Archive for January 2015

Two games called football, huh?

January 28, 2015

Firstly, we’ll get the little local matter out of the way. It concerns the biggest thing on the planet. After an absence of three years this Sunday (Feb 1st) war will be renewed between old friends. Scotland’s greatest institution, the most successful football club in the world, the mighty, the magisterial, the 143 year old Glasgow Rangers will play them in the Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Come on the Bears.

Across the Atlantic a lesser event in the sporting calendar takes place the same Sunday later on in the evening. The inhabitants refer to it as the Super Bowl. This game is also called football though there is much handling of the funny-shaped ball and not much in the way of kicking.

I’ve only follow, followed American Football in the last few years and, to make it more interesting and tribal, decided to pick a team to support. The Baltimore Ravens were chosen purely because of my liking for the TV show, The Wire.

“I want my corners back”.

This was crime lord Avon Barksdale’s demand to his second-in-command Stringer Bell to retrieve their old drug-dealing prime real estate blocks and not an end zone tactic for a defensive backfield. The Wire made me root for the Ravens. You can scoff at my selection method all you want, it’s much more technical than shutting the eyes and sticking a pin on the States, hoping for the best. And anyway, Baltimore won the Super Bowl in my Freshman season. See, I’m well up on the lingo.

The New England Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks in this year’s final. My neutral hat will be on in this one along with, hopefully, my happy hat after Rangers’ victory earlier on. My two sons and I will watch the match this year and we have contrived to get the Monday off work and further education. This gives us the time to experience the razzmatazz and sideshows that go along with it.  A few Super Bowl traditions have become commonplace in my household.

Hot dogs are an essential culinary delicacy on Super Bowl weekend and the dogs and rolls will be cooked on the spot. One of my sons wanted bratwursts due to his fondness for Deutschland. I had to tell him the Germans didn’t make it to  this World Cup. This stuummed him. Cat got your achtung.

Budweisers are chilling in the chiller ready to be popped open. You need to taste the fruit of the country to get in the swing of things. Good ole USA. Don’t tell the others but I have a stash of McEwans Exports planked near my chair. I’ll be downing them instead. Good old Scottish beer.

My wife declined the offer to wear a cheerleader’s outfit. She cited the old chestnut “not in front of the children, darling”. Maybe her refusal is just as well as she could possibly struggle to fit into her old costume. If she ever sees this…

We toyed with the idea of wearing American styled baseball caps but feared Chibber turning up unannounced and mocking us or worse, getting violent at our burgeoning Atlanticism. T-shirts with American place names were a more sensible and safer option; Chibber is regularly seen with a Texas Rangers top. Here’s my choice for the evening wear, nestling underneath a Captain America dressing gown. IMG_20150128_112406 It’s a stamina sapping weekend coming up. Games on.


Detroit rocks and shocks

January 24, 2015

The dashboard of a car is rapidly becoming an aircraft cockpit of numbers, icons, guages, indicator lights, speedometers and miles from the dark side of the moon reading. Before long the yaw, pitch and roll will be in there somewhere. In some vehicles the display built into the centre console is bigger than a widescreen television.

It’s still not enough for motorists.

Information demand for drivers isn’t sinkholing or subsiding, it’s gaining traction. Therefore, the dashboard console will soon have a sister competing for the driver’s attention: the windshield.

At the current Detroit auto show you’ll find demonstrations of cars with built-in projectors displaying speed, range, turn-by-turn directions, and other crucial data along the bottom of the windshield. You will think you’ve wandered onto an Iron Man film.  All this information overload reminds me of a “Future Shocks” short story I read in the 2000AD comic in 1980AD.

The protagonist undergoes a series of lessons where knowledge is fired into his brain; he becomes super-brainy. Teeming with facts he is revving with confidence. As he walks to his last session a motor accident takes place in front of him. A car is hurtling out of control into pedestrians. The brainy guy sizes up all the angles-speed, distance etc, first year physics was part of the programme- figuring he is so smart he will avert danger. He jumps in front of the vehicle with the intention of redirecting it to safety. Unfortunately, he is ran over and killed. In the laboratory the scientist wonders about his pupil’s absence. He has missed the last lesson: how to make decisions fast.

Head-up displays are going overboard on motor vehicles. (There’s a mixed-up metaphor for you). But HUD technology from automakers, the clutterati, is here to stay and get bigger. Warnings and statistics will be displayed for the horse power loving driver to peruse at leisure, while concentrating on the road, of course, of course. The only statistic I want to know is how many wickets Alfred Shaw took on the deck of the Lusitania in 1894AD. I don’t think the windscreen HUD (or google, blast you) can help me on that one.

Heated seat buttons and hydraulic boot lifters mean nothing to me. The future shocks dash might be able to tell me the amount of pebbles in the road ahead, the ethnicity of the woman at the zebra crossing and the predicted number one for Christmas 2015AD. It interests me not a torque. The onboard computer is like raspberry juice on an ice-cream. Nice but not needed. As long as my car moves and is not the colour green, to quote the aerodynamically shaped Cheryl Fernandez-Versini “I don’t care”.

Central European Time bomb (a northerner says no to the great time swizz)

January 19, 2015

The cataclysmic news that the Switzerland National Bank (SNB) has scrapped its currency cap against the euro spells disaster for foreign exchange traders. It also means Swiss exports will be more expensive. My alpine concern concerns Swiss rolls. If these delicacies reach Matterhorn heights in value I will need to switch to the more dominone Battenburg cake or as we call it in the Royalist household- the Mountbatten.

My wrist has never been bangled by a Swiss watch even when they were cheap. The word cheap maybe not the correct word to use but it’s all relative. Just like time. Time is a relative you try to avoid. An outlaw not an in-law.

There’s a lot of time wasted checking the time. In a pie chart of your life there will be a considerable slice of it used up by the time: looking at your watch, glancing at the clock, an eyebrow lift at your cell phone digital timer, appointments cards, calendar reminders, setting video recorders, entranced by microwave countdowns. The list goes on and on and on…

No more. Not for me. Just like I have ditched googling, I have decided to live a time free life.

The watches and clocks have gone. Their time is up.

I go to work in the morning at my own leisure. Sometimes I’m late, sometimes I’m early. You takes your chance.

Boardroom meetings have the same fate. When I’m early, to combat boredom, I slide across the huge shiny table. I could slide for Scotland.

Library fines are inevitable so no expect the unexpected there.

Dental visits will now be marvellous experiences. I will try and judge the six month intervals between check-ups. Good chance I’ll be a few days out on that one. The conversation with the receptionist will be throaty and earthy. The incident could be dubbed Colgate.

TV guides are a thing of the past. Fragmentary programmes shuttle back and forth across the screen.  Their indecipherable plot lines magisterial in their mystery.

Going on holiday won’t be a handicap as I don’t fly. The plane might not wait for me but the bus will. And I’m sure I can handle a few impatient busgoers muttering “there’s always one”.

Because there will be more than one. Jump on the band wagon. Abandon time all ye who enter here. We don’t need it. Join me in this timeless crusade. Together we can rule the galaxy. Forever. Whatever forever means. We can be heroes for just one…Whoop, need to go. Time for tea.

Broken down laptop woes and an upcoming meeting with rock Royalty

January 14, 2015

Sorry this post is short STOP Laptop no more it has been thrown out the door STOP Using a small tablet to compose this article while I wait for the bus STOP I am a fool STOP At the Queen concert tonight I will have four beers TOPS I will be having a good time so don’t STOP me now.