Brass Monkeys

It’s cold. It’s bluddy cold, let me add.

That irritating 23 degree slant on the Earth’s axis has led to a very cold and dark time up at the north pole, and freezing winds from that area are now pouring down on us, pushing the mercury to an unlikely minus 20 C over the last week.

Americans: that means “very cold indeed” in your funny F system.

And the same annoying axial slant has led to less sunlight reaching the ground in Stockholm, leading in turn to days that last about 17 minutes and might be missed entirely if one spends too long on the toilet with a good book.

Of course the cold winter is taken by a whole boatload of idiots as proof that global warming is not real.

In fact, as soon as an idiot opens his mouth, these words will invariably tumble from his lips, along with “isn’t football super” and “that pope’s really doing a good job, isn’t he”.

With the same reasoning I could claim that people who believe in the rotation of the Earth are way off the mark since, right now, it happens to be dark outside.

Or that the number of idiots is on the decrease because the room where I now sit does not contain as many idiots as it should.

Anyway, I for one welcome the cold since it makes life in Stockholm interesting, what with the chapped lips, long baths, lethal icicles toppling from rooftops and lots of time indoors watching Buffy.

And more Buffy is good Buffy, I think you will agree.

/ paddy

Shaggy Dog Stories

Note: This blog entry was based on a true Facebook story. Names, dates and sexual preferences may have been changed to protect the innocent.

So I was walking to work. Picture it now. Wait, here’s a photo I took that will help you:

autumn2

Yeah, now we got it. So just about THERE I passed a lady and her dog. The dog was doing something doggy – sniffing, peeing, quoting Marx – which the lady did not like.

So she pulled the dog closer on the leash and said:

“Tusse, I TOLD you not to do that, why don’t you ever listen to me?”

Which, since it was a dog, is probably a bit pointless.

This reminded me of a previous dog-lady anecdote (oh yes, a thin thread, I grant you). On that occasion another old lady was walking in a park, along a small path, dragging a reluctant dog behind her.

A moped was coming, quite fast, so the lady pulled the dog in and said to it sternly:

“Watch out Moppsy, there’s a moped coming!”

I just like that she felt the dog had to receive extra information as to the precise form of the imminent danger.

Of course, I can’t talk – I regularly speak to myself while working or doing stuff at home, whispering fiercely about this or that while work-mates and pets look on in deep amusement.

Oh well, at least I don’t go for a dump on the pavements. Not yet, anyway.

NOTE: Next Wednesday, October 21st, I will once again host the Four Stone Hearth Anthropology blog carnival. Please send in your links to anything vaguely relevant. That is all.

/ paddy

Idiot Road Buffet

Today I climbed on my trusty bike and braved the traffic to work. And I happened to come across almost all of the distinct idiot species present on Stockholm roads.

Idiot 1: Tough bike guy! This creature, always male, has spent a fortune on his pink cycling shorts, his orange glasses and his stupid-looking bike. This therefore gives him the right to disregard rules, signs and other road-users because he is, of course, far too busy listening to his DickPod to notice us.

2nd-street-bike-lane

Today’s example of Tough Bike Guy overtook another bike on a narrow bike lane, forcing a woman coming from the opposite direction to practically scrape up against the wall. I bet this guy is a real laugh to work with.

Idiotic 2: Moron Taxi Guy. Taxis actually should not be allowed in traffic at all, and here’s why: all other road users are watching out for danger, while these guys are usually looking out for possible customers waiting on the pavements.

driver-distractionToday’s taxi driver made a sudden and unannounced swing to the right, in front of me and 4 other cyclists, causing one of them to bang up against the car. And here’s the odd part – the bike rider just kept on going. Maybe he was in shock.

And so I, never one to pass up the chance to swear in public, took it upon myself to berate the driver, by thumping hard on his window and shouting: “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, you fucking tit?” Moron Taxi Guy gave a sheepish shrug – like, oops, heh heh, silly me – and then ignored me. May his license wither and drop off.

Idiot 3: The pedestrian wandering out into the bike lane, cut off from the dangerous environment with a big pair of headphones and making a quick and unexpected change of direction when they discover where they are.

Idiot 4: The stupid cyclist, without a helmet, actually talking on a mobile whilst negotiating busy and possibly lethal traffic. Jeeezus.

Idiot 5: Door-opening dude. Luckily I always leave 2 metres between myself and parked cars, and today this paid off as a guy swung a door out into the street without checking to see who was coming. I was, but luckily I was too far out to get clipped. Who gave these people their licences?

Idiot 6: Double-parked lady. But she had the magical flashing “warning!” lights on so that was fine then, no problem, please continue.

The only of the main idiots I did NOT see today was parking-in-the-bike-lane man. So I missed the complete set. But hey, tomorrow is another happy city cycling day.

/ paddy

The Queers

The Stockholm Pride festival starts today, probably the only event remaining in Sweden these days where you can see bare female breasts, police with moustaches and people wearing chaps in public.

There will also undoubtedly be some fuckwits out there. These fuckwits include people who worship the cannibalistic invisible space god, and those who imagine that dressing up in English clothing and shouting about dead German dictators somehow makes them more “Swedish” than other people. These groups hate the queers, you see – they bloody well hate them.

SNNPictureNow I see why the fans of imaginary space gods may hate queers, since a confused and contradictory ancient storybook told them to. Fair enough. And the hairless stomping ones see queers as “weak” or “unnatural”, so again, fair enough (although apparently there’s nothing unnatural about shaving your head and ranting all day in a foreign language).

But what I can’t understand is the queer-haters in the general population. Now I admit to having been, in my life, guilty of racism, since it’s hard to avoid stereotypes when you meet new kinds of people. And sexism, yeah, I have probably been guilty of that at some stage too. And most of the rest of the isms also. But I have to admit that I really just don’t get homophobia. Not on any level. It just confuses me.

Why do “hard” men get angry at queers? Are they afraid they will “cone onto” them? And if they do, can’t they take it as a compliment and say no? Or is it that they are afraid of being “infected” by them in some way, by turning “sissy”?

Well I think that straight men should rejoice over the existence of gay men. First of all it gives your women somebody to hang out and shop with, relieving you of the chore. Also It makes you look even more macho than you are by comparison. And the best one – it increases your choice of women, since the women only have sex with the straight men. A win-win situation, I would think.

But no. The moronic minority keep on spewing their shite, usually backed up, as mentioned earlier, by a magic book or two.

How can you be so enraged by what other adults choose to do with their penises? How does people showing love for each other make your tiny little head pulse red with rage? And how can you be so pissed off by the way somebody else chooses to live that you would actually hurt or even kill them for it?

gaypride

I shake my head in bafflement. All we can hope for is that the gay population (about 5% of us) will soon outnumber the religious population. And it’s already happening, as their churches empty, their “leaders” and “teachings” are discredited, their arses are sued for child molestation and people begin to see all their magic books for what they actually are – the manic ramblings of very very dead people.

Some of whom, judging by the beards, sandals, pastel-coloured robes and love-your-fellow-man teachings, were very probably raging queens. So suck on that, bible-boy.

/ paddy

The Noise

First published on September 19 2008

The world is full of noise. Yes, yes, very deep insight, I’m such a philosopher, I know. But it is too. Car noise, train noise, pipe-creaking, baby-wailing, wall-drilling and late-night bad-samba-music when-I’m-trying-to-sleep noise.

One thing I have come to appreciate in my later years is the need for places where we can preserve silence. Places like libraries (although not Swedish libraries, where mobile phone use is practically encouraged) and even churches. Just a place to turn off the constant din, a place to bring the kids in the future and tell them “This is how things were before the world got filled up with rubbish.”

But some noises piss me off more than others. Two in particular. And both of them have to do with travelling.

First of all, I hate people who talk loudly on their mobiles while on public transport. You should fuck off, plain and simple. I have no interest in where you are going, or what marital problems you have, or what slop your partner plans to make you for dinner. SMS was invented for situations like this so, for the love of Carl, just use it. And shut the hell up.

And then, the real corker, the main course – those people who sit there with their idiotic headphones and play music loud enough to entertain the entire train carriage. I mean, seriously, play music by all means, please do. But does it have to be so loud that I can hear every single fucking beat? That it makes my knees knock together? That it makes your dandruff tumble in little white waterfalls down from your greasy head?

And its always the same kind of music that is played at these volumes – hard, fast and loud. And generally rubbish. I can’t really understand, being not at all a morning person, why anybody would need that kind of music at 7:22 on a weekday. And why so fucking loud? Is it because your hearing has been damaged from listening to too much crud? Or are you just making a statement, as in – “Oh, look at me, I have social status because I have tosser Apple hardwear and loud noises emerging from my head. Thus I am cool. Aren’t I cool?”

And this is not about right or wrong, it’s a matter of fucking courtesy. Nobody wants to hear another person’s “music” in such a deformed manner. Nobody at all. It’s plan and simply annoying, and that’s all there is to it. You are a selfish prick, period, and I piss on your “right” to “express yourself”.

And if your morning music is so fucking important to you, why don’t you chuck the tinny pieces of crap you got with your iPod and invest in proper headphones with minimal leakage? No, of course you won’t, because you want to be noticed and to annoy people in public, because that’s the kind of cool don’t-give-a-damn person that you are.

I can think of a few ways to deal with these people. One would be to move to another seat. Cowardly but effective.

Another way would be to sit beside one of them and spread my newspaper wide so that it covers both them and me. And if they don’t like it, well, why don’t they move? It’s a public place, and I can’t help it if they find my newspaper distracting.

I could make grotesque faces at them. And if they don’t like that, well, then they should stop looking and accept that they will see things that they don’t like on the subway.

Or perhaps I could fart uncontrollably. Farting is of course unavoidable, and they should be prepared for a few smells when on public transport, shouldn’t they?

Maybe the best solution would be to procure a portable EMP generator which I could use to knock out all electronics within a 5 metre radius – mobile phones, iPods, Cylon fighters, pacemakers, the train’s braking systems, the lot.

Or I could accept that the world will always be full of arseholes and just go buy a fucking car.

/ paddy

The Customer is Always Annoying

First published April 5, 2006

Service and Sweden. Two more words that never go together. As a customer in this land, you are a mere irritation, something to be put up with or preferably ignored. If you accidentally get good service in Sweden, you are so surprised that you give a big tip and grin like an idiot for half a day.

An example? Oh, you bet your ass I have an example…

16 months ago, lunchtime. Me and associate go to the Yellow Sub sandwich deli on Götgatan in Stockholm in order to buy some sandwiches. In the line before us is a woman who is holding a plate and is very upset. On the plate is a pie she had purchased minutes earlier, and also a large black insect.

– I found this in my pie, she says, visibly shaken.

The sour old lady at the counter looks at insect, and then up at the customer.

– We only use fresh produce in THIS café, she says with a sniff.

The customer is not sure what to do.

– But it’s an INSECT, she says, on the edge of tears.

– Well I suppose you want your money back then, the old lady says, grabs the plate with the pie and shoves the customer’s money into her hand.

Note – the words “sorry” could not be heard.

The customer stands there for a moment, still confused as to what is happening.

– Can I have my plate back? she asks meekly.

The old lady brings the customer’s plate back from kitchen and shoves it at her. The customer leaves.

Now then, what went wrong here? I’ll tell you what – the customer, all of her family, friends and workmates, as well as the rest of us who saw the incident, along with OUR family friends and workmates never went back again to Yellow Sub: a loss of perhaps 50 customers and hopefully more.

Now the sour old lady could have prevented this by treating her customer as a human being, and showing that she was in fact sorry for a big, spiky insect in her lunch, and maybe shoved a free latté or bottle of wine at her. Instead she acted like a moron, and practically blamed the customer for the problem.

Insects in food I can accept; rudeness I do not.

I was planning to start a website called “shittyService.com” where people can put their experiences of various cafes and bars all over the world, a sort of Internet Movie Database for catering and service. And on this site Yellow Sub would get five big fat dead rats. No doubt about it.

/ paddy

Shirt Pirates of Summer

This week things are running at very low steam. The majority of my workmates are away on vacation, or in that other city, or even sick with the wonderful vomiting bug. This gives the idle worker plenty of time to think, sitting in the badly air-conditioned office while the sun scorches the world brown outside the window.

For example: What do we want? Where are we going? How do we get there? Who do we take with us? How do we KNOW when we have gotten there? And at what stage do we turn back if “there” wasn’t really the place we believed it was?

84492403_1And should I do something about the guy I bought this shirt from on Tradera, the Swedish eBay?

I mean, he advertised the shirt as “äkta”, meaning real. And then when the package arrived it had obviously come from China (the clue being the big fat Chinese import sticker). And a little googling swiftly showed that it was indeed a fake.

Now the shirt was cheap, I grant you, but the quality sucks, and if you advertise something as “real” then it bloody better be real. (Whatever “real” means in this situation.)

So should I report the dude, possibly a bad idea given his obvious underground connections and the fact that he (literally) knows where I live?

Or should I do like the rest of the morons who gave the guy good feedback on Tradera and  just let it be?

Given my state of mind at the moment, I think option 2 will win more or less by default.

But feel free to comment anyway. You know I like it when you comment.

/ paddy

The Milk Leavers

I have discovered a certain phenomenon over my years of working in offices in Sweden.

This is the problem of the Milk Leaver. The Milk Leaver is a person who desires to use the milk in the fridge, but discovers, when they lift up the carton, that it is about to run out.

milk

So, instead of actually using up all of the milk  and being forced to take responsibility for it (having to fold it up, throw it in the bin, locate more milk and open it) this sad example of humanity simply leaves a tiny amount of milk in the carton, not even enough for a squirt in a small cup of coffee. This neatly passes the problem onto somebody else and allows them to use the “Who, me? But there was milk left!” defence with a clear conscience.

Milk Leavers are annoying, in a low-key kind of way. Sure, it saves time for them, but it is laziness, and laziness of the worst kind – anonymous laziness that can not easily be discovered or blamed on anyone.

And I wonder – does this concept exist in other countries, or in other offices, or is it only me that gets irritated by it? And if it doesn’t exist elsewhere else, then what DO people consider to be the most annoying office misdemeanour?

Spill your guts, people!

/ paddy

Flakes

Before breakfast today I went to the communal (how I am beginning to hate that word) laundry room where I discovered that the three Fates had stolen my washing time.

When I asked these unpleasant ladies what they didn’t actually understand about the transparently simple electronic booking system, and why they had stolen another person’s time, I got a lot of pointing, shrugging and bad suggestions.

No apology, mind you, just oral garbage and a standard “Oh, I’m just a stupid lady, me no understand complicated things.”

dscf0055

So I stormed out of there and fixed another time for the evening.

And later I went out in the beautiful falling snow with H9 and we built a snowbear. When we passed the same place later we saw, as expected, that the snowbear had been pretty much destroyed.

Naturally nothing nice could be left standing if there was the smallest chance to kick the crap into it.

I love my neighbourhood, may the pit bulls cover it eternally in an ankle-deep layer of shit. But piss on ’em, because plans are afoot and soon I will very probably be out of here.

And hey, Strange Shores Number 4 is online over at Po, aka the South African Sea Monkey. Go have a look. Who would have thought we would make it to 4, eh?

/ paddy

The Church of Assorted Nutters

So what’s the deal with Scientology? Why does every single famous person turn out to be a member, and a  melt-brain moron of the highest degree?

First it’s Tom Cruise. Well, I never liked that scary little turd anyway, so no tears were shed when he came out as a brainless nugget warbling on about Thetans and Xenu and so forth.

Then its Chef from South Park, and that was a pity. But it was very cool of South Park to rip the complete piss out of those losers by making an episode showing up their “beliefs”. And I’m sorry for Isaac dying and all, but I doubt he’s gone to a better place.

John Travolta I am sad about. He is a quirky and occasionally excellent actor. And he flies his own plane, which is always a plus. But his brain is obviously damaged, so please accept my pity, Mr. Travolta.

And now it’s Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpsomn. She has been a “follower” for a while, apparently, but now has started to promote the “church” by using the voice of Bart for her own seedy purposes. Fox are of course less than pleased about this as Bart is their property, and not hers. So expect a heavy legal battering any day now, you squeaky-voiced bint.

We all shake our heads in confusion when we hear about the “beliefs” of Scientology, a religion created by a Science Fiction writer who expressed an interest in making up his own religion to win a bet, where the whole thing is, surprisingly enough, pure Science Fiction, and bad Science Fiction at that.

jesusbluespaceearth

Bur many of the people who complain about how bizarre and disturbing Sceintology is seem to have no problem with the idea of eating the transmutated flesh and drinking the warm blood of a demi-god who died 2000 years ago. And neither is it strange to them that this ritual cannibalism will bring them to a parallel universe after their death where they will enjoy eternal happiness.

To my mind, this is just as bizarre and troubling a set of beliefs. And at least Scientology does not have huge state backing all over the world, billions of dollars worth of property and the ear of many of our most powerful and scary leaders.

Because when it comes down to it, they’re all just illogical and simplistic stories peddled by unscrupulous dicks who like using their own power to influence the lives of others and make a shit-load of money. So stop sniggering at other “beliefs” while proclaiming your own equally stupid ones to be so much better; because you’re all, when it comes down to it, disturbed, out of touch with reality and rightly fucked up in the head.

Here’s to Xenu. And Mohammed. And Jehovah. And all their invisible friends.

/ paddy

Bingo Time

My old job entailed making online interactive courses for monolithic Swedish companies and authorities. It was fun to start with but after many years the thrill of sitting in meetings with stern middle-aged ladies called Gunilla and Britta, and nodding at their idiotic ideas, wore off.

So now I work in the world of idiot trapping – sorry, I meant online gaming. My current employers make game engines for online gambling. This is an interesting job, with a team of lawyers kept busy side-stepping the Swedish and European laws connected to online gambling.

Ethically it’s a bit questionable, but hey, if you apply ethics to everything then you’ll never have a job. And it’s no worse than other forms of online commerce, although I admit that if you buy a pair of shoes online at least you will have the shoes.

The company dabbles in all kinds of online gambling: poker, casino games, and online bingo, which is what I work with. Now when I started I knew nothing about online bingo, but I have come to realise 2 things about it:

1) It’s a huge business
2) It’s completely idiotic

Here is how you play online bingo: You log in, buy a card and watch while the computer fills in the numbers as they are drawn. If you win, you win, and if you don’t, well, then you lose.

The main point of bingo is the chat room. Here you can natter with your middle-aged female friends in an almost undecipherable lingo consisting of abbreviations (IYKWIM). Most of your conversation will consist of congratulating your buddies when they win in a game that requires no skill whatsoever (unless you count clicking on the “buy” button as a skill). Yes, it’s just as inane as it sounds.

You will also have a Chat Master who keeps the chat tempo up with chirpy comments and text-based games. These people, the CMs, can reach celebrity status. And they will always have upbeat names and wacky personalities. Joy.

The rise of online bingo has apparently a lot to do with the smoking ban in Europe. Previously the ladies would meet in the bingo halls, to play, chat and smoke. These days, with the ban on smoking, they might prefer to sit at home, play online bingo, chat and smoke till their lungs turn beige in the comfort of their own room.

Nothing depresses me more than the idea of thousands of rotund middle-aged ladies sitting in the living rooms, in their off-white underwear, surrounded by fag smoke and frittering away their meagre incomes on a pointless online game. Haven’t these people heard of Skype, FFS? You can chat for free, AND play little games too.

Well I shouldn’t knock them; they’ll be paying my wages for the foreseeable future. And apparently this branch – online gambling – tends to do better in times of recession that otherwise. So I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

And look – I managed this whole bingo article without a single joke about balls. Who would have thought?

/ paddy

Swedish Traffic Twins

OK, this one just HAS to be commented upon. I received this link from my friend Stuart (who doesn’t have a blog, so he cannot be linked to).

It’s a clip from one of those Traffic Cops shows and it shows 2 blonde ladies doing unbelievably dangerous and suicidal things on a motorway in the UK.

According to the articles I have seen (from the BBC) the ladies are twins and from Sweden. Which explains their nice clothes and trained physiques, but not their elevated levels of insanity.

Watch the thing and see for yourself. There is also a longer version available on youTube.

According to the female copper in the longer version, the ladies appeared to be “on drugs” which explains their strength, although which drugs they mean might have been interesting to know. Pot? Speed? Crack? Surströmming?

And if these ladies are actually Swedish, then why haven’t I seen this in the Swedish media? Not a whisper. If anybody has any information on this – who the ladies are, when this happened, where they train – then please share it with us, pronto.

/ paddy