Category Archives: I ponder

Forbes rich list

If you’re fed up with getting less than 3% on your savings, you could check out the Forbes list of the world’s richest people to see how they managed to make their fortunes.

But if you thought it was just full of bankers, IT ubergeeks and heirs of old money you’d be wrong. This list is proof that, with a bit of effort, practically anyone can make their millions (although admittedly it definitely helps if your rellies left you a small fortune to start with).

Take a look at number 1140 – Joaquin Guzman Loera. He’s made his meagre one billion dollars by drug-smuggling (allegedly) – although from a quick shufty at the comments on his page it would appear that he’s actually Mexico’s equivalent to Robin Hood.

At 459 is Philippe Foriel-Destezet, who made 2.5 billion dollars by starting a temp agency, matching up people who want to work with people who need workers. Now surely anyone could that, assuming they could be bothered.

One of the lucky heirs, William Wrigley, comes in at 565. He inherited a chewing gum empire from his granddaddy and is now worth 2.1 billion. Someone really should make him go around scraping the damn stuff off the pavement.

My personal favourite is at number 223 – Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. He might have inherited his wealth but thanks to his genius ancestors this man has made 4.7 billion dollars out of Lego. I thought I used to be pretty creative with the stuff but 4.7 billion – that’s impressive!

Forbes 2011 billionaires list

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Are you feeling less than excellent?

If January has left you feeling dismal and you’ve resorted to buying daffs and eating hot cross buns in an effort to hurry Spring up a bit, maybe a class at the London College of Excellence will sort you out a bit.

Yes, it really exists. I discovered the London College of Excellence on a bus map out at White City today and it gave me my first belly laugh of the year.

It made me wonder what went on there – and what other daft colleges there are: the College of Niceness maybe, or the College of Mediocrity (credited to my friend Anna) – so of course I had to get online and check it out to see what’s so excellent about it.

Having now done so, I wish I hadn’t bothered. Their website is about as dull and uninformative as it’s possible for a college website to be. Click on the page titled ‘Courses’ and you get no information whatsoever about courses. Definitely not excellent. Perhaps it should be renamed the College of Can’t-be-arsed. Much more appropriate for this time of year.

I don’t agree with Nick

There’s a quote from the Marilyn Monroe film How to Marry a Millionaire where someone says something along the lines of “hang around with plumbers and you’re going to marry a plumber, hang around with millionaires and you’re going to marry a millionaire”.

It’s a shame that Nick Clegg didn’t watch that movie before he signed up to a coalition with the Tory devils because there seems to be no room for doubt that the Tories pushed this university fees issue through to force the LibDems into an impossible situation.

The LibDems can only either go along with the Tories, thereby alienating a huge number of their previous supporters, or have to pull away from the coalition (ie show some balls), thereby losing all hope of remaining in government. Whichever way they vote today, this tuition fees issue will most likely be the death knoll for the LibDems.

What all these weeks of students strikes and media debate has really brought home for me is that there are really only two classes of people in this country: those with significant amounts of money and those with just enough to live on.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to understand it – probably because I belong to the latter class – but that is the class structure that our society is built on and that is the way it will probably stay long after the worms are snacking on me.

It’s not in the interest of the monied (and always ruling) class for it to change, and those in the other class are either too apathetic or too busy aspiring or dreaming of belonging to the monied class to do anything to force change.

Depressing as this realisation may be, it’s oddly liberating. I don’t feel the need to be angry about it any more. I can rarely remember who said things but there’s a famous quote about not bothering to worry about things you can’t change, only the things you can. This is one thing I can’t change so I’m not going to let it bother me any more.

Anyone know any millionaires I can hang out with? Or plumbers?

Cyberspam

Since I created the Shedroom in September, I’ve been bombarded with adverts about sheds and electric sockets whenever I go to an ad-supported website – even Screwfix stuck some in my face when I made a search for ‘shower filter’.

Now although I appreciate that some websites need ads in order to make their sites free, this targeted advertising feels a bit redundant as it only seems to flash things at me after I’ve already done my research and made a purchase – not right at the beginning of my search when it might actually be useful. When I was hunting for sockets a couple of months ago I would have loved ads that showed me some that I hadn’t already seen and rejected.

Surely it makes far more sense for the advertisers to be bombarding us with shiny new stuff we haven’t already searched for in order to get us to part with our cash?

Where have all the squirrels gone?

Six years ago, when I moved to my flat next to Battersea Park, there were squirrels chasing each other around the trees on a daily basis. Over the last couple of years they’ve almost disappeared and now it’s rare that I see them at all.

Today on the news they were talking about an alarming number of trees falling prey to diseases and I can’t help wondering if these diseases are killing off the squirrels too. That, combined with the diminishing number of birds and the drastic fall in the bee population, is making me think that the trees in the UK may be following the fate of the Truffula trees in The Lorax by Dr Seuss – which if you haven’t already got a copy, you should get one. And if it doesn’t make you cry just a little bit then you’re a hard, hard person.

In fact, some lovely geek has already typed it all up on the interboogle for you to read – but it’s a squillion times better with pictures so do treat yourself and get hold of the real thing too…
The Lorax

Now it may be that these diseases and population declines aren’t our fault and it’s just nature doing her evolutionary thing but I confess I’m a little bit scared. I love trees and don’t want them to disappear (except maybe Plane trees). And I love squirrels. And birds are ok too, so long as they’re not pooping all over things.

But what can we do? Well, we can start growing and planting more trees for starters…
Instructions on how to grow trees from seed

Or if we can’t be bothered or don’t have space to do that, we can give donations to those who do… Woodland Trust

Whatever you do, don’t make it nothing. That Dr Seuss knew what he was talking about.

Thanksgiving

It’s dawned on me that people in the UK are being shafted out of an Autumnal Bank Holiday by not celebrating Thanksgiving. Sure, we have Guy Fawkes Night – which is of course the best night of the year and I’ll write about that nearer the time – but we don’t get a day off because of it.

So I think we should campaign to get ourselves a Thanksgiving Bank Holiday and late October seems to be the perfect time to do it, coming right between the August BH and Christmas. And if the government come up with some blah-de-blah economic reason why we shouldn’t have an extra holiday, we can just trade off one of the May holidays. There’s too many then anyway – and what’s with them always happening on Mondays? Why can’t we have a Bank Holiday Wednesday for once? Or Friday so we can have a long weekend? (ok, we get Good Friday but that’s months away so doesn’t count).

In fact, as no-one else seems bothered enough to do it, I declare the last Friday in October as unofficial UK Thanksgiving – which this year would make it fall on Friday 29th October.

It will be a non-religious festival to celebrate the beginning of Autumn. We can light the first fire of the season (or spark up the central heating for us city dwellers) and as it will occasionally land on 31st October, will give people who don’t do the Halloween thing the perfect excuse to indulge in a bit of pumpkin carving.

After stomping through piles of leaves first thing in the morning, those of us who will be at work that day should just pretend we’re not and try and keep a happy and peaceful frame of mind and be thankful that our jobs aren’t a lot worse than they are. People who are not out at work should be temporarily thankful for that fact and spend the day preparing lots of lovely Autumnal treats for those who are (after going out for a bit of leaf-stomping, of course).

Here are some suggestions for such goodies – although I’m hoping that any Canadian or American visitors here (and anyone else who wants to) will offer up some more of their traditional Thanksgiving recipes…

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin Ginger Nut Muffins(FYI: In London, you can get tinned pumpkin in Waitrose and Fortnum & Mason.)

Oh, and if you’re on your own and have neither the time, facilities, nor inclination to bake, get yourself down to Godiva and buy yourself a bag of half-chocolate-covered candied orange – not cheap but worth every penny.

What is it with crows?

One of the joys of having your own website on WordPress is that they supply you with detailed statistics about what internet search terms have brought people to your site.

As someone who often asks Google long-winded but usually sensible questions in an effort to articulate what I’m trying to find, as well as going for the single word option, I’m really surprised at the utter gibberish people often seem to type in the search box, along with the gross and downright weird.

Here are a few recent oddities that have brought people in my direction…

mcdonald’s won’t hire me cuz of my turban
pencil case in campise in kmaret
scary bloody hand prints on a wall
sad guinea pig portraits
yellow flakes under foreskin
damp crumbled chipboard
cctv to lard
chocolate wrappers waste
making contact with dead pets
omen dead fish smell
pink fish sandwich marks and sparks
funny cat flying falling down like an aeroplane in the sky

womble teeth
(and my own personal favourite) bunnies with big bumps and leaking

But strangest of all is the sheer volume of searches about crows that have been made. Almost on a daily basis at least one crow search comes my way and these terms are what people have been searching under…

crow nostril (umpteen times)
crows anatomy
two-headed crow
angry crow
anatomy of a crow’s nostrils
big sweaty crow
crows portrait
two crows
crows coming out of cake

And presumably, now I’ve mentioned the C-word so many times, it will bring a lot more crow-fanciers in my direction. So if you’ve arrived here because you used the word CROW in your search, please tell me – what is it with crows?