Slow News Day

I’ve just turned Sky+ off to be confronted by the BBC News 24 service broadcasting on BBC 1. One of the stories on the news ticker was (and I quote):

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut eats 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the annual contest in New York, shattering his old record of 66.

What the hell have I been drinking? A hot dog eating championship being reported by BBC News?

Today must be a slow news day.

Report Card

If my blog were marked alongside the GCSE exams then we can be sure of a few things:

  • It wouldn’t get lost in some farcical mishap involving a train and a briefcase
  • Full marks would be awarded for consistency of layout
  • The final mark would read “must try harder”

Trouble is, you see, June has been so monumentally busy that I’ve lost track of time. During the time since my last blog entry (24th May) there’s been a whole host of things happened. Given that I only get a chance to blog at weekends, things have been quite sparse on the update front:

  • A barbeque (thanks Sharon and Chris)
  • A wedding (congratulations Rhys and Nicola)
  • A trip to Sunderland (long drive!)
  • Another wedding (congratulations Natasha and Chris)
  • A birthday party for a 4-year-old
  • The in-laws visiting for a weekend
  • A week in Devon with said relatives
  • A birthday for Katrina

All of that in just 4 weeks. I don’t remember having that much of a social life at university… maybe I don’t remember it for a reason though…

Added to this was the unfortunate incident of spilling a good quantity of lemonade into the keyboard. This has ended up making my “E” key very sticky and hard to press. Combine that with my naturalisation onto my work laptop and suddenly typing on my home PC keyboard feels quite wrong. Every keystroke is just a little too stretched to be comfortable.

Hopefully normal blogging will resume soon(ish). Now where’s that magical time-machine gone?

Plane Sailing

There was a story on the BBC News website recently about a pilot (from Sunderland) who was recalling the recent events where he nearly crashed in the Channel Islands.

Mark Eddlestone’s single-engine aircraft began plummeting at 300ft-a-minute as the crew headed to Jersey.

Plummeting at 300ft-a-minute? There’s nothing plummeting about a descent rate of 300ft/minute. That’s a very gentle downward slope for even the most nervous of passengers.

Don’t forget that once descending at a constant rate, it’s only air pressure which tells you that you’re dropping in height. You can only sense a change in rate of speed (i.e. acceleration), not speed itself. That’s why in a car you can feel hard acceleration yet you’re only doing 30mph, but you can’t feel anything at a constant 70mph.

Plummeting indeed.

Where were you?

Listening to Local FM on the way to work this morning, they were discussing today’s swearing-in of Barack Obama as the new US president. Both of the chirpy presenters seemed really excited about the process, despite neither of them being either American or black. One of them even described today as being one of those “you’ll never forget where you were” moments.


You won’t remember such a long and tedious ceremony as today – for that sort of an impact you need monumentally ground-shaking, earth-shattering, sudden, hit-close-to-home news.

As an example, I still remember clearly the pictures of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in mid-air, despite being just 8 at the time (January 28, 1986). It was around that sort of age I was really getting into the notion of aircraft, wanting to be a pilot, and starting to show an interest in space and space-travel.

I also remember the Berlin Wall coming down, although I don’t really know why (November 1989).

I’m not going to remember anything about today, because it’s just the day when the Yanks finally get round to making it official, despite it being obvious he would win six months before the election took place.

Strangely, also I know when Elvis died and that was a month before I was born. Or maybe that’s because I am a reincarnation of the King.

Uh-huh. Thank ya very much.

Never Play on the Train Lines

There was a story on the local BBC news the other day about a woman who had fallen over whilst crossing a railway line on a gated level crossing. To make matters worse, she managed to fall when there was a train coming.

Now before you think I’m having a go at some poor woman who’s thankful to be alive after losing two limbs in some horrific accident on a train line, I’m not. The level crossing was manned, so a real person needs to look out of the window at the track and only then let the train know it’s safe to proceed. Even the reporting journalist who would have loved a sensationalist story admitted she was in no danger whatsoever.

So let’s see what we have so far: an old woman falling over on a train track, but in reality she was in no danger whatsoever. Normally that wouldn’t even make the Hedge End Informer, but for some reason it had popped up on the 6:30pm BBC South Today news. So what gives?

Well the whole thing seems to have been her reaction to it. She was described as not wanting to use that crossing again because she was “too traumatised”. She was even “considering suing Network Rail for the cost of replacing her glasses which she broken in the fall”.

For God’s sake woman get over it! You’ve fallen over: it’s not anyone else’s fault.

It gets better though – there was the mandatory “on location” report by the poor bloke sent to cover this case. Why do you think I’m being so harsh on this woman? It’s because arching nicely over the head of the reporter in the background of the report is none other than a footbridge.

A woman (who I’ve avoided describing as elderly, because I don’t think she was that far over 60) refuses to use the supplied footbridge, falls over on the train line and all the safety procedures work fine.

I’ve no idea what the outcome of the story was (I couldn’t find it on a web page anywhere), but I hope that Network Rail told her to get lost. I’m sure £75 for new specs would hardly be missed by NR shareholders, but it’s the principle. Replacement glasses indeed.

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