1 February 2014 (Saturday) - Still Raining
What with all the stress and excitement of my trip to London yesterday I didn't eat during the day. When I got to astro club I was delighted to find the most wonderful chilli had been prepared. I was suddenly very hungry and ate three bowls of the stuff. In retrospect that was somewhat excessive; it didn't sit well overnight, and I spent much of today farting like a fruitbat.
(That is assuming fruitbats fart excessively)
Over brekkie I watched an episode of "Jeeves and Wooster" that I hadn't seen before. I seem to catch episodes of that series at random; perhaps it might all make more sense if I watched it in order.
I checked emails, and then set off to work. As I drove along the ten (or so) miles of the A28 between Ashford and Canterbury I couldn't help but look to the river. Last night flood warnings had been issued for the river Stour, and at every part of the river that I could see from the road the river had overflowed its banks and flooded the surrounding fields.
As I drove I could see a tailback of cars behind a large Tesco lorry. Many drivers were overtaking this lorry recklessly and dangerously; often on blind corners. As I finally got close enough to read the signage on said lorry (in Wincheap) I couldn't help but be amazed. Apparently Tesco lorries will not go faster than forty miles per hour on single carriageway road for safety reasons. I can't help but feel that this policy is going to cause someone's death. Were these lorries to drive at a more sensible speed people wouldn't feel the need to go haring past them.
I popped into Morrisons to get some fruit for lunch, completely forgetting I wanted to buy a torch while I was there. Then I went to work where I did my bit.
I did look out of the window from time to time at a glorious morning, and I did wonder about what might have been. There had been talk of going to Greenwich to the observatory today, but only talk. Nothing more had been said. Mind you as the day wore on so the weather got worse. Torrential rain had returned by 2pm and poured for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening so perhaps today wouldn't have been such a good day for an outing. I don't mind being at work when the weather is awful...
2 February 2014 (Sunday) - Religions, Schools
I had something of a lonely breakfast this morning. I've got used to handing the crusts of my toast to my dog. This morning when I came downstairs he was snoring on the sofa and wasn't interested in eating half my brekkie. In fact he only stirred himself five minutes before I had to set off to work.
I'd left home with a few minutes to spare today, and I stopped a few times on my journey to look at the floods. Places and paths I've walked through and along only a few months ago are now under large swathes of water. It's no secret that I get very over-excited by floods, but even I have had enough of them now.
I can't help but wonder where all this water has come from? Perhaps someone should be digging enormous underground reservoirs to hold all this water; we will have hosepipe bans and droughts in just a few short months.
Being Sunday the morning's radio was of an ecumenical persuasion. There was an interesting discussion on a current phenomenon in ecclesiastical circles; namely the formation of new churches. Apparently a lot of new churches are springing up; many are evangelical splinter sects with somewhat bizarre beliefs. Few have much in the way of resources and many are renting out existing church premises in which to have their services.
There was a London vicar being interviewed who was saying that her church and associated premises were being used by three other religious groups as well as her own congregation. This woman went on to say that she gets contacted at least once a week by leaders of various sects asking if they can use her church, and she's having to turn people away.
This vicar then brought up an interesting point. Schools are subject to all sorts of inspections and regulations, as are care homes and hospitals. There is absolutely no control over religion in our country. Any crackpot can start up their own church and preach whatever nonsense they like to all and sundry. And it would seem that this is what is happening more and more.
I wish I could remember the exact words used on the radio show; the vicar's implication was that many of the people who go to church are rather gullible and are inclined to believe any old nonsense that is spouted loudly and confidently. And it would seem that these new churches that are springing up appeal to the very gullible and easily led; far more so than do established churches. This is a worry for society because (apparently) it is very important to ensure that the general populace are only exposed to the correct and acceptable forms of patent nonsense. The vicar was most insistent that only some invisible friends are real and that only certain superstitions have any merit (!)
The concern was then expressed that there are some unscrupulous people taking advantage of this loop-hole in the law to prey on the elderly and the vulnerable. It was implied that the more nonsensical a belief, the more effective it might be as a "get rich quick" scheme. I thought organised religion had been playing this scam for years, but what do I know?
There was then a discussion on the need for control of the entire area of religion, and on how one might become a "state registered cleric"; which isn't quite such a daft idea as it might sound.
And then the Sunday service was broadcast live from Leeds Cathedral. I've mentioned before that when working on a Sunday I like listening to the Sunday service. It can be uplifting and invigorating. Today's was soporific.
I like choral singing; a friend sings in a very good choir. Today's singers weren't singing; they were howling. The preacher wasn't imparting sage wisdom; he was blathering platitudes.
And they wonder why the Church of England struggles whilst religious crackpotism is on the up-and-up.
The morning news made me smile. One in three secondary school teachers are scared to try to instil any form of discipline into their charges. Many head teachers are against any form of punishment against bad children for fear of being sued for infringing children's rights to be obnoxious little sh*ts.
The Education Secretary is now advocating a return to the good old days in which unruly children were punished for their bad behaviour rather than being rewarded for it. So far he's only going as far with punishments as litter patrols, tidying up and one hundred lines. But it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully it won't be long before the slipper and the cane are brought back.
Don't get me wrong... I'm not advocating wholesale thrashings; just the threat of it. Back in the halcyon days at the Hastings Academy for Budding Geniuses if a foot was put wrong one got caned. One boy would have a sore arse for a day; one thousand boys would then behave themselves and get on with their lessons for two years. After two years people would have forgotten the example of the previous caning and would get restless. One lad would go too far; an example would be made. Another sore arse, two more years of getting on with schoolwork for fear of the consequences of not doing so.
And every year that school would send dozens of undergraduates to every university in the country including half a dozen to Oxford and Cambridge. Compare that to the output of today's schools. Had the teachers at Swadelands school punished bad behaviour rather than rewarded it maybe "Daddies Little Angel TM" would have graduated four years ago rather than this coming summer.
Or just look at the Facebook posts of anyone aged under thirty. Or the entire Twitter phenomenon which is designed for those who cannot be bothered to use the English language correctly.
Spelling, grammar.... perhaps we might get those back again.
Sometimes I can be rather opinionated, can't I...
3 February 2014 (Monday) - This n That
Over brekkie I had a look-see at the world of social media (as I often do). And again I found myself amazed by people's attitudes and reactions to organised sport. Why is it that any hobby that I might pursue is a fair subject for ridicule? I regularly receive insult and banter (often quite personal and nasty) concerning any hobby I've ever taken up (geocaching, kite flying, fishing, oil painting, hiking, stargazing, trekkie-ing and drinking to excess all come in for ridicule). I take it all with a smile.
However if I say a single word which isn't glowing praise for organised sport, serious insult is taken. I once made a throwaway comment about "Mighty Morphin Queens Park Rangers" and was actually threatened with assault by someone I had hitherto thought to be a very good friend. This was no joke; he made it crystal clear that it was only the fact that I was a friend of his sister in law (and she would be upset) that stopped him striking me there and then. Yesterday a good natured jibe was made on-line about the American Superbowl and some rather nasty comments were made by the over-defensive sporting afficionados.
What is it about organised sport that provokes such strong feelings? Why would someone throw away a friendship of years in favour of an alleigence to a sports team who has never even heard of them?
I've ofter wondered. I wish I knew the answer. I must be missing something.
I took "Furry Face TM" for our morning’s walk. It was something of a disappointment. I had intended to go flood-spotting, but the waters had abated somewhat. Whilst we were crossing the footbridge over the bypass we saw an old mucker. Or thought we did. It was only when the chap was two feet away I realised it wasn’t Chippy. He smiled nervously at me; probably terrified of the badinage I’d been throwing his way.
Seeing that the floods under the railway bridge had subsided we then walked down through Frog’s Island into Willesborough. I checked on a couple of my geocaches as I went. And having checked on one I saw a couple walking down the footpath brandishing sat-nav equipment. We got chatting; they were geocachers from Norfolk who were passing through the area. They particularly like puzzle caches, and had targeted some of mine. I was pleased about that.
We made our way home via Hythe Road and Pets at Home. To anyone who doesn’t know the area that journey is not unlike travelling from London to Birmingham via Margate. Once home my dog had a shower to wash off the dirt, and I then settled him down with a pig’s ear I’d bought him. With him chewing away in his basket I attacked domestic drudgery. Washing and washing and Dyson-ing and sorting undercrackers.
As the washing machine chewed its second load I had a go at the astro club’s accounts. I like to check them immediately after a club meeting, but Friday had been a busy day for me, and I was working over the weekend, so today was the first chance I had to make sense of them. We seem to be just over fourteen quid better off than I think we should be. I wonder why that might be. If the worst comes to the worst I shall balance the books by embezzling that excess cash. After all, that’ll get me four pints of ale.
I then made a start on my latest on-line course - it's about the history, technology and security of the Internet. So far so good. I've done all the first week's stuff and got eighty per cent in the first test. Let's hope I can keep this up.
4 February 2014 (Tuesday) - No Trousers
The Treacle People have returned to early morning television. It's a shame so few episodes of this wonderful show were ever made. I've seen every one so many times, but they are all so good.
I also watched a couple of episodes of Family Guy over brekkie as well. They were good too. Mind you I can't help but feel I should watch that show from the start. Then I might have a clue as to what is going on.
I checked out social media over brekkie too; unfortunately with something of an air of "why do I bother". Yesterday I mentioned that my new on-line-learning course had started. The instructor asked for suggestions and improvements for the course about a dozen times in the first ten minute lecture. So last night in the discussion forums I politely suggested that all the learning material be made available immediately as it is in many of the other on-line courses. I found this very useful when I studied about dinosaurs. When I had time I could get ahead of myself, and so wouldn't fall behind in the weeks when I was busy with other things.
The various tutors and learning assistants involved with the course had all replied within a couple of hours of my original post. What they should have said was "thank you for an interesting suggestion which we shall consider". That way no offence would be given. Supercilious sarcasm on the course forum not only puts me off, but also makes the other two thousand people doing this course less inclined to contribute.
And the old chestnut of logging has reared its ugly head in geocaching circles. When one finds a cache one is required to say something on line about it. Opinion is divided as to exactly what should be said. There are those who merely say "TFTC" (thanks for the cache). There are those who write a detailed in depth biography about their entire experience of the hunt for the plastic, and then copy and paste most of what they've written into every other geocache log ad-nauseum. And there are even those who just copy and paste what someone else has written.
In all honesty nobody ever reads these little essays except when tring to get a hint to locate a particularly elusive sandwich box. And it is these hints that are expressly forbidden to be in the written logs.
It's all rather trivial. Those who wax loquacious will never convince those who do not. Those who give away spoilers think they are performing a public service. No side will ever persuade the other; it's an argument that has been done to death ages ago. And still it keeps on coming up.
And so to work. I left rather later than I might normally have done having spent fifteen minutes trying to find what I'd done with my trousers. How can anyone lose a pair of trousers? I never did find them; fortunately I have emergency back-up trousers for just such an eventuality. I hope I don't lose these too.
And so, equipped with trousers, I set off to work where I did my bit and then made my way to Somerset Road where the clans were gathering. The last time I was there I had heard mention of sweeties. There were lots of sweeties tonight. And we then settled down to count the anachronisms in this week's episode of Merlin. There were a few.
Merlin has been good, but the initial premise of a wizard keeping everything he does secret in a land where magic is outlawed is beginning to wear a llittle thin
5 February 2014 (Wednesday) - Films
Another good night's sleep; and my dog licked me awake shortly after 6am. Normally he's rather tired at tha sort of time. Did he know I was working today?
Over brekkie I watched Family Guy and played "fetch" with "Furry Face TM". I say "fetch" - it is his variation on the game where I throw a rubber ball for him. He fetches it back and chews it at me. He'll let it go for a second and snatch it back when I try to grab the thing. Hardly the traditional version of the game, but it keeps us both amused.
My missing trousers have appeared. er indoors TM" had made off with them. Heaven only knows what she was going to do with them. Camp out in them maybe?
To work; maybe a little later than usual when on the late shift. As I drove there was talk on the radio about today seeing the release of the re-make of the classic film "Robocop". The pundits were asking why yet another re-make. Are there no new stories to be told? The Hollywood mogul being interviewed pointed out that the public likes re-makes. He then qualified his statement somewhat. A re-make is something of a known quantity to the public. Those who liked the original Robocop will be more likely to pay money to see the new version than to pay money to see any other random film that might be released. The re-made film might be awful; the public might hate it. But re-makes are moneyspinners; far more so than new stories are, and that is what counts.
There was then an interview with a designer of roller-coasters. Apparently in the halcyon days of yore roller-coasters were designed to give thrills. They were to be scary; to provide an adrenaline rush. Nowadays a roller-coaster won't even get off of the drawing board unless it is somehow associated with a big Hollywood film.
Funny old world!
And so to work where I did my bit. And with bit done I came home through a very wet and windy night to find a rather good curry for tea. I would have gone to the geocachers meet if I'd been home earlier.
And in closing today have you seen my Facebook Film? I quite like it. Mind you Facebook films does seem to be the latest thing for everyone to whinge about...
6 February 2014 (Thursday) - Music
Another relatively good night’s sleep; I woke up shortly before 6am, watched a couple of episodes of Family Guy over brekkie, and then took “Furry Face TM “ for his walk. We went probably an hour earlier than usual, but he was itching to get out. He’s never done this before, but he was woofing at me and running to the front door; obviously asking to go for our walk.
The weather forecast had said it would rain later so we got going. We went through the park and on to Singleton Lake, and apart from “Furry Face TM “ trying to pick a fight with a swan the walk was relatively uneventful. We got home after a walk of two hours; just before the rain hit. I washed the mud from my dog and gave him his brekkie.
I had intended to tidy up in the back garden, but once again the rain put paid to that idea. So instead I listened to the latest news from Total Ashford dot com; a podcast of local news and interest. The ones up till npw have been really interesting. Today’s was also really good, but this podcast did seem to be very biased towards local live music. I was intrigued by the indoor eighteen-hole cyber-golf course, but that was really the only non-live-local-music item on the podcast.
I got cross listening to the updates on Ashford’s Create music festival; I’ve been to it a few times. The event would be helped if the council organised the thing so that all the participating bands wasn’t all playing at the same time and playing *at* each other. There are four or five stages all facing into a central arena where the public hears all of the bands at the same time.
And the event suffers from the security staff they employ; spotty oiks who feel they have the god-given right to treat everyone like the sh*t on their shoes.
I also found out that there have been all sorts of council-organised music events going on in the church in the town centre. The chap being interviewed about all of these activities was billed as the arts manager for the local council. All the chap could speak about was live music. I can’t help but feel that there should be far more to “The Arts” than subsidising local bands, but what do I know.
It’s been said that I don’t like live music. That’s not true. I like live music when it is done well. But for every band that can play well there are several hundred that are just awful. And if bands want the opportunity to play, then that’s fine; give them the opportunity. But the chap from the council was talking about the costs of hiring some of these bands. I’m not sure that spending thousands of pounds of rate-payers’ money on third rate noise-mongers is a sensible use of resources. Certainly not when I have heard from family members that local council-run nursing homes are having their budgets slashed.
Over a spot of lunch I watched the latest episode of “The Tomorrow People”. It was quite good really. The plot does seem to be going somewhere now. I then put some washing in (dull), and seeing that the rain was still pouring hard I had another look on the Internet. An email – would I submit meter reading to the leccie company.
I did so - I was £400+ in credit with them before I put in the new meter readings; I gave them new readings for leccie and gas; I was then one hundred quid in debt.
They sent a message saying they were increasing the direct debit. Oh dear… Perhaps I should start using night rate leccie more often.
And with the rain showing no sign of abating I spent much of the rest of the day sleeping through episodes of “Jeeves and Wooster”. Whilst I like the show, there are twenty three episodes all of which have exactly the same plot…
7 February 2014 (Friday) - Winchester Science Centre
Being at a loose end I agreed to make up the numbers on an astro club committee jolly today. But the day started with something of a dilemma. I'd been told the dress code was "smart casual". I can do casual; I can do casual very easily. With a little effort I can do smart; mind you I have been told that my version of smart looks like a shaved chimpanzee, but smart is as smart does.
On having a rummage for suitable trousers I found three pairs I never knew I had. It's amazing what happens when you aren't paying attention.
Jason called, and four of us set off to Hampshire. We stopped at the motorway services where, after a quick cuppa, I found three munzees. From there it was only a short hop to the Winchester Science Centre. I First to Finded a munzee in the car park, then put the sat nav away.
The astro club is planning to build a science centre in Ashford, and today we went to Winchester to see one in action.
We spent half an hour looking at the interactive exhibits. I say "looking at"; I was playing with them. And then we were called over the tannoy. The centre manager was free, and we had lunch with her. We learned an awful lot about the logisitics of running such a place, and then we got to have a look-see in the planetarium. Very impressive.
If any of my loyal readers are ever in the vicinity or Winchester, do pop in and see the place. It's rather good.
Interestingly the nice lady who was showing us round is one of the leading lights in the British Association of Planetariums (BAP) and she told us of their annual convention which is taking place later in the year. I for one certainly intend to be at BAP-Con (!)
After all the excitement I slept most of the way home...
8 February 2014 (Saturday) - Dover Beer Festival
A restless night - I was watching "South Park" at 4am. Over brekkie I had a bit of a rant. In the week I sent out an invite to over fifty people about today's trip to Dover Beer Festival. I know I did leave deciding about going to the festival rather late, and I know that most people would have already planned their weekends. But nearly sixty per cent of the people invited never replied.
er indoors TM" and I set off to the station. Normally Ashford International is heaving with weirdie-beardies of the day of Dover Beer Festival. Today very few. were there. The Rear Admiral met us as the train came through Folkestone and after a quick Munz and Cache we were in the queue for beer. In previous years Dover Beer Festival has been heaving; this year not so. But a good time was had by all. Four pints of the dark stuff, a good sing along. And even three more pubs afterwards. Including rank cheese in the Firkin.
Things became progressively more vague as the day went on...
9 February 2014 (Sunday) - Peasmarsh and Beckley
We were wondering if we should postpone today's planned walk as "Gordon Tracy" had been suffering with intestinal difficulties. But he sent a message saying that he'd dosed himself up with immodium, and that after the judicious application of a cork he was raring to go. Go walking that was. He'd done enough of the other sort of "going" over the last few days.
Three of us set off to Peasmarsh to the "Walk Ramble and Roam" series of geocaches. Whilst we walked this circuit we picked up three other nearby caches as well. All were relatively straight-forward finds. All except one of them which eluded us. Bearing in mind how quickly we found all the other caches here, I suspect the one we couldn't find has gone missing, but as always I wouldn't like to commit myself to saying so.
It was at this cache that we couldn't find that "Furry Face TM" 's lead broke. Fortunately I had a length of rope in my pocket, and I've been wanting to get him a better extending lead anyway.
After an hour or so we were back at the car, and we then moved on to Beckley Woods. After a picnic lunch eaten in the car we then did a little more caching. This was trickier. With one exception the afternoon's sport was multi-and puzzle caches. All had beem put out as stand-alone caches so it took a little thinking to come up with a workable route to get them all. However Neon Geo was (as ever) up to the challenge.
We found all but one of these caches. Whereas I am relatively confident that the morning's DNF is really not there, this afternoon's has me thinking. The tree cover was not helping a GPS fix; and there were lots of potential hides. We may well go back for this cache at some point; I shall keep my eye on it and see if anyone else gets lucky in the meantime.
We came home via a couple of roadside caches in Udimore, including one in a phone box the door of which was stuck. As always there are one or two photos of our walk here.
Once home I hised the mud off of my dog. And then off of myself. With er indoors TM" off out for the evening I settled my dog into his basket, and as he snored I caught up with all sorts of stuff I'd recorded onto the Sky Plus box. Surprisingly I didn't sleep through quite as much of it as much as I thought I would have done...
10 February 2014 (Monday) - Plop Trumps
Yesterday evening four new geocaches went live on the Romney Marsh; about twenty minutes’ drive away. I could have chased them, but I was rather tired and the rain was torrential. So I thought I’d leave them and it might give me something to do if and when I woke up at silly o’clock. With four new caches there is enough to go round for those of us who chase First to Finds.
I woke at silly o’clock and had a look-see on-line. Someone else had gone out in that torrential rain and had logged the lot.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having gone out and logged the lot within ninety minutes of go-live; however had I gone out I would have not bagged the lot. But that’s just me.
After a spot of brekkie “Furry Face TM “ dragged himself out of his basket. He seemed incredibly tired after yesterday’s walk; far more so than usual. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was sickening for something. But he perked up when I suggested we might go for a walk.
We went straight to Pets at Home where I bought a new lead (after the old one snapped yesterday). From there we did one of our standard “raining walks” out through Newtown to Willesborough and home past the civic centre. It’s a dull walk, but all on tarmac which is good when it’s raining.
Mind you much of the town has flooded again after the weekend’s rains and once home “Furry Face TM “ had a bath to wash off the worst of the mud he’d managed to accumulate.
I then spent an hour or so in domestic drudgery; hoovering (with a Dyson), taking out recyclables, fixing the Dyson after it got blocked up with stuffing (again), laundry. All dull stuff. To reward myself I popped up to the KFC for lunch. At the risk of appearing racist the place wasn’t so much a fast food establishment as a drop-in centre for all the non-English speakers for miles around. The place was heaving, and no one was speaking English; least of all the people behind the counter.
I scoffed my KFC whilst watching episodes of “Family Guy”, and then planned a walk for next weekend. I then revised some of my puzzle geocaches. Having devised a puzzle entirely dependent on a list in Wikipedia, Wikipedia has since deleted that list; which was something of a pain.
With time on my hands I did this week’s instalment of my latest on-line course. We’re coving the history of the Internet at the moment. It would seem that the creation of the Internet was a triumph for socialist principles; the American private enterprises were apparently dead against the idea (according to the lecturer).
And I got ninety per cent in this week’s test.
I popped round to see Lacey. She’s been doing “procreation” at school. She doesn’t seem to have completely grasped the fundamentals of the concept bearing in mind she thinks her hamster is pregnant because she loves it. But she had been asking one or two awkward questions, and Grandad coming round to play “Plop Trumps” was seen as something of a life-saver.
I was expecting “Plop Trumps” (top trumps with animal turds) to have received the big thumbs-down, so it seemed that everyone was a winner.
Getting some astro club cheques signed and an evening’s ironing then came as something of an anti-climax…
11 February 2014 (Tuesday) - Housework
As I ironed last night I watched something on BBC2 about plans for a manned mission to Mars. Fuelled with enthusiasm I then watched my DVD of the BBC’s Voyage to the Planets. It was nearly 1am before I got to bed. I slept round till 7.30am when I was licked awake (by my dog). Brekkie, and then we went for our walk. The weather forecast was predicting heavy rain all day, so I thought we’d best get the ordeal over and done with. But I could see that “Furry Face TM “ was not enjoying it. Usually our morning walks are over two hours; today we were back home after fifteen minutes.
I spent the morning tidying up, clearing tables and hoovering. I then went through my letter rack. Oh the stuff I found. Washing machine service plans that expired a year ago. A free admission to Howletts Zoo that expires on Sunday (if anyone wants it…) An offer to guarantee the financial security of my pre-school children (!) from Legal and General. My mortgage statement. If only I had a spare ten thousand pounds… A 16Gb micro SD card (what do I want with that?) Money off vouchers from Pets at Home (could have used those yesterday). Car insurance documents from last September. Polling cards from May 2010. The instructions to the Kindle I broke nearly two years ago. My eye test prescription from three years ago. Five bison-type geocache containers. A ticket for a free ride on the London Eye which expired last Christmas. And a voucher for free fish and chips from Marinos in Rye which I’m hoping is still in date.
I then shredded some old bank statements and payslips from years gone by until the shredder got too hot. This is a job I should do far more regularly. And with lunch scoffed I cleaned and scrubbed in the kitchen and bathroom.
Several hours’ effort and it looks just the same as when I started.
I mucked about with Candy Crush Saga for a bit, then I read about a rather good geo-walk round a park near Dartford. I started solving geo-puzzles in readiness. There were three puzzles that needed solving. One was rather tricky. One was very tricky. And the last one still has me foxed. If any of my loyal readers know of how I might turn the date 7 March 1991 into the number twenty two (twenty one or twenty three might do) I’d be grateful. I suspect it might possibly involve Linux, but I’m not entirely sure.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered. It was as well I’d had something of a tidy-up. Merlin looked on whilst Lancelot bit the business with Guinevere. The beast!
Whilst businesses were done “Furry Face TM “ charged round for ten minutes, then had a soppy five minutes. I wish he would have soppy episodes in public more often. Everyone sees a hyperactive whirlwind; it’s very rare that anyone sees him when he’s quiet.
12 February 2014 (Wednesday) - On The Radio
My dog has got used to my not having had an early start for a while, and he didn't stir whilst I was brekkie-ing at 5.30am.
After a little break today saw me back on the road to work. Now it's not quite so dark the cyclists cannot be quite so invisible. Instead they now pretend to be cars; driving up the middle of the road holding up the traffic as they go.
I've missed listening to the radio in the mornings. Probably for the best as far as my blood pressure is concerned. The talk was mostly of floods; for all that the good people of Somerset have been suffering for weeks, now that the Thames has flooded in the Home Counties it looks like the government might actually do something about the problem.
There was also some mention of the debacle that is the proposed bedroom tax; people on housing benefits will face cuts to those benefits if they have unused bedrooms. The theory is that if someone lives on their own in a three bedroom house they would be better off in a one bedroomed house and then a larger family might use the house.
In theory it's a good idea. In practice it turns out that there are nowhere near enough one-and two-bedroomed houses for all the people blocking the three bedroomed houses. And even if there were, there doesn't seem to be quite the demand for these houses with more bedrooms that was first suggested there might be.
One has to admire the genius behind this scheme.
And so to work where I did my bit. And with my bit done I came home through a very wet and windy evening
The evening's radio featured a discussion about the morality of the health choices of the modern llifestyle. Should those who drink and smoke to excess have their self inflicted medical treatments subsidised by those of us who lead a more healthy lifestyle?
Obviously the answer is "yes".
Interestingly a prominenent Conservative politician thought the whole discussion was moot as he paid his own heathcare costs (because he could afford private healthcare) and he asked (several times) why he should be expected to contribute to the healthcare of anyone else. The implication being that non multi-millionaires should p*ss off and die.
And people wonder why I consider conservativism to be fundamentally evil...
13 February 2014 (Thursday) - Cake !!!
Another relatively early start; another start too early for my dog who again missed out on my toast because he was asleep.
I popped into Asda on my way to work to get some cakes. It's been a while since I took cakes in to work, and cakes are always good.
I'd left for work a little earlier than usual, and it was as well that I had done so. The roads were very congested this morning; the sudden appearence of a sink hole in the M2 motorway had lead to a lot of traffic being diverted and consequently getting in my way. The traffic was queued back about a mile or so out of Canterbury this morning; so I took a rather scenic route in via the back lanes. I was amazed that no one else had done so.
There was an interesting article on the radio about the weather. Looking beyond the current constant rain the last few years have seen record breaking weather. Hottest, coldest, driest, wettest.
The pundits were asking if this is evidence of global warming in action. Ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson was on the radio this morning. An eminent meteorologist was discussing the matter, and every time he quoted a fact or a figure, Nigel Lawson blithely dismissed it as speculation. Things which had been accurately and repeatedly measured were pooh-poohed time and again. It must be wonderful to be an eminent politician and get away with burying your head in the sand.
And so to work. Once my bit was done I came home again. Apart from the cakes, today was reallly dull...
14 February 2014 (Friday) - Still Raining
One of the good things about my working pattern is the amount of time I have off of work. When I am at work I do a twelve-hour shift. So a day’s work is one and two-thirds of many people’s working day. However I only do three of those each week. And if one of those working days is a weekend I get more days off mid-week with “Furry Face TM “. A fortunate combination of weekend working and use of leave means I now have nearly two weeks before I am back at work.
Let’s hope I can keep myself out of mischief.
My dog was woken by the bin men shortly after 7am, and since he was awake he decided everyone else should be too. Over brekkie I checked out the news. When not at work I tend to ignore current affairs, but today I was pleased by the news. Dave Lee Travis (the hairy Cornflake) and William Roache (Ken Barlow) have both been found not guilty of the allegations made against them. Good!
If nothing else this should send a message to all the grasping opportunists out there that this gravy train has been derailed. Any if anyone else has any allegations from forty years ago then maybe they might realise they have left it thirty nine and three hundred and fifty five three hundred and fifth sixths years too late.
With heavy rain forecast from 10am I took the pestilential pup for his walk a little earlier than usual. Bowens Field Wetland Park excelled its name; being more of a swamp than a wetland. Viccie Park was also on the damp side. But being early we missed most of the other dog walkers. I’ve not seen OrangeHead or her chunky little friend for ages.
As we walked I saw the council had sent out some people to tidy up. Their full bags of litter were waiting collection. “Furry Face TM “ didn’t like those bags; for some reason he was scared of them. He gave them all a serious woofing-at. Other than that our walk was relatively uneventful, and we got home just before the rain started. Once home it didn’t take long to hose the mud off of my dog. He’s getting really good about baths now; hopping into the bath himself and holding up his paws to have them washed.
I watched the latest episode of “The Tomorrow People”. Another good story; things are getting rather saucy now. And then I had a simultaneous phone call and text message from the environment agency telling me of a formal flood warning for my house. Whilst it can hardly come as a surprise bearing in mind all the rain we’ve had, and how full the rivers are, it’s still disconcerting to get a formal flood warning for your own house.
I spent the afternoon working on my latest on-line course. The history of the Internet is an interesting topic; today I had to write an essay of one thousand words about my first experiences of the Internet. I wittered on about the halcyon days of Compuserve and Usenet and ICQ. I came in at nine hundred and ninety nine words. One to spare. Was the essay any good? We’ll find out in a few weeks.
And as the flood waters rise I’m sitting here wondering what will happen next…
15 February 2014 (Saturday) - Geo-Meet
After yesterday's flood warnings I had a rather restless night. the hail against the window was particularly loud at 4am. I got up at 7am to see the road wasn't flooded. That came as something of a relief. "Furry Face TM" seemed rather subdued at brekkie time. I've been a it worried about that dog. After we came home from our walk yesterday he slept most of the day; only stirring himself when he say I had some cheese with my port. Perhps dogs shouldn't have stilton, but he seemed to like it.
I brandished his lead at him and he went mental. He was certainly up for a walk. Unlike our usual walks where we go quite a long way from home, today we were out for quite a while, but stayed relatively local. I wanted to check out the nearby river and see the extent of the floods. The river was perhaps two inches from bursting its banks in places; the footpath was under water for several yards. Car parks at B&Q and at the vet's were flooded. Whilst out we saw three houses had sandbagged their front doors. I wonder where they get sandbags from?
Do we need sandbags? I'm hoping not. I would guesstimate that the water level in the river has got to rise by about eighteen inches before we need to worry. I took some photos of the floods whilst we were out.
Once home "Furry Face TM" hopped into the bath to hose the mud off of his underside and then he scoffed up most of his brekkie. With brekkie scoffed he then charged around the living room like a thing possessed; completely at odds with his quiet behaviour earlier. Perhaps I worry too much about that dog.
And so on with the business of the day: the monthly meet-up of geocachers. This month the meet was local - SIngleton Barn. It's always good to meet with people of a like mind, and today I got to chat with friends old and new about all sorts of geo-things. A couple of weeks ago I'd put put a series of puzzle caches for the day - they seemed to go down very well with their target audience. I found out all about Bashful the dwarf; but am still in the dark about Feigenbaum's bifircation theorem.
The plan was a quick beer and a quick chat - I was there all afternoon. And being one of the last ones to go it seemed a shame for the fun to end, so we collected "Furry Face TM" and went round to to Lisa's for the evening.
I shall have a headache in the morning...
16 February 2014 (Sunday) - Chislet
Perhaps I should learn moderation in drinking; I never have just the one pint; I always seem to go for the gallon. But despite having drunk far too much yesterday I was remarkably chipper this morning.
Nothing much seemed to have happened in the world overnight, and after a relatively uneventful brekkie we drove round to collect Suzy and her entourage. Three of us and two small dogs then made our way (via a petrol station) to Chislet where a dozen or so geocaches had been hidden along a vaguely circular route of some four miles. In a complete break with recent tradition the sun was shining, and it shone all day. It was whilst we were wandering along this route that I had something of a milestone - my two thousand eight hudredth cache find.
Four miles didn't take us long, and so we moved on to the Grove Ferry picnic site for a spot of lunch (and more tupperware-hunting). We had intended to make more of this picnic site, but with the place being closed because of the extensive floods we moved on. We found a few more caches here and there, and then solved a puzzle to discover a cache hide nearly a mile away. So we wandered across hill and dale and after quite a hike we got to within two metres of this cache. But no closer. We were at the water's edge. We could see where we thought the cache was hidden; somewhere under the water. So we gave up on that one. And we came home - despite the sunny day, it hadn't been a warm one, and as the sun was setting the temperature was dropping.
I took a few photos whilst we were out.
Once home "Furry Face TM" had his bath. I tried settling him, but he was overtired and wouldn't calm down. He did eventually, and as he snored I watched drivel on the telly.
One thousand channels of rubbish...
17 February 2014 (Monday) - Canterbury
I had to go to Canterbury for very dull reasons this morning. So I went only to find I had wasted my time. I had originally planned to take the train, but it’s very inconvenient and actually costs more than driving. So I drove.
Having realised I’d wasted my time I thought I’d make the most of a bad episode by seeing what geocaching I could do. There was one cache in a park which I knew was missing, but I’d emailed the C.O. and asked if she would mind if I replaced it for her. She was happy for me to do so, and so as I was passing I popped a new cache in place.
I then made my way round to the cathedral. There was a cache based on the place. There was a puzzle based on the entrance to the place. I solved the puzzle and came up with an answer about half a mile away. So I walked that half a mile to find myself in a rather grotty back alley in one of the less salubrious parts of town. The hint to find the cache said to rummage in a certain place. I rummaged only to find a discarded hypodermic syringe. I didn’t bother looking any more. I logged “did not find”; I think I might have been forgiven had I logged “Needs Archiving”. Perhaps I’m being harsh, but there are very few caches hidden in Canterbury. There must be dozens (if not hundreds) of better places than that.
Whilst in the area I called in to Golding Surplus for a pair of trousers. I found they sold ammo tins too. Might get one at some point.
I carried my walk round past the railway station where I spotted another cache from several yards away. My plan was then to look at a multi-hide along by the river, but the riverside walk was closed. So instead I went to McDonalds. Whilst in there I logged my visit on Facebook as “Enjoying the freak show”. It may sound harsh, but it was a fairly accurate summary. I reviewed the place on Facebook as “Good food. Shame about the shrieking harpie clientele”. There were half a dozen women in their late twenties pretending to be in their early teens screaming at each other. There was a O.A.P. convention trying to spread four people across the entire building. And there were two rather thick gentlemen who, on discovering that chips were filled with potatoes, were asking everyone and anyone why they don’t make chips with different fillings.
I came back to the car via Canterbury Castle (which I could now get in to), and once home I had a cup of coffee and watched a film. Pi was an odd film. The premise that irrational numbers contain a message from God is not a new idea, and it is a story which has been done better. But I only slept through about half of the film, which for me is something of a glowing endorsement.
I then did this week’s part of my course about the history of the Internet. Week Three was all about early browsers and Mosaic. I got full marks in the quiz; and felt rather smug about it. I then popped the lead onto “Furry Face TM “ and took him round the block. He seemed to like that.
And with those who bowl doing that sort of thing I settled down and watched Star Trek IV on the telly. I’ve not seen that film for a while. More holes in the plot than I could count, but its Star Trek and can be forgiven a few hiccups…
18 February 2014 (Tuesday) - Goodbye Ron
I had planned to get up in the night and put some washing on. I woke at 4am; thought better of it and went back to sleep. I got up shortly before 7am, had brekkie and put the lead on to “Furry Face TM “ and took him for a walk. Rather than going out locally we drove out to Boughton Malherbe (near Lenham) for a little walk round the countryside. We parked up near the church in Boughton Malherbe and walked across some fields enjoying some wonderful views as we went. And we picked up some geocaches as we went. And gave offence too.
When one finds a geocache one is required to write a little story about the visit, about how the walk was; how the cache was found, the entire experience. And one is not supposed to give away any spoilers about the thing either. Most people just do cut-and-paste generic accounts. That’s what I do; I’ve rigged my geo-app to give a generic polite comment with a link to this blog for those who are actually interested in what I did today.
The whole writing a report thing is somewhat farcical because regardless of whether anyone just pastes blather or waxes lyrically, no one ever reads the write-up except to try to get a hint for when they can’t find a particular cache.
The hider of one of today’s finds took issue with my generic way of caching; specifically my comment of “But am I being cynical in wondering if anyone reads logs for any reason other than to get another hint ?” Apparently this fellow reads the logs because he likes to know if people enjoyed finding the cache, if they had any problems with the coordinates, what the footpaths were like, or any problems they came across. Admirable sentiments. All of which would have been answered had he waited till the evening when I would publish my day’s rantings. I wouldn’t have taken such umbrage if the chap logged his finds with any alacrity. But after a bit of rather silly squabbling all was well that ended well.
It was all a tad trivial, and the fellow in question has since apologised. I probably got a tad precious myself. I wish I could be like others and not have my piss boil about the most trivial of things. I’ve since deleted that line from my generic comment.
So, to fill in some details about the day, the fields were muddy and the hills steep. At this time of year quite dangerously so; especially when one is being dragged about by a small dog intent on worrying sheep. The cache hides themselves… here is where it becomes tricky and why I prefer a generic blog rather than specific descriptions. All three were unique in their own special ways; one more so than others. I *really* cannot say more without spoiling the fun.
Our trip home was fun; as we came down a rather small country lane we found a huge juggernaut coming the other way. I pulled my car in as tightly as I could, the juggernaut tried to pass, and we both got wedged in place. Fortunately after ten minutes or so a passing normal person shouted directions at us and helped us get free.
It was with a sense of relief that we came home and I bathed “Furry Face TM “ before finally solving the mystery of Feigenbaum’s bifurcation theorem and turning WSSEENNESWESENNEWSSEENNSENSSENEWNEWSSE into a set of co-ordinates.
I fancied kebab for lunch. Unfortunately the kebab shop was shut. It usually opens about 2pm; just after every other shop has had the lunchtime rush. So I had a sandwich instead. Over lunch I watched a film. “Control” was a film about the lead singer of “Joy Division”, not a band I particularly like, and I slept through the first half of the film, and gave up three quarters of the way through.
After a quick belt of pancakes (what else on Shrove Tuesday) we went round to Queen Street where the clans gathered. They do that.
And in closing today it seems that I missed Ron Dell’s funeral. If I had known it was today I may well have made the effort to have attended. When I first got into kite flying (all those years ago) Ron was one of the first to welcome me into the game. He started up the Teston kite festivals so many years ago. I didn’t see him that often, but when I did he was so friendly and welcoming; I can distinctly remember him turning up at our camp one Teston kite festival; bearing a huge fruit pudding and asking if we would want it as he had too many.
A true gentleman; the world is a sadder place with his passing. Would that I would be missed as much as Ron will be
19 February 2014 (Wednesday) - Swans
I slept reasonably well, and after brekkie was raring to go. The original plan for the day was a trip to Saltwood to pick up those puzzle caches I’d solved yesterday. But with my henchman (henchgirl?) feeling unwell I didn’t fancy going alone.
Instead I went out with “Furry Face TM “ . As we walked through the park I could see a woman walking towards us. I heard her before I saw her; she was bellowing into her phone. When she was only a few yards away she threw the phone into the distance and then loudly announced “It’s official – God hates me!” She then proceeded to give me a blow by blow account of her sorrows and woes.
I’ve had a few of those myself lately, and so could sympathise with her frustrations, but ranting at innocent bystanders in the park isn’t going to solve her problems. I made my excuses and left her haranguing an indifferent universe whilst I went round to bother Cheryl and Lacey
Lacey is on half term holiday this week, and we took some bread round to the lake to feed to the ducks. Lacey was keen to geocache (good girl!) so we did a couple. Whilst at the lake Fudge and a swan started shouting at each other. Cheryl had to intervene quickly as Lacey was about to lob a rock at the swan for daring to disrespect her dog-brother (as she calls Fudge).
Whilst we were out Cheryl told me a rather sad tale of our time. The other day whilst she was out driving a chap flew round a corner far too fast and crashed into her car. This fellow pulled out a phone, gabbled into it, and within ten minutes there were a dozen of his fellow countrymen (something eastern European) all round Cheryl’s car pointing at her and shouting. She was terrified, and so phoned the police. She explained what was going on and they didn’t want to know.
Let’s be clear on this - a young woman on her own was being threatened and intimidated by a dozen foreign men and the police flatly refused to attend.
So much for the concept of the police force - time to have a different way of maintaining public safety perhaps?
The afternoon was something of a let-down. Over a spot of lunch I watched a documentary about the making of Star Trek. I say “watched” – I scoffed lunch whist watching the show, and woke up at 5pm.
Which reminds me – I need to chase that sleep clinic…
20 February 2014 (Thursday) - Lasagne
I woke at 4.30am this morning, and lay there trying to get back to sleep. With nothing on the agenda until after a delivery arrived (due from 11am to 1pm) I lay in bed and wasted precious time. I get so angry. I wasted all of yesterday afternoon fast asleep in front of the telly; there are albums of photos of me fast asleep when I could and should be doing stuff.
And when the rest of the world is fast asleep I am wide awake.
I looked through this blog; it’s been three months since I went to the doctor. I had a look on-line to find out how long I should expect to wait to hear from the clinic; the maximum wait I should expect is eighteen weeks; I’ve only been waiting for twelve. Nevertheless I phoned the surgery to see what was going on. I got the distinct impression that it is their policy not to chase up referrals like mine; presumably most people just get better regardless (or die).
They said they would phone me back.
‘er indoors TM was off work today; my idea was to go do something. She agreed; the something to be done was her hair. So whilst she went for a short back and slap I mooched round some on-line forums. Several years ago on-line forums and newsgroups played a large part of my life. Through them I got in contact with some very dear friends; but I don’t have anywhere near as much involvement with these things anymore; they just make my piss boil so much.
I see that nothing has changed with on-line discussion. Keyboard warriors complain bitterly about trivial faults in others which are far worse in themselves, and then lambast others for doing what they themselves have been doing for years.
After ten minutes I could feel the urine beginning to simmer, so I went and played Jelly Splash and Worms until the delivery arrived at five minutes to one.
With ‘er indoors TM having only taken four hours for a haircut we took “Furry Face TM “ round the park for a walk, then drove out to Pluckley for some geocache maintenance. Most of my caches are on regular dog walks or on the way to work. The Pluckley ones are a little off of my beaten track; but three of them needed maintenance. Or so I was told. I must admit that I was rather miffed to find two false alarms. But they are all good to go now until something else goes wrong with them.
And in the evening we drove down to Cheriton where we had a rather good dinner with Jose and Maria. And having scoffed myself silly we watched a film: “Gravity” was quite watchable; as is anything with Sandra Bullock (woof!). The film might have been better had the makers consulted a physicist about how gravity works; or even better about how things work in the absence of gravity, but you can’t have everything. Reality makes dull entertainment…
21 February 2014 (Friday) - Happy Birthday to Me
The GP never did phone back about that referral to the sleep clinic yesterday. I remembered that as I was lying awake shortly after 4am this morning.
After brekkie I took “Furry Face TM “ round the park for a walk. He liked that; and so did I; this morning’s walk was rather uneventful apart from one minor episode. Some rather odd woman had lost the dog she was looking after for a friend. She had this idea that if all the dogs in the park could be gathered together her missing mutt would feel left out and try to join in. Together with the more seasoned dog walkers in the park I know the main ingredient for a dog fight (lots of dogs) and no one was very keen to join in. I left other dog walkers dealing with the stressy fit that ensued from the newby dog-sitter.
Once home we settled the pup down to sleep, and we drove to Rye. A while back I’d won a meal for two at Marino’s in Rye, and today we thought we’d take advantage of the offer as we often go out for a meal on this day every year. Can’t imagine why….
There was a minor embarrassment in the restaurant when firstly the waiter claimed that the (undated) voucher had expired and then secondly when the proprietor of the place claimed that the voucher was nothing to do with them; they had never issued the thing. Fortunately they honoured it, and we had a rather good bit of fish and chips. It wouldn’t have been that serious if they hadn’t honoured it; it’s not as though I can’t afford a bag of chips but…
I’d won the voucher in the astro club’s raffle. (As well as hawking it I take part too). I wouldn’t have minded if I had ended up with an iffy voucher, but I would have been mortified had one of the punters been faced with a worthless voucher. Obviously the astro club would have reimbursed them for any costs, but would we have been liable for anything else? Could we as a club have been sued for the embarrassment of having presented a duff voucher?
I shall have to take advice.
Whilst in Rye we played Munzee. There are loads of Munzees in Rye; I got First to Find on three; ‘er indoors TM FTF’ed four. All of these had been hidden last June. Compare that to geocaches which are usually found within a couple of hours of going live.
And talking of geocaches we found a few of those too.
As it was on our way home (sort of) we came home via Peasmarsh to see if we couldn’t find two geocaches we couldn’t find two weeks ago. We found both. One was tricky; two weeks ago three of us were in GPS agreement to within a couple of feet as to where the thing was hidden and we couldn’t find it. Today my GPS (with the same co-ordinates) took me somewhere twenty yards away on the other side of the road and I found the cache in less than a minute.
The other one was odd. We logged we couldn’t find it. The chap who’d hidden it went out and declared it was lost and put out a replacement. We then found the original.
And so home. After filling up with fish and chips at mid day we weren’t hungry, so I slept in front of the telly whilst ‘er indoors TM started preparing party food for tomorrow.
There’s a party tomorrow apparently…
22 February 2014 (Saturday) - Party
I woke at 3.30am this morning. I lay awake for an hour then got up and watched rubbish on the telly for an hour. I went back to bed and lay awake for another hour. By the time I took “Furry Face TM “ round the park for his walk the day felt half gone even though it was only 9am.
The park was full of runners, as it is on a Saturday. So we gave up on that idea and wandered some local streets before coming home. I tried to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. I phoned the GP to complain about how long this referral to a sleep clinic is taking and got put through to NHS 111 and some nice lady who meant well, but really didn’t speak English.
Once home ‘er indoors TM emerged from her pit and started baking. “My Boy TM ” arrived and leaving the girls to do kitchen things we drove up to the Elwick club. The afternoon vanished in a blur of driving here and there fetching and carrying, and it wasn’t long before the party was in full flow. We were expecting just under two hundred people, and the place became rather full as the evening wore on. I didn’t manage to spend time with everyone; but it was rather humbling to have so many people turn out. The food was excellent, the band were (to coin a phrase) “not too shabby”; even despite the guest vocalist of “yours truly” for “Mr Blue Sky”.
A wonderful evening with some truly wonderful people. For all that I whinge and rant here, my life’s not that bad you know….
23 February 2014 (Sunday) - Cheriton Festival of Lights
I woke feeling rather rough this morning. Can’t imagine why that might be. I came downstairs to find the kitchen was awash with food left over from last night’s party. When putting on a buffet it goes one of two ways; either it looks like the locusts have been after five minutes, or you have loads left over. We had loads left over, which is probably the best way for it to be – we can be sure no one went hungry.
Mind you we also had some wonderful people helping us by bringing along some rather good scoff. I’m not going hungry this week.
An interesting episode over brekkie; despite having more baguettes than sense (six) we had no margarine. And something else that was missing was my voice. I went to say hello to my dog and nothing happened. I moved my mouth and did the breathing-out-speaking thing and all that happened was a strange squeaking. The voice slowly came back as the day wore on; perhaps being a lead vocalist isn’t for me?
I walked “Furry Face TM “ round to “My Boy TM ” where after a little while ‘er indoors TM joined us. We had a rather good bit of lunch, and then I did pressies. So many people had brought me gifts to last night’s party and partly because I wanted to be sociable and chat to everyone and mostly because I was pouring the beer down my neck, Cheryl took all the cards and pressies safely. After lunch I sat down and opened them all. I was rather pleased and more than a little humbled at what I’d got. Some very generous gifts; I’ve got some wonderful friends.
And people with whom I’ve not worked for over two and a half years had clubbed together to get me an Amazon voucher.
‘er indoors TM took “Furry Face TM “ and Lacey for a walk whilst I slept in front of the telly. When the girls returned we drove down to Cheriton for the light show. Last year there was a festival of lights in Cheriton. At the time I mentioned that it was nothing really special, but was a fun event. I rather assumed that the organisers would have worked on the foundations of last year to make a better event this year. I don’t want to sound critical, but they hadn’t.
The live music was good, the display of camper vans was interesting, the light displays were excellent (especially the forest in someone’s living room); but there seemed less of them than there were last year. But it was a good evening out; and the fireworks were a wonderful way to finish off what has been a rather good weekend.
24 February 2014 (Monday) - Wye
Another restless night – fortunately the morning’s post brought my referral to the sleep clinic. I was pleased about that.
After a spot of brekkie I took “Furry Face TM “ for his morning constitutional. We went up past the civic centre, out through the back of Hythe Road and home via South Willesborough, Frog’s Island and Pets at Home. We only tried to fight with two motorbikes, a milk float, a removals lorry and one cat, so the walk was rather uneventful.
I’d bought my dog a stuffed bone in the pet shop, so once home I settled him down with said bone and went up to town. There was money to pay into the astro club’s bank account and a cheque to pay into my bank account. And I’d been given money and vouchers for my birthday so I had plans to see if I couldn’t buy something or other. Family and friends have been really generous (for which I am very grateful), and I thought I’d treat myself. I’ve been toying with the idea of a saxophone for some time…
Whilst in the first bank my phone rang. The matriarch of Kent geocaching wondered if I knew that a series of geocaches was going live even as we spoke. I didn’t, and made a snap decision to chase some First to Finds. So I abandoned all plans and voomed home, collected “Furry Face TM “ and my wellies and set off to Wye.
As I parked my car I saw a familiar face. One of the local cachers had been for the first cache in the series, couldn’t find it, and his phone had gone flat. So together we went back to the cache and together we couldn’t find it either.
We did find the next two though, and we were the first to do so. But after the third cache Simon had to leave us and go to work, so Fudge and I carried on up the Downs where, despite an intensive search we failed to find the next cache. We got the two after that, and then broke the next one. I say “broke”; I’m taking the line that having been out in the rain for some weeks has taken its toll (they went live today but were hidden six weeks ago).
At this point of our walk we were at the top of Wye Downs. Some wonderful scenery; the best views for miles around, one of the highest points in the county and through some amazing feat of local geology it was one of the muddiest places I have ever found. “Furry Face TM “ was actually swimming through the mud.
The next cache eluded us entirely, but we got FTF on the next two. Just as I was approaching the last cache I met a young family coming the other way. They fussed my muddy dog, and we chatted politely. It was only on reading the log at the next cache that I realised that this young family were also geocaching, and had beaten me to the last FTF by fifteen minutes.
And so home where I hosed my dog down half a dozen times until he was eventually mud-free. I took a few photos whilst we were out, and I put them on-line. As I did so I had an email from the people who look after the hall in which we stage the astro club. They have had a minor disaster and there is currently no running water or functioning toilets in the hall. And there won’t be for Friday’s meeting either. That’s a nuisance.
I then got on with dyson-ing and doing the laundry and washing up and all the dull old trivia. As I took the recycling out I found a five pound note lying in the front garden. That was a result. I then fell asleep in front of the computer for a couple of hours.
With ‘er indoors TM off bowling I watched the BattleStar Galactica prequel movie “Blood and Chrome”. It was quite good really, even if I did seem to lose interest half way through…
25 February 2014 (Tuesday) - Scandal, Swords...
After nearly two weeks holiday I had to be up early for work today. Yesterday's walk had taken its toll on "Furry Face TM" who had spent all of yesterday evening asleep and he still looked shattered this morning; too shattered to even eat my toast.
Mind you when I brandished the comb he did struggle onto my lap to be combed; he likes that.
Yesterday I went caching; I only found about two thirds of the caches and didn't think I'd found enough clues to go for the bonus cache. But a quick look at the clues I had found together with a little judicious brainwork and perusing maps came up trumps. I had a possible location which was only a mile or two out of my way on my drive to work.
So I set off a little early, and shortly after 6.30am I was doing the happy dance in some mud; another first to find.
As I carried of driving to work I listened to the radio which was full of nasty allegations about the politician Harriet Harman.
Apparently many years ago there were vague and tenuous links between various bodies with which she was associated and paedophile rings. And consequently the media is now digging the dirt. Whilst obviously children need protection, this media-driven furore is now way out of control. Does the fact that a child is in a swimming costume make any adult in the vicinity a paedophile? Apparently so in the view of the popular press.
As a scout leader I often took the cubs swimming. In retrospect I am sorry that I gave up my time to help, and the Daily Mail can rest assured that because of their predilection for spreading suspicion I will not be so public spirited again.
And while I'm ranting about the media I couldn't believe what I read today. Disgraced ex-editor of the News of the World has said in court that at the time of all the phone hacking scandals she didn't realise that hacking into someone's private conversations or voicemail was illegal. How can anyone be so amoral that they need to be told precisely how privacy is to be respected?
Mind you all wasn't doom and gloom in the news. Our old friend science has found out (through the wonders of electroencephalography and the expenditure of several thousand quid) that dogs understand what humans do and say.
It's amazing that in this new world order of austerity science has money to throw away; has he never held up a lead to a dog, said the word "walkies" and seen the reaction?
I did my bit at a very busy day at work, and came home via the weekly gathering. Today we were at Arden Drive for more "Merlin". It's watchable, but the story has a lot of holes. Why is Arthur the only one who takes his dogsbody in to battle every time he has a battle. I can think of no other reason that that the star of the show has to be in the thick of the action. Which isn't really a reason which lends credulity to the show. Mind you the advent of a rather fit sword wielding chesty boiler (to coin a phrase) has improved the show no end.
26 February 2014 (Wednesday) - The Future
I woke at 4am with the most excruciating pains in my belly so hurried to “Trap One” where nothing really happened. After a few minutes the pain passed, so I went back to bed again and managed to doze until 7am.
After brekkie I took “Furry Face TM “ for a walk. As we went through the park a small child pointed at him and asked loudly “why is that doggie walking funny?”. His mother bellowed (even louder) that she didn’t know, and both looked at me expectantly. I smiled politely and kept going; and then spent the next two hours of our walk watching my dog like a hawk. I hadn’t been aware that he had been “walking funny” and he certainly didn’t do so whilst I was watching today. Admittedly he does do an odd thing with his back left leg from time to time, but a lot of Jack Russell variants do that.
The rest of the walk through the park was promising to be rather dull after that; that is until we acquired a golden Labrador. Suddenly this huge dog appeared from nowhere and joined us. If I knew where his owner was I would have taken him back, but the dog seemed to be an autonomous entity.
After a few minutes the dog wandered off on a mission of his own and we continued round to Singleton Lake where my dog chased ducks, geese and assorted waterfowl until a swan put the willies up him.
Once home I hosed the mud from the dog, then popped up town. I dropped birthday cards to the correct recipient, then went to look at saxophones in the music shop. It was closed. I then went to the shoe shop that Martin had told me about only to find it was a mobile phone accessory shop. And when I went to look at DVDs in HMV and found the thing had gone bankrupt I gave up and came home. Via the milk shake shop. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I found a fiver on Monday. I squandered it on a curly-wurly milkshake before coming home.
Once home I did the astro club’s accounts and then did my own. I wish I was as good with my own as I am with those of the astro club. And over a spot of lunch I watched this week’s lectures in my course. The course is entitled “Internet History, Technology, and Security” and we’ve now completed the history part. I got ninety per cent in this week’s test, and I then spent much of the rest of the afternoon working of the next essay for the course. It’s an interesting essay: “Write an essay that imagines how the Internet will be different 20 years from now. Justify your answer by connecting your ideas to the history of the Internet that we have learned in this class and through outside materials. Your answer can focus on how technology will change or how people will change or how governments and policy will change or even how society might change”.
I have some ideas, but if any of my loyal readers might care to make some suggestions… that would be cheating.
‘er indoors TM set off to the AGM of the arky-ologee club. I’ve not been in two years, and didn’t fancy it. Instead I settled down in front of the telly and watched the film “Carriers” starring Chris Pine. It started well, but lost the plot about half way through
27 February 2014 (Thursday) - Stuff
Over a rather early spot of brekkie (shared with my dog) I watched the latest instalment of the Tomorrow People. Today's episode featured a guest appearance of Nicholas Young who was the star of the original series. I do like this program - I have yet to sleep through much of it. But I do wonder how far it can go before straying into ground already covered (and done to death) by shows such as "Heroes" and "The 4400".
And so to work through the driving rain. After a lovely day yesterday, today was rather mucky. As always I listened to the radio. I had a wry smile about the article on child poverty in the UK. Up until now a child was considered to be in poverty given that the family income was less than a certain amount. Apparently this simplistic method of deciding whether or not a given child is being brought up in poverty is to change. A new calculation is to be devised which accounts for all sorts of demands on the family budget including alcohol and drug dependency. The implication being that druggies are to be given more leeway than decent people when it comes to assigning social and financial status.
And I grinned like a Cheshire Cat at the news from the financial giant Standard Life. Ostensibly a Scottish company, it's made no secret that it wants no part of an independent Scotland. I've said so many times that devolution is a bad thing. It seems I'm not alone in thinking this.
And so to work where I had a rather busy day. And some news. Whilst I'm pleasaed to have had a professional advancement, in the new world order I'm not going to be able to take any holiday over the Teston Kite Festival.
So I probably won't be going this year; which is a shame. I might pop up for the day, or I might organise a booze up somewhere else.
I've a few months to sort something out...
28 February 2014 (Friday) - Internet, Cybermen
I slept well last night for a change, and got up shortly after 7am. I put the last of the food left over from last week's party out for the recycling dustmen. It was probably all past it's best by Monday and was probably the reason why I had bad guts during the week.
Whilst I am glad that we had enough to feed everyone at the party, it's a shame so much went to waste.
Normally I would have taken "Furry Face TM" for his walk, but the rain was rather extreme, so I did chores and some more of my "future of the internet" essay until I gave in to his worrying to go out. The rain hadn't abated, and we were only out for five minutes before I was soaked to the skin and my dog resembled a sea lion.
We came home and I did more of my on-line course. I'm now onto internet technology, and with ninety per cent in today's quiz and one hundred per cent in my first essay I suppose the course is going well. During the video lectures "Furry Face TM" jumped onto my lap, looked me in the eye and stole one of my biscuits. He raided choccy from er indoors TM" handbag yesterday. I think it's time to take a firmer line with that dog.
With the rain having slackened off to a medium monsoon I walked the pestilential pup round the park. He was relatively well behaved, even if a passing normal person warned his child not to stroke "every wild dog you see in the park".
Home again. Earlier on Facebook I'd read that KFC are going against God and Nature by breeding multi-legged mult-winged (and presumably multi-breasted) birds to sell in their establishments. It never fails to amaze me how the public beleive such utter drivel, but it left me fancying KFC for lunch. TIme was I would have that stuff all the time. Now it's an ocassional treat. As I scoffed I watched "The Moonbase" DVD which "My Boy TM" had got me for my birthday. A Doctor Who story from nearly fifty years ago, only half of the show exists; the other half has been reconstructed in animated format, and is absolutely brilliant (or really sad, depending on how much of a geek you are).
And then being the last Friday of the month I set off to astro club. We had an AGM; albeit a little overdue. I was again elected as Treasurer. It's not an arduous position, but it's something I can do for the club. We then had a presentation about future plans, I hawked the raffle, and Stevey gave a rather good synopsis of the constellation Leo. It was only a shame I had to leave early. Got to work tomorrow...