Male or Female?

Whether this video is humourous or not will be dependent on my ability to post the correct Youtube link below!

This post is written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), dependent.

Intellect in Isolation #1

A bit of trivia fun for you. Today, written for Fandango’e One-word Challenge (FOWC), suspense. If people like this idea, I’ll post some more.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are so called because from a distance, they have a bluish-coloured haze about them. Why is this?

Answers either on a postcard, in a comment, or if you really want you can email me. If you comment, you’d better be 100% sure that you’re right, because everybody else is going to see it!

I’ll post the answer, in a comment, at (or just after) 8am GMT tomorrow. I shall keep you in suspense until then.

You can look this answer up if you like, but I’ll be impressed if you don’t need to! And if anybody can figure out a better title, I’m all ears. Points awarded for inventive answers too 🙂.

Stocked Up

This post is written for Fandango’s One-Word Challenge, contemplate.

Tesco’s is the market-leading British supermarket. Actually, there are four or five other biggies, but Tesco has grown to be about the biggest. After that, there are maybe twice as many again smaller chains.

Sunday retail laws (which have not been suspended, but which now seem crazy) stipulate that big shops (such as most Tesco branches) may only open for six hours on a Sunday. The exact hours are flexible, but most retailers (including Tesco) open between 10am and 4pm.

As a result of the virus outbreak and the subsequent wave of panic buying, Tesco announced that they would reserve a special interval exclusively for NHS workers. They set it to Sundays at 9am-10am. They would still observe Sunday Trading laws and open the tills at 10am, but would allow people to browse (i.e. put groceries into their trolley, but not to check out) from 9am.

Because we thought that this time slot represented the best combination of (a) least competition whilst shopping and (b) most groceries being available on the shelves of the supermarket, my wife (who works for the NHS) and I contemplated doing our grocery shopping during this hour. When we arrived, this was the scene that greeted us:

Postscript

The queue into the shop was 30 minutes, but once in the shop we were able to get what was basically a full week’s grocery shop, including bread and milk. We did not even bother looking for toilet roll. We’re still only buying a week at a time, because that’s the most responsible approach. The exception is cat food, which is also in short supply. And, I don’t dare tell the cats that their breakfast has been cancelled! Even that, we have accumulated maybe a month’s supply, which is not particularly abnormal for us. Lots of humans have died from this virus, but cats will come out of it fatter than ever – provided they learn how to open the packets 😆.

By the time we left the shop, the queue had died down, but equally, the essential goods had mostly been purchased.

The one thing which was pleasant about doing the shopping was that there was a lot less traffic than usual.


If anybody is interested, I will not be posting my usual Who Won the Week post this evening. What’s the point when there is just one thing on the News? So I’m thinking I will suspend that until life gets a little more normal. Equally, it seems dumb to write a post just to say I won’t be writing a post, hence my tagging it onto this post.

Crunch Time

Writing this post for today’s FOWC prompt, “pass”.

It’s funny, here I am mostly-isolated in my house, and the weird thing is that I have more time to amuse myself on WordPress. I did manage to get out yesterday, just for a half-mile walk to get some air into my lungs – I’ve been out twice in the last ten days. On the way home I passed a neighbour’s and knocked – we are going to try shopping tomorrow, and did they need anything? We have to step up at the moment – we can’t just think nice things, we need to follow them through with deeds. In fact they are stocked better than us. They are in their Seventies and the husband has MS, so they must be terribly worried.

It was a nice change of scenery therefore this morning when Fandango’s prompt transported me back to another time.

In the mid Nineties I worked for a company which was developing a purchasing solution. Think Amazon, but with tweaks. It didn’t focus on the whole customer experience. It assumed that the customers already knew what they wanted, so made the purchasing process slicker. It was aimed at one business requiring supplies from another.

Look again at the date. This was before even Microsoft had Internet Explorer. So companies were interested. Rumour had it that Microsoft themselves were interested. Banks were interested, because any purchase could go through that bank’s existing payment systems – ka-ching! In the end we hooked Barclays, a big UK bank.

Not satisfied, though, there were rumours that Chase Manhattan were interested in the USA, so the company immediately dispatched people out to work semi-permanently in the USA. At the time, I was leading the Development team, so had to go across regularly to take part in meetings to try to seal the deal.

Plans progressed with Chase such that our joint venture (the agreed structure) would be based in Tampa, Fl. Chase already had a big campus there. I liked Tampa, it had just enough Spanish history to be interesting, so I told the directors that I wouldn’t mind being part of the permanent setup myself. Music to their ears, visas were obtained, a package was offered and agreed and I was all set to move.

At the time, Fl had a very low cost of living. I calculated that the salary offered would allow me a very nice car and apartment.

The hook-up with Chase took forever. Eventually, the deal was sealed, but with one last catch. They wanted the operation to be based in Manhattan. I was quite open to this. I had no ties in the USA anyway, so as long as I liked the place…

In fact as soon as I got there, I loved NYC. Initially, Chase allowed us the use of some of their managed apartments in Battery Park City, while we worked from some Chase offices in Lower Manhattan. Every day, my walk to work involved passing through the World Trade Center, crossing Broadway, and walking along Wall Street. I felt I had arrived!

But crunch time had not quite arrived – I hadn’t quite made the jump to work as a permanent employee for the US company. When that chat came, I waited to hear their revised offer. Tampa and NYC were very different places, in terms of cost of living. In fact, it was estimated 3x higher in one than the other. But I was to be disappointed. Same deal, just NYC not Tampa, the director said.

Over the next few weeks I weighed this up. A car and apartment in Tampa amounted to a shared house, in one of the outer boroughs, in New York City. Plus, I was conscious that I had been lucky to get a break to work in the US, but the foundation here was my own ability to run a Development team, which I’d have wherever I was. The company had gambled that I would be so desparate to work in the USA, I would agree to anything. But as far as I was concerned, I had the world at my feet.

I’ll pass, I said.

The Big Chill

Christmas Day has not become special yet, although the rest of the house has just started moving so I shall have to write this quickly. I got up at my normal time, performed my normal startup routine, and even checked for any overnight activity on WordPress.

I turned on the tv and caught the weather forecast. It was quite clear last night – I wonder if the Santa-spotters had any joy? – so it was quite chilly overnight and it looks bright out this morning. Usual weather, at this time of the year, is grey. Dreary. Possibly some rain. We have days where it doesn’t seem to get light.

The UK is a small country, but it does have high-lands. We call them mountains. By world-standards, they are modest but they can be deadly if you get caught out. These areas get snow, so might, I suppose, have a White Christmas. For the rest of the UK, our general temperature rises over the years mean that it is a long time since there has been a White Christmas. My personal memory of snow was once, as a child in Liverpool. Sixties or seventies.

This year, for example, because the night was clear, the weatherman says that the closest we would have got is a touch of frost in various parts, as we awoke this morning.

My image shows one of London’s Frost Fairs, which were held at various times until the nineteenth century, when the River Thames in central London froze solid, the painting is by Thomas Wyke and this post was written in response to Fandango’s One-word Challenge (FOWC) – frost.