30 March, 2007


BigBlue posted a story the other day talking about http://www.neighbourhoodfixit.com/, which I had never heard of before, but appears to be an automated system for reporting (to your local council), viewing (things others have reported), or discussing (with other nearby residents) local problems like graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting faults in your local area (UK only though, sorry folks), so I'm keeping my eyes peeled to see if I can find anything to try the system out! ;)

In other news, my Google adsense spot seems to have started showing nothing but adverts for divorce lawyers...what's that all about!? ;)

29 March, 2007

Finkangel and Flyingpops...

...would like to announce (as some parties have confessed that they won't actually believe a word of it until they read it on the blog) their recent engagement with the intention of forming a union in holy wedlock (at a yet unconfirmed date, but on one of the weekends) towards the end of March 2008...

Oh and the stag do will most likely be conducted in a well known city in the Netherlands, lads...so beer tokens at the ready... ;)

27 March, 2007

Petition - Stop fake unlimited broadband

Okay, everyone (from the UK) please sign this government petition which seeks official pressure to help prevent any UK broadband provider falsely advertising "unlimited" broadband...exact text of what you will be signing is pasted below -

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Insist that OFCOM and the ASA stop Broadband Providers advertising 'unlimited' services that are in fact limited in the small print or by un-defined fair use policies".

Only takes 2 ticks, fill in name, email/postal addresses and hit "Sign", 2 mins later you get an email, read it and click the link...

This is modern politics folks, and it's nice and easy...! ;)

Wonder if anyone has posted it to Slashdot or Digg yet?

Chamber Maid - Vacancy Greys Inn Road

Chamber Maid?
Hang on, we still have Chamber maids!!??

26 March, 2007

Packed lunch from the canteen

So I decided 2 weeks ago that I would try out the sandwich ordering service in our office canteen...I've not actually eaten in there for rather a long time (for several reasons) -

  1. I love good food, and I think it is fair to say that most of the dishes they serve are very similar and quite bland (for my palette, anyway)
  2. The chefs obviously love to use generous quantities of both oil and salt in their cooking
  3. I don't know where the meat is sourced from
  4. Eating there was visibly contributing to my waistband (and it doesn't need any assistance at all, thank you)...

Now, I said I decided 2 weeks ago I was going to do this, but I made the decision on a Thursday afternoon and started (properly) looking into it on a Friday morning (that was a "bad thing")...

I quickly discovered, upon finding the little form you have to fill in -
Canteen - Packed Lunch #1
- that not only do you have to fill in a different one for each and every day of the week (providing on each your name, department, the day of the week the sandwich is required for, the date of the particular day of the week that the sandwich is required for, and the sandwich selection you have made - so that's five fields to be filled in, on five forms - per week, per person) but you also have to submit them by 2pm on the Thursday prior to the week that you want to actually eat them. Meaning I now had to wait until the next Thursday before I could submit my orders for the week after that (being the week starting today)...

That's not all though, looking at other people's forms, I noted that many of them were making similar selections and being quite specific about what they wanted - it occurred to me that there might be a list they were picking from...but could I find one?

Nothing was visible anywhere obvious in the canteen and I checked the notice board just outside, nothing...Reception didn't know about it and thought I was referring to sandwiches and snacks for a lunchtime meeting, the ladies in the canteen (when they arrived to start prep for lunch) confirmed that there was a list (so my hunch was right), but they had no idea what was on it, nor where I could find it - simply that it was "emailed round everyone", well, no-one I spoke to had ever seen it, if it existed...My colleagues helped out at this stage, PW recalling that she had seen it once in the public folders on the Exchange server, but despite both of us scouring the public folders quite carefully we couldn't find anything regarding sandwiches. I searched our intranet (Darwin) and found lots of mentions of sandwiches, and even a copy of the form (so I could print my own), but no list, or indication as to where I should be hunting for it. In desperation, I finally thought I might go and try the people that do the refunds on the vending machines (this being kind-of office-related), tucked away in their little room - and they looked confused for a minute (I had almost left the room in disappointment) then said "Oh yeah, it's in the public folders"...Eureka!! But when they tried to show me where it was, it wasn't there! "Someones deleted it", apparently, so I left them hunting around for the original copy of the list so they could re-post it...

I filled out all my little forms (once the list finally did materialise) thought I would do a batch, all in one go, just to get it out of the way - so I did 2 weeks worth - carefully filling out all the fields, double checking my dates and then took my little stack of papers to the box in the canteen where you have to leave them, ready for collection by the caterers, and then sat back to wait the 11 days required for my first sandwich to arrive, confident that I would have earned my dinner (when it was finally delivered)...

So today, as you can imagine I was giddy with anticipation, clock-watching lunchtime to see the results. And here they are! Arriving in a little white paper bag (with my form stuck on the front, the admin required starting to make some sense) -
Canteen - Packed Lunch #2
- and inside, TWO rounds of roast lamb (wow!) and mint sauce on wholemeal bread (looks like some sweetcorn managed to sneak in there too though...), a bag of salt and vinegar Walkers and a breakaway bar (takes me back!) - I added the apple myself...

So, all in all, I'm very impressed! Despite the hurdles, a proper packed lunch has appeared!

Not sure I'll manage to eat all of it, but I'll have a go! ;)

Bon appetite...

Balfe Street Blooms

Balfe Street in bloom #2
Well, the blossom in Balfe Street is out rather early this year, another sign of global warming? It was April 10th last time before it was worth taking a picture...Same as last time though, the street below is *still* in a right state, it's been constant building works for the last two months, seems like every household in the road have decided to get a new bathroom (all at the same time), so there are about 40 builders, countless toilets, baths and sinks in cardboard shielding, a scattering of dangerous power tools littering the road and pavement (of which random bits are opened and closed daily) to have to worry about dodging during my commute...
Balfe Street in bloom #1
Anyway, Balfe street aside, happily (if the weather persons can be trusted) we can expect a return to the lovely temperatures we were experiencing at the beginning of March (for a day or two at least), 15 degrees today and 18 tomorrow...excellent... ;)

25 March, 2007

Volksworld Show 2007

Volksworld 2007 #41
So the Volkswagen season has arrived again! Woo Hoo! The first date in the calendar is the Volksworld Show (which takes place at Sandown Park), pics of the last two shows can be found here and here (if you are interested, of course)...

However, things (once again) didn't go easy, in fact, pretty far in the exact opposite direction actually...the "Curse of Colin" (as it is becoming known) struck again, and this time, it was personal!

First off, we stopped in Reigate to get a bit of cash out (had a shopping list for the autojumble), Flyingpops parked next to the tiny Pizza Hut and I hopped out and walked jovially up the road, humming to myself, around the corner, popped the card into the Barclays cash machine, grabbed the money and the print out, came around the corner again (tucking it away into wallet) and noted, casually, that Flyingpops was no longer sat in her seat, but in the back of the bus, not only talking to someone on her mobile, but also waving at a passing VW Beetle ("Aw", I thought...)...but as the occupants of the Beetle passed me by, I spotted, with no little amount of alarm, that they were all looking back at Colin and were in a heated debate, pointing in that direction - my narrowed eyes flicked back down the road and I *immediately* (less than a heart beat) broke into a world record beating sprint as a car swerved round Colin, driver gesticulating rudely...

It was rolling down the f*cking hill...!!!!

Flyingpops was none the wiser, I could see her, poking around in the boot, still talking on her mobile - everything went into slow motion, I could see Colin gradually getting faster and faster, more cars clocking what was happening and swerving out of the way every second - I ran into the road, wildly waving my hands to warn oncoming drivers we had a problem (God only knows what they must have thought I was doing)...and what felt like an eternity later, I managed to grab hold of the passenger door, screamed something unintelligible (probably) at Flyingpops and used all my strength to try and slow poor Colin down before we really did hit something...

She calmly continued her telephone conversation, but did hurry up to the drivers section and stamp on the break (luckily before I was stuck by anything, my adrenalin fuelled strength failed or Colin was bruised)...*phew*!

I think it took about ten minutes before my pulse returned to normal...and when it did, I replayed the whole thing in my mind (in wild eyed silence), but with Mr Bean, or "One foot in the grave" canned laughter accompanying our every move...honestly, you couldn't make it up any better than that, and you would think that's all anyone deserved for one day...but, dear reader, we aren't at the end of this sorry tale... :(

We got over to Flyingpops' folks, gathered her mum with her T25 (so it was now "Colin and Co." I guess) and headed back-road way to Esher, didn't get a shot, but a number of their bins in the town centre said "Please keep Cambridge Tidy", which I thought was a little odd)...Anyway, got to Sandown park (without further incident), weather was even starting to look promising (nothing like as good as on the last two outings, but hey) -
Volksworld 2007 #1
Volksworld 2007 #78
- I cooked us some nice breakfast (did toast and filter coffee for Flyingpops and her mum and I had Earl Grey with a nice dry cure bacon sarnie) -
Volksworld 2007 #2
- we finished eating, got all our stuff together, started locking up the buses, Flyingpops' mum went to close her side door, and as she did so, the back window just literally fell to bits!!! Glass showering all over the place! WTF??
Volksworld 2007 #3
So, while she got on the phone to her insurance people, Flyingpops and I got creative with a plastic bag and some gaffer tape (as it was threatening to rain) -
Volksworld 2007 #4
- and then had to leave her with the buses awaiting the promised window crew's arrival...so we had a little walk around, spotted these Beetle jelly moulds and cake cutters -
Volksworld 2007 #8
- had a nose around the show and shine (best of the year at Volksworld usually ;) -
Volksworld 2007 #9
- and the auto jumble -
Volksworld 2007 #12
- oh, spotted these hilarious stickers playing on the old classic EMPI "Caution, Do not lower the window at speeds in excess of 120 M.P.H.", should have bought the cooker one really... ;)
Volksword 2007 #13
- A few more sights follow -
Volksword 2007 #14
Volksword 2007 #15
Volksword 2007 #16
Volksworld 2007 #23
Volksworld 2007 #24
Volksworld 2007 #26
Volksworld 2007 #28
Volksworld 2007 #30
Volksworld 2007 #32
Volksworld 2007 #35
- Oh and check this out, a new drag racing flat-4, in the style of a massively lowered bus! Back view -
Volksworld 2007 #38
- and front view -
Volksworld 2007 #40
- can't wait to see what it can do down the strip at Bug Jam!!! ;) Bought some new hub caps for Colin (as we only had two, and they were both plastic and broken) -
Volksworld 2007 #44
- and here they are in situ, I think I need to get the wire brush out and pain the wheels though, they look a bit stange at the moment, so shiny against the rust... ;)
Volksworld 2007 #46
We got back and Flyingpops (finding the glass hadn't been fixed yet) went into one of her "episodes" that one day will perhaps result in a compulsory anger management course, and verbally assassinated a large number of weekend call centre staff, who will no doubt go home and commit suicide (well, the bad ones, anyway), and it finally appeared that there was no way that bit of glass was going to be fixed today. So, I volunteered to guard camp (watched a movie on the Shinco, no worries) while they did a tour of the stuff inside, then we found some tarp in the back of Flyingpops' mum's bus, and wedged that in for the drive home...
Volksworld 2007 #47
Not a day that went quite as expected... ;)

Anyway, loads more pics here on my flickr stream (if you like this kind of thing)... :)

Update - a bit of Gickr action for you -
Gif animations at Gickr.com

23 March, 2007

Fink Blog is now two years old!

Only just noticed that I missed my blog birthday on the 21st of March! Naughty Fink! Tut! To my bed! ;)

So, some facts and figures...

In that time (including this entry) I am rather astonished to discover I have written 945 posts (which somehow or other works out at about 2.6 posts per day), not quite sure how I have managed that, but anyway... ;)

The blog has seen quite a lot of visitors and visits in that time - 37,486 people have dropped by to say hello (since records began, which was about 6 months in if memory serves), making on average 124 people per day, and when they drop round, the average visitor stays reading for 1 minute 42 seconds (to put this in context, the average visitor to the world class scientific journal where I work spends 2 minutes 8 seconds reading, so I'm not doing too badly, comparitively)...

Between those visitors, I have seen 66,776 page views, averaging 198 per day, with each visitor refreshing on average 1.6 times per visit (bit of a crap stat that last one, but anyway!)...
This graph shows the traffic growth in the last year, and we haven't finished March yet, so I'm expecting it to continue it's steady increase (assuming I can keep thinking of things to write, of course)...
World Map
...and as you can see from this map, visitors come from mostly North America and Europe (with a few from Asia/Pacific for good measure) as you would expect, I do get the odd referal from someone who has been trying to translate what I have written into Chinese though, just hope it makes some sort of sense...!

At times I have merited a Google page rank of 5, but I seem to bounce a bit between 4 and 5 (as Google does it's thing)...again, not too shabby...I have had to learn some control though, as if I make comment on something or someone and they have a low internet footprint, I do tend to find myself coming rather high up on Google when you query them...naming no names... ;)

Also in this time I have posted 2920 pictures on Flickr (from the countless thousands I have taken), and those pictures (between them) have been viewed 83,576 times (or roughly 30 times each)...(my most viewed pictures still being those I took and blogged live on 7/7)...

Okay, hope all those stats haven't got you too bored, it's been an interesting two years being a blogger, I've met some unexpected people as a result, and it's certainly theraputic to write about things that annoy you, it's also continuing to keep me focused on life and the things and people that I find around me...so, happy birthday Fink blog, and here's to many more! ;)

Overheard at East Croydon station

East Croydon commute
Two young kids - kid one is Asian (and is on the train), kid two is of Afro-Carribean descent and is standing half in the train and half out...
Kid one - "Go'on, get on da train!"
Kid two - "Nah"
Kid one - "Com'on man, it'll be buff"
Kid two (stepping off the train) - "Nah man, dis train is WELL LOG, innit"
(Kid two now mimes himself straining on the toilet (even squatting down to complete the graphic illustration), flicks Kid one the bird and runs off up the platform laughing while Kid one pulls ugly faces against the closing doors)...

No more than four minutes later, an old dear wanders past where I am sitting, struggling to answer her mobile phone -
"Hello, are you there?" (mumbles, I assume in the affirmative)
"Urm, I'm not sure, where are you?" (brief pause)
"Let me look" (she peers up towards the ramps to the ticket office)
"Yes, I'm on platform...urm...1256" (audible exclaimation of disbelief from the handset)
"No, that's what it says!"
(I reach up, pointing to the "Platform 3" indicator about 3 yards from her current position, trying to distract her attention from the sign she is locked in on which clearly reads "To platforms 1 2 5 6", but as I do she bussles away waving to a distant figure)...

22 March, 2007

New twenty pound note

Well, looks like we have a new design for the twenty pound note! Front -
New 20 pound note - front
- and back -
New 20 pound note - back
- gave me quite a shock when it popped out of the cash dispenser, thought I was being fobbed off with Scottish currency until I looked a bit closer...the Queen (God Bless Her) is on the front (as usual) but on the back they have dumped poor old Elgar, it's now some chap called "Adam Smith (1723-1790)" accompainied by the text "The Division of labour in pin manufacturing:(and the great increase in the quantity of work that results)"...turns out he is a Scottish philosopher, the quote refers to his work "Wealth of Nations" where he famously managed to work out that where one man could make one pin in a day, if you carefully divided up the 18 steps required to make a pin between 10 people, the result is that collectively they can make more like 48,000 pins in a day...love to see the working out he did on that one! Bet the pin makers guild were venomously making effigies of him shortly thereafter also...talk about a price crash... ;)

Anyway, his mathematics aside, we now have a Scot depicted and the adoption of Scottish colours on a Bank of England banknote...not entirely sure I approve, couldn't we have found an English philospher that contributed to economics..?

20 March, 2007

St Johns Road and the British Wax Refining Co. Ltd

So, done a little more digging around the history of St Johns road, Andy clued me up to the oldreigate.com website (they hyperlink any pictures they have in their archive on modern maps of the area), a click in the right place resulted in two wonderful shots, this one is looking up towards the church, taken in 1910 (which dates it a little bit early for our purposes, but gives you an idea) -
St Johns Road, Earlswood
- and the second picture is an aerial shot of the factory that Andy spoke of -
Wax Factory, St John's Road, Earlswood
- which was taken sometime nearer 1920, on it, you can clearly see his house (btw this picture is entitled "British Wax Refining C. Ltd., 31 St. John's Road, Red Hill, Surrey", and is attributed to "Pan-Aero Pictures, Kingston on Thames", credit where credit is due ;) -
Satellite picture - 33 St John's road
- checking a modern satellite image of the same area (thank you Google maps), you can see the green arrow pointing at the house (it actually wanted to be just a little bit further down, and a little to the right), and the old site of the Wax factory (now, as you can see, long gone and the site transformed into modern housing)...

I didn't stop there though, a little further poking around revealed that the company didn't just vanish, they moved up the hill to the Holmthorpe industrial estate (near East Surrey College)...

They have a page detailing their history (being founded just at the start of the first World War, about 15 years before Andy popped into existence) and are still going strong now making specialist waxes like fake glass for movie special effects, moulding waxes and brass rubbing wax...

So there we go, found out a little more about where I live and made some interesting discoveries for Andy in one fell swoop... ;)

19 March, 2007

Redhill town centre in pictures

Snow this morning!
Oh well...so much for the little summer we have been enjoying, freezing temperatures today, snow overnight (enough to settle on cars and rooftops at least) and seeing as I singularly failed to get out to St Johns Road over the weekend I thought I would (as on the bus today, Flyingpops has another meeting) take a few shots around Redhill (which might interest Andy, as it's changed so much even in the short time I have been living in the area) -
Redhill #1
- so (standing on the spot and turning clockwise) starting at Redhill railway station -
Redhill #2Flooding in Station Road by Redhill Station, 1951
- the "Liquid and Envy" nightclub (formerly "Millionaires" nightclub, and prior to that I am guessing it was a cinema or a theatre (judging by the shape of the building), comparison shot would have been taken towards the station standing next to that silver car on the roundabout, looks like they had a bit of a flood in 1951 then! -
Redhill #3
- the entrance to Station Road (with the McDonalds and the new Abbott pub, which looks convincingly old but was scratch built on a sliver of grass by the new market car park a couple of years ago (hence the odd shape) -
Redhill #4
- then right back on myself looking towards the new bus station (all the buses used to stop down the high street (right next to Argos)) -
Redhill #5
- now looking up Station road towards the crossroads in the centre of town (which has been pedestrianised), sorry about the shadow ;) -
Redhill #6
- stopping to note the new council initiative to get people to stop dropping chewing gum on the pavement (most of which have already been smashed to smithereens by the local chavs) -
Redhill #7Station Road, Redhill. 1923. Alick J. Hoare.
- reaching the crossroads in the centre of town, looking up station road towards St Matthews church (in the very distance), comparison pic is from 1923, then peering right at what used to be the start of London Road -
Redhill #9
- which is now the site of the new library, Redhill theatre/cinema and giant Sainsbury's supermarket (where I worked stacking bananas as a teen) -
Redhill #8
- and then looking left down the old high street (noting the new shopping centre, the Belfry, on the right), as I said, all the buses used to drive right down here, stopping on the left, heading eventually on into the Brighton road...lovely first thing in the morning in Redhill, but stand right here after the hours of darkness and you fear for your life due to the rampaging gangs of drunken teenagers, and ne'er an officer of the law in sight...

Update - Just spotted that BigBlue was in St Johns Road on the weekend and found the house (with pic)! I'll try and get up there (when the red van isn't there) and shoot some more... ;) I don't feel quite so guilty now... ;)

Update update - Have added in a couple of historic shots from roughly the same locations for comparisons sake... ;)