Monday, November 30, 2009

Man in the Mirror

I was followed to work this morning.

That is, the same car was behind me for most of the journey - not actually stalking me.

Looking in the mirror, I could see the female driver giving her male passenger a tongue lashing of epic proportions - and not in a good way.

She never stopped for the whole journey. Every time I glanced back her hands were gesticulating wildly - finger pointed accusingly about four inches from his face.

At each traffic light, I braced myself for the impact of her pink Honda Jazz on my big-ass Megane's big-ass bumper. She clearly wasn't focused on the road ahead.

She kept taking her glasses off, waving them in his general direction, then replacing them on her sharp, narrow nose, all the while keeping up the tirade of abuse.

I was fascinated by his response, which was to remain completely impassive and unresponsive. I checked the mirror again to make sure he hadn't committed suicide on the way - death being a preferable alternative to spending another second being harangued by a Professional Harpy (First Class).

Or that maybe he was one of those inflatable car buddies women carry around in their cars so as not to look like they're travelling alone.

It was only when we neared the city centre that I spotted it.

The tell-tale white cord, surreptitiously snaking up out of his collar and into his left ear - out of sight of the harrassing harridan.

He was tuning her out by tuning into his iPod.

I'm guessing it was 'Every Day I Love You Less and Less' by the Kaiser Chiefs

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The fabulous Notkeith has once again come up with a brilliant, original illustration to accompany the more bizarre of my posts.

Thanks NK.

If you haven't already checked out his wonderful drawings, go over and take a look now.

From last week's Bike Shed goings-on:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Owen Goal Update

Owen's projected tally has dropped but is still on my bet threshold - just.

6 minutes against Chelsea and 90 minutes against Everton and no goals - so business as usual.

His golfing pals on Match of the Day highlighted the excellent positions he gets himself in as a positive. Surely that should have been a negative - i.e. with all the chances, why did he fail to find the back of the net? Once again they touted him for inclusion in the world cup squad. When asked if he would take him to the world cup, Lineker said 'Yes, IF he stays fit, IF he starts regularly for United and IF he gets goals'

So that will be no then, will it Gary?

Appearances: 16/19
Minutes Played: 617
Goals: 4
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:154
Goals Per Appearance: 0.25
Projected Season Tally*: 12

* Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (39 mins), goal frequency (every 154 minutes or 4 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (25 Prem games and c12 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 84%). So 37 games x 84% = 31 appearances. 31/4 = 8 more goals

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Behind the Bike Shed

A secure bike shed has been erected behind our offices, next to my parking space. Electronic passes, locks and cameras have been installed to assist the green-conscious in their bid to offset the carbon footprint from my big-ass Megane.

Despite the security, there has already been a theft from it, so the powers-that-be have turned to more extreme measures to protect the contents.

The Megane is a very duck-friendly motor. No keys, just a card that has to be about my person, which in proximity to the car, opens and locks doors, windows, sunroof, activates alarms and immobilisers and switches wipers, lights, CD player and engine on and off - so no fumbling about in handbags in the rain looking for keys.


However, in the last three weeks, when accessing or exiting my car by the bike shed, the Megane has failed to respond to the card signal. Mmm. This has meant standing next to it, trying all the doors and windows, shouting, jiggling my handbag and even in desperation, fishing the card from its depths and waving it about in the general direction of the car. 

Still nothing.

It's definitely not the card, because it's functioning normally at every other location the car is require to pass time. Nevertheless, I tried bringing along the spare card and waving the two together in a bizarre, synchronised ceremonial car-activating dance, with appropriate swearing as backing music.


Now, bear in mind that it's usually cold, dark and rainy when I arrive and leave work, so hanging about by the bike shed, arguing with a stubborn red car is not my first choice for recreational activity at the beginning and end of the day. I've even resorted to removing the little battery disc from the card, licking it and putting it back*. I probably would have been better pointing it through my head à la Clarkson.

I can only conclude that a spell has been cast over the bike shed, or an invisible forcefield placed around it by its owners. Either that or it's a time portal for bees to return to their home planet, and the Megane is cleverly resisting its gravitational pull.

Either way it's unstoppable, so I've thrown in the towel and moved spaces. Now at a safe distance of 20 yards, normal service has been resumed.

Although I fear for the little Fiesta, still parked there, at the mercy of whatever demon is at work.

*This did actually work a couple of times.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Virtually There

The Little Ducks did their Christmas lists last week and I communicated my innermost desires and wishes to Mrs. Duck Senior, for general circulation*

You all know what a fan of shopping I am. Not!

So you will be pleased to know that I completed my Christmas shopping on Sunday. All done.

Not only that, every item I have chosen is brilliant and perfect and will take me to the top of the Best Christmas Present charts in every Duck family residence. I am a Retail Goddess.

Smug doesn't being to cover it.

Until I realised on Monday morning that my shopping expedition was the stuff of Sunday night dreams and not only that, I cannot remember what ANY of the inspired and wonderful gifts were!

So contrary to my previous post and my 45 Things, I do not remember everything.

And the shopping remains to be done.


  • * A new coat for Local Walks for Local People;
  • a new #1 hat, as I've lost my beloved United beanie;
  • new speakers for the big-ass Megane - I've wrecked mine playing super-loud music (the only way to enjoy music IMHO);
  • a Moleskine Notebook (on my list for years and never received - take note Santa);
  • NO chocolate - I'm the one person in the world who doesn't like it;
  • a Philadelphus bush for the Purple Garden;
  • a phone number for someone who can make curtains.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I have realised that I am gradually working my way through explanations of my 45 Things.

Today #27 - 'I remember everything'.

These days that's not quite as true as it has been in the past, and so I resort to leaving myself aide-memoires in my phone - especially for blog material. If I don't make a note straight away - exact wording of the Little Ducks' entertaining observations, for instance, then I can't recall them perfectly and the moment is lost.

However, the prompts can sometimes be a little obtuse.

I try to keep them short, especially if I haven't got my glasses on and can barely see the screen - never mind press the right keys on the miniscule Nokia E71 keypad. So from time to time, I cannot for the life of me remember to what they refer.

This is compounded by predictive text.

Last week I left myself a note that reads:

Obituary Want Knobs. Marilyn Monroe. Mismatch

I kid you not. I have been wracking my brains trying to fathom this all week. WTF? - seriously.

Facebook came to my rescue this lunchtime when the photographs from Saturday's Hallowe'en party were posted and there is a great one of a friend , dressed as Marilyn Monroe

with her partner Obi Wan Kenobi.

Owen Goal Update:

For the first time, Michael's projected tally is over my bet threshold.

11 minutes against Blackburn and once again, no goal - business as usual.

BUT. 90 minutes against Moscow and an important goal.

He must be due an injury about now....

Appearances: 14/17
Minutes Played: 521
Goals: 4
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:130
Goals Per Appearance: 0.21
Projected Season Tally*: 13

* Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (37 mins), goal frequency (every 130 minutes or 3.5 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (27 Prem games and c12 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 82%). So 39 games x 82% = 32 appearances. 32/3.5 = 9 more goals

Monday, November 02, 2009

Run That By Me Again

I know how déjà vu works.

Look away now if you've heard this before.

Or don't.

Because you probably haven't.

No matter how you set them up, Scalextric cars never perform equally. You know the track length is exactly the same in each lane and it should be a fair race, but the design is fatally flawed.

The track comes in pieces that clip together and the joins are never perfect. Unless you devote permanent space to it, you are constantly dismantling and remantling so bumps, gaps and imperfections appear and the yellow car always loses.

And so it is with how the brain processes new information and how it stores long- and short-term memories. Robert Efron tested an idea at the Veterans Hospital in Boston in 1963 that stands as a valid theory today. He proposed that a delayed neurological response causes déjà vu. Because information enters the processing centres of the brain via more than one path (your imperfect racetrack) it is possible that occasionally that blending of information might not synchronize correctly.

Efron found that the temporal lobe of the brain's left hemisphere is responsible for sorting incoming information. He also found that the temporal lobe receives this incoming information twice with a slight (milliseconds-long) delay between transmissions -- once directly (the red car) and once again after its detour through the right hemisphere of the brain. If that second transmission (the yellow car) is delayed slightly longer (the ill-fitting join after the cicane) then the brain might put the wrong timestamp on that bit of information and register it as a previous memory because it had already been processed.

And that explains the sudden sense of familiarity.

Ta da.