Saturday, June 30, 2007

Word Cloud

Wimbledon notes

C’mon Timmy. Ah, too late. Oh well, that’s all the tennis news for another year.

How not to use PowerPoint

This clip on You Tube shows US comedian Don McMillan demonstrating how not to use PowerPoint. We've all sat through one of these. More worryingly, some of it is reminiscent of some presentations I’ve done in my time.

Bet of the decade

In 1998 a Stevenage man watched his son soundly beaten in a go-kart race by a very fast young driver. He went to the bookies and asked to put a bet on this kid winning a Formula One race before he reached the age of 23.

William Hill laughed him out of the shop, but Ladbrokes gave him odds of 200-1. After this month’s Montreal Grand Prix, where 22 year-old Lewis Hamilton recorded his first victory, the chap called up Ladbrokes to claim his winnings – £40,200.

Bad joke notes

100 years ago, 20 white men chasing a black man was called the ku klux klan. Nowadays its called Formula One.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tri Nations

All the information you could ever need for this season's Tri Nations tournament can be found on this great blog:

Derek Dougan

One of my boyhood heroes died on the weekend, aged 69. Derek Dougan was a striker for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the early 70s when I first got into soccer, and I remember well the League Cup win over Manchester City in 1974. There’s a review of his career in The Times and on the Wolves website.

His autobiography 'The Sash He Never Wore' was the first sports book I ever read, and led me down the sports fan route from which I've never recovered. Thanks, Doog.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale RFC has strengthened its squad in readiness for the 2007-08 season.

The newcomers are:
Player-coach second row/number 8 Will Thomas (Cross Keys)
Flanker John McPhail (Neath)
Back row Rhys Williams (Cross Keys)
Utility back Aaron Bramwell (Neath)
Prop Anthony Lott (Bargoed)
Prop Ross Jones (Bargoed)

And from the Dragons Academy come Wales U20s flanker Dan Lydiate, Wales U19s outside half Dai Langdon, Wales U19s hooker Richard Wilkes and Wales U20s centre James Lewis.

The South Wales Andrex reports James Lewis’ brother, Rob, a scrum half will also be with Ebbw Vale. It also reports that the club is still looking for three players: a prop, inside centre and fly half (to replace Sam Mills who has joined Llanelli).

The new club captain will be outstanding flanker John Bowd.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

On 25 June an email arrives, headed up “Xmas Do 2007”. Heck, now that the solstice has gone its downhill all the way to Christmas.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Travelling Man

Been doing a bit of travelling around in the last couple of weeks, mostly to do with work. Last week there was a trip to London and this past Monday and Tuesday I had to run some training courses in Mid and North Wales.

With that I mind…

Travel Notes

Aggravating – the London Underground is a shambles. Overcrowded, no air conditioning, and poor time-keeping makes for a hugley unpopular and unreliable service. I left home in Pontypridd at 9:45 for a 2:00 meeting in London, allowing an hour from Paddington to Westminster. Didn’t get there until 2:15. Four and a half hours of misery. And the same coming back. I finished off the day trip by getting home at 10 at night.

Enjoyable – driving around some of the wonderful countryside around Snowdonia. The road from Machynlleth to Dollgellau brings some magnificent sights into view, as above. The strangest sight of all was a herd of bison roaming the fileds near Bala.


Its been a while since I put any restaurant notes up, so here’s a quick update.

Thai Edge in the Brewery Quarter of Cardiff (where the Brains Brewery used to be, in other words) does some really good Asian fusion food. A good range of scoff, and very reasonable prices too.

Tiger Tiger is a bar,club and restaurant on Greyfriars Road in Cardiff. And very trendy it is too. The restaurant was just about far enough away from the ‘club’ to not prove too annoying. Clearly its te hip place to go to in Cardiff. So Cath and I blended in effortlessly when we visited with Jon and B. The food got variable reviews but my fillet steak was perfectly done. I’d say its wort a visit.

The Hall Inn appears to be nothing more than a village pub in Gwehelog, between Usk and Raglan. But the main reason for visiting is the food. Until recently a chef from the Gleneagles Hotel was there, but his apprentice clearly learned well and has carried on the good work. Excellent value if a bit out of the way.

Internet troubles

Updating the blog has been a bit hit and miss ove the past few weeks as our broadband connection has fallen a couple of times. Talking to a call centre in India doesn’t exactly help either. Anyway having done through the same steps (“Have you tried switching everhting off and the on again?” “Er, yes, several times.”) we seem to have normal service again.

Squirrel Notes

They’re back. After a whole winter of being squirrel free, the furry raiders are back at the bird table. A couple have been spotted wiping the bread we put out for the fledgling birds. Evil buggers.

Cricket Notes

Glamorgan were scheduled to play their first game of the season at Sophia Gardens on Friday with the first of the 20/20 games. There’s been a huge amount of redevelopment going on, and the latest photos are on the Glamorgan website. Of course, the game was rained off without a ball being bowled. They’ll try again on Tuesday, weather permitting.

Rugby Notes

Lots of notable changes in personnel at Ebbw Vale RFC this off-season. You can read about them all in very small font on Ebbw Vale’s website.

Life-changing gadgets

USA Today recently came out with their top 25 ‘Life Changing’ gadgets, services, and inventions since 1982.

Here is their list in their order of importance.

1. Cellphones
2. Laptops
3. Blackberrys
4. Debit cards
5. Caller ID
6. DVDs
7. Lithium rechargeable batteries
8. IPods
9. Pay at the pump
10. Lettuce in a bag
11. Digital cameras
12. Doppler radar
13. Flat-panel TVs
14. Electronic tolls
15. PowerPoint
16. Microwave popcorn
17. High tech footwear
18. Online stock trading
19. Big Bertha golf clubs
20. Disposable contact lenses
21. StairMaster
22. Tivo
23. Purell
24. Home satellite TV
25. Karaoke

Now this list and the order of importance is completely nuts. OK, perhaps this is a sign of age, but I don’t use, and have no use for, a bunch of these.

Blackberrys? Caller ID? OK, call me sociable fellow, but I’m not always on email but I don’t screen my calls.

Pay at the pump? Only at Tescos and then it only works when it wants to.

DVDs? Not so much. With Sky+ (out Tivo) I don’t have a big need for DVDs. Plasma TV? No. Lettuce in a bag? Give me a break. I have no clue what “high tech footwear” is, and I don’t think I need to know. Golf clubs, contacts and stairmasters all exist to help other people, but not me.

Broadband internet
The dishwasher
Vanilla coke (however shortlived that was)
Buying your tax disc online
Online banking
And of course blogs, especialy this one.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Earth from the air

The past week saw the start of a new exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. It features a series of photographs showing parts of the Earth in a way that tells a story about the world we live in, its natural beauty and the effects on man on the Earth. Here’s the link to Earth from the Air. I saw the exhibition in Birmingham a few years ago and it is truly amazing.

Rugby Notes

Congratulations to Alex Codling on being named Coach of the Year for the Principality Premiership. Ebbw Vale also won the fair play award for the year. Here is the report in the Argus.

Wales duly went down to Australia in the second test without troubling the scorer. They had a great chance in the first test and blew it; they were not going to be given a second chance. Incidentally, that should be the end of the Matt Giteau experiment at scrum half. Oh, and Colin Charvis can tackle for my team any time he wants to.

Its summer vacation now for the northern hemisphere second-string teams, and I’ll have to satisfy myself with the Tri-Nations to keep me going.

Not that it’s much of a summer break though. Wales has 14-plus games scheduled for the next 12 months:

World Cup warm-ups
4 August: England v Wales (Twickenham)
18 August: Wales v Argentina (Cardiff)
26 August: Wales v France (Cardiff)

World Cup
9 September: Wales v Canada (Nantes)
15 September: Wales v Australia (Cardiff)
20 September: Wales v Japan (Cardiff)
29 September: Wales v Fiji (Nantes)
& then possible quarter finals, etc.

Six Nations
Sat 2 Feb: England v Wales (Twickenham)
Sat 9 Feb: Wales v Scotland (Cardiff)
Sat 23 Feb: Wales v Italy (Cardiff)
Sat 8 March: Ireland v Wales (Dublin)
Sat 15 March: Wales v France (Cardiff)

Summer tour
7 June (tbc): South Africa v Wales
14 June (tbc): South Africa v Wales

Website of the week

I’m that at some time you’ve wondered where you would end up if you dug a hole straight down and out the other side of the world. Well, now you can find out, thanks to a Google hack (a programme built on Google maps). It’s called If I dig a very big hole. If I dug a hole starting in Pontypridd I would come out the other side 500 miles or so south of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Blog Notes

Last week was a record week for hits on the blog with more than 100 people having nothing better to do. I’m not sure that I’ve done much to earn readership in Dubai, New Zealand, Spain, Germany and Denmark this week, but thanks anyway. I’m glad that I’m not just shouting at the moon.

Fantasy Baseball News

In my absence for the past month or so the team has wallowed in mid-table mediocrity. A few changes have been rung in an effort to get up the table this past fortnight, and we don’t look too badly placed in 4th, with a pitching staff that’s yet to fire. Here’s the link to the Ponty Red Sox.