Archive for June, 2006

DERVish

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Yesterday was a bit ranty wasn’t it? Mind you, you should have seen the original before I toned it down!

Anyway, in one of the comments Stephen said “What about people who drive thirsty 4×4ís”. He was only teasing – he’s only just sold his own thirsty 4×4 – but it does give me the opportunity for another anti-Bliar rant. Diesel Gruntmobiles – any diesel engine in fact – can be run well enough on biofuels such as sunflower oil or rapeseed oil, or even – if you want to be really environment friendly – used cooking oil, as long as the lumps are strained out. You need some additive in winter, or to mix the biofuel 50/50 with ordinary diesel, but it works. It doesn’t hurt the engine – I know some people who’ve been doing it for years – and it isn’t by itself illegal.

The problem comes with the fact that it’s illegal to drive a vehicle on the road, using fuel that you haven’t paid Road Fuel Duty on. When you get your diesel at Tesco or wherever, they sort all that out for you, along with the VAT and all those other horrible things, but before you go and buy a couple of gallons of Crisp’n’Dry to pour into your Gruntmobile, you have to decide if you’re going to take a chance on it – which could lead to all sorts of horrible things if you’re caught – or work out how to pay the tax. This latter option apparently involves a load of forms from the tax office, allowing inspectors to view where you’re going to store your oil, and all sorts of other things. My point is that if the Government were serious about promoting the use of biofuels – and they say they are – they’d make the whole process a lot easier.

As for collecting the used oil from your local chippy – thereby recycling materials which would otherwise go to waste – forget it: In spite of the fact that Dick Strawbridge recently did it on TV in It’s Not Easy Being Green, the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 mean that it’s illegal to take away waste cooking oil without a waste contractor’s licence, and both you and the chip shop would be breaking the law if you did.

If I Ruled The World

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Coming back from London today, I overtook a low loader with a HUUUGE JCB on it: across the back of the lorry was a sign saying “Driven Courteously? Please Ring 999 – it’s Been Stolen”. Given that it was the only thing I saw on the road that made me laugh, I thought it was worth recording.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided that when I’m in charge of the world, all of the following crimes will be punished by losing your driving licence, having your vehicle confiscated and crushed1, and ten years inside:

  • Driving at 50mph or less on the motorway
  • Driving an HGV anywhere on a motorway other than the nearside lane
  • Using a handheld mobile phone while driving.
  • Driving three inches from my back bumper, flashing your lights, when I’m already doing…umm…slightly more than the speed limit
  • Driving a BMW

Actually I’m not too sure about this last one…what about BMW Minis? If they’re not proper Minis, as our resident Mini experts Stu and Sarah tell me, perhaps they shouldn’t be regarded as proper BMWs either? Added to which, I’ve got a couple of chums who drive them, who’ll kick me in the nadgers next time they see me if I’m not careful.

1 Or given to me, if it’s nicer than what I’ve got at the time.

Well ‘Ard

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

One of the problems with losing loads of weight (nearly 4 stone, since you ask :-) ) is that when you sit on a hard seat, you don’t have as much padding as you used to.

I discovered this on the ferry back from the Isle of Wight this afternoon, where I’d been to a meeting at our distribution depot. The weather was good for an ocean voyage, the views were nice and there was just enough chop in the sea to make smaller boats bounce around in a satisfying-to-watch manner, but boy, the seats were hard. The good thing about going over to the Island is that we start horribly early, so I managed a full day’s work, plus a home visit to the guy who had the accident I mentioned the other night, and still got to the gym 45 minutes earlier than usual. Which meant I had time to do 1350 calories, which combined with yesterday’s session means that I’ve once again exceeded a week’s target.

Drink

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

According to a story in today’s paper – which I can’t be bothered to find a link to – David Beckham has given up beer for the remainder of the World Cup campaign.

Beer? The man’s not just a professional sportsman, he’s the captain of the team. Everyone who’s ever had a hangover knows that alcohol contributes to dehydration, yet the captain of a team which has cited heat and dehydration as excuses for lacklustre performance has been drinking beer.

Of course, Beckham – not famous for a Mensa-grade IQ – isn’t totally to blame. Where have Sven and the rest of the management team been? They’re supposed to be guiding the team towards a victory they have the talent to take – and for the money they’re being paid (note I avoided the word “earning”) it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some restraint and professional behaviour.

I’m quite glad I don’t care about the whole darned World Cup thing really. When’s it over?

Wash

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Driving home from church yesterday, I was in need of both folding readies, and windscreen washer fluid.

Luckily there’s a garage on the way which has a cashpoint machine, so I could kill two birds with one stone. I got the cash, then went into the shop.

What kind of stupid, half-baked petrol station sells 20 different sorts of wine, and not screenwash fluid? They did have a small selection of oils, but that wasn’t what I really wanted. In the end, on the way home from caching, I stopped at Halfords. I was about as welcome as a dose of bird flu, because the assistants were all engrossed in England v. Ecuador, but I found the screenwash section and my only remaining dilemma was choosing between “pine forest” and “apple fresh”. As long as it gets the windscreen clean I don’t really care, but I plumped for the apple fresh.

It does smell nice as it drifts in through the airvents after you’ve used it, but sadly the windscreen still looks like the aftermath of some insecty version of Custer’s Last Stand.

And then I spent an hour in the middle of the night at work, where someone had had an accident and been taken to hospital. And now I’m very tired.

Earworm! Earworm!

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

An “earworm”, as some of you will know, is when you get a tune in your head and nothing you can do will shift it.

It’s a bit annoying when it happens – I wish I could earworm the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations, at least until exams are over, but it only seems to work with music. My chums Rob and Miche are going to a gig this week, and Rob loaned me a CD of the band they’re going to see, the Feeling. I played it all the way to Warwickshire yesterday, and most of the way back, and woke up with one of the tracks rattling around what passes for my brain. Aaargh!

For this afternoon’s caching I teamed up with Sarah and George, plus of course Maggie the Insane Boxer. First on the list was 901 Trees, a fairly new four-part multi in the New Forest. We enjoyed the walk, and Maggie enjoyed the stream, and then we relocated for cache number two.

Next was A Pig in a Bush, a good walk of a couple of miles featuring ponies, bridges, bogs and all sorts of other exciting things. Another nice afternoon :-)

Another Long Day

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

I had a meeting in Warwickshire today.

The New Wine medical team have a get-together in the month before the event, to run over arrangements and to ensure that we’re up to date with the latest news: As I’ve mentioned before, Heather, who’s one of our team leaders, is in Studely, so that’s where the meeting was today. Unusually for a Saturday, I had to get up early – in fact I was having breakfast before the milkman arrived, which resulted in me wandering around with a bowl of dry Weetabix looking for a splash of semi-skimmed – in the end I gave up and had it with full-fat milk.

The journey up was enlivened by the number of vintage cars all heading in the same direction as me – although I must admit I found it a bit dispiriting when one of them overtook me. I know the Gruntmobile doesn’t have a brilliant turn of speed, but really…having said that, I was doing…ummm…just over seventy at the time, so it must have been rocket-propelled by vintage car standards. The meeting was good, and it was nice to see old friends again, and then it was time for the journey home. I’d gone up on the motorway, but decided to come home by a much nicer route, down through Stratford-on-Avon and the byways of Oxfordshire: It took half an hour longer, but who cares? The English countryside look lovely this time of year, and it’s all the better when not zipping past at eighty five just over seventy.

It’s a good thing I enjoyed it really: The day cost me nearly fifty quids worth of diesel :-(

Who’da Thought It?

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

According to an article I saw in the paper this morning1, 60% of people spend more time at work chatting to their mates, in chatrooms or on MSN, than they do actually working.

I don’t know about that – I wouldn’t have thought that 60% even have computer access at work, and of those who do, not everyone can have personal use. I know that I have occasionally been known to drop into Mongers’ chatroom in the day, as do others, but more time chatting than working? Sounds to me like another press hyperbole.

Anyway, none of that for me today – although I did find time for a quick drive-by cache, Camphill Cache, on my way between sites. Then after work I found the next two clues on Enigma Variations 2, the mighty multicache that’s been occupying my Friday evenings for the last few weeks. Three clues and the final location to go – I just might finish this one before I go on holiday :-)

1 Well, the Daily Mail anyway

Longest Day

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Yesterday was the longest day.

I don’t mean in any weird metaphorical “Oh no this day seems to be going on forever” sense – it really was the longest day, and from now on the nights start drawing in, and Winter will soon be with us :-) . And I’ve just realised that that means the “going geocaching after work on Friday” season is half over…better make the most of it then!

I mention all this longest day stuff because of something odd that I noticed last night: I’d been down to visit Sarah and the kids, and the road that connects their village with the rest of the world is a long, fairly straight major road with cars and petrol tankers thundering along it at high speed. It’s also fairly densely overhung with trees. We were commenting before I left that it was still almost fully light, and as I was driving home the sky was bright and looked like full daylight – yet down on the tree-shaded road I was using full headlights – and main beam where there was no oncoming traffic – to see where I was going!

In other news, I had another good session over the gym last night, so this week I’ll have done one and a half times my weekly target calories – unless I go again, in which case I’ll have done more. That’s not likely to happen though, I want to go caching tomorrow and on Saturday I’ve got to drive to Redditch and back. Might grab a cache or two up there as well :-)

Flagging

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006


I thought I’d share this, which a friend sent me the other day :-)

I should’ve stressed yesterday, that that 313 since the start of the year was for cache difficulty and terrain ratings, not number of caches! Looking at the “Cacher of the Month” entries there will be plenty who’ve done over 300 since the start of the year, but I’m not one of them.

Where I have done rather better is in the gym: If you look at the gym calories thingy at the top of the page, you’ll see I’ve been ahead of target all year, in spite of last week being a bit of a rubbish one – well, I WAS ill ;-) . This week should be rather better, last night I did my best-ever session, 1800 calories in one hit.

Mind you, I could barely stand up this morning.

Yay and Boo!

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

I bought a camcorder! :-)

It was for work, not for me :-(

I got the Clubcard points :-)

It was cheap, so I didn’t get many :-(

It’s currently being looked after by me while I play with the new gadget study the instructions and learn how to use it :-)

In other news, you’ll remember back at the start of the year, I set myself a caching target: To average six cache difficulty/terrain points a week, through the year. With 52 weeks in the year, you’ll realise that six per week equates to 312 over the year, which at the time Rockin’ Rob said was much too easy.

He may have been right: The simple drive-by cache that I did with Sarah and George on Sunday took me to 313 since January. So now I need to think about realigning my target.

Wimmin

Monday, June 19th, 2006

In the news today, the Anglican church in America has angered more traditional parts of the Anglican family by appointing a female bishop.

I can’t get excited about it, myself. As long as a bishop is a good bishop, I don’t particularly care what they keep inside their trousers – or what they do with it, before anyone asks. There are plenty of qualities a priest or bishop needs, and in both cases there are a few that aren’t particularly good: I don’t think the church has enough good clergy that it can afford to turn otherwise gifted leaders away, just because they haven’t got a “Y” chromosome.

I’ve met loads of really good priest, both male and female: I’ve also met a few I wasn’t so impressed by, although I have to say they were all men. I’ve never met a lady priest who didn’t seem to be fully up to the job, although I’m sure a few exist. The argument that priests have to be male because Jesus’s disciples were all male doesn’t hold much water – they were all practicing Jews as well, I think the Christian church might have a problem if we start insisting on that quality in our ordained leaders.

By the same token, I can’t get excited enough to join the throngs demanding the immediate appointment of female / gay / three-legged / Martian priests. Appoint them because they have a talent and a calling, not because they fit somebody’s stereotype.

Chums

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

Today had been ordained a day when a number of geocaching friends were to get together in a pub, with maybe a little light caching thrown in…

The chosen pub was a fair distance from home, so Sarah and I had decided to share transport: Since Sarah was planning to pour vodka down her neck until she fell over, we thought it best if I drove, so after clearing the Gruntmobile’s boot to make room for Maggie the Insane Boxer Dog, I headed south(ish). A crisis with the in-car satnav was solved by me swearing at it until it started working again, then we were on our way.

It’s a funny thing, but I mentioned on Friday passing the house where Jenny used to live: I haven’t been anywhere near it since I last stayed the night there, the night before Amesbury Carnival 1989, and now I’ve driven past twice in three days! The pub was at the end of some tiny country lanes in Upper Chute, and I remember thinking as we got near that if the satnav failed again, we’d be Upper Chute Creek without a paddle…anyway, it didn’t, we weren’t, and because we were the only ones not to have gone caching on the way, we were the first to arrive. Lucky too…those who arrived later had rather a long wait for their food.

A group went caching after lunch, but we stayed at the pub talking to friends, although it wasn’t totally a cache free day: I’d noticed a nice easy drive-by cache Eileen’s 50! only a small diversion from our route home, so we grabbed that on our way past. A really nice day out.

Oh, and Sarah didn’t really get that drunk!

A Day of Two Halves

Saturday, June 17th, 2006

Today was set aside for less-than-interesting things. It turned out better than I expected :-)

I’d arranged to visit the Secretary and Treasurer of our Raynet group for some admin: they’ve recently taken over their joint roles, and have inherited a huge stack of paperwork from their predecessors: A little of it is relevant and worth keeping, but most of it seemed to be letters about events of ten years ago, and they’d suggested I go over and go through it with them to sort it into “keep” and “not keep” piles. They also mentioned chinese takeaway…

In the end we were finished much more quickly than we expected, with a satisfyingly-large “not keep” pile, a smaller “keep” pile, and a rather small “scan and copy to disk, then destroy” pile. So we had a sandwich-and-salad lunch, and then…

Ah, I’d forgotten to mention that Barbara and Chris are geocachers, hadn’t I?

With an unexpected bonus free afternoon – and in the company of cachers – it was too good an opportunity to miss, especially as there’s a cache just down the road from their house which we’d all previously failed to find, and another not much further away which they’d found and I hadn’t. So we piled into the B-mobile (as Land Rover owners they refused to ride in my Japanese 4×4), and off we headed.

We spent nearly an hour climbing around a major man-made structure looking for Not As it Seems (part two), a rather evil micro placed by one of my regular readers, so I won’t give him the satisfaction of describing how hot and sweaty – not to mention rusty and dirty we got. Suffice to say, we didn’t find it :-(

We moved on to Herne 2’s Little Thing (6), which Chris and Barbara had both found before, and I’d failed on twice: This time – with only a tiny hint from them – I went straight to it, and can’t believe how I never found it before.

Then back to Chris and Barbara’s house, a quick cuppa, and home. The chinese takeaway will have to wait till next time.

It’s the Weekend!

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Today’s caching activity included The Bridge to Nowhere, a fairly easy traditional cache right on the Hampshire/Wiltshire border, and on the way back I picked up the next clue on another big multi I’m working round: The first three clues were fairly easy puzzles to solve, but this one is a bit tougher, and I decided to bring it home to work on at my leisure.

On the way up to the next cache, I logged a nearby trigpoint, which was lucky – it meant the trip wasn’t totally wasted. Not finding the cache was my own fault, the instructions warn about stinging nettles but I wore my shorts anyway. I got to within eighty feet before I gave up.

And on the way home I drove through the Wiltshire village of Allington, right past the house where my bestest ever chum used to live when I first knew her!

Play it Safe

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

According to this news story, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is finally calling “time” on the trend to avoid risks at all costs – in this case, by accepting that children’s playgrounds need to have some element of risk, or children will ignore them altogether and go and play on motorways instead.

That’s a bit odd, given that ROSPA have previously been prime supporters of the “safety at the expense of fun” movement, but we’ll take whatever we can get: Those of you who’ve been privileged to hear my opinions on the subject will know that I firmly believe this nanny-knows-best risk-avoidance culture to be worse than useless – it’s actually counter productive. Not only are children avoiding the safe playgrounds in favour of the excitement of canal towpaths, roadsides, and smashing up hospital radio stations, they’re not even learning anything. In a few years time they’re going to be starting work – some of them in high-risk occupations like construction or power generation. All they’ll have learned from their time in the nursery is that everything is safe, that risk control is someone else’s job, and if they DO have an accident they have an automatic right to sue somebody.

Somebody clever – I think it was Rudyard Kipling, but Google has let me down – wrote:

No game was ever yet worth a rap
for a rational man to play
into which no danger or mishap
could ever find its way

Edit: Thanks to the cleverness of AOJ, I can confirm that it’s from Ye Wearie Wayfarer by A.L. Gordon – see here.

Makes sense to me: you only learn about safety and risk management by experience – in an environment where the consequences of getting it wrong are small, but definitely exist. The loonies who ban schoolchildren from playing conkers unless they’re wearing safety goggles1 not only make my chosen profession a laughing stock2, they increase the chances of something more serious happening to the kids later. But as long as it happens when they can’t be sued, I don’t suppose they care about that.

1 Although needless to say, that story was unfairly reported: Cumbria County Council banned kids in schools from playing conkers because of the risk of eye injury: One brave headmaster – Shaun Halfpenny from Cummersdale Primary School – said “My pupils will be allowed to play conkers, even if I have to buy them safety goggles”.

2 Although the so-called “Health and Safety Killjoys” display a total lack of understanding of the principles of risk management, so it seems a bit unfair for the profession to get the blame. Ah well, that’s life.

Party

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

I went to a party today.

It wasn’t a proper party…one of the sites I work at is closing, and representatives from all the other sites in the company – including the one where I’m actually based – were gathering like vultures to see if the kit and equipment included anything useful that their/our sites could make use of: It was a bit like that scene with the seagulls in Finding Nemo, with everyone going round saying “Mine! Mine!” at everything.

In raspy productive cough related news, Mike and Graham seem to be coming down with the same thing I’ve got: I tried blaming the air conditioning in the office, but I don’t think I got away with it. I went to the gym after work to try a really gentle session, but was feeling decidedly rubbish after only 15 minutes, so I went in the Bright Water – mercifully bereft of drunken footie fans this time – and had a pub meal instead :-)

Milennium Hand and Shrimp

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

This cough thing has really gone onto my chest now – to the extent that Graham and Mike, my office-sharing chums, told me to go home. Well, “go home” weren’t their exact words, but I think it was what they meant. For the first time this year, illness stopped me working out when I went to the gym – I just went and sat in the steam room until the moisture loosened some of the congestion on my chest, then showered and went home, doing my impression of one of Terry Pratchett’s less savoury characters on the way.

Mum had some more tests at the hospital today – nothing definite about what’s been causing her recent wibbles, but it definitely isn’t what we’d been afraid it might be – and the doctor’s suggestions, which he’s testing for, would all be fairly easily treated / controlled if any of them turn out to be it.

So that’s good. Cough, wheeze. Buggrit…I told ‘em, I did…

BLAAARRRT!

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Blaaarrrt!
I got close to a bit of road-rage yesterday.

There’s a big road junction near where I live: because it’s the junction of a major road and an almost-as-major road, it’s protected by double yellows stopping people from parking right on the corner – needless to say it doesn’t stop anyone, and the entrance to the almost-as-major road is usually reduced to one car width by chavmobiles whose owners are busy buying lottery tickets and extra-strong lager in Co-Op.

Of course the Police never do anything – in fact parking enforcement in Southampton is now the province of the City Patrol, who also never do anything. Yesterday afternoon as I swung round the corner, Johnny Chav in his Fiesta stopped right on the end, slap in front of me. I treated him to a BLAAARRRT on the Gruntmobile’s horn, and as I pulled alongside stopped and mouthed at him…well, the SimonG chatroom rude swear filter would translate it as “You wombatting shetland pony”. I don’t normally give in to it, but these lazy arrogant twunts who think they’re too important to have to walk a few yards really annoy me. To make it even more fun, as I turned into my own road, one of the Polish people who’ve just moved in over the road had parked right on that corner, blocking the cutway, about which I seem to have written quite a lot lately.

Bah

Hawk

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Sadly, today’s title has nothing to do with birds of prey – although the birds who woke me up at four this morning, by squabbling outside my bedroom window, had better be praying if they do it again tonight. No, the title refers to the chesty cough I’ve developed over the last few days :-(

It didn’t stop me enjoying today’s event, though: I was the control operator for Raynet’s coverage of the Marie Curie Bike Ride in the New Forest. The sun was shining, I was based at a pub, and the good weather had brought out loads of good looking girlies in lycra – what more could a man ask for? Apart from this cough going away, of course. The day went well, the cyclists all seem to have enjoyed themselves – even the ones who got lost – and Lois was pleased with his black pudding present fromWarwickshire.

And now it’s time for a kip. Yawn. Cough.

D

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

…which many of you will remember, is the roman numeral for 500!

You’re probably fed up with hearing about it now, but today was the day that His Swedish Royalness and I were doing our joint 500th caches! The day started with a right royal slap-up brekkie at His Majesty’s gaffe, featuring blackie supplied by the wonderful JG and Ned, and then we headed for Salisbury. There was a brief pause at A Wing and a Prayer – which I’d done before and Mallers hadn’t – to let him get his 499th, and then another when he chickened out of driving the Tammymobile through a deep ford. Second try, he took it through – or, if T is reading this, we found an alternative route for her lovely car…

The cache chosen for the mighty 500th was Old Sarum – following the Wombles, a multi around an ancient monument on the outskirts of Salisbury, followed by the cache itself, well outside the ancient monument bit itself. It was a great day for caching, hot and sunny, the clues were all easily found, and we soon had the final co-ordinates. Finding the final location was a matter of minutes…we’d done it!

Then it was back to the car, enjoying the sunshine and the moment – I’m hoping the view in this pic will bring back some memories for at least a few of my readers! Then courtesy of swedish royal transport, it was back home.

I spent the afternoon sorting things out ready for tomorrow’s event, and going to the gym. I’d thought about calling in to the Bright Water for a quick half after working out, but it was full of chavs waving their beer in the air and chanting “We won! We won!” It was nice of them to celebrate our 500th cache so enthusiastically, but I think at least part of the reason for their joy was the result of the England game – which of course we didn’t really win, we were just a bit less rubbish than they were.

So that was my day – hope you all had as much fun as we did!