Author Archives: Mark J Daniels

Heading For Open Water…

Ever since I was a child I’ve enjoyed travelling by boat; I’ve holidayed on river craft and hired day boats many times in the past, but this weekend I got the opportunity to get to the helm of something a little larger…

ArriviHeading out to open seas...ng at Wolverstone Marina with my dad, we met up with a his long standing friend David and enjoyed a couple of days aboard the Scotch Mist.

The weather was looking as if it would be against us and we might not get out, but a break in the weather did allow us to get out on to the River Orwell for a bit and head towards open seas.

As we reach the junction with the River Stour, Orwell and the ocean, the swell became quite strong and we opted to cruise back up choppy waters to the marina, but a fantastic hour and a half was spent on water I’ve never travelled on at the helm of a boat much bigger than anything I’ve piloted before – a 34 foot Sealine craft.

Evasive action needed to avoid the tugs and their container vessell...We also came across a large container vessel at Harwich that was being pulled out to see by two tugboats – it was fascinating being able to watch the way these ships worked together, a process a lot of people don’t get to see simply because of not being able to be out on the water when it happens in a craft that you’re in control of and therefore able to effectively stop, sit back and watch the action.

So a great weekend had – click on either picture to be taken to the full Google Photo album.

 

 

Last Night, I Had A Dream

No red wine or late night cheese was consumed in the making of this dream (mostly because cheese is wrong so I wouldn’t eat it anyway) so, Dream Analysts, why did I dream this?

Last night, I dreamed I was canoeing on the River Lark, when a platoon of soldiers emerged from the water and all aimed their rifles at me.

I capsized the canoe and escaped under the cover of water to the river bank, where I rescued a random pretty blonde and took her back to my car.

Her boyfriend didn’t seem too pleased about this so we roared off in my car and he gave chase.

When he couldn’t keep up in his Transit van, he converted it into a fighter jet and started firing missiles at us.

I have been wide awake since 4a.m….

Formula 1: to fix the spectacle, stop meddling with it

Bernie Ecclestone has recently called together a working group to look in to the growing decline in television audiences for Formula 1 and to establish why the sport is losing popularity. The working group, which includes team members, journalists and the exiled Flavio Briatore, will aim to establish what is wrong and what changes can be made to improve the spectacle.

But here’s the thing – no changes need to be made.

Let’s take a look at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix: rain before the race left the track slippery and the prospect of more rain had strategists wracking their brains to understand which tyres should be on the cars at their next stops, Lewis Hamilton was starting from the pit-lane with the sole mission of beating his team-mate, and Sebastian Vettel figured he was in with a good shout for the win.

The team that got the tyre strategy most wrong was McLaren. A safety car caught the leaders out, leaving no time for them to dive in to the pits to change tyres but Button, along with much of the rest of the pack, came in and found himself fitted with another set of intermediate wet tyres while the rest of the field were switching to slicks.

Returning to the track the Briton found himself in second place but questioned the tyre tactic. Confidently, the team told him that more rain was due but as the field followed the safety car round, Button’s concerns grew as a drying track lay ahead of him.

When the safety car came in Button was able to quickly despatch the Red Bull ahead of him, which was on dry tyres, as the McLaren’s wet tyres worked better on the still-damp track.

But within a few laps a call on the radio from the team confirmed Button’s fears: no more rain was due and the track was drying. He had to change tyres, a decision which took him from first to eighteenth in twenty-five seconds.

Mayhem and melee continued, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leading for much of the race. The tantalising prospect of a Ferrari win lay ahead of us as Vettel pirouted on the damp final corner and car after car slipped and slithered off the track until, in the last three laps, Alonso’s tyres gave up.

Ricciardo, who had managed to get past the unbelievably second-placed Hamilton, bore down on the Spaniard who, struggling for grip, found himself easy meat for the Australian, who went on to win.

It was a true race and proved, if nothing else, that Formula 1 isn’t boring. But here’s why Ecclestone doesn’t need a working group to decide what’s wrong with the show. He just needs to tell the stewards to keep their noses out.

Despite the variety of incidents the stewards didn’t penalise Button for an unsafe pitlane release, Alonso wasn’t punished for gaining an advantage after cutting a corner, Hamilton wasn’t criticised for being firm with his team mate, pushing him wide to prevent him overtaking. Perez and team-mate Hulkenberg didn’t find them on the end of a post-race review with the stewards for their coming together.

Everything was deemed a fact of racing, and the show was all the better for it.

What lets Formula 1 down at the moment and is putting off fans is how often the race is manipulated by the powers that be, how results are changed for the most minor of infractions.

Let the drivers do their jobs, let the teams do theirs, and the quality of the show will improve immensely.

Britain Started Monitoring Sea Temperatures Seven Years Ago

We’re off to Cornwall soon, for a sport of family camping, and the wonderful news is that, according to this article in the Independent, sea temperatures in Cornwall are currently higher than those in California.

Which is fantastic. But also, incredibly, Britain only started monitoring sea temperatures seven years ago. For those of us with a skeptical eye for anything to do with Global Warming, an “all-time-high” based on just seven years of sea temperature data seems a little premature to me…

Independent Sea Temperatures

The End of an Era… #schoolsoutforsummer

Today marks the end of an era: my youngest son leaves primary school for the last time, heading up to secondary school in September.

Meanwhile, let six weeks of sibling rivalry commence.

Jacob Leaves School

A Genuine WTF Moment: Oral Sex With A Grapefruit…

While perusing the Huffington Post yesterday and reading a story about a haunted pub, another headline popped up in their newsfeed, one that caught me a little unawares.

This new headline carried the story about the ‘Grapefruit Technique’, a blow job that is a bit weird but not as scary as the Death Technique

Now, I’m a red-blooded male, but anything in the bedroom that might result in my imminent death is a no-no.

That said, however, this video is somewhat compelling, if not for the unseemly noises she makes while demonstrating the so-called Grapefruit Technique

 

Thirty Years Since…

What do The Karate Kid, Never Ending Story, Ghostbusters, Footloose, Gremlins, Revenge of the Nerds, Splash, Red Dawn, The Terminator, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Beverly Hills Cop, Police Academy and Nightmare on Elm Street all have in common?

Along with a whole raft of other iconic movies, they’re now thirty years old…

Find out more by clicking the image below.

thirty year old movies 

To Strike or Not To Strike.

On Thursday, public sector workers – teachers being the most talked about – took strike action in protest of pay, working hours and having to wait a bit longer for their pension.

I posted a tweet and a Facebook status, slightly tongue in cheek, to the effect that it would be more convenient if teachers had taken their strike day during August. Rather than picking up on the sarcasm in my message, friends in the teaching profession instead pointed out it would be more convenient if they got paid a fairer wage for the hours they undertake and the responsibilities they have to endure.

 

I’m never going to argue with that. I wouldn’t want to be a teacher – I find it difficult enough dealing with my own children, let alone being faced with a classroom full of the little blighters. It takes a special person to be a good teacher, and not all teachers can invoke interest in their students as well as others.

However, as with any time anybody strikes, I never fail to be amused – and bemused – by those who strike and their attitude to those of us who disagree with them. “I have a right to strike,” was one comment I heard. Arguments of freedom of speech and the right to express themselves followed; but the utter look of disdain thrown in my direction when I mentioned I had the right to disagree with their action is quite typical.

Striking seems to give people who are normally my friend the right to decide that, for the duration of the strike, they will hate me because I disagree with their decision. And then they wonder why I’m not quite so friendly with them when the strike is over.

Strike action, to me, is little more than organised bullying – something schools go out of their way to say they will not tolerate. It also does little to engender support from somebody like myself who, because of the strike action, has to take a day off work or rearrange my work diary in order to accommodate your decision to not work for a day.

I’d love a payrise too, but going to my boss and saying I’m not working until he gives me a payrise will simply see me being handed my P45 quite quickly.

And, I know this is going to sound shallow, but I’ve pulled in to the car park at the school my boys go to and most of the teachers there driver much nicer and newer cars than I do.

We all have to cut our cloth accordingly and, despite how rich people like to think Britain is, money is not as freely available as people believe.

So here’s what happens when you strike.

If you’re a public sector worker who strikes and is successful in achieving your goal of increased salary and pension, the money to pay for this will have to come from somewhere.

Possibly, it will come from the reduction in other public services to fund your better pay, which will have an adverse effect on you and everybody around you or, more likely, will be funded by an increase in taxes somewhere along the line. Which will put you, and the rest of us, right back to square one. And you’ll probably stop somebody else being employed, which means you’ll have more work to do.

If you’re a private sector worker who strikes and is successful in achieving your goal of increased salary and pension, the money to pay for this will have to come from somewhere.

Possibly, it will come from a reduction in other facilities your company can offer, meaning a reduction in income to the business, or it will be funded by an increase in costs to your customers, meaning your company will become less competitive in their market place and lose business to their rivals. Such outcome will inevitably lead to job losses.

Another way for a private company to raise money quickly is to make people redundant, reducing the overall wage bill to mean the rest can be paid better. Of course, this will mean the remaining workers have to take on more responsibility, and both of these courses of action will enrage the unions, who will start another round of strikes.

Strikes do nothing but cost companies money and damage more peoples lives than they improve.

This is why I fundamentally disagree with strike action, and it is my right to this opinion. So if you’re somebody who’s considering going on strike, think about the longer term ramifications such action will have, and don’t shout at me just because I don’t agree with your course of action.

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How to get Most Recent back in Facebook

It’s been an ongoing battle between Facebook and their users for some time now – users want, scream for, nay demand to see posts from their friends and pages they like in a chronological order.

Despite this, Facebook insist on always defaulting to what they term as Top Stories, although I’ve yet to see what relevance they have as Top Stories for me. All it ever seems to be is promoted posts (Facebook’s income…) and status updates from three days ago. If I’m not careful, I often miss reading posts people have just made.

In their latest app update (on Android at least), Facebook have gone one step further in bullying us in to seeing Top Stories by almost completely hiding access to the Most Recent feed. Finding it really is a bit of a farce.

In the new app, you have to tap on the three bars to the right of the navigation bar and then scroll down Facebook_Most_Recent_Tabuntil you see the Feeds menu. Go careful now, it’s quite a long way down (depending on pages you manage etc.) so you might miss it.

Once you’ve selected the option, the screen will then display your Most Recent feed. But, and here’s the really annoying thing, if you click on any of the navigation buttons, to view friends etc, the main feed defaults back to Top Stories and you have to go through this process again to see Facebook_Most_Recent_Iconyour Most Recent feed. I can see this become a bit of a charade each time we try to keep up with our friends on the world’s biggest social platform.

Perhaps Facebook will realise the error of their ways and make this process easier in a quick update to the app, but I suspect not. They’re hell bent on making us just see Top Stories all the time. Perhaps this is the final push I need to move lock stock and barrel over to Google+…

Facebook_Most_Recent_Locate

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Lawn Mower For Sale

Lawn Mower For Sale

So it’s with great sadness that I’ve had to make the decision to sell my trusty old tractor mower.

Thanks to half our large garden being converted in to a building plot, the old FMC Corporation lawn mower no longer has a place in our home, which is a blooming shame as out of all my vehicles, this is probably the one I’ve loved the most.

You can see the auction by clicking here – it’s on eBay.

Ride On Lawn Mower

FMC Corporation Ride On Tractor Mower, for sale on eBay

 

Any queries you might have on the purchase of this item, please direct them via the auction itself.

But, if you’re thinking about it, does it help if I say it’s Ferrari red? (Sort of.)

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