Tuesday 27 August 2019


One of the things that I love about the English language is how seeming gibberish can make sense to certain people if they have the right background and context. My friend once told me that she had "aeroplaned the boiler to 7" and it made sense. I lived with her in a golden age of easy to operate central heating boilers. The main control on mine was a slider that selected the function, if you went on holiday you slid the main control to a little picture of an aeroplane. We called that "aeroplaning the boiler". She now has a smart thermostat and the best you can do if you don't want heating but don't want anything to freeze is to set a low minimum temperature – in her case 7 degrees C.

I was playing a board game in which you had to get your teammate to say a certain word without mentioning it or any closely related words. I knew a scene in The Simpsons that he liked that mentioned the particular word. I just said "Nice name. Thanks I got it off a ..." and he correctly replied "hairdryer". Our opponents thought there was some kind of cheating or witchcraft at play.

At the weekend I wanted an ultrasonic cleaning bath, but I don't have one, so I had to make do with  a Lucky Lizard Super Fog. Years ago I was at a zoo and one of the lizard enclosures had a little machine for generating fog. It was made by "Lucky Lizard" brand and called a "Super Fog". It's a device that uses an ultrasonic emitter to excite tiny droplets on the surface of a bowl of water. I don't know what they're really called but I call them a Luck Lizard Super Fog even if they're a cheap Chinese off-brand copy.

Richard "Max Power" B

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Part Numbers

The horrible mix of units on tyre sizes has always bothered me. Your tyres have three numbers on them, and unless you're driving a racing car or a mini metro, one of them is in mm, one is scalar and one is in inches.

I've recently been dealing with spark plugs and they're even worse. The motor mower that I curate last had a new spark plug about 30 years ago. By pretending that it was for an old British outboard motor I was able to buy a spark plug that fits. By correlating the box that it came in with the NGK charts I have been able to identify a plug which is still manufactured, will fit, and should run at the right temperature.

This damned plug has a 18mm by 1.5mm thread on it AND a 13/16 Imperial hex!

A spark plug that is running too cool doesn't burn off the carbon from the insulator. A spark plug that is running too hot cracks the porcelain. Different plugs absorb more or less heat from the combustion gasses and throw away more or less heat to the cylinder head. The nomenclature and numbering system for these thermal properties is ridiculous:

A "hot" plug doesn't have much cooling, is in a "low" heat range and has a low number in the NGK system.
A "cold" plug has lots of cooling, is in a "high" heat range and has a high number.

To clarify:
Lawnmower - hot - 1,2,3
Racecar - cold - 9,10,11

Richard "simplicity itself" B

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Storm Damage

"Plumbing's just Lego innit? Water Lego" – Super Hans. If that's true then guttering must be Water Duplo, and it was still nearly beyond me.

We had violent storms at the weekend and the guttering downpipe on the front of my house was damaged. The pipe comes down the front of the house vertically and there's about a 150mm horizontal offset to where it enters the drain (vertically) made out of two 120 degree elbows. On Saturday morning the downpipe was still screwed to the house but various elbows and joiners were in a pile. I tried many times but I couldn't make the pile of parts back into something that connected the downpipe to the drain. It eventually dawned on me that one piece must have blown away. It would seem to have been about 30mm of downpipe to make the two elbows fit together.

Downpipe is sold in length of 2500mm, so I now have around 2470mm in stock ready for the next 82 times this happens.

Richard "I'll put that back in the garage for the next 20 years" B

Monday 5 August 2019


I have been judged and I have been found wanting.

Wedding invitations come in different grades. Are you there all day or only in the evening? Are you allowed to bring an arbitrary plus one? One specific guest? Nobody?

Years ago I got a very low grade of wedding invite: My girlfriend and I were expected to turn up at a church at coffee time and watch the couple get married, then bugger off for the afternoon while the high grade guests ate, drank and listened to speeches, and then we were expected to make our own way to the other venue for the evening do (at which we had to buy our own drinks).

I was at another wedding recently, and my invitation didn't include a plus one. I'm single so I can only assume that the bride and groom have taken a dislike to my hypothetical girlfriend.

I'm going to a wedding next spring and while I haven't received the invite in the post yet, I'm told that "attendance is mandatory".

At the weekend my character was judged even more harshly. I bought breakfast and two cups of tea in a café and while we ate in, the tea was served in paper cups. Other diners were drinking from china mugs. My friend went back by himself and bought a second cup of tea and the woman behind the counter stared into his soul for a few seconds and said "If I give you a mug YOU WILL bring it back, won't you?" and served his tea in china. I clearly look like I'm not to be trusted with the good crockery.

The embarrassing part is that she was right. Later in the same weekend I was at a different café where you pay a 20p deposit on the mug that your drink is served in, and I still forgot to take them back to the counter.

Richard "Church Wadding" B