Archive for September, 2004


Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen, casa G0TLG has Broadband.

We now return you to your scheduled programmes

Start at the Very Beginning…

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

A few weeks ago, Henry asked me about the Alpha course: For reasons which may or may not become apparent, today seemed like a good day to blog about it…

The Alpha course is run by many churches as a way of answering questions about Christianity: It’s intended for absolutely anyone, but by default it tends to attract primarily new Christians, or people who are on the edge of becoming Christian and want to know what they’re getting into.

In its original form, the course runs over one evening each week over six weeks, plus a weekend away, although many courses tailor the course to their own needs: The groups who run Alpha in prisons don’t do the weekend away very often, for example. Each evening usually starts with a meal together, followed by a talk about the evening’s subject. Then everyone splits up into small discussion groups when the talk is discussed and any questions can be asked. The talk is normally given by one of the leadership team (either clergy or a lay reader) of the church hosting the course: Group discussions are led by ordinary members of the church – I’ve done that myself.

Needless to say, anyone who comes to week one and decides the course isn’t for them won’t be hassled – although if you just don’t come, without telling anyone you’re not going to come again, someone will probably phone to make sure you’re OK and haven’t fallen down a big hole or something.

The last time I was involved in an Alpha course was seven years ago, when with my friend Lisa I co-led one of the discussion groups. At the end of our course our vicar asked Lisa and I if we’d lead a small “after-Alpha??? group, a fortnightly meeting open to anyone who’d ever attended Alpha. The group was only to meet for a couple of months, while a new structure of small groups was set up in our church – people would then feed out to whichever of the new groups suited them.

That group met for the last time last night. In a way it was sad to see it finish, but the members – many of whom had been with us from the beginning – all said some nice things about how the group had helped them, and we really felt that the group had done what it was set up for, and it was time to move on.

Hence why I decided to blog about Alpha today.


Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

If you haven’t already done so, read Jenny’s comment on my blog of yesterday…

Of course she’s right, and my words had rather more hyperbole than was perhaps acceptable, although in my defence I did say that we were turning into a third world country, not that we were already there. But the fact remains that we live in a country run for the benefit of the few – although again, I concede that what the rest of us are left with is better than a lot of the world has.

A couple of weeks ago there was much debate in the press about whether the “Batman” intruder at Buckingham Palace should have been shot: Meanwhile, if he’d been trespassing on your home or mine, we’d still be waiting for the Police to come and take a statement. Please note here that I’m not having a pop at the Royals, nor am I having a go at the Police, and for the record I have the greatest admiration for 99% of our Police (there are a few bad apples in every barrel): I simply think there are too few of them, and those that we have are too tied up with pointless paperwork and politically “right-on” strangleholds designed to protect the rights of the criminal.

Our roads sink into holes in the ground, and our railways are run by people who think it’s more important to save a few quid than to employ properly trained maintenance staff and supervise them properly (does the term “Potters Bar” mean anything to anyone?). Yes, our hospitals are clean for the most part, and their staff competent, with the usual 1% bad apples. But again there are too few of them and unless you’re an emergency you can’t actually get into them. I’ve been waiting a year – and have at least another five months to go – for an operation that will take less than an hour when it happens and won’t involve an overnight stay. I know that’s still far better than much of the world has to cope with, but it still shouldn’t have to be like this.

I apologise unreservedly to anyone who was offended by my comparison to the third world. But I make no apology at all for drawing attention to the fact that while the Grinning Idiot, his Thuggish Deputy and the rest of the Cast of Clowns rule us, safe inside their government limousines behind their Police bodyguards, with their private healthcare, for many of their “loyal subjects” it’s a different world entirely.


Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

There are many interesting and exciting parts of the world that I’ve never visited. Australia, India, Africa, Antarctica – you name it, I haven’t been there, although I did once turn down an opportunity to work for the British Antarctic Survey for six months*.

I make this clear at the very beginning so that when I compare Britain to a third world country, you all know that I don’t actually have any direct experience of TWCs, so there’s not many percent of knowing-what-I’m-talking-about there. Although I do remember when I visited Israel nine years ago, thinking “It’ll be a nice country when it’s finished???. Anyway, since Hospital Radio moved to our current studios ten years ago, I’ve used a variety of different routes to get home: The most direct route was rejected years ago, because the roads have more potholes than the caving club summer tour. The next route I tried didn’t last long, it has so many traffic lights that I could walk home faster than I could drive.

I’ll soon need another new route: Although I have a four-wheel-drive off-road Gruntmobile, I do prefer a smooth ride when I’m actually on tarmac, and when I discovered last night that Romsey Road is most comfortable driven with the suspension in off-road mode – well, that’s when I realised how close we are to becoming a third world country. Our water supplies are full of chemicals; Our Health Service keeps us waiting a year before we even see a specialist to talk about treatment***; The SimonG chatroom keeps crashing and needing expensive F5 therapy, and of course, our roads have more holes than Henry the Thirst’s favourite sweatshirt****.

Of course another symptom of a third world country is a corrupt government lining its own pockets at the expense of the country.

And finally, in response to comments:
Andy the Bear: Welcome to the blog! Thanks for commenting, good to know that you’re reading. Have you heard about Carolyn?
MtB: If you kept up to date, you’d know the tracker was fixed weeks ago!
Jenny: Sorry, only teasing – but I needed an intro to talk about MtB’s game.
Rob: Heh heh, you’ll be catching them T8s up soon!

*To be totally accurate, I didn’t apply for the job. But I know who was given the job, and I’m pretty certain that if I’d applied, I’d have got it.**
**Why didn’t I apply? Goodness knows, I must have been stupid.
***Although to be fair, they’re red hot on dealing with genuine emergencies
****Sorry Henners, that was going to be Slimon’s shirt, but then I took the lobster out of his chatroom instead.

A New Game

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Jenny recently remarked that I get no comments on my blog when I write about geocaching, and from this she inferred that none of my readers are interested in which caches I’ve done.

I can assure her that that isn’t true: The cachers among my readers are interested in the cache reports, but more bizarrely Mark the Buddhist has invented a new game which relies on, among other things, knowing which caches I’ve done.

He uses the internet to keep an eye on my whereabouts (see the “Where Am I?” link, top right), and whenever he spots me parked in a rural area, checks out the geocaching website and tries to guess which cache I’m hunting. He then checks my blog later in the day to find out if he was right. I’ve no idea how well he’s doing, he hasn’t reported in since he told me about the game.

To respond to comments:
Sarah T – Sorry I missed your link, it’s there now.
Jenny – you don’t need to undertsand any of this junk, you can have a simple blog (like my old one was) free of charge and with no understanding at all!
Mark tB – Thanks for your suggestion, as you can see I’ve followed your advice!


Sunday, September 26th, 2004

The more observant among you will notice a minor difference in the appearance of the blog.

It has, of course, had a redesign: It’s also moved and I’ve changed the software that drives it, but hopefully that change will be transparent to most of you. For the technoboffs, I’ve moved it to a hosting package on, and the software is WordPress: As before, mega-thanks to the tireless SimonG, without whose advice I wouldn’t have known where to start. I might have even had to read the documentation ;-)

Hopefully as my confidence improves I’ll be twiddling with some of the cosmetic stuff to make the blog look nicer, and in the fullness of time it’ll all be a seamless part of my main webpage.

Sorting this lot out has taken most of the weekend, so I’m not going to blog about anything else today – other than to say yes, thanks for asking, my wrist does still hurt, and my back is still dodgy as well. All part of life’s rich tapestry, eh?

(Those of you who have links to my blog on your site, please change it to point at Note that that’s a “zero” between the “g” and the “t” by the way)

Busy busy busy

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

Before I start on today, I should mention that after work yesterday, I did the geocache Riverside Ramble. This is a two stage multicache, where the published location gives you a container with the location of the real cache in it. A lovely walk around a part of Hampshire I’d never seen before, through woods and alongside the upper reaches of the river Itchen, much prettier than those bits of the river we see in Southampton!

Rather than go straight back to the car, I made a circular walk of about 2½ miles, which meant I saw this pretty country church as well. Once I got back to the car I went and did The Claimant, one which I meant to do a few weeks ago but didn’t feel well enough. Another nice walk with an easy find at the end of it. Then I had a pub meal, and went to radio club where my mate Brian was giving a talk.

Today I had my hair cut and did some shopping: Then I visited the latest incarnation of PuzzleDonkey and solved a few puzzles in the company of my buddy Mort: I upgraded my internet connection to Broadband (pending the line being sorted etc), and did most (I hope) of the work involved in moving my blog to another site: Watch this space, I’ll bung a link in when the move is complete. HUUUUUGGGEEE thanks to SimonG for talking me through the process with huge patience!

Rhyme and Reason

Friday, September 24th, 2004

If you dig around on the SimonG website, you’ll find this atheist Christmas carol wot he wrote. There look, no need to dig – I’ve given you a link. Take the time to read his other poetry while you’re there, it’s good stuff.

You might think that as a Christian I’d find this offensive: Personally I’d like to stab with a big knife anyone who spells “anthropomorphize??? with a “z???* – but then, anyone clever enough to write a poem including “anthropomorphise**??? has a talent that needs to be encouraged. As for the sentiments expressed, well as Voltaire said, I disagree with what he says but I’ll defend his right to say it***.

At this very moment, there are countries in the world where to be a Christian means death or enslavement****. There are countries where being in possession of a Bible leads to imprisonment. Even in what we laughingly call the “civilised??? part of the world, France has banned all religious symbolism in schools; in America public servants are banned from saying “Happy Christmas??? in case they offend non-Christians, and here in the UK at least one Hospital Radio station has had to withdraw its religious music programme following complaints that it represented only one faith in a multi-faith society.

Christianity is popularly reviled as being either a weak, ineffective faith with no real firm beliefs, or a dogmatic right-wing attempt at theocracy with no relevance in the modern world. I may blog about both of those in the future, but to return to my original theme of this piece: SimonG has every right to choose his faith (and Atheism is a faith), and for Christians to try to deny him the right to express that faith would make us no better than those who would execute us for owning Bibles and going to Communion.

*Unless they’re American of course.
**Come to think of it, spelling it with an “s??? doesn’t look right either
***Note I missed a bit out of the original Voltaire quote. I won’t defend it that much
****If you just thought “that sort of thing doesn’t happen these days???, read A Voice for the Voiceless by Andrew Boyd.

More Martin

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

As expected, a number of comments from my blog about the Tony Martin book: Admittedly three of those were the same comment repeated (Tchoh! Wimmin! Or rather, one particular woman…), and two others were (friendly) abuse, but there’s still been some comment.

To JG: Yes, the shotgun Tony Martin used was illegally held: He’d lost his shotgun licence following an incident where he shot at the wing of a car (the wing, please note), being driven by someone who was trying to run over his dog.

To LordH: I hope my response to your comment didn’t offend, I didn’t mean you personally were a fool! But to announce your presence to an unknown number of assailants, who may or may not be armed themselves, would be unwise.

Part of the “evidence” against Tony Martin was that he’d made comments to several people along the lines that all thieving gypsies (he used a different word) should be rounded up and shot (the teenager who died was from a gypsy family). But who hasn’t said things like that? One member of the blogring consistently makes references to what he’d like to do to thieving scrotes with his big gun; another two repeatedly expressed wishes involving their bosses and big knives: Just two weeks ago I made a comment about an incompetent, but otherwise inoffensive, BBC sound engineer and a Big Gun, and I’ve often opined that the only way to stop the constant vandalism that our Hospital Radio studios are suffering is with a machine gun.

In fact, if I was to make a list of the number of people about whom I’ve said, in the heat of a moment “Grr, I’ll kill him”, I’d be here all night writing. Sadly, some day, some Socialist-Worker reading lawyer will probably use that statement as evidence against me.

Smiling Through the Pain

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

I’d planned to go geocaching twice today.

My boss and I were called to a meeting near Slough today: The original plan was that Health and Safety people plus bosses would attend a huge meeting in the morning, then in the afternoon there would be another meeting just for the bosses: This, of course, would leave Health and Safety people free to, for example, go geocaching. I’d even chosen the cache I was going to do. Then the H&S bit of the meeting had to be postponed, and my boss went on his own.

This evening I had a meeting down a hole in the ground in Winchester. It wouldn’t have been worth going home first, so first of all, I called in at the final stage of Little Toe’s Trilogy Part Two. I’d already done this one, but I had a travel bug which needed to be dropped in a cache whose name begins with “L???, and this was the only reasonable possibility.

After that I moved on to the fairly recently-planted Harry’s Creepy Crawley, which was a really nice walk and a fairly easy find. Then I went to the meeting, which went more quickly than I expected, then I came home.

And for the record, my back still hurts, my wrist is sore and I think I’ve got a cold coming on.

Martin 1

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

OK, I’ve finished reading “A Right to Kill?” by Tony Martin.

For our non-UK readers I should explain that Tony Martin is a farmer who, having been plagued by burglaries at his home, shot two burglars whom he surprised in his house. One escaped – but was arrested in hospital while being treated for leg wounds – the other, sixteen year old Fred Barras, died. Tony Martin was tried on a number of charges, and was found guilty of murder, which was reduced on appeal to manslaughter, and he served a short sentence.

After his previous burglaries, Martin had lost all faith in the Police, and refused to co-operate when questioned, which is a shame, as there’s no doubt that initially, before Barras died, the Police interviewing him considered him to be a bit of a hero. He was also unco-operative in court, lying when he had no need to, and this attitude undoubtedly helped the prosecution build their case against him. There were also suggestions, never proved, of jury intimidation.

English law allows for the use of “reasonable force” to defend self and property, but there’s no real definition of reasonable anywhere, and each individual jury has to decide each case. Martin was cleared of all charges relating to the burglar who survived, and he stated that he deliberately fired low, in order to only hit them in the legs, but was blinded by them shining a torch in his eyes and didn’t know that Barras was kneeling (putting his booty into a holdall), which is why he was hit in the upper body causing more serious wounds.

The point, of course, is whether he was justified to be shooting at all: He said he was afraid he was going to be attacked and acted in self defence. Personally I think intent is everything – if he intended to kill, well I don’t think that’s ever justified. But if he was genuinely in fear for his safety, and couldn’t see what he was shooting at, well that’s fair enough. No doubt some of you will have other opinions!

Personally, if I discovered burglars in my home (or was attacked in the street, or whatever), and had some kind of weapon, I’d use it and worry about the consequences later. I’d rather be tried by twelve men than carried by six.


Monday, September 20th, 2004

I appear to have shetland ponied my back.

No doubt heaving the caravan around yesterday didn’t help – for most of the journey I hitched it to the back of the Gruntmobile and towed it, but the getting-in-and-out-of-the-driveway bits are manual operations and I suspect that’s when it happened. It’s a shame because I’m supposed to be using the caravan this weekend, but if there isn’t some dramatic back-getting-better going on fairly soon, it isn’t going to happen. What’s worse is that not only was this going to be the caravan’s last outing for the season, it’s the birthday party of my ickle godson’s big bruvver as well.

Did I mention that I’ve been told I’m going to have an operation on my carpal-tunnelled wrist? Between five and eight months to wait now apparently. I was warned that between now and then I’m going to lose grip and dexterity in the fingers on that hand, and it’s true – I keep dropping things, and yesterday’s blog – where I was a bit tired on top of it all – took me an age to write, I kept hitting the wrong keys and having to go back and retype. I’m trying not to let it get to me, but most of my working life is spent bashing a keyboard; of my hobbies, I haven’t sent any morse code (my favourite bit of the ham radio thing) for nearly a year, and assembling a circuit board or holding a soldering iron is impossible.

Anyway, the extra-strong pain killer thingies are starting to cut in now, so I think I’ll go and tick-tock curly wurly cuckoo wibble…


Sunday, September 19th, 2004

Today I didn’t do any geocaches at all.
My Raynet group were providing communications cover for the New Forest Marathon, and me an’ my mate Roger were manning the control point: The picture shows the “control village”: Front and centre is the Raynet control point, otherwise known as my caravan, with my Gruntmobile pulled well forward. Behind is Roger’s car, and at the back is the motor caravan which was the St John Ambulance control vehicle, with one of their ambulances behind it. The Police control vehicle was over to the left, out of shot.

Then I came home, had a chinese takeaway with obscene amounts of white wine and lemonade (thanks to Jenny who tipped me off how nice this is when you’re knackered), and now I’m about to have a shower and crash in front of the telly.


Saturday, September 18th, 2004

I’ve been having a few technology problems today.

Just before lunch I was chatting in the worlds fabbest chatroom: I asked a question of hizonner SimonG, and everything went blank: Not only could I not get back into the chatroom, I couldn’t do anything else either. My PDA refused to play as well, not taking files from the PC or anything.

Anyway, I finally regained access and Miss Sixty kindly explained what the problem was: Apparently, the whole of the internet hates me. From the tiniest connected peripheral to the largest server deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, every single electron has dedicated itself to making my life difficult. I’d just like to thank Miss for explaining that to me.

So, I’m now wearing a helmet made of tin foil, to protect me from the spy-rays from Venus, and I’ve moved my whole intermaweb connection gear into the cellar – harder than you think, as I had to dig the cellar first. But you can’t be too careful can you?

Probably no blog tomorrow, I’ve got a really long day so I’ll be too knackered I suspect: See you all Monday!


Friday, September 17th, 2004

It’s tempting to keep the foxhunting thing going – I don’t think I’ve ever had so many comments on the blog two days running. Mind you, I suspect next week things could get even busier: I’m in the middle of reading “A Right to Kill?” by Tony Martin, and I think when I blog about that (when I’ve finished it) there could be some little discussion…

Anyway, I’m advised by those who know these things (Lorraine at work, plus my Mum), that I’m coming due for a haircut. I don’t really like having my hair cut – for one thing, every cut represents four squids I’ll never see again – but I have to admit that since I started having it cut really short (grade two, for those who know about such things), the bald patch appears to be less noticeable.

I haven’t always used the barber: For a year or so I went to a Personal Trichological Consultant. Actually he was only a barber really, but for thirteen quid a shot you expect a really long job title. My hair didn’t look any better when I went there, but he had better magazines in the waiting room.

The barber before him committed suicide about an hour after cutting my hair. I wish that was a joke, but it isn’t.

Anyway, back to the present, and in spite of the fact that it was lobstering down with rain I did a three mile walk this evening, encompassing the geocache Wickham Wander, planted by my good caching chums Paul and Judith*. I tried for a trig point on the way back, but it was on private land and I couldn’t get to it.

*Positive thoughts ‘n stuff to Judith, who was slightly hurt this morning when a dickhead car driver drove into the back of her motorbike. Hopefully Pompey will beat Blackburn tomorrow to cheer her up!

Part Two

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

I guessed that last night’s blog wouldn’t go by without someone disagreeing with me.

Before I reply to the points that people have made, we must remember that the bill won’t only outlaw fox hunting: Deer are also hunted with dogs – at least, they are here in the New Forest – and whatever the justification for controlling fox numbers, deer, being vegetarian, aren’t known for killing livestock. Their numbers do still need to be controlled and around here, that’s done very effectively in an Autumn cull operated by forest rangers, and a small number of licensed sportsmen, using high-powered rifles.

The supporters of hunting* defend it as being part of a traditional way of life: That’s true, and I’m in favour of not losing the old traditions as far as possible. But similar arguments were made in favour of badger- and bear-baiting, keeping slaves and sending little boys up chimneys. Just because something is traditional is not necessarily a justification for maintaining it.

It’s been suggested that controlling fox numbers by removing the source of food only leads to foxes starving: Well, yes, that’s what happens anyway when foxes die of old age – they get too old to hunt for their own food, the vulpine NHS’s geriatric care is even crapper than its human equivalent and they starve. It isn’t nice, but it’s the way nature works. A number of people (not only JG, who said it publicly) also commented that “this ruling won’t save a single fox???: That’s also true, if you take it literally – one thing we can all agree on is that everything that lives, dies.

This one is going to run and run, and it remains to be seen what happens when the bill is enacted, if indeed it is – there are still stages to go through, particularly if it becomes necessary to invoke the Parliament Act, as seems likely. Many riders-to-hounds have said they will continue to hunt in defiance of the law, and police chiefs have reportedly told the Patronising Prat** that they won’t have the resources to stop it happening – although if hunters dare to drive their horseboxes a couple of MPH over the speed limit on the way to the hunt, they’ll probably be pursued by armed officers and summarily executed at the roadside***.

Interesting, though, that the PP didn’t himself vote. Surely our big brave PM, who wasn’t afraid to commit thousands of British troops to an illegal war, could have expressed an opinon on this one? Or maybe Boosh wasn’t around to tell him what to think.

*For “hunting???, read “hunting with dogs, regardless of what is the subject of the hunt???
**Tony Blair, for the time being Prime Minister
***Hyperbole. Just.****
****And yes, I know that “summarily executed??? is tautology


Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Oscar Wilde described fox hunting as “The Unspeakable in Pursuit of the Uneatable”.

I’d question whether foxes are uneatable – five thousand crows can’t all be wrong – but today’s activities generate some questions about fox hunting. On the day that the House of Commons voted in favour of a ban on hunting with hounds, five people claiming to be hunt supporters invaded the chamber and, in the words of one MP, “shouted some pretty rude things”. Meanwhile outside, in Parliament Square, a thin blue (and flourescent yellow) line of the Met Police’s finest faced ten thousand hunt supporters, and ugly scenes erupted: From the news footage I saw, it looked like a Police officer struck the first blow, but seeing things from only one viewpoint can be pretty unreliable – especially considering Sky News’s habit of taking a short piece of film and looping it, so that what looks like five minutes of pitched battle is in fact just the worst fifteen seconds they could find, repeated several times.

I’ve never really been sure where I stood on the fox hunting issue: I live in the city, and I’m not one of those townies who assume the right to tell country folk how to live. The place I like to visit at weekends is their workplace, and they have to make the best living they can. Also, a Saturday job on a farm many years ago let me see how foxes treat poultry, lambs, and even pregnant ewes, and it isn’t pretty.

On the other hand, there’s always seemed something wrong about fox hunting to me: I’ve shot pigeons for the pot (well, the pie tin), and I’ve pulled the neck of the turkey that later became my Christmas dinner; the only people who have the right to criticise me for that are vegetarians. But fox hunting has always seemed to belong to the world of badger baiting.

Country dwellers tell us that foxes are vermin and need to be controlled. I can’t argue with that, I don’t know enough about these things to judge, but if it needs to be done, why not do it in a way rather more efficient than killing one every couple of weeks? Given the way that nature balances population with food supply, the best way to reduce the fox population is to stop them feeding. Working, as I do, in a food factory, vermin control is very important to us, and our principal method of controlling pests is to ensure there is no food to attract them: Killing is a backup last resort. OK, I’m talking about rats and mice, but the principle is surely the same.

At the end of the day, it just seems wrong to kill purely for fun.

Food Glorious Food

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Something Carol said in her blog last night reminded me of an embarrassing occurrence a couple of years back.

I went into KFC with my friend Jenny, who was giving me a good telling-off for eating too many takeaways – I have to admit I was eating a lot more in those days than I do now, but not to an excessive amount. I was explaining this non-excessiveness to Jenny when we got to the front of the queue and the counter assistant rather demolished my defence:
Evening Paul, usual three-pieces-and-regular-fries is it????

Two weeks later and by coincidence we were going into a Chinese takeaway: This was Jenny’s first takeaway since the KFC, but I suspect it wasn’t mine. Anyway, needless to say I was getting a good nagging again about my culinary lifestyle, with the KFC incident rolled in as extra ammunition. Any thoughts I may have had about protesting my innocence were toppled by the guy taking orders:
Ah, Missah Duell, is sweet and sour chicken wiv boiled rice, yeah????

As I said, I don’t eat anywhere near as much takeaway now.

Meanwhile, I’m not now on a diet, but I am trying to be a bit more sensible about what I eat: I’m starting this campaign by reducing my chocolate intake. Since last Thursday, compared to my usual weekday- and weekend-chocolate intake, I’ve eaten 11 bars less: That’s probably the equivalent of four extra visits to the gym! I have a feeling my trousers are just a little looser today…


Monday, September 13th, 2004

Yesterday afternoon I had a fiddle with the ham radio gear in the car.

This is good news, as one of the radios that hadn’t worked for a while, now works again – turned out it was a connection-to-the-aerial problem. This now means that my “where am I???? works again.

For those of you who don’t already know, the radio referred to above is connected to the GPS in the car: As I’m driving around, it “beacons??? my position once a minute (it doesn’t beacon at all when I’m stationary). These beacons are picked up by suitably equipped radio hams whose computers then display my position – and that of loads of other radio hams who use the system – on a map on the screen. You’re probably asking yourself “Why? What’s the point????. I guess like most hobbies, the answer is that there is no point other than “Because I can???!

One radio ham, cleverer with software than most of us, has written a website where folks without ham radio access can keep an eye on thoseof us who have the beacons. To check out my latest position, go here, then follow the “here for Europe??? link.

Note that the system isn’t perfect – it’s run by a bunch of busy people who do it for a hobby and have other priorities – but it’s generally accurate enough. When I get a minute I’ll stick a link up on the left hand side of this page.

And in other news…thanks to Jenny for e-mailing me the name generator. This is an Excel spreadsheet into which you type your full name, and it tells you what your ideal job should be. Apparently I’m going to be a porn star (or if you leave out my middle name, a sewage worker). Omally is a Nice Old Man, and Miss Sixty, depending which version of her name you use, is either an astronaut, a jungle explorer or the village idiot. Once she marries Adam, she’ll simply be unemployable.

Anyway, it’s all a load of monkey – if this is to be believed, SimonG is “Emperor of the Whole World???.


Sunday, September 12th, 2004

So, Last Night of the Proms last night, eh? I’d like to meet the engineer responsible for the sound mix for the television feed. I’d like to take him to Byfleet to meet Henry and his Big Gun. And in case that engineer happens to be reading this: I know that audience participation is all part of the LNOTP, but it’s traditional that we should be able to hear the orchestra. Oh, and the commentator – I know that most of what Titchmarsh was saying was a load of old toffee, but either turn his mike off, or turn it up so we can hear it.

Yesterday was an exciting day: There’s a huge set of roadworks on the road that leaves Southampton heading West. They’ve been there since May, and were recently extended to cover a further stretch of the road. There’s a totally unneccessary 30 MPH limit in force (it’s normally 50 MPH), complete with tax camera. Anyway, what’s exciting is that heading out that way yesterday, I actually saw someone working! OK, it was only a man picking up litter, but it’s the first time I’ve seen anyone doing anything there at all since the roadworks started. And we’ve got another two months of this.

Note to Southampton Council: If you actually got a few blokes working there, maybe you could take away the stupid cones and ridiculous speed limit a bit sooner. Or maybe they’re making too much moolah from the cameras…

And on the subject of notes to the council, I must write to Totton Town Council and tell them about this illegal sign I spotted during the week. Yep, contrary to the regulations (I can’t be ostriched to look up exactly which regs), it shows a height restriction in metric without accompanying imperial measurement. If I wanted to live in wombatting Brussels, I’d move there.

101 Things To Do with Peanut Butter

Saturday, September 11th, 2004

Tonight’s blog subject was suggested by SimonG in the world’s fabbest chatroom, when I confessed I was struggling to come up with a subject.

Anyway – it reminded me of a friend of a friend who was having mouse problems in her house. Someone tipped her off that peanut butter was a good thing to bait mousetraps with. As she didn’t like it, she had to go and buy some specially, and found herself in the Sainsbo’s Peanut Butter aisle wondering “Now would they prefer crunchy or smooth?”. So there’s one.

Other than eating it, that’s about all I can think of to do with peanut butter. Actually, there are a couple of other things, but this blog is meant to be for all-age reading, and who knows, we don’t want to corrupt the Milk Monster before she’s even old enough to read.

Ooh, I’ve just thought of another one, although this is probably a subsection of “eating it”: next time Simon is making home-made pizzas, he could experiment with peanut butter instead of tomato puree in the topping. In fact that’s given me an idea…

Hmm. Bit sticky and sickly, but I think might have another one later…possibly without the anchovies next time.

So, to summarise:
1) Bait mousetraps with it
2) Eat it conventionally
3) Use it instead of tomato in a pizza
4 and 5) Suitable only for X-rated blogs.

There we are, five things to do with peanut butter. And if you convert five (decimal) into binary, I think you’ll find I’ve achieved the assignment. So if you’ll excuse me, i’m off to try a peanut-butter-and-strawberry-jam flavoured pizza.