Saturday, January 31, 2009


Damn computers and damn Microsoft. The login security failure problem has come back again. But I can't get into the computer at all to try and fix it. The moment it has fired up then the whole thing locks up (I am using my laptop as I write this). I am convinced it is the antiviral software arguing, but then to turn that off is ever so risky. Blast it.

Subsequent info - and even worse, having managed to get into it by booting in safe mode, Windows Defender is still turned off, so it isn't that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nardy Nah

The IMF have said that the UK will be the worst hit of the industrialised countries by the recession. Browns response was something like that of a schoolboy. You could imagine him standing there, hands over his ears going "no it's not, no it's not, Japan will be worse, not us, someone else". Denial at the highest level. And while it is clear that this is a global problem it is also clear that the UK has not been prepared, complacency has left us vulnerable to the effects.

But I struggle to understand those who go on strike at this time. Business is struggling and people are losing their jobs. The last thing I would want to do was walk out and hang around the gates. It seems a very risky plan of action.


Well, it's good to know that we can forget about the credit crunch, about the violence in Israel, the non-war in Iraq, children suffering, and on-going crime. None of that matters. Because, praise the Lord, we will all have broadband by 2012. This for me fits in the same category as the hunting bill. The world is going to pot, get a sense of perspective here. Let's try and fix the things that really matter. I mean, what's the point of having broadband if none of us can afford computers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A to B

Been away for a few days. Some of it work, some of it trying to put up a new desk and move the computer. Moving the computer was probably worse than putting together the desk.

I struggle to know what to make of IKEA. The thing is that I firmly believe that they have mastered the art of flat pack furniture. The stuff is good quality, strong and, importantly, easy to put together. I'd recommend it to anyone. But they have so NOT mastered the art of shopping. It is an experience close to the 5th level of hell which I would not recommend to a single soul, even if I hated them. You have to fight your way through so many people. You find the furniture you like. Only to find some toerag has torn off the reference tag because they can't be bothered to write the aisle number down (this is true, people are too lazy so they just make it hard for all of us). Then you have to go around all the sections of the store you don't want to see. If you are lucky you find a short cut, if you are unlucky your short cut actually spits you back out at the beginning again (it's a bit like giant snakes and ladders). You finally get to the aisles. Curiously all the bits you require for one item of furniture are not together, instead you need to go to about three aisles. And at the third you discover the vital component is sold out. So you have to weigh up the eternal dilemma, do you buy what they have but then have boxes blocking your house for weeks, or do you not buy it only to find that next time a different component is missing.

It's enough to make you scream (which, by the way, I don't advise in store, it appears it is frowned upon).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Northampton 52 - Toulon 11

The second rugby match for "A". I was worried that the first would be a fluke and that she wouldn't enjoy this one. And at the beginning it didn't look good. She was more interested in her sweets to start with. Strangely she became much more interested in the second half. ind you, that was when we were running in all the tries! And we were at the right end, tries being scored under our noses. The important thing is that she said she wants to go to another match. This is looking good for me!

[Now, to be honest, yes I am supporting the Saints. But they remain my "second" team. I live here so I may as well support them. But really I support Cardiff. So I ahve to report that Cardiff Blues thrashed Calvisaro yesterday putting them at an untouchable top of the Heinekan Cup. And the only team undefeated. Yea]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Stutter in Time

So it wasn't the most auspicious of starts. But, hey, we all make mistakes. And Obama did actually say it all despite a stumble. It isn't as though he missed a bit off and didn't swear to look after America! I don't think it did any harm to do it again though, just so people can't challenge him in court in 6 months time. I blame the Chief Justice. I listened to him and he put no rhythm into it. When trying to get someone to repeat an oath rhythm is all important. Without it the lines become entangled, they lose sense, and timing goes wrong. Which is exactly what happened.

But I am truly amazed that some are thinking of challenging in court the decisions made in the last 24 hours. These are clearly the people who ahven't accepted the world changing moment this could be. Who don't see that a new way is needed. That for America to call itself the leaders of the free world means that it is time for them to step up to the plate. And what do they think. If they were successful and the few signatures repealed. Would Obama really not go back and sign them again. Who in their right mind can think that he would just roll over simply because of that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Becoming a Knight

A wonderful night as I joined Rose-Croix this evening. Or, to give it the full title, Knights of the Pelican and Eagle, and Sovereign Princes Rose-Croix. So this means I became a Knight and a Prince.

This rates as one of the best nights I have had in Freemasonry. I know some look at my masonic activities as weird. But masonry is about thinking about yourself, it makes you look inward, to consider your motives, and to reflect on being better. It is an allegorical play. I haven't completely taken in tonight, but it was incredibly moving.

A friend told me that the ceremony would be what non-masons would imagine we would get up to. I can see what he means. No, there was not a goat. And I didn't have to roll up a trouser leg (at least, not this time). But I know what he means. A lot of symbolism. And, interestingly, from the New Testament, my other experiences are Old.

I was (almost) speechless.

Dixie Chicks - Landslide (Sheryl Crow Version)

Wonderful song, not sure about the vid.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Odd One Out

There seems to be a move to change to a multiple choice type exam system. This seems a backward step to me. Interviewed on the radio this morning a supporter of this idea said that multiple choice has come a long way and can now seriously test knowledge. OK, while remaining slightly sceptical, I won't outright argue with that. But then his main reason was that essays are excruciatingly written, that they are often gibberish. THIS IS NOT A REASON TO CHANGE. This is a reason to address the school system (I nearly said teaching, but it isn't the teachers at fault). It is a false argument to say that because someone can't do something then they shouldn't have to. Language is important. Computers do multiple chioce. Humans do eloquence, we formulate arguments, we discuss. My job requires me to be able to put pen to paper and explain things to people. I need to be able to answer complaints in a way people can understand. I need to put forward complex science to those who never studied it. I need to be able to adjust and temper my words to suit the level of the audience. I need to craft my thoughts and expression in a way that appeals to people, that helps them capture my passion. If we simply turn out children who know facts but can't utilise the information then we are doing them a disservice, and we are crippling our future workforce. The answer is not always B.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Be Bop

One problem with an iPod is that you can put everything on it. I have over 11 days of music recorded. And some of it is my daughters music. So driving to Cardiff yesterday and back today she was able to ask for her favourite album. Twice on the way down. Twice on the way back. I now know it so well that I find myself singing along. Which could be OK. Except it is "Same Difference". When I complained to my daughter that it wasn't doing my street cred any good, I got shouted at. So if you meet me and wonder why I am humming teeny pop at least you now know why.

Come On The Blues

I'm seriously getting back into my rugby again. For a few years following a team has been difficult. But I am managing to see a few more matches on TV, and there are some good summary programmes. As I live in Northampton I do support the Saints, but my REAL team are the Cardiff Blues, as I grew up going to every match.

They were playing at Gloucester today. That's a hard fixture. Always a hard place to win, Gloucester are a tough team, the supporters tougher. After 27 minutes Cardiff had a player sent off. We can debate whetehr or not it was really a head but, we can debate whether the Gloucester player took a dive, but wahtever it meant Cardiff were down to 14 men for the rest of the match. I almost gave up at that point. As it was we ahd to get in the car to return home. I managed to convince "A" to let me turn off the music when there was about 15 minutes of play left and I listened to the rest of the match. And, incredily, Cardiff won. I don't know what happened to Gloucester, they should have taken up the baton and run Cardiff into the ground, but in the last 5 minutes it was like Gloucester were the team with a man down. They were exhausted, and somehow Cardiff kept on coming, to be the only team to score a try in the match. A wonderful victory.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Darwin Awards 2008

Always an important time of year:

Eighth Place
In Detroit , a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

Seventh Place
A 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who 'totally zoned when he ran,' accidentally, jogged off a 100-foot high cliff on his daily run.

Sixth Place
While at the beach, Daniel Jones, 21, dug an 8 foot hole for protection from the wind and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom, when it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach used their hands and shovels trying to get him out but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fifth Place
Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed as he fell through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth to keep his hands free rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

Fourth Place
Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed as he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.

Third Place
After stepping around a marked police patrol car parked at the front door, a man walked into H&J Leather & Firearms intent on robbing the store. The shop was full of customers and a uniformed officer was standing at the counter. Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up and fired a few wild shots from a target pistol. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, and several customers also drew their guns and fired. The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics. Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop.
The subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7 different weapons. No one else was hurt.

Paul Stiller, 47, and his wife Bonnie were bored just driving around at 2:00 A.M. so they lit a quarter stick of dynamite to toss out the window to see what would happen. Apparently they failed to notice the window was closed.

Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from a local bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more heated and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 AM. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge they discovered that no one had brought a bungee rope's; Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of lineman's cable, lay near by. They secured one end around Bingham's leg and then tied the other to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. Bingham's foot was never located.


Zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally got relief. Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded. The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr Riesfeldt to the ground where he struck his head on a rock as the elephant continued to evacuate 200 pounds of dung on top of him. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that proves... 'Shit happens'.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wrong Turn

Those of you who follow me on Plurk or Facebook will already realise I didn't have one of my better days today. The kind of day that makes you wonder why you spent so long at Uni. I had a meeting on the outskirts of London. On a good day an hour and a quarter drive. On a bad day a three hour drive. I left myself a tiny bit of time and hoped. And indeed the roads smiled favourably on me and I got there quarter of an our early. Much to my surprise there was parking sapce. That is almost unheard of and I haven't managed to park in the car park for over two years. I went and rang the doorbell. It was answered. I said which meeting I had arrived for. And then they told me it was supposed to be a telephone confernce. How stupid did I feel? And they were sweet, kind, offered me tea, said I could use a room there etc. They were ever so nice. Which did nothing to make me feel any less stupid. So I got back in the car and used the hands free to join the conference as I drove back.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Interview Game

Rainbow Dreams was "interviewed" and I said I would be pleased to play along. First let me thank Rainbow Dreams for giving me questions that have an amazing potential to make me sound shallow. Now, on with the show:

1. Do you have any unfulfilled dreams and what are they?
Dreams rather than things I want to do? I would like to run a coffee shop with a secondhand bookshop (or vice versa), I would like to own a B&B somewhere wild, travel to Japan. But "dreams" implies something a bit more. Things that would have a deep effect on me, would alter my view of the world, would help me understand.
Go to Canada to see Polar Bears and the Aurora Borealis (I have already been there to see Orcas and that was an intense experience)
Swim with dolphins - but there is a caveat, these need to be wild dolphins, not the semi-tamed ones

2. Desert Island discs...which three songs would you want with you on a desert island and why.
I don't like the idea of limiting myself to only three songs, that is really really hard. And I need to avoid the obvious ones like Chasing Cars, Hallelujah (the Jeff version not the X-Factor version), Pachelbel. I have 446 albums (over 11 days worth) on my iTunes, and I have to pick three. I will have a sleepless night, wanting to repeatedly change my choices.

Chris Rea - "Stainsby Girls"

Cowboy Junkies - "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning"

Indigo Girls - "Mystery" (just, also considering "Power of Two" and "Language or the Kiss", but at the end it has to be "Mystery")

As to why, that makes it sound as though it has to be something meaningful. It is simple, they are great songs, and I can lose myself in them.

3. What is your biggest fear?
What, other than being stuck on a desert island with only three songs! Maybe wishing I had done more, I don't want to have regrets. But probably biggest fear, losing my daughter, a few days away from her because of work is bad enough, I can't imagine a world without her that isn't empty

4. If you could swap your life with anothers just for one day who would you swap with and why?
I am going to assume this has to be someone alive because otherwise, if they are dead, technically I will be spending the day in a coffin, which doesn't sound fun.
So, White House Press Secretary would be good, I'll swap with whoever has the job at the moment. Some of my best times at work are working with the media, responding to issues, developing communication campaigns. The White House Press Secretary takes it to another level, the ultimate in handling off the cuff, rapid response, being able to think on your feet, and I would love the adrenalin rush for 24 hours.

5. What is the nicest/ kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Is it sad to say I am struggling with this one? Makes it sound as though no-one likes me. I have been blessed, and my life has been filled with kind people but, put on the spot, I draw a blank. Except one thing that keeps coming to mind. And it is every time my daughter spontaneously runs up to me and gives me a hug, every time she greets me when I get home, every time she writes me a note to say she loves me. The love my daughter gives me, unconditionally, has got to be the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

now the rules if you want to play....
•Leave me a comment requesting an interview.
•I will e-mail you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
•You then answer the questions on your blog.
•You should also post these rules along with an offer to interview anyone else who e-mails you wanting to be interviewed.
•Anyone who asks to be interviewed should be sent 5 questions to answer on their blog.
•It would be nice if the questions were individualized for each blogger.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Money To Burn

Last night I watched the first in a series that I think could be interesting. I believe it was called "millionaire traders" or similar. Someone who has been a succesful trader is putting up his money for complete novices to trade. It is a strangeconcept. And it is at a time when the markets are collapsing, bad timing at its most obvious. The "real" trader is already frustrated that the team are losing money but I have no sympathy for him. In fact he seems a bit of an idiot really. You can't blame people who have no understanding of the market for not placing bids in the right area. I know how hard it is. I have dabbled, only small amounts. And a lot of my shares have then done very well. The problem is that I failed to sell them WHEN they were doing well. I always hung on too long. And it doesn't take long for profit to turn to loss.

PS If anyone can explain short bids to me then please go ahead, even after an hour I was still confused.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009


are weekends over so quickly?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Webb Ellis

I took "A" to her first rugby match today. Been building up to it for a few weeks. Northampton vs Leicester. 3pm kick off.

We arrived at 2:30 pm. Quiet, I thought. But I am used to Cardiff and maybe Northampton is quieter. They let us in, took our tickets. And after 15 minutes I thought "it really is quiet". Went to a steward and asked about kick off. To be told it was 5 pm. I checked the tickets and they definitely said 3pm. But apparently three weeks earlier, ie after tickets had been printed and sold etc, Sky had decided they wanted to show the match so the time was changed.

I didn't like Sky before. But how ridiculous is this. What if I had something else planned for the evening when I bought the tickets. It isn't as if it is free (well, actually, in our case today it was but that's not the point). People have plans and calendars are arranged in advance. If you buy a ticket for something that is stated as a certain time then that is what time it should be on. And the person at the turnstile who took our ticket should ahve at least pointed out that we had arrived two and a half hours early! I mean, I could have had a young child with me for her first match - oh yes, so I did! And the suggestion that I spend the time in the bar wasn't really a good one with a 6 year old at my feet.

Thanks to some helpful stewards it turned out well, and "A"s first match was a success.


I just wrote a 5 paragraph blog and then blogger deleted it all. Not happy

Friday, January 09, 2009

Weather Brother

On the weather report this morning the reporter said that later the weather would turn "misty and murky". I couldn't help but wonder if this weather was any relation of Pinky and Perky.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


My New Years resolution (or one of them) was to keep a photo diary on Facebook. This isn't to be a case of chasing the light, or particularly arty photos. I am still trying to get photos I can frame, but those take time. This is a more simple aim, to manage to use my brain for something other than work for at least a few minutes. To look and think that there is a world, I am not living in a black box.

Work is the most likely thing to destroy this resolution but, despite a conference in Manchester for the last few days, I am succeeding (and before any friends in Manchester complain I didn't say hello, believe me, we don't get much of a chance to breath at these things, every minute of the day booked up). Hence most of the photos are from my hotel room! Today, driving back I stopped at the Manchester Valley Health Walk. Now, I admit that the main reason for stopping was to see if the little shop there had something I could buy my daughter. "A" and I had a chat a few days ago and it appears that biscuits and sweets from the hotel do not quite do it. Apparently, and a quote, "little girls always like stickers" (oh, I am so dreading the teenage years). Well I couldn't find stickers but I did find a badge and a pencil sharpener. The response to which when i got home was, "no chocolate?" I feel I will never get it right.

Anyway, the point of this blog. I found the Manchester Valley Health Walk a strange place. Incongruous. Standing at one point I had the sound of the motorway behind me and to the right, to my left the hiss of a very angry electricity pylon which sounded as though every volt was trying to escape. And yet, in front of me, bird song, uncountable numbers of birds making joyous noise. A wren flitting over the ice only 5 feet away. It was almost surreal. Nature managing to go on despite humans trying to destroy the landscape. And there was something extremely peaceful about it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Put Your Left Arm In

"A" had my private lesson today. She wasn't sure about having "K" as an instructor because I have commented before on how hard she works me, but I told "A" that "K" would be great. And she was. "A" ended up on Bubbles, who is almost as big as Midnight but right from the start "A" was smiling. And she ended up laughing during the lesson. After a lot of walking, changing rein etc, "K" got the lunge reins out. "A" has never seen these before so didn't know what to expect. They started easily with a bit of trotting but then "K" started getting "A" to let go of her reins, first with one hand, then the other, and then both. All the time continuing trotting. Luckily "A" seemed to trust "K" and did it. They turned it into a game, almost a Simon says kind of thing, toch you knee, touch you head, stretch to the side etc.

So I am pleased to reort that "A" has her confidence back. I am less pleased to reort that I know seem to have lost my instructor as "A" wants her all the time. Hard luck, I miss my riding.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Riding Woe

Sometimes it is really difficult knowing what the right thing to do is as a parent. Last Tuesday "A" had a horrible riding lesson. Midnight was playing up, kept throwing his head down which, when you are just over 6, can be very hard to control (in fact is hard to control whatever age you are). Her arms must have felt like they were being jerked out of their sockets. She ended up in tears, serious tears. I wanted to tell them to stop the lesson but also felt that wouldn't help. But I felt terrible watching her in tears and unable to help.

At her lesson this evening it was clear that Midnight had unnerved her. Although she had a different pony she just didn't look comfortable. Whereas she normally has good posture, back straight, sitting back in the saddle, tonight she was hunched over and leaning forwards. Her face also looked so unhappy. The instructor commented to me how "A" didn't look as good as normal. She has been doing really well until now and they seem to think she is quite good (for her age and experience, obviously not going to be at the Horse of the Year show in 2009). Tonight she looked as though it was her first time on a horse.

But "A" says she wants to keep riding. I am very proud that she hasn't just given up. But I am also worried that she is saying she will continue just because she knows her daddy enjoys riding and so she wants to do it. I certainly don't want to watch her hating every lesson. Admittedly she looked more comfortable by the end and she even had a smile (she also saw three other girls end up in tears tongiht, rough times at the moment at riding). And we have decided to have a private rather than group lesson next to try and get her confidence back.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What Did You Do In The War

Anyone else watching Mastermind see Ian Lavender come on? As he sat down, asked by John Humphreys, "your name?" And Rick Wakeman shouted across "don't tell him Pike"!

U2 Sweetest Thing