Archive for March, 2004

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

Greetings, my blog-reading buddies…

Sorry this one’s a bit late – in fact, I’m writing it Saturday morning. Yesterday I went to work, went geocaching, went to a meeting, and went back to work again, so by the time I got home all I wanted to do was sleep.

I have this map of southern Hampshire, on which I’ve plotted the locations of all the geocaches within that area that I haven’t found. With one or two exceptions, there’s a very clear circle with a radius of about 12 miles, based on home, within which I’ve cleared up, and outwith which I haven’t. I call this my “Ring of Confidence”. In the last couple of weeks, some caches have been planted inside my ring (I had to get that in somewhere), two of them were the ones I found last Saturday, and another is near Winchester and called “I’m a Geocacher, Get Me Out of Here”. This is a seven part multi, where you solve a puzzle, then find six locations revealed by the puzzle, then at each of those six you find a clue which all together give the final cache location.

Anyway, I left work and, with three hours to kill before the meeting started (in Winchester), decided to have a crack at it. I found the recommended parking, set off on the hunt, and within fifteen minutes was thinking “If I have no more trouble with the rest of it, than I had with the first two, this’ll be an easy one”.

Guess what folks? Of the remaining four clues, I hadn’t found one before it got dark (admittedly it was dark early because of the grotty weather). I had mud, and what looks like tree sap, all up my work trousers, and a couple of new bramble-scratches on my arms, but no more clues.

Oh well, it’ll still be there for another day.

Then the meeting was fun – Peter, who organises them, brings vast amounts of sausage rolls and chocolate cake to keep us in order (thanks Felicity). Then I went back to work to do a risk assessment that could only sensibly be done during that department’s busiest time, then went home to bed.

Choc stats: An Aero, a KitKat, a slice of Felicity’s chocolate cake, and the chocolate decoration on a gingerbread man.


Thursday, March 11th, 2004

I’ve noticed since starting blogging that it’s a bit obsessive: Not only do I now have to blog (in fact, I spend my off-line time dreaming up witty things to say in my on-line time*), but I have to search out other blogs to read. If you look left you’ll see a rather modest list of “blogs wot I read”, the real list would be off the bottom of the screen, down your keyboard, across the desk and on to the floor. Last night I discovered one at this location.

Of those I read regularly, Henry the Thirst is thought provoking, Mort’s Mom is fun, and Omally is just weird (those who know him won’t be surprised!). Others are all well worth a read…

And now I’ve spawned my own blogging offspring! Yes, Sarah started blogging after reading my own modest attempts.

Anyway, click around dear gentle reader, and enjoy the blogs that are out there. But be warned…I think it’s addictive!

Choc stats (so far – the day isn’t over!): A Twix, a Toffee Crisp, and a packet of Peanut M&Ms. Oh, and a small Dairy Milk bar. I did skip lunch, though.

*Then forgetting them when it’s time to blog

Red Carpet and a Special Person

Wednesday, March 10th, 2004

We’ve had a lot of important visitors at work this week – so many that if we’d had a red carpet, it would have been worn out by now.

On Monday we had an EFSIS audit: They’re the European Food Safety Inspection Service, and they check us out once a year to ensure that we’re producing to specification, in a hygienic environment, etc. That went OK, although the daydroned on a bit. Then yesterday our Manufacturing Director came down from Head Office to do our six-monthly review, and I had to be part of that for the Health and Safety Review bit. Not overly demanding, AND I got a free lunch…

Today our CEO was on site, basically to have the same presentation that we did yesterday. I asked several weeks ago (before I knew about the CEO visit) if I could have today off, because there was an event I wanted to go to, but it was turned down because I might be needed for the visit. Fair enough, it’s what they pay me for – but needless to say, I wasn’t needed, in fact the boss man had finished and left the site before I even knew he’d arrived. That’s annoying…

I’ve been meaning to ring my friend Jackie (not her real name) for weeks now; We see each other once or twice a year, and in between times correspond by email and telephone. Today I checked my email at lunchtime, and there was one from her updating me on all the latest news, so I took that as the spur to ring. Poor girl, she isn’t in good health, and has a busy family to take care of. She was so pleased that I’d taken the trouble to ring, and I think the chat cheered her, so I was glad that I’d taken the time…although I must admit, I now feel even more guilty that I don’t ring her more often…

Then after work I went to the gym, then to house group (although in our church we call ‘em Life Groups), then home. And now it’s bed time.

Gym stats: 35 minutes on the cross-trainer.
Chocolate stats: A bag of Minstrels, a KitKat, a Cabury Creme Egg, and a finger of Twix.

Happy Talk

Tuesday, March 9th, 2004

Let joy be unconfined! I’ve got my prescription sunglasses back…and my spare ordinary glasses…not to mention all those CDs…
AND MY CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, let there be amazing amounts of “Yay”, and not a little “Woo”, as the lovely Nissan mechanics found the blown fuse that had…

Yes, that’s what I said. The blown fuse that had been the cause of all my woe. There’s an 80 amp fuse buried deep within the recesses of the engine management system, and it had blown, leading to all the effects noted in previous blogs. Anyway, the (is that the doorbell?) car has gone back to the hire company, and I’ve got my own lovely, lovely, if somewhat past-it, Nissan back.

I drove home with a Colin Bass CD playing at full volume: I bought Colin’s “An Outcast of the Islands” CD not long after it came out, because Mark the Buddhist had let me hear his copy and I thought it was great. It’s based on the book by Joseph Conrad, and I thought that maybe I’d enjoy the music even more if I’d read the book. Several fruitless searches of Shirley Library later (I say fruitless, but Shirley seemed to enjoy it), I gave up temporarily, but then when I was on Amazon ordering some Christmas pressies, I needed another six quid to qualify for free postage. Eventually, the Everyman version of the book was mine!

Well, I’m now halfway through, and boy, it’s like wading through treacle. I guess I’m just not cut out for classic literature. Mind you, I’m going to start listening to my Robert Rankin CDs as soon as The Archers is finished…

Maybe Wholemeal blog tomorrow…

I’m Soooooo Excited!

Monday, March 8th, 2004

I’m sorry to disappoint you all, but I just can’t blog about wholemeal bread tonight…I’m toooo excited! I came in from hospital radio (my first time through the front door since going out to work this morning) to discover that Postlady Peg had excelled herself in delivering Exciting Things. There are times when the word ‘plethora’ simply won’t suffice: One of those times, of course, is when you want to describe a very small number of things, but this is another such occasion, and I’ll have to take ‘cornucopia’ out of its velvet lined box and display it to the world.

On most days, my new Raynet ID card, the maps for an event we’re doing this Sunday, and a bill stamped “paid” would be cause for celebration, but tonight they pale into insignificance. For following them through the door in today’s post were:

1) A small package labelled “we saw this and thought of you”, containing a key ring proclaiming “Number One Portsmouth Fan”. If it was meant to be anonymous, it wasn’t very clever of Chris to wrap it in an envelope obviously filched from his workplace – but seriously, thanks guys!

2) A rather larger package from Amazon containing Lynn Truss’s “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”, a book about the spread of poor punctuation, which also contains a well-known joke about a panda.

3) A larger-still package containing my VERY OWN limited edition 9 CD set of “The Antipope”, narrated by the author, Robert Rankin. Mega thanks to Omally for pointing me in the direction of this!

Now I’m in a quandary. I am, as my Gran would have said (if she hadn’t died 28 years ago), “Like a fart in a colander”, not knowing which hole to come through first. Do I listen to the CD, then read the book? Or do I read the book, then listen to the CD? I could try to do both at once, but I suspect that I’d miss the best of both if I did. And would the key ring (not to mention the maps and the ID card) feel left out?

Only one thing for it…I’m off to bed! ‘night all.

(There may be wholemeal bread blog tomorrow).

Park Your Baby Here

Monday, March 8th, 2004

Ooh! My comments on Mother and Baby parking generated a flood of emails…well, one anyway…

In reply – I’ll quite happily take my little Godson shopping, but the shops I’d take him to don’t have mother and child parking – but any time you want him to come home in his first Pompey shirt, just say the word!

Proper blog later…

Sunday, Sunday…

Sunday, March 7th, 2004

An early blog today, as I’m hoping to get all my jobs done in time to relax and enjoy the evening…

This morning I had to be in church early, as it was my turn to be Mr Minibus. This, not surprisingly, involves taking the church minibus (even more of a heap of sh(sorry, was that the doorbell?) than a Daewoo Matiz**), and collecting all the old fogeys who are too frail to get to church any other way. Then, of course, after the service I take them home again. The sad thing is that one of the passengers recently had two hip replacements and is now sprightlier than me.

The service today was one of our monthly informal services, where the worship band plays loud stuff (including a really rockin’ version of “Be Thou My Vision”) and we all have a good time. On the downside, it was the one Sunday of the year (“Stewardship Sunday”) when the speaker reminds us that church expenses are increasing, so if we wouldn’t mind putting just a little more in the hat…

After lunch I rang Jenny: She told me all about her weekend so far, then I couldn’t think of much to tell her as she’d already read yesterday’s blog. Instead, we filled the time when I should have been talking with her nagging me about finding my car and getting my sunglasses back, and then accusing me of being obsessed with geocaching! She’s never met Tim and June…

Now I’m up to my knees in “tidying the workbench” type stuff, and I’ve discovered that I’m missing six rechargeable batteries. I don’t think they’re in the car…

OK, OK, I’ll blog about wholemeal bread tomorrow…

**Lest anyone thinks I’m being ungracious about the free hire car here, I must say that I do appreciate it really, it’s just a bit smaller and less sporty than I’m used to. But as my Mum says, “A third class ride is better than a first class walk“!

Elementary My Dears…

Saturday, March 6th, 2004

Yes thanks, I had a very nice evening…knowing that Jonathon Creek wasn’t on, I’d taken the precaution of videoing a Sherlock Holmes…AND it was a Nigel Bruce / Basil Rathbone one, the original and best!

Before that?

Well, I’d planned to go car shopping, but had a very nice day geocaching instead. I found two new caches that have been planted near home (“3 Way Split” and “The Archers”), then had lunch at the Hampshire Bowman, a pub I hadn’t even known existed! Then on to two which I’d previously failed to find (“Solent View” and “Grockles Gumbo South”), and then to “River Wallington Ramble”. Oh, and I promised you a pic of the Very Small Car didn’t I…here it is, if I can make the linkification work…Small Car.

Oh, so you want my opinion on the footy (stop sniggering, Neil). Well, both sides played well, and Arsenal for once got all their goals without cheating – although it didn’t stop their goalie punching one of our guys in the head when the ref wasn’t looking. And if we play like that for the rest of the season, we’ll avoid relegation.

OK, that’s all the magnanimity you’re going to get – I’m off to bed now. My comments on wholemeal bread produce a flood of email (well, one anyway) for more detail…if nothing exciting happens tomorrow I’ll blog about it then.

To the shops we go…

Friday, March 5th, 2004

OK, a quick update on the car, then on to today’s main subject:

1) The garage still can’t fix my car, so they’ve sent it back to Nissan (along with my prescription sunglasses, my spare ordinary glasses, and my Camel CDs).

2) Meanwhile, true to their promise, they’ve provided me with a hire car free of charge.

3) It’s a Daewoo Matiz. I’d call it the “Pocket Rocket” if it was capable of more than 60 mph: As it is, I call it “the piece of sh(sorry, was that the doorbell?)”. When I can find my camera’s “taking pictures of really small things” setting, I’ll post a photo of it.

So, to today’s rant: Tesco. Regular readers will know that generally, this is my favourite store, with their lovely Clubcard, their seemingly limitless supplies of Orange and Passion Fruit j2o, and the fact that they’re still open when I finish at hospital radio. My special distaste is reserved for their Brooklands store. This is just around the corner from my employer’s local factory, and whenever I’m working there I call into Tesco to collect something nice for lunch (and usually, eight bottles of Orange and Passion Fruit j2o). I’ve had occasion in the past to write to their Customer Lack-of-Services Manager to complain about the lack of variety on the sandwich counter – at first glance it looks like there’s loads of choice there, but when you take away everything made with granary or wholemeal bread (I used to be a baker and I know what’s in them), the remaining choice is usually something vile, like “Hummus” (their spelling), or “White yoghurt and cottage cheese”. I usually go against my principles and have something in wholemeal, just to get a filling with recognisable taste.

This branch has recently undergone a refit, as a result of which I still can’t find the Pick ‘n Mix sweeties. I suspect they don’t do them any more. It’s a shame, because Tesco Pick ‘n Mix (as still provided at Millbrook, my usual store) is second only to Asda in variety and quality. They sell about fifteen different types of widescreen TV, but no Pick ‘n Mix – whose stupid idea was that? Sorry Tesco, I don’t buy groceries at The Sony Centre, and I wouldn’t buy a TV from you (although the Clubcard points would be nice).

Having found most of what I’m looking for, it’s then on to the checkout. If I’m really lucky, one of the “Ten items or less” checkouts will be staffed by the assistant known to all customers as “The Thick One”. She’s so slow that it isn’t unusual for her to read the front page of a newspaper as she’s scanning it. She can’t count to ten, so sneaky beggars with about fifteen items in their basket join her queue, because it looks as if they’ll get through quicker than having to wait behind someone with two trolleys full. They don’t make that mistake again…

Oh, and they’re carving up the car park to provide yet more “Mother and Child” spaces. It doesn’t bother me, I park in them anyway, but to people who stick to the rules it must be really annoying***.

I mention all this because today, I forgot that I’d missed lunch when I came out of the factory, and turned left instead of right, and as a result, bought my lunch at a garage rather than Tesco. I got a cheese and pickle sandwich on white bread (one of my favourites) at a reasonable price. I could park right by the door, and the assistant took my money in seconds!

They didn’t sell Orange and Passion fruit j2o, though.

***I must stress here that although I’m quite happy to deprive a mother and her screaming offspring of their special space near the door, I would never, never, park in a disabled bay*. People who do that are scummy wa(sorry, is that the doorbell?)ers.

*Unless I was driving someone who was entitled to use it, of course.

Thanks to Henry the Thirst for not suing me for stealing his “Is that the doorbell?” profanity eliminator…I hope…

A Wanderin’ I Will Go…

Thursday, March 4th, 2004

To be serious for a moment…
Thanks to Jan and Marie for the congratulations…I’ll take you up on the offers of drinks when I see you! And Congrats in return to Jan, yes, I had heard about the new job…I must buy you a drink in return.

And thanks to Omally for the nice aerial photo of the hallowed Fratton Park…as soon as I can get some nice paper to print it on, it’ll be gracing the office wall.

So, what did I do today? My boss’s boss decreed that one of our other sites, near Bristol, had some boffo initiatives that we should go and look at. So we spent 4 hours on the road to spend 40 minutes at the site.

Thing I learned today: It wasn’t worth it

Of course this meant that I did very little else in my working day, and before long I’m going out again…I have to go to Tesco to search for opportunities to play the Tesco game, to try my hand at late-night-shopping-picking-up-women, and to buy a thank-you present for Mike, who loaned me his car all this week.

More humdrum mumbling tomorrow…

The Tooth, the Whole Tooth…

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004

Well hi there, Blogging chums. Tonight I thought I’d tell you about my tooth. Sadly this isn’t a tale of Dynamic Dental Derring Do, or even a Mild Mannered Molar which in times of crisis nips into a phone box, emerges with its underpants outside its trousers and jets off to save the world. No, this is a story of a normal gnasher, an also-ran of the oral cavity, which fell upon hard times…

Many years ago, I was a patient of the Senile Dentist From Hell. He occasionally extracted or filled the wrong tooth, he often descaled gums rather than teeth, and if they ever have to use my dental records to identify me, my loved ones will probably end up burying a woolly mammoth. But…and it’s a big ‘but’ with a scaredy-cat like me…he gave painless injections. One day, the SenDen decided that this tooth – 2nd lower molar on the left hand side – needed filling. He drilled and drilled, exposed a nerve which he then had to destroy, and finally shovelled in half a pound of wet Polyfilla. There was so little tooth for the filling to hold on to, that within a week, the filling had fallen out. In fact, I had that filling replaced so many times that I used more mercury than the double album of Queen’s Greatest Hits.

Eventually I could be bothered no longer – it occurred to me that with the nerve gone, it didn’t hurt whether the filling was there or not, so as long as I was careful with brushing, to avoid half a portion of number 63 from the Happy Wok lodging in there, I’d be just as well to leave it alone and manage without the filling. The few rough edges that initially lacerated my tongue on a daily basis soon wore smooth, and everything in the tooth department was wonderful.

Meanwhile, the SenDen accidentally drilled a customer’s tongue one day, thereby starting a totally unexpected fashion trend and was able to retire on the proceeds.

The reason I mention all this now is that last week, while enjoying a particularly nice portion of ham, egg and chips provided by my dear friends John and Margaret, a section of the remaining tooth broke off. Unfortunately, the broken section was still embedded in the gum, so for seven days now I’ve been wandering around with a renegade tooth section flapping around and biting lumps from the inside of my cheek and tongue, and occasionally making forays into the outside world to scare old ladies. OK, I made that last bit up, but for the first time in ten years this tooth started to hurt, as the waggling bit started to pull on the gum in which it was fixed.

But…smile with me, friends…today it came out, and my mouth is pain free again! The remaining clingability…or whatever it is that teeth have…was unequal to the challenge of a works canteen bacon sandwich, and I was able to discreetly spit it into a paper tissue and throw it away. I’d probably have done better to throw the sandwich away and swallow the tooth, but it’s too late for regrets now.

Enjoy it while it lasts, you’ll probably get another posting about the car tomorrow…

It’s All In The Timing

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004

A pretty miserable day today, alternating between struggling with the period-end health and safety stats, which have to be in tomorrow, and wondering how much my car is going to cost me.

Then lo! The Sun came out, and the phone rang. My mobile is one of those that I can programme with a different ring tone depending on who’s calling me: Family and Close Friends produces “I The Lord of Sea and Sky”, other friends play the “Pompey Chimes”, and so on. This call was the “uncategorised” ring tone, so it seemed likely it would be the garage, and so it proved.

“We’ve found what’s wrong with your car. And, um, it’s our fault, so we’ll fix it for free. The only problem is, the earliest you’ll have it back is Friday, cos it’s a big job”. This is no problem, I’ve got Mike’s company car until then anyway, and if the job over-runs they’re going to fix me up wth a hire car (Halfords that is, not Mike). Turns out that when they were fitting the new drive belt, they knocked the timing chain out of alignment, and that had, quite literally, knock-on consequences.

This evening, in a much sunnier frame of mind, I went to house group: I was leading the discussion on Isaiah ch 40, which rambled a bit (the discussion, not Isaiah), and a good time was had by all.

Sadly, tomorrow I still have to finish the stats…

Comment Ça Va?

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004

Yay! I figured out how to add the “comments” thing to my blog! I get the feeling it’s asking for trouble…

Things Are Looking Up

Monday, March 1st, 2004

This Whole Car Thing is working out remarkably well, really: The initial breakdown (see blogs passim) happened on a weekend when I’d planned not to use the car anyway: I arranged a lift to work this morning without any bother, and my mate (who was my boss, until I was shifted sideways to another department) has gone away for a week, and loaned me his company car!

So, this evening was my hospital radio night: One of the other Tech Ops (people who press buttons and twiddle knobs) had to zip off to Reading on a family emergency, so I had to cover her show as well as the one I should have been doing: The presenter expected me to waffle knowledgably about reality TV and the Oscars, subjects about which I know little and care less…I made up some drivel and got away with it, which tells you all you need to know about reality TV and the Oscars.

Then I went to Tescos (someone told me that late-night shopping was a great way to meet women*) to buy some tea bags. It’s been occuring to me lately that I have a serious problem with shopping: I am physically incapable of being in a shop that sells Orange and Passion Fruit J2O, without buying some. I think it goes back to the great Christmas J2O famine, where orange and passion fruit flavour was unobtainable for love nor money, but now the utility room has more J2O than Britvic’s warehouse, but I still bought 8 bottles tonight. Oh well, they’ll keep…

*It is, but only if your ideal woman is one who wears shiny overalls and whose conversation is limited to “Aveyewgottaclubcardluv?”

Gentle Reminder

Monday, March 1st, 2004

And so to the next stage in the saga of my car. Those unlucky enough to have been subjected to the story yesterday, will remember that I took my car in to have a couple of trivial jobs done on Friday, and when I arrived to take it away they’d discovered a non-trivial fault, although they’d not been able to locate the cause. So I left my car with them over the weekend, and they promised to start on it forst thing this morning and ring me as soon as there was any news.

Having not heard from them by mid-day, I decided to ring them and see what was going on. There ensued much faffing of the “If you’re important, press the star key: If you want to buy cannabis, press the hash key” type, and eventually I got through to a real person.
Me: Hello, I’m ringing to see if there’s any news about my car
Her: What’s the name sir?
Me: Duell. That’s Dee-You-Ee-Double Ell
Her: I’ll just find out.
Much background muttering and hitting-things-with-hammers sound effects, followed by a male shout of “Oh No!!!”
Her: He’s still looking at it sir, he’ll ring as soon as there’s any news.

I’d been forgotten, hadn’t I (sniff)?