Bleah. I’m back. Finally.

So the plan for today was to wake up early (about 6 AM), have some breakfast and be on our way for the 3 hr drive to Frankfurt.

Instead, what happened was:

  • wake-up call at 4:30 from
  • wake up at 5, shower and meet in the lobby
  • drive on the autobahn (for the first time) in snow/wet/cold conditions
  • meet up with 2 lots of heavy roadworks
  • not finding a petrol station to fill up the rental cars (so extra charges on the car hire)
  • wolfing down a burger before hitting the security checkpoint
  • plane is a little turboprop (noisier, but at least not even 1/5 full)
  • find out the nose gear isn’t working so we have to circle for ages while it’s manually lowered
  • a tow off the main runway in Birmingham while the fire truck holds station on us and no other planes can land, and finally
  • a long taxi ride back
  • oh, and a £300 car repair bill

My car was busted into the other night

Normally I’m pretty blaise’ about crime, like most people – until, of course, it happens directly to me. I mean, I ignore certain things that most other people ignore, like speeding when I think it’s safe to speed, etc., but the other morning I noticed a shopping bag on the sidewalk when I was walking to my car. I was heading out to work and I stopped and thought, “That’s one of the cloth shopping bags I got for my mom for Christmas.”

And immediately I knew that my car had been broken into. Walked up to the car, spotted that there was no window and the passenger door was ajar and saw the glass on the ground.

DAMMIT! The second time, as well.

The first time was when I’d left my wallet and phone on the center console of the Fiesta I had at the time, it was a simple smash-and-grab. I would say it was my fault, but you don’t really expect some fuckwit to be walking along the sidewalk and smash your window just because he saw something he wanted, right? But that’s what happened, and I sold that car soon after.

And this time, I may be ‘losing’ this car again, too. As soon as I had glanced around the car to see what had been taken (stereo, of course – I’m sure I had left the front of the stereo on, which you’re not meant to do but oh well) and saw how the glove box had been emptied and strewn about the car, I called the police, got a reference number and drove to work. Well bundled up, too, because I had no damn window and it was just above freezing. That is, just above freezing if you’re standing still – at 60mph it’s a bit colder. Luckily it was the passenger window.

So I called the insurance company when I got to work and they arranged for a window replacement company to come out the next day (today). When I got home that day, I made a plastic window from some firm plastic sheeting I had and cleaned out as much of the glass as I could by hand. As I was putting stuff back in the glove box I noticed there was a lot more space in there than there used to be, so obviously he’d taken more than my stereo and my mom’s shopping bag. I was missing a few CDs, a road atlas of Britain, my girlfriend’s sunglasses, car chargers for mobile phones and one of a pair of racing Momo gloves I’d bought ages ago at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Plus I noticed the hood/bonnet was loose – funny that, I certainly didn’t open it, so I’d been driving around with it like that all the way to work and back. Luckily it wasn’t fully open!

First the window guy couldn’t lower the electric windows – some sort of electrical fault. He tried the fuse box but all the fuses looked OK. He tried the ignition lock in all the various positions, no joy. Then he noticed there was smoke coming from the engine, from under the hood. GREAT.

All I could think at the time was that this asshole had, for some reason, screwed around with my engine and it was damaged somehow. Later on I realized that maybe he’d just been grabbing at all sorts of things inside the car while looking for the trunk release and pulled the hood release, making it pop open a bit. At this point that’s what I’m hoping is the case and the smoke the window guy found is nothing, because I can’t afford a big deductible to pay for repairs, and I need my car to visit my girlfriend this weekend, and for Christmas.

Anyway, the car has been towed to a garage for a full estimate and I’m supposed to email my insurance claims agent as full a list as I can come up with of everything that’s missing and the approximate value. Off the top of my head, including the stereo, there’s at least £300 worth of ‘stuff’, so that leaves a lofty payment of £100 payout, plus the repairs which would be covered. Whoopee. If the repairs are TOO much, then they’ll just buy out my car, because it can’t be worth much – it’s a 13-year old car with 188,000 miles on it (it literally just turned over 188K on Monday).

Best case scenario is that the engine is fine and I’ll have to pay to have the electrical problem fixed before the window can be replaced. Worst case is that the engine is actually damaged somehow and the insurance company buys me out of my car, minus a £200 deductible.

What a ball-ache! (I’ve really become attached to this British phrase)

The best thing about the whole experience is dealing with the insurance company – you never know how good a company is until you have trouble, and the people I’m with are really good. I get calls from the window people and the towing company within minutes of reporting things to the insurance company, and I’ve already got one guy that is my main point of contact for everything. In case you’re wondering, the people I’m with are Liverpool Victoria, I’ve been with them for years since choosing Which? Car insurance (Which? is like Consumer Reports, but every issue they do is about one particular item, like Which? Car and Which? Hi-Fi, etc.).

So, big thumbs-up to LV and Which? Car, really.

Sometimes it’s embarassing to say you’re from Texas…

I’ll just quote this blog post, it basically says it all:

The latest shooting-itself-in-the-foot-moment for the Lone Star State is based on a panel to create its state science curriculum (oh, you already know where this is going, dontcha now?). Out of the six seats on the panel, three are going to creationists! And not just any run-of-the-mill creationists, but one of them is Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute.

I will pause a moment while the air leaks back into your room.

Ready? OK then, let me say this again: Texas has placed a creationist who runs the Discovery institute — a hotbed of creationist deceptions — on a panel that will decide what “science” the children of Texas will learn.

And who will lead this panel of three reality-based scientists and three people dedicated to destroying reality? Why, it’s our old friend Donald McLeroy! Remember him? He’s a creationist. He hates science. He thinks abstinence-only education works (if you want teen girls to get STDs and get pregnant, then you’d be right). And he’s proven that he has no business being within three hundred yards of any sort of educational process.

A 12-year old McDonald’s burger

From the Best of Mother Earth

This is a hamburger from McDonalds that I purchased in 1996.

That was 12 years ago.

Note that it looks exactly like it did the very day I bought it.

…People always ask me – what did you do to preserve it ?

Nothing – it preserved itself.

Ladies, Gentleman, and children alike – this is a chemical food. There is absolutely no nutrition here.

Not one ounce of food value.

…Do you find this horrifying?

McDonalds fills an empty space in your belly. It does nothing to nourish the cell, it is not a nutritious food.

It is not a treat.

I marvel at how McDonalds has infiltrated our entire world. A hamburger here tastes exactly the same in China or some around the world place.

It’s cloned.

Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Do me a favor and share this.

Indeed.

I’m on valium!

Yay…

Well I have a terribly sore shoulder that is causing me, like, really sharp pains and I can’t get rid of it. I’ve had to stop the 100 push up program I was doing so I can rest it, and stretching, neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, etc., weren’t helping.

I found some diazepam I was prescribed for a super-sore neck a couple of years ago. I looked it up and in addition to being a short-term muscle relaxant it’s also basically valium, that popular 70’s and 80’s upper-class mom drug of choice. It’s also offered to death row inmates in California before being lethally injected! Nice.

It’s taken the edge off but I can definitely still feel the shoulder…I don’t want to go to the doctor, but hey, thanks to universal health care here in the UK, I don’t mind it!

Why I hate politics

Lies and not being able to bang people’s heads together to prove they aren’t lies.

More videos about the ‘straight-talking’ John McCain:

1. The Real McCain 2: Watch as McCain’s YouTube problem became his nightmare in the video that received over 4 million views.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c

2. Less Jobs. More Wars: What is this ‘Iraq war’ charge on my bill?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh-T2iGkLJY

3. John McCain vs. John McCain: Tell McCain to get off the Double Talk Express.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioy90nF2anI

4. McCain’s Spiritual Guide: The video that caused McCain to renounce Rev. Rod Parsley’s bigoted endorsement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXZbIGJrDkg

5. Why Won’t McCain Sign the GI Bill? Presenting the most blatant hypocrisy of the McCain campaign.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK_9sI7hzAc

Call for creationism in UK schools

Aaauugh no.

Creationism should be discussed in school science lessons, rather than excluded, says the director of education at the Royal Society (Rev Prof Reiss, a biologist and Church of England minister)

Bloody hell, not here, too.

At least it’s being talked down a bit:

This was challenged by Simon Underdown, senior lecturer in the department of anthropology at Oxford Brookes University.

Creationism should be taught within the context of religion rather than science, said Dr Underdown. “It is not something that fits within the mainstream of science.”

With so much to be crammed into science lessons, it was not a worthwhile use of time to include lessons about creationism, he argued.