Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ozone layer gone

"It's global warming now, boys!"
"But what about the ozone layer and its great big hole?"
"Old news."
"CFCs?"
"Yesterday."
"Aerosols?"
"Spray 'em to heck! We've a new scare."
"Bandwagon?"
"Definitely."
"What about the water rising?"
"Ever hear of Noah?"
"I see his ark every night on a beer ad."
"Says it all then really, doesn't it?"
"Fear?"
"Yep."
"Shame?"
"Yep."
"Best two subjects for advertisements?"
"Only next to the 'Stupid Man' ads."
"Rock on."

Friday, March 23, 2007

All I wanted were some Post-Its


It used to be so easy. If you wanted a box of jumbo wavy paperclips, some envelopes and a rubber knob for the end of your little finger, you'd write out a page in the wee stationery order book, get it signed by a reasonably-responsible person, then wander downstairs to the stores.

The stores were at the end of a long tunnel lined with empty water cooler bottles like a leftover ammunition dump of the Great War. Footfalls echoed eerily ahead of you. Water dripped down inside pipework in the walls and ceiling. An occasional groan or sob broke the creepy silence in side doors at the rear of the kitchen. Just out of the corner of one's eye, something white and slime-covered slithered quickly into a bucket of water, then was still.

Inside a little wooden hatch at the foot of a stairway sat Gerry the Storeman, whose desk was hidden behind a shabby blue partition. On the other side he engaged in code breaking of the Russian defence forces radio traffic and complicated cyphers hidden in the muisic of Radio Moscow for an un-named government. The receiver would click off and his head appear over the partition when you knocked or coughed. A sheaf of top secrets would be shuffled off into a drawer. A newspaper would be deftly draped over a pistol on the desktop. He smiled, keeping one hand near the gun.

"Morning, Willie. What can I get you?"

"The swans of April are shedding their winter plumage early this year," I would say.

Relaxing and moving towards the hatch, his hands held carefully by his side, he would reply:

"And the sparrows of Springtime are nesting in the bullrushes."

"Can I have a box of envelopes?"

"Window or plain?"

Those were the good old days, although we didn't know it at the time. Then the order came from those shadowy figures in the administration that the stores were to be closed down and in future an electronic ordering and a decentralised stationery storage system were to be introduced. Departments would assign the task to one or two individuals and anything not available in the local stationery cupboard could be ordered weekly. Whether you needed it immediately or not.

"I'm sorry, madam, but could you please repeat your name, address and telephone number slowly? I have to learn them off by heart. I don't get a biro until Monday."

I went to the stores for some Post-Its. Gerry was dressed in a fire-proof suit and visor and was incinerating the last of the treasury tags with a flamethrower.

"Any Post-its, Gerry?" I shouted above the roar of the fire.

He lifted the visor briefly.

"Sorry, Willie. None in stock. You'll have to speak with the Stationery Procurement Officer in your own Department."

"What will you do now, Gerry?" I asked.

"I don't really know," he said, patting absently at a wayward flame that had started consuming some packets of permanent markers. "I suppose I'll be reassigned to the covert assassination section."

"Well, best of luck wherever you end up," I said.
He turned back to the consuming fires and blasted a box of photocopy paper into oblivion. The wooden hatch closed with a snap. I went back upstairs and found the Stationery Procurement Officer.
He was locking the stationery cupboard and pocketing the key. There was an empty cardboard delivery box beside him.
"Any Post-Its?" I asked.
"Not today. We just received an order. I can ask for Post-Its in the next order."
"What did we get today?"
"Stuff."
"Stuff?"
"Yes, stuff."
He looked at me. I looked at the locked cupboard.
"Can I see?"
"If you saw, I would have to kill you."
"I understand."
I paused and thought for a moment.
I said: "The swans of April are shedding their winter plumage early this year."
The Stationery Procurement Officer said nothing.
I said: "Apples are ripening in the eastern orchards by the rippling ponds."
No reply.
I said: "You're wearing a cleverly designed rubber mask disguise, aren't you?"
"Yes."
"Are you about to take it off and reveal your true identity?"
"No."
"Can I order some Post-Its for next week then?"
"I'll see what I can do."
I miss the good old days.

Daffodil Day office collection

"Would you like to buy an impromptu raffle ticket for a raffle confined to our department in aid of Daffodil Day which is on Friday 23rd March in aid of cancer and if you win you'll be donated the use of a car parking space by one of the senior staff in the almost never free car park and you can park there all day and not have to worry about car-parking attendants or car-parking stickers or clampers or being towed away or your car being crushed and it's only €3 per ticket and the draw will be in half an hour?"

"I don't own a car."

"Ah."

Huzzah!

Made it to Friday.

It's been a poxy week and today I started off wearing odd socks for luck, for as luck would have it two odd socks were paired up in the drawer when I took them out and I already had one on when I noticed. That's about as lucky as the day went. After that, no figures would balance, no report would report, no feckin numbers would crunch.

I have not established exactly how long before an election an election candidate may erect an election poster either. If anyone knows, please tell me.

Otherwise, I have learned my overtime cheque is spent already and is not going to be replenished in any near future by our Payroll section.

"We paid you two weeks overtime last paycheck," I am told.

Brian Cowan munched so much of it in tax I thought I'd only received the one and was quietly planning fiendish things for the second installment. On such notes did my day proceed to a 60th birthday teaparty for our boss. Songs and lemonade ensued, which was a pleasant ending to the week. I think I need beer.

Picture is of Ken Dodd, by the way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tallaght St Patrick's Day Parade 2007

From Roderick Smyth:

"The parade is happening as promised.

"It will start at 3.30 on Tymon North Road, travel down Tallaght Road. The review stand will be opposite the Priory. And groups will disburse around the IT Tallaght.

"The Post Parade Award Ceremony will be held in and sponsored by The Plaza Hotel."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Checklist for building a kitchen cupboard

Go to work. Check.
Go to meeting. Check.
Leave work at 12.30pm. Check.
Visit Veterinary Surgery before 1.00pm. Check.
Wait for bus. Check.
Listen to Thump! as arse hits ground having actually frozen off. Check.
Get home late because of bloody buses. Check.
Visit blogs on PC. Check.
Make tea. Check.
Drink tea and eat slice rhubarb pie. Check.
Chase ginger cat out of garden with broom. Check.
Spend 15 minutes in bathroom. Check.
Say Hello to cat in bedroom. Check.
Change out of work clothes. Check.
Bang head on staircase looking for boots. Check.
Open flatpack and follow instructions. Check.

Easy.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day on this side of the world is coming up on the Sunday of Paddy's Weekend, I am unreliably informed. Some of my female workmates proclaim at the dinner table in the work canteen:

"What kind of card are you getting Herself, this year?"

"For Mother's day? Feck-all! She's not me mother!"

"Ah but she'll still expect a card and all!"

I asked Herself about this. Well, not so much asked as told:

"You don't expect a feckin' Mother's Day card from me do you?"

"What?" she said, as if I'd asked if were likely to go to Confession on Saturday. "When in the name of Jaysus did you ever buy me a Mother's Day card? Sure I'm not your mother!"

That settled it to everybody's satisfaction.

Herself and I, out driving on Mother's Day a few years back, passed by a geezer hopping back into his car with a handful of daffs plucked from the Council's roadside plantings. "He forgot Mothers' Day!" we chanted.

My mother who is gone now loved daffodils. Mother's Day falls in the middle of the daffodil season.

She also liked whiskey, like her mother before her. My Dad used to bring a baby Powers Gold Label to his mother-in-law, my Granny Sweeney, whom I don't remember, when things like baby whiskies were a luxury.

Mam liked bags of sweets to squirrel away in the pocket of a cardigan or down the side of a chair. She'd root around until something in a purple wrapper or a pink one would come to hand then happily suck the chocolate off the toffee centre or the caramel. She was generous too, and would fill your pockets with sweets whether you wanted them or not.

"I have plenty!" she'd say, insisting that you took some.

"Have a drink!" she'd order. "I'm having one." And pouring from the whiskey bottle she put a treble or quadruple measure into your glass and finish it off with a thimbleful of red lemonade, sit there sipping in front of the telly as Coronation Street wound its soap opera stories in one ear and out the other of her.

"This was on before," she'd say after a while.

Once, during a hot day when we had the front door open, a half-naked child ran in off the street and straight up the stairs.

A pre-teen babysitter ran in after him.

"It's all right, Mrs Walsh! He's not the full shilling!"

And as I hunted the little brain-damaged divil back down the stairs my mother rustled about in the kitchen, finally galloping after him on the driveway with a handful of digestive biscuits.

"Here," she said to his uncomprehending face. "For you."

She'd give cigarettes to my cousin, Paul, when he had none and money if he wanted it, which was always, though to be fair he only called to us as a last resort - and very seldom - when his drinking cronies had nothing for him. She cooked food for the woman up the road who couldn't face another moment with her husband and her sons and carried a pot of steaming spuds up to the door for her. And in the end when she'd done all she'd wanted to do, she simply told us:

"I've had enough. I'm going to go asleep now and not wake up. Goodbye."

And so, after a short time in hospital, she went.

No cards for this year then, nor for the past few years. I'll be thinking of her though, looking at the Council's daffodils along the roadways. And in the eating of a sweety or two. And a whiskey in front of the telly.

Miss you, Mam.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

At the pharmacy

"Hello," I say.
"Hello," says the pharmacist.
"Do you have any paediatric Benelyn cough syrup, by any chance?"
"Yes," he says. "How old is the child?"
"Fourteen."
"Okay. Should she not be on regular Benelyn cough syrup at fourteen?"
"No, thank you. She is rather small."
"What are the symptoms?"
"Well, she has a bad cough."
"Is it a tickly cough or a chesty cough?"
"I'm not sure. It's kind of like a permanent head cold."
"I see. Is she bringing up any phlegm?"
"Yes. There is a lot of sneezing and coughing."
"Then you probably need an expectorant. It would be a bad idea to use the other type as this might lead to the phlegm lodging around the lungs."
"I understand. Give me a bottle of the expectorant type then. And can I also have a syringe, please, to deliver the medicine? I don't want to get it all over her fur."

In the background, I hear the other staff looking up the record of my recent medication on the computer. One of them is also looking for the telephone number of my G.P.

Cats. Who'd have them?

Okay. Looking for my Leopard.




Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm from Barcelona - Treehouse

And in celebration of the crowd at NTL doing their job and restoring our access to Blogger, here's a video of my current all-time (for the moment) favourite song, by I'm From Barcelona.

That's not a crowd invasion on the stage, by the way. That's the band. All 30 or so of 'em.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Malodorous passengers make for blue-faced bus journeys


I was on the 49 bus one Saturday morning heading into town and sitting behind a chap who, unfortunately, stank to high Heaven. This wasn't just the sweat of a long night's work, either. It was the stench of maybe weeks, possibly months, of not washing. Bad enough, but there were no other seats on the bus vacant (except for one beside him). My eyes started to tear with the smell and I was thinking about whether or not to get off the bus and catch another one when this girl in her early twenties sat down beside him. I was fascinated, because she busied herself getting a few small items sorted in her handbag, then sat back to enjoy the view through the upper deck windscreen without apparently realising that she was becoming harder to see in the cloud emanating from her fellow passenger. Even worse (I still shudder when I think of it), when yer man got up in Terenure to leave the bus (a cloud of noxious fumes making everyone he passed cough wretchedly), the girl stood up and flopped gratefully into the window seat he had just vacated.

Maybe she had an appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor.

On the 76 the other evening a small family of husband, wife and daughter got on board. The husband, God be good to him, smelled like a cross between a rotten potato and a dead mouse. I swear I held my breath for 40 minutes. I never prayed as much in the past ten years as I did over that journey, asking the Lord to make the next bus stop the one this guy was going to. Finally, in Firhouse, three stops before I was going to bale out, they all departed. I doubt it was to take a bath.

What struck me about these two men was that they were both reasonably, if casually well-dressed. Their hair was shorn very short. From upwind, one would imagine they were quite careful in their hygiene habits.

Obversely (and quite amusing to me) a heavy metal fan got on the bus one afternoon when I was travelling. He had the obligatory black gear on and the long hair and a beard, and you could tell that despite the carefully-fostered "dirty" rebellious look that he had Timoteied and Lynxed most carefully before setting out. His beard was shaggy but clean. His hair was sun-lightened and silky.

Not everyone has heard of the uses of a bar of soap, it seems. Or are there medical conditions out there I've not heard of which reproduce the spud-mouse rot odour? If there's a fund for research I'll send them money.

Honesty best policy

Probably because I have spent so much time tapping away on keyboards and pressing buttons on computer screens "Just to see what happens", I tend to have a bit more confidence when it comes to fixing problems found on PCs in the office. This has translated into the dreaded "Computer Whizz" title, which is not deserved. I try to tell people they can do the same if they just use the Force. But they still come looking for help.

"Can you fix our projector?" I am asked.
"I'll take a look. What's its problem?"
"I can't get the remote to advance the pages in my presentation."

So I end up in an office with a 1,000,000 watt projector lamp shining on a wall where the paint is beginning to peel in the heat, poking at buttons on a remote control not unlike the one I use every night to watch my digital TV channels.

"Do you have the manual?" I ask.

A single printed page with labels pointing at a photo of the remote is produced. The labels say much the same thing as the labels already physically printed on the buttons of the remote control. The "OK" button is labelled "OK button", and so on.

"I haven't got a clue what's wrong," I say.

There is an audible intake of breath. Someone drops a teacup heavily onto the floor. I'm asked:

"You mean to tell me you don't know how to fix it...?"

"Absolutely not. Goodbye and good luck."

Yesterday I was asked how to remove Comments from a Word document. You know the type that the boss likes to add to a report that needs editing.

"Haven't got a baldy clue. Never used them before. Try the View menu, or something."

Then, to complete the hattrick of woe, someone asked me:

"I've lost the controls on the bottom of my spreadsheet. Can you get it back?"

I pressed the Maxmise button on the window and the controls re-appeared.

My reputation for perfection restored, I scurried back to my own office and basked in the beautiful music of the renewed songs of praise that echoed around the building in wonderful harmonies.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

My kind of people, Vets

Since Herself and Meself got together there have been all kinds of animal followers about the place. In the past few years these have been whittled down to a collection of cats in various states of repair.

Naturally, this meant that we had to have dealings with vets. The one we chose for handiness sake, in Tallaght Village, was run by a mad genius by the name of Peter. Peter the Vet.

Like something out of "All Creatures Great and Small" the Priory Veterinary Hospital was filled with roaming creatures and random children eating ice cream.

You'd enter with a basket containing a cat and be met by a three-legged hound with a long wagging tail and a big, wet nose. Peter the Vet would be somewhere in the back stitching up an ear on something while trying to keep the rest of the pack away. He'd invariably greet you by asking:

"Do you want another cat?"

The basket would be left in a safe place while you were given the mandatory tour of the cages in the next room.

"Peter, I already have six cats."

"So? I'll give you one with its shots and all thrown in for free."

The idea of accounts seemed to be foreign to Peter the Vet and it was never certain exactly how much money would change hands at the end of a visit. Usually, it was negotiable.

Peter the Vet would be called out at all hours of the day and night and was usually yawning because of it. On a housecall, he'd come in and flop down onto the floor to watch the behavour that was causing concern. But no critter likes the V.E.T., and no matter how friendly he was, tails would disappear between legs and bellies would flatten to the floor as soon as they say him.

Peter put back together several wonky animals for us and never at the full price. Anti-biotics for cuts and bites would appear in little brown envelopes and his hand would wave dismissively at the mention of payment. After some years I was sorry to hear he had eventually sold up the business as too great a strain on his health and time.

The place is still there under new management and we, of course, are still customers. The waiting room is now presided over by a ginger cat that someone left for treatment then never picked up. It wanders freely and fearlessly, disdainfully thumping terrified dogs on the snout, adding injury to the terror of a trip to the V.E.T. Some days it hops up to sit on your lap, other days ignores you completely. Such are cats.

So if the budgie is off the perch or the pussycat has a runny eye, you could do worse than a visit to Tallaght Village. Just mind where you're walking. You never know what you might be stepping on.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Blogspot sites not working properly

If, like me, you find that you cannot view any Blogspot sites this week, post in http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help-troubleshoot/browse_thread/thread/cea786e6c989dec7 to tell them of the problem. It won't go away on its own! Since maybe Tuesday last, I can log into Dashboard and create posts but I get a error message in IE and in Firefox on trying to view my own blog or any other Blogspot site. Irritating, to say the least.

Update 03/03/2007: The Blogosphere seems to be of the opinion that the problem is with the ISP, NTL. I suppose it's possible some twerp tried to block a Blogger site there and managed to block the whole feckin lot of us. Send emails of complaint to customer.support@upc.ie ....if you can see this advice, that is! *LOL*

Update 07/03/2007: After much publicity on the old Blogosphere it seems like someone extracted the digit from whatever orifice it was in and actually fixed the problem (for now). So glad to see the blog again the way it's supposed to be seen.