1 November 2014 (Saturday) - Family Day
By the time I'd stuffed up the astro club's accounts and solved a geo-puzzle last night I didn't get to bed till nearly 2am. After an hour's laying awake I was watching "Toddlers and Tiaras" on the TLC channel before 6am. I *hate* these poxy steroids.
"Furry Face TM" seemed rather excitable this morning, he chased sparrows out of the garden at tiddle time, and was running up and down the stairs as though nothing was wrong with him. After jumping on and off of sofas, I caught him upstairs building up for an epic leap on to the bed. So I took him for a walk. Compared to what we've done before it wasn't a long one. Just through Bowens Field to the fountain in Viccy Park and home through the co-op field. A short stroll, we were home before 8am. But I felt he needed a walk. He's clearly missed them - the soles of his little feet have all gone fluffy where he's not walking the fur away at the moment.
Once home he took himself straight to bed and was soon soundly snoring whilst "er indoors TM" lambasted me for over-exerting the poor pup.
I had a go at the household accounts. They have been worse; they could be better. Things would be a whole lot better if I didn't keep having unexpected emergencies and going out on the razzle. But what's money for if not to squander foolishly.
And then over second brekkie (hot cross buns and coffee) we watched last week's episode of "Doctor Who". I do like Peter Capaldi as The Doctor; but does the show really need "token fit bird #34" to keep going home in every episode?
Whilst "er indoors TM" pootled about I popped into town. Astro club money to pay into the bank, and some shopping of my own. I wanted a bigger rucksack for hiking, and I got one from a street trader. I wanted a cheapo coat for slobbing about in, and I got one from the OxFam shop. I wanted some new slippers... and was unlucky. What's happened to all the shoe shops in town. When the fruits of my loin were smaller there were eleven shoe shops in Ashford. I can remember we walked round the town and counted them once. Now there is one. Just one. Perhaps people buy from supermarkets or on-line, or make shoes last longer. I don't know, but I could only find one shoe shop.
I found a couple of cheeky Munzees, and came home through the rain.
Once home we collected "My Boy TM" and Lacey and drove round to the Riverside Diner for a spot of lunch. A rather good chili-cheese burger went down well; four meals and pop came to just over twenty quid. I was impressed with that. Whilst in the area we looked at the Christmas display in Bybrook barn Garden Centre, and then drove down to Folkestone to see "Daddies Little Angel TM" and the baby. He's putting on weight.
I suppose that after such an awful night's sleep it's only expected that I would doze off during the afternoon. I wasn't sparko for long; but long enough.
Home again; and with "er indoors TM" off out on some beano or other I got the Christmas beer out of the bucket and into the barrel. Whilst it's very early days it doesn't taste *too* bad. Here's hoping. And then i settled in front of the telly with my dog and watched "Doctor Who" as it was actually broadcast (for the first time in a month). Having seen cybermen all over the BBC's program breaks for the last week I thought I knew what was going to happen. But what a surprise...
As a Saturday treat I'd bought myself a packet of vindaloo cashew nuts which I scoffed whilst watching telly. If any of my loyal readers ever want to throw away good money, buying vindaloo cashew nuts is a good way of doing so.
2 November 2014 (Sunday) - Wet, Gutsache, Telly
After four hours sleep I was laying in bed debating getting up or laying awake trying to sleep. In the end I decided I would only fall asleep later anyway so I might as well be up and about when awake anyway.
With uncertainty as to whether or not to proceed with the day's planned walk (because of bad weather having been forecast) I looked out of the window to find a dry (but overcast and still dark) morning. I checked a few forecasts, and remained gripped by indecision. So I had my brekkie and took my tablets (which worked wonders for my state of mind!)
A minor storm was raging on social media. It's no secret that I record a *lot* of TV shows onto my SkyPlus box and watch them later. This has the advantage that I can watch the shows at a time that suits me and that I can fast-forward through the adverts. However it has the disadvantage that by the time I watch any given programme, at least half a dozen people have already told me what happened.
This was one of the reasons I wanted to watch last night's "Doctor Who" as broadcast. (Being on the BBC it has no adverts anyway). What happened was.... no; I won't give anything away that you haven't already seen on trailers. I thought it was good.But (as always) I would seem to be in the minority.
There is something about "Doctor Who". I must admit that some episodes are good, some not so. But it's rather different to how it used to be. When it had its first run it was a British TV show. And British TV at the time had three channels. There was BBC1 which was funded from TV licence payments so they could make whatever they wanted. There was BBC2 which no one watched anyway. And there was ITV; the only competitor to the BBC. Consequently (applying the theory of market forces) the BBC had little competiton and it got away with making some rather dire TV.
With very little sci-fi on the telly (no British sci-fi of note at all), over the years "Doctor Who" picked up pretty much all the sci-fi enthusiasts who became something of a "cult" audience. And like any kind of sci-fi fandom, "Whovians" created a whole mythos and expectation of the show which bore little, if any, relation to what's actually seen on the telly.
I can't beleive the nasty negative comments I was reading about last night's episode (which I quite liked). Here's a challenge to anyone who feels that they used to like "Doctor Who" and now thinks it's rubbish. Don't rely on your memory; actually watch an episode of the old stuff. Watch Jon Pertwee mincing about like a pantomime dame. Watch Tom Baker fooling and playing the idiot to cover up the lack of any kind of plausible plot. Watch Sylvester McCoy struggling with a script purposely written to get people to stop watching the programme.
And if you still don't like the current offerings, then stop watching the show.
I then checked my emails; one was from "Coursera". Next week they are starting a new course entitled "Origins - Formation of the Universe, Solar System, Earth and Life". Presented by the academic staff from the University of Copenhagen it seems an interesting topic. It might give me something to do when otherwise bored. It's free; so I've signed up for it.
Eventually people were waking up and appearing in cyberspace. With others to make suggestions we soon formed a consesnsus view to postpone today's planned ouiting to Meopham; it would be a long way to go to get wet and muddy. Instead we thought we might go somewhere (relatively) locally; I suggested a (sort-of) urban stroll around New Romney after the worst of the forecast rain had been and gone.
I spent a little while fiddling about with FTP uploaders, and then when the weather forecast told us that the worst of the rain had passed five of us (and the non-convalescent dog) left the convalescent dog in his bed and drove down to New Romney where we walked round tarmac-ed ares for two miles, found half a dozen geocaches (one the like of which I'd not seen in over four thousand previous finds) and got soaked in the worst of the rain that hadn't actually passed at all.
That weather forecast had lied(!)
It was good to get out for a walk, it was good to get home and to get dry. We were home far earlier than is usual for a Sunday, so we spent some time catching up with episodes of "Downton Abbey" which had been recorded onto the SkyPlus box. Half way through a serious telly session we had a visitor. "My Boy TM" had come to collect his waterproofs; he's planning to go fishing on the beach in a monsoon tomorrow.
We had a rather good casserole for dinner; I was hoping it would settle my innards; they haven't been right since last night's does of vindaloo cashew nuts. Unfortunately the casserole didn't settle anything, and with "er indoors TM" off bowling I spent the evening farting like a fruitbat.
You can tell a bad fart; not even your own dog will sit with you... but my grand-pug will sit with my grand-son. I do like the photo I was sent today from "Daddies Little Angel TM"'s bathroom floor.
3 November 2014 (Monday) - Bit Dull
Was it two or three times I was up to the loo in the night? I can live with peeing, but after each trip to the loo the CPAP machine re-sets itself and there is a five minute hiatus whilst the thing trys to inflate me like a balloon whilst it re-sets itself.
Last night I'd spent quite a bit of time listening to our nutty neighbour ranting at his equally nutty wife. I'd heard a rather loud crash which sounded like a lot of crockery being smashed followed by his screeching "You are an evil woman but it is me that will be judged". This morning the row continued. I couldn't hear him this time, but she was shreiking from 6am.
As she wailed like a banshee, "Furry Face TM" helped me with the crusts from my toast. I watched a couple of episodes of "Family Guy" to try to get some space back on the SkyPlus box, and then saw the end of an episode of "Charmed" on the E4 channel. It looked like it has promise. I wonder if I can get it on the catch-up on the SkyPlus box?
I drove to work though the pouring rain. As I drove the pundits on the radio mentioned that the weather was particularly dreadful in the West Country, but was a lot brighter in the South East. Five minutes later the official weather forecaster contradicted that entirely; as did I by looking out the window of my car.
Perhaps more interestingly on the radio was the revelation that the UK is probably going to leave the EU after all. One of the fundamental principles of the entire European concept is that of freedom of movement. The German government has insisted the right of EU nationals to live and work in other member states is sacrosanct. And if there is anything the average Brit doesn't want is thousands of more immigrants that we can't afford to keep stocked up on benefits popuring into Dover. Apparently leading German politicians are reluctantly going on record to say that they will accept Britain's leaving the EU if the British cannot accept this principle.
And to add insult to injury, having dumped Britain with a multi-billion pounds windfall bill, the EU now wants interest payments on money as yet unpaid.
...Britain *will* leave the EU in a few years over this issue. But in the meantime we will pay every penny of this bill that has the masses up in arms. And we will also be flooded with thousands of such immigrants that the average Brit does not want. And furthermore not a single one of these immigrants will go home once Britain has left the EU.
I stopped off at Morrisons to get some fruit to add to my lunch. I also bought some new slippers; I can't turn up at the hospital tomorrow in the skanky old things I've been using for the last three years (much as I like them). I texted "er indoors TM" to tell her she didn't need to get me any new slippers (when shopping) as I'd already got them myself. Or so I thought. I actually texted her the message "git slippers". Obviously this was intended to be read as "got slippers", but it was in fact read as "get slippers", so "er indoors TM" went shopping as well... If any of my loyal readers want a pair of slippers...
I then got back into the car, went to add my fruit to my lunch box, found I'd left it at home, and so went back into Morrisons to get some lunch.
Work went reasonably well; the rain subsided at lunch time to allow me a quick practice on my saxophone. "Hello Dolly" is now a lot less like "Hello Sailor" than ever it was, and "da-da-da- da da da-da" is coming along nicely. I wonder if I'll get much chance to tootle over the next day or so?
I came home and found "Furry Face TM" to be particularly excitable. Jumping and throwing himself into the air it really does look as though his back is a whole lot better. We had a quick walk round the block where he put to rest any suspicions that he might be less than one hundred per cent by picking several fights with passng cats, dogs and mopeds.
And then with "er indoors TM" off bowling I fell asleep in front of a succession of various TV shows. I *hate* that. Let's hope tomorrow's surgery sorts that out...
4 November 2014 (Tuesday) - Nose Job
I woke shortly before 3am, and lay awake tossing and turning fretfully. I got up shortly after 5am and "Furry Face TM" sat with me hoping for toast crusts that today weren't coming.
No food or drink for me this morning.
"er indoors TM" drove me through a dank morning to the hospital. I was soon booked in by a male nurse. Working in a hospital is odd; the places are *huge*; and they employ (literally) thousands of people. Consequently youu find that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of people with whom you are on nodding terms. This nurse was one such chap; we've both been smiling politely at each other for over twenty years without ever actually having spoken.
Once booked in I was put into my surgical attire, and then introduced to the surgeon and the anaesthetist, then taken to a waiting area where I waited. It was only an hour or so, and people were obviously busying about. Time soon passed, and being second on the operating list I was called in shortly after 10.30am.
Everyone was so good to me, I don't *think* that anyone noticed my nerves.
For those of my more inquisitive or bloodthirty readers I've written a brief summary of why I was in hospital today. You can read it by clicking here. One of the ways in which medical professionals are different to the general public is that they (we) are nowhere near as squeamish about matters surgical matters from which others may well shy away. Having fully understood what was going to happen for some months, just as drips were being administered I suddenly came over a litttle apprehensive.
But it was too late to chicken out. There was an odd sensation of cold spreading up my arm (from the administered drip), a very vivid dream in which I had been told that the operation had been cancelled, and suddenly it was an hour and a half later and all was done.
Very soon I was up on Rotary Ward scoffing shepherd's pie. I tried to transmit to the world to say what was going on. I could not. For some reason I could use Facebook messenger, but Facebook would not work (despite a 4G signal).
After a little while I was visited by the surgeon who asked how I was, and asked if I wanted to go home. After a little to-ing and fro-ing I decided to take up the offer of an overnight stay on the ward. I was feeling a little woozy.
Anyone who knows me will realise I don't like hanging around in my pit, and having no inclination to get out of bed made me realise that I wasn't quite one hundred per cent. Apart from loo trips I stayed in that bed for the rest of the day, which is very unlike me. I must have been poorly.
I spent the afternoon reading an old favourite book of mine "Brideshead Revisited". The actual book; not an e-book. This one had pages, and showed signs of age and was visibly falling apart. I realised that this was the first "proper" book I've read for a long time. Holding the thing was awkward, turning the pages was a faff... I shall get the e-version.
The evening meal arrived. I had the choice of sandwiches, soup, rice pudding or fruit. Due to a mis-communication (which I made no effort to correct) I had the lot. And then "er indoors TM" arrived and I plead hunger and she went off to get me more to eat.
Visiting time ended, "er indoors TM" tootled off, and I settled down with my book again. For some odd reason it was at this point that my phone's internet connection started to work again.
I resisted the temptation to make more work for the hospital by not going and throttling "Jimmy". Jimmy" was awaiting a lift which had been delayed because of a local traffic accident, and was bellowing his life story to anyone who was interested. And also to everyone else within a five-mile radius. Why to some people have to shout everything they utter?
One of the reasons I was staying overnight was thatt I was trialling a new CPAP attachment, so I wrestled it into place, and put my head down shortly before 11pm...
5 November 2014 (Wednesday) - Post Op
Despite a full-face ventilator CPAP gadget I got off to sleep reasonably promptly last night. I was disturbed a few times by various noises, but I suppose that is to be expected in a hospital ward. I didn't realise that I would have my temperature and blood pressure checked at 1.30am though. That came as something of a surprise. After then I then dozed fitfully until giving up the attempt to sleep and having a shave at 6.30am. For all that this reads as something of a whinge, this would have been something of a lie-in on most days. However shaving with a cannula in the back of one's left hand was rather tricky.
At 7.30am someone nearby started noisily clouting something metal with a hammer. I suddenly vividly remembered being in the children's ward at the Royal East Sussex Hospital some forty-odd years ago. Mornings there were rather noisy too as I recall.
Brekkie was a disappointment. Having been promised a fry-up I was offered porridge and bread & butter. I'd been looking forward to that fry-up too. With brekkie scoffed the surgeon (and a serious entourage) called to say that once the medications were sorted I could go home. He did warn me that there would be a delay, and to expect to be home some time in the early afternoon. I was rather pleased to find all my supplies delived by 9am, and "er indoors TM" had delivered me home by 9.30am.
"My Boy TM" made a flying visit; he was off to acquire a "hooky christmas tree"; having heard reports of from where they might be obtained. Should any of my loyal readers be in need of "hooky christmas trees", it would seem the first fruit of my loin may know a supplier.
My little dog seemed pleased to see me; he did whinge at me a few times to take him out, but I wasn't feeling quite up to a route march just yet. He soon got the idea that I was having a lazy day, and he jumped and clambered onto the back of the sofa from where he watched the world going by. He's clearly recovering from his back injury.
Before leaving the hospital I'd been asked to select lunch. So at mid day I found myself sitting at home wondering who (if anyone) was eating the lasagne and ice cream I'd ordered.
I then popped to the chemist to collect various prescribed sinal douches and then got some scoff from the KFC which I devoured whilst watching something I'd recorded onto the SkyPlus box; a three part documentary about a re-creation of the voyage of Sir Ernest Shackleton from Elephant Island to South Georgia. It was quite a serious acheivement at the time, and the passage of a hundred years would seem to have done nothing to belittle it.
A colleague from work called round to take my sick note to the boss, and so I then started on two weeks' recuperation. I started this by carrying on staring at the telly, then by playing a little Candy Crush Soda Saga, which is a mind-numbing game. I then had a go at douching my sinus. If any of my loyal readers should wonder, take it from me - I wouldn't normally douche a sinus. I am jsut hoping that (with practice) the douching effect will become more noticeable than the feeling of drowning as my nose fills with salt water.
As as I came up for air "er indoors TM" went off flogging candles, so I watched more telly whilst next door practiced their violin. Had I nor just had nasal surgery I would have given them a blast on my saxophone; that usually shuts up their violining...
I think I might just go stir-crazy over the next fortnight...
6 November 2014 (Thursday) – Bleagh
I took myself off to bed at 10.30pm last night and slept without the CPAP machine for the first time in months. A reasonable night's sleep apart from a tiddle trip about 2am. I woke up shortly before 7am feeling quite chipper. I shaved, did my sinal douching and immediately felt like death warmed up. There is something seriously wrong about washing out the inside of one's head with warm salty water. It's not an experience i would wish on anyone, and I am supposed to be doing this for the next month or so.
I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk round the park. Many of the trees had lost most of their leaves. When did that happen?
We only went on one of our smaller walks; and I ended up cutting that short. Had I not met up with "little" Christine for a chat I would probably have phoned "er indoors TM" for a lift home; I was feeling so iffy. I came home and sat in front of the telly watching Jay and Silent Bob for an hour or so, and then after sulking through Candy Crush Soda Saga for a bit I watched a film I can remember watching with my cousin some forty years ago. In 1976 "Aces High" was a rather good film; today I found it rather disappointing.
The postman came, I then had a rather nasty row on the telephone, and after a little more dozing in front of rubbish on the telly I looked at putting another Wherigo Geocache together. I started off with a tour guide of South Ashford, but am now thinking about "lost pubs". In any event I doubt many people will actually *do* what I am putting together, but for a personal project whilst I'm under the weather it's not a bad thing for me to be getting on with. I just need to come up with seven pubs in the Ashford area that have closed down over the last few years; all within a relatively sort walk of each other. I have some ideas...
Feeling somewhat better I then did my early evening sinal douching and.... what can I say? On the one hand I sloshed quite a lot of gunge, muck, surgical scabs and blood clots out from my conk. (Yuk!) On the other hand it left me feeling washed out (literally and figuratively) for a couple of hours. So much so that there is no way I could have gone for saxophone practice.
Talking of which did you know that today would have been the two hundredth birthday of Adoph Sax; creator of the saxophone (had he lived long enough)...
7 November 2014 (Friday) - Still Bleagh
When being told that after the operation I would have two weeks's sick leave there was no denying I was expecting something of a skive. I had plans for extended dog walks, and some serious telly-watching sessions. Instead I'm now wondering if I wouldn't have been better off with just putting up with having nasal polyps.
I suppose I slept reasonably well last night. But I spent an hour this morning putting off the dreaded sinal douching. On the one hand it must be doing some good judging by the post-surgical scabbing it seems to be washing out. On the other hand it is a truly horrible sensation and having done the sloshing I then feel rather grim for the best part of an hour.
I was planning on putting off this morning's douche until after I'd walked "Furry Face TM" but the torrential rain was showing no signs of abating, and "Furry Face TM" could clearly hear the rain and was showing no signs of stirring. So I bit the bullet, sloshed out the inside of my head, had brekkie, and worked on my latest Wheri-project for a bit until the nausea passed.
The weather dried up a little and so I walked "Furry Face TM" round the block. A new geocache had gone live in Great Chart, but today that was far too far away to walk, and I didn't feel confident driving. Someone else could have that First to Find. We walked for ten minutes and then came home again.
Over lunch I watched a film. "Romper Stomper" is supposedly something of a classic film; I thought it was just two hours of needless violence. Whilst watching, my dog had a minor grumble; he'd noticed something in the front garden. Geocachers!! We sprung up and caught the Looneydrews just about to find the cache in our garden. We chatted for a bit; they were gald to have found me. They had a trackable they wanted to pass on to me; a dog-related one. It had daschunds on it. Not entirely unlike "Furry Face TM".
I enjoyed chatting with them; I do hope they didn't think me rude but I was seriously wilting, so I made my excuses, and went back to slobbing in front of the telly; waking an hour or so later.
I played with my latest Wheri-project for much of the remainder of the afternoon. It's now all but finished; a little tour round some of the now closed pubs of South Ashford. It needs field-testing. Hopefully I can do that next week as I recover (I certainly intend to recover!).
The plumber called; it was time for the boiler's annual service. In years gone by I have skimped on boiler servicing up to the point where the thing needed immediate replacement. Now it gets an annual once-over (I should be so lucky!)
And with "er indoors TM" off flogging candles I spent the evening dozing in front of the telly... This is becoming a habit... must buck myself up.
8 November 2014 (Saturday) - Hic (!)
I decided to go back to the usual CPAP attachment last night and consequently had a reasonable night's sleep. Even something of a lie-in; not getting up till after 8am. I abluted, sloshed sinuses, felt nauseuous and sat quietly for a bit.
Over brekkie I saw a whole load of geocaches had gone live about ten miles away. That would be the series for next weeks geo-meet. It's odd how the rules say that you can't produce series of caches for meet-ups, but despite that technicality some people are actually allowed to do so and others aren't. (Regular readers of this drivel may remember that it's an established point of geo-law that I am not...)
A couple of these newly published caches were puzzles; I settled down for an hour or so trying to solve the puzzles. And failed miserably. Key to one puzzle was making a series of eastings (such as E000 12 . 235) I had E000 151 .18119; which was several digits too long. Key to another puzzle was making the subtraction "RADIO - MOBILE PHONES" become 19. I couldn't do it. I struggled for a bit whilst listening to the gurgling of my dog's stomach before emailing the chap who'd set the puzzle begging for a clue. He's now sent me a clue... I shall email him for another.
"er indoors TM" eventually got up. As usual by the time she'd got up I'd been up for about three hours and so I was crawling the walls with boredom.
Eventually we went out. Up to town for a little shopping. We did a circuit of the town centre, before popping round to McDonalds for a spot of lunch. Personally I like McLunch. We then had a quick look in Matalans, and then home where I took myself off to bed for an hour.
This sick leave isn't the skive I was hoping for.
We then went out for dinner this evening. There's no denying I wasn't feeling quite one hundred per cent, but I am glad we went out.
As I went I had "a little episode". ..
About two years ago I hid a geocache on a lamp post just down the road from where I live. Someone (I have no idea who) keeps pushing the cache higher and higher. As cache owner I want the thing about six feet off the ground. I have been getting thoroughly pissed off with finding it ten or more feet up where someone keeps putting it. Tonight I saw red; scrambled up on a wall to reach up to get the thing, eventually pulled it down, threw it into the distance, then went on-line and archived it. In my archiving log I wrote "I am sick and tired of putting this back where I want it only to find it eight feet off the ground again". Tonight the thing must have been twelve feet up.
I might replace it; I might not. We shall see.
And so round to Kim and Andy. We had a really good time. The wine and beer flowed; and as well as pouring the stuff down my neck I actually learned quite a bit about the wine. The dinner and company was excellent; really should do this more often.
It was only a shame the rain was bad; let's hope that improves by tomorrow; we have plans...
9 November 2014 (Sunday) - Hodsoll Street
I slept like a log.. until 3am. After a nocturnal tiddle I then lay awake waiting for the time to pass. I got up, shaved, and sloshed out the sinuses. Perhaps I'm getting used to doing this; I only felt dizzy and nauseous for a few minutes afterwards this time.
We got into the car, picked up Kim and Andy, and set off to North Kent; Hodsoll Street near Meopham where we had planned today's geo-stroll. Bearing in mind the rains of the last few days we were expecting the going to be somewhat boggy underfoot. And it was.
We started off by delaying for a few minutes whilst we watched the parrots flying around. Yes - parrots. In my back garden we have starlings and sparrows. Over at the co-op field there are seagulls. And at Hodsoll Street there are parrots flying around wild.
We moved on, we met cows as we went. We found some rather fun caches; including a multi-cache the like of which I'd not seen before. It was a shame we managed to make a bog of solving that puzzle, but use of geo-expertise led to a find in that case. Use of geo-expertise also ended up with me on my arse in the mud. Geo-expertise is best used sparingly.
And we even had a two minutes silence at 11am too.
Billed as a walk of four miles it was rather unusual to find that it was actually four miles; the publicity surrounding geo-walks usually considerably under-estimates their length. Four miles was about right for today. Or, to be more specific, four miles was about right for me today. Bearing in mind that in the past I've thought nothing of walks lasting all day long covering over twelve miles, today I struggled to get round. When we got back to the car I was really feeling all in.
We stopped off at the nearby pub for a crafty pint, then after failing to find a puzzle cache on the way home I then slept for most of the rest of the journey home. I took a few photos whilst we were out; ond once home we had a cream tea whilst watching the season finale of Doctor Who. Last week I sang the praises of Doctor Who; following on from last week's rather good show, today's episode was something of a disappointment.
With "er indoors TM" off bowling I set about organising myself for next Saturday's geo-meet. I have solved one of the puzzles I needed to solve. The other one has me foxed; I have abslutely no idea how to proceed with it. If any of my loyal readers have any ideas.... please try them out and send me the solution (!)
And then (after a little kip) I watched the last episode of Downton Abbey. It's a shame its finished; I do like that show.
10 November 2014 (Monday) - Bleagh Again
I was licked awake by “Furry Face TM “ this morning. I’d slept through till after 8am. I got up, had a shave, and over brekkie saw that three new geocaches had gone live in the Canterbury area. Oh well… they will keep till I’m back at work.
I popped the lead onto my little dog and took him for a walk. He was raring to go; we walked through Bowens Field Wetland Park (which was *really* wet) up to the town centre. From there I field-tested the programing on my latest Wheri-project. We walked about three quarters of the walk I had planned when I realised that “Furry Face TM “ was struggling to keep up. He didn’t complain, but he was seriously straggling. For all that he runs around like a thing possessed, he’s obviously not completely recovered from his ordeal. Bit like me really.
So we abandoned the walk and came home. My little dog took himself off to bed and snored for much of the rest of the day.
I wasn’t feeling quite one hundred per cent either; I think I might have caught a cold. So I slobbed in front of the PC whilst watching on-line lectures on my latest Coursera course. It’s about the origins of life, the universe and everything from the perspective of a Danish geologist. It’s interesting enough so far.
I did a couple of the lectures, and then settled myself down in front of the PC and solved a few geo-puzzles. There’s a series of caches near Maidstone that will make for a good walk in a week or so; but one third of the series are puzzles. So I spent a little time doing trigonometry and literature and crosswords and generally puzzling.
As I puzzled we had a visitor. The most recent fruit of my loin called with the most recent fruit of her loin. I cuddled with littlun and dozed with littlun until it was time for them to go.
I then went back to geo-puzzling; I solved eight out of the ten I tried. That’ll do for now. More Coursera, a little kip, and then had an evening spent ironing and feeling vaguely unwell.
I realise I’m not supposed to be having excitement whilst on sick leave… but it is on the dull side.
11 November 2014 (Tuesday) - Zoom! Zoom!
I had a surprisingly good night's sleep, and woke with a rather painful nose. Perhaps the internal bruising is now coming out? The bruising is coming out on my left hand. I've no idea what that is all about; there is a theory that is is from the drip that was put in, but that drip was taken out a week ago, and was somewhere else on my hand.
I took "Furry Face TM" for a little walk. We only went down the road as far as the dentist and back via Bond Road, but it was enough to then have him curl up and sleep until 2pm. He had seemed to be getting better, but he's been really subdued over this last day or so. I hope he's not sickening for something. Mind you with me being under the weather it's probably as well not to have him climbing the walls.
I spent the morning ironing shirts whilst watching a film I'd recorded. "The Station Agent" was a very gentle story about a lonely dwarf who inherited a shack in the arse-end of nowhere and made friends with two other losers. Re-reading that description hardly makes anyone want to watch the film, but it's actually quite a fair summary of the film. I rather liked it.
With shirts ironed I then put the finishing touches to my Wheri-project and sent it for publication. And I then looked at a puzzle which has had me foxed for a while, stepped my brain up a gear or two, did something which was frankly obvious, and had a solution in less than five minutes. I've now solved all the puzzles for this Saturday's geo-walk.
As my dog snored I made myself some toast for a spot of lunch. He came out of his bed, looked at a crust, then took himself off to bed again. As I scoffed my lunch I watched more of the lectures of this week's installment of my Coursera course. Today we talked about the formation of the early solar system. And we took great pains to say "formation" and not "creation".
Having completed this week's lectures I did the test, and got ninety seven per cent. I was rather pleased about that.
The Rear Admiral came to call, and he made off with over a hundred quid's worth of astro-dosh. And then after a rather good bit of tea we all went round to the Chrisery. Insults were bandied (as is usual) and then we watched the first episode of the new series "The Flash". It rather falls at the first hurdle by trying to use real science to explain the impossible when its idea of real science is rudely wrought claptrap. But if you can get past the mental image of Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) in a red leotard shouting "Zoom! Zoom!" the show might have promise...
12 November 2014 (Wednesday) - Reindeer, Brekkie...
I slept like a log last night, finally waking shortly before 7.30am having had a rather vivid dream. I was assisting my mother-in-law who was providing legal advice to Jack Duckworth (out of “Coronation Street”) following an allegation that he had been “talking out of his arse in a matter calculated to fool the f*ckw*tts”. I don’t know why I should be assisting with legal counsel; whilst I can (and do) “talk out of my arse” with the best of them, it’s not a subject on which I’ve ever thought of offering sage advice.
Perhaps I should?
Over brekkie I saw my latest Wheri-project had got live. After brekkie I took “Furry Face TM “ for a little walk, and we met a geocacher doing my latest Wheri-project. Paul (of PPRDGO) is very much like me in that he is someone who chases the First to Find. He’s a very friendly chap, and we geo-chatted for a few minutes before bringing my dog home for his brekkie. I’ve found that he’s more inclined to eat his food if it’s given to him after a walk (rather than before). But he is a fussy thing.
I played the latest silly game (Soda Crush) on the PC for a few minutes, then an email came in; Paul had found the Wherigo cache. I was pleased about that. For all that I try to test the things fully, there is no substitute to having someone try the thing out for real.
Flushed with success I then started on another Wheri-project. This one is (loosely) based on Star Wars. It will keep me out of mischief for an hour or so over the next few days.
I collected “My Boy TM ” and we drove to the Blue & White café near Sellindge for a spot of second brekkie. I’d heard good reports about the place; the food was good but I felt it was rather expensive compared to other similar places. I also thought the place was rather clinical – the bare walls needed livening up. And I was a little uncomfortable about the amount of police that were in there. I realise coppers need a break just like everyone else, but I wasn’t happy seeing seven uniformed police chowing down. When did you last see seven coppers at the same time anywhere?
We then drove on to see the littlun and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM ”; going via Tesco’s where we picked up some doughnuts. Smoky bacon and Turkey & stuffing flavour. Arriving at the same time as my mummy and daddy, everyone sat around chatting and clucking over the baby (whom we dressed as a reindeer) whilst I slept for three hours. I wish I wouldn’t do that.
We came home via Victoria Road school to collect Lacey and via Matalan to get myself some new jim-jams. And being at a loose end I did something I hope I don’t regret. Yesterday a new Facebook group started up aimed at people who want help with geo-puzzles. In a day it attracted over three hundred people. I’ve often thought about setting up something along those lines aiming at the much under-rated Wherigo cache type. So I did; you can join the group by clicking here. Mind you, it’s rather specialised. In four thousand and fifty two geo finds (not that I’m counting) I have only found four of the things. I’m quite pleased with the progress of the group so far; in a couple of hours it’s already got over fifty members.
And with ‘er indoors TM off candle-mongering I fell asleep in front of the telly. Again…
13 November 2014 (Thursday) - Wheri-What
This morning’s sloshing out of my sinuses produced a little blood. Yuk! Not a lot though. To have heard the nurse talk last week you would have thought that total exsanguination was a serious possible side effect of sinus rinsing so I’m hoping that this morning’s leak was nothing serious. I must be getting used to it as it doesn’t seem to leave me nauseous any more.
I popped the lead onto “Furry Face TM “ and we went for a little walk. We saw the road barrier by Godfrey Walk was stuck in the closed position, and joined the assembled throng watching the driver of a double-decker bus trying to do a three-point turn. He eventually managed it after more than twenty points.
A little later on our walk we had a minor contretemps with an aggressive mother. Her rather stupid child took one look at my dog (from several yards away), screamed, and ran into the road. The car which swerved to avoid him didn’t quite mow down the cyclists, but it was close. Mother immediately started ranting at the world that her stupid child was scared of dogs and she was clearly looking for a fight. I suggested that her idiot offspring might be better advised to be scared of cars (rather than small dogs), and I walked off leaving mother, child, motorist and cyclists to squabble it out amongst themselves. I wasn’t getting involved.
I hurried home; my guts weren’t right. There is nothing quite as urgent as a distant lavatory. Having abruptly hoiked ‘er indoors TM off of the throne I immediately experienced a sense of blessed relief.
I then had a look on-line. Yesterday I mentioned I’d started an on-line Wherigo group. This morning I saw that the thing now had nearly ninety members. I was rather pleased about that. And talking of Wheri-thingies I spent the remainder of the morning putting the finishing touches to my Star Wars Wherigo. I took Fudge out shortly before lunch to test the thing. Final tests were successful, and I’ve now sent the Wherigo in for review and publication. My next one is based on speed-walking and is in the throes of being translated from the original Czech.
I then watched a film over lunch. “The Tree of Life”. Apparently in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll, sixteen critics voted for it as one of their ten greatest films ever made. I’m voting it as one of ten worst films ever made. It was crap. I turned off after half an hour and watched “South Park” instead.
Being Thursday I had a sax lesson. I’ve not been practicing as much as usual lately, and it showed. But (as always) time with teacher is good; I always learn something new. Teacher managed to clout her finger on a sax key and trap a nerve. Her finger went really red. Whilst I made sympathetic noises, I was seriously pleased it wasn’t my finger…
I came home, watched the film “Escape from Mars” (which was quite good really) and then spent an hour or so trying to translate Czech Wheri-buttons into English. I have an ambition to have more Wherigos than sense. I have seven – I’m nearly there…
14 November 2014 (Friday) – Puzzling
I would have had a decent night’s sleep had the alarm of the car outside not been going off with annoying regularity all night long. I got up shortly after 7.30am to find a very wet morning outside. I got up, I stretched, inadvertently punched the light fitting, and so drove round to B&Q to get some new light bulbs.
The staff in B&Q didn’t actually say “get knotted baldy”, but they might as well have done. The next time I need light bulbs (or absolutely anything at all) I shall go somewhere else.
I came home, installed light bulbs, and I then pootled about on the Internet for an hour or so until the worst of the rain passed. By then “Furry Face TM “ was going stir-crazy so I took him round the block. We popped into the pet shop whilst passing; I had thought he’d got out of the habit of sitting in the vets area. He certainly knew where the dog treats were kept.
Home again, I put the finishing touches to my latest Wheri-project, took it for a little test and found three problems with it. Correcting those problems took minutes, and I then did the Wheri-admin for the thing. Over lunch I set to some geo-puzzles; I’ve the chance of going for a little geo-stroll on my next rostered day off… if only I solve sixty puzzles first. That kept me constructively out of mischief till after 4pm.
As I puzzled I saw through Facebook that the astro-committee were scoffing themselves silly at the Brookfield café. I knew that there was an outreach event this evening. I’d cried off from that; not wanting to get a cold running nose (for obvious reasons) but no one had told me that a mid-day scoff was on the cards. I sulked for a while before embarking on yet another wheri-project that kept me busy for much of the rest of the afternoon and evening.
I did pause for a while; I popped to the Hong Kong Kitchen to get a special curry and chips which I devoured whilst watching “Age of Tomorrow” which I’d recorded on the SkyPlus box a day or so ago. I turned it off half way through; it was crap.
I’ve found a lot of films like that recently…
15 November 2014 (Saturday) - Geo-Meet
I woke this morning two minutes before the alarm was due to go off. I got up, washed, shaved, sloshed out my sinuses (yuk!) and checked the weather forecast. It was raining outside, but the forecast for Sittingbourne would have had us beleive that the rain there was stopping. So we rallied the troops and set off to Borden where we met up with some other hunters of tupperware. There was a geo-meet planned for mid day, so I had this idea to constructively spend the morning on a geo-stroll before meeting up with everyone else. Eight of us set off through the rain; confident that the rain would clear up. After all the BBC weather forecast said that it would.
As unlikely as it may sound, the BBC lied.
Despite the rain we had a good wander; earlier in the week I'd solved two geo-puzzles. We found both of those caches this morning, and a dozen others as well. I called "Smug Mode" on what turned out to be a false alarm. We stomped along country lanes and across fields. We did get rather wet.
And once sodden we made ouy way to the Maypole in Borden where we met up with all the other geocachers who weren't daft enough to get soaking wet. I was amazed at the turn-out; I was expecting maybe twenty or so people. I was seriously expecting the arriival of our little walking contingent to double the amount of people in the pub. I was wrong; there was well over fifty people there.
As I dried out I chatted about the merits and hazards of hunting tupperware for recreational purposes with all sorts of people. There is nothing quite like talking about your hobby with like-minded people; I do like these monthly meet-ups. Especially when (like today) they are held in a traditional pub with a decent ale selection. With a choice of four ales I ended up having six pints of the stuff. Hic (!) We had lunch there; it was rather good. This is a pub I can certainly recommend. There are some other geocache series that start and end at this pub; we might just have to go back there for those; even if an errant normal person in the place did mistake me for a rambler. (I soon put him right !)
Home, whhere I struggled for anything to put on the telly for the evening. In the end I went with the E4 channel and re-runs of "Big Bang Theory". With a small dog by my side I slept through several episodes...
16 November 2014 (Sunday) - A Little Rant
What with poorly offspring and one thing and another I had a surprisingly late night last night, and so wasn't out of my pit until after 9am this morning. I had a particularly vicious five minutes on "Trap One"; clearly something I'd eaten yesterday hadn't sat right.
Over brekkie my piss boiled. One of the local geocachers had posted on the "Geocaching in Kent" about a proposal from Kent County Council in which the Kent cachng community might work hand in hand with the county council to produce two "Geotours"; two guided tours round East and West Kent taking in sites of local historical interest using existing geocaches as a starting point. It sounds a very worthwhile and laudible idea. I'm completely against it.
I've seen this sort of initiative in other walks of life with other councils. A council (be it parish, town or county) will have an idea for some initiative that will make it look good in the eyes of the electorate, but has no idea how to bring its idea to fruition. So they approach enthusiasts.
Over the years I've seen this happen with kite flying, scouting, the now defunct snake club, beer festivals, and I've heard simular tales from archers, bird fanciers and model railway enthusiasts. Volunteer enthusiasts are promised the Moon on a stick by parish, town and county councils. Because the volunteers have been promised all sorts of benefits for their hobbies and passions these people then end up bending over backwards putting in considerable amounts of their own time and money to provide a service for a council which then never actually delivers quite as much (if anything) of what they once offered to these people.
These sort of ventures sound (at first) as though they are a good idea in theory; in practice the efforts of unpaid volunteers are exploited and the councils take all the credit for what other people have done for them.
(takes a deep breath...)
I took "Furry Face TM" round the block. He's a lot better than he was; as we walked he tried to pick fights with passing taxis and buses and several larger dogs. I wish he wouldn't do that. He did say hello (nicely) to one of the ponies in the field by the Riverside Inn; he seems to have struck up a friendship with that little horse.
Once home my little dog settled down quietly; these short walks still tire him. We then drove round to Bybrook Barn where "er indoors TM" got my my Christmas pressie. After yesterday's soaking I realised I could do with a decent waterproof coat for our weekend walks.
From the garden centre we went for a spot of McLunch. As we were coming out I saw someone who looked familiar. Cheryl had been sent into McDs to get scoff for "My Boy TM". Together we then went to the pet shop, and to a new shop in Folkestone; The Lodge. The Lodge seems to be an up-market version of Canterbury's Cheapo-Bargains shop. I suppose a combination of the place only just having opened and Christmas coming up meant the place was heaving. I shall go back when it's not so busy.
We found a quick geocache, and then went round to see "Daddies Little Angel TM" and the baby. I say " went round to see "Daddies Little Angel TM" and the baby"; within minutes of arriving I was fast asleep. After a couple of hours spent snoring we came home.
Again I should really have been out with the astro club, but a combination of rain (not telescoping weather) and not wanting to get a running nose meant I had an evening in. "er indoors TM" set off bowling and I curled up on the sofa with my dog and watched "Jeeves and Wooster." After all it's what I usually do on Sunday evenings...
17 November 2014 (Monday) - Bit Dull Really...
The night before last I didn’t use my CPAP machine; I did last night, and the difference in the quality of sleep was amazing. For all that I don’t like being plumbed in at night, I think I shall continue with it. Sleeping right through until an alarm goes off is truly amazing.
I got up, had brekkie and saw a new geocache had gone live near Pluckley. It had been active for over an hour; had I been going to work today I would have chased the First to Find. Instead I took “Furry Face TM “ round the park for a walk. We went a little further than we have recently; he ran quite a lot of the way, trying to fight with buses, taxis and motorbikes as we went. As we walked I did a little “whistle practice”; I blow the whistle, pup comes running to me and gets a treat. The idea is that he associates the whistle with a treat, and so it’s a way of getting hold of him when I need to (as opposed to when I *want* to). We’ve not done this for a while, and to my amazement it worked well; he remembered how to do it.
Once home he devoured his brekkie (he gets that after the walks so that the whistle will work), and I did a few geo-puzzles. There is a series of puzzles in Sussex that I’ve been meaning to try to solve for ages. I made a start on that series today. Supposedly designed for children; I found then rather hard. There is one word-search that has me foxed, and another puzzle in which you have to match caterpillars to butterflies. I haven’t a clue on that one.
I sent “Furry Face TM “ into the garden and I had a little sax practice; it’s amazing how quickly you get out of the hang of playing the thing.
The morning soon passed, and over a sandwich I watched a film. “The Sin Eater” was actually a good film. I watched it all the way through without turning off; just lately I’ve switched off half way through a lot of films. The film was actually based on a real superstition. I learned something today.
I checked the Internet – that geocache in Pluckley was still unfound. So I drove out to find it. Funnily enough I drove out at about the same time as another cacher did; unfortunately for me she only lived a couple of minutes down the road from the cache; she got there first, did the happy dance and was away before I arrived.
As I drove I came past one of my own caches. A car was parked there; I got out and said hello to the people who were caching. I was instantly recognised (for some reason I usually am!) and it turned out that this cache was probably missing. Several of that series seem to have gone walkabout. As many of them are custom-made caches I shall walk out over the next week or so, retrieve the caches that are left and archive the series. They are all puzzle caches and no one likes puzzles. I also have a multi-series nearby that no one has been near for months. That can go as well.
I came home and had a mini-sax practice. I managed about ten seconds before my dog started singing along. I wish he wouldn’t. He got sent outside for ten minutes whilst I tootled.
And then I did a little geo-research. When I go out caching I use my phone because I can do everything immediately on the phone through the internet connection. For no reason that I can see pretty much everyone else uses a hand-held GPS unit that you have to pre-program at home before you go out, and then bring home and plug into your home PC and use more software (that costs) before you can actually do any secret geo-rituals. Those who use GPS units are continually finding caches they’ve done and not logged, or are hundreds of caches behind with their secret geo-ritualling, and spend an age fiddling about doing stuff that the phone does automatically.
I *really* can’t see why everyone wants to use a hand-held GPS unit; I’ve been asking for two years and only ever been told that “I don’t understand”. Well, I don’t understand. Why are these things so popular? Why won’t anyone tell me? There clearly must be some advantage that I’m missing. The *only* advantage of a GPS unit that I can see is that they are waterproof. On Saturday my phone leaked a little. A month or so ago it leaked a lot. I was seriously considering getting a hand-held unit purely because they would be waterproof. But anything other than a wi-fi capable unit would be a seriously backward step. I was considering spending nearly five hundred quid on something I really don’t want when I realised I could get a waterproof cover for my phone for a fiver. Or I could steal the one that ‘er indoors TM isn’t using.
I shall try that cover the next time it rains and see how I get on…
18 November 2014 (Tuesday) – Stuff
I had another night when I slept for over seven hours; I would have slept longer had I not woken with my CPAP air hose in a tangle. I got up and had a little look on the Internet. Nothing really noteworthy; lots of arguments about pretty much every subject under the sun. Some were squabbles I'd (inadvertently) started, some were squabbles of friends, some were deliberate attempts to provoke fights. Disagreeing seems to be human nature. It's a shame people can't disagree without getting nasty about it.
Interestingly as I scoffed brekkie I saw that I had a few messages from people who joined that Facebook Wherigo site last week telling me that the chap who was squabbling at me (about litigation in geocaching) is a well known argumentative troublemaker. There really are people who troll the internet on any subject just to provoke fights. Why do they do this?
I noticed my dog was slow in getting up. Time was he was like a coiled spring, since his recent slipped disc he seems to take his time getting up. Perhpas its back-related, perhaps he's just getting on a bit.
Once he was up we went for a little walk round to a very wet Viccie Park where we did some geo-maintenance on one of "er indoors TM"'s geocaches (it wasn't there!) and went on to the vet's. We pop in there from time to time; the idea is to get "Furry Face TM" used to going in there. I have this theory that if we go in there regularly he won't be frightened of the place. When we just visit he is fine. Today we needed to see the nurse to get his anti-flea treatment. Because of this he needed to be weighed. He was terrified. How does he know when something is going to happen?
We weighed him; he's lost a tenth of a kilogram. Result (!) Mind you, he needs to loose more; he looks like a little barrel at the moment.
We came home, and I looked at my latest wheri-project. And decided I'm not going to bother with it just yet. I put a *lot* of effort into putting out three Wherigos last week and they've (so far) generated next to no interest. So I looked at this week's lectures on my Coursera course instead.
Today was all about the early Earth, and I learned something new - the Faint Young Sun paradox. Basically according to current theories of stellar evolution the Sun was never hot enough for life to have been on Earth as long as the fossil record would have us beleive. But something kept the water from freezing. Somewhere one of science's theories is wrong. And not for the first time...
I shall gloss over how poorly I did in this week's test.
I then looked at some more Sussex-based geo-puzzles, then plotted the Sevenoaks based ones I solved on Friday. From the map two of them were clearly wrong. One was an error in my calculations, one was a mistake in the published formula (which had been commented on some time ago).
I then boiled up a rather good bit of tea, then it was over to Willesborough for the weekly meet-up. Insults were bandied, colons were threatened with irrigation, and we watched episode two of "The Flash" (Zoom! Zoom!). The show has potential - I like it so far...
19 November 2014 (Wednesday) – Dull
With an alarm set for the first time in two weeks I found myself wide awake at 4.30am. I'd forgotten how frustrating that can be. I lay awake until shortly after 5.30am, then got up. My little dog was still snoring on the sofa, and didn't stir at all. After a shave I stood on the scales; I thought I'd put on weight over this two weeks of sick leave; I had. I'm now over sixteen stones in weight. Diet time (!)
Over brekkie I watched an episode of "Family Guy", then watched a few minutes of an interview with Terry Gilliam. The blurb about the show looked interesting; the show itself was just pretentious.
Off to work; I've not listened to the news for a fortnight. The specific details of the news might have changed; the general pattern hasn't. People still fight in the Middle East because that's what they've done for so long they don't know any different. And the press attacked the National Health Service because that's what they've done for so long they don't know any different either.
I got to work, did my bit. I had my lunchtime saxophone practice; I seem to acheive far more with a saxophone at the far end of the car park than I ever do at home, I can only assume it's because I'm not constantly telling a certain dog to shut his howling.
Once home this evening I took that little dog round the block. It would have been good to have gone further, but by the time I get home it is completely dark. I'm not going to let "Furry Face TM" off the lead after dark; he gets distracted easily anough as it is when I can see where he is.
We then had a rather good bit of scoff for tea, a half-way decent bottle of plonk, and got about five per cent of the space on the Sky-Plus box cleared/ We now have nearly twenty per cent of the storage space on that thing cleared.
And in closing did you know that today was World Toilet Day?
20 November 2014 (Thursday) - Birthday Party
I slept a little better last night, but was still awake before the alarm went off. I came down to find my dog fast asleep. I then had a minor fight with the SkyPlus box; it wouldn't switch on. Eventually, after pulling the thing's plug twice, I got it going. What's the point of recording all-new episodes of South Park if you can't watch them?
Off to work. As always I listened to the radio. There wasn't quite so much annoying drivel today; instead the airtime was (frankly) wasted on an interview with the artist David Hockney. Mind you there were a few snippets of note. The Sir John Cass school in London has been visited by OFSTED. In one fell swoop it has gone from being "outstanding" to needing "special measures".
How can a school go downhill so far and so fast? I can't help but feel that either it was never "outstanding" in the first place, or that the current need for "special measures" is nothing but a silly political publicity stunt.
I was pleased to hear that the Government has brought in legislation to do away with the "beer tie"; at the moment landlords of pubs owned by large breweries are forced to buy their beer from said large brewery. Thyis is why I tend to avoid any pub owned by Shepherd Neame; the beer is OK, but it is the same beer in every pub. The abolition of the beer tie will hopefully bring variety to the hand pump.
Or so I thought. The pundits today weren't so sure. Apparently the beer tie (if nothing else) guaranteed the breweries an income. The feelings expressed this morning were that the abolition of the beer tie won't actually increase the types of ale available. With the advent of market forces only the cheap will survive. Greene King IPA all the way?
And to add insult to injury the Enterprise chain were quoted as saying that they get far more income from premises they run as corner shops than those that they run as pubs.
I got to work, did my bit, and got rather cold during my lunchtime sax practice. Being Thursday I had after-work sax lesson. I figured out why my rendition of "Hello Dolly" was a tad squafty; it's all in the F#. And from sax lesson I went round to Chiquitos where the family had gathered for a birthday meal.
Today was Lacey's eighth birthday, and she likes Chiquitos. They aren't bad. To be fair they are quite good really. But the bill for just me and "er indoors TM" was forty quid. And the bill comes with a tip already charged for; which I think is a bit of a cheek. When it's my birthday, Lacey will be celebrating with me in McDonalds for a quarter of the price...
21 November 2014 (Friday) - A Walk
I was up with the lark, and after a swift bite of brekkie I zoomed round to Asda to treat myself to a sandwich. I had intended to go last night, but in the end I ran out of time yesterday.
I then set off to... I don't really know where I set off for. I think it was somewhere in the general vicinity of Otford. A few days ago I'd read a post on the Geocaching in Kent Facebook group that there was to be a geo-mission today. I'd spent much of a day solving geo-puzzles, and today was the day we were to collect them.
As I drove I was rather depressed to hear the news on the radio. UKIP has won yesterday's by-election in nearby Rochester. The opinion of most of the commentators is that UKIP are getting their popularity because most people aren't actually voting *for* UKIP; they are trying to register a protest against the exisiting political establishment. That may well be the case, but if people want to make a protest they should decide not to vote, or to spoil their ballot papers. Because by voting UKIP politicians into positions of authority isn't making a protest; it's doing something rather dubious (at best). Most people aren't interested in politics, and this is where UKIP score. Have you ever listened to anything a prominent UKIP politician says? No? - you should actually listen to them. They come out with a whole load of guff which sounds designed to appeal to the average man in the street. But most of what they say is hot air based on vastly over-estimated guesswork about how much money (if any) might be saved by leaving the EU and sending everyone home on the next banana boat. And then most of what they've said is then formally denied and re-worded by UKIP official press releases the next day. But they've got someone into parliament (again) because the man in the street likes being told that shit is sugar.
And people wonder why I don't beleive in democracy.
I turned off the news and put on an Ivor Biggun CD and sang rude songs whilst I calmed down.
I arrived at the meeting point, and by the time I'd got my wellies on, Phil and Dan had arrived. Martin soon joined us, and with geo-gadgets primed we set off. Up hill and down dale; and there was some serious ups and downs. On the way we saw phesants and squirrrels and a rather brave fox. There were some wonderful views to be seen as we went. Sandra joined us half way round, and we carried on past rather friendly horses and an abandoned car. Who drives a car into a field to abandon it? We even saw the house in which the gold from the Brinks-Matt bullion robbery was found.
We set out with sixty-three geo-targets; we found the lot. There was one that had gone walkabout, but it was rather obvious where it had been, and we'd gone out with permission to replace any that were missing. We walked just over nine miles in just over five hours. We'd parked up by a pub. after our walk we deserved a drink; it was rather frustrating to find the pub wasn't open on Friday lunchtime.
It's been some time since I last did a long walk; I've missed them. But, as I usually do, I took a few photos whilst we were out.
I'd thought we were going to finish a lot later than we did; I came home and took "Furry Face TM" for a walk. It won't be long before he's out with the me on the big walks again. I was tempted to have taken him this morning, but the vet did say he was to rest until the end of the month. And then (with a lot of help) I solved the last geo-puzzle for tomorrow's planned walk.
I got myself some tea, and then watched a film. "Community" is a horror film about a rather grim housing estate. I was tempted to turn it off (on several occassions) but I stuck it out to the end. Mind you it was nothing special.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" phoned; littlun was making strange noises and she wanted my sage wisdom. She put littlun on the phone and he gurgled at me. In all honesty it sounded like the sort of noises that babies make; they are noisy things. I said as much, and she seemed happy with my opinion.
I looked at doing more of my Coursera course, but by then it was 9pm. Next door had by then stopped clanging the piano and was by then strangling their violin. I shall Coursera tomorrow... And blow my sax too; I never got round to practicing it today.
22 November 2014 (Saturday) - Rain Stopped Play
I woke at 2am and went for a tiddle. If I had I then put the CPAP thingy back on I might well have slept better. But I couldn't be bothered to do so, and so didn't really sleep for the rest of the night. Perhaps I should have put the CPAP thingy back on?
I got up shortly before 7am, shared my toast with "Furry Face TM", and as "er indoors TM" set off to a meeting of the southern branch of the Natioanal Union of Candlemongers I took my dog round to the park for a walk. As we went he shouted at a paper boy and tried to pick a fight with a Great Dane.
Once home I had some time to spare, so I did the monthly accounts. I wouldn't say I'm bankrupt, but I do need to stop squandering. One extra month's money would be rather nice. I then drove round to collect Kim and Andy and we set off to Meopham. We'd planned a geo-mission for today, and Dave had driven up from Brighton to join us.
We met up in torrential rain, and decided that perhaps we might adjourn to the cafe. So we did. A coffee and a bacon sarnie went down well as we chatted. But after an hour the rain hadn't abated. And the cafe was on low ground. We couldn't see the hilltops where we'd intended to walk from where we were. The low cloud/misty fog would have had us soaked so we decided to postpone; after all we got soaked last week when we might have abandoned.
It was a shame we had to cancel the walk, but it was really good to meet up with Dave, and we can always walk another time. Mind you it was rather frustrating to find the weather was completely at odds with what the BBC had forecast, and was nothing like the dry conditions it was claiming was actually happening.
Andy suggested going for lunch, but I was pleasently replete from the bacon sarnie. And I've been eating out a little too much lately as my waistline testifies. So I came home, fussed my dog, and did more of my on-line course. I got ninety per cent in the test too. I was pleased about that; much better than the last one.
I started sax practice, and was immediately confronted with a howling dog. Fudge found himself banished to the garden for twenty minutes whilst I tootled. I did plan on popping down to Folkestone to see the littlun (and "Daddies Little Angel TM" as well) but a terrible night's sleep meant I fell asleep instead.
The idea of the recent surgery was to sort out this stupid sleep pattern...
23 November 2014 (Sunday) - Working
Not a bad night's sleep last night, but with an alarm set for 6am I was wide awake from 5am. I got up, had a shave, and watched "Dad's Army" (they don't like it up 'em) and then "Toddlers and Tiaras." All rather mindless viewing for silly o'clock on a Sunday morning.
I then had a little look on-line. Not much of note had happened overnight in cyberspace. I had a naive hope that there might be a new geocache going live on my way to work for which I might chase a First to Find. At 6.30am I had an email about a new geocache. To get to work I drive sixteen miles east; this new one was sixteen miles west. Then two other emails came in about new caches in Hastings and Dover. Oh well....
As I drove to work the Sunday morning radio was... difficult to describe. More religious and spiritual than on most days; I'd call it "all about Sunday Stuff". There was some crackpot proponent of some half-baked religion who was talking about one of many wars raging in the Middle East. I've mentioned before that here's always wars in the Middle East. This crackpot was wittering some frankly ludicrous theory that because wars in the Middle East are religious in nature then they are somehow acceptable. How does that work. Wars for territory or political reasons can usually be argued out reasonably. Religion is many things, but its very nature is beyond reason.
The next item had me baffled. The (heavily accented) speaker was wittering on about the proliferation of "footbags", and how so many people rely on them,. The suggestion that unscrupulous people take advantage of footbags was pooh-poohed as (apparently) most people feel shame when using a footbag. After ten minutes of being utterly confused I finally realised they were talking about "food banks".
You would think the BBC would employ radio presenters who could spead clear English, wouldn't you?
I got to work, did my bit, and spent much of the day looking out of the window at the torrential rain. I don't mind working at the weekends really; I really don't mind working at the weekends when the weather is bad.
The day soon passed, and I came home again. Even though it was 9pm next door was clanging on their piano. I've found that when I blow my sax they take the hint and shut up the piano. So I blasted away on the sax, and sure enough the piano quietened.
And then I fell asleep in front of the telly. Again.
24 November 2014 (Monday) - Walk, Learning, Telescope
I had a rather good night’s sleep, and over brekkie I had a little look on the Internet. I was just a tad disappointed to find that my suggestion (on a geo-forum) for a geo-walk today hadn’t elicited any geo-interest. Mind you after yesterday’s rain most of the county would have been geo-flooded so stomping up hill and down dale might not have been the best of geo-ideas.
Instead I took “Furry Face TM “ for a little walk. I say “little walk”; he’s a lot better than he was so I took him on one of our old-style walks. Through South Ashford to Singleton Lake and home through Viccie Park. Apart from a minor altercation with a squirrel the walk was relatively uneventful. Fudge played nicely with two Scotties and a few Labradors. To see him playing in the park you’d never think he was paralysed only a few short weeks ago.
We walked for about an hour and a half; the longest he’s walked since his injury. Once home he scoffed his brekkie and I carried on with domestic drudgery. Washing machines, dishwashers, Hoovering (courtesy of the Dyson corporation) It was as I was tidying that something was delivered through the letterbox. I have no idea what it was because my dog got to it first and ate it. I was rather surprised by that. He’s usually so good. Last night he whinged at the dustbin for half an hour because he wanted to chew a bottle that was in it. He could easily have reached that bottle, but has *never* taken stuff from the bin. This morning he ate the mail.
Perhaps he’s got the sulks because in my tidy-up I threw out a dozen half chewed bones, balls and assorted toys.
I then had a look at the household accounts. They could be better. I just seem to have had too many unexpected financial outgoings lately, and it is rather sad that for all that it is payday today I am already looking forward to the next wage packet.
I then spent a little while on this week’s Coursera work. I say “this week’s”; I’ve only just realised they aren’t bringing out a new module each week. They are coming out every four days in this course. I need to get a shift on.
Today’s lectures were quite interesting. Two were on the “Snowball Earth” theory. They were probably more informative than the chap’s terrible accent would have had you believe. And then four more were about the broad-scale classification of living things. That’s a topic on which I thought I was quite well versed. I did know that DNA analysis was casting a lot of doubt onto what had once been considered to be “established fact”. It turns out that pretty much everything I learned about classifying living things was wrong. I’m far closer related to a mushroom than I am an oak tree.
But, as I always say, a day when I learn nothing is a day wasted.
I practiced my sax; my dog sang along. I wish he wouldn’t. And with ‘er indoors TM out bowling I went down to Woodchurch. The astro club was staging an observing evening. I had decided I wasn’t going to go, but Steve was going down for an hour and offered me a lift, and in all honesty I didn’t feel I could be disparaging about the session if I hadn’t gone.
Don’t get me wrong; the astro club is *really* good. But I have maintained (for some years) that the membership are like me; they have no interest in getting cold whilst looking through a telescope. If someone sets up a telescope during club nights, then people will have a look. And then they will go back into the hall where it is warm. Over the years we’ve put on so many observing nights that have been so poorly supported. And tonight was yet another. The membership had been given plenty of notice about tonight’s observing session. It was a perfectly clear night; ideal for stargazing. There were only three of us there; all committee members.
25 November 2014 (Tuesday) – Babysitting
Another good night’s sleep. Over brekkie I saw not much of note had happened on-line overnight, which was probably for the best. So I put the lead on my dog and we went for a walk. Yesterday’s walk was a pleasure. Today’s not so. As I crossed Beaver Lane so. The driver of a Harveys (the furniture store) lorry pointed at me and started shouting at me. I couldn’t work out what he was ranting about, but he was certainly aggressive. When he finally paused for breath I pointed out the fallacy of ranting at the public from his employer’s van with his employer’s name, phone number and website plastered all over it. The chap suddenly changed his tack, and claimed he didn’t want to see me being run over by a bus which was some distance up the road.
I wonder what had boiled his piss today.
We carried on round Singleton Lake and came home through the park. As we went I lost count of how many dogs with which Fudge tried to pick fights. He wandered off into shrubberies and hedges and refused to come back. It was just like the bad old days when he was first allowed off of his lead. The whistle training failed utterly. And then just to add insult to injury he found some fox poo in which to roll.
Once home I spent the morning planning yet another geo-stroll. There is a (vaguely) astronomical virtual multi-geocache near Otford, so I tried to get my head around what was required. Once I figured out what the description was actually saying it all seemed straight forward. I then looked at a few puzzles which were in the area and I solved some of them.
I then had a spot of lunch. As I scoffed I watched “Detectorists”. Starring Mackenzie Crook I don’t know how I missed seeing this show when it was first show; it’s really good.
I then had a message. Having spent the morning preparing an assault on a virtual multi-geocache, a travelling virtual geocache had set up shop not five miles down the road. Virtual geocaches are like rocking horse poo; incredibly rare, and today I’m messing with two of them. So I hopped into the car and drove down to Sellindge to seek out “Ye Olde Survey Monument”. It wasn’t in the most accessible of places, but a virtual find is never to be sniffed at.
I came home, had a cuppa, then had flashbacks as I went to Victoria Road school to do the school run. For various reasons everyone was busy today and since I was at a loose end I’d offered to collect Lacey and keep her amused. I took “Furry Face TM “ and with Lacey collected we went to the play park for a bit, then came home and alternately made glitter cards and fought with the dog until Mummy collected her.
I thought about doing more Coursera, but instead played silly Facebook games until ‘er indoors TM came home. Tea was scoffed, then we gathered the troops and set off to Folkestone. Insults were bandied, photos watched vias Sky apps, and then we watched “The Flash” dealing with the latest super-villain; “The Human Fart”.
I felt something in the night I’ve not felt for ages (oo-er!) A fidgeting at the end of the bed. My dog had come upstairs and jumped on the bed. I know he shouldn’t, but I was so pleased that he felt well enough to do so that I left him there. He slowly worked his way up the bed, and I then dozed with my hand on his back for the rest of the night.
After brekkie I took “Furry Face TM “ for a walk. It was rather wet; too wet for the park (I thought) so we went out to Hythe Road and back via the Willesborough railway crossing. It’s one of what used to be our standard walks and, judging by my dog’s recovery, it will be again. We walked up past the station avoiding push bikes vooming in all directions. What is it with bike riders? Ashford has a very good cycle path network, and still cyclists either think they are cars and ride in the middle of the carriageway at walking speed, or fly down pavements expecting pedestrians to scatter in their wake.
As I walked past the secondary school I had a minor altercation with an officious teacher. This chap was brandishing a clip-board and was lording it over a small group of disinterested-looking children. As we walked past he stopped me, looked at his clip-board, looked at me and rudely asked “and you are…?” I replied “walking my dog” and kept going.
We carried on round to Frog’s Island where there was a minor flood, and just as we were coming past Asda I met an ex-cub’s mother. She seemed rather distraught. She was upset about one of the horses in a nearby field which had been tied to a fence. Apparently the poor thing couldn’t move more than a few inches; he couldn’t even lower his head to get to the grass. Ex-cub’s mother was having a really good rant about how cruel some people are, and how she had a jolly good mind to phone someone. I let her rant for a few moments before I realised that she was talking to me as though I was still the leader of her son’s cub group. In her mind I was a person of authority. She was clearly expecting me to go sort the problem. So I assured her I’d take a look. Her face lit up at that suggestion, and me and Fudge went round to see the horses.
Sure enough one of the ponies was on his own by the fence, and was pulling against a fence post. But far from having been deliberately tethered, the silly beast had managed to get his bridle tangled in the fence. It took seconds for me to release him, and he galloped off to a nearby manger which was full of hay.
I gave “Furry Face TM “ his brekkie, booked a service for my car (more expense!) then I set about more Coursera course work. Today’s lectures were on the effect of mass extinction events on biodiversity. I thought I knew quite a bit about the topic, but I learned loads. And I got eighty per cent in the test too.
I checked my emails… and got the hump. Two geocaches had gone live during the week; both of which are on my way to work (admittedly on a rather circuitous route). Neither had been found. I had planned to get at least one FTF on my way to work this evening. Both had been found this morning. Oh well…
I watched another episode of “Detectorists” over lunch, blew my saxophone, set the washing machine going, then tried to get a little sleep. I managed to sleep for three hours, but did have cold feet. Once I woke I spent a while trying to find my hot water bottle (for next time). I couldn’t find it, but I did find eight quid in the pockets of some trousers I haven’t worn for ages. Result!
I quite liked last night's night shift; at the risk of appearing antisocial there is a lot to be said for having the place to yourself. Just as I was leaving work this morning my phone beeped. An email. A new geocache in Folkestone. Not exactly on the way home, but I thought I could chase the FTF then see the baby. After all I'd not had an FTF so far this month, and I'd not seen littlun for a few days.
It was odd driving into work in the dark last night. Simularly coming home in daylight this morning seemed strange too. As I drove to Folkestone there was something thought-provoking on the radio. The price of oil has dropped by one third in the last six months. But how much has the price fallen at the petrol pump? From what I can see on line the price I pay has only fallen by three per cent in that same time period. At first sight you might think someone's making a tidy profit here. But this isn't the case. The sad truth is that the price of oil is only a tiny amount of the final cost of petrol. The vast majority of the cost is actually government-imposed taxes.
There was also talk about trials of a vaccine againist ebola. Apparently (according to the radio) the vaccine has been shown to boost the immune system which is vital in fighting the disease. Really? What a purile statement. It's tantamount to being surprised at the news that when an animal bites you, it does so with its mouth.
I got to Folkestone, found the cache I was after, was first to do so, did the happy dance, then went round to see "Daddies Little Angel TM" and the baby. Littlun has grown more; he's noticeably stronger. When holding him he *really* pushes with his arms and legs now. He smiled at me and gurgled as littluns do.
Sid was in disgrace; having disgraced himself on the carpet. I then came home to find "Furry Face TM" had also disgraced himself. He knew he'd done wrong. I cleared up the mess as best I could (we've got a spray for that), then took him for a short walk. Not far today as it was raining rather hard. And then I filled the hot water bottle that I couldn't find yesterday and went to bed. There's something odd about going to bed at 10.30am.
The hot water bottle did the trick; I always settle much quicker when I don't have cold feet. Just as I was dozing off I heard the thunder of paws coming up the stairs. "Furry Face TM" jumped up (he shouldn't do that) and the two of us slept through till 3pm. I would have liked to have slept longer really. Maybe tomorrow?
I can’t deny that working all night is tiring, and it is definitely early days. But so far I like night shifts. I get quite a varied workload at work, and I get to take my dog for a decent walk every day as well.
Last night’s shift could have been better; it could have been a lot worse. But once it was done I came home. Going to or from work still has the same pundits on the radio. Today they were commenting on “Black Friday”. In Britain we’ve always had the January Sales which is when traditionally all the bargains are to be had. But Americans do their bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. And rather than being a gentle polite affair, it’s usually something of a bloodbath. So in true lemming-like fashion Britain copies America and today shops across the country have had “Black Friday” sales in which the average customer would happily slit the throat of anyone and anyone in their bid to save a few pennies. Police were called on several occasions. I wish I’d gone to one… if only to watch the punch-up
Also in lemming-like fashion the Prime Minister is now spouting pure UKIP propaganda. To sum up the speech he made today, anyone who can’t prove a British pedigree is to be deported, and if the EU don’t like it they can get bent.
It worries me that he’s taking this line. Firstly he’s obviously trying to win back voters who have fallen for the UKIP lies by saying that shit is sugar. And secondly he’s following the tack of his coalition partners, the Dribbling Democraps, by abandoning principle in favour if vote grabbing. He might not be my favourite Prime Minister, but up till now I’ve had a grudging respect for him. Does he *really* need to try to out-nasty UKIP?
Once home I took “Furry Face TM “round to the park for a walk. Apart from having lost all recollection of the whistle training I’ve spent years trying to instil into him our walk was rather uneventful.
I took myself off to bed shortly after 11am, and would have slept a lot longer had “Furry Face TM “ not had a major woofing fit at 1.30pm. I got up, but wasn’t feeling as though I wanted to do much. So I settled down in front of the PC and did another module on my Coursera course. Today we covered the appearance of oxygen in the ancient atmosphere and the evidence for changes (up and down) in oxygen levels over time. I’m sure I would have paid more attention to the subject matter had I been less fascinated by the odd-looking chap presenting the lectures. His face looked about twenty years younger than the awful beard he wore. And he had either a very odd hair line or premature balding. Also his head was about twice as long as it really should have been. Poor chap. And then at some point between the second and third lecture he had a shave and haircut and ended up looking like a 1970s porn star (not that I’m an expert on the matter).
I see that the trailer for the new Star Wars film has been released. As a keen trekkie I’ve often been asked to explain the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. For thirty years I’ve been saying that the key difference is that Star Wars is lame, and this trailer does little to make me want to change my opinion.
I then set off for some McTea. I should have left earlier; the traffic was terrible. But soon enough I was putting the world to rights with Stevey and Jimbo. And from there it was round to astro club. A reasonable turn-out really. We had the second evening of the new-look program; I’m still not sure if I like it; despite a really good talk, it does seem to go on rather late. Perhaps if my dog had let me sleep earlier I might have felt differently.
I suppose that after a couple of night shifts it's not surprising that I slept like a log last night. I finally woke shortly after 9am. Over brekkie I found myself listening to next door's arguing. I couldn't work out what their problem was; he was shouting and she was shreiking. They've been squabbling rather more over these last few weeks.
I had a look at the Internet. In times past on the day after the astro club meeting the astro club's Facebook page would be alive with comments and praise for the previous evening's meeting. This morning's posts featured only one post which was asking what people think about the new format; a post to which I was the only person to reply wiith less than gushing praise.
No matter what the subject, I seem to be always in a minority of one; I'm getting just a little fed up with it. Still, if nothing else I can (usually) disagree with people without falling out with them.
I took "Furry Face TM" round to the park for a little walk. As we walked through Bowens Field we saw that someone had defaced the sign. A graffiti elephant had appeared on the sign. An odd defacement.
We came home, settled the dog down and went shopping. Staples had a rather good bargain; tablet PCs reduced from one hundred quid to thirty quid. I've been looking to take one of these geocaching so we got one each. From there we went round to Bybrook Barn Garden Centre for a spot of lunch. Very tasty.
We popped down to Folkestone, collected "Daddies Little Angel TM" and the baby and went round to the new shop "The Range" where we picked up all sorts of bargains including a new basket for "Furry Face TM". I then slept for a couple of hours at chez Fernandez whilst everyone else fussed over the baby. We then took "Daddies Little Angel TM" home, delivered candles, and came home ourselves. I sparked up my new tablet and... the thing was slow. Very slow. Almost too slow to be useable. And it is incompatible with the geocaching app I wanted to use on it. It refuses to even install the app. It can't do the one thing I bought it for.
I slept like a log last night, but woke with a *serious* sulk on. I have no idea why I should have had a cob. I wonder what that was all about? I came downstairs to find "Furry Face TM" was asleep in his new basket; at least he seemed happy.
Over brekkie I checked out Facebook. Several people were claiming that the craze for "Black Friday" sales was somehow inspired by the sales of slaves immediately after Thanksgiving. Obviously it was not, but trivia such as factual accuracy has never stopped anyone posting rubbish on social media.
We got ourselves together, we put the lead onto "Furry Face TM" and set off on today's adventure. We collected Kim and Andy, and met Aleta at Trottiscliffe Country Park. There are those who claim the place is pronounced "Trosley". If that is the case, why is is spelt" Trottiscliffe"?
Five of us (and one convalescent dog) set off through a misty morning round the Hognore Hike. Billed as a walk of five miles we were rather surprised to find it was one of five miles; so many time we find the published mileage of these geo-walks to be seriously under-estimated. A five mile walk was what we wanted for today; with "Furry Face TM" doing his first all-day walk for a couple of months we wanted to re-introduce him gently.
The walk was excellent. The route was well laid out with only one serious hill climb. The geocaches were mostly easy finds (*if* you knew what you were looking for) and the scenery was lovely. The views would have been better had the day been less misty, but you can't have everything.
We did have "episodes" with a couple of the caches. One looked to be far too close to an adjacent cache; it was only on reading the instructions that we figured out what we had to do. "Walk up the road for about a hundred yards, turn right, and after about twenty paces look for a fallen tree". It was at this point that I truly realised the difference between locating something with pin-point accuracy using satellite-based GPS technology and randomly guessing which fallen tree in the woods is the one that we have been sent to find as opposed to all the others that are not.
And our other problem cache involved a field puzzle. We were taken to a duck pond by a manor house where we were instructed to count up chimney stacks, satellite dishes, windows, do some sums and come up with some co-ordinates.
We'd started walking shortly after 10.30am; we got back to the car about five hours later. I had fully expected to have ended the walk carrying my dog as I thought it might have been a bit much for him. But he walked (and ran) all of the way. Once home he had a bath; I'd forgotten just how much dirt and mud a small dog accumulates in the woods. He then curled up in his new basket and went to sleep. As he snored we wrapped him in a towel.