Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Discourses about homelessness

October 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve lately been working on materials on the sociology of homelessness, in which context I came across this very wonderful YouTube clip.

The first segment is done cartoon style. In summary, the chair of a town council meeting says ‘Homeless people have been sprouting up all over the place – what can we do about it?’ Someone suggests giving them designer sleeping bags so they don’t look so untidy (I don’t think they suggest funding it through placing advertising on the bags – I think I heard that as a real suggestion in a real meeting at some time!). Eventually someone makes a liberal stand: ‘The homeless aren’t monsters. They’re people, like you and me!’

And the response? ‘You mean they’ve adapted? Copied our DNA?

‘Nuff said.


Learning, humour and irony

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

This last week I’ve been rewriting some material on sociology, which prompted me to investigate what’s available on Youtube. I was intrigued by some of the stuff I found.

Here’s one, 3 minutes or so long, on the sociology of the family for A-level students. Things I liked about it: the flat, emotionally unengaged voice of the character that keeps repeating ‘I feel your pain’; and the punchline at the end. Wonderful.

And here’s another, on homelessness and poverty. Six minutes in total, but the best bit is the cartoon at the beginning. One character argues that homeless people are real people, like you and me. And another asks, with a note of incredulity in his voice: You mean they’ve adapted? Copied our DNA?

Humour and irony as tools for learning. Excellent stuff.


September 17, 2012 3 comments

Apparently one of the people I write education and training materials for has designated me an HPL. I discovered this when I phoned them to ask a question about their programme and the person I spoke to had to check a file, which referred to me and the other freelancers writing for the programme as HPLs. But she didn’t know what the acronym meant.

So – idle curiosity – I tried an acronym checker. The more amusing possibilities included:

High Pressure Laminate

Human Performance Laboratory (likely!)

High Performance Leadership (as a freelancer?)

Horizontal Protection Limit (?)

High Priority List (doubtful!)

I’ve since discovered from someone else in the organisation what the abbreviation actually means, but it’s boring. Anyone got any amusing suggestions?

Categories: humor Tags: , , , ,

Useful if your hovercraft is full of eels

July 20, 2012 Leave a comment

After the last couple of rather moralistic posts, some light relief. I’ve lately been writing something that required – don’t ask why! – some phrases in Creole (or Kreyol, as it’s often spelt in Creole-speaking parts of the world). As a result of this I discovered a web page that gives you the translation of the phrase ‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ in 108 different languages, currently spoken, historical languages like Ancient Greek and Sumerian, and constructed languages such as Klingon.

And there’s also a brief note on the source of the phrase and the context in which it might become useful. Unfortunately, though, Kreyol isn’t one of the 108 languages covered…

Here’s the link to the page at

Have fun!

Excellent government reports

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Since we moved home I’ve been thinning out the amount of paper on my shelves – old notes, research briefings, policy documents, stuff that just arrives in the post because I’ve been on the mailing list of various organisations. A lot of it’s well over a decade old now and it was pretty ephemeral when it first came out.

And V says ‘I really like those government reports. They’re excellent.’

We have a multi-fuel stove in the living room. That’s the context for her comment.


January 27, 2012 2 comments

‘Before using the product for the first time, take time to familiarise yourself with the product first. Read the following operation instructions and safety instructions carefully. Only use the product as described and for the designated areas of application. Please keep these instructions in a safe place. If you hand this product on to a third party, you must also pass on all documents relating to the product.’

I was sorting through old paperwork and came across this. It’s the beginning of a 7-page instruction manual…

… for a bath mat.

Gogglebox, a random thought

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a quick thought from a random conversation.

In my youth, ‘gogglebox’ was a slang term for a TV. I’d have thought by now someone would have come up with the obvious equivalent slang for a computer – a googlebox?

Apparently not. Oh well.

Toilet seat blues!

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday I decided to change the toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom. I suspect the previous owners (you’ll see previous posts alluding to the fact we just moved) just bought the cheapest one they could, which was plastic, didn’t fit properly, the lid kept falling off, etc.

I bought one that isn’t exactly ‘high end’ but is substantially pricier than quite a lot of what’s available because it has a ‘soft close’ mechanism and no kitsch decorative motifs or castings on it. Plus it’s moulded and painted wood. I figured – how’s this for rational consumer behaviour? – on a ‘per use’ basis it would end up being both cheaper and more comfortable!

So today I thought it would be a good idea to fit the thing. Easy job, right? Undo the wing nuts holding the old one in place, fit the new one, tighten the nuts and job’s done. Ten minutes.

Nope. An hour later I was still trying to work out how to make the little plastic spacers that are supposed to sit between the chrome hinges and porcelain toilet pan actually fit neatly on the bottom of the hinges. They were ridged in a way that indicated they should fit around the edge of the hinges, except they didn’t. I tried various tricks I’ve picked up over the years, such as leaving them to warm up in hot water and stretching them gently to fit. I tried a dozen different ways to get them to sit in place. No luck.

In the end I re-used the old plastic spacers, cut down with scissors to fit. This works, but it still niggles me that I can spend that amount of money and discover the problem that causes me time and aggravation lies with a couple of small pieces of plastic that cost a few pence (or cents, depending on where you’re reading this). If a company’s charging for an allegedly premium product, why isn’t the whole thing, right the way down to the smallest components that would probably be the easiest things to get right, properly made and accurately sized?

If that isn’t enough trivia for you, you can read someone else’s rather more moving story of toilet seat blues here; a post evocatively titled ‘Teach your children well: Aim straight, aim true‘ (you can imagine why); and no one, as far as I can tell, has recorded a song called ‘Toilet Seat Blues’ apart from someone’s drunken improvisation on YouTube (there is a slightly related intrumental by Neil Innes called ‘Twyfords Vitromant’, the name of a urinal popular at one time in English pub toilets if I remember rightly, but no freely-available performances I can trace!). Maybe it’s an idea whose time has yet to come…


Vampire fiction and training materials

October 11, 2011 2 comments

I’ve had a bit of word-collision going on.

Yesterday I was writing a short vampire story. A vampire, in some older literature, is described as a revenant – a term Wikipedia defines as ‘a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living’. So it was a word I used quite a few times.

Today I was writing something about economic regeneration in local contexts, and the roles of relevant government departments and other agencies.

And the spellcheck, of course, didn’t pick up that I’d managed to include quite a lot of references to revenant government departments.


Signs of incipient old age, no. 6

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I bought a new computer programme the other day. Among other things it makes PDFs and has lots of knobs, bells, whistles and other even more useful bits of functionality.

I could have downloaded it but decided to buy in an actual shop, because if you’ve got the disk – well, you’ve got the disk. You can reload from disk if there are ever any problems.

It’s just taken me 30 mins to work out how to undo the sodding cardboard packaging without breaking the disk…


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