When it's good it's very, very good, but…

I took to the internet like a duck2plum sauce – at first I thought it was a bad idea and then I found out it was wonderful.

That is of course when the world wide web chooses to work.

At first I thought t'internet was just a medium for people to sell me more stuff that I couldn't afford and didn't need, or a way for deranged psychopaths to learn how to blow up the world, but after several years I have found that, used with caution, the internet really is a wonderful thing.

Without the services of my local library's news database, my university dissertation on fiction written after the 9/11 World Trade Centre bombings would have been severely lacking in source reference material and, as a full time worker who believes weekends should be for relaxing, the ability to do a huge supermarket shop from the comfort of my living room and have it delivered to my front door the next night, is the most wonderful thing ever.

But, and it ain't a small but, if you rely on the internet for your work, such as I do, when it goes haywire, you lose the ability to do anything at all and this is terribly frustrating.

So, today, I am sitting in front of my PC with a pile of work to research, write and post online, and all I keep getting back from my googling is – Oops, this link appears to be broken - and I'm about to throw the whole kit and caboodle out of my office window.

But, no. I shall breathe deeply, contemplate what I can do without using the web, and then go and be as constructive as possible without the ‘virtual' crutch that is Mozilla.

The internet – don't you just love it?

Image © believekevin via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence



The lady's not for turning

So, the latest star to get a gig out of sat-nav is Bob Dylan and no I won't do any blowin' in the car jokes or GPS it is a changin' puns. I will just say that as a confirmed sat-nav fan there are probably better choices for my preference than the gravel-voiced stylings of the 60s music icon.

Drivers have for a long time been ordered to "take the exit" by John Cleese in typical bossy form, and ably directed by Alan Partridge, Mr T and even by the voice of 70s Doctor Who actor Tom Baker. But why would you want a sultry Kim Cattrall, from hit US series Sex and the City, huskily telling you to "bear left"? Surely this would just be a distinct distraction for many drivers - especially men.

And as we went round the car insurance office personnel, it was predominantly the voices of men that were chosen as the guide of preference. So without further ado, here they are – the duck2water sat-nav ‘voice of choice' top ten:

  1. Margaret Thatcher – female strength and power personified

  2. Thierry Henry – va va voom

  3. Mickey Rourke

  4. Al Pacino – in character as Tony Montana from 1983 Gangster classic Scarface

  5. Kitt – the original voice of the Knight Rider Pontiac Trans Am as performed by William Daniels

  6. Steven Hawking

  7. Keira Knightley – possibly in the clipped vocalisation from Atonement

  8. Martin Luther King

  9. Ian Hislop – mainly because he infuriates the heck out of my pal opposite and because he chose…

  10. Nicholas Cage – a man I can't bear the sight or sound of

Yes, Margaret Thatcher could tell me to ‘turn right' any day and the fun would be in saying ‘no' and driving straight on (which I often do – perhaps I haven't got the hang of sat-nav after all).

Image © me'nthedogs via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence



The first time I went zorbing

I took to zorbing like a duck2water.

The first time I went in a zorb was in Rotorua, New Zealand. Having been convinced it was a good idea, my brother and sister-in-law both joined me in the zorb. Once a bucket full of soapy warm water and been chucked in there with us to make standing impossible, we were awkwardly pushed off the top of a hill.

I imagine if you crossed a water slide with a sumo wrestling ring, it would feel pretty similar to how it felt hurtling down that hill. Various elbows, knees and feet rattled around the plastic bubble causing us to all come out covered in bruises but smiling nonetheless. Although it was one of the most expensive 30 seconds I've spent, it was well worth it.

With the hunt for the greenest mode of transport, perhaps we should switch to zorbs. As long as your journey was downhill all the way, you'd get there in no time and have fun in the process. No doubt it would cheer up the mundane commute to work and banish all traces of road rage- bumping into each other would only make it more fun!



The first time I… used an in-car sat nav system

When I first used a satellite navigation system in my new Vauxhall Astra, I really did take to using it like a duck to water!

I found the whole experience amazing. Not really sure how it worked at first, I spent about half-an-hour playing with the buttons and planning imaginary routes.

It all seemed quite straightforward so I punched in address details of the next day's real journey to Cambridge. The machine calculated the route and all was set.

Next morning I set off. Never having been to Cambridge before, I found the journey so much simpler than using an old-fashioned map.

Within a couple of hours, the sat nav was steering me around the university city of Cambridge like a pro. I remember pulling up outside my destination virtually dumbstruck that this remarkable gadget could guide me right to the door.

If you've not got a sat nav, they are highly recommended for those often difficult to navigate journeys.

Image © KhE via Flickr, under Creative Commons License



The first time I… was in a violent road rage attack

Road rage is not something I took to like a duck to water. To be honest I was terrified and wished I could have flown away at great speed.

It all happened at a roundabout. Two cars ahead of me were vying for the best spot in a multi-lane approach to the join the 'traffic circle' (as they call roundabouts in the USA).

One of the cars managed to cut up the other, causing frantic braking and a near miss. I could see the driver of the vehicle that was cut up opening his car door. He did not look happy.

In fact, he was furious and advanced on the other vehicle shouting and screaming. It was not a surprise to see him become violent (he looked pretty much as angry as the chap in the photo on this blog post).

He lashed out with a fist at the driver's side window and it smashed into smithereens. Now he had a clear shot at the motorist… and he took it - punching him in the head several times.

I was terrified he would attack me next just because I was nearby. Thankfully he didn't - but it was an ugly incident, never forgotten. After whacking the other driver, the violent thug just drove off.

Do you have any scary tales of road rage? Feel free to tell the world about them here - we'll keep a running tally.

Image © Bobaloo Rox via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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