July 2005 Archives - wibbler.com

A Fishy Business

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It’s been about 3 months since, one April day, we decided something was missing from our flat. That something, we concluded, was fish. Not the deep-frozen type you find in freezers but the living, swimming-about version, an idea which, when I revealed it two weeks later, horrified my mother. Off we trotted to Notcutts Garden Centre in Cranleigh, who proved more than useless. However, Maidenhead Aquatics at Clandon became our knight in fishy armour, and before long we’d interrogated the staff about what on earth to do. We’d no idea on fish – as far as we knew, you bought the fish, bought fish food, bought the tank, stuck a load of water in and watched them swim around.
Little did we know, fish are sensitive little buggers. It’s fair to warn anyone thinking one Sunday afternoon that fish might “be a nice idea” that they require almost as much attention as a dog. We bought 12 fish in total, plonked them in the tank and waited for them to scoot around. Unfortunately, as fish are unable to communicate with humans or make any sort of noise – who’d want to be a fish? – we were unaware of their discomfort and three promptly kicked the watery bucket within a month.
The tank decided to up the pressure – and gathered together a whole load of brown algae, covering the floor and walls of the tank. We bought testing kits for the water – all three tests showed “danger to aquatic life” – and around four different liquids to help make the water more, well, watery. Finally, after another two fish flipped over and played dead, salvation came from Maidenhead Aquatics – a gunk-eating Bristlenose Catfish. Suckered to the sides of the tank, it’s merrily wolfing up the brown stuff faster than Vanessa Feltz with a chocolate sundae.
So, the tank has been swallowing up fish, algae and money – but now I’m hoping for a success. If not, I may try and interest you in a nicely-maintained fish tank in a few weeks…

London Underground Explosions. Again.

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Twice looks like carelessness. BBC News link.
Update 2:44pm – Robin has ongoing updates running again.
Update 2:54pm – Police say this is “very serious incident”. Armed police seen going into University College Hospital.
Update 3:11pm – BBC News carries a timeline. Tony Blair to give statement.
Update 3:40pm – Four buses stop in Whitehall, and police are clearing the area. Reporters asked to turn off cameras.
Update 3:47pm – The following swiped from perfect.co.uk:
Sky News : BBC report, eyewitness accounts, reporters log : Guardian report, newsblog : Wikinews : Nosemonkey liveblogging

Audible embarrassment

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I was sitting in an airless, under-lit room near Winchester, trying to appease the client’s concerns. Things had gone wrong, it was true, and I was here to fix them. I had fixed them too, all but one minor glitch, and I was feeling victorious, elated and downright upbeat. I wanted to bray from the rooftops, tell them how everything would be alright. “I am Chief Fixer, and I can fix anything.” I would happily have exclaimed. Things, in short, were going well.
That is, until Michelle sent me a text message. I have recently taking delivery of an absolutely stonking phone, a Nokia 6680. For reasons I’ve detailed before, this has been a much-awaited phone and by lummy it’s a corker. As soon as it arrived a week last Thursday, I loaded its software onto my computer and started checking out the themes, wallpapers and sounds I could use to personalise it. Sound themes ranged from “animals” to “city sounds” to “funny” to “sexy”. The phone has a random sound selection function, so I ticked a few boxes, downloaded them and let it do its thing.
Anyway, back to the meeting. It was tense, but I had the upper hand. Suddenly, my pocket started vibrating. A sudden thought scampered through my brain, and I fumbled as fast as I could to locate the phone and stop the noise. But I fumbled in vain. The stale, highly-tensed air of the room was penetrated by a sound that the phone had kindly selected from the “sexy” theme. The unmistakable sound of a series of highly-excited female moans filled the room as I made more desperate attempts to fish for the phone. The female clients in the room looked on in astonishment at my flailing antics, clearly not amused. My trousers had become as user-friendly as shrink-wrap, and I reached the phone after the sound had finished. “Terribly sorry,” I muttered, struggling to justify the noise. “It’s a new phone, random noise thing, sorry, ummm.. yes. Sorry.” I could feel my face turning very warm as I realised my higher ground was compromised. For the rest of the meeting, I tried to carry on as if nothing had happened and rushed out of the room the moment the meeting finished.
I’m due to meet them again next week for a repeat performance – although I’m not sure I can top that marmalade-dropping moment…

Africa – answers on a postcard…

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The recent Live8 concerts and the G8 conference in Edinburgh have focused the mind on overseas aid – in particular in Africa. As I write, BBC News24 are showing the ubiquitous Bono of U2 telling us that they are “the saleman of aid in the world.”
Now, obviously saving lives is a good thing, as Michelle and I were discussing last night. There are plenty of naysayers, but I’m reserving judgement. I have a few questions for Bob and Bono before I get behind the whole movement.

One. A whole load of finger-clicking from those Live8 adverts has shown that a child dies every three seconds. How can I check this is correct?
Two. If a child dies every three seconds, and the yearly growth of Africa’s population is rising to 20% a year by 2050 at current rates (source), does that mean that a child is born more rapidly than every three seconds? If so, there’s an awful lot of spare time and carnal knowledge floating around over there…
Three. If there is a child born more rapidly than every three seconds, shouldn’t we be working to lower that birthrate at least as vigorously – if not more urgently – than stopping early death? Lower birth rates would mean food is not dispersed and stretched as much as it is currently.
Four. If we give a load more aid, and a load less people die, won’t the population of Africa grow exponentially (way, way more than the 20% predicted) until there is a population and resourcing crisis?

I’m not a naysayer. I know that there are other countries with higher population growth in other countries – but this demographic-changing aid isn’t going to those countries. I’m just asking for a few answers so I can be entirely happy with the cause. Answers on a postcard please…

Underground blasts

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(Looking for 21st July blasts? Click here)

London Underground closed after multiple blasts. More at The Guardian. Reason #567 why I… oh never mind.
Update 10:15am :
Most controversial comment so far: “It’s probably the French.”
Update 11:00am:
Flickr has some pictures coming in, and Google News will keep you updated. Also, The Guardian’s blog is keeping track of the updates.
Update 12:05pm:
Fellow blogger Perfect.co.uk has updates at the ready.
Update 12:12pm:
Jihad group in Europe admits responsibility in 200 word statement on website.
Those wikipedia guys are quick: Wikipedia: 2005 London Underground explosions. Also, Londonist has an eye on events as they happen.
Clique update: Friends will be pleased to know that Mel N, Jac, Elli C, Jon B and David B are all ok. Mel was in Aldgate station an hour before the explosions…
Update 1:18pm – Statement from terrorist group, from Europhobia:

Jamaat al-Tandheem Al-Sierri (secret organization group)
Organization of Qaeda’t al-Jihad in Europe

In the name of God the most merciful…

Rejoice the nation of Islam, rejoice nation of Arabs, the time of revenge has come for the crusaders’ Zionist British government.

As retaliation for the massacres which the British commit in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mujahideen have successfully done it this time in London.

And this is Britain now burning from fear and panic from the north to the south, from the east to the west.

We have warned the brutish governments and British nation many times.

And here we are, we have done what we have promised. We have done a military operation after heavy work and planning, which the mujahideen have done, and it has taken a long time to ensure the success of this operation.

And we still warn the government of Denmark and Italy, all the crusader governments, that they will have the same punishment if they do not pull their forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So beware.

Thursday 7/7/2005
Jamaat al-Tandheem Al-Sierri (secret organization group)
Organization of al Qaeda’t al-Jihad in Europe.

Update 5:58pm :
Reader Nadem Khan raises an interesting question – can anyone vouch for the veracity of this article?
Update 6.18pm : Guardian tells readers that “Bloggers react quickly to London blasts.” Damn right…!
Update 7.10pm : The BBC now has a dedicated subsite.

Hold The Line

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About a year ago, I geeked out on mobile phones and bought an O2 XDAII. It was a thing of beauty – a large touch screen and countless useful features that essentially made it a small computer. “Now I don’t have to spend hours in front of the computer!” I announced to Michelle’s obvious glee. Add to that the fact that a friend’s boyfriend had got me a Friends and Family discount for life, and I was a happy bunny. I remember picking it up in Slough, sitting in a lay-by, firing it up for the first time and phoning Michelle, unable to hide my glee.
Times have moved on, of course. The initial glee has given way to slight inconveniences. For example, when I go out on the town, where should I put it? It fills an entire jeans pocket, and if you accidently drop the thing in a drunken haze it’ll no doubt reward you by springing into a thousand pieces. Add to that the constant crashing (it’s a Microsoft system, you know what they’re like), and the fact that loading applications onto it usually caused something else equally useful to stop working and the joy has faded. So, three months ago, my eyes rested pleasingly on the new Nokia 6680. Techy advances mean that it can do almost everything my XDAII can do, but without looking as though you’ve got a laptop stuck to your ear. My recent trip to a conference in London had only whetted my appetite further – the Nokia representative there had one, and was salivating almost as much as I was.
So, naturally, I phone O2 on the day the phone is launched. “I’m afraid, sir, that the phone has been delayed a week. Phone back next week.” So I did. “I’m afraid, sir, that the phone has been put back another week. Sorry. Try phoning next Monday.” So – again – I did. And I think you may be able to notice a pattern here. In fact, for the next 14 weeks they advised me to phone back the following week, and I had no option. I was aware that there was a huge demand for the phone and if I missed the boat by even a day they would be sold out. Finally, yesterday, £9.52 later – I’ve worked out the exact figure for a nice little complaint letter I’m drawing up – I was allowed to order it.
It’s taken 14 phone calls, around an hour of waiting on hold and countless swear words, but it’s arriving tomorrow. The little bugger better be worth it.