23 June 2008

Scottish Shouty Man

I have just got a Freeview box for my office, after many years of threatening to get one. Right now, I am watching the Scottish First Minister's Questions. Sadly I can't concentrate on it very well because the First Minister, Alex Salmond, is shouting the place down, so it's making it really difficult listening.

Mr. Salmond, I can assure you that the microphones are working perfectly. No-one else seems to need to shout, so can you please pack it in, because it just makes you look inept and foolish.

ADDENDUM: It would appear he only shouts at Wendy Alexander. To the best of my knowledge, she isn't hard of hearing, so I guess he's just scared of her.

Hayfever is hell

I am right fed up. Why is it, that the one thing that I know will relieve my hayfever, is the one thing that my GP will no longer prescribe? Kenalog's licence has been withdrawn in the UK for treatment of allergies. My new GP described its use as 'using a sledgehammer to crack a nut'. Apparently it can cause osteoporosis with 'frequent and prolongued' use. Although I have argued that once is year is hardly 'frequent', none of my 3 most recent GPs have agreed to administer it, which I think is incredibly inhumane.

Let me tell you about my hayfever. In fact, no, you can experience it for yourself, with these simple steps.

First, take a pencil and shove the blunt end up one nostril until it starts to poke out your eyeball. Then, using a sealant gun, fill up the other nostril with silicone. Next, take a handful of itching powder and carefully rub into each eye, until you want to tear off your eyelids. Now your eyes should be streaming constantly, with pale green goo dribbling down your face 24/7. When you awake in the morning, your face will be stuck to the pillow, and you have to carefully peel off the congealed and crusty goo before stumbling blindly towards the bathroom to use a sponge to mop off the rest. This feels like you are sandpapering your face. As you pick off the crusty coating on your eyelids, you grimace at being able to see the devastation that is your face. As you move your lips, they crack and sting. Great!

Now you're a bit more awake, let's really get going. Do you have any cleaning fluids in the bathroom? Have a good gargle until you strip the lining out of your throat. Your throat should now itch like hell and any attempt to quell it (including drinking water) will result in pain. Are you getting the idea?

Once you've picked all of the goo out of your eyes and almost stopped coughing (which can occasionally result in vomiting), you're ready to get dressed. Take a bog roll into the bedroom with you, you'll need it to mop up the results of the constant sneezing that you will experience for the rest of the day. Don't forget to take your hayfever tablets, eye drops, throat spray and nasal spray. You may need a holdall to carry it all. Remember to take the bog roll into the car with you, for your journey to work.

When you get to work, go into the bathroom and wash your face, and spend another five minutes picking the pale green goo out of your eyes again. Your face will now look as though you've been punched several times, and you'll feel like it too.

Sitting at your desk isn't so bad, really. You'll still sneeze a bit, and your nose will still be completely blocked, but so long as you keep the windows shut, you should be able to get away with only having to wash your face every half hour or so, not forgetting to apply vaseline to your lips every time to stop them cracking and bleeding even more than they are already doing.

Hometime! Grab your bog roll and head for the car. As soon as the sunlight hits your eyes, expect another sneezing fit of epic proportions. Use the bog roll to clean the snot off your steering wheel and windscreen.

Weekend! Yay! Weekends are great. You can relax for at least 2 minutes, until you realise that every one of your neighbours is mowing the lawn at the same time. They think you're weird because, even on the hottest days, you have to have every window and door fastened tightly shut. Every time they see you, you are clutching a bog roll, and they wonder if it's some sort of fetish.

Meeting new people is always interesting too. They like to tell you all their patent remedies for hayfever. Yes, I know that local honey is supposed to be good, as is elderflower tea. No, I will not put vaseline up my nose - that not only feels disgusting, but my nose is blocked enough as it is, without stuffing another pollen-trap up there. Yes, I know you can get hayfever tablets in the pound shop, but when you need the equivalent of two packets a day, it really isn't much value for money. The prescription-only tablets that I get are supposed to be an adult dose of 180mg per day. I am on 540mg (180mg three times a day), which just about allows me to function enough to eat, work and sleep. The nasal decongestant is quite good most of the time. However, sometimes it's hard to actually get the spray to where it is needed because it hits the barrier of goo up the nose and just dribbles straight back out again. If you are unfortunate enough to inhale whilst spraying it, it goes down the back of your throat, which not only tastes disgusting, but dries out the throat too. The eye drops are also quite good for washing out the eyes, but they tend to leave crusty bits on the eyelashes, which are itchy and not pretty.

I don't care what everyone recommends for hayfever, it never works. I know what worked for me, and it's the one thing that I am not permitted to have.

Roll on Autumn!

17 June 2008

Sally's Biking 4 Brainray

Sally Ann Holmes is a very brave lady, who is raising funds for Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre, who saved her life when she suffered a sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage six years ago.

Sally Ann and her friend Richard will be biking all the way around the coast of Britain in a bum-numbing 3,500 mile ride. You can keep track of their progress on the website here. Why not have a look at where they are going to be and meet them en-route to give them some support and maybe a bit of company? There's not many feelings better than that of a group of bikers riding together, especially when it's in aid of a good cause.

If you'd like to make a donation to boost their efforts, please go to the JustGiving website and part with some dosh.

Thanks to Saxman of the Yodashire Massive for letting us know about Sally Ann & Richard's ride.

12 June 2008

Tory MP to waste public money on unnecessary byelection

Tory MP, David Davis has announced that he is standing down as Member of Parliament for Haltemprice & Howden in order to make a stand over the issue of 42 day detention. However, he then plans to re-stand for the same position.

Whilst I admire his guts for standing up for his beliefs, I don't admire the waste of public money that will be spent on administering the by-election, and the cynic in me says that it's just one huge publicity stunt to get his name in the press.

The Liberal Democrats have indicated that they do not propose to waste their time and money putting a candidate against him, and it's unlikely that the Labour Party will field a candidate either.

It's all well and good to have principles when you know you're going to win.

08 June 2008

Are photographers really a threat?

I have always had an interest in photography, ever since I was given a Kodak Retinette when I was a child. I never really progressed beyond point-and-shoot snapshot photography, despite Smurf's patient efforts to teach me the more technical side of things. However, I still love taking photos. When I bought a digital SLR a couple of years ago, I decided it was about time that I learned how to do it properly, and regretted not paying more attention to Smurf's advice. Anyway, I decided to sign up for the Open University's Digital Photography course, and I am really enjoying it, although I don't really have enough time to dedicate to it at the moment.

One thing that has been worrying me a lot recently, is the high number of reports in the press about photographers being harassed for taking pictures in public places. Such is the paranoia raised by the some of the less-reputable media, that many photographers are now viewed with suspicion. If you take a photo of kids playing, you're accused of being a paedophile, if you take a photo of a large public building, you're accused of being a terrorist.

I have been fuming about the stupidity of sheeple for quite some time now, and so I was really pleased to read
an article in the Guardian Newspaper by Bruce Schneier about the general ignorance surrounding photography, terrorism and the like. Go and read it now. It makes sense.

In Mr. Schneier's words:

"Fear aside, there aren't many legal restrictions on what you can photograph from a public place that's already in public view. If you're harassed, it's almost certainly a law enforcement official, public or private, acting way beyond his authority. There's nothing in any post-9/11 law that restricts your right to photograph.

"This is worth fighting. Search "photographer rights" on Google and download one of the several wallet documents that can help you if you get harassed; I found one for the UK, US, and Australia. Don't cede your right to photograph in public. Don't propagate the terrorist photographer story. Remind them that prohibiting photography was something we used to ridicule about the USSR. Eventually sanity will be restored, but it may take a while."

Well said, Mr. Schneier, I just hope that those enforcement officials pay attention.

Remember, that under normal circumstances, no-one (including Police, other officials or security guards) has the
right to seize your photographic equipment or demand that memory cards are deleted/confiscated without a court order, even if they think they contain damaging or useful evidence. If an enforcement official erases any of your photographs without your permission, it amounts to criminal damage and that anyone who deletes a photographer’s images without permission could face criminal, civil or disciplinary action.

Be aware, though, that in some circumstances, the police are permitted to confiscate your film or memory cards but they are still not permitted to delete any images because the images could be used as evidence for or against you.

04 June 2008

Professor Pierre O'Bollox

The Professor has been a good friend of mine for many years, and he's always had something of a way with words. I think it would be fair to describe him as an eloquent twat.

Anyway, go and read his blog. Don't read it whilst you're drinking, cos you might need to replace your keyboard...

Bikers' fuel protest

Tomorrow, I shall be joining lots of other bikers in a peaceful protest against the ridiculous cost of fuel in the UK.

The boss has even let me have the morning off work to go. Top bloke!

I will take my camera with me but, obviously, I won't be able to take pictures whilst I'm riding, unless I can grow another arm overnight, in which case, it won't fit in my jacket and will look rather strange...