September 2018
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Twist and sprout

Home delivery is meant to take the stress out of shopping for groceries.  I had a delivery this evening for a Christmas dinner we’re hosting on Saturday.

I can live without the sausage/bacon mash-up, I can make it up from ingredients if necessary.  Even my limited culinary skills can deal with wrapping one thing inside another and slamming the result in a George Foreman grill.

But how do they manage to run out of sprouts six days before Christmas?  I can’t believe I’ll actually have to leave the house to go shopping for a vegetable I don’t even like, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the little buggers…

Little bit of robot, little bit of donut

I’ve just stumbled on - and I can’t even remember how - work of artist Eric Joyner and his fabulous Robots & Donuts collection.

Obviously, this one is my absolute favourite.  DUCY?


Loving the free bets

I can’t even remember the last time I watched football, but I was betting on it at the weekend thanks to a Sporting Index "safety net" promotion.  The deal: lose up to £50 over the weekend and get your money back on Monday.

This is a great promo, almost the same as a free £50 fixed odds bet if you use it well.  To get maximum value, you have to find a single spread bet with a fixed downside and a reasonable upside.  If you play volatile spread markets, there’s the risk that you could lose much more than £50, or win or lose a only few quid which makes the refund hardly worth having.

Not that I’m complaining, but I’m sure this promotion must actually discourage action.  Even for a genuine bettor, if you lose a bet early in the weekend and are guaranteed £50 back on monday morning, in effect you have to win that £50 on your next bet before you can take any profit from it – so why bother trying to win it back when you can just sit tight and wait for the refund?

I backed Norwich City.  I can’t remember who they were playing, and I didn’t particularly care.  I wouldn’t have been any more likely to make a better decision if I’d considered the game.  I’d realised it was already Sunday and opportunities to use this free bet were running short, so I jumped in and bought their win index at 11.5 for a highly suspicious £4.34 per point.

The "win index" on a football game awards 25 points for a win, 10 points for a draw nothing for a loss.  So if Norwich lost, my total loss would be 11.5 x £4.34, a fully refundable £49.91.  If they won I’d be looking at a nice little profit of £58.59.

In fact the game was a draw, although I only saw my bet result not the game result, and I just wasn’t interested enough to look it up.  It was a small loss of £6.51, but because the safety net promotion covered net losses from the whole weekend I got to have another go.

This time I bet against West Ham.  They were playing some other team that I don’t remember, and I only know that it was West Ham because it says so on my bet result.  I just went for whatever game was on TV at the time.  It was about 30 minutes into the match and they were a goal up, so I could sell the win index at 19 for £7.30 per point – slightly less suspicious, but it’s still pretty obvious what I’m up to if they care to look!

Worst case, if West Ham stay ahead and win, I’d be down another £43.80 – with the previous loss that’s just a few pence more than the refund limit.  If they give up a draw, I’m up £65.70 on the bet and if they manage to throw it all away for me, I’d be counting £138.70.  Worth a random punt for sure.

Another draw, and I’m £59.19 up on the day.  Result!


Welcome to the 1990s

It’s a good few weeks since I’ve been in this part of town so this could be pretty old news.  But worth mentioning nonetheless.

The last remaining city on the giant coffee house bingo card can be crossed off.  Stoke-on-Trent finaly has a Starbucks!

I had to double-take when I saw this walking through the Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley but the arrow did not mislead.  A few seconds later I was handing over two quid and change for a very, very large cup of coffee.  Bliss.

There’s a price to pay though.  It’s taken over the entire food court, so Stoke now has a different dubious honour: it’s the only city in the UK without a Burger King.

Atlantic City’s first kerblammo moment

While next month will see the New Frontier become the 15th casino to be imploded in Las Vegas, Atlantic City had it’s first ever controlled demolition on the Boardwalk on Thursday when the Sands was turned to dust.

Several videos have hit YouTube.  This one has the best view I’ve found but skip in 1m15s if you want to avoid watching a dude with a hard hat talking about explosives and get straight to the action.

To see more of the preceding fireworks, check out the video of the live MSNBC coverage, with which you also get to listen to some fantastic analysis by the announcer. "Looks like the dynamite hasn’t gone off yet", he says, which clearly explains why the building is still standing.  Invaluable.

This amateur video is also worth a look.  It was shot from the roof of Bally’s and shows all the fireworks and a view of the tower collapsing from really close by.  The best bit, though, is right at the end where you see everyone legging it back into the casino approximately two seconds after it’s hit the ground.  After all, they went there to gamble…

Burn baby burn

A sign in my hotel room this weekend:

Surely they don’t mean these?

 I think they’d melt.

Fingers crossed

This weekend, I had my best ever result on the National Lottery.  All six numbers!

And the jackpot for that piece of good fortune: a whopper £38.

OK, so the six numbers hit across a combination of two tickets, but they’re the only two tickets I’m involved with.  Using the numbers that Claire and I have played for as long as I can remember – it wasn’t quite since the lottery started in 1994, but it wasn’t long after - we had a four-number (£28) and a three-number (£10) hit from the same draw.

Seriously.  £28 for four numbers.  Isn’t that pathetic?

The odds of matching four is 1031-1.  I believe this is only the second time we’ve had a four number win in over ten years, which actually feels about right for playing two lines on a ticket, each for two draws a week and 52 draws a year.  In fact, officially it was draw #1224 on Saturday, so I’m ever-so-slightly owed…

So you wait years for a winning ticket, and then two come along at once – and it’s so totally not worth it.  Take away the £2 stake and we’re looking at £36 profit - the amount I paid in stakes for just 9 weeks of draws – for this freak occurance.

OK, I know that hitting all 6 numbers from 11 picks (our tickets overlap by one number: 12) is still much more likely than actually winning the big one, but I just don’t expect to ever see six matches again.  Sorry, I don’t know the exact odds and I don’t really care enough (read: know how) to work it out.  It’s small though.

What I do know is that to have permed those 11 numbers every possible way in order to ensure that I’d hit the jackpot this week would have taken 462 different tickets.  I know that when Claire reads this she’ll reach for her calculator to check (and hopefully work out the odds of hitting 6 from 11 too…) but I’m pretty sure that’s right.  So if I’d actually made that £462 bet in the past 1224 draws, my total stake would have been £565,488 before it hit.

This week’s jackpot prize fund: £3,583,830.  If only I’d known!  Split six ways (there were already five other winners) we’d have scored £597,305 each.  Over thirty grand profit from my half-million investment – that’s obviously how you’re meant to play the lottery.

But I’ve come up with a another way: don’t bother.

I cancelled my subscription this morning.  I feel like a winner already.

EDIT: D’oh.  After a sleep I realised I’d already done the hard work for the odds of 6 from 11.  If the chances of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 13,983,816, then the chances of striking rich with one of my 462 combinations is 462 in 13,983,816 or about 30,000-1.  Actually it’s about twice as likely as hitting five numbers all on one ticket (55,490-1).

A huge ever growing pulsating foam that rules from the centre of the ultraworld

After I took the picture, I had to check.  Indeed, on my can of expanding foam it says "360 degree application" and "quickly fills large, awkward holes and cavities".  But it definitely doesn’t say anywhere, even in small print, "in zero gravity conditions".

Hence, I’m sure, the reason for this spectacular filling disaster on the side of a house in Longton:

This is not my mess, I hasten to add.  Admittedly, I could have been capable of overestimating the mighty power of expanding foam and trying to fill a high-up crack from the bottom, but I’d like to think that if I started off expecting to beat the laws of physics, I’d at least be smart enough to give up once I’d spotted the signs that I just wasn’t that powerful.

There were plenty of warning signs.  The footpath tells the story:

Clearly it’s someone else’s job to clean up stray filler once it’s fallen onto - or in the vicinity of - a public street.  Plus, the longer you leave it, the easier that’ll be.

I have to wonder whether the master craftsman actually used a ladder or was reaching up high to fill the gap from underneath.  So I’m going to keep my eyes open for a mysterious figure walking around town that looks a bit like this.

Nobody puts Baby in a box

God bless Ikea.  It’s not really the job of a furniture store to offer practical parenting advice, but they’re doing it anyway.  Do not put your baby inside a plastic box and close the lid.

Interestingly, this label – officially my favourite warning label ever – only appears on the storage boxes that are large enough to actually fit a small child.  Or The Amazing Yen.

I thought maybe it was a Swedish thing, and that there might actually be a type of plastic box that can be used to store babies.  A way to flat-pack your family, for a quiet night in or for hibernation during the cold, dark winter.  But alas Google couldn’t shed any light on this: baby storage box only finds containers for the kid’s stuff, not the kid itself.

So there must be a gruesome back story, surely?

Twins put Stoke on the map

After a fabulous month in Las Vegas, what I really needed on my return home was someone to remind me just how great Stoke really is.

The Big Brother Twins didn’t quite manage it in this clip. Actually it’s two clips slapped together – I only just figured out how to do that, but I’ll be amazed if you can tell! They’re talking to Liam about ideal places to go on a date. I think it’s Sam that’s doing the talking, but it doesn’t really matter, let’s face it.

Transcript, because I know you probably can’t be bothered to play the clip, even though it’s only eleven seconds long:

Liam: What your ideal date would be is to go and just scrounge drinks off everybody all night.

Twin: No, we’d go Alton Towers. 

(Did you spot the splice?)

Twin: If we wanted to go anywhere it would take like an hour or whatever to get somewhere good, right?

They’ve deffo put Stoke on the map alright.  To find it, use a pair of compasses set to roughly the distance you can travel in an hour, stick the pin somewhere good and draw an arc.  Repeat.

Where the arcs cross, that’s home.