Wednesday, 23 June 2010

When I am the Minister for Transport (part two)

As a musician, I do seem to do quite a lot of travelling - most of it by road…  (I drove over eight hundred miles in one weekend, last week…)  And one of the things which annoys me most about travelling in the car, is roadworks…

Now, roadworks are annoying - we all know that!  And, sometimes, we have to accept that they're also necessary…  But, I am not convinced that roadworks in such high quantities are really essential!

Yeah, sure, if the road's actually falling apart - if somebody's actually died because of the state of the road - by all means, then, do something about it!  But so many of the roadworks one meets, as one travels around the country, seem so trivial…

Or, indeed, inexplicable!  If you're travelling North, the chances are you'll happen upon the M1, at some point in your journey…  The last time I was driving North on the M1, great swathes of it were covered in roadworks, marked down to 50mph, and lines of frustrated, slow moving traffic are regulated by the modern equivalent of Cromwell's Puritan Commissioners - the Average Speed Check Cameras of Evil!

"M1 Improvements" boasts the sign…  Now, I don't know about you, but I was never under the impression that the M1 needed "improving"…  It always seemed fine as it was!

And, whatever these improvements are, which the powers-that-be seem to feel really need implementing, are they worth all the hassle?  Because, while the work is actually being done, far from being "improved", the M1 is actually a whole lot worse!

To give you an idea of the irony of some of these situations, I was just entering another roadworks zone, around Junction 16 of the M25, when I saw a sign saying this -

"M25 Carriageway Widening - caution, narrow lanes"

So, how's that widening working out for you, eh?  Made a good start?

Again, I realise that, in some cases, work simply has to be done, and drivers must just live with the disruption, until it's all over…  It just seems that some works will never end, and when they eventually do, some other road is being worked on…  When will the roads finally be finished?  Never!

I don't actually have a proper proposal about this…  If I were made Minister for Transport tomorrow (and there's a strong chance that will happen) I wouldn't have my policy on roadworks all set-out and ready to be implemented…

But what I do know is that I'd definitely try and cut down on the amount of roadworks, and the sheer size and scale of the projects, as much as possible…  Only when absolutely, really necessary, and there's no other alternative, would I allow works to begin…  Otherwise - forget it!  They're just too much of a nuisance - and, more often than not, more trouble than they're worth…

Monday, 14 June 2010

When is it not the time to go on a diet?

So, it's the middle of June, and the smell-o-vision is full of adverts encouraging people (more commonly women) to get slim "for summer"...  The insinuation being that summer is the time when it really matters that you have a slim, svelte figure...  (To look good in a bathing suit, I presume?)

OK, fair enough...  So, now's the time to go on a diet, if you're going to?  Well, yes, but, so's any other time - if you believe the adverts!

I remember, only a few months back, when people were being encouraged to get slim for Christmas...  Or, "the party season" as advertising agencies seem to prefer to call it...  I s'pose the jocular, merry connotations of such a phrase help shift more worthless "tat" than a more down-to-earth moniker like "season of depression and divorce" would...!

So, when's the best time to be on a diet?  Summer, or Christmas?  Or maybe spring?  Or late autumn?  Well, with Bonfire Night at the beginning of November, you're most likely to be seen in silhouette with all those lights going off - and, in such a situation, you can't rely on having a pretty face, so you'll need to be thin!  (To be honest, I'm surprised I haven't actually seen an advert that takes that line yet...  Maybe this November, somebody will finally capitalise on this hitherto unsullied opportunity?)

I think the answer is that companies who sell products which help you to lose weight want you to believe that every season is the best time to diet...  The best (or worst?) example of this would, I believe, be Kellogg's...  A company with an hilariously wide range of products designed to aid weight loss!  How many different types of "Special K" bars, cereals, snacks, etc, are available to buy, these days?  Lots!

And, of course, there are year-round adverts for "Special K" - always goading the viewer into trying a "two week challenge" or a "thousand steps challenge" or something equally galling...

So, why would you need to keep on doing "the challenge"?  Why the need to get slim for summer, for winter, for your birthday, for washing the car, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer?  Because the product doesn't work, I guess...

I could go on ranting for a long, long time about the apparent need constantly to be dieting...  But I shan't!  I shall just continue to hope that somebody, somewhere, has the sense to produce an advert saying "you don't need to get slim for summer - aren't you already slim from spring?!"

Friday, 4 June 2010

Facebook group hilarity

I know I'm posting rather a lot today, but I couldn't let this latest observation go by without mentioning it somewhere...

I have just laughed out loud (yeah, an actual, genuine, real live "lol") at the name of a Facebook group...  And the best bit was, it wasn't even one of this "funny" groups - y'know, the ones which invariably aren't funny...

The group name was clearly meant to say - I hate it when you're super excited for something and everything goes wrong - a reasonably mundane, but not inherently amusing, group...

But, thanks to multiple spelling errors, what I actually read, was this - I hate it when your supper exited for something and everything goes wrong - "yes," I thought to myself, "I actually do hate it when my evening meal walks out, because it's found some other, more attractive, way to spend the time, triggering a chain of unfortunate happenings!"

OK, perhaps not so funny when it's explained in that way - but, I guarantee, hilarious, if you happen to be glancing down your News Feed, and spot that name...  Honestly!!

365 Project rejects - 4th June 2010

These are photos which I like, but which I didn't pick to be today's picture showcased in my 365 Project...

I'll start, actually, with the one I did choose for the project...

Looking upstream at Breydon Bridge -

But there were also these others, which, sadly, didn't quite make it...

A closer shot of the bridge, which I also really like -

Looking downstream, instead, towards Yarmouth town -

A stump of wood, protruding from the mudflats -

And, the view underneath Breydon Bridge, peering through those enormous concrete girders -

Hope you liked those...  If not - no worries!  :)

Rationalising the iPad

So, Apple's famous tablet computer, the iPad, is now available here in sunny Blighty, and the adverts are already all over our televisual devices...  It's not a medicinal gadget, to be taken twice daily with meals (oh c'mon, did you really think I'd be able to resist the obvious pun?!) it's essentially an enormous iPhone...  No, better, an enormous iPod Touch - since the iPad doesn't seem to have any telecommunicative functions...

I'm not going to review the iPad...  Partly because I've never actually seen one in real life, let alone used one, but also partly because other people have already done it, far better than I could ever hope to...

What I am going to do, is try and decide whether I actually want one or not, right here, live on air...  Well, live on this Blog...  How exciting?  No, not really, I know - but don't grumble!  You suggest a better topic!

OK - here we go!  So, why would I want, or not want, an iPad?  I'm going to start with the "cons" - reasons not to get an iPad...  I shall express this, in the form of a diagram, thus -

As you can see, I'm not really sure what the need for iPad is...  It seems to overlap parts of what you can do with a laptop, and parts of what you can do with a mobile phone...  What I'm wondering is - is there anything an iPad does, which can't be done with either a computer or a smartphone?  (I don't actually know the answer to that, and I can't be bothered to do my research, so I shall simply presume that there isn't...)

So, what reasons are there for wanting an iPad?  I clearly don't *need* one - but, every time I see the rational, logical, clear-thinking arguments of the diagram, a little voice in my head wheedles "yeah, but - it's shiny!  It's cool!  It's made by Apple!"

And that's the thing - on a purely emotional level, the iPad really appeals!  So, it's head vs. heart - iPad vs. no iPad...  And, although I claim to be a "rational and intellectual individual" (I love words that end in "al") I know, deep down, that the base desire to have the latest in status-symbol-based gadgetry, to own it, to caress it, to been seen owning and caressing it by others, will win me over every time...

All of which is merely academic - I couldn't possible afford one anyway...!