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Ghost Rider

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /

We videoed the film Ghost Rider when it was on Channel 5 a few weeks ago. We watched it tonight. I really hope it was supposed to be some kind of comedy. It didn't take itself too seriously but it looked and sounded a bit stupid, as if it didn't know it was so ridiculous. The acting was fairly bad but a lot of that might have been due to the awful script.

The Nicholas Cage character seems to have the same taste in music as The Stig from Top Gear. In the early parts of the film he regularly listens to a lot of easy listening stuff such as The Carpenters.

Good Food Show

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /

Every time we go to the Good Food Show, we try the St Germain elderflower liqueur. We like it but for some reason we never actually buy any. This year we finally decided to buy a bottle. They gave us a book of cocktail recipes so at least we will know what to do with it.

Almost but not quite...

Story location: Home / computing /

This morning I received an email claiming to come from Facebook. It claimed that they were implementing new security measures and I would have to update my account.

It all looked very authentic, right up until the bit at the bottom of the message where it said:

This message was intended for xxxxxxxxxxx @ trapperindustries.com.

I don't remember setting up a company called Trapper Industries, which appears to sell deactivated weapons and military hardware. I guess the email wasn't intended for me after all.


Story location: Home / Blog / tv /

Paradox is a new tv series on BBC1. The first episode looked interesting - images from the future which hint at a disaster are picked up from space. Tonight's disaster included a dead body and a mangled bridge. It looks like other episodes are going to follow a similar pattern of: see photos/try to work out where/try to avert disaster. We'll have to wait and see if it can maintain interest.

The episode claimed to be set in or near Manchester. The city centre featured in a few scenes, and there was a mention of a character taking a train from 'Manchester Station'. No actual station name was given at the time. Amazingly though when this information was relayed by the main character, she had miraculously deduced that he meant Victoria Station.

For some reason the show decided to use fictional place names: Hazel Hills and Marlingham. There is a Hazel Grove near Manchester - perhaps the writers heard the name but didn't like it so they changed it.

The bridge where the 'incident' took place was over the B204. This immediately sounded fishy because I knew that '2' roads were mainly around London, Kent and parts of the south coast. It turns out that there is a real B204 but it's in London, near the Old Kent Road, and not a few minutes train ride from Manchester.

I don't know why there were so many sloppy mistakes in the programme, nor why nobody noticed or bothered fixing them while the programme was being made. It was as if some southern writers decided to set something 'up north' but couldn't be arsed doing any actual research and just made things up.

Birmingham Back to Backs

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /

I was going to say that the Birmingham Back to Back houses were more interesting that I expected, but I didn't really know what to expect. The guided tour takes about an hour and you go through 4 different houses and one shop, decorated from different periods from the early 19th century through to the 1970s.

Walking from New Street station, we got to the houses much quicker than I was expecting. I recognised the stretch of Hurst Street but I didn't remember seeing the houses there before. I must have walked past them a dozen times without noticing them.

They were built when the surrounding area was still fields. None of the houses had running water - all the water had to come from the nearby 'Lady Well'. It isn't easy to imagine what the city was like back then but the short tour gave some interesting insights into the growth of the city.

Our only regret was that we missed out on visiting the sweet shop on the corner. It hadn't opened when we arrived, and was closed for lunch when we left.

GPS Hamster Radio

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

Today, we went to the Lymm hamster show.

  • Mid-morning, I went for a walk around the village. I recently got a new phone (a Nokia 5800) and installed Google Maps on it. I used the phone's built-in GPS to keep an eye on where I was during the walk. Most of the time it managed to locate my position fairly accurately.

  • In the afternoon, there was the Hamster Racing. We entered Bjorn, who is usually fairly hyperactive so we thought he would do well. He kept winning the races, most of the time he finished before the other hamster had gone halfway around the track. He came 2nd overall - he got through to the final but halfway along the track he stopped to clean himself, then turned around and ran back towards the start.

  • On the drive home we found ourselves listening to the Top 40 countdown on Radio 1. I haven't listened to the charts for years. Most of the time I listen to either Kerrang or Radio 2. These stations usually ignore the charts and play music aimed at their respective audiences*. I think it will be a while before we listen to the charts again - most of the music was awful.

* Kerrang mostly plays guitar-based rock music. On Radio 2 I listen to Terry Wogan (target audience: the insane) and Radcliffe & Macone (target audience: the more mature rock music fan).

Worst. Drive home. Ever.

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

I probably can't blame Friday the 13th but tonights drive home was probably the slowest ever. There had been a crash which closed the M6, causing most of the traffic to divert along local roads. Roads which were normally free-flowing were backed up for miles. It took us a couple of hours to drive the 5 miles home.

Oven Update

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

Comet phoned this morning to let us know that they were on their way to install the oven. The shop obviously didn't bother to tell the installation department that we had cancelled the order.

Currys 1 : Comet 0

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

We finally have an oven now. We ended up cancelling our order with Comet because they screwed up the original installation. When we went into the shop on monday to complain, they were unable to help. They couldn't bring the installation any sooner than friday. When I asked why the original installers were unable to determine the source of the leak, I was repeatedly told that 'You have to be careful with gas'. That would have been an ideal response if I'd asked why they couldn't just ignore the leak, but since I had asked why the engineers seemed incapable of doing their job properly, it really didn't answer my question.

We went next door to Currys and placed an order with them instead. They agreed to match Comets price and could deliver and install on thursday.

So this morning Comet came to collect their cooker, and Currys came to deliver and install theirs. The Currys engineer still detected a small leak, but instead of buggering off (like the Comet engineer did), he actually did a few tests to locate the leak. He checked the boiler and the gas pipe in the front room and they were ok. The 'leak' turned out to be the capped pipe in the kitchen - the man from Transco hadn't sealed the cap properly.

With the source of the leak located and fixed, the oven was installed. After demonstrating the controls, the engineer left.

The service I received from Currys and Comet couldn't have been more different. Comet did a half-arsed job and were incapable of rectifying it in a prompt manner. Currys went out of their way to make sure the problems were sorted. Currys might be slightly more expensive, but their customer service seems to be much better.

The Penguin Trail

Story location: Home / Blog / animals /

Liverpool is launching a Penguin Trail, similar to the Cow Trail which Manchester did a few years ago. I was amused to read that one of the corporate sponsors was the discount chain Home Bargains. That says a lot about Liverpool.

Unfortunately since I no longer live in the area, it's unlikely that I'll get a chance to see any of them.

Waiting for Transco

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

Our cooker stopped working a couple of weeks ago so we have had to manage without it. We have been limited to things we can cook using an electric wok and a George Foreman grill. We sometimes cheated and bought things like the Uncle Ben's microwaveable rice. Pasta was cooked in a pan but using water from the kettle. The boiling water was poured over the pasta, the lid was put on the pan and we waiting for it to cook. The pasta was sometimes a bit firm but at least there was little chance of it overcooking.

The oven was finally delivered this morning. The old oven was removed and the gas supply was tested for leaks. They detected a pressure drop, so the installer phoned Transco to report a leak then left, saying they couldn't do anything until the leak was fixed. It was company policy apparently.

An hour or so later, an engineer arrived and repeated the test and confirmed a leak. He said that leaks within a house weren't his responsibility but said he would do a quick test to locate the leak while he was here.

It turned out that the leak was coming from the end of the gas pipe, where the old cooker had been attached. The valve was leaking. He capped the pipe to stop the leak.

So much time could have been saved if the original installers had checked the valve when they removed the old cooker. If the valve only started leaking after the cooker was removed then the installer should have noticed this. The Transco man didn't understand why they didn't test it using a bit of soapy water.

To make matters worse, when I phoned back to say the gas leak was fixed, I was told they couldn't come back to finish the installation until friday. Another %$@&ing week without a cooker. If the original installers had tested the valve, rather than just %$@&ing off, then we'd have a working cooker by now.