So, there was a tv advert for some odd sounding website called Madbid.com where people pick up crazy bargains, for example, a new car for two or three hundred pounds, £500 cash for £1.83, a Sony PS3 for £0.52, and so it goes on.
Being curious, bored and half-cut as it was New Year’s Day, I decided to investigate to find out what the angle was with these so-called ‘bargains.’ Surely Madbid.com is a scam, right?
Well, no, it isn’t a scam. There really are outrageous bargains to be had if you play it right. Madbid.com is what’s called a ‘penny auction.’ The premise is simple – if your name is the latest bid and the timer runs out you get the goods for whatever total the price has reached, which, if you happen to be the last bid, always results in you being able to purchase the latest gadget, cooking implement or even car for a fraction of its retail price.
So what’s the catch? You have to pay for each and every bid you add to the auction and you have to buy credits in advance, with each credit currently costing £0.33 (without any bulk purchasing discount) and at Madbid.com they are surprisingly efficient at parting you from your money!
The site is something of a cross between a fruit machine and an auction with glitzy, glittering prizes just a few seconds away from falling into your grasp. As auctions progress, if there is no winner, the timer ratchets up the glamour (and need to bid to keep yourself in the auction) by dropping to a lesser amount, for example, an auction that begins with a 1 minute countdown will eventually drop to a 10 second interval.
Some terribly misguided strategies I saw employed by some players became evident when I revisited the site sober (and £60 poorer). There is the ‘bully into submission‘ strategy where the player believes that if they keep their name as the top bid throughout an auction the other players will simply give in as they will ‘know they can’t outbid‘ them. While this may work with ‘tyre-kickers’ who are simply bidding on everything going it will not work against more experienced players who simply sit back and wait for the ‘bully’ to use up all of their own credits before stepping in at the last second to steal the auction.
One unfortunate (stupid?) player I witnessed yesterday went into a head to head with another player employing the same tactic for a Canon digital SLR camera (RRP £799). Aside from the odd tyre-kicker this went on for hours and it was fascinating to watch these two players duel it out. When the price reached around £12.50 (that’s 1,250 bids, each costing three credits) one of the players had obviously run out of credits and dropped out.
Now, consider for a moment just how much this had cost Player-1 (and Player-2). He placed every second bid, each costing a minimum of £0.75 (3 credits). If we round it down to 600 bids that works out at £450!
However, if Player-1 thought he had secured his prize he was sadly mistaken as more and more people began to bid as the hours ticked by. He kept up his ‘bully’ strategy almost the whole time, sometimes going head to head with another player employing the same strategy. The only pause was a few minutes where it appeared, at least to me, that he had to go buy more credits and then it began again. By the end of the auction, Player-1 was still in the game but had dropped to just the odd last-second bid.
If we assume that Madbid.com is scrupulously honest and doesn’t employ autobidding bots to shill the auctions then this one player must have spent in excess of £600 on this one auction before it was eventually won (by someone else) when the price eventually reached an eye-watering £56.50 (ish). I say ‘eye-watering’ because if you tally the bids then that is 5,650 bids at £0.75 per bid minimum = £4,267 for a camera that retails at £799! (actually, Jessops were offering it for sale for a lot less but I digress)
So my advice to you is if you are short of cash and looking for a bargain then Madbid.com is probably not going to help your situation. You can spend a huge amount of money very, very quickly and have absolutely nothing to show for it.
A huge group effort by random strangers on Hampstead Heath, London, helped produce a massive snowball that was eventually pushed down the hill after much protestation from the “safety police”.
Look out for the attempt at “runaway snowball surfing” by one intrepid participant.
Thanks to television and Hollywood movies I have come to the conclusion that;
- Everyone but me can hotwire any vehicle
- Everyone but me drives a car that will keep going after smashing through steel gates and jumping over an open drawbridge
- Everyone but me leaves their spare keys above the sun visor
- Everyone but me can shoot the eyebrows from a fly at 100 metres
- Everyone but me can throw a knife with deadly accuracy
- Everyone but me can snap an opponent’s neck like a twig with a single twist
- Everyone but me can knock out any opponent with a single blow
- Everyone but me hack into the CIA’s computers using nothing except an electronic calculator
- Everyone but me can open any locked door using a credit card or a paperclip
- Everyone but me has a sculpted body, a sixpack and perfectly chiselled features
Although I receive the occasional junk mail offering from time to time the one I received from Satellite Direct UK Ltd got up my nose.
Here’s what they say:
We understand the initial manufacturer’s warranty on your digital satellite (Sky TV) system has now expired and unless you have already taken out extended cover this leaves you open to expensive call out charges and repair costs should anything go wrong!
Really? Gosh! I better empty my pockets of cash and send it to you then. After all, you are affiliated to Sky TV, right? How else would you know I had a Sky digital satellite system and you do mention ‘Sky TV’ 17 times in the main body of your letter and also on the envelope? Well no, not quite.
In miniscule micro-text at the bottom of the junk mail it says;
Satellite Direct UK Ltd and Satcover Ltd are independent companies from Sky and are not authorised or approved by Sky to sell extended service agreements.
I would imagine that’s got something to do with a court decision in December 2006 against a very similarly named company called Satellite Direct Ltd, if it isn’t indeed the same company.
From the Satellite Direct (not Satellite Direct UK ltd) case, the judge stated;
The Court concluded that the period from 2002 to the point when Satellite Direct gave undertakings in a parallel trading standards action involved “habitual or institutional passing off”, such that up to 80% of sales were immediately preceded by passing off.
It looks to me like Herbert Smith who represented Sky in the other court hearing may well have some more work coming his way.
I wonder how many people fall for this rubbish believing it to be a legitimate Sky company? Looks like I’m not the first person to bring this to the internet either, with people complaining they don’t even have a Sky system and others saying their elderly relatives were getting conned by telemarketers.
Genuine Sky Repair Protection Plan
Standard Sky box customers – a year’s protection from just £69
Sky+ customers – a year’s protection costs £99
Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – is the central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls
Mailing Preference Service – is a free service set up 20 years ago and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from or added to lists used by the industry.
Passing off essentially occurs where the reputation of party A is misappropriated by party B, such that party B misrepresents this reputation and damages the goodwill of party A.
I have just read the most fascinating essay by investigative journalist, William Thomas, who claims China, with a genius masterstroke, quietly included the ability to remotely overide all of the microchips that have been outsourced to production facilities within its control. ‘Intel inside’ might have a completely new meaning, lol!
It sounds like something from a James Bond movie but it also has the ring of ‘I wish I’d thought of it because it’s genius and makes perfect sense!” After all, Chinese military strategy has for thousands of years sought to use an opponent’s strength against them and what better way to use it than to include a small trojan-type overide system into every Western-outsourced microprocessor?
As early as 2003, China was being hailed as the next Microprocessor Giant and had then (2003), since 1991, built 53 new high-technology industrial centers and witnessed over 22 billion dollars worth of new tech trade.
William Thomas claims that the August event where a B 52 bomber flew with six fully armed and primed nuclear cruise missiles hanging from its wings, apparently without anyone noticing until the following day (cough, bullsh*t, cough), was a demonstration of Chinese ability to gain control of virtually any electronic system employed by the US, intended to send a stark warning to an increasingly warmongering America that it doesn’t have the free reign it once thought it had to rampage at will.
I was shifting some turf I had stacked upside down last year to decompose when I spotted some shiny black eggs I’d never seen before. Rooting around some more I found a New Zealand flatworm. I’ve never seen one before so I was somewhat mystified as to what it was until I remembered reading about the NZ flatworm.
“The egg capsules are shiny, flexible and cherry red in colour at first and later darken to black after several days. After an unknown incubation period, several pale, tiny flatworms hatch out of the brittle capsule.”
These invading species (Arthurdendyus triangulatus) were first noted in Northern Ireland and the western parts of Scotland in the early 1960s and have steadily spread ever since.
Apparently, when an earthworm is located, the flatworm covers it with digestive juices. This dissolves the earthworm which is then sucked up by the predator. Estimates suggest that flatworms consume one or two earthworms per week. When its food supply has been virtually exhausted, a flatworm will shrink and wait until there are sufficient earthworms for feeding to restart. This waiting time can be as long as 12-24 months. It is not yet clear whether flatworms will move long distances to alternative feeding sites.
Great gardening information site with lots of pics and info on loads of pests, diseases and garden friends – Down Garden Services
Bao Xishun was recently married in a traditional ceremony to a 28-year-old saleswoman from his hometown. At 5ft 6″ Xia Shujian only comes up to his elbow and is half his age. Mr Xishun is officially the world’s tallest man, listed in the Guinness Book of Records at a towering 2.361 metres (7 ft 8.95 in).
Mr Pingping who stands just 73 centimeters (28.7 inches) hopes also to feature in the Guinness Book of Records as officially the world’s shortest man although he may be disappointed as the record is currently held by Lin Yih-Chih, who stands a mere 67.5 cm (26.6 inches).
Dead Wrestlers and Pro Wrestler’s Deaths
Last updated: December 2009
Edward “Eddie” Fatu – died of a heart attack on December 4th 2009
Andrew “Test” Martin – breaking news that ‘Test’ has been found dead on March 13, 2009 at just 33 years of age, only a few days short of his 34th birthday.
Martin’s last stint in the WWE lasted from 2006-2007 but saw him (and others) leave under a cloud after falling foul of the company’s Wellness Policy. Early reports are sketchy and speculative but some are attributing his early death as a result of steroid abuse. More to follow.
Update: Andrew ‘Test’ Martin died from an accidental drug overdose.
Chris Benoit is the latest in a long line of pro wrestlers to meet an untimely demise. That he murdered his wife, Nancy Benoit, and their seven year old son (said to suffer from Fragile-X syndrome) only adds to the pro-wrestling premature-death body count.
Below is a list of dead wrestlers who have died or been killed before the age of 60.
List of dead wrestlers who have died or been killed before the age of 60.
Famous Wrestlers Who Have Died Before the Age of 60 (Since 1985) – Updated August 2010
Adrian Adonis (Keith Franke) – 34 (car accident)
Andre the Giant (André Roussimoff) – 46 (congestive heart failure)
Andrew ‘Test’ Martin – 33 (accidental drug overdose).
Art Barr – 28 (unknown)
Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Charles Bigelow) – 45 (drug toxicity)
Bertha Faye (Rhonda Singh) – 40 (drug overdose)
Big Boss Man (Raymond W. Traylor, Jr.) – 42 (heart attack)
Big Dick Dudley (Alex Rizzo) – 34 (kidney failure)
Big John Studd (John William Minton) – 46 (liver cancer)
Billy Joe Travis (William Joseph) – 40 (heart attack)
Bobby Duncum Jr. – 34 (drug overdose)
Brady Boone (Dean R. Peters) – 40 (car accident)
Brian Adams – 44 (inconclusive, possible prescription med overdose)
Brian Pillman (Flyin’ Brian) – 35 (arteriosclerotic heart disease)
Bruiser Brody (Frank Goodish) – 42 (stabbed to death)
Bulldog Brown (Robert Brown) – 58 (heart attack)
Buzz Sawyer (Bruce Woyan) – 32 (heart attack)
Chase Tatum – 34 (accidental drug overdose)
Chris Adams – 46 (shot)
Chris Benoit – 40 (suicide – hanging)
Chris Candido – 33 (blood clot)
Chris Von Erich (Chris Adkisson) – 21 (suicide – shooting)
Crash Holly (Mike Lockwood) – 32 (overdose)
Curt Hennig – 44 (cocaine intoxication)
D.J. Peterson – 33 (motorcycle crash)
Davey Boy Smith (The British Bulldog) – 39 (heart attack)
Dave Sheldon (“Angel of Death”) – 52 (Unknown)
Dick Murdoch – 49 (heart attack)
Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) – 44 (murdered)
Dr. Jerry Graham – 58 (stroke)
Earthquake (John Tenta) – 42 (bladder cancer)
Ed Gatner – 31
Eddie Gilbert – 33 (heart attack)
Eddie Graham (Edward Gossett) – 55 (suicide – shooting)
Eddie Guerrero – 38 (acute heart failure)
Gary Albright – 34 (heart failure – in the ring)
Gene Anderson – 58 (heart attack)
Gino Hernandez (Charles Wolfe) – 29 (officially, a cocaine overdose although initially thought murdered)
Greg Gillies (“Mr Gillis,” “Doby Gillis”) – 44 (Heart Attack)
Hawk (Michael Hegstrand) – 46 (heart attack)
Haystacks Calhoun (William Calhoun) – 55 (diabetes)
Hercules (Raymond Fernandez) – 45 (heart disease)
Jay Youngblood (Steven Romero) – 30 (ruptured spleen)
Jeep Swenson (Robert Swenson, Jr.) – 40 (heart failure)
Jerry Blackwell – 45 (Pneumonia)
Joey Marella – 30 (car crash)
John Kronus (George B. Caiazzo) – 38 (heart failure)
Johnny Grunge (Michael “Mike” Durham) – 39 (sleep apnoea complications)
Juan Manuel Rodriguez (Bestia Salvaje) – 46 (liver failure)
Jumbo Tsuruta (Tomomi Tsuruta) – 49 (kidney transplant surgery complications)
Junkyard Dog (Sylvester Ritter) – 45 (car accident)
Ken Timbs – 53 (cardiomyopathy / heart failure)
Kerry Von Erich (Kerry Gene Adkisson) – 33 (suicide)
Larry Cameron – 41 (heart attack)
Lance Cade (Lance Kurtis McNaught) – 29 (Heart Failure)
Leroy Brown (Roland Daniels) – 38 (heart attack)
Louie Spiccoli – 27 (choked on his own vomit)
Luna Vachon (Gertrude Angelle Vachon) – 48 (not yet known)
Marianna Komlos – 35 (breast cancer)
Mark Curtis (Brian Curtis Hildebrand) – 38 (stomach and bowel cancer)
Mike Awesome (Michael Lee Alfonso) – 42 (probable suicide – hanging)
Mike Davis – 46 (heart attack)
Mike Von Erich (Michael Brent Adkisson) – 23 (suicide – overdose)
Miss Elizabeth (Elizabeth Ann Hulette) – 42 (accidental overdose)
Moondog King (Ed “Sailor” White) – 56
Moondog Spot (Larry Booker) – 51 (heart attack in the ring)
Nancy Benoit (Woman) – 43 (murdered by her pro-wrestling husband, Chris Benoit)
Owen Hart – 33 (died of blunt chest trauma after WWF stunt went badly wrong)
Pez Whatley – 54 (heart attack)
Pitbull #2 (Anthony Durante) – 36 (drug overdose)
Randy Anderson – 41 (cancer)
Ray Candy – 43 (heart attack)
Rick McGraw – 30 (heart attack)
Rick Rude (Richard Erwin Rood) – 41 (heart failure from ‘mixed medications’)
Rocco Rock (Theodore James Petty) – 49 (heart attack)
Sherri Martel (Sherri Schrull) – 49 (accidental drug overdose)
Tarzan Tyler (Camille Tourville) – 55 (car accident)
Terry Gordy – 40 (blood clot induced heart attack)
The Renegade (Richard C. Williams) – 33 (suicide – shooting)
The Spoiler (Don Jardine) – 56 (heart attack / leukaemia)
The Wall / Malice (Jerry Tuite) – 36 (heart attack)
Tony Parisi (Antonio Pugliese) – 58 (heart attack)
Umaga (Edward “Eddie” Fatu) – 36 (heart attack)
Uncle Elmer (Stan Frazier) – 54 (diabetes)
Vivian Vachon – 40 (road accident)
Yokozuna (Rodney Agatupu Anoa’i) – 34 (heart attack)
Do you have a skyscraper you need taking down?
A car engine that needs melting?
Perhaps you just don’t like your frying pan?
Now the revolutionary new way to deal with those pesky problems. Thermite!
The chief aircraft engineer leaned towards me in and in a hushed tone said, “Don’t fly on budget airlines. They’re not safe.”
Since I’m not going to give specific details about the who’s, what’s, and where’s, don’t expect any major revelations in this blog aside from that one. Believe it or don’t.
Having made that point clear, let’s get back to the conversation…
“Why, what’s wrong with them?” was my obvious question.
“They’re not f***ing safe! Where do you think they save the money so they can fly you from this country to Rome or Athens for £25 return? How can an airline turn a profit selling seats at that price? They can’t! It’s as simple as that. You can’t drive from here to the f***ing airport for £25.” he elaborated. “Think about it.”
“So what you are saying is that budget airlines save money on aircraft maintenance by cutting corners?”
“Cutting corners is an understatement! They give the work to some offshore company that’s prepared to rubberstamp the paperwork. The work isn’t being done, simple as that. A twelve week maintenance task is being ‘done’ in six weeks. That’s the thing – it cannot be done in six weeks. It takes twelve weeks to do the work. I’ve been in the business for thirty years and there is no f***ing way those jobs can be done in that time. Not to standard.
The planes get dropped off at [named place] (a maintenance area). It’s a f***ing junkyard. Half the time the work that does get done isn’t even being done in a hangar for f***sake! It’s done outside, exposed to the elements. Every component is a precision piece of equipment and those bastards are working on them outside in the rain.”
After a long conversation the chief aircraft engineer had one final piece of advice – “only use the big, proper, airlines like British Airways or Swiss Air. They are well maintained and are done to high standards. It’s only a matter of time before another one of those budget aeroplanes drops out the sky. Don’t use them.”
How to predict your summer weather?
Obviously it isn’t an exact science predicting the weather – check out any weather site – WeatherOnline.co.uk is the best I’ve come across (it has loads of weather information from virtually every weather service on the planet) – and you will find lots of different forecasts giving lots of predictions. Seldom is one prediction from one service the same as another’s!
So how do you go about predicting what type of summer you will have in your local area?
The answer is in the leaves. Not tea-leaves, the gypsy fortune-telling method but rather the leaves of the plants in your own garden.
Here’s the method.
Find a plant in your garden that is evergreen. If you know what size of leaf a deciduous plant normally has, you can use that instead but for now let’s stick to plants that keep their leaves all year round.
Here’s a snap of a pyracantha, a thorny evergreen shrub, in my garden showing new growth.
So how does this tell what the summer will be like?
Simple, really. It’s all to do with the size of the new leaves. The bigger the new leaves, the better the summer will be.
Here’s a comparison shot of a new leaf that has grown this year and an older leaf from several years back.
Note the huge difference is leaf dimensions. The one on the right is a new leaf that has grown this year.
The huge leaf means the summer will generally be a hot, dry one, locally, where I live in Scotland.