Thursday, January 25, 2007

My moon shot

I took this picture last night. Cath and I are attending the “Alien Worlds” evening class at the University of Glamorgan. Last night was the first visit to the University’s observatory tower, on top of one of the teaching buildings.

Access is up a stepladder from a shoebox-sized office. The telescope itself is wonderful, the biggest robotic telescope in the UK. It cost over £100,000 to install, but has a wonderfully eclectic mix of old and new technologies. The computer lets the telescope automatically track the stars across the night sky, but the observatory main door is opened by a switch that’s so high up on the wall it has to be operated using a stick.

Car Notes

Both of our cars got vandalised on Tuesday night. Three tyres were slashed, causing a day off work and £150 of damage. The police were called and they dutifully made notes and noises along the lines of “there’s nothing we can do”.

They balked at my suggestion that they should issue guns to citizens to protect their property. I’ll have to make do with a baseball bat.

Killer Sheep

It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Three members of a family from Ebbw Vale were killed last Friday when, it appears, they swerved to avoid a sheep on the Aberbeeg to Crumlin road. Here’s the Western Mail’s story.

It reminds me of my crash caused by a sheep. I was driving from Merthyr to Ebbw Vale on the unlit part of the Heads of the Valleys (A465) road late on a Friday night back in 2005. There was a group of sheep on the road, and I swerved to avoid them. I hit one though, causing over £1,000 of damage to my car and the sheep was a write-off.

I duly reported this to the police, asking that they should find out who owned these sheep so that I could claim against them for the damage to the car. I pointed out that the evidence was lying on the side of the road with its feet in the air. Despite this, they were “unable to identify the owner” and so I copped the hit on my insurance.

Worse still, since the police seem unable/reluctant/not bothered to tell farmers about gaps in their fencing, then there’s nothing happening to stop further incidents happening. Just like the one last Friday night.

If Microsoft made TV dinners

1. You must first remove the plastic cover, but understand that it means agreeing to accept and honor Microsoft rights to all TV dinners. You may not give anyone else a bite of your dinner (which would constitute an infringement of Microsoft's rights). They may, however, smell and look at your dinner. You must tell them how good it is.

2. If you have a PC microwave oven, insert the dinner into the oven. Set the oven using these keystrokes: \mstv.dinn.//08.5min@50%heat//. You then enter: ms//start.cook_dindin/yummy\ /yumyum:-)gohot#cookme. If you have a Mac oven, insert the dinner and press start.

3. The oven will set itself and cook the dinner.

4. Be forewarned that Microsoft dinners are subject to frequent crashes, in which case your oven must be restarted. This is a simple procedure. Remove the dinner from the oven and enter: ms.nodamn.good/tryagain\again/again.crap. This process may have to be repeated, and might solve your problem.

5. Many users have reported that the dinner tray is far too big, larger than the dinner itself, having many useless compartments, most of which are empty. Microsoft says these are for future menu items. However, the tray is so large that it will only fit in the largest industrial ovens, forcing many users to upgrade.

6. Dinners are only available from registered outlets, and only the chicken variety is currently produced. If you want another variety, call Microsoft Help and they will explain that you really don't want another variety. Microsoft Chicken is all you really need.

7. Microsoft has disclosed plans to discontinue all smaller versions of their chicken dinners. Future releases will only be in the larger family size. Excess chicken may be stored for future use, but must be saved only in Microsoft approved packaging.

8. Users get excited about having veggies with their Microsoft dinners, often telling their friends about it, as though this were something new. Microsoft promises a dessert with every dinner after 2004. However, that version has yet to be released. Users have permission to get thrilled in advance.

9. The box for the TV dinners is so large that it will not fit in many smaller freezers, and the shape prevents the storage of any other brand of dinners. Microsoft dinners are often not compatible with other dinners in the freezer, causing your freezer to self-defrost. Calling Microsoft Help will elicit the explanation that your freezer probably should have been defrosted anyway.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One Year Old

This blog is one year old, but shows no signs of growing up.

In the last few weeks alone, the site has had “hits” (stop me if I get too technical) from Peru, India, the Philippines, Argentina, Portugal, Ireland, Canada, the USA and from across the UK. There have been over 500 visits to the site since I started logging traffic in July. That’s far too many people with an unhealthy interest in rugby and life in the south Wales valleys.

I’d like to thank my fans, my agent … (that’s enough Oscars stuff – Ed).

Cube Notes

We’ve had a new voicemail installed. It’s supposed to enable telephone number mobility for hot-desking and even home-working. Of course, the new system doesn’t work yet.

Instead, if I’m not at my desk callers get the greeting “Welcome to Hi-Path Expressions”. People I’ve spoken to think that they have mistakenly rung either a beauty parlour or a greeting card company.

Astronomy Notes

As we were sitting in week 2 of our Astronomy course at the University of Glamorgan, the strains of a Glenn Miller-style big band could be heard as they practiced nearby at the campus. The song? Van Morrison’s Moondance.

Sustainable BS

I’m tired of being lectured at by politicians and celebs like Bonio on why I shouldn’t fly any more and not eat food that’s travelled more than a couple of furlongs.

Rod Liddle has similarly got his arse in his hand. Here’s an extract from Sunday’s article:

“Somebody should do an audit to work out the size of the carbon footprint left by members of the Green Cretinati, such as pop stars hectoring us on air travel from luxury rainforest lodges and David Cameron scampering up the wrong glacier. This was the week of politically correct environmental destruction by the useless royals. Chazza is planning a round trip of 7,000 miles on a fuel-hungry Boeing to New York simply to pick up a Global Environmental Citizen prize. This jaunt is probably the equivalent of personally strangling 500 dolphins, or uprooting 1,000 trees, or stabbing a couple of pandas in the throat.

“Responding to the furore, Charles said he would not be going skiing in Klosters, a trip he may not have intended to take in the first place. In that spirit I pledge that I will not travel to Mozambique next week. “

Great stuff. The full article is here.

Thought for the day

Only in Britain can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

It’s reported that school head Robert Gardner wants pupils to wear slippers so the polished wood floor at the new £5million Willowtown Primary in Ebbw Vale will not be scratched.

Magic Notes

One of the more bizarre things I’ve seen in recent times was the magician with the mullet at Amanda’s 40th bash on Friday night. He was “Vladimir Demetri Kokov from the former Russian republic of Moldovia”. In reality he was a really funny guy with a good magic act and a dodgy accent from Barry.

Travel Notes

1. Had a meeting in Birmingham yesterday. This involved catching a train. Or more specifically, four trains just to get there.

First there was Arriva Trains Wales from Ponty to Cardiff, then First Great Western (Last Worst Western according to some) to Bristol, Virgin Trains to Birmingham New Street and Centro out to the ‘burbs. Bizarrely the return journey was yet another company, Central Trains. If it takes five railway companies to run a service covering 110 miles, no wonder the railway system in Britain is in such chaos.

I have to say that, overall, the experience was a good one; all the trains ran on time and there were seats available. I know that it’s not a representative sample though, and a wider range of views on the state of the railways can be found in this chat forum.

2. My Arriva train into Cardiff was delayed the other morning, so there was an announcement at Radyr that to make up time the train would run “non-stop” to Cardiff.

Of course, this doesn’t actually mean that it goes any faster: it simply stops in the countryside instead of at platforms. It missed 3 station stops and made 3 countryside stops instead. Needless to say we didn’t make up any time at all.

It’s pretty obvious really. Last time I checked trains can’t overtake each other when there’s only one set of rail tracks.

Rugby Notes

Another fine win for Ebbw Vale on Saturday, this time at Swansea, 23-18. It’s not often that we come away from St Helens with a win, which made this result even sweeter. Another great display by the forwards, and they were rewarded with three tries for the front row union. Swansea had the best player on the field in openside Ben Lewis.

Other results mean that we have now opened up a four point lead. Here’s the latest table.

Next Saturday Ebbw visits Llangennech in their first round and last 32 of the Konica Minolta Cup.

Scorers: 2 tries for “meaty” prop Kristian Gay (that’s what the Swansea Evening Post called him – rather them than me) and one for new hooker Ben Roberts. One conversion and two penalties for the ever-improving Dai Langdon.

Highlights: The rolling maul, which finally took hold late in the game and sealed the victory.

Lowlights: The dismal effort by the ref, who singularly failed to penalise Swansea’s wheeling in the scrum, the flankers not binding at the scrum and the endless niggle that always seem to happen in a Swansea game.

In other rugby notes, the picture at the top of this post is of Toulouse’s sub Trevor Brennan landing a punch on a fan, who probably said something naughty to him. There’s a full match report here.

NFL Notes

It was the worst possible set of results on the weekend.

The evil and charisma-free Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts beat the New England Patriots 38-34 in a nail-biter. The Pats had plenty of chances to put the game away, having had a 21-3 lead in the first quarter. A couple of huge drops by Reche Caldwell late in the game gave the Colts the chance to come back. And come back they did.

In the earlier game, the Chicago Bears beat (newly anointed as America’s team) the New Orleans Saints 39-18. Chicago’s Rex Grossman passed for just 144 yards, but didn’t throw any interceptions and their running backs accounted for 199 yards. My worry is that if Drew Brees can get 250 yards against them then the evil Manning could do well.

Full stories are on Sports Illustrated’s website. The Superbowl on 4 February will be Bears and Colts at Miami, and I’ll be firmly supporting the Bears.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Happy birthday

It’s the 40th birthday of TCMS (the current Mrs Smith), otherwise known as Amanda. To celebrate here’s a picture from a few years ago - she’s on the right. Tesco driver Gary is on the left, getting in some early practice.

Blood donation notes

Gave my armful on Wednesday. To quote Tony Hancock’s blood donor sketch further: “As I was lying on the bed, the nurse held the needle and said “you’ll feel a bit of a prick.” Well, I did feel a bit foolish.”

That’s 20 donations now. If I read the rules properly, that now qualifies me for executive club status with the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Travel Notes

1. Did I miss the new law that says that it’s now OK for everyone under the age of 25 to drive without a seatbelt?

2. The launch of a driving skills refresher course in Wales is a start, but doesn’t go far enough. Re-tests should be made compulsory, every five years or so.

We have MoT tests for cars – every year once they are over three years old, but a one-off test for drivers is all that’s required. Clearly the vast majority of drivers learnt to drive before things like indicators and roundabouts were invented, because no bugger knows how to use them. Here’s a quick refresher.

IT Notes

Now that I’ve got an iPod, I wanted to download some of my CD collection onto iTunes. The CD drive on my laptop then proceeded to pack up. So I’ve just had it fixed by a University of Glamorgan IT student-y person; he even collected and delivered. He was very good though, and cheap too. Here’s a link.

Thought for the day

Time flies like an arrow,
Fruit flies like a banana.

Squirrel Notes

Where do squirrels live? The internet, http://www.squirrels.org/, tells me that they build nests called dreys, which are made of twigs and leaves. The interior is lined with fur, feather or other soft material for comfort, and they’re built high in a tree between two strong branches.

The ridiculously mild winter continues apace, which means that there has been no need for the squirrels to come foraging into our garden. There were plenty of squirrels to be seen in Ponty Park this morning, collecting up the debris from yesterday’s storms. Judging by the pace that the squirrels were working at, they’re constructing a condo somewhere high up in the trees.

Cricket Notes

Glamorgan have announced the return of first class cricket to Abergavenny for the 2007 season. They will take on Leicestershire in a four day game starting on 25 July.

I’ll be there for at least one of the days, remembering times of the flat-track bully Graeme Hick caning Glamorgan’s attack to all parts of the ground/town, and also one of Beaufort cricket’s finest moments when we knocked off Abergavenny in a 20-over cup game. DJL took the catch off Robbo’s bowling with the last ball to win the match.

No news yet on whether Glamorgan will return to Ebbw Vale for a one-day game; there are still a few venues to be agreed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Give Blood

Give blood? I do. My next pint ("that’s nearly an armful" © Tony Hancock) is being taken tomorrow. Here’s all the details you can want.

Now, there’s no excuse is there? There are even sessions at Ebbw Vale rugby club next month.

For Sale

In work there are for sale and wanted boards on our company Intranet. The best entry in recent memory is:

"For sale: A concatenated wardernharl. Original 3 plistled model with bi-valved down tubes and double grinded splatwhistling tweakers. Never used, still in cage. £42"

I tried to buy it but got the message: "Sorry Martin, sold out. By luck though I've just had an attennuationary scrimslicer in. You can have it for £10 if you've got a small arms licence or £15 if only a small knees licence."

Fantastic. The spirit of Spike Milligan lives on.

Fraud Notes

I heard a story this week of a guy whose daughter used to use the dog's name to register on websites. Shortly thereafter their dog (Oliver) started receiving a lot of junk mail. Included were pre-approved offers for credit-cards.

All of this correspondence went directly into a shredder and they had a good laugh about it. The daughter has been told not to use their "actual address" and the problem stopped.

Now the papers are reporting that a woman in Australia used her cat's name to apply for a secondary credit-card, and was able to get a new account for the feline. The stated reason she did this was to prove that it's too easy to commit credit-card fraud.

She (the woman, not the cat) is quoted as saying: "You don't need to hack into the internet when you can just steal someone's credit card number and create a card for yourself."

In fact, had Messiah been a fraudster – and not a cat – Katherine wouldn't even have known the card existed. She wasn't notified that a second card had been issued. Messiah could have put a different address and the card would have been sent there and I wouldn't have known.

If it's that easy for a cat to get credit, imagine what a dog could get.

And here’s a great story, with lots of pictures, giving you all good reason to go out and buy a shredder today.

Link of the Week

Food Down Under is a library of thousands of recipes. All you do is type in a couple of ingredients and it comes up with suggested dishes. It lists recipes by country too. A good find (thanks Jon).

Cute pictures of the week

German photographer Tanja Askani has a huge array of wonderful wildlife pictures up on t’internet, but these real life Bambi and Thumper are the best of the bunch. (Link courtesy of Popbitch.)

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

"People should be thankful that a Lib Dem's going out with a straight girl." - Cheeky Girl Gabriela

Rugby Notes

A disappointing trip to the Talbot Athletic Ground on Saturday, where Aberavon proved to be too strong for Ebbw Vale. We lost 39-19.

Coach Alex Codling complained in the press (or failing that the Western Mail) that we were not helped by the "regional" Dragons by not making any hooker available, but while a lack of line out ball didn’t help, it wasn’t the difference between winning and losing.

Aberavon played the referee perfectly, living on the edge of offside and spoiling wherever possible. They were the first pack to match us up front, and they had some real pace amongst the backs too. Their scrum half Danny Hawkins was a complete pain in the arse too.

Our plus points? Well, the rolling maul looked good in places, and a couple of chances were well finished. We certainly weren’t 20 points worse than Aberavon though. Nevertheless, there was a distinct lack of composure and moves seemed to be overly hurried. A bad day at the office.

Ebbw Vale stay top of the Principality Premiership however (now with just a two point lead). Adopted home town Pontypridd are second and the evil empire Newport are third.

Scorers: Tries for lock Rhodri Dicks and both wings, Simon Hunt and Andrew Bevan. Two conversions for Dai Langdon.

Highlights: Not too many. The scrum looked as good as ever and the maul is now one of our key weapons.

Lowlights: Poor start (14-0 down after ten minutes) from which we never really recovered. Need the injury list to shorten soon, especially at numbers 2 and 7).

NFL Notes

The evil Indianapolis Colts saw off Baltimore in a dismal touchdown-free game. The other AFC game saw New England win a nailbiter at San Diego. In the NFC, New Orleans had a great win against the Eagles. The Chicago Bears won a tough game in overtime against Seattle.

So, in my predictions I went 2 from 4.

Next week it’s New England at the Colts and the Saints at the Bears. My picks in the championship games? The Pats and the Saints.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is there life on Mars?

Wow! My mind has officially been blown. Cath and I went to the first evening session of a new course offered by the University of Glamorgan last night. Its part of their community outreach programme, and since it’s sponsored by the good old EU, it’s free.

The course is called “Alien Worlds”, and is going to cover all sorts of mind-blowing astronomy stuff. It will include field trips and the chance to use the University’s telescope – a 40cm telescope located on top of G block at the University – weather permitting of course! The “lecturer” (better description is the guy who chats about stuff related to astronomy) is Allan Trow, a PhD student and mine of fascinating information.

Some more detail on the course and the public lecture series are on the University’s web.

USA’s PBS site Nova has lots of scientific and astronomy stuff including web broadcasts; Heavens Above lets you get a copy of the night sky map from wherever you live; and NASA’s astronomy picture of the day has some truly amazing pictures, like the one at the top of this blog entry.

Link of the Week

A new searchable website has been launched which gives details of every person on a long-haul voyage from Britain after the 1890s. The website www.ancestorsonboard.com has been created in collaboration with the National Archives and records 1.5 million documents dating up to 1960. From this week the records from 1890 to 1899 will be available, the rest will be published in stages. This tranche covers a peak of emigration — an estimated 200,000 people left every year between 1890 and 1914 for the US, Canada and Australia.

It gives details of those seeking a new life in the colonies, and even the passengers on doomed vessels such as the Titanic are all included.

Many of the records from the Board of Trade (the precursor of the Department of Trade and Industry) also reveal passengers’ ages, addresses, marital status, occupations and nationalities.

NFL Notes

So the Eagles saw off the Giants 23-20 with the last kick of the game. That makes me 3-4 in week one of the playoff predictions.

That leaves the final 8 as:

AFC
Indianapolis at Baltimore (Saturday at 9:30)
New England at San Diego (Sunday at 9:30)

NFC
Philadelphia at New Orleans (Saturday at 1:00am)
Seattle at Chicago (Sunday at 6:00)

All the games are live on Sky. Now I realise why I pay my subscription – it certainly isn’t for the soccer or the live middle-of-the-night cricket either.

The predictions: Baltimore (its more heart than head, we just hate Peyton Manning), San Diego (much as it hurts me, LT and Rivers and Gates will be too good for the Pats to stop), New Orleans (although this one should be the closest), and Chicago (even though they don’t have any sort of QB).

So that’s the 4 home teams to win. No surprises I know. If I were to pick one upset it would be Philadelphia in New Orleans.

Monday, January 08, 2007

And how do you want your napkins folded?

One of the most bizarre questions I’ve ever been asked. Cath & I went up to the Peterstone Court yesterday to meet the wedding planner. She told us how weddings usually ran there, and we said “no” to almost everything. No formal introductions, no speeches, no top table. In the end though they were very accommodating, and things are starting to come together.

Birthday Notes

A number of happy birthdays greetings are required this week. Yesterday was the 10th birthday of my nephew Robert. Jon the Vet shares his birthday but is considerably older. Considerably older still is Philly, who celebrated his [censored] birthday on Friday. Congratulations one and all.

Injury Notes

At the end of the month I’m in hospital to have an operation on my shoulder. It’s for calcific tendonitis. In other words it’s a build up of calcium (a bone spur) which the tendon rubs against when my arm is raised. Anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections haven’t really made any difference, so now its keyhole surgery. There are some good illustrations here.

Oh, and Dai’s got a knee.

Smoke-free Notes

2007 will be the year in which the air clears in Wales, in more ways than one. On April 2, new laws come into force in Wales making it illegal to smoke in indoor public places. Given the growing medical evidence of the harm done to children and non smoking adults by passive smoking, I voted for the change in the law when it came before the Assembly. The medical and scientific experts reckon it will save around 300 lives a year, with the biggest benefit being felt by staff working in catering and the pub trade.

Restaurant Notes

Went for a pizza at Zio Piero’s on Cowbridge Road in Cardiff last week. I’m told that the menus (and the d├ęcor) haven’t changed in years but the food and wine was excellent, and so why change a winning formula? Its pretty much all you want – a nice meal in a down-to-earth atmosphere.

Rugby Notes

Another great win on Saturday, this time 37-23 against Bridgend. The BBC cameras were present, and Scrum V had a few minutes of highlights.

Ebbw dominated the first half but failed, to use the old Phil Gardener line, to turn pressure into points. The pack were awesome again, and the scrum seems to get better every week. It only creaked at the end when hooker Wilkes was in the bin and Kristian Gay went off with a calf.

In the second half though the backs finally clicked and scored some magnificent tries. Ebbw’s forth try was a blinder. From a scrum in our own 22, Patrick Horgan box kicked for Simon Hunt to run on to. Centre Gareth Miles supported well and Hunt’s offload after drawing the full back put him clear to the corner flag.

Thanks to Newport’s rain-out, we are now 5 points clear at the top of the table. There’s a tough run of 3 away games coming up now though. Aberavon away this Saturday, followed by trips to Swansea and then Llangennach in the Cup.

Scorers: Tries for Miles (2), Andrew Bevan (now with 7 on the season), new lock Rhodri Dicks and a penalty try (this was in the first 10 minutes, some kind of record), 2 conversions for Sam Mills and one for sub no. 10 Langdon, and 2 penalties for Mills.

Highlight: Some superb tackling by the back row. A couple of Bridgend players were slow to get up after some big hits (copyright Graham) from John Bowd, Craig Cleaver and Hywel Jenkins.

Lowlight: Injury list keeps growing. Kristian went off injured this week. According to the Western Mail, we have this week signed Dafydd Owen, a 36-year-old lock who was Aberavon captain 2 seasons ago, but who has not played since 2005.

NFL Notes

New England duly put away the New York Jets last night, making it a very successful weekend for Veale-supported teams. The Patriots took time to come to terms with the Jets defence though, and only pulled away late in the game. Dallas duly did prove too fragile to beat Seattle, muffing a field goal from two yards which would have won the game. Indianapolis proved to be way too strong for Kansas City, who never got going. Johnson’s running was completely ineffective.

2 out of 3 predictions correct, with the Giants/Eagles game to come.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Neologisms


The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

The winners are:

Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.

Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

Pokemon (n.), a Rastafarian proctologist.

Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

The Washington Post, as well as being the home of Watergate, also happens to be home to some of the funniest sports writers around, including Tony Kornheiser and Norman Chad.

Travel Notes

Aggravating – Arriva Trains Wales has greeted the New Year by putting their prices up. My daily ticket has gone up by 9%. Thanks guys. That’s a great way to encourage people out of their cars and onto the trains. For the new higher priced ticket, I usually have the privilege of standing up for the entire evening journey home to Pontypridd.

Enjoyable – If you’re planning your summer holidays or any trip away, then Trip Advisor is an indispensable tool. It has hotel reviews from travellers as well as tips on sights to see and local insights. Very useful.

Thought for the day – Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

TV Notes – Things I hate about TV

The Vicar of Dibley, or more specifically Dawn French, and other woeful Christmas specials.

Ant. Or is it Dec? Well, both of them actually.

Reality TV shows. Shows for wannabes like Big Brother and the X-Factor, and shows for B- and C-list celebrities doing show jumping, ice skating and ballroom dancing. Just whose reality is it? It certainly isn’t mine.

Things I like about TV

Torchwood. That’s about it right now. At least until the new series of House and The Sopranos. So here’s a link to Uncle Wilco’s Torchwood fan site.

TV PS: Its full name is the “remote control”, but frankly, we control nothing.

TV Ad Notes

Note to the razor people: I'm pretty sure that I don’t need five blades to take a shave in the morning. We used to get by with just one and two was the standard for years, but now it’s just got out of control.

And what happened to the word “pounds” in TV ads? Nowadays a sofa costs “just three nine five”. 395 of what exactly? Beans?

Link of the Week

You can create a map showing the countries of the world that you have visited at this site, or a map of visited US states. You can then stick them up on your blog or website, just as I have done on my Flickr profile.

Rugby Notes

Here’s a link to a picture of the Ebbw crowd at Llandovery on Boxing Day. It was Hawaiian shirt and santa hat day (exactly why, nobody knows), and Wally, Geezer, Milo and co look resplendent. As usual though, Mike “shocking” has got his parka on.

NFL Notes

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has a far better preview of the forthcoming NFL playoff games than I can ever manage.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Steel Egg

Spent part of New Year’s Day on Tresaith beach. Bit too brisk for a dip, but Marvin indulged. New Year’s Eve was a night in. Our house is in a perfect spot to see the fireworks over Pontypridd at midnight.

Saturday night was spent at the Welfare, the Ebbw Vale RFC clubhouse. Steel Egg, an occasional local rock band were playing. Fronted by Kevan Lines, a local lawyer and EVRFC director, the 40-something band knocked out 70s rock classics like Paranoid, Smoke on the Water, and Whole Lotta Rosie. Good fun.

Also good to catch up with Rob, DNG and DJL (and TFML?). Still can’t get my head around the extended pub hours, or perhaps its just my age. I want to go home by 11 or so, despite the pub still going strong.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale saw off the (frankly poor) challenge of Cross Keys on Saturday, 21-3. Ebbw are somewhat injury-ravaged at the moment, especially in the pack. They made a new signing Friday in ex-international Hywel Jenkins after the No. 8 was released by Neath, and he was in the side Saturday. Apparently we had just 10 fit forwards available on Saturday morning. Jack, Dan, Nio and Gavin Donaldson were all missing from the back row, Ceaig Blunsdon and Matt Griffin from the 2nd row and a couple of hookers too.

Nevertheless, we comprehensively out-played a spectacularly one-diensional Cross Keys team, who wouldn’t have scored a try if they were still playing now. The scrum and rolling maul were superb and Dai Langdon at No. 10 had his best game for Ebbw, setting up two great tries.

Scorers: Tries for Kristian Owen and Gareth Miles and a late penalty try (for a collapsed scrum), conversions for Langdon (two) and Mills.

Highlights: Hooker Richard Wilkes’ openfield tackle on the Keys winger which completely stalled one of he few Keys attacks, and the regular big hits from John Bowd.

Lowlight: Late injury to Keys (and ex-Ebbw) back Jonathan Williams (Psycho) after a collision with a team-mate. Looked like a knee to the head, and he was taken off to hospital by ambulance. Hope its nothing too serious.

Crowd highlight: Best call from the bank for a while. Another Keys player was lying in the mud, being treated by their physio. Shout from the bank: “he’s got a crushed ego!”

NFL Notes

So it has all been sorted out and the playoffs are now set.

In the AFC, it’s the NY Jets at the New England Patriots and Kansas City at Indianapolis next weekend with San Diego and Baltimore getting byes. In the NFC, it’s Dallas at Seattle and NY Giants at Philadelphia with New Orleans and Chicago getting the week off.

My predictions? Wins for New England, Kansas City (Larry Johnson to run all over the Colts), Seattle (Dallas are too fragile) and the Eagles.