Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas.... :)

Well it's here...... again.... and to be honest I'm quite touched by how friends and family have rallied around this year to make Christmas a more memorable event than it otherwise would have been, it's been hard these past few months, constant worry about finances etc, but right now, this minute tomorrow will be a lovely day.... one thing I know, I should have bought a bigger Christmas tree the presents are over flowing from underneath it, the kids are uber excited, and then of course the sullen one is off to Austria on boxing day, so she should have a brilliant time out there.... providing she doesn't break anything :) she's pretty cut up that her dad didn't send her anything for Christmas, but no doubt she will give him hell when they next speak, but at least she has Austria and skiing to look forward to.... so her Christmas.... at least.... will be white. (see picture above, that's the latest picture from the resort she is staying at !!!)

As for my kids Emma and Rhiannon, I've given up on them..... you can only bang your head against the wall so many times before it starts to hurt, so I'll wish them a Happy Christmas and hope 2009 brings them all that they want and need.... and leave it at that ......

We have Andrea's parents down for Christmas, she tells me its the first time they have ever spent Christmas with their grandkids, so that's nice. Freya doesn't have a clue what is going on... all she seems to understand is "pretties" which means anything to do with the Christmas tree and the lights.... The tribe are in the kitchen at the moment playing "Monopoly" I passed on that one... "Monopoly" is just short of the egyption mummification ritual to me, it doesn't hold my interest for much longer than a few nanoseconds, and is easily trumped by any game of cards, which were also threatened..... my ex wife used to try and get me interested in cards..... she failed after 22 years of marriage, so my 2nd (much improved version 2) wife has absolutely no chance of turning the tide, in fact King Canute probably had more of a chance.......

The only other thing of note, is that a friend of mine Dom Kane has decided to give away his latest album "My Virus" for free as a thank you to all his supporters and you can get it here :¬)

if you like dance music, you'll really like this, and I would seriously look out for this man in the future he has talent by the lorry load ;¬)

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Happy belated birthday !!! ..... my mouse :)

Apparently on the 9th December 40 years ago, the humble mouse made it's début and changed the way computing was thought of forever, and will probably continue to be used for many years even with the advent of touch screens and voice recognition, and yes the picture above is one of those early mice.... more of a brick with the corners knocked off than something which fits your hand ergonomically, and yes it attached to a serial DB25 connector before we went DB9 and years before PS/2 or USB, I'm amazed sometimes how PC technicians today use the word PS/2 but don't realise that it was a model of computer which IBM manufactured back in the late 80's early 90's, and that it was they who coined the phrase "the PS/2 connector", prior to that we used the DIN standard......

It seems strange to think that there are kids today who have grown up with computers and can't think of what life used to be like without them and yet my generation and the one before saw their birth and proliferation over the years, to such an extent that there isn't a passing moment where we don't come into contact with them.

Cash Machines
Chip and Pin
Mobile Phones
Satellite boxes

even some of our household goods have astounding computing power, but lets take the not so humble mobile phone which everybody and his dog has these days, it's amazing to think that there is more computing power in a modern mobile phone than the computers that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon (unless of course you disbelieve they ever went, but there is room for everybody on this planet..... even the really mad loopy ones ;¬) )

Anyway I just thought I would mark the event because it's up there with sliced bread and electric toothbrushes !!! :)

all hail the humble mouse :)

Friday, 12 December 2008

Usually these things don't disturb me

But in this particular case it did, there was a documentary about the Jamie Bulger murder on one of the myriad of channels last night, but they were actually interviewing the mother this time, I think it was the first time I had actually seen her speak for that length of time since the trial of the two boys who murdered her son.

it's amazing how your mind softens things up and files unpalatable things like that away over time, probably because it goes against every instinct you have on how you treat children and in Jamie's case he was only 3 years old when he was callously murdered by those two 10 year old boys, they interviewed most of the people who were involved in the case including the Police officers at the time, and one thing became clear, nobody except the people who were actually involved in the case were allowed to see the brutality of his murder and what had been done to Jamie, and it has haunted them to this very day.....

First off what was going through the minds of these two boys when they had planned to take another toddler and to push him/her out into a busy road with oncoming traffic to make it look like an accident ???? and were overheard planning this by a mother of two toddlers, one of whom they had targetted, and then by pure chance stumble across Jamie as he wandered away from his mother as she paid for food in the butchers shop that day, and how they led him for nearly 3 miles away from his mother, passing many strangers on the way who asked if he was ok, brutalising him and lying to the strangers who asked about him, and then take him to a train track throw paint over him and then torture and kill him ????

For all of that they got 8 years in council custody because of their age, and now they are both 26 years old, with practically their entire lives ahead of them, living with entirely new identities under licence.....and nobody is allowed to identify them, and for good reason .... because they would be torn limb from limb within guess..... Andrea and I discussed this last night and we both agreed that if we came face to face with the killer of any of our kids we would without hesitation take their life and suffer the consequences afterwards, does that makes us just as bad as them ? does killing somebody for a higher principle and belief in societies values in general alter that ? or would it simply be ridding the earth of scum/vermin with no right to live their lives ?

I suppose if you take murder on it's face value then yes it probably is just that.... murder, but there is such a thing as justice, and when justice isn't served I think it's a natural thought process to make such awful people pay for their wrong doings, I had forgotten just how harrowing the Jamie Bulger incident was, and that night I simply could not settle down and go to sleep, who knows maybe one day they will meet their end and be just as terrified as Jamie was that day he died, or then again maybe they won't, maybe they have learnt what they did was so very very wrong, and how they tried to lie their way out of it, and the fact that they tried to cover up their crime by laying him across a train track so he was cut in half, maybe the fact that they have to live with that until the day they die is enough punishment......Then again, maybe they simply do not care........ who knows ?

But the whole thing struck a certain resonance within me, probably because I have a 14 month old little girl...... just learning to walk and and talk and is experiencing life for the first time.......something Jamie didn't have very much of in his short life

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Well the job hunting is not going well

I've probably been made redundant at the worst time of year, coupled with the worst economic downturn this century..... which doesn't make finding a job (any job) easier, I was looking at the various job sites on the internet and the amount of people applying for even the most menial of jobs is staggering....

I've also found out that I am not entitled to Job Seekers Allowance because my Class 1 contributions haven't been high enough in the years they looked at, my Class 3 contributions are high enough and up-to-date but that doesn't cover things like JSA.... when you need it most eh ? One of the pitfalls of being self employed for so long I guess..... so things have gone from pretty damn bad, to bloody awful in the space of a few days really, but looking on the bright side, if I drag my sorry arse into town every two weeks and sign on the dotted line, they will pay my class 1 national insurance contributions for me.... bless.... at least I'll have a pension when I hit 65 ... providing we don't die of starvation in the mean time.

So this Christmas is going to be a VERY low key affair, the kids will be lucky to get an orange and a walnut in the bottom of their stockings on the 25th December from us, it's turning into a very Dickensian type Christmas, but the eternal optimist that I am, I will keep bashing away at applications, probably the most annoying and soul destroying part of looking for a job is how these days they don't even get back to you to say "NOT YOU !!"...... the only time you ever get anything back is when they want to interview you, which I think is pretty damn rude considering you have taken the time to apply... but it seems that's the way of the world these days.

I suppose the only silver lining to this whole sorry episode is that the CSA can't take their substantial slice of my salary anymore, I honestly don't know which was worse, working and having over half of my pay packet surgically removed at source, or not working and not having to pay child maintenance. It's six of one and half a dozen of the other really. In an ideal world I would be allowed to see my kids and then maybe I wouldn't feel so bitter at having to fork out for something I get no benefit from....some people simply do not know how lucky they are...... hey ho....

Anyway Freya is fine as are the rest of the kids, I'm teaching shadow boy to play chess which he enjoys, obviously he isn't very good at the moment, but he has grasped how the pieces move and keeps badgering me to play him, and I oblige, he is a very bright lad very quick on the uptake six months of this and he'll start to make me think a bit, but at the moment he gets mugged every time he plays, it's very much like taking candy from a baby..... but it's all about learning, and I do tell him when he is about to make a stupid move, but he can't disguise his intentions very well and his attempts at subterfuge are very amateur, almost transparent, but hilarious to witness...........

Thursday, 20 November 2008

I've almost completely lost my voice

Some would say that's a good thing, but personally it's a bit of a bugger, for instance I had to ring up a motor spares place in Carmarthen, after ringing Kwik Fit for a laugh, where they wanted £78 for a back exhaust box for a Peugeot 205.... So I asked how much the part was without fitting, he knocked £10 off !!! .... Oh how I laughed at that quote.......

Anyway I rang up the "cheap" place in Carmarthen and sure enough he had one for £26 !!! but the hardest part was actually trying to tell him what I wanted, I mean he isn't a spring chicken and I usually have enough trouble telling him what I want when I can speak properly....... but he must have thought "who the hell is this hissing, warbling bloke and more to the point what does he actually want ?"

Well after about 25 minutes (I kid you not) I eventually got across what I wanted, the hardest part was saying "exhaust" that came out like "sssssssssorrrrrsssttttt" .... anyway I now have a pristine back box for a pug sitting in the dog bed in the kitchen, much to Roxy's disgust, so I will be under the Pug tomorrow hissing away as I remove and fit the new "ssssssssorrrrrrssstttt" shouldn't be a long job and it will stop the Pug sounding like a Formula One racing car as it pulls away (The kids loved it.... unfortunately the coppers wouldn't)... anyway it will all be done and dusted tomorrow all being well, that reminds me I must try and find some gasket paste, I'm sure I have some hidden away in the workshop.....

I'm feeling tons better, but far from out of the woods just yet, I have the most excruciating coughing fits at night, but thankfully I only had one last night not my usual three or four, so I'm getting SOME sleep, It's definitely flu, a cold wouldn't last this long with me, but it looks like my immune system has woken up and is kicking some influenza arse.....

Job wise the market is almost completely flat, it's rather depressing when you look and there are less and less jobs on offer, but I'm an optimist and I'm sure something will turn up soon.... it has to !!!

Oh and I just have to put this photo up of Freya, makes me smile every time I see it :)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

This amused me about the BNP

I was browsing the Register and saw an article about the BNP (British National Party) saying that their entire membership list had been published on the internet.....(how careless ....grin)....they are basically a bunch of racists who hold pretty extreme views.... anyway I followed all the links and eventually got to a public forum where some if not all of the "members" of this forum were bleating about having been outed, the really laughable ones were the ones who said

"My God if this gets back to my employers, I will lose my job !!!"

and then the ones who pleaded innocence by stating "I left in 2006 how can this be, my name shouldn't be on the list ????"

(I had a brief visual picture, flash before my eyes of him trying to take off his jack boots and ripping off his Adolf moustache in a great hurry as he typed his response on the forum.....Gott Im Himmel !!!)

Hmmm maybe he should have thought about that before joining the BNP if he is THAT ashamed of which party he belongs to !!!

As for me, well I don't care who knows that I got thrown out of the SS for being too cruel and heartless ..... (that was a joke by the way ....well you never know these days.... a firebomb through your letterbox can seriously singe your carpet !!!)... there are some right nutters out there, I wonder how long this little gem will float around the media, makes you wonder if it takes the heat off the government about the Baby P case or/and the economy ????? you know important things.....

planned ? nah.... complete concidence ..... of course..... how silly to even think it.....


anyway that's enough of that drivel, I'm still not having much luck finding a job, the job market needs a defibrillator in my opinion, it's definitely not bringing forth much luck for anybody it seems, my ex colleagues are having similar problems finding a job, so it's not just me, all I can keep doing is to keep looking, I suppose.

right I'm off to bed, or should I say the sofa, mainly because I have man flu and the second I lay in bed I start hacking away constantly, keeping my room mates awake, I've dosed up on benylin night time, and I'm starting to feel the effects of it, so I had better stop now before




Thursday, 6 November 2008

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Disaster Central

I spent most of the morning re jigging my CV, to conform to the standard that is about these days, it's more achievement based than technical knowledge, employers and agencies want a more rounded picture of what you're like apparently, bugger what you can do just tell me what you've done !!

I was put onto an agency that is provided by my ex employer to use their services to find me another job as soon as possible, I did mention that if need be I would get a job anywhere just to pay the bills, but they advised me not to do that as it would detract from finding the perfect position for me.... I have to disagree though when you need a regular pay packet anything will do... anyway after I finished doing my CV and sending it off to be assessed, I decided (stupidly) to bleed a rather troublesome radiator in the house, it's the one in the front room, we have two, one at either end of the room, one of them works but the other one remains stone cold no matter how much nuclear super heated water we pump through it.

So off I went in search of tools and a towel, I fashioned myself a cut off milk carton to catch the water and managed to bleed three of the bleed points.... THREE I hear you say ... hmmmm yes it seems there must have been a run on single radiators when these were put in because they are two small singles joined together, which doesn't make them the easiest of things to bleed...

Anyway I started to unscrew the last bleed valve and the pressure of the water blew the screw from my hand... oh well I thought I'll find that later it can't have gone far... so I filled up the plastic milk carton and then tipped it out the window.... you know what's coming now don't you ?

YES .... I threw out the screw with the water, it had been blown into the milk carton !!! I didn't figure this out until I had hunted high and low with my finger over the high pressure and HOT water coming out of the radiator, it took me over 2 hours of alternating fingers because they were getting burned until I found a solution by stuffing Cranium dough/putty into the hole, it held long enough for me to go outside and search for the bleed screw, which I eventually found in amongst the fallen leaves....lucky !!!

I ended up with fingers like one of the Zombies off the living dead

The Xbox recluse has run up a massive bill on the land line ringing his girlfriend all hours it seems, not to worry though it's coming out of his wages, the amount he spends on chatting to his girlfriend he could take her out on a nightly basis and have a good time..... ahhhh young love, so innocent, so full of promise..... so what !!! anyway he is being told tonight under no circumstances is he to use the house phone to ring her, he can top up his mobile then he can see the money being frittered away himself, rather than having a shock at the end of the month.......same applies to the other ankle biters as well, the phone bill is getting ridiculous in fact the only one who hasn't run up the phone bill is Freya, but her level of conversation at the moment is a bit limited as are her circle of friends....

The rest of today I spent recovering two hard drives from a friends computer which had the unfortunate situation of being hit by lightning killing it instantly, I've got nearly 90% of her photos back the rest has been trashed..... I just need to buy CD's/ DVD's now to copy all of the photo's on it, thankfully I had bought a 16GB USB pen drive for £17.99 from which was well suited to the task..... it's ridiculously cheap for a full 16GB of storage, and I filled in what was left by cooking dinner, cleaning up and generally being a house husband :¬)

roll on tomorrow for much of the same ..... :(

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Well that's it.....GET OUT !!

It was only meant to be a 6 month contract but in the end was just over two years, but now it's come to an end, mainly because I didn't want to move to Rotherham or Mumbai in India, so had to take redundancy, so I'm officially unemployed as of yesterday the 31st October, bit of a bummer but there you go that's business for you, somebody has to take the fall, and at least I wasn't sacked for incompetence or lack of performance, in fact my annual review was more than pretty damn good and I had glowing references and was recommended for a pay rise, due to the improvements I had made to the procedures, however it was more a case of last in, first out, as is usually the case, I feel sorry for some of them quite a few are VERY close to retirement and they have seen their pensions slashed by the trillions lopped off their investment fund pensions by the credit crunch and they have very little hope of being kept on to top it up.

The HR man who gave me the redundancy news even told me that he would be perfectly happy to give me a more than deserved verbal reference which is outside of the company policy of only supplying references through the HR department, which is unheard of, but he couldn't put anything in writing as he would be hung drawn and quartered if they found out, as did my old line manager, so I must have been doing something right whilst working there :).... plus I wasn't escorted off the premises by two security guards, which is the usual policy when somebody who has had access to an entire corporate network infrastructure, including all the passwords (well I set most if not all of them) it must be a worrying time for them though "hoping" their ex employee's don't go off the rails and bring their systems grinding to a halt, which is probably why I am gagged by a confidentiality agreement not to divulge sensitive information or bad mouth the company until 12 months have passed (weird ?)

Anyways I have no complaints about the company, they did ok by me :¬) plus I got a leaving present !! a bottle of Capt Morgan Rum and a card signed by the remainder of the office staff, after the "week of the long knives" they have been put through.... the lucky few or is that unlucky ? insomuch as they now have three times more work to do with the same pay !!! unlucky methinks :¬)

I've got to admit, the job was becoming a little stale, I had done all the improvements to the LAN and servers that could possibly be done, it was "tweaked for maximum smoke" I had automated most if not all of the mundane tasks whilst there, so things were becoming VERY routine and required very little thought to resolve the problems as they presented, so in a way I'm glad I was made redundant but it doesn't help on the cash front, but a man of my talents won't be sitting around for very long, I do have irons in the fire, and if push comes to a shove I will get a job wherever that might be, and not necessarily in IT, although I will have to dumb down my CV, it wouldn't look very good an "IT Guru" applying for a job sweeping floors at B&Q.... they might detect that I'm not really serious about staying employed there ;¬)

it's pretty hard though how do you explain away the last 18 or more so years of "high tech" employment ? and your motivation for taking a manual job ? "ohhhh I fancied a change !!" ..... GET OUT !!!

The only thing that concerns me is that with the current economic climate this isn't the best time to be made redundant, and employers are laying off rather than taking on, so we shall have to see.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Spot the obvious mistake here

I really love working in IT, I really do.... however every now and again you get to hear about something which simply boggles your mind...mainly because of the utter stupidity of it....

The company I work for (for now) which shall remain nameless, but suffice to say they have 80,000 staff worldwide, so that narrows things down a bit..... anyway needless to say they decided due to security concerns about laptops going missing and being stolen that they would roll out volume encryption on EVERY laptop over their software update service "Radia"....

The plan was to email the users who's laptops would be encrypted with their passwords in order that they could get back into their trusty laptops ..... (before they rebooted their laptop) ..... however the fatal part of this plan is that you are relying on somebody to read an MIS announcement via email, most of which are usually along the lines of....

"such and such a service/server will be offline between the hours of blah blah"

apparently nobody read the email .....

you know what's coming here don't you ?

Yup..... you guessed it in one fair swoop the MIS team have knocked out the entire stock of laptops for the entire company, oh how I laughed at that one... still am in fact.... :)

someone's head will roll for this gem, of that I'm sure

it's tantamount to sawing off the branch you are sitting on in a very Homer Simpson kind of way....

Thursday, 23 October 2008

it's Freya's 1st Birthday today :)

She had a load of cards sent to her, and we bought her a pink blow up jeep ball pool and a few other things that she is going to open this evening when everybody turns up to wish her a happy birthday, I thought that she wouldn't pay the blow up jeep much attention, but no I was wrong, she squealed with delight and couldn't wait to get into it.... I can see it now .....balls everywhere ;¬)

Andrea made the cake and iced it, we thought of doing the time honoured figure 1 but we decided to be different for once :¬) I think she did rather a good job of it (and it's triple deckered !!! ) unfortunately Andrea has never really mastered my Nikon camera, it does have an idiot mode but even she manages to mess that up, so my apologies for the slightly blurred picture.

We are having a little celebration tonight nothing special just friends and family around, although my parents can't make it because my mother has recently come out of hospital and my dad had his cataract operation on Monday so driving is out of the question, and to be honest there wouldn't be much point in picking them up considering they have both been in the wars recently, we'll leave it till next weekend and take Freya down to see them, they really enjoy seeing her..... but there you go that's what grandparents are for to enjoy their grandchildren to the max.....

Anyway I must get on, I've got a bit of tidying to do in between trawling for jobs....

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The CSA is to become CMEC

Some will say "at last!" but I have a sneaking suspicion that we are heading for another government induced monumental cock up in the making .... yet again

The independent (pah) report condemns the CSA and it's practice of targeting "soft targets" or basically NRP's (non resident parents) that it knows will pay up and leaving the more difficult NRP's who still to this day evade paying child maintenance...

I've got to say I have mixed feelings about this latest overhaul to the child maintenance fiasco, they say CMEC (Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission) will be fairer to NRP's and take into consideration their financial circumstances, which the current CSA do not, they just see a net salary and apply a very simplistic formulae to it and come up with a monthly amount to pay, which seems a bit bizarre really, because if you earn say £100,000 a year (net) and have two children, under the current CSA rules, you can kiss goodbye to £20,000 of that towards bringing up your children in maintenance payments, which seems a little steep to me... and this is the madness of the current child support laws, some families live on £20,000 a year salary, so if I suddenly get a job which pays £100,000 (I wish...although it's not impossible because some contract work pays above that......) my ex WOULD be entitled to 20 grand a year gratis !!! .... how mad is that ? (she has never earned that much in her lifetime, let alone a year!!) they did cap the maximum amount of child maintenance so theoretically the ceiling is £24,000 a year, (fabulous) now if the NRP and PWC were still together that would be taxable income, but it's not taken into consideration !!!

but things are going to get a whole lot worse for NRP's the newly established CMEC will calculate child maintenance not on your net pay but your gross pay, they have decreased the percentage for each child, (gee thanks) percentage rates will be set at 12% for one child 16% for two children and 19% for three or more children. On paper that sound marvelous.... but no... do the maths

very simplistically, an NRP earning £100,000 under the old system would be paying 40% tax which would leave him with £60,000 net (approx) of that net salary, 20% would be deducted by the CSA for child maintenance landing him with an annual bill of £12,000

but under the new CMEC system the NRP will be assessed on his gross salary of £100,000 before tax, so his annual bill will rise to £16,000, a rise of £4000 so much for the apparent percentage drop in maintenance, I don't know about you, but do you get the impression NRP's are seen as purely cash dispensers here ? and what is more any maintenance that is paid to the PWC (parent with care) they will no longer have the equivalent deducted from any government benefits they may be on. The injustice this causes is unbelievable and it causes a lot of animosity especially when the NRP's second family is made to suffer financially propping up the welfare state like this.

so the key elements of the shiny new CMEC are :-

• Remove the compulsory element for parents with care claiming a prescribed benefit to use CSA services for child support arrangements. Parents with care will be free to make private arrangements with the non resident parent and will no longer suffer a reduction in benefit.
• Oversee an administration process in which parents can register their own private arrangements for child support.
• Provide extensive information, guidance and support to parents to fully inform them of the options available to them.
• Increase the maintenance disregard. Currently parents with care (on the new rules system) receive the first £10 of any maintenance paid. Legislation will extend these rules to encompass old rules PWCs to benefit from the £10 disregard. By 2011 this disregard is proposed to be substantially increased.
• CMEC will operate on the percentage based scheme as seen in CS2 rules but income of the NRP will be taken from the latest available tax information.

• Child maintenance will be calculated on the gross income of the NRP.
(lets squeeze some more cash out of the NRP's they aren't paying enough !!)

• Percentage rates will be set at 12% for one child 16% for two children and 19% for three or more children.
• Increase the capping of income from £2000 pw to £3000 pw
• One year fixed term payment schedules will be imposed, with variations to maintenance payable allowed only if a minimum 25% change of income is reported.
• Increase current flat rate amounts from £5 pw to £7 pw
• Using Deduction from Earnings Orders as a first method of collecting maintenance payments. This will allow CMEC to take the maintenance directly from the wages of the non resident parent.

• Remove the need to take non resident parents to court before pursuing a debt. Currently a liability order has to be granted by the courts before recovery action can be taken. CMEC will introduce an administrative process to replace the court based liability order process.

(So now NRP's have had the ability to defend themselves in court taken away from them, and are guilty until proven innocent, because the CSA NEVER made ANY mistakes .... did they ?)

• Extend avenues available to secure information on non resident parents.
(in other words, they can look at anything, held by any organisation about you, whatever happened to the data protection act ?)

• Outsource debt collection to Debt Collection Agencies who will have extended powers of entry.
(Bailiffs who can break into your house, ignoring the normal guidelines governing entry by bailiffs, in other words, AND costing the tax payer more in the long run)

Other proposals under consideration are:
• Introduce powers to confiscate passports, driving licences, introduce curfews, and tagging of non paying non resident parents.
• Introduce a “name and shame” program, making public the details of non resident parents who have failed to pay maintenance. Further consultation is in place for this particular proposal.
• Introduce a charging regime for the use of CMEC services.
• Shared care arrangements to remain as that in CS2, but with the provision to allow an interim decision on presumed shared care arrangements until the matter has been confirmed.
• Consideration and further consultation is being given to make joint birth registration compulsory.

I suppose the only real light about this new CMEC is that they are deciding whether there should be a connection between maintenance payments and contact, I wonder how many current CSA cases would be dropped like a hot brick if the PWC was forced to provide contact with the NRP ? it would certainly weed out the PWC's who were simply being vindictive and using the CSA/CMEC as a method of punishing the NRP simply because they can under the current law.

I have to say my experience of the CSA is a mindless juggernaut, where nobody there knows what is going on for months, and in some cases years, then suddenly they land you with a massive bill with very little explanation, and it doesn't instil much confidence when they have admitted using scare tactics on NRP's saying they owe thousands of pounds when they actually don't, but when it comes to a judgement they stick to their original figure and it goes undisputed, because nobody is ever accountable at the CSA, they don't even use their real names just pseudonyms....

No.... I have a feeling "CSA3 The final insult" will be a sequel too far ... millions more will be poured into the CSA money toilet, more new IT systems that don't work, more ill trained staff....... and millions more NRP's will buckle under the financial strain.... I think we are in for a rough ride.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

You've got to laugh...... or you'll cry.....

About three months ago our broadband connection decided to drop from 2.8Mbs to a pedestrian 1.2Mbs, so after leaving it for a month or so in the hope that it would improve, actually that's not true....I was dreading the idea of ringing up Gupta (BT) broadband helpdesk in India and being made to do things with my BT Home hub that even a chimpanzee would get bored doing over and over again, it is pretty frustrating really considering I could run rings around their help desk technically and I've forgotten more about computers and ADSL and DSLAM units than they've ever been taught, but that's another story....

In total I complained FIVE times before they admitted that they would need to send around an engineer but they did warn me that if the fault was in our house I would be charged accordingly....blah....blah....blah....I categorically told them that the fault wasn't in our house, laughingly at first they wanted to send around an "Accelerator" Engineer at £95 an hour, who would "tweak" our computers for maximum smoke regarding the broadband.... I said "first off I'm not paying £95 for some monkey sorry "accelerator" engineer, to come around with a CD or USB stick to run a few programs which optimise the TCP/IP stack on my computers.... it's already been done, they are tuned for maximum smoke already".... I think at this point Mrs Gupta was detecting a rather sarcastic tone in my voice and promptly hung up...."nice" I thought followed by "RIGHT!!!".... you have to understand that I had been in contact with them FIVE times previously and they had done NADA, ZILCH... ZIP... my blood was already boiling ....

I composed a withering catalogue of their ineptitude, and fired it off, it must have worked because less then two minutes after sending it the phone rang with a very apologetic Mr Gupta who immediately arranged for an engineer to come around, well I say immediately it was the next day... but good enough for me :)

next day the engineer arrived he wasn't from this area he usually covered Swansea, so had no history of the area, I took him through the fault, "hmmmmmmm to be honest at 5.2km from the exchange 1Mbit seems pretty reasonable"

to which I replied "reasonable it might be, but we used to get 2.8Mbs !!" I detected that he thought I might be trying to pull the wool over his eyes, but fortunately I had some screen caps I had taken of the connection page of the BTHomehub some time ago and showed them to him...."Hmmmmm yes you did didn't you, this is very strange, we usually make it go faster not slower"

so off he went pulling at wires and exchanges by the end of his allotted two hours to sort the problem, he had obviously sorted it out....erm no he didn't

we were now 300Kbs slower then when he started, "Fan-bloody-tastic!" I thought,.....I was just about to ring up Mr Gupta when the phone rang with a jubilant Mr Gupta thanking me for my patience on this matter and that he hoped that now the speed was back up to normal everything would be OK in my world...

I stopped him dead in his tracks so as not to waste his gushing apologies, should he need to use them on some other BT Broadband customer, I had to stifle a laugh when I explained that the speed had actually dropped by 300Kbs since the engineer had done his thing..... which was followed by a long pause then....... "oh deary me" in full "it ain't half hot mum" style (for those of you that remember that far back) ;¬)

so he arranged for another shinier engineer to turn up and that happened today at 10am, he was very polite said he would look into the problem then after about an hour and a half he rang back saying he had done a "swap and lift" whatever the hell that is, but apparently he said the DSLAM unit was faulty so he replaced it and that everything should be ok now.....

Wronggggggggg.... the BTHomehub was now connecting at an even lower speed than the previous pedestrian speed it had dropped down to a blistering 700 KBs.....

"Oh" he said "I'll have to arrange for another engineer to come out"..... "What a shock!" I thought...

So all I'm waiting for now is the triumphant call from Mr Gupta stating how wonderful BT Broadband is..... again

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A short post ..... Freya claps :)

Just thought I would share this.... ignore the high pitched gimp in the background that was me attempting to get Freya to clap... it seemed to work ;¬)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

And my special power is ........

Man Flu

I'm not sure where I picked it up from, but we've all had it so I suspect one of the kids dragged it back from school, seeing as they haven't long gone back to school, I progressively felt worse over the days until I couldn't bare the thought of going to work one morning and sitting in front of my desk suffering, it's not fair on the other members of the team either, last thing they want is to be struck down with it.

I've had my provisional redundancy notice from the HR department, which basically means the axe is above my head and they are just lining up the blade on the back of my neck, most of the responsibilities of LAN support have now gone across to India, so there is very little to be done at work, so I don't feel so bad taking time off sick. I'm still looking on a daily basis for new employment but thus far nothing has turned up.

That's the problem with living in such a rural area the jobs are few and far between, if push comes to shove then I'll just have to find "something" to pay the rent and keep food in our mouths, either way it's a pretty worrying time but there isn't a lot I can do about it, except what I'm doing already, I suppose the only good thing is that the CSA won't be able to take one third of my my wages any more, which has hit us very hard I have to admit and looking at the pay for more local jobs when I do get a new job they won't be able to take anything from me then either because I'll fall under their radar.... life could be a lot worse, but despite all the doom and gloom, we are still very happy..... :)

One thing for certain, if I had a nemesis, which I don't, I wouldn't wish the CSA on them one little bit.....because once they have their hooks in you and there are many, you can't get them out..... they are a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger as the "Terminator" , they never stop, they never rest and they NEVER leave you alone until they have successfully turned you upside down and emptied all of your pockets of all of your hard earned cash..... and once they have you in their sights there is no escape, you could hide at the very the top of Snowdon or Ben Nevis or the darkest deepest cave or even hide in some croft in a remote Scottish glen, they will find you and once they do....... the meter starts ticking and you know that because they also take great delight in sending you many, many letters saying "Kerchinnnnng" "Kerchinnnng" on an almost daily basis......In fact the ONLY way to escape them is to die.... hmmm maybe Arnie would be the better option ;¬) mind you I joke but there have been quite a few suicides relating to the CSA and that is no laughing matter ......

Anyway enough of this depressing talk :) ....... Freya has started on the slippery slope towards walking, she stood the other day unaided for quite some time then took her first faltering step, it's a joy to see and she is such a happy little girl, full of smiles and giggles, she never fails to brighten up my day no matter how unpleasant a It might have been. We are so lucky with her, she sleeps through, is no bother at all, all you could want in a baby really :)

Anyway I'm off now to watch "Heroes" with the rest of the tribe :)

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Large HaveNot Collider or LHNC

or to put it simply one mans search for the elusive walletanium particle, my mate Chris up in North Wales is as we speak digging a large cylindrical tunnel using 4" PVC drain pipe from B&Q in his back garden powered by three fairy lights and a hamster on a wheel at a massive personal expense of £23.67p .... why I hear you ask?

Well he wants to know what happens nanoseconds before the big bill arrived, he intends to accelerate two of his ex friends at a breakneck speed towards each other and then at a predetermined point somewhere near his garden shed and just past his sea kayak collide them and see what happens nanoseconds before and after the collision to unravel the mysteries of the big bill

for those of you without a degree in parasitic particle physics, here is a dummy's guide to what he hopes to achieve.....

Walletanium is a parasitic particle which borrows protons from any neighbouring molecule, it has plenty of its own protons but prefers to borrow from a near neighbour to remain more positively charged thereby not reducing its own positive charge one bit, when it in turn needs to shed protons, the exchange of protons between these particles is very quick, it usually only takes several seconds and no longer than a minute for Walletanium to deduce it has no free protons by a process called "pocket patting" once "pocket patting" has finished it then slides up to the host particle (for example Lorisanium or the much preferred Christium) and following a set procedure of bringing its own protons close to it's own nucleus to give the impression that it doesn't have any protons to give, which makes it appear to be negatively charged, the host particle is then obliged to shed some of its own protons because Walletanium "appears" to be negatively charged.

Walletanium then goes on to seek out Beerium whereby it passes all it's borrowed protons over to the long chained molecule "barium" in return for several small short lived particles called "Beerium"... which it then takes back to the host and offers them around, giving the impression that it has in fact obtained the Beerium particles via it's own proton store, then smugly absorbs its beerium particle and the process starts all over again nauseum......

obviously this experiment is very important and will allow scientists for the first time to actually see the entire process from "pocket patting" to the very moment nanoseconds before the big bill

for the wider parasitic particle physics community it will answer the age old question just how tightly packed is a walletanium particle ? and how does it consistently manage to scavenge spare protons from its neighbours ?

This research will help the wider public as well who as we all know have at some time been hit by the walletanium particle and hopefully avoid its long term and in some cases damaging effects.

Next week I will be talking about the CSA particle which has the very undesirable effect of taking all of a particles protons and in some cases it's electrons as well even before the particle actually has any to shed, it then distributes the excess protons and electrons to completely proton rich particles within a large radius of its nucleus, currently believed to be in or around Liverpool and has been given the humorous name "The highway robbery" particle, the hope is that one day parasitic particle physics funded by Government money will be able to accelerate this particle so fast that it disappears up its own nucleus, but thus far the particle is so heavy and cumbersome and slow and expensive to track, it's unlikely to happen during my salary

Friday, 26 September 2008

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Did we go to the moon

I've just had an old friend come up and visit, I was the best man at his wedding, and I've scarily known him for 40 years, sadly now he is divorced..... or is that gladly ? anyway we were chewing the cud and putting the world to rights like we usually did, but much to my dismay he firmly believes man didn't land on the moon during the Apollo missions of the sixties. in much the same way that I didn't catch a trout and he did (albeit a tiddler) we released it.... it was too small it would have barely made a sandwich let alone a meal....

Anyway he pointed out various things which have all been disproved but for your entertainment I will outline them here :)

1. No blast crater or any sign of dust scatter as was seen in the 16mm films of each landing

* No crater should be expected. The Descent Propulsion System was throttled very far down during the final landing. The Lunar Module was no longer rapidly decelerating, so the descent engine only had to support the module's own weight, diminished by the 1/6 g lunar gravity and by the near exhaustion of the descent propellants. At landing, the engine thrust divided by the nozzle exit area is only about 10 kilopascals (1.5 PSI) Beyond the engine nozzle, the plume spreads and the pressure drops very rapidly. (In comparison the Saturn V F-1 first stage engines produced 3.2 MPa (459 PSI) at the mouth of the nozzle.)

Rocket exhaust gases expand much more rapidly after leaving the engine nozzle in a vacuum than in an atmosphere. The effect of an atmosphere on rocket plumes can be easily seen in launches from Earth; as the rocket rises through the thinning atmosphere, the exhaust plumes broaden very noticeably. To reduce this, rocket engines designed for vacuum operation have longer bells than those designed for use at the Earth's surface, but they still cannot prevent this spreading. The Lunar Module's exhaust gases therefore expanded rapidly well beyond the landing site. However, the descent engines did scatter a lot of very fine surface dust as seen in 16mm movies of each landing, and many mission commanders commented on its effect on
visibility. The landers were generally moving horizontally as well as vertically, and photographs do show scouring of the surface along the final descent path. Finally, the lunar soil is very compact below its surface dust layer, further making it impossible for the descent engine to blast out a "crater"

2. The launch rocket (Lunar Module ascent stage) produced no visible flame.

The Lunar Module used Aerozine-50 (fuel) and dinitrogen tetroxide (oxidizer) propellants, chosen for simplicity and reliability; they ignite hypergolically –upon contact– without a spark. These propellants produce a nearly transparent exhaust. The same or similar hypergolic fuels are used by several space launchers: the core of the American Titan, the Russian Proton, the European Ariane 1 through 4 and the Chinese Long March. The transparency of their plumes is apparent in many launch photos. The plumes of rocket engines fired in a vacuum spread out very rapidly as they leave the engine nozzle, further reducing their visibility. Finally, rocket engines often run "rich" to slow internal corrosion. On the earth, the excess fuel burns in contact with atmospheric oxygen. This cannot happen in a vacuum.

then we have the pictures especially this one of Buzz Aldrin in the shadow of the moon lander yet he is visible, how could this be ?

Well to put it simply the surface of the moon is made up of mainly silica which reflects light, and the moon is also very brightly lit because it has no atmosphere to hinder reflections so light is scattered rather evenly, so Buzz Aldrin was backlit but by the surface of the VERY bright moon, and he did after all have a VERY inconspicuous WHITE space suit on, you could do the same thing here on earth by standing in shadow but somebody holding up a white board to illuminate you with natural light, they do it all the time when filming you have probably seen them on film sets holding up white boards, which in turn reflects light so showing up in the camera, this particular myth has been busted wide open, when the exact same scene was recreated to test this, the team built a much larger scale (1:6) replica of the landing site, including a dust surface with a colour and albedo similar to lunar soil. The team then took a photograph which was nearly identical to the original NASA photo from Apollo 11. The team (Mythbusters) explained that the astronaut was visible because of light being reflected off the Moon's surface.

There are no stars in any of the photos. The Apollo 11 astronauts also claimed in a press conference after the event to have not remembered seeing any of the stars.

* The sun was shining. Cameras were set for daylight exposure, and could not detect the faint points of light.

The color and angle of shadows and light are inconsistent.

* Shadows on the Moon are complicated by uneven ground, wide angle lens distortion, light reflected from the Earth, and lunar dust. Shadows also display the properties of vanishing point perspective leading them to converge to a point on the horizon.

The astronauts could not have survived the trip because of exposure to radiation from the Van Allen radiation belt and galactic ambient radiation . Some hoax theorists have suggested that Starfish Prime (high altitude nuclear testing in 1962) was a failed attempt to disrupt the Van Allen belts.

* The Moon is ten times higher than the Van Allen radiation belts. The spacecraft moved through the belts in just 30 minutes, and the astronauts were protected from the ionizing radiation by the aluminium hulls of the spacecraft. In addition, the orbital transfer trajectory from the Earth to the Moon through the belts was selected to minimize radiation exposure. Even Dr. James Van Allen, the discoverer of the Van Allen radiation belts, rebutted the claims that radiation levels were too dangerous for the Apollo missions. Dosimeters carried by the crews showed they received about the same cumulative dosage as a chest X-ray or about 1 milligray. Plait cited an average dose of less than 1 rem, which is equivalent to the ambient radiation received by living at sea level for three years

* The radiation is actually evidence that the astronauts went to the Moon. Irene Schneider reports that thirty-three of the thirty-six Apollo astronauts involved in the nine Apollo missions to leave Earth orbit have early stage cataracts that have been shown to be caused by radiation exposure to cosmic rays during their trip. However, only twenty-four astronauts left earth orbit. At least thirty-nine former astronauts have developed cataracts. Thirty-six of those were involved in high-radiation missions such as the Apollo lunar missions.

2. Film in the cameras would have been fogged by this radiation.

* The film was kept in metal containers that prevented radiation from fogging the film's emulsion. In addition, film carried by unmanned lunar probes such as the Lunar Orbiter and Luna 3 (which used on-board film development processes) was not fogged.

3. The Moon's surface during the daytime is so hot that camera film would have melted.

* There is no atmosphere to efficiently couple lunar surface heat to devices such as cameras not in direct contact with it. In a vacuum, only radiation remains as a heat transfer mechanism. The physics of radiative heat transfer are thoroughly understood, and the proper use of passive optical coatings and paints was adequate to control the temperature of the film within the cameras; lunar module temperatures were controlled with similar coatings that gave it its gold color. Also, while the Moon's surface does get very hot at lunar noon, every Apollo landing was made shortly after lunar sunrise at the landing site. During the longer stays, the astronauts did notice increased cooling loads on their spacesuits as the sun continued to rise and the surface temperature increased, but the effect was easily countered by the passive and active cooling systems. The film was not in direct sunlight, so it wasn't overheated.

* Note: all of the lunar landings occurred during the lunar daytime. The Moon's day is approximately 29½ days long, and as a consequence a single lunar day (dawn to dusk) lasts nearly fifteen days. As such there was no sunrise or sunset while the astronauts were on the surface. Most lunar missions occurred during the first few earth days of the lunar day.

4. The Apollo 16 crew should not have survived a big solar flare firing out when they were on their way to the Moon. "They should have been fried."

* No large solar flare occurred during the flight of Apollo 16. There were large solar flares in August 1972, after Apollo 16 returned to Earth and before the flight of Apollo 17.

There is so much more evidence such as the 300 KG of moon rock, unlike ANY rocks on earth and much older than anything we have on earth, then of course there is the Russian element, do you think for one second the Russians would not have exposed the Americans as liars given the chance ? of course they would, it would have been a massive propaganda boost for their country, but for every solid bit of evidence you produce to a "flat earther" ;¬) they come back with ever more ridiculous claims, but that is the beauty of conspiracy theorists there is simply no telling them, and probably the ONLY way to convince them would for them to be landed next to the landing sites themselves so they could touch them with their hands.... then and only then would they believe

to be honest, with all the overwhelming evidence that we did in fact land on the Moon, I find it very hard to believe that anybody these days can think differently... but live and let live.... unless of course you are the man on the Grassy Knoll ;¬)

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Patrick Moore eat yer heart out ;¬)

As you can see I have managed to capture the Moon in all it's glory, unfortunately I didn't manage to set the time correctly on my digital camera because it wasn't just gone half past one in the afternoon when I took it, and I also only managed two photographs then my batteries died, so I gave up trying to get a closer photograph of the Moon, I took it through shadow boys telescope and simply held the camera up to the eyepiece on macro and thankfully because it does it's metering through the actual lens it was able to focus rather nicely on it :¬)

Well the weather is rather nice this weekend and has been since Friday, so nice in fact that I managed to take a few photographs outside the house from the decking of our valley

and as you can see I still haven't managed to set the clock on the bloody camera, but you get the general idea, it's pretty idyllic here when the weather is nice, something that has been severely lacking this summer, I have a friend coming up next week from Penarth, I've known him since I was five years old, I was even the best man at his wedding, sadly now he is divorced like so many of us are, people change, life goes on, his son Gareth is the spitting image of his Dad, the last time I saw him he was just above my kneecap running around in nappies.... time really does fly and it seems to accelerate the older you get.....

Anyway enough of that sentimental clap trap, we intend doing some trout fishing at the river just across the field, if you look at the bottom right of the second photograph you can just see a second field, well the river is just beyond that field it's about half a mile away all told, about a 10 minute walk..... hopefully we will pull something from the river....

My parents are on a coach trip down in the west country for the weekend, they took the coach because my dad has just had eye surgery to correct something or other, and as usual my Dad just brushes off this kind of thing as nothing serious, I swear if he accidentally chopped his hand off on his band saw he would simply wrap up the stump in a towel and carry on until he finished what he was doing... :¬)

The money situation is pretty dire, but we will survive, and I am continuing my search for another job whilst I'm on my two weeks off, my ex on the other hand is going to get a very large giro off the CSA this month, which will no doubt make her smile, bless her little cotton socks, I sincerely hope it is spent on the children, just think if she had let me see the kids all those years ago she would have got her maintenance way before now, but her smile won't last long because the prospects of finding another job around here that pays anywhere near what I'm on now are slim to non existent.... so it may well be her last Giro for a while

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Well I've finally had some time...

to update my company website, it's been lying dormant for months and months, so seeing as I am actually paying for the thing I thought it best to at least have something up there... it's nothing special (yet!) simply my company logo with a price list attached which I will update on a monthly basis at least until the development on it has been finished.... it may as well earn it's keep so to speak :¬)

It was a lovely day today a bit misty to start with, then all that got burnt off by the sickly and low in the sky sun and by the end of the afternoon it was quite balmy out in the garden, I even managed to strim the lawn (petrol of course my carbon footprint is way too small at the moment) in preparation for it's haircut hopefully this weekend (again petrol.... but with the size of our lawns it's not really doable on an extension by any stretch !!)...

I'm off with a friend of ours tomorrow we are driving to Newport they have bought a car off Ebay and she wants me along for the ride because :-

A) she is not very comfortable meeting a strange man with that amount of cash on her
B) wants to know if it's a clunker or not
C) her husband can't get the time off work
D) my diary was remarkable empty

I have a sneaking suspicion they have bought a Peugeot for one very sinister reason though, but it's no good I'm only qualified to fix 205's of a Duran Duran vintage, at least that's the plan and I'm sticking to it, besides I'm only a Haynes manual mechanic but I can even do the 7 spanner ratings !!! (I shall have to put that on my CV :¬) )....

I do intend to get to the river at some point and catch all the sea trout that are going spare at some point, but so far the weather has been against me amongst other things, so that is on the back burner at the moment, I have also got to clear the guttering as well, mainly because we have grass growing out of one part of it and I suspect it's not letting the water flow efficiently, I considered strimming it but I think that defeats the point ;¬)

onward and upward

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Home alone......

but busy cleaning and generally sprucing the house up, seeing as my impending redundancy is looming, I basically don't trust the company I work for to honour my holidays, so I've taken the whole lot in one go, which will backfire badly if they do find me a position within the confines of Swansea, but I'm not overly hopeful... so better to be safe than sorry :)

so for the next two weeks I'm a house husband, I really don't know what all the fuss is about, housework is easy !!! I've even had time to update my blog and make chicken soup :) mind you it has helped having Robert Miles's "Dreamland" blasting out at 450 watts, (which reminds me I must check the window seals on the double glazing in the office) .... although it does have an advantage in that all the spiders are deaf and can be crept up on and captured easily... we do seem to be getting rather a lot of the big hairy ones..... but shadow boy is the official spider catcher unless they are too big even for him then I'm called in... ;¬)

it's funny music it brings back the strangest memories, I remember who first introduced me to Robert Miles it was Brannan my mate from up in Leeds he gave it to me as a birthday present quite a few years ago now ( I don't think my ex wife and I even had a CD player at the time that's how long ago it was) it's a funny old world, I bumped into him on Facebook and we caught up with each other, he seems to be doing very well for himself, and good luck to him he worked hard enough for it along with his brother, I think he is in business with a company doing eco furniture or something now, who would have thought eh ?... anyway I digress, it's funny the memories music can dredge up, I was listening to the track "Children" from the same album and it took me right back to taking my daughters to school and my eldest always wanted to play it at full volume (or was it me ?) and we used to jump about when it got to the good bit about half way through, it made me smile but at the same time it made me sad, because it's just a memory nothing more.....

anyway stuff to do still got things to get done before Mein Führer gets home....... besides it's so loud in here I may well just go deaf, plus the pictures I have on the wall of my daughters are jumping about so I had better turn it down before the hamster dies of sonic shock :)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Well it didn't happen.....

But apparently it doesn't get switched to full power until October so a reprieve .... ;¬)

it's a bit mad really people are still talking about it and how some parents had terrible trouble calming their kids down because they thought it was going to be the end of the world... but there you go that's the power of the media, it's even influencing kids in primary school !! definitely a bad thing in my book..

The only other good news over and above not being sucked into a micro black hole is that Gordon Brown's leadership is looking a bit shaky at the moment, there are rumours of him being deposed in a "Et tu, Brute?" leadership challenge which seems to be gathering momentum amongst the cheap seats of the Labour party, I've got to be honest he was never elected anyway and he reminded me of some second rate understudy of Tony Blair waiting in the wings for his chance....not that Tony did us any good either !!! but I've never really been a fan of politics, they are a necessary evil but I try not to get too upset about who gets in, they are all as bad as each other once they have been in power for a few years, all promises and no substance, a bit like the help with insulating your homes, it's all a bit pointless this winter because there is a 6 month waiting list to get it done, by the time most pensioners get to the top of the list they will have to be chipped out of their Parker Knowles chairs !!

Lets hope it isn't a really bad winter because a lot of people are feeling the squeeze this year, there simply isn't enough salary at the end of the month any more :(

living and working abroad is looking more and more enticing, although there is little chance of it happening with us .... at this moment in time anyway.....

Money is definitely tight, and to quote a Simply Red lyric "too tight to mention" ... however..... it didn't help any, forking out for the kids to see their father down in Plymouth because he had car trouble it's been promised to be paid back but there is a mysterious silence, lack of contact and a definite lack of payment since, Well Andrea and I have said it won't be happening again, if the cash isn't up front they simply don't go until it is, we simply cannot afford to do it, and that isn't vindictiveness it's just fact !!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

My 201st post and maybe my last....

That is if we are to believe the media hype about the Large Hadron Collider @ CERN..... yes tomorrow they wind it up and turn it on, so we may all be sucked into a microscopic black hole originating somewhere in or around Switzerland :) cool !!!

I have found a rather amusing video from non other than CERN

I thought explained it rather better than I could, it made me laugh anyway :) what worried me was that one of the people awaiting results from the LHC is none other than Brian Cox !! the keyboard player from D:Ream turned physicist..... oh well "Things can only get better" I guess otherwise he will remain "Unforgiven" but as long as he doesn't "Blame it on me" everything will be ok in my world ( I think that about covers D:Ream's entire back catalogue ;¬)

anyway if you see a blog post tomorrow ...... the black hole didn't happen and I'm drinking coffee at work changing a password for some idiot who forgot his password two days ago even though he wrote it on his hand in biro..... sheesh

Oh and I've just remembered it's my ex wife's birthday today she was born on the 9th September 1960 (Bloody hell she is 48 years young today !!!) I always said if I ever traded her in it would be for a younger model ......well if you have tuned in Deborah Happy birthday and don't choke on your birthday cake.... :) or burn down the house with the veritable forest of candles ;¬) although I've heard you are good at blowing so the fire brigade probably won't be needed...... :) I won't bother sending you a humorous birthday card this year for two reasons but mainly because it's a case of mind over matter.......

A) I don't mind
B) You don't matter

(the really bright people will have noticed that I finished on a carefully crafted LHC pun)


Sunday, 31 August 2008

Hnnnerrrr Huerrrrr naahhhhhhh burrrrrrrrrr (hear that.... that's your blog that is)

Sorry private joke that only four people will appreciate :¬)

well we are back from our jollies from darkest north Wales, I have to say it was a lovely time up there, the weather was not the best it could have been, the first night Shell Island was full to bursting so we had to con our way into another camp site which was also full but by thrusting a 10 month old baby at the camp-site owner he let us on, and can I just say it was THE most uncomfortable night I have spent in a long time, Freya was in one compartment of our four man tent, the girls in another and Andrea and I and the shadow boy slept on the hard floor, the weather was terrible it rained constantly and spirits were none too high by the next morning as I drove off to Shell island to wait with all the other hopefuls to get on the camp-site.

Well after a 6am start I got there by 7:00pm ish, and was greeted by the biggest bunch of chavs you have ever met (sorry no other word describes them) they were even drinking vodka and red bull at 7:00am in the morning !!!...

One particular Chav made me turn my head to look at her, because she had practically the identical accent and vocal characteristics and laugh of my ex wife, I actually dismissed it was her even before I clapped eyes on her, she wouldn't be seen dead anywhere you could be seen having fun (especially with the lower classes) .....;¬) anyway it didn't bother me that much because I knew we would be camping way way way out from Chav central on the dunes.... I got back to our bolt hole and we started to pack everything up and drove onto the island, we eventually found a lovely pitch not very far from where we camped two years ago, and I was pleased the sun had come out it was quite hot that day I even burnt my skin a little ....(yes we forgot to pack the sun screen)

Chris and Donna turned up later that day, and I was immediately offered a bowl of terrier dog sick through the open car window...... poor Holly she doesn't do car travel... anyway after us spending three hours setting up our tents Chris and Donna arrived with their whole camping experience tucked away in the boot of their car, Chris took great delight in throwing two pop up tents out which self erected in less than a couple of seconds, I on the other hand had been expecting them to bring their conventional tent, I would have enjoyed quaffing a beer quietly watching their marriage disintegrate before my very eyes as they argued about which bit went where ;¬) but alas that simple pleasure was taken from me.... :(

but then it happened, within less than an hour Chris had started rearranging the furniture or in this case the wind breaks, and he was pulling out a wind break when it suddenly came out and jabbed him in the chest, by the looks of it he had tried to stake himself through the heart Van Helsing style but with the blunt end of the stake (anything but camping please!!!) ... but in true Chris form he only managed to break a rib !!! he didn't find that bit out till he got home....(oh how I laughed and laughed.... ;¬) ) we had a good night in the Chav central pub, Andrea sang and was surprisingly good and there were also quite a few others who were unsurprisingly bad.....there was even a Queen song which was so badly murdered it prompted the title of this blog entry.....One thing about Chris he always makes me laugh even in the most ridiculous situations, that's probably why he is such a good friend..... anyway Chris and Donna only stayed a couple of days and they left the hardcore camping to Mr and Mrs Die Harder, I have to say the weather improved markedly after they left, the dark clouds followed them back to Greenfields.....thankfully ;¬)

Seriously though it was great seeing them all (yes even Holly (the puke) terrier) but shadow boy sank into a deep depression after Oscar, Terion (sp) and Finlay (the dark destroyer) left, he was left with no choice but to follow us around again like a shadow which he is so good at.....

I finally managed to get Andrea to Portmerion for the day, shadow boy was none too impressed, but Andrea loved it, it is a very quirky place if a bit expensive to get into, it was topped off by Shadow boy losing his £10 pocket money moments after being given it, I went back and retraced our steps but I was pretty resigned to the fact that it had gone... probably before it even hit the floor .... I miraculously found another (planted) £10 note in the bag, Andrea thought she had pulled the wool over my eyes.... but I wasn't born yesterday.

We also went to Pete's eats in Llanberis (I recommend that place) and treated ourselves to one of their monster meals, shadow boy reckoned he could eat it all, he didn't, in fact he failed miserably, Andrea however managed to put away a bacon baguette which probably had half a pig farm sliced up in it, we left and then booked ourselves into "Electric Mountain" and had a really interesting underground tour of the Hydro Power station there hidden in the mountain, Freya meanwhile tired herself out in a massive ball pool at the place, we had no trouble getting her to sleep that night.... not that we ever do ;¬)

Nothing much else happened really on our holiday it all went very nicely, we had a bit of rain, but it was mostly warm, my stepdaughter spent most of her time with her friend Kizzie hanging around the games rooms they had there, neither of them caused any trouble, nothing was burned to the ground, and the only real time any bother happened is when my stepdaughter had to be woken up for her EARLY morning train back (I say early it was 10:28am..... but that's practically before dawn for my stepdaughter), I ended up threatening to take the tent down around her unless she got out of her sleeping bag, I wasn't actually threatening..... I mean't it ;¬)

They eventually made it to the train station and on time and I waved them off, I got back to the campsite and we packed everything up in the Terrano, it's amazing it all fitted to be honest, but Andrea could fit a square peg in a round hole she simply doesn't give up :) I on the other hand was waiting for the Terrano windows to blow out under pressure......but anyway I digress, in true Brabrook style the Terrano blew it's exhaust on the way back so we sounded like an advancing Russian tank division as we roared our way through the various small towns and villages on the way, I got it fixed at the beginning of the week..... another £134 thrown at it !!! :(

happy holidays :)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Day One (said in a Geordie accent) of my holiday

And the rain is relentless, in the brief periods we have between rainfall, we have wind, and yesterday we had a whole 10 minutes of bright sunshine... ahhh well that's summer over then for another year !! Thanks Mr Brockway !! .....

We are off to the swimming pool today in Carmarthen, well why not it's wet outside may as well get wet inside as well !!! we are taking Freya into the pool for the first time, hopefully she will enjoy it otherwise it will be the shortest dip in the pool ever, her elder brother is manically excited about going to the pool, but fair do's he hasn't really done much so far this school holiday except shadow us and generally go wherever we go.....he's driving us nuts but he does have his redeeming features like he helps around the house, which is more than can be said of his elder sister or brother..... so I guess we have to let him off ;¬)

I've just had the doctor ring and confirm that I have a rotor cuff injury in my right shoulder, the prognosis is ok-ish.... it's not marvellous, I will probably have trouble with it for many months to come, basically the tendons which attach to my shoulder are inflamed through injury (Aikido) and won't slide through the rotor cuff smoothly causing pain (quite considerable at times) but I guess with getting older you have to expect that your body just simply doesn't do what it used to without complaining at you ....ho hum :( I guess the important thing is I have have to keep it moving and take Ibuprofen when it flares up.... pass me my pipe and zimmer frame and slippers .... my life is over ....again....

I'm not missing work in the slightest, it's quite a relief not having to decipher various Indians talking to me in various accents.....asking me about my job, they can figure it out for themselves whilst I'm away, it will give them a taste of things to come.... it will end in tears, there are too many things they simply cannot know about, all the chewing gum and string and scripts keeping things running smoothly, it's a bit like an old engine the Corus network it needs constant care and attention or it stalls and refuses to start again, unless you know where to kick it and more importantly how to kick it, but that's experience not knowledge and you can't learn experience, you have to do it....

..... a few hours later :)

Well Freya absolutely loved the pool, she was a bit "OMG what are you putting me through" initially but that only lasted a few seconds then she simply couldn't be stopped, she was staring at all the people jumping around and splashing and even cracked a smile in between being mesmerised by all the activity..... she even enjoyed being sat on the edge of the pool and jumping into our arms !!! it was a fantastic time, we got home and both Andrea and Freya dropped off to sleep, whilst I watched "The Nuremberg trials" on UK TV History, nothing like topping off your day with a good documentary about the Nazi's eh ? especially in this lovely weather ;¬)

Friday, 15 August 2008

More Cheese Gromit ?

The Pug is running sweeeeeeet now :)

My previous estimate of how long the old bearings would last was way out in fact a few days later they gave up the ghost and I was forced to rip them out and put the new ones in, I became suspicious of them whilst driving home and this really nasty burning smell invaded the car, I pulled over on the lay-by near Cross Hands and sure enough the drivers side front wheel was very nearly glowing and gently smoking, confirmed by me stupidly touching the drive shaft followed by the sizzle of human flesh..... so I limped home at 30mph, which seemed to upset quite a few road users, it's amazing how many people point out there is something wrong with your car whilst driving at 30mph, the amount of people that madly gestured that something was wrong with the front drivers side wheel as they pointed downwards at my wheel like demented chimpanzee's.... do you know I hadn't noticed .... idiot !!! I usually drive at 30 mph on a dual carriageway dontchaknow ????

Anyway the job was done quick smart it took just over an hour to take both hubs off I whisked them down to my friendly garage near St Clears and pressed out the knackered bearings then pressed the new ones in, all told from removing the hubs to pressing in the new ones about 2 hours work ish.

the difference was noticeable immediately, plus I found out that the probable reason for the bearing failure was my inability to tighten the hub nuts up to the required 280 Newtons on a torque wrench, for a start the torque wrench I had didn't go up that far it only went up to 150 Newtons, The guy in the garage told me that to tighten up a hub nut to 280 Newtons would require a 6 foot scaffolding tube attaching to the wrench to exert that kind of pressure.... but I'm dubious that was the reason, after looking on various forums I found quite a few disgruntled Pug 205 owners who had used GSF Motor Factors for the very same bearings and they too had experienced failures in them in some cases as low as 2000 miles after fitting them !! so who knows eh ? Ohhh I also replaced the front brake pads @ £14.99 one of them was worn down to the metal, so I had to take the Bendix calliper off and free the sliding tubes, they've been put back in now with a mixture of Copper grease and PTFE hopefully that will be the end of it....famous last words I think. The main benefit is you can actually hear the radio/CD player even at low volumes now so all is right with my world :) .... oh and the quickest way to get ingrained oil out from under your finger nails is to soak them in washing powder solution for about 5 minutes then use an old head on your electric toothbrush.... brilliant and job done in less than 2 minutes :) (must remember to change it back ;¬) )

I'm on holiday as of tonight for two weeks, I'm really looking forward to it to be honest, work has been an utter drag of late we have had a contingent of Indians across from Mumbai and some guys from Rotherham and I have been teaching them my job, it's a bit of a slap in the face to be honest it's bad enough being told that your job has gone to India but then to actually have to train the people who are going to be doing your job in the near future is a bit off if you ask me....

Ffion is coming across tonight with her current boyfriend who happens to be an International DJ who has played in Russia and various other places such as Ibiza at most of the top spots and has quite a following apparently, it wouldn't be fair to say who he is, but suffice to say it's not Tiesto or Fat boy slim, or sadly Sister Bliss... but one of the less well known ones, it will be nice to get to know him and find out a bit more about him, Ffion is going to dye Andrea's hair and we are going to have a few drinks to boot, and generally iron out the plans for her coming camping with us to North Wales, which she is stupidly excited about.... it "should" be a blast as my mate Chris and Donna and their kids are coming too !!!

I'm getting quite excited about it to be honest, it may of course end up a complete disaster due to weather and the fact that Freya is coming with us (of course) I should imagine it will be really tiring trying to stop Freya putting anything and everything in her mouth that she might find on the floor including rabbit poo, which there was a lot of the last time we went, and no doubt she will taste the sand (once) and possibly the sea (once) ...... basically she is crawling like a beetle at the moment nothing stops her except lifting her off the ground to turn her around and even then her legs and arms still flail about, she is such a lovely girl though, no real trouble, very placid and smiley and screeches with delight when amused which is most of the time, although she can't be trusted with FiFi the kitten yet, the last time she got hold of her she tried to wave the kitten above her head by the scruff of it's neck, so the Kitten is just a tad wary of old Freya at the moment..... the only other development besides wanting to walk everywhere aided or unaided, the latter of which she usually falls flat on her back, is that she is currently being called "Wallace" because she pulls the strangest face when she is annoyed... quite funny really.... a practically square shaped mouth and a wrinkled brow (see picture above) that's about the same face but with less teeth, she usually smiles afterwards once she realises we are looking at her and usually laughing.... :)

anyway nothing more to report really, I'll come back to this blog probably after the holidays or maybe before that if anything really exciting happens :)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

We are back in Dresden.....again.....

Well the Pug passed it's MOT as you know, but since then the front wheel bearings have upped the anti and are starting to sound like the distant approach of the RAF in 1942, it's been getting louder and even I am getting a little worried driving it now, I should imagine they will last for at least another month but I'm not taking any chances. So yesterday I went to Val's Motor factors in Carmarthen and picked up a new set of bearings for the old girl @ £20 EACH !! these do look a bit more substantial than the £8.50 Ryobi ones from GSF in Swansea and they don't have a bit of nylon or plastic on them, plus they weigh in at nearly twice the weight so I suspect they have used metal ball bearings in them instead of the chalk ones in it now :) .... hopefully they will last one hell of a lot longer, you only have to look down my blog to find out when I replaced the other ones for the frankly disappointing bearings made by Tonka Toys, I'm not looking forward to doing it, it's not that it's technically hard or anything it's just a royal pain in the backside doing it again.... so bloody soon !!!

I did laugh at Val's though he is a bit condescending the guy who serves you and grates on you a bit offering his sage advice, he did ask me

"How did you put the old ones in ? with a hammer or with a hydraulic press, funny they failed so quick.... izzenit ?" ...

I couldn't resist and said "Well it was a 5lb lump hammer actually...." ....

"OH my GAWD you didn't put them in with a lump hammer did you mun ?" ......

"No I was joking they were put in with a 50 ton hydraulic press....properly"....

"ahhhh but did you use some oil to lubricate the outside surfaces before pressing them in, only on the outside ring though mun ?"

"Damn .....that's where I went wrong I rubbed them in the dirt outside first, of course I used some oil"

"you jokin innit mun, aiiii, hmmmmm strange that then innit they have gone so quickly usually they last fo'ever init though mun...."

"Not really they cost £8.50 each and were made by Ryobi and were basically crap !!"

"ahhh see now we don't do Ryobi bearings, shoulda said mun, they're crap VECO and Koyo we do init mun ..... brilliant !! " .....

"how much would you charge to use your hydraulic press ?"

"Ahhh see now mun, health and safety and insurance don't cover it, but £30 and we'll do it properly for"

"No you're ok I'll go to where I got them pressed in before..... cheaper !!"

I paid my money and left.... I only have a week left in work before my summer (pah that's a laugh) jollies start, so no doubt next weekend I will be black as the ace of spades and cursing the b'jesus out of the Pug, mind you the front hubs have been taken off so many times since we bought it they probably respond to voice command by now, oh that reminds me I have to change the brake pads as well one of them is down to the metal or very nearly.....oh joy is me

ps/ weather is bloody awful .....August my ar......mpit !!!