Friday 24 February 2012

Dishwasher Etiquette

A dishwasher changed my life.

People who owned dishwashers predicted this and I didn’t believe them – until I moved into a house that had one. Until that day, I lived in modern new houses where the kitchen was barely large enough to swing a saucepan around.

When modern architects are looking at houses that can accommodate people with my salary, they think:

“Ah – they won’t need too much kitchen space – let’s make it just about big enough for a family of four cats.”

These people don’t live in the real world. How can you cook in a kitchen that’s so small you end up smashing your elbows on the walls and preparing the food on the floor?

But I digress.

Suffice it to say that until 1998 all of the houses that I lived in had tiny kitchens; there was quite literally no room for a dishwasher – let’s face it, there was barely enough room for one human being.

And then I moved into a house with a bigger kitchen – and a dishwasher.

And I have barely ever looked back.

These machines are magnificent and very easy to use.

Nevertheless, I think that some people have some strange ideas about exactly how to use them.

For example, I have never understood why people insist on washing dishes BEFORE they put them into the dishwasher. In fact, guests in my house have actually said to me:

“What are you doing? You need to rinse the plates before you put them in the dishwasher.”

Correct me if I’m wrong dear reader, but I think that is stupid. If you are going to rinse everything you pop into a dishwasher, you may as well wash them up and not bother having one.

The dishwasher cleans plates with detergent and water blasted at them at temperatures of up to 75 °C. How is rinsing going to make a difference? My dishwasher has removed all the paint from several mugs and pint pots over the years so I know that it is quite capable of removing the dried remnants of food from plates.

The problem is that people have weird ideas about dishwasher etiquette.

For example, I’ve been to a house where the owners have allowed their pets to climb into the dishwasher and lick the plates.

Apologies if you do this, dear reader; but it just doesn’t seem right to me. I know the dishwasher will blast all traces of dog and cat saliva from the crockery but there are some places that animals aren’t meant to go - and inside a dishwasher is one of them.

Other people insist on loading the cutlery in a certain position with knives sticking out dangerously. I just dump them in, in the safest position. The dishwasher will clean them just as well.

I have had some problems though – some due to my own stupidity.

The twirly water blasters can be a source of frustration if, for some reason, something slips when you close the dishwasher and blocks the motion of the rotation.

On the model I have, the little tablet container, that is supposed to release the dishwasher tablet when the water blasters are at their highest velocity, sometimes gets stuck and the dishes aren’t cleaned properly.

I do take risks as well. I close the door and push the start button only to spot a fork or plate that I missed. I have a few seconds when I know that I can open the door and the dishwasher will stop – but if I mistime it (as I often do), I open the door and get a face full of water.

Has that ever happened to you or have I just humiliated myself again?

One source of contention amongst dishwasher owners is:

Who's turn is it to load and unload the dishwasher?

Mrs PM and I have an agreement when it comes to loading and unloading the dishwasher, Well, when I say “Mrs PM and I have an agreement” I really mean that Mrs PM has come up with a plan that I have to follow – or her fury will know no bounds.

I’m kidding of course.

Mrs PM’s orders are:

Whoever cooks dinner doesn’t have to load and unload the dishwasher.

I have a problem with this because I hate cooking – and I hate loading and unloading the dishwasher.

If I had my way, Mrs PM would cook AND be the dishwasher handler.

Sadly, she threatens to set Liqourice the hellcat on me so I have to comply.

When it’s my turn to cook, I tidy up as much as I can so that my dearest lady only has to unload and reload the dishwasher. I even take the saucepans over to the sink so that she doesn’t have to carry them.

Sadly, she doesn’t follow my example.

When Mrs PM has cooked, the kitchen looks like an explosion in a food factory. There are vegetable peelings all over the place, the saucepans are scattered to the four winds and I spend the first five minutes staring in disbelief, amazed at how she could of made such a mess in such a small amount of time.

When I return, having spent approximately four hours cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, she asks

“What took you so long?”

I am so enraged, I get the yips:

“The k…k..k..kitch…kitchen looked as if a nuclear war…war…warhead had been det…det…detonated in there. WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU DOING IN THERE? COOKING THE FOOD WITH NAPALM???? WHY DID YOU LEAVE SUCH A MESS????”

“I cook – you wash up,” she says as if I am a gibbering imbecile.


“But nothing! That’s the agreement. Liquorice – FETCH!!”

And at that point I give in and sit down stewing in my own juice, watching the hellcat who is looking for any excuse to rip my face off.

Actually, that is a bit of an exaggeration – Mrs PM doesn’t set the hellcat on me really.

I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this, if she did.

Saturday 18 February 2012

The Art Of Bullshit

Welcome the best weblog in the world. If you are new here, where have you been?
Never mind, you are here now and I guarantee you a rollercoaster ride through the very nature of existence.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll never be so high.

The Plastic Mancunian will clarify the very essence of life and transform the course of your continued existence into an enhanced, extraordinary and exceptional paradigm of precision and pleasure.

I can do that for you.

What a load of old codswallop that was. I am not very good at spouting bullshit as you can tell, which is why I don’t work in marketing .

If I did, I would be sacked for driving people away from the product I was trying to sell.

I work in IT and often receive emails from various software companies using catchy slogans and false promises in order to grab my attention. There are stock phrases and words that crop up repeatedly using expressions conceived in other disciplines – like motor racing for example.

If you sit and watch a motor race, marvelling at the speed of cars as they race around the track it is possible to enter bullshit mode and immediately think of catchphrases based on what you are seeing, that you can apply to even the most mundane garbage.

Here’s another thing I could cough up, like an annoying extra sticky piece of sputum, to make this blog seem worthy of your attention, based solely on racing:

The Plastic Mancunian accelerates your entertainment to new levels, fuelled by sharp, cutting humour that leaves all others behind in the race for excellence.

Does it bollocks! All this blog really contains is the inane ramblings of a grumpy old fool.

We could try X Factor references. How about this?

The winning blog, The Plastic Mancunian, will lead you on a journey to fulfilment, leaving you wanted more. It is so relevant that you must take the risk; it will pay off. I can guarantee this, one million per cent.

Or how about from music adverts or reviews?

The Plastic Mancunian writes from his very soul, leading you into a world of pure ecstasy that will leave you gasping. It is the most poignant and moving masterpiece and guarantees to make your heart weep and plead for more.

More horseshit!!

Clearly I haven’t mastered the art of bullshit. But what amazes me is that we are all seduced by such crap – me included.

I am very cynical and yet I might consider a software product that offers to “accelerate my innovative success” or will “take conceived technological miracles and make them reality” over something that just does the job I want.

No more.

I am fed up of people sugar-coating crap in order to sell it to me or make me buy it in preference to another piece of crap that has a slightly less annoying slogan.

I may not be able to master the art of bullshit but I can certainly recognise it.

That’s why you won’t see any on this blog.

Instead, it will provide a fast-track to a celestial plane of innovation and intelligence.

And that’s the honest truth.

Monday 13 February 2012

Random Lyrics

Another day, another stolen idea.

I’d like to apologise and thank Pandora (at Pandora Queen of Denial for sewing the seed with her Random Lyrics post.

I have in my possession an mp3 jukebox jammed full of songs, mostly rock and heavy metal. And in that collection there are some moving, funny and thought-provoking lyrics – even from the heavy metal section.

So without further ado, here are five sets of lyrics from five rock maestros:

Alice Cooper – It’s The Little Things

You can burn my house
You can cut my hair
You can make me wrestle naked with a grizzly bear
You can poison my cat, baby, I don’t care
But if you talk in the movies I’ll kill you right there.

Now I fully understand how Alice feels when he sings this song. To me, the basic message is, there is only so much shit you can take and while you may cope with the horrible things that life throws at you, it might just be the little things that push you over the edge and make you explode with rage. I know that I have a tendency sometimes to bottle things up.

In the past, I have allowed the pressure to reach boiling point and then flown into a rage when confronted by something simple, like, say a piece of cat shit on the carpet. The good thing is that I think I can let off steam a little better these days – I’ve mellowed considerably with age. Nevertheless, tiny little things can sometimes irritate the hell out of me.

That’s what my soapbox is for.

It is a pressure cooker outlet valve.

Def Leppard – From The Inside

So you play the joker and I’ll play the clown
And I’ll laugh while you’re up there and I’ll laugh while you’re down.
Though your screams break the silence, they won’t make a sound.

I love this song.

It is about drug addiction but from the point of the drug itself.

My drug of choice is alcohol and I certainly relate to how alcohol may react to the full cycle of getting drunk and then paying the price. A drunken night out starts off happily enough, with the alcohol loosening those tight strings that harness the extrovert that exists in all of us.

And as the extrovert escapes, all inhibitions are lost and end up having a wonderful time – in your own eyes of course. If you go over the top, you see yourself as an indestructible force that everybody else loves.

The alcohol must see you as a buffoon and laughs because it knows what’s coming. It’s almost like selling your soul to the devil.

Ultimately you pay the price and as you wake up with a hangover, an unknown assailant battering your head with a hammer as your stomach rebels and makes you throw up air, you can imagine the alcohol laughing at you.

And nobody else cares – you brought it all on yourself.

Metallica - The Unforgiven III

How can I be lost, if I’ve got nowhere to go?

I’ve been in a bad place; I guess everybody has at some time or another.

Your life seems to have no direction and you are at your wit’s end.

It takes something to haul you out of that bad place – a loved one, a steely determination that lies deep within yourself.

I’ve managed throughout my life to somehow find something to cling onto when I am lost – so I have always had somewhere to go.

I still have.

Rush – Witch Hunt

Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand. 
Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand.

Of course – there had to a song from Rush, my favourite band.

The thing I like about Rush is that most of their songs have amazing lyrics.

And this one is all about prejudice. The basic message is that some people are terrified of things that they don’t understand and lash out rather than trying to overcome that barrier. I’ve always been tolerant of differences between people. The human race is a marvel and rather than blaming other cultures and for the ills of the world, we ought to try to embrace those differences. This is one of the primary reasons I love travelling; to immerse myself in a new country and its customs. I may not always like what I see but that’s no reason to hate people for it.

We are all different – why not enjoy those differences?

Nine Inch Nails - Every Day Is Exactly The Same

I believe I can see the future, cos I repeat the same routine.

We’ve all been there, living a life that seems to be like a scratched record, repeating itself over and over again. Work is like that for me sometimes; I go to work on Monday, feeling pissed off because I still have five days of frustration to go and gradually as the week reaches its peak on Wednesday lunchtime, I start to feel better. It’s like climbing a mountain and then launching yourself off it towards the weekend when you can relax for a couple of days – before Monday morning blues slap you in the face again.

The good news is that although there are tedious aspects to my mundane work life, I do occasionally find the work interesting and the prospect of a trip abroad keeps me interested enough to cope.

But I would dearly love to break the cycle and just escape; one day it will happen. I can see the future – and the future looks good.

Well, that’s it. Thanks to Pandora for the idea. I might do this again in the future.

I have provided links so you can listen to the songs; of all of them, the Def Leppard and Metallica songs will surprise you as they are uncharacteristically mellow songs that do not conform to the stereotype.

Have a listen – and tell me what you think.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Spending a Penny

Today I did something that I do quite a few times a day.

I went to the toilet.

Yes – this is another post about toilets – I am not obsessed, honestly.

If you are in anyway offended by toilet talk – please stop reading.

For the rest of you …

I was chatting to my work colleague and he was explaining something to me and it looked like it was going to take a while. And my body was urging me to go to the loo.

So I interrupted him and said:

“I’m just off to answer a call of nature.”

And while I was answering that call, I started thinking about some of the bizarre euphemisms people use when they explain that they are off to the loo.

Yes - I am THAT weird!

I know that you are curious, dear reader, so I have done some research on your behalf. I used your name – I hope you don’t mind.

Here are some common euphemisms that tickled my interest and some that people have said to me.

I need …

… to spend a penny.

... to answer a call of nature.

... to visit George. (This was used by W’s father and I honestly thought for a while that he was going out to visit a friend. Yes I am THAT stupid sometimes.).

... a Jimmy Riddle.

... a pit stop.

... a comfort break.

... to see a man about a dog.

… to point Percie at the porcelain.

… to water the trees.

… to water the tulips.

… to shake hands with an old friend.

... to see a man about a horse.

… to free Willy.

… a tinkle.

… to take a leak.

… to powder my nose.

... to water the porcelain.

... to siphon the python.

... a squirt.

… a slash.

… a whizzle.

I think my favourite was said by eldest lad when he was about six.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“I’m going for a short one, he replied.

It took me a few seconds to work out what he meant – a short one as opposed to a long one.

I wonder who taught him that one?

It wasn’t me.

Do you know any strange or funny euphemisms, dear reader?

I'll bet you do.

Saturday 4 February 2012

The Scapegoat

There is a saying: “to err is human; to forgive, divine”.

Most of us are not divine, hence the reason why there is not a lot of forgiveness in the world.

A manager I worked for quite a few years ago, used to insist that the work environment was “not a blame culture”.

But it is, and it always will be.

I actually used that quote to the manager in question.

She said “It’s YOUR fault, Dave.”

And I said “Yes – it is. I made a mistake. To err is human; to forgive, divine. So if you forgive me, that makes you a Goddess!”

I think she thought I was flirting with her (I probably was – apparently I do this quite a lot: read about it here ).

Make a mistake and you will be pounced upon and blamed. You will be a scapegoat, depending, of course, on the nature of the mistake.

I have watched this happen repeatedly within the working environment for all of my working life and the hypocrisy and arrogance that walks hand in hand with finding a scapegoat is breathtakingly obvious to me – yet, unbelievably, missed by a lot of people.

We see it every day in the news and in life.

People are unwilling to admit to making mistakes.

Let me start a trend here:

I make mistakes.

I have always made mistakes.

I will continue to make mistakes.


It is not because I am crap at everything I do.

It is not because I am a useless good-for-nothing buffoon.

It is not because I am stupid.

It is not because I am careless.

It is because I am a human being.

Everybody makes mistakes, even those who claim not to make mistakes and see themselves as perfect human beings.

These people are not perfect – they are arrogant and deluded.

We strive for perfection these days. When I was a young man, we seemed to be able to cope with people failing at something. These days it is totally different – particularly in business.

I’ve joked about the overuse of the word “excellence” before (read about it here ) but the essence of that post is serious.

We have to appear to be flawless in every aspect of our work, these days. Whatever you do, it has to be perfect. If something goes wrong then the hunt begins; the hunt for the scapegoat.

I’ve seen this many times and not just in my line of business. The best example is “The Apprentice” where the hunt for scapegoat is played out in front of an audience who love the smell of blood. The difference here is that the victims will never, ever admit to the so-called mistake that led to failure.

Why? Because they think they are perfect; they think that they are divine.

They are not – they are human, with all of the flaws that entails. This clip sums up exactly what I mean:

It illustrates how people claim to be better than they are and use the term “idiot” when referring to mistakes that they themselves invariably make.

By this standard, I am an idiot.

But I know different – I am human.

I make mistakes.

Everybody does, including you, dear reader. Sorry for that bombshell – but it’s true.

Ultimately, the global culture now seems to be driven by this striving for excellence and if you cannot convince people that you truly are excellent then you are made a scapegoat and seen as a failure.

I think that it is about time things changed.

If people admit, to me, that they made a mistake I am much more likely to think better of them than if they deny it or blame it on somebody else.

Ultimately, this is why I like “The Apprentice” because it takes a bunch of people who think that they are excellent, think that they never make mistakes and are exposed as being just as flawed as the rest of us mere mortals.

What I will say is this; if you make mistakes, and admit them, then you are, in my view, a much better person than somebody who will sit there and watch others take the blame for their mistakes.

Sadly, I don’t have anybody to blame for this blog post and if there are mistakes in it then they are all my fault.

But of course their wil bee no missteaks at hall. Why? Becos I am NOT youman – I am deevine.

Or maybe I'm just a scapegoat.