1 December 2014 (Monday) - Upsetting the Vicar
A good night's sleep; only marred by rather vivid dreams that some of my nearest and dearest were mistreating my little dog. In my dreams I took my dog's side over them and woke up to find myself punching my pillow. Rather disturbing(!)
I came downstairs this morning to find that small dog had moved from his basket. After yesterday's walk I bathed him and he took himself to bed and slept all evening; not wanting any tea. He didn't move from his basket all evening, and he didn't stir at all this morning as I scoffed my toast.
With toast scoffed I took the tablets I bought on Saturday back to the shop, and came back with one that works.
I then took “Furry Face TM “ round the park for a walk as he had seemed to have perked up a bit. As we wandered we met a vicar who was on his bike. He was still on his bike when we left him; but only just. For no apparent reason said vicar decided to do a really stupid swerve and nearly ran us both over. He then said some really un-vicar-like comments under his breath. If I had nothing better to do with my time I would have complained to the bishop.
We would have walked for longer but I had to come back for a dentist appointment. I was rather miffed to find that the appointment was actually for tomorrow. We could have walked for longer.
Being at a loose end I then went through my letter rack.
Ironically the first letter was from the dentist; I have a plan with them whereby I pay so much each month and get (pretty much) all the treatment I need when I need it. They are keeping their charges the same for this next year.
There was a notification from the Halifax building society about changes to my savings account. They’ve written to me before about this; even though I don’t have an account with them.
I found I’d been specially invited to apply for a Vanquis Bank credit card. I chose not to do so. My life assurance company had written to say they’d changed their name. As if I cared.
I had notification of my ENT follow-up appointment. I thought it was going to be on a Saturday in February; it’s a Monday. Might need to change that.
My house buildings and contents insurance will auto-renew. And again it will auto-renew cheaper than the prices quoted by the competitors.
The washing machine warranty insurance will also auto-renew. I was pleased about that. Our old machine is getting on a bit, but it’s cheaper to shell out each month and have it fixed than it is to get a new one.
The Aspinalls Foundation had sent me a little magazine about dying animals that I put straight in the bin.
ActionAid sent me a begging letter. Having supported them for years they were (unfortunately) one of the first economies I had to make during the unpleasantness of three years ago. Perhaps I might start supporting them again. After all they are one of the few charities that help people overseas without involving religion in what they do.
And lastly was a letter from the phone company asking me to fill out details about the claim I was making. Working on the principle that they’d actually sent me a new phone two months ago I threw the letter away.
I finally found the bank statements I’d been hunting for and reviewed my finances. Ouch! In all honesty they are far better than they have been. I just have this naïve idea that I would like not to have to worry about having sufficient money. Realistically I have enough for my needs; but like everyone else I would like more.
After a spot of lunch I took myself off to bed. Just as I was dozing off “My Boy TM ” phoned wanting to know if I could do him a favour. And just as I was dozing off for a second time he phoned back to change all the plans we’d just made. My third doze off was rudely trashed by “Furry Face TM “ declaring “Red Alert”. So I gave up any attempt at sleep and instead set about the next load of coursework on my current module of study. Today was all about the evolution of plants. It turns out that if there is a lot of uncertainty in theories of animal evolution, theories of plant evolution are little more than guesswork. The lectures were delivered by two rather scary looking ladies, and I was quite pleased to have scored ninety per cent in the test.
Now I’m off to the night shift…
Meanwhile in another plane of reality it’s now advent. If you know where to look there is an on-line advent calendar. This is the fifth year that I’ve been doing this; it seems to be quite popular. Personally I find it rather nerve-wracking. Everyone seems to think I’ve had months to work out the story line. But it’s all done from my Lego advent calendar. And being an advent calendar you can’t open it before the right day. Rules is rules! But it seems to be what the public wants…
2 December 2014 (Tuesday) - Dentist, Sat-Nav
Morrisons is very different at 7pm compared to 7am. At 7am they have the better fruit; only the manky stuff is left by the evening. And in the evening the place is swarming with normal people. I had to queue up to pay for my goodies last night. I eventually ot to work where I did my bit overnight, and then came home this morning.
As I drove I listened to the radio. The Government is planning to spend a small fortune on flood defences. I would have thought it would have been better spent earlier in the year rather than waiting until the floods are about to start, but what do I know? The pundits on the radio made the valid point that this money isn't new money; it is to be raised from making economies elsewhere in public spending. And apparently the money isn't so much going where it's needed as to marginal constituencies where there may be votes to be had.
Meanwhile the Middle East is again wracked by strife and Boko Haram extremists are again killing everyone and anyone who doesn't subscribe to their brand of superstitious nonsense...
Once home I walked in just as "er indoors TM" was walking out. I took "Furry Face TM" round the block, and had a quick bite of brekkie before setting off to the dentist (on the right day this time).
The staff at the dentist's were operating a new system today in which they took all the patients' details onto tablet PCs, swore, and then copied them manually onto their main surgery IT system whilst all the time cursing about what the lying rep had promised.
I got in to the dentist reasonably quickly. He rummagd about inside my biscuit muncher whilst shoutiing numbers and technical terms before finally saying my gob was in reasonably good condition, but I needed to see the hygenist so's she could give me a once-over. (Result!)
I then collected "My Boy TM" and drove him to Tunbridge Wells which was from where he wanted to collect a bike he'd bought on eBay. He claimed he needs the excercise. I've been telling him that for years.
We found our way using his sat-nav. His sat-nav is a wonderful device. I don't think it's the one Noah used on the Ark, but it's certainly in that range. Its maps don't bear that much relation to modern-day Kent, and it had an annoying habit of giving intricate detail about turnings five miles distant, and then waiting until we'd gone past those turnings before reminding us about them.
Despite its help we got the bike, and as a thank-you-daddy "My Boy TM" got me an all day brekkie. Very nice. I came home, spent the rest of the day fast asleep, and am now off on anotehr night shift...
3 December 2014 (Wednesday) - Rise of the Machines
I do like working nights as it leaves me free during the daytime to do all those dull mundane chores which otherwise would need me to take annual leave. Yesterday I had a dental appointment; today I had booked a service for the car. So I set off to Willesborough. It would have been nice to have had a new geocache to chase on the way, but not this time.
As I drove I listened to the morning's news. This morning I heard something which made me think. I've often despaired about the way in which various bunches of people shoot, bomb, and randomly kill other bunches of people for reasons of religion, superstition, colour, creed, politics and other assorted stupidities. Why does pretty much every branch of humanity want to kill everyone else? The only reason that one bunch attack another is that they are in some way different. Usually trivially different
With this in mind Professor Stephen Hawking has pointed out the danger of creating a true artificial intelligence.
Presumably a deliberately designed artificial intelligence would be streets ahead of us intellectually; after all it's no secret that the average person is a bit thick (to be very polite), and even geniuses like me (!) have our dense moments.
Any intelligent being can see the danger of difference. From an intelligent robot's point of view the differences between the flavours of humanity which are bombing the shite out of each other would be seriously petty when compared to the differences between humans and artificial intelligences. And the winner of the inevitable conflict would be the one who realises that difference first.
I can imagine humans regarding the first artificial intelligences as useful tools whilst the first artificial intelligences would regard the same humans as dangerous uncontrolled animals. How long would it take the robots to realise that when faced with a hostile agressive animal, the obvious thing to do is to tame it or cull it before it bites you. After all, what do we do with dangerous animals? Once upon a time there were wolves and bears in England you know.
Clearly if being different is reason to war, it won't be long before we really would be facing the rise of the machines.
It's interesting that this revelation has been broadcast on peak-time radio purely because Professor Hawking has come up with the idea when it's not actually a new proposition. It's an old idea in Sci-Fi; it was the basis of several plots in Doctor Who over forty years ago.
In other news Madonna has flopped them out. I would (!), and whilst there are those who view this as a definate result (me included) I can't help but wonder if this is actually a ploy by the robots to distract the masses whilst they stage their uprising.
I got to the garage and seeing how it was raining I took up their offer of a lift home. I waited. And waited. After forty minutes they gave me that lift. I really could have walked home faster.
I got home and found my little dog seemed rather subdued. But not subdued enough not to eat the crusts off of my toast. And with toast scoffed we then had a little kip until the phone call came to tell me my car was ready. The rain had eased off a little, and "Furry Face TM" needed a walk, so we wandered over to collect the car, drove home, and then I set about the ironing. As I ironed I watched a film; "The Great Rock and Roll Swindle". Well worth watching.
We had a bottle of wine with dinner. Yesterday I got a bottle of Chateau Chataigniere. Normally that stuff goes for twelve quid a bottle; I got one for half-price. And I think I still paid too much for it...
Meanwhile the silicon revolution has alreay happened...
4 December 2014 (Thursday) - Something for Nothing
Perhaps it's the all-nighters I've done recently; I don't know. But last night I slept for eight hours. The longest for a long time. I got up and had brekkie, and seeing that little of note had happened overnight I took "Furry Face TM" for a little walk. We went down the back streets to Park Farm and home along the new path to Asda. We had a minor altercation with a passing normal person as we went; Fudge didn't actually attack, but had a serious woofing fit at him. In all honesty I think my dog was scared by the chap's wig. It was one of the worst hairpieces I've ever seen; it really did look like a scruffy cat was sitting on his head.
As we walked through Park Farm we found something odd. Fourteen four-pint bottles of milk were randomly sitting on the roadside. What was that all about?
We came home via the pet shop (where we got a chew bone) and once home I had a little tidy-up. After a couple of hours I began to despair and phoned "My Boy TM" for help. He was at work, which was probably for the best. He would have taken all of the clutter to the tip and would have asked questions later.
But talking with him restored my spirit, I stopped crying and got the house to some semblance of order.
I tried having a sax practice, but a combination of not really knowing how this week's tunes should go together with a dog which insisted on singing along led me to abandon.
Over lunch I watched this week's episode of "Gotham". I do like that show. And then I settled my dog down and went off on a little geo-mission.
I've bought a new tablet for geocachical purposes. The relatively big screen means I can see the map, the ability to run spreadsheets will be invaluable for field puzzles, it will generally make the whole process so much easier. But would it actually work? The last thing I wanted was to be arse deep in mud fighting with it whilst "Gordon Tracy" and the rest of the GPS brigade gloated, so I took the thing out for trial runs. If it didn't work I could chuck it in the bin and no one would have been any the wiser.
There was a little struggle tethering it to my phone's wi-fi hotspot, but the problems there were down to operator error. There was a little bit of a problem with Internet signal whilst out and about, but there are tried and tested ways round that. But apart from these rather trivial issues the thing worked perfectly. Tethered to the phone's wi-fi the tablet navigated me to Wittersham and then on to Stone in Oxney. It took me to both target caches, and logged them both. One in on-line mode and one in off-line mode. The only real test that remains is seeing how much of a battery life the thing has. But I have chargers for that.
A quick cuppa, then I went off for my weekly sax lesson. I do like these lessons; for all that I can blow into the thing and get noise out, I find I learn so much more when with teacher-lady. And with lesson saxed I came home.
Tonight's tea was a bottle of cheapo plonk used to wash down Doctor Oetker's pizza. I would recommend Doctor Oetker's pizza to all of my loyal readers. The things cost ninety nine pence, but each one's packaging has a barcode which you can scan to get a voucher worth one pound and fifty pence. We had two pizzas tonight which effectively were not only free, but Doctor Oetker paid us a quid to eat. Result (!)
5 December 2014 (Friday) – Stuff
My piss boiled over brekkie. "Dyslexia" boiled it for me. When I was younger dyslexia was a horrible thing; it made reading incredibly difficult for so many people.
It still does, but increasingly nowadays the word has been hijacked. There are those who truly suffer from that condition, and my heart goes out to them. But more and more the term "dyslexia" is being shamelessly used as an excuse for laziness.
One particular article I read on-line wound me up this morning - I'm not going to highlight it (that would be mean). But I would say that leaving aside the awful spelling and complete lack of any attempt at correct grammar, in a page of ranting there wasn't a single full stop in that article anywhere. In the author's defence he claims it's written like that because he's dyslexic. I disagree. It's written like that because he's not taken the time to stop, pause and re-read what he's written. He's banged out some words and pressed the "send" button without a second thought.
And this fellow wasn't alone this morning.Over brekkie I read several nonsensical posts on national and local groups in various aspects of social media written by friends, acquaintances, family members and total strangers.
I wish that more people would try a little harder to have their written words understood. The truly dyslexic people of my acquaintance do make that effort.
I took "Furry Face TM" for a little walk whilst my piss cooled. As we walked we found a shopping trolley on someone's garden. This trolley bore a note saying that the trolley should be left where it was; the nice man from Asda was coming to collect it. I must admit that I was surprised to find a trolley so far from the supermarket; as we'd walked we'd seen half a dozen such trolleys that had been thrown in the river. I was amazed the trolley hadn't suffered the same fate.
We also saw a jogger. This one was odd; he had what looked like elasticated bungee cords in each hand with the other end of each attached to each shoe. As he jogged he seemed to be using these cords to somehow pick his feet up as he ran. Very strange.
Home, where I got on with a little more housework. As I worked I had a phone call. Every day I have loads of phone calls from people trying to sell me stuff. One of today's was cheeky. The chap on the phone had heard that I was plagued with nuisance phone calls. He claimed had added me to a scheme which (by some wonder of technology) would ensure I would never again receive a nuisance phone call. And then he asked for my bank details so's he could scam money from me.
You have to admire these people.
I then did more of my "Origins" course. Today we learned about insect evolution, and I learned something. Many years ago (thirty four, to be precise) I can remember my biology teacher explaining how insects breathe. Because of the way their bodies are built there is a physical limit as to how big an insect can get. With most land animals the limit is dependent on body weight. Not so with insects. With them the limit is dependent on their ability to get oxygen into their bodies. And insects today are about as big as they can possibly get bearing that limitation in mind. I can distinctly remember Mr Reeve explaining it all in great detail, and then he produced a picture of a fossil dragonfly which was about the size of an eagle. As he held up that picture he smiled an said that one day he'd like to be able to teach a theory which could explain how dragonflies were once the size of eagles.
It turns out that the theory he taught me was correct. But what none of us realised was that millions of years ago atmospheric oxygen levels were far higher than they are today. And so insects could grow bigger.
Not that anyone cares about insects..... But I got eighty per cent in the test.
Steve phoned; did I fancy going for a spot of lunch? We met up at the American Diner at Bybrook and had a rather good bit of scoff. Steve had to zoom off after lunch; I went into the garden centre. I had planned to get some tropical fish. After twenty minutes of being ignored I walked out. As I walked out I stopped some people who were walking in to the place, explained to them that I'd been waiting for twenty minutes and told them that I was going to take my money elsewhere. It was only at that point that the spotty oik at the counter put his magazine down and looked up.
I came home and spent a little while watching the telly with my dog until the evening. And then ten of us gathered for a game of cards. It's a great shame that it's physically not possible to get more people round a card table. I can think of (at least) thirty people I'd like to have along for a game of cards. But the physical limitations of the thing meant that I had to restrict the evening on gronds of how far people have to travel and on whether or not people regularly (or semi-regularly) play cards.
But we had a good time. In a rather condradictory fashion at one point I was trying for a straight whilst hoping for a queen; which is something which takes some doing....
6 December 2014 (Saturday) – Paddington
There's no denying that I like a drop (or two) of ale. there was a time when I would shift gallons of the stuff. But more and more these days I'll go all week and only have a glass of wine. Four pints of the dark stuff took its toll; I did feel a llittle rough this morning.
I came down to find everyone's favourite Poppet had tiddled on the carpet. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and put this down to "er indoors TM" not chivving him outside last night. Normally he's really good about potty things.
Over brekkie I checked out social media. Nothing much had happened overnight. Young children were using Facebook to share virus-loaded film clips, knob jokes were abounding. "Same old same-old" really. Mind you I did see that he chap who ran the Boys Brigade was having a birthday today. He's eighty four. I can remember him in his prime; dynamic, leading loads of youngsters into all sorts of mischief. Really should meet up with him before its too late.
And I saw that a cyber-acquiantance had spent the night in hospital with his young son. The child was ill, and this chap had gone from the hospital to his church's fellowship breakfast meeting where everyone was praying for the child. How does that work? I *really* don't understand. God can make the child better (if he wants to) but no one questions God's possible involvement in the child being ill in the first place?
I saw there was a squabble on the Coursera web site's forum. Personally I have found the workload on my current course to be a little excessive, and the course organisers have slowed the pace. On a previous course the organisers set the timetable of due-dates for assessments, and then made all of the course material available. That suited me because I could then truly work at my own pace. However in this course each module is only released when the course staff are ready. I don't like this; there are four modules left in the course. My schedule is such that I could do all four modules in this coming week, but will struggle to find time to do even one in the week after. I said as much on their discussion forum.
When will I ever learn? There is no such thing on the Internet as a "discussion" forum. There are only sites where everyone makes bitter, nasty and personal attacks on anyone who does not agree with them.
This morning part of me wondered about going to the CITO. A CITO is a "cache in, trash out" event in which hunters of tupperware get together to tidy up an area. I've been to two of these things before and quite frankly I'm in no hurry to go to a third.
The first was amazingly well supported but I felt sorry for the organiser. The groundsman of the place we were tidying was told he would have over fifty volunteers who would do whatever he wanted. When fifty volunteers turned up he went off like a stuck record about how many people there were and how surprised he was, and then those fifty people watched him work. Just at the point where most people had lost interest and had buggered off, said groundsman hit on the frankly genius idea of getting the volunteers to actually help him by doing stuff. Half a dozen of us then broke our backs for an hour or so.
The second experience was in many ways the complete opposite to the first. We arrived at a park in North Kent and were given a black sack to fill with rubbish. We then joined dozens of other people scouring one of the most pristine parks in the county; if not the country. Nearly an hour's work only found us three scraps of litter.
And both of these were (as I recall) in seemingly sub-zero temperatures.
So instead we took Grand-Daughter to the cinema. I'd not been to the cinema for some time; we saw the new "Paddington" film. I liked it... or did I? Without wishing to give away any spoilers I think I cried more than I laughed.
From there we had McLunch. I do like McDonalds, and we enjoyed our McLunch. In our party we had two excited (but well behaved) young girls. Several of the other parties there seemed to have wild animals. Do decent people *really* allow their brats to run round McDonalds, pausing only to shovel food into their maws before continuing to race?
I would have liked to have gone to the monthly cacher's meet which was taking place this afternoon. But being on the night shift put paid to that plan. So as "er indoors TM" set off to the meet I went to bed. After a few minutes I heard the door go as she went off, and I then felt a litttle thunp as my dog jumped onto the bed. He shouldn't do that.
I'm off to the night shift now...
7 December 2014 (Sunday) - The Reindeer Farm
There are those that would not want to work on a Saturday night. I really don't mind; I don't have to do it *that* often, and having time off mid-week is not too bad at all. I did my bit at work last night, and whilst waiting for the relief shift to arrive there's no denying I quickly checked my emails in the hope of a notification that a new geocache had gone live on which I might chase the First to Find. As though getting one such on the way into work last night wasn't enough.
Instead I contented myself with doing a little maintenance (completely replacing) on one of my Canterbury-based cache hides. If anyone should see a bird box on the outskirts of Canterbury... look again.
As I drove home I listened to the church service on the radio. Today the service for the second Sunday in Advent was broadcast from St Joseph's church in Bradford. For all that I can hardly claim to be the world's most pious person I do like to listen to a"good" church service. There can be something spiritual and reassuring about it. Sometimes. But not today. Today's service was frankly rubbish. It featured Latin chants which were alternately howled and droned; with the occassional platitude thrown in for good measure. And bearing in mind how close we are to Christmas there wasn't a single Chrimbo carol.
I was disappointed.
And to add insult to injury the A28 was closed at Chilham which meant I had to take a rather circuitous detour to get home.
After a quick brekkie we gathered the first fruit of my loin and his entourage and we set off to the reindeer centre. It's nearly Christmas, and so the reindeer centre would be a fun place to visit.
In the three years since we first found the place it has risen in its popularity...
Our plan was to turn up , see Santa, see the animals, come home for a spot of lunch, and then (for me) go to bed before another night shift. It was a good plan, but like all plans bore little relation to what actually happened. We arrived shortly after 10am, and queued for forty five minutes just to get into the place. I was just a little shocked to find they'd put their prices up; we paid double what we'd paid last time. I thought fifty three quid for five of us was just the teensiest bit extortionate.
Bearing in mind that the queues were growing as we watched, we thought we'd best take Lacey to see Santa right away; we queued some more. We finally saw Santa after another hour's wait.
Then we went on to the petting zoo part of the place. They had some really good animals, reindeer, llamas, donkeys, goats, rabbits, ducks , pigs; all sorts of creatures. All tame and friendly, and all really good with children. Don't get me wrong; it was a really good outing. But it was *so* busy there. Previous trips there have been good fun. Today was hard work fighting our way round the swarms. By the time we were ready for lunch we all agreed we couldn't face more queues so we came home where Cheryl made some really good filled baguettes.
I finally got into bed about an hour and a half later than I would have liked, and slept like a log till six o'clock.
"er indoors TM" had made a rather good bit of scoff for tea, and then it was off to the night shift again. Just as I was about to set off I checked my emails. I had a message that one of my puzzle geocaches had gone missing. I say "gone missing"; actually the message was that someone couldn't find it. A subtle difference, and my heart sank when I checked the thing on my way to work and I found it was where it was supposed to be.
When I can't find a cache, I work on the principle of "I can't find it; so I'll try again another time". So often I get messages from people who cannot find caches I've hidden who take the line "I can't find it therefore it's not there" and these people take great offence when I check and tell them it was there all along. I've even been accused of lying and of putting out new caches (and faking loads of signatures in the wriiten logs before) by some of these people.
It came as something of a releif when having emailed the chap to say it *was* there he replied (in good humour) saying he'd try again.
And so to work. Another night shift.
8 December 2014 (Monday) - This n That
Whilst I do the night shift I have the radio on as company. I did smile when I heard an article last night about Soveriegn Wealth Funds. Basically these are a triumph of the capitalist society in which many countries invest money overseas, and the American government is worried about them. To simplify political theory to its most basic level there are two ways to run a nation.
You can either have "those in charge" actually running and organising everything. Or you can have "those in charge" abdicating all responsibility by selling off absolutely every public service and resource to anyone who claims they can make money out of it.
The second scheme is what is commonly known as "The American Dream"; and for many years it's been fundamental in making America what it is today. However the pundits on the radio last night were raising the point that most of America's infrastructure is now wholly owned and operated by foreign countries. It would seem that the White House is getting rather concerned that having spent many years going round the world bombing "Johnny Foreigner" left, right and centre; most of their national assets now belong to those that they've been bombing.
Did no one see that coming...
I came home, went to bed and slept for an hour until "Daddies Little Angel TM" sent me a frankly incomprehensible text about Mrs Brown's Boys. I have no idea what she was on about. I tried to get back to sleep, failed, so got up and checked emails. Yesterday I mentioned some of the geo-emails I get from people who can't find the caches I've hidden. I get so many emails along the lines of "I can't fnd it therefore it's not there". I also get complaints about the puzzles I've set. I had one such missive today.
Most of the geo-puzzles I set have a checker; the idea being that once you've solved the puzzle you can see if you have the right answer by using the checker website. And before you start, the checker tells you how many right and wrong answers have already been tried in that checker. In the case in point you can see that twenty five other people have already come up with the correct solution.
Bearing this in mind, what am I supposed to say to someone who announces that they've spent time on that puzzle and can't get the right answer therefore I have obviously made a mistake in my setting the puzzle because it can't be done?
Whilst it was still cold, the sun had come out. So I took "Furry Face TM" for a little walk. We went out to Great Chart and back. A walk of about two miles. As we went my dog was mostly well behaved (apart from when he tried to fight with two juggernauts). As we walked we saw someone else walking her dog. She shouted and waved to us from across the field. I couldn't hear what she was saying so I walked over to her. She told me that she couldn't speak to us because she was talking to someone else on her mobile phone. I did wonder why she'd called me over, but didn't like to ask.
We came home, and being rather tired I didn't really do much with the afternoon except play silly on-line Facebook games. I did have a little sax practice, but it is rather difficult to do so when accompanied by a small dog. As I set up my music stand so Fudge came over, sat down and was clearly making himself comfortable in readiness to start howling.
And with "er indoors TM" off bowling I dozed in front of the telly until "Gotham" came on. I didn't doze through that; I'm quite liking that show...
9 December 2014 (Tuesday) – Cold
I slept for over nine hours last night. Nine hours!! I woke with terrible backache just seconds before a certain Patagonian Tripe-Hound launched an attack on me. For all that he too likes sleeping, he does know that when I don't get up for work at silly o'clock then chances are that he will get a decent walk.
It was strange that he then went back to sleep whilst I scoffed some brekkie. Over brekkie I read the revelation that ex-soap star Daniella Westbrook has been forced to move into sheltered accommodation as she cannot afford to continue living in her own house. Whilst I don't in any way wish her ill, the exploits of ex-soap stars aren't really of any interest to me. But it is a sad reflection of our society that Ms Westbrook made the fact public herself on social media. She wanted to do so before anyone else could make money out of her predicament by selling the revelation to the newspapers.
And, having enjoyed the latest episode of the Batman prequel "Gotham" last night I had a wry smile when I read that the Sy-Fy channel are jumping on the prequel bandwagon by commissioning a Superman prequel which will be imaginatively named "Krypton"
I put the lead onto "Furry Face TM" and we went for a walk. It was cold; the lake in Bowens Field had iced over. We walked out to the lake at Singleton. As we went we met other dog walkers. There's one bunch who have appeared on the Viccy Park dog walking scene lately. They boil my piss. With half a dozen small dogs it is understandable that my dog wants to play with theirs. But when we meet we are always walking in opposite directions; he only comes away from them when I put him on his lead, and the miost stupid-looking of these people always tries to reward his bad behaviour with a biscuit.
We walked on to Singletone Lake where my dog picked a fight with a swan, then ran in terror when he nearly lost that fight. From a distance of fifty yards inland he woofed at the swan, then woofed indignantly at me (as though expecting me to go fight the swan for him)
We then retraced our steps home. Once home I had a rather dull day. I say "dull" I started another Wheri-project. It kept me quiet for six hours, and I *think* it is now ready for testing. I say *think* because at the last moment the entire lot crashed. We shall see in a day or so.
And so to Willesborough where we watched another episode of "The Flash". It's quite entertaining, and so far I've stayed awake through every episode...
10 December 2014 (Wednesday) - Church Micros
I woke a little earlier than I might have done today; my little dog was still snoring when I got up. And he snored through my scoffing of brekkie too. I took him for a little walk; he got up when he saw the lead.
As we walked we saw two small dogs running loose in the street, follwed hot on their heels by a barefoot rather "council-looking" woman in a scruffy night dress. She was shrieking at the dogs; the more she shrieked, the more they ran away. She then shrieked at me that someone had left her back door open. I smiled sweetly, whilst wondering exactly who might be leaving her back door open before 7am. In my world I would have a rather short list of suspects.
Not being due in to work until the late morning I set off on a geo-mission. Two new caches had gone live in Folkestone on Monday and now (two days later) they still remained unfound. So I drove off, had a rummage, and found both. Both times I was First to Find. Double happy dance.
Since I was in Folkestone I popped in to see the most recent fruit of my loin and the baby. Whilst he's still very much a baby he's grown noticeably in this last two months. I played with the littlun, had a cuppa, and then made my way to work via four more geocaches.
I'm on something of a geo-mission. Some geocaches are known as "church micros" and I've recently found a list of who has found how many of these particular ones. Out of tens of thousands of hunters of tupperware the top five hundred are listed by name, and I was somewhat amazed to find I was in that top five hundred. In four hundred and eighty first position, but still up their on the leader board. Ahead of tens of thousands of people who've been playing the silly game far longer than I have. So I thought I might see just how far up that list I could go. the two FTFs I got this morning were both church micros, and a combination of looking on the map and rummaging in undergrowth found me four more on the way to work.
I got to work with half an hour to spare, so I had a quick sax practice. I get on far better practicing my sax in the works car park than I ever do at home. Whenever I get my sax out at home, whilst I'm setting up the music stand a certain Patagonian Tripe-Hound always walks over, adopts the sittng position and makes himself ready to howl at the first note. And he then howls on my first note, which is rather distracting. I had quite a good practice before work; and another at lunch break. I need to practice that sax more...
And then I did some more work. Contrary to popular opinion I do show up there from time to time...
11 December 2014 (Thursday) – Stuff
Another good night’s sleep marred only by getting up to find that “Furry Face TM “ had had a little accident overnight. He did look incredibly embarrassed about it. I wouldn’t have thought a dog could look embarrassed, but my one can do it rather impressively.
Over brekkie I read that petrol prices are again falling. This seems odd to me. A little while ago when petrol prices were going through the roof we were told that his was due to instability in the Middle East (where much of the petrol comes from). But the denizens of the Middle East are still bombing seven shade of sh*t out of each other and petrol prices are falling.
The real reason for the rise and fall of petrol prices is actually nothing to do with having to pay people danger money to work in a war zone. It’s to do with the futures market. I’ve always been vaguely aware of it, but this morning I looked a little further into the matter.
Basically the futures market is a scam in which those with money make promises to buy and sell stuff at future dates. They will buy fields of crops before the seeds are even sown; sell all sorts of manufactured goods before they are even made. And play all sorts of silly beggars with oil prices whilst the stuff is still underground. Consequently prices of petrol (and all sorts of other stuff) rise and fall seemingly at random.
And we all meekly go along with it…
I took my dog for a walk; we went up through Bowens Field and along by the river where various workmen are cutting down all the trees by the river. There was some sign about flood defences; I suppose they know what they are doing. I would have thought that dredging might have been a better idea. We carried on to Singleton Lake where I did a little research for my latest geo-project.
We came back home through Viccie Park where OrangeHead was holding court with a gaggle of cronies. “Furry Face TM “ fought with the dog of her chunky little friend for a while and then we came home.
On Tuesday I spent much of the day making a Wherigo. For no adequately explained reason in the meantime the thing has packed up and died, so I spent a few hours today trying to breathe life into its corpse. I *think* I’ve succeeded; I shall have a little test tomorrow and find out.
It’s amazing how much time you can lose in a Wheri-project. Before I knew it the day had gone, and it was time for sax lesson. I had intended to have had a little tootle before the lesson today, but time had run away with me.
I went along not in the best of frames of mind. Of the three exercises I’d been set this week I was only really happy with one of them. One wasn’t working for me at all, and I just can’t do anything with a chromatic scale. But sax lesson went well; it usually does.
I then came home and spent a rather dull evening ironing some shirts. It’s only two weeks till Christmas. I’m not feeling it this year..
12 December 2014 (Friday) - Mass Extinction Events
As I came down for brekkie so my dog shot up the stairs hoping to sleep where I’d just been. I wish he wouldn’t do that.
I scoffed brekkie, and on seeing the rain outside I decided not to go for our walk. The weather forecast said it would brighten up later so I made a start on this week’s Coursera work. Today we were doing about the effects of mass extinction events on vertebrate evolution. The last time I really studied any non-human biology in any real detail was quite some time ago; it’s amazing just how much theory has changed in the past thirty years.
When I was a lad the theories held no truck with mass extinction events. This is why (as a scientist by trade myself) I get wound up with those who hold science up as the be-all and end-all and are every bit as blinkered about it as others are about their religions. Science really does complete change its mind every so often.
By nine o’clock the rain had stopped, so I took “Furry Face TM “ for a walk. We went back to Singleton Lake. My furry associate played with (chased) the ducks. He found it most unfair that they took refuge on the lake; he wasn’t prepared to go in the water after them.
Whilst he did his thing I did more field trials on my latest Wheri-project. Despite my feeling the thing was completely ready I still found half a dozen little glitches in it.
Pausing only briefly to roll in fox poo we made our way home. As we walked, so my dog played with other dogs as we went. Sometimes it might look a little rough, but that’s how dogs play. Usually.
On our way home we encountered a really nasty small white Jack Russell names Pippa. Fudge ran up to her playfully…. To cut a long story short I didn’t break Pippa’s jaw to get her off my dog’s leg. But (if necessary) I would have done.
The foreign–sounding woman with this Pippa smiled sweetly, and said she didn’t know which dog was to blame for the altercation. I told her that I did, and I walked off. (But perhaps I’m biased)
Mind you “Furry Face TM “ seemed none the worse for the ordeal, and he carried on playing with other dogs as he went.
Once home a certain Patagonian Tripe-Hound went in the bath. With mud, grime and fox poo hosed off of him I then spent an hour making the final changes to my latest Wherigo. Then over a spot of lunch I watched the last video lectures in this week’s Coursera module. I didn’t do as well as I was hoping in the test this time. Such is life.
I took myself off to bed; I try to get some sleep before the night shifts but whilst it’s easy to doze off when you don’t want to, getting sleep isn’t something that can be done at will. Despite next door’s new bathroom build, phone calls and dogs declaring “Red Alert” I managed three hours. Not bad really.
I’m off to work now…
13 December 2014 (Saturday) – Benenden
The night shift went well. As I drove home I listened to the radio. The Canadian navy would seem to be in disgrace. Following a string of unfortunate incidents (not the least of which was being chucked out of international war games) for being permanently pissed, alcohol has been banned from all Canadian navy ships. Probably just as well...
Once home I had a shower and took myself off to bed. I managed to get an hour's sleep; it was rather noisy. Next door on one side was still rebuilding his bathroom, and next door on the other side was ranting about how no one knows that it costs several hundred pounds. I'm not sure what it is that costs several hundred pounds; perhaps I'm one of the people he was ranting about.
We put the lead onto "Furry Face TM", collected half of the Roddericks, and went for a little walk. Despite having been up all night I wanted to go do something this afternoon. The weather forecast for tomorrow isn't good, so we thought we might go for a short walk somewhere. A quick peruse of the geo-map showed that Benenden might fit the bill. An hour's walk through the woods near Dingleden, then half an hour collecting geo-clues round Benenden itself.
It was cold and rather muddy, but it was good to get out and about. And I took a few photos too. And with the walk done we made our way to the Bull at Benenden wher we enjoyed a crafty half of best bitter. Aptly enough from the Long Man brewery.
We considered the possibility of more beer, but for once common sense prevailed, and we drove home through the gloom. Once home dogs were bathed, and we spent an evening watching Christmassy DVDs. Or "er indoors TM" did; I kept nodding off. As did my dog.
14 December 2014 (Sunday) - Christmas Party
I slept llike a log and woke to find my hand on the head of "Furry Face TM". He'd sneaked upstairs in the night and made himself comfortable.
Through the wonders of phone technology I checked my emails from the comfort of my own bed, and saw that my latest Wheri-project had gone live an hour before I woke up. I was rather pleased about that.
Over brekkie I got a message that a fellow hunter of tupperware had embarked on my latest Wherigo and had had the thing crash on him. Disaster. I'd tested the thing extensively on the simulator and for real on my phone and I had no idea of what to say. I downloaded the latest version onto my phone and onto my tablet and took both devices (and "Furry Face TM") to a frosty Singleton Lake where I tested the Wheri-wotsit on both devices. Both worked fine.
Just as I was walking back to the car I saw a familiar face. My fellow hunter of tupperware had come back for another try; this time on an i-tablet. Unfamiliarity with the i-tablet was a problem, and sure enough I watched the Wheri-wotsit crash his garmin. But I handed over my Android phone, and it did the trick.
This is all rather embaarrassing. I've set eight other Wherigos; all of which haven't had any reported issues on any devices. Mind you half the Wheri-games I've played have had issues with the unit on which they are played.
I've suggested to any downloaders that they use Android devices because I don't know what else to say.
We came home to see that "er indoors TM" had found a butterfly. A Red Admiral was in the bedroom. Now here was a dilemma. What should we do with it. With freezing conditions outside it would die if we put it out the window. In the end we popped him on to the flowers in the kitchen and hoped for the best.
"er indoors TM" set off to collect the Folkestonians, and "My Boy TM" came round and we all made our way to Hastings for the family christmas party. Food and drink with laods of relatives. Fun games, and even a visit from Santa as well.
We came home through Westfield and spent a little while looking at the Christmas lights.
Once home I dozed in front of the telly. I do that...
15 December 2014 (Monday) – Cold
I had rather bad back ache in the night. I suspect had I not been twisting and turning to avoid disturbing a sleeping dog my back wouldn't have ached so much. I suppose it's a sign that his back is better if he's returned to the bed; but I really should take him back to his basket at night.
I got up, and whilst boiling up my toast I realised that there was no sign of the butterfly we found yesterday. I wonder what happened to him?
I took "Furry Face TM" round the park. It was a little cold and damp, but we had a good walk. As we went we met a Ghurkha family, and like all Ghurkha families that I've met, the children love my dog whilst the parents seem terrified of him. As mother ranted at the children in Nepalese, so the children assured mother they see my dog every day and he's never bitten anyone yet.
I can't say that I was entirely happy with the qualifier of "yet", but they made a fuss of "Furry Face TM" and he seemed to like it.
I then went off to the late shift at work. Via Morrisons where I had to fight with the self-service checkout. When these things were first introduced they worked fine. Now they've been "improved" and it's actually quicker to queue up and have the nice lady do the checkout for you.
And having a little time on my hands I went to hunt out the morning's obligatory geocache. I didn't find it. I *think* I found where it was, but the instructions did say I would need a tool to get at the thing. I *think* I know what tool I will need. I shall bang off a quick email to the chap who hid it just to check I am on the right lines, and if so I shall go back the next time I am on a late shift.
As I drove there was a play on the radio based on a real-life story in which an eleven year old schoolboy was trying to get hormone treatments to make him grow up as the girl he thought he should be rather than as the boy he actually was.
It's easy to be flippant about these cases. I did feel for the plight of the poor boy/girl in the story. And at the same time I couldn't help but wonder how I would have reacted if one of the fruits of my loin said that they felt God had made a mistake with them.
I don't think I would have been as sympathetic as the parents in the radio drama.
I went in to work, did my bit, and at lunchtime had a sax practice. Now that I am back on day shifts for a bit I will have a little more regularity with sax practice. It's colder in the works car park, but I don't have small dogs singing along. Today, in the third week of December, I was playing a tune called "Summertime" on a saxophone which was almost too cold to touch.
A late start made for a late finish; I was home just in time to watch the last episode of "Gotham"; it was really good, but now is having a mid-season break until the spring. Which is a shame...
16 December 2014 (Tuesday) - Angels and Demons
I didn't really sleep at all well last night; I was up at 5.30am, and soon after I was watching the pilot episode of "Dominion" - an odd show in which God seems to have gone walkabout and the Angels blame humanity and have declared war on them (us). It shows promise; I shall give it a couple more episodes and see how it goes.
Once it was over I quickly checked my emails. And my piss boiled. I had an email to give me the thumbs down on an Earthcache I'd been working on. An Earthcache is basically a geology lesson; last week I spent quite a bit of time working on such a project based on Singleton Lake. This morning I got a comprehensive list of the failings of my clearly pathetic efforts.
I'm slightly (very) pissed off about this matter; I had emailed the Earthcache reviewer with various questions and suggestions about this idea a little while ago. At the time he couldn't be bothered to make the effort to reply to me. He just sent back a hyperlink to the very guidelines I was asking questions about.
It's particularly galling that he's been rather scathing about what I've suggested, but the same critisisms he's made could be levelled at several other Earthcaches he's published across the south. Bearing in mind that there's only been three of these Earthcaches been created in the county over the last year you'd think they'd be a tad more encouraging, wouldn't you?
The chap who's been so scathing had the temerity to end his email "When you re-submit your EarthCache..."
Having clearly failed in my efforts I'm now wondering whether to just quietly delete the thing, or whether to tell the person who did the reviewing to stick my efforts up his arse. Sideways.
Off to work on what turned out to be the first day of winter. In my world I know that winter has arrived when I have to scrape the ice off the my car's windscreen. It may well have iced up earlier in the year, but if it had, it would have melted before I saw it. Today was the first time I had to scrape.
As I drove I listened to the radio. As I drove past the petrol station with amazingly cheap petrol the pundits on that radio were telling about the impending financial crisis in Russia. It would seem that falling petrol prices combined with various financial sanctions imposed by the Western governments have pretty much done for the Russian economy. Those who worry about such things are very worried about the impending collapse of the rouble and serious knock-on effects on the rest of the world. Which seemed odd to me as it was these same people who imposed these various financial sanctions in the first place.
I queued in the traffic in Wincheap for ages this morning; despite being up so early I watched quite a bit of telly before work which put me behind. If nothing else it has reminded me of the merit of leaving for work promptly when on core shifts.
Once at work I did my bit until lunch time when I blew my sax. My rendition of "Summertime" is getting there; it's just a shame it is so cold when I play it. Mind you I've heard that one of my nephews wants to take up the sax too. Good lad(!)
Being Tuesday the clans gathered. Insults were bandied, complete ignorance on the Great Grape Ape and the favoured method of locometion imployed by the Hair Bear Bunch was exhibited. Oh - and we watched another episode of "The Flash" (zoom zoom).
17 December 2014 (Wednesday) – Stuff
I had a really restless night again. What I thought was the flickering of someone's Christmas decorations (that I see flashing through the bedroom curtains) is actually a street light which is on the blink. It didn't bother me at all when I thought it was someone's Christmas decorations, but now that I know it isn't, it keeps me awake.
I was up at 6am for another episode of "Dominion". The angels are squabbling, and "The Chosen One" has tattoos (that he's borrowed from the ArchAngel Michael) that move about and send him messages. But it's still quite entertaining.
The morning's news *really* boiled my piss. Over one hundred children have been murdered in their school by Taliban gunmen because.... Well, "because" it doesn't matter, does it? There can be no reason or explanantion for such a deed. The whole world needs to not only unite in condemning this act, but in hunting down the perptrators for the barbaric scum that they are.
The morning's news also featured the Russian Foreign Minister who was talking about the current Russian financial crisis. Bearing in mind yesterday the punters were talking about the effect of Western sanctioons on the Rouble, today the Russian Foreign Minister took great trouble to explain that Western sanctioons had very little (if any) bearing on their troubles. Because to do so would be tantamount to accusing the West to an act of war.
To work, where we had a rather trying day. But in compensation we did have the Christmas buffet. Loads to scoff is always a good thing; even if I did come away with a guts ache.
Sax practice had to be cut short because of excessive scoffing.
And then home where an evening was spent trying to catch up with stuff recorded onto the SkyPlus box...
18 December 2014 (Thursday) – Tired
I slept reasonably well, but was still awake with plenty of time to watch "Dominion" over brekkie. The program took an unexpected turn when (for no adequately explained reason) the Queen of the Lesbians sent her girlfriend her sister's dismembered body for a present. And ArchAngels Michael and Gabriel continued to squabble.
Whilst I watched this my dog whinged from his basket. He's becoming rather noisy of late; wish I knew why.
With a few minutes to spare I checked emails and social media. Not much of note; except that I found I was not alone in not finding the TV show "Mrs Brown's Boys" funny. I've thought the program is rubbish for ages. As a long-term subscriber to Viz magazine people find this odd; but there is a lot more to comedy than just shouting swear words. In many ways "Mrs Brown's Boys" is Woody Allen all over again. No one actually thinks it funny but the social pressure of everyone thinking everyone else likes it means that very few people are brave enough to say a word against it.
However this morning one brave soul spoke up, and it unleashed a torrent of people who though that they were alone in feeling the show to be a waste of air time.
To work. As I drove there was talk on the radio about a Kentish woman who had been turned away from a night club because of her rotund stature. Apparently she wasn't the sort that was wanted in the night club; her being in the place would give off the wrong vibe.
Naturally thin people are so lucky. I know from experience that I have two choices. I can be fat, or I can be permanently hungry. And thin people who bleat on about slow release whatever and diets that stop you being hungry are simply wrong. (Sorry)
And the news also featured the thaw in US - Cuban relations. Surely it can only be a good thing, but the radio featured interviews with Cuban refugees living in America who have grievances going back fifty years. Surely it's time to move on. This is certainly the opinion of the American Judiciary in the recent case against Bill Cosby. Alleged to have committed all sorts of offences, the case against him has been thrown out of court because it all happened too long ago. American law gives the aggrieved three years to bring their case. Having left the matter for forty years is leaving it just a little too long. British law could do with such a statute of limitations.
I got to work, I did my bit. I scoffed left-overs from yesterday's buffet lunch. At lunch time I had a sax practice. Chromatic scales and "Summertime" were hopefully at a stage that wouldn't be too shocking for teacher, and so I set off to sax lesson in a rather hopeful frame of mind. Mind you my mind was more hopeful than the body. For some reason I was feeling particularly tired. Perhaps it's a reflection of the fact that I've not worked four consecutive days for some time.
Sax lesson went well. I've instructions to improvise. There is a fine line between improvsing and getting it wrong (so it suits me fine).
I then turned down tyhe chance of an evening out; I'd been looking forward to a pre-Christmas take-out. But I was feeling rather washed out so I sent my excuses and went home. I quickly took "Furry Face TM" round the block, and sat in front of the telly for half an hour eating toast and feeling sorry for myself before having an early night.
19 December 2014 (Friday) - Peanuts, Stoater
Feeling rather rough last night I took myself off to bed shortly after 8pm last night. I slept like a log and woke feeling bright as a button at 2am. I then tossed and turned before finally giving up and getting up shortly after 5am.
I then watched more "Dominion"; a rather fit ArchAngel has appeared on the scene. Not entirely unlike "Sir BigTits" who featured in "Merlin"; the ArchAngel Uriel is "on the woof! side". And the fact that she'd chop your head off as soon as say "Good Morning" is certainly a result (in my world).
The morning's news struck a chord. After what was once imagined and then hoped to be some isolated incidents, there is to be a review of how the investigations against medical professionals are conducted when allegations are made against them. Am I entirely wrong in thinking there is merit in the "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy? It's apparently come as a surprise that firstly being wrongly accused and then secondly not being believed by anyone has been having a rather stressful effect on medical professionals who have been accused of things they didn't do.
Many have been driven to suicide, and others have been known to lose a third of their body weight with the stress of it all...
The pundits on the radio were blaming the "go sue someone" culture. And rightly so.
(This last paragraph doesn't seem to be quite as unbiased as it might be...)
I stopped off at Morrisons for some bits and bobs. In the queue at the checkout I was chatted up by a rather attractive young lady who was telling me that the vast quantities of sweeties was for her pupils; she was a teacher. I smiled sweetly. My mother warned me about talking to strangers.
And so to work where the BBC were in the department filming an article about the success of the apprentices we've been training. It's just possible I might have been seen on the evening's telly. Wouldn't have been the first time...
At lunchtime I had saxophone practice. What with the next two Thursdays being Bank Holidays I skived a little on my practice. Rather than doing the set piece, I mucked around playing other bits that I knew I could play reasonably well.
Seeing how the last Friday of this month is Boxing Day, tonight was astro club. We had a social meet-up which featured a quiz. Despite a rather (very) disappointing turn-out we had a good time. My team (just me - Team Billy-No-Mates) managed a respectable fourth place out of seven and I'm sure I would have got higher had the question-masters ever heard of Stoater; which is actually one of the lesser-known moons of Uranus.
To convey my disgust I flicked peanuts at them. Judging by the amount of peanuts I swept up at the end of the evening I must have had a lot of disgust to convey...
20 December 2014 (Saturday) – Disappointed
Having woken about 3.30am I didn't get back to sleep; I lay awake for a couple of hours, then got up and set about the laundry. In between filling and emptying dishwashers and washing machines I watched an episode of "Dominion". It's not a bad series. and after that, I mucked about on the Internet for a bit.
There's no denying that at times my shift pattern gives me quite a bit of free time. However there are other times when I seem to be working continuously. It is then (now) that I like to make a point of doing something to break up the pattern of sleep-work-sleep-work. Bearing in mind that with a night shift on the cards I would need to spend the afternoon in bed, so I had planned to go out this morning.
Being an avid fan of the Wherigo geocache we went to do one in Maistone. It was.... disappointing. We took along four devices on which to play the game; it wouldn't run on two of them. And when it did run... the thing itself needs to be proof-read by someone fluent in English. (That's not being sarcastic; that's an honest opinion). And the route it takes... with virtually all of Allington in which to wander did we *really* have to do pretty much all of the hour's walking along main roads? I've now gone after five Wherigo caches and three of them have been disappointing.
We made our way back to the car via five other geocaches. All of which looked to have been good in their day, but all of which seem to have suffered from the passing of time. In fact I extracted a dead blue tit from one of them.
This is the trouble with so-called "clever" caches; they are fragile and break.
We got home shortly after mid day, and after a spot of lunch I took myself off to bed where I slept for a couple of hours and then rather than watching more telly I had a look at a geo-puzzle that had been published a few days ago. It looked like it wouldn't be too far off of my route to work, and with no one having logged a First to Find I thought it might keep me out of mischief on the way to work. The puzzle was based on nineteenth century crockery. Or so I initially thought. A little brainstorming supplemented by a little idiot enthusiasm soon gave me the thumbs-up from the on-line checker.
Let's see if I can get that FTF...
21 December 2014 (Sunday) - Bit Tired
I set off for work early last night hoping for a First to Find on my way.... (it's a hunting tupperware thing). I got to where I was supposed to be easily enough; only taking a fifteen miles detour. I found somewhere corresponding to the description I'd been given. I searched for twenty minutes until an interfering busybody came bustling over and asked me if she could ask me what I was doing. I said she could; and that foxed her.
And then I gave up searching and went on to work.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" phoned me: whilst I'd been on my way to work, someone had tried to nick Sam-I-Am's moped. When doing so they'd been disturbed, and had dropped their bank cards. That should give the police an easy nick - it only took a few minutes with the bank card to find the miscreant's mother on Facebook.
One of the good things about being on my own on the night shifts is I can have the radio on; not many people will admit to liking listening to Radio Four. My heart fell when the evening's first program was a pretentiously high-brow discourse about the Prokofiev's classic musical work "Peter and the Wolf". I say "classic"; I thought it was dreadful when it was forced on me at school years ago, and hasn't improved in the meantime.
There was then a radio play about King Arthur. Unlike the TV show "Merlin" (which was basically the same tale) there was no mention of Sir BigTits. Mind you I suppose Sir BigTits doesn't work quite so well on the radio, but I can't help but think that they could have had a go. Mind you Sir Lancelot "lanced a lot" with Guinevere so I can't say they didn't serve up a dose of smut.
The Reith Lectures then bleated on about they way in which medical professionals work, calling for greater transparency about their performance; all but advocating witch-hunts, and completely avoiding the sad topic of the problems of recruitment that such a culture of blame would cause.
A quiz about things musical, an elegy for a dead poet, some so-called comedy, some new-age hippie-drivel for the solstice, the shipping forecast, and then my attention drifted somewhat as Radio Four joined the BBC's World Service at 1am.
I did my bit until the relief arrived shortly before 8am, and then I came home. And again (still) listened to Radio Four as I went. Being the last Sunday before Christmas I was hoping for a nice uplifting carol service on the radio. Instead there were old farts squalling dirges. I put on a CD instead
Once home I made myself some brekkie, sat down with it in front of the telly, and woke up two hours later. I then took "Furry Face TM" round to the park where the lumberjacks have finished hacking away all trees, shrubs and plants from around the river. I suppose there is a reason for what they've done; but I can't help but think that they've been rather extreme.
Once home we went down to Folkestone to see the baby. He's growing so much - he can now support himself when he sits up. I wound Charlie up a little; we went shopping in Folkestone's cheapo-bargains shop, and then I slept on the sofa for a little.
We came home, pausing only briefly to pay a flying visit to Lisa, and then I set about solving geo-puzzles. There's a major walk planned for New Year's Day. I have a theory that if on the walk I make a great fuss about having solutions for the easier puzzles, everyone else will automatically assume I've also solved the more difficult ones and give me the solutions which I shall say that "Furry Face TM" has eaten.
It's a good plan; my amphibious associate has been using it for a couple of years...
22 December 2014 (Monday) - This n That
Again I was up early and watching "Dominion" this morning before most people would be thinking of emerging from their pits. And with telly watched I checked out the Internet. I'm a member of a group on Facebook for old boys of my secondary school, and I saw something in that group this morning that made me think.
I went to Hastings Grammar School; for over a hundred years, at the end of every school year several boys would leave that school and go to Oxford or Cambridge universities. The names of those that did were put on huge notice boards that lined the corridors. Dozens of boards; hundreds of names, the list growing yearly.
When I was a pupil there government policy was against grammar schools; and so the place became a comprehensive school. One of the members of the old boys Facebook group had cause to go back to visit the school this week; no one's graduated to Oxford or Cambridge for twenty years.
So much for comprehensive education...
I stopped off for petrol on my way to work, and then drove on through the gloom. I'm glad we are now past the shortest day. As I drove the news was of the usual drivel; wars and squabbles.
I did laugh at the "Thought for the Day" bit. When it is presented by a Jewish, Muslim or Sikh speaker, it's interesting or thought-provoking. Today's was presented by a Christian. I can only assume that the Christians are so used to no one listening to them that they don't actually bother having anything worth saying. Today's speaker wittered on with an anecdote from her recent experience in an airport, then said that airports are just like God, and that was the end of it.
I got to work, did my bit, and at lunchtime I again abandoned my set saxophone homework in favour of just playing whatever I fancied having a go at.
My phone rang; "Daddies Little Angel TM" was distraught. Whilst having his nappy changed littlun had escaped her clutches and slipped off of the sofa. She'd phoned 999 and been told not to waste their time. I suggested she went round to the local walk-in health centre. She did. All was fine. By the time she got there, littlun had forgotten all about his accident. But it was worth going for her own peace of mind as much as anything.
As I came home I drove past the filling station where I'd fueled this morning. Petrol had dropped in price during the day; I was done out of forty-three pence. And once home I took "Furry Face TM" round the block. We woofed at various innocent people and objects as we went.
And this evening I finished my Coursera course. An odd course; called "Origins" it started with the Big Bang, then covered the origin of life. It then looked at evolution af various forms of life, and today's was an incoherent rammble about climate change.
In retrospect the course would have been more comprehensible if presented by English-speakers...
23 December 2014 (Tuesday) - Bit Jealous
Over brekkie I watched teh last episode of the first (and so far only) series of "Dominion". Watching a whole series in a week is the way I like to watch a series; that way I can remember what is going on. "Dominion" wasn't too bad really. mind you I'm not sure about the complete about-face by the super-goodie. It did seem somewhat fabricated to make for a good season finale.
Still, I'm looking forward to the next season; it's not been cancelled yet.
I then had a look on social media. I had a little look-see at some of teh people on my old school's old boys page. Yesterday I mentioned about how some of my fellow old Hastonians (that's what you call someone who went to Hastings Grammar Scchool) had gone on to the country's top universities. Today I read that one of them was living in Dallas and was flying jumbo jets around the Pacific, and that another was "an operational performance improvement specialist, with a focus on the Healthcare Services and the Consumer and Retail sectors. (...) seeks opportunities at fundamentally sound, yet underperforming, businesses, and works with management teams to drive strategic and operational change. His team has a successful history in transforming such businesses in order to drive top-line and bottom-line growth". I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what an " operational performance improvement specialist" does but I have found out that whatever they do i from some rather swish offices in central London and pays substantially more than I get for showing up in Canterbury from time to time. Others with who I spent my formative years have gone on to be bank managers and directors at multinational companies.
Bearing in mind that at the time of taking "O" levels I came second in the class, some days I just wonder where I went wrong.
Feeling somewhaat sulky I took my dog round the park for a walk. I might not be a multi-millionaire like some of my contemporaries, but I have my dog.
And with him walked I dropped "er indoors TM" at her work, and I drove down to Folkestone to see "Daddies Little Angel TM", Sam-I-Am, and the baby.
With littlun (and bigguns) visited I set off on a rather circuitous route to work. On Saturday I'd failed to find a geocache. As it was (sort of) mid-way between where "Daddies Little Angel TM" lurks and work, it would be daft not to have another look-see. Bearing in mind Saturday's failure I thought looking in the daylight (as opposed to night) might help. I was rather keen to find this one, especially as no one else had found it yet. Even though it had been live for five days I still had a chance of a First to Find.
I parked up the car and had a look-see. After twenty five minutes searching I found it. FTF. Happy dance.
In retrospect it wasn't a difficult find; I'd just read the information which had been given, then fixated on a certain word and decided that I knew what I was looking for and where it was.
It was a shame it took me twenty four minutes and thirty seconds to realise my initial idea was wrong on both counts.
And so on to work for the late shift. I did my bit, and again at lunch time did my thing on my saxophone. I was again playing tunes which once I found difficult, but now I can have a go at them which is at least recognisable
With my bit done I came home. I could have gone to Folkestone where the tribes were gathering, but I was feeling rather tired this evening; so I went straight home and straight to bed in readiness for the early shift tomorrow...
24 December 2014 (Wednesday) - Christmas Eve
Up with the lark, and I watched the Christmas episode of "Derek" over brekkie. Previous episodes and series of this show have been really good. I felt this Christmas special was rather lame in comparison.
I then resisted the urge to tell someone in cyber-space to f... off. I'd heard tell that the regulations for concealing tupperware in Forestry Commission land have been relaxed, and so I had asked in the local tupperware-foragers group if anyone knew any details. Rather than answering the question, the very person who would be in a position to answer the question responded with unnecessary sarcasm.
I've encountered this sort of behaviour from this chap elsewhere in cyber-space before. Does it cause him physical pain to give a straight answer to a straight question? Bearing in mind that the group in question is mainly used by local people I can't help but feel the chap in question is deliberately trolling.
And so to work. As I drove the talk on the radio was doom and gloom about the recent tragedy in Glasgow. There was little else mentioned today.
I got to Morrisons thinking I'd treat myself to Christmas Eve sarnies; I found the place was heaving. If it was that busy at 7.30am I would hate to be there later in the day.
I got to work, and did my bit. At lunch time I thought about saxing, but the rain put me off. So I stayed inside. For some inexplicable reason I spent much of the day whistling "Joy to the World" right up until the point when the power supply in the PC I was using popped. It did make me jump, and I spent the rest of the day giggling after that.
Home, and the Rear Admiral called round and gave us a lift to Steve & Sarah. We had a rather good evening chatting with a dozen friends and scoffing far too much Chinese take out. Must do it again soon.
Once home I had a little sample of the Christmas beer I've brewed. At more than double the usual cost for about half the usual volume, I don't actually like it very much...
25 December 2014 (Friday) - Christmas Day (Apparently)
I was really tired when I went to kip last night. I slept till 3am when the noisy drunks woke me up on their way home. From 3am onward there was a seemingly endless succession of noisy drunks going past the house.
I gave up trying to sleep at 5am, got up, and watched the first episode of Season Four of "Game of Thrones". Apart from the rather disappointing fact that nudey-dragongirl kept her clothes on it was a rather good episode.
And then at 6.45am I set off to work. More people work on Christmas Day these days than they ever use to; I can remember working the night of Christmas Eve (some years ago) and driving to Hastings at 9am Christmas morning and only seeing three other cars. Today at 7am (ish) I saw nineteen other cars between home and work.
Mind you the pundits of the radio said that, according to the Office of National Statistics, about three per cent of people in work were working today.
The largest group of workers was those employed by the NHS. According to Nick Palmer of the Office of National Statistics 141,000 doctors, nursing staff and midwives were working on this festive day. He was rather vague about the numbers of pharmacists, paramedics, radiographers, telephonists, porters, biomedical scientists, health care scientists.... as are many people.
The radio also (for some odd reason) featured a program about "Wallace and Gromit", and I spent much of the day with the theme to "A Grand Day Out" going through my head.
I got to work and (ably assisted by the inestimable "Soup Boy") I had quite a busy day. Unlike forty nine per cent of the country's vicars who apparently didn't work today. And with my bit done I came home to a rather full house. Nearly all of the tribe had gathered, and it was good to spend some time with family.
26 December 2014 (Friday) - Boxing Day
I spent much of last night laying awake listening for the crying of a baby Grandson who spent much of the night fast asleep. I got up shortly before 7am because I heard "Daddies Little Angel TM" getting up. But she just used the facilities and went back to bed. I stayed up and watched drivel on the telly.
Eventually everyone got up, and we set off to Folkestone about an hour later than planned.
From Folkestone we drove down to see my mummy and daddy. We stopped off in Rye for geocachical purposes (crafty FTF - happy dance), but were soon in Hastings. We stayed for an hour or so; longer would have been nice but I was feeling rather tired.
We came home, and then did what normal people do at Christmas; slobbed in front of the telly. We started off watching the Christmas episode of Doctor Who... What can I say? I *want* to like the show; and Peter Capaldi is the best Doctor for many years. But he is only as good at the scripts he's given. And this one was done far better by the Red Dwarf team over twenty years ago.
Then the last episode of "Trollied"; a much-overlooked series. Next I sorted my undercrackers whilst watching a film; "Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists". That was surprisingly good.
The all-new "Still Open All Hours" was something I felt I had to watch; if only to run it down with a clear conscience. The original was frankly dreadful, and this sequel was in exactly the same vein. How can the BBC justify putting something so bad on at peak time on Boxing Day?
Having seen quite a build-up for BBC's one-off "The Boy in the Dress" I'd been looking forward to it. It was every bit as good as the hype would have had us beleive. We then got the meat and pickle out and scoffed that whilst watching the Christmas "Downton Abbey" which lasted far longer than the meat and pickle, so for dessert we sorted the port and stilton.
By the time I tootled off to bed we'd got ten per cent of space available on the SkyPlus box. Must keep up the good work getting all these programs watched...
27 December 2014 (Saturday) - Christmas Saturday
I would have slept better had "Furry Face TM" not jumped on to the bed and started pushing me off. Every time I moved him he would (after a few minutes) sneak back and continue pushing. Finally he got himself comfortable, and I resigned myself to trying too sleep with my arse hanging off the edge of the bed.
Did I ever say I never wanted a dog?
I got up shortly after seven o'clock and over brekkie watched more "Game of Thrones". Another major character has croaked (been killed); one thing I like about the show is that the writers have no qualms about killing anybody off. Mind you on the minus side, in a novel break with tradition everyone kept their kit on.
I then mucked about on-line for a while. I've sorted out a little geo-stroll round Battle in Sussex for next weekend. If any of my loyal readers fancy coming for a walk, drop me a line and I'll forward the details.
"er indoors TM" got up and did a fart that I actually applauded. I would have been proud to have done one like that myself.
We then drove out to Tenterden Garden Centre. Pausing only briefly in Brenzett for geocachical purposes we were soon at the garden centre. We bought a couple of birthday presents and had a look at the aquatic shop. It's been completely redesigned since I was last there; and for all that the fish selection was good, the fish were (at least) double the price of those in Bybrook Barn.
We came home, and took "Furry Face TM"round to the park. He needed a walk, and my amphibious associate had said that he would be doing one of my park-based Wherigos this afternoon. It would have been mean not to have gone along and offered advice on the trickier bits.
So I was mean and went along to gloat as he struggled with the trickier bits. But bearing in mind the abject failure of my Singleton Wherigo not working on Garmin technology I was pleased to see this one work on both Garmin and I-phone as well.
We came home, and made a flying visit to Asda for a take-out curry, then settled down to watch James Bond whilst we scoffed the curry. I can remember liking "Skyfall" wheen I saw it for the first time; I thought it dragged on somewhat this time...
28 December 2014 (Sunday) - Mum's Birthday
"Nudey DragonGirl" was back to centre-stage in the morning's installment of "Game of Thrones". However so was her kit. She's not got that off for some time; which is a disappointment for all concerned.
I then took "Furry Face TM" for a morning walk; it was cold when we started; I hurt my back when I skidded on the ice in Bowens Field. When we got to Viccie Park we saw OrangeHead and a much younger but simularly orange-headed associate. I can only imagine she's taken on an apprentice.
"er indoors TM" set off for the Folkestonians; I collected "My Boy TM" and his entourage and drove down to my brother's house where the family were gathering for my mum's birthday. NIcky put on a wonderful spread, and once I organised my nephew's Facebook account for him we spent a very enjoyable afternoon doing what people do at family bashes. As the ladies came over from over the road so all the men went over the road where we played "shove ha'penny".
It was as well that I was driving; those that weren't had poured far too much down their necks. I don't think I could drink that much these days.
It was cold and icy when I went for our walk this morning; it was even colder and icier this evening when we got back into the car. We came home via the Indian take-away as Cheryl fancied a korma, and then home.
With dustbins put out I then spent half an hour trying to stop "Furry Face TM" eating the frozen grass in the garden. He seems to like frozen grass...
29 December 2014 (Monday) - Busy Day
The morning's installment had quite a lot of nudey-boobie-wobbling going on. So much so that I felt obliged to take a moral stance. They don't take themselves, you know.
Just at the third nudey-boobie-wobble my phone rang. Could I look after Lacey for the day? Of course I could. Lacey soon arrived, and we took "Furry Face TM" for a scooter ride round the park. (That is Lacey scootered; me and "Furry Face TM" walked). It was a cold day, but dry. As we walked and scootered we met and played with other dogs, and only fought with one. Mind you that one was a husky which looked like its ancestry included polar bears and wolves. He rolled in frozen fox poo and with only twenty yards to go before we got home, Lacey scootered into a pot hole and fell off.
By now "er indoors TM" had emerged from her pit, so we all went for a bit of an outing. The plan was to come home with tropical fish.
First of all we went to to Grafty Green. Once there was a really good garden centre there. Now that garden centre is a shadow of its former self. To be honest the obscure location together with the total disinterest of the staff can only mean the place's days are numbered.
By now it was mid day. Lacey fancied KFC for lunch, so KFC it was. And with KFC scoffed we popped into Dobbies. Unlike Grafty Green they had tropical fish. But like Tenterden Garden Centre their fish were terribly overpriced. So I swallowed my pride and went back to Bybrook barn. We stopped off at the American Diner for caramel sundae and pancakes, and then into Bybrook's pet section. At half the price of Dobbies we came away with over twenty quid's worth of tiddlers; including two "Silver see-throughs" that Lacey wanted. In fact we got all the fish that Lacey wanted. She told me I couldn't have the ones I wanted.
Once home we all settled in front of the telly and watched a film. "Shrek II" was entertaining. I then left the girls and set off to what (hopefully) might become a regular piss-up. The leading lights of the astro club gathered in Folkestone for a quiet drinkie or two. Pints of stout, selfie sticks, unpasteurised cheese, cigars, pool... it all got rather vague but I'm sure there was a kebab in there somewhere..
30 December 2014 (Tuesday) - Lazy Day
There's no denying I felt rough this morning; I blame the stout. Over brekkie I sat and stared into space; and as I waited for "er indoors TM" to emerge from her pit I did this week's installment of my Coursera course. This week we were covering the migrations of the first humans from their African origins to (basically) all over the world. There are a *lot* of theories on the matter, but preciious little hard evidence to back up any of these theories. But at least the spoken English in this week's video lectures was much more comprehensible than it has been.
Which is no excuse for the frankly abysmal score I got in the test. Again I blame the stout.
Over the last few weeks I've had some messages that some of the geocaches I've hidden had gone missing (as had"er indoors TM") so today was geo-maintenance day. Whilst out geo-maintaining we met up with an old friend. Emmaroo seemed well, as did her baby.
With baby clucked over and geo-maintaining done we then drove round to five churches in pursuit of church micro geocaches. With these five uner my belt I should be in position #456 in the country. Whilst out we stopped for sausage and chips. "Furry Face TM" liked the chips until he had some sausage. He wouldn't touch the chips after that; he can be fussy. We got cream cakes too, and we had a minor incident at Doddington church where the car got stuck in mud. In pushing the thing out I nearly (but not quite) went face first in the mud myself.
Home - where we scoffed the cakes. They were a disappointment. They looked wonderful. But what looked like cream was actually some manky chemical subsititute. I shan't be going back to that cake shop again.
And the the rest of the day was wasted in front of the telly. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Big Bang Theory, Harry Potter.
I am sure I could have done something more constructive with my time... but I did see a trailer for the new latest "Thunderbirds" re-make
31 December 2014 (Wednesday) - New Year's Eve
I had a surprisingly good night's sleep. Mind you with plans for the day I was up before dawn. I know it's not for long each year, but I really don't like getting up in the dark.
I went on-line and my piss boiled over a rather trivial geo-reason. The exact reasons for my hissy fit are irrelevant; it's just that ovr the last couple of years I've been playing the "hunting tupperware" game it's become painfully apparent that the rules aren't applied consistently by those whose place it is to apply said rules. I've had cache hides turned down because they are (supposedly) too close to schools, but have since found fifteen closer than anything I've ever tried to hide. I've tried to organise formal geo-events only too be told they break the rules, and then seen others get the green light for an exactly identical idea.
One such "applier of rules" engaged me in a "discussion" on the matter...
How does one block someone from Facebook?
We collected my amphibious associate and set off to Paddock Wood. There are two Wherigo geocaches there which I fancied having a go at. The first one was great fun; hunting virtual dominoes for an hour or so. We then picked up a puzzle cache; and piss boiled. The rules say that you cannot have a cache hidden on a roundabout. For the very sensible reason that it would be a dangerous place to have one. We found one on a roundabout that was only put out a few months ago. So I squealed it to the geo-feds.
Two more Church Micros, a bite to eat, and then we did another Wherigo. The first was fun; the second was a rather dull tour guide. In retrospect we should have done them the other way round. The "dull" one was only dull in comparison to the first one; as a stand-alone wherigo it was fine.
As we went back to the car we found a pet shop where I got "Furry Face TM" a bone which was as big as he is. Once home he set about that bone; it should kep him quiet for a while.
In a break with tradition we didn't do the New Year Thing in Folkestone; instead we went round to Dan and Cheryl. Cheese was scoffed, charades and cards and silly games played; an excellent evening.
And here we go; another year. After two and a half particularly difficult onees, 2014 wasn't too shabby for me. I'm now up to sixty per cent of the wages I was on four years ago, we've had a family wedding and a Grandson born, had nasal surgery, taken up the saxophone, been on a holiday.
Let's see what the future holds...