Archive for October, 2004

Look! A sparkly thing!

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Hello chaps & chapesses, Jenny here (oh, and Titch, who’s just jumped onto the dmvjhfnagdfngy keyboard, so please excuse any dbfgsahrtfbhk typos). This has to be the laziest guest bloggerage EVER, as Himself is actually stood right behind me, repacking his bag from weekend smelly clothes that need washing (Simon G take note this is what normal people do with dirty clothes) to clean togs for tomorrow.

So, where have we all been this weekend? The entertainment mecca of the midlands that is Stoke, that’s where. Not, perhaps, the first choice for a weekend’s frolics, but one already chosen by the bods who organise our twice yearly hospital radio conferences, so we thought we’d better go there rather than anywhere else. Conference moves around all over the country : next spring Belfast, next autumn Portsmouth and so on. They’re designed as weekends where hospital radio peeps can swap information, learn stuff and go on to be better broadcasters. Some of that goes on for sure, but mostly we eat lots, go shopping (well, I do anyway), and stay up late drinking. A lot. Yay, excellent fun!!!

Now, I’m sure Paul will have lots to say about this particular conference later on in the week when he’s back (you wait ‘til you hear about his experiences with Lily Savage!), but there’s something I’d quite like to tell you about myself, and that is the events of Friday night (no, don’t be smutty, it’s not that kind of blog).

Friday night is the sort of “settling in??? time at conference, all pretty casual and unstructured, except there’s usually entertainment of some kind, and this time around, it was a general knowledge quiz. A closely run 10 rounds finally saw our team (Gillygillyossenfeffercatsenellenbogan by the sea-e-e-e-e) (not sure that’s how it’s spelt, but it’ll do, don’t be picky!) emerge triumphant, and my ovver ‘alf, Chris, got up to do the vote of thanks for our quizmaster. Except that’s not ALL he did. Oh no. He called me up to the front of the room, dropped down on one knee, and proposed!!! Apparently, I almost allowed him to finish speaking before I said yes (keen, me, nooooooo…), and then suddenly there was champagne, and congratulations and, well, lots of kissing and hugging, and it was all quite lovely. Pictures of sparkly ring thing to follow once Paul’s back in situ!

So, enough excitement for one blog methinks. Hope you all enjoyed reading it, I’ll now pass the baton onto Mort for tomorrow’s entry – go Mort!!!

On Clocks

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

Cripes! That took a bit of working out. I thought I couldn’t get in here to start with but it turned out I don’t know how to spell my name.

Well, I seem to be here. It’s me – the balder-than-Paul-but-not-as-short-and-fat one. Paulo Gottiglia di Girra has asked me to step into the breech and provide this evenings dollop of inane comment. So I will.

Tonight is the night when the clocks go back an hour and as everyone knows this is really good news because it means we all get an extra hour in bed. Having the extra hour in bed seems like such a nice bonus at this time each year.

Actually gaining the extra hour in bed is so nice that it seems silly to limit ourselves to getting it only once a year. When I am king of the whole world I am going to decree that the clocks will go back an hour every single night! This will mean that we all get an extra hour in bed every night and I am sure we will all be happier people for it.

There will be no more worrying about staying out late on a “school night” because you will be able to sleep it off with your extra hour. That early morning feeling that you get when the alarm clock goes off just a little bit too early for your liking will be a thing of the past. Morning sourpuss grumpyfaces will no longer exist, and therefore nobody will go to work in a bad mood. If people who work at the Ministry of Making Wars turn up to work in a happy mood instead of a grumpy mood then they will be less inclined to declare war on other people and we will all live in perfect peace and harmony.

It cannot fail and is so simple. Why hasn’t anyone already implemented it?

Segueing into mackerel

Friday, October 29th, 2004

Ooh I’ve managed to log in, that’s a good start. Now I just need to think of something to write about.

Hello, by the way. Paul’s off at a short fat bald bloke convention or playing Humpty Dumpty in panto or something, so I’m here instead. I suppose this is the point at which I should segue into my topic. And my topic is, er… mackerel. Yes, that will do. Hmm, I’ve never segued into a mackerel before, or at least not that I’m willing to admit publicly. Perhaps this isn’t such a good idea.

I’ve got a pen holder at work. Yes, that’s a much safer topic. I can’t imagine that anyone reading this has never seen such a contraption, so you all know that they’re constructed from vertical plastic tubes of various heights, the tall ones at the back and the short ones at the front – or if you turn it round, the tall ones at the front and the short ones at the back, but then it’s not so easy to get at the stuff in the short ones because the tall ones are in the way – and that’s just fine as far as it goes. The taller tubes at the back contain pens, pencils, poison darts and other such instruments, and in the shallow compartments at the front we have erasers, pencil sharpeners and dead beetles. But what I don’t understand – and this is where I hope to draw on the massive combined intellect of you lovely people, which is why I’m writing about this here rather than on my own site, where, quite frankly, the clientele is altogether inferior – is what you’re supposed to put in the medium-heighted sections. They’re too short to comfortably support a pen, but if you put a pencil sharpener in them it’s almost impossible to retrieve without a pair of tweezers. I suppose you could keep a pair of tweezers in them, but if you’re doing that then you won’t need them so there’s not much point.

And that, you’ll be pleased to hear, is all I’ve got to say about that, so I’ll pack up my easel and clear the floor for tomorrow’s guest blogger, though I don’t know when he’s going to do it seeing as he’ll be on Oxford all day so I wouldn’t expect much.

Smelling Pistakes

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Eye have a smelling chequer
it came with my Pea Sea
It clearly marques
Four my revue
Miss takes Aye mite knot Sea

Spellchecker – don’t you hate it? Someone was ranting about it on “The Great British Spelling Test” last week, and I agree. Apart from the fact that it translates everything into American (which is fine, if you happen to be an American), it has no idea whether the word you’ve used is the right one. As in the example above, as long as a word is a real one, it’ll get through. And I’ve never yet come across a spellchecker which recognises the word “liaise” as a real English word. Even worse is “Grammar Checker” – it marks all my sentences as being too long to check, because for some odd reason it can’t cope with subordinate clauses.

I do like the personalised bit of spellchecker, where you can set it up to automatically correct mistakes you know you commonly make. I’ve set it up to turn “becasue” into “because”, and “seperate” into “separate”, and several other mistakes I often make because I’m not a trained typist.

And finally – does anyone know how I can send that bloody animated paper clip back where he came from? Smug little wiry scumbag…

Anyway, I’m taking a few days rest from Blogging, but don’t worry – for your entertainment I have lined up a stunning array of first-class guest Bloggers:

A pizza-scoffing, cross-dressing loon

Someone even balder than me – but not as short, or fat

It’s a mystery. Watch this space!

The fiercest pirate in Shropshire and Grand Duchessessess of Sweden

A world-famous actress

You’ll be sorry to get me back, won’t you?

Stealth and Hefty

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

Today I have been mostly cheesed off and annoyed.

Next week, our company launches a new induction package for new employees. It’s been prepared by the hoorays at Head Office, in between hunt balls and coming-out parties (in the old sense of coming out*), and is possibly the most badly written, ungrammatical, misspelled and poorly punctuated document I’ve ever seen**. It makes the instruction manual for a Taiwanese stereo seem well presented.

Here’s one of my favourites: The aims of the “Dust” section of the briefing are:
To educate employees to prevent injuries through inhaling dust and measures to be taken when working in dusty environments.
One day, the person who wrote that is going to learn what happens when you press the key to the left of the full stop. In the meantime, can anyone tell me what dust you can inhale to prevent injury? Simon’s suggestion was “dust comprised of millions of tiny nanobots that look after your insides”, but I don’t think I’ll suggest that – they’d probably come back from Tandy saying “I couldn’t get any nanobots, so I bought you this nice radio-controlled car instead”.

It has, of course, fallen to me to translate this dead raccoon of a document into English. I wouldn’t bother, but it’ll be me that has to present this stuff, so it’ll be me that looks like an unprofessional half-wit if it stays as it is. Oh, and of course, after two years in preparation, I get to see this for the first time today.

In much better news, my new CD arrived yesterday! No, not the Jethro Tull one from Amazon that I ordered way back goodness-knows when. Regular readers will remember that I was at this year’s New Wine Christian festival, and now I have the CD of the songs that were new this year, recorded live with a congregation of 11,000.Half of them are OK, the rest are flippin’ brilliant!

*in most cases
**And having been reading Head Office documents for sixteen years, that takes some doing

Sad Loss

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

I must admit, I was never a real fan of John Peel’s music shows, but I often listened to Home Truths on a Saturday morning. He was a consummate professional broadcaster, at home with all forms of presentation and endlessly entertaining. His interviewing was an absolute joy, so sensitive with with people who were sharing painful parts of their lives, somehow making it light-hearted and sympathetic at the same time.

R.I.P. John Peel, you’ll be sadly missed.

I had some other news I was going to share today, but let’s leave it at that for today, eh?

A Rare Footie Blog

Monday, October 25th, 2004

I don’t usually blog about football.

Did anyone see the footie yesterday afternoon? My boize did their usual trick of taking an early lead, then close to the end of the game throwing it away and ending up with a draw. Meanwhile Southampton (or the Scummers, as we like to call them) managed to avoid defeat, which lifted them off the bottom of the table – they’re still Relly Zone Rejects, though!

But of course the footie news of Sunday has to be the end of Arsenal’s unbeaten streak, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer team. The most hated side in the Premiership lost to the second-most-hated, and predictably are now whinging and crying like a bunch of little babies. The funny thing is, they’re complaining that Rooney took a dive to earn the penalty – this from a side who, if they ever give up football, could form a formation high-board team. A side who have had more offside goals allowed than the rest of the Premiership put together. A side in whose makeup cheating is so ingrained, that even when they’re winning six-nil, their goalie punches the opposing striker in the face when the ref isn’t looking. And yesterday they came up against a ref they hadn’t bribed.

It’s just occurred to me that if Wayne Rooney were a regular in the SimonG chatroom, he’d be called Rooningtonerooney. Or maybe just Rooneyroonie for short.

Knock One Up Before Bedtime

Sunday, October 24th, 2004

Fnaar fnaar, sounds a bit rude! But seriously, I want to go to bed and I haven’t blogged yet. So this will be a bit rushed.

Today I had a lovely lunch out with my Mum. There’s a pub/carvery type place near here that we’ve been using for family sepcial occasions for years, and we went there again. I t took a while to recover and I’ve spent the rest of the day pottering about and preparing my new caching map.

I also did a bit of fiddling about trying to make a GPS work – I bought it scrap from eBay, hoping to make it do something useful, but at the moment it’s defeating me. I’ll have to do some more on-line research before I try again.

And that’ll have to do for tonight. Nighty-night chums.

Ritual Humiliation

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

Today was a Good Day.

There’s this geocache near where I live, called “The Orange Tree Which Bears No Fruit”. It’s graded 1/1, which means it’s the easiest find rating and the easiest terrain rating. It was the third geocache I ever looked for it, and 191 caches later I still hadn’t found it. Anyway, a crowd of my caching buddies found a couple of other people who hadn’t found it, and arranged a session at the nearest pub.

During a break in the rain we all trooped outside, and Pharisee, Woodsmoke, Blitzy and I stumbled around under the trees searching while everyone else stayed on the tarmac and yelled encouragement and abuse. Pharisee was the first to stumble over the cache, and we all logged it while the others legged it back into the pub. I also picked up the travel bug 1955.

Thanks to my chums who presented me with a fine selection of birthday cards and prezzies, and thanks to Omally for giving me a ride in the Omallymobile so I didn’t have to drive. Unfortunately only a couple of the pics I took were worth posting, and here they are – if anyone who was there has any better ones, please feel free to email them to me!

EDIT: Thanks to Team Tate for posting these pics on line.

My mate Rob and his girlfriend Miche.

Omally, Blitzy and Sonya

Test again

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

Here’s another test


Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

This is a test post

Bad Thing

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

It’s horrible when you upset your friends.

It’s even more horrible when you’re sitting there, all smug, convinced that you’ve done the right thing and contributed to the avoidance of a disaster, and you suddenly find you’ve got it wrong.

About six months ago, SimonG blogged on the subject of “If a good person does a bad thing, does that make them a bad person or just a good person who made a mistake?”. Actually, I’m no nearer to knowing the answer to that; I do know that it’s better to do a good thing for a bad reason, than not do a good thing at all (it’s in Phillipians if you want to check it), but that’s really no help. Anyway, I was so sure I’d done a good thing (I guess that was the pride that came before the fall), then I learned differently, and now I’m upset because I’ve caused my friend to be upset.

But the good thing (and I hope there’s always one good thing in one of my blogs) is that there’s no misunderstanding that Vodafone cheap rates can’t sort out, and we’re OK again now :-)

And of course, after work tonight I went geocaching, finding Turf Hill, the second geocache to benefit from the lifting of New Forest restrictions. A lovely walk marred only by the stupid, careless, thoughtless actions of some stupid woman with two chocolate labradors, who thought that looking hopeless and saying “Sorry” was adequate recompense for her inability to control them.

Another Broken Promise

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

I promised myself the other day, that I’d never again ask anyone else to suggest a log subject. That promise was broken today, so tonight’s topic was chosen by Ned.

I don’t know about you, but I keep breaking promises I’ve made to myself: A “Winter Sun” holiday; An early night tonight; Never to ask other people to suggest blog subjects. It’s odd really, because I take promises made to other people really seriously, and it would really upset me to break such a promise once it was made (that’s why I’m loath to agree to do something when I’m not 100% sure that I’m going to want to do it). Yet breaking promises made to myself seems to be the easiest thing in the world.

I often head upstairs in the evening thinking “I’ll have a shower before I do anything on the computer”. But of course, if I turn the computer on before I go in the shower, it’ll be ready to use as soon as I’m out. And since it’s on, I may as well just go on line. OK, I won’t blog yet, but I’ll just read the comments on yesterdays…althoguh while I’m here I may as well blog as well…Before I know where I am it’s bedtime, I’m still smellier than Simon’s living room, and I haven’t moved from the computer (except to fetch fresh supplies of wine) for hours.

OK, fresh start time: I promise myself that tomorrow:

  • I won’t deliberately groin myself with an iron bar.
  • I will eat, at some time during the day.
  • I will write that letter of complaint to a certain seller of webcams.
  • I will take part in the Dressing Up Game in Simon’s Fantastic Chatroom.

I wonder?

Not Just an Ordinary Caching Blog

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

This evening I did a geocache with my good caching buddy Omally: Not just any old cache though, this was Geocaching at its Glorious Best. Geocaching in the New Forest has been off-limits for ages now, and the committee of the Geocaching Association of Great Britain (or GAGB, hence the name of the cache) have been locked in negotiation with the Forestry Commission to have the ban lifted.

At long last an agreement has been reached, and this cache planted to celebrate. it went live last night and Mallers and I were second finders. Well done to all at the GAGB, and especially Dave and my good friend Sarah who were the negotiating team.

Then home for shower and try to get the mud out of my trousers before work in the morning. Oh, and it’s the Great British Spelling Test on TV later. I may post my score if I’m not too ashamed.

Steps stat: No idea, the thingy says 1330 so I must have pressed the reset button sometime.

EDIT: Great British Spelling Test? OK, being presented by Neil Fox and Gaby Logan I shouldn’t have expected quality TV. But spot the spelling mistake here: Fatuous carp.
88%, by the way

An Ode to HJ Stay-Fresh Indestructible Socks

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

I’ve got a lot of pairs of socks
I keep them rolled up, in a box,
Red on the left, green on the right,
Black on the top, and the lid on tight.

I store the box beneath my bed
Far from my feet, but under my head
So when I awake and get up in the morn
They’re handy, and fresh as the day they were born*

But when I come home at the end of the day
I take off my socks and I hurl them away
I’m fond of my socks, so don’t get me wrong
But after ten hours they’re starting to pong

So out of the window and into the rain
Which soon has them smelling all freshly again
Then one or two hours in front of the fire
Each moment making them drier and drier.

Then back on the line, to get some fresh air
(and make sure I’ve matched them back up in a pair)
Then rolled in a ball and back in their box
My lovely fresh-smelling and clean woollen socks!

(Note to self: Stop asking other people to suggest blog subjects)

Steps stat: 2360 plus whatever I did in the gym


Zombie Dogs from Essex

Monday, October 18th, 2004

The dogs aren’t really from Essex, but Simon is, and it was him that suggested today’s subject.

It’s not much of a secret, among those who know me, that I don’t like dogs all that much. I’d never hurt a dog (unless it was hurting me first), and certainly the terror of anything with a wet nose and a waggy tail, that I had when I was a kid, has left me. But given the choice of being in a room with a dog, and not being in a room with a dog, I’d take the dog-free environment any day.

Phobias are funny things…I know that my fear of dogs goes back to a dog-attack incident when I was little; I know that broadly speaking it’s irrational, and sitting here now in a dog-free environment I can resolve that I’m not going to let dogs worry me any more. But the next doggy that comes along, I just know will send me scurrying for cover.

Somehow, we’ve yet again come to a Hospital Radio fundraising story: We used to provide public address facilities to local events as a fundraiser, and on one occasion we were covering an open day at the local oil refinery. One of the attractions was due to be a display by the Police dog team, and before they started, Jenny was interviewing one of the handlers (or maybe handling one of the interviewers, knowing her ;-) ). Meanwhile, I was in the lorry that we used as a control point, ostensibly monitoring what was going on, but in reality, listening to something else (probably Test Match Special). The Policeman being interviewed decided to show off his dog’s talents, pointed into the back of the truck, and said “Search!”. Paul is greeted by six tonnes* of slavering German Shepherd bounding up the steps desperate for blood (hence making the zombie link…phew!).

I’m informed by a reliable witness (well, Jenny, anyway) that I made a creditable attempt to depart, arse first, through an eighteen-inch square window that was never designed to open anyway.

Steps stat: 2684

*May be a slight exaggeration


Sunday, October 17th, 2004

This evening I am mostly flippin’ knackered.

This morning my Raynet group were providing radio cover for the Solent ½ Marathon, and I was in Control so had to be there first. Although I must admit, I let our group’s two newest members actually run the control, once I’d shown them what to do, and I just hung around in case they needed a hand. Luckily much of this hanging around was able to be done in the coffee shop, and the rest of the time I was posing around looking important with a radio in my hand.

Once it was over I headed off for a bit of gentle geocaching: Some cheeky devil planted a series of four caches fairly close to me yesterday – it’s one of those sets where you find the first three, and in each of them is a clue to the location of the fourth. At the second I met two cachers, neither of whom I’d met before, so that was nice. Then on to the third, and then the final one, by the end of which all I wanted to do was go home and have a chinese takeaway – so that’s exactly what I did!

Caches today were:
Mission Impossible #3 of 3: Wooded Structure
Mission Impossible #2 of 3: Split Wood
Mission Impossible #1 of 3: Wooden Structure
(Yes, I really did do them in reverse order…it was convenient for the direction I was coming from). And finally:
Mission Impossible: Can You Find It?
Steps stat: 11661. Wow!


Saturday, October 16th, 2004

Today I have been mostly arsing around.

It hasn’t been wasted, though-at long last I’ve got the WalkerStalker sorted. If you’ve used the “Where Am I” feature, you’ll know that the GPS and Radio combination in the car sends a position beacon which plots my position on a map for you all to look at. Today I’ve managed to hook up the GPS to a handheld radio, so you’ll be able to stalk me all the way to the geocache, not just to the car park! Once everthing is tested and running I’ll stick a WalkerStalker link over in the sidebar.

It does have some practical uses too…when I’m out on Raynet events which take me away from the car, Control will know where I am without having to keep updating them by voice on the radio. This is helpful for them, and saves me a job as well!

Reading Morty’s blog, I’m reminded that I, too, received my free pedometer courtesy of Walkers crisps – so far I’ve 4491 steps today. Not likely to record any more, since I took it off when I had a shower and haven’t put it back on again.

Apart from that I’ve done a few odd jobs, drunk some wine and that’s about it. I’m aiming for an early night too…what a wimp!

Unordinary Day

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Today didn’t turn out as expected.

We had an Important Visitor coming to see us at work…I was expcting her to give us a really hard time over how little progress we’d made against our action plan, but she was actually quite impressed by how much we had done. And then we found out who our new boss is going to be…and it’s the nice guy I told you about last Friday, so that’s OK. And a report I’d put in, suggesting that I should ditch all of my non-Health-and-Safety responsibilities, was favourably received, which I never expected.

And I didn’t expect to go geocaching tonight either: With one notable exception, which I’m saving for next weekend, there are few caches I haven’t done that are close to home. As the evenings are drawing in, it’s becoming harder to leave work and drive to a cache parking place, and get there with enough daylight left to actually do it: By dint of leaving work even earlier than normal for a Friday, I managed Barford Down, a really nice cache with great views in all directions.

And then I went home.

Up Up and Away part 2

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

The comments to yesterday’s blog have reminded me about the other balloon-related event that we at Hospital Radio were involved in. We organised a balloon race, with balloons being launched from the centre of Southampton and a prize going to the sponsor of the balloon which travelled the furthest. Because the balloons used for this sort of things are all cheapies which perish, they had to be inflated with helium, tied off, and labels attached all on release day, which was fun: Also, because our chosen launch point was on the approach path to Eastleigh Airport, we had to get air traffic control clearance to launch!

On launch day, we built and netted an enclosure for the balloons to launch from: This had initially concerned us, we’d made a mistake with the formula for calculating how much room we’d need and were initially going to put a roof over Wembley Stadium. Anyway, we got ourselves organised and a team assembled to inflate, tie, attach and stuff into the enclosure got to work. Even at this stage we were still selling tickets to the public, so right up to launch time we were still adding balloons.

True to form we couldn’t resist the chance to wring every last penny out of the public, and we auctioned off the job of pulling the string which released the balloons, so one lucky little girl had an unexpected memory of her day out with her Dad.

The balloons flew, Hospital Radio made a nice profit, and we got some extra publicity when one of our balloons turned up in Italy – needless to say, this was the prizewinner. And we all went for a meal at our local all-you-can-eat meatfeast indoor barbecue place, which was nice. And one of our team got herself a new boyfriend from the event…which perhaps, on reflection, wasn’t so nice.

Up, Up and Away

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

I had another of my weird dreams last night – SimonG was in it, and they don’t come much weirder than that.

We were at the Southampton Balloon Festival, and went into the exhibitors-only food emporium. I surveyed the vast range of fried cholesterol on offer and said “Ooh yum, a bacon sandwich please”.
Simon (for those that don’t know, he’s a vegetarian) said “Mmm, same for me, please”.
I said to the lady behind the counter, “I was right, three days at Balloon Festival and they’ll eat anything”. Then I woke up.

But it all reminds me of my time as an exhibitor at the Balloon Festival, when Hospital Radio decided to set up a mobile studio there and for three days, broadcast the fun and colour of this exciting event back to our listeners in hospital. It was 12 years ago, back in the days when linking an outside broadcast three miles back to the studio was cutting-edge technology for a small organisation like ours.

We had a team of six of us on the planning and execution team: Members A and B were months away from the breakup of their marriage: Members C and D were just starting a relationship, unknown to member E who didn’t know she was member D’s ex-girlfriend. I was member F – “F” for “Wombatting Knackered”. Amazingly we were all still friends by the time the event happened (although we lost contact with member E soon afterwards) and we broadcast programmes from six every morning until ten thirty every night for the three days of the festival – needless to say that wasn’t just us six, the rest of the membership took turns on air! It lobstered down with rain every day for a fortnight, we got tired, cold, muddy and wet, and 5½ of us slept each night in a caravan designed for 3 (the ½ was because member A was pregnant at the time).

Ooh, what fun we had. We never did it again.