Archive for March, 2004

I’ve Arrived!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

OK, so just time for a quick update…

I’ve arrived! I really am a member of the blogging community now. Both SimonG and Mort have added me to their sidebars.

It’s a shame all my new readers won’t get anything new for a day or three really…


Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

I’ve decided it must be something to do with whatever-it-is that I’ve got, that’s making me feel a bit down and a bit under the weather. There seem to be a lot of people suffering the same, including, remarkably, Omally. Still, he left a cheerful, incomprehensible comment in my “comments”, so that’s all right.

This may be the last Blog for a few days, as I’m going to be away and may not be able to prevail upon my host’s generosity with their internet connection…never mind, I’ll tell you all about it (in excruciating detail) when I get back. And hopefully sometime over the weekend I’ll be able to catch the geocache “Grockles’ Gumbo North”, the only one in that series that I haven’t yet got.

Oh, and my one remaining missing eBay purchase turned up today, so I’m a happy bunny on that front now as well.

Time now for The Archers, so I’ll leave you to it. Look after yourselves in my absence, and I’ll see you all soon.


Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

I really don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling a bit down lately…

OK, I know I’ve still got the remnants of that cold hanging around, and I’ve still got that that nasty raspy cough. In fact, every time I cough I remind myself of my Dad…and he died of lung cancer. I think hidden away within me is this mortal dread that when my time comes, it’ll be the same way. Of course, the fact that my longest-standing friend is undergoing chemo at this very moment, brings on thoughts of mortality.

I should be so happy…I’ve just got the car I’ve wanted for twenty years, yet all I can think about is how much it cost (in spite of the fact that I bought it well within budget), and what’ll happen if anything goes wrong with it (although there’s no reason why it should, and it’s in warranty). I’m going away this weekend to see some great friends, yet all I’m thinking is what a long drive it is to get there (in spite of the fact that I love driving, and it’s a journey I’ve done loads of times and not had a problem).

I think I need to give myself a good shake up!

Anyway, if you read my blog last week about eBay you’ll be pleased to know that one of the missing items arrived today – and I’ve emailed the vendor of the other item, so we’ll see what happens about that. And now I’m going to go and make a phone call, have a shower, and get an early night.

Toodle pip one and all.

Just Another Manic Monday

Monday, March 29th, 2004

By ‘eck, chums, I didn’t want to get up this morning!

Anyway, I managed, and staggered in to work, then a quick swap to a company car, then up to Byfleet. We didn’t stay there long, but it took most of the day – if you see what I mean. Coming back we were held up by a huge traffic jam leading into West Byfleet, it looked as if a section of road had been closed because of an unsafe building.

Then this evening was spent at Hospital Radio.

I hope I’ll blog a bit more interestingly tomorrow!

Rasp, Crackle and Pop

Sunday, March 28th, 2004

Rasp – my throat is still playing up! Much coughing and wheezing, although I do feel better than I have done recently. I managed to get up in time for church this morning, although I chickened out of serving in case I started epistaxising all over the place.

Crackle – I found out why the power socket in the boot of the new car wasn’t working, and replaced the fuse. A small victory, but it takes me much closer to having the ham radio kit installed, and also the wiring for the talking satnav.

Pop – Mum and I went out for lunch today, celebrating the fact that last week was Mothering Sunday. In spite of being full already, we both made space for a pudding. Groan!

After coming home I dug out the new pressure washer and tried it on the concrete garden path. Brilliant! Mind you, I ended up soaking wet. Oh, and I forgot to tell you yesterday – at long last, after waiting for seven months, I have an appointment for my hospital test, which will determine the most appropriate treatment for my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Of course, the test date clashes with my first aid refresher course, but these things happen.

And finally, but definitely not least…prayer and positive thoughts to Mark, who starts his chemotherapy tomorrow morning.

Unable to think of a witty headline

Saturday, March 27th, 2004

I have the new car!

But to get things in order…I had a nasty nosebleed last night. I’m prone to these when I’ve got a cold; I don’t know if I blow my nose harder than I’m supposed to or what, but colds and sneezes inevitably lead to bloodstained hankies with me. This one didn’t hang about long, luckily. Then this morning I collected my new mighty gruntmobile from the sales place: It didn’t have much diesel in, so I took it to the garage over the road to fill up. This seemed to take forever, it’s got a HUGE tank (speaking of tanks, I asked the garage to arange for a towbar to be fitted before I collected the car: Said towbar looks like a spare part from a tank!). Then I decided to go for a drive to familiarise myself with the automatic transmission – OK, I was really looking for a big deep ford to drive through: Sadly, the only one I found, The Watersplash at Brockenhurst, was dry.

Then home to a few hours of gadget-fitting: So far I’ve got the alarm in, and the handsfree for the phone, and the ham radio aerial: Still to come, the ham radio kit itself, the GPS, the wiring from the GPS to the PDA, and the stereo. But that’s for another day, it’s time to retire with my “Off Road Driving” book, and a stiff cold restorative.

Oh, and something very important: Before stowing the new pressure washer (see yesterday) in the shed, I thought I’d better check that it worked. This is the most fun you can have with clothes on! Look out at the next geocache bash, Omally!

Keep well one and all…

Friday, March 26th, 2004

I’ve still got a cold and a cough…I only went to work today because I had some personal phone calls to make, and some web-surfing I wanted to do.

Actually that isn’t true. Our national Health and Safety advisor came to visit the site, and sort of expected me (the local equivalent of him) to be there. He spent most of the day on the site, by the time he left all I could be bothered to do was sort out the notes from the day, and leave.

Then the oddest thing happened…I went into Boots for some more cold medicine (I’d taken the last of it during the day), and left the Swan Centre with a pressure washer. Somehow I was distracted into Argos, and they had some special offers…

Anyway, the only other thing that happened today was that I rang the guy from the garage and he confirmed that my car will be ready to pick up in the morning. Now I’ve just got to do the copper fandango on the phone to the insurance company.

I’m just going offline to make a phone call. I may be on hold for several hours…


Thursday, March 25th, 2004

I’m a bit of an eBay addict. I just love surfing through the pages of eBay, looking for bargains, bidding and winning. I don’t even mind NOT winning (normally), it’s the taking part that’s fun. And of course there’s always the dream of bidding a quid for something worth hundreds, and no one else bothers to bid at all…

Anyway, I’ve been eBaying for about a year, as a result of which I have more GPSs than anyone could possibly have a use for. A friend of mine collects football programmes, so it’s been a fine source of birthday and Christmas pressies: I got my PDA cheap through eBay, and have since bought loads of bits and bobs to go with it. And I made a tidy profit in my one foray into selling.

Now, I fear, the inevitable may have happened…I think I’ve been double stitched. A couple of weekends ago I sat up far too late on both Saturday and Sunday nights, bidding for things and watching the auctions close. I paid for one of the items (a GPS, believe it or not) straight away: The other seller didn’t take Paypal so I sent him a cheque. The cheque was cashed (that is to say, the money left my account) a week ago today.

How long does it take to post a parcel? The guy who sold the GPS has now had my money for a week…I wouldn’t mind, but he only lives about three miles away, if I’d known he was going to take this long I’d have suggested I call in to his house and collect it. The other fellah lives too far away to get a personal call (although I suspect he’ll be getting one if I don’t get my goods soon), I’d have thought at least an email would have been in order.

Maybe I’m being unfair: It IS only two weeks, and even professional sellers say “allow 28 days for delivery”, so I’ll just have to be patient alittle longer. In the meantime, the surfing continues…looking for lights, winches, and other meaty bits of 4×4 kit for the car…

Blog Brush

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

There must be something in the air. The three blogs I’ve read this evening all refer to having blogger’s block, and I was wondering myself what to write. You nearly got “What I Did At Work Today”, and if it bored you half as much as it bored me you’d have soon surfed away to (or something) in search of better entertainment (don’t bother, I’ve just looked, there’s no such site…yet).

But not any more.

I thought I’d check out the Halford’s web site, to see if I needed a special wiring adaptor to fit my CD radio (which I took out of the Primera) into the new car when it comes. Which neatly leads me to the subject of tonight’s rant: WHY IS HALFORDS’ WEBSITE SO SH(‘scuse me, I think that’s Henry’s doorbell)? It’s just told me four times what adaptor I needed to put the radio in a Primera: Not only do I already know that, but I’ve got one! Eventually I persuaded it to explore other models of car, needless to say it wouldn’t acknowledge the existence of the Pajero, so I’ve ordered the Shogun adaptor and hoped it’ll be the same. Then it made me open an account with them, rather than just taking my credit card details and running. The whole experience took half an hour, which I have to admit is rather less than it would have taken to get the same information out of a Halfords assistant. The earliest the adaptor will be with me is next Monday, which neatly answers the question “Shall I install the new radio this weekend?”

And in other news: At lunchtime today I went to the building society to get a cheque* to pay the balance for the car, then on to WH Smith for a magazine called “Fun with your 4×4″. I called in at Poundland while I was in Eastleigh and came away with twelve Penguin bars for a quid…a bargain of Henry the Thirst propotions.

This afternoon at work I ate twelve Penguin bars.

And when I finally reached home this evening, I found Postwoman Peg had excelled herself again: From Amazon she’d brought “Off-Roading in your Four Wheel Drive”, from the Pajero Owners’ Club, the Haynes Manual to the Pajero. From Scottish and Southern Electricity she’d brought my dividend cheque**, which will just about pay for my purchases of lunchtime, and from the Radio Society, an envelope of QSL cards***.

Sadly my cough is still hanging around, so having swigged a dose of cough mixture, I’m off to bed. Night night, one and all.

PS – Ain’t it grand that Omally is back and blogging with us again! Oh, and thanks for the emails, Neil.

*Note to any American readers: This is how people whose first language is English spell the word that you spell “check”

** And again.

***Postcards confirming amateur radio contacts. Some of ‘em are really nice.


Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

No, not that sort of hacking.

It took me ages to get to sleep last night because of this cough. Eventually, after trying a different sleeping position and several nips of whisky, I gave up and resorted to cough medicine. Today I’ve been coughing and wheezing at work all day, and generally feeling spaced out (don’t worry if you eat our products, I spent the day in the office, apart from when I went to the canteen for a curry at lunchtime).

Basically the only useful work thing I did was to print off some charts that at least make it look as if I’d been working hard all day.

Then I went to the gym and sat in the steam room for as long as I could stand, then I went home. I think an early night is called for.

Thing I learned today: There’s still one gadget I forgot to remove from the car…oh bum.

Another thing I learned today: The network Nazis have somehow blocked Haloscan comments, even though we can still see the blogs on Blogspot. Grr>

Road- – – – -s

Monday, March 22nd, 2004

Evening all

The title of today’s piece is intended to convey roadworks without the work.

Southampton has a grant every year from somewhere-or-other to maintain the roads of the city. To receive the grant, the work which the grant is paying for has to be started before the end of the financial year in which the grant is made.

No doubt in other cities who receive the grant, the work is scheduled over the year: There may even be some consideration given to causing minimal inconvenience to motorists, but dear old Southampon, the city that never sleeps*, does it differently.

Here, the work is saved until just before the end of the financial year, then loads of sets of roadworks are started, then abandoned. A week or so ago, a road near me was closed, and the road adjoining it restricted, and a traffic island half built. The road closure is still in place, causing chaos to local businesses, but progress is there none. This morning we discovered that the main northbound road out of the city is down to one lane, also because of started-and-abandoned roadworks. Needless to say there had been no warning, and Radio Soapbox didn’t think to mention it until the rush hour was mainly finished (see last Tuesday’s blog).

In other news, we had a visit at hospital radio tonight from a nice police lady, investigating the constant vandalism to members’ cars. I’d have liked to have spent more time in her company, but Geoffrey the resident bore cornered her and started droning on about some old codswallop, after which she couldn’t wait to get away. Then I had a phone call which rather upset me…but that’s someone else’s secret, not mine to blog about.

Then I went home…and now it’s BEDTIME!!!!!!!

Night night one and all…

*mainly because of the noise made by all the pi**ed university students rolling home from the late night bars

Honest Toil

Sunday, March 21st, 2004

Today, dear reader, I did something I haven’t done for ages…I skived church this morning. I often miss church because I’ve got something else going on, but the last time I missed a morning service simply because I couldn’t be a**ed to get up was the morning after the Farley Mount Geocache Bash last year.

Not that I wasted the time…I got up and read last night’s blogs from people, then just when I judged that I’d let the fuse burn short enough I revealed that I hadn’t forgotten Mother’s Day after all, producing card and presents just in time. The rest of the morning, and most of the afternoon, was spent stripping the gadgets out of the old car, ready for trade-in day. Now I’ve got the following goodies piled up on the workbench…

  • A GPS, with associated wiring and aerials
  • My ham radio set, with remote mount front panel and cabling, hands-free mike kit etc.
  • CD/radio (I’ve put the original Nissan radio back in…and yes, it works!)
  • Mobile phone hands free kit
  • Three sets of aerial cable and two aerial mounting brackets
  • A broken warning triangle (well, it might be fixable).

This, of course, means that until I get this lot into the new car, I can’t use the workbench for actually working. Oh well.

And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t take my Mum out for lunch because she prefers to go out when it isn’t Mothers’ Day, and the pubs have fewer little kids in them…

A Little Calmer

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

So, apart from buying a new car (see below), what else have I been doing today? Well, not much really. I stayed in bed late-this is increasingly becoming a Saturday habit as weekdays stetch, starting earlier and finishing later. Then I went to the car sales place which I’d previously earmarked as being a good one to get my new diesel-guzzler from, and picked and test-drove a car. Came home and phoned the insurance company, to see how much extra the new car would cost, then after lunch went back and put a deposit on it. It should be ready to collect next Saturday.

Ever since I passed my driving test, I’ve always wanted a big meaty ****-off four wheel drive. I’ve never had one before, because I could never afford one nice enough to be used as an everyday car, and there isn’t room around here to keep a second, hobby-only car. But at long last, thanks to a succession of pay rises, the fact that I don’t smoke, barely drink, and don’t often have foreign holidays, and the habit the Japanese have of sending their used cars to the UK cheap, my dream car is mine…or at least, it will be in a weeks time.

And I’ve made no progress yet on stripping the gadgets out of the Primera.

Spent the evening taking part in “Test the Nation” on the telly: If I’m not too ashamed I may share my score with you in a later blog.

And to save you scrolling down too far, those pics of the car are here and here

Brrrm Brrrm

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

Greetings Blog-chums

You’ll get a proper blog later (if I stay sober), but for now, I spent today buying a new car! Well, a second-hand car if you want to be accurate…#

There are links to 2 tiny pix of it here and here.

All I now have to do is get out all the gadgets that are in the old one…

More later.

Friday, March 19th, 2004

OK, I should have blogged this last night when I got in from Hospital Radio. I didn’t.

Yesterday morning I had an unusual email from a friend, he’d been trying to phone me the night before and couldn’t get through (I was blogging). We arranged that he’d ring me at Hospital Radio last night instead.

He’s got cancer! Not only is he younger than me (which is scary enough), but this is a guy I’ve known FOREVER…well, since 1976, which seems like forever. We’ve done loads of walking, the South Downs Way, the South West Way, bits of the Pennine Way. We’ve sat in bus stations late at night (a result of badly-planned walking trips), and we once sat in a leaky tent in the Yorkshire Dales yelling “We believe in fairies, Tinkerbell!” (we’d convinced ourselves that if we yelled it loudly enough, it would stop raining).

Anyway, I don’t want this to sound like an epitaph, because he starts treatment a week Monday, so there’s reason to be cheerful. And there’s another one…he’s getting married in the Autumn or late Summer and he’s asked me to be the best man! I’ve never even been to a Buddhist wedding before, never mind been best man at one. I was warned today that it probably means wearing a flowery dress…can’t be any worse than what Jenny made me wear when I gave her away…(there’d be a link to a pic here, but I can’t find the pic…).

And in other news…I went geocaching after work today and found “For Poppy”, then I went to the gym. Then when i got home I’d had a letter about the council tax, which is bad enough, but it came in an envelope labelled “Local Taxation Services”. Services? SERVICES?

I suppose, given the meaning of the term “being serviced” when used by the agricultural community, it’s fair enough.


Thursday, March 18th, 2004

Well, a better day today, I’m pleased to report…although I did get a bit of a nasty surprise when I did the online-banking thingy and saw the state of my account. Luckily it’s payday tomorrow (well, it would be Saturday, but they move it forward when the 20th falls on a weekend).

The immediate boss is away on a placement at another factory, hoping to sort out a few problems they’ve got there, and Head Office haven’t sent me any more problems lately – although I did get an email from the national H&S manager apologising that he wouldn’t be down to see me today. As I didn’t know he was supposed to be coming, I wasn’t too upset by that. As a result, the hardest thing I did all day (apart from getting up this morning) was a conversation with the guy who used to be my boss (before I was moved sideways) and Everybody’s Boss (stands up as he types that), reviewing yesterday’s meeting.

I’m now mildly traumatised because MSN Messenger won’t let me in, and when I went to SimonG’s chatroom, I was the only one there. Still, I’m sure these things’ll soon sort themselves out. Meanwhile, I notice that Esscafe has planted a new geocache well within lunchtime range of where I work. Hope it’s not raining TOO hard tomorrow lunchtime.

Ooh, just remembered, must do something about a Mothers’ Day gift…

Have a nice evening / day / temporal anomaly of your choice.


Midweek Moan

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

I used to do a hospital radio show with Sarah, and part of the programme was “Sarah’s whinge of the week”. Seems like my blogs have all been whinges this week…sorry about that.

Anyway, I logged on at work today and found that the network Nazis (see yesterday’s blog) have now blocked access to Blogger, so I can’t even blog from work! Other than that it wasn’t a bad day…I worked, I went to the gym, then I had my supper, then I went home. I should have gone to House Group, but I was toooo tired.

So now I sit here, listening to Portsmouth losing to Liverpool (well, they are at the moment anyway), and for the first time joining in with SimonG’s chatroom.

More tomorrow, if I can handle the excitement


Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Not my best day at work…

I have two computers in my office. One is a network terminal, connected to the company network and on which I do most of my work. It doesn’t have a disk drive or anything like that, partly because it doesn’t need it and partly because it’s company policy, as a guard against anyone loading games etc to the company server.

The other is a standalone PC, on which I keep health and safety, accident and health records. It is company policy that stuff like this, with people’s confidential data, must NOT be stored on the network, but on a standalone, and further, that the standalone will NOT have internet access. This, of course, is a data protection measure. You’ll guess that we don’t have many of these standalones, and the ones we do have, all have confidential data on them.

Anyway, yesterday I was emailed an update to the Health and Safety database programme which lives on my standalone. Muttering to myself about how they should have posted me a disk, I just e-mailed it to myself at home (where I have a dial-up connection), meaning to write it to a CD and take it in. This evening, attempting to download it on my 56k dial-up, I noticed it was over 6 megs…

This morning I was sent a new Contractor Training Package on CD-Rom. This has to be installed on a standalone PC (all ours are in locked offices and contain confidential data remember), and once installed, has to have various site-specific information added, by editing a number of text files. I finally located a PC (in the training room) on which no-one would mind me installing this stuff, and installed it – then found that there are 20 text files to edit, all of which have been saved to the disk as read only! OK, not insurmountable, but an extra embuggerance.

Then working my way through the package I find that half the information is inaccurate anyway, and the rest is written in such technical jargon that most of our contractors (who are selected by cost rather than IQ) won’t understand it.

Meanwhile, the Nazis who police our internet access have blocked access to all Livejournal sites, so many of my friends’ blogs are inaccessible. Funny, they seem quite happy with those people who are running eBay businesses on company time, but reading a Livejournal in your teabreak is verboten.

The only reason I stay at this place is because they’re paying for me to do my Diploma. Oh, and the fact that we could get redundancy in the next couple of years, and I’ve been there long enough for that not to be sneezed at.

Oh, and the occasional free lunches, one of which is tomorrow! Night Night, one and all!

Hello hello…

Monday, March 15th, 2004

Have you ever thought how useless radio traffic reports can be? Not those on Radio 2, obviously, presented by the lovely Travel Totty Lynn Bowles (goes for a quiet lay down…)…I’m thinking of local radio. Round here, our travel news comes from BBC Radio Soapbox, home of possibly the world’s most useless traffic presenter. Her favourite tricks so far include:
Confusing Junction 14 on the M3 with Junction 4
Calling Hinkler Road, Hinkley Road (she did that this morning, hence the topicality of the rant)
Worst of all, calling “Maybray-King Way” “Maybray Kingsway”. Lord Maybray-King was a famous resident of the city and a tireless campaigner for disabled rights, and it’s a pretty poor show that local radio have obviously never heard of him.

This particular presenter is also responsible for the “Radio Soapbox Computer Tip of the Day”, usually something on the level of “If you want to write a letter in Word, it helps to switch the computer on first.”*

Then of course there’s the usual travel presenters’ trick of telling you the M3’s all clear, when you’re sitting in a mile-long queue of traffic and haven’t moved for twenty minutes, but they all do that. Some of them also enjoy the reverse trick, sending you on pointless diversions when the road you’re avoiding is flowing freely.

Anyway, having got that out of my system, I might write about something useful tomorrow. Alternatively, it might be Wholemeal Bread at last…

*Obviously better advice would be “If you want to write a letter in Word, forget it and use a pen and paper instead”.

WWW (Wet Wet Wet)

Sunday, March 14th, 2004

Have you ever been so wet, that when you get home and get your wet kit off, even your underwear is soaked? Since most of my readers are either geocachers or keen walkers I guess the answer will be “Yes”, but you’re getting today’s tale anyway…

I belong to an organisation called Raynet. The organisation was born out of the disastrous East coast floods of 1953, where many lives were lost: The death toll would have been much worse, had it not been for a group of local radio amateurs who got together, passing messages about where the problems were, and who needed rescuing. Anyway, Raynet now exists to provide communications support to the emergency services, and we also do the comms at local events. Today our group was at the Rockbourne Horse Ride, and the rain was horizontal! I was supposed to be doing organiser liaison, just wandering around and talking to people, but I ended up on a checkpoint getting wet. Much mud abounded – Omally would have loved it – and several cars and horse boxes ended up being towed out by a big tractor!

Then I drove home, stopping at the car wash on the way. I hosed out the wheel arches, so if you live in West Totton, sorry – it’s my fault your drains are clogged.

And now it’s chinese takeaway time…

Crowds and Quiet

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

It seems I only finished one blog about ten minutes ago, now I’m posting again. This is the real Saturday blog!

After I finished talking to you all this morning, the postman brought me a nice surprise – you’ll recall I had a surprisingly good exam result a couple of weeks ago, well today, I had my first piece of mail with my new letters after my name! OK, it was only some training information and a magazine, but it still counts!

After that excitement it was Tesco time: I didn’t wanna do it, but the need for petrol drove me out, then I discovered I was low on sad person microwave meals for one, so that sent me into the store. I have NEVER seen Tesco so full! Old people, people with brats in pushchairs, and those gormless little kids who see you wanting to get through, and just stand there staring at you. The good thing was that while I was there, I discovered a solitary portion of Y Fenni: This is a welsh cheese with mustard grains in, recommended to me by Mark the Buddhist, and at last I’ve got some.

Anyway, suitably stocked with freezer food, cheese, pick ‘n mix, tomato sauce, sweetener, and (of course) Orange and Passion Fruit j2o, I escaped and returned home. The rest of the day was spent in happy gadgeteering, making some new software run on the iPaq, enjoying the smell of hot solder, and listening to my CDs of Robert Rankin, referenced earlier.

And now it’s time to go and have some of that Y Fenni with a pork pie for my supper. See you anon, gentle reader…

Choc stats: A couple of mint choc thingies from the pick ‘n mix. There’ll probably be a finger of Twix later.