Ice turns small roof leaks into monster holes!

Remember in your early years of science class when you learned that water expands when it turns to ice?

It’s still true!

On flat or low sloped roofs, especially, ice will open existing holes or voids so that they can really leak into your building.

If there is the slightest gap between your layers of roof membrane, water can enter these areas. As that water freezes, it expands, therefore opening the small gap into a larger gap. Many good roofs leak after an ice event. Don’t worry, it can be repaired.

Ice and cold weather can also cause your flat roof products to contract. This may cause the two parts to separate which will usually result in a leak. If the roof was properly installed this should not happen, but remember the roof was put on by humans and human error will always be a factor.

On steep sloped roof, ice can cause damming. This is where the ice builds up on the roof so that the melting water is caught, like a dam.

Since steep sloped roofs are not water proofers the water will enter in between the shingles and cause a leak. This typically occurs at the bottom of a valley where leaves and debris have built up or at the eves where it is colder and ice can form quickly. To totally avoid it, you may want to use a gutter brush or another gutter cleaning tool.

On standing seam metal roofs the ice can build up over the seam and find an entry point at the seam. This is not a common occurance but it can happen. Since metal expands and contracts a great deal the seams of the roof could be separated more than usual under the ice.

The biggest hazard with ice on standing seam meal roofs in the South is that we do not typically design them for ice melting conditions. When a big sheet of ice finally melts and starts to slide off the roof it comes off in long spears. Some can be quite heavy and sharp. The ice will be moving swiftly and can cause major damage when it hits something or somebody.

Enjoy the little bit of ice and snow we get in our typically warm Winters. We don’t get that experience often. But remember, we build for the heat here in Texas and cold weather can cause some unexpected problems.


Would you let him take care of birth control in the name of equal opportunity?

I can think of any number of women I know who will scream “It’s about bloody time” when you confidently tell them that this time – the male contraceptive that is proving to be as good as the pill in preventing pregnancy is just round the corner – literally.

There’s been a number of hoaxes and false starts over the years, but scientists are apparently confident (like a scientist will ever admit that their experiment or project is a waste of space and doomed for failure) that within 5 years, the male contraceptive jab that they have been testing will be ready to give women a break from the responsibility of taking care of birth control.

In the latest study of more than 1,000 men, just over one in 100 conceived a child, similar figures to the 1 or 2 per cent of women who become pregnant while taking oral contraception.

However, like with most studies in the past, the biggest stumbling block isn’t the medical aspects that will actually stop the sperm in its tracks…apparently, the biggest stumbling block is whether women will sufficiently trust their men to be exclusively responsible for the use of hormonal contraception.

I guess we as men don’t exactly give ourselves the best fighting chance when it comes to some issues. I remember one regular punter down my local pub lamenting that she can never trust men – and her reason was simple, the last time she trusted a man, she ended up with a daughter. I mean, who can argue with her position in such a case….

The testosterone injection, which could be on the market in five years, was tested on a group of healthy fertile men aged 20 to 45, each of whom had fathered at least one child in the previous two years. Female partners were aged between 18 and 38 and had no reproductive problems.

Lead researcher Dr Yi-Qun Gu said: ”For couples who cannot, or prefer not to use only female-oriented contraception, options have been limited to vasectomy, condom and withdrawal. Our study shows a male hormonal contraceptive regimen may be a potential, novel and workable alternative.”

You know what, I really admire men who claim to be strong enough to use coitus interruptus as a birth control method.

That’s right! I’m a weak man…LOL! There’s some things that I find difficult and one of them is withdrawing from an impending ejaculation. That’s just crazy. A herd of wild buffalo pulling me away at such a critical stage of coitus would have a job on their hands.

In the latest trial on a jab, the men were given monthly 500 milligram injections of testosterone undecanoate in tea seed oil over a period of two and a half years.

The men’s fertility returned to normal in all but two participants after the treatment was stopped.

Scary though to know that you might not get your mojo back – but seriously, I’ll sign up to use it if it’s on the market, if only to give ‘er indoors a breather.

Results from the Chinese trial, the largest effectiveness study of a testosterone-based male contraceptive ever undertaken, will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The study, which was backed by the World Health Organisation, used buttock injections, alternating sides with each jab.

There were no serious side effects caused by the testosterone injections, although severe acne affected some volunteers.

However, almost one third of 1,045 men enrolled in the trial did not complete it and no reason was provided for this.

Heelllloooo!!! Did someone check the local morgue???


Baptism by Fire- Part II

The other night I was watching an episode of NCIS on TV, which was uncharacteristically eerie and was full of scenes from a funeral home, corpses cut up into meat puzzles, and teeth removed from someone alive to be superglued into a burnt out corpse to give the impression that someone was dead – and could then be falsely identified as dead through the dental records matched to the corpse.

I like NCIS because Mark Harmon who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs is one of my favorite actors. I like his ice cold demeanor and very dry sense of humor and the ruthless way he manages his navy cops. In this particular episode, they were trying to stop a fucked up family of morticians from draining the blood out of the NCIS medical examiner before mutilating his body in a spiteful and vengeful attack.

For one brief moment, I entertained the thought of putting my bank manager through that experience. I rationalized my thoughts by accepting that some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill – but my thoughts were possibly more sinister.

I didn’t want her to die or anything, just figured that maybe changing her blood would give her a warmer personality and reasoning capacity. So far in my interactions with her, her personality ranked somewhere between that of an asparagus and a fence post, but I was determined not to let her break me down.

I removed the thought of enacting the gory scene from NCIS least because I probably wouldn’t give her a blood transfusion, but pump her body with formalin instead.

I’m reliably told that a small matter of law suggests that to be on the right side of the criminal justice system, someone needs to be certified as dead first (preferably by a coroner) before an infusion of formalin into their bloodless body.

Injecting formalin into someone still alive constitutes an act of unlawful killing, though the argument as to whether this is murder or manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to a mental disease or defect is a matter for litigation.

In the last few weeks, I’ve actually done something beneficial from a reflective point of view. Granted, I’ve been forced into it kicking and screaming. I guess through my naivety about the actual scale and impact of this economic crisis I didn’t take on board how easily decisions outside my control would affect things within my control. Short of moving banks, which isn’t as straight forward as they say it is on the adverts on TV, I was stuck with Ms. Bitch here – and frankly speaking, I didn’t at the time of our first meeting, and still have not yet seen how she and I will ever get along.

Our love-hate relationship took a dramatic turn when she suggested that we needed to re-look at my business model.

“Mr. Stone, I accept that you have had a certain kind of relationship with this bank, but you need to accept that things have changed. It’s very naive of you to think that your business isn’t affected”.

There were two things wrong with this picture for me.

First of all, I felt like I was back in high school and in the headmistress’ office being bitch-slapped for a misdemeanor like stealing food from the school dining room over the weekend.

Secondly, not withstanding that I didn’t recall appointing Ms. Bitch here as a director of the business, she was practically dictating strategy to me. I lost the plot when she even had the audacity to suggest that I had been reckless in one or two aspects of how I had run things.

I had to storm out of the room to stop myself getting arrested for assault or a public order offense. How dare she….! Reckless! My entire black ass. This coming from a bank whose directors had just been publicly indicted for casino capitalism that brought the bank to its knees and forced them to come to the public cap-in-hand to bail them out. These fuckers wouldn’t know the Berlin wall came down if it hit them on the way down – talking to me about being reckless…Sheesh!

Being reckless is having a one night stand after a heavy night of drinking, waking up in some strange woman’s house and because you’re still hazed from the alcohol fumes invading your red blood cells, you mistake a tube of Canestan for a tube of toothpaste in your haste to freshen up and get the hell out of there. All you can remember is Ms. One night stand saying “the spare toothbrush is in the cupboard under the sink” and your impaired fucked up self automatically assumes that the tube to the left must be a foreign brand of toothpaste from Lidl or something – coz’ you’ve probably never seen it at Tesco or Asda.

As I stepped out of the building, I found a chap who was actually lighting a new cigarette from the nearly finished one in his other hand. As a former smoker, I know that sign…its unmistakable. This guy was stressed. Stressed enough even not to realize he could have used a lighter to flame up the second coffin nail. So naturally, I struck up a conversation with him, and coincidentally, he had just finished a first meeting with Ms. Bitch who also turned out to be his bank manager.

Jerry (*clearly not his real name*) as I came to understand, was in a much tighter spot than I was. Actually, that’s an understatement. Jerry’s shit was falling apart, and the bank were threatening to withdraw support. You know, it wasn’t until that point, that the reality of what it can feel like for a business to go bust started staring me in the face.

You could see it in Jerry. You could see it in his demeanour, you could hear it in his husky voice and you could tell from how pale he was. It was like he had just had an audience with Lucifer himself and he had been through the undesirable experience of staring at the whites of the devils eyes. Jerry was shit scared.

We went to Starbucks down the road and got chatting and got to know each other.

Jerry’s security company was most definitely going down because of cash flow problems – his overdraft had been yanked from him without enough notice. Both he and his wife were doing additional jobs at evenings and weekends – him driving a taxi and she cleaning – to make ends meet. His meeting with Ms. Bitch was pretty much a formality in confirming to him that his security business was going bust.

Did I just storm out of a meeting with the devil???


Things that really make you go Hmmm!

Gone are the days when parents lambast their kids for watching too much telly or standing too close to the TV – citing reasons like “the TV rays will mess your eyes up” or “too much TV will stunt your growth”. No no! Wafer thin plasma TV’s and flat screen varieties that don’t emit funny rays like the old school type that are too heavy and give burglars hernias during transit are in fashion.

But they too come with their own mortal dangers.

Of late, there’s a growing trend in the UK (or maybe not just out here) of flat screen TV’s mounted on walls or on shelving jumping out at little 2 or 3 year old toddlers and killing them instantly. A parent’s worst nightmare is their child falling from the top of the stairs or God forbid, running innocently onto the road when playing. But I doubt there’s folks out there who occasionally remind themselves “I must do something about that telly on the wall – it’s going to fly out of the wall one day and injure someone – let me make a note of that”.

Considering 4 toddlers have died this year by TV’s jumping out of the wall and crushing them, it’s only a matter of time before ‘elf and safety Mafioso insist that TV manufacturers carry warnings on them – “WARNING! This device is capable of killing unsuspecting toddlers – Suitable for children over 6 years of age”.

On other matters, economic hardships bring out the darker no-nonsense side of tax payers who hawkishly watch how their government is using their hard earned “tak money”, as folks from the deep south of the US of A would say.

The British government have decided to outsource their prison services by building a £1 million prison in Nigeria for the exclusive use of Nigerian criminals who are currently esteemed guests being held at Her Majesty’s pleasure for various transgressions of the law of the land.

It’s the sort of gesture that would make financial sense from the point of view of civil servants rattling their brains to figure out how to cut government spending during hard times, and actually, it does make business sense. But hardcore nationalists see it as a waste of their tax dough which might be better spent in the British Isles. Apparently, there’s some objections already being cited that outsourcing the prisoners back to Nigerland is in breach of their human rights…LOL! This human rights thing is sometimes milked like a nonsense.

They’re probably just miffed that they won’t be getting satellite TV back in Nigeria, access to education and health services, and for the married ones, conjugal visits enshrined in the law of the land. You wonder what’s wrong with just putting them on Con Air straight to Lagos airport for a good ol’ fashioned reception by the local constabulary in Lagos.

In other disturbing developments, this thing called science is beginning to send shivers down my spine. Some freaks of scientists at Newcastle university are on a mission to develop artificial sperm from stem cells. Are we getting to the stage as men where our pro-creative functions will cease to be the ace up our sleeve? Granted, for centuries, there’s been moans and groans from hardcore feminishta types who will go as far as saying women can do without men.

What the hell are these punks in Newcastle trying to do to mankind….LOL! I’m not cool with any excuse that will give women an option of procuring sperm from other sources for the purpose of pro-creation….I guess I’m still the good ol’ fashioned male type who believes that ‘er indoors will continue to be the quintessential warm blooded female who will always pick the real deal for a good going over, rather than this self destructive “I don’t need a man” type nonsense…LOL!

Some scientific experiments need to be shut down, period!

…And on things that just don’t make sense…

  1. You go upstairs to tuck your daughter into bed, maybe read her a bedtime story – basically make sure she sleeps well.
  2. You leave your long term partner aka mshikaji downstairs with your best friend (by the way, your best friend’s boyfriend has blacked out on the sofa)
  3. When you come downstairs, you hear that eerily familiar soundtrack of sexual groans in the kitchen
  4. You catch your man with his trousers around his ankles and your best friend has her legs wrapped tightly around him
  5. Your man tells you he was just showing her his “scar” on his thigh (Clearly I’m getting too old when this is what it’s called these days…LOL!)
  6. You freak out in blind anger, grab a kitchen knife and stab the bastard in his back

And then, you kiss and make up right on the steps of the court that has just bailed you for GBH and you then marry the dude…

Sounds like a script from Jerry Springer…right? Maybe this couple need to be on Jerry Springer.

Notwithstanding the fact that she actually found him with his tojjer inside her friend…LOL! How do you actually opt to live with a woman who has stabbed you. This dude is crazy – actually, both of them are crazy.


Baptism of Fire – Part I

Every so often, life reminds you how cynical and ruthless it can be. It’s the old adage – “In life, you either get fucked or your doing the fucking”. Stone cold advice doesn’t come as succinct as that.

But before I indulge, I think it’s worth clarifying that (as nearly suggested by a couple of Stone Cold readers) my hiatus up in here was clearly not a result of me committing suicide after Man United bitch slapped the hell out of my beloved Arsenal that fateful Tuesday evening in early May at Ashburton Grove.

Alfonse Omosh clearly took this losing to Manure thing to the next level and as much as I advocate the passionate and fanatical support of my beloved Arsenal, committing suicide because of losing a football match tests the boundaries of stupidity of the highest order and ranks right up there with the best candidates for the world famous Darwin Awards – which recognize those who provide a great service to humanity and the survival of our species by eliminating themselves from the human gene pool through their sheer stupidity…but I digress!

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently getting intimately reacquainted with the bunch of punks claiming to provide an essential banking service to my business. You see, my bank has this amazing habit of switching business bank managers more frequently than the number of times most middle aged men get blowjobs in any given calendar year.

I wasn’t even aware that I was on my 7th manager in 2 years, so you can imagine their shock when I asked what happened to the pleasant chap who I used to call once in a while back in the day, talk to about a business overdraft to support my cash flow, exchange a few faxes with some figures and forecasts and a couple of signatures, and just like magic – the suffix DR would appear next to the cash balance in the account, and life would move right along as the bills continue to get paid without overzealous bum rushing from the folks whose correspondence we file under accounts payable.

“I don’t recognize that name”, comes the response to my question about that nice old chap who I obviously thought was my bank manager, and as if to qualify her visibly underlying disregard and contempt for my question which is so vividly characterized by her “Do I look like I give a fuck” facial expression, she nonchalantly summarizes that “maybe he left before I joined, I’ve only been in this division for a year or so”.

I’ll shortly come back to the reasons why against all conventional wisdom, I have to turn to these discredited blood sucking architects of the global financial meltdown, suffice to say that running a business by operating with the stash underneath my mattress is not a viable option.

There’s a historic belief that we men are really crap at multi-tasking, though I would argue that being crap at multi-tasking is a gender independent phenomenon – but you quickly realize the virtues of accepting this argument for the sake of world peace.

So when I decide that now is about as good a time as any to take on new projects, it inevitably means that there are some adjustments to be made in how I run my affairs and hence the need to work differently.

My dilemma is this – a combination of events and activities need to be planned and executed simultaneously for me to pull this off, otherwise it’s a non-starter. Some might argue that maybe an aspect at a time is the way forward, just like it takes some people 6 years to build a house brick by brick. Fuck that! I don’t have 6 years sitting around just waiting for the sake of the pragmatism of ending up with just the one house.

So having decided to go ahead with my strategy, multi-tasking became an inevitable reality. Nothing drastic (*he says LOL! *), just needing to recruit and put in place a project team, train them, put in a performance management system and discipline to make sure the project runs and is profitable, and do a few ‘minor’ things like move to a new office premises lock stock and barrel, find the finances and resources to do this, manage the many relationships needed to keep the project on track, and other small non-important issues like keeping my sanity…just the usual stuff you know.

My solution for dealing with this drama is to side step that whole “men are crap at multi-tasking” thing and leave the organizing to a competent general and field Marshall in the form of my PA. An argument that the multi-faceted nature of what I’m doing is standard issue project management that I can competently oversee is a waste of my energy. Between a feisty PA and ‘er indoors a.k.a ‘the government’ , making an argument that men are good at multi-tasking is a stupid and suicidal move that any man would lose.

Despite what many people think, I’m one of those who believes that the success of a business is totally dependent on my having a good assistant with the capabilities of a field general who can balance the need to organize you with military precision and also bitch-slap you into reality as and when necessary – though I resent that the bitch-slapping is sometimes fuelled (who am I kidding…LOL!)…is always fuelled by ‘er indoors. I’ve come to accept that the best PA you can ever get is one who is literally your second wife but without the sex.

Not that there’s any pressure for her LOL! Just that if the combination of activities fails, then we’re folding our tents and she and other project staff are joining the dole queue to fill in the infamous UB40 form to be handed in with the P45 I issue them. I gather the job market is not a nice place to hang out – what with all the stuff that’s happening with unemployed folk around, but as Rahm Emmanuel famously puts it – “It’s a tragedy to let a good crisis go to waste”, so I prefer to look at the pressure of the situation as motivation to make sure failure is not an option.

That’s why in such cases I comfortably opt for that old age notion of the theory of specialization and the division of labor. The general will organize, and I’ll do what I’m good at. Perhaps what I forgot to mention earlier is that there’s a small matter of the fact that what I’m doing actually needs financing and like most 3 dimensional folks out there, the stash under my mattress won’t suffice.

So my misguided enthusiasm was fueled by the government’s insistence that their multi-billion pound bail out that saved these punks from oblivion is working because banks are now resuming essential lending to small business to support cash flow. Little did I know that my enthusiasm was about to unleash a sequence of hoop jumping nonsensical demands that makes you wonder why the government actually didn’t let some of these banks collapse and fade into oblivion. We would have lived.

What the fuck was I doing forgetting that banks are cold blooded, ruthless blood sucking machines of the establishment that are set up to make money for their shareholders. It’s not rocket science, its Business Finance 101 – “the bank is not your friend, they’re there to make money from you”.

Her Majesty’s Revenue remind me that as a tax payer, I’m actually a share holder of this so called bank, but this was never going to cut the mustard here…



The 12 point guide to shopping for men who have to do it under duress

Impulse buying for me, has this ability to evoke certain blood thumping emotions. It must be a man thing – one of them that easily defines an exercise in futility if you try to understand it.

There are certain conversations that trigger such emotions – say, like “let’s just pop into the supermarket for a sec and grab some things” or “I’m thinking of grabbing a few bits before we get home.”

They have a similar effect to the male psyche when we hear statements like “we have to talk” or “sweetie, I missed my period” or “babes, you remember when I told you that…” – yeah! That kind of feeling.

So when a pit stop at a Tesco petrol station this week turned into a shopping expedition in the supermarket next door, my body defaulted to the “I don’t really wanna be here” mode.

There’s just something about shopping that repels my DNA, and while I accept that it’s a necessity in life, there’s a very big difference between picking a few bits and bobs and going out for “shopping.”

caddy-161016_640I never really get to know how much drama is involved until that humongous trolley is pulled from the trolley parking zone.

And before I can even utter the words “do we really need this giant thing for a few bits”, there’s that almost dismissive “we’re here anyway, I think we should just do all the shopping now” response, served straight with her ‘“what you gon do’ face.

Well, one option is to go back to the car, roll the chair down and just sink off into the music, but once you’ve reached the stage of being at the supermarket door and seeing that ‘what you gon do’ face, you’ll swiftly rule out this option with a quick reminder not to get out of the car next time. Call it the pragmatism of maintaining world peace and harmony. But even then, world peace has its own casualties, and for me, its that nightmare of being in a mega store that I really don’t want to be in.

I don’t know what it is, I’ve just never liked long shopping trips. Even in my bachelor days, I wrote up a list and either made a painful trip with a very short and specific mission of getting only what was on the list, or I sweet talked a shopaholic friend to do the honors for me.

I don’t remember taking many supermarket trips during college as I was broke most of the time anyway. In fact, I spent more time in the store cafeteria having a meal because of their unbelievable bargains than I did while shopping.

Online shopping was God sent. Whoever thought that folks can just sit at home, browse what they need on the web, click a few buttons and lo and behold, a chap would appear at your door with your groceries is a saint. I became a sucker for typing what I needed in the search box, ticking the check box and adding it to my shopping basket.

I guess my laziness in anything shopping doesn’t prepare me well for the sights and sounds of the modern supermarket.

At least with a shopping list, you can make a quick bee line for what you need and you’re out of the place in a short time.

Most supermarkets even allow you to check out your own groceries with this hand held thingybob so that you don’t waste time smiling with folks in the queue for the till and for nosy people to peer into your trolley to examine your habits.

men hate shoppingSo this time, I resolved that I should indulge in the spirit of bayer berocca – you never know, I might like it and its better than precipitating an atmosphere that could easily land me on the sofa. I’d already lost the battle of staying in the car.

‘Er indoors however, enjoys going through the whole supermarket, aisle by aisle. I’m made to understand that this is a normal state of affairs. I never even knew that a supermarket could have a whole aisle of bread and bready like products. I think actually what surprised me more is that we spent more than 15 minutes in this bread aisle looking for cheap, good quality bread.

You see, where I come from, bread is either cheap or it’s good quality but it’s not both. So this is a totally new concept for me. It also occurred to me that I didn’t know the price of a loaf of bread…Is this normal? Actually, forget I asked….

Let’s just say that the trip to grab a few bits and bobs ended us with a huge trolley that I could easily sit comfortably in being full with stuff that I didn’t even realize we needed in the house. Just set aside the fact that we were meant to do this shopping anyway, it’s just that we moved from “let’s just pick a few bits and bobs” to a full blown shopping trip under duress.

There was a bonus though – I got to understand those figures in my bank statement better. Like I said before, the price that I thought bread was apparently was the price in 1996. Go figure.

Next time, I’m carrying my 12 point guide to shopping for men who have to do it under duress. Guys, this was sent to me a few years back by a friend and it works if you’re dragged kicking and screaming for them shopping trips. I should have had it with me.

Health warning though: You might end up in the doghouse, or worse still, the only hanky panky you’ll be getting for a while is from late night adult TV subscription.

My fellow brethren, if you’re dragged into a shopping trip under duress, this is what you should do to get out of it next time:

  1. Take boxes of condoms and randomly put them into people’s trolleys when they aren’t looking.
  2. Walk up to an employee, tap them on the shoulder and say in an official sounding voice “code 3 in house ware” and then watch what happens.
  3. Move the ‘CAUTION: Wet floor’ sign to a carpeted area.
  4. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the feminine products aisle.
  5. Set off all the alarms in house ware to go off in 5 minute intervals.
  6. Set up a tent in the outdoors clothes department and tell the customers that you’ll only invite them in if they bring sausages and a gas stove.
  7. When the manager asks if they can help you, just burst out crying and scream “why can’t you people just leave me alone?”
  8. While picking and choosing kitchen knives in the housewares area, approach a member of staff with the knives in hand and ask them where the anti depressants are.
  9. Hide in the clothing rack and when people are browsing, yell “pick me, pick me”
  10. Run around the supermarket suspiciously humming loudly to the theme tune of Mission Impossible
  11. When an announcement comes over the loud speakers, coil down in a foetal position and scream “No, no, no – it’s those voices again”
  12. Walk into a changing room and lock yourself in, and after a while, shout loudly “there’s no toilet paper in here”

Things that make you go Hmmm!

It was only a matter of time before people decided to unleash their own brand of justice on those who transgressed against them and brought down the financial system that wiped out their lifelong savings.

This one is the stuff of legend…and what Hollywood is made of – not the typical and predictable attacks on the luxury home of say the disgraced and former RBS CEO Fred the shred. Sir Fred not only shafted his RBS employees, but laughed all the way to the bank with a platinum pension as a reward for breathtaking incompetence, so it wouldn’t be unusual to register a vigilante attack on his property by say a disgruntled former employee of RBS or something….

But a group of senior citizens in their 70’s in Germany decided that natural justice was the only course of action for a financial investor who lost £2 million of their lifelong savings by gambling it on the markets. Not only did they kidnap and torture the poor bastard, they chased him down the street and bundled him back into a car when he tried to escape. You’ve got to love that.

Read the story here

During his alleged confinement in an unheated cellar, Mr. Amburn, 56, claims he was burned with cigarettes, beaten, had two of his ribs broken was hit with a chair leg and chained up “like an animal.”

Mr. Amburn also told the police: “Then they bound me with masking tape until I looked like a mummy. It took them a while because they run out of breath”.

Where can I register a contribution to the legal fees of these model no nonsense senior citizens who are now facing over 15 years in jail??? These guys deserve public recognition for having the balls to say – fuck it! They’re not getting away with it.

On other matters, I always figured there will come a time when the environmental fascists and bureaucrats lose the plot. Or maybe it’s just fear of local councils in the UK being branded ungreen that makes them venture into zones that make you wonder who sits down and thinks these things, or more importantly, who gets paid public money to sit down and think these things

Apparently now, a local council in West Yorkshire are forcing grieving relatives to only use environmentally friendly anti-pollution eco-shrouds to cover their loved ones for cremation. Gone are the sentimental gestures of sending a loved one off in their favorite outfit, or football jersey or with some cuddly toys….No no! It ain’t good for the environment! Sheesh! And this is policy?

Speaking of matters of the next world (since we’re already in that zone)…why is it that folks are over nice when they’re asked to comment on the death of someone they knew. Recently in the news, you can’t avoid coming across public statements from lawyers or neighbours of bereaved folks with comments like:

“She was always bubbly and lit the room whenever she walked in, she would do anything for anyone And had a very big heart” or “he was such a caring and loving person and always showed great empathy in whatever he did, or he always said hello and smiled”…yada yada yada!

I’m not one to put a stone cold dump on things, but the law of averages would suggest that the notion that every deceased person was “good guys” is false. Maybe folks are just freaked out about talking ill of the dead lest their own notice period is brought forward. What happened to good ol’ fashioned honesty where folks just stood up at a funeral and said something like “This fucker was a nasty piece of work! I’m just here to make sure he’s dead”….though I would suspect that it wouldn’t go down well – but my point here is the pretence of niceness…LOL!

Moving on, I’ve always wondered if news producers and news programmes realize how stupid they look with the way they try and make things real by sending correspondents “to the thick of the action” so to speak. Take note next time you watch the news to see what I mean. It could be the 10 o’clock news and they’d have a correspondent standing out at night in the freezing cold outside a building that’s got its lights switched off, and everyone has gone home, and the correspondent who is clearly freezing and it shows, says something like:

“I’m standing here outside the ABC or XYZ building where earlier on today 3 men were arrested…” so on and so forth. For one, its freezing cold. Secondly, everyone has gone home. What the fuck are they doing standing outside the building. Also, the folks arrested are probably in a police cell somewhere and not in that building. Why can’t they just report from the warmth of the studio and if they need to, show recorded pictures?

Or for those who start a news report by saying “Our correspondent is at the scene” yet they’re reporting from 3 miles down the road from the scene of the hot news coz they can’t get anywhere near it….What is the point?

Now phone manufacturers are losing the plot. Not only do they have a range of mobile phones for 6 to 9 year olds, they’re now marketing a cell phone for 4 year old kids. This little gadget of creativity has apparently got two buttons – one with a man and one with a woman. This is so the kid can press the button of the man to call daddy and the woman to call mummy…

I’m actually more concerned about the circumstances that would lead to a 4 year old having to use such a phone considering that they’re probably with the mum or the dad or both at any given waking hour, unless they’re in nursery school. It’s not that they’re going to go shopping at Sainsbury’s by themselves and call back home to ask if you wanted the 4 pack of lager or the 6 pack instead which is on sale!


They don’t do it like it says on the tin anymore…

I sometimes find myself in a zone where not much seems to happen – kind of like being stuck in traffic without much hope for movement.

You know the general direction you’re heading in life, but there’s zilch you can do about the sheer pile up of a jam in front of you.

Some folks prefer to call this state of affairs as being in limbo, but I prefer to think of it as downtime that I can justifiably take pleasure at doing absolutely nothing as I wait for the proverbial car in front to move a few notches.

This past “doing nothing” moment found me talking on the phone to an old pal who I keep in touch with once in a blue moon – and for some reason, we were lamenting about how our sons (who are roughly the same age) are growing up on a totally different planet from where we live. I guess before concluding that we were just a bunch of old geezers, we found ourselves reminiscing about the good ole days of growing up the hard way.

Nostalgia does have this amazing habit of filling voids that seem annoying at best, and a recipe for procrastination at worst.

My pal and I went to the same high school and we were just thinking of our experiences there. Much has changed these days and a few years ago, I gave my wife a guided tour of my old high school and erroneously expressed my wish that one day our son would follow in my footsteps by attending the same school – only to be met by that “over my dead body” steely no-nonsense look. You know that look – yes, that look that you sometimes get say when you occasionally do something stupid during them drama central moments like suggest that, let me see – “maybe I should just get a second wife”…LOL! Yeah! That look – you know it.

Back in those days, the treatment we got as rabbles (the common terminology for first year fresh meat who had just got off the milk train of primary school) would put any boot camp worth its salt to shame.

It was a rite of passage that would scare the living shit out of any parent.

It’s always debatable whether some of the perpetrators who unleashed the shall we say, customary treatment, were by any measure candidates for prosecution for child cruelty or even torture. The school was renowned for this and my wife knew it, and not necessarily because my friends and I who she had been around vividly narrated stories of our hell – I guess also because a very close relative of hers was involved in making my life a nightmare in the first year.

The school had its roots in the British Navy and everything about the way it operated and the culture of the school stemmed from this.

Students actually run the day to day activities and supervised each other as modeled by ranks in a military setup – where monitors, prefects and senior prefects played the symbolic roles of sergeants, lieutenants and commanders.

At first, it really didn’t make sense that your fellow students had so much power over you, but once you’re immersed in the culture, you can’t really wait your turn to unleash the same treatment to those that follow you.

I couldn’t help but think that actually, it was that experience, that rite of passage, that baptism of the fiery sort – that molded me into who I am, that taught me the virtues I had and the guile to grit through the issues in life. How can that be a bad thing for Cryptic.

The law says here that you can’t even bitch slap your kid when they’re clearly due a good ole fashioned ass whooping and even in nursery school, they’re taught how to dial child support and abuse emergency help lines.

I vividly remember my first day as a rabble. Yeah – the exciting shopping for your first boarding school experience, the laughter at all them folks carrying buckets and colorful metal coffins on their heads disguised as suitcases trying to board all manner of public transport, and the excitement of meeting new faces and a whole new experience that means you don’t have to answer to the parents at home.

That naive excitement clearly clouded any sense of reality that I had, and even threw the small pockets of advice that I had right out of the window of the car as we turned into the main gates.

It was customary that all rabbles spent their first year in a rabble only house before joining their main dormitory for the rest of their school life. I had all this worked out like clockwork, and the reason for this was that my elder brother was a senior at this school – and I figured that if life was as good as he portrayed, then what’s all the fuss – I can pull this off.

It was only while touring the house that I bumped into the two most senior prefects of the house, one of whom recognized me as I had been to the same primary school as him. So in saying hello to me by name, it totally caught the attention of the head honcho who turned around with the sort of glee you’d only see from a starving man who has just been served a platter of freeze-dried survival food.

Students were always referred to by surname – and the mention of my name evoking such reaction unnerved me to say the least.

“Is this Stone’s brother”, the head honcho asked his fellow prefect?

“Yeah! It is” the answer came with laughter.

And so the head honcho swiftly directed me to wait for him outside his study – to which I made a monumental mistake of asking why the hell I would want to do that. I had other things to sort out and I figured those were more important than sharing niceties with someone who knew my elder brother. I suppose the arrogance in the manner I expressed this didn’t earn me any friends.

I was very quickly brought back down to earth with a monumental slap that made me lose my senses for a split second. I don’t know if the slap would have had a lesser impact if I was prepared for or if I had anticipated it, but there was that split second where a shot of tears was gagging to chuck out of my eyes and I could have sworn I saw or heard the entire Vienna boys choir sing Handel’s Hallelujah.

My very brief moment of confused amazement was mercilessly interrupted by a hail of knuckle busters aka ngotos – and of course, it didn’t help that I had just had a crew cut. Though the assault on my bald head relieved me of the dilemma of finding out whether it was Hallelujah that I was just listening to – I did what any other person in my position would do and went into automatic defense mode throwing punches at anything or anyone that would take them.

Let’s just say that was the worst mistake I could have done on my first few minutes (let alone the first day) as a rabble.

After being quickly shepherded to the head honcho’s study by other “concerned” bystanders, I quickly realized the odds were stacked against me. There was a chap called MK already kneeling down outside the said study in full games kits – and if I didn’t know what colors he was wearing, it was easy to surmise that MK was dressed as any prisoner would during work time.

“You’re new, huh?” MK asked with a smile.

“There’s a guy who has just slapped and ngotoed me and I punched back – he wanted me to wait for him here”, I responded.

“Jesus” was the exclaimed response from MK while shifting aside to make space for me.

“Who the hell is he”, I asked as I assumed the position.

“He’s the head honcho. Even though he’s a student, he’s more powerful than even the teachers”.

…Did I mention that MK and I got to become very good friends?


Meeting the in-laws

Recently, a good friend asked me for some advice as he prepared for a rare trip back home. As I write this post, I wonder quietly whether he came through unscathed, but I guess I’ll have to wait for him to get on a plane and for us to eventually sit and chat with a cold beer in hand, before I can find out the true extent of the said expedition.

For many folks who have settled abroad, a long overdue trip back to the motherland is something to get excited about, and it’s something you plan for a long time.

Granted, a holiday trip home, especially with ‘er indoors and the kids is a project in itself. However, the benefits say for folks at home who genuinely want to see you (as opposed to those who get pissed off that you’ve spent thousands of pounds on air fare for you and your kin – money which would have been better spent via a western union transfer to them), far outweigh the financial and emotional investment and stress involved. Well, with the exception of that dreaded trip to the outlaws.

“Come we stay” has been the de facto option for most immigrant couples from home who meet abroad, and I suspect that at the back of every man’s mind (at least those who are not just interested in the convenience of in-house booty as opposed to a serious relationship), there’s that daunting feeling that the time will come when you’ll have to make an honest woman of the lady you’ve been waking up next to for most part.

It’s the sort of trip that despite constant assurances from your other half aka mshikaji, its extremely naive and negligent for a man to embark on such a trip to the wild west solely on the assurances of a loving partner. I mean, how would she know it’ll be OK unless she’s been married before and has forensic evidence of how your outlaws (I mean in-laws) to be will react? Call it a duty to the survival of fellow man folk, but seeking and giving advice from those who have experienced that dreaded trip to the girl’s family to, shall we say, atone for and explain why their precious daughter has been living in sin with you for however long.

I’m not talking about weddings here. Weddings are side shows and opportunities for drama and fairy tale showbiz that a significant amount of folks don’t have the opportunity to indulge in. Where I come from, a marriage is a done deal once the traditional formalities are given a nod by the powers to be. This would involve that dreaded visit that I talk about, complete with the delivery of “cows” to the homestead of the outlaws. This concept of a wedding in church is a more recent western oriented phenomenon that those who can afford to, go ahead with to compliment the process of a traditional marriage – and as my aunt Rhodah would say – “forget the wedding – once they let you leave that boma with their daughter, it’s a done deal. Otherwise, that girl won’t be allowed to leave”. Aunt Rhodah should know, she’s been around the block a few times and left her father’s gate several times – and she ain’t a spring chicken.

So when a friend asks “what can I expect when visiting the outlaws” – the best advice to give is:

  1. Get a good negotiator – you’re too emotionally involved. Get a chief of staff you trust, a consigliere who can competently represent your wishes and that of your mshikaji. Also make sure you have a good delegation of friends – peers you grew up with and your tight with, an aunt you trust, and perhaps one of your dad’s peers – call him an elderly statesman who is in the delegation for good measure. You’re going to need them.
  2. There’s always a fixer in the girl’s family – identify that person quick and get on their side. It’s usually (but not always) a grandmother, or an elderly female mother figure like an aunt. This is the person who has the ability to smooth things as and when (yes as and when and not if and when) things go pear shaped.
  3. Forget all the assurances your partner has given you or all the “it’ll be OK sweetie – my folks are really nice nonsense”. Consider everyone an outlaw. Only those at the table will negotiate the bride price and she’s not going to be there, and in most cases, will never be told how ugly it got.

I’ve been involved in enough of these expeditions to pick the signs of how things can transpire, and the one thing you always say to yourself is this is the time to be a boy scout – always be prepared…LOL! My expedition was comparatively and thankfully a straight forward one, but by being part of many other expeditions of friends and those close to me who asked for my support – I have seen enough that will traumatize any fully grown warm blooded male.

In one particular case, the whole marriage was nearly called off because of the brinkmanship of some of the folks on the outlaws team, and the insistence of the elders on our delegation that their boy was not going to be taken for a mug…LOL! It’s only in such cases that you ever get to see the value of the “fixer” from the girl’s side.

You see, in my culture, its customary that the suitor takes no part in any aspect of the negotiation. Their job is to sit down and look pretty and occasionally remind folks by standing up to answer the question of “who the gentleman is that is seeking to take away their daughter”.

It’s also customary that after the niceties and warm welcome, there is a sidebar session where the girl’s mother is given her own time with our delegation outside the main negotiating table. This task is usually assigned to the chief negotiator aka consigliere and perhaps a female in your contingent like an elderly aunt or something who step outside with the mother of the bride. During this sidebar, the mother of the bride has to be “sorted” out in her own terms.

And boy don’t some mothers know how to milk this one. I’ve heard lines like “You know that girl kept me in labour for 18 hours and she was a very difficult birth” or “she was a very stubborn child when she grew up” or “she broke all my favourite plates”…LOL! The point is – until the mother of the bride goes back to the negotiating committee and declares that “wameniona vizuri kando” (they’ve sorted me out properly), can the proper negotiation of the bride price go ahead. It doesn’t matter how much the mother of the bride relieved you off, or what arrangement you came to – whether in full or in instalments, that part was a side show that plays no part in the bride price negotiation.

It is at this point where it’s possible to see grown men cry….LOL! particularly in cases where more than just the immediate family of the girl is involved – uncles and cousins are notorious for this. But let’s face it, the negotiation and payment of bride price has become a cottage industry of sorts – and for the most part, it’s immaterial what a girl thinks or hopes will happen. They have no influence in what her “peeps” are capable of. And some of these guys play hard ball. All the girl can hope while hanging out with her own peers and kina auntie is that her husband to be will get past the outlaws. The longer it takes, the more nervous she gets, especially when she gets insider whispers during those very frequent and essential sidebars for “consultation”.

The ante is seriously upped when the bride price is dramatically increased for things like perceived virginity (dare you try and call their bluff and suggest their daughter was not a virgin when she met you – this is not the time and place to stand your ground…and considering you’re the first suitor she’s brought in front of this committee, they have a case for the presumption that she was a virgin before she met you – and you don’t want to take this case on LOL), the girl having a university degree and a job of her own (read: our western union remittance will reduce), the fact that you both live abroad and you’re balling it like a nonsense, or that you have a good job and can afford it. It brings a whole new meaning to “we raised our daughter well and we are pleased that you appreciate our effort – and the bride price is a token of your appreciation to the work done here all round”.

So as you can imagine in lore’s case, things weren’t going well on the negotiating table. It was another pal Kim who noticed Lore was in distress – mainly from the throbbing vertical vein that had formed on the left side of his forehead and his eyes developing an unnervy shade of red. Kim swiftly whisked Lore out of the house on the pretence of having a cigarette break – but clearly, the man was being distressed by the very thought of the brinkmanship that was threatening his impending marriage. A few of us joined the so called fag break at the fence and were even approached by one of L’s girlfriend’s peers to find out if we were OK and if we needed anything.

Clearly Lore’s girlfriend and her peeps had seen L being led out in distress and wanted to find out what was cutting – but the only thing you could say is “wazee bado hawajamaliza” (the elders are still talking). Though it was hard to see at that time, we suspected that the folks negotiating on behalf of the bride had their own agenda…LOL! They were there to get paid and they knew that Lore had a good job abroad.

There was a timely break in the protracted negotiations when you had to admire the skills of the elderly statesmen and women we had with us. They had insisted on coming for the ride, though most of us were convinced they were there for the feast. But their value begun to show by the way they maintain conversation and a light hearted spirit to pass the time by with laughter and old timers stories. For most people in the house who weren’t part of the negotiation, it seemed that everything was going on well – if they only knew…LOL!

What we didn’t know at the time, is a group of the mercenary negotiators who were hell bent on getting paid, had accosted the bride to be during this negotiation and meal break– apparently to get her to confess how much money Lore had with him. In fact they literally threatened the girl to tell them how much they had brought with them from “ngambo”. It’s an understatement to say that they scared the living shit out of the poor girl who was in tears for most of the time after that. I guess you could be if you’re being told that your “man” is too stingy to pay the bride price and that his people are threatening to walk away – which I guess was an option, but never one that had reared its head on the table.

Lore’s girlfriend’s distress didn’t go unnoticed and a savvy aunt approached us at one of our famous fag breaks at the fence with that re-assuring “are you guys OK out here” greeting and smile – and a coded “you guys are not leaving this girl here” message, with cryptic instructions of how we could find the back door. Of course we were too stupid then to figure this out and more focussed on the fact that there were totally unreasonable demands being made on the high table and walking away now seemed an option to consider…LOL!

After indicating to our consigliere that auntie so and so had given us a coded message by saying we were not leaving that girl there – the consigliere, who now looked like a man who needed a break… – had a word with the oldest member of our delegation, a neighbour of Lore’s dad who had travelled with us. He disappeared for about half an hour and on his return, the consigliere asked for another break.

Honestly by that time, few actually had any hope we were going to pull this off – yet we had to maintain our smiles and pretend that all was well. The truth is that if we had guns – her 2 cousins and uncle (the mercenaries) could have easily been dead – though you have to question whether that would have done any good for Lore’s marriage…LOL!

The key was the grandmother. She had been out in the background and no one took notice of her – and it was the old man from our delegation who went to have a cup of tea with her. From what we gathered, she was well aware of the mercenary tactics of some of the members of the outlaws team though the hope was that the rest will tame them. But I guess pay day is pay day. The deal that was brokered was for what Lore was willing to offer to be an upfront payment of some sort – and that a small token of appreciation will be on-going – kind of like to keep a bond for the family.

On our part, we gave way to not demanding and being given assurances about what future instalments and demands will be, and on the granny’s part, she guaranteed that the girl will leave that homestead with us and an assurance that tomorrow was another day – this will pass.

Even as people celebrated the new traditional union, there were some very bitter people in that room. Some of our friends went as far as loading everything that the girl owned, including presents from her folk into one of the SUV’s we had, and by the time all the good-bye’s and crying was taking place, all the drivers were revving the cars outside the gate. All that was left was for that girl to be smuggled into one of the cars….LOL! She was ours and we weren’t taking chances that them mercenaries were going to change their minds.

Funny thing is that over a year later at Lore’s wedding, the two looked so happy in church and lapping up the event. If only folks there knew that that wedding might have never happened…LOL! I guess it must be harder for the couple especially since they normally have to take a back seat as others see to their business. I don’t blame Lore for never telling his wife what was said in that room. There is some truth that sometimes you have to protect the ones you love and some things she just did not need to hear.

And to think of how she was a bitch to everyone during the wedding preparations – “Guys, no one is going to fuck this up for me – this is the most important day of my life”. Lordy Lord, if she knew the hoops Lore and his boys had to jump to give her the freedom to say that…LOL!


Why do we rarely ask Why?

Whenever I visit Kenya, its not that difficult to bump into someone who’s myopic stated ambition is to “fly out”…and of course, they want to pick your brain and talk to you about the important things like how “out” feels like and whether its true that you can work washing dishes in a restaurant for 3 weeks and buy a car, what its like to occasionally bump into Wil Smith and Beyonce like you do Kenyan celebs down town, whether having sex with a “mzungu” is different from Nyokabi or Wekesa down the road, …yada yada yada….

I paraphrase of course, but the content of such a conversation is not beyond the realms of reality. Its times like these when I ask myself – Why oh why oh why do we want to leave our beloved country in such a misguided state of destructive ignorance, so that we can subject ourselves to what is clearly a punishment from the gods?…an entire season of several months of winter.

You might be noticing a pattern here – about my indifference and bitching to this madness that is the cold of sub zero temperatures, freezing everything, and wet and windy conditions that make you want to pack your bags and get a one way ticket to somewhere that you don’t have to wear a ski jacket when taking the trash out.

Honestly, I sometimes think folks don’t realize how depressing it is to wake up and its still dark – leave for work at 8.00 am and its still dark, spend all day cramped up in a shady joint in the name of work, and leave work when its dark – yeah, its dark by 3.00 pm anyway.

Many have tried to rationalize this madness by adopting a defeatist mentality that “we came here to work and so it shall be – Wira ni wira”.

Frankly speaking, that’s a whole load of nonsensical bollocks that needs to be filed right between shit and syphilis. I’m one of those people who believes that ambition is an over-rated concept that’s abused as a poor excuse for those without the sense or guts to be lazy and once in a while – declare “fuck it!”.

The problem with us humans as a species is that we’re so conditioned to conforming to warped notions of societal norms nobody hardly stops to think and ask “Why on earth do I have to do things this way?”

We spend most of our lives planning and preparing for the “future”, we forget to simply live for the present and enjoy life with its simplicity (or not).

I was speaking to a friend recently and he told me he’s doing two jobs at the moment – one during weekdays, one during weekends, and he’s also studying during weeknights.

I posed the question as to Why he was operating with one foot in the grave and busting a gut on a heavy work and study schedule that doesn’t even afford him the luxury or the time to sit quietly on the toilet with his favorite magazine while having a good ol’ dump without any need for urgency.

His answer somewhat baffled me – “To pay for my masters and finish school by such and such a date.”

My next question was unsurprisingly, “Why?”, and as regular as clockwork, the answer followed – “Because my parents want me to do a masters degree and the masters programme is until this particular date…”

I then ask again – “Why?”….and then the wall of silence and reflective thought.

This guy didn’t even think about why he was doing this and was comfortable in accepting that mummy and daddy want me to do a masters degree, and moreover, everyone around them who seemed to be getting anywhere in life has done a masters degree in something.

It was more or less a milestone or fashion statement that defined social status in the community, and a justification for competence in whatever field or trade. I think what was more disturbing is that this guy probably didn’t even like what he was studying and was just doing it to appease his parents….

Now if there’s one thing that really pisses me off, its parents who insist on living their failed dreams through their children….

Everyone wants their kid to be a doctor, a lawyer, an investment banker, or some big shot that will buy their way out of poverty in their twilight years. It’s very rare you’ll come across kids who say – When I grow up, I want to be a taxi driver, or carpenter, or police officer, or a P.E teacher, or a mortuary attendant. God forbid you mention that you want to spend night shifts with the stiffs on Mbagathi Road…..I digress here….

My point is that we’re so conditioned to doing things in a certain way very few people, if any, ever stop to ask the question “Why?”

Why do you have to do things in a certain order if at all?

Why do you have to worry and traumatize about what others think about you – they’re just nosy conceited bastards anyway who’ll probably just attend your funeral to make sure you’re dead, and feast along with other professional funeral attendees?

Why do you have to be seen to be doing well and being successful – by supposedly clocking up mileage in school and missing out on life?

And more importantly – Why do we have to freeze our nuts off in this godforsaken miserable madness that is the winter in the name of making a living! (that was the gist of the post in the first place)

Surely, there has to be an alternative that can make me opt out of this place for the lovely surroundings and warmth of my beloved country and still be able to make a living?

I remember years back sitting down with a friend at the steps of one of the blocks at Hammersmith and City College in West London. I forget why exactly we sat there, suffice to say that we were probably reflecting on the hard times then, and wondering what we’d got ourselves into by moving out here instead of sticking it out, rolling up our sleeves and getting in with the rough and tumble that is life in Kenya.

I distinctly remember us joking about this madness of “flying out.”

See, West London is on the flight path to Heathrow and you can see many planes approaching the runway or taking off, and we burst out laughing at the thought of whether the poor bastards on those planes knew what they were letting themselves into by landing and achieving that “flying out” dream….

Maybe I just miss home, and this industrial freezer of a country that we’re living in right now doesn’t make it any better – so I’ll start by asking myself Why???

And just to clarify some points earlier for those who continue in misguided wonderment about what it feels like to fly out and live out here:

  1. No. You can’t buy a car after working for 3 weeks in a restaurant washing dishes. You’ll be lucky if you can pay for your transport, rent, food and buy deodorant.
  2. No. You won’t meet will smith or Beyonce down town like you meet Kenyan celebs hadharani on the streets. You’ve probably got more chance of seeing photos of the so called Kenyan celebs naked on the internet.
  3. I wouldn’t know if having sex with a mzungu is different from having sex with Nyokabi or Wekesa. I haven’t had sex with Nyokabi, or Wekesa himself for that matter to make a credible comparison.

Until next time…