Archive for March, 2005


Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

Q: What’s brown and sticky?
A: A stick

OK, I admit it, I’m totally stuck for a blog subject tonight, so you’re getting one of the pre-written blogs I was saving for when I have my wrist done.

I’m not really “into” the beauty of numbers: I’m more of a words man. I love spotting things like the link between the everyday word “equivalent” and the chemistry term “equi-valent”. Crosswords really tickle my fancy, the more cryptic the better: I still grin with pleasure when I remember solving “Game bird of Ambridge?” (7 letters)1. But sometimes I’ll spot a number pattern where none was expected that’ll really please me.

For reasons I won’t go into, I was looking at the digits “101” in various number systems:

Number Base Base10 Equivalent
3 10
4 17
5 26
6 37
7 50
8 65

Can you see what’s happening there? The difference between consecutive base10 equivalents increases by 2 each time! And having worked for that sample set it seems reasonable to think that it’ll carry on working to infinity. I don’t understand why it works, but I’m sure it’s all part of numbers being beautiful.


Polly Ticks

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

I’ve just discovered a much better blog subject than the one I was going to blog about.

If you’ve read the comments to Henry’s blog of this morning, you’ll know that if you do a Google search on a particular term of abuse (the one that translates as “Penguin” in Simon’s profanity filter), the first result that comes up is the official government website page on John Prescott. It really is true – go here and see for yourself. I really hope the civil servant or web designer who made that happen never gets caught, they’ve given me the best laugh I’ve had for weeks.

I went and had a look at the Prescott page, but there’s not much there, just a load of sanitised rubbish about what a wonderful bloke he is. I thought there might have been some entertainment value in the link alongside, headed “E-mail the Prime Minister”, but apparently he only gets a monthly digest of the mails received, so I suspect that if I’d sent “Why don’t you shoot yourself you lying cheating worthless piece of thingy“, he’d never have got to see it anyway.

Oh well, only a few more months and the whole useless gang of them will be on the dole. We may end up with a crowd who are just as useless, but at least it’ll be a different useless crowd.

Catch as Cache Can

Monday, March 7th, 2005

You may remember 1 that I’ve set myself a geocaching target for the year.

It is simply to log an average of three geocaches a week throughout the year, giving me a total for the year of slightly more than I did last year. Of course there will be weeks when I don’t get three, but I’m hoping to balance that with times when I do more, maybe with a geocaching day out to a cache-rich area, or another weekend away with Rockin’ Rob and the lovely Miche. Supplemented with work visits to new areas, and hospital radio conferences in places I’ve never cached before, and the target should be possible.

Up to now I’ve done 39 so far this year (plus one which I did last year but didn’t log till this year2 ), which means I’m up to my target for 1st April. At which time, coincidentally, I’ll be caching in Belfast.

1Or you may not, because I don’t think I blogged about it.
2Blame Omally


Sunday, March 6th, 2005

Today I gave my Mum a nice Mothers Day card and a cat – sadly not a real one, but a china one called “Mr Flint”. You can see him here – in fact since the RSPCA benefits, why not buy one?

After lunch I was allowed to go geocaching, so I jumped in the Gruntmobile and headed for the hills: I wanted to finish off South Downs Shenanigans, which you’ll remember I started last Friday. That was great fun and very muddy, and then I went on to Walk This Way which has been on my “to do” list for ages: It’s a nice walk of about 3½ miles, with some great views on the way. Oh, and mud.

Then I came home and had my tea. A good day.

Facial Hair Again

Saturday, March 5th, 2005

As you can see, the beard is still looking a bit thin.

I was hoping by this stage to have achieved the Chris Bonnington look – a blackbird or two nesting in it would have been ideal, instead of which I look more like SimonG’s older brother. Oh well, we’ll give it another week – it isn’t actually quite as feeble as this picture makes it look, I think the flash photography has been a bit unflattering to it.

Anyway, I took my Mum out for lunch today: We went to the White Swan, the same place I took Gill and Geoff to last weekend – Mum should have come with us then but she was feeling off-colour so we left her behind! Still, she and I enjoyed the run-out today, although I DID discover that sometime in the last five years I’ve forgotten how to peel prawns. An added bonus of the afternoon was bumping into my friend Sally and her brother Pete in the restaurant – they ended up on the next table to us, with their aunt and a lady who I think was Pete’s wife: It’ll be really embarassing if I’ve got that wrong.

After we’d eaten, Mum and I went to the hobby shop over the road, where Mum stocked up on some craft supplies. My back has nearly recovered from carrying the bag back to the car, thank you for asking. I was going to wash the car today – perhaps tomorrow.

On Hotels, and Happenings Therein

Friday, March 4th, 2005

I once found a pair of black lacy knickers in an hotel room.

Mind you, that was in Plymouth, so it’s only to be expected really. Nothing like that has happened in the Stratford hotel (The Falcon) yet, and this is the fifth time I’ve stayed here. Mind you, I did find a rather odd package on the windowsill, hidden behind the curtain – it was a carrier bag containing a mouldy seed cake and a tupperware pot. I left it where it was1 – someone had kindly left it for me, so I left it for the next occupant of the room.

Then there was the mystery of the disappearing pillow. I like to sleep in a semi-recumbant position, so when I’m not at home I have to supplement the supplied pillows with whatever comes to hand. Luckily this is a rather posh place 2, so as well as the two pillows on the bed, there are two more in the wardrobe specially for people like me. Anyway, before retiring Sunday night, I dragged the extra pair out and lobbed them on the bed; ‘pon my return on Monday evening, the bed had been made with three pillows – of the fourth there was no sign. And it never returned all week – I hope they don’t think I stole it.

The TV in the room has all sorts of fancy features, besides the normal ones: wake up call, hotel information, town information and so on: I spent the week in fear and trembling that I was going to press the wrong button, and have to submit an expenses claim when I got back to work that included:

Item: Porno movie – “Lovely Lesbian Ladies” – £9.85

Luckily that didn’t happen, but one of the facilities on the telly is to view your room bill, so I thought I’d try that:

Item: Meals – nil3
Item: Telephone – nil
Item: Pay TV – nil
Item: Bar Bill – £8.45
Item: Miscellaneous – £524.26

I got a bit worried about that, but it turns out that it’s an administrative thing to do with how the training company is charged for our rooms: All I actually paid was the bar bill.

Anyway, the course is now over and I’m home again: On the way home I stopped and did the cache The Cotswold Cache with a View, and got stuck in some traffic jams. I might post a few pictures of my adventure sometime…

1After checking there wasn’t a logbook to sign in the tupperware pot, naturally.
2And yes, they still let me stay there.
3They’re included in the room rate


Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

Well as you can see, at last I’ve managed to get the wi-fi connection working well enough to blog – lucky really, as no-one volunteered to guest blog for tonight. Anyway, my week in Stratford-upon-Avon (or “Stratty”, as those of us familiar with the town call it) started well enough, as I stopped for the geocache It’s Great Tew Tree Here on the way up, grabbed a nearby trig point into the bargain, and after booking in to the hotel took the two-minute walk to Willy the Shake.

Monday – course day one, and the good news was bumping into Greg at breakfast. He was on my last course, and is here for all three modules of this one as well. We’ve got the same trainer as last time too: Graham’s good, so that’s OK. Bad news is that we’ve got evening sessions every day, which has put paid to my plans to meet up with JG and Ned this evening. Hopefully I’ll still get to meet up with Colin, who only lives just up the road sometime.

Tuesday, and I suppose I ought to mention how I’m getting on with the diabetic/hypertensive dietary régime while living in an hotel. Um – OK I suppose. Both breakfasts so far have majored on scrambled eggs, toast and cereal, all of which are allowed by my diet sheet, and lunches have been OK too. I’ve fallen a couple of times, at afternoon coffee, when they serve blueberry muffins – but they’re made with fruit, so that’s OK isn’t it? I made a quick visit to the health food shop yesterday lunchtime for some diabetic chocolate – costs a fortune and tastes like gravel, but given the choice between gravel and never eating chocolate again, I can live with it.

Wednesday – the main feature of the day (other than ten hours struggling with The Control of Lead in the Workplace Regulations 2002) was a walk into town at lunchtime in search of Mother’s Day presents. Luckily Stratty is full of shops selling stuff that my Mum will like, so that was no problem. I’ve discovered that for some strange reason, although I can access the intermaweb via wi-fi, I can’t send e-mail. I’ll sort that out when I get back, ready for next time. And it looks like my plans to meet up with local chums on this trip are doomed – having failed with JG and Sir Ned on Monday, tonight’s attempt to get together with Colin – who only lives 5 minutes away – also fell through. Oh well, more chances in July and October…

Thursday – Violence, Bullying and Alcohol. Not the menu, sadly, but today’s topics on the training agenda. We had another early-ish finish today (the trade-off is loads of evening work) so I jumped in the car and went for a little drive to look at the countryside. Amazingly I found myself within a few hundred yards of a geocachce, so I stopped and did Spinning a Yarn. And now I must crack on with homework…

Fly Me To The Moon And Let Me Swing Among The Stars, or Exciting Holidays For Astronomy Enthusiasts

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

Induldge me awhile, won’t you? Humour an old ‘king as he keels two crows with one stone by doing a LazyBlog AND stepping into the breach for that noblest of P*mp*y Fans, Mr Paul G0TLG.

I’ve been in adoration of the Night Sky for many moons*. I even scrimped and saved for my very own telescope a few years ago. Indeed, many of you reading this are well aware that I have a 10-incher that I’m extremely proud of.
I used to belong to the H.A.G. for a couple of years, during which time I enjoyed many memorable Thursday evenings ogling the be-jewelled belly of Nit, the legendary Sky Goddess. Y’see once you’ve learnt which stars are which, you can then progress to matters obscure, such as Globular Clusters, Nebulae, Galaxies (yes, Far Far Away ones) as well as tracking the movements of the other planets of the Solar System, staying up really late to watch meteor showers such as the the Perseids, the Leonids and so forth. The Night Sky (on a clear night, of course) is a bounteous treasure trove with something new to look at every night.

Now imagine, if you will, having a lovely big mural to spend an afternoon gazing at, yet the idiots in the Tate Gallery** have chosen to cover this mural with a sheet of glass and set lights at the base so that they shine up onto the glass, thus providing you with a less than satisfactory view.
This is what star-gazing can be like, sometimes. Supermarkets, football grounds, local councils, people with those magic lights on their front doors that only help burglars to see when they’re picking the locks on your front door: all are guilty of spoiling the beauty of the heavens. Thus comes the idea of Astronomy Holidays. Any good Astronomy magazine will have adverts for holidays in nice deep country-side, far away from the glaring, whorish lights of cities and towns.
The people that run these holidays generally have their own telescops that you are free to use, star-atlas’s’s’s’s (although I also saved up £50 for my very own Wil Tirion Atlas: still in it’s plastic case) and sepcial red-bulbed torches for to preserve your night-vision whilst walking about/reading star-charts.
I never got round to taking one of these particular holidays, but I do know that the best place I’ve ever seen stars from was deep in the Blue Mountains in Oz a few years back: the Milky Way wasn’t just a pale smudge across half the sky; it was a brilliant band of countless stars stretching from horizon to horizon. A couple of the more prominent Galaxies stood out clear to the naked eye, one or two planets made a most dazzling cameo appearance and the occasional metoer blazed a triumphant death-and-glory trail across the sky, as opposed to the thin pathetic streaks one can get used to seeing near towns.
Even now, whenever I look at a crisp, clear, starlit night in the UK, even if I can only see one or two stars due to light pollution, I feel the memory of those foreign stars burning their images brightly in the old memory cells and sigh deeply.

Yes, it’s safe to say there IS such a thing as an Exciting Holiday For Astronomy Enthusiasts.

*See what I did there?
**Examplis Gratis, purely: it’s the only gallery I know the name of. Philistine? Moi?

‹Slopes off to polish mirror and fill flask with hot chocklit›

This blog post fulfils the assignment Exciting holidays for astronomy enthusiast at You can rate it here.

Listen to your father!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Fingers crossed for the powers of hypnotism, because there is NO WAY this blog can top the previous one…

I had 2 topics to choose from for today’s entry : bathroom sealant and vests. With no time for a straw poll, I flipped a coin, and luckily for me (because the bathroom sealant story does not show me in a good light), vests won.

I’ve recently been going through a lot of my late father’s stuff – I say late, but bless him he’s been gone nearly 8 years, but for various reasons (house moves, marriage break-ups, slightly loco mothers – well just one fortunately, but it often feels like more) the majority of the sorting is only just being done now.

Aside from the normal “my-father-was-a-squirrel??? assortment of things, I came across a box of clothes, which included some vests. Clean, I hasten to point out! – but most only fit for dusters. There was however, a couple of good as new ones, and with Dad not being the biggest of men, and it being a mighty cold day, I decided to put one on.

Now Dad always used to bang on about the importance of vests, and I never used to listen (well, that’s part of the job description for being a daughter isn’t it?). But – yes, OK Dad, I admit you were right. No longer was I a bit chilly, but toasty warm in a lovely snug sort of way. So much so in fact, that I have since purchased some more.

But Dad – before you roller coaster spin in your grave, or choke over your tea whilst reading this in the Pearly Gates Cyber Café – I will NEVER agree to the woolly red bobble hat!!!