Handbag Theory

I have a theory about handbags.  Women start out with small handbags which, when they are young and haven't accumulated much, are sufficient for their needs.  As women age they accumulate more stuff and, every time they buy a new handbag, they purchase one which is slightly larger than the last.  Consequently there is never any need to sort out the handbag as its contents can just be tipped into the new, larger one, with room to spare.  Eventually the accumulated handbag contents of a lifetime become so great that elderly women require a wheeled shopping trolley to house them.  The wheeled shopping trolley is actually the ultimate handbag.

I have produced a handy picture to demonstrate my theory.

If you click on the picture, you can see it in its proper size.


3DTV : The Future is Here

Channel 4 is having a 3D season.  In conjunction with Sainbury's, they're giving away 3D glasses and putting on a week of 3D programmes.  There's going to be mix of original programming, old 3D horror films and also what will surely be the television event of the decade, there's going to be two hour-long programmes showing the Queen's coronation year in 3D.  The Queen in 3D!  This is surely what 3D glasses were invented for.   It'll be like having The Queen in your living room.

If you haven't done so already, go to Sainsbury's and pick up some free glasses.  Then you too, can look this cool.
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A Guide to Feline Facial Expressions.

I have a brilliant and quite well known cat, Horatio Pyewackett Caractacus Fearns.  He is pictured below.

I take my cat-owning responsibilities seriously.  Because of this, I have several books about domestic cats.  These books are all fairly alike, which is probably unsurprising, as they cover similar subject matter.  One thing that all of them contain is a guide to your cat's facial expressions.  I always find their interpretations to be a little general and inaccurate, and consequently unsatisfactory, so I've modified one to improve it (if you click  it, it becomes bigger).


Vicious Cycle.

You may remember the day that Briony's new bicycle arrived.  As we established, it's isn't really hers, it's mine.  It is now called Briony's Bike as a tribute to her panic and confusion.  It's a late 70s / early 80s Peugeot Carbolite that's been restored and converted from a multi-geared bike to a single-speed one.  It arrived partly done, it had been stripped down and resprayed, it had new wheels and brakes.  It still needed a fair bit of work to get it to the spec I wanted though.  I have toiled for the last few weeks in the bicycle workshop/kitchen.  It's finally ready to ride.

I shall be riding it with a fixed gear, which means that you can't coast: if you pedal forwards, the bike goes forwards; if you pedal backwards, the bike goes backwards; if you take your feet off the pedals going downhill, they continue to go round; if you get anything trapped between the chain and the chain-ring, you lose it - there are lots of gory pictures of that on the internet.

I've never ridden a fixed-gear bike (a fixie) before, so I'm rather looking forward to taking it out tomorrow.  It occurred to me that it might be difficult to mount as you can't spin the pedals to where you want them while the wheels are on the ground, so I've done some research and found these instructions (written by Greg Goode at this great site, http://www.63xc.com/) on how to mount a fixie and start pedalling.

The Handlebar Mount

Of course you can mount a fixed any way you like. But most people riding fixed don't use the traditional mount, where you swing the leg up and back over the saddle. Instead, they use the much cooler handlebar mount. They sweep their leg in a quick movement up in front, over the handlebars and back down to the pedal on the opposite side. This method is faster and smoother than the traditional mounting method. It evolved on track bikes, where the bars are a good deal lower than the saddle--and there are no brake cables to foul you up!
The entire mount takes about a half a second. The steps take much more time to read and grok! I've assumed mounting from the left (L) of the bike. If you mount from the right (R), then just switch the Ls and Rs.
It's good to practice rocking the bike. This is not absolutely necessary, so you can skip the next section if you wish. But if you get it down, rocking will help make your mounts and dismounts much smoother and faster.

Rocking The Bike
Rocking is a side-to-side motion that makes your mounts and dismounts smoother and more fluid. To rock the bike, stand to the L side of the bike. Orient your body so that your R hip is square on to the bike (or at a 45 degree angle). Hold the L handlebar in your L hand, and the stem in your R hand. Let your L hand go. With your R hand on the stem as a guide, let the bike fall about 10 or 15 degrees away from you, towards the bike's R. Now, with your R hand, gently throw the bike back towards your L hand, which will catch the bike's L handlebar. The handlebars and stem (saddle and everything else too) will sway L-to-R and R-to-L through an arc of maybe 15-20 degrees. Practice this gentle toss-and-catch movement back and forth, catching the stem with your R hand and handlebar with your L.
You'll use the rocking-toward motion in mounts, and the rocking-away motion in dismounts.
NOTE: The best spot to grab the L handlebar is on the 'flat', between the stem and the beginning of the curve. This grip makes it easier to keep the front wheel straight as you push the bike to the R.

Mounting The Bike
1. Holding the bike by the handlebar and saddle, lift the rear wheel off the ground. Give the L pedal a gentle kick to rotate the pedals until they are at 3o'clock/9o'clock, the R pedal towards the front wheel and the L pedal towards the rear wheel. Place the rear wheel back on the ground, and re-grip the bike, with your L hand on the L handlebar and your R hand on the stem.
2. Keep that grip with your hands, and orient your R hip towards the top tube. There should be about 8-12 inches between your belly button and the handlebars.
3. Let your L hand go and let the bike sway away from you, guided by your R hand on the stem.
4. Toss the bike back towards you with your R hand, and at the same time raise your R leg up and swing it over the handlebars. As your leg passes over to the right, the bike passes under to the L.
5. At the instant that your L hand catches the bars, your R foot reaches the R pedal. (Clip in if you like, but it might be safer to save it until you've practiced dismounting.)
6. Place your weight on the R pedal, using it to lever your butt into the saddle. Push forward with the R pedal and catch the L pedal with your L foot.
7. Congratulations, you've just mounted your fixed! Time for a quick victory circuit. Now you need the next section, which is all about dismounting.


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Definitely Don't Eat Here

That's the riverside terrace of Revolution, it's just off Coney Street in York.  I took this picture while eating next door at City Screen.  I'm sure that you've spotted it already but I'll repeat it just in case.

"We were actually blown away by how good the food was" - Yorkshire Evening Post.

Actually blown away?  Had you said, "We were blown away by how good the food was" I would have understood that you were using the term figuratively.  But to state that you were "actually blown away"?  How?  Where to?  Obviously you weren't blown far enough, as you were able to post your fatuous review.

I don't know what scares me more, that someone wrote that in a review, that the Yorkshire Evening Post apparently employ no sub-editors and printed it, or that Revolution actually (note correct usage) use this to promote themselves.

I am boycotting Revolution and the Yorkshire Evening Post, obviously.