1 March 2008 (Saturday) - Upgrade

I dislike upgrading anything on my PC. “Upgrade” generally means “spend lots of money on something that doesn’t make any noticeable change to how the computer works other than it will be two weeks before the computer ever works again”. The computers at work are having an “upgrade” today. In practical terms this means that they won’t be working at all, and would I mind doing a bit of overtime to help out until they are fixed.

I say “a bit of overtime” – I’m planning on getting in to work at 8am, I’m reliably informed that the IT won’t be working until 8pm, and possibly not until 2am tomorrow morning…..

 

2 March 2008 (Sunday) - Tired.

I arrived at work yesterday feeling iffy, and thought I’d see a quack before I went too far downhill. I waited for half an hour in A&E before being told what I knew already – I needed antibiotics.

I shall fill in the rest once I’ve retired….

And then on to the main business of the day – Mother’s day. We drove to Hastings, dished out bouquets and came home again. Having spent another hour on preparations for my next astronomy talk, I’m quite worn out. I think I’ll watch some more Earth 2 and then have an early night…

 

3 March 2008 (Monday) - “ee’s got croup”

As I arrived at the hospital this morning there was a gaggle of middle aged ladies wandering the corridors. One biddy announced to the others that “ee’s got croup”. This news was received with various “ooohs” and “aahs” from the other biddies. Then another announced that “ee’s got croup”, and the rest would react with surprise until a third felt the urge to comment that “ee’s got croup”. And so they went on. They seemed quite content to carry on conveying this news to each other.

I was called in to work to deal with a minor calamity at 9pm this evening. As I walked through the hospital entrance, the same cabal of crones was still announcing to each other’s amazement that “ee’s got croup”.

It must be wonderful to be one of the these people. I’m sure life is much easier for them…

 

4 March 2008 (Tuesday) - SEEDA

4 March 2008 (Tuesday) - SEEDAmagnify

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is a government body which features on placards and notice boards all over Ashford. According to their website they plan to build 31,000 new houses in the Ashford area and create 28,000 new jobs by the year 2031.

On the way home from work I was listening to radio four. They were interviewing some of the officials from SEEDA. It transpired they have no idea how many jobs have been created by their policies so far. Their proud boast was that the opening of the new Debenhams would create jobs. However they seemed to gloss over the fact that 70% of the people in Ashford are in relatively low paid jobs, and what the town needs is high-tech manufacturing businesses which come with higher paid jobs. Furthermore they had no idea how any such jobs might be created.

They also had no idea how many new houses have been built so far (in line with their plans), and they seemed amazed that anyone should think they would have those figures. They did seem quite cross that the radio had wised up to the fact that the new housing wasn’t as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as SEEDA had originally claimed it would be.

Their website looks impressive, but the middle picture is misleading. That road junction is being totally rebuilt for the second time in two years.

Any remaining credibility this SEEDA bunch may have had then went straight out the window and down the drain. Their spokesman resorted to claiming that Ashford’s being near to London was not only a good reason to live in Ashford, but was also a direct result of SEEDA’s policies and actions. The program ended by announcing that all the dignitaries of SEEDA are soon to be going off on a jolly to Cannes (at the taxpayer’s expense). I love radio four!!!

In more local news, “My Boy TM” wants a new shed. “Daddies Little Angel TM” (who seems to have taken up residence again) wants any new shed to have a veranda. This weekend we’ll go shed-shopping. That should be good for an argument or two…..

 

5 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Science (and sheds)

5 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Science (and sheds)magnify

In my more sane moments I am a chartered scientist. Please bear with me……

Carbon dioxide (CO2) in its frozen solid form is used to keep various medicinal products cold whilst in transit. However once it has performed its refrigerative function, there is no further use for it, and it is generally disposed of by just leaving it alone at room temperature. Carbon dioxide is a remarkable compound in that it has a physical property which is very rarely found in nature. At about -30oC, carbon dioxide exhibits sublimation. That is, it changes from a solid form to a gaseous form with no intervening liquid phase. Compare this to ice which melts at 0oC and remains in a liquid form (water) until it reached 100oC when it becomes the gas we all know as steam.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you get a bucketful of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice), bung in a good dose of washing up liquid or any common soap, and pour in some hot water, you get more froth than you can shake a stick at. I can’t believe no one had shown the trainees this before. I expect I’ll be in trouble about the mess tomorrow – I was supposed to be supervising them properly.

Meanwhile back on the ranch…… tape measures are like socks. Loads of them all over the place when you are looking for something else. When you want them, they can’t be found. Me & “My Boy TM” have decided on a 10 x 6 summerhouse rather than a shed because it looks sexy. "Er indoors" can get involved because it will need curtains. “Daddies Little Angel TM” is nowhere to be seen at the moment and so can’t offer an opinion on the subject. Which is probably for the best. She flatly turned down my first idea for a replacement shed – there’s a full-sized TARDIS with only a day to go on eBay….

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6 March 2008 (Thursday) - Stuff

Half past eleven is not a good time for me to start work – there’s only so many DVDs one can watch in the morning. I thought I’d waste some time by checking out the shed emporium that is advertised on yell.com as being on my way to work. The advert says “Large stocks” and “bespoke sheds” and “Established 1961”. Am I being hopelessly naïve in expecting to find slightly more than a couple of chavs in a yard with several thousand lengths of 4 by 2? Oh well – the shed shop by WyeVale had some extortionately overpriced sheds if all else fails.

On a different note (literally) I see Jayded have found a new admirer. – one wonders which one of the band upset ShaunRanger.

 

7 March 2008 (Friday) - At the Cashpoint

Whilst on the way to work I made a detour to Tesco’s. There’s a cashpoint machine there and I thought I’d get some akkers. As I arrived there was quite a commotion going on. An elderly retard was standing by the money machine announcing to the assembled throng that the machine claimed he’d entered the wrong PIN twice. He didn’t want to enter it wrongly a third time in case the machine ate his card. Would it be all right if other people had a go with the machine to see if it worked for them? Well, it worked fine for me. One of the more meddlesome ratbags loitering around suggested the chap might like to try the cashpoint machine in town. The chap with the dodgy card said he didn’t know where the town was. It transpired he was on holiday in the area with his wife, had a major row with her, and she’d chucked him out of the car and driven away. He had no idea where he was, where his wife was, or where they were staying.

At this point I quietly walked away……

 

8 March 2008 (Saturday) - Shopping

8 March 2008 (Saturday) - Shoppingmagnify

Today was the first time in twelve days I wasn’t at work. Up at the crack of dawn (well, 10am) and, ably assisted by “My Boy TM” as pilot and Brian as “cabin boy” (!) we set off for Ace Sheds of Bethersden. I say “Bethersden” because that’s the closest settlement of any size. Ace Sheds is based in a barn in the back of beyond, but they’ve got a shed I quite like the look of. And then on to Snargate Sheds. They’ve got better quality sheds cheaper, but which don’t actually look as good. I’m now in a bit of a quandary as to which shed to get. But as we were in Snargate it would be rude not to visit Doris for a pint of Stout and a pickled egg. Pausing only briefly to pick up a years’ worth of fish food and three small Koi called “Dave”, it was then off to Lakeside.

I bought some new troosers in Decathlon and some replacement red arrows. I’ve trashed three of my existing ones. Whilst there’s talk of arrow-fixing workshops, I can’t help but think that at only £1.75 per arrow it’s easier to get new ones than to fiddle about mending them. Perhaps when I graduate from beginner’s arrows I might think differently.

And then to Lakeside for coffee. On the way we met a pink stretch limo driving round and round the roundabout. Presumably advertising. It was certainly getting in everyone’s way. But then, if I had a pink limo I’d show it off!

Starbucks! – Why can’t they just have coffee, black or white, with sugar or without? If they must have a menu listing double-latte-frappu-pretzel-caramel-cino-battas with added cinnamon (to cite but one of their stupidly named products) why can’t they have a picture of what it is supposed to look like, or have a description of what it is? To me, ordering in Starbucks is a joke. I might as well ask the man behind the counter to give me “absolutely anything at all” because I have no idea what I’m getting. Take today’s fiasco. What I thought would be caramel coffee turned out to be a coffee flavoured milk shake. It was good, but totally not what I was expecting. I’ll know better next time. I wonder if the transvestite orca in Starbucks was a fixture, or whether we arrived at just the wrong time….

1 Comment

 

9 March 2008 (Sunday) - Pubs (And Sad News)

9 March 2008 (Sunday) - Pubs (And Sad News)magnify

The weather forecast annoys me. As it had predicted monsoons I decided I’d have a lie in. Getting up at about 10.30am, I found a lovely morning outside – just right for painting the fence. If I had ignored the weather forecast I could have got up at 8am and painted a lot more of the fence. I was just getting to the tricky bit when the phone rang – did we want to go for a walk as the weather wasn’t the predicted downpour? I finished the fence panel I was on, and we set off for Whitstable.

Parking up on top of the hill we walked down into Whitstable to visit CAMRA’sKent Pub of the Year” – the Ship Centurion. Whilst obviously a “local pub for local people”, the likes of us were made to feel welcome, and they had some spicy pickled eggs (!) With four decent ales on, it’s definitely a good pub. But “Kent Pub of the Year” ? It’s on a par with the Guildhall in Folkestone. Good, but I can name half a dozen other pubs in Kent that I feel are better. I can’t help but wonder if there’s all sorts of local politicking in Kent CAMRA that has prevented somewhere like the Red Lion in Snargate or Chambers Bar in Folkestone from getting the title. After all, CAMRA wouldn’t feature the Ypres Castle in Rye due to silly squabbles.

Having spent over an hour in this place we then adjourned to the chip shop. With faces fed we then went into the Hotel Continental to avoid the rain (or that’s my excuse). The hotel runs or is run by (don’t know which) the Whitstable Brewery, so Oyster Stout was the order of the day. However, being a hotel, they charged hotel prices. Much as I like Oyster Stout, I can’t help but feel that £3.20 is a bit steep for a pint of the stuff.

And then home to sad news. Ian Howker passed away this afternoon. He was admitted to hospital this morning with problems with his leg, and had a heart attack. It would be hypocritical of me to claim to have been his best mate in the world. I’ve not set eyes on him for a long time. But over the years I had a few beers with him. We shared fun times on the beach and at Brambles Wildlife Park and Bat-Camp and dressed as Captain Kirk in the pub. The episode with him, a shotgun and a tractor has gone down in legend. For a large lad he used to be quite nimble, amazing me with his dancing skills. I knew he hadn’t been well and had been wheelchair-bound for some time. And now he’s gone. I’ve asked to be told when the funeral is.

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10 March 2008 (Fundraising)

Many years ago when we had a dog, we once took said mutt for a walk on Hothfield Common. Only the once. The dog fell in a swamp, stank to high heaven, and guess who had to clean it all up. I’ve taken the cubs there a few times – one broke his arm there. Do-gooders now want to raise £125,000 to do the place up because it’s a site of special scientific interest. How scientific can a field featuring a gypsy encampment, a swamp, half a dozen burnt-out cars and a thicket be?

Local radio news features the inspiring tale of the quadriplegic sailor who, having sailed across the channel now intends to sail around Great Britain and is seeking public subscription to finance this goal.

Both arguably laudable causes, but I wouldn’t support either of them. I wonder if they will reach their goals?

 

11 March 2008 (Tuesday) - Life has It's Ups and Downs

11 March 2008 (Tuesday) - Life has It's Ups and Downsmagnify

I skived out of work a bit early tonight as I had a dentist’s appointment. When pulling away at the Asda roundabout I noticed a slight problem with my car. It didn’t pull away. Lifting the clutch had absolutely no effect whatsoever. I started pushing so’s the traffic stacked up behind me could get past. Most of the drivers had a good look at what was going on as they passed me, but it was the Polish chap in the beat-up van who jumped out and hitched up a tow-rope and dragged my bus to the garage. It’s always the way, isn’t it. Just as I’ve got enough money put aside to replace the shed, I have to spend it on a new clutch.

And so to the dentist to fix the broken tooth. ”That looks nasty” he said. “You should have come in sooner” I commented that I’d taken the earliest appointment, and it was down to his receptionist that I’d waited a week. He’s done some temporary fix, and I’ve got to go back for an “inlay” in a week or so. If what he’s done falls out in the meantime, I’m to go straight back. I wonder what the receptionist would say to that.

And then to cubs. The Assistant District Commissioner was along to present two Chief Scout’s Silver awards (the highest badge a cub can get). This chap’s (apparently) into trees, and so as we’re doing the “World Constipation (!) Badge” he spent half an hour on the subject of trees with the cubs. Now I realise that I should have been firmer with the cubs this evening, but I’m merely an Assistant Cub Scout Leader and he’s an Assistant District Commissioner. And I’d had a rotten day and didn’t want to take it out on the cubs, so I watched what unfurled as I might watch the telly.

He started off by asking the names of trees. There was a sea of blank faces. All the cubs had trees in the gardens, but none of their trees had names. Joseph’s rabbits live in the garden, and they have names, so he offered up their names in a spirit of helpful co-operation. Not to be outdone, names of other rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, little sisters, aunties and deceased grandparents were also forthcoming.

Names of trees was understandably abandoned. Our Assistant District Commissioner went on to ask what is made out of trees. “Cake” was suggested. After a bit of discussion it had to be conceded that apple turnovers and lemon meringue pies had a major ingredient which was tree based. It was also decided that raisins and sultanas came from trees. I suspected differently, but wasn’t going to get involved. Another item made from trees is pubs, apparently. For some reason the cubs felt me to be an authority on the matter, and I readily agreed with them. As is usually the case, the words “CAKE!” and “PUB!” were shouted for the next five minutes.

Things then got scientific, and we were asked what was the term used for a tree which sheds its leaves in the winter. The word we were looking for was probably “deciduous”, but the cubs settled on “bald” and I wasn’t going to argue. From here it all went downhill. The cubs were then divided into groups, and the Assistant District Commissioner gave each group a “book of trees” and a handful of sticks. The idea was that they were supposed to identify the trees from which the various sticks originated. Every cub then proceeded to thrash every other cub with their stick. Like we didn’t see that one coming a mile off!!!

And then, just to put the final nail in the coffin, our Assistant District Commissioner had a “question and answer session”. First question: “Are you a tree-hugger?” Answer “No”. Second question: “Are you sure?” Answer “Yes”. Third question: “I think you are a tree hugger”. I know that strictly speaking that’s not a question, and that really I should have stepped in and laid down the law, but sometimes it’s fun to sit back and watch…

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12 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Rats!

12 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Rats!magnify

Yesterday the nice man at the garage said that a new clutch was about £60, and it would take a couple of hours to fit. Today’s formal estimate has a new clutch priced at £130 taking four and a half hours to fit. Funny, that! The estimate doesn’t include any odds and ends that might crop up as they go along. I’m told to expect to shell out £500, and if it’s less than that I should consider it a bonus.

Under normal circumstances this would comprehensively put the tin lid on any plans for a new shed, but bearing in mind the wildlife that “My Boy TM” claims to have found in the current shed, desperate times may well call for desperate measures.

And in today’s budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put 4p onto the price of a pint of beer. I’ll vote for someone else next time….

Update

Just been told – Ian’s funeral will be at Bybrook Cemetery on Wednesday 26th March at 2:30pm

 

13 March 2008 (Thursday) - A Day in the Life

13 March 2008 (Thursday) - A Day in the Lifemagnify

My Boy TM” informed me this morning that the rat in the shed was the size of a two-litre cola bottle. Apparently he disturbed it whilst rummaging for his fishing gear, and now he refuses to go into the shed unless he is armed with a saw. One wonders what he intends to do to the rat with the saw.

In the absence of my trusty Espace I had planned to walk home from work tonight, but it was raining so I took the bus. Its years since I got a bus – they are full of really scary retards. One bunch of them wanted to go to the railway station. The driver explained he didn’t go there but he could take them as far as Bank Street. Bank Street to the railway station is only two minutes walk, but the retards took this news as most people would take the news of the end of the world. They grudgingly paid their fare, and spent the entire trip griping about wanting the railway station and not Bank Street. On arrival at bank Street they didn’t get off the bus. The driver told them they’d arrived, and they told him they wanted the railway station. I left them to it, reflecting on the excellent entertainment value the £1 fare provided. £1 to get from the hospital to the town – it’s a bit steep. Hardly surprising people don’t get public transport these days.

And now a riddle – what has over a million nephrons, a medulla, controls the formation of both your blood and your tiddle and goes well in a pie with steak? Yes, that’s right, it’s your kidney. Today is world kidney day. World kidney day – I ask you. Someone somewhere has been paid for thinking that one up……

 

14 March 2008 (Friday) - Earth 2

14 March 2008 (Friday) - Earth 2magnify

Today was supposed to be a day’s holiday, but due to the installation of some new equipment I felt I ought to be at work today. Mind you, I didn’t expect to still be there three hours after I was supposed to be back home again.

Tonight I finished watching the DVD boxed set of “Earth 2”. Chris lent me videos of the series about ten years ago; I liked it at the time so I bought the thing from eBay. The premise is that a bunch of misfits escape an overbearing government to set up their own colony on a planet far, far away from anyone else. However rather than exploring the unknown, our heroes seem to be either squabbling with each other, or fighting with the (seemingly) thousands of other people who’ve had the same idea as they had, but got to the planet first.

Mind you, the show had an interesting cast.

·         The milf with the epic chest from “Eureka” featured as the star of the show, but fortunately for decency’s sake, the chest remained under more control than it does on “Eureka

·         John Locke” (the only interesting one from “Lost”) and Tim Curry (of “Rocky Horror” fame) star as baddies.

·         The actress playing the “loveable child” character died a couple of years ago (aged only 22) from heart failure

·         The actress playing the “fit bird” character mowed down (and killed) a nine year old who was crossing the road

I wonder how many other programs have such a lively cast. Real life was clearly far more interesting than the TV show….

 

15 March 2008 (Saturday) - A Pub Crawl

15 March 2008 (Saturday) - A Pub Crawlmagnify

I went to bed after midnight last night, and was wide awake at five am this morning. After lying awake for nearly an hour I gave up, got up and watched more of my latest DVD (The Monocled Mutineer) before spending a couple of hours painting the fence.

And then off on our travels. A trip round the county in the Batmobile. As Brian needed a tiddle we popped into the Olde Yew Tree in Westbere. And then to the Koi shop which was being rebuilt so we couldn’t see the Koi. I’ve been after a new bow for some time, so we went into Ten Ring in Ramsgate. My new bow and bracer are really sexy (woof!). The Thanet CAMRA pub of the year is only a few hundred yards from the archery shop, so we had a crafty pint there.

For old times sake we had a look in the kite shop in Whitstable. “Kites and Thingsthese days seems to be a lot of “Things”, but precious few “Kites”. But it’s next door to the county CAMRA pub of the year so we thought we’d give that place a try. And then we saw the crowds so we changed our minds, and went somewhere else. By now we were getting a bit peckish, so it was back to one of our favourite places for a bit of scran You can’t beat broccoli & stilton soup!

I slept all the way home…..

 

16 March 2008 (Sunday) - (Cub) Scout Leader Training

16 March 2008 (Sunday) - (Cub) Scout Leader Trainingmagnify

One of the drawbacks of having your “Daddies Little Angel TM” leave home is that it can phone you at silly o’clock. And phone you again at twenty past silly o’clock because it can. “Er Indoors TM” said that the reason why I haven’t been sleeping properly recently was because I was too hot at night. So “my blankee TM” was confiscated. Those parts of the night that weren’t spent answering the phone were spent shivering. But do I complain….. ?

And then to the county showground at Detling. The county scout team had put on a day for leaders to help them form program ideas. I found scout campsites within an hour’s drive that I never knew existed. I had a go at indoor bowling, Wii games, robot wars and horse racing. I was given reduced admission to most of the tourist attractions in London. I made Easter chicks. I bought a pink woggle and a pink “Kaa” badge. I was given reduced booking fees for clowns, jugglers and magicians. I was given the chance to hire the original “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (!) I was given all sorts of freebies about scout and cub badge requirements. I got to chat up the “fit bird from the lifeboat TM”. I was given a free dictionary and calculator by the county scout office. I was given a length of rope for voting for my favourite poster at the show. (I voted for the Beaver who looked like he was poo-ing himself).

On the other hand I found the “nice man TM” from the scout stamp collector’s club, and I was told about the Baby Jesus by the “scary boiler from the Salvation Army TM”. Apparently it’s her mission to get God into the centre of scouting rather than just being a prayer at the end of the evening. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that we don’t even have a prayer at the end of the evening, or that we’d deliberately arrived at today’s event late so’s we’d miss the “God Slot”.

I met one of the original Ener-Guys (Gerry) who is now a fellow cub leader and goes by the name of “Gay Wolf” – I’m told he’s happy with that (!) I met scout leaders who remembered me from the days when I used to take snakes round scout groups (that was some years ago!). I found the scout shop, and found that they don’t do scout fleeces in pink in sizes bigger than XL. (Shame!)

We’ve a minor hiccup with cubs at the moment. Following the loss of the scout leader last year, and the fact that the assistant scout leader does cricket (rather than scouts) in the summer (starting next month), there’s a shortage of scout leaders. Because the plan is to do outdoor stuff with the scouts it’s been suggested that we have cubs and scouts on different nights. That might suit me – Tuesdays can be a rush, sometimes. I’ve offered to supervise the scouts on the Angler’s badge one weekend afternoon (smiles sweetly in the direction of a pond in Smarden) but I’m not overly keen on getting involved with both cubs and scouts. Or then again, the scouts might be more fun. I’ll give it a go and see what happens. Mind you, I said that one Tuesday night in October 1995, and I’m still there now.

 

17 March 2008 (Monday) - Walking to Work

17 March 2008 (Monday) - Walking to Workmagnify

As there’s no news about my car I walked to work today – I didn’t have to be there until late morning. It was a lovely walk. Coming home was a different matter. It’s cold and dark at 8pm. Last week on the 666 bus (complete with demonic graphics on the bus) that goes all the way to Faversham, getting to the town cost a pound. Today on the one that does circuits of Ashford, the same trip costs £1.70. One wonders why the difference.

As I planned to be walking today, as with any hike I checked the weather forecast. What a load of rubbish! The BBC’s forecast for the day was “sunny”, but when you check the more detailed hourly forecast, at no time during the day did they predict it would ever be sunny. Also on the more detailed breakdown we find it’s windier than the day’s forecast, but at least it’s not so cold. And being the BBC this all comes off the license fee!

Meanwhile back on the ranch there’s no news about the rat. Thank the lord! And half the soil mountain has gone from the front garden. Let’s hope the rest goes soon…

 

18 March 2008 (Tuesday) - Chicken Nails

18 March 2008 (Tuesday) - Chicken Nailsmagnify

As we’re coming up to Easter, it seemed appropriate for the cubs to make Easter chicks (as demonstrated above). However, the construction of the chicks was quite problematical. PVA glue didn’t seem to fix the heads on very firmly. I suggested “chicken nails TM”. I demonstrated the efficacy of “chicken nails TM” by picking up one of the smaller cubs and giving him a good shake. His head flopped all over the place because it wasn’t held in place by “chicken nails TM”. But shaking one of the larger cubs didn’t result in any head movement at all. Which proves how well “chicken nails TM” work. I went on to explain that the reason you don’t see headless chickens all over the place is that when God makes chickens he uses “chicken nails TM”.

Clyde” wasn’t having any of that creationist nonsense. He maintained that God didn’t make chickens. Chickens come from “evolution”. It’s always a mistake to bring religion into anything, and I wondered how best to get myself out of this hole of my own digging. Perhaps asking “Clyde” to elaborate on “evolution” wasn’t the best way to do so. It transpires that chickens evolved from “lower animals”. Now, it has to be said, “Clyde” was rather vague on the entire concept of “lower animals”. After a lot of discussion and debate and red herrings about “chicken nails TM”, most of the cubs came to the conclusion that if God keeps chickens on the first floor, then the “lower animals” are probably downstairs somewhere in the basement. Therefore the “chicken nails TM” are in a box in the shed, and that’s where we shall leave them for this week….

In other news, the soil mountain has gone, and “My Boy TM” ‘s freeview box has blown up. The finger of suspicion is pointing at the rat.

 

19 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Famous !

19 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Famous !magnify

The weather forecast for today (from the BBC) predicted "sleet showers". We got glorious sunshine. I wonder how much of the licence fee goes into weather forecasting? Obviously too much. I got the car back today. Just over five hundred quid, with a warning that the boiling point of the brake fluid is a bit iffy. Apparently they check this on every car that comes in, but they reckon that since I've just stumped up for the clutch, the brakes will be good for a little while. That new shed is looking less and less likely.

Better earn some more money. And so to work where we had the formal opening of the new department. Ten million pounds of taxpayers money has been spent on my new toys, and today Lord Carter of Coles, the Mayor, and thirty other assorted dignitaries came along. The formal opening ceremony passed off well - Lord Carter is one of the government's advisors on things pathological, and my boys and girls were held up as a shining example as the future direction of the National Health Service. After the ribbon was cut, senior staff led groups of dignitaries around. I started off with six in my group, and somehow managed to lose five of them (!)

Once the formalities were done, it was dinner time. A formal buffet for the visiting dignataries and a slap-up "help yourselves" for those who actually do the work. I'd been ordered to hob-nob with the dignitaries, and it has to be said that the formal buffet wasn't anywhere near as good as what the workers got. Which is probably as it should be.

Conscious that time was getting on and I'd not actually done anything work-wise so far, I made my excuses and went back to work where my girls thrust me at the man from the BBC who wondered if he could ask me some questions. I was expecting him to have technical questions to which only I would have the answers. I was wrong. He wanted someone to interview for the evening news. If I'd known I was going to be on the telly I'd have prepared a speech and worn a pink shirt….

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

 

20 March 2008 (Thursday) - Dull

After yesterday’s TV appearance, today was something of an anticlimax. I was only an hour late home from work today – better than the end of last week, I suppose.

Many of the plans for the weekend are on hold as I don’t really fancy spending my time in a swamp in the snow. I suppose I could organise a Blokus tournament, but I’ve developed a cough, and I suspect that most of the time will be spent alternately sulking and feeling sorry for myself. But at least tomorrow seems OK, and in preparation for one of the year’s top ten events, some philosophy:

When people tell me problems

And ask me what I think

I say “The word’s a lovely place

if you’ve had much too much to drink

Ten points if you can identify the sage from whom these wise words originated.

 

21 March 2008 (Good Friday) - Beer

21 March 2008 (Good Friday) - Beermagnify

Having a root about on my computer last night I found a video which I thought I’d put up on You-Tube months ago, but hadn’t. And then, filled with You-Tube fever (with a little bovine assistance). I did another video for my admiring masses. So if anyone’s bored this wet Bank Holiday weekend, there’s five minutes worth of stuff to do.

Didn’t sleep well (again) – the noise of the rain against the window kept me awake for much of the night. And to think there’s those who wanted me to go camping with them this weekend. The field will be a swamp. It has to be said that I’m a fair weather camper. This roughing it in all elements is something I can never understand. But there’s so many who are out there in tents and caravans all year long. They must love it, but I can’t see the attraction. I camp four or five times a year on average, and in all honesty I sometimes feel that’s too much!

And so to Folkestone for Chambers Bar Beer Festival. With beers from all over the country, eight of us tried all they had, and scoffed some rather good stew as well before wandering off towards the Guildhall for even more beer.

 

22 March 2008 (Rubbish Saturday) - Feeling ill

22 March 2008 (Rubbish Saturday) - Feeling illmagnify

It’s only when you’re wracked with the shivers and the snots and the coughing that you appreciate not having a cold. Today was a day wasted, I suppose. But then it wasn’t as though I could have done much anyway as there were hurricane force winds and hail showers. Apart from spending an hour or so at work to sort out an IT problem, and a couple of hours watching a film with “My Boy TM” (“Making of a Foot Soldier” or something) most of the day was spent in NeverWinter, which is somewhere I’ve not been much lately.

Daddies Little Angel TM” is home for the weekend and has rescued Sabrina from the elements. Once they’d cooked my tea they shoved off round to annoy Brian and I watched “Tommy” – the rock opera. Have you ever seen it? It’s weird. I had to look it up on Wikipedia to find out what it was all about, and even now I’m still not sure about it.

 

23 March 2008 (Dull Sunday) - Dull

23 March 2008 (Dull Sunday) - Dullmagnify

I overslept somewhat – I assumed it was about 7.30am (ish) and was amazed to find I’d slept till 10.30am. That never happens. I must be ill. But then I know when I’ve been in my pit too long – I get back ache.

My Boy TM” got a tad confused thinking that today was the Baby Jesus’s birthday. And then we both got rather miffed because the entire universe was closed. This closure is out of courtesy to the righteous’s superstitions. With less than 10% of the population being active churchgoers, isn’t it somewhat unfair on the majority to close the country to appease such a small minority?

Mind you, with the snow and the wind, there wasn’t much that could be done at all today, so I sat in front of the PC and mucked about in NeverWinter, whilst hoping the coughs and the snots would clear up. “Daddies Little Angel TM” made a cucumber and celery smoothie, and tried to poison me with it. I’m not eating such healthy nonsense.

 

24 March 2008 (Easter Monday) - More Dull

The weather forecast for today was sunny, and I woke up feeling, if not 100%, certainly over 50%. So, as is traditional for me at Easter, I made a start on the garden. More fence got painted, and the lawn got it’s first mowing. I then raked up leaves and picked up cat poo until the snow started. So much for weather forecasts.

And then to Tesco for some shopping (Jose had told me they had the latest “South Park” DVD). Oh, I hate supermarkets. Especially when the retards have their children there with them. One particularly retarded family came up behind me and the eldest brat let rip the most blood curdling scream. The entire supermarket turned and looked at him. “What’s the matter?” asked the lumpy mother “Uh?” replied the brat. “You screamed” said lumpy. “Yes”, the brat confirmed. “Why?” inquired lumpy. “Why what?” retorted brat. “The scream” lumpy reminded brat. Brat replied with a vacant stare – it’s attention span was so short it had long since forgotten any screaming.

And so home to hundreds of emails. Some dull, some quite educational. Did you know that most women can tell the size of a man’s “thingie” from his facial expression? No? They can, you know. I read it in an email, so it must be true. Because of this, scientists in America have apparently spent years creating these new pills out of monkey chemicals. These make your “thingie” grow huge, and then you have a different facial expression. It’s described as an “I don’t have a care in the world” aura. Apparently having a huge “thingie” cures all your problems. One lives and learns. It has to be said that the email was rather vague on the specifics of how having a nasty the size of a dustbin pays off your overdraft and fixes the dripping tap. Perhaps they will send another email to explain about that later.

After this revelation, the rest of the day was spent (somewhat anti-climactically) dozing off in front of my new South Park DVD.

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25 March 2008 (Tuesday) - Cubs (and Scouts)

25 March 2008 (Tuesday) - Cubs (and Scouts)magnify

Insomnia strikes again, and I was up doing the ironing at 6am. And just as I’m over the work of the snots and as the weather improves, it’s back to work. Which was dull.

The cubs were on fine form. One of the girl cubs had a cryptic note scrawled on the back of her hand. It looked like “I love Desmond”, but she denied loving any Desmonds. She hasn’t got a boyfriend, and proved as much by challenging me to ask all the boys in the world to find out. One of the boy cubs hoofed another in the ear. Just as things looked nasty, the “hoofer” told the “hoofee” that the blow was from his “machine gun light sabre” which made it all right. We then played team games including a variation of tug o’ war as seen above.

I then stayed on a while to talk to the scouts about the Angler badge. I was faced with all twenty-odd of them (mostly ex-cubs now twice my size and looking for revenge) so I thought I’d play it hard. No mucking about. I made it clear that this wouldn’t be like the badges they’d done with me at cubs, it was something they’d have to work hard at. They all seemed happy with this, and all wanted to have a go at the badge. But none of them seemed to have the slightest idea about fishing. So I decided to play it VERY hard. I would only work with those scouts who had their own fishing gear. That knocked it down to four.

I took those four off into a corner. “Jacob” who did fishing with me for his “hobbies” badge when he was a cub is one of the four. To be honest, as far as I’m concerned he’s got the badge already – he knows what he’s doing. But the other three…. There’s “Jacob”’s big brother who knows everything about fishing from watching his little brother. There’s one lad who I’ve been addressing as “Debbie” for at least the last six years. He’s the one who was rubbish at praising God – needing to do it on a weekly basis when others do it annually. And there’s one who wasn’t an ex-cub of mine, but seems to be a bit of a gobshite. I’m going back in a fortnight with some questions. I expect to get a thump from “Debbie”.

By the time I got home and had some tea it was gone 9pm. Too late to go out. There’s a plan to change cubs night to a Monday or a Thursday. Either would suit me….

 

26 March 2008 (Wednesday) - Arkee- ology Club

Back in the good old days when “The Quality TM” ruled the world, the “scumbag peasants TM” knew their place. Their place was in a hovel. Now this was in the days before affordable carpeting, and so the average “scumbag peasants TM” would use dirt in place of any other floor covering in said hovel. Over the years this dirt would get several feet thick, and such compacted floors are today a treasure trove of archaeological interest. Or, they are for those that get over-excited when scrabbling about in the dirt on the floor of the hovel of some “scumbag peasants TM” who’ve been dead for several hundred years.

Another thing I learned was that, apparently, the “scumbag peasants TM” couldn’t afford indoor lavatories, and would have a crafty dump in (or on) the back garden. Such back gardens also provide rich pickings (!) for those with precious little else to be getting on with.

I like the archaeology club. It’s full of people who can’t pronounce the word “archaeology”, and gives me somewhere warm where I can have a bit of a kip. I see my attendance there as somewhat in the same vein as taking “My Boy TM” shopping during the early nineties. If he kept his trap shut for an hour or so, he was rewarded with a trip to McDonalds. In exactly the same way, if I keep my trap shut for an hour or so, I’m rewarded with a trip up the pub afterwards.

The Bowl in Charing was entertaining. With four decent ales on, the landlord had a case of the serious burps, the landlady looked dubious, and the barmaid had some of the sauciest undercrackers you ever did see.

I’m told next month’s lecture is on the more risqué aspects of the private life of King William IV. Can’t wait….

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27 March 2008 (Thursday) - Watching Telly

An evening in front of the telly. Following Lemmiwinks epic voyage through Mr Slave, it was then four hours on the discworld. Or slightly less than three if you fast forward through the adverts. I just wish I could have stayed awake through it all. When I’m supposed to be asleep at four am, I just know I’ll be wide awake.

Oh - and one of my Yahoo profile piccies has vanished. The one with me shooting a bow. Probably censored, I expect. I see the 200+ porno Yahoo 360 sites I told them about are all still there.

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28 March 2008 (Friday) - Stevey

28 March 2008 (Friday) - Steveymagnify

There’s this bloke I know. He was once almost about to get off with an “incredibly fit bird TM” on the tube until I stuffed it for him. Me & him got stranded in London dressed as Captain Kirk and a Klingon having missed the last train home. He left me high and dry in Folkestone when I was being sniffed at by an “incredibly fit bird TM”. We’ve been to beer festivals, gaming conventions, Star Trek theme pubs, kite festivals, cycle rides. We’ve seen the wrestling, and met Sir Patrick Moore together. And over the course of the last year or so I lost contact with him.

Now through Facebook he’s found me. I wonder if he’ll let me dye his hair again?

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29 March 2008 (Saturday) - Stuff

29 March 2008 (Saturday) - Stuffmagnify

He’s got a car – it’s the red one behind him in the photo above. So why on Earth has “My Boy TM” bought a mini-moto? You don’t know? – It’s obvious really, he’s got an eBay account. I can only speculate on what other rubbish is winging its way here. The mini-moto arrived by post yesterday (in pieces) and was delivered a few doors up from us. I knacked myself carrying it home, and he sat up half the night building the thing.

I spent a few hours at work this morning, and came home to find er indoors was defrosting the freezer. I say “defrosting the freezer” – the entire back of the house was flooded, carpets ruined (again) and the freezer door was open. Oh well, clearing up the mess will give her something to do tomorrow.

And so to Folkestone – for a surprise birthday bash. But how much of a surprise can it be when you’re spotted on the way there?

 

30 March 2008 (Sunday) - More Stuff

30 March 2008 (Sunday) - More Stuffmagnify

I woke up with a rotten headache and feeling really grim. It took me a while to realise it wasn’t a hangover – I hadn’t been drinking. I wonder what that was all about?

The weather forecast gave today as being dry, so bearing in mind there are all sorts of things planned for me for the next few weekends, I decided to make a start with the shed. I was amazed how much stuff wasn’t in there. Expecting loads of stuff to be lurking in there, once I’d got “My Boy TM” s fishing gear and the crates of camping gear out, there wasn’t a lot left that was worth keeping. There were half a dozen hub caps – all different, and none which would fit any car owned by any of the family. There were two 25kg bags of cement which had gone solid. I was rather concerned to find I could pour water out of the electrical adapter which ran the garden water features. I was equally concerned to find a hole the size of a warthog in the shed floor. Presumably that’s where the rat comes in.

Having got the shed empty, I then made a start on the rest of the yard. The car wheels “My Boy TM” has been keeping under a tarpaulin have gone rusty. The decking I spent ages making last year has gone rotten. The flower tubs are waterlogged and drowned. I’ve done one tip run today – I’ll probably do another in the morning before work tomorrow.

And then, ably assisted by “Daddies Little Angel TM”, it was off to the shed shop where I gave far too much money to “the fit bird in the shed shop TM”. She tells me that my new shed should be ready in a week or so, and that not only will they deliver it, they will assemble it as well. It comes with no less than three windows (!) – it will have curtains, too. Nice lacy net ones.

And I’m not the only one who’s been working in the garden today. The bloke over the back has been making an aviary, and as I’ve been typing this blog entry, I’ve seen he’s got an owl in there. Let’s hope he knows what he’s doing – the chap from the owl rescue centre was touting for donations at the garden centre a while ago. This chap claimed that since Harry Potter got an owl for a pet, the local rescue centre has been collecting 20+ unwanted owls each week that people have found haven’t made good pets.

 

31 March 2008 (Monday) - Astro Club

31 March 2008 (Monday) - Astro Clubmagnify

The last Monday of the month – astronomy club. In the last few months the club’s improved beyond all recognition. Tonight we had a talk about astro-photography which can be done on the (very) cheap but plugging webcams into telescopes & sorting out what you see with shareware. Where once there were those who were there to blow their own trumpets, now everyone seems there to learn from others. Next month is a talk on the spring sky, and then in May it’s me wittering on (again).

It’s been suggested that Stanhope community centre mght not be the best place to meet – can we find a pub with a function room?