Saturday, 31 January 2009

Thank You Cloody and Frank!

Note my new speakers! (lovely Christmas present from my daughter)

Just wanted to say a big thank you to Cloody and Frank who pointed me in the direction of using the iPod to listen to podcasts with their Mighty iPod Shuffle posting.

I hadn't bothered at all with the iTunes shop after my horrendous problems with iTunes. However I took Frank's word for it and did a bit of a reccie. I found absolutely loads of podcasts there that as Frank said are free to download. All kinds of topics, arts, comedy, music, education and so on.

My favourites? From the Education section I've downloaded a whole Spanish course, Coffee Break Spanish. There's French, German, Italian, Japanese and loads more types of language courses.

My other choice picks are Wake up to Wogan and Stephen Fry's podcasts.

It's absolutely amazing! I'm going to spend some more time researching what's available.


Now there has to be a downside for me, there always is somehow. I can't get any podcast to download to my laptop, only my husband's. So I can't download to my iPod as I use my laptop for that. Not clever enough to figure out how or whether you can use the iPod with two laptops. Not to worry I'll just use his laptop to listen to them.

So a million thanks to you Cloody and Frank, happy podcasting.

Hope the weather is better for you. Take care of yourselves.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Oh Mr Branson!

Below is a copy of the letter of complaint to Richard Branson at Virgin Atlantic. It's been going the rounds and was published in The Telegraph as Is this the best complaint letter ever?

Well I don’t think it is because I have a book called The Complainer’s Guide to Getting Even and this letter doesn’t even come close to some of the letters in there. It could be the best letter of complaint about an airline. It’s quite funny, I like the way he write and addresses Richard Branson as Richard as though he knew him. So if you haven't already seen it, read on!

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation. Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don't get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it's next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That's got to be the clue hasn't it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:
I know it looks like a baaji but it's in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you'll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It's only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what's on offer. I'll try and explain how this felt.

Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it's Christmas morning and you're sat their with your final present to open. It's a big one, and you know what it is. It's that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it's not in there. It's your hamster Richard. It's your hamster in the box and it's not breathing. That's how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking it's more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It's mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard. By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it's baffling presentation:

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn't want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.
I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.
Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it's just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson's face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I'd had enough. I was the hungriest I'd been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen. My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

Yes! It's another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff. Richard.... What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I'd done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn't eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can't imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary. As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It's just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it's knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincerely
..............

No this wasn’t a stunt it was a genuine complaint and according to Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson phoned Mr Beale and he was invited to help select the next range of meals they serve on board. Apparently he’s thinking about it!

The photographs and text reproduced from original and published on www.telegraph.co.uk

Monday, 26 January 2009

Poo Sticks!

If you're thinking that this is a post about A.A. Milne's story about Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh's game of throwing wooden sticks on the upstream side of a bridge and seeing whose stick passes under it first, think again. It's not! We're moving in a totally different direction and adding a whole new dimension and different spelling to the phrase Pooh Sticks.

A few days ago I received a letter in the post from the NHS. Crumbs I thought, time for the dreaded mammogram or smear test. Amazing how fast they come around. Unfortunately they're both due in the next few weeks and I'm trying to psyche myself up for them. However it wasn't. It was to inform me I was about to be invited to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and that I would shortly be receiving a package in the post.

Apparently:

  • About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.
  • It is the third most common cancer in the UK
  • It's the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year

The idea is that the tests pick up problems in people who have no syptoms.

The package duly came and included a test kit with full graphic instructions on how to use it. I won't go into detail but suffice to say it includes 6 cardboard sticks which have to be used for samples of you can guess what, on 3 separate dates. As if once wasn't bad enough!

Then I have to send it off to be tested. Thank goodness. I thought it was a DIY kit and I might have to do that too. The letter says I'll receive the results within a week. Pretty amazing really!

If there are any problems with the results I may have to repeat the test or go for a colonoscopy. I remember Pam's posting about her "dreaded procedure" so I'm hoping I don't have to do either. However if I do hopefully it will detect any problems early.

Now what else can they test us for? The mind boggles but I have to admit at least they're trying.

It's growing!

Well it's not going too badly. The rib was a double one & I decided to cast on using double wool to strengthen the edge. Eric'...