Motor Mania

7Dec2008

Like most red-blooded males, I am a big fan of most things automotive. Watching Top Gear on BBC America is great, but they tend to be a little behind, so a recent trip back to Blighty allowed me to get up to date as there is a TV Station which runs 2 hours of TG per day. It’s actually a very funny show which also happens to be supremely popular – I read the other day that one of the most common internet searches is “Who is the Stig?”.

I have recently found another great online car resource – OnCars. They have a great selection of quick and in-depth tests, the production qualities are excellent and their presenter is good.

Having a new son also allows me to indulge my inner boy and relive my childhood as far as toys are concerned. Recently I stumbled across Automoblox and their great wooden toys with unbelievable design cues. I now know what Conor will be getting for Christmas (along with his Scalextric track)

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Flickr MeMe

5Dec2008

“It works like this: if you use Flickr, go to the sixth page of your photostream and pick the sixth picture there, then post it to your blog.”

I took this photo down at Spanish Point in October of 2007. The title should maybe have been: Wanted – one careful owner…

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There are countless benefits to living in Bermuda. Unfortunately, there are a few downsides. One of them is that I refuse to have a US billing address. I do have a US Shipping address (via Zipx), but all my debit and credit cards have billing addresses here. And that seems to cause major issues with certain (supposedly global) online companies.

I am currently trying to order LightRoom 2 from Adobe. They do not have an online store dedicated to Bermuda, so I tried their online US store. Can’t order from there without a US billing address.

I then try their live chat. That helpful individual gives me a toll number to call. I call that number and it is no longer in service.

I call their main customer service number. They tell me they can’t help and that I should try CDW online. I try CDW and they don’t have the product in stock.

Not quite fully discouraged, I try Adobe again and talk to their sales team. They can’t help as I am not US-based, but transfer me to someone who can. But he can’t, because I don’t have a US billing address. He asks if I have relatives in the US that could help me. No. He then tells me to go to the Adobe.com website and try selecting my country from there. I tell him it is not listed. OK, he says, try selecting the country closest to where you live. Um, I reply, that would be the US. He asks if I am sure about that? Yes, absolutely. OK then, he says, try the country that is the second closest to Bermuda – that might help. OK, I reply, that would probably be Canada. He immediately asks – but do you have a Canadian billing address? No. At this point he comes to the conclusion I have already come to – OK, sir,well, we can’t help you.

So after half a dozen visits to adobe.com and at least 5 calls with their sales or customer service people, it turns out that they cannot help me place an order for their software. All this from a supposed international company.

Why is it that I never have any issues like this ordering from Amazon? They don’t care if I have a non-US billing address. They don’t care if I ship to a UK address, a Bermuda address or a US address. They just make sure that I can buy what I want with no obstacles.

Adobe, you need to revisit your online store policy. You need to wake up to global e-commerce. You need to take a leaf out of the book of companies like Amazon, who truly understand how to service a global online audience.

And yes, I still really want Lightroom. For now (hopefully), I just have to live with the trial version.

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It’s been a while since my original Everyday Superhero post, but I was thinking the other day about other potential superpowers I have, and came up with the following:

Superhero Name: Metabolism Man
Alias: The Man with the lightning-fast intestines.
Powers: Has the ability to digest (and excrete) massive amounts of food in minutes. In a bind this superhero can eat a 6 course curry whilst quaffing 10 pints of Guinness and still go back for seconds. And then do the same 3 hours later. I remember when I was seventeen and I managed to eat at least 7 steaks in a restaurant in Germany famous for their helpings. As I finished one they wheeled out another. I also remember wolfing down an “Elvis Burger” (the name should say it all) at a restaurant in Edinburgh and still having dessert. I think I won a T-Shirt for that, which I promptly lost (too many Guinness).

Oh, and if you haven’t already, acquaint yourself with my Everyday Evil Villains post…

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People lie. That’s a fact. The secret is to determine whether you realise they are lying or not. I’m a big fan of infomercials, and it’s always a challenge separating the truths from the untruths. It’s the same with telephone marketing, print advertising and the like.

Here are some of the favourite untruths I have heard this week:

  • Please listen carefully as our options have changed
  • We will not spam you
  • You will only get this offer if you call in the next 30 minutes
  • We apologize for the delay
  • Our best deal ever


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OK, here”s a disclaimer up front: I am married, and have owned a boat, so I feel more than suitably qualified to talk about those two subjects, but having only been a father for two weeks, maybe I am not best qualified to talk about babies. But, I have been an expectant father for the nine months before that, so here goes ….

There is a real similarity between boats, babies and weddings. Before you ask, it is nothing to do with the number of tears shed or the amount of alcohol consumed. It is all about the effect of putting the word “boat” (or “marine”), “baby” or “wedding” as a prefix to any other word. Some examples:

  • paint is $20, but boat paint is $200
  • cake is $50, but a wedding cake is $500

Add the word “baby” to any day-to-day item and you can quadruple the price (at least), and that doesn’t account for the fact that you get much less for your money, because it is smaller. So a baby blanket costs twice as much as a normal one even though it is a fifth of the size. It must be that nice embroidered duck that costs all the extra cash. Baby shoes cost an arm and a leg for less leather than I have in the tongue of one of my shoes (admittedly, my feet are pretty big). And special scented trash bags to put your used nappies in are a tenth of the size of a normal trash bag for twice the price. But they do smell lovely.

But I am not bitter. It is all worth it. My Scottish blood just comes to the surface whenever I have to spend money on anything, let alone something which is overpriced.

Two of the best examples of the wedding effect are shown in these two BBC comedy sketches – wedding cake and wedding flowers.

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New Arrival

11May2008

I am proud to announce the birth of Conor Michael Quinn. He crossed the start line on time and at full speed at 8:42am on Friday May 9th. At the weigh in he came in at 7lb 11oz. Mother and child are both doing well. Father is ecstatic.

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I love power tools. They make me feel more masculine. So the move to the new place has meant that I can buy some new power tools. One of those purchases is a drill. Now, my last drill has been lying in an attic in West Sussex for the past three years, so I have really missed the ability to drill holes in things. And using a leatherman or hand drill just doesn’t cut it.

The new model is by Dewalt. It is a manly(?) bright yellow, like a Lamborghini, and, like most pieces of technology, has a host of features I will never use. But, it also comes with a set of titanium-coated, peanut butter filled, diamond-encrusted drill bits. (I am lying about the peanut butter, but Reeses could be onto something with an idea like that). But I always laughed when I saw drill bits being advertised, because I wondered why you would ever need that level of technology unless you are drilling for oil in the North Sea?

But now I know the reason – Bermuda Stone. That is what my walls are made of, and it is a substance harder than rock, paper or scissors. In actual fact, I think when they discovered nano-materials, they were actually looking at the walls of a Bermuda Cottage.

Imagine the scene – I pulled out the Dewalt, armed it with the biggest, baddest drill-bit I could find, and started prospecting for oil in my walls. It took me longer to drill a hole to hang a picture than it did for the French to dig their side of the Channel Tunnel – and that is saying something. The drill bit became so hot I had to pipe cold beer into the hole to cool it down. Well, OK, most of the beer ended up in the hole known as my mouth, but you get the idea.

But now I have perfected the art of driving holes into that satan-stone, and the walls in my house look like swiss cheese…now I have to find a tool that reverses the process and fills all those holes back in. Let’s hope it is something with a kick-starter…

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Progress. It’s all around us. Every day there is a new gadget or gizmo being thrust upon us.

The best gadgets are definitely on informercials. And I am a sucker for informercials. My recent favourites include the following…

  • Shamwow – it’s a sponge, it’s a chamois, it’s a towel. Like many cleaning products, it’s sold by a man with an accent – which inexplicably is usually English.
  • Peticure – this gadget allows you to painlessly groom your pets nails. Now, if I could get close to my cat’s nails without 1st degree scratches it wuld be a great product. But I can’t, so it’s not.

The problem with both these products is that they are not sold by Billy Mays. Unlike the Handy Switch, which looks like the best next thing since the Tap Light. If Billy is selling it, I am buying. There is something compelling about the sales techniques of the man with the Just For Men beard.

One of the most useless gadgets I have seen recently is the Andis Hair Clipper with LED lights, for those times when you are grooming in the dark…

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It is that time of year again – the time that I get to spend a week on the water racing against overseas crews in Bermuda International Race Week 2008. I am hoping for fantastic competition, great weather and good times with friends old and new.

It also gives me a chance to practice not being clumsy for a week, which is a good opportunity, because I am probably the clumsiest person I know, especially on a boat (although one of our new crew members, codenamed ‘Baby Moose’, is getting pretty close to taking that title).

The action can be followed at the J24 Class Race Week pages.

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