Monday, January 23, 2012

Bullshit Car Insurance

Its that time of year again when i have to renew my car insurance. Like every year you have to jump through the same hoops and wade through the bullshit the Insurance companies lay down.

Its all a trick that Insurance compnies hope that the less interested person will just renew without checking out the new inflated renewal.

My last premium cost around £35 per month. Hastings direct, my insurance company quoted a renewal at £45 per month. They seemed a little bit taken a back when I told them what they could do with that offer. I then told them I had moved. Straight away the guy told me that would make a great deal of difference, maybe my new postcode would be better and the premium lower. I then told him my postcode was the same. Despite this he managed to get my premium down to £39 a month.

I told him I would think about it and for him to give me a call  back later. In the mean time I went on the web site and put in all my details. Amazingly (but, not surprisingly) I found an all singing and ancing policy for onl £31 per month, it even had better cover than my present policy. The company that was offering it to me?

You guessed it- Hastings Direct.

When the sales guy phoned me back, I told him I'd found a policy at £30 per month on a comparison site, but wouldn't tell him who. He went away to ask his Supervisor a question and came back with a matching policy for £28 per month.

Why do we have to go through this crap every year? Just give me the best price and I'll not bother checking the internet. I guess they work that for every person who questions a renewal, one person will just sign it and pay full whack.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thai Politics 2012

First off, I know that foreigners are never welcome participants in Thai politics! Thai's believe that their politics is there business. Right fully so, however it still doesn't stop people from having an opinion.

Last year the PTT of thaksin Shinawatra came to power under the guise of his Sister, Yingluck. Obviously Thaksin is still a fugitive and wanted on corruption charges. This isn't a healthy start really.

PTT were elected with about 50% of the popular vote, they promised the world to the poorer of thai Society. In all fairness, if I had of been able to vote it would have been for PTT, the Democrat Party alternative were never a viable option.

Since the election, PTT have returned to standard form for Thai Government. Behind the scenes strings are being pulled by the powerful and this is to the detriment of the normal person. Populist moves like freezing Diesel duty, whilst popular, miss the point that to improve the lot of normal people a good stream of revenue is needed. Never mind that corruption is at an all time high and those who should be paying tax get away with it.

PTT have increased the crack down on free speech with a Department set up purely to moniter the internet for any person breaking the laws on Les Majeste. This is a law which prohibits the critism of the Royal family. High profile cases have included a US citizen, a Web master and a 70 year Grandad being sent to prison for years at a time. The Thai press are very careful what they write so tend not to bother reporting many stories.

Recently the US Ebassy issued a terrorism warning based on solid info, The Thai foreign ministry went beserk and amazingly found a suspect the same day. The guy looks like more of a patsy than a criminal, but providing face as been saved in Thailand then that isn't a problem.

In a recent cabinet re-shuffle, one of the ministers is on a US black list for financial dealings with Zimbabwe and another is on a murder charge dating back to 2010. It seems, its not what you know, but who you know.

Finally, one of the back bone pledges of PTT was the raising of the minimum wage to 300 baht per day (£6), this as since been shelved. Add this to the terrible handling of the recent mega floods and the corruption on going without punishment and it seems that its business as usual in Thailand.

The latest is talk of another Military Coup. There hasn't been one for over five years, so one is due.

                                                        Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra

Supatra restaurant Hua Hin

We have been to the Supatra Restaurant several times now and it as got to have one of the best settings for a restaurant going.

You can see by a stone wall over looking the beach and in the shadow of Khao Tikiab in the south of Hua Hin.

Whilst it is probably more expensive than a lot of local restaurants, the quality of the food is outstanding and the service is also excellent.

This place is definately worth a visit.

Supatra by the Sea Restaurant
122/63 Takiab Rd.
Nong-gae, Hua Hin,
Prachuab Khiri Khan 77110

More Shocking News from Bangkok

I seem to be a little behind current affairs in Thailand. The above picture first appeared a few days ago as a viral going round the Thai web sphere.

It shows a group of 13-14 year old thai girls in a state of un dress and in provocative positions. Thai opinion is split, with most of the population going off in their usual explosive tirade of public lynch mobbing, whilst most Thai male teenagers are using it as their PC wallpaper.

In my opinion, what do you expect? Every day these young girls see their idols in various states of undress and models avertising everyday products using their female form as the selling point. Modern life Thailand, get used to it.

Shocking News from Bangkok

In a shocking development over the weekend, Bangkok as been plunged into a state of near panic!

It all stems from photos coming out of several illegal Casino's showing dealers topless!!!

I'm not sure what people are so alarmed at. Illegal Gambling or Topless ladies in Bangkok? Like everything in Thailand, it needs the occassional outrage just to keep certain people in check.

Bangkoks top Copper said he is shocked to see topless ladies in Bangkok. WTF!

Chances are that its one of his Officers who is running the Casino, not withstanding even I know where there are illegal Casino's in Bangkok and i don't even live there. Has far as topless ladies go, he will only need to walk down any entertainment area in Bangkok and he'll get to see a bit more than topless girls!!!

I think that the biggest outrage is that the pictures put online are pixelated!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That was the year that was 2011

2011 started as 2010 end, very snowy and cold. I was still only working part time, but we were more than getting on fine. At the end of the month I got a full time job. Working for a National company at their local Depot.

In March, Elizabeth and I went to Disneyland Paris. Not my cup of tea, but obviously Elizabeth looved every second. It was good to get back to France and I made the most of our visit to the Hypermarket near Calais to stock up on goodies.

Over Easter I took Elizabeth to Matlock Bath and a visit up to the Heights of Abraham via the cable cars. The cable cars never fail to impress and the pictures you can get looking down the Derwent Valley are truly spectacular.

In May and June we went on Holiday to Thailand. We did Bangkok, Koh Samet and Hua Hin. All of these are personal favourites of mine. We stayed at several excellent Hotels and visited some excellent beaches. We met the In- Laws who were all fine. Although later in the year they were severly affected by the floods that hit Thailand.

One of the lasting memories were the Zoo's we visited in Thailand, we were able to get up close and personal with Dolphins, Orang Utan, Deer, Sharks, Elephants and baby Tigers.

Elizabeth continued to grow both in height and personallity. She is becoming a proper little person. There are good days and bad days, mostly good days. She is in The rainbows, goes to Karate and is having swimming lessons.

In August, Elizabeth and I went to Zante for a week. Despite loosing our original holiday to Turkey because of the holiday company going bust we had a great time. I really like Europe and hope to get there again this year.

The last quarter of the year as been taken up by my re-introduction to cycling. It as bought alot of memories and I'm meeting up with alot of people who I've not seen for years. I bought the bike through the Cycle to Work scheme, which means I got a top bike and I get at least 40% off and only pay for it weekly. I'm still searching for the downside of the scheme.

2011 was definately better than 2010. I can only hope that 2012 is as good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Concordia Disaster

You wont have failed to have seen pics and reports about the Italian Liner "The Concordia" sinking off the coast of Italy.

Some of the images have been amazing, sadly the price paid looks like around 30 people have lost their lives.

The reason appears to be that Captain Schettino was impressing a lady friend with his handling of the 60000 tonne super liner and hit a massive rock, The ship soon took on water and listed to where it settled.

By all accounts, it was absolute chaos! All semblance of civilty dissappeared and panic took over.

Below is the conversation btween the Italian Coastguard and the feckless Capt. Schettino. This conversation is not painting the Capt in very good light. He is currently under house arrest and is facing severe charges.

Coastguard official, Captain Gregorio De Falco (CG): “Hello. This is De Falco from Livorno, am I speaking with the captain?”

Captain Francesco Schettino (FS): “Yes, good evening Captain De Falco.”

CG: “Am I speaking with the captain? Please tell me your name.”

FS: “This is captain Schettino.”

CG: “Schettino? Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now you need to go on your lifeboat, under the bow of the ship on the side. There is a ladder. You need to climb up the ladder and board the ship. Get on board and report to me how many people there are. Is that clear? I am recording this conversation, captain Schettino.”

FS: “Captain, let me tell you one thing...”

CG: “Speak up!”

FS: “The ship, at this moment...”

CG: “Captain, speak up! Shield the microphone with your hand and speak louder, clear?”

FS: “At this moment the ship is tilted.”

CG: “I understand. Listen, there are people who are coming down the ladder on the bow. Go back in the opposite direction, get back on the ship, and tell me how many people there are and what they have on board. Clear? Tell me if there are children, women and what kind of help they need. And you tell me the number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Look, Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Dammit!”

FS: “Captain, please...”

CG: “There is no 'please’ about it. Go back on board. Assure me you are going back on board!”

FS: “I am in the lifeboat, under the ship, I haven’t gone anywhere, I’m here.”

CG: “What are you doing?”

FS: “I am coordinating...”

CG: “What are you coordinating there? Get on board the ship and coordinate the rescue on board. Are you refusing?”

FS: “No, no I am not refusing.”

CG: “Are you refusing to go on board? Tell me the reason why you are not going.”

FS: “I am not going because there is another lifeboat that has stopped.”

CG: “You get on board. This is an order. You need to continue the rescue. You called the evacuation, now I am in charge. You need to go on board the ship, is that clear?”

FS: “Captain.”

CG: “Can you hear me?”

FS: “I am going.”

CG: “Go. Call me when you are on board. My air rescue team is there. He is at
the bow. Get going. There are already corpses Schettino. Move!”

FS: “How many dead are there?”

CG: “I don’t know. One I am aware of. One I’ve heard of. You need to be telling me this. Christ!”

FS: “But you are aware it is dark and we can’t see anything?”

CG: “And what do you want? To go back home, Schettino? It’s dark and you want to go back home? Get on the bow of the ship and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what do they need. Now!”

FS: “I am here with the second commander.”

CG: “Excuse me?”

FS: “I am here with the second commander his name is...”

CG: “So both of you, get on board, both of you. What is the name of the second?”

FS: “Dimitry.”

CG: “Dimitry who?”

FS: “Dimitry... “ (Unclear)

CG: “You and your second commander, go and get on board now. Is that clear?”

FS: “I want to get on board the ship but the other lifeboat has stopped its engine and it is drifting and I called other rescuers.”

CG: “It’s already one hour you are telling me this. Now, get on board. Get on board! And you tell me how many people there are.”

FS: “OK, Captain.”

CG: “Go, right now!”

After a short break and with rescue workers struggling to evacuate the remaining passengers and crew from the ship, the exchange between Capt De Falco and Capt Schettino continues:

CG: “Captain, I am De Falco from Livorno.”

FS: “I have called the company and they told me there are hundreds of people on board the ship. I think.”

CG: “Captain can you not give me an exact number?”

FS: “It seems like it’s 100. Captain, I am not able to give you the exact number. Earlier we were carrying out the evacuation of all the passengers and now all of us officers are here.”

CG: “Where are you? You and your officers are all on the lifeboat?”

FS: “Yes, me and the second commander...”

CG: “Excuse me but earlier it was just you and your sailor and now you are telling me that you are there with the officers. So you could have continued the evacuation? Why don’t you go back on board and see what is happening and then tell us?

FS: “At the moment...”

CG: “Get back on board! Send someone back on board to coordinate.”

FS: “I am coordinating at the moment.”

CG: “I am giving you an order captain. You must send someone on board.”

FS: “We are going on board to coordinate.”

CG: “Exactly, you have to go back on board to coordinate the evacuation. Is that clear?”

FS: “But we can’t go back on board now.”

CG: “Why did you get them off Captain?

FS: “They abandoned the ship.”

CG: “One hundred people still on board and you abandoned the ship?

FS: “I didn’t abandon any ship because the ship turned on its side quickly and we were catapulted into the water.”

CG: “We will see later what happened. OK. But from now you let me know everything that is happening. You stay on the life boat and don’t you go away. Is that clear?”

FS: “We are here, we are here.”

The feckless Capt. Schettino

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Annual Apology 2012

Its the time of year were I begin by apologising for not posting in over four weeks.

It seems to happen every year at about this time. No excuses...

Well maybe?

We moved house over the Christmas holiday and have only just got my broadband connection back and the PC set up. Certain items of furniture only turned up, which is more of a comfort thing.

The main reason seems to be the time it takes me to get back in to a routine after the Christmas break.

Has usual, here comes my promise to keep this blog going! This year I need to do another complete another 268 posts to bring up my 1000th post on this blog. Number 1000 will be posted on the 31st December 2012, providing the end of the world prophecy doesn't come to fruition.

So, Happy New Year everyone....