Archive for February, 2010


Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’ve been doing a multicache :-)

Inspired by Purple Fred (whom I love very much) I’ve been forsaking the bus and walking to the office in the mornings, and to stave off boredom, I’ve been varying my route, rather than going the same way every day. And to make things even more interesting, I’ve been searching out some cache clues.

I’ve tried to start the cache “London Invasion” a few times, and being unable to find the first point, have given up a few times :-( . But on my morning walks I’ve spotted a few of the points further round the trail, and been inspired to have another crack. The basis of the trail is a number of tiled mosaic “space invaders” peeping out at you from hidden nooks around the capital – like this one:

and this one…

Three days into the week, I’ve found ten of the thirteen clues – and if the rain holds off tomorrow morning I’ll try for a couple more. I’m having fun!

Even Warmer Glow

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Well firstmost – mega congrats to our chums Rockin’ Rob and Sally-J, who got engaged on Valentines Day. Aww! As they’ve now both blogged about it, I guess the news embargo is lifted :-)

And yes, as Sally has already blogged, the happy couple were at our murder mystery dinner party on Saturday, along with Jenny and Chris. You’ll remember Purple Fred – whom I love very much – gave me a murder mystery dinner party kit for Chrimbo, and on Saturday we assembled chez PF to find out whodunnit and why. And a good time was had by all, along with a good meal, thanks to PF’s catering skillz – and no-one drank any wine, so I’ve got two bottles to myself, as long as I get in before PF next hosts a committee meeting :-) .

We’re going to do the same event, with different friends, again soon.

A Warm Glow

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

According to this news story, bosses at the Liverpool Echo Arena have banned glow sticks at a forthcoming gig “for Health and Safety reasons…to prevent a repeat of a recent episode where a plastic beer bottle was thrown at Morrisey”.

I’m not quite sure what the connection is between plastic beer bottles and glowsticks – admittedly they’re both made of plastic and contain liquid, but I can’t see how being in posession of a glowstick would make you want to throw a beer bottle. Listening to Morrisey might well make you want to throw things but not being in posession of a glowstick.

The usual caveat about commenting on news stories has to apply here – we don’t necessarily know the whole story, only what the Liverpool Echo has chosen to tell us. But if I was keen to prevent a repeat of a thrown-beer-bottle incident, I’d look to ban beer bottles. Would it be cynical of me to wonder how much the venue makes from the sale of alcohol, compared to the sale of glowsticks and other ephemera?

There’s a suggestion that they’re concerned about glowsticks being dropped, splitting open and leaking, causing someone to slip on the spilled fluid. Again comparing to beer bottles – how many glowsticks do you have to drop and split to equal the volume of liquid from a dropped beer bottle?

Given my comment about only really knowing what the paper is telling us, I’m hoping this turns out not to be a health and safety story after all. The thought of a major entertainment venue having a “competent” health and safety person who thinks is is a reasonable, proportionate response makes me shudder. Needless to say, this story was a major discussion point on the health and safety forums yesterday afternoon – and not surprisingly (to me at least), the huge majority of health and safety professionals think it’s a ridiculous over-reaction.

Major Gadget

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I was right! Unfortunately I can’t yet tell you what I was right about, but I was right about something. Details when the press embargo is lifted.

In other news…I bought a gadget. In fact no I didn’t…I bought a GADGET!!!!!!! To be exact, one of these.

Undoubtedly some of you will be wondering why I’ve bought a wireless video baby monitor…and no, it isn’t for the obvious reason. I had the towbar fitted to the car last week, and I’ve been thinking about a reversing camera – not for reversing, but for those occasions when I have to hook the caravan up without assistance, when being able to watch the towbar and caravan hitch from the driving seat makes life so much easier. But a reversing camera – coming in at a minimum of £150 fitted – is an expensive option for the handful of times a year I’d use it.

Then, in the “Readers’ Top Tips” section of a caravan magazine, somebody was saying how he’d bought a video baby monitor to solve a different problem – that of being able to see behind the caravan when reversing. Suitably inspired, I had a quick Google and placed an order.

So I now have my multi-purpose gadget: I can use it as described for hitching up, then take it round the back of the caravan and test the lights, while sitting in the driving seat. And then I can hang it looking out of the caravan back window while towing…

And I’m sure I can find some non-caravanning uses for it as well!


Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

There’s something about train travel that’s been puzzling me…

When the train pulls into the station, the guard opens the nearest door to him, gets out and looks up and down the platform. When he’s satisfied, he unlocks all the other doors and the people can get on and off.

The thing is…what’s he looking for? I can understand him checking before he shuts the doors, to make sure he’s not shutting anyone’s leg in or something, but unless he’s looking out for Ghengis Khan and his ravening hordes about to invade the train, I can’t see what he’s checking for before he opens them.

Peter Hedgehog – I look to you for sensible suggestions. And everyone else – I’m relying on you for some daft ones.

In other news, PF (whom I love very much) and I have been working on the website for her amateur dramatic group. It’s still nowhere near ready, but there is at least a holding page there now with a bit of information. So in an attempt to start the page moving up the Google ranking, why not click on this link and see what we’ve done so far. In fact, why not click on it lots of times?

Oh Dear

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Did anyone see Pop Star to Opera Star last night?

PF – whom I love very much – and I have started watching it ‘cos we’ve been impressed by the performances of the girl frim Shakespeare’s Sister: But the dominant point of last night’s show had to be the performance of Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf and some operatic lady.

Not to put too fine a point on it…it was possibly the worst television idea since televised snooker. The song didn’t suit the operatic style, the woman screeching the female part had no idea what the song was about, the dancers milled around not really knowing why they were there, and Meatloaf himself definitely didn’t give his best performance ever.

The thing is, Meatloaf isn’t some fly-by-night performer who’s got to do this crossover stuff to keep his name in the public eye: He’s a rock god, and Bat Out of Hell is the definition of a seminal classic – even though it was only by accident Meatloaf ended up recording it. I know he’s been ill lately, but he seems to have lost all good musical sense as well.

The saddest thing was, he looked so pleased with himself when they finished. We were just glad it was over – and I’ll be listening to the original on auto-repeat for the next week to try to drive the memory out of my mind :-(

First Class!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I had a bit of a result on the train this morning.

My normal train from Southampton was cancelled – as were the ones before and after – because of power supply problems nothing was moving eastwards across the New Forest. We were all advised to cram ourselves into a local shuttle going to Southampton Parkway, from where we could catch a train that started from there – meaning that it wouldn’t be rammed full, and nor would it be affected by the engineering issues.

Riding the shuttle, I formulated my plan: Southampton Parkway has a long platform, and most people congregate near the centre: by moving right to the end I’d easily get on the train, and win the inevitable race for seats caused by three or four trains worth of people trying to get on.

The best laid plans of mice…Parkway was rammed solid with people, there was barely space to get behind the yellow line, but I thought I may as well stick to the original plan: I got on the second coach from the front (the first one that isn’t first class), and lost the seat race. Figuring that being cheeky never hurt anyone, I asked the guard if he was planning to de-rate first class – they do sometimes when the train is packed – and was told “If you can find a seat in first class sir, then I’ll give it to you”.

So I got a free seat in first class, and some heavy dirty looks from people who later got on the train who’d paid for first class tickets, and had to stand ;-)

Illogical, Captain

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

During last week’s world tour of our “Up North” offices, I spotted something a bit amusing. If you think that putting “WARNING – Contains Nuts” on a packet of peanuts is daft, wait till you see this.

I was checking storage of hazardous substances, and found a bottle of liquid drain unblocker. I’m sure you’ve seen it, you pour it down a blocked drain and leave it for a while, and it dissolves the blockage.

So given the method of use of the chemical, I was a bit puzzled to read on the bottle, “Avoid runoff into soils, waterways, drains and sewers”.

Where do they think the kitchen plug’ole leads to?


Monday, February 8th, 2010

I promised to fill you in on my fabby weekend.

Well it started in ordinary enough fashion, putting up a couple of security lights at my Mum’s house, although the fact that I achieved a DIY task without something irritating going wrong is actually quite an achievement. And then – at long last – I sorted out the roofbox I bought for my car just before Christmas. I’m glad I didn’t get the next size up, it’s as far forward on the roof rails as it can go, and it still clears the tailgate by millimetres!

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent writing a website for m’lovely Purple Fred (whom I love very much): Not the most pleasant task and my eyes are now the shape of a computer screen, but it needed doing and now it’s done, and I’m quite pleased with the result.

Then on Sunday – after lunch at our new favourite pub – me and PF and MiniFred had a brilliant afternoon at the InTech science centre – which if you’ve never seen it is like all the best bits of the Science Museum under one roof, with all the things you’re not allowed to touch taken away. There’s also a pretty groovy planetarium, complete with reclining seats, where we enjoyed a guided tour of the solar system. The best bit of that for me was when Jupiter rolled close overhead, filling the sky and probably being as close as a one-eyed person can get to experiencing 3D.

The main bit of the centre has various quotes from people in science, dotted around the place: Check out this one, and who said it:

Since the only person with my surname that I’ve ever found in a history book was a murderer who survived being hanged (and cropped up in a Christmas quiz last year, enabling me to impress PF’s parents with my knowledge of arcane trivia), it’s quite a relief to know I share the name with someone whose only claim to fame is in saying some fairly ordinary daft things :-)

UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, as well as some reliable sources, cousin Charlie never said that, it’s an urban myth. Ah well…


Sunday, February 7th, 2010

I’ve had a fabby weekend, and I was going to use tonight’s blog to tell you all about it.

But a fair amount of the weekend has been writing a website, so I think I’ve done enough computer time for today – plus I have a honky wonky headache. So I’ll maybe tell you about my weekend tomorrow :-)

Night night chums.


Saturday, February 6th, 2010

I don’t normally share I Can Haz Cheezburger pics on my blog – but because the two cats involved look just like the Furry Fred and Furry Freda I told you about t’other day, I couldn’t resist this:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tee hee!


Friday, February 5th, 2010

In last night’s rather confused rambling, I promised you a picture from my travels. And here it is.


That’s a combined smoke detector and fire alarm sounder, and was in the hotel room I stayed in Tuesday night. And it’s another sign of the cheap wine I mentioned yesterday, that I didn’t notice it until the morning – bearing in mind what I do for a living, that would normally have caught my eye straight away.

The problem, of course, is that that poly bag is kinda affecting the smoke detection capability of the device – so what’s the point? Well since it wasn’t me who put it there I don’t know, but I’ve got three hypotheses –

  1. A previous resident was having a crafty fag and didn’t want to set the alarm off
  2. Since the detector is right outside the nathroom, the staff were fed up with steam setting off the alarm (but only if it’s a tyndall beam detector obviously, because an ionisation detector wouldn’t be affected by steam)
  3. The alarm was faulty, and this was an easy way of stopping it (which if the detector is truly faulty, wouldn’t work)

After my discussion with the manager, I suspect it isn’t still there now.


Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I’ve been away.

More specifically, I’ve been in the far and frozen north of this fair land of ours, visiting our regional offices for health and safety purposes, and finding a geocache. And in the interests of not hauling around any more than I needed to, I left the laptop at home, which is why I’ve had a blogging holiday.

And while I know it’s called the frozen north, I was surprised that there was actual ice floating on the canal! I was walking down alongside this canal in the hope of finding a cache, you see, and couldn’t help noticing the decidedly solif crystalline nature of the surface of the water. And then I got to the next quaint little nothern town on my itinerary, where I was even more surprised by how much I slipped and slid around on the frost on my way back from the fish and chip restaurant – although the fact that wine’s a fiver a bottle there might have contributed to that.

I took a couple of good photos I wanted to share with you while I was away…and when the computer and the camera are in the same place, I will. Maybe tomorrow.