Tuesday, 9 February 2010

I could not make this stuff up if I tried

Cycle to work scheme
I picked up my new bike the other day. I had purchased it under the "cycle to work" scheme (it saves around 45% on the cost of a bike and you get to pay for it over 12 months - almost worth getting splattered across the road for). The bike scheme has a few basic rules, such as the bike :-

  • Must not cost more than a set limit
  • Must be suitable for cycling to (and I guess from) work
and that's about it.

Now, call me picky but in my book for a bike to be suitable for cycling to work it should have pedals.  Not the model I selected it seemed. Oh no - apparently this is a "special" bike. It's not like they warned me that it didn't come with pedals.  Fortunately, as I had already spent up to the scheme's limit, the shop kindly counted the pedals as optional extras and so allowed me to buy some. Isn't that a bit like purchasing a house and finding out that the doors and windows are not included but if you feel you really need them you can add them as optional extras?  (I guess if you live in a crime free, warm environment, doors and windows could be considered to be an unnecessary luxury. If anyone actually lives in such a place please let me know, it sounds like a great place to start a crime wave. I don't see why you should have to miss out on all the fun and excitement of being burgled)

My first bike ride (other than the cycle from the shop back to work - you have to show willing.) was less than event free. A big thanks to the Astra car driver who almost knocked me off the bike as he cut back in a bit too close to me. I had covered less than a kilometre at this point. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and put it down to him misjudging my tremendous turn of pace. I also managed to break one of the cleats in my cycling shoes. Again I would like to think this was due to the incredible power I was generating through my optional extra pedals  but the reality is the shoes are getting on a bit and the cleat just wore out...

More fireplace fun - Yes Skipper, you were right - this is going to run and run.
In the best traditions of the Black household we decided to have a launch evening for our new TV and the revamped living room. Five minutes before everyone arrived (well, those who were fashionably on time anyway)  I decided it was probably cold enough to have a fire in our newly installed stove. I had lit it the previous week and it worked perfectly so imagine my delight when the room filled up with smoke.  After taking almost 2 months to fit the damn thing they had not secured a plate properly in the flue which had fallen down and blocked the chimney.  You have got to hand it to our fire installers - from a blogging point of view they have been like gold dust.

Engaging people
I went on an "Engaging people" course at work - it could have gone better..............

One of the exercises on the course was to sit opposite someone, study them for a minute, and work out:-

What were the facts about the person

What you could you assume; and

What could you make up about the person.

As I studied the woman in front of me I went all Sherlock Holmes and proudly worked out:

  • She was not married or engaged - no rings;
  • She had a cold - the snot rag tucked into her sleeve was the giveaway; (Boy, I was on fire!)
  • and She was a bit shy - I based this on the fact that she spent the entire exercise looking everywhere around the room but at me.
I was right about the first two.  Apart from being rather intimate with a cold she was seeing no one.
Not quite so good on the third though as, at the end of the minute, she happily talked to the class about the exercise. I guess it was not a case of her being shy but that she evidently found me repulsive. A little harsh I feel - I might not be George Clooney but I'm certainly not the Elephant man...........

As she prattled on dryly about facts and assumptions that she made about me (what would she know? She never even looked at me) she made the mistake of saying fantasy instead of fiction and I'm afraid I took the opportunity to jump in with:

"Enough of that, young lady. Would you mind mentally putting my clothes back on?"

It did not help that the room erupted into laughter. Any chance of engaging with her after that was lost. Ooops - still, it got a good laugh.

It got worse though - at lunchtime I ran into someone I have known for years.

Me -  Hi, how are you?

Person I knew - no reaction whatsoever -  nothing, nada, apart from practically walking through me.

Me - Wow,  next time I'll throw myself in front of them.

Fellow attendee on the course - I wouldn't bother, she would have just stepped over you.....

Perhaps that was a bit of cosmic karma getting me back for being mean to non-engage girl .........

what I can't work out is, did the course make me worse at confronting engaging with people or did my encounters simply demonstrate that I should have gone on the course years ago.....

Some photos to finish you off with
The first is McG and Mischief - it's not a great picture but all I could get to record the moment. They have never been that close and would rather spend their time winding each other up. I happened to walk into the kitchen and caught them curled up together. I grabbed the camera and clicked. Within a nano-second they were as far apart from each other as the room would allow. It reminded me of the scene in "Trains, Planes and Automobiles", where John Candy (McG) and Steve Martin (Mischief)...share a bed.

[waking up after sharing the same beanbag in the kitchen]
Mischief :- "McG... Why did you kiss my ear?"
McG:- "Why are you holding my paw?"
Mischief :- frowns-  "Where's your other paw?"
McG :- "Between two pillows..."
Mischief :- "Those aren't pillows!"

Click - I capure the moment.....

For those of you who have not seen the film or who have blocked it from your memory. For the record no McG was not in the opening shot.....


You might want to pause the Jukebox before playing the clip, unless
you like clashing sounds - this is not a nanny state blog, you are free
to do as you please....

Sorry....I'm going to have to take a shower now...

Neither cat is currently talking to me, I compounded my sin of catching them snuggled up together by taking them on a trip to the vets for their annual check-up and inoculations..... Fortunately, like goldfish and Mrs B when she has done something wrong*, they have fairly short memories.

* I think this might be because Mrs B's storage capacity is full of all my misdemeanours ... from the day we first met.....and I thought it was men that had selective memories ....

The Love that dare not speak its name.

The rest of the shots are of Vampire Weekend playing the Corn Exchange in Cambridge - our first live gig of the year. I decided not to take the Beast with me but used Mrs B's new camera a Panasonic FD1 with a 45-200 lens on - which turns it into a Mini Beast** - not bad results considering  we were about 30 rows back ...

**Actually with the 45-200 lens attached the FD1 looks a bit like a flea with an elephant's erection.....I'll post pictures in a future blog but, for now, I'll leave you with your own mental picture.

So that's both cats and the Beast not talking to me at the moment and possibly Mrs B, for the remark about the selective memory...It's probably gonna be a quiet few days for me....Why, oh why did I agree to go on that Engaging People course..



Ezra Koenig - being attacked by a giant duck,
You have to love your fellow concert goers 

Chris Baio - "Did I turn the gas off before I came out?"

Chris Tomson -
"Does anyone have the instructions for using chopsticks?"
Rostam Batmanglij - "Perhaps the hat
was a bit of a mistake?"
Your telling me, it clashes
with the back drop for starters .... 

On Friday I'm taking the photo's at Mrs B's sister wedding....Wish me luck and fingers crossed that the predicted snow storm (nothing like what the East coast of America has been enjoying) does not materialise and that JL (the bride) is still talking to me afterwards...

21 comments:

  1. Aww, why would the woman find you repulsive, perhaps she was putting her own feelings of repulsiveness on you. If that is your photo on your blog with the cowboy hat, I thought you are kind of hat, but then again I saw you in drag so, yeah!

    Love your pussies, errr, kitties...

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  2. Wannabeviginia definite freudian slip on the hot hat, I suspect the hat is the hot one of the two of us and I get to reflect in its glory .... Point taken about drag not being my best look. However I'm sure I could have carried it off much better if the hat had agreed to pose with me....

    Thank you, they are only moggies but we love them.....

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  3. Your cats are really cute. Also, how is Vampire Weekend in concert?

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  4. Herding Cats Thank you, they would probably like you....I rather rate VW live - we were lucky enough to see them in October and Mrs B jumped at the chance of seeing them again, even though it was just a few months later. We had a better view at the first gig it was a much smaller venue. We got to hear a lot more of the new album this time.....

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  5. I am one of those "say awkward things out loud" kind of people too. At least you got a laugh! Maybe she couldn't make eye contact because then you'd see right into her soul...you just never know.

    *Squeal!* I love weddings...can't wait to see the photos!

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  6. Nikki The problem with the saying things out loud is that you have to say it as soon as it pops into your head, otherwise the moment is gone. This means no time to asses if it is appropriate to say....Hmmm on second thoughts it's much more fun to do it that way - If I say anything really outrageous I can always claim that I'm suffering from a lesser known form of Tourettes, where instead of swearing you can't help but say inappropriate things....

    I don't think she had a soul or even a personality for that matter, certainly not a sense of humour. If I'm found dead in the next few weeks I think she should be the No.1 suspect....

    Did you just trip over a pig?

    On no I'm now in danger of disappointing not only the bride but also you. Gulp.....

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  7. Finger crossed (as my polish employee insists on saying) for the wedding photography, pleased to hear the romance turned into a decent proposal! Cats do indeed look a bit cute together (and I'm not a cat lover)... love the bike story, and am slightly sorry that my scary prophesy regarding your handsome fire has already proved goose-pimplingly accurate. If I can extend this talent I may be able to give up providing holidays for customers, and provide guidance for the future to poor sap punters instead. We off to Lancaster Uni tomorrow with Alec to look at the History Department - we too are hoping for NO SNOW

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  8. Skipper
    Isn't finger crossed a physical impossibility? , unless we are not giving our polish friends credibility for being more dextrous than we first thought.

    Oh you old softy we will turn you into a cat lover yet....

    Don't forget I'm still waiting for you to read my fortune via my palm or have you switched to reading fire places....

    Hope all goes well as Lancaster tomorrow. Not sure why you are worried about snow, don't you drive around in 4X4s. ElleGee almost ended up in a Lama Field this morning after I drove through a ford.....

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  9. Sorry to hear about the fireplace! That's not good :( Da mini beast is quite an impressive little machine lol is that really a duck??

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  10. smileyfreak no need to worry on the fire front, just another everyday incident in BlackLOG world. I managed to figure out what had happened and fixed it myself. I could not face another six weeks of waiting for them to figure it out…

    I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the results of the Mini Beast very impressive and nice not to have to smuggle the Beast in….

    I call it a duck, but other might call it a dinosaur or anything that you like, think of it as one of those cards that shrinks hold up and ask patient for their interpretation. Whatever it is I noticed that it appears in the one of the VW videos so obviously I had a very knowledgeable, if slightly annoying, VW fan in front of me…

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  11. Yay so pleased I am not an Astra driver.

    Did you set off the smoke alarms when your fire started smoking. It happened to me once when we first had our stove, Mr Imo had gone off to kill small boys at Cubs and I decided I was more then capable of getting the fire going - I got it so hot it emmited strange new smells and the fire alarms (we have a few because of a loft conversion) took fright and took off.

    30 rows from the front - were you sitting down at the top? I've never been to a concert there that had the chairs out downstairs.

    What sort of people do you have to engage with at work and how do you find them? I am slightly concerned.

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  12. I just like that there is a course on "engaging people". I'm not sure why. It just sounds kind of funny. Sorry about your fireplace. Sounds like your fire installers are as incompetent as our carpet installers. As there has been no carpet in my basement for 6 months...

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  13. At least they didn't upcharge you for the wheels on the bike. Lovely may or may not occasionally refer to me as a flea with an elephants erection...or vice-versa, i forget. have a great day and the pics are excellent as usual.

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  14. Imo said...
    Yay so pleased I am not an Astra driver. So am I, I might have had to send McG round to put pressure on you. And he can put a lot of pressure on ….

    Did you set off the smoke alarms when your fire started smoking. It happened to me once when we first had our stove, Mr Imo had gone off to kill small boys at Cubs and I decided I was more then capable of getting the fire going - I got it so hot it emmited strange new smells and the fire alarms (we have a few because of a loft conversion) took fright and took off.

    No our fire alarms are in the hall and landing so just kept the door shut and used the windows to clear the room. Sadly my days of huge roaring fires are over (I mamanged to melt part of a metal bar - I'm sure it has a proper technical term but buggered if I know what it is - above the fire) the stoves are not built for huge roaring fires. I think that’s part of the reason Mrs B wanted one, less chance of me burning the house down….

    30 rows from the front - were you sitting down at the top? I've never been to a concert there that had the chairs out downstairs. No we were standing ,I just used the wrong terminology (although you can get rows of standing people)… I saw Kevin Rowland the old Dexy’s lead singer, they had chairs for that concert. I think they do it when they have not sold many tickets so it makes the place look less empty….

    What sort of people do you have to engage with at work and how do you find them? I am slightly concerned. No need to worry I’m apparently failing to engage with anyone at work at the moment….Just as well I don’t take this stuff seriously, I could get very depressed if I did…

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  15. Brookesaid...
    I just like that there is a course on "engaging people". I'm not sure why. It just sounds kind of funny.
    Business speak I’m afraid. It was actually great fun, very interactive. One of the other exercises was leading someone blindfold around for 5 minutes. I think the idea was to keep asking them if they were comfortable and assuring them that they were safe as you slowly moved them around the room. Sod that, I shot off with my partner for a quick tour around the building and even got them to select a drink from the vending machine. They seemed happy with the result and said it all happened to quickly for them to get worried. I should point out that they did not look me in the eye either during the exercise but I guess having a blindfold on is a bit of an excuse…

    Sorry about your fireplace. Sounds like your fire installers are as incompetent as our carpet installers. As there has been no carpet in my basement for 6 months...
    Our carpet people were brilliant sorted and fitted in less than a week. All very dull from a blogging point of view but very welcome from a getting things sorted angle.

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  16. Mark Price said...
    At least they didn't upcharge you for the wheels on the bike.
    Ooops, forgot about wheels, so that's how they managed to keep the bike so light...On a positive, if slightly anoying to the ear note (B-flat I think, or possibly E-sharp. Love music but never got the hang of the finer details. I'm a, if it sounds good I don't care what notes made the final cut), it did come with a bell ...Bring, Bring

    Lovely may or may not occasionally refer to me as a flea with an elephants erection...or vice-versa, i forget. have a great day and the pics are excellent as usual.
    Top tip for working out which you have - if you can pick up buns with it, it's probably an elephant dick...
    Bring, bring....
    I knew that bell was going to become annoying, where's my screw driver it’s coming off....
    Bring, bring...
    Sod the screw driver this is a job for a hammer...
    Bring,...

    Bang...

    Bri...

    Bang...

    br...

    Bang, Bang and other hammer type noises....

    Aahh, the sound of pure silence that can only be made from the none sound made by an ex-bell

    That's better. Have a bell free day yourself

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  17. I haven't ridden a bike in years, so forgive me if I sound as ignorant as I really am, but why are you wearing cleats to peddle? Football, baseball or other foot on grass sports, yes. But a bicycle?

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  18. So...you only have to ride the bike in the nice weather, though...right? No rain or sleet or snow, right? I mean...you can't bike in the snow. So, then they pay for a taxi to work and back, right?

    Tres bummer about the flue on the FP....hope they come out to fix it before summer...

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  19. Coffeypot said...
    me if I sound as ignorant as I really am, but why are you wearing cleats to peddle? Football, baseball or other foot on grass sports, yes. But a bicycle?

    The cleats attache to cycle shoes and allow the shoe to lock onto the pedal. Which means that as you push down on the pedal wuth one foot, you can pull up with the other one, providing more power

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  20. Kathryn said...
    So...you only have to ride the bike in the nice weather, though...right? No rain or sleet or snow, right? I mean...you can't bike in the snow. So, then they pay for a taxi to work and back, right? Sounds like a nice idea, I wish you were running the scheme

    Tres bummer about the flue on the FP....hope they come out to fix it before summer... Are you kidding, I would not trust those guys to light a fire on the sun, yet alone fix our FP in time for next Christmas. I got hold of the manual and worked out what had gone wrong and fixed it myself. I wonder if I should send them my bill....

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