Archive for March, 2007

Saturday

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

So – thanks everyone for your congrats on yesterday! There’s a bit of a process to go through yet, like security checks and stuff – I also have to buy some new shirts, and worst of all – a season ticket for the train at four flippin’ grand! Still, the job pays one and a half times what my last job did, so I can afford it :-) .

Since I’m still living off my pay-in-lieu-of-notice, I haven’t touched my redundo yet: I’m going to treat myself to a new mobile phone and probably a new PDA, other than that it’s all going to sit in the building society for the foreseeable: I may replace the Grunty towards the end of the summer, but I’m in no rush for that.

Other than that, we’re still having a nice weekend – I have to go and get ready to do my Super Seminar in a minute. I’ll let you all know how well it’s received. Or Jenny might tell you, if she stays awake all the way through! (unlikely! – Jen)

Employment

Friday, March 30th, 2007

I have a new job!!!!!!!!

It’s the one I’ve told some of you about, that will involve commuting to London. No definite start date yet – there are security checks and stuff – but watch this space for details :-)

Yummies

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Usually at conference every delegate receives a goodie bag, with information about the hotel and event, maps of the town, and some yummies – this time most of them get a Toblerone and a pack of Pringles, donated by one of the conference sponsors. In the past we’ve had miniatures of whisky, and on one notable occasion (the Scarborough conference), condoms. I think they were mint flavoured.

On this occasion as you can see, lovely conference organiser Marie has made sepcial arrangements to comply with my dietary requirements. It’s a bag of Sainsbury’s Leafy Salad, and the label says “Yummies to be given on receipt of evidence that salad has been consumed – Marie”

It’s lucky she doesn’t know about the packet of biscuits I’ve got hidden in my room.

Conference

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

So – today. Or if I don’t get this written soon, it’ll be yesterday. Anyway, I had to travel to Northampton for the Hospital Radio Conference, so I loaded the car and headed roughly north-ish. It was at about Newbury that I realised I should have filled my windscreen washer bottle before I started, and at Didcot Services that I used the slowest water hose known to man: I only half-filled the bottle, if I’d totally filled it I think I’d still be there now.

I stopped for lunch in a lovely village pub called the Queen Victoria, where I had a lovely salad – which came with a club sandwich and a huge bowl of chips. Then on for a little light geocaching to walk that lot off, a mini power trail along the Grand Union Canal consisting of
Bridge 46
Wrights Lane Bridge
and
Easts Bridge
There should have been another before that, but I decided not to linger when I encountered one of those ladies who thinks it’s quite acceptable to let her German Shepherd dog run loose up and down the towpath menacing people, as long as she apologises afterwards. Grrr.

Then on to conference, to spend the rest of the day stuffing conference goodie bags, and catching up with the rest of the conference team. And we had a lovely three-course meal (with no salad at all) to round the day off.

Last Minute

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

It’s been a bit of a long day, and I’m blogging from Sarah’s – and I’ve only got the internet until she gets back from collecting Bex, so this’ll be a quickie/ Today I finished (almost) my conference packing, built three coffee tables and went to a Raynet meeting. I’m assured that’s the last of the self-assembly furniture for the forseeable future. I sure hope so.

And tomorrow I’m off to Northampton – should be a good one. There ought to be bloggage from there, the hotel advertises internet access in every room, so we’ll see.

Play nicely chums.

Useful

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

I’ve had a productive couple of days.

Yesterday – as well as going to the gym and moaning about Deal or No Deal – I:

  • Finished my talk for the Hospital Radio conference – including printing out the speaker notes which I will, of course, ignore
  • Wrote an article for the next Hospital Radio magazine which the chairman had asked me to do
  • Wrote and despatched an e-mail newsletter to the Raynet group
  • Updated the Raynet group web site
  • Researched geocaches in the locality of the conference
  • Changed my e-mail provider to one who actually lets me send e-mails without having to wait ages for the server to work (thanks to Sam for the advice)

Today, by comparison, was meant to be a bit easier. That plan fell apart when, just after I’d finished my packing for conference weekend, a van arrived and delivered some more self-assembly furniture that I wasn’t expecting till next week :-( . So today I’ve built a dining table and four chairs, and chopped four old chairs up into bits small enough to go in the bin – and before anyone shouts “Freecycle” at me, you should know that nothing at Castle Gottlegog is replaced until it’s well past the end of its useful life – just ask anyone who’s seen the way I dress. These were chairs that not even SimonG would have had in his house.

I also whacked my finger with a big hammer, so I now have a plaster on and I’m typing even more slowly than normal. Please excuse any typos.

I’ve got a meeting tomorrow in Winchester, and I was hoping to do a cache or two on the way: Unfortunately, I’m told we have some self-assembly tables coming tomorrow.

Big Deal

Monday, March 26th, 2007

One of the disadvantages of being one of the Unwaged Masses is daytime TV game shows. I don’t watch them on purpose – other than SudoQ, which is quite fun, if only for the opportunity to shout abuse at the contestants. You’d think that if you were going to be on a general-knowledge-quiz-based Sudoku game, you’d try to be good at either general knowledge or Sudoku, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with most of them. Anyway, my point was that I usually find myself in the gym on one of the machines in front of one of the TVs which IS showing one of the game shows, so even without the sound I get some exposure to them.

This afternoon I was on one of the exercise bikes in front of Deal or No Deal. Now bear in mind that I’ve never seen this with the sound turned up – you have to wear headphones to get TV sound – so I’m no expert, but it seems to consist of someone having a big red box with an amount of money written inside. They open the box and see how much they’ve won, and this takes about 45 minutes – although it seems much longer. Along the way they get phone calls from someone called the Banker (I think I got the first letter right there), offering to trade the mystery amount in the box for a guaranteed amount which he offers them.

Anyway, this afternoon the contestant lady agreed to a Banker’s offer of £29000. Remember that she knows from this point that it’s guaranteed that she’s won that amount. It soon transpired that had she held out, she could have won much more, and in fact it would have been the top prize. She was devastated. In floods of tears. Maybe it’s just me, but I hope that if I’d won £29000 I’d be a bit happy about it.

Rather more genteel in the world of afternoon TV is Countdown, a programme which DOES make sense without sound – in fact back in Richard Whitely’s days as presenter it was quite a bit better without sound. The programme always ends with the conundrum – the contestants are presented with a nine-letter anagram which they have thirty seconds to solve, and the first one to get it (assuming either of them do) gets the points. One afternoon last week – I think it was Wednesday – the anagram was GINGERBAG. One of the contestants buzzed in after a few seconds with the answer I’d already spotted – “rebagging???. In spite of it being a perfectly good English word, and a correct solution to the anagram, it wasn’t allowed because it wasn’t the answer they were looking for. Now that contestant would have been justified in getting annoyed, but because this was Countdown, she just smiled gently and let her opponent get the points for the “correct??? answer, “beggaring???. Luckily it didn’t make any difference to the end result, she won anyway, but it might have done.

Don’t worry, normal service returns soon – I’m hoping you’ll get a blog with geocaching in on Wednesday.

Snappy

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I have to admit I was a bit peevish and snappy (no, not Schnappi) this morning. It didn’t help that the clocks went forward today and I lost an hours sleep – added to that, I had to get up early to go and work on an event. The weather was a bit miserable, and having got up I decided to go back to bed for a few minutes – which added to my peevishness when I realised how late I’d made myself :-( . Anyway, the event went OK, none of the cyclists we were tracking went missing or got hurt, and it finished on time. The only downside was that the catering van on site was charging £1-20 for a cup of tea, and I’d forgotten my flask :-( . Lucky I hadn’t forgotten my sandwiches ‘cos the same catering wagon was charging £4-50 for a bacon roll!

The afternoon went a bit better with three geocaches! First was The Fat Controller’s Find, a cleverly-hidden cache close to an abandoned railway line: These old track beds are all round the New Forest and most have been converted for use as footpaths or cycle tracks, and make some interesting walks. Luckily it wasn’t far from the car park, as I got back to the car to find I still had a travel bug in my pocket that I’d meant to leave!

After returning to the cache to drop the TB, I went on to Grandmas’s Pond, in a pretty little park near New Milton that I must have driven past hundreds of times and never taken any notice of. The the last for the day was another New Milton cache, Grandpa’s Treasure, hidden in a rather junglesque wood.

And then I went home.

Proof

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

I finished yesterday’s rather poorly-constructed entry with “I’m sure life was better in the old days” – today we had proof.

One of the big news stories concerns a 42-year-old who committed suicide, live on webcam while talking to a bunch of strangers in an internet chatroom. Now I don’t want to minimise the tragedy of this to his family and friends, and I don’t want to play down the trauma which is now undoubtedly being experienced by those who were chatting with him at the time, but there’s a reliable source that can wring comic stupidity out of any disaster: Everyone’s favourite reactionary twaddle, the Daily Mail. In a side panel to the story they dredged up such comments as:
“The tragedy highlights the dangers of internet chatrooms”
“Anyone may set up a chatroom on a website. Users frequently go under false names”
and my personal favourite…
“In recent years several inquests have heard that suicide chatrooms were visited by people who then killed themselves”

The first statement receives a resounding Gottle Raspberry Award for two reasons: Firstly it doesn’t, in just the same way that the fact he was wearing a T-shirt at the time doesn’t highlight the danger of wearing T-shirts. Secondly, what danger? There must be thousands of chatrooms around the world – they’re no more dangerous than anything else on the internet, but like anything – cars, telephones, cameras (see yesterday) or whatever, they have the potential to be misused. It’s the misusers that are dangerous, not the chatrooms.

The second statement – eh? Anyone can do it – well yes, of course they can, that’s the whole point of the internet. Users frequently go under false names – well yes, that’s consistent with the advice given to young people and other vulnerable persons, to not give away their real name online.

Remember we’re not talking about children now – adults will do what adults will do, and notwithstanding the wishes of Blair’s nanny state, you can’t protect everyone from the consequences of their own actions.

And as for statement three – leaving aside the Mail’s cleverly ignoring the fact that this wasn’t a suicide chatroom – this one MUST come from the No Sh*t Sherlock department: Suicide websites are visited by people who kill themselves? Well WHO THE HELL ELSE would visit a suicide website? And what does “several” mean? As our statistician chum Elly will, I’m sure, confirm, “several” cases – out of all the people who kill themselves – probably isn’t significant.

My heart goes out to the family of this poor man, and to the torment he must have suffered in his final hours. For the Mail to try to use his tragedy to score cheap points is vile.

Picture This

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

…but before I get on to today’s subject, I MUST say congratulations to Helena and the whole Milk Monster family, and “Welcome to the world” to Emma :-) . There’s a luvvly pic over on MMM’s blog.

Anyway – there was much fuss on the radio today about photographing children. See how it all fits together? I don’t just throw these together unplanned, y’know. Apparently some chap was taking photos of his 12-year-old son playing football, when the mother of one of the other children came over and asked him to stop, in case the pictures were misused by perverts.

I know I’ve said this before, but I HATE the way the world is going. It always used to be – in this country at least – that you were innocent until proven guilty, but it seems now that the opposite is true and every man – women seem to be generally exempt from these stupid accusations – is potentially a pervert, or someone who makes pictures available to perverts. I carry a camera all the time – it’s something that health and safety people do, for accident investigations and things, plus it’s handy for recording information for geocaches :-) . I’ve felt a bit vulnerable sometimes and I’m certainly careful where I point my camera – but for someone known to be a parent taking a picture of his OWN children to be insulted that way is, in itself, criminal.

If it were me, I’d like to think I’d be brave enough to say, “If you’re accusing me of something, please do it publicly so I can challenge you to prove it in court”, but I don’t suppose I would: The press – especially the chip wrapper that passes for a local paper round this way – are well known for never letting the truth get in the way of a good headline, and a story titled Short Bearded Bald Bloke Accused of Kiddie Porn would do no good to my future employment prospects, or to my future with hospital radio or many of the other things I do for fun. Most people assume there’s no smoke without fire, but there’s no doubt – if I may mix a metaphor – that if enough s**t is thrown around, some will stick to even a previously spotless surface.

I’m not saying for a second that children shouldn’t be protected, but looking to “rescue” them from the hideous threat of being on the same football pitch as someone who’s Dad takes his picure seems to be going a bit far to me. I’m sure life was better in the old days…

Well I Think That Went Rather Well

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Up at the crack of sparrer’s today, to be on the train to London for another job interview. I’ve always had this theory about interviews, sport, basically anything where you’re in competition with others: You can only be as good as you can be – you have no control over how good anyone else is, so the thing to focus on is how well you do your bit. Today – whatever happens – I’m confident I was as good as I could be, and the interviewer complimented me on a well-presented CV, and said he thought I’d given a very good interview as well.

Getting home, I found a letter from Moving Things About Ltd saying I hadn’t got the job there – but you’ll remember me saying I wasn’t that bothered anyway!

On the way to the interview I found Sherlock 3, one of a series of caches leading to a final find once you’ve done the lot! I haven’t yet done them all, but later in the day I found Sherlock 4 and Sherlock 5.

I also found Wedding Cake In”spire”ation and Aiii Que Dolor!, and had a couple of DNFs – one because there were too many people around to retrieve the cache safely, and the other because I decided not to pay the £10 entrance fee to the venue!

Winter is a’comin’ Back, Lewdly Sing “Bu**er Me, It’s a Bit Cold Round ‘Ere”

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

First thing I did when I got up this morning was open the window – it was a lovely sunny day out there. Second thing I did was shut it again, a bit darned smartish. Winter seems to have returned with a vengeance, there was even some snow as I was walking over to the doctor’s yesterday.

This morning’s main activity was moving furniture: The carpet fitter is coming back on Friday, and of course I’m in London most of tomorrow, so I had to make sure the room was ready for him: I’ve moved all the heavy furniture, lifted the old carpet and cut it up ready to be thrown out, and taken it out to the shed. I’ve also moved some of the lighter furniture back, so there is at least a chair to sit on and a telly to look at. AND I’ve cut a section of the old carpet to fit in the caravan, to act as carpet protector when people with muddy boots tramp in and out on Raynet events. Is there no end to my industry.

Well yes, there is, because I’m now knackered and if it gets any colder in here I’m not even going to be able to type. Gym this afternoon, then off to Sarah’s for chinese salad! Please don’t expect much blog tomorrow – I’m on the 6:30 train to London so I’ll want to sleep the evening away, except for the bit when I’m at Hospital Radio!

Interviews and Podiatry

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Jenny’s home – except at the moment she isn’t – or at least she isn’t answering the phone – but basically she’s home – so she can tell you all about her adventures herself. I, meanwhile, have had an adventure or two myself, today…

The main activity, of course, was the interview with Moving Things About Ltd. I’m not really sure how it went – I’ll hear Friday or the beginning of next week. I’m not even sure I want the job to be honest: It’s nothing I can put my finger on, I just think it’s a bit odd that I’ve got through the second interview and still know nothing about any of the T’s and C’s :-(

I also had my annual podiatry review: I’ve still got the arteries of a 21-year-old athlete (and no, he doesn’t want them back) and I’m a low-risk patient. Then podiatry lady had a lot of fun with a scalpel blade carving off a callous :-( . Thing you don’t want to hear your podiatrist say number 1: “Ooh, that’s good, it’s bleeding!”.

And I’ve spent a large part of the day moving furniture for the carpet fitter. Ow ow ow ow ow.

Ow

Monday, March 19th, 2007

My back hurts.

That’s mainly because I’ve been moving furniture and taking up old carpets most of today, but also a little bit because my kidneys got a bit cold yesterday :-( . And it’s hailing here again today – although the forecast is for improvement, thanks goodness.

Two texts from Jenny again today: “Day 8: waah! Time 2 go home. Shoulder is a little less nuclear, so flt should b OK. 2 hours 2 kill b4 pickup frm hotel, flt is 5:40 local time” came this morning, and was followed just after lunch by “At the airport, boo! Have muppet couple from hell on our flight, 30 minutes late here as they were late for coach & then forgot their passports! Gawd help us…”.

The other news of today is that I said “No thank you” to a job this morning – it was one of the ones I sent CVs off for on Saturday, and when the agency rang today it turned out the job was in Hayes. I don’t mind travelling for a job that really sounds exciting, but that one sounded a bit – well – ordinary. So I said no. Get me, how choosy is that!

Hail to the…umm…hail!

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Today’s news report from Egypt was “Day 7: Wow! Snorkelling is fab! Caught the sun but don’t care, have spent day on a gin palace, could get used 2 this!!” – followed a couple of hours later by “Make that more than a bit – my shoulder’s turned puce. Ouch!”. If you know Jenny, you’ll realise how unusual it is for her not to care about sunburn, so the MUST be having a good time!

Meantime, back in the land of cold and wet, this morning our church paid a mass visit to our neighbouring church, St Marys. We were no sooner through the door than they were forcing sherry on us – our vicar was quite keen on the idea and agreed that we should do the same thing when we have sepcial events :-)

Then this afternoon – notwithstanding the forecast for snow – I decided to do a bit of geocaching. First was Turf Hill II, which as the name suggests is a replacement for an earlier cache from the same starting point – the original had to be removed when groundwork destroyed the hiding place, I think this one will last a bit longer! Then I had to decide whether to walk the two miles to my next cache, or go back to the car and move to a nearer car park. I opted for the walk, and was soon plodding through a hailstorm as the weather closed in a bit.

It had stopped by the time I reached Holly Hole (Sarah – see my log!), and not far away I also found Submarine Pens II, another one that replaces an earlier cache. Then it was two miles back – needless to say the hail started again, and stopped and the sun came out just as I got back to the car :-(

I wonder if there’re any caches in Sharm ‘el Sheikh?

Frustration

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Today has been a bit frustrating one way and another…

The frustration started when I was laying in bed planning all the jobs I was going to do this morning – until I realised I had a barber’s appointment. Then the barber was running nearly half an hour late. Mind you, I learned something from the Italian barber: The Italian for “lactic acid” is “acido lactico”. I’m not sure when that’ll ever be useful,but I’ll file it away nonetheless.

The frustration lifted for a few minutes when I found three interesting jobs in the latest Health and Safety magazine, then returned rather quickly when I realised that my CV had been lost in the great laptop encrashment :-( . Luckily I’d kept some printed copies, so it was only a matter of retyping, but it still had to be done. And the more annoyed I got, the worse my typing was and the more mistakes I had to correct…

Anyway, today I’ve e-mailed three CVs and snail-mailed one; moved a load of furniture in preparation for carpet fitters, and been to the gym. Not bad going really I suppose :-)

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Friday, March 16th, 2007

There was some concern in the chatroom this morning when MMM wasn’t around: Since she’s something like a permanent resident these days, we thought she must have gone into labour or something and not told us. When she eventually turned up, we gave her a good telling-off for teasing us, I can tell you :-)

Quite amusing, then, that todays text message from Egypt included the question “MMM dropped sprog yet?”. See Helena – even people thousands of miles away on holiday care about you ;-).

The rest of the message from Jenny said “Day 5: Played with kittens! And watched Chris play (badly) in an international game of volley ball”. Things are obviously looking up. And in other news today, I went to the shops and bought a new carpet, did some more work on my Hospital Radio talk, and went to the gym. And went to a Raynet meeting.

Barber tomorrow – hurrah!

Suez Crisis

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Today’s text message from Egypt says: “Blimey! Cairo is…effing freezing! Honest 2 God, we’ve all had 2 buy sweat shirts, mad! It even rained at the pyramids!! V long day, just off 2 bazaar.” Oh dear, doesn’t sound as if their luck is improving any, does it :-( ?

Back home, I’ve done some research for my “Hitting People with Sticks” interview next week, and I’ve emptied two drawers in the spare room, and filled the rubbish bin yet again. I’ve also done some work on replacing one of my caches, which has been reported in poor condition, and been to the shops for Mothers Day presents. So, a pretty productive day really :-)

A Grand Day Out…

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

…but first, the news of the day, to save those who aren’t interested in caching from having to wade through all the caching news! While I was out caching, I had a phone call from Moving Things About Ltd – they want me to go for an interview next Tuesday! So that’s two interviews next week. The suit will be getting worn out at this rate! And in the “Chris and Jenny’s Holiday News”, as Sarah has said in her comment on yesterday’s entry: Today’s text from Egypt says “Day 3: Oops, appear 2 be totally sozzled after 2 cocktails (but there was a double vodka in each!). Got 2 be up at stupid o’clock 4 trip 2 Cairo…” So that’s OK :-)

So, today was a caching Grand Day Out, and I decided to go to Bournemouth, where there’s a cluster of caches which ought to let me rack a few numbers up and have a good walk into the bargain. In the end I walked 10½ miles and got 11 caches and a trig point, with only one fail to find along the way. The weather was excellent – as warm as a late Spring day – so I had a great time.

Those caches were:
Intersection
Below the Bridge
The Lighthouse – Bournemouth
The £480 Bridge
Sandstorm’s Secret Number 2 – Chine Climb
I See No Ships
The Only Street
Built from top to bottom
Horseshoe Common
Meyrick Park
and finally, on the way home from Bournemouth…
Bird’s Eye View

How Did I Ever Have Time to Work?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

It took me most of this morning to update some software that I’d been meaning to sort out for weeks. Not the most productive use of time, but at least it’s done. I’ve also sorted out a few Raynet issues, and a bit more tidying in the back bedroom.

What I HAVEN’T done is any work on the job I actually had lined up for today: In a couple of weeks time it’s the Hospital Radio conference, at which I’m giving a seminar on “How Not to be Sued” – basically it’s about not hurting people when you do outside broadcasts and things. At this stage I should really have more than five slides in my Powerpoint presentation :-( .

And for those of you following Jenny’s holiday news, it continues to be not very relaxing: Yesterday Eric (the newest cat) went missing just before they had to leave for the airport, and it was quite late last night before they heard he’d turned up safe and sound. Today Jenny’s had her Mum’s hospital sepcialist on the phone trying to sort out appointments. Let’s hope they get to have a rest soon…

Hard Work

Monday, March 12th, 2007

…and firstly, congrats to Kouros who seems to have landed himself a fabby new job well before the redundo ran out. Good for you matey!

I’ve been working hard again today – Paul’s tip for today is “Never buy self-assembly furniture from Argos”. On Friday I bought a computer desk – today I finally managed to get it in a usable condition. Assembling it was fairly easy, once I’d located the bendy screwdriver, for the screws that are too close to another panel for the normal screwdriver to fit. The problem was the back panel, which is in exactly the right place to stop the mains lead going into the back of the PC. The other problem is that my hole saw is excruciatingly blunt.

I also broke my tape measure, measuring up for the new carpets which I’m assured we need.

In other news – for those of you who’ve not heard already – Jenny and Chris have arrived safely at their hols destination. They didn’t have a very good trip apparently, but all is well now :-)