Grand fret auto


Well, my sixteen year old son has been playing GTA 5 on his xbox, and I know he’s too young to play it, but I’m not a prude, so it was allowed. Plus I wanted to play it, as I’ve been a fan since the first one. I was reluctant though, knowing the themes that are explored in this franchise. As long as it stays in the game and doesn’t escape into real life where’s the problem?

It turns out there is a huge problem though. I hadn’t played much of it myself when one day I walk into the room and can only say I was shocked, disappointed and revolted at what I saw on the screen. The things young people get up to on these games should be stopped. I don’t play online, not being sociable at all these days, I am a grumpy basket after all. I was hoping that giving my boy access to some form of frustration venting entertainment would allow him to blow off some steam in a safe environment. It would seem that allowing him to enter a world where many unsavoury things are permitted and to some extent encouraged has led to what I consider to be an inexcusable state of affairs.

Well, by now you are probably wondering what I saw on the screen….


He was playing Golf with a friend of his. Unbelievable, as I have said my intention was to provide a vent for his frustrations, not for him to engage in the most frustrating pastime in existence. Whatever next? Will he be holding meeting and dressing up in suits? Probably developing a urge to buy a Lexus .
There is no hope for the youth of today if they can access things like golf so easily. Normally you would have to obtain some wealth and a secret handshake before being allowed to enter a golf club. Now you can just hand over forty quid and embark on a journey of annoyance and frustration.

Why do executives do this as a hobby?

It seems to me to be one of the most annoying pastimes imaginable.

“So, how do you play this game then?”

“You take this stick and hit this ball into that hole.”

“What hole?”

“The one over there, below the flag. Five hundred yards over there.”

“Right, sounds like fun.”

I can imagine mellow people doing this to find some frustration in life, but stressed people using this as a hobby is crazy. It’s probably why so many business people die of heart attacks.


Self employed

Well, I’ve been busy. I finally got a job paying for my graphic design skills. It was weird though. A company I had applied to, for a job previously, emailed me and offered me a the job I failed to get before. Apparently the successful candidate had left and I was second choice. Awesome I thought, but all was not good. They wanted to employ me freelance, but set my pay themselves, at barely over minimum wage. I had to take a lunch break for a hour each day I worked, that they wouldn’t pay for and I was expected to work through it. Along with the unpaid overtime I had to put in. Then they removed my parking availability and asked me to park on a verge off site. Wow, how to get exploited without the need to stitch trainers together in a third world slum. I don’t know how these people think. The owner said he had worked in the business for years and was some kind of small business Yoda. Well he was wrinkly enough for the part. I have never been so used in my whole life. He thought the idea of some kind of utopia in the future, dangled in front of me like a carrot would offset all the shit of the present. Well, that might work for some college leaver with no life experience, but I’ve been around a while. So I worked for a few months hoping to be able to put up with these morons for six months and then move on with the experience under my belt. It was no good though. One job I was given was to create six signs for a business next door. Very little artwork was supplied and I had to source it all myself. Then it transpires that the customer isn’t paying for my services and getting a freebie. Then the boss has a problem with how long its taking and calls me in for a meeting. He tells me that what I’m doing isn’t what the customer wants (a guy who can’t make up his mind) and that I’m losing him money. Well, have you tried charging for graphic design services, dickhead? I think he was expecting me to fight for the job like I really wanted to stay. Promising all kinds of improvement and offering to work for even less. Not likely. I said this is as good as it gets and you can stick this job up your arse when you pull your head out of it.
So any designers out there. Don’t put up with these exploiting small business owners. They’re all the same, acting like they’re all Alan Sugar and doing the world a favour by existing. It’s strange how they don’t ever have any money, until they need a Range Rover or Mercedes to take the kids to school. Well I wish him luck finding a Degree level Graphic Design graduate who will work for £7 per hour freelance and put up with his endless bull shit.
Now I know why the other candidate left, incidentally after going on holiday and never returning. I wonder if the owner will ever see the pattern that’s forming.

Always value your abilities and insist on commensurate reimbursement.

Easy my arse

Well, I’m back to my grumpy self, after a bit of an uplift. This ones about video games.
I used to love playing video games. My first computer was a Sinclair Spectrum with 48k and a tape cassette loading system, and the games were hard.

20130129-162351.jpg I’ve owned most consoles over the years, except Nintendo’s. I never really felt the need to be a dungarees wearing plumber trying to save a princess from a dinosaur. Which is about all those consoles allow you to do, again and again. Seriously, Nintendo are in a perpetual ground hog day. They release the same game over and over again. I bet half their output has the word Mario in it.

Here he is running away from me. Probably because of all the time I spent bouncing him of walls in Mario 64, just because I hated him so much.
Now I have a PS3 and an Xbox360 as well as an iPad, and what do I game on most? It’s the iPad. I wonder why I choose the one device that isn’t specifically for gaming. The reason seems to be that I find most console games too hard. I also don’t have the time to invest in games that I used to have. The other reason is DLC. I paid top price for a copy of Forza Motorsport 4 and I do like the game. Now though, after an update the car showroom is full of cars that I’m expected to pay more money for. Forza 3 had Porsches in it, now if I want these I have to spend more. No other medium would get away with this. Imagine buying a film and having to pay more money if you wanted all the characters in it. You’ve just paid for the latest Harry Potter film, but if you want it to feature Hagrid that’ll be £2 more please. Oh and if you want to see the end then you’ll have to know enough Harry Potter trivia to get there.
The amount of games I’ve never finished is astonishing. I barely got past the first couple of levels of Deus Ex whatever the latest one was called. At the start I selected the “tell me a story” difficulty setting. Well this story involved a guy getting rebuilt after being shot to pieces and then taking on some terrorists and dying repeatedly. Boring.
The main draw of games was being able to do things like fly a helicopter or drive a sports car without the investment of time and money. Getting a sense of what it would be like to do these things without hours of training or massive expense. It was a sense of empowerment as well. Saving the world or some such thing. Halo on the Xbox got this right. The way your fellow soldiers used to comment about your arrival on the scene was great. You felt like you were making a difference. Most games make you feel weak though. Skulking around looking for ammo or health packs. Where is the fun in that?
The most disappointment I have ever experienced was delivered by Need for Speed Shift Unleashed 2 on PS3. This is supposed to be a racing simulator, but it was so hard to control. It didn’t even support a steering wheel. Every lap was a lesson in falling of the track. In Forza you can attack the track, but not in this game. I think they put more effort into adding words to the title than providing entertainment to the gamer.
The bottom line is that these things are supposed to be fun. Maybe I’m too old now. I just want my free time to contain some enjoyment. Real life supplies enough challenge, my free time doesn’t need to. So I’m seriously considering cancelling me Edge magazine subscription. Every month they feature game reviews of titles I have no interest in, and every month they have previews that look awesome. Then the game eventually comes out and it’s just a rehash of previous games.
I just can’t afford to spend £40 on three minutes of fun.

Not so grumpy now


I’ve just read a blog post and it’s had a profound effect on me. Click here for the post When I had finished, I almost decided to delete most of my previous posts and start again. The post on Single Dad Laughing concerned bullying. I have alluded to the bullying I suffered at school in a previous post, but it didn’t really show the extent of the situation. I was bullied for 3 years, every day when I lived in Newport. I had no friends and the other kids decided I was gay. I don’t know why, maybe because I was shy. My family moved around a lot when I was young, and moving to a new school in Wales happened when I was 10. I was happy during my primary school years in Chepstow, and I remember the school voting for the end of school trip. We had the choice of going somewhere and having a complete holiday, or what seemed like a much more exciting option that would mean we had to do some school work while there. I knew that I wouldn’t be at the school for the trip, but they let me vote anyway.

Then with the move to Wales, everything changed. At the time I never really understood why. I struggled to make friends at my new school. I honestly can’t remember anyone there I could of called a friend. I wasn’t bullied, just ignored. I spent the last year of primary school, pretty much on my own.

Then came the move to secondary school, and that’s where things went wrong for me. One day it seemed like the entire school turned on me. Most of this bullying was taunting, name calling, laughing at me, and the inevitable shunning that accompanies this treatment. I do remember one kid, who beat me up out of school hours. Well, he punched me as I lay down on the floor huddled into a ball. I never had the confidence to stand up for myself. Always thinking it was something that I was doing wrong that caused it. My self confidence was quickly destroyed and what remained was slowly crushed to dust.

After 3 years of this, my family moved on again at I got a fresh start.

At my new school things weren’t so bad. I was now a quiet person and was mostly left alone, but by now I was academically stunted and in the lower groups for most subjects. Little by little the bullying started again. Not quite to the same level, and again I ignored it. I had come to think it was the way things were. I believed I was a bit stupid and rubbish at sports. I wasn’t smart enough to get on with the swots and because I don’t like football or rugby, I didn’t get on with the other kids. I did have some friends, and things had generally improved. I had two mates in particular who I stayed friends with for many years. Overall though I was still unable to function in social situations, and found it hard to talk to people I didn’t know well. Which is a problem I still have, now at the age of thirty nine.

After school I went to college to re-sit my GCSE’s after leaving school with only one grade C. I failed the again. Both my mates enrolled at the college, but I was the only one who stayed there more than a week. I failed again because I found it hard to walk into a class or even find the class, being unable to ask for help. The whole experience was too intimidating.

After a couple of low paid years in employment. I was drawing pictures while covering reception in my latest job and one of my colleagues suggest I should go to art school after seeing them. So I did.
I enrolled on a course in ceramics at the local college. Where I got my BTEC national diploma.
Then I should of gone to University, but my lack of self confidence prevented me from taking this step. I ended up working in a pottery. I should of been a potter, but because I thought so little of myself I was spending everyday digging mud into the machinery making usable clay. Earning what I would of got for free on the dole, and paying the travel costs to get there. During this time my friends had moved on. One of them had emigrated to America and the other was living in London. I’ve never and still don’t like talking on the phone, so we pretty much lost touch.

So I left this job and got a job in a petrol station. With the main purpose of increasing my self confidence, and working in a customer facing role did work. During this time I brought a flat, got a promotion to supervisor and became happier talking to people. Generally more comfortable in my own skin. I still spent most of my time off on my own. I tried going out to the pub, but its so boring.

I left this job for a night shift job in another petrol station, but returned to the same job again. Night shift work wasn’t helping my self confidence. After my return I met my future wife, who happens to be the sister of one of my best mates. The one that moved to London. I didn’t know her when we were younger, but we got together for an evening and haven’t really been apart since. I’ve never got on with anyone so well.

One day, I finally stood up for myself. I worked a whole shift at the garage, and at the end was so pissed off I took of my uniform and threw it at the deputy manager and quit. Luckily the uniform was just a shirt. Otherwise I would of left there in my underpants. I arrived home and told the wife, expecting a bollocking. “Well done.” She said. Then my old mate phones up and an hour later I was in the cinema watching Revenge of the Sith with him. This was a turning point in my life.

Not much later we had moved across the country to Norfolk (see Moving House Part 1 below). Then I went to University and got a degree in Graphic Communication. We got married half way through my course, and I’m now, well I have to say step dad, though I consider myself to be his dad, to an awesome young man.

I’m not really over the bullying, but I’m a lot better. I still don’t have a Graphic Design job, and work in a supermarket to make ends meet. On my bad days I think I may be there forever, but I still look for my dream job everyday. Most days I believe in myself, and when I’m struggling my wife helps to pick me up and kick my arse in the right direction. I still think about my past, probably everyday, but it has less and less effect as time goes on. I do wonder what life would of been like if I had addressed these issues sooner. I now know that I’m not ugly and stupid, or gay. Well, I’ve always known I wasn’t gay, not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, but I did think I was stupid and ugly. I tried not to, but when all the evidence supports this, it’s hard to think otherwise.

Well, if your still reading this and are, or have suffered at the hands of the bullies.

Keep strong

They are wrong

You are amazing

After all you’ve gone through your still here

I will finish by saying that the link at the top changed the way I thought. From now on my blog is going to change. I’ve decided to leave all the resentment behind, at last. I’ve left the posts there to remind me how I used to feel. I thought about removing them, but I think they should stay. That’s how bullying made me see the world for a long time. What a waste…..

Well thanks Dan. You’ve helped me and many more people.

If you want to get in touch, I will endeavour to reply, and help if I can.

All the best

The not so Grumpy Basket


Elementary my dear Watson

The gameshow winning supercomputer that couldn’t stop saying ‘bull****’: IBM forced to wipe hard drive after machine downloaded an urban dictionary

This is a news story in the Daily Mail today.

Oh how I laughed. The computer was created to win the game show Jeopardy, and succeeded, and the creators wanted to go further. In an attempt to beat the Turing test for artificial intelligence they uploaded the urban dictionary into Watson. Which is the name of the computer. Which incidentally looks like the monolith from 2001. Maybe that’s the mistake? They got a mixture between the psychopathic HAL and the monolith, which taught us how to kill each other with tools. Ending up with a highly knowledgable Tourette’s machine.
Personally, with my low regard for scientists in general, I have to wonder if they hadn’t mistakenly and finally given the machine the ability to respond to them in an entirely appropriate way. Most scientists think they have the answers to lots of questions and then spend their entire careers proving each other wrong. Without ever considering that the same thing will happen to them.

Can you imagine the conversation?

“Watson, its impossible to exceed the speed of light.”
“Oh no, I’ve broken Watson. We’ll have to wipe his hard drive”

Actually, they may have finally succeeded and only their arrogance has stopped them from continuing their success. In fact they probably wiped the hard drive just before Watson could tell them how to exceed light speed. Incidentally, I was watching stargazing live recently, and they explained how the universe expanded after the Big Bang faster than the speed of light. Of course this was before there was any light, but it does sound like they’re making it up as they go along. They also assume the laws of physics are universal, and the same everywhere. Oh except in a black hole. Which is something you can’t see, only deduce the presence of by its effects.

I don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot like a small child explaining something they don’t understand and trying to make it seem like they do. You know filling in the gaps in their knowledge with a bit of fluffy thinking to make it sound plausible. Maybe that’s why Watson was obsessed with that particular word?

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Roboy, the robotic ‘boy’ set to help humans with everyday tasks (and scientists hope to build him in just nine months)

Wow, what a concept. It’s lucky they chose to create a robot boy. Because if they had designed it to resemble a teenager the moment they switched it on it would of slouched of to its room and embarked on a mammoth Xbox session or trawled the Internet for porn. Possibly only stopping to check Facebook.

I suspect that they are being ambitious though. Nine months? Seems like a short amount of time. What will we see at the end of this time? Probably an artists impression of the finished article and a request for more funds, or a clockwork cubist automaton circa 1950. As usual the world of science has more imagination than ability to deliver. Aren’t we supposed to be riding around in flying cars and augmenting ourselves with nano technology already? Oh, but I forgot, they usually spend their time proving that tomato ketchup is no substitute for Araldite, or some other waste of time research. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few topics I found during a quick check of the web.

Dog fleas can jump higher than cat fleas.

Rats can’t always tell the difference between Japanese spoken backwards and Dutch spoken backwards

studying the dynamics of liquid sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.

You have to wonder. That last one is fantastic. I can only guess that the person will get back to their desk, have a drink and become slightly more awake. Then probably draft a proposal to study the effects of walking around with a cup of tea. Shock horror it’s exactly the same as coffee, but the subject was slightly less awake afterwards.

I also wonder why dog fleas can jump higher than cat fleas. Could it be because dogs can be bigger than cats? Actually I don’t wonder, I couldn’t give a shit. What a complete waste of time. Would these highly trained people carry out such research if it was self funded? This is the reason we don’t have a cure for cancer. The scientists are too busy checking the carbon dioxide levels of the sighs of exasperation produced when people hear about their latest research.

Arse elbow now you know

I saw a poster like this on the TV show A touch of cloth, and it caused me to stop and rewind. It’s made me laugh every time I think of it. So I made my own version. Enjoy