01 November 2006 (Wednesday) - Poetry

There was a young man from Australia
On whose bottom was painted a dahlia
The colour was fine
As was the design
But the fragrance, alas, was a failure

Well, I laughed !

I'd like to take the credit, but I heard it on the news program on Radio Four this morning.


02 November 2006 (Thursday) - A frustrating day

Today was one of those days when nothing quite went right. On my third trip home from collecting loose aggregates the overheating warning light came on in the car. Which was very odd, as the temperature gauge was fine. But having had an engine explode in the past I wasn’t taking any chances, so the car is now in the garage and I’m awaiting developments. I expect this will be a few hundred more pounds I can’t afford. It’s a pain as I’d promised to deliver the gazebo to Robert & Ginette this evening, and now I can’t. I go weeks without actually needing a car, but when I do, everything goes west. Grrr!

Walking home from the garage was (I suppose) a good bit of exercise and on the plus side I did get to chat with Paul & Cathy on the way, but it did take up an hour which I should really have spent on what I actually had planned to do today….

The day was supposed to be spent building on the good work we did on the pond last Sunday, but…… we made a start and poured out a dustbinful of stones onto the landscaped area. It looked awful – the ground was nowhere near level. So we spent half an hour picking up the stones. Then we took up all the membranes and re-dug and re-leveled the soil. Whilst I was rummaging in soil that has been dug and cleared of all extraneous objects at least half a dozen times in the last month I managed to find a HUGE lump of broken glass and gashed my hand. Yet another delay whilst Katy applied first aid. Then the waterfall which looked so good last weekend now looked more pissed than I was at Chippy’s wedding. So that came out and had to be re-sited. By then it was dark, and we had to call it a day. We are now further behind than when we started.

Oh well, bearing in mind that this was supposed to be a LONG TERM project, we’ve not done badly in one month and one day.

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03 November 2006 (Friday) - Brindle chippings

03 November 2006 (Friday) - Brindle chippingsmagnify

So, having given up with the garden centre, we tried the builder’s centre instead. In their yard they had exactly what I wanted – a ton bag of brindle chippings. It was a bit pricey, though - £160. I went in and asked for the stuff. The chap behind the counter was great. “I can’t do it for you for less than £80!” he told me. He mistook my amazement for reluctance, and then made a concession “£80 with free delivery, and that’s my final offer!” They had some paving slabs as well, which will go well around the pond. They were £7.50 each. “I can’t go lower than £4.20!” said the chap.

They were all delivered this morning. It was great to watch – a crane lowered the whole lot into the front garden. So there I was with a bag guaranteed to contain not less than 850 kilograms of brindle chippings, and ten paving slabs, all sitting in the front garden. It will be a little while before we are ready for them, but I couldn’t leave them where they were. Whilst they were far too heavy for anyone to steal the lot, someone might easily help themselves to a bucketful or two. It’s the sort of thing I might do myself!

A feature of “Operation Pond” is that there are so many phases which sound so easy, and this was one of them. Empty the big bag into smaller bags, carry the now empty big bag into the back garden, and empty the smaller bags back into the big bag. How difficult can it be? Within an hour, every receptacle in the house was full of brindle chippings, and still the bag in the front garden was far too heavy to move, let alone carry through to the back garden.

We finally got it all done, and then through the wonders of advanced mathematical guesswork we realised that whist we have enough chippings to cover the area, we only have enough chippings to give a depth of 1cm. By the time you allow for some unevenness in the landscaping (a.k.a. “Rustic Charm TM”) it’s going to be spread a bit thin. In a triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense I shall order two more tons of the stuff.

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04 November 2006 (Saturday) - “The sun is shining, it's a lovely day”,

04 November 2006 (Saturday) - “The sun is shining, it's a lovely day”,magnify

An early start as six of us were on the 9 am train to London. Apart from having to point out to the assembled throng the relevance of Perry Como to every aspect of everyday life, the journey was relatively uneventful. I say relatively – in my world anything short of an international incident counts as uneventful, so you can imagine what the normal people had to put up with. The morning was spent looking round the space galleries of the Science Museum (where they had one of my old airfix kits as an exhibit) followed by a “test your brain” section where it transpires that Matt has a woman’s brain (My Lord!), and the brain of his brother is somewhat indeterminate.

By mid day we were getting a bit peckish, so we retreated to the Zetland Arms, a really good pub we know. The food is excellent, but the ordering system is a bit iffy. You tell them what you want, and vaguely where you are sitting, and ten minutes later someone else comes around asking who ordered the fish & chips. I can’t see what would have stopped me sitting there all afternoon scoffing everything.

Back to the rest of the Science Museum where we spent an interesting half an hour learning the history of vets shoving their hands up cow’s bums before moving on to the toys. There was a really good roller coaster simulator – I kept falling off the seat. Then we moved into the energy section. I played a brill simulation game where I had to balance a country’s energy requirements. In the meantime, “teacher” planned Monday’s science class.

However time was pressing, and off to the tube. There was a minor disaster when we found that the district line had been closed, but this was soon remedied by a game of sardines on the Piccadilly line. A game that had to be played in teams as the trains were too full for us all to get on the same one. Still, the plan was to all meet up at Oxford circus, and whilst waiting for everyone to arrive I noticed that some very kind “hot & horny busty nymphette” had left a load of postcards in the phone box. I picked a couple up, planning to post one to Chippy as a souvenir of the day. It was a shame I couldn’t remember his new address. I’m sure he would have liked the postcard.

It was at this point that I nearly bumped into the actor who played "The Demon Headmaster" - well it looked like him. Pausing only briefly (half an hour tops) to watch the four lesbians kissing each other goodbye at Trafalgar Square, it was off to the theatre to see the show.

http://www.avenueqthemusical.co.uk has to be seen to be believed. How can I best describe it? – “South Park and Viz magazine meet Sesame Street“ probably comes quite close. We were in the very front row, and that is where we will sit next time. The aptly named “Trekkie Monster” sought my opinion on the internet, and it was good to know that he and I are in complete agreement on the subject. The actors were brill, the puppeteers were really good, and we didn’t stop laughing. It’s a musical, which is good, especially when they ask:

Did you ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?
And ain't it fun to watch figure skaters falling on their asses?

The show is on until January – I’ve GOT to see it again!


05 November 2006 (Sunday) - Twang

05 November 2006 (Sunday) - Twangmagnify

A quiet day in the country. Well, relatively quiet. More in the way of a trial run to see how well the archery lark would go. Those of us that have actually bought bows & arrows & stuff had an experimental twang. It went OK – five arrows have been lost and one broken, so we can take that as baseline of “arrow destruction”, and hopefully improve on it as time goes by. Plans are afoot to buy netting to stick behind the target to catch any stray arrows.

All that now remains is for more “Merry Men” to get tooled up, and we can make a date for next time.

And as I come to the last day of the second batch of antibiotics, the sinusitis returns with a vengeance.

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06 November 2006 (Monday) - Breakfast

06 November 2006 (Monday) - Breakfastmagnify

Every day is the same. Get up, have a wazz, have a shave, then breakfast. If it’s a work day, muesli. If it’s not a work day, toast. But I could have SO much more. I’ve found this amazing website www.mrbreakfast.com where it tells me that I could have:


Pancakes:      163 different ways

Eggs:              209 different ways

Waffles:          96 different ways

Omlettes:        122 different ways

Oatmeal:        61 different ways

Crepes:          39 different ways (and I don't even know what a crepe is!)

Souffles:         19 different ways


With 53 home made cereals, 95 breakfast drinks and 300 things to do with toast (301 if you count shoving it up Mr Breakfast’s bum) I never knew there was so much to do first thing in the morning. If you’re feeling saucy, there’s a “breakfast of lurve”. There are breakfasts for the condemned, international breakfasts; you can buy breakfast accessories, clothing and merchandise. There’s a forum, a free newsletter, and even a Mrs Breakfast.  


Using Mr Breakfast's instructions I've just had a poached egg. It's like a non-greasy fried egg. Who would have believed such wonders were possible.

Life just keeps on getting better.



07 November 2006 (Tuesday) - You can’t move your feet

How difficult is that?

I’ve a game I play with the cubs. There are two teams, like basketball. There’s a goal at each end (actually another cub on a chair) like basketball. You throw the ball around, like basketball. In fact the only difference between this game and basketball is that you stay put and don’t move about. To avoid collisions, everyone chooses where to stand, and you stay there. The participants are static - you don't move about - you stay still. You can reach for the ball, grab it as it comes past, bounce it, throw it, fight over it, you can do whatever you want, but YOU CAN’T MOVE YOUR FEET. Only one rule. Only five words in that one rule. What is so difficult to understand?

Are these children stupid?

A little bit later I was casting for a play that the cubs will put on at Xmas. I had ten volunteers and six roles to be cast. Of the ten volunteers, four have a proven record (over the last year) of being awkward, un co-operative and rude. So I told them that because of their continued bad behaviour over the last year I wouldn’t have them in my group. We had tears. I was being so unfair. How could I say such mean things about them? And, bugger me, fifteen minutes later these same four were jabbering away amongst themselves when I was addressing the whole cub pack. When I tackled them about their rudeness and I reminded them why they weren’t chosen to be in the play, I got four blank stares. They had no idea what I was talking about.

Are these children stupid? I honestly think that many of them are.



08 November 2006 (Wednesday) - Got my car back

It transpired that as well as having a coolant leak, the cooling fans weren’t working due to corrosion in the fusebox, and the light that prompted the spell in the garage in the first place was due to a faulty sensor. Putting it all back to rights, and putting in new coolant & antifreeze for the winter came to just over £300. OK, so the main dealer wasn’t the cheapest place to go, but since the seven seater specialist closed down, where else is there? The last people I tried stuffed it up, and sent me to the main dealer, so I might as well go there in the first place.

£300. It’s a lot of money. Or is it? I’ve had the car for just over four years, and apart from ongoing road tax & petrol costs, what major expenses have I had?

Sep-03  Fix brakes             £70.00
Jul-05    Fix mirror              £70.00
May-05  Replace exhaust   £420.00
Jul-06    MOT & Tyres         £330.00
Nov-06   Current problems   £340.00
              Total                   £1,230.00

Over four years that’s about £300 a year. Is that good or bad? I once had a mini that was costing over £100 a month, every month which I abandoned after a year as a bad move. Personally I’m quite happy with my car, and would happily get another of the same. But I know of others who would disagree….




09 November 2006 (Thursday) - 2000 hits

Today my Yahoo 360 “hit count” went over 2000. Since I started it just over two months ago, it’s been looked at two thousand times.

Is my blog THAT interesting? I wonder how long Yahoo leaves it up for.

Hopefully if I can keep up writing something every day, eventually it’ll be quite a tome. You never know – I might get it published. It worked for Adrian Mole.


10 November 2006 (Friday) - Crap telly

10 November 2006 (Friday) - Crap tellymagnify

 A month or so ago when “Day of the Triffids” finished on the Sci-Fi channel (and what a disappointment that was), I was delighted to hear that they’d be showing “Logan’s Run”. I remembered it from when I was thirteen years old. It was a classic program. Really good. I couldn’t wait to see it again. Tonight was episode five.

I wonder what it was that I watched when I was younger that was so good. It wasn’t this rubbish. Logan-5 charges around in some futuristic cardigan shooting things with a gun whose potency seems to randomly range from “feeble popgun” to “utter devastation” every time he pulls the trigger. Jessica-7 minces about in next to nothing, and REM just irritates.

What is it with late 70s/early 80s telly? At the time it was wonderful. I never missed a single episode of “The A-Team”, but watch the re-runs on UK Gold. Or, to better use your time, watch just one re-run. Watch one, you’ve seen the lot. “Shaddap Foooool” “I luv it when a plan comes together and fifteen minutes of gratuitous violence in which no one gets hurt in the slightest.

Remember “Space 1999” ? I bought the DVDs. And sold them again on eBay pretty quickly. “Buck Rogers” and “Automan” – Excellent then, crap now.

Dallas” and “Dynasty”? The whole world watched them. Why?

The Generation Game” & “321”. Utter tripe.

Thank the lord for “Star Trek” & “Upstairs Downstairs.

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11 November 2006 (Saturday) - A brill day !!

11 November 2006 (Saturday) - A brill day !!magnify

It transpired that our keener launchers of arrows were up for some shooting. I wasn’t going to say no. Following a splendid lunch at the batfarm, the afternoon was spent propelling arrows at speed. With the vast majority of everyone’s arrows hitting the target, this time we were up for a competition. First round – hit the target. Second round - inside the black ring. Third round - inside the blue ring…. How did I do? Suffice it to say that the victory song-and-dance that works oh-so-well at the poker table is equally effective on the archery field. “I wo-on, I wo-on”. We then suspended a small plastic bottle on the target. I hit it !! Bows & arrows next weekend, anyone?

I can’t pretend to be an expert at archery, but bearing in mind how dismal I am at soccer, five-a-side, poker, bowling, pretty much every event known to science… it’s good to find some activity at which I’m not totally useless. As the afternoon wore on, all too soon it got cold and dark, so we made a hasty retreat home to wrap up for the evening’s event.

One reason I’m keeping up this blog was that I was required to keep a reflective diary for a year on the PG Cert course I did recently. That has rather got me into the habit of keeping a diary. One of the entries I made last year was to construct my top ten list of events of the year. Last year, Rye Bonfire Parade came in at number nine of the year’s events.

It will be in the top ten again this year. It was great. With family and friends, our party numbered over twenty, with ages ranging from seven to seventy, and everyone had fun. Starting off by getting our luminous flashing rabbit ears we made our way to the chip shop for tea. Apparently I scared the normal people in the chip shop. We made our way through Morris dancers (pah!) and found a good vantage point to watch the torchlight procession. We cheered the bands, we cheered the local cubs, we cheered the bonfire societies, we cheered the epic breasts of the girl in the skimpy red top (well I did!), and when the procession was over we made our way down to the bonfire area.

Whilst I realise it is sometimes necessary to restrict public access to certain areas, the police enforcing such restrictions needn’t be so authoritarian about what they are doing. Had they actually taken the time to tell the crowd that they needed to block off a road because the procession was coming along the bottom, then the crowd would have realised, and would have stopped pushing forward. Fortunately one of our number has a gob like a foghorn, and quite happily conveyed the information to the assembled throng. And fortunately another of our number is a consummate actress who has undoubtedly left PC Twat racked with guilt for his heartless actions. “I WANT MY MUMMY!” - snot and tears – I was convinced by it! The arrogance of an idiot policeman that could have marred the evening ended up being one of the more memorable and entertaining parts.

And so on to the bonfire and fireworks. Pausing only briefly to take a short cut into someone’s back garden (woops!) we found a place relatively crowd free where we could “ooh” and “ahhh” to our hearts’ content. And all too soon the fireworks were over and it was time to go home. Same time next year !!!


12 November 2006 (Sunday) - Remembrance Day

12 November 2006 (Sunday) - Remembrance Daymagnify

I was lying in bed this morning. Could I be bothered to get up and go to the remembrance service? I eventually got up and went.

Every year there’s a civic service which is held open-air whatever the weather in the gardens of remembrance opposite the library. It's run by the British Legion, and presided over by a vicar. For some reason, today we had a very strong Gurkha presence, including one who was playing the bagpipes.

There was representation from pretty much the entire town – armed forces and the cadet forces marched up and made quite a ceremonial show. Wreaths were laid by all armed forces, us (scouting), guides, all three cadet forces, St John's, the council, the police, fire brigade, ambulance brigade, chamber of commerce, rotary club... anyone who wanted to take part would seem to be welcome. We had half a dozen beavers and a dozen cubs turn up this morning, all of whom seemed to enjoy watching the soldiers and the old soldiers with all their medals. Strangely the most ill-behaved cubs came along, and were as good as gold.

Whilst standing there shivering (but it wasn’t as cold as previous years have been) I was looking at all the old servicemen with their medals. We remembered those that weren’t there. I reflected on the fact that I’ve never been in the armed forces. It’s because of what the old soldiers did in the past that I have never had to be.

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13 November 2006 (Monday) - eBay

13 November 2006 (Monday) - eBaymagnify

eBay is a rip-off” one of my colleagues informed me. Apparently she’s been told this by her friend’s neighbour’s friend who’d overheard someone in the chip shop relating the exploits of his mate’s cat’s best friend’s owner’s mum. So it must be true.

Personally, I love eBay. I joined three and a half years ago, and I now have a feedback rating of 438.

Over the years I have bought DVDs and CDs, inflatable kangaroos and woggles, books and bottle openers, shirts and shoes, bananaguards and playing cards, kites and towels, smurfs and dragons, a harmonica and an umbrella, tents and hard drives, flags and lego, a yard of ale and CD sleeves. If I need to buy anything, eBay is the first place I check.

I have used eBay to sell videos and books, CDs and CD Roms, toys and games, kites and piggy banks, string and CB radios, first aid boxes and lego, aquarium pumps and heaters, ties and phone chargers, foot spas and leather jackets, watches and webcams, the list seems endless.

Stuff that would otherwise go in the bin can now become cash.

I’ve found and sold mouldy origami kits in the scouts’ paper collection (profit £3.35). I’ve rescued and sold broken first aid boxes (profit £4.05). I’ve sold screwed-up beer mats I found whilst drunk at beer festivals (profit £1.81). People pay me good money for this old tat. Each bit of rubbish might only generate a few pence, but if you look after the pennies….

I’ve spent over £700 posting stuff to buyers all over the UK and to places as diverse as Nigeria, the USA, Australia, Singapore and most of Europe. I’ve incurred nearly £400 in eBay & PayPal costs.

But my net profit is currently over £2500, mostly made on stuff that would otherwise have gone in the bin. Today more bargains went up. I love it!



14 November 2006 (Tuesday) - In a pineapple under the sea

14 November 2006 (Tuesday) - In a pineapple under the seamagnify

He lives in a pineapple under the sea

Absorbent and porous and yellow is he

If nautical nonsense be something you wish

Then flop on the floor and flap like a fish

 Spongebob Squarepants must be the most marvellous cartoon ever devised. It follows the everyday antics of  Spongebob Squarepants (a cartoon sponge) who lives in a pineapple under the sea in the town of Bikini Bottom. He lives next door to a rather miserable clarinet-playing octopus by the name of Squidward Tentacles, and he works as a fry cook in an undersea restaurant named “The Krusty Krab”. He spends a lot of his time there thwarting the efforts of Sheldon Plankton’s (a plankton) efforts to steal the secret formula of the “Krabby Patty”, a remarkable undersea hamburger. His boss is a crab (Eugene Krabs). Eugene has a daughter, Pearl Krabs who (for no adequately explained reason) is a whale. Somewhat unsurprisingly there has never been mention of a Mrs Krabs.

Spongebob’s friends include Patrick Starr (a rather stupid starfish) and Sandy Cheeks - a musclebound squirrel from Texas who (for no adequately explained reason) has forsaken Texas to live on the sea bed. Other acquaintances include Larry the Lobster (the lifeguard at Goo Lagoon) and Mrs Puff (a puffer fish) his driving instructor.

Spongebob’s world is not without superheroes – should there be villany afoot, then Mermaidman and Barnacleboy are soon on the case in their invisible boatmobile. The fact that Mermaidman and Barnacleboy are well into their eighties has never stopped them yet!

Most of the cubs love Spongebob. Some think he’s rubbish. Little Suzie doesn’t know what to think. Her parents (both Normal People) have declared that Spongebob Squarepants is “unsuitable” and she is not allowed to watch it.

It is because of children like Suzie that I must continue my efforts as a cub leader. If I don’t, the Normal People will take over the world.


15 November 2006 (Wednesday) - Yuk !

Some people might think my job is gross, but it’s not that bad. We get blood samples, collected aseptically, and we count the various types of blood cells and comment on their size and appearance. We do specific tests to monitor warfarin therapy, and various other scientific analyses to investigate for very specific hereditary and acquired problems of the blood cells, blood forming tissues and the coagulation systems.

Today a chap came to the lab. He had a skanky-looking jam jar in which he claimed was a large lump of mucus which he had pissed out this morning. I took his word for this claim – I didn’t want to investigate too closely. I found myself wondering about the actual mechanics of collecting his excrescence.  I had a mental image of this chap either rooting around the toilet for his mucus, or pissing through a sieve. Neither scenario was particularly endearing.

He tried to force his jar onto me, but I wouldn’t take it. The chap insisted that I “test” his lump of mucus. One wonders what “tests” he had planned for me to do. French vocabulary or the seven times table were two tests that immediately came to mind. When I asked him what tests he’d like me to do, he waved his hands around and shouted “Just test it! – you know – test it!”.

I suggested the chap might like to take his passings to his doctor, but this idea wasn’t popular. Apparently he didn’t want to bother his doctor, but it’s OK to bring me that which he finds in his toilet. Funny old world.

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16 November 2006 (Thursday) - A petition

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to require employers to allow, if requested, employees 2 hours paid leave per week to undertake voluntary work with youth organisations.”

It’s on line at  http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/paidyouthleave/

Is this a good thing? At the moment I have a tacit understanding with my employer that I go home half an hour early on a Tuesday for cubs as I’m in half an hour early every day of the week. When our hours are changed in the New Year, I will not look to get time off work to go home early. Instead I shall try to work on an early shift on Cub days.

But if I’m to be allowed two hours per week – that’s 104 hours a year: the equivalent of 13.8 working days. If this time is to be cumulative I’d be allowed leave for Cub Camp – something that I currently do in my own leave time.

It might attract more leaders to voluntary organisations. It might attract those who see it as an easy skive from work.

As a manager myself, I’m having trouble organising all my staff to get their leave used up as it is. Adding in extra leave for people to go off do-gooding will be problematical. Also, how will I regard applications for employment from people who would be entitled to this leave? Two candidates identical in every respect except one gets over two weeks leave more than the other. I wouldn’t even shortlist them.

If I choose to help with the cubs, that’s my choice. I don’t expect kite flying leave, or archery leave, or fishing leave, or poker leave, or writing my blog leave.

 The whole thing is a bad idea!

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17 November 2006 (Friday) - I wo-on !!

17 November 2006 (Friday) - I wo-on !!magnify

I haven’t played cards for months, so tonight’s invitation for a game was very gratefully received. Whilst things did look a bit iffy at one point – going all in with a total of thirty odd chips, I staged an impressive comeback, finally finishing second. Perhaps my high point was a straight flush in diamonds – something that’s not been done locally before, or so I’m told. The victory dance has been recorded and will shortly be available on YouTube.

In the meantime the world has a new superhero – “RabbitBoy”. There was also talk of “Spirit Level Arse”. However there is quite a bit of uncertainty as to whether “Spirit Level Arse” is RabbitBoy’s sidekick, or one of his special powers.

It’s time for another edition of Energize News!


18 November 2006 (Saturday) The in-laws

18 November 2006 (Saturday) The in-lawsmagnify

There’s an old adage that says “You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family”. I’ve often wondered how that applies to in-laws.

My brother-in-law comes camping with us three times a year, and we see Tina’s Dad intermittently, but as for the rest of my in-laws ……. well, there’s hundreds of them.

I suppose having annual birthday parties for great grandma who lived to be nearly 108 ensured that more generations kept in touch than is often the case for many families. Sadly Nanna died a while back, but the tradition of “The Meal” continues, and “The Family” still meets up regularly. There is something that I always tell my children and the new boyfriends and girlfriends of “The Family”. You know you’ve arrived when you can have someone pick two members of “The Family” at random and you can trace the relationship of one to the other. I think I can do this now. Daniel can’t.

However, I often give family reunions a miss, and Tina comes back with messages of greetings from assorted family members. Of which I usually rather dismissive. But tonight I’m finding myself wondering if I’ve not been a bit harsh on them.

This evening Tina organised a get together for the more local family members, many of whom I’ve not seen for years. All of whom were genuinely pleased to see me. They all chatted animatedly with Kate and Dan; Kate is definitely becoming “a fan of family”. She doesn’t miss a reunion these days. I suppose it’s to be encouraged. (My side of the family never meets up. I have cousins, aunts and uncles I’ve not seen in over ten years.)

It’s always fun to see my niece & nephews. Little Paul had a poo (which he proudly announced), together we scoffed far too many chips, he told me about his list for Santa (an iPod and a thingamajig) and he insisted I looked after him every time he wanted to wander off to the loo. Fiona sat back while Kate drew flowers on her cheeks in eye-liner.

The pub served “Level Best” – probably my number one all time favourite ale, the food was good

All things considered a good night out. I can’t help but wonder if I should make more effort in future.

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19 November 2006 (Sunday) - NeverWinter

19 November 2006 (Sunday) - NeverWintermagnify

About three years ago I realised that my pile of spare PC bits was so enormous that I had no more room for an I/O controller, let alone a fat Agnes. So, having been told that building a PC is a bit like making lego, I thought I’d have a go. I bodged together two working PCs, and for a while they sat in my back room, gathering dust.

It was about that time that a whole group of us used to go to the Technofairs every Sunday to see what computer bargains we could pick up. I once got a cheap monitor, and a mucky DVD. There was one fair we went to round about January 04 when one of our number spent nearly £500 on various PC components. I helped him carry them back to the car. We gave him a lift home, but at his house he didn’t seem very keen to get his stuff out of the car. A vague comment of “Right, I’ll leave it all with you then” and a smile was all I got before he wandered off home.

It transpired that somewhere along the line he’d got the idea that I was the world’s best PC builder, and apparently in a fit of drunken bravado I’d offered to build him a PC if he bought the bits……

….So there I was with £500 (ish) worth of bits that I’d claimed I could bodge into a working PC. Well, it has to be said that I had to make one trip to the shop to get the right lead, but to my eternal amazement, I got the thing to work. On delivering the PC to its owner, I saw he was playing a virtual reality game on his old PC. Like a fool I asked “What’s that game?”

That was nearly three years ago now.

You can get Neverwinter Nights really cheap. You can download thousands (literally) of extra games for it for free. You can waste two hours every night (on average) on it. You can choose what sort of character you want to play, you get all sorts of weapons, and you get to traipse round loads of different landscapes righting wrongs, killing orcs, goblins, basically anything that needs twatting. Currently I’m determined to get through this plague of killer zombie rats….

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20 November 2006 (Monday) eBay again

20 November 2006 (Monday) eBay againmagnify

The auctions closed this morning. I sold:

A pair of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Shoelaces that I found during the cub’s paper collection.

A “Campaign for Real Ale” tie that has been kicking around the house for years

A Star Trek tie that has seen better days.

My old mobile phone

After I’ve paid my postage & eBay costs, profit should be about £50 which should come in handy for Xmas. I wonder what else I can find to flog in the meantime.

Mind you, this last bunch of auctions wasn’t entirely without hassle. I had an Italian chap interested in the mobile phone:

dear sirs, how do you want for your 6630?? is it ok? do you send in italy?? write me soon” to which I replied “The opening bid is £0.99. It is OK. I can send to Italy for £10.

He continued his interest by asking “can you tell me about euro?..and shipment??..do it work?? write me soon..” so I replied “Euros NO !!!! £ paypal it works” Perhaps rather unfriendly, but as language seemed to be an issue I thought I’d keep it simple.

But I don’t think it got across the language barrier as he replied “ok..payment what?? write me soon!”. I wondered if I’d been too simplistic, so I tried as a reply ”The opening bid is £0.99. I can send to Italy for £10” . Obviously the concept of an auction wasn’t something with which the chap was overly familiar as he then asked “OK pounds. How much where I send you?”

Better eBayers than me would have given up by now, but I persevered with “The payment is whatever the auction ends at. PLUS £10 for postage to Italy. please note that is Pounds and NOT Euros.” It was at this point that I checked the auction and saw that with only a few hours to go he hadn’t even made a bid on the phone.

And people wonder why all my eBay auctions have as my third “term and condition:

Je ne parle pas français tres bien, Ich spreche nicht Deutsches. Ik spreek het geen Nederlands, Non parlo italiano, Eu não falo Portugese, No hablo español, joH'a' 'oH wIj DevwI' jIH DIchDaq Hutlh pagh

I cannot speak or read any language other than English, and so I cannot respond if you have written to me in any other language.


21 November 2006 (Tuesday) - Xmas pressies and free advice

It's just over a month to Xmas - is it very selfish of me to publish my "Xmas wish list" here ?

Also - I see another blog I regularly read has decided to make the blog entry for today to be a "tip for the day". Here's mine - something I was told by an Italian restaurateur back in the summer of 1980. But now 26 years later I find it to still be very true:

NEVER trust anyone who calls you "My friend" whilst talking to you rather than using your name.


22 November 2006 (Wednesday) - A rittle bit lacist

According to the song, “Everyone’s a rittle bit lacist”. I try not to be, but sometimes…..


With a beard long enough in which to hide a raccoon, Johnny Foreigner’s religion forbade him to eat during daylight hours. But he got hungry. (Which is rather the point of the fasting) But rather than following his religious convictions, he decided to kill and eat a swan. Any sensible person would buy some chips, but no, this one kills a swan and makes off with it in a carrier bag.

He got caught, and then started a vicious tirade against the UK.

If he doesn’t like the UK, what’s he doing here? Why doesn’t he clear off back to ….. ….where they will cut his tongue out for saying what he does about his country of residence.

Am I being unreasonable?


23 November 2006 (Thursday) - Meetings

I waste so much time going to meetings. And they are always the same. They are called by someone who has either already decided what is going to happen, or has been told by “higher authority” what they are supposed to do. That person then goes through the motions of convening a meeting and of inviting comment. What a waste of time!  Everyone present merely competes to talk rubbish for as long as they can. And no matter how much you’ve steeled yourself not to play that game, you find yourself caught up in it – you HAVE to have your ten minutes of talking twaddle too. Soon you’ve all wasted hours of time that could have been far better spent elsewhere. And then whoever called the meeting sends you all on your way, circulates minutes of how he wished the meeting had gone and does what he was going to do anyway.

Why is it that people from all walks of life seem to love meetings? They are a totally futile waste of the little precious time we all have. Why can’t we just get given a “to-do” list and spend the time we would waste in a meeting just getting on with whatever it is we’re supposed to be getting on with? But….

I’ve seen the future – and it’s on an agenda.

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24 November 2006 (Friday) - Dull

I've absolutely nothing to say for once.

I got up - no muesli so I roughed it with oats-so-simple. This change to the daily routine turned out to be the high spot of the day's excitement. It was downhill from here.

I went to work. Which was as dull. I came home. I did the ironing. I watched telly. I checked emails. 250 spam, four worth having. I'm off to kip now. Let's hope something happens tomorrow.


25 November 2006 - No one would have believed

25 November 2006 - No one would have believedmagnify

An invitation to an evening out – a very good friend had recently acquired the DVD of the stage show of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, and did anyone fancy watching it?

As this is a double CD that I often play in the car whilst on long lonely boring journeys, I was keen to see it. If you’ve not seen it I can thoroughly recommend it. The show was really well done, with a full orchestra and a fit bird TM on the xylophone. The casting was excellent, using Richard Burton’s original narration, with one or two original cast members (if you looked closely enough). Something I found absolutely amazing was the actor (brilliantly) playing the part of the parson was none other than he who sang (arguably) the worst song in the universe – the theme to Star Trek: Enterprise. And in keeping with the Trek theme, I swear there was a Vulcan playing the keyboards.

I must admit that I had one or two reservations about how the story would work as a stage show, but in retrospect I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s something that I am now intending to see done live on stage in London about this time next year.

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26 November 2006 (Sunday) - Aliens!

On the way home from last night’s showing of War of the Worlds, a very good friend and I were discussing the Fermi Paradox. If you’re not sure what the Fermi paradox is, it’s the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for our contact with such civilizations. Basically it says “If there ARE aliens, where are they?” My mate had ideas about computerised civilisations and the like who didn’t want to talk with us mere mortals, but I’m not entirely convinced with that argument. So I wasted an hour or two today on this train of thought…

I started off with the Drake equation to work out how many planetfuls of aliens there are.

N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x fL

N is how many planetfuls of aliens there are. The other factors are… somewhat problematical, but let’s have a guess at them.

R* is the rate of star formation in our galaxy (Stars per year)

Seven. http://www.physorg.com/news9595.html

fp is the fraction of stars that have planets around them

100%. Everything we’ve found in space has something spinning round it.

ne is the fraction of stars with planets that are capable of sustaining life

God only knows. For this number, we can take the percentage of stars in our galaxy that are like our sun to begin with. 9%. Or we can take it to be much more generous at about 30 – 40%. Hopefully current NASA projects will shed some light on this.

fl is the fraction of planets in ne where life evolves

Again, who knows? Let’s be generous here and guess it happens half the time. 50%

fi is the fraction of fl where intelligent life evolves

Again, who knows? Let’s be generous here and guess it happens half the time. 50%

fc is the fraction of fi that try to communicate with other planets

Well, Neanderthals didn’t and dolphins don’t, but we could. 33%

fL is the expected lifetime of such a civilization in years

This is the biggie ! How long between us building a radio telescope and us blowing ourselves up, or succumbing to religious acceptance that astronomy is the work of the devil. In an article in Scientific American, this is estimated as 420 years, based on compiling the durations of sixty historical civilizations. But…most of these civilizations did not destroy their technology, and they were succeeded by later civilizations which carried on those technologies, so this estimate should be regarded as pessimistic.

Let’s try some numbers. Well, go on – I’ll leave you to make some assumptions and to do some sums. In my best case scenario with ne including a LOT more stars than ones exactly like our sun, and a generous fL of 50 000 there are 23 333 planetfuls of aliens in our galaxy.

That’s LOADS of aliens. Fermi was right – where ARE they? But Fermi forgot one thing. Space is big. Really big. I mean, you might think it’s a long way to the chemist’s but that’s just peanuts to space. We know the shape of the galaxy. We know the size of the galaxy. We can calculate the volume of the galaxy. It’s about 130 899 693 75 000 cubic light years (give or take a couple). Now assuming that these aliens are evenly distributed (which they probably aren’t), it’s just simple (!) sums to work out that on average they will be separated by a distance of some 825 light years. Somewhat closer in the middle, somewhat further apart on the edge, probably about correct in the part of the galaxy where we are.

So let’s assume I’m right (for once). The first aliens to theoretically be able to hear our radio and TV noise will do so sometime in the late twenty eighth century. And IF they did hear us and IF they replied right away we’ll hear them in about the year 3590 (give or take a few years). But will they hear us? And why can’t we hear other aliens? Assuming they are all using radio…. Our planet is the third loudest source of radio noise in our solar system. Jupiter and the sun are louder. Much louder. Trying to hear alien radio waves is akin to me sitting in my back garden trying to listen to my mother’s TV in Hastings whilst she’s doing the hoovering and got the washing machine going.

So there you are Bernie. Aliens are there, but a LONG way away and there’s too much background noise to hear them.



27 November 2006 (Monday) - Fitness

27 November 2006 (Monday) - Fitnessmagnify

At the weekend one of my colleagues went to the gym (!) where she was running (!) on the treadmill (!). Unfortunately she dropped her bottled water (!). Is the fact that she fell over it and broke her ankle God’s way of saying we should eat more chips? I think so. No one ever got run over by a bus when jogging by sitting at home watching the telly. But then there’s the medical opinion:

Well Mr Badger, we’ve got the results of your tests, and it appears you’re a fat bastard

Gosh Doc, is it serious?”

I ask you – five years at medical school and a dozen more years in various junior medical positions in various hospitals all over the country to tell me I’m fat. I’m not fat – I’m the way God made me, and attempting to change that way is to go against divine purpose. And consequently risk divine wrath and eternal hell fire.

But my mother clucks on about why I should lose weight. Apparently it’s good for me. Being fat isn’t good for my heart. If I lose weight I’ll live longer. Apparently that’s a scientific fact. It says so on the Internet, so it must be true. It also says on the Internet when I’m going to die. (http://www.deathclock.com) – I go on Monday, December 3, 2035 when I shall be 69. But if I go all super healthy I get to live longer. I actually get two more years.

Another pint, anyone?



28 November 2006 (Tuesday) - Fun at Tesco’s

I popped into Tesco’s today. They’ve got this brilliant idea - a self-service checkout. You read the screen and it tells you what to do in step- by – step instructions. Really basic. “Scan in the next item” (beep!) “Put your item in the packing area” (beep!)

You scan in the bar codes of each item, and on the screen is a list of what you’ve bought and the running total price. When you’re scanned in everything you press the button marked “finished shopping”. You then swipe in your Tesco clubcard, and then either pay by cash or credit card. The machine then gives you your change and a receipt, and off you go with a smile and a happy whistle. How easy could that be?

Perhaps I was unlucky to go shopping when all the retards went shopping too. One just stood and stared at the machine. I thought this one was going to cry, but it gave up and went to a “proper” checkout. Another one scanned in the same bag of crisps six times and then wondered why there were six bags of crisps on her bill when she only wanted one. So she went off cursing that she had to get five more bags. Another one tried to scan in a mushroom. Yet another one confused the poor machine so much she actually managed to crash the software. One scanned in a brand of disinfectant spray and then started shouting at the machine that it was a “bathroom product” and not “kitchen spray”. One got quite aggressive because she couldn’t find the “packing area” that the machine mentioned. You would think that the shelf next to the machine with all the carrier bags labelled “packing area” might be a contender for this position…..  There was a member of staff whose permanent job it was to deal with the thickos who can’t follow the simplest of instructions. And she DID look busy.

It would have been far quicker for me to have gone to a “proper” checkout, but I waited patiently. This was better and more fun than the telly. But on my way home I realised that these might be retards, but they are normal people too. They are allowed to vote. They do jury service. Scary!

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29 November 2006 (Wednesday) - The world’s gone mad

Yesterday I met all the retards in Tesco’s. Today I find them everywhere.

Driving to the Medway Maritime Hospital this morning I was listening to the radio. Apparently “there's no such thing as a bad kid. Bad children don't exist - bad behaviour exists.” Or so claimed some incredibly stupid social worker. One lives and learns. My experience with the cubs would contradict that. Some kids ARE just plain horrible. There’s plenty of families about with one or two well behaved children, and one total little sh*t that does whatever it pleases. The same parental best efforts, but two totally different results. On the other hand… there’s other kids that come from the most deprived and violent families that turn out to be the most likeable people and grow up to be model citizens. Where’s parental influence there? Perhaps crackpot social workers should go out and meet real people before talking such rot? But it’s these crackpots who get on the radio and influence government policy.

I eventually got to Medway. Then I sat through a meeting (!) Fascinating! - I took notes. There is all sorts of stuff about to happen in my network. Pathnet and care sets and DWS and requestable user profiles and CVD - and in January I have been invited to Event One. (I thought Event One was the creation of the universe some time ago, but apparently it isn't.)  The meeting was amazing, even more so when you consider the fact that up until today I didn’t even know that I had a network to which stuff could happen. The meeting finished by the chairman asking for someone else to volunteer to take over as chairman (Presumably the excitement is too much for him). As I came out of the meeting at mid day I turned to my opposite number from Dartford (someone I’ve known since 1983) and asked her “W.T.F. was that all about?” I suppose it’s some consolation that she didn’t know either.

And then on the way home yet another masterstroke on the radio. Legal experts are recommending that rather than having one crime of “murder”, there should be two sorts. One where a thug deliberately kills someone, and another where a thug only intended to deliver a good kicking but actually killed “by mistake” which apparently isn’t quite so serious.

The world’s gone mad !


30 November 2006 (Thursday) - My Boy

My Boy TM passed his driving test today. He needn’t think he’s making off with my bus!