Archive for January, 2006

Diabetic Lessons

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it when I saw the chairs were all in a big circle. When I saw that one of the discussion points was “How do you feel about your diabetes?”, my heart sank into my boots.

I left work early – and missed an hour in the gym – for two hours of all the stuff that was in the information pack my doctor gave me on day one. We didn’t have to hug each other, which was lucky really, given the others who were there, and we weren’t encouraged to treat our diabetes as our friend, but it was pretty mind-numbingly rubbish.

Still, I managed to avoid saying out loud what I was thinking, so my patience is improving if nothing else.

We Don’t Need No Education

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

Did anyone see Blair on the news this evening, pressure-washing graffiti off a wall?

Where were his goggles? What about gloves? Overalls? Considering how much his shambolic mess of a government claims to promote Health and Safety in the workplace, it was a shameful display. Of course there were no chemicals, it was just low-pressure water. He wasn’t really cleaning the wall, any more than he’s really running the country.

Ahem…on to what this evening’s blog was originally going to be about…

I’ve got to go to night school :-(

Ever since I had my diagnosis of diabetic-ness, the nurse at the local surgery has been pestering me to go to classes about how to be diabetic. Personally I’ve never had a problem with that, although if there were classes on how to stop being diabetic I’d sign up in a flash. Still, I tried ignoring them for a while, and that didn’t work: Then they booked me in to a course of lessons on Friday morning.

After I explained the realities of working for a living to them, they went quiet for a while, but now they’ve come back and given me three Wednesday evening sessions, starting tomorrow. I’ve phoned and told them that I’ll miss the middle session – I’m taking exams next week – but they’re pretty insistent that I go to the two I can make, and they’ll sort the rest out later. In the hope of shutting them up, I’ve agreed.

The sessions last for two hours each – meaning that I’ll miss a gym session for each of them – and seem pretty basic, from how they’re described in the paperwork. I’m hoping to God they’re at least going to be useful, and not just touchy-feely contact sessions to help us all get in touch with our inner beings. I LIKE touchy-feely, but only when I can choose who I’m touchy-feely with. I’m also willing to bet that going to these sessions won’t be the end – I expect as soon as I’ve done these they’ll start bothering me about something else.

It seems the last year – since the Rubbish Hospital first had me in for the pre-op checks – have been punctuated by regular bouts of me getting home, opening the post, and yelling “Why don’t they bloody leave me alone!!!”. Watch this space for details of exciting diabetes lessons.

I wonder if they’ll serve coffee and sticky jam doughnuts at half time?

Pandora’s Box

Monday, January 9th, 2006

I love this always-available internet thingy.

Last Saturday night, I was laying in bed, half asleep and listening to the BBC Radio 4 quiz programme “Masterteam”. As the programme finished, I remembered that I’d been meaning to find out what the theme tune is called.

In a matter of moments – and without even waking up properly – I’d fired up the PDA, logged on to the BBC website, and found out that the tune’s called “Pandora II”. It’s written by Paul Hart and David Arnold, and played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Before I fell asleep, I even made a few blog notes :-)

Further Adventure

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

I had an Exciting Occurrence this afternoon!

I’ll tell you about that in a minute, but let’s get things in order: I started the day helping out our next-door Raynet group at the Stubbington Green 10k road race: Not satisfied with just being a radio person, I’d also agreed to be the Public Address announcer for the race organisers: I did the job for years back in the days when Hospital Radio did public address, and I’ve been doing it by accident for the last couple of years. Anyway, that was fun: But by the time the event finished it was raining, and I’d been cold all morning. Only a fool would have gone geocaching.

The first one I tried for was Titchfield Tour, a fairly easy multicache around a pretty village, only just up the road from the event. The walk around collecting the clues was easy enough and only took about fifteen minutes, unfortunately by the time I got to the final location the rain had stopped and there were hordes of kids playing: I didn’t want to compromise the cache, so I left it where it was and moved on.

Only a little further away I found Cache and Splash (Kites Croft), a pretty cache near a stream in some woods. I didn’t linger as the rain had started again by now, but went straight back to the car and moved on to another new cache, Third Time Lucky, a muddy walk through some woods only a stone’s throw away from the domicile of our good chum Elly. I thought of parking outside his house and poncing some bandwidth to log my finds, but decided to try for one more…

Don’t worry, the adventure’s still to come…

The last cache for the day was Christmas Escape: Bramble Hill, the only one of the “Christmas Escape” series I hadn’t done. On the way back to the car I spotted something white and furry up ahead: Closer investigation and some internet research suggests it was a stoat in winter white colours, which apparently are becoming increasingly rare as winters become milder. It dived into a bush as I approached, but as I waited quietly, camera in hand, another appeared: This one wasn’t so timid, and had a go at chewing first my walking boot, and then my glove: I’m told that stoats and ferrets whizzing up trouser legs is just an urban myth, but all the things I most value would be vulnerable to a small sharp-toothed creature darting up my trouser leg so I decided not to chance it, and beat a hasty retreat to the car.
Once I was out of sight, they both re-emerged and carried on hunting, and I stayed watching them until it got too dark to see them properly. But I’m pleased to have had the chance, another new experience thanks to geocaching!


Saturday, January 7th, 2006

I had a bit of an adventure today.

My microwave died over Christmas, which made catering interesting for a few days until its replacement arrived yesterday. Today’s task was to get rid of the old one.

There’s a council tip not far from where I work, and normally when there’s anything big to get rid of, I just load it into the Gruntmobile and deal with it in my lunch break. But today I didn’t want to drive all the way into Eastleigh, so I loaded up the car with the microwave, a dead caravan battery, an equally dead car battery, and a rusty umbrella stand1, and did some intermaweb research to find out where the nearest tip was.

Easier said than done: Southampton council’s website proved to be not hugely user-friendly, and I was trawling around for ages before I found it under “recycling facilities”: I suppose that’s the politically-correct version of a tip. Anyway, appropriately the rubbish dump turned out to be very near Southampton football stadium, and with an FA Cup game this afternoon I knew there’d be crowds. I got there in the end, and found a parking space among the ratty old vans for sale. My items had to be split between three different – but identically-labelled – skips, and then I was on my way. I narrowly avoided running over a bunch of scum Southampton supporters, and headed for home.

Of course no-one condones fly tipping, but sometimes you can see why people do it.

1 That is, an umbrella stand which was rusty, not a stand for rusty umbrellas. That would be silly


Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Now I don’t want to upset anyone – least of all my good chum Jenny – but I seem to be back to my end-of-November weight!

I’m pleased about that: in the run-up to the festivities I’d put a couple of pounds back on, and there had been some excessive eating and drinking over the holiday period. I’m also hoping that losing those couple of Christmas pounds will kick-start the weight loss again – I’d been stuck on that weight for ages, and I really want to lose at least another stone. Look out for updates on your favourite fat bloke’s blog page.

No blog last night – sorry about that, our Raynet group had been put on standby to assist with a local “incident” – we didn’t get called out in the end so I’m assuming they managed without us, but I spent my blogging window phoning people, and making sure I was ready to roll.

I’ll try to do better in future.


Thursday, January 5th, 2006

Stu blogged today about camera equipment, and wondered whether more expensive equipment necessarily made one a better photographer.

Of course it doesn’t – not on its own anyway, although I suspect that a top-notch photographer with a top-notch camera (with which he’s familiar) will take better pics than the same photographer with a Kodak Instamatic (remember them?). The important thing is that the ability and the ‘eye’ are much more important than the tools.

The same is true for geocaching: It may seem an odd thing for a man with 5 GPSs to say, but all the gadgets in the world are no substitute for experience and a bit of imagination, and a patient, experienced cacher with an old, not-very-accurate GPS will do better than a careless impatient one with the latest DGPS-equipped unit.

And to be honest, I bet there aren’t many fields of human endeavour where that isn’t true: Good gear can make a good player better, but that’s partly because the good player will take the trouble to become familiar with his kit and learn how to get the best from it. A top golfer was being interviewed, and it was suggested that he had more than his fair share of luck: he commented, “It’s a funny thing, but I’ve noticed that the harder I practice, the luckier I get”.

And that’s my answer to Stu’s question.

Accident Investigation

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

Of course, the news story du jour (and probably the next few jours as well) is the tragic mining accident in West Virginia, USA.

In some accidents – like one I saw recently, in my industry but not in one of our locations – it’s fairly easy to say “Person X did action Y, in clear and absolute contravention of both working procedures and common sense, and that is the sole reason why the accident happened”. That sort is pretty rare, however. In many – and the textbook example is the Piper Alpha fire in 1988 – you get a “The accident was caused by X, but why X happened is the real question”.

There’s already much press speculation – much of which will probably turn out to be wildly inaccurate – about the cause of the mine accident. But the main press furore revolves around an inaccurate report, in the early hours of this morning (UK time) that the remaining missing men had been found safe and well, when in fact all except one had perished. The family of the men who died are said to be very angry and demanding answers – although if I were in that position, I think I’d be wanting to know why the accident happened: Why I’d been given inaccurate information would be a minor – although still bad enough – consideration. I suspect that what’s happening in this case is that distraught relatives are expressing anger at anything and everything.

It will be interesting to see how the inaccurate report happened – at the time of writing, the press themselves are suspected of involvement – but I suspect the cause of the original accident will take rather longer to emerge.


Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

In all the excitement of Christmas and the New Year, I forgot to tell you about a couple of things that happened at work which annoyed me just before the holiday.

Regular readers will know that I had some time off sick in April when the Swedish Chef and his colleagues at the Rubbish Hospital mended my wrist. The last two days of my time off coincided with the Hospital Radio conference, for which I’d booked holiday before I knew the operation date, and I was told when I got back that the holiday stood: even though I’d been signed off, I couldn’t change those two days to sick days and take the holiday later. I thought it was a bit off, but since I had actually gone to the Conference I thought it wasn’t worth making a fuss.

I’ve since discovered that in fact I would have been entitled to re-book those holidays: unfortunately I didn’t find this out until the last day before Christmas – the last day of the holiday year that I was scheduled to work – and because I didn’t take the days in the right holiday year, I’ve lost them.

The other cheesing-offness concerns the course I’m doing at the moment: The course providers offer an optional three-day revision module in the month before the exam, which I’d asked to do: I was told at the time (by the same person who told me about the holidays) that the course itself had cost so much of the training budget that there wasn’t enough left.

On the same day that I found out about the holiday entitlement, we were talking about some Health and Safety equipment I wanted to get, but didn’t think I’d get spending approval for. “Oh,” said my colleague, “I expect we can jiggle some money for that. There’s loads left in this year’s training budget that we won’t get round to spending.”. When I reminded her – rather loudly and forcefully, I must admit – what she’d said about the revision session, she said “Oh well, you should have known better than to take me seriously”.

I’ve negotiated the holiday thing with my boss direct, without involving HR. And I’ve taken great delight in pointing out to them that it’ll cost them far more for me to retake the exams if1 I fail because of inadequate revision, than the revision module would’ve cost.

1 When

Homeward Bound

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

I’m writing this on a Virgin train on my way home from the fabby New Year weekend in Nottingham with the ace Jenny and Chris, and their even more ace kittens Pickle and Button: Kitten pics – and maybe even some downloadable video clips – once I get organised.

As well as Jenny, Chris and the kitties, it’s been a weekend of unexpected bonuses: bonus number one was seeing Stu and Sarah on Thursday night, as they joined us for dinner. If I’d known they were going to be there I’d have brought the White Jeep Travel Bug (it’s a geocaching thing) which Blitzy kindly passed on to me: I may hang on to it to take to the MongMeet at the end of the month.

Bonus two was discovering that my Ickle Godson and his fambly were going to the same New Year party as me – and even better, I found out in time to redeem my earlier error of forgetting to buy Chrimbo pressies for Daniel and his brother.

Other things that happened – seeing John and Marie, the party itself, grabbing a geocache with Chris, the Cantonese buffet and so on – were all very nice, but don’t count as “unexpected bonuses” because I knew they were going to happen.

Anyway, I started by saying that I’m on a Virgin train: last month I related my Virgin train tale of woe, but concluded by saying that I still overall was impressed with them and I’d use them again. I haven’t been disappointed – this one is clean, on time (edit: it finished up slx minutes early), and there’s loads of space. I’ve just had a fabby ham sandwich, packet of crisps and bottle of fruit juice for four quids, which compares very well to the one pound fifty for a small coffee at Derby station. Credit where it’s due, and well done Virgin Trains.


Sunday, January 1st, 2006

Thanks to Queen Arry of Finland for this…

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

Today’s activities included sleeping off yesterday’s party, meeting the people who were at the party for the Cantonese-all-you-can-eat-for-a-tenner buffet, and then playing “Buzz” on the Playstation back at Jenny ‘n Chris’s house. And now I’m tired again.