Tuesday, 9 October 2007

I can be your hero

I haven't been watching Heroes, but I gather it's about a bunch of people who "thought they were like everyone else...until they realized they have incredible abilities" (or so Wikipedia tells me). Apparently the first season shows the various people discovering their super powers, such as being able to heal themselves quickly, stop time, predict the future, fly, and so on and so forth. The next couple of seasons go on to show the new super people with their super powers doing, I presume, super things and getting themselves into all sorts of super situations. So far, so fictional, right?

Well, today I'm going to bust that fiction wide open (no, I have no idea what that means either), as I reveal to you a mysterious modern miracle and proof that human beings can have super powers.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...


That's right. I have a super power. Well, I'm not so sure of the "super" part of it, but I certainly have a power.

What could it be? Is it super hearing powers? Or maybe x-ray vision? Perhaps I have the ability to run vast distances without tiring? Or is mine the power to make the best carrot and ginger soup in all the land?

No, no, no and yes, but that's not my super power.

No, ladies and gents. My super power is this: I can switch off fluorescent lights with only the power of my mind.

It's true.

Weird, but true.

Completely useless, but true.

Totally uncontrolled, but, nevertheless, true.

And I lied about the "with the power of my mind" part, but the rest is true.

I don't know how long I've had this "power", but I only really began to notice it a few years ago. I'd be walking down the street of an evening, perhaps on my way t'pub or maybe going home, and suddenly the street light I was walking under would switch off. Or I'd be walking across a car park, looking for my car, and the light above would flicker... and go out.

Strangely, this doesn't happen to every fluorescent light; just some of them. And it doesn't seem to happen indoors; rather, it tends to apply only to street lights and the kind of strip lighting you get in underground car parks or passageways. You know... the kind of places where you really don't want the lights to go out. But it's happened regularly enough for me to think that it's not some random or chance event, but rather it is connected to me.

At first, when I noticed this random pattern (but a pattern all the same), of lights going out as I walked underneath them, I decided to put it to the test. There was one particular street light in one of the university car parks that always, without fail, went out as I walked underneath or past it. I thought "perhaps there is some loose connection or something in the ground nearby that causes the light to go out when I step on it?" (You can see why I'm not an electrician.) So one evening, I got a friend to walk ahead to test the theory. The friend was about my height and build, so the pressure on the ground around the light would be the same and lo, as the friend walked towards the light - nothing happened.

I walked on to join them and... the light went out as I approached it.

Lately, I've noticed one of the lights in the gym car park seems to do the same thing. As I drive in, I can see the light and it's fine. A strong, steady beam emitting from it. No problems. I can even park my car near it, and nothing happens. Until I get out of the car, that it. Then the light flickers... and goes out. I've watched others do the same - park their car in the same spot and when they get out, nothing happens. Then I walk over. Light goes out.


Is it possible for humans to emit some sort of... frequency?... that could affect the light bulb? Or is this special power something that has been reserved for me and me alone, and I should give up my job and spend the rest of my life learning to control it and using it for good (or evil)? If so, can I wear this costume?

What should I do? And, more importantly, what should I call my super self?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

How to avoid getting dumped

It's quite simple really - you make sure you dump them before they dump you. Sounds trivial, sounds trite, but it feels GREAT!
I started "dating" (for want of a better word) eleven years ago, and I have only been dumped once. And, before some smart arse says it, this is not because I've only had one boyfriend, nor is it because I have the attention span of a magpie flitting from one shiny relationship to another. And, contrary to popular belief, it's not because I'm the World's Best Girlfriend and no one ever wants to dump me either. Although, I'm not far off winning that title, heheh.
Rather it's because whenever a relationship has turned sour for me, I've gotten the frick out of there. Oh yes, I'm a regular ol' heartbreaker, me.
Admittedly, I won't just run at the first time of trouble. I will stick around for a while, to see if the relationship can be salvaged, because I belive that people are far too quick to give up on love nowdays, and would rather Get The Frick Out (GTFO) than actually put in a bit of work. But, if it becomes obvious to me that it's over, then I'm gone.
And, as a result, I've only ever been dumped once, and that's because I didn't see it coming and Mr. McBastard got in there before me. Not that I'm bitter
So, how do you know when the relationship is over? How do you know that it's time to do a swift one and run for the hills? I think a handful of C++ statements can tell us the answer to these dilemmas:
if (good times > bad times) {

happy days ;

if (good times == bad times) {
work on it;

if (bad times > good times) {

Simple, no? For the uninitiated, this translates as:
If the good times outweigh the bad times, then all is well.
If there are as many good times as bad times, then you need to work on it to make it better.
If the bad times outweigh the good times, then Get The Frick Out.
And that, my lovelies, is the secret to my success.
Too many people bitch and moan about their relationships and their partners. Hell, I've done it myself on more than one occasion. And most of the time, this is not a problem. It's normal to have a little complain every now and then about your other half. There's nothing wrong with having a bit of a bitching session on the phone to your friend about how he never puts the toilet seat down or about how she never washes up after dinner, or whatever. You bitch about it, you make sweeping generalisations about the uselessness of the opposite sex, you feel better about it all and you move on. All's good.
It becomes problematic, however, when you're ALWAYS bitching about your other half. And it doesn't matter what you're saying about them - whether they're trivial little matters such as hanging up wet towels before they get stinky or big issues about how they never want to have children and you do. If you're constantly bitching about your other half, and you never have anything good to say about them, then you've got problems. And you need to sort that out.
If you're constantly being negative about the person who's bed you're sharing; if you always feel like second best; if you have nothing to talk about with them anymore; if spending time in one another's company is slightly less appealing than having your fingernails pulled off one-by-one and your eyes gouged out with a spoon, then you've got problems.
If your other half makes you feel worthless; if you find yourself nagging them all the time; if you think you can't trust them; or if you just wake up some day and look at them and can't think of a single reason why you like them, nor why you ever thought you loved them in the first place, then you've got problems.
And you need to GTFO.
That's not to say you should expect perfection in every relationship. Nobody's perfect. Not even you. There has to be some element of compromise for a relationship to work. It continually amazes me that there are so many people out there who don't realise this. Relationships are about give and take. You need both for the relationship to survive. You have to be prepared to be give in every now and then; to acquiesce to the other person needs, wants or desires, and not be a bossy boots. And, likewise, you need to take from the relationship too; to stand your ground and defend your own needs, wants and desires, and not be a doormat. There's a delicate balance that, once struck, makes for a beautiful relationship.
But, at the end of the day, if you're unhappy more often than you are happy in your relationship, then you need to GTFO. Remember that you're far, far better off being on your own than being in a relationship that makes you unhappy. More importantly, remember that there is plenty more flesh on the streets.
Having said that, before you go, make at least one attempt to talk about it. Make an attempt to sit down, without alcohol if possible becuase all that does is cloud the issues and raise the tempers, and talk about what's bothering you. Don't be argumentative, don't try to place blame. Simply tell your other half how you're feeling and try to work out a way of resolving that issue. Of course, if your other half won't make the time to sit down with you, or tells you you're talking shite, then that's a big bloody sign right there, isn't it?
The one thing I've learned from every relationship I've been in is that, if you're not prepared to put the work in, then it's not going to last. Equally, I've also learned to stand my ground, and not to put up with anything that makes me unhappy. Ok, that's two things I've learned.
I don't regret a single relationship I've ever had, even the bad ones, because I've learned something from all of them. I've finally reached the stage where I know what I want from a relationship; I know what I'm willing to put up with, I know what I'm NOT willing to put up with, and I know when I'm lucky to have found the right person for me.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

And God said unto me...

And God said unto me "Rejoice! For the Flying V that has caused thee to wet thyself with desire when walking past music shops is now within thy grubby grasp!"

And, lo, the heavens did part and the angels did sing and mine browser did point to eBay where the most divine and holy sight did strike mine eyes:

It appeared to me in all its shiny glory, and I did place a bid and cross mine fingers that nobody else would cock this up for me.

And as the clock did tick down the remaining hours until the auction ended, I prayed to mine everlasting and holy God of Power Chords that this guitar would be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

6 hours and 42 minutes to go...

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Theft with the intent to decorate

If you don't already know about Craigslist, then I strongly recommend you check it out. It is one of the very few sites that I return to day after day, as it contains, in my humble opinion, some of the best examples of modern day literacy and wit on this here Interwebnets. It gives me hope for the brains of mankind in this downward spiralling era of txt spk and general idiocy.

The link above will take you to The Best of Craigslist, which is updated monthly, and which contains gems such as the following:


An open letter to the person(s) who stole my porch light.

On the evening of Thursday, August 16th, right around bedtime, I thought I heard a bit of commotion out in front of my apartment. This is not unusual, as my neighbors sometimes blow off steam on weeknights by throwing parties, the theme of which seems to be "Scream and Throw Beer Cans In The Yard Until 5am."

So I thought nothing of it until I noticed over the weekend that one of the two chandeliers on my porch that I had been using as a porch light had gone missing. Putting two and two together, I now know what happened, and am trying to put together an accurate mental picture of you, the person who took them.

I like my stuff, and I like keeping it whenever possible. That said, I understand some thefts. If you are, persay, addicted to something, and you steal something from me because you need to buy that something and stealing is the only way to make that happen, then I get that. I still wish you wouldn't do it, but I get it. Or if you need to feed yourself or your family or your dog and and you need to steal something to do it, then I get that, too. Those are crimes of necessity, however that necessity came about. But that's not the case here. Not even close.

As I'm sure you noticed when you got home/sobered up/looked more closely, the chandelier you stole was not a nice one. I got them at a thrift store for a dollar, did a shitty job of painting them white (it's kind of peeling), and was forced to rewire it myself. If memory serves, the one you took was even missing a bulb. So they have no real value. Nobody in their right mind would give you any money for them, and there are many more valuable things laying out in garbage cans or on dark porches all over my street. You stole my porch light to use it. You stole it to decorate.

If you were casually walking down my street at night (as I doubt you came in from out of town or state to pull this 'heist'), then chances are, you live around here. Chances are equally good that you could very well afford to purchase your own chandelier instead of stealing mine. Or, maybe you're just trying it out for a bit, and I'll one day find it reinstalled on my porch after you sadly discover that it just doesn't look right in the bathroom, or really pull together the entryway like you'd hoped it might.

This is fair warning you to you, then, that I'm keeping my eyes open. I made the damned thing, and I know what it looks like. If I see it on your own porch, I'm taking it back. If i see it in your dining room through a window, you and I are going to have an unpleasant conversation (unlike car thieves or bank robbers, I'm not terribly intimidated by 'chandelier thieves'). Or maybe I'll just take something of yours and use it at my place. Tit for tat.

"Theft With Intent To Decorate" is something so unnecesarry, so achingly annoying (and, let's face it, so Victorian Village) that I wish I could run into you someday, just so you could see the face I'd make at you. It's the look on your grandmother's face as you trip her on purpose. It's the look on your parents face when you tell them you were dropping out of college to focus on your "real spiritual development as a person". It's like a whole host of angels coming down and singing "What The Fuck?" all at once. I'm making the face right now, actually.

So Bravo!, thief of the night. You have my shitty chandelier. As you bask in it's glow, I hope you feel good about the kind of person you turned out to be.. And if I might suggest it, perhaps remember that it was rewired by me, a less than skilled electrician. So from now on I'll be sitting out nights on my porch, with my one remaining chandelier, hoping that it's partner is out there somewhere, burning your god-damned house down.

Sincerely yours,



Genius. Pure and simple. I only wish I could write as well as that guy.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Don't believe the hype

Last week, as I was driving home one day, I heard a news report on the radio about a boy who had drowned in a pond in Wigan, which is not too far away from where I live. The boy, Jordon Lyon, drowned in May of this year, but there was an inquest last week which, which is why it was mentioned in the news.

Now I know that, in this day and age, it's hardly surprising when a news reporter sensationalises a story, particularly if it involves a tragedy such as a young boy drowning. But I was, quite frankly, fucking outraged when I heard the reports on this particular story.

It seems that Jordon Lyon and his sister, Bethany, were fishing for tadpoles in a large pond in Wigan when Bethany got into trouble and Jordon jumped into the pond to try to help her. He managed to hold Bethany up out of the water when two anglers who were passing by ran over and were able to fish Bethany out. They couldn't get to Jordon. The police were called, and this is where I get really annoyed, the news report states that the two police community support officers (PCSO's) who arrived "stood by and watched whilst Jordon drowned".

Jordon's stepfather then arrived at the scene with a friend, and both dived in to try to rescue Jordon. A policeman then arrived on the scene, and also jumped in. He managed to find Jordon, but by then the boy was dead. [Sources: BBC News, The Times Online, The Guardian]

As this story broke, the radio show was inundated with outraged people damning the police and asking how could two people just stand by and watch as a boy drowned in a six-feet-deep pond in front of them? And, to be honest, I wondered myself what the hell was going on.

And then I found out a bit more about the story.

First of all, the term "pond" is slightly misleading. It's actually more of a small lake, as you can see from the photo below. The lake is relatively wide and is about six feet deep. The water is dark and murky, and fairly impossible to see through to the bottom.

Aside from this misleading term, the rest of the reports on the matter deliberately left out key facts in order to sensationalise the story. When the two PCSO's arrived on the scene, Jordon had already gone underwater, and could not be seen. This fact has been confirmed by the two anglers who had managed to fish Bethany out of the water. The PCSO's did not stand by idly, twiddling their thumbs. They did what they were trained to do - they radioed for help.

The Greater Manchester Police have defended the PCSO's actions saying they weren't trained to deal with this sort of situation, and that they did exactly the right thing, by radioing for help and waiting. This has lead to further outrage, with people condeming the PCSO's for not diving into the lake, and the police for defending their actions. There have been comments stating that Jordon's stepfather and friend were not trained in water rescue, and yet they still dived in, and that anyone witnessing a child drowning would try everything in their power to save that child, regardless of training.

And of course, these comments have been reported and bandied about by the media, further fuelling this misinformed debate. Now, I am a trained lifeguard. I trained for five years, got all my certificates, and worked for two years as a lifeguard in my local swimming pool. Two of my brothers worked as lifeguards on the beach, which is no Baywatch, let me tell you. If someone starts drowning in a swimming pool, it's scary, but at least you know they're in a confined space. The water is clear, warm and not very deep. I used to pull about four kids an hour out of the water, and, thankfully, have only had to administer mouth-to-mouth once on a little girl who went under and stopped breathing before I could get to her. She was ok in the end, but I'll never forget what it was like seeing her floating about a foot under the water, unconscious, her eyes open and her lips turning blue.

That was in a swimming pool. When someone drowns in open water, be it on a beach, at a lake or in a river, it becomes a hell of a lot more serious. There are so many things to consider - the open water, with currents, which means that if a person goes under, by the time you get to the spot where you saw them go under, there's absolutely no guarantee that they'll still be there. Then there's the cold, dark, murky water which makes it almost impossible to see anything, let alone locate a drowning person who will have sank to the bottom by now.

But the most important thing that we were taught when lifesaving was "Safety First". As in, your own safety. If you see someone drowning, you have to evaluate whether you're going to be able to save that person, and not put yourself in danger. There's no point in attempting to save someone and putting yourself in danger in the process - you'll just end up with two people dead instead of one. That might sound harsh, but that's the reality. If you're walking along a beach and you see someone drowning who's twice the size of you and they're a mile out in the water, then it's more useful for you to call for help than to try to rescue that person. If you swim out to them, and you're already knackered (remembering how cold water tires your muscles so much more than warm water), you're putting both yourself and the drowning person in further danger. You can never underestimate the strength of a panicking person, and it can be physcially exhasting just trying to restrain them and calm them down. You then have to swim a mile back to shore, dragging someone who's twice the size of you and probably still kicking and struggling.

So the lesson that was hammered into us from day one was not to risk your own life to try to save another's.

The fact of this case is that, when the two PCSO's arrived on the scene, they were presented with a cold, murky lake in which there was no sign of the drowning boy. Neither PCSO was trained in how to search for a submerged drowning victim (remember how you learned to pick bricks up from the bottom of the pool? Try doing that in open water... I've done it in the sea, and it's nigh on impossible even with years of training), and so they did what they had been trained for - the radioed for help. It's not clear whether the PCSO's were even able to swim - it's not a requirement for the job - and so they, in my humble opinion, did the best thing they could have in that situation. Even when fully trained, water resuce is a dangerous job, and it certainly should not be attempted by people who don't know what they're doing. True, Jordon's stepfather dived in when he wasn't trained, but that was the natural reaction of a parent when faced with a situation in which their child is in danger. Parents would walk barefoot across broken glass to save their children - that does not mean we should expect others to do the same.

Bizarrely, in March of this year, a firefighter was told that he might be sued for saving a drowning woman from a river in Scotland. The man jumped into the river and feared for his own life, as the freezing water threatened to sweep him away. However, he managed to grab the woman and pull her to safety, only to be told that he had breached safety rules during the rescue, and was incident was being investigated internally by Tayside Fire and Rescue. [Source: The Times Online]

It is terribly sad that a boy died, however, I don't believe that the PCSO's could have saved him, even if they had jumped into the lake. Nobody has yet asked the question why two children were fishing for tadpoles, unaccompanied and unsupervised, in a six-foot-deep lake, but I'm sure that will be the focus of the newspaper and radio reports after the PCSO's get fired.

In the meantime, how about we take something productive out of this like... oh, I don't know... teaching kids about the dangers of water and hwo to swim and perhaps what to do when they get into difficulty? No? Ok... isn't it time for another terrorist threat? Or perhaps a weather disaster? Who hasn't had a tsunami recently? We need some death to sell tomorrow's papers, damnit! What's that... secret nuclear testing in Iraq caused an upset in the weather and that triggered Hurricane Katrina?! Goddamn!!

Dontcha just lurve the media?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

This is just...brilliant

This is quite possibly the best, and most random, ad I've ever seen...


Whoever made it deserves a lollipop.

Fuckit. Two lollipops.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Testing the limits

Everyone has their limits.

No matter how careless or reckless or feckless you like to think you are, you have limits. Everyone has a price and everyone has that one thing that they Just. Won't. Do.

And nowhere is this more evident than in relationships. Interestingly, there are limits both at the beginning and the end of the relationship. At the beginning, when you start seeing somebody for the first time, you test these limits to see if the person is a match.

It starts off innocently enough - you might start enquiring about the books they read or the films they watch or the music they listen to or even the type of car they drive or the job they do. And, consciously or not, you set your limits.

Ok, he's a Star Trek fan, but he doesn't own an actual Trekkie uniform or a pair of Spock ears, so he can live. Hmm.... she reads Harry Potter, but she doesn't queue up around the block to get the latest book nor has she tattooed that stupid lightening bolt onto her head, so that's ok. Crap... he has a Phil Collins album but, wait! It's only because Phil used to be in Genesis, so that's kind of cool, so I'll still go for a drink with him tonight. Yikes... is that her Mini parked outside? Wait, you know, it's a classic car and she keeps it in mint condition, so it's ok in a retro kind of way. WTF? He's an accountant? Um... well.... eh..... it means that..... um.... he'll never be out of a job...? (really pushing those limits here)...

If all goes well, the focus of the testing will eventually shift to making the beast with two backs. Again, you can test the waters by sussing out their ability to kiss. As before, you will have set your limits which will determine whether the kisser gets to go any further. If your date suddenly lunges at you, mouth wide open, tongue already churning like a sloppy washing machine, chances are you won't want to get jiggy with them either later that night or indeed any time in the future even if they were the last person on earth and you were just gagging for the ride, thank you very much. Some people may not be great kissers but not entirely horrible either and you might be willing to flex those limits and give them a chance to see if they have any other talents that may make up for it. After all, maybe you could teach them to be a better kisser?

So, assuming they don't kiss you as though they're attempting to imitate a washing machine or a vaccuum cleaner or some other household gadget, you (hopefully) find yourself in bed with them doing the bold thing. Again, your limits will determine when this happens - it may be the same night, it may be three nights later, it may be three months later. Some people set their limits according to whatever tripe is being spewed at them from magazines or television programmes or know-it-all friends ("Don't sleep with him on the first date, you slut!!" or "It's been two weeks and you haven't shagged him yet?? What's wrong with you, you frigid cow?!" and so on and so forth ad nauseum), and other people set their limits according to when it feels right for them.

Anyhoo, at some point or another you will find yourself in the sack. And limits come in to play big time here. Some people are afraid to test the limits, and so they hold back for fear of offending or upsetting or giving the wrong message.

If I suggest we swing from the chandelier, he might think I'm some sort of nympho slut so instead I'll just lie here like a sack of spuds and make the odd moan like I'm enjoying it and he'll still respect me in the morning, right? Right?!?

Others will push it (the limit!) as far as they can (oooer missus!) to see what they can get away with.

I'll start by licking her ear and stroking her arm and move onto licking my way down and sucking lightly at her neck as I push my finger in there and oh, she didn't like that, ok, so I'll just move back up here, mmm.... boobs, wonder what would happen if I pinched them? Whoops, ok not a fan of that, maybe if I suggest tying her up, oooh, she seems to like that, and now I'll spank her ass and pull her hair and I wonder what she'd think if I told her I fancied a threesome with her sister... Ouch! She just kneed me in the balls!

And on it goes. More often than not, you'll spend the first delicious few days/weeks/months/years testing and teasing and discovering each other's limits and, hopefully, you'll find a happy medium just on the edge of your limits - pushing them ever so slightly to keep it interesting, but not so much that you feel uncomfortable.

But what happens if your limits change? What happens if your intended no longer does it for you? What if you start becoming a bit curious about that threesome, maybe not with your sister, but with some hot friend of his, but your man won't even consider the idea? What if it's something a lot tamer like maybe trying a bit of dressing up or role playing in the bedroom, but your lady thinks you're some sort of freak for even thinking about it?

Or it could go the other way, which is probably a much more common situation. Some day you wake up and your limits have become a lot narrower. Those little things that your partner does that you used to find endearing, or at least tolerable, start to really grate on your nerves.

The way he blows his nose and inspects the tissue afterwards... The way she corrects you in front of friends... The way he scruches up his face when trying to make that corner pocket on the pool table... The way she cooks spagetti so it's always slightly soggy and NEVER holds the sauce properly...

You may try to reset your limits; tell yourself that you're just being silly or over-sensitive or just having a bad day. But, eventually, you snap. You decide that you can't put up with this crap anymore and how can they not know how damn annoying they're being when they tap that frickin' pen over and over again when I'm trying to watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire?!

And so you dump their sorry ass.

And you spend a bit of time getting drunk and flirting with strangers and re-evaluating your limits (boundaries/values/whatevs) in your head.

And then one night you meet someone in a bar and you start chatting about your favourite films and he says his is "Apocalypse Now" and you say "Me too!" and he says "Have you seen the Redux version?" and you say "Yeah! I loved it so much I bought it on DVD!" and then you both say "Charlie don't surf!" and you smile and he offers to buy you a drink and you start over again.