5 Boeings and a whale

“How many blue whales can you fit into a Boeing 747 before lunch?” and other questions.

Over the time I have been writing this column I have occasionally dipped into the world of strange notices and random bits of information. And it seems that I am not the only one who has been fascinated by this desire of humans to put up ever odder bits of information for others to read.

I must admit that this fascination of mine doesn’t have too much to do with storage facilities any more, but since you already know that Admiral is a storage facility in the West Midlands, and you can see exactly what we do by clicking here, I thought I might be permitted a minute or two to report on some tales of bizarre signs and inexplicable messages.

The web page at the end of the internet is now quite well known – and it has been expanded since I last went there as it has a device which claims to be loading the whole internet into your hard drive.

This, it says, will take 4,381 years (or at least it will on my computer) but then after a moment or two it tells me that my computer is full, and so invites me to put a disk into the A drive.

I am sure I did once find a website that matched this, proclaiming itself to be the start of the internet, but when I typed that phrase in today I got two thousand nine hundred million results, none of which are on the first page.

Moving to another planet, I have been sent a copy of an old 10 Downing Street Newsletter which contained the interesting notion that “all new cars should be green”. As a person who generally likes blue or black cars, I am not sure that this restriction on my freedom of choice in the motoring market is that welcome.

Of course, there are always notices which relate to factors that are so boringly obvious one wonders why they are ever written. But then following one or two developments in the American Primaries one might begin to understand.

Here’s my favourite, passed on to me by a medical colleague. It is from the Journal of the American Medical Association…

“Keeping a gun locked and unloaded, and storing ammunition in a locked and separate location, can lower the risk of unintentional injuries and suicide among youth.”

I am surprised that no one in the UK has asked for that to be taught in the national curriculum.

Sometimes, however, it is all a matter of comparison. For example, it is sometimes said that a blue whale can be as long as the distance between the halfway line and the penalty spot on a football pitch and weigh as much as eight aeroplanes.

The problem with this is that elsewhere it is stated and oft repeated that an aeroplane can weigh as much as three blue whales.

Except that the world’s lightest planes weigh about 150kg which is less than one eighth of your standard blue whale. On the other hand, a Boeing 747 can weigh about 412 tonnes, according to my “Everyman’s Guide to the Weight of Aeroplanes” 2016 edition.

But Google tells me that a blue whale weighs on average 190,000kg. Which means I now have to translate tonnes in kg.

Fortunately, I know that one. A tonne is 1000kg. So a Boeing weighs 4,120,000kg while a blue whale weighs 190,000 kg.

That means that a Boeing is 21.6 times heavier than a blue whale.

But… if the Boeing were to be empty, with limited fuel and no passengers and luggage it would only weigh 180 tonnes. However, to then make the comparison one would have to weigh the blue whale before breakfast.

This is starting to get a bit too complicated for me, but in essence blue whales are fairly big and heavy while Boeing 747s are bigger and heavier. Both are too big to be stored in the Admiral Storage Facility.

It really is amazing what you can learn when you start looking.

Or not, as the case may be.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.admiralstorage.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@admiralstorage.co.uk 

https://admiralstorage.co.uk

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I collect therefore I am

The gentle art of building a collection is apparently once more on the rise.

Some of my customers at the Admiral storage facility are people who have items that they just need to keep safe.  Some have items that they are not sure if they will need again, but want to store them just in case, and don’t have any room at home.

Some of my customers, as I have mentioned before, have recognised that there are items (such as old photographs) that can deteriorate if left in the wrong sort of conditions (such as the attic), and so want them kept in a more appropriate environment.

And some of my customers are collectors.

Now, never having been much of a collector myself I find collecting interesting – by which I mean that I don’t feel the drive to collect anything, but I do find it fascinating that some people (lots of people in fact) do clearly enjoy collecting.

As a result of this state of mind, I’ve often pondered how people become collectors.  Is it that they had parents who collected something, and so got the idea that way?  Or is it something inside their head that makes them collect?

Or could it be that collecting is a perfectly natural and ordinary thing to do?  In which case is it us people who don’t collect who are the oddballs?

Over the years I have got to know one or two of my customers who are collectors quite well, and I’ve been able to ask them questions such as “Why do you collect?” but sadly the answer I get isn’t very illuminating.

Generally, they tell just me that they enjoy collecting, and that doesn’t really help.  But these short conversations have led me to ponder this idea: that there are two types of collectors.

On the one hand there are those who collect something, and then refer to, study, look at, examine, or in some other way use their collection.

As an example, one of my customers collects football programmes.  Not just of football matches that he has been to, but of many other games as well.  Indeed, he does often flip through certain parts of his collection, looking for a reference, or a comment, or a report on a certain game from years gone by.

I had assumed all the information you might want about football was on the internet but apparently it is not, and so the programmes are a valuable way of resolving arguments that arise on the way to and on the way home from matches.

So this collector uses his collection.

But it seems to me that there is a second type of collector who doesn’t do this, but collects simply to know that he or she possesses this collection.

Such people (and I don’t say this in any way out of criticism, merely observation) could never bring themselves to give away or sell their collection.  Indeed, I know one collector who has insisted most strongly that when he dies his family must keep his collection together.

Because I know this collector particularly well I was able to ask him why he should make such a stipulation to his children, and his answer was peculiarly illuminating.  “Because it’s a collection – it took me years to gather it all together – it is part of my life.”

It was that explanation that gave me the clue I was looking for.  Collecting was what he did.  It was part of his life.  Getting rid of any of the collection would have been like having a leg sawn off.  The collection had come to define a part of what he was.

And, of course, that is absolutely fine.  We all define ourselves in lots of different ways – through the way we dress, the way we speak, the job we do, the people we associate with, and what we do in our spare time.  And for some collectors (by no means all, but some) the collection is part of the definition of what they are.

Of course, to be a meaningful collector one has to know a fair amount about what you are collecting, and so collecting becomes rather like studying something.  Except what is desired is not knowledge and understanding (although that may come along the way) but the ever more complete collection.

I don’t know how many collections or part collections we have in store – obviously I only get to know what’s what when my customers choose to pause for a natter and tell me what they are storing – but I suspect it is a fair old number.

I also suspect the art of collecting (which I remember reading some years ago, was thought to be in decline) is once more on the increase.

And long may that be the case, says I.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.admiralstorage.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@admiralstorage.co.uk 

https://admiralstorage.co.uk

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Under the barrier

Somehow proper communication ain’t nothing like what it was used to be.

Looking back at my recent notes about the curious things that get stored in the Admiral Storage facility, I realise just how many very curious items people collect.

But ruminating on this over the past couple of weeks I have begun to wonder something else.  Is this desire to collect the oddities of our world (I asked myself) due to the fact that there are more people who like to collect unusual things, or has it happened because there are either simply more odd things around or more odd people around.

And I must admit that I am really seriously starting to wonder.

For example, I can remember the time when I phoned the garage that had sold me a car two weeks previously to inform them that this self-same car would not start, only to be told by the deputy junior assistant trainee phone operative that if I would “drive it over”  they would have a look at it.

At the time I just took that to be the foolishness of the young, but then when this was followed up with a problem with my internet connection, I did wonder further.  For on phoning my internet provider to tell them that I could not get online I was given the address of a helpful website that would be of use in resolving the problem.

Yet these were but background thoughts – mere passing concerns – until I got a note from my bank warning me to be wary of phishing emails that the unscrupulous might send my way in order to try to get me to part with my hard earned cash.

The instructions revealed that phishing messages often came with tell-tale signs, including spelling mistakes and poor grammar.

I took this state of affairs to be due to the fact that the poor saps who were reduced to phishing had clearly not gone to the right schools.  But then I began to wonder when the note went on to say that the bank had instituted various security procedures “to ensure neither you or us are compromised.”

And so it was that I found myself no longer taking the world around me for granted, but instead I started looking a little more closely at everything that might previously have just passed me by.

Thus it was that on visiting Portmeirion in North Wales I was fascinated to find a map of the ten top attractions that I should visit in north Wales, not least because on the map there were clearly 11 such attractions marked.

So, I wonder, what is going on?  Is this a plot to overthrow humanity by degrading the meaningfulness of our environment?  Or does nobody care anymore?

Does nothing get checked?  Has everything been handed over to machines?  Or is the human race (or at least that part of it that I come into contact with) in inexorable mental decline?  Have we all just given up on the thinking business on the grounds that by and large the machines will do the brainwork for us?

To understand this a little better I tried an experiment and told one of my friends whom I deem to be a bright sort of chap generally speaking that the trouble with the UK today was that fifty percent of the population was below average intelligence.  For my pains I got a very stern look and was told in no uncertain terms that he had never had me down as an elitist.  Which more or less proved my point.

People have stopped thinking – at least in the way that most of us used to think.  We expect everything to work, and leave everything to everyone else to give ourselves time to do… well… I am not sure what.

Puzzling over such matters I took myself upon my regular shopping round which included getting some shoe dye in an attempt to bring an old and somewhat battered, but still very comfortable, item of footwear back to a state in which I could wear them without attracting disparaging comments from my friends.

Once at home I checked the instructions and found what I needed to do.  “Applying using quick, long, even strokes back and forth in one direction.”   I’m still trying to work that out.

However, thinking that this must be the end of the silliness I carried on with my shopping, seeking to buy an alarm for my motorbike.  The motorbike shop had several alarms in stock including one which had a sign above it saying that as of the 1st January, the manufacturer had extended the free “lifetime guarantee” on the product.

Now I know motorbikes are complex and dangerous machines and need to be handled with care, but the notion of taking my bike with me into the afterlife, and then needing to have an alarm on it to stop it being nicked, suggests to me that my life has not been lived in as decent and honourable a fashion as I like to think.

Of course, all of this is in many ways quite amusing, except for the fact that in a world in which no one checks anything much in terms of its meaning, its sense, and its fitness for purpose, I start to wonder if it is safe to go out.

But of course one cannot stay at home all day long.  So I decided to come to work.  At the station I found a new sign had been placed on display saying, “Tickets for Birmingham and all other destinations”, which was interesting and only bettered by the fact that the pedestrian barrier close to where I work had a new sign next to it saying, “Do not walk under the barrier if open or closed.”

And at that point I gave up.

But I shall try and come to work again next week.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.ukAlternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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On collecting signs

You might think that being a sign collector is a little odd, or even unusual, but among my customers there is at least one such.

I have written before about clients who collect unusual things and then keep part or all of their collection in the Admiral storage facility.

And I must admit that each time I have written about such an issue I have come up with the thought that this surely must be the last time I will be surprised by any of my customers’ activities.

But then along comes another, and off we go again with another tale and another collection.

This week was no exception, and the latest concerns signs.

Signs such as this one that was seen in the car park of Lytham St Anne’s police station.  There are, or were, two spaces designated for

Unmarked Police Cars Only

Looking at that I pondered whether in fact having unmarked police cars in an area for unmarked police cars rather gave away the fact that they were, well, unmarked police cars.  But I am sure the police know what they are doing.

Now let me reassure you that my client is not involved in the theft of such signs.  He didn’t nick something from the police nick, as it were, but rather photographed the sign.  He was then, apparently, approached by two police officers who reminded him that taking photographs within the precincts of a police station without permission in writing was illegal.

Quite how he came to keep the photos I am not sure, but we hastily moved on.

Another sign, which my client actually did have (and I did not think it wise to ask how he procured it) was

Fake Dummy Home Spy Security Surveillance CCTV Camera.

Now if you were paying attention in English lessons at school you will know that two negatives make a positive in English as much as in maths.  So a “Fake Dummy” camera, is presumably a real camera.

Which made me wonder about the thought processes of the average person who is thinking of nicking (yes we are back to the nick) something.  He (for it is generally “he”) sees a camera that he thinks is a fake camera, and then goes on, only to find that it is a fake dummy camera, and thus has got his picture on film and he’s, well, I hardly dare say it.  Nicked.

Next to this in the collection was a sales notice (again the original, not a picture) for…

Quantum Vortex Energy Power Pendants

Apparently such objects would use the energy grids of sacred geometry and Quantum Nano Technology to elevate personal vibrations and hence awareness.  Which is presumably what the Beach Boys were singing about (if you are of an age to remember) with “Good Vibrations”.

Indeed, I can well imagine that there are people from that era who are even now walking about on their sacred energy grids, floating off towards a Californian Nirvana.

And yes, as it turns out my client has been active on the international arena, for up next was a sign which was originally placed at the entrance to the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva.  It read

Accès interdit aux chiens

In essence “No dogs”.  But the issue is, how have the clever Swiss chappies who run the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation taught the dogs to read French?  I mean, they are obviously intellectual people in the UN WIPO, so presumably they have intellectual dogs, but even so, it might have been handy to translate the instruction into Dog French.

Which led me to ponder, what is the French for “Woof”?

Naturally I turned to Google, for the answer, but it turns out there are multiple answers such as

ouah, ouah!

which I find hard to believe.

However, the amazing Barkpost website goes further and translates

woof, woof; ruff, ruff; arf, arf; bow wow; yap, yap; yip, yip

into

waouh, waouh; ouah, ouah; ouaf, ouaf; vaf, vaf; wouf, wouf; wouaf, wouaf; jappe jappe

There were many more signs, but this one at the end caught my attention.  It came in an advert for an “Express home teeth whitening kit”.

It stated…

“Brighter teeth make for confident smiles, better pictures and are excellent at solving complex algorithms.”

I have pondered this long and hard ever since, and I think I know the answer.  Imagine, if you will, a man working in the IT division of an advertising agency, who is endlessly given more and more work to do, while his salary stays remorselessly still.  As his bosses make more and more money by bringing in more and more work to be done by the same number of people, this poor worker has to work harder and harder, day after day.

Such is the level of work he is forced to do that after a while his overseers stop reading his output as he puts the adverts on the company’s website ready to show the client.

So frustrated is he that one day he slips an odd phrase into an advert – expecting of course for it to be seen and rejected.  But lo! either no one notices the use of the phrase “complex algorithms” or thinks instead that since it comes from IT, it must be right.

And now I come to think of it, maybe another phrase for the stuff that accumulates on teeth and that we get rid of by cleaning is “complex algorithms”.

Makes me realise how valuable it is to twice daily remove all those complex algorithms from my teeth and gums.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk.   Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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It’s all rubbish

 I have a client who collects rubbish. I decided to ask him why.

If you are a regular reader of my meanderings you might be aware of two facts.

One is that I run a storage facility, and that I don’t particularly concern myself with what is stored therein (as long as it is legal and non-toxic).  The other is that quite often, when pausing in the job of loading or unloading items into their facility, my clients like to share a moment or two with me, discussing what they’ve got in store.

It was at one such moment that a client told me about his store of rubbish. But not, I hasten to add, rubbish of the house clearance type, but rubbish that appears in print.

I was fascinated and asked for an example.  He produced what looked like a serious academic paper from the Department of Climatology at the University of Arizona published in the Journal of Geoclimactic Studies vol 23 p273.

Basically it proves that human activity (such as burning coal) has had and will not have any effect on the planet’s climate.

Now if you know anything about the climate change debate you’ll probably know that there are a lot of people out there who deny either that:

  1. climate change is happening at all or
  2. climate change has anything to do with the activity of mankind.

The fact that these people tend to own coal fired or oil fired power stations, or coal mines or oil fields, has nothing to do with it.

So an article like this is wonderful news for these people – not least because it was published in an academic journal.

Except the article wasn’t published in an academic journal, because the journal quoted doesn’t exist.  Nor does the Department exist.  The university does and does do climate research.  But there is no climatology department.

And yet vast numbers of people picked up on this article and it is still regularly cited as “proof” that climate change through human activity is a myth. But that proof invariably comes from the fact that no one bothers to check that the article is real.

It is not so much that the people who promote the story haven’t read the report to which it refers (which they can’t do, because it doesn’t exist) but rather that they haven’t actually bothered even to check if the people, the department, or the article actually exist (they don’t).

Hence rubbish is written, and this is what my client gathers up.  “By and large such stories only last a little time and then they are taken off the internet,” my client told me, “because the perpetrators don’t want to be traced.

“Many of them are running such stories simply to show the gullibility of 21st century mankind in general. Others like to wind up journalists.”

He went on to show me other stories in his collection – stories that the world would end when the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland was switched on, stories that the President of the USA is not an American (which he has to be in order to be president), stories that there is nothing wrong with salt (those are mostly produced by the Salt Institute in the US which is funded by salt production companies), stories that octopuses are mutating because of the toxins they are getting at sea, and a land breed of octopus has already been found in Sussex.

“The problem is,” he added, “that the most alarming things in our society today are actually true, but by and large we tend to ignore them, and people don’t write articles about them.”

“What sort of thing?” I asked.

He took a sheet of paper out of his file and handed it to me.  It was an article from the Journal of the Institute of Detection Management and it raised the very worrying suggestion that the UK has no workable defence against terrorism.

“In the UK we have the most sophisticated tracking and identification systems in the world,” the article told me, “including the vehicle recognition system that is in operation on every motorway and most A roads.  That system links into the UK’s vehicle licensing system, which in turn links with the surveillance network set up by GCHQ to monitor email and internet activity.

“And yet in one fell swoop, both criminal and terrorist gangs are sidestepping each and every one of our surveillance systems, so that the only people who get caught tend to be petty crooks, and those who are careless enough to break the speed limit.

“The reason for the failure of such a sophisticated system is simple.  For anyone to be caught they have to be driving a car or using a computer or phone connected to the internet.  There is growing evidence, however, that the most sophisticated of criminals and terror suspects are using approaches that by-pass all electronic surveillance.”

I turned the page wondering what on earth this extraordinary system could be.

“Those who wish to stay outside the law in order to commit terrorist acts communicate through first class post, buy bus and rail tickets with cash, and meet in public places – if possible on the beach where even if there was a surveillance microphone the sound of the surf breaking on the shore would remove any chance of the conversation being heard.

“Despite the billions of pounds being spent on surveillance each year, we now find ourselves more vulnerable than ever.”

I looked at my customer in horror.

“I never knew that,” I said, feeling the blood drain from my face.  “Are they really avoiding all the surveillance just by sending letters to each other?”

“Don’t worry,” he said, “that’s one I made up.”

And with that he slipped the article back into its folder and closed up his storage compartment, giving me a smile on the way out that could have meant, “Nice to see you,” but probably meant, “got you.”

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@admiralstorage.co.uk 

https://admiralstorage.co.uk

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How to eat less without dieting

Why how much you eat depends on the plate colour, how you serve, and where you sit…

Now here’s a thing.  I have a customer who collects diets – as in “ways of getting slim”.  He says it is an interesting hobby, and the only problem he has with it is keeping up with the mountainous volume of new articles and books that he is sent each week.

Now I can understand that, because every day I go into a bookstore or even my local supermarket there will be new books on display about healthy eating.  My customer collects these, plus all sorts of newspaper articles about diets, and then the problems with those same diets, and details of why they don’t work, and, of course, the next diet.

I was fascinated by all this, and realising that I was face to face with an expert I decided to make the most of the opportunity and ask him exactly which diet I should use if I wanted to reduce weight (which of course I don’t, because I am not overweight, absolutely most certainly not at all, no, definitely not.  Not a bit.).

“There are now considered to be two solutions to overeating,” my customer said.  “The first is sheer willpower.  You simply eat less, and then once you are established eating less, you eat a bit less than before.   What you mustn’t do is succumb to the notion that “I’ve been very good of late so I deserve a treat.”  That really doesn’t work.

“The second approach is less well known but much more effective, and it takes eating out of the zone in which we endlessly think about eating, and instead makes it something we don’t think about at all.

“The approach has been written about a little, but not very much.  Certainly the food industry doesn’t like it, because it challenges the way in which they encourage people to eat less.  It is all to do with the psychology of perception.”

Now I have to admit that I am a bit of a sucker for a good conspiracy theory, and I’ve heard that these psychology of perception people really do think that the way we behave is all down to what we see.  That always sounds farfetched to me, so I asked for an example.

“If you have plates that are the same colour as your food,” my customer said, “you will inevitably put more food on your plate.  But 99.9% of people who are told this, believe that this will apply to other people, but not to them, so they ignore the advice and thus put more on their plate.”

“Is that really true?” I asked.

“It’s an experiment psychology departments do all the time in universities.  They have a free buffet for the students, so they all turn up; anything for a free lunch.  At random they give people either red or white pasta, which they can ladle onto red or white dishes which are handed out at random.   At the end of the self service the student has to put the dish down on what looks like a normal part of the serving area but is actually a weighing machine, while they swipe their student card.

“The person behind the counter records which of the options the student has used – red pasta on red dish, white pasta on a red dish, red on white, white on white, and that is noted against the weight from the machine.

“People who take white on white or red on red invariably take 18 percent more pasta than those who used either of the other two options.  A check of the level of eating showed that the red/red and white/white people were more likely to eat everything and leave no leftovers.

“That’s a fairly obscure finding,” my customer added, “but there are more obvious ones.  If you keep a big pack of whole-grain breakfast cereal like Shredded Wheat, Cheerios or muesli in a place that is easy to see in your kitchen, you will eat more of it and put on weight.  In one experiment, women who had kitchens in which the cereal was visible all the time were found to weight 9.5kg more, on average.”

“But why?”  I pondered.

“Because the packages are covered with pictures of healthy women with healthy sparkling teeth,” my customer said, showing me a cut out of a typical package.

“Here’s another one.  If you sit down for a meal with the serving dishes on the table, rather than the serving dishes on the side or serving straight from the dish you cooked in, you will eat 19% more.  We always serve ourselves more when given the chance.  The cook gives us less.”

I was shocked.  I was stunned.  I was amazed.  I was annoyed.  Could this be true – is it the way we do things and arrange things that makes us fat?

I tried another approach.  “What about alcohol?” I asked, “Do you have a psychology of perception way of reducing the amount I drink?”

“We drink less from tall thin glasses than wide glasses.  And put your glass on the table when you pour your drink in – we all pour far less into a glass that is on the table rather than one we are holding.  Also move from white wine to red wine.  People always pour less red.”

“Because they see it more easily?” I asked.

“Sure thing.  But remember – the key lesson from the psychology of perception is that even when you know about every trick the brain plays, it doesn’t mean you can resist, just by knowing.  You have to just go with it.  As with restaurants…” (he paused to rummage in another box and produced another newspaper report) “… sit in a well-lit part of the restaurant near a window with at least three tables between you and the bar.  If there’s a TV screen, get as far away from it as possible.”

He closed the boxes and packed up.  “We’re doing research in a set of restaurants,” he explained, “to verify some new points.  You can read the rest in my forthcoming book.”

And with that he packed away his boxes and was gone.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk.   Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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Strange Stories

Is it time to think carefully about the
spaghetti monster?

My recent articles on the issue of strange stories that people collect have opened a can of  floodgates or perhaps a tidal barrier of worms – I am not sure which.   Not only are several of my clients in the Admiral storage facility collecting tales of the weird and unexpected (not to say downright ludicrous) but it seems from my inbox that lots of other people have an interest in this.

I’ve had several emails from readers pointing out that if I really want weird, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as Pastafariansm, might be worthy of my attention.

This church certainly came to the attention of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Council of Europe who noted that Pastafarianism celebrates an invisible all-powerful being called the Flying Spaghetti Monster which created the universe in one day.

Supporters of the idea then demanded a place on the school curriculum in the United States alongside evolution on the one hand and intelligent design on the other hand, on the basis that their notion was a third variety – singularly unintelligent design.

It seems that despite the absolute oddness of such a vision, in recent times the followers of Pastafarianism has flourished, for they now have their own very colourful website in which they report many sightings of the spaghetti monster.

Apparently one can buy the t-shirt to show unity with the monster for $25 or one can alternatively send exactly the same amount of money for a certificate that makes one a certified minister of the cult.

The website, incidentally, has a section to which people can write (and be published) if they wish to argue against Pastafarianism or even be abusive towards the believers, which seems fairly democratic.

It certainly raises a new notion for websites.  One has the usual drop down menus at the top with such headings as “News”, “Products”, “Offers”, “Contact us” and then comes “Abuse”.  I am not sure many other websites have added this option, but certainly reading the abuse column on the Pastafarians website is quite, err, educational.  Or at least vocabulary expanding.

Incidentally, through writing this piece on Google Drive I have just discovered that the spell checker accepts the word “Pastafarian” as perfectly correct spelling.

I therefore tested this discovery out by going into Google itself and typing Define:Pastafarian, and low and behold up popped a definition.  How fast notions can grow!

Of course, believing in a Deity or not is an intensely personal affair, and our society does indeed allow us the freedom to believe or not believe, and to argue for our own beliefs and against the beliefs of others.

But I wonder if we haven’t gone too far in believing in giving information technology the same rights.   I particularly wondered that this week when I got an email from my bank which said, “If you cannot see this email click here”.  Isn’t it time to start seeing IT not as a blessing but actually the work of some universal nasty-being which exists possibly in the anti-universe or whatever the latest proposition of physicists is as they attempt to explain what’s what and what’s not in the entirety of space and time?

I was still contemplating that rather overwhelming point when my attention was then drawn (for no reason that will become apparent at this time) to the notion of nominative determinism – the tendency of people to go into areas of work which fit their surname.

You may well have seen, for example, that the last Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales was Judge Judge (actual real name Igor Judge) until he was replaced by John Thomas – on which, of course, I make no comment.

Now there is a report that the population of dentists in the UK has many more men named Dennis, and women called Denise, than one might expect.  On the other hand I did come across Dr Burns at my local hospital recently, which caused me a certain amount of concern.

But I must leave you with a notice from the Driving Standards Agency which helpfully told me that I could “normally book a theory test online 24 hours a day, every day.   Outside these hours you can make a pending booking.”

So time beyond 24/7 really does exist, at least within government departments.  I always thought that might be the case.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.ukAlternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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The future is on my back

When using our storage facility it is vitally important to wear the right clothing and check that you have not been here before, on this day.

It is only as a result of talking to the good people who use the Admiral Storage Facility in the West Midlands that I have come to realise what extraordinary collections of information we now store.

Which is not to say that all my customers collect extraordinary things – far from it. But among our customers we do have people who use the facility to keep data and information that I could never have anticipated would exist, let alone be stored.

One gentleman, whom I am always delighted to see when he has an item or two to add to his collection, has taken this to the limit by collecting nothing but extraordinary news items, photos of strange signs, and similar oddities.

“It started,” he told me, “when I was at a meeting of the Fabian Society about ten years ago. The Minister of State for Employment Relations (whatever that is) Pat McFadden was there, and he said, ‘The government’s fate at the next general election depends on whether voters feel we understand the future and can lead Britain through it’.

“I was immediately struck by the notion of a government leading us through the future to whatever lies beyond. I tried to ask him what he thought lay beyond the future once we have been led through it, but the minister was whisked away by his aides who were presumably trying to get him back to Westminster before the future he had to lead us through arrived.

“Then I thought to myself that this funny little statement would now be lost forever.  I had a note of it in my notebook, but that was that.  No one would ever know the danger we were in of going through our own future and coming out the other side, if his party were to win the election.

“So I wrote to the minister’s office, got an official signed copy of his speech, and started collecting.”

I was impressed and asked what else he had found of the same type.

“Well this was at the time when the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland – that machine that bashes particles together at high speeds to see what comes out the other end – was about to be switched on,” he told me.

“People were telling us that the moment the machine started up either a black hole would open up and suck us all into it or visitors from the future would pop in and say ‘hello’.

“I found a wonderful article in the Daily Mail in which a man who believed these visitors would appear warned us that we really ought to be on high alert and ready to greet these visitors from the future in a proper manner.”

I agreed that seemed sensible.

“This seemed to me a jolly good idea as well,” he continued, “because if you have all the time in the world to do something, then normally it never gets done, and these people might therefore not be properly prepared. So we need to have speeches ready.”

I found that all extremely interesting – politicians leading people through the future and out the other side, while others used the large hadron collider to pop back in time and greet us. It felt that time as we knew it was about to end.  But then I found a problem.

“If people do come back and visit us,” I said, “and our great and glorious leaders set about welcoming them, won’t it all be terribly dull for them.  After all they will have heard the speech before – indeed it will probably be written down on great monuments in the very future that our leaders are leading us through.”

My customer considered this, and then told me that he thought it had already happened.  “When I applied for a driving licence renewal online last year the DVLA sent me to a website that asked me all the usual questions – such as my date of birth.”

“That’s fairly normal,” I retorted.

“Yes, but the possible answers for the date of birth went up to the year 2019. They are accepting applications for driving licences from people who are not yet born – and the only reason they can be doing that is that these people are indeed coming from the future, to our own time, and then applying for a driving licence.”

“And why would they do that?” I asked. I must admit I had just watched the re-run of Back to the Future II – the film that is based in a futuristic 2015, and I had got jolly confused by it all.

However my question remained unanswered, but my client did delve into his storage box and brought out a questionnaire from a clothing store which included the following challenging topic:

“In the future which of the following have influenced your purchase decision when choosing casual comfort clothing?”

“There you are,” he said. “They expect us to know how we are in the future before we even get there.”

“You are right,” I replied.  “It is very odd. What is casual comfort clothing?”

If you have any papers to store, and you are in the West Midlands, Admiral is most certainly the place to be.  We have been here for ten years, and I can tell you from my direct research into the issue we will be here for at least the next ten years as well.

For more information please see our futuristic websiteAlternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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Full of Holes

England has traditionally relied on landfill because of the country’s abundance of holes.

My recent foray into the world of people who think that eclipses happen at the behest of governments and tourist boards, and that Facebook is about to give away all the data that makes the company so valuable, led to one of my customers coming to me with an even more bizarre story.

His collection of unusual cuttings comes from the British Government and includes a report called “Waste Not, Want Not: A strategy for tackling the waste problem”.

It is a document that was presented by the Government Strategy Unit a few years back and contains the wonderful phrase:

“England traditionally relied on landfill because of the country’s abundance of holes.”

As a resident of the said country I find that somewhat less than reassuring, and I must admit that I had the temerity to suggest to my client that this must be a spoof.  However, whipping out his tablet he typed the phrase into Google and then showed me that self-same phrase on a website from Norfolk County Council. 

Careful scrutiny of the document reveals that the end of the sentence has been omitted in the quote above.  To be specific the words “from extractive industries and other activities,” have been lost from the conclusion of the sentence.

But although there is a rational explanation for this one there is not a similar explanation for the way people regularly write to, well, more or less everyone, telling them that they have been assiduously studying their website and have discovered that it is not constructed in the right way to enable it to be picked up by search engines.

One of my clients, who runs a football blog that gets around 1 million page views a month (and retains with us a print out of each of the three articles a day the blog has published for the past seven years – in case the whole system goes up in smoke) told me that he got half a dozen of these emails a day in which the writer offers to increase the readership of his site dramatically (although failing to give exact details of how this might be arranged).

Apparently my customer now has a standard letter he sends back begging the writer not to perform his magic tricks because he is already struggling to cope with the readership he has got and would have to shut the site down if the audience grows any more.

But even more bizarrely there is a report in New Scientist magazine (that tends in its lighter moments to follow such issues) to the effect that Google recently received a note saying, “Dear google.com, I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed properly on www.google.com

Of course this sort of gibberish is as old as, well as old as quite an old thing.  Indeed I suspect if one searched long and hard enough one would find a parchment with bits of the Old Testament on one side and a note on the other saying “This parchment has been around the world at least seven times.  It has been incorporated in many of the world’s major religions.  Now it has come to you.  It will bring you good fortune.  This is true even if you don’t believe it.”

Personally I love the fact that people collect wild and bizarre statements, not to mention mistakes.  It reminds me of the No Child Left Behind Act which was passed in 2001 in the United States as its major piece of legislation to help disadvantaged children.

The original version of the Act had a sop to the military in it, in order to get enough votes to get it through Congress, in which schools were required to let military recruiters have students’ contact information and other access to the student, if the school provides that information to universities or employers.

Should the school not abide by this or other provisions, it could have its funding cut.  It was suggested that some rebellious students then not only refused to give the school the relevant detail, they then told their representatives in Congress and demanded that the school be shut for disobeying national orders – thus giving them a prolonged holiday.

The legislation (it is said) was quickly changed so that students had the right to opt out of giving military recruiters access to their data without penalty to the school. Seemingly at the time the legislation was passed no one ever imagined that it might cause a problem.  Or that students might have such energy when it came to avoiding work.

But perhaps it was not as much of a problem as the advert sent out by North Tyneside Library Service in 2002 for firms to pitch for the business of digitisation of a range of children’s books.   Unfortunately the advert went out inviting companies to pitch for the business of the digitisation of children.

It was, of course, a total waste of money.  Children are perfectly capable of digitising themselves.  Just give them a tablet.

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk.  Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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Who said that?

Moving eclipses to the weekend, walking on water in the high street, and believing what you read on Facebook.

People do strange things, say strange things, write strange things and ultimately believe strange things.

Which is probably why other people also collect details of the strange things that others say, write and believe.

For example, if you are a member of the Republic of Facebook (in effect the biggest country in the world) you might have seen the odd person posting a note to the effect that Facebook is going to change all its privacy settings, so all your details will be available to anyone who wants to look.

The only way to opt out of this, the message goes on, is to post this message (the one warning of the change) and then Facebook will remove your details from the general abolition of its privacy rules.

Now there is plenty to consider odd in this. One factor worth contemplating is that Facebook makes money out of advertisers who want to reach its members. And so releasing all the data that it currently makes money from selling would seem to be verging on self-destructive.

But even if you let this slip by, you might contemplate the fact that cutting and pasting a warning note as being the only way to opt out of the general opt out, is even more bizarre.

And as it turns out, it was, of course, totally untrue.

Indeed Facebook is well known for oddities. In the run up to Halloween 2015 there was a constant re-publishing of a story that said that Halloween 2015 was the first year since 1666 (the year of the Devil, as you may know, or at least the Fire of London – which perhaps was the same thing) on which Halloween would fall on Friday 13th.

Except that Halloween falls on the last day of October. But who cares when the world is about to end!

Quasi-scientific stories replete with a multiplicity of scientific misunderstandings have also been quite common of late – and they don’t always need Facebook to get their audience.

In 2015 we had the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse, caused by the Earth’s shadow falling on the moon at a moment when the moon was at its closest point to Earth and thus seemingly bigger in the sky. The result was spectacular for anyone in England, where there was no cloud, who stayed up through the night to watch the event.

But that didn’t stop some Facebookers writing to complain that it was ludicrous to have such an event at 3am.

“This is just the sort of thing that can get children interested in science but having it in the early hours just causes tension in the household and disrupts the next day’s schooling.”

To which one can only say, “well, yes.”

Although I have a half suspicion that the person who wrote that story on Facebook had lived in Australia way back in 2003, at the time of a magnificent total eclipse of the sun.

All the phone-in radio programmes made the event big news down under, often giving out very important safety advice about not looking directly at the sun and wearing sun protection cream, as well as how to get to particularly remote locations (of which there are many in Australia) where the eclipse could be enjoyed away from industrial pollution.

However, not everyone took kindly to this advice as one listener called in to say that he was unhappy that the tourism authorities had organised the eclipse for a weekend when most people were at work. The listener criticised the decision as typical of the muddle-headed thinking that went on at the time in South Australia, and mentioned that the sooner the state government was voted out of office the better.

This collection of crazy cuttings from the press is one of the most enjoyable collections I have been introduced to by users of the Admiral Storage Facility, although I must say that the note taken verbatim from the BBC business unit’s documentary on Marks and Spencer really caught my eye most of all.

It said, apropos the difficulties the high street chain had got into…

“They began to think they could walk on water, and nobody can walk on water in the retail business.”

Reading that I was concerned that my customer might believe that there were people in the storage industry who would could actually water-levitate (if that is the correct term), and I was anxious to point out that I could not.

Assuring me that this was not the case my customer then showed me a letter from East Sussex County Healthcare which read thus

“Dear Colleagues,

Following an audit of our outpatient clinics we have found a considerable amount of unattended appointments were for patients who were referred to us with memory problems.”

Now where was I?

If you have items that you wish to have stored in the Birmingham area, please do get in touch. We might be able to help, and if not, we may be able to tell you a funny story.

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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