Archive for March, 2005

Another six.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Today, as you can see, I added some USB ports to my PeeCee.

You can only see three of them in this pic, but there are three more new ones on the back of the box, so with the two I had to start with I’ve now got eight. That means that when I’m using the scanner and want to import some stuff from the digicamera, I don’t have to furk around behind the PC and swap leads over. It also means that if I ever motivate myself to get the webbycammy working again, it’ll have a proper powered port to go straight into.

I also got myself organised enough to book tomorrow morning’s taxi, and – for the first time since the operation – drove the Gruntmobile. Only round the block, but it’s a start.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must go and do some packing…

A Little Bit of Admin

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Firstly, thanks to those who’ve volunteered to help me log a webcam cache on Friday: The link is here.

Today has been a day of getting stuff done – I’ve been to the library, and visited the barber to get my fair locks shortened. I nearly had them shortened more than I wanted when in a moment of distraction I asked for a “Grade One”, luckily my barber is a pretty bright guy and checked. I’ve also been carrying on with the photo-scanning marathon.

But the main activity of the day has been packing, ready for the Hospital Radio conference in Belfast this weekend. Friday is going to be a horribly early start – I have to be at the airport for check-in no later than six A.M. so I suspect I won’t be engaging in any late night chatroom activity tomorrow. Must remember to book the taxi, too.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

I never thought having a shower could be so much fun!

I had my stitches out this morning, so as soon as I got back home, I had a shower, washed my hair etc. It was lovely! The area around the wound is still sore, and apparently will remain so for a while: Also I have little grip, so I shan’t be driving straight away.

This picture of my hand was taken post-washing, but be warned, it’s still a bit gruesome if you’re squeamish…

And in other news, here’s a graph of how my geocaching year has been so far against my self-set target: The data’s correct up to the end of this Friday, asuming I don’t do any more before then – although I’m hoping to get a couple in Belfast over the long weekend…


Sunday, March 27th, 2005

Today’s competition is simply this: When was this picture taken? As a clue, I think of my current readers1, only two of you knew me then. I know the exact date, so guesses in the comments, and I’ll think of something stupid and of no monetary value for the winner :-)

I started off going through all my old photos, and scanning any which I thought might be of use to the Stuograph Project, but soon realised that I was storing boxes and boxes of pics that I never look at: I’m now scanning everything2 and either offering the originals to anyone I think might want them, or binning them: I hate throwing photographs away, which is part of the reason why I’ve got so many, but I can scan the lot, burn them to CD and store them in a fraction of the space. And if they’re easy to get at, I’m more likely to look at them.

There’ll almost certainly be more really embarrassing old pics of me in due course.

Oh yes, I knew there ws something else. Thanks to Sarah for this…

Which flock do you follow?

this quiz was made by alanna

1 Those readers I know about, anyway.
2 And yes, it’s taking ages.


Saturday, March 26th, 2005

A really fab day caching on the Kennet and Avon Canal, with my chums Rockin’ Rob and the Lovely Miche.
We didn’t do the full ten we’d planned to do – that would have involved walking a ten miles stretch and bussing back to where we’d left the car, and the bus times weren’t playing ball. But we had a very nice walk of about 8 miles, and logged eight caches.The weather was grand, and we’d picked the right day to watch part of the annual Devizes to Westminster canoe race as well, which all added to the fun. We hadn’t planned to do Hungerford Lock, but when we parked it popped up as the nearest cache, only 500 feet away! Then we headed downstream, grabbing Wire Lock and Brunsden’s Lock before reaching the pub which is the clue for the multi-cache Kintbury Lock II. We had a big glass of Diet Coke each and fed crumbs of chocolate fudge to the ducks while Rob did the maths, and then headed off to find the box. Then it was back to the towpath and on.

Next was Shepherd’s Bridge, where we had to wait for some non-cachers to move on before we could retrieve the cache , then we moved on to Dreweat’s Lock and Copse Lock, where we had the added entertainment of hearing some novice narrowboaters make expensive noises as they tried to thread their boat into the lock. We DID help with the gates though. There were also a couple of kids playing on a rope swing nearby, we were hoping the rope would break and send one flying gracefully into the canal, but no luck.

The eighth and last of the day was Hamstead Lock, and then we walked back to Kintbury, from where the rail-replacement bus service returned us to the car (without charging us for the privilege!). A quick ice-cream later, and it was time to head for home so Rob and Miche could pretty themselves up (I think MacAlpines won the contract) before their evening out. Thanks very much to the geocaching team “Daisy and her Man” who placed all the lovely caches we found today, now all I have to do is sort out all the Stuograph pics I took along the way.

Beer Festival

Friday, March 25th, 2005

Beers wot I tried today.

Great Bustard
Wet Willie
Six Nations

It were great. And for lunch I had a jacket spud – it was only after I’d ordered it that I remembered the whole hand/stitches/bandage thing, and thought “How the hell am I going to eat it?”, but in fact I managed very well with a knife and fork, the first time I’ve used those implements since the op!

And now I feel a strange need to lay down for a while while the room stops spinning.


Friday, March 25th, 2005

I missed blogging yesterday.

I tried, I really did, but there was nothing interesting to blog about. I went to the Building Soc to pay in my dividend cheque from my electrickery privatisation shares, and I went for a walk with my new camera and took three more Stuograph pictures. And in the evening I went to Hospital Radio.

See what I mean?

Today should be better – the lovely Loretta is giving me a lift to a Real Ale festival, as mentioned the other day. I’ll blog about it tonight, if I’m capable of typing coherently.

Two More Days

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

As I write this, I’m halfway between the operation, and stitches-out day! That’s when I may be able to drive again, may be able to use a computer keyboard normally (for short periods at least), and will be able to shower normally – which means that if I can’t do any of those other things, I’ll at least be able to go to the gym.

Yesterday, for a sepcial treat, I went to the Building Soc to pay in an expenses cheque which work had kindly posted to me, and then caught the bus into the town centre where after considerable research and a bit of shopping-around I bought a new digital camera.
It was more than I wanted to spend, but it has everything I wished it’s predecessor had – decent resolution, optical zoom lens1, and a number of manual modes so I don’t have to accept the automatic “take this setting or lump it” thing. But sadly, it does mean no expensive present for the Gruntmobile, although I have found a cheap source for something I’ve wanted to get it for a while – stand by for a progress report.

Today has been spent providing telephone IT support to work2, and researching on the intermaweb: I’m being taken geocaching on Saturday, so I’ve sorted out some information we need for that, and I’ve also found bus-time information for the beer festival being held this weekend at the pub of the wonderful “Lois in the Tavern”.

Blood tests tomorrow. I can’t wait.

1 I learned the expensive way that digital zoom is rubbish

2 Yes, even though I’m off sick, and I’m not IT anyway

101 things to do with a silly hat on a rainy day

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Sorry chums, wristy sore so another pre-prepared LazyBlog today. You could always go and look at the Gallery, I’ve done some more work on that…

This blog post fulfils the assignment 101 things to do with a silly hat on a rainy day at You can rate it here.

101 is a heck of a lot, isn’t it? I’ve already used the device of doing five (which in binary is 101) in another blog list, so I can’t see me getting away with that again…

Of course, if the rainy day is Friday then you’re in luck because you can make the silly hat part of your costume for the Dressing Up Game on SimonG’s fabbo website. It doesn’t really matter if the hat doesn’t go with the theme – you’re still more likely to win than Simon. Or if it’s a weekend, you could wear it to keep your head dry while geocaching. If your roof leaks, you could turn the hat upside down and use it as a bucket.

Failing those three, I’m starting to run out of inspiration. Of course if you work in food manufacture like wot I do, you’ll be wearing silly hats every day anyway – that’s got to be worth a few more. Or if you manage to blag a day off, you could go to Ascot Races.

Blow it, that’s five. The binary equivalent of which is 101.

How to Fall in Love with Espionage

Monday, March 21st, 2005
This blog post fulfils the assignment How to fall in love with espionage at You can rate it here.

Out for Dinner
Never apart
Argument – the first one!

I know, it’s rubbish – best I could do with the subject :-(


Sunday, March 20th, 2005

My beard, aged one, two, three and four weeks.

Today I have mostly been working on my fabbo gallery, as promised in a recent blog. It’s taking ages ‘cos I’m only typing one-handed, but you can see the results so far by following the “my gallery” link over there on the right.

Looking Back

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

Since I’m getting more used to typing one-handed (and since the wonderful MMM reminded me about sticky keys), I thought I’d give you a better description of Thursday’s goings-on, to complement that blogged by Elly.

Ellers himself collected me in his fabbo car, and we had a nice drive across the New Forest: I suppose that, considering I know the Forest pretty well, and Elly knows it hardly at all, I could have managed a more interesting running commentary…
“Dysdera’s new geocache is just up that road there”
“One of Bill D’s multi-caches starts in that car park”
“That footpath leads to a cache owned by Nobby Nobbs1“.

Anyway, we got to the hospital and Elly headed for home. I should, at this point, mention that I have changed my opinion of the hospital – I’ve upgraded them from “Rubbish Hospital” to “Nice Hospital with Rubbish Admin Department”. I had an individual room to myself, with en-suite bathroom, satellite telly etc, and a non-stop succession of medical staff checking I was happy, feeling OK and so on. When operation time came I was walked down to theatre and talked through the process (which I shan’t detail here, for the sake of any squeamish readers), and from walking into the operating theatre to walking back out, the whole process only took about half an hour.

Back in my room I was offered a drink, to which I agreed, expecting a plastic cup of water – I was given tea. In a pot. With a proper cup and saucer, a little jug of milk, and a plate of biscuits2.

Then I sat in the lounge for a while with the Times crossword, trying not to die of frustration at my inability to hold a pen, then Elly arrived and drove me home. And that’s the story. This morning I went for a walk to “Range” and “Halfords”, and I think I might have another in a minute: It’s too nice an afternoon to be stuck indoors watching the Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying…

1 That’s his caching name, not his real one.
2 Which I’d have normally refused as being non-diabetic-friendly, obviously. But when the hospital give you stuff, you have to accept – don’t you?

How Sherlock Holmes helped me find my True Vocation

Friday, March 18th, 2005
This blog post fulfils the assignment How Sherlock Holmes helped me find my true vocation at You can rate it here.

As any fule no, the great Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle based his fictional detective creation on his own tutor, Dr Joseph Bell. The stories – starting with “A Study in Scarlet” – were first printed as serials in “The Strand” magazine, only being assembled later into book form. Conan-Doyle came to hate his creation and thought he’d killed him off with “The Final Problem”, but the public raised such a fuss that he wrote more stories.

It’s popularly thought that Holmes was gay: In fact, although he had a marked aversion to women, he claimed to be gay only to avoid the clutches of a ballerina who’d taken a shine to him. He avoided emotional entanglement of any kind, seeing them as a distraction to his work. There’s another popular myth about Holmes – he never, in any of the books written by Conan-Doyle, said “Elementary, my dear Watson”.

The quintessential screen Sherlock was, of course, Basil Rathbone, although few of his films bore more than a passing resemblance to the original books: Filmed and set in wartime Britain, they showed how British brain would always defeat the Nazi guile. Nigel Bruce played a bumbling incompetent Doctor Watson, the first time Holmes’s friend and chronicler had been shown in this way.

But the most amazing thing I’ve discovered about Holmes is that according to this website, in 2002 he received a posthumous honorary fellowhip from the Society of Chemistry, the first fictional character to do so.

The incarnation of Holmes most faithful to Conan-Doyle’s original is that of Jeremy Brett, currently being televised on Saturday afternoons, and watched by me on video later that evening. Thus, in a very real sense, Holmes showed me that my true vocation is to flop in front of the telly eating fudge on Saturday nights.


Thursday, March 17th, 2005

As you can see, the op happened. That is all – except to say mega thanks to all of you who emailed, texted or commented good wishes, and especial mega thanks to my chauffeur Elly.

That really is all. Ow.


Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Your correspondent is generally pretty fearless.

OK, there are some things I’m frightened of – pain is one, also big doggies, little doggies, a good nagging from my Mum1, and Portsmouth never winning again. The cause of current trembling2 is, of course, tomorrow’s operation. Firstly they’re going to stick a big needle in me, then they’re going to cut me open and do things. Oh, and the only conversation I got out of my so-called workmates all day was “Did you see that programme about the botched operations the other night?“. Even more unwelcome was the text message from the boss mid afternoon: “Before you go, can you just write a Health and Safety action plan for the whole site for the next year and email it to me?“. Well, I did it, but I’ve no idea what he’s going to say when he sees it.

Rather better was the phone call from the rubbish hospital: They’ve had to reschedule tomorrow’s operations, so I now don’t need to be there until mid-morning3. At the same time, they told me that they’d made a mistake in my call-in letter, and because it’s a local anaesthetic I don’t have to fast either.

So – no idea when I’ll next blog under my own power: I’m hoping (although I forgot to ask) that Elly will do a guest blog tomorrow night, ‘cos having chauffeured me to and from the hospital, he’ll be ideally placed to let you all know what happened. After that I’ve got a few pre-prepared LazyBlogs that I should be able to post with just a few mouse clicks. I’ll type something as soon as I can, honest…

1 Although you’d think I’d be used to it by now.
2 And rather more frequent visits to the smallest room than would be considered normal
3 To the relief of both me and my chauffeur, the wonderful Elly.


Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

As you can see, the Gruntmobile passed its MOT test today.

To be precise, it failed, was fixed, and then passed, but it’s all the same thing in the end. Especially as the total bill came to fifty-three squids, including the MOT – it originally failed on emissions, so the nice garage people bunged a tenner’s worth of Redex Diesel Treatment through it, retested it and it passed! So, the Grunty is road legal for another year.

I’ve got a dilemma now: I promised the Gruntmobile a present if it passed without costing too much, but what would it like? I thought of a personalised numberplate – GRUNT 1 or something – but the chatroom crowd told me that’d be a pretty chavtastic thing to do, so that’s out. Obvious Gruntmobile accessories like a mighty meaty winch, or huuuuuge spotlights on the front, are the next things to come to mind, but I dunno.

All suggestions gratefully received. Oh, and by the way, the depression of yesterday has lifted, partly because of MOT-passingness, and partly because I noticed that the feeling-rubbish started at the same time I started on these new blood pressure pills – of which more later, hopefully. Knowing what was causing it has lifted much of the cloud all on its own :-)

Just Another Manic Monday

Monday, March 14th, 2005

Oh boy…

I shan’t bother to tell you what today’s been like at work – it’s Monday, that should tell you all you need to know. Anyway, the Rubbish Hospital made contact, and it seems like we are indeed “Go” for Thursday, so that’s a bit of good news. Tomorrow the Gruntmobile is in for its MOT, I hope the news is equally good there. For some reason I’ve been feeling really down and pessimistic about it – it’s probably the cumulative effect of all the health-related rubbish that’s going on right now.

Anyway, I’ve had an idea for a Fabbo New Feature for the BlogSite: I’m going to include a gallery. Initially this will be all the pictures that have graced the blog entries snce last May (when I worked out how to include pictures!), but I hope to expand it to cover loads of other nice piccies that i think you might like to see as well.

Goodness knows when that’ll happen, though.


Sunday, March 13th, 2005

You’ll have to excuse me if today’s offering is an even bigger load of old toffee than normal, but I’ve been up since six this morning and sleep deprivation is starting to make me a bit mggle wmph pfft mwahahah LOOK! A SIX FOOT WHITE RABBIT!…

Err, sorry about that, I think I’m back under control now. Anyway, the reason for my exceptional getting-upness was that my Raynet group were operating on a horse riding event at Rockbourne this morning:It’s about as far from my house as you can get and still be in the group’s coverage area, so I had to allow an hour to get there, plus of course the boring diabetes-related food rĂ©gime means I have to have breakfast before I leave home, rather than getting to the event and hitting the bacon sandwich wagon. You’ll be pleased to know the event went well – a young lady fell from her horse at my checkpoint, but was soon back on her feet and everything was OK. And I got to do some off-roading in the Gruntmobile, and I managed to get some pictures for Stu’s Alternative Geograph Project. I’ll upload them next time I’m awake.

Not only that, but the event finished on time, which doesn’t always happen, so I had time to go geocaching afterwards: First on the list was a fairly new one just down the road from the event, The Mill Walk, a nice walk to a cache cunningly hidden in a little wood. Then I went and had my second attempt at How Many Bridges?: The first time I tried this one (on my way to my pre-op check at the Rubbish Hospital1) I’d actually seen the cache, but the fact that I was in my nice work clothes prevented the degree of grovelling necessary to retrieve it and sign the log book. Today I was in my oldest and tattiest (not necessarily distinguishable from my nice work clothes to the untrained eye), so I wasn’t so shy. And then on my way home I stopped for another new one, Oops!!!!! – I really hope this one survives, it’s in a bit of a public area and while there’s not much chance of someone looking in the hiding place by chance, come the summer it’ll be difficult to retrieve without attracting the attention of non-cachers, and it only takes one of them to be a bit curious, and of disruptive intent, and the cache is trashed.

So that’s why I’m tired. And now, I’m showered, I’ve had my chinese takeaway2, and Jethro Tull are playing “”Fylingdale Flyer”, so all is good.


1 Who haven’t contacted me yet, by the way.
2 Consisting of items taken from the “What diabetics can eat without dying of boredom” list, so that’s OK.

Facial Hair Update Part 3

Saturday, March 12th, 2005

I think it’s starting to get somewhere.

Today I went to the library. Not normally an earth-shattering or blogworthy event, but Shirley Library has been shut for ages while the area was being redeveloped, and today was the second day of reopening. It was absolutely flippin’ packed. Apparently they’ve got a whizzo new feature where you can check out your own books to save queueing, but the librarians were all too busy dealing with the queue to show anyone how to use it.

While I was out, I also bought some sweetener and some diabetic chocolate, then I went to the health food shop where I was served by a very nice young lady: Checking my receipt when I got home I discovered I was served by Carl. Hmm. Anyway, the point of buying all this stuff was to have a go at making diabetic fudge – which was basically my usual fudge recipe, but using sugar-free ingredients. It’s turned out a bit gritty, but I’m more worried about the fact that I don’t think it’s going to set.

Baddest thing today was an email from my mate Mark: You’ll remember I’ve blogged before about how he’s got prostate cancer, and apparently it isn’t responding that well to treatment, and is, in fact, spreading. Big ups and positive thoughts, mate…

A Day of Two Halves

Friday, March 11th, 2005

This morning I saw my doctor.

He checked over loads of things, and gave me some dietary advice, and some medication for my blood pressure. He basically says that although I need to be careful (as opposed to “strict”) about blood sugar, I ought to be able to manage both the diabetes and the blood pressure with some weight loss, which is good news – a return to chocolate one day may be on the cards. He also told me that the hospital may well want to delay my operation, since I’ve been diagnosed as diabetic – he thought they might want to reschedule it as an overnight stay rather than day surgery, so they could monitor my blood sugar levels. Anyway, once I got to work, I phoned the rubbish hospital:
Phone: Ring ring, ring ring
Voice: Hello, Rubbish Hospital, can I help?
Me: *Explains*1
Voice: Who is your consultant?
Me: The Swedish Chef out of The Muppet Show
Voice: Hold on, I’ll put you through

Phone: *Rings for ages, then makes that funny noise that means the call has diverted to another phone*

Voice 2: Hello, Sister
Me: *Explains* 2
Voice 2: Oh, I should just come on in, I’m sure it’ll be OK

I’m going to contact them again to make sure.

After work…well, it’s Friday, so I finished early and went geocaching. First call was an attempt at Dips, near the top of my “Nearest Not Found” list, and I think it’ll stay there for a while: It’s a bit of a scramble up and down a steep bank, and I didn’t really get even near to the cache.

More fun was had a few miles North at A Hunton We Will Go, where the picture above was taken. It’s a nice walk through some woods alongside a little chalk stream (the infant River Dover, from which Andover gets its name), and I really enjoyed it :) .

And now I’m going to flop in front of the Bond film for a few minutes. G’night all.

1 Nobly resisting the temptation to say “I shouldn’t think so”
2 Nobly resisting the temptation to say “…and don’t call me Sister”

Never a Cross Word

Thursday, March 10th, 2005

Gosh! I didn’t expect my passing reference to a crossword clue yesterday to spark so many comments,

To make it clear – it isn’t my fault, it’s whoever set the Independent crossword that day (unlike many crosswords, the Indie one is set by a different setter each day on a rota, so you don’t get too used to how they think). The answer is “anagram”, because “Game Bird” is an anagram of “Ambridge”, and it’s actually quite typical of some of the Indie’s clues: It looks like a “sepcial knowledge” question, and as an “Archers” listener1 I was thinking through all the Ambridge residents trying to think which one could best be described as a game bird.

Eventually I solved that one by getting all the ones that intersected with it, and going through all the words that fitted the available letters, trying each one to see if it fit the clue. Once I got it, I really thought it was a sublime clue, one of those that comes along once in a blue moon to elevate the whole crossword-doing experience to a new level.

You occasionally come across such joyous experiences in books too: One of my favourites is where Deric Longden is talking about his cat Thermal, stalking a cornflake across the table: Suddenly he realises “My cat’s a cereal killer”2. But the king of these gems has to be Terry Pratchett, responsible for these, both from “Soul Music”:

So who do you think is the greatest horn player of all time?
“It must be the brother of the religious order, who stole the temple gold and melted it down to make a trumpet: They say he was incapable of playing a wrong note”
Exactly – but if you ask the crowd out there who’s the greatest horn player, do you think they’ll remember some felonius monk?

and for all you Kirsty MacColl fans…

“There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s elvish”

Doctors tomorrow for the last blood-pressure check-up, after which I have to phone the rubbish hospital and see what latest rubbish excuse they come up with for delaying my operation.

1 And member of the “Archers Addicts” fan club
2 In “Lost for Words”, I think.