Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Lions: Warren has spoken

Full-backs: Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg, Rob Kearney
Wings: Tommy Bowe, Sean Maitland, George North, Alex Cuthbert
Centres: Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Brian O'Driscoll, Manu Tuilagi
Fly-halves: Owen Farrell, Jonathan Sexton
Scrum-halves: Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs, Conor Murray
Props: Cian Healy, Adam Jones, Dan Cole, Matt Stevens, Mako Vunipola, Gethin Jenkins
Hookers: Dylan Hartley, Richard Hibbard, Tom Youngs
Locks: Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Geoff Parling, Richie Gray, Ian Evans
Back row: Toby Faletau, Jamie Heaslip, Dan Lydiate, Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric, Tom Croft, Sam Warburton
Captain: Sam Warburton
Fifteen Welshmen in the squad, so that is the first team sorted out. (Ten English, nine Irish and three Scots will compete for places in the mid week side.)

I have just realised that the first Test match in Brisbane is on my birthday, June 22nd. The kick off is eleven o'clock in the morning British Standard Time. That could get a bit messy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Welsh Maradona

Hats off to Spurs' Gareth Bale for winning both the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.

Welsh football is about more than him alone however. Here is Andrew Cassidy caught in action at Milford Haven Docks in Pembrokeshire,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The long now

I can't really bring myself to subscribe to Sky TV for reasons I can't quite articulate, though I am sure that from month to month I spend more money on beer than Sky Sports would cost me watching events that are unavailable from terrestrial broadcasters down the pub.

A new offering called NowTV gives me the chance to stream  24 hours of Sky Sports' six channels for £9.99 so I tried it out this afternoon for the Saracens v Toulon Heineken Cup Semi Final followed by the second half of Arsenal v Man U.

I pumped it from the iPad to the TV via HDMI and it worked a treat. I think this could be the way forward for me li'l ol' commitment-phobe me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

once bitten

The Ruts played the Esher Floodlit Festival last night.

Given the Prime Minister's fatuous Suarez intervention this week, it made me smile to recall, as we were on our way to the ground, that last time we played Esher one of their pack bit Ben without anyone taking very much notice at all. It might surprise our government, but the sun came up the next morning, and the veil of the temple was not rent in twain.

The Bomber's team came second in the U12A category in "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life" as the hosts and winners beat us by a single try scored with a crash ball from a five yard penalty when a draw would have been enough for the boys to lift the trophy.

Cowbridge were at the tournament as well which bemused me, as it is an awfully long way from the Vale of Glamorgan. At first I thought there must be another Cowbridge in the South of England, but no, they came by coach all the way from Wales, arriving as you might imagine fashionably late.

Looking ahead, as we are a bit short of forward crunch in the touring party that is going to the Burnham on Sea Festival next weekend, the coaches are thinking of switching Ben from full back to second row as he has turned out as an emergency lock for the school this year. (Probably too late for him to play his way into contention for the Lions as a utility player though as the squad is to be announced the day after we get back.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Bridge To Nowhere

New funding set to enhance Wandle Trail
25 April 2013
A successful bid for funding by four south London boroughs, the Wandle Valley Park Trust and transport charity Sustrans will mean major improvements are to be made over the coming year to the Wandle Trail.

Residents in Merton, Wandsworth, Sutton and Croydon will benefit from the £489,115 from Transport for London which is to be used to upgrade pedestrian and cycle paths along the Wandle Trail. The improved paths will link up a series of green spaces that are part of the Wandle Valley Regional Park. Some of the funding will also be used to refurbish and complete the bridge on Bewley Street, Colliers Wood. Subject to planning approval, works are due to start in November this year, to be completed by spring 2014.
After this Merton Council Press Release set my heart racing yesterday, I googled the uncompleted bridge on Bewley Street as I had never heard of it.

Here is the saga of our local Bridge To Nowhere. I must go and take a look at it.

Prodnose: Will you be viewing it as a metaphor for post-industrial alienation?

Myself: No. Each to his own, but I find that contemporary media-drenched ennui and torpor is better symbolized by Sheds That Totally Look Like Everyone From The Voice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Marvel Universe

I am taking the Bomber and chums to see Iron Man 3 at the Odeon tonight. The plot takes place after the events of last year's Avengers movie. I was vaguely aware until this morning that Avengers Assemble had a post credit sequence that our feet were too itchy to catch, so I have done a little research. As the video below explains, it featured Thanos (who he? Ed).

Let's go to the horses mouth (http://marvel.com/universe/Thanos) for the definitive skinny. Taking a paragraph at random:
Later, Thanos was trapped in a pocket of reality. Parnival Plunder, brother of Ka-Zar, stumbled onto Thanos' reality after contacting the being Consumption, and Thanos set up Parnival to be his pawn. Under Thanos' advice, Parnival created machines that would destroy the Savage Land, but in fact, Thanos absorbed the energy that was released by the machines so that he might open more portals and escape to normal reality. Ka-Zar discovered the truth and battled Thanos directly, and Thanos was toppled into a volcano through one of the portals. He managed to remain stuck in his pocket dimension, however, although he tried to get out by using first the Hulk and then X-Man as mental vessels. The two fought each other due to Thanos' influence, and although the villain managed to return to Earth after such a climactic battle, the two turned on Thanos and forced him to return to the pocket reality once more.
Quite so. A story crying out for Ken Loach if ever I've heard one.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Word Wrangler at Large

Take a gander at this, Mary H K Choi can sure write.

Also, as far as I can tell from Googling her, she
  • is an expert in both close and ranged combat weaponry.
  • has a limited immunity to telepathy due to constantly fluctuating brain cells
  • posseses Olympic-level strength, speed, stamina, and agility.
  • is fluent in several languages, including English, French, Japanese, and Spanish
  • has an ability often referred to as "bottomless satchel", where she can pull guns, explosives, food (usually Hic. brand beer cans) and ammunition, out of nowhere (usually by reaching into one of her pockets, often times pulling out something that was bigger then the pocket itself).
  • has a very strong healing factor obtained from Wolverine. This healing factor healed her completely from cancer, and grants her the ability to heal any injury within seconds, more complex injuries can take longer. She can even re-grow lost limbs and organs.
  • is one of the few people with enough skill to handle Captain America's shield.
  • has an unpredictable fighting style can be advantageous against the likes of Taskmaster, as Taskmaster learns the moves of others using his advanced memory and learns strengths and weaknesses based upon past experience.
You go girl!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Four Year Plan

The Four Year Plan is a documentary film directed by Mat Hodgson about London based football club Queens Park Rangers.
The film chronicles the take over of the nearly bankrupt club in 2007 by a consortium of billionaires and their effort to promote the team to the Premier League by 2011. The consortium consisted of Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Alejandro Agag, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and Amit Bhatia. It is an observational documentary that follows the club from within the boardroom. The Cameras for this documentary were brought in by the new owners to create this, however although the club gave permission for the cameras to be there, they had no say on where on when the cameras would be filming. The title derives from a statement made by Briatore in 2007 where he declared his 'target to be Premier League in four years'.
They are, of course, all but relegated this year. Cardiff City will wave to them as we go up and they drop past us going down. QPR are old sparring partners of the City (see Icons passim) and the clubs have met in play offs in both the Championship and, before that, League One over the last tumultuous decade or so.

You can stream the film for £2.99 pay per view from the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/interactive/2012/dec/20/the-four-year-plan-watch-online. (The Guardian? Everyone is an online distributor these days.)

It's probably worth a watch as a guard against hubris in our own billionaire sugar-daddy era.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cardiff City FC Championship Champions 2012/13

When we were small our Dad would take us to watch the Old Boys playing on Saturday afternoon. I would always find myself in some rugby club or other watching Final Score at the end of Grandstand (either Doctor Who or Basil Brush would be on next) drinking lemonade and eating crisps.

The football results appeared on a device dubbed the Teleprinter, which displayed them one nerve-wracking character at a time to the thump of the printer hammer hitting the paper. It always spelled out C-A-R-D-I-F-F-C-I-T-Y-0 and they were always battling relegation from League Division Two to League Division Three.

I heard the mantra so regularly the team might as well have been called "CardiffCityNil" as far as I was concerned. Yet next year they will be back among the elite for the first time in over half a century after winning the Championship.

Raise your glasses and get misty eyed wishing you could still read the story in a pink Football Echo.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What is it good for?

I have finished  War: The Eighty Greatest Esquire Stories of All Time, Volume 2. It is a fine but depressing collection. From Pearl Harbour to Afghanistan, what have we learned? Nothing much, but read it anyway.
Men have always fought. And like no other magazine, Esquire has always chronicled war.

Writing in 1943, Lieutenant J.K. Taussig Jr., who commanded anti-aircraft batteries on the USS Nevada, chronicled the bombing of Pearl Harbor. "We were low on matches and I think somewhat more worried about running out of them, than about damage done to the ship." Taussig was writing from the U.S. Naval Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island. His leg had been crushed in the attack and he was still recuperating a year later. "Bombing seems to affect men this way," he wrote. "Little things become very important."

Two decades later, John Sack, one the original New Journalists, literally invented what the Department of Defense came to call "embedded journalism." In his 33,000-word "M," he followed a single Army company from basic training at Fort Dix to their first combat in the jungle of South Vietnam. The story, the longest ever printed in Esquire, filled nearly the entire October 1966 issue, and, abetted by the cover of that issue — the words "Oh my God — we hit a little girl" in stark white letters on an all-black background — it became emblematic of the war and what war journalism could be. Timely. Shocking. Compassionate. Extremely detailed and extremely close.

Sack set the stage for Michael Herr, whose "Hell Sucks," about Vietnam after the Tet Offensive, formed the foundation of what became one of the greatest books written about that war, Dispatches. Decades later, fighting an entirely different kind of war, Colby Buzzell wrote "The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Soldier," which formed the foundation of My War, the most riveting and raw book-length account to come out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chris Jones's epic, National Magazine Award–winning story "The Things that Carried Him," from 2008, chronicled in unforgettable detail the death of Sergeant Joe Montgomery in the Iraqi desert and his journey home to the cemetery in Scottsburg, Indiana, where his body now rests.

In a 2006 story, Brian Mockenhaupt sits at the bedside of a fellow soldier whose skull, shattered by a bullet in Baghdad, is being rebuilt: "They sing to him. They pray and weep. And he does nothing."

Finally, William Broyles Jr.'s haunting essay from 1984, "Why Men Love War," puts it all together: Why men go to war — and why we continue to write about and read about war — for the madness, the horror, the fear, and the beauty that makes us understand something elemental about ourselves.

For Volume 1, see Icons Passim.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Here's how to add Google+ Comments to your blog!

1. Sign in to Blogger - OK

2. Click on the “Google+” tab in your blog’s Dashboard - At your service

3. Upgrade to Google+ if you haven’t already done so - "Already done so"

4. Enable Google+ Comments. Comments already made on your posts will keep working in the new widget  - Be still my beating heart.
Is that all there is? Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Thursday, April 18, 2013

yes I said yes I will Yes.

John-Paul Flintoff: I take my inspiration in this from Nancy Dougherty, a QSer in the US who wanted to be more mindful. She started tracking her smiles, by means of a couple of electrodes attached to her temples. Every real smile, causing the skin to crinkle around her eyes, lit up a set of Christmas tree lights that she wore on her head throughout the day. By this means she noticed that everyday office interactions were not merely task-oriented, but were also opportunities to ‘express joy together’.

Prodnose: He takes his inspiration from this Nancy Dougherty?

Myself: Yes, she tracks her smiles via electrodes attached to her temples.

Prodnose: And every time she smiles, a set of Christmas tree lights that she wears on her head lights up?

Myself: Yes.

Prodnose: At work, in the office?

Myself: Yes, it is a wonder no-one thought of it before.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

all our pomp of yesterday

In 2011 HMS Invincible, icon of the Falklands War, was towed from Portsmouth having been sold for scrap.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Everything must change

If Cardiff City get a point against Charlton tonight they will qualify for promotion to the Premiership. This will mean that I will have to reignite the rivalry with Swansea and start muttering about them under my breath. This will be a wrench as I have supported the Swans loyally since they went up to the top flight again.

Let's throw them a last bone though and salute the skills that a 48 year old Michael Laudrop showed he still has by the barrel load as he turned out for a Swansea staff XI in their annual game against a press team last week.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oh, Mr Porter!

I ambled along to the beer festival in the Charles Holden yesterday after the rugby. They had a system where you could get a set of three different third of a pint tasters in small glasses on a wooden paddle holder for the same price as a pint.

I tried all the dark beers in that style before settling on the By The Horns Brewing Co's Lambeth Walk Porter.
I have just read the tweet above. I may have to go back to help them clear any beer that's left over it seems if they twist my arm.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rugby Round Up

The Bomber and I are off to the Surrey A Festival at Dorking RFC today. It is an important competition as it decides what league the boys will be in when they play U13s next year.

You can see the draw at here (pdf).

The Ruts are in Group B (with Kings and Farnham) and play on pitch A. We take on Kings at 10:50 and then Farnham at 11:30 in the group stages.

My tactics would be to beat both of them so that we get to play the winner of Group F in the quarter final at twenty past one, and then play a semi final at 2:30 before finally winning the whole thing in the final at quarter past three, but it really up to the coaches to fill in the details and the boys to implement.

Ben went to a Harlequins Rugby camp at the Stoop on Thursday and Friday along with team mates Jonnie, Sid and Joe, so they should be nicely tuned up at least.

Finally if you spend over £30 on the WRU championship range at http://store.wru.co.uk/Champions/ this weekend you get free delivery. I have already filled my boots and am recommending the "WE EVEN GAVE YOU A HEAD START" t-shirt.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Watching the live stream of a Psy concert from Seoul (99,476 watching now says YouTube) at the same time as North Korea rattles nuclear sabres behind a border that is only 31 miles away is a very strange experience this morning.

Friday, April 12, 2013

South East Police Hosting Services Agreement

There is an interesting contract on Tenders Electronic Daily today. Interesting to me that is, as opposed to exerting a strange fascination on the whole human race.
Short description of the contract or purchase(s)
The following UK contracting authorities shall be able to use the contract:
- Police and Crime Commissioner Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (http://www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk/)
- Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley (http://www.thamesvalley-pcc.gov.uk/)
- Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey (http://www.surrey-pcc.gov.uk/)
- Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex (http://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/)
Surrey Police on behalf of the following police forces: Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Thames Valley Police, Hampshire Constabulary (“the Forces”) are procuring Hosting Services and associated Migration Services to:
- improve the resilience of their hosting services,
- improve the agility of the hosting services,
- to leverage economies of scales through shared provision, and
- to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership.
The framework is envisaged to include, but not be limited to, the following:
- the provision of co-located services ie Force's infrastructure at supplier's Data Centre,
- infrastructure as a service,
- software and applications as a service,
- SAN,
- Load balancing,
- assistance with the migration of existing services to new services, and
- consultancy and professional services.
The new services will be required to conform to security accreditation IL3 (RESTRICTED) and, potentially, IL4 (CONFIDENTIAL) security standards and Tier 3 and, potentially, Tier 4 Data Centre Hosting standards.
The supplier will be responsible for the design, service provisioning and supply, implementation, testing, commissioning, transition and migration, project management, and provision of a range of service management and support arrangements.
The supplier will be required to provide a service catalogue in order to assist the Forces in the procurement of services day-to-day. The service catalogue will list products, services, resource, service levels, and associated service charges. The services catalogue will assist the partnership between the winning supplier and the Forces to ensure the business and operational requirements are supported throughout the period of the agreement.
It should be noted that the Forces are not able to make a commitment to volumes at this time with each Force at varying stages of their infrastructure lifecycle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I know where I will be at eight o'clock

A vision of public service broadcasting associated with the Scotsman John Reith (1889–1971), who became managing director of the BBC in 1923 and declared that it should aim to inform, educate, and entertain (very much in that order). For him, PSB was based on four principles: firstly, it should be protected from commercial pressures; secondly, it should serve the whole nation, not just urban centres; thirdly, it should be under the control of a single unified body; and fourthly, it should be a monopoly. See also public broadcasting service; quality television.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Impingement syndrome

It may not seem much to you, but I brushed my teeth and shaved with my right hand this morning. I admit that there was as much head lowering as arm raising in the exercises but it is a great improvement on the beginning of the week. I also managed to get a decent kip.

I remember that I have had cortisol injections when my shoulder has flared up before, so I am self diagnosing impingement syndrome. Treating it, as I have, with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and rest seems to be working. I wonder what I can do longer term? Then again maybe I should just bite the bullet and accept that I will get it every few years if I crash and burn in the course of undignified exertions.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

2002 Chateau Musar Gaston Hochar

It was hard to sleep last night with the pain in my shoulder, but I have got a bit more movement in my arm today and even managed - drum roll - to put my keys in my right trouser pocket and then take them out again.

I won a magnum of 2002 Chateau Musar Gaston Hochar for the best wipe out of the weekend in acquiring my injury. Here is a review of the vintage from drunk.com - http://www.drunk.com/wine/chateau-musar-red-2002/

Things are looking up.

Monday, April 08, 2013

capital punisment

oh i should worry and fret
death and i will coquette
there s a dance in the old dame yet
toujours gai toujours gai
i popped out to boots this morning and bought a triangular calico bandage to fashion into an elevation sling and an assortment of pain killers.

writing will be in ee cummings, archy and mehitabel style until i can get two hands on the keyboard comfortably again.
let’s live suddenly without thinking

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Quantock Mechanics

I am back from mountain biking in Somerset a little earlier than planned as I have beaten myself up somewhat in two spectacular falls.

The first was from a misjudged drop off and included extra points for style as a loop on the back of my boot got entangled with a pedal in the ensuing boy and bicycle death roll.

For an encore, I caught an edge on a single track and plunged down the slope though my descent was arrested by scores of barbs from brambles hooking into my skin and slowing me down.

I can hardly move my right shoulder at the moment which made the drive back interesting, I've hurt it like that before and I'll be good as gold in a couple of days, but it certainly smarts at the moment.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Pillow Fight Club

Welcome to Pillow Fight Club. The first rule of Pillow Fight Club is: you do not blog about Pillow Fight Club. The second rule of Pillow Fight Club is: you DO NOT blog about Pillow Fight Club!
World Pillow Fight Day arrives in Trafalgar Square tomorrow afternoon.  I won't be there as I am off mountain biking in Somerset. I won't be blogging either. When I am offline I will pedal. I will pedal until my muscles burn and my veins pump battery acid. Then I will pedal some more .....

Myself:  Now answer me, why do people think that I'm you.
Prodnose: I think you know.
Myself:  No, I don't.
Prodnose:: Yes, you do. Why would anyone possibly confuse you with me?
Myself: Uh... I... I don't know.
[Random flashbacks]
Prodnose:: You got it.
Myself: : No.
Prodnose: Say it.
Myself: : Because...
Prodnose: Say it.
Myself:  Because we're the same person.
Prodnose: That's right.

[After an uncomfortable silence]

Prodnose: Hey, you created me. I didn't create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better. Take some responsibility!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The World of Goats

1. Goats up a tree

2. Fainting goats

3. Underwater goats with snorkels and flippers

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Merton is Ben Folds

Just for a giggle, we typed in the names of London areas into Google search, to see what the autocomplete function would spit out. The results are intriguing, if also somewhat meaningless.
Myself: Merton is Ben Folds?

Prodnose: Merton is Ben Folds. It goes with your hair. You certainly know the right thing to wear.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Man Lab

The Bomber is staying with me for a week or so. Yesterday we stripped down his XBox as it had started overheating, cleaned the dust that had built up especially around the fan and then reassembled it. Quality time indeed. No afternoon that includes an emergency expedition to buy a Stanley 0-65-340 FatMax Screwdriver Torx TT10 x 75mm can ever truly be considered wasted.

I was less confident that I seemed when we plugged it back in to the mains again but all was well. There is a particular point in the proceedings where you have to stick a needle through a pin hole that is hidden under a sticker to open the case. We would never have worked that out in a million years without aids like this video.

YouTube is going to produce a generation much handier at technical tinkering than mine ever was I think. It can never have the same romance as a Haynes manual for a Morris Marina, but I have to admit it is better.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Cool

The spaghetti tree hoax is a famous 3-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools' Day 1957 by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama. It told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree, broadcast at a time when this Italian dish was not widely eaten in the UK and some Britons were unaware that spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water.

Watching it shivering in Blighty this morning, the line "it isn't only in Britain this year that spring has taken everyone by surprise" sounds more unlikely than spaghetti trees frankly.