Thursday, May 27, 2004

One Down One To Go 

Well that's one holiday booked, a one week break in Ferney Chesters, Nr Belsay, Northumberland in June, as usual when booking English cottages we've used Welcome Cottages as we've not been disappointed yet with the quality or selection of holiday cottages on their books.

Now we just have to wait until Mrs C is well enough for a visit to a travel agents before booking the main holiday in September. We had targeted a specific hotel In Calvi, Corsica but unfortunately it was fully booked for the 2 weeks we wanted, so we've decided to let an agent do the searching, as other options on the site we found the hotel on didn't appeal.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Country Roads, Take Me Home....... 

After a bit of a worrying weekend where Mrs C, looked bright and cheerful on Saturday and then went slightly downhill on Sunday, suffering from nausea and severe stomach pains, she got the all clear to come home on Monday morning. This could have been down to the fact that she hadn't eaten anything since Wednesday breakfast and was only allowed to eat ice cream from Saturday lunchtime, she could have had soup but was offered Tomato or Oxtail, both of which she really dislikes.

Anyway I picked her up at 12 noon and drove the 15 or so miles home from Southport via the back roads. I always find they are quicker due to normally heavy traffic that use the main road out towards Ormskirk. Obviously with the roads being minor affairs they were rather bumpy, but don't worry I carefully avoided every pothole and we had a slow pleasant journey home. There I boiled up two eggs and made some toast, which is all she wanted, and she wolfed them down, claiming it was just what she needed. She was able to eat a Lasagne at tea time so her appetite is returning nicely. Apart from been pretty sore, as you would expect, she seems to be as comfortable as can be expected.

Hopefully she is now on the road to recovery, holidays are being talked about, 1st off a week in June, possibly a cottage holiday somewhere in Northumberland, a place neither of us have explored to any extent, so it should be worth a visit. Lindisfarne/Holy Island, Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle, the later of which was used as a film location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, are jostling for a place on the list of places to visit so a bit of planning is now called for. Oh I nearly forgot Hadrian's Wall". Any suggestions for other attractions worth a visit in the area would be gratefully received. Of course there is always the possibility that these plans could change entirely if we can't find a suitable cottage to rent at short notice.

Friday, May 21, 2004

She's On The Mend 

After visiting the hospital last night, it was great to see that Mrs C is on the mend. Her surgery lasted for 2 hours, between around 10am and noon. She only had one drip attached to her arm this time around and none of the numerous tubes coming out of her body that she had to endure after the first operation. I phoned her this morning and she sounded tired, apart from that she was ok but very hungry. She'd not eaten anything since her two slices of breakfast toast on Wednesday morning. She has just rung me and asked me to take in a packed of shortbread or digestive biscuits when I visit tonight, so things must be looking up. She was only allowed to drink limited fluids up to this morning.

I'm not sure if all hospitals have them but on the ward Mrs C is in, every patient has their own flat screen TV, with a keyboard for internet access and a telephone for personal use. Mind, you have to pay £3-20 per day for the TV access and 10p per minute to use the phone, use of the radio channels is free. I suppose the company that installed and run the system, Patientline, have to recoup the outlay somehow and at least it means bedridden patients aren't just staring at four walls all day long. Pensioners get a reduced rate and children get free TV access.

The biggest advantage for me is that I can call Mrs C direct rather than having to ring the ward and pester the staff to leave messages. This is where the company make a fair bit of money, incoming calls cost 39p per minute off peak and 49p per minute at peak times. Some things are worth paying for even if the charges do seem a bit too high.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


So as noted by many other bloggers we had a nice hot weekend, we spent much of it as can be expected in the garden. My self on mowing and pond clearing duty and Mrs C planting a load of new plants that were purchased from our local nurseries. I can't believe how much the grass is growing at this time of year. I had to empty the cuttings collection bin 5 times before I'd finished the job and I still need to get the strimmer out sometime to do the wild area at the bottom of the garden.

On Sunday morning with the help of my stepson I completed the cast iron tree bench. They're are bugger to put together and if I've got one tip that I'd pass on to anyone else assembling such a feature it's: Don't tighten all the nuts and bolts until everything is nicely in place and slotted together, you'll only have to end up loosening them again.

The week in work has been busy and chaotic, the final demo was delivered to the customers project manager, 2 hours later he came back and claimed he couldn't sign it off as it was rubbish, he also claimed that he had listed 2 pages of faults that he'd found in 2 hours. We got a bollocking from our boss, whom he'd approached first, for messing things up, this was a knee jerk reaction because he and no one else in our team knew what the problem was.

Further investigations revealed that the 2 pages of errors was actually 8 issues written in very big writing across 2 pages. These 8 issues actually boiled down to the following:
  1. Two instances of Americanised spellings around 300+ pages of HTML, one of which was a label and we had missed, the other of which was a data element and could have legitimately been typed in by a user. By the way, it is a Multinational electronic banking system
  2. One instance of a $ symbol in what again turned out to be user data message, and potentially could have been an alert about an international currency account going overdrawn
  3. In a number of places he didn't like the different colours used for text in user data. The different colours turned out to be hyperlink text, which drilled down to different data levels, the colours were a user requirement. The PM was adamant that the hyperlink text should look like the static text.
  4. In a number of places he didn't like the hyperlink text changing colour after he had clicked it, again it was a user requirement, even after explaining the reasoning behind it he didn't like it.
  5. Some Column Titles were different colours to other column titles, again this was where sortable columns were set up as hyperlink text to indicate that they could be sorted.
  6. He also didn't like the arrow symbols that appeared against the column that the data was sorted on, the arrow was an up arrow for ascending sorts and a down arrow for descending sorts, again a requirement that had been signed off.

That was effectively it. The customer half-wit PM had made 8 issues out of those listed and claimed it was 2 pages worth. This was pointed out to the boss who had bollocked us all, he immediately went into a huddle with the customer PM and then came back and apologised to everyone that he had kicked off before engaging his brain or finding out the full facts. That's the third time in four months that has happened with this boss and I told him that; if it happened again I was going to jack the job in and go and work for MacDonanlds.

The sum result was that we ended up changing the Americanised text and the $ symbol to keep the peace and keep things moving. One thing that struck me as totally stupid about the whole affair was that: I couldn't understand why a man, who knew three fifths of naff all about the internet, had been made a Project Manager of an Internet Banking project. God save us from idiots and customers.

Mrs C went into hospital yesterday for her final operation, which will take place today. She phoned me this morning to say that she was second on the list of operations, so hopefully she should be out of theatre when I go to visit tonight. She might even be in there now, as I'm writing this update. Fingers crossed we'll be looking to book some holidays in the very near future.

Oh, I nearly forgot, I've been called up for Jury service sometime in July, Mrs C said that I can't shout 'Guilty' as the defendants are brought to the dock. Apparently I have to wait for their side of the story to be told before I pronounce them guilty.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Testing Blogging By Email 

That seems to work ok.

Yahoo! Messenger - Communicate instantly..."Ping" your friends today! Download Messenger Now

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Burning Town 

THE first thing that hits you is the choking, eye-watering stench of acrid smoke..... Poison dust clouds swirl above a 20ft-high mound of constantly burning toxic waste and drift towards rows of family homes....... Frightened residents, warned by the council to keep children indoors with windows closed, have suffered health problems in Standish, Lancs...... Scandalously they have had to endure this nightmare for TWO YEARS - and it's getting worse......

....Standish's old colliery slag heap was set ablaze by a camp fire in 2002 and molten sulphur poured to the surface. Clay and sand was tipped on the spot and bulldozers sent in but it failed to quell the inferno......

......Our investigators found signs warning "Danger, keep out", "Hazard area" and "Children must not play on this site" at the tip, where internal temperatures have hit 2,000 degrees. Wigan Council, which covers the area, has put up a sign on a lamppost warning people not to walk nearby. Our reporters felt sick within seconds of approaching the site. For the 300 residents living nearby it's a thousand times worse. "It's hell," said Paul Freeman, a 40-year-old who used to run marathons but can now barely get upstairs without gasping.......

Dr Paul Turner, public health director for the primary care trust in Wigan, said: "People are genuinely ill and many are having a miserable time. ..... But the chemical and hazard unit in London say there is no great threat to long-term health. We are constantly testing the air and will evacuate if people are put in serious trouble

The location of this awful tale is just around 8 miles north of where I live. It's nice to know that the Chemical and Hazard unit thinks there is no long term health threat. Well there wouldn't be would there? I mean the imbeciles populating that particular department, are located over 200 miles away in their cozy London offices and aren't in any danger of experiencing the health problems of the residents nearby.

Perhaps if they were forced to live on the doorstep of such dreadful incidents, then their views might change. The full story by The People Newspaper can be found here

Don't Read This! 

It's not exactly every day that the Pentagon warns military personnel to stay away from Fox News. But that's exactly what some hopeful soul at the Department of Defense instructed, in a memo intended to forbid Pentagon staff reading a copy of the Taguba report detailing abuse of detainees at prisons in Iraq that had been posted at the Fox News web site.

An email to Pentagon staff marked "URGENT IT (Information Technology) BULLETIN: Taguba Report" orders employees not to read or download the Taguba report at Fox News, on the grounds that the document is classified. It also orders them not to discuss the matter with friends or family members. The emailed memo was leaked to TIME by a senior U.S. civilian official in Baghdad, who did not hide his disdain for the "factotums" in the Pentagon. "I do wonder how incredibly stupid some people in the Pentagon are," he emailed TIME. "Not only are they drawing everyone's attention to the report — and where it can be seen — but attempting to muzzle people never works."

TIME.com: This is priceless.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A Relaxing Weekend? 

Well Saturday was wet, so we decided to go to IKEA in Warrington, I'm not sure why but Mrs C was scouting for ideas for a future redecoration of our bedroom. We didn't see anything of interest in that area but picked up a cheap 'lazy Susan' for £4. From there we ended up in a garden centre as we needed a new outdoor light in the storm porch, the plastic on the old one having melted to such an extent that it's hanging on by one screw. We didn't find anything suitable but I ended up buying some fish food, both for the tropicals and for the pond fish. There was a buy one get one free offer going and I wasn't going to turn that down.

From there we ended up in B&Q in St Helens and bought a slightly dearer bulkhead light to replace the cheap melting bulkhead light in the porch and Mrs C spotted a likely paint contender for one of the bedroom walls. It was late afternoon when we got home, so after a snack we decided to spend an hour in the garden, me cleaning the pond pumps again, and Mrs C pottering around in the greenhouse before doing a bit of weeding.

The trouble was Mrs C had left the greenhouse door open from the morning and somebody's cat had wandered into it. As Mrs C approached the greenhouse, the cat panicked and launched itself through one of the bottom corner panes of glass, as it ran off into the woods it looked unscathed, the same cannot be said of the greenhouse though. That'll be the next garden job, find some replacement glass. Cleaning the pumps was a mankie job as well.

Saturday night saw us easting a Chinese take-away at a friend house and sinking a few glasses of wine. I' promised to go fishing with my step-son, David, on Sunday morning but as the night wore on I was beginning to regret the idea more and more, not only did I fear a hangover but was by now expecting the weather to be pretty awful and I hate setting up rods in pouring rain.

As it turned out I got up quite easily at 7:15 on Sunday morning, a little under the weather but not too bad considering, the rain had disappeared but there was a bit of a mist about. I'd fished in worse so departed in slightly better spirits to meet with my David at the lake we planned to fish at 8:30. We were the only ones there, and took our time wandering around the lake deciding on where to fish, it was quite eerie in the early morning mist, but it wasn't cold and I thought if the mist would lift it would be a pleasant day. With the swims picked we grabbed our gear set up and were fishing by 9am. David was into his first fish in the first 5 minutes, a small perch. I had a small roach soon after. The mist by now had lifted and though the sky was cloudy it was warm. I could cope with this.

As the morning wore on we both caught fish at regular intervals, and by 13:30 when the swims died (they usually do in the afternoon), David had caught 8 skimmer bream (around 4oz each, 3 perch and a roach, I managed to catch 1 perch, 3 roach, 11 skimmer bream (each around the 4oz mark) and 2 bream both around the 1lb mark. All the fish were in excellent condition, which reflects well on the health of the lake. When we weren't catching it was just nice to sit back and watch nature take it's course, the birds were out in force singing, a robin sat on a branch eyeing for opportunities to nick my maggots, and a mother duck was shepherding her offspring around the lake, 5 small brown ducklings and 1 yellow one. All in all a pleasant outing, and I got to use my low-tech Swiss Army knife into the bargain.

I finished the day by completing the second half of the tree bench when I got home. All I need now is for some help to lift the two halves into place and hold them whilst I bolt them together. That's where David comes in again at the weekend, but he doesn't know it yet.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Swiss Army Knife Goes High Tech 

Science & Technology: news from swissinfo:

"The Swiss Army Knife has taken a leap into cyberspace with the latest addition to its ever-expanding range of tools."

Yes one of the makers of the Swiss Army Knife has added a USB "flash memory stick" to their marvellous gadget. I'll stick with the one I've already got, I'll probably damage the memory stick on one of my fishing expeditions, I can't see it reacting too well, to dirty pond water or fish slime for some reason.

Thanks to Blue Witch for finding the link.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Luther Watch: Vandross Doing First Interview Since Stroke Over One Year Ago 

TheSanDiegoChannel.com reports that: "Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has landed the first interview with singer Luther Vandross since his stroke over a year ago. Vandross talked about his improving health, the tremendous fan support he's received and the importance of family."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Todays Commuter Play List 

Tunes I listened to on the way in to work today were:

Tunes I expect to listen too on the way home tonight will be:

The Greatest Opening Song line Of All Time 

Radio 2 listeners have voted: "'Saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand, walking through the streets of Soho in the rain, he was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's, going to get a big dish of beef chow mein'" as the greatest opening song line ever. It easily beat One, Two, Three o'clock, Four o'clock rock into second place.

Personally I think David Bowie's effort: "As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent, You asked for the latest party, With your silicone hump and your ten inch stump, Dressed like a priest you was, Tod browning’s freak you was", should have been up there somewhere.

What do you think?

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