Archive for November, 2004


Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Hurrah, the Jelly Factory isn’t broke any more!

Everything has been fired up, although there was some trouble getting it started, apparently – a bit like an old Ford car on a frosty morning – and it’s trundling away making jelly again. I’ve actually spent the day at one of our other factories, where they make the tangerine flavour jelly, which meant leaving home at stupid o’clock this morning, so now I’m knackered and all I want to do is go to bed. It’s a shame, as our Wednesday-night church group has invited me to a pancake evening tonight, but I’m going to have to refuse as I have another early start tomorrow.

In another place, people having been chatting about Chrimbo pressies, which is a bit frightening: One of my colleagues – normally this disorganised one – has been telling me about all the shopping she’s got done already. I don’t usually have much to buy – there’s only really three or four people I buy pressies for – yet this year I’m totally stuck for inspiration. I hate shopping at the best of times and the Christmas crowds always put me in a bad mood, I suspect that this year most shopping will be done on-line.

Which reminds me. I’ve forgotten how long ago I blogged that I’d ordered, from Amazon, a copy of Jethro Tull’s “A”. This week they finally admitted that they couldn’t get it. Next stop eBay.


Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

The Jelly Factory is still broken.

My anti-spam-comments measures appear to have worked a little too well: Jenny’s comment on yesterday’s post was grabbed by the filter and held for moderation: No idea why, it certainly doesn’t include any of the spam filter trigger words. Anyway, it’s there now, and I’ll have another go at fixing the filter later in the week – in the meantime, if you leave a comment and it doesn’t appear, fear not – it’ll be in a queue waiting to be released, and I’ll check the queue and let innocent comments through a couple of times a day. SimonG has promised all his loyal followers anti-spam software, but we’re not holding our breaths.

I know that some of you – especially the weird ones – are keen on using the tracker facility (see top right) to follow my adventures, so I thought you might like to have a look at what it looks like on screen at a suitably equipped ham radio station. The picture below is a screen grab after Sunday’s geocaching adventure, where I’m appearing from the right of the screen, driving in a circle around the New Forest, and going home again.

(Click on the pic to see a bigger version)
The software I use to display this on screen is called UI-View, and I mention it mainly as an excuse to tip my metaphorical cap to the software author Roger Barker, who died recently. The positions wouldn’t normally stay onscreen like this, usually as each new position is displayed the one before it is deleted, so the map is a bit cleaner – I set it to do this because I wanted to check reception at my home station.

There, I said today’s offering would be more interesting didn’t I?

(Update – I have now implemented the SimonG anti-spam thingy…we’ll see!)


Monday, November 8th, 2004

It’s been a funny old day in the jelly factory.

To be specific, we didn’t make any jelly, or indeed anything else: Our 40 year old jelly making machine broke down yesterday morning (i.e. Sunday) and the best estimates are that it won’t run again until Wednesday. The good side is that I’m managing to get loads of Health and Safety training done with all the Production staff who are standing around doing nothing.

In other news, you may have noticed ten zillion spam comments appearing on the blog in the last couple of days: They’ve all gone now (well, most have), and I’ve installed a filter that will stop most of them getting through, but it may mean that some innocent comments don’t make it either. If you try to leave a comment and it doesn’t appear, try re-wording it and it should work, as the filter is based on screening out comments that contain the common spam words.

Hopefully more entertaining bloggage tomorrow.


Sunday, November 7th, 2004

So, today’s score was two geocaches, one trig point, ½ a car wash and one shouting match (with the bushbaby queue-jumper at the car wash). Of course, the day started with going to church. The church FairTrade shop sells lovely honey milk chocolate, and this morning as usual they had no change: I only had a tenner, so I’m now stocked up with rather more chocolate than is probably good for me – not only the honey stuff, but some dark chocolate, some mini chocolate eggs and some chocolate mints. Oh, and some coffee, my supply at work is getting a bit low.

After lunch, I had been going to give the car a proper wash, but there are two new geocaches in the New Forest, so I headed off for them. First on the list was The Abbott’s Well, which involved a bit of to-ing and fro-ing because at first I wrote some numbers down incorrectly :-( . While I was there I visited a nearby trigpoint (that’s it at the top of the entry), then drove on to do Green For(d) Go 3. It was getting dark by the time I got back to the car, but it was still light enough to see that the car was filthy, so I stopped at the car wash and had a quick £1-50 worth of jetwash. The car’s still dirty (and all streaky now), but at least the lights and number plates are clean enough to be legal.

A Late Halloween Fright

Saturday, November 6th, 2004

I had a scare on Thursday night.

After Hospital Radio, I stopped at my local superstore for some J2Os, and on the way out decided to use the cashpoints, as my stock of folding spondo was getting a bit low. I put my card in and pressed the appropriate buttons, only to be told:

Your request has been refused by your card issuer

That’s odd, I thought…I’ve only just been paid and I’ve not spent much recently. maybe I keyed in a wrong number or something, lets try again:

Your request has been refused by your card issuer

Now I’m worried…let’s do a balance check:

Listen dummy, your request has been refused by your card issuer

As soon as I got home I did an on-line balance check, and there was nothing to worry about there (well, no more than usual, anyway), and it wasn’t until the next morning that the mystery was solved: Although the old card is still valid, the bank have sent me a new one so I can be “chip and PIN ready”, and without so much as a by-your-leave had cancelled the old (but still valid) card. Now OK, it happened to me, and I had the new card in my wallet, so it’s just a funny story. But what if the new card hadn’t arrived? What if it had happened to an older person who hadn’t had the facility to go online to check? If that had been my Mum she’d have been monkeying herself – thanks Barclays, you thoughtless bushbabies.

In better news, this morning I returned to Bunny has a Holiday in the UK , where I met up with the Bramblers and DJH, and together we completed it. I also dropped off the Travel Bug 1955 and collected the GeoCoin Vermin’s Coin 1. Sadly it meant the car didn’t get washed – if I don’t do it soon I’m going to have grass growing on it.


Friday, November 5th, 2004

Please to remember the fifth of November,
Paul’s blogging, so kindly pay heed:
He’s writing once morey a radio story
So sit down and have a good read.

I think I’ve already mentioned that, at Hospital Radio, we used to hire ourselves out as a public address unit to raise funds. The biggest two events of the year were Poole Marathon (a 5 AM start if you were travelling on the lorry) and Winchester fireworks: One end of a small park in Winchester was cordoned of, and we and the pyrotechnicians set up ready to entertain the crowds, taking most of the day to get our generators, speakers and horns (big speakers up poles) and other equipment set up.

Once it started to get dark, the crowds assembled ready to greet the torchlit procession and Jenny and I were sent out to warm them up. We stationed ourselves at opposite ends of the cordoned-off area and did a pantomime-style “My friends are louder than your friends” routine: The first year we did it, I was really pleased that the crowd were liking what I was doing, until one of the team came over and asked me to stop ending every segment with “and what’s it like up your end, Jenny?”.

At least I didn’t goof on purpose: One year, Jenny introduced the lady mayor with “We couldn’t afford Kylie or Jason, so here’s Mrs. Mangel”. Ah, happy days.

After work tonight, I learned that with the clocks going back it really is time to stop trying to geocache after work: I failed to find Bunny Has a Holiday in the UK: I’m sure I was in the right place, but it was too dark to carry on searching safely :-(


Thursday, November 4th, 2004

It’s been a busy old day-and-a-bit: As you’ll know I had a boring work meeting in Coventry yesterday, followed by grabbing a geocache on the way home, which meant that once I agot home it was later than I’d planned: I ate quickly, then spent the whole evening catching up on the blogs I’d missed, and dealing with 47 emails. I seem to have really upset one of my hospital radio colleagues: I thought that an email from him was in reply to one I’d sent him, whereas he’d never actually seen that one. As a result, what he meant, and what I thought he meant, were two totally different things, and he didn’t like my reply very much!

Today I’ve been back at work and doing my best with the period-end paperwork as well as that which has built up while I’ve not been here. At least one important load of information I’ve got to send off won’t get through in time, not because I haven’t done it, but because of the stupid way our IT system is configured: Still, I’ve done my best.

That’s about all for today, really. I’ll hope to be more amusing tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004

And here’s a few pics to go with today’s bloggage…first and foremost,

Jenny’s engagement ring

The church near the “Departure Lounge” cache

Looking back towards Stoke from near “Scania cache”

Paul with the “Hermit Hole” cache

Paul and Chris at “Lady Chatterley’s cache”. It’s not an earthquake zone, the camera was on an unlevel surface…

Paul near the “Tramrider #5″ cache

Paul, very close to “Free Lunch” cache

At the parking spot for “Crackin Up with Tree Coverage”

On the way to “Saxon Ducks and Rock ‘n Roll”

Lily Woz ‘Ere

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004

I’m back! And before we go any further I’m sure you’d all like to join me in a vote of thanks to the guest bloggers who’ve kept you entertained while I’ve been away. Yes you would, Omally. Because I say so. And if you don’t you’ll have to go and see Mrs. Mort – and you know what she gets like by the middle of the week.

As regular readers will know, I’ve spent some of the last few days at the Hospital Radio conference in Stoke. My duties there included driving the minibus which collects delegates from the railway station, and also takes excursions to local places of interest. Normally I navigate on these trips using my talking SatNav – also known as Diesel Doris – and very well we do too. This time, however, we were provided with a local guide (I say local, but he originated in Liverpool), and he was one of those who can’t stop talking: speed cameras, speed limits, garden centres and roadside houses were all pointed out, and all in the world’s most excruciating Lily Wombatting Savage accent*.

Conference ended on Sunday afternoon, and after a few minibus trips to the railway station, it was back to Nottingham where we did very little all evening, although Jenny did turn out a stunning guest blog. On Monday, Jenny had some grown-up house-buying-related stuff to do, so Chris and I went geocaching, and in the evening, after Chris had headed for home, Jenny and I went to a pub quiz.

On Tuesday all I had to do was transfer to an hotel in Coventry ready for a work meeting on Wednesday, so needless to say I picked up a couple of caches on the way. And on Wednesday, after the boring work meeting, I did my 200th geocache on my way home.

And so to the geocaches:
On the way up
The Departure Lounge
In Stoke
The Scania Cache, which was only a short walk from the hotel.
While staying in Nottingham
Hermit Hole, a nice walk in the woods although a bit muddy;
Lady Chatterley’s Cache, a virtual in a pretty village
Tramrider #5: Risen From the Ashes.
In and around Coventry
Free Lunch
Crackin’ Up with Tree Coverage (where the tree cover didn’t affect the GPS as much as the warnings say)
Saxon Ducks and Rock ‘n Roll, my 200th cache!

*For my non-UK readers, Lily Savage is a comedy act with a really annoying whiny Liverpool accent.

Round Up

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004

Gosh, this is very exciting, my very first guest blog. I fear it may also be my last! There is a very good reason why I have never volunteered to guest blog for anybody in the past, and that is that I don’t have anything much to say. On my own blog I can ramble on about all sorts of nonsense and get away with it, because it’s MY blog. But here I feel a duty to be a bit more interesting because I should hate to be responsible for the downfall of Paul’s blog.

When Paul left four of his dearest chums in charge while he was away, I don’t think he had any idea what he was letting himself in for. On Friday, Simon wrote some drivel about desk tidies, on Saturday, el10t told us that when he is King of the World he will put the clocks back an hour every night (why not just put an extra hour in the day?), on Saturday Jenny wrote the blog that none of us could top, she told us all about how she got engaged, and yesterday young Mort told us all about NaNoWriMo.

For me, the pressure is just too much. Paul, I think you’d better get your ostrich back here before you lose all your readers!

Ramble on

Monday, November 1st, 2004

Hello! I’m Mort, and I’ll be your hostess for the evening. As you can see I’m not Paul G0TG0GLG0T* and am therefore not a short fat bald bloke. With the exception of short.

I don’t really know what to write about because my life isn’t as fun-filled** as Paul’s and there’s pretty much nothing on God’s earth that will top Jenny’s story.

I know, I’ll tell you about NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November people from all over the world try to write a novel, (50,000 word minimum) by 11:59:59 pm, Howland Island Time*** (GMT-12) on November 30. To officially count as having passed the challenge, you send in your work to have its words counted by a robot computer thing. There’s forums and all sorts of things to give you pep talks, or to answer questions.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of a dratted thing to write about.

Writing blogs is supposedly easy, unless you’re writing someone elses and you don’t know what to write about so you ramble on about how incompetent you are, because you just have to comment on your day or some witty observation you made. Writing stories is impossible and my head has turned into mush at the first thought of them.

My Zen Master**** told me not to rush these things, and he said something profound about water and streams and stuff.

I daresay he made perfect sense to himself.

I had best go have another attempt at writing something, so I shall pass the baton to Miss Sixty.

Thank you ladles and jellyspoons!

*You know what I mean
**Read: geocaching filled
***Howland Island time because people who live there would normally get 4 hours less than everyone else.
**** The drunkard formally known as Omally