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Dexter01

Dexter01
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Member since: 05.07.2009

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    • just-eat.com / Online Shop / 28 Readings / 24 Ratings
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      28.05.2011 20:50
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      I would say avoid this one.

      So, Just Eat is a pretty basic concept. It's a website that lists various takeaway restaurants in your local area. You can view menu's from those listed and order direct from the restaurant through Just Eat.

      Up until recently, I haven't really had any major issues with them. I have ordered food through the site several times with no issue. Once last year, I had an issue with my internet connection just as I was ordering. The order did not go through, but I had been charged for that order. After speaking with someone on the live chat section of the site, I was promised a refund that never occurred. At the time, I was busy and didn't really pay much attention to it and forgot about it altogether.

      At the end of April this year, I ordered from a restaurant on the site and the delivery never arrived. I spoke direct with the takeaway, who stated they would refund me my money. I left it a day or 2 and no refund was received. I decided to email the customer services of Just Eat for advice and received a reply stating they had spoken to the restaurant, who were going to refund the money, but that Just Eat would now process the refund for me. At the time, I was pretty happy with this, as the terms on Just Eat state they do not process refunds.

      I gave it a week and again, no refund was received. I contacted them again and was told it was being processed and can take 5 working days. I decided to leave it the time stated from that email and still, nothing was received. Another email to them and I was told it would be in my account definately the next day and had some jargon at the bottom with the date of when the refund was started, which was a day after the previous contact with them!

      The next day came and went and again, no money. I emailed again and this time had a response from an actual person, as opposed to the generic customer services email I was contacting through. This one stated it was being looked into and they had tried processing the refund again. This, again, had the refund jargon at the bottom, but oddly was missing all the previous 'attempts' they had tried and just had this one, which no explanation could be found, but was mentioned by the person I was now in contact with.

      Again, another 5 working days and you guessed it, no money again! This time, the person stated they would contact the refund process department and find out what has gone on and get it sorted for me. She tried the refund process again as well. Can you guess what happened next...

      No money again!!!! I have since attempted contact with this person and have received no reply now. It has been 1 month since the original order and just as long to process a simple refund!! I have asked the question why it takes them so long to process something that a shop can do instantly, but received no answer to that.

      Any suggestions on where to go next would be greatly appreciated. It's not a great deal of money, but every little helps as they say.

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      • youtube.com / Internet Site / 29 Readings / 28 Ratings
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        30.03.2011 14:32
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        A great site tarnished for e by the Google Account necessity.

        Where would we be without Youtube? I know I would have had many more productive days than I have had because of it.

        For those that are not in the know, Youtube is a website, www.youtube.com. On this website, you can upload your own videos of whatever you want and watch videos of whatever you want. Being a technophobe, I have never uploaded a video before and must admit, I have no inclination to do so. I'm more a watcher. From looking at the website's own help page, it looks pretty simple. Sign into your account, or create one if you don't have one, select uplad and then upload the required video, much like adding an attachment to an email, etc. There is another reason why I haven't uploaded anything and that is a reason that I discovered today and I will divulge in a short while.

        Lke I have said, the main reason I go on Youtube is for the watching of said videos. The homepage of the site is pretty straight forward and gives you several options. At the moment for me, it is showing the search bar at the top-type in what you want to vew and it will search for it, much like Google. I then have TV Shows and a select view to click on and watch. Then it is most recommended for me, which was a welcome surprise (Which again will become clear)-this just selects videos that match your search history, a bit hit and miss I find. Then I have Most Popular-self explanatory, but the most popular videos being watched at the moment.

        I generally use the search feature. After doing a search, you get a list of the videos, with a still from the each video, a short description and the length of it. It is around 20 videos a page for me, but it does show you at the top how many videos it has found, much like Google again. You can arrange the order of these videos however you like. Just click on search options at the top and it opens a drop down style menu and you just click the appropriate ones and re-arranged it becomes.

        To watch a video, simply click on the required one. It loads a new page for you and you get a box appear on your screen, with a bar along the bottom denoting how far loaded it is. Obviously depending on your connection, depends how long it loads. You can play, pause, change the volume, change to full screen and a couple of bits. If you have an account, you can leave comments, no account is needed to read comments already left. There are like an dislike buttons to and ways of 'subscribing' to the authors page, so you can then get all the videos they have uploaded. I don't understand the subscribe part, as you can get all the videos anyway by clicking on the authors name?? While watching the video, on the right it gives you suggestions of other videos that are similar that you may like as well, hence the hours lost for me.

        Now the part I discovered today that I don't like. I have/had a Youtube account and generally had it signed in, so I would get the recommendations on the home page. Having changed computers, I haven't been signed in and thought I would get signed back in today. However, to now sign in, you need to also sign in with a Google Account. I don't have a Google Account, I don't need a Google Account and I don't want a Google Account. Due to this, I can no longer leave comments and if I had the desire to, upload a video. It states it is for security of your account, but the only information I have in my account is my name and email, which is on a kazillion other websites anyway!! This is why the recommendations on the home page was a surprise for me, as I have them and haven't signed in, so it has remembered my use of the site.

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      • Auto Windscreens / Transport / 40 Readings / 38 Ratings
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        02.02.2011 19:51
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        If it wasn't for the fact that I have to use them, I woud much rather go elsewhere.

        This is a review about the customer service and online booking for Auto Windscreen, not actually about the staff that comes and sorts the actual problem out.

        I recently suffered a small chip in my windscreen, which due to the weather, quickly turned into a small crack. Having checked with my insurance, they use Auto Windscreen as the replacement option. They have a contact number for them and you can also visit their website to book it online with them.

        The first option I tried was to ring them, but the number was not valid. I assume this is my insurance company who have not updated the number at fault for this. After this failed, I went with the option of booking it online.

        This process was extremely simple. The site asked for a few details about me and my car and then proceeded to the picking a time and date screen. Upon selecting the drop down menu for the date, I selected the next day AM option. It had the options in either AM or PM and also had several days in advance. After selecting this, I clicked the book button and was informed I would receive a phone call shortly to confirm the booking and get further details about the replacement required.

        This is where it fell down somewhat. By AM of the next day, I had still not received any phone call and no one had arrived. Thinking it was due to the short notice, I decided to try again and booked it for 3 days time, again in the AM. Within a couple of hours of doing this, I received a phone call to confirm the booking, or so I thought.

        After speaking with the person for approximately 5 minutes, where they could not find my details, yet they had managed to call me and knew why they were calling me?? The lady then informed me that I could not have the AM, but the PM slot was available. I stated this was not possible, due to travelling 300 miles that afternoon and needed it replacing as soon as possible. After finding out there was nothing earlier, we tried booking it for the area that I was going to, but again, no slots were free.

        I understand that they may well be busy, but was very disappointed that they still had all slots on the website to provisionally book a time. I explained to the lady that I had tried to book for the next day before and never received a call and was told the website booking had been busy and gave no apology.

        Due to no slots being available when I was, I had to leave it and stated that once I knew when I had some time in advance, I would call back. A few days later, I did receive a call that left a voicemail for me, stating they were trying to contact me to book it, which was a nice gesture, but within 5 minutes of this call, I then received a text message stating a booking had been made for a later date. This would be great, if I was going to be available at that time, but I'm not. As such, I am either going to have to eave it and let someone turn up to replace the windscreen, when no one is going to be there or ring them and go through the whole process of trying to find an available slot again.

        The most annoying part of it all is the website. How hard can it be to only have slots on the site that are available, instead of generic slots that have already gone and the next nearest available slot is days away from that? As such, here I am, 2 weeks later, with a windscreen still cracked and still not knowing when I will be free in advance to actually get it sorted.

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          07.04.2010 10:56
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          Visit the dentist instead.

          Being a bit of a dentist phobe and not having visited a dentist for quite some years, my teeth have started to show the signs of no dentist visits. Specifically, I currently have 2 holes in my teeth requiring fillings. Having no money and still being a dentist phobe, I really don't want to visit one. This I thought was going to cause a problem, until I was shopping in Morrisons and spotted the Dental First Aid Kit from Dentek.

          Included in the pack are 2 cotton buds, a wooden spike thing, some Eugenol and the temporary filling material. You will notice the word temporary there, that is because it is only designed a temporary fix until you can get to the dentist for a more permanant solution. Having read the packet, which gives instructions of how to use, etc, I was fairly satisfied that this could be a short term solution to my problem, so purchased a packet. This was the painful part, it is not the cheapest thing, being £6.49 from Morrisons, but is a cheaper fix for me at this moment than the dentist.

          Home we go and I give the instructions a good read. They are extremely simple and easy to understand. It states to make sure your mouth is free from any bits of food and once applied, do not chew anything for 2-3 hours. Simple I think, I know, I'll do it before going to bed, as my teeth will be clean and free from bits and I won't anything while I'm asleep.

          It states to wash your mouth with warm water before application to make sure all loose bits are free. I brushed my teeth, mouth washed and washed out with warm water, to make extra sure. Once this is achieved, you then dry out the areas requiring the filling with one of the cotton swabs. Nice and simple so far.

          Using the second cotton swab, you dip this in the Eugenol and then apply this to the tooth/teeth in question. You have to avoid touching the gums and just get the teeth with this. The Eugenol apparently helps the filling set and stick to your tooth enamel. Then take a small ball of the filling material and pack it tightly into the hole requiring the filling. You then bite down a few times to create a comfortable bite within your mouth and wipe any excess material away with a cotton swab.

          That is the filling process then complete. It states it will set softly in your mouth within a few minutes and allow the 2-3 hours being chewing anything. With this in mind, I went to bed, awaking the next day after a good 9 hours sleep. This is where my frustration with this product really set in.

          I don't have breakfast, so didn't eat anything or chew anything for a good 12 hours after filling the teeth in question. The very first thing I chewed on, one of the fillings fell out straight away. The second filling did last a bit longer by surviving until dinner time that night, but within 24 hours, both fillings were out of my mouth.

          Now, I know it is only a temporary fix, but it does state on the packaging it is temporary until you gt a chance to visit a dentist. Admittedly, I was going to use it for a while longer than that if possible, but within 24 hours is pretty bad. Say I had done this on Saturday evening, the fillings would have fallen out on the Sunday, when the only option for a dentist is emergency options, which this was not really an emergency.

          All in all, I was pretty darn dissappointed with this product and would not recommend it to anyone. Alot of money for something that does not do what it says on the tin.

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            31.03.2010 22:24
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            Surprise some dinner guests with this little delight.

            Being a lover of most things Gordon Ramsay, the wife and myself decided to purchase 2 of Gordon Ramsay, one of which being the Bolognese and Red Wine flavour. Other than liking Mr Ramsay things, another good reason to purchase these sauces is the fact that he does not earn a penny from any sold and, according to the jar at least, at least 10p per jar goes towards Comic Relief.

            We purchased ours from Morrisons at the princely sum of £3.50p for 2, or they are around £1.85p for the one. The jars are 350g in a clear jar, with a label that has a few pictures of Ramsay with the sauce on his nose (the sauce being red). There is the usual list of ingredients and nutritional information, which I shall not list, as I know you can all read. The only thing I will list is allergy advice, being that it contains Celery and is made in a factory that uses Nuts and Sesame ingredients. There is also a small recipe for a simple Bolognese for you to do.

            Shockingly enough, I used this to make a Bolognese. Now, I used 400g of Lean Beef Mince, which I browned off in a frying pan with some Olive Oil. When the mince was approximately half browned, I added some chopped button Mushrooms and when near enough complete, added some chopped red Onions.

            Once it was all browned off nicely and because I don't like oil in my sauces, I spooned the whole lot into a colander to drain off the oil, and wiped the frying pan clean with some kitchen roll. Then place it back on the stove under a lower heat and re add the mince. Then just simply pour over the sauce from the jar. When you think it is all poured over, I find filling the jar with a small amount of water, replacing the lid and giving it a shake and then pouring what's left on means you get all the sauce out of the jar, thus getting your money's worth. Once you have done all of this, let the thing simmer for around 20 minutes or so, then serve. I don't like spaghetti or pasta, so just the bolognese for me, however, the wife did have some pasta. I'll let you decide on your own side dish.

            Whilst cooking, you can smell the aroma of the sauce. It has a lovely smell of bolognese and a slight tinge of red wine. The taste is another experience altogether. I was extremely surprised by it, as I was not really expecting much from it, just expecting a gimmick really. This was not the case at all. You get a rich bolognese flavour, but a very nice taste of the wine, none of it being too overpowering to spoil the other. The blend and mix of the whole thing just works so well. There is enough in the jar to cover the whole mince, which surprised me. We had the 400g of mince and the recipe suggests it will serve 300g for 3 people, yet it covered our 400g very well, although I'm a bit of a fatty, so it did just serve the 2.

            I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone who loves a good bolognese sauce. It is quite expensive for a sauce, but it is going towards a good cause, so worth it I feel.

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              11.01.2010 14:24
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              The best way to get you started on your journey into the city.

              The JFK Airtrain is a monorail style system within the John F Kennedy Airport, New York. It is a handy and convient way to get from the terminal you arrive at to any other terminal, 2 train stations and subway station to get you into any of the 5 boroughs of New York.

              When the wife and myself arrived in JFK last September, we had already decided we would get the subway into Manhattan to save on spending alot on a cab. On looking at maps inside the airport, we discovered we would need to get the Airtrain to a train station to be able to continue the journey.

              We had arrived in Terminal 5, so I can only say how it is from this terminal, although it does service every terminal, so it would be a case of following signs.

              After leaving the terminal, we followed the signs for the Airtrain. Simple enough, it's not rocket science. Then it gets confusing. We came across a junction that had a 4 different signs for the Airtrain, with 4 arrows pointing in 4 different directions. How confusing. We picked one way and found the station, so even with the confusing arrows, it was simple enough. There was a few entrances into the station, so I can only assume this is why there are different arrows.

              There isn't much to the station really. A platform that is completely enclosed in glass, with automatic doors at set intervals (to allow you to board the train when it arrives). There are 2 sides to the platform, with trais arriving on either side, so make sure you pick the right side for the direection you want to go. There are a couple of maps of the Airtrain system on the platform, so you can work out where you are and the direction you need to be going. A few benches and a lift complete the set up of the platform. There are electronic signs displaying the next train along and how long it will be.

              At this point, we are looking around for somewhere to pay, but cannot find anywhere. Brilliant we think, a free train. The train arrives and is very smart, clean and quiet. It is rather fast in getting to the other stations and eventually your train station you require. Still haven't paid anything, so all is good.

              Now comes the shocking bit, you do have to pay. We have led into a false sense of security. To get out of the Airtrain station and into the main train station, you have to pay $5 each. Not exactly bank busting, but unexpected. The reason for this, I have discovered, is that you can go around the whole airport, all the terminals on the Airtrain for free, but have to pay to get to one of the 2 train stations.

              After this, we then paid $2.50 each for a train into the city on the subway system. To get from the airport to our hotel had cost us $15. To get a cab or minibus, it costs $50 minimum. The Airtrain followed by subway is a great saving. It only took us an hour from getting our bags at reclaim to getting to the hotel.

              On the Airtrain, there is plenty of space to cater for you and your luggage. The trains are fairly big, with minimal seating due to everyone having luggage, etc. As I've already said, it is very clean and quiet.

              There are 3 routes to the Airtrain. The first is for all terminals, going around to each terminal in turn. You then have one that starts and stops at Howard beach Train Station, that has connections to the subway and bus system. The third is Jamaica Train Station, again having conections for the subway, bus and also the Long Island Rail Road. Jamaica Station has alot more connections than Howard Beach and would probably be the best route to go by, but that depends on the destination you are going to.

              As said, it costs $5 each person if you are going to get off at a train station, so don't be surprised by having to pay that. It is far cheaper than getting a cab and the same time span to get you into the city, if not slightly quicker.

              You can use this to get you back to your leaving terminal when your trip is complete. We did do this, as we were leaving the city during rush hour and didn't want to go on the subway with our cases. If you do this, it is just the reverse of everything above.

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              • London's Burning / TV Programme / 41 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                11.01.2010 13:55
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                Watch it for the early series, but don't worry too much about the later ones.

                London's Burning was a TV series broadcast on channel 3 around the country on a Sunday evening at 9pm. During it's early years, it was a very popular how, but the popularity wained off during the later series.

                London's Burning was very first broadcast in 1987. The first show was actually a movie. During the movie, we were introduced to the firemen and one firewoman who has joined Blue Watch. The watch are all stationed at the fictional Blackwall Fire Station. The station used is actually Dockhead Fire Station i the London Fire Brigade.

                We follow all the Firefighters during this movie, but in particular, we follow Ethnic. He is a black fireman, who is having trouble on the estate he lives on from. not only the local gang, but also the Police. Tension builds on his estate throughout the movie. The crew attend many different fires and incidents during the movie, but it does build you up to final job.

                Ethnic has been promoted to Leading Fireman and works it out to have a day off, before his final night duty. During this day off, a riot breaks out on his estate and the Blue Watch are called out to deal with fires on the estate. One of the watch gets separated from his crew and starts getting attacked by the gangs. Ethnic sees this from his balcony and runs down to rescue his mate. After doing this, someone shouts from the balcony and Ethnic looks up to see a concrete slab thrown at him from above. This strikes him and sadly, kills him. The movie then ends with teh watch havig a meal that they planned for Ethnic as a leaving surprise for his promotion.

                Due to the praise of the movie, London Weekend Television commissioned a series of the show. Thus, London's Burning the series was born. I shall not go into what occurs during the series, as that would spoil the show for you. I will say that the very early series, as is generally the case, are the best series. Up to around series 9 is the best. After then, it gets a bit pants.

                Those first series are all about the firefighters, the station and the incidents they attend. You get some family life and some stories away from the station, but the main focus is on the Fire Brigade. As it progresses, the producers have us following more of the firefighters lifes away from the station and it really digresses into being a soap opera.

                In series 11, the show gets a new producer and he was very poor at it. He became known for killing off the crew one by one, having very dramatic and unbelievable incidents in every show.

                The show last 14 series and many people weren't really sad to see it go. During these 14 series, many firefighters joined the watch and left and were killed. Way to many to actually list.

                You can now get the show on DVD. You get the movie and series 1 on one DVD and then the other series are on there own DVD. They haven't released them all yet though. You can only get up to the 11th series at the moment, with the 12th being released shortly. I expect, with the way they have released them, that the 13th and 14th will be released by this time next year. On the spines of the DVD's, they are making a picture to cover all the series. When you place all the DVD's spine on together, you will get a nice picture, or not so nice as I haven't got all of them yet to complete the picture.

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                28.12.2009 21:38
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                A must for all who like things fire related.

                As this review is about a Rescue Company within the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), let me start with some information about how the FDNY operates to make things, hopefully, a little clearer for you.

                The FDNY is in the top 3 of busiest and biggest Fire Services of the world. It covers the 5 boroughs of New York City. To aid the department, it is divided into the 5 boroughs and then within each borough, there are several divisions, which then have several battalions within. With me so far?

                Unlike the UK Fire Service, the FDNY separates it's firefighters amongst it's different vehicles and there uses. The main vehicles are the Engine Company, who's main role is to put water onto the fire. You then have the Ladder Company, the role of which is to search fire building's for civilians and ventilate a building to aid the Engine Company. You also have a Squad Company, which is a cross between an Engine Company and a Rescue Company. Finally, you have the Rescue Company, the main role of which is to save fellow firefighters and keep them safe at incidents and locate trapped civilians. There are more specialised units, but these are the main ones.

                Within the FDNY, there are a fair few Engine and Ladder Companies, these being the main workhorses of the service, so to speak. You then have 7 Squad Companies and 5 Rescue Companies. The Squad and Rescues come under the command of the Special Operations Command, which is near enough a separate entity within the FDNY. The Rescues are seen as the elite of the department, the best of the best.

                Now, this review is about a book, which is about a Rescue Company, specifically Rescue 2, based in the borough of Brooklyn. We start out in 1995, following one firefighter on his journey into work, while listening to the radio for the FDNY. On his arrival at the firehouse, he finds out something terrible has happened and one of the Rescue firefighters has died in a fire, the first firefighter in Rescue 2 to die in the line of duty since the fifties.

                The book then follows on from down the years, when the company gets a new Captain (Officer in charge of the company) and his rebuilding of the company following the death of their comrade. It follows his struggle to be accepted as the Captain.

                After this initial beginning, the author takes us back to the seventies. A time when the FDNY was going through what is recognised as it's war years. The department went through a period of serious fires every night and every company was regularly attending more than 25 incidents a shift in the busiest areas. If anyone knows anything about New York, they will be led to believe that the area worst hit was the Bronx. This was the case at first, but the Bronx quickly run out places to burn and Brooklyn took over as being the area worst hit.

                This is still the case today, although not as busy, Brooklyn is still the busiest area of the FDNY. In the seventies, we join Rescue 2 and their new Captain, Fred Gallagher. It is here that Rescue 2 starts it transition from being a Rescue Company that doesn't do alot of work to a Company that becomes the most hard working Company in the department. Gallagher transforms the firefighters from the ones who don't want to work and brings in firefighters who want to work and do the best they can. It tells us about Gallagher's style of leading his firefighters.

                Following on from here, Gallagher is promoted and leaves the company and then comes the Companies most famous Captain. Ray Downey. Downey was world renowned for his Search and Rescue abilities. He became the go to man for most disasters in the US. Downey set about transforming the company from one that just attends fires, to one that attends every incident that could require their services. They started to run to car accidents, the wierd and wonderful jobs, people impaled on spikes and each incident would be a learning curve for them. It was from this time that Rescue 2 became famous within the Fire Department circles of the US.

                The book goes into more detail about certain defining incidents within the FDNY that have occurred over the years. You learn about the Atlantic Avenue fire, a defining fire for the new Captain, Phil Ruvolo, a fire where 2 firefighters died and Rescue 2 utilised their skills to rescue others. It was an incident that represented exactly what the Rescue Companies were set up for.

                The author of this book was writing this and staying with the Company on research in the months leading up to the terror attacks of 9/11. As this was a defining moment of the FDNY's history, this is mentioned within the book. All firefighters from Rescue 2 that attended the towers on that day perished in the collapses. 8 firefighters died that day from Rescue 2, which, when considered with the fact that the company only has 25 firefighters assigned to it, it is alot. The book follows the rebuilding of the Company following this moment in it's history.

                The author of the book is Tom Downey, the nephew of the famous Ray Downey. It is due to this connection that he managed to get such access to Rescue 2. It is 320 pages long andd was published in June 2004. You can currently get a new copy on Amazon for £5.15, which isn't too shabby.

                If the fire service interest you, specifically the FDNY, then this book is definitely for you. I could not put it down once I started, it gripped me from the very beginning. It is nice to get the history of a Company of the FDNY and also find out more about certain defining incidents.

                If, however, none of that interests you, then I would imagine you may find it a bit boring and not to your taste, so give it a miss. It gives you some information about how the FDNY operates, but doesn't baffle the newbie to how it operates. It gives you enough to understand what is going on. I would recommend this, as I enjoy it so much and probably read this 3 times a year and still can't put it down each time I start it again.

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              • Review of the Year 2009 / Discussion / 65 Readings / 61 Ratings
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                16.12.2009 12:28
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                Another year down.

                *** What did you do in 2009 that you have not done before? ***
                Got made redundant.

                *** Did anyone close to you give birth? ***
                The brother's other half.

                *** Did anyone close to you die? ***
                Not that I'm aware of, kept it quiet if they did.

                *** What countries did you visit? ***
                USA and France.

                *** What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? ***
                Financial stability.

                *** What dates will you remember from 2009? ***
                7th December, moving near 300 miles up north to attempt a new start.

                *** Did you suffer illness or injury? ***
                Just a few regular colds.

                *** What was the best thing you bought? ***
                I don't remember buying anything significant.

                *** Whose behaviour has merited celebration? ***
                The wife has been a wee trooper.

                *** Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? ***
                No one's.

                *** Where did most of your money go? ***
                Buying towards debts.

                *** What did you get really excited about? ***
                She may tend to disagree, but finding out we are expecting our first child.

                *** What song(s) will you remember from 2009? ***
                Nothing springs to mind.

                *** Compared to this time last year are you . . . happier, fitter, or more productive? ***
                Probably fitter, done lots of bike riding.

                *** What do you wish you had done more of? ***
                Paid more attention towards our finances.

                *** What do you wish you had done less of? ***
                TV watching.

                *** What was your favourite TV programme? ***
                A toss up between The Inbetweeners or The Big Bang Theory.

                *** Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year? ***
                No.

                *** What's been the best book of 2009? ***
                So many to choose from. I haven't read more recent one's of his, but I have got into Micheal Connolly books.

                *** What was your greatest musical discovery? ***
                Not a music person, so none.

                *** What did you want to get in 2009? ***
                Many, many things.

                *** What did you want and didn't get? ***
                Many, many things.

                *** What is your favourite film of the year? ***
                I enjoyed 2012.

                *** What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? ***
                Worked a rather boring day.

                *** What political issue stirred you the most? ***
                I coudn't care any less about politics.

                *** Who was the best person you met? ***
                I do not know, no one jumps out.

                *** Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009? ***
                Always listen to the wife.

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                  15.12.2009 13:40
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                  A great read, be prepared for a tear or two.

                  I found this book in a second hand bookshop and paid a bargain price of £5 for it. I had never heard of it before, but being as it was about the Fire Service, I knew it would be to my liking.

                  The book starts on Tuesday 10th December 1974. It begins by following a 19 year old lad on his very first day at Paddington Fire Station following his training. It outliness his trepidation at being the new boy and slowly opens into the whole crew of the station arriving for their first day duty. As it opens up, it gives descriptions of the crew memebrs and a little bit of history about each person and how they became Firemen and ended up on Red Watch (hence the title) at Paddington fire Station.

                  For the first half of the book, it follows a pretty set pattern. The first part details what happens during that first day duty and a brief account of what the oncoming night duty deal with before Red Watches second day duty. Then, as you can probably predict, the book details everything that occurs during the second day duty (Wednesday 11th December 1974) and again a brief account of what occurs during the night shift.

                  Coming onto Red Watches first night duty (Thursday 12th December 1974, going into Friday 13th December 1974), you could be forgiven for thinking the book just keeps following the same pattern all the way through. It starts the same as the other shifts, detailing what occurs during the shift, the calls they attend, etc. It differs only slightly, in that the watch attend more incidents during the early part of the hift compared with the previous shifts.

                  The book then heads into one particular incident. At 03:32am on that fateful Friday 13th, the Red WAtch are awoken from their slumbers with instructions to attend Worsley Hotel, Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale for a fire. The hotel is just a few minutes from the Fire Station and as the doors open for the engines to leave the station, the crews are met by smoke drifting across the road and are immediately aware they have a working job.

                  I won't go into to much detail about the fire itself, it is well documented on the internet and it would spoil the book for you. The book goes into alot of detail about the responding crews and the actions they undertake to bring the fire under control. The fire quickly escalates into the biggest fire of the year and crews have to work in arduous conditions to rescue somewhere in the region of 30 people from all floors of the hotel.

                  It is during this time, approximately an hour into the incident, a fatal collapse occurs and traps several firemen, killing one. Crews work for several hours to rescue the survivors of this collapse and have to suffer this knowing they have lost one of their own. The book ends with an awards ceremony for the crews at this fire.

                  Having never heard of the book or this fire before I read it, I was very shocked to read it and actually had a cry the first time I read it. I have since read this book several times, spotting things I hadn't spotted in previous reads and although I don't cry now, it is still very saddening. At first, I was not sure if it was fictional, but after doing some research, discovered this to be a true story.

                  The author is Gordon Honeycombe, who released this book in 1977. This is the copy I have, but it has since been re-released in recent years. It is 304 pages long and can be picked up on Amazon for as little as £2.49 for a used copy.

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                    24.11.2009 19:50
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                    As above.

                    Being a lover of all things related to the Fire Service, this has become one of my favourite books. Originally published in the early 1970's by author Dennis Smith, it has been republished in 1999, with a new introduction by Mr Smith.

                    I found this book, by reading a different book by Dennis Smith (Report from Ground Zero) and this title being mentioned several times throughout that book. I was intrigued and just had to see what this book was like. I did some digging around and could not locate it anywhere, so had to special order it in a second hand bookshop. They located it and I had to part with £45 for the book. Since it's republication, you can find this on Amazon new for £3!!!!

                    Dennis Smith was a Firefighter for the city of New York during what is known as the war years. He joined in the 60's and retired after 18 years. After a few years service, he transferred into Engine Company 82, located in the South Bronx and at that time, the busiest fire engine in the USA, possibly the world. This book is set within the confines of this Engine Company (hence the title) and is after around 5 years of being with this company.

                    The book is not set in a chronological order as such, but I believe is set in a year of his time at the company. Throughout the book, Smith details some historical event that have occurred during his time with the department and events that happen while he is writing the book. It details the frustrations of dealing with false alarms, dealing with overdoses and a severe lack of sleep and food whilst working (the company attending as many as 30 incidents in a single 8 hour shift).

                    It is not all doom and gloom though. Smith does detail some happier moments of saving people from fire and property and belongings of the people of the community. He goes into what it is like in the firehouse and the bond the firefighter's have with each other.

                    The new version is 260 pages long. There are no pictures or illustrations, just pure writing. I have the original copy, so do not know what the new introduction is like. It can only add to what is a great book. I have read this book more times than I care to remember and once I start it, I can't put it down until it's finished. If you are into fire service stuff, then I thoroughly recommend this book to you, you won't be disappointed.

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                    • Backdraft (DVD) / DVD / 69 Readings / 69 Ratings
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                      15.11.2009 21:20
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                      My favourite film of all time by far.

                      Being as this is my favourite film of all time, I thought it was about time I attempt to complete a decent review of it. Being as this is my first film review, please bear with me and I apologise if it is rubbish.

                      Released in 1991, this is a film about firefighting, but much, much more than that. The blurb on the back of my DVD states it is about 2 fueding brothers, carrying on the heroic family tradition as Chicago firefighters. A series of arson attacks forces them to set aside their differences to solve these explosive crimes.

                      That doesn't really say alot about the film really and I wouldn't be surprised if you read that and thought about giving it a miss. It is directed by Ron Howard, who you may be aware has directed a few films over the years. It has an all star cast, with Kurt Russel (Stephen 'bull' McCaffery) and William Baldwin (Brian McCaffery) as the fueding brothers. It also stars Scott Glenn (Axe), Robert De Niro (Shadow, fire investigator), Donald Sutherland (the imprisoned arsonist who's name eludes me) and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the love interest of the younger McCaffery (Brian).

                      The film starts in the 70's, with a short piece of history to set the story in motion and then jumps 20 years into the present day, where Brian has just finished his training as a firefighter. Here he meets with Stephen at a fire scene to discover he is assigned a place at his brothers firehouse, much to his dislike.

                      The story then follows Brian's struggle to become a fully fledged firefighter and become respected in his brothers eyes. In between all this, they do attend some fires (more than a few of which are arson) and save people in the process. As time goes on, the investigations into these fires reveals some disturbing answers, leading to a rather explosive and unexpected end.

                      The acting by all throughout the film is exceptionally good. All actors had to attend the Chicago Fire Department training centre for a few weeks training and then spent several shifts at stations to get first hand knowledge of firefighting. Throughout filming, members of the fire department were assigned to the film to give assistance with authenticity. Robert De Niro even went as far as noticing how every firefighter places his helmet on his head in the exact same way and replicates that in the film. I would say Donald Sutherland and De Niro's performances are possibly the best in the film, but all are exceptional.

                      After filming had ended, the film company donated the Fire Engines used during filming (which were brand new for the film) to the Chicago Fire Department. This is one of the very few films to have actually made me cry and even after watching it so many times, it still does.

                      Unfortunately, the film was made in Hollywood and you can tell that with the at times, rather over the top explosions and dancing flames, flames in the walls, etc. It is slightly annoying, but not enough to make the film bad in any way.

                      Running time is approximately 132 minutes. Classified as suitable for 15 years and over, it does contain moderate sex scenes, a minute amount of violence and well some burnt people/bodies and a bit of gore. You can currently pick this up new on amazon for £1.96 or used for a shocking 88p!!

                      Hopefully you have enjoyed reading this, as it is my first film review, any hints or tips you can provide to improve will be greatly appreciated. Just leave a comment for me.

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                        25.10.2009 16:23
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                        Good to do if you're looking for something to do.

                        Gray Line are one of the tour operators in New York city. They operate serveral different bus tours through out the day. If you have been to New York before, then you will most certainly have seen the ticket sellers, who seem to be on every corner in Midtown Manhattan, trying to sell what ever they can to you. Unbeknown to me, until my most recent trip, they have a sales office located on 8th Avenue, not far from Times Square.

                        The bus tours that Gray Line operate are:

                        Uptown Loop-taking you uptown, above Central Park, through Harlem and back to midtown down 5th Avenue. Operates 8:30am to 4:40pm and lasts approx. 2 hours.
                        Downtown Loop-takes you downtown from Times Square, all the way to Battery Park and South Street Seaport, before making it's way back to Times Square. Operates 8am to 6pm and lasts approx. 2 hours.
                        Brooklyn Loop-Departs from South Street Seaport, takes you across the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn, tours some of the neighbourhoods and then goes back across the bridge to the Seaport. Operates 10am to 3:30pm and lasts approx. 2 hours.
                        Night Tour-Starts at Times Square and completes most the Downtown Loop, but also takes you over into Brooklyn and shows you a small part of that, before heading back to Times Square. Operates from 6pm to 8:30pm and lasts approx. 2 hours.

                        These are the main bus tours for Gray Line. With the expection of the Night Tour, the other 3 are hop on-hop off loops. This means that they stop at various places, so you can get off and catch a different tour later on from the same spot or head to a different stop to catch it. Each tour is approximately $40 for an adult, but there are always offers on the go throughout the year.

                        When we were there this time, my wife wanted to do the Night Tour, as we had done this before and I wanted to do the Uptown and Brooklyn Loop, to see a different part of the city. We looked at a leaflet found inside the sales office and discovered the All Loops Tour with NYC Duck tour for $60 each. This comprises of 48hours worth of each bus tour and a ride on the Duck bus. Considering buying tickets for the 4 main tours seperately would cost $160 alone, this makes the $60 a bargain. With it being 48 hours as well, you can get on and off any of the tours as mcuh as you want in that time.

                        Having seen the Duck buses driving around, we decided to go for that first. The Departure point is in Times Square and the first thing we noticed was that there was no time table anywhere. In the leaflet we had, it just had what the tours were in, nothing about times the buses ran and the same for the departure points.

                        Anyway, we joined the queue and within 10 minutes, a 'duck' had arrived. The thing you notice about these is that the bus looks like a gallieon ship on a set of wheels. You had to climb, what they call a ladder, but I call a steep set of steps to get on and find a seat. There are no seatbelts for you to use on any of the buses. This tour set off and heads towards the Hudson River.

                        A tour guide is pointing out all the good bits of the tour, etc. We had a exceptionally good guide for our ride, who seemed to know his stuff and was very good with everyone on board. At the river, you go into a shed to have the wheels washed and watch a short film. You get squirtted with some water and next thing you know, you are heading down a slipway into the river. The boat shape then becomes clear. The bus/boat heads up river for a short distance, before stopping and the guide came round and took pictures of everyone onboard with there own cameras, with the City Skyline in the background. A very nice touch.

                        You the head back to where you entered and make your way back to Times Square. This tour did not seem to have a specific route, it seemed to depend on traffic at the time. It lasted around one hour and was a pretty fun thing to do. I would recommend this to anyone.

                        After this, we decided to jump on the Downtown Loop and get off at the Seaport to get the Brooklyn Loop. Having been on a night tour before and knowing it takes you on the downtown loop, we were not to bothered about doing this tour again. The tour guide was good, but had nothing on the boat tour guide, so we just spotted things we hadn't spotted before.

                        At the Seaport, we decided we were hungry, and having seen a small queue waiting for the next bus to come along, we went for some food. This is where the fact that there are no time tables anywhere spoils it a little bit. After getting food, we headed back to the queue, to find everyone on a bus and no more queue. The bus had nothing on it to distinguish what it was for and there is no signs anywhere to tell you where to queue for the tour.

                        I ended up finding a tour operator from Citysights, Grayline's rival company and asked him if he knew. The bus that was waiting was the bus we needed and that was the place to queue. The reason we couldn't ask the bus driver or Gray Line operator, was due to the distinct lack of them being around. We stand by the bus, to eventually be told it's full by a driver, who arrives and then drives away. Fair enough, if it's full, it's full.

                        So we wait for the next one. A operator asks if we are waiting for the Brooklyn tour, we respond in the affirmitive and he tells us to queue where we are. All hunky dory. The the clock strikes 3:15pm. Still not knowing any times, we just queue. All of a sudden, a different tour man appears, stands about 15 metres away from us and shouts "I don't know why your all waiting for, there ain't no more Brooklyn tours today". As quick as he appeared and said that, he disappeared. A downtown bus appears and everyone crams on to that.

                        So, we find ourselves back in Times Square, myself being a wee bit annoyed for what has happened. We decide we will jump on the Uptown Loop instead. This was good. It was a real eye opener, to see different parts of Manhattan. Lower Manhattan appears to have lots of money everywhere. Going through Harlem, you see that none of that money goes above Central Park. You see alot of different things and it is nice to get a different perspective on everything. The downside of this tour for us was the tour guide.

                        She was rubbish and that is being very kind to her. We were driving along and there would be some sort of statue or building that looks like it has history to it and they would mention it, but she would be silent. Then she would direct your eyes to a building by saying "note, to the right, the supermarket". So you look at the supermarket, thinking hat is the special part of it going to be. Has it appeared in films, who knows. No, it turns out, it's just a supermarket. There is nothing special about it. Then she points out a building that was a bank, but is now reused as a drug store. Seriously, I never knew that sort of stuff happened. I mean, in this country, we don't have supermarkets and then just leave building's empty once the previous occupier has gone. The worst part by far about her though, was her incessant asking for tips. Past a certain point, she started asking for tips every 100metres or so. She also had a thing about children and would point out every child that was playing in a park.

                        After that, we decided to skip the night tour. It is a very good tour if you get a good guide. It is the downtown loop and a bit more in the dark, with all the lights in the city on.

                        The next day, we went for the Brooklyn tour again. This time, we were lucky and got on it at first attempt. I can't really recommend this tour. It is good, you do get to see some of Brooklyn, but you do't go that far into it or go to alot of different areas. Unfortunately, we didn't have a very good guide for this one and he spoke exceptionally fast, making it difficult to understand what he was pointing out.

                        With the exception of the Brooklyn Loop and Duck tour, the buses are open top double decker buses. They do have some seating inside downstairs, but due to advertising on the side of the bus, you can't really see out. The Brooklyn Tour is a single decker enclosed bus and the duck is a boat type thing.

                        Out of all the tours, I would recommend the Night Tour, the Uptown Loop if you fortunate to get a good guide and the Duck tour. I would look out for deals though, as getting these seperate will be expensive.

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                          22.10.2009 08:20
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                          The art really is modern.

                          MOMA-The Museum of Modern Art. A relatively famous art museum in New York City. It is located in a rather non descript building on 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. It is not to be confused with the grander looking Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMOA), which is located on 5th Avenue, set into Central Park.

                          Now, I am not an art lover by any means. In fact, I would go as far as saying it does bore me slightly. This does not put me off having my mind changed or trying new things, so on our recent trip to the city, we found ourselves heading for the MOMA. I shall be honest at this point though. We only found ourselves entering this art place, as it was free to get in. Between 4pm and closing every Friday afternoon, the museum is free to enter. At all other times, the prices to get in are : Adults $20, Over 65 $16, Students $12 and under 12's free. The museum opens at 10:30am and closes at 5:30pm, except on Friday, when it is 8pm.

                          As we went when it was free entry, this review shall focus on that. Having looked on the MOMA website before visiting, it advises arriving an hour to 2 hours after 4pm on the Friday, as the queue at that time is rather large. Now, taking that advice, we arrived at 5:30pm and found no queue, but the place was absolutely rammed with people. I did find it odd that you can't just walk straight in. We tried to go straight through the security barriers and were informed we needed tickets. So a little walk back down to the main lobby and grabbed 2 tickets off the side (as they are just printed out and placed on the side?!) and away we went.

                          Like I said, the place was rammed with people. Now, I have a strange disliking of people at the best of times and when it's crowded, it does get my goat up. We perservered though and after a 5 minute walk up some stairs, round some corridors, we found some exhibits. As I have said, I am not an art person, so it did all go above my head rather easily.

                          I only remember a few exhibits, mainly because what I did see was pretty dire to be honest. I really don't understand art at all. One exhibit was 3 different coloured straight lines on the wall. Seriously!!!! I can draw that. Another was a American Army Land Jeep, nothing done to it, just sitting there. Then there was a room of light shades, all of which I had seen in Ikea before.

                          Now, there were 2 pieces of art that I did like. The first was a picture of a person. Picture of a person you say. This was different in that it was made entirely out of cigarettes. All bent and unbroken into call shapes to make the person. It was very cool looking. Then there was a picture titled Mr Penis Head. I think you can draw your own conclusions of that picture, but it did amuse the inner child in me.

                          As the place was so packed, we decided after an hour of trying to get in everywhere that we would leave. If you enjoy art and understand it, then I would expect you will enjoy visiting here. If you are like me however, I would give it a miss, unless you go when it's free on the Friday.

                          I've given it a generous 3 stars, as it is a good place, but something that I don't enjoy. I can't fault something just because it's not my cup of tea.

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                          • Listerine Freshburst / Oral Care / 67 Readings / 67 Ratings
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                            15.10.2009 08:59
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                            Find a better mouthwash.

                            Following the theme of clean teeth, here we are with some mouth wash. We purchased this as it was the cheapest at the time. You can currently get this for £2 in Asda for a 100ml bottle.

                            It's a standard plastic bottle, listing all the ingredients and so forth on the labels. As you can see in the picture, it is a see through green liquid.

                            The instructions tell you to fill the cap up and put in your mouth (the liquid, not the cap). I always find that this a large amount of liquid in my mouth and usually only half fill the cap. Once inside your mouth, you just swill it a round and round, conccentrating on getting it into all parts of your mouth.

                            Once you start doing this, you understand how Listerine works on cleaning your mouth. It burns everything off in there. I don't know if it actually does that, but that is certainly what it feels like. It is not a pleasant feeling at all. It feels like I'm swilling petrol around in my mouth.

                            Then we come to spit it out and the aftertaste it leaves. My mouth is generally pretty moist, but after using this, it leaves my mouth feeling very dry. It is horrible, even after washing out the taste with water, having a drink, etc, it just feels dry. I end up going to sleep with a dry, uncomfortable feeling in my mouth.

                            I would not recommend this to anyone, it's just not good enough taste wise or after effects wise. Sure, it appears to clean my mouth and make my breath fresh, but it's just not worth it.

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