1 November 2011 (Tuesday) - Backup
Being the end of the month, I backed up Octoberís blog entries to my backup site. I set it up some years ago (with the assistance of the nice man at energize-group) since at the time I understood that some of my loyal readers couldnít access the main blog page. I sometimes wonder how much use that backup site gets these days. But even if no one looks at it, itís a useful backup to have.
I had a phone call today: one of my job applications has paid dividends. One of my applications was to be a (trainee) mortgage consultant. The chap at the mortgage company phoned me. Unfortunately the job wasnít what I was expecting: it would involve a lot of cold-calling. And at the moment thatís not something I want to do. But if the cost of petrol goes up any more, itís something I might have to do. Driving to Canterbury every day isnít coming in very cheap.
I received a message through the car sharing website I mentioned last week. ďPhilĒ had mentioned that he travels from Ashford to Canterbury every day and was up for car sharing. But since he went on that website, things have changed. Heís now got himself a bike, and cycles every day.
Itís something Iíve (vaguely) considered, but with a round trip of forty miles every day, Iím not keen on the idea. The bus is looking to be a possibility, but with the last bus home leaving at 6.20pm, getting home after an 8pm finish is looking tricky.
And so to Folkestone, where after a really good episode of Star Trek I fell asleep. I wish I could sleep at the right timeÖ.
2 November 2011 (Wednesday) - Stuff
This amazes me - it's not enough that fossil fuels cause no end of pollution and global warming. Now there's evidence that drilling them out causes earthquakes too. Surely the sooner that electric cars become de rigeur, the better.
Meanwhile no end of personal data has been obtained by "socialbots" - computers pretending to be real people, and asking for people to be their friends on Facebook. Thereís a lesson to be learned there.
I know whoís on my Facebook list. But does everyone? Somehow, I doubt it.
On a more personal note, I see the government has made some concessions with regard to proposed changes to public sector pensions. A shame that they are only giving grace to those within ten years of retiring. I miss out by three years. Or that is I miss out by three years if I stay with the NHS. If I manage top organise myself another job, I suspect I shall be working until Iím nearly seventy. But they say that a change is as good as a rest. I wouldnít say that Iíd go at the first opportunity, but Iím seriously looking at what else is available at the moment.
And if you look up into the night sky itís just possible you might see the unmanned Shenzhou 8 craft, (launched earlier this week), docked with the Tiangong-1 space lab. The Chinese have succeeded in carrying off an orbital docking.
They will be on the Moon soon Ė you mark my wordsÖ
3 November 2011 (Thursday) - More Stuff
Perhaps someone in America read my blog yesterday. The Chinese space agency would seem to have a race on its hands. But whilst the Chinese are sticking to traditional rocketry to get into outer space, the new American plan is a series of airships to get progressively closer to space, thereby obviating the need for rockets.
There's a trial airship which has (today) beaten the previous altitude record for such vehicles. I wonder how practical balloons will turn out to be...After all is said and done, itís not an original idea Ė the Romanians were trying it a couple of years ago.
Some of my loyal readers tune into this drivel on their iPads. I wonder if this iPad will ever look in my direction Ė customised with gold and diamonds it has a frame of ammolite and even fragments of dinosaur bones. A snip at a mere five million quid.
For those of my loyal reader who arenít quite so flush for cash, perhaps a pair of Queen Victoriaís undercrackers might be a more realistic purchase Ė only ten thousand pounds. What on Earth do you do with a pair of undercrackers that are over a century old?
And as I type this, next door are shrieking at their dogs. Their dogs clearly have no intentions of doing as they are told. I canít pretend to be a dog fan: neither am I particularly anti-dog. But it strikes me that a rather vital part of having a dog is the ability to instil some control.
Perhaps thatís where I go wrong when I take Fudge for walkiesÖ
4 November 2011 (Friday) - Mars 500
A very restless night Ė it rained so hard, the noise of the rain against the window kept me awake.
As I walked to my car this morning I saw the traffic wardens were out and ticketing cars. They were writing parking tickets at 7.15am this morning. Am I alone in thinking this is somewhat harsh. I have never seen a traffic warden in my road at what I would call ďoffice hoursĒ: they are either lurking whilst people are having breakfast, or are up to evil whilst people sleep. Iíve seen them outside my house at 12.30am (thatís half past midnight) before now.
Have I missed something, or has autumn happened very suddenly this year? Last weekend it was business as usual; this weekend the trees are full of glorious colours and there are fallen leaves everywhere.
I canít remember autumn happening quite so fast in previous years.
And todayís news: carrying on the space theme, I see the crew of Mars 500 have landed. Regular readers will know that Iíve been following the Mars 500 mission. Or that is Iíve been trying to follow it. Iíve subscribed to their blog, but bearing in mind itís written in Russian I donít think Iíve got as much out of it as I might have done had I been able to understand it.
For any of my loyal readers whoíve missed the news, Mars 500 is (was) a simulated mission to Mars, conducted in a mock-up spaceship in a warehouse in Moscow. Six astronauts have spent the last five hundred days in the simulation, and have now simulated the return to Earth.
It speaks volumes about the future of space explorations that he crew contained Europeans, Russians, a Chinese chap, but no AmericansÖ.
5 November 2011 (Saturday) - Fireworks
Today was the weekly weigh-in. Iíve lost four more pounds. And since I started this lark Iíve lost an inch from round my neck, four inches from my waist and three inches from my hips. And talking of weight loss, it would seem that thereís a furore building over the apparent fact that you can lose more weight through commercial schemes than through NHS weight loss clinics. I wonder if thatís because people who actually go to the expense of paying to lose weight are more dedicated to doing so.
For a long time I naively though that the secret to weight loss was obvious Ė the urge to lose weight had to be stronger than the urge to eat pies. But now I know itís not that simple. The trick lies in counting calories. Somewhat obvious really; but for one whoís (up till now) had no real idea what a calorie is, itís come as something of a revelation. For example this morning for brekkie I had two slices of jam on toast and a cup of coffee. The calories in that are equivalent to those used up in one hourís gentle walking. So in the past I was kidding myself when Iíve walked to the town (ten minutes away), had a full English fry-up and thought all was fine because Iíd walked to the cafť.
Itís come as something of a shock that for years Iíve led a very active lifestyle, but wiped out all the benefits by eating far too much.
I then had a look on eBay: about a year I set my eBay account up to let me know whenever a Pierson roller kite came up for sale. I donít know quite what I did, but for the last year, ebayís been emailing me telling me about all sorts of stuff that ďmatches my searchĒ. Hair rollers, roller blinds, roller skates and steam rollers. Oh, and very occasionally I get told of a very expensive kite. So I deleted the search from my eBay. Letís hope the emails now stop.
I looked out of the window: the day was rather wet and yukky. So rather than going out, we stayed in. I alternated between NeverWinter and Worms before giving up and going to sit downstairs whilst Ďer indoors TM played on the Nintendo dance mat. ďMr Beanís HolidayĒ was on the telly Ė I donít think Iíd seen that before. It wasnít bad Ė Iíve seen worse telly.
And then we went round to Steve and Sarahís for fireworks. The weather wasnít quite as bad as it had been, and a couple of dozen of us met up and had a great evening. The fireworks were good, Steveís box was impressive, I was pleased with the huge rocket Iíd got from ďHopelessĒ, and we had an interesting five minutes when one of the Chinese lanterns got stuck in a tree. It didnít quite burst into flames, but we turned the hose pipe onto it just in case.
A smashing evening was had by all. Roll on next yearís fireworksÖ.
6 November 2011 (Sunday) - Leeds Castle
We had the boiler serviced a couple of days ago Ė is it really a year since we had it replaced? And Iíve noticed that since Friday, the central heating comes on when the thermostat is set to a lower temperature. It never used to come on at all if the thermostat was set below 22oC. Now, even when set as low as 15oC, thereís a gentle heat coming from it. I wonder what thatís all about.
Whilst my mind was on thoughts of boiler, I checked out my meter readings. A year ago my gas meter read 9074 Ė now it reads 9405. Is that good or bad? And I read the leccie meter too, and tried to put the numbers into the on-line read your own leccie meter site. ďTriedĒ being the operative word: the web site wouldnít have it. My night rate for electricity shows Iíve used a negative amount of electricity since I did my last meter reading back in May. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that Iíve had leccie meters go wrong in the past. It looks like another one has gone west on me. Which is a pain.
And then to Leeds Castle. Regular readers may recall that Iíve been there twice this year with the kite club: we flew kites as an attraction for a couple of events that Leeds Castle were running. Today we were flying kites as a prelude to the firework display. So we flew kites. Which was easier said than done with the wind varying from hurricane to perfectly still on a regular basis. In between kite flying (and rescuing kites from trees) I had a mooch round the various stalls. All of which were selling food. Or that is they were offering food for sale. But they werenít giving it away. With a bag of chips costing £2.50 I was glad weíd taken a pic-nic. And we attacked some passing Star Wars stormtroopers. Iím not sure what they were doing, but they seemed fair game to be attacked.
As the light faded we flew spirit kites (which look like Dementors from Harry Potter) before sitting down in front of a huge open-air screening of Toy Story. And once this was done the fireworks started. They lasted for half an hour, and as part of the show there was a spectacular light show which illuminated the castle, and the whole thing was set to music. Donít get me wrong Ė it was a very good show: especially for us as weíd got in for free with the kite club. But the general public (all several thousands of them) had paid eighteen quid each. And in all honestly I think I would have expected more for my money when you bear in mind that the show probably wasnít that much better than fireworks and music Iíve seen at local displays (admittedly on a smaller scale).
Coming home was fun. We made our way to the car and sat in the car for fifty minutes whilst everyone else queued to get out. Inching forwards imperceptibly, blasting hooters at each other, tempers got very frayed in the car park. We just sat and waited, and once the queues had mostly subsided, we drove straight out.
Same time next yearÖ? If itís another freebie. I wouldnít pay for it.
7 November 2011 (Monday) - Dog Poo
Over the weekend I was rattling on about my diet. I do that quite a bit these days. Whilst the weight loss seems to be working, I seem to spend most mornings in a state of total and painful hunger. So I had some of my lunch for elevensies Ė that seemed to do the trick.
Having said that, I need to do something about brekkie - two bits of toast isn't filling.
Last night was the last episode of Downton Abbey. Iíve not heard that any of my loyal readers have been watching it, but Iíve been enthralled. And weíve been left on a cliff-hanger. Canít wait till the Xmas special.† Talking of which, I wonder if there will be a return of Upstairs Downstairs as well?
And talking of Xmas, I wonder how many children will get the latest novelty game ďDoggie DooĒ Ė the winner being the person who accumulates the most dog poo.
What will they think of nextÖ
8 November 2011 (Tuesday) - Stuff
Next doorís dogs were staging a riot at 6.30am this morning. Iím not anti-dog in any way, but they are such noisy creatures. If only they could woof quietly. I then updated FireFox: I say ďI updated FireFoxĒ Ė to be honest it updated itself. So far I canít see any difference.
I had a voice message on my mobile phone today. Nathan was wondering if Iíd made any progress on the matter weíd been discussing last week. Having no idea who Nathan was, or the matter Iíd discussed with him put me at something of a disadvantage.
I wonder if I should ring him back. Perhaps I wonít
Then I checked the news. As well as a load of dull stuff happening, fans of the film ďIce AgeĒ might be interested to know that sabre-toothed squirrels did live alongside dinosaurs, just like ďScratĒ. Whether or not they spent a lot of time pushing acorns around has yet to be determined though. Meanwhile in America a spokesman for the White House has denied any evidence for the existence of aliens. Such a denial will be taken (in some circles) as evidence that aliens are real.
And following on from yesterdayís whinge about the diet, itís been suggested that I monitor my fibre intake. Apparently eating loads of fibre helps with the hunger. And fibre would seem to run against common sense in the same way that the calorie content of food does. For example (it would seem) thereís more fibre in tomato soup than there is in a jacket potato.
I wonder what I can have for brekkie that is especially fibrelicious whilst still being very cheapÖ.
9 November 2011 (Wednesday) - More Stuff
This morning whilst rooting through the cupboards I found a box of Tescoís Bran Flakes. So I had a bowl of that for brekkie, and was remarkably less hungry than I have been in the past.
Yesterday I applied for a job as a fitness trainer (yes Ė I know!!) And today I was offered that job. All I have to do is pay them two thousand pounds for their training course and they will supply me with a list of gymnasiums in which I might try to tout my trade. Thatís a really good job(!)
Meanwhile the Russians have launched an interplanetary space probe. Intended to land on the Martian moon of Phobos and then return to Earth with some Phobos-rock, the probe has apparently fallen at the first hurdle, and is stuck in Earth orbit. With only three days of battery power remaining, hopes arenít high for salvaging anything from this mission. Embarrassingly the Russians were also planning to use the rocket to deliver a Chinese probe to Mars as well. I predict that within a few years the Chinese will be offering space on their rockets to highest bidders.
And hereís a sign of the times. In Hastings there is a sad individual who is lurking around various school gates in his car, attempting to entice children in. He seems to move from school to school, and it would seem to be difficult to pin down the movements of this fellow.
A friend of my cousin has got herself into trouble with the police about the matter. Apparently she shouldnít have alerted the parents to what the police consider to be hearsay and rumour. From what I can determine, the authorities would rather wait until a child has been hurt before they infringe the civil rights of those who lurk around schools for no apparent reasonÖ.
10 November 2011 (Thursday) - Even More Stuff
A second day of Tescoís Bran Flakes for brekkie. Again I was remarkably less hungry this morning than I have been in the past. But this will be very short-lived: weíve run out.
I was under the impression that the Bran Flakes had been lurking round the cupboard for years. But it turned out that Ďer indoors TM has been scoffing them on a daily basis, and Iíd polished off the last of her brekkie. I would have known that if I had been paying attention to what has been going on in her diet diary.
Workís not going well at the moment, and Iím continuing to apply for jobs at a serious rate, ones I think I could do; ones I think I might like, ones I havenít a hope of getting. If I donít try, Iíll never move on. Right now, any job would doÖ
Meanwhile if any of my loyal readers have a Nokia N8 like me and ďDaddyís Little Angel TM Ē, whatever you do, donít update the software. Apparently doing so stuffs the phone up. Which really proves my point about upgrades. Upgrades should be left alone. If you want an upgrade, buy a new phone.
And hereís something on which to ponder. There is a school of thought in Israel which feels that women should not sing in public. Apparently their doing so conjures up lustful thoughts. One lives and learnsÖ
11 November 2011 (Friday) - Rhinos
I went to bed at my usual time of 11pm last night, and slept right through to 5.30 am this morning. I was quite pleased about that. Iím beginning to dread going to kip because I know I will probably be awake from 3am to 5am, and start getting tired just as itís time to get up.
And then I got up for my bran flakes. Regular readers of this drivel will know Iíve been spouting on about dietary fibre lately. It turns out that scoffing more fibre in your diet reduces the risk of bowel cancer. Thatís nice to know.
Whilst weíre on toilet matters, did you know that the countryís energy shortages could be countered by using your very own tiddle? Apparently human urine could be used as the cathode half of a battery to produce loads of electricity. One canít help but wonder what goes into the anode.
I got myself a Morrisonís loyalty card today: if Iím getting petrol from them (which I am), I might as well get the loyalty points that go with it. I donít know when Iíll actually get to spend the points though Ė I suppose Iíd better make a special journey. After all if Iím in the petrol station, the supermarket is quite close. Closer that Asda ever is to any journey I make.
With Ďer indoors TM †flogging candles this evening I set about some ironing, and watched a movie Ė the 1950s version of ďMutiny on the BountyĒ. A classic; and I stayed awake for most of it too.
And in closing today, spare a thought for the African western black rhino; itís been declared officially extinct.
12 November 2011 (Saturday) - Rye Bonfire Parade
The weekly weigh-in: three more pounds have gone. Thatís got my weight heading in the right direction, and perhaps at a slightly better rate than it has been.
Perhaps laying of the beer has helped.
Laying off the beer might have helped several villains up north. Having evaded the law for some time, they were suckered by a phone scam. The police phoned them up, told them theyíd won free beer, arranged a time and place for delivery, and when the villains were expecting to get free beer, they got arrested.
I canít help feeling that was a bit mean.
To town to the bank and a bit of shopping, and then we called in to visit one of my grand-dogs. Fudge isnít feeling very well at the moment. Heís been off his food for a few days, and apparently has been dull and listless. I was worried, and when we visited he did seem somewhat off-sorts. Whilst he was running around, he was nowhere near as excitable has he had been in the past. And he still wasnít eating. However whilst we were with him, he noticeably chirped up, and drank a bowl of milk. I suspect heís eaten something he shouldnít: maybe heíd swallowed a bit of something heíd been chewing (a fragment of his bed, perhaps?).
Iíve asked for regular updates on the pup, and we left him (and his entourage) to it.
We came home, and I spent an hour or so applying for more jobs on-line. Sometimes I wonder if anything will come of the applications, but one thing is certain Ė if I donít apply, then nothing at all will happen.
Whilst applying like a thing possessed, I had an email Ė over on Twitter Arthur StJames has started following me. I wonder who he is. If heís following my tweets, heíll be disappointed Ė I donít do many.
And so to Rye for the bonfire parade. Rye bonfire parade has featured as a blog entry every November since Iíve been blogging: and the first ever entry concerning the event mentioned the previous yearís parade, so tonight was at least the seventh time Iíd been along. And tonight was a bonfire parade with a difference. Usually I treat the Rye bonfire parade as one big booze up. This year, circumstances have conspired against me, and with the need to economise being paramount, for once I treated Rye bonfire as an evening out and not as a session on the beer. Admittedly there were flasks of mulled wine and mulled Pimms going about, but this time a fortune was not tiddled up a wall. And we had a wonderful time.
Four of us drove down to Rye; there were eight by the time we reached the chip shop, and a dozen as we watched the parade. We shared sparklers and we cheered the procession. And in another break with tradition we didnít watch the fireworks from the Gun gardens. Because you canít actually see the fireworks form there.
Instead we walked down to the bonfire and watched the celebrations at the fire, and actually had a really good view of the fireworks for a change.
Having driven down, we drove home. There was no mad rush for the train, and no being squashed like sardines onto the train. We came home in comfort.
And so the fireworks season is over for another year. It seems to have been a very short one this year: I suppose having missed the events in Eastbourne and Shadoxhurst it would seem so. Iím already looking forward to next yearsí events.
13 November 2011 (Sunday) - Walkies
I had rather a late night last night; not going to bed until 1am. I was thinking of friends whoíd gone on an all-night ghost hunting trip as I dozed off. And I was thinking of them when they texted me at 5.45am to say they were on their way home (!)
I spent some time applying for more jobs on-line. Today Iíve filled out twenty applications for jobs ranging from surgical sales to fitting cavity wall insulation. If any of my loyal readers know of any job vacancies, please do let me know. Iím open to applying to absolutely anything.
Yesterday I mentioned that my grand-dog Fudge was poorly. He seems to be on the mend now, and this afternoon me and Ďer indoors TM took him for a walk. Quite a long walk. Thereís a new road which had been opened up in Ashford which bypasses a lot of the residential areas, and I was feeling nosey, so we walked along it. For those who know the town at all, it goes from the International station to Matalan. There are loads of industrial outlets and businesses along there that I never knew existed.
We then walked round Singleton Lake Ė I havenít been there for years. We met quite a few other dogs on the way; some friendly, some not so. Perhaps Iím making a sweeping generalisation here, but it struck me that the older the dog owner, the more disagreeable the dog.
And hereís an amazing statistic. Todayís blog entry is my nine hundredth entry here on Blogger. Add on the thousand that I did over on Yahoo 360 (until it packed up), and IĎm sure that youíll agree that one thousand nine hundred blog entries is quite an amazing feat. Or that is, it would be if they were actually the gems of literary merit that Iíd like them to have been. Personally I canít see the fascination of listening to me rattling on about weight loss and wanting a caravan, and generally watching me squandering my life in a rather tedious series of ordeals. But I can see from the stat counter that over the last week between thirty to forty different people tune in every day to see what Iíve been getting up to.
Perhaps we might organise a meet-up of my loyal readership in one hundred daysí time to celebrate the two thousandth blog entry which (by an amazing co-incidence) will be on my 48th birthday.
14 November 2011 (Monday) - Minesweeper
Can I start off today with a warning to my loyal readers. One the right hand side of this page is a list of other blogs to which I subscribe. One of them, the blog over at queensheadrye.com, would seem to have become a hot-bed of computer virus and malware activity. And in becoming so has had this blog become flagged up as being a bit dodgy too.
Iíve removed the offending blog from my blog list so it wonít appear any more, updated my anti-virus and malware gubbins and scanned my computer. I *think* this blog is now once more as safe as it ever was, but if you havenít done a scan on your own PC for a while, might I recommend that you do so (just in case).
Regular readers will know that periodically I whinge about insomnia. It would seem that Iím not alone in doing so. For some reason I donít find this news in any way heartening. Perhaps my latest obsession might tire me out enough to get some kip - I would seem to have got hooked playing ďminesweeperĒ: such a simple game has kept me quiet for hours. And can I apologize for not having more to say today Ė Iím trying to guess where the mine isÖ.
15 November 2011 (Tuesday) - Doctor Who
I had an email telling me my leccie bill was available on-line. So I clicked on the link which would take me to my account. It didnít. Complete password failure. So I clicked on the link to remind me of the password, and I had memorable date and question failure too. I shall have to phone them up. Iíll do that later.
Ďer indoors TM posted some photos of me on Facebook today. Hereís one of them. And looking at that photo, I canít help but notice how fat I look compared to what I see in the mirror at the moment. That photo is from seventeen years ago, so I reckon I must now be at the thinnest Iíve been for (probably) the last twenty years. I wonder what I did with all the clothing I got to be too fat to fit into.
Talking of Facebook, I had a laugh this evening. The Kent Therapists and Pamper Events group are having problems with an event they are planning: they urgently need to obtain the services of some stand-in mediums and tarot readers to cover for unforeseen circumstances.
And being Tuesday, the tribes gathered. This time in South Willesborough. Normally Iíd drive, but half an hourís walk there was a good bit of exercise. We had a good chin-wag, and then watched ďDoctor WhoĒ Ė the first episode with Christopher Ecclestone. I can remember watching that episode when it first came out in 2005 on the big screen (at Chrisís house), but I donít think Iíve seen it since. It was really good. And then home via Asda to get some bread. I was reliably informed that we were running short.
Talking of Doctor Who, the news today was rife with stories of a new Doctor Who movie being made. I say ďstoriesĒ Ė there was no more actual information than that there is talk of there being one or more movies. I wonder if anything will come of these rumoursÖ
16 November 2011 (Wednesday) - Spoke, Jim and Jogging
Last night I had a stroke of genius. I get them from time to time. Rather than going to bed at 11pm and waking far too early, I had this plan to go to bed later, and maybe waking a tad nearer getting up time. It sort of worked Ė I wasnít awake for as much of the night as sometimes I have been, but it did leave me tired for most of the day.
Something Iíve mentioned in the past, and something which annoys me is how Iíll go from one room to another to do something, only to completely forget what I had in mind when I get there.
Iím not alone in doing this, and science has an explanation. It would seem that the average mind sees walking through a door as being a subliminal instruction to wipe short term memory. That would explain an awful lot.
Last night I mentioned that I walked to Chippyís house. And (daft as it might sound) I actually felt as though I had less weight to carry about. So tonight I went for a bit of a run. Just up the road and back, alternating running with walking. And I didnít do too badly for a start. I might try running again tomorrow. I have a long term plan to take the train to work in Canterbury, and to run to and from the train station at both ends. So I need to work on my running a bit.
We then went to Matalan for a nosey Ė theyíve got all the Xmas bling up: usually Iím an Xmas nut: tonight I found it vaguely depressing.
And then home Ė over a cracking bit of tea we watched the latest episode of ďTerra NovaĒ. Like most TV, it doesnít hold up to serious consideration, but Iím finding it to be quite watchable. And for something set in pre-history, they arenít over-playing the dinosaurs. Which is good.
And then we watched an episode of ďthe Spoke and Jim ShowĒ, or ďClassic Star TrekĒ as it is known in some circles. I was quite pleased that I successfully identified the four members of the landing party that were going to die, and the one that was going to get goosed. Much as I love ďthe Spoke and Jim ShowĒ, it can get a bit predictable sometimesÖ
17 November 2011 (Thursday) - Stuff
Another night of going to bed a bit later. It seems to have me sleeping for longer, but thereís a limit to how long you can kip for. The pedestrians do start getting a bit noisy shortly after 5am. They seem to swarm up the road in droves, and have the need to shout to each other; rather than to whisper.
Work was work; and then I came home again. Some things never change. On the way home I had a phone call from Beth from one of the employment agencies: we chatted for some time. I had a text from Karen from another employment agency Ė sheíll phone tomorrow after the farrier has dealt with her horse.
I donít know if anything will come from all of this, but I live in hope.
The home learning college phoned. Iíd contacted them yesterday about the possibility of doing some courses in web design. They phoned back. I told them that all I wanted to know was the cost. They wouldnít give me a straight answer - they flannelled and hedged, and couldnít seem to grasp that cost was my only deciding factor. Why canít people be up-front about these things?
I had a vague plan to go and look at the meteor shower tonight. But it was cold, so I didnít bother. After all, Iíve seen meteors before.
And hereís a sign of the times. Have you been watching the BBCís series ďFrozen PlanetĒ?. I havenít, but it would seem that the Beeb are dropping the episode on global warming to increase the chances of selling the program overseas.
Meanwhile I received an email this evening telling me that ďCockzillaĒ is the word, and it had details for improving various dimensions. I could be wrong, but I donít think that ďCockzillaĒ has much to do with chickensÖ
18 November 2011 (Friday) - TFI Friday...
Ďer indoors TM †stuck an extra blanket on the bed last night, and I slept a whole lot better. Itís amazing the difference not being cold can make. And being on a late start probably helped at all. If I know I need to be up for something in the morning I always wake far too early: if thereís no need to be up early I always seem to sleep better.
Mind you there was a minor panic: having convinced myself that it wasnít recycling blue box day today, it came as a shock as I heard the bin men outside. But I charged out of bed and got the bin to them in time. And went back to kip for a bit.
After a while I hauled my carcass out of my pit and fiddled about going through my post. Whilst doing so there was a bit of a commotion downstairs - ďDaddyís Little Angel TM Ē and Sid had arrived to visit. Sid seems to be getting more excitable as he gets older. A bit like his mother, really.
And so to work. Being on a late shift I had planned to pop into the home brew shop on the way to work. But I completely forgot. Iíll do it tomorrow.
Work was work, and over my lunch break I had two phone calls about jobs Iíve recently applied for. Whilst nothingís come up so far, the agencies both sounded keen, and both suggested that this time of the year is traditionally slow for the kind of jobs Iím applying for. The market apparently picks up in January. Letís hope so.
And so home, where I set the washing machine going. Itís very noticeable how quiet the washing machine is now itís had its bearings replaced. And after a decent bit of tea I ironed a weekís worth of shirts whilst watching ďYes Prime MinisterĒ. I do like that program.
Meanwhile I see that neutrinos are still going much faster than science says they should. Did Albert get it wrong? One cannot help but wonder exactly what E is now equal toÖ.
19 November 2011 (Saturday) - Fires, Reindeer, Narnia
The weekly weigh-in: Iíve shifted two more pounds. Thatís two and a half stone since I started this diet, and (probably) still under half of what I need to lose.
Mind you, I must question the validity of weigh-ins. On this morningís first weigh in it looked like Iíd gained weight. So I had a shave and weighed again afterwards, and in that time my weight had dropped by four pounds. Iíve noticed that I can get different readings out of the scales by moving the scales to different points on the kitchen floor.
I then spent a little while playing ďWormsĒ Ė rather mindless fun, but fun nonetheless. I can remember there being a concrete donkey in the game some years ago, but havenít found one lately. I wonder if itís still there?
And then seeing how tomorrow is the smallest member of the familyís birthday, we went to the reindeer farm as a birthday treat. The event started rather embarrassingly: this was our first meeting with †ďMy Boy TM Ē Ďs girlfriendís family. The plan was we would all meet up in the car park of the reindeer farm. We arrived, waited a bit, and sure enough the prospective in-laws arrived. And as they pulled up, so their camper van burst into flames. Literal flames. There was fire coming out from underneath the camper van, and when they opened the engine compartment, it was ablaze.
Having your vehicle spontaneously combust isnít something that you expect, so there was a worrying few seconds before the gravity of the situation was realised. But the on-board fire extinguisher did the trick, and the reindeer farm staff were soon on hand with a fire extinguisher too.
What a way to meet someone (!)
With fires extinguished we made our way inside. We started with Santaís grotto. It was done up really well, and Santa was really good. Littlun got a present well worth the cost of two peopleís entrance tickets. And then we moved on to the animals. Lots of reindeer, obviously, and meerkats, wallabies, llamas, donkeys, ducklings, emus, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea-pigs. There was a snow-blower which periodically covered passers-by in fake snow (foam). And you got to feed the animals with carrots. Personally I think itís a bit of a cheek charging people to feed your own animals, but it was something which was obviously popular with the punters. Getting spat on by the llamas wasnít quite so popular, but as a spectator I found it to be far more entertaining watching people getting spat at that it was watching donkeys eating carrots.
I had no idea that the reindeer farm even existed: I shall certainly go back whenever thereís any other events going on. As always thereís an album of photos of the event on Facebook.
Once home we borrowed Fudge and went for a walk to the home brew shop. We could have driven, but walking is good exercise. For us and for Fudge. We took rather a tortuous route there, but we eventually found how to cross the train tracks and get round the high fences. I thought the journey would take forty minutes: it took fifty-five. Mind you, coming home was quicker. We took virtually a straight line all the way. By the time weíd dropped Fudge off at the Fudgery and got home weíd been walking for two hours. That took care of six hundred and seventy four calories.
That sounds a lot, but wasnít quite as many calories as was in all that Iíd eaten out of the smashing packed lunch that Cheryl had made for me today. In fact the walk only shifted sixty per cent of the calories that were in lunch. Which is exactly where my diets have gone wrong in the past Ė underestimating the calorie content of food, and overestimating the efficacy of exercise.
Being Saturday night, it was film night. We made or way to Chrisís where we had a Narnia double bill First of all ďPrince CaspianĒ, and then ďThe Voyage of the Dawn TreaderĒ. Both excellent films. I quite like this Saturday films night lark. I just need not to scoff crisps and sweeties whilst Iím thereÖ
I was hoping for a lie-in this morning: I woke about 7am and lay awake for an hour or so before giving up and getting up.
Ďer indoors TM †was off on a mission, so whilst she was out I started off the beer kit I bought yesterday. In theory it should be ready for Xmas. There was a minor mishap whilst making the beer: - I managed to lacerate my right thumb on one of the tins, and it wouldnít stop bleeding. I bodged it up with kitchen roll and carried on, but it was all a bit awkward. And with beer made and in the fermentation bucket I had a go in the garden. I got the leaves raked up, but doing it all one-handed was a tad tricky. I didnít even attempt to mow the lawn with only one non-bleeding hand.
For some reason my hand just kept bleeding despite being bandaged up. So I had a rather quiet afternoon. I played worms for a bit, and seeing no blood I went back into the garden, only to set the bleeding off again. So I got the washing in off of the line (which hadnít dried) and I got my paints out. I did a couple of paintings the other week and was quite pleased with one of them: not quite so chuffed with the other. Todayís paintingís not turned out too bad really. Itís a shame that photography never seems to do the paintings justice. I wonder how I might get round that problem?
I enjoy painting: I wonder if I might sell them? The canvases arenít too expensive, and the painting takes about an hour to do. I wonder how much I could realistically charge for one?
If any of my loyal readers would like to give someone a unique and individual Xmas gift and is stuck for an idea, why not commission an individual oil painting. Mind you, youíll have to commission a landscape. Landscapes is all I can doÖ
If any of my loyal readers are up for it, why not drop a line to ďBadger Original LandscapesĒ. And for those of my loyal readers whose houses are already graced by a ďBadger Original LandscapeĒ, please feel free to write a testimonialÖ
I then had a bit of a backup. I copied two monthsí worth of photos to my stand-alone hard drive. Two monthsí photos are over 1Gb worth. Thatís a sign of the times.
21 November 2011 (Monday) - Badger Original Landscapes
Weíve had a minor disaster with the Koi: Dave has died. On 28 May 2007 I blogged about what a bargain Dave was. Heís been the chunkiest fish in the pond for all the time weíve had him. He looked a bit peaky the other day; with what looked like a growth on his head. And this afternoon I got the message that he had croaked. He weighed in at 8lb, which is heavier than any carp Iíve ever caught.
Fortunately ďMy Boy TM Ē was home to act as undertaker. Heís a good lad really. That is ďMy Boy TM Ē is a good lad. Dave isnít any more; heís gone to that great pond in the sky.
Yesterday I mentioned ďBadger Original LandscapesĒ as a business venture. At the time I wasnít serious; but then I thought that if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. Buying a web domain name for two years has set me back seven quid. The redirection is now running. It took a day to get going, but they say that patience is a virtue.
Mind you, the email account was free. The experimenting Iíve done with the email account is a tad worrying Ė it sees all the emails Iíve sent it as spam. But at least theyíve got through.
I knew that I could design a web site for the business myself Ė they donít need to have fancy graphics and Java stuff all over them. So I designed one. It didnít take long.
I even have a Facebook page and a Twitter account for the business. And so I now just sit back and wait for the orders to flood in.
So far they arenít flooding very fast. So if any of my loyal readers would like an original work of art at a very reasonable price, or would just like to subsidise me, please get in touch through the website.
22 November 2011 (Tuesday) - Stuff
It is a commonly held belief that one shouldnít believe what one reads, Regular readers of this drivel will understand the veracity of this statement. I was amazed to find out that viewers of Fox News are actually less informed about world events than those who watch no news broadcasts at all. Mind you I am still trying to work out whether this is casting aspersions onto Fox News or their target audience.
I spent a little while fiddling with my business venture this evening. I removed a whole load of hyperlinks that should never have been there in the first place (woops!) and Iíve now added a price list: I wonder if the public were being put off thinking that art is expensive. It certainly isnít expensive at Badger Original Landscapes. Cheap at twice the price (!) And before long I shell have the option to accept payment by credit cards (via PayPal). All I now need is paying customers. Iíve also tweeted again from the business ventureís twitter account. So far no one is following it, but one day someone might.
I then looked at running an advert for the thing on Facebook. They wanted thirty five quid. Per day!! So I thought better of that.
Seeing how itís Tuesday, the tribes gathered. This time at Chrisís house. We got there perhaps a bit too early, but gossiped for a while, and then watched an episode of ďBeing HumanĒ: Iíve only ever seen the first season, but what Iíve seen is good. I understand the Beeb have made three more seasons. I hope someone or other has them on DVDÖ
23 November 2011 (Wednesday) - PC, Post, Telly
A phone call Ė a possible job. A shame it would be in Burgess Hill. Travelling a round trip of forty miles a day is quite enough to be getting on with. I wouldnít mind a repping job in which the travel is part of the job, but driving to work is something that costs me. And talking of new jobs, Iíve added a mention of Badger Original Landscapes onto my C.V. Ė website design, sales experience, itís all good gravy.
My PC is playing up Ė the fan is noisy. I phoned PC World to see about a fix. PC World donít do in-store fixes any more. They said theyíd arrange to collect it and have it returned within ten days. I canít say I like the sound of that. Iíll see if I canít sort the fan; either myself or with the help of a willing volunteer (he smiled hopefully).
And then I went through my post. I have a new debit card which I should activate immediately. Amongst the descriptions of various ways to activate the thing, I was told that it would automatically activate the next time I used it anyway. So I canít help but wonder what all the fuss was about.
And then I saw that Iíve been billed a fiver for ďproduct supportĒ. I was billed a fiver for this a few weeks ago, and the bank got me a refund. Iíve asked for another refund, and to be told what product it is that is getting supported.
We then sat down to watch some telly. Terra Nova was good, as was ďthe Spoke and Jim ShowĒ. This week was the unforgettable Assistant Chief Engineer De Salle betting credits to navy beans. They donít make telly like that any more.
And talking of not making telly like they used to, Doctor Who is forty eight years old today. And looking at the TV critic archives itís amazing the show lasted past the first episodeÖ
24 November 2011 (Thursday) - Stuff
Yesterdayís blog entry attracted a comment. The comment was ďThanks for sharing the idea ....nice postĒ, and then gave a web link to someone flogging dental treatments. Iíve not published the comment Ė Iíve tagged the comment as spam; if someone wants to hawk their products, they should do it openly. Like I do. (Did I mention that Iím selling paintings?)
I had a minor shock at tea break today. When I sit I tend to slouch in a chair, and use my not inconsiderable belly as a table. Either to support a drink, or to rest my Kindle on. And today as I slouched, I struggled to find anything on which to prop my Kindle. Iíve still an awful lot of weight to shift, but this served as a nice reminder that Iíve shifted quite a lot of bulk so far.
Yesterday I mentioned about making monthly payments to ďProduct SupportĒ, and having no idea what ďProduct SupportĒ was all about. Yesterday I also mentioned that PC World donít do in-store fixes any more, and Iíll have to send my PC away to get its fan fixed.
Today I found out that this fiver each month is the warranty on the PC with the noisy fan. Iíll see if we can fix the fan ourselves before cancelling the monthly fivers.
Hereís something of interest. Astronomers have published a list of the top ten moons an planets which are most likely to harbour life. Unsurprisingly the planet Earth came out in number one place. What I found amazing was that the same article which placed the planet Gliese 581g in second place also cast doubt on the existence of the planet Gliese 581g.
And in closing, did you know that today marks twenty years since Freddie Mercury died? No Ė neither did I. Thatís been kept quietÖ
25 November 2011 (Friday) - Astro Club
The last Friday of the month Ė astro club. We got there early to set up, as threats of imminent baby was worrying the usual set-up stalwart. As always we werenít sure how many chairs to put out. We set up for sixty five people, and ended up with standing room only.
The main talk of the evening was Stevey lecturing on extra-solar planets. A brilliant talk Ė really good. There was an interesting question after the talk in which one of the punters seemed not to believe in the principle of friction. I really donít know how you should proceed when you explain a patently obvious scientific principle, only to be told ďWell, I donít believe it!Ē
I hawked the raffle as always, and for once I actually won the constellation game myself. That tenner will come in handy. Meanwhile Steve hawked the recently obtained club clothing. Weíve got a range of T-shirts, hats and fleeces. We sold over three hundred quidís worth this evening.
And then we did some stargazing. For all that I have a very good telescope (that wasnít cheap), I rarely stargaze. Tonight was great Ė we looked at Jupiter and the Pleiades and Andromeda and all sorts of things. I even managed to get a photo of Jupiter and its moons with my camera.
Regular readers of this drivel might recall blog entries from four years ago when I was very sceptical about how the fledgling astro club was doing. In retrospect it would seem that I had nothing to worry about: the clubís turned out all rightÖ.
26 November 2011 (Saturday) - Rather Busy
I was rather late to bed last night. Before going to bed I wanted to tally up the money from last nightís astro club meeting. No matter how I counted the money, I was exactly twenty four quid short. After what seemed like hours of frustration, I got up to make myself a cup of coffee. As I got up, I noticed a bowl of coins by my side that Iíd put there to count later. And in that bowl was exactly twenty four quid. Oh how I laughed when I finally got to bed shortly after 2am.
And despite a very late night, I was still up and about shortly after 8am. With Ďer indoors TM of on a candle-related beano, I was left to my own devices for the day. I started off with the weekly weigh-in. And again, I canít say Iím sure exactly how much weight Iíve lost. By moving the scales to various points on the kitchen floor I can vary the readings by over four pounds. So I took an average reading and it looks like Iíve lost another two pounds this week.
I then went up to the bank to pay the astro clubís money in. Nat West look to be having something of a re-build: the place wasnít what it once was. But the staff were a lot more helpful that the last time I went in, so I shall be grateful for small mercies. I then went shopping for some canvases for Badger Original Landscapes (did I mention Iím doing it commercially?). It certainly pays to shop around: the same thing was available in three different shops; prices varied by up to five pounds.
I came home with five blank canvases. I wonder how long it will take to shift those? And once home I had a go at doing a painting. Something with yellows and browns and contact paper and coming out of the circle. Iím not entirely happy with the result; but then I never am. Whilst I was painting, ďMy Boy TM Ē came home with a beach-casting† fishing set heíd got from the market. He was rather anxious about the shed: apparently thereís been a spate of robberies from sheds in some of the nearby roads. Fortunately we were OK: sometimes it helps not having rear access (oo-er!).
I then realised Iíd used the last of my tear-off palates. So I wandered back up to town to get some more. More expense Ė but as its business related it might be tax-deductible. I wonder how tax-deductible works?
I then watched a couple of episodes of ďThe Joy of PaintingĒ over lunch. That counted as research. And then I syphoned the beer from the bucket into the pressure barrel. Hopefully it will be ready for Christmas. I had a sip whilst syphoning: it tastes very much of liquorice. But I remember last yearís having a similar taste at the barrelling stage.
And then with beer barrelled and paintings painted I set about the ironing. There was quite a lot of it. About two hourís worth. That kept me out of mischief for much of the afternoon.
I then had a bit of a fiddle about with Badger Original Landscapes. Iíve put the links at the tops of the pages where they are immediately obvious; rather than at the bottom. And Iíve put up a page of paintings that are currently available for sale. It might be easier for people to choose from a selection rather than having to muck about planning out one from scratch.
Ďer indoors TM †eventually returned home from flogging candles, and after a quick sossige sandwich (who says I canít cook!), Jose drove us round to Chrisí house. We played Top Trumps with the nutritional values on the crisps, and once Iíd realised I had the same crisps as Jose and couldnít possibly beat him, we settled down to watch films. ďMinority ReportĒ and ďI, RobotĒ. Both excellent films: I canít believe Iíve not seen them before, and I can only wonder how many other good films Iíve missed.
And Iíll close today with some bad news. Regular readers may recall that a few months ago there was uncertainty about the future of one of the highlights of my year: Teston Kite Festival. The word is that the festival planned for June 2012 has been cancelled. There will only be one Teston Kite Festival next year, and that will be on the weekend of 11-12 August 2012Ö.
27 November 2011 (Sunday) - Rather Dull
I really would like to have done something with the day today, but it was so cold I didnít fancy going out anywhere. So I wasted a few hours doing a writing test. One of the jobs Iíve applied for was as a medical writer, and one of the agencies sent me a test. I had to summarise a medical research paper, write a synopsis for a magazine, and produce a PowerPoint presentation about it. That took three hours.
Following yesterdayís weigh-in I then had a measure-up. My neckís stayed the same, but my waist has got an inch smaller: thatís five inches thinner since September, and my hips have also lost an inch: also five inches thinner since September.
Yesterday I mentioned that ďMy Boy TM Ē had bought some beach fishing gear: today he put it to use, and came home at mid-day with a fish heíd caught. It was a rather small whiting, but he had plans to have the fish for his tea. Neither Ďer indoors TM nor I would prepare the fish for him, so he phoned my brother who gave him instructions. From what I could see, the main instruction was to put the fish into a bowl of water and leave the thing there. But after an hour or so he took the fish round to his girlfriendís house. Iíve since been told that it got as far as the oven, but Iíve had no further news than that.
I had an email - dianpresley459 is following me on Twitter. dianpresley459 would seem to be a porn-monger. He, she or it can follow me as much as he, she or it fancies: Iím not going to reciprocate.
And I spend a couple of hours this evening applying for various jobs. Maybe some of the agencies might pick up on my C.V. and find something for me. Or maybe they wonítÖ.
28 November 2011 (Monday) - Rather Cold
It was cold this morning: I had to shift ice from the carís windscreen. Is it just me being soppy, but Iím finding the cold dark mornings rather depressing at the moment.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I went to the Battle of Hastings re-enactment a few weeks ago. The re-enactment was in the village of Battle, and was on the actual site of the original battle. Or so we thought. It would seem that there is some controversy about the subject, and there is a school of thought that the battle was actually fought a few miles away in Crowhurst.
There was a nice man on the telly today expounding on the matter. Apparently heíd proved it with his divining rods, so there was no need to actually dig up the field and bother looking for any hard evidence. I wonder what I could prove with my divining rods. I might get them out and have a go with them.
Iíve realised that I didnít run a plug for ďBadger Original LandscapesĒ yesterday. What was I thinking of? Talking of whichÖ Iíve had a few enquiries about doing custom paintings Ė if any of my loyal readers would like a painting specifically to be given as an Xmas gift, it might be worth getting me going on the painting soon if you want the thing to by dry by Xmas. Otherwise thereís always the stuff Iíve got in stock. They are dry. Mind you, a painting being damp isnít a problem (as long as you donít try to wrap it).
And in closing today, Iím sure that my loyal readers have been waiting anxiously for news on ďMy Boy TM Ē Ďs fish. That is, the one he had for his tea last night Ė not one of the Koi. Iím told that it cooked up according to plan, but it wasnít as nice as he expected it to be. However it ďwasnít too sadĒ, so all was not lost. Personally I think that fishing for your tea is a lot of fiddling around, but what do I know?
29 November 2011 (Tuesday) - Teston Kite Festival
I was feeling a bit iffy last night, and so had an early night. I slept for the best part of eight hours. I do hope Iím not sickening for something.
A minor disaster Ė the ďMy Boy TM ĖmobileĒ has failed itís MOT. As is always the problem with cars, when one needs to take a car to a garage and leave it there, how does one get home again? This morning before work I collected †ďMy Boy TM Ē from the depths of Kingsnorth after heíd dropped his car off for fixing, but I had no idea how he will collect the thing later.
I hope he sorted something out.
A couple of days ago I mentioned about the recent news that the June kite festival at Teston has been cancelled. Iíve spent quite a bit of time thinking about whatís been going on lately.
Reading some of the postings on the Internet kite forums, I think the general feeling in the kite flying community is one of frustration with the County Council. Many kite festivals are subsidised by local councils because they are a fun event for the public. However Kent County Council seems to want to have a fun weekend put on for the public, and those who are putting on the event will be charged for doing so.
Apparently last year KCC wanted to charge Teston kite festivalís organisers hundreds of pounds for putting on the event (but they didnít get any).
Something similar happened with the kiting event at Capstone a few months ago.
Much as I like the kite festivals at Teston, Iíve commented in the past that the attendance of kite-fliers has been dropping off. A lot of kite fliers have not been going to Teston for a few years because it is quite a way off the beaten track: itís in no way a central location.
And reading the forums, it would seem that the attendance at next yearís only Teston kite festival will be even less because the rank-and-file kiter doesnít like the councilís greedy attitude.
The organisers have said on their website that rather than having a weekend-long event next June, people might just turn up for an informal kite day. I donít think people are going to travel the distance just for a few hours. I certainly donít want to.
I canít help but feel that the event has had its day. Best to let it be a happy memory rather than being something which will slowly fizzle out as more and more people become disillusioned with a greedy council.
30 November 2011 (Wednesday) - On Strike (?)
The ďMy Boy TM ĖmobileĒ is now fixed. It wasnít fixed cheaply, but then cars rarely are. Yesterday I mentioned that I was feeling a bit iffy. I seem to have developed a bit of a sniffle. Thatís a pain. I donít do illness very well.
And so to work. I suppose I should really have gone on strike today like so many other people did. But I remember the strikes of the seventies and eighties. People were on strike for months and achieved very little.
Having said that, I support the principle of todayís strike. There is a school of thought that the nation cannot afford the public sector pensions. That may or may not be the case. Iíve seen evidence from both sides of the argument; evidence that looks convincing for both sides of the argument.
However from where Iím sitting, the bottom line is that having let me pay for my pension for twenty nine years, itís a bit late for the government to now announce that they canít afford it. They should have priced it up right all those years ago. A bit like my mortgage endowment, really(!)
And (to all the nay-sayers) yes Ė you did read that right: ďpay for my pensionĒ. There is a perception that public sector pensions are a freebie. They are not. If you want a public sector pension, you have to pay for one. They might be a better deal that the private sector pensions, but in my experience that is because a lot of people in the private sector donít bother to spend out on oneÖ