Friday 13th April 2012

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Once again, welcome to the Ides and for the second time this year it is a Friday the 13th!  Fear not you friggatriskaidekaphobiacs for there is only one more to go before the end of the year (July if you want to prepare your cleansing rituals!).  For the second Ides in a row I have planned to be off work (O.K. the previous Ides was for a funeral and ended up ill in bed) a day off in lieu of the Easter Bank Holidays which saw me at work for both Bank Holidays – Good Friday and Easter Monday.  This Ides however went a little more to plan.

My eldest was off school and so I had promised to talk her to the cinema as a treat (the fact that I enjoy going to the cinema too, had nothing to do with it!).  We went to see Pirates, In Adventure With Scientists the latest Aardman Animations feature length film.  My mini review is based on the fact that for certain sections of the film I was explaining what was going on to my eldest and so missed many of the subtleties of the script.  However, I thought it was excellent, if a little predictable but the humour was a mixture of subtle, slapstick and clever wordplay and definitely needs a second viewing.  Blu-ray ordered.

Afterwards we met my wife and youngest and booked our family holiday and week in Tenerife.  so a very successful and not at all unlucky day for our little quartet.

So what was happening in the world?

David Cameron visited Myanamar (or Burma as we still call it in Britain as we do not recognise the legitimacy of the military rule).  This is historic as I believe he is the first British Prime Minister to visit the country and it allows the British to look for the 25 unused Spitfires that were buried at the end of World War II.  By all accounts they are still in the crates they were shipped in, wrapped in wax and oil sheets to protect them from the elements, so hopefully they will still look like they did when they arrived in Burma nearly 70 years ago.  Fascinating.

Mount Etna erupted for the 6th time this year, making it one of its most active periods for many years.

Closer to home, the Royal Mail is accused of rationing stamps as the public snap up first class stamps before the price increases 25% from 48p for a first class letter to 60p.  A huge increase and because the design of the stamp doesn’t change a first class stamp bought for 48p is still a first class stamp when the price increases to 60p.  Hence the Royal Mail are attempting to prevent stockpiling at this crossover period.

There is also a possible deal in the fuel drivers talks.  The government have been accused of helping panic the public into buying fuel even though there is only a hint of industrial action and petrol is something that you can not stockpile (unlike stamps).  We will see how this pans out throughout the next few weeks and see if they do go on strike whether it brings the country to its knees or forces the resignation of a government minister.  Somehow I don’t think so.

Also, tying in with an earlier post, the first Raspberry Pis begun shipment.  I still haven’t decided if I am going to buy one or not.

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Monday 13th February

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So a month passes and we find ourselves at the Ides of the second month.  Fortunately those of you that suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia are a little more secure but hey I can’t help you if you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, just rest assured that next month’s will be 15th March.

So what happened on Monday 13th February?

Awoke to a milder morning than the past week or so.  The remains of the snowmen on the front lawn were noticeably less than that from the day before and at the rate of melting will probably not last the next.  Being a Monday (especially a Monday after I had worked the weekend) I was off.  My eldest has just begun to sleep through the night without nappies and so as a reward I told her I was going to take her on an adventure.

My eldest loves to watch films but had never been to the cinema to watch one (I have an extensive collection of films) and with half-term comes plenty of kids-oriented films at the local multiplex, plus early showings.  One film in particular caught my eye: The Muppets.  A favourite of mine from when I was the same age as my oldest and hopefully with something with enough familiarity to prevent her from being bored.  She thoroughly enjoyed it (but not the popcorn) although probably not as much as her Dad!

We met up with Mum and sister for a Nando’s meal afterwards before heading home for afternoon naps and snacks and games before evening meal and off to bed.  Monday’s are mum’s weigh-in day at the local Slimming World and after a week of illness she was still proud to have lost half a stone, taking her past her target weight and three stone mark.  She is very proud, as I am of her!

So what was happening in the world:

  • People are still in shock at the news that broke the day before that Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel bath, seemingly after taking prescription drugs and alcohol although the world will need to wait until after a post-mortem and toxicology reports to know for certain.  She is not the first pop star to die of an overdose (and surely will not be the last) nor is she the first to be found dead in a bath (Jim Morrison of the Doors, of which I believe there was a famous typo in a well known UK Paper that read: ‘Pop Star found Dad in bath‘ sounds so much less final).
  • There is a feeling of unease that Abu Qatada (an alleged extremist Muslim preacher  wanted in Jordan for involvement in terror attacks from 1998 a crime he was convicted of in his absence) is freed on bail from Long Lartin gaol after being held for 6.5 years without charge.  His bail conditions are among the toughest ever.  He is only allowed to leave his home for 2 hours a day, he is banned from talking to nearly everyone, cannot use the internet or telephone, cannot lead prayers, give lectures or preach and must wear an electronic tag.  To prevent these conditions from being broke a team of 60 officers will be required.  Whatever, you think about the situation it seems a nonsense to be where we are with it.
  • The European financial situation still is poised on a knife edge with Greece voting in more austerity packages to received its latest bailout package from the rest of the European Union.  Greece people took to the streets with severe rioting in Athens.  This is not going to be a simple solution and it is not going away quickly.  Can the Eurozone allow a country to fail and then pick up the pieces or are they going to keep bailing them out until the whole of the system breaks under its own debt mountain?  This is something that will continue for the whole of the year, if not the rest of the decade.
  • Hot on the heals of Fabio Capello’s departure England are not the only team looking for a football manager.  Wolverhampton Wanderers have dismissed Mick McCarthy after his team were beaten 5-1 at home by their fierce rivals West Bromwich Albion.  This equalled the biggest defeat at Molineux for the Baggies (a record going back 119 years) and marked a year anniversary since Roy Hodgson took charge of the Throstles.  This was particularly delightful for me as I am a West Brom supporter.  Boing!Boing!
  • The last slice of news I will mention was the fact that, arguably the biggest Scottish football team of all time and current Champions, Glasgow Rangers look like there are on the verge of going into administration.  It is a sad indictment on the state of football in general and Scottish football in particular.  To understand the gravity of this one must understand that Rangers are probably the most successful Scottish team of all time (they have won the league 54 times (more top-flight national championships than any other club in the world), they have won the Scottish League cup 27 times – more than any other Scottish club – and the Scottish cup 33 times) and along with their fierce Old-Firm rivals Glasgow Celtic dominate Scottish football.  The pressures of maintaining that record and attempting to do well in the lucrative European competitions have pushed this Scottish behemoth into the brink.  Should they enter administration then they will be docked 10 points while will take them further from the title and thus any chance of European football next season.  The future doesn’t look good for Glasgow Rangers.

Here are this months Ides photos:

Friday 13th January

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Welcome to the first of the Ides summaries.  Hopefully none of you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia as not only is this the Ides of January it is a Friday!  If you do suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia then 2012 is probably a bad year for you as there will be 3 this year!

So what happened on Friday 13th January 2012?

Awoke to a fine frosty Winter’s morning, the first of note of this winter (which just goes to show how mild this winter has been!), which meant that the car’s windows needed scrapping before I could take my oldest child to school.  And so began a usual Friday day in the Bagnall household.  After the school drop I headed into work (shades on – frosty morning caused by lack of cloud cover overnight; lack of cloud cover overnight means that the low winter sun can be seen in its full glory; I drive East to work means that the sun is in my eyeline for the majority of the journey hence the shades!).

Again a standard day at work with its usual spread of delights and frustrations with one of the better delights being a surprise lunch from one of my suppliers.  Just as I was walking out of the door to head to grab a bit to eat, I bumped into the supplier heading in for a spontaneous chat with me, so we killed two birds with one stone and headed to the nearest pub.  Who says that Friday 13th is unlucky!

Back home for Salmon Stir-fry and an evening in front of the box with the missus.  Not the most awe-inspiring ides that has ever been lived but a true reflection, a snap-shot of one person’s life on Friday 13th January 2012.

Globally, what was the news?

Obviously that is an enormous question but here a few little snippets:

  • The Hammersmith Flyover (A4 – West London) re-opened.  It was closed just before Christmas after serious structural defects were discovered during an inspection.  This is one of the major arteries for traffic heading into London from the West and so has had enormous ramifications on traffic on the alternative routes.  The flyover re-opened on Friday 13th January 2012 but with only one lane in either direction and only to light traffic.
  • A small (unconfirmed) number of people died and thousand were rescued when the Costa Concordia (a luxury cruise liner) ran aground and began to sink off the coast of Italy.  Obviously news agencies begin to make comparisons to the Titanic (especially considering it is the 100th anniversary of that disaster in 3 months time) mainly because they have to ramp up the fear factor when reporting the news or they believe that the general populace is too think to understand what a ship sinking looks like without referring to some Hollywood blockbuster.  The Costa Concordia incident and the Titanic disaster have nothing in common apart from they are both ships.
  • France lost its triple A rating from Standard and Poor adding to the on-going economic woes in the Eurozone (and the world in general).  Eight other European countries were also downgraded (Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta).  Cyprus and Portugal are now classed as junk status and Italy are on a par with Kazakhstan!  With talks in Greece about another bail out package (without which the country will default in March) it was a bad day for the Eurozone with stock markets reflecting those worries.  There are only 14 countries left in the World with a Standard and Poor AAA credit rating and only three (Canada, Germany and the U.K.) of the G8 with that highest of ratings.  Interesting economic times lie ahead.
  • And finally The Royal Navy captured 13 Somali pirates in the India Ocean.  Remind me which century we are living in.  Unfortunately Somali pirates (as far as I am aware) do not have wooden legs, eye patches and a parrot!

So not the most exciting of ides, especially from a personal point of view but a true and honest view of Friday 13th January 2012.  Here are three photos (and I aim to take the same photos each Ides if I am in the area).