Friday, November 14, 2008

The Credit Crunch isn't so bad

For all those people that think that things are really bad at the moment. Please spare a thought for the poor folks in Zimbabwe. This was emailed to me the other day via a friend and it made me realise that our troubles are insignificant.

I am in despair.  We have been on the slippery slope for years but it is now nose dive mode.  We have effectively been cut off from the rest of the world telephonically w.e.f. this past weekend.  The landlines hardly ever work for trunk calls.  We often have no landlines at all.  When we have a power cut the Highlands exchange (which controls our office landlines) goes onto generator power.  When they run out of diesel (which happens frequently) the phones die.  We offered to supply them with diesel just to get phones back.  "No.  We cannot accept donations from the public".  So the lines remain dead until either power is restored or they get a fresh supply of diesel!!  Okay so that is the landlines.  "But you have mobiles" you say.  Yes we did until Sunday when the network decreed our mobiles could no longer be used to dial any regional or international number.  All contract lines (now only good for calls within Zim) have been cancelled and replaced with pay as you go.  As in CASH only up front recharge cards in Z$2 million denominations available from only 2 outlets in Harare.  The queues to purchase these are horrendous.  This buys you 33 mins of talk time when you purchase it.  BUT 24 hours later you may only have Z$20,000 left even if you haven't made a single call.  Why?  Because they devalue the value of your recharge at the rate of inflation!  And 36 hours after they introduced this system, they have run out of recharge cards so effectively our mobiles are now useless even for local calls.

Money.  I have told the boss to stop paying me.  I will work for free.  Cash withdrawal limitations for companies mean I can't be paid in cash only by cheque deposit into my bank account.  I have no access whatsoever to this money.  There are cash withdrawal limits on individuals but that aside the queues to withdraw cash begin at 4 a.m.  One doesn't queue for hours one queues for days to withdraw an amount that wouldn't even buy a loaf of bread.  Nobody will take cheques any longer (not even ZESA the supplier of electricity).  So there the money sits inaccessible and devaluing by the minute.  Supermarkets have a few shelves with provisions all quoted in USD.  The shelves for provisions in local currency are completely empty.

It is totally insane

I don't know about you, but that makes me realise how fortunate I really am.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Return of The Friday Morning Pub Quiz

I've been neglecting my blog(s) of late, so it's nigh time I put a bit more effort in. I've decided that clearly two blogs is a bad idea, as I can't keep one up to date. I'll move the few posts on the other one to here when I get round to it.

Anyway, Thursday night is quiz night at my local hostelry and here's a selection of the questions.

** No using the internet to cheat **

1. What is the capital of Brazil?

2. What do the initials YMCA stand for?

3. Proverbs: What does the hand that rocks the cradle do?

4. Which conservative MP was nicknamed "Doris Karloff"

5. Name 3 of the 4 main characters from the 80s TV show "The Young Ones"

6. What colour was the sea in which the yellow submarine sailed?

Post your answers in the comments...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Excellent Board Game

I played a new board game for the first time on Monday night, and it was one of the best games I have ever played.

The game is called Pandemic, and it's a collaborative game, where a number of players basically try to beat the game. We played it twice and lost both times on the easiest level, but I'm sure we'll get better with practise.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I have a new blog

This is one I've been meaning to do for a while.

When I'm out and about I like spotting house and business names that are (to my mind) quite frankly daft. Also, other signs that are put up on walls that make you go "what were they thinking?".

It's not likely to be a frequently updated blog (not that this blog is frequently updated any more), but it is exactly the sort of thing that camera phones are jolly bloody useful for.

So, please take yourself along to You Called it What? and have a look.


Asparagus Wee

What's that all about?

I love asparagus, especially when it's young, fresh, seasonal and english.

I hate the way it makes my wee smell - why does it do that?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

TomTom Nightmares

I recently attempted to use the "Latest Map Guarantee" that came with my brand spanking new TomTom Go 720 (present to myself, with some vouchers for 15 years service at work).

What a nightmare it has turned out to be.

After several failed downloads that took 5-6 hours on a 1Mbit broadband connection I turned to TomTom customer support, only to be met with a wall of incompetence.

Problems with the download were blamed on my firewall, my router, my broadband connection, everything apart from the TomTom HOME software, which seems to have a plethora of bugs in the latest version.

When I refused to turn off the firewall on my router and leave my home network unprotected for the several hours that it would take to complete the download I was basically told that they could not help any further. My only alternative was to try another computer on a different broadband connection - sure, I'll just magic one up out thin air shall I?

I'm just glad that I didn't pay for the map, this was a free update. One only has to look to google, though, to find similar tales to mine from people who have paid and met with the same problems and dodgy customer service as I have experienced.

My next stop is the UK Customer Services Director - let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Well, either that or an attack of procrastination.

For the last few weeks I simply haven't been arsed to update my blog - which is not really that great is it?

Just been feeling that I've not got a whole lot to say about anything. I have had a couple of good ideas for new blogs that i've been developing, so I guess that doesn't help either. No excuse though, 1/10 - must try harder.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Homage to Portal (in Lego)

More than 1300 individual photos went into the making of this amazing stop motion film. It is based on the video game, Portal, and features the soundtrack from the game's credits with an all Lego cast.

read more | digg story