Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 - 23

The Petri Dish of Disease

There should have been a warning label on my job; working here brings you in contact with every known virus and bug in existence. I have felt pretty crappy all week; went back to work and probably shouldn't have and ended up at the doctor's this morning (they still haven't given me my own engraved seat yet) to be told that I have a chest infection - which, isn't a bug at all, but was possibly brought on by one.

I had all the best intentions at 7.10 this morning, despite feeling like someone had my chest in a vice, but ended up calling in sick and calling the surgery the moment it opened. Amazingly I got a cancelled appointment and was down there and home by 9.30. Even more amazing was the fact that I had a chemist right next to the doctor's and I chose to drive the mile or so to Beech Avenue, where I waited, was served, waited a bit more and was supplied with my drugs inside FIVE minutes, compared to the 8 or so hours I waited at Lloyds. This was despite the chemist being full of people and one woman complaining about waiting too long. I felt like saying to her she should go to Lloyds if she really wants to get pissed off.

Contrary to possible belief, I don't actually like being sick, but the fact I actually have antibiotics has made me realise that I have actually got something that needs treating, so I shall take the illness like a man...

Water Water Everywhere

When I was a kid, I always believed that drains took the rainwater away and eventually dumped it either in the sea, rivers or filtration plants. Considering how full they get, you would think this is a logical destination for the water to go to. However, during this wettest of droughts and hosepipe bans, no one has bothered to ask these bods at the water authorities what actually happens to all the water that doesn't get drunk by trees and plants or evaporated.

I mean, it's not rocket salad is it? If my conservatory can fill a water butt up during a heavy rain shower in about 8 minutes, then how much water is just washing down our drains? Surely the job of water filtration plants - and there are a few within walking distance of the town - is to take water from the drains, sift out all the shit and debris and turn that water back into usable stuff? I mean, even if it was just used to irrigate fields and crops, surely the water companies could do more with that than just bleating on about how many leaks they've fixed.

In fact, if you look at the logic behind our water, the now private companies that run it haven't really got a clue outside of giving their shareholders a dividend at the end of the year. Water should never have been privatised in England and Wales; it seems the still nationally run authorities in Scotland and N.Ireland do a far better job of managing themselves than the shower of piss that runs England's.

That said, it has rained here, every day, since the hosepipe ban was 'enforced'. I expect there are many people out there breaking the ban as we speak, because they can even if they don't need it. The old woman at the Sexually Explicit family's house was out the day the ban came in force, washing her windows with a hose and I really think she had a look out.

Straying Off Topic

My mate, Dave Hodson, who used to run Eternity Comics in North London, was one of the founder members of CoBRA - the comics mail order watchdog - and archaeologist, posted something in his Facebook status that got me thinking. He said: Hill Street Blues was based on the work of the brilliant Ed McBain, The Jesse Stone TV movies are adapted from books by Robert B Parker. The fabulous Justified is adapted from stories by Elmore Leonard... So when will Science Fiction TV producers take the hint and work from high quality source material.

Too right. Far too much TV SF is shit or cops out or both. On a discussion group this week we have been talking about Battlestar Galactica - the reboot - and it has divided opinions, which if it isn't a brilliant TV series, at least it caused enough controversy to be still discussed years after it finished. The discussion had nothing to do with Dave's statement, but marries with it perfectly. TV doesn't do SF justice and that might be because SF, in the eyes of the general public, is just as nerdy as being into comics, in some cases even worse.

I have often tried to write an appraisal of what I believe was the best SF series of all time - Babylon 5 - but as I said on the discussion group, that was hampered by three things - bad acting, poor special effects and network meddling; but strip the series down to the bare bones and you find a positively immense and labyrinthine story that was years ahead of anything else ever done. It also didn't have a cop out ending; wasn't tied into religion in any direct way, but used religion as a view point and in the Shadow War offered possibly one of the greatest stories ever shown on TV (and there in is the problem, the US fans hated the ending of the Shadow War, because it was sorted out through cod diplomacy rather than big space wars).

Fringe is bonkers SF, but it is, as I said in my TV Dump, stymied by formula. Shows like Awake, Touch, Alcatraz and much of the SyFy stable are just dramas with a hint of a twist in them. Lost was about as SF as The Big Bang Theory and of course used God as the cop out. The new Ridley Scott film Prometheus, supposedly a film that nods to Alien for its inspiration, will be an action adventure essentially and any SF elements will be, I suspect, breezed over quickly. SF in film and TV hasn't ever really worked and perhaps a company like HBO might be tempted to look at an adventurous SF series of novels and decide to do them properly. I just don't think it will happen too soon and if it does, it'll be a stinker.

Rent Boy

An associate of mine pays £1500 per month for his apartment. It is a two-bedroomed, spacious pad which is kind of spoiled by the fact it is surrounded by other expensive flats and it's a few miles from town. As a bachelor pad it's okay provided you can afford all the paraphernalia that accompanies it.

Another associate of mine has just jumped into the housing market using money they inherited. They have bought a nice, terraced, three bedroom house with a reasonable-sized back garden, an en-suite and a garage, in a quiet residential part of town, within walking distance of the town centre and they paid £160,000 for it and their monthly mortgage repayments are about £900pm. They also have considerably less income than associate #1.

I asked associate #1 why he doesn't buy a house, he shrugged and said, "It's easier renting."

Huh?

What Were the Skies Like When You Were Young?

Ever since I bought the wife her telescope, it has either rained or been as cloudy as off beer. Yes, it's great that we don't have so much light pollution around town now - regardless of how unsafe it now is after years of people getting used to everything being well lit and the council not considering there are violent muggers out there who will take advantage of the opportunities that arise to them - but the poxy moon doesn't rise until the middle of the night at the moment, so she can't use that as a starting point.

I was also told, rather unfairly I think, that getting into astronomy is something kids and pensioners do. Well, we've both been 'into astronomy' ever since we were kids and now we can, when we get the chance, practice that interest to a higher level.

I'm Sorry

But as much as I'd hate to boycott Amazon, after receiving £100's worth of gift vouchers for my birthday, I couldn't really just ignore them, could I?

So, after an hour searching the site for something suitable, I ended up buying the following: A astronomy book by some bloke called Patrick Moore; the new Rush album, the new North Atlantic Oscillation album, the Storm Corrosion album, even if it's taking its time to grow on me, a DVD documentary on the making of two classic Rush albums (Moving Pictures and 2112), another memory stick, the DVD collection of Mr Pye, and rather guiltily... the new Dark Tower book by junk paddler Stephen King and George RR Martin's first five Grimy Thongs books - which I'm sure I will read at some point, but even if I don't the wife will.

That's not bad for a couple of quid over a ton and, I have to say, rather selfishly, that if subsequent governments and tax office employees failed to make Amazon pay their taxes then I should also refuse to pay my taxes on the basis that the people my wife works for couldn't find their own arses with a map and a torch.

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My stuff is pretty much the same as yesterday's stuff.

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