Archive for May, 2006

Mark Blog

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Today was the funeral of Mark the Buddhist.

Come September I’d have known him for thirty years – since day one at big school in fact, so you’ll realise we’ve got a fair bit of history: In fact, he was the only person from school days that I stayed in touch with. In A-level Biology and Chemistry he was my practical partner, although he was always better at both of those than I was! After school, and in his case university, we stayed in touch and met up occasionally, initially to play golf and later – when we gave up the “old mans’ game” – for walking.

He eventually let me nag him into walking the South Downs Way, and from there, there was no stopping us: The Ridgeway Path, Dorset Coast Path, South Devon Coast Path, Cornish Coastal Path, North Devon Coast Path, The Wealdway, The Cotswold Way, the West Mendip Way, and the Dales Way – along with bits of the Wayfarers’ Walk, Clarendon Way, Test Way and the Pennine Way – all fell victim to our boots. We tried doing the North Downs Way as a series of day walks, but it rained every time so we gave up at Kemsing.

Regular readers will know that last July I was best man when Mark and June married: they met on an English degree course at Birkbeck college, where – in spite of being debilitated by cancer over the last eighteen months of the course – Mark achieved a first. He also received the prize for the most promising student, and it’s typical of Mark that when June mentioned that – in her talk at the crematorium – it was the first most of us had heard of it. If that had been me, I’d have told everyone I knew – several times!

A common comment at Bob’s funeral six weeks ago was “There’s so many s***bags in the world, why did it have to be him?”. The same comment was made several times – and not only by me – today.

It’s Life, Gym…

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

In a comment to Jenny’s blog of yesterday, Stu commented “Iíve always thought it was odd to drive to the gym and do a workout when you could walk to the gym and back for free without having to go in.”

Since I go to the gym a couple of times a week, and walking at least once, I guess I’m as qualified as anyone to comment, and besides, it makes for a free blog entry that isn’t about course assignments :-) . So, why is going to the gym better than going walking?

  • It doesn’t lobster down with rain in the gym
  • The gym is rarely either freezing cold or bakingly hot
  • There are good-looking girlies in lycra in the gym
  • The gym doesn’t have aggressive beggars, muggers, or big scary doggies
  • You can burn more calories in an hour in the gym, than you can in an hour doing almost anything else

Of course, you’ve got to be balanced: The reason I joined the gym in the first place was to get fit to go walking (this was in the days before geocaching), and when I caught myself going to the gym instead of going walking, I re-thought my priorities. As long as you’re not in a hurry to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest time, there are reasons why it’s better to go walking:

  • The gym doesn’t have wildflowers, trees, wildlife, and generally nice scenery to look at
  • While the gym has good looking-girlies in lycra, it also has big sweaty hairy men who grunt a lot
  • While the gym is air-conditioned, it can’t be described as “fresh air”
  • If you get a suntan in the gym, it’s artificial from the sunbed, not “real”
  • Getting out into the fresh air of the countryside is generally more interesting than the gym

So, in summary, if you’re not short of time and the weather is half decent, a walk in the fresh air is nice. But if you’re in a hurry and need a blast of exercise without taking up too much time, the gym is the best option.

I bet you’re all amazed that I haven’t yet said “…and besides, there’s no geocaches in the gym”, aren’t you?

Another Loony

Monday, May 29th, 2006

One of my neighbours is bonkers.

I was outside in the back cut this morning – remember I told you about the back cut the other day? – washing the caravan, which I’d pushed out there to have more space than if I’d tried to do it in the driveway.

Me: “Tum tum te tumÖ” *Scrub scrub jetwash jetwash*
Previously unsuspected loony neighbour: “If I can’t fill my children’s paddling pool I’ll blame you”
Me: “Eh?”
PULN: “If we get a hosepipe ban and I can’t fill my children’s paddling pool, it’ll be your fault”
Me: “Eh?”
PULN: “You’re not supposed to be using hoses and jetwashers, you know”
Me: “Why not”
PULN: “Surrey Water have banned them”
Me: “But we’re in Southampton”
PULN: “True” *Goes off shaking her head sadly*

Anyway, the caravan is now substantially cleaner than it was before, although there’s a lump of fossilised bird lime on the roof which isn’t going to come off without an angle grinder. Then I went to Range to buy a party-sized pack of wild bird food, and after lunch to visit Sarah. The evening was spent at Hospital Radio in the company of some good chums and a Chinese takeaway :-)

Back to work tomorrow. Bah. I was going to blog this evening about my latest course assignment, but that’ll keep – you lucky people!

Numbers Game

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

I’m sure you’ll have noticed my “geocaching stats” up there at the top of the page.

I don’t normally view caching as a numbers game: I cache a lot because I enjoy it, not to rack the numbers up, and lately I’ve been caching much more for quality than quantity: This time last year I’d done 21 more caches since the start of the year than I have this year. But as you’ll see, I’m getting close to 500 finds, as is my good chum Mallers, and we’ve agreed to do our 500ths together. I’m keen not to keep him waiting, so I’m trying to keep the momentum going.

So, this afternoon I went out to the New Forest to chase a couple of caches placed by my good mate Nobby Nobbs. The first I went for warns in the instructions “It would be a good idea to take gloves with you”, and from this, and knowing the area, I’d guessed that gorse bushes would be involved. Even knowing this, I turned up without either pokey stick or gloves, and after thrashing hopelessly for a while, I gave up.

The second for the afternoon, Brews and Views Number 2, proved a little easier, and I managed to log a trig point on the way. Better still, on the walk back to the car I found a good stout pokey stick, and went back for another go at my previous failure. This time, I found Brews and Views Number 1 in a couple of minutes.

Having enjoyed the views, I decided to stop for a brew on the way home: The recommended parking for each of the Brews and Views caches is close to somewhere to get a nice drink, and for these two it’s a rather good tearoom. A pot of tea for one cost £1.90, and I got five good-sized cups out of that, which has to be good value by anyone’s standards.

It also came with a nice piece of chocklit cake, but I’d better not mention that in case the nurse from the diabetes clinic is reading.

Productive

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

I’ve got a narrow cutway going past the back of my house.

That’s quite lucky really – it’s the only way to get things in and out of the back driveway, where my caravan lives. The problem is that the cutway is at quite a sharp angle to the drive, and is only open at one end: When I get home with the caravan on the back of the car, it’s quite easy to reverse it into the driveway, because the angle works for you, but so far the only way I’ve been able to get it out is to shove it out manually, spin it round on the next-door neighbour’s hard standing, and hitch the car up afterwards. That’s fine – although hard work – but my luffly Mum wot helps me do it isn’t getting any younger, and nor am I come to that.

So, today’s experiment was to see if I could hook it up to the car in the driveway, then drive out facing away from the entrance, then using my superior caravan-manoevering skills, do a three-million point turn using the hardstanding and drive out. Well, the answer is, actually driving out – which is the hard bit to do manually – is possible, but turning the caravan round in the available space isn’t. So the first option is are, get the caravan out, then reverse back down the cutway into the road. Not recommended, although with someone to look out for oncoming cars it might be do-able. The other is to tow out, then unhitch, spin round and re-hitch. I think that’s the one I’m going for.

Also today, I did a maintenance visit on my cache Test Way One, and went to the gym. Oh, and I learned another valuable caravan-towing lesson, namely “When you’re towing at slow speed, and the caravan brakes are squeaking, check the handbrake is off.”

Press Conference

Friday, May 26th, 2006

My bedside clock/radio is set to wake me up to Radio 4.

It’s also set to start up 15 minutes before I normally get up, so I get to wake up gently to the dulcet tones of the “Today” presenters laying out the news of the day: By the time I actually get out of bed and head off to brush my teeth, I’m normally angry about something – especially if John Humphries has been interviewing – and up to date on the important issues of the day.

This morning there was a press conference on, with World President Bush and his English Poodle. One of the journalists – a British one – started a question to Bliar with “Mr Bliar, this could be your last official visit to Washington as Prime Minister…”. I’d never really thought about it before, but what a great job that’d be for me! I could get in there discussing weighty important issues of the day with my fellow newshounds, then when it was my turn to ask a question I could say: “Mr Bliar…YOU’RE RUBBISH…GERROFF! RESIGN, YOU WAR CRIMINAL!”. And because it was a press conference, he’d have to respond.

On another subject, tonight – at long last – I completed the mighty mega-multi cache Enigma Variations 1: Nine Brothers of Durham, an eight-parter that’s taken me four visits. The it was on to The Water Tower, on route to which I found the first three stages of Enigma Variations 2: The Nine Knights Templar.

If At First…

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

”If at first you don’t succeed…lower your standards”

That used to be quite a popular epithet, back in the days when I worked in the dark world of quality management. That, and ”there’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it again”

I’m not quite sure why that came to mind, but it’s appraisals time again at Jellies R Us, and while I was having my one-on-one with my line manager, I came up with some top-quality management-speak that I thought you’d laugh at. During a discussion on what things hadn’t gone quite according to plan over the year, I came out with ”if at first you always succeed, your targets weren’t set high enough”.

OK, I’m not proud of it, but it fitted the Mood of the Moment, and it distracted hin from the accident stats for long enough for me to get away with it.

There’s Always One…

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

…person who asks awkward questions :-)

And on this occasion it was Rich, asking after my last blog “So what IS the solution?”

The truth is, I don’t know, but a good start would be to stop promoting the counter-productive measures I outlined yesterday: Remember that what I’ve got against these is NOT that they don’t or won’t work, but rather that they’re in danger of working in a bad way.

The lunatic wing of the UK press regularly recycle the demand for the home addresses of all child sex offenders to be published, for the benefit of parents wanting to keep their children safe. Two problems – one is that even the new Home Secretary doesn’t trust his department to get things right, so why should the rest of us? How do I know they’re not going to publish MY name and address in error? The even bigger problem is the effect such a list would have: Imagine yourself a parent with a small child1; you check the newly-published list of names and addresses of known child sex offenders, and discover there are none living near you. Does that make you feel safe? Do you think your children aren’t at risk? If so, you must be stupid. The names on the list are the offenders who’ve been caught, that’s all – and even they’re capable of catching a bus. Sadly some people2 ARE daft enough that they’d fall for it.

As for the Criminal Records Bureau – the press was recently full of stories about the number of innocent people who’ve been turned down for jobs and university places because they’d accidentally been given a false bad report, because they had similar details to someone else. Given that there’s someone living in Southampton with the same name as me, who used to regularly feature in the court reports in the local paper, I’m a bit concerned about that. So many organisations assume that if you’ve got a clear CRB report, you must be OK, yet all such a report really proves is that you haven’t been caught – and it probably doesn’t even prove that, since if they’re doling out false bad reports, there’s probably been some false good ones as well.

So, identity cards: Anyone read “The Day of the Jackal”? It’s a 1971 novel3 in which the lead character obtains a false passport by stealing the identity of someone who died in infancy. Amazingly, according to the novel’s auther Frederick Forsyth, with minor variations the method would still work, and that’s before the possibility of forgery is considered. I don’t see the ID card scheme particularly doing harm in itself – but if anyone takes them at face value and relaxes their guard, then THAT will be damaging. In other words, they won’t do any good either.

All that said, I still don’t know what the answer is – although I’m prepared to guess that if an answer IS ever found, it’ll be hideously complex. I just don’t think that measures which don’t do any good – while encouraging people to relax their guard by APPEARING to work – can be a good thing.

1 Some of you won’t have to imagine, of course
2 Probably the same ones who burn down the home of a paedatrician, because they don’t know the difference
3 And a 1973 film starring Edward Fox

Pet Shop

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

The Pet Shop Boys were on the wireless this morning, waffling on about – and then playing – their new choon.

This wouldn’t normally impact me – the only true thing the PSBs did was to call one of their songs “Being Boring”, and I DO have a soft spot for them – it’s a mudbank in the middle of Portsmouth Harbour. Still, this morning’s offering was, apparently, “A sardonic look at those who support identity cards”, and the first two lines – which were the only words I could actually make out – were “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear, if you’ve got something to hide, you shouldn’t even be here”.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the whole identity card thing, what bothers me most is the fact that it’s not only pointless, it’s counter-productive. Like gun control, paedophile-outing and the Criminal Records Bureau, it inconveniences the innocent, exposes the stupid and low level offenders, and distracts attention away from the guilty ones that we should really be worried about: Evildoers who are clever enough to get fake IDs, paedophiles who are clever enough to have not been caught, and would-be armed robbers who know how to get hold of guns.

I know terrorism, murder, child-molesting and all the other bad things have to be stopped: But window-dressing measures don’t cut the mustard.

Thanks

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Thanks to you all for your comments on yesterday’s blog. It feels a bit weird really – I’ve known Mark for what seems like forever: We’ve spent loads of time doing loony things in each others’ company, including walking the South West Way and bits of the Pennine Way. Yet somehow, I don’t feel anything like the same as I did when we lost Bob. I’m guessing it’s because in Mark’s case, it wasn’t really a surprise – as I said, he’d been ill for a while, and with the indignities that terminal patients have to put up with, even in the best of care, he felt ready to go. It also helps that, although his faith wasn’t my faith, he died at peace, surrounded by those who love him most, and was confident and happy with what comes next.

In other news – yes, I managed to collect my Mum’s birthday card from where I’d left it at work, and she liked it, along with her presents and her other cards (including the one from Jenny, for which she says I’m to say thanks :-) ).

More

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

There can’t be anyone among my readers who doesn’t know that a chum of mine died in an accident six weeks ago.

Probably only one of you will know that a couple of weeks later – the day before Bob’s funeral, in fact – one of my New Wine colleagues died. I can’t claim that Col and I were the best of mates, we hadn’t seen each other for two or three years, but we’d exchanged Christmas cards and the occasional newsy e-mail. He’d only just been ordained as a minister in Poole when he was taken ill suddenly, and died a couple of days later. Somehow – and not surprisingly really – the family’s “letting everyone know” system went a bit awry, and the first I knew was when I had an e-mail forwarded by my friend, the Formidable Senior Staff Nurse Gill, titled “Colin’s funeral details”. To be fair the first she’d known had been when she received it.

Regular readers will know that last July, I was best man when my old schoolfriend Mark the Buddhist married the Lovely June: We knew then that Mark was ill with cancer and over the last year he’s become progressively worse. I bet you all know where this is going, don’t you?

Anyway, on Friday night June rang to tell me that he’d been sent home from hospital at his own request, since basically there wasn’t much more the hospital could do for him. She rang again last night to tell me he’d died at about half past three yesterday afternoon, with his wife and his parents in attendance. She counts it the greatest blessing that he knew he was at home, and he knew they were with him, and he died with a smile on his face.

I might blog some more tales about Mark later – in the meantime, Rest in Peace old chum :-(

Tired

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Today we had a Raynet exercise.

Although we knew it was due to happen, no-one except the person who set the exercise knew what it was all about. I was getting a bit stressed in the days leading up to the event, thinking that something would go wrong and we’d look daft. Anyway, I don’t know what happened through the rest of the county, but everything our group did worked well, so that was OK then.

At least, as far as I know…

You’ll be pleased to know that after we finished, I found time to call into work to collect my Mum’s birthday card. Then after that I went to Winchester to visit my excellent chums Tim and June. And then I went home and drank rather more red wine than was good for me :-)

Another Week Over

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Gosh – yesterday’s offering got things started. Nice to see people expressing their opinions :-) . SarahJT, hope you enjoyed the film this evening, and Mallers, hope you enjoy it on Sunday. My problem isn’t with people who enjoy the film…or the book…or the audio book in Dysdera’s case. My problem is with people who take it seriously – although to be honest, it’s still better than “Big Brother”!

Anyway – Friday. Which means an early finish from work so I could go geocaching. I managed three more clues on “Nine Brothers of Durham” before heading into Andover for a nice easy virtual, Rooksbury Mill Park, which I just managed before rain stopped play.

And finally for today – I’m glad my Luvvly Mum doesn’t read my blog. ‘Cos it means I can confess to you lot that with her birthday being on Monday, I’ve left her birthday card at work. Mongoose.

Code Book

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

The Christian church is protesting vociferously about the film “The DaVinci Code”.

Actually, that’s not totally true: in fact it’s almost totally NOT true. Those who are protesting are a small outspoken minority who certainly don’t represent mainstream Christian thought. The film is based on the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child, whose descendants are still around today. I don’t believe it’s true – any of it – but then I don’t believe in invisible cars or talking cats, but it didn’t stop me enjoying “James Bond” or “Garfield the Movie”.

I really don’t think that anyone is going to have their faith – or lack of it – altered by “The DaVinci Code”: I think the vocal ones have missed the point that most people are quite capable of telling fact from fiction, and those who DO believe in Jesus’s fatherhood, based on what they’ve seen in a film, will soon forget it as they believe the next big thing to come along.

I probably won’t see the film – I rarely go to the cinema, and I see no reason why this should be any different. Nor have I read the book, although I did read the very similar book the story was alleged to have been based on, several years back. Maybe when the library has it available…in the meantime, I hope my fellow Christians get a sense of proportion, and maybe start making a fuss about the thousand-and-one things in the world that actually matter.

Daring

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

I’ve been studying past exam questions.

There are a couple of reasons for this: Firstly, it’s because anything which tests your knowledge helps to show up gaps, so you can focus extra revision. But also, similar questions keep cropping up, so if you can turn in a reasonable answer to most past questions, there’s a good chance that at least a couple of the real exam questions will be a bit familiar. An example – from my last diploma which I did two years ago – is what became known as “The electrical safety question”:

“By means of a labelled diagram, describe the contruction and working method of a residual current device”

That one cropped up in several exams, either as a ten-pointer (compulsory question), or half of an optional twenty-marker, so most of us revised it. On the morning before the exam, one of my fellow candidates said he really hoped that one came up, as he’d revised it really well. Sure enough, there it was as the first half of a twenty mark question. I commented to him afterwards that I’d guessed he’d be pleased:
“Pleased? Pleased? I was so pleased I nearly got my todger out, right there in the exam room”

I don’t see any of that happening in a Diploma 6 exam – for one thing, you don’t have time – but seeing a familiar question is a relief. So, one of the questions I’ve been looking at – which has cropped up twice in the last five years – is very similar to:

“You are the health and safety manager for an organisation, where the board are considering a proposal to cut the health and safety budget and cancel a safety-related capital project. Prepare a response to this proposal explaining why it should not be approved”

I really wish I was cool enough to write something like “Aww, go on, I’ll be yer best friend…aww PLEEEEZE…”. But I suspect I won’t be.

Obsessed? Moi?

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

I know that some people think I’m obsessed with geocaching and do it far too much.

Today, the “Geocacher of the Month” league table for April was published: I found 25 caches in the month (mainly due to the Easter Saturday Cachepedition with Rob and Miche), and scored 270 points – my second best month since my first entry in November 2004.

That put me in 83rd place, out of 110 cachers who entered: The top of the leader board – a cacher fairly local to me – found 169 caches and scored over 2000 points. One cacher placed more caches last month than I found!

This month I’ve found 12 so far, and that includes the cachepedition Jenny’s wedding weekend in Nottingham – even with a bank holiday weekend to come, I’m not likely to reach last month’s total. Still, the important thing is to enjoy it: As regular readers will know, I’m currently working my way round a mighty multi-puzzle cache – although since it’s a 50 mile round trip to get there, I try to make sure I get a couple of other caches at each visit ;-)

Hope the weather’s nice this Friday after work – with a bit of help, I’ve solved the next clue!

Boom Boom Bang

Monday, May 15th, 2006

As promised, I’ve been studying the latest progress report from the investigation into the Buncefield Oil Depot fire.

This might sound a bit sad – but as well as a professional interest, you’ll remember that I still have my module A exam to go, and in all of these exams there are bonus marks available for knowing stuff that’s relevant to the question but not in the syllabus: being able to churn out some obscure fact “as is believed to have happened at Buncefield” could well prove to be worth the effort.

So, what happened? The explosion required two basic factors: an explosive material (in this case almost certainly an appropriate concentration of fuel vapour in air), and a source of ignition. The source of the fuel vapour is known to have been an overflow from tank 912, which was being filled by remote pipeline, although at the moment it remains to be seen why two independent alarm systems failed. With my brain in “exam mode”, lack of maintenance is the first thing that comes to mind, although in the real world, sites like Buncefield are so closely monitored by regulatory authorities that it’s pretty unlikely.

The source of the explosion is harder to determine, not least because all the relevant areas are severely fire- or explosion-damaged. A fire extinguishing pump close by the tanks should have started when the automatic fire alarm was triggered, and this is known to have happened just before the first, major explosion: it’s possible that an electric spark caused by the pump could have provided the ignition, and there was certainly an explosion within the pump house. However, explosion mapping seems to suggest that this was one of the secondary weaker explosions. More likely is a small generator house just outside the oil depot, where anti-spark precautions are less likely to have been in place, and where there are known to have been small anti-frost heaters whose thermostats could well have generated a spark.

The investigation continues. Thank you for reading my revision notes :-)

Skiver

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

I skipped church this morning – I had loads that needed doing. Still, I took down the shelves that needed taking down, and I got the wheels (complete with new tyres) back on the caravan: I did some reading that had to be done, and now I’m online sorting out some emails that I should’ve dealt with a week ago: And no, I haven’t forgotten the wedding website that’s still outstanding.

But I did find some time to watch most of the Grand Prix this afternon, and it gave me an idea: One of the reasons why manufacturers support F1 teams is that the cutting-edge technology needed for a Grand Prix car contributes to the development of new features – especially safety features – on road cars. So, to make it more realistic, I suggest the following changes to the Formula One rules for next year:

  1. If a car breaks down or crashes, it should have to stay where it is while the driver runs to a roadside phone and calls the RAC. Meanwhile, all the other drivers will cause massive tailbacks by slowing down and staring stupidly at the wreckage
  2. Instead of mega-fast pitstops, drivers should have to re-fuel self service: Then they should have to get out of the car and go into the pit building to pay – which of course would mean waiting while an uninterested teenager finishes texting her best mate San, and teaching her how the credit card terminal works
  3. Similarly, tyre changes should require the driver to get out, jack the car up and do it themselves: For extra verisimilitude, they should wander around scratching their heads and wondering where the manufacturers have hidden the tool kit

I wonder how many of my ideas they’ll use?

A Nice Day with Chums

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

I’d have rather liked to stay in bed this morning, but I had to get up – I’d arranged to meet some caching chums in a pub for lunch and silliness, and I had some caches to do on the way :-) . First was one owned by my good chums Tim and June, Big Pond, where the picture alongside was taken. Then I moved on to Ickle Pond, another Tim and June one. A nice couple of caches to start the day.

Then onwards to the parking for the next cache – sadly the wrong parking, which led to me taking what could best be described as an “unauthorised” route to River Walk Tilford, and from there – rather than going back to the car – I walked on to Overlord (Surrey), an unusually interesting micro cache close to an area used for experimental work leading up to the D-Day landings in the second world war.

Then it was time for the pub, and a day of general hilarity, featuring food and drink, finding silly things (and in some cases breaking them), winning a bottle of wine in a quiz, and watching people bouncing on pogo sticks.

Then on the way home, I stopped off for a quick walk down to Ed the Navigator, before heading for home.

And Relax…

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Well, not quite…but I’ve been mightily busy this week, and I’m glad its over. I forgot to tell you yesterday about yet another train-related adventure: I got to the NEC for the Expo with no trouble at all, but when I wanted to come home, there was some sort of problem at Coventry so no long-distance trains were running through Birmingham International station: We all had to pile on a local service into Birmingham New Street – a railway terminal which must surely be the armpit of the universe – and wait forty minutes for a connection via Solihull. This made me much later than expected getting to Hospital Radio – where the early-shift duty keyholder was champing at the bit waiting for me to take over – and when I got there, what I thought would be a routine phone call turned into a drama which managed to involve our Nottingham correspondent as well, and wasn’t resolved until late into the night.

Anyway, today ended when I decided I’d done enough work for one week and left early, heading for mid-Hampshire caches: First call was at the next clue on the mighty multicache “The Nine Brothers of Durham” (I’ll give you a link when I’ve finished it), then stopped off in Andover, firstly for Anton Lakes Local Nature Reserve, and then crossing town to Charlton Lakes: Two nice caches, both alongside lakes in pretty parks, with ducks and geese and loads of other waterborne fowl.

Then home. And NOW I’m going to relax – g’night one and all.

Expo 2006

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

I suppose whenever you gather together most of the health and safety professionals in the country and try and sell them things, you need something a bit special to grab their attention: after all, everyone here is someone who was either too slow to dodge when the health and safety jobs were being given out, or actually chose this as a career path.

But even my weirdness tolerance was exceeded by something I saw today: one corner of the exhibition is a stage area called “The Runway”, and attracted by the soundtrack from Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds”, I wandered over for a look – to be greeted by a dance company, two of whom were dressed as Martians, the rest in a variety of respiratory protective equipment varying from dust masks to full breathing apparatus with air tanks. The lesson appeared to be that if you wear full BA and carry a SuperSoaker, you can defeat Martians.

Bizarre.

Still, I did get to visit some stands that I wanted to see, and bumped into some people I knew, and it was a fairly useful day out. But if I go next year I’m taking sarnies – as I should have expected in an exhibition centre, the restaurant was extortionate. There are signs up all round the place saying “Our menus suit all budgets…from £2 to £20″. I think the £2 is for a glass of water, I couldn’t find anything else at that price.

Still, at least I could blog from the exhibition…somewhere the size of the National Exhibition Centre MUST have wireless networking? Well, it does, but it’s about a million pounds a minute. That really annoys me, for somewhere like the NEC to provide free wifi would cost three-fifths of stuff all, yet they still feel the need to charge the earth. So you’ve had to wait for me to get home to read this – was it worth it?