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Monday, 31 January 2011

Just a quick one...

Busy day today.  Got stuff to finish, then calls from 9.15 to 11.30am, then in the car off to Manchester for my thrice-cancelled training course.

Had a fab weekend at P&E; fantastic food, fantastic company.  Great to catch up with P and see the changes he has made to his barn conversion.  Have taken away a number of interesting ideas.  The main one that we have now solved the problem of what we plan to do with our "entertainment unit" in the new extension - made to measure is the way.

Will probably blog more this week as I am in a hotel for 4 nights, so speak again later this week.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A correction - nonsense, or is it whimsy?

I have had a number of letters and emails, including one from Mrs Trellis of North Wales, regarding my post of yesterday on the meaning of life.  There seems to be some confusion as to whether I do indeed have the answer for which mankind has been searching, or whether in fact I am a fruitcake who needs to be kept at arms length, metaphorically speaking*.

I think I should just clarify that the methodology is very simple.  These are wonderful phrases, wonderful only in that their very uttering does do something to rewire a chap's brain, and also the brain of any chaps and chapesses in the vicinity.  This has the effect of making everything just a bit more bearable, and I can assure the reader that it is completely harmless, and the effects will wear off in an hour or two. 

As the Danish say, you cannot cure a hangover, but you can cure bacon**.

Now, where did I put the Thesaurus?

* Now, don't start that again.
** as Bad Man knows only too well.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Meaning of Life

I have had cause to ponder the meaning of life over the last couple or three weeks, which is one of seventeen reactions I have to high intensity action in work and home life. If you are hanging on thinking that maybe, just maybe, I can give you some great insight, then fear not dear reader, I think now is the time for me to share with you what I know.  If you could park your disappointment in the comments field.  Remember the rules*.

Lie flat and don't die
In case you are wondering, this is the instruction manual for doing the Luge.  It is also a pretty good motto when life is just creeping up on you, and you are in danger of being taken by surprise at the sheer magnitude of stuff.  In such situations, my advice is "lie flat, don't die".

This is another piece of nonsense by which I live my life.  When it seems that every day is extra hard, simply re-baseline so that extra hard is the norm, and then every days sails by like a flat-bottomed shoe on hard compacted pavement ice.

Don't run up the Rhododendron Tree until the rats have fled
I still have no idea what this one means, but just uttering it, ideally out loud in the presence of other human beings, seems to change the perspective on just about everything.  And if that fails, then ponder the sound of one hand clapping.**

Worse has happened at sea
Last year, we went to France, and to speed up the route to our destination, took the Fastcat from Portsmouth (come on you blues).  Now these beauties are very fast, and with speed comes a certain amount of rocking and bouncing and general moving.  About half the seats were covered in plastic, a testament to the fact that those who had taken the previous trip had found the bouncing around not to their liking.  All this is to say, when it comes to what can happen at sea, I am right with you brother.

If you think someone is a to$$er, then it will leak out
This is important, only because how you treat other people, whether consciously or unconsciously, will come back to you in the way they treat you.  Having a low tolerance means that most people will seem like to$$ers, and that will leak out in either your words or body language or by the way that you smack them round the chops.  Re-baseline your tolerance can help.  Trying to look for the good in everyone will help you to see that everyone has something about them that you can tolerate, and at that point, you stop leaking and the stuff coming back at you from the other person also improves.  Might be worth a try.

Where there's muck there's brass, where there's brass there's muck
Nothing to do with life, just something that makes me smile a bit.

* No swearing, don't let the truth stand in the way of a good story, just because you can doesn't mean you should (I am talking to the Labrador in the pub on Sunday when I say this), and there are two S's in to$$er.

** for the Buddhists amongst you.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Just checking in

I know I haven't been blogging much lately.  I apologise for the scarcity of the postings, but one thing and another, and then something else for good measure, means I am just not quite getting round to writing anything.  Even now, when I decide I am going to knock one out, and having not written anything for a good few days, I find myself without much to say.

So what does any blogger worth his salt* do when he doesn't know what to write?  Well, just start typing of course, and if you are lucky something will come along and before you know it, you have written seven hundred and fifty of the finest words ever to grace a blog.


I did see a good fact on QI the other day about the sun.  When you are watching the sun sink below the horizon, at the point that the bottom of the sun is just gently kissing the horizon, in actual fact the sun has gone below the horizon.  Huh?  The reason is that the light bends slightly, and the bend equates to about the diameter of the sun, so as it really dips completely below the horizon, the light bends a bit and it appears to the observer that it has just reached the horizon.
A man is lost in the desert, and comes across Osama Bin Laden with a machine gun, an angry Cobra ready to strike and a lawyer.  He has a gun with him but it has only two bullets.  What does he do?

He puts both bullets in to the lawyer just to be sure**.

Before I sign off, just need to mention Golfy's latest blog. Have you read it?  I think I'd better give him a ring coz he sounds like a cable car about to drop off the wire.  His cryptic writings are so puzzling that I fear slightly for his sanity.  It wasn't up to much on a normal day, so I think maybe he needs my sensitive listening powers to give him right good kick up the Yaris.
* In ancient Rome the soldiers were often paid in salt instead of gold since they were both worth the same.

** Start of my recent story CD that keeps me company during my daily commute.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Crickey oh Riley

I tell you, I just took my eye off the clock for a moment, and it is Friday.  To be honest, it does feel like a Friday as much as my tired eyes and aching back is concerned, and I am very much looking forward to the weekend, when I will mostly be doing a bit of DIY and spending a bit of time with my family.  And by Monday I will probably be looking forward to getting out the house a bit.  Only joking of course... or am I?

I have now completed the painting of the render on the outside of the door.  I now need to investigate our options with a door bell before I complete the making good of the inside, which will need some replastering, putting back in a bit of coving on both sides, and a bit of skirting one side. 

I also need to put a bit of time in to the less fun activity of moving stuff from my garage to my shed as we prepare ourselves for the building work.  Not fun, drudgery really, but nibbling away at it does help to slowly get it done.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Something on my mind

It's there somewhere, I can feel it, tip-toeing round the periphery of my mind.  I can almost taste it, but, no, sorry, gone.  The only decent thought in my head has just vaporised. 

So instead I shall have to just talk gobbledegook for a few lines and then sign off with a flourish.  Watching Leeds vs Arsenal, and being a Leeds fan in my youth (as was half the school), I shall be shouting for the little guy.

Until next time...

Friday, 14 January 2011

And . . . relax

Having just read Bad Man's blog, where he describes giving Golfy a birthday present of Blackberry Vodka, a drink Golfy sampled at 9.15am, reminded me of the graph I was shown the other day, which I wanted to share with you.  Made me laugh.  Oh, and I really must give Golfy a ring to see how his new work life is shaping up.

This weekend, I will mostly be painting.  A first coat of exterior masonry paint on the recently rendered bit round the outside of the new front door.  Then a lick of primer/undercoat on the door frame itself to make it finally weather-proof, albeit the frame that sits inside an open porch, so not so exposed to the elements.  Regardless, it will be good to get it knocked in to shape.

We will also be entertaining A&E on Saturday, which will be a fine evening of red wine, good food and the arrangement of a couple of late winter/early spring 'vannin' breaks, likely a trip to the Forest and a trip to the Isle (of Wight).  The Forest trip will be to a pretty big site that benefits in Winter from having all the facilities open, and no-one at the site to annoy us.  The Isle of Wight trip is an offer from one of the local ferry companies for a ferry trip and five nights for one hundred and forty-five of your finest English pounds.  This is, I can assure you, a fantastic offer, not least because the Portsmouth to Isle of Wight crossing is, mile for mile, the most expensive crossing in the world.  Having just Googled that fact, I can report that whether it is actually true or not, a lot of people think the same.  It could be an urban myth, of course, but it will do for me.

Another urban myth, one I confident to call such because I Googled it a while back, is the one about the fact that the population of the world can fit on the Isle of Wight.  Unfortunately, the answer is no, the details of which are, and I quote:

The Isle of Wight is 380 km squared. A kilometer is 1000 m X 1000 m or a million square meters. so the area would be 380 million square meters. The Earth's population is about 6,500 billion people. You would need 17.1 people on each square meter to fit the world's population on the island.
So it might have been true in 2002 or so, but not now.
I hope you are able to sleep better in your beds now those two have been put to bed.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Quick word

Things have been extra busy for little ole me, so only a quick word so you know I am still alive.

I now have my new racking in my shed, just need to migrate all the keep stuff to the new storage system, in preparation for the building starting, which, I should quickly add, is a few months off yet, but a chap cannot be too organised. 

Now that the temperatures go above 5 degrees C, I have also been able to re-render round the outside of our new front door, and hope that the temperature remains as it is now for the weekend so I can get some paint on the render, and then start painting the frame.  I like it when I can start putting it back together again.

We also have nearly agreed all the adjustments to the detailed drawings, so should be able to send out the tenders within the next week. 

Hope your week is going well.  If today goes as well as I am planning, then the usual end of week blog coming tomorrow.

Friday, 7 January 2011

And..... relax

It has been a short week I know, but I still feel like I have run a marathon or two.  I am not sure whether I am going to get used to this working lark. 

Now, please don't get me wrong, I know these are hard times and I know that most news items either start or end with "considering the current economic climate", but the truth is I always forget quite how debilitating the Christmas break can be.  Mince pies, falling asleep on the sofa, repeats on the telly, the annual family game of whatever the latest fad game is, which always ends in resentment and arguments, a mountain of presents and extreme cabin fever. 

I know we should go for walks and stuff, but there is rarely enough time between breakfast, mid-morning snack and lunch to fit in anything more than a hunt for the remote and the high-pitched squeal of bare foot meeting lego.  And I guess Bad Man for one will be breathing a sigh or relief, since I am one less "Christmas walker" for him to encounter.  Assuming he goes for a two hundred and fifty mile round trip walk from his house to mine.

All that is to say that it is hard to get back up to the speed required for normal life. 

Know what I mean?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Pension changes

Starfleet has, as many if its fellow large corporations, been reviewing its pension provision, and some while back came to the conclusion that their offering was too expensive for them.  This left them with only two choices:

  • raid the pension fund, buy an island off of Africa and retire as a recluse there for the rest of their natural lives
  • close the pension scheme, and replace it with the sustainable version where the employee, me, carry the highs and lows of the market and get what they get on the day of retirement.

Today was an important part of this painful process for me.  I had a meeting with an "independent financial advisor" who, in fairness, was independent, and did provide advice of sorts, and he has helped me with the decision I have to make before January 17th, a decision I have now made.  I have picked the simple option.

Anyway, what I really wanted to mention is the fact that, if I so desired, I could take early retirement in as little as nine years' time.  

Now when the hell did I get so old?

I still feel about, well, let's not exaggerate, but I could probably still claim something in the twenties. 

The truth is that I have a relatively young family, so would need to stay working until I am sixty-three before the youngest has finished University.  If he decides he wants to be a vet, or a doctor, then hell's teeth I can add another three or four years to that.  

So I may well end up taking a middle line.  There are a couple of insurance policies and other potential sources of lump-sum-income, such as the Lottery (which I must start doing to marginally increase my chances of winning) may play their part in helping me plan the day that I cash in my chips, buy a camper van, and travel Europe for a half year or more with my beloved LO.  

I am reminded of something my mum said to me on my graduation day.  She is pretty straight, and maybe even excessively blunt at times, but this is something to which I was and am happy to live, and is also something I will be sharing with my spawn at the right time.  

She looked me in the eye, and said "son, go out in to the world, and do whatever you want, but don't cost me a penny."

Not a bad way to end the "costly phase" as it became known.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Not the wobbly-setted soap, but rather the direction I take this blog.  Now that we have started a new calendar year, do I go the "bah humbug" or the "joyous new beginnings" route.

I guess those that know me know that I am by nature an optimist.  Naive at times, a bit woo woo and a bit la la given half a chance, or half a pint, and definitely sometimes a little bit annoying with my "Confucius says..." moments.  You may have also noticed I have a tendency for self-analysis*.  Put this all together, throw in the charm, good looks, attraction to women and natural modesty and you start to get a picture of the Scobi**.

So I intend to take the "joyous new beginnings" route.  I am aware of all the well-made arguments about arbitrary dates etc as espoused by Bad Man, however I would also say that if you are going to have a "from this moment onwards I am going to do something different" then that moment may just as well be the first of January as the twenty first of June, or indeed the first or fourth*** of April when my holiday year starts anew.

So as for my own personal "joyous new beginnings", my year is currently shaping up nicely.  We are in to the detailed drawings phase of our extension, with a view to going out for quotes by the end of the month, so we can then look to start the work, builder schedules permitting, as early in Spring as we can start and miss the bad weather.  After all, who wants to be digging holes with snow or rain filling the pit every night.  We also have an April trip to Center Parcs with Brad and Angelina, to which I am very much looking forward****.  We are also visiting Glastonbury with Brad and Angelina, a trip that will be planned with meticulous attention to detail, all of which could be undone by a single black rain cloud.  Add in a 'vannin' trip at least once a month (really fancy Warwick castle, and Crystal Palace for a day in Londinium, and the New Forest of course, and somewhere down the West Country and a mystery place, yet to be determined, somewhere completely new).

Oh, I do sort of have some resolutions also, but they are basically just getting back to the good habits to which I had become accustomed prior to Christmas.  Eat well, exercise, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Quick comment on holiday booking before I sign off.  For many years, I used to hold on to my holiday like a baby clutches its safety blanket, fearing they would run out too quickly.  This led to the natural consequence that for the final quarter, usually Jan to April, I had too much holiday to take, and nothing to take it on.  Over a couple of paradigm-shifting years, I let go my holiday booking phobia, and now am never happier than when I have all but a couple of days booked by the middle of April.  The spare days are emergency days in case I need to look after the maggots when LO is working.  Even they usually end up being spent on a long weekend sometime in March.  This year, I even intend to buy 3 days to take me up to a whopping six weeks, and I cannot wait until the online holiday booking system is open for business in April, so I can bang out all the bookings.

* insert comment about analysing whether I spend too much time self-analysing 
** There is also the tendency to talk about oneself in the third person when one is trying to make a point.
*** Still not sussed out which date it is.
**** I know all this "to which I am very much looking forward" stuff is correct grammar, but it don't harf sound a bit pretentious like.