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Friday, 28 September 2012

And . . . relax

The winning argument for me as to whether you should use the same numbers every week in the Lottery, or just use Lucky Dip, is that if you use the same numbers every week, you are are committing yourself to not missing a week for the whole of your life.  Imagine missing one week, and that being the week in which your numbers came in.  The agony of that possibility would be more than enough to ensure you do the damn thing every week.

It is the same with my Friday title.  One of the only responses I have ever had to a blog, rather than several rather lovely letters from Mrs Trellis from North Wales, was from Golfy, complaining that I had not used the "And . . . relax" title on one Friday.

Truth is, I always struggle with the titles, so having just one a week that needs no thinking works for me.

Anyhow, enough of the dozi*, let me actually tell you something.

This weekend sees another one of the legendary lazy weekends.  When I say lazy, I mean that we do not have any specific social engagements.  We have swimming and tennis, and I will probably mow the lawn if the weather is good, and do some tree-lopping of the weather is fair, and maybe even a little dozing if the weather is.  However, we have nothing "booked" so will be doing just enough to avoid cabin fever, but no more.

We do have a number of birthdays coming up, starting with Maggot 2, followed by me and then LO.  Now, every year I have some kind of scare, when I leave things too late and then panic-buy a card or present, or maybe even both.  Each year I swear that next year will be different.  Each following year it is not.  I am not really sure what is going on here, but I think deep down my subconscious believes I am useless at presents and so should just avoid them.  Unfortunately, this is not LO's analysis, her view being more that I cannot be bothered and that just proves I don't care, or some version of that, sometimes more and sometimes less severe, depending on the misdemeanor I did prior to the outburst.  All this sounds a bit "under the thumb", but I can assure you it is.  Is not I mean.

We may well also rent a Blu-ray with 3D to watch on our new TV.  I have to say, it is a gimmick, and not something I expect us to do very often, but Saturday night (at least until Strictly starts) is good for a family film, we have the damn glasses so we had better have a go.

I hope you have a good weekend.  Speak next week.

* debate on zero information

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


I am sitting at the breakfast bar, having just finished my porridge, preparing to leave for the office, the first of three days at an office.  As I have commented before, this will prove a long week.  Quite how I ever used to go to an office every days is beyond me, and that makes me realise how lucky I am to have the option to work at home, at least sometimes.

I am experimenting today.  The meeting I am attending starts at 10am and lasts for 3 long hours, and the slightly later start means I am experimenting with an equally late departure from home.  The theory is that all the worst of the traffic will have passed and my journey will be less busy as a result.  This worked will a couple of weeks ago, but not so one week ago, and I fear the effect of the school term starting, albeit seemingly one week later than most schools I know have started.  Today I am leaving slightly later to test a theory that last week was partly impacted by me leaving slightly earlier.  Confused?  You will be.  Anyhow, time will tell and time, as anyone of note will tell you, is an abstract concept.

This is the second to last week of the intense meetings for my improvement project, or rather for the improvement project of which I am a part.  To be honest, it is getting a bit tedious now and the effect of taking the time out for the project is having a negative impact on my "day job".  I even got escalated yesterday, for goodness sake.  A chap is not used to such rigour and attention.  Hopefully he can hold out until the week after next and emerge unscathed.

Right, must finish now to get my teeth cleaned, flossed and mouth-rinsed (a chap must ensure he keeps up standards all over his body) ready for my long journey.  At least I have a Friday Night Comedy Show to keep me company, for the first half hour at least.

Keep having a good week.

Monday, 24 September 2012

That was the weekend that was

We had a great weekend.  Down a Maggot, life seemed a fair bit easier, and we concluded on Sunday afternoon that the main reason was because we are not having to constantly break up or police arguments, and all the fall out that comes from them.

Saturday was a lovely, sunny day, and we took advantage.  Sunday, however, was dreadful.  It rained incessantly and it reminded me that we have a long long winter ahead of us.  Having a skylight, a thing of beauty in usual circumstances, just accentuates the incessantness of the weather.  Boy oh boy but rain is depressing.  Having just said goodbye to may parents, who are now in thirty degrees of Spanish weather does not improve the feeling.

We did not let it get to us though, with a trip to the cinema in the afternoon to see Paranorman.  This was actually fairy good, and in fact was a pretty scary film for a PG, although Maggot 2 did not seem unduly worried by it.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for the week ahead, cooking meals, tidying the house, and generally girding our loins in preparation for the weekday Assault on Precinct Scobi.

May your own loins be suitably girded, enjoy the week and speak again soon.

Friday, 21 September 2012

And . . . relax

I forgot to mention on my "user manuals" blog, which will probably not make the blogging history books, that the main reason for writing it at all was my new barbecue.  This is a fairly recent purchase, bought with Amazon vouchers from a cashback site, primarily to be used when 'vannin'.  It fulfils its requirements perfectly, being fairly small and portable, but big enough to actually cook food on, and sturdy enough that it does not fall apart after the third use.  It is, to use the local parlance, a beauty.

Having said that, and even with a twisty bit on the side to regulate air to the coals, and another twisty bit on the lid to regulate the oven features when the lid is on, it is a pretty simple object.  Therefore it was with some consternation and amusement that I found the user manual to be a dozen or more pages, repeated in eight languages.  Now, it was a self-assembly item so that needs a bit of explaining, all done in a double page, and thereafter it was page after page of the most mindless twaddle.  I am now thoroughly and exhaustively informed and educated on several important aspects; setting fire to barbecue coals can make them hot; not cooking food thoroughly can make you vomit; using the barbecue in a tent can give you carbon monoxide poisoning (fair enough, I had forgotten I knew that) and I should not be using the barbecue to jack up my car.  That would fit in to the "way too much information" category for me.  I am guessing that the make is American, so chock full of Health and Safety type stuff, and that is all that needs to be said.

This weekend we are without Maggot 1.  He is off at lunchtime today, returning Monday afternoon, to a 4 day trip with his year group at school.  There was many a parent anxiously wanting to know if they rang when they got there, and many a small child lugging the family suitcase in to school (Maggot 1 being one of them), and there was obviously some conversations in the playground yesterday because most of the boys were in tracksuits, albeit of a sporting rather than a shell-suit variety.  Ho hum.  Peer pressure at work.

So, we are left with Maggot 2 for the weekend, who will, he has already told us, be really enjoying the one on one times two he will be getting.  We have some free cinema tickets and we are also going over to David and Samantha for the afternoon and evening on Saturday, which should be fun.

Sadly, Brad and Angelina can no longer come down for the weekend in a week or twos time, having tickets to some other engagement that I don't know about only because LO does not like to furnish me with facts, she considers them dangerous in my possession.  We are hoping to book an alternative arrangement.

I hope you have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

User manuals

We have been executing on our home improvement project this week by making some strategic purchases, and so the subject of user manuals has risen to the surface for me.

There seems to be three main approaches to user manuals:

  1. The item is computer related, and comes with some kind of CD, so just load the manual on the CD, only to be read by girls or my mother (who is also, I hasten to add, a girl, but one of growing years)
  2. The item is so damn complex that it comes with a fifty page manual presented in eight of the key languages, making it marginally smaller than a telephone directory* (remember those?)
  3. Regardless of whether they are simple or complex, they have a one page, at-a-glance, pictures only leaflet that tells you all you need to know.
So, but way of expanding on this subject, here are some examples.  One of the items I have bought is a cheap** wi-fi dongle for Humax PVR1, so that it can talk to Humax PVR2 (which is hard-wired) and we can then watch the programmes recorded on PVR1 via PVR2.  This, dear readers, has impressed LO more than the rest of the technology put together.  This dongle, costing six quid, does the same job as the official Humax dongle, which costs twenty six quid.  Thanks to for the great info on this little beauty.  Needless to say, this came with a CD, so fits in to approach 1 above.  Quite right too, since I plugged it in, spent 23 seconds configuring the box, and it was working like a dream.

The item I bought for the second was my home cinema system, which does have numerous inputs and outputs ranging from USB to HDMI, covering SCART and various other video and audio inputs and/or outputs.  It also has the Samsung SmartHub embedded, and so does need some reading, though obviously not by me.  Having said that, there is one feature I want to put in place whereby it is integrated in to the TV so the TV controller can control it and all sound automatically goes through it.  I just need the final TOSlink cable to make this happen, and then will probably need to just peek at the manual for a couple of seconds, and no more, to remind myself of where I find the configuration menu item.  This fits approach 2 above.

The final one that meets Approach 3 is, surprisingly, the Samsung TV***, which has the briefest of instructions but a built-in, on-screen user manual for those with way to much time on their hands.  So far it is been a doddle, so you will be pleased to hear that only LO has so far wanted to check the manual.  Even Holly-dog was able to change channels without reading any instructions.

This now completes phase 27 of project home.  We now need to take a breather, or to be more precise, our bank account does, in preparation for Christmas.  Phase 28 will then start sometime in the New Year with more audio purchases.  More of that another time.

* Interesting fact, for some of you, is that the leather-bound books in the set of Dumbeldore's office are in fact mostly telephone directories covered in aged and dust-encrusted leather covers.  See, they do still have a use.
** On the subject of cheap, and in case you did not know, I also bought cheap HDMI cables, two for four quid, after having read everyone on the web saying the same thing; namely that a cheap one is all you need, so don't spend tens or even hundreds on a fancy hi-fi vendor model.  Oh how those vendors must hate the digital age.
*** LED, 3D and a bunch of other clever stuff, and with a bezel so thin the overall dimensions of this 40" beauty is the same as our "old" 32" model.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Monday Monday here again

As weekends go, that one went.  It fulfilled all criteria, starting as it did on Friday evening (around 6.30pm when the first beer was opened) and ended Sunday night with no beer (the outlaws having come for lunch, beer, wine, say no more).

In-between we had a somewhat normal weekend.  Scouts and tennis for Maggot 1, swimming for Maggot 2, bit of shopping for essentials and otherwise getting our house ship-shape.

We did go and buy another telly.  This has been planned for just over a year, and financially planned for six months, so it was with much excitement that we took ownership of a new beauty.  This one is forty inches of screen and less than an inch of thickness, being of the LED persuasion.  It is also HD, of course, 3D, of course, and packed with the kind of wizardry that we will never use.  Maggot 1 did a demo for the outlaws and they were, to my great surprise, very interested and impressed.  I had forgotten that they are planning to replace a very old CRT telly, when it finally gives up the ghost, and the idea of a web browser and all the wizzo stuff really did resonate with them.  The fact that the TV can take an external wireless keyboard and even Granddad was thinking he might just get in to this computer lark.

My parents return to Spain tonight.  They are going on the overnight ferry and then driving down to Spain.  It is funny because we do not see them every day, sometimes only once a week, but we will very much miss having them around, and not just because they are a free baby-sitting service.   We will pop over tonight after work for the final goodbye, and to get our last orders from Mama.  She always has a few things she needs us to do; post a letter here, get a prescription there.  She also has some things she needs to discuss directly with Maggot 1.  Hmmm.

Have a good week.

Friday, 14 September 2012

And . . . relax

Quick note only today I'm afraid, coz v. v. busy.

Had a wonderful day fishing with Brad on Tuesday.  Caught a wopper.  Talked a lot.  Will do it again.

Having a quiet weekend.  Thank heavens for that.

Nearly finished The Mockinjay.  Very much enjoying it.  No idea what I will read next.

Work is mental right now.  Doing a project basically on the side of my desk.  Not fun, but necessary.  Not helped by one of my competency's managers getting concerned we are doing things unilaterally, and not considering best practice.  Had a call with the guy in another account who has all the best practice, and pleased to say that mostly what he did is what we plan to do, so back in to a more comfortable place that the said manager is worrying over nothing.  He has however arranged a face-to-face meeting next week to ensure we are doing the right things, yet interestingly the stuff concerning him is all about another team, and not my bit of the process at all.  I guess I will need to attend to get the full SP.

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

Monday, 10 September 2012


I have been inspired by Golfy to write a film review.  It has to be said that on the How Much Do You Know About Films spectrum, Golfy will score higher than me, so my film is a bit lower of brow.

I read a lot.  In fact, I read so much that at times my acquisition of new reading material is akin to a swarm of locusts descending on a field; I will happily devour anything and everything in sight.  This has meant I have read some things that I wish I hadn't, some things that I would not have picked myself but thoroughly enjoyed, others also not of my picking that I hated, and some that, despite the hype, did nothing for me.  In short*, I have read all sorts of books.

It was in this position that I came in to the possession of The Hunger Games, the first book of the trilogy.  These are aimed at young adults, so in one sense might be viewed as slightly more grown up than the early Harry Potter books.  Either that, or some unfortunate genre combination, like "soft rock".  I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so much so that the same friend offered me On Fire, book two of the trilogy.  I am now half way through Mockinjay, the third of the trilogy, and continuing to devour them with great pleasure.

LO on the other hand, just to prove that it takes all sorts to make a world, didn't get on with the first book, and committed the cardinal sin of ditching it before she had got to page 100*.  It was with this background that we decided to rent the DVD of the first film-of-the-book, unsurprisingly entitled The Hunger Games.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, giving it 8/10.  LO, as if to prove free will really is wasted on some people, only gave it 7/10.

The plot may or may not be known to you, so I shall not provide any kind of plot spoiler, but I was struck by visuals of the film.  The poor areas had a bit of Grapes of Wrath about them, whilst the Capitol was a garish pastiche of some white-wigged-and-dodgy-lipstick Royal Court of some foppish king or other (you can tell I didn't do history, although I know enough to say with some confidence it was not Henry the Eighth's court).

The risk, of course, in watching a film of a book that you have just read is that you find yourself shouting at the screen "it was not like that in the book", however this one did not have too much of that.  Of course, there has to be some plot scrubbing to get the film length down, but that was not too obvious and they did still manage to provide some space for the plot-points that needed a bit of air, mostly acknowledged when LO declared it was "... all going a bit slow, and something needs to start happening".

I would be happy to recommend this film to anyone.

This week I am taking off Tuesday to go fishing with Brad.  We planned this a while back, and it does seem both odd and extravagant to have a day off midweek to fish, but nevertheless I am really looking forward to it.  Let's hope the weather stays dry, and the forecasts predict as much, and that our lines are tight.  See you tonight Brad.

* Yes please. Ed.
** It is one of my better theories that you need to give every book until page 100 to impress you, and this theory has meant I have stopped reading very few books.  Likewise with story books, one CD is the minimum commitment.

Friday, 7 September 2012

And . . . relax

I now have my first full week under my belt, and I have to say that while is was an interesting experiment, it is not entirely to my liking.  I guess I should thank my lucky stars I am not Greek, facing the prospect of a six day week.

This weekend we are off 'vannin' to Brighton.  Not necessarily the first place one would think of as a 'van destination I know, but it is a lovely site, and it is a short bus ride in to Brighton where, tomorrow, there is a food festival, which we plan to attend and, I hope, greatly enjoy.  We are going with A&E and I hope to finish early today to facilitate an arrival in the light.  Let's see how it goes.

Next week I am off fishing with Brad for a day, an event to which I am very much looking forward.*  If Brad should read this, sorry for not ringing, got caught up in a bunch of stuff and had to rearrange a haircut and....

I hope you have a great weekend. Speak next week.

* I know that is probably the correct way to write it, but it don't harf sound funny

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

First day back to work*

This section left intentionally blank

* not for me, but LO, and what a trying time it is for all concerned**
** you may be asking "how come LO going back to work is a trying time for all?"  All I can say is, when LO is prowling, we all know about it, and she is most definitely prowling, preferring pretty much any chore*** to actually working.
*** When I say pretty much anything . . . 

Monday, 3 September 2012


The Paralympics are in full swing, and there are plenty of medals flowing to Team GB.

One interesting story of note revolves around Oscar Pistorius, a 200m race and the fairness of running blades.  I have been pondering on this one for a while, and here are my rambled thoughts.

When I race my six-year old, I try not to run at full speed so that I nearly win, or lose as we call it round here.  The main reason for this is about maintaining the delicate balance of self-worth and self-confidence in my six-year old, because the fundamental reason why I can probably, at full speed, run faster than him is because I have longer legs.

When we were camping recently, there was a boy with those blade leg extension type things, that makes him about ten feet tall with a leg length of six feet.  He was not expert at running with them attached, but nevertheless he could cover the ground at a frightening speed.

All this is to say that taller people will probably, on average, run faster than shorter people.  This theory must therefore extend to those without limbs, who are using blades as a replacement "lower leg and foot" combo.

So, how do you regulate the size of such blades, what they look like, what they are made of?  This is certainly a question in Oscar Pistorius' mind, having just been beaten by Alan Oliveira in the 200m final.  On deeper inspection, he has called this out previously, and has now followed up his initial comment with an apology for the timing of the said comments, however, for him, there is still a question over the length of his opponent's blade.

So, the question for me remains, how long is too long.  Should they all be a regulation length?  If so, then this will penalise those who have had more leg amputated.  Should they be as long as the leg would have been if the individual had them?  Maybe, but this is likely to be at least a smidge subjective and something over which even the Silent Witness crowd might disagree.

I am hoping that as this story unfolds, if it remains in the public eye, some intrepid reporter does get to the bottom of how long they are allowed to be, and all the regulations surrounding the design of the blades, because there is a little chap down South that, even with the Force, is struggling to get his head round the details.