Ampers' Rants

Ampers' Rants

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9 Feb 2023

How's your memory?

Firdt for bad memories, second to speed up shopping

When you reach the dizzy age of 83, and you drank too much in your misspent youth, your memory is shot to hell! But I have discovered two apps available on Android, and perhaps on the iPhone. These are GAlarm and rShopping. I use both and they make me as efficient as I was in my younger business days.

First of all, I will talk about Galarm [Android & iPhone]. This is a very involved alarm system but is simple to use. I have over 100 alarms that go off during the week to remind me to do something, from getting my wife's tablets when I get up an hour before her at 6:30am. This tablet keeps her on an even keel but takes an hour to "kick in". At that time I empty the pots and pans from the meal the night before and refil with hot water. 

Then I check my phone for the night's data from South Africa and the United States. At 6:20am another alarm reminds me to clean the pots and pans and put them away. The next alarm reminds me to wake up my wife. And so on throughout the day. 

The alarm can go off next from one minute to x days, x hours and x minutes. You can be precise. Remind me to do this every three days, four hours and seventeen minutes. Yes, it can even do that! It is so flexible, it is incredible. Now for someone who's memory is shot to hell - too much wine, beer and whisky in my youth, I have suddenly become Uber efficient. 

The other app is rShopping (yes, it is an 'r' before Shopping and alas, it is only available on Android). Now this is something else. It might take an hour getting to know it, and another hour to set it up - but it is time well spent. I shop at local shops and three supermarkets. The app is overkill for the local shops and two of the supermarkets, although I use it for the last. In that store, it reduces a 45 minute shop to just 15 minutes -- and that includes the checkout! Imagine the time I'd save if I only used one supermarket and was too busy to use local shops.

It is important to put in the correct location. Let's assume I have entered 7/F/3. The first part is the aisle number, the second part is the side of the aisle. For example L for left and R for right is pretty useless if some days you are walking up that aisle and other days you are walking down that aisle. In the store I use an F which stands for the side of the aisle which is nearest to the Front of the store. And, of course a B for the back of the store! The position along the aisle needs to be a little hazy and restockers might move the position slightly. I use 1, 2 & 3. Therefore, I take the end where the tills are as number 1, to stand for the first third of the aisle, the middle third of the aisle as 2, and the third at the end of the aisle as 3.

Now I enter the store and just whizz through the aisles. What a saving. What a relief. If you shop at the Tesco in Finchley Central, don't tell your spouse of this new system as there is a pub right next door!

If you are just using the app for yourself, it is totally free. However, if you want to share your app with someone else, perhaps your spouse and older children, there is a 99p a month fee. I presume to cover their costs in cloud rental - the free clouds aren't for commercial companies! These people will give you a free period of 60 days before you pay for the first monthly payment. Baldrick, I sense a cunning plan. 3, 5 or 7 days free is not long enough to get the user hooked. 60 days is!

15 Mar 2022

Support the Male Cosmetic Industry NOT

I am in my eighties. I have never used soap, shampoo or oil of any kind on my hair for over 40 years. Just water. I've just asked my wife as it's hard to see the top of my head, but she says about 40% of the top is still brown - at 82!.

If you want to try this, pick a time carefully as, for the first 4 to 8 Weeks (depending on the length of your hair, it will become quite oily. Just think of the money you'll save. Over 40 years, it is real money!

Deodorant: unfortunately, this is hard to dispense with if you are active until the body grows older, but my pocket size deodorant container is now nine years old as I am fortunate not to sweat easily. I stopped sweating when I stopped using male cosmetics!

Talc? Buy a thick toweling robe and take it off when practically dry and do the rest naturally.

Shaving is different. I really only discovered the following in the last five or so years. I bought a top of range Panasonic razor, and a Gillette top of range razor. Every morning I run the Panasonic over my face and finish off with the Gillette. Because I get most off with the battery Panasonic, the Gillette blade stays sharp for a very long time - around 25+shaves. After 5 years the Panasonic razor is like new, But I look after it. .

Body lotions? Never! And my doctor admitted this is probably why I hardly draw a sweat. I shower rather than bath, and apart from my hands and wrist, under arms, and one or two other parts, I keep soap off my body - and we use unscented soap in our household.

I have never been told that I don't smell nice, even by my enemies. And, I have saved thousands over 40 years.

I've never asked before, but would you save the link above to this article and send the link to your contacts ? Thank you. 


Cape Malay Bobotie and Yellow Rice

Yield: 4 servings

One of my favourite meals, and my English wife loves it. The Cape Malay are a great people, and we've adopted so many of their recipes. I hope you make it, and enjoy it as much as we do.

2 cups rice

1 tsp turmeric

2 sticks Cinnamon

1 tsp Cinnamon sugar

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

1 kg minced lamb

125 ml milk

1 slice white bread, soaked in milk; crusts removed

2 each onions; roughly chopped

1/4 cup vinegar

3 each eggs, medium

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chutney

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tsp Chilli powder

1 each red chilli; finely chopped

1 each green chilli; finely chopped

8 each crushed almonds

1 each clove garlic

1 each lemon; sliced in wheels

1 each orange; sliced in wheels

Heat oil in frying pan and add garlic, onion, chopped chilli and curry owder.

Cook over medium heat for 3 mins, then add minced meat.

Fry until meat is almost done, then using your hands, squeeze milk out of

bread and add bread, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and chutney to mince. Then fry for minute and then remove from heat.

Take a pie dish and place 3 bay leaves, 2 wheels of orange and 2 wheels of

lemon at the bottom. Scoop the mince mixture into the dish.

Decorate sides of dish with rest of lemon and orange wheels by wedging them between the mince and sides of dish so that only a third protrudes.

Push almonds into mince

Beat eggs and 125 ml milk, pour over meat.

Put 3 bay leaves on top of dish. *** [see at end]

Place uncovered dish into oven and cook for 30 mins at 160 deg. C

Yellow Rice:

Place all ingredients, including raisins into about 750 ml of water, bring

to boil and simmer for 15-20 mins. Drain the rice, and then dot with few blobs of butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

Serve with plain green salad or chopped tomato and onion, sprinkled with a

little vinegar. Make sure there is chutney to hand.

*** you can stop here and put in the refrigerator. Then cook 30 minutes in the oven before your meal the next day. Ideal at dinner parties where you can spend more time with your guests over the first course whilst it is cooking.


Are there alternatives to TV

Are there alternatives to TV?

Are there better ways of spending the new upgraded price of around £158?

Apart from getting your evenings back, such as joining for local clubs in your area for hobbies, and sports, and other interests, you can play board games such as chess, backgammon, Texas Hold’em poker, bridge, Monopoly. and many others, such as trivia quizes etc. get the family together like our grandparents used to. Invite the neighbours to join in and play?

Dinner Parties? When was the last time you sat around a table with two or three couples to a sumptuous three course meal and wine?

Take more exercise. If you join a gym you’ll get both exercise and meet new people who may add to your friends circle. Or you could go for long walks. I am 82 and walk a minimum of one mile a day, sometimes two, three or more. I have a watch that checks my paces. This can be useful if you set yourself targets.

When I was a young CEO, my friends would join expensive health clubs, but I joined a leaflet distribution firm and got paid for delivering leaflets. A miserable reward but I was getting fit, and not paying out for it!

Do some volunteer work for the local charities or look on your local council website for ideas.

Read books, more about that later.

Local Churches and Synagogues often have events for their parishioners. You don’t need to be that religion, or even religious. You will still be welcome.

Then you could also sign up for a class, either for education or your hobby. Interested in photography, or would like to take better photos is just one example.

tart a journal. I use Diaro, a great app for writing up each day.

Join a martial arts class, I did Judo in my younger days, and it has always been useful throughout my life. Not fighting, but confidence in facing anything the world throws at me.

You can also have tremendous music evenings, more about this later.

If your job or hobby is interesting, or you have an interest in politics, start a blog. Wordpress is free and very easy to master and, if you like writing, share your work with the world.

So if you get rid of your TV – just unplug the aerial and you can still use it for Netflix, YouTube, Ted or Prime Video. And not have to pay the licence. But be honest, don't be pursuaded to turn it on and watch rubbish!

Amazon Prime. Most people think it just gives you free delivery. But, £79 a year works out at approx £1.52 a week. If you only order one item every three weeks, you’ve covered your cost. I order an average of four items a week so I am well in! But you also gets free access to a huge range of Amazon books and magazines on Kindle, Amazon music allows an awful amount of free music if you have a music evening. Then there area large amount of free films. The films are streamed for 48 hours for a very reasonable price so you need not watch it all at one sitting.

Then you get Netflix for £71.88 a year which equals to £1.38 a week. The films are all free so if you only watch one film a month, you are winning.

Don’tt forget YouTube, there are millions of videos from short clips to very long videos. Subjects include films, music, politics and everything else thrown in. Have you heard of TED? They scan the world for excellent speakers to speak for twenty minutes on interesting subjects. As I am from Africa, I am hooked on hundreds of clips on Africa – but every subject under the sun is covered.

So, between entertaining yourself with sharing things with otherss, as per the first section, or a quiet night in, watching Prime/Netflix/YouTube/TED videos, or Prime and YouTube music videos, which are always available on the odd occasion when you have nothing better to do. 


Sovereign and free

I've just written my first short story "Sovereign and Free". 

I've just written a book called "Sovereign and Free".

I'm afraid, being an ex journalist of the old school (1955}, it is not padded out. Therefore not too long.

Its about this guy who gets kidnapped to another world, and asked, with their assistance of "out of world" ways, to sort the mess in which the world is going. Now follows the part which shows why the government have given the order to shoot to kill - on sight - this guy. 😂

There's a lot of travelling around the world whilst matters are put into place, the second book will cover more "attacking" ground. 

A link to download here


Learning to cook

It is really not that difficult. It just takes a little discipline, and patience. I’m not a brilliant chef, but as we Afrikaners say: “’n Boer moet ‘n plan hê” or a farmer must have a plan!

My wife and I are over a decade after retirement age so we thought we’d simplify our meals but have a healthy diet. We have weekly menus, A, B, C & D which gives us a four week period between dishes so boredom doesn't rear its ugly head.

We have porridge with blueberries, sultanas and a spot of honey five days a week, and toast and various toppings on Sundays. A friend joins us on Tuesdays so we have a treat of croissants. But every lunch and evening meal is different over the four weeks.

First of all, to avoid confusing whilst cooking we type out the recipe always in the same order as per:

- - - - -

Breast of chicken, Cajun style (C)

Preparation: 50 min - Cooking:  20 min - Total:  seventy minutes


_________  6 tbsp olive oil

_________  11/2 tsp Cajun seasoning

_________  11/2 tsp dried Italian herbs

_________  11/2 tsp lemon pepper

_________  2 tsp garlic granules, or to taste

_________  2 Chicken boneless breasts


In a large shallow dish, mix the oil, Cajun seasoning, Italian herbs, garlic granules and lemon pepper.

Place the chicken in the dish, and turn repeatedly to coat with the mixture.

Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

When applied turn grill up to maximum and grill 8 minutes each side or until the juices run clear.

Add mixture from the pan on top of chicken when on a plate.

- - - - -

If you haven’t cooked before, there is a simple way to begin. Start with one meal a week and slowly increase this. And, I don’t mean by making a cup of tea! Once you have your menu, get the ingredients out, then measure the ingredients you intend to use, we have a collection of tiny pots for this. By doing this in stages before you cook, you will find you have all the time in the world when actually cooking the meal. Granted, at first, it will be more time consuming until you get ued to the routine!

Make a note of how long it took for this as we want three figures on the recipe. Preparation time, cooking time and total time. You may want to reduce preparation time after you have made the meal a few times.

The first time follow the recipe religiously from start to finish – take your time – and make copious notes after you have eaten the meal, sit down together and make notes with the recipe beside you. Would you prefer less or more of any of the ingredients? Was there any other ingredient you might want to add? Alter your recipe – and do this for a few meals until you are happy with it.

It sounds much more daunting than it is. If your main meal is in the evenings, start with lunches. If you work, there are still the weekends!

I used to use a Windows program called “Now you’re cooking” before I moved to Linux fifteen years ago. It really was a terrific program and is still around and probably much better now. In fact it is the only program I really miss since I moved to Linux.

It really is easy to learn to cook, and if you choose your menus wisely, it is so much healthier than takeaways and comfort eating!

As mentioned, we have four weekly menus, Week A, Week B, Week C and Week D. We rotate these over four weeks and have a shopping week based for each week. Our lives are so much easier now. We have one free main meal each week where we can either go out, or try a new recipe to break up the routine a little.