Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 - No Resolutions, Just a New Handbag

After the total s***storm (excuse the French) that was 2017, I don't believe there's any point at all in making NY resolutions. I mean, we could all be blown to smithereens if Trump is allowed to keep his phone couldn't we? (A quick look back at some of my previous, unkept resolutions might also have some influence on this opinion.)

What I do need however, is a new handbag. 

I'm not a great one for changing out handbags unless there's a real clash with what I'm wearing, or I'm going to a wedding. Can't really take a bulky, functional black thing when you've thought long and hard about all other aspects of your outfit can you? Actually, I'm also not a great one for thinking long and hard about what I wear, so never mind. 

My present handbag looked ideal when I bought it. It has a main section with a slightly smaller section on either side. "Ah" I thought "I can be one of those people who always knows where everything is in her bag. No more diving to the very bottom of the abyss." The plan was to have money things in the middle, with lipstick-y things in one side section and keys and house items etc. in the other. Unfortunately, each sections comes with a myriad of pockets and sub-sections and that's where the trouble starts. 

My phone is usually kept on the outside, zipped pocket of one of the side sections. That usually works well except when I'm at things like airports, and the phone then just gets dropped into the middle with everything else. Cue panicked cries of "I think I've left my phone at Security", while my family sigh and wait for me to search each and every compartment (except the middle one), until I find it. 

The other side on the outside contains no less than four separate pockets! I don't even carry enough stuff around to make use of them. What was I thinking? 

Currently I have my "readers" in one pocket and a house key in the zipped part. (See, I didn't even stick to the original plan of keeping house things in the inner compartment.) Other than that, it's usually anyone's guess as to what one might find in the other sections. Is it any wonder I can never find anything?

So, I'm looking for a bag that has a few compartments, but not the ludicrous amount that this one has. I don't want a bag that is basically a posh sack. Been there, done with having to tip everything out to find a tissue. I could get one of those portable organiser things that you just pick up and move from bag to bag, but doesn't that require the same size bags to drop it into? 

Advice needed. Ball & Chain is actually threatening to burn my bag and thus force me into a new purchase. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Britain - A Nation of Selfish Parkers?

One of the lovely things about returning to the UK as a driver is the frequency with which other drivers let me in, out and through. In my particular part of the USA, to signal an intention to change lanes on the motorway/freeway was, for the most part, a cue for other drivers to bunch up as tightly as possible to prevent said lane change. Similarly, when wishing to turn out of a side street onto a main road, it was safe to assume that no car would ever let me out until it could go no further itself. Then, when a red light meant cars were in effect stuck, I was allowed to squeeze out between them. (I realize that this is a regional issue, by the way.) In the UK, all I have to do it seems, is turn my indicator on and a gap appears in the desired motorway lane, often accompanied by a flash of headlights. 
One thing that does not impress me much is the parking. As I mentioned recently, it’s one thing getting used to cars parked on the wrong side of the road, (which still gives me a slight moment of panic five months down the line), but quite another seeing cars dumped anywhere and everywhere. Seriously people, there are lines to help you figure out where to put your car you know. It might not seem much of a big deal to straddle that line if there are no cars around, but as the car park fills up, your straddling means that everyone else has to straddle and at some point there will be several parking spaces wasted. And that’s usually when I turn up looking for one. Grrr.
Then there’s parking on the pavement. I understand that many roads and streets in the UK were not built for cars so it’s all a bit tight. They were however, built for people, and pavement parking makes it very difficult for some people to use them. Leaving ten inches between your car and a hedge or garden wall results in blocked access for wheelchair users and pram pushers. Clearly the plight of such people isn’t enough to make these prattish parkers think twice, so local councils up and down the country are about to be given more powers to ban such selfish parking and mete out harsher penalties. You are warned!
Meanwhile, it seems those of us not parking selfishly are hopping mad at those who do. There are groups and web sites popping up everywhere to help shame these reprobates. The folks at currently have over four thousand photos of poor parkers, and over fifteen hundred members. Being the admitted geeks they are, they have broken down their finds into some interesting statistics too. A whopping 34% of cars posted have their own personalized number plate. Hmmm.
I asked the SelfishParker team how things work and what (if any) results they’ve had. “Currently we are seeing a high engagement of visitors spending their time searching for their own or (we presume) friend/family number plates.” Well, that’s a start, although I do wonder if such people care, given that they blatantly park where they do without so much as a backward glance. Some supermarket chains are also working with SelfishParker to help prevent shoppers taking up more than one parking spot; hopefully more of this type will return to the car park to find the badly parked car gone. These multi-space users make up 35% of the photos on their site, and that doesn’t include those who park over two Disabled or Parent & Toddler spaces. (Really, people? Really?)
And, just in case you think it’s just a bunch of curtain twitchers, Steve at SelfishParker echoes the thoughts of many -

“- you name me one person (whether they have ever parked selfishly before, intentionally or not) that when they are on the hunt for a space in a busy car park, sees a selfish parker across two bays, or in a disabled spot, or facing traffic on the wrong side of the road on double yellows (which causes a traffic flow block), or has to walk in the road as the car is blocking their path - looks at the car and thinks 'Man, that person is cool!'. they don't! It's the one human dislike trait all drivers share - well that and maybe middle lane drivers!”
If you're one of the many who've had enough of selfish parkers, you can print off this flyer and ram it under the wiper of the next offending car you encounter. And don't forget to upload a photo to the web site. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Repatriation Brain - Confusing Dates and Times

I've now been back in the UK for FIVE months. How did that happen, as they say. On the one hand, it seems like I've only been here five minutes, and on the other, it seems like an age. 

Except when I have to write the date. For some reason, even though I know that ..... oh wait, which way round is it? See, that was genuine. Every time I fill out a form, I second guess myself. It's even more embarrassing when I'm in a shop or office, ask the date and then still hesitate over the form I'm signing. It doesn't help that people generally don't say the date in number format when asked "What's the date please?". "December the eighth" is the helpful (not helpful) response. If you think about it, that response should mean that the month is written first, but oh no, that would be far too easy.

Apparently, despite it being eminently sensible, the US is the only country to use the month-day format only  (If you look at this map, it looks like Canada does both. How bloody confusing is that? If there are any Canadians reading, I'd love to know more.)

According to this article, "This condition is diagnosed as middle-endianness. Seriously. It comes from computer science where bytes are arranged according to their size. If the order has larger ones at the front, it's known as big-endian and so too are dates formatted with the years first (see the likes of China and Mongolia in the map above)."

I urge you to read this article as it goes on to talk about Liliputians being small-endians. Really! 

Unbelievably, telling the time problems have also emerged. Not that I can't tell the time, but I'm having the odd lapse when it comes to communicating in 24-hour clock fashion. Americans, on the whole, don't use the 24-hour clock; you just have to make sure that you have your am's and your pm's in order. (Most important when catching flights.) 

I grew up knowing the 24-hour clock, so it shouldn't be too difficult to switch back, and on the whole it isn't. My secret (and it might not be a secret) is that when the numbers are over 12.00, you just deduct two. 14.00 = 2 o' clock, 17.00 = 5 o'clock and so on. When I get to 20.00 I just have to rely on ingrained knowledge, which is looking a bit dodgy at the moment. 

Unfortunately, when attempting to book a restaurant for next week, I sat back, basking in the glory of finally having snagged a 7pm slot, and sent the confirmation e-mail off to dinner companions - only to have it pointed out that 17.00 is 5pm and not 7pm. I knew that! Really, I did. 

When you're already worrying about the amount of times you walk into a room and forget why, or you're always losing your keys, it only adds to the whole "Is it me?" problem. 

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