs which could be put in the building.

The only suggestion we could come up with is for you to come early before anyone has arrived, stay in your seat for the entire time, and wait until everyone else has gone before leaving. This, of course, could cause an even more embarrassing problem.

If you come up with any solutions we would welcome hearing from you.



Albert H. Meyer
 Letters of Note


The first credit card was a Diner's Club card issued in 1950.

Spasticus Autisticus

Before we get too carried away by a sense of our own tolerance, it is worth reflecting on the brief, inglorious history of the song which was the anthem of the Paralympic Games' opening ceremony. "Spasticus Autisticus", a great musical yell of defiance written over 30 years ago by Ian Dury and Chaz Jankel, was not always celebrated by our culture. When first released, it was banned. Today, an equivalent song is more, not less, likely to be censored.

Those people who agitate against the broadcasting of songs, or programmes, they deem to be offensive should bear in mind what has happened to "Spasticus Autisticus" since 1981. Dury, who had been crippled by polio when he was child, hated the patronising idea that he, or anyone else in his position, was some kind of good cause. Commissioned to write a song for the Year of the Disabled, he reclaimed disability from victimhood with lyrics that steamed with rage and sarcasm.

The song was altogether too much. Tim Yeo, then chief executive of the Spastics Society, expressed the fear that it would "strengthen people's mistaken or wrong images about disability and spastic people in particular". The BBC, characteristically, played safe and banned it.

Later – too late, some would say – everything changed. Yeo, by then a Tory MP, recanted. The Spastics Society renamed itself Scope. A billion people around the world saw the banned song performed on Wednesday night. Who did more for the cause of the disabled, then? The brilliant songwriter who was writing what was in his heart and came from experience, or the rosy-cheeked businessman on his way to becoming a Tory MP, backed up by the BBC?

Then as now, it is writers and musicians, not fully paid-up members of the cultural establishment, who should lead the debate about tolerance and prejudice, but who are frequently suppressed. We are, without doubt, more censorious in 2012 than we were in 1981. When, in the course of making a radio documentary, I interviewed the head of music for Radio 2, he admitted that problematical songs of the past – Randy Newman's "Short People", for example – can be played on air because they have classic status, but that their modern equivalents would fail to get through the playlist meeting.

Yeo's dangerously simplistic argument is used more than ever. If "mistaken or wrong" prejudices can be confirmed by a song, then it is safer to ban it. In other words, morons and bigots are allowed to set the cultural agenda, not the sensible majority.

The story of "Spasticus Autisticus" is a useful reminder of the complexity of these issues, how ideas of offensiveness can change. We would do best to let writers express and explore them without being censored by the squeamish or easily embarrassed.

Huge fans of Ian Dury and enjoyed this piece from TInd

Back to School Bits

1. LaCie RuggedKey 3
The bottom of a student's bag is dangerous place,so make sure their data is always safe with this rugged 150MB USB stick that resists heat, water and knocks.

2. Aviiq Ready Clip
With iPhones and iPods now doubling as notepads it's important to have a way to sync and charge on the go, and you can do both with these bendy USB leads.

3. Griffin iPad binder insert
This ingenious little insert slots cleverly into a ring binder, securely holding your iPad in place next to all those other lecture notes.

4. Iris Scan Book 2
There's no need to tear that page from a reference library book. This baton-sized gadget acts as a mini scanner, working in colour and black and white.

5. Samsung W300 HD
From creating multimedia projects to recording sporting triumphs, this pocket-sized, HD camcorder is something older students may find useful.

6. LiveScribe Echo 2GB
Have trouble taking down accurate notes? This gadget has a tiny computer with a mic and digital audio recorder which synchs the notes with the audio recording.

7. Amazon Kindle
£89 (£149 with 3G),
When you consider that the average textbook costs around £30, an electronic library with a 3G connection seems good value.

8. Clocky alarm
If getting your children up is a traumatic experience get them one of these alarm clocks that races away on wheels and doesn't shut up until it's been captured.

9. HP Deskjet 1000
Avoid the rush for the school printer with this home model. It fires up in seconds and is good enough to produce pixel-perfect text and decent colour images.

10. Huawei Mifi
This MiFi (a device that gives internet access on the go) lets you preload a prepaid allowance on it and has download speeds of up to 3.6 Mbps.


Air Travel Innovations

Do-it-yourself boarding at gates

On 27 June, Las Vegas' McCarran Airport opened a third terminal for domestic and international flights. At all 14 of the terminal’s gates – where JetBlue is the primary airline -- there are self-boarding stations where passengers scan their boarding passes to open the automated clearance gates and board planes on their own.
Other airlines are eyeing the same technology as a replacement for gates overseen by personnel. Last year, Lufthansa installed similar gates at its three hubs in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich.
Never lose another piece of luggage

McCarran’s third terminal has also put in place a high-tech baggage-handling system, where airport workers attach a tag embedded with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip to each checked bag. The RFID chip broadcasts a unique signal, similar to a radio transmitter.
The RFID tags can be scanned more easily and quickly than tags with bar codes, helping crews correctly route bags and find misplaced ones. The airport has installed 55 sensors at the airport to track a bag at every stop, from conveyor belt to carousel. It is the first US airport to embrace the technology, though some non-US airports, such as in Lisbon and Milan, and airlines like Qantas, have experimented with RFID tags.
Instant upgrades while queueing for your flight

This autumn, budget carrier Easyjet will be testing "Halo" devices -- tablet computers that are connected wirelessly to the airline’s reservations system and enable the airline crew to walk among passengers in the terminal and process simple transactions without being confined to their podium’s desktop computers. These transactions could include upgrades, such as priority boarding or more legroom, and the airline is testing the technology at airports in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel, Edinburgh and Geneva.
Tag your own bag

This summer Alaska Airlines became the first US airline to install machines that allow passengers to tag their own bags. After a successful trial at Redmond Airport, in Oregon, the machines were put into use at the airline’s hub, Seattle-Tacoma International, in Washington. 
While the machines are standard practice outside of the US, automated baggage checking is a new process for Americans. Passengers use an airport kiosk to print out a bag tag, put the tag on the luggage and then hand the bag to an agent to put on the conveyor belt. While technically giving the traveller more work, the automated procedure gives frequent fliers a chance to avoid becoming mired in queues behind inexperienced travellers while checking luggage.
Alaska Airlines plans to add the machines this year to airports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Monterey and San Diego, California. Other airlines are also investigating the technology. American Airlines is debuting the self-tagging kiosks slowly over the next two years, with airport devices already operational in Austin, Texas, and being added to New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Facial scans

Londons Heathrow Airport needed a security solution for its joint departure area, where passengers leaving on domestic and international flights both wait before being summoned to their gates. The airport worried that an international passenger might swap boarding passes with someone in the lounge and sneak onto a domestic flight, therefore evading an immigration check.
So starting in September, passengers at Heathrow’s terminals one and five (which cover many, but not all, international flights), will have his or her face scanned for identification upon entering and leaving the departure area.
For example, to go to a gate to catch a flight, passengers will step up to an automatic gate and wave their barcoded boarding pass over a scanner. Then, an infrared light will flash across each flier's face, taking about five seconds on average to identify a person -- even a twitchy one -- from up to 3ft away.
The machine will match the images of the passenger’s face with the images in the database, recorded when the passenger passed through an earlier set of automated gates to enter the departure area. If the identity match is successful, the automated doors will open
But facial scanning can also be used to achieve other efficiencies. If successful, airports may use facial scanners to supplement other methods of verifying a passenger’s identity, such as to detect who has permission to enter a first class lounge.
Next-generation iris scans for identification

Meanwhile, London's Gatwick Airport has been experimenting with iris scanning to solve the same problem. Its south terminal’s departure area is also a joint lounge where domestic and international passengers mix, so it has outfitted the entrances and exits to the lounge with 34 AOptix InSight VM iris recognition devices, which can record the unique patterns formed on the irises in a passenger’s eyes, which the airport stores temporarily as a form of identification. Similar to what Heathrow does with face scans, passengers must be scanned to go in and come out of the departure lounge.
Old iris scanners required passengers to stand still to work, which often caused delays and errors. AOptix claims its next-generation machines at Gatwick are much faster and can quickly scan a person at a distance, even a restless person standing up to 6ft away. It takes around eight seconds to record the pattern for both eyes on a passenger's first scan and about two seconds in subsequent scans to recognise them later.
Turn your mobile phone into a boarding pass

About 15% of Android phones, or about one million new ones sold every day on average, now contain near-field communication (NFC) chips, which can emit a short-range signal that transmits data even when a device is off.  These chips turn a phone into a payment tool, similar to the cards that subway commuters use to open turnstiles in Hong Kong and London, and these chips also allow phones to be used as a replacement for a barcode-based boarding pass.
The iPhone does not yet have an NFC-enabled chip, though the next edition, being unveiled this autumn, might.
This summer Japan Airlines began installing NFC equipment at its major hubs in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Okinawa, becoming the first airline globally to enable smart phones with NFC chips to act as boarding passes for passengers flying domestically, relieving travellers of the need to fumble with an airline app or the relevant email to find the barcode currently used on mobile boarding passes. Of course, if your gate, airport or airline hasn’t yet installed NFC sensors, you’ll still need to rely on the old barcode boarding pass system.
The technology is being closely considered by other airlines, which are eager to use NFC chips to store frequent flier account numbers, which could enable the device holders to access private lounges.
Most prominently, SAS Airlines has, since March, been inviting the 50,000 members of its EuroBonus frequent flier program to use NFC-enabled readers at its gates at airports in Scandinavia for flights within the region. Frequent fliers whose phones are not yet NFC-enabled can instead receive stickers that contain the NFC chips to attach to their phones for the same benefit.
Other airports testing NFC technology include France's Toulouse-Blagnac airport and several Australian airport gates run by Qantas. Forty of the 50 largest airlines say they will experiment with NFC technology in the next two years, according to a January 2012survey by SITA, or Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques.

The great British Summer

This summer is set to be the second wettest in the UK since records began- and the wettest summer in 100 years, provisional Met Office figures suggest.

The wettest summer (defined as June, July and August) since national records began was in 1912.  Figures up until 29th August show that 366.8 mm of rain fell across the UK this summer, compared with 384.4 mm rainfall in 1912.

The April to June period was also the wettest recorded in the UK.

Current Choons Chez ktelontour

What, skirts below the knee?  Dance steps not taken from the gym?  Quick, run- the sky will fall in tomorrow.

Too Thin

Jermain Defoe has signed a new three-year contract with Tottenham to end speculation about his future.   He made his 300th first-team appearance for Spurs in their 1-1 draw with West Brom last week but is only one of three first-team forwards at Tottenham, alongside £5 million signing Emmanuel Adebayor and 19 year old Harry Kane.

But it's not so good news for defender Younes Kaboul, who is expected to be out for four months after undergoing surgery in France on a knee injury.  :-(

Toon March On

With a little help from their Slovenian player, Haris Vuckic, whose long-range goal helped Newcastle beat Atromitos to reach the Europa League group stages.

The Toon lost their goalscorer from the first leg, Ryan Taylor, to a serious-looking knee injury early on, but his replacement, Vuckic, struck a diagonal shot for his first Newcastle goal to earn the lead after 21 minutes.

Tim Krul was fortunate to stay on the pitch after he brought down Chumbinho in the penalty box and Elini Dimoutsos wasted a late chance as he fired wide.

Wifey will be pleased.

Who is Haris Vuckic?

  • Slovenian Vuckic signed for Newcastle from NK Domzale in January 2009 aged 16
  • He made his first-team debut in the 2009-10 season but broke his hand the following season after making his Premier League bow
  • In February 2012 he went on loan to Cardiff where he scored his first goal in English football
  • His first goal for Newcastle came in their Europa League tie against Atromitos

Money Well Spent?

Premier League clubs have spent more than £4.4 billion on players since the transfer window was introduced 10 years ago with this summer's spending set to match last year's figure of more than £450 million.

Millions spent since January 2003

  • 1. Chelsea 673
  • 2. Man City 572
  • 3. Liverpool 414
  • 4. Man United 352
  • 5. Tottenham 350
  • 6. Arsenal 214
  • 7. Aston Villa 201
  • 8. Sunderland 187
  • 9. Newcastle 174
  • 10. Everton 129
  • 11. West Ham 123
  • 12. Wigan 110
  • 13. Fulham 107
  • 14. Portsmouth 100
  • 15. Birmingham 92
  • 16. Blackburn 87
  • 17. Stoke 84
  • 18. Bolton 76
  • 19. Middsbrough' 71
  • 20. West Brom 64
  • Source: Deloitte

Spurs shell out as much as Man U and yet get nowt back in return. Sounds about right...

Wild Lion in Essex Spotted


"A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends."

- Baltasar Gracian


82% of Americans believe that their horoscope is either "mostly correct" or "always correct."


Managed to find an odd quarter of an hour to bash out a follow up to the FCO and our enquiry on obtaining a second passport.  I feel we will have no problem in fulfilling the criteria but I am more curious why my initial questions were ignored.  I've asked again and look forward to seeing what they recommend.

Dear  XX

My apologies for the late reply. 

My tardiness is down to recently travelling from Cambodia back to Thailand and in the process filling yet another five pages in my passport.  That leaves just ten pages free for our South American tour later this year, when we hope to take in a further sixteen countries.  My current passport was obtained on 24th December, 2009...

I am grateful to you for the useful links and advice, but I still have a few more queries which require clarification and I hope you will be able to oblige further.
I firmly believe that we are eligible for a second passport as we intend to continue to travel the world at a leisurely canter without set itinerary, planned route or time scale. 

Our travel “exploits” are recorded in our on-going, public Blog (found at:, which should offer ample proof of our peripatetic choice of lifestyle and the necessity of obtaining additional travel documents.

Having read with keen interest the requirements needed to apply for a second passport, the only criteria we are unable to fulfil is the request of an official letter from our employers.  There you have us at a distinct disadvantage as we are prematurely, yet full time retired, and have no wish to seek gainful employment ever again.

Would a declaration of our non-working status (ie retired) on the form be sufficient?

To summarise then, we will continue with our nomadic circumnavigation of the globe for as long as it takes to see what’s left of this wonderful world.   We certainly wish to travel to Israel and other “sensitive” countries.  We live mainly in Asia and have to adhere to their restrictive visa requirements.  This usually means leaving one country after thirty days and entering another, which in turn sees pages filled with visas documentation and entry/departure stamps at an alarming rate.

What additional evidence could we be expected to provide to qualify for a second passport?

I note your reasoning as to why limited page passports are now in vogue but do not understand why including additional pages poses a security risk?
Are you suggesting that in the past when such a practice was favoured, the United Kingdom was under threat of invading spies of questionable foreign allegiances on readily forged documents?  Or does this come under the all-inclusive cop out of it’s an“anti-terrorism*” measure?  That being the case, why do other countries continue to goad Beelzebub and tempt fate (or worse) by allowing such an exercise?

Surely the mighty United States of America, with its paranoia over security breaches would be the first to slam (dunk) down on such a risky business?  They do, after all, love to pioneer in telling the world how they lead the way and ensure everyone else follows suit.

But back to more pressing questions:

·      If sending my passport renewal to Hong Kong cannot guarantee a four week return, what am I expected to do when my visa expires in Thailand and I legally have to leave the country?

·     What is my legal situation when I am asked to show official documentation to relevant authorities and my passport is outside the country being renewed?  At least when renewing at a local Embassy I was issued with a formal receipt; but now what?

·        How much is an additional passport likely to cost?

Thank you for once again responding to my concerns and I look forward to receiving enlightenment in due course.


An English Rose

Either Webby has brushed up his photography skills or this is a real pro shot.  I offer you the quite delightful, Tree.  Looking great, pet.


A new shopping mall called Gateway), was being constructed in Ekkamai as we were leaving last time and we walked up the two BTS stops to see how it turned out.  Rather splendidly, as it goes.  It's Japanese in theme and as one can expect, it has plenty of products from the land of the rising sun.

It's nothing new in concept or design, but it is fresh and within easy reach to us as opposed to heading into town.  I can see us spending a bit of time (and money) there.  :o)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes


At odds with an earlier post, here's some new gen on old age from TTel:

The Office for National Statistics has found pensioners south of Hadrian’s Wall can look forward to more years of healthy retirement than ever before.

The years of failing health are being compressed, especially in wealthier areas, with more and more people remaining active well into their late 70s, their 80s and even beyond.

Women in England who turned 65 between 2008 and 2010 could expect another 11.8 years of ‘healthy life expectancy’ on average, found the ONS. They will then experience eight years of poorer health, until death at 85.8 years.

Their male husbands, friends and relatives of the same age are not doing much worse: for them, another 10.3 years of good quality life await them, taking them to 75.3 years, before dying at the average age of 83.2 years.

Experts said better lifestyles and improved healthcare was leading to a surge in the number of healthy years of retirement for today’s pensioners.


Yellowstone in the US was the world's first national park in 1872.

Back in the Day

Eighties pop star Joe Dolce from the Joe Dolce Music Theatre is help the England Cricket Team by sharing his experiences of coping with a sudden descent after a brief and unexpected period at number one.

Dolce, an Australian, topped the singles charts in 1981 with the novelty record ‘Shuddup You Face.’

“This is a tremendous new challenge for me,” he said of his new role as team mentor. “Some people are destined to reach the top, but for many it comes from nowhere, and then there occurs a crushing sense of loss when reality re-establishes itself.”

“I’m looking forward to working with the guys – whoever’s in charge.”

Dolce was keen to stress his credentials for the role.

“When the Joe Dolce Music Theatre disbanded, I thought I might move on into medicine, or perhaps international conflict resolution. But working with the England Cricket Team just clicked. We were able to find immediate common ground, especially as I never sold that many records in India or Pakistan.”

Pietersen Situation

When asked if he may be able to resolve some of the problems surrounding Kevin Pietersen, Dolce appeared positive.

“It’s exactly my sort of thing,” he said. “I’ve been monitoring the dressing room situation and there are clearly issues with gotta-no-respect.”

Although the pop charts in 1981 were fiercely competitive, Dolce has sympathy with the English struggle.

“I guess the difference between us is that England have been quickly superseded by the obvious superiority of the South Africans.”

“Whereas it was Roxy Music who knocked me off the top spot. And I don’t think anybody seriously suggests that they were any better than me.”


Keep 'Em Peeled

American rapper LL Cool J and ex-footballer Duncan Ferguson are to spearhead a new Neighbourhood Watch initiative, it has been announced.

The move, encouraging residents to batter the shite out of intruders, comes shortly after LL Cool J reportedly apprehended a thief in his house.

The musician broke the man’s nose and jaw and detained him until police arrived.

Former Everton striker Ferguson also famously foiled burglars in his Merseyside home on TWO separate occasions in 2001 and ’03.

The first time saw one robber confined to hospital for three days after the footballer’s intervention. The second occasion saw the thief ‘sat on’ until police turned up.

Big Society agenda

The campaign is thought to be a coup for the Prime Minister’s ‘Big Society’ agenda, as citizens are urged to take more responsibility in their communities.

The modernised Neighbourhood Watch scheme differs from its predecessor, which focused on residents forming a community watchdog for their neighbours, calling police at the sign of suspicious goings-on.

The new approach relies more on residents showing fearless, visceral violence. And then calling the police.

Critics have suggested LL Cool J and Ferguson’s message is all very well, but requires the resident to be hard as fuck. The rapper, whose hits include ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ and ‘I’m Bad’ replied, “Yeeah ah know some peeps might not feel like they have it in them but just use the spirit of LL and big Dunc and you’ll be aaight. And don’t stop swingin’ dat weapon yo’!”

Former Everton and Newcastle striker Ferguson, who once made German footballing hardman Steffen Freund quiver like a fearful child, was more succinct. “Dinny be a bawbag,” he said.

Justice Minister Ken Clarke commented, “It’s the Big Society in action. If people can take responsibility in stopping would-be burglars themselves it would allow police far more time to concentrate on corruption and using unreasonable force when dispersing crowds.”


No Tiddlywinks?

Organisers of the London Paralympics have reported a further surge in ticket sales, with previously-unfancied events such as Cellulite Beach Volleyball selling out to eager sports fans.

“We knew Wheelchair Rugby would be popular,” said an official. “But we’ve been bowled over by the demand for the niche events.”

“In particular we seem to have gained a lot of repeat sales to people who attended the main Beach Volleyball and realised that it involved more than staring vacantly at the competitors whilst making predictably suggestive remarks.”

Ian, 42, is a bricklayer who has bought tickets for two sessions. “I went to the beach volleyball in the normal Olympics with my mate Dave, and we couldn’t believe it!” he said. “As well as the girls there was a ball and a net and everything.”

“The sport bit was actually well exciting, although Dave had to leave after the Russian girl bent to adjust her shoe.”

“So we thought we’d get tickets for the special version, even though it clashes with the Babestation ’100% natural’ TV special that evening.”


Marina, 29, is a Cellulite Beach Volleyball player. She acquired cellulite as part of the normal process of going through life as a human being.

“I hope that this will change attitudes, and encourage people to focus on the sport and not the physique of the athlete,” she said.

Early signs are encouraging. “I think it’s good,” said Sam, who plans to attend. “I mean, previously these people wouldn’t have competed at all; in fact the idea of seeing them in public would have caused disgust in many normal people. In shorts!!!”

“Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I have to file the women’s column for the Daily Mail.”


Pixie Dust

Police in Essex investigating reports of a unicorn being spotted in a field have called off the search and admitted that the photo they had received was “almost certainly a goat.”

The animal was seen near Earl Hall Drive in St Osyth, near Clacton-on-Sea, by a four year old girl on holiday with her parents. Lucy Jones saw a white animal with four legs in the distance, and a unicorn “was the first thing that came to mind.”

Essex Police said about 25 officers were called to where the animal was seen, including some specially trained in mythology and a slightly strange old man who swears he used to ride unicorns through the forest when he was a boy.

Officers decided to call off the search on Monday after no trace of a mythological, horse-like creature was found.

A police spokesman said: “Having looked again at the photo after our search failed to turn anything up we are now pretty confident that it’s a goat, which will pose no threat to members of the public.”

Colchester Zoo

Police said their initial lines of enquiry focussed on nearby Colchester Zoo, but there were no reports of a unicorn having escaped.

“The photograph shows an animal in a field. It is a white colour, but the photography is of such poor quality it’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty that it’s a unicorn. And I’m sure that the horn has been drawn on in crayon,” said Anthony Tropeano, Zoological Director of Colchester Zoo who visited the scene.

On Sunday night police had advised residents to stay indoors, but on Monday they said people should “go out and enjoy themselves” but “be on the lookout for fictional horses with a single large horn”

The spokesman said a circus had been in the area recently but added: “Officers have spoken to the circus and confirmed that they do not have an animal missing, nor do they have any unicorns.”

“They did however say that they had seen a large number of clowns searching a field near where they had been, but they were not associated with the circus.”