News and comments from Arthur

Mikado in the UK

 Monday 27 Apr 2009, 1:23 PM

Watching the TV the other night, what do I see but an advert for Mikado, the Western version of Pocky.

They are exactly the same (although I have yet to perform a side by saide taste test) and are still made by Glico, the same compamny as Pocky although I think they are actually produced under licence by Kraft foods.

Mikado have been available for a number of years in continental Europe but only in a few basic flavours - milk and plain chocolate and possible almond chocolate as well. This is the first time they have appeared officially on UK shores.

The advert harks back to the product`s Japanese roots with a short, Japanese business woman climbing onto the office photocopier to reach a packet of Mikado on the shelf above, only to be disturbed by her male associate who bursts in to see the lady essentially photcopying her crotch up her dress as she kneeels on the copy button.

To be honest, they aleady have me sold without having to showing Japanese women photocopying their lady bits, but it can`t do any harm! Now all I have to do is find out where I can buy them. The UK website isn`t bery helpful as it just has a placehoilder image essentially saying coming soon. But at least I can look at the websites for other countries and see what they get (The French get the best selection with 6 flavours to choose from). Hmmmmm..... Hazlenut Mikado.....

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Porch step 2

 Sunday 26 Apr 2009, 7:49 AM

Yesterday`s small job in the porch reconstruction was to box in some manky woodwork and bricks around my front door. A trip to B&Q and I had various lenghts of wood.

As a brief aside, I had to contend with one of those automated, self scan tills at B&Q. Of course it went wrong asking me to put stuff onto the scales when I already had or asking mw to remove things from the scalee when I hadn`t put anything there. Mentiong this to the "helpful" assisstant just got a "you shouldn`t use them if you don`t think they`re any good" response. Didn`t seem to matter that I never have this trouble with the ones I use in ASDA every day. Or the fact that a choice between a long queue to wait to be served by the one human checkout operator who is working at that moment and who is probably miserable anyway day or a grumpy computer isn`t really much of a choice.

Anyway, I then spent the next hour or so cutting it all to size, shaping it round the curved walls, glueing on extra stipes to add extra thickess round corners and alike. Now just waiting for it to dry before attaching it with some grabs like nails or similar. I also need to find some extra wood, of which I should have some in my loft, to finish off boxing in the final bits of the wooden lintel over the front door. I could have done it staright away but decided to mow the lawn and apply some grass seed as it is due to rain next week, perfect for growing new grass.

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It`s Alive!

 Friday 24 Apr 2009, 7:32 AM

Roomba is back in action, this time for good (hopefully).

The old motor for the right wheel was jammed (my dad said the motors for the wheels are a bit cheep and nasty and something had slipped to where it shoud`nt do, thus not allowing it to turn freely). Still he managed top repair it and it worked, albeit with some extra strange noises, for a few cleans before it seized again. Thus it was time for a new part.

The only place I could find that sold them was Unfortunately, even buying one from them was not straightforward as as they simply listed the wheels as Left or Right, which was fair enough but the diagram in the Roomba manual labelled what I would call the right wheel as "left" (you really wouldn`t think it would be that difficult for a big company to get the concepts of Left and Right corerect but clearly that`s asking a bit much).

A quick call to them just to double check and the order was placed. It didn`t quite arrive as quickly as expected (probably down to the post office) but it only took a few days and was (pretty much) easy to swap into place due to the modual nature of the Roomba (I say pretty much - the biggest problem I had was finding my small screwdriver that would fit the smaller screws!).

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Porch reconstruction

 Sunday 19 Apr 2009, 7:42 AM

My little porch has been in a state of disarray for a good few years now. As usual I started work on it by ripping out all the nasty old wooden panelling and striping the woodship wallpaper (the last of it anywhere in my house) but didn`t get much further other than buying a sheet of plasterboard to cover some exposed brickwork.

I got fed up of the plasterboard sitting in my hall for the last 9 months covering up my favopurite Judge Dredd artwork, so yesterday I finally got round to cutting it to size and attaching it to the wall using drywall adhesive. Of course, plaster got everywhere and I still ahve half a sack (approx 12 kg) of advesive left sitting in the back of my car - I have no idea what to do with it though!

And today, once the advesive was dry I started filling in the edges, putting on some jointing tape and filling in the joins. Also applied some smoothy goo stuff (Polycell smooth walls or something like that) to the other wall to smooth over spme cracks and weird transitions from plaster to concrete. Saying that, the stuff I put on was rougher than what it was supposed to be smoothing but at least it can be sanded flat.

Next job, to box in around the door to make it look nice.

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Roomba surgery

 Monday 6 Apr 2009, 5:56 AM

My Roomba has joined the ranks of the disabled having lost the use of a wheel. Unlike humans who often jump into a wheelchair and carry on as before (please note this is a massive oversimplification and not meant to diminish the difficulties people in wheelchairs face on a daily basis) my Roomba is crippled and of little use until his broken wheel can be fixed (unlike humans who generally don`t have a fix option available)

I found Roomba stuck behind a speaker on Saturday afternoon. I thought it was just caught on the cable so I picked it up and put it back on the docking station to recharge. But come Sunday morning when I tried to set it going again, Roomba just went round it circles. A quick play with the wheels and I could instantly tell one was a lot stiffer than the other and clearly wasn`t turning.

What do do next then... turn to the internet of course! But whilst lots of people reported a similar problem, none seemed to offer a satisfactory solution. Thus I set about taking Rooma to bits. It actually came apart very easily and I was impressed how it was designed to be modular. The wheel unit unplugged very simply (wuth new ones available to buy and plug in for £35) but getting any further was a bit tricker. I got so far before I couldn`t dismantle the wheel any more without specialist tools to remove a pivot pin holding the wheel in the plastic casing. Howveer, my Dad never lets little things like that beat him and, after a few turns of a lathe he had made some tubes and push rods to dismantle the wheel!

I was hoping it would be the wheel`s drive mechanism that was stiff but unfortunately it was the motor and that was a sealed metal case with circuit boards soldered into it and alike. This I had had to leave the motor with my Dad for some more drastic surgery, knowing that if it was terminal at least £35 would get me a new plug in module to get Roomba back up and running.

So, here I am left cleaning the old fashioned way having to make physical effort to push a Dyson round the house. How tedious!

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