The LibDems safeguarding your money

It’s the European Parliamentary election on Thursday so we’ve been getting the usual steady stream of political party leaflets through the door.

Liberal Democrats flyer showing man putting card into cashmachine.

I was just about to throw into the recycling this one from the Scottish Liberal Democrats when the photo of Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP standing at a Royal Bank of Scotland Cashline (ATM) machine caught my eye.

Here it is enlarged:

Sir Menzies Campbell with man not using cashline machine properly.

Can you spot what the problem is with this photograph?

It would appear from this photograph that our local Member of the Scottish Parliament doesn’t know how to use a Cashline machine. He’s trying to poke his bank card into the slot that the money comes out of!

Look! According to this illustration from the RBS website there’s even a diagram on the machine to show you where to put your card, along with the written instruction “Insert here”:

(Source: RBS MoneySense for Schools)

I’m presuming that the Liberal Democrats’ policy for introducing international action to safeguard your money doesn’t simply rest on their inability to use the machines that would help them get the money out of the bank again!

Wikipedia names your band

What a great meme, spotted on Ricky Carvel’s blog: Wikipedia names your band.

Here are the rules:

  1. Band name
    Go to a random Wikipedia article. The name of the article becomes your band name.

  2. Album title
    Next go to Random Quotations. The last 4-5 words of the last quotation on the page are your the title of your first album.

  3. Album cover
    Now go to Flickr’s Explore the last 7 days and choose the third picture. This will be your album cover.

  4. Final article
    Finally put them all together and you have an album cover.

I’ve just done it three times. I think I’ve found my new hobby!

Earl of Sefton Stakes – “Can’t hear what they say?”

Earl of Sefton Stakes
Photo credit: liao,che-yi

This is the first one I created. It was a bit too disturbing, so I signed to another record label, changed the name of the band and ended up with our new album …

Vydra – “Men just need a place”

Photo credit: ailicec

Vydra did really well, reaching number 51 in the alternative rock charts. The NME said that we were quite literally “a peg above the rest” but disaster struck when the drummer left to start his own laundry business.

But not one to stay down I found another bass player, changed our name once again, and released …

Akreavenek Island – “Affirmatively says nothing”

Akreavenek Island
Photo credit: Rock the pixel

Akreavenek Island are your typical rock/metal crossover act, somewhere between Sigur Rós and Rammstein meets Extreme Noise Terror and Celine Dion. We cover mostly ballads. But with more shouting and white noise than the originals. Available now in no good record stores.

The best job in the world?

My friend Iain has applied for what is being dubbed “The Best Job in the World“: The Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

Not sure how it can be, to be honest, given that the best job in the world is to be working within the Web Team at the University of St Andrews!

Anyway, that dispute aside, potential applicants are asked to upload a video, photograph and video of themselves (no longer than 60 seconds) to the website.

Here’s Iain’s … erm, offering. Check it out, it’s a work of genius!

Or you can check it out within the context of The Best Job in the World website.

Re-focus your eyes on a distant object

Last month I had to do an online health and safety assessment exercise that determined my understanding of health and safety matters to do with sitting at a desk all day staring at a PC monitor. I’m happy to report that I scored 100%.

As part of the instructional part of the exercise I was shown the following image:

Man sitting at desk, image of Arc de Triumph next to him.

It’s of a man, an office-worker we are to assume, sitting at a desk, in front of a PC and beneath him it reads:

Every 20 minutes or so, re-focus your eyes on a distant object to allow your eye muscles to relax.

and there’s a call-out with an image of the Arc de Triumph!

Re-focus your eyes on a distant object it says. My word! What kind of eyesight did they expect me to have that I should have to gaze at the Arc de Triumph from St Andrews?! Google Maps UK reckons that’s over 760 miles. Hardly relaxing!

This week we are been mostly re-focusing our eyes on the Grand Canyon.

Possible improvements to the design of Baby 1.0

Feeding Reuben while holding Joshua
Me, feeding Reuben on Christmas Day while holding Joshua.

Wow! Can it really be one month since I last posted anything on this blog?! It’s not that there’s been nothing to blog about, it’s just that … <whispers>twins are rather time consuming</whispers>. Woah! There’s an understatement if ever I read one.

If you want more regular updates then check out my Twitter feed; if even has an RSS feed (if that means anything to you — if not, check out the BBC News feeds page for an explanation).

Words of wisdom

Now, before Reuben and Joshua emerged into this world last month I received the following two comments from friends. Sophia, who has twin daughters, wrote

The first few months can be very, very hard with twins and I found that people who had had only one really couldn’t understand that.

Louise, who has younger twin brothers, wrote

I have some experience of twin boys… My word, you are in for a shock! I think ‘relentless’ is the word I would use…


Joshua smilingTomorrow it will be six weeks since Reuben and Joshua (pictured right) were born and what an amazing adventure we’ve all been on.

Some days have been great, straight forward and relatively uneventful. The boys have fed well, gone down to sleep quickly and slept for hours, repeat. Other days, however, have very, very difficult. The boys have been unsettled, been out of sync with their feeding and have kept us up for hours at night. Two to three hours sleep just isn’t enough!

Someone at work asked me, “Do they wake at the same time at night?”

I said, “No, but Jane and I do!”

But you know, overall … overall it’s been amazing and continues to be so.

We have two beautiful boys (they’ll not like being called that all their lives!) and two of the most content babies I’ve ever encountered. They really have made life so much easier for these n00b parents.

I’ve had such an amazing day with them today. This morning I sent Jane to bed because she was fighting some sickness bug that I think she must have picked up from my brother on Boxing Day, while Reuben, Joshua and I worked out together how they could be fed by me on my own.

A lot of people have asked “How do you cope with two at once?” The simple answer is that we don’t know any different.

Reuben looking serious, lying on his play mat.

Possible improvements

Over the last few weeks, however, I’ve been taking notes. There are one or two things that I’ve noticed could be improved with the basic design of the human baby.


The most obvious is a handle. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a handle on their back! Obviously, it would have to be recessed so that it didn’t hurt when they lay down, but when required it could be pulled out and the baby could be more easily and securely held.

In the womb a baby has an umbilical cord. This is used for a short season and then is removed. Well, their handle could be the same, and comes away after say 6 months.


Speaking of the umbilical cord, it would be really useful if a small portion of it could be retained after birth onto which a small valve is fitted. This could be used during feeding, as the current ‘burping’ or ‘winding’ techniques aren’t the most efficient.

What would be easier and quicker, sitting the baby up and rubbing and patting its back for 5-10 minutes or simply releasing a small valve on their umbilical cord stump, a bit like ‘bleeding’ a radiator? (We’d need to find another term as ‘bleeding’ the baby would attract the attention of the social services, methinks!)


But when would you know when to use it, I hear you ask. Well, that brings me to my next design improvement. How about a dashboard on the baby’s chest? I suggest the following dials:

  • Fuel
    Empty on one side, full on the other. Never miss a feed again, or give one too late.
  • Pressure
    Now you can easily determine when the baby needs winded. (See valve above.)
  • Rev counter
    How upset is the baby really? With a rev counter you could quickly tell at a glance
  • Temperature
    A few times we’d have saved ourselves half an hour trying to work out why Joshua was crying when all he needed was to be wrapped in a blanket. A temperature gauge would have been a time-saver.

Further inventions

Another couple of ideas we’ve had … I say ‘we’, I really just mean a couple of ideas that I’ve had and Jane’s humoured me.

Drip feed

Night feeds are tiring on parents. At the moment our mid-night feed can happen anywhere from 01:45 to 03:00. That’s a grim timeslot. You certainly won’t find me at my best should you roll up at our front door at that time.

How much easier if you could double-nappy the babies then fit them up with some kind of intravenous drip of infant formula milk! Or something. (Seriously though, don’t try this at home!)

But wouldn’t that be much easier!

GM cows

Now, I realise that the whole GM topic is still a tad controversial, but has anyone considered developing GM cows to produce infant formula?

Just another wee, free thought from me for some boffin to boot around with his mates.