Wave goodbye to frigid digits

Winter walks are made more comfortable with a hand warmer. Types of hand warmer include:

  • electric rechargeable
  • sealed pouches
  • charcoal
  • air activated
  • catalytic

The sealed pouches contain a supersaturated solution which crystallizes, producing an exothermic reaction, when a metal disc floating inside is clicked. After use, they can be reactivated by placing them in boiling water for about 20 minutes. They do warm up quite nicely, and the process of crystallization is interesting to watch. However, the heat lasts only about 20 minutes, and the reactivation process is a bit inconvenient.

Continue reading

A word in your ear …

Are you shopping around for wireless earbuds? I don’t blame you. I recently purchased a pair, and now that I have discovered how convenient they are, I would never go back to corded earbuds.

Mine are comfortable and very easy to pair. The sound quality is fine for casual listening, but it lacks bass and the microphone I would describe as no more than adequate. Overall I am very happy with my purchase.

Having discovered how much better they are than I had anticipated, I did consider upgrading to a more expensive pair. After all, price-wise the sky’s the limit and mine were bargain-basement. But there is a significant factor to consider when budgeting for Bluetooth ear buds, and that is that they are essentially disposable.

Continue reading

Unsung hero

If you are a genius in entertainment or the arts, there is a chance that your creations might be recognised and appreciated. If you are lucky, you may win fame and fortune.

If however your special talent lies in the field of engineering or computing, the fruits of your genius may simply be taken for granted by the millions of people who benefit from them.

One such person is Larry Tesler, who has just died. He is credited with creating cut, copy and paste, a little trio of functions used without thinking by millions of computer users every day.

The lights are on, but there’s nobody home

Or should I say, the lights are off. I drove to Liverpool today in torrential rain. Despite the poor visibility on the motorway there were several cars driving without lights. I wondered what the drivers were thinking? “It’s daytime, why waste my lights?” They might well be the same sort of person whose house in December is encrusted with illuminated Father Christmases.

In some ways, those numpties driving on sidelights deserve even more criticism. They have thought to themselves, “I know the visibility is poor, but I don’t want to overdo it. Why turn the light switch two clicks?”

It’s actually mandatory to use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, but even if it weren’t surely it’s worth doing when you’re batting down the road at 70 mph in a heavy downpour?

Parasite (2019)

Oh dear. I find myself in Amy Winehouse territory again. Just as I can find no pleasure in her music, despite the late singer’s widespread popularity and critical acclaim, so I am struggling to find anything I liked about the Oscar-winning Parasite.

Perhaps it’s the absence of any sympathetic characters? In this movie we follow a family of anti-heroes, and there are plenty of examples where the audience can attach to the ‘bad guys.’ But here I found the hammy acting and unsubtle depiction of their unfortunate circumstances served only to make me recoil, not only from them but from the whole film.

In summary, Parasite is an absurd Upstairs Downstairs farce. It has received plaudits from all quarters, but I just couldn’t wait for it to finish.

This is not a hoax!

Another month, another Islamist-related terrorist incident in London. According to the BBC, the man shot dead by police ‘had what appeared to be an explosive device strapped to his body, police said, which was later discovered to be a hoax.’

What happened to ‘imitation?’ A hoax is a plan to deceive; it describes an action, not an object.

Temper your language!

This morning’s online newspaper has much discussion about the language and tone used in the House of Commons earlier in the week. Several Members of Parliament and commentators have sought to link the Prime Minister’s use of phrases such as “surrender act” in referring to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, to the post-Brexit referendum increase in threats, abuse and violence suffered by some MPs.

But hasn’t the House of Commons traditionally been a bear-pit, particularly during Prime Minister’s Questions? Haven’t Members always used hyperbole? Opposing Members sit two sword lengths apart, and the Speaker is physically dragged to his seat.

It appears to me that the deplorable behaviour towards our elected representatives is part of a tidal change in the way we relate to each other, and this longer term wave includes elements such as the rise in acts of terrorism, the increasing use of social media, with the anonymity it affords, and the practice of journalists ambushing politicians entering or leaving their homes or heckling them across Downing Street.

As I was reading, I noticed at the top of the screen an advert by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board whose current marketing slogan is the fatuous “Lamb – Hits you in the chops!”

More health and safety nonsense

I have written before about health and safety silliness here and here. Recently, two examples of safety signage caught my attention, because it is impossible to comply with them. Inside the control panel of my replacement burglar alarm is a sticker which says, “This appliance must be earthed.” And indeed, the mains terminal block inside has three terminals – for live, neutral and earth. However, the earth terminal is not connected to anything. By design, it does not need an earth, there is no way to earth it, and yet the manufacturer adds a sticker telling you to earth it.

I went to the dentist this week. They have lots of information on the walls these days, including one at the entrance warning that they have a zero tolerance policy towards abuse. That has been there for a while, presumably being a key factor in keeping things relatively civil.

Now each dentist’s surgery door has been adorned with a sticker which says, “X-rays, keep out.” I cannot see how this serves any purpose. Firstly, it has to be ignored, which must undermine the importance which people attach to safety signs in general. Secondly, when the dentist takes an x-ray, he and the assistant step outside the surgery before he presses the button on a remote control cord. Nobody could physically get past them, so there is zero chance of anybody being exposed to x-rays. Except of course the patient, who gets a full dose right in the mouth.

Burglar Alarm Installers Beware!


My house burglar alarm packed in after thirty years’ service. I chose to fit the replacement myself, including a Texecom Odyssey 1E external sounder.

It comes in a box printed with a mounting template. Very handy! Unfortunately if you do as I did and drill holes according to this, you will end up cursing your decision not to simply offer up the backplate and mark the hole positions with a screwdriver or something.

That is because one of the holes marked on the template is over 25 mm out! It’s the odd one below and to the left of the cable entry hole. You can get away with just a screw at each corner (the top middle hole is just an installation aid really. If you put a screw in the wall here, you can hang the backplate on it whilst you mark out the other hole locations, negating the need for the template).

So what’s the odd-one-out for? That secures the tamper switch to the wall. Without it, a determined burglar could theoretically prise the unit off the wall without removing the cover. With it, the tamper switch would remain attached to the wall, and the switch lever touching the cover would no longer be held down, triggering an alarm.

Admittedly in a domestic setting, this screw is overkill. But I thought, for the sake of a screw and a minute’s drilling, I might as well put it in. I now have one too many holes in my wall. Annoying.