Sunday, 26 December 2010

Well.....

That's Christmas out of the way again.... I was rather shocked and surprised that Andrea had bought me a 19" wide-screen TFT after my near death repair experience with my old Dell 17" monitor (which is working perfectly now I might add) .... but the new 19" wide-screen is very nice I must say....

Fomo boy got a brand new bike complete with front and back suspension and an adult sized cycle helmet after his face skidding exercise outside the Laugharne doctors surgery on his old bike... amongst some other trinkets such as a fusball table (sp) etc etc...
The sullen one got a Nikon S3000 camera as advertised on "Hollyoaks" well done that ad man it worked....

Xbox boy got a Samsung ES74 digital camera as his main present which he seemed pleased with...

Andrea got a necklace and bracelet and a scarf from me (how bad do I feel after opening a 19" wide screen TFT monitor ???) Ahhhh well we hadn't discussed ground rules.... fatal I guess

I'm currently recovering from a VERY nasty cough/man flu/pig flu episode, I'm even on the red smarties from the doctors to knock a chest infection on the head ... I think it's working time will tell .... needless to say I'm not getting much sleep and last night I spent the best part of the night sitting up in a chair as that seemed to reduce the incessant nocturnal coughing.... Normally I would have gone downstairs but my father in law and mother in law were struggling with a slowly deflating air bed in the front room at temperatures more akin to the Arctic than South Wales....

However we did have a very good Christmas dinner which went down very well with all that attended and it was washed down with copious amounts of wine and beer... although I didn't partake that much being prone to retching/coughing fits that seemed to drag on forever....

No arguments or disagreements overall ... things went rather well and harmoniously.... 


The only blip to the proceedings was Andrea's ex doing his usual last minute arsery at Christmas time insisting that several hundred answer phone messages had been left on our "blank" answer-phone  and Andrea's mobile and that apparently the "expensive" annual drop off at Gordano services had been arranged months ago.... (not)..... as usual it was last minute and totally unacceptable considering we had guests arriving for Christmas.

It was made worse by Andrea's ex's new woman (follow me ?) texting the sullen one and saying how unreasonable Andrea was being about not wanting to fork out £££'s so that her ex could see his kids....That did grind a bit and it's blatantly obvious that his new woman is being fed one line and his kids another....There are no secrets in our house everybody is fully aware of how things are and have been from the start and he isn't doing himself any favours with the kids.... there is no wool being pulled over any eyes.... whatsoever.....

To be perfectly honest I'm quite a bit fed up of all this pussy footing around,  I've always been very much tell it like it is...... I have no beef with her ex wanting to see his kids, in fact I actively encourage it, I would be the VERY LAST person to stand in his way as would Andrea......... and I wish I had the opportunities he's had.....but I don't see why we are some how seemingly and erroneously on his part duty bound to fork out any cash for him to see his kids....

That is his responsibility not ours..... We pay for everything else they require and need for the remaining 360 odd days they are with us, with bugger all NO financial burden upon him whatsoever, I suppose if he was paying any maintenance then we might be more "agreeable" to sharing petrol costs..... but as it stands ....no....simply no.....not happening....We have enough outgoings without adding to them and especially for someone else’s benefit.

I can see the day that if he carries on pulling arsery/stunts like this that things will be a changing.....He's lucky the CSA haven't got him in their sights ... but that's probably because his ex wife isn't as deranged  draconian as mine.... and she managed to get the house for a knock down price, the kids and several thousand pounds via the CSA.

but he's pressing ALL of the wrong buttons at the moment....


Anyway ......


Happy Christmas !!! :)

Monday, 13 December 2010

This has truly shocked me

Tesco and a few other big retailers have been selling Halal meat without telling the public, all of Tesco's New Zealand lamb has been slaughtered following the Muslim method which is as follows :-

"According to Islamic tradition, the animal is brought to the place of slaughter and laid down gently so as to not injure it. The blade must be kept hidden until the very last moment while the jugular of the animal is felt. The conventional method used to slaughter the animal involves cutting the large arteries in the neck along with the oesophagus and vertebrate trachea with one swipe of an non-serrated blade. Care must be taken that the nervous system is not damaged, as this may cause the animal to die before exsanguination has taken place. While blood is draining, the animal is not handled until it has died. If any other method is used its meat will not be halal."

Disturbing video showing how inhumane halal prepared meat is

(don't watch it if you have a weak stomach .....seriously ... don't)

Now I know halal slaughtering is allowed in this country to satisfy the Muslim beliefs but personally I know it's not a very humane way to kill an animal, it will be conscious through the whole process until it's brain is starved of oxygen via the massive loss of blood.

That said what the hell does Tesco and the other supermarkets think they are doing selling Halal meat to non Muslims when ALL of their New Zealand lamb is slaughtered using this method but has not been labelled as halal ??? I'm sure if the general public knew that all of their Lamb was "halal" and how it was slaughtered their sales would slump.... apparently one third of their chickens are also halal....


You can be sure that the Pork is most definitely ok though ;¬)

First off I'm 100% Atheist and I wouldn't want any of the meat I buy blessed to Allah or any other God, but what I find completely outrageous is that ALL New Zealand Lamb at Tesco's is halal !!!

Christians in particular would be horrified to know this because they aren't allowed to eat any offerings to other God's 

It's true animals are bred for food and as such we have a duty to at least give them a dignified and painless death without them thrashing around on the floor whilst their terrified heart pumps their entire circulatory system over the floor until they lapse into unconsciousness ....

I for one will not be buying Tesco's or any other supermarket's lamb until the EU labelling comes into force forcing them to label halal meat as such...

I'm not anti Islamic at all there is enough room on this planet for everybody Christians/Atheists/Agnostics/Muslims/Buddhists .... I do however take offence when I and probably many others are misled like this and not given a choice in the matter !!!

Christmas is looming (again)

I'm not generally known for my enthusiasm for Christmas in fact what makes it worse is that it's hyped up to be Jesus's birthday when in fact it's nothing of the sort. It was a pagan festival which was hijacked by the Christian religion of times gone by so that it would be more readily accepted by the heathens of yesteryear....

Now I'm not denying that a bloke called Jesus existed because he did according to Roman history but I simply do not believe he was the son of a god, I think he was an ordinary bloke who had a bit of a god delusion going on....I cannot understand why Christians get so excited by Christmas when they must know that Jesus was born in or around July...

If it's symbolic then fair enough but then how much else of the Christian faith is purely symbolic and how much of it is actually based on hard facts... Ahhhh don't get me started ... I'm suffering from pre-Christmas stress syndrome.... where everybody runs around manically buying presents for each other which will sit in a cupboard or drawer and not see the light of day until they visit several months later....

I'm not a fan of Christmas, never really have been... but Freya will enjoy it as will the other kids/teens I'm sure and I certainly won't pour water on their fun.... :)

so onward and upward to celebrate this most British of traditions of excess and waste :)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Near death experience

Well ok slightly exaggerated there, but close... I'm composing this on my Dell 17" monitor which "used" to have the annoying habit of it's raster (screen) collapsing to a rather funky )  ( sort of shape... I knew what was causing it because a well aimed thump on the top of the monitor cured it for either a few hours or a few minutes.... but it was getting progressively worse as the months have been dragging on .....Sometimes it was like playing the Dell monitor bongo's at times trying to keep the screen from what was rapidly becoming it's natural state of  )  (  
So eventually I had my "Right that's it" Basil Fawlty moment and decided to take it apart and resolder the offending bad/dry joint....

All well and good I thought until I removed the several hundred self tapping screws that kept the back of the monitor on and I opened up the monitor to reveal a monitor made by the now defunct Russian Lada factory.... the whole circuit board was encased in a metal shroud made from second hand razor wire from the Inner German Border fence... so after slashing my finger within the first two minutes I wasn't holding much hope out of being able to take this Philips made monitor apart.... 

Eventually I figured out what I needed to pull apart and did so disconnecting about 15 or 20 leads... Eventually I had the back of the board in front of me and I started inspecting it for the tell tale ring of solder around the larger joints... I've got to be honest I couldn't see any.... switching it on was a no no because I had disconnected so much of it to get to the back of the board... so the only thing I could do was solder everything that looked a "bit" dodgy....

Now I'm a trained electronics bench engineer and I have repaired so many of these old CRT's that I could at a push do it blindfolded and that's where complacency creeps in... You are "meant" to discharge the anode of the CRT (it's the big rubber sucker device you see on the back of the tube) by taking a hefty screwdriver and attaching a equally hefty piece of wire to the metal of the screwdriver then you attach the wire to the chassis and slip the tip of the screwdriver under the anode cap.... as soon as the screwdriver tip comes to within arcing distance there is this big flash and bang and the CRT tube is discharged and safe to work with... 

I skipped this step thinking "well I won't touch anything I shouldn't so I'll be fine" ..... mistake number one !!!

I moved around the board with the soldering iron making sure the iron touched the board first in case of any latent electricity then I would touch the solder to the part I wanted to re-solder .... I got quicker and quicker until eventually I got it the wrong way around solder first then the iron... unfortunately for me it happened to be one of the only ones that was carrying the full 35,000 volts off the anode cap... The flash was quite spectacular for the instant my brain had to compute what had happened the next instant can only be described as being hit by a freight train at 50 mph and finding myself half way across the floor....35,000 volts through the arm is quite probably the most refreshing experience anybody can have..... it certainly wakes you up...

Luckily for me I don't have a defective heart.... as I found out in 2002 when I was submitted to the hospital with a suspected heart attack...(yes I drove myself there whilst my ex stayed at home....caring individual as she was) it turned out my heart was fine and the only thing defective was my ex wife...which was solved later that year..... I had just suffered a panic attack....

Anyway I digress I pulled myself together and carried on re-soldering cursing myself for not discharging the CRT... and eventually I got the monitor back to together and it has stopped doing it's funky )  ( dance and I no longer have to play the bongo's on the top of it.... So result.....

The moral of the story is :- No matter how good you are at doing something never take any short cuts because it will come back and bite you on the arse

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Anthropogenic Global Warming Cult




Or in fact any global warming zealot, they are not dissimilar in their strength of belief to that of any devout religious person...In that it simply doesn't matter how much evidence there is against them, they still continue to believe blindly .... but I guess that is faith for you, you can't counter it with science no matter how overwhelming it is ....
 
I've been reading some comments on Richard Blacks Blog on the BBC and although I don't agree with him I have to admit I love reading the comments other people are putting on there.... they are hilarious.
It is almost as if AGW/GW is a new cult where complete belief is required or quite simply you are a denier, a blasphemer, a person willing to strip mine all of the national parks for their coal,oil and gas reserves... and/or murder future generations of children.....and a few polar bears thrown in for good measure.....

It seems now that their previous computer models were wrong and for the past 15 years there has been no discernible increase in global temperatures, well nothing that would tie in with the famous hockey stick, even some of the hottest media zealot scientists whose bread has been amply buttered on both sides since this latest green scare reared it's ugly head are starting to admit, that the climate isn't behaving in the way they have predicted and that they cannot explain why the Earth's climate simply isn't heating up....





Even the IPCC have given guidelines that any computer model must be able to predict our current climate accurately and be peer reviewed before it's output will be accepted for climate predictions in the future.... So at last it seems that a little sense is prevailing rather than the hysteria of "We are all going to die, and all the puppies are going to drown because of rising sea levels"


I failed to get excited about AGW, no doubt man has had an impact on the climate but I think some of us think far too much of our importance when it comes to how the Earth naturally manages our climate and has done since the Earth has had a climate...

Meanwhile I'll continue chuckling at the zealots... some of them are hilarious ... meanwhile I have to pour boiling water over my 47Kg Calor Gas bottle so we can cook because it's so bloody cold this winter....

and finally ...... It used to be only the likes of Monty Python who could rip the urine out of political hot potatoes. but now it seems anybody can do it... and rather well ... :)






Monday, 6 December 2010

The cost of keeping warm

We had our delivery of oil the other day, well I say the other day it was about 2 weeks ago now... and we've had a belter of a cold snap with temperatures hitting record lows around the country.... needless to say our boiler has been on quite a bit...and that has just about kept us from freezing.... I was more than a bit shocked when testing to see how much oil we had consumed when I pulled out the sight valve to see the oil level drop by half IN TWO WEEKS !!!


At this rate we will need a refill at the end of the month and oil prices have sky rocketed so that will be a welcome bill right about Christmas time...NOT !! All we can hope is that this nasty cold snap will pass and our boiler can ramp down from its current ravenous consumption of heating oil....

The only other notable event was my near death experience at 3am in the morning on the way back from dropping Andrea off at the station so she could attend a running event in Birmingham... So after waving her off at the station, I made my way back on the A40, I got about half way down the road when it just poured down with rain, at first I thought "brilliant!! it will melt all this ice and snow" but that thought soon melted away when I glanced down at the temperature readout on our car and it stated quite categorically that it was minus 6 degrees centigrade....

It was right about that moment that I noticed the back end of the car starting to drift gently, I quickly realised that I was driving at 55 - 60mph on black ice, and not just a "bit" of black ice either... the whole road was a sheet of black ice...I could see it freezing as I drove..... The temptation to slam on the brakes was so overpowering but I knew if I did then I would eventually come to an abrupt halt but probably against a tree or crash barrier and in a completely uncontrolled fashion....

So I gingerly danced with the car as it weaved from side to side making minute changes to my steering to correct the drift coaxing it in the general direction I wanted it to go....mainly I was trying to keep it in the middle and avoid the edges at all costs....... knowing full well if it went too far one way or the other it would be sayonara....and very probably painful....

If you could have traced my path down the dual carriageway it would have looked like a gentle diminishing sine wave....weaving from side to side .....unbelievably or maybe by pure chance I also managed to get it around a  bend in the road before my speed reduced naturally to a more sedate speed, not helped by the low friction road surface ...

My only comfort was another car on the other carriageway suffering the same terror.... we were separated by the crash barrier so no chance of impact with each other  and all I could see in the fleeting glimpse I had of the other driver was that he had an equally ashen white face and  the very same look of abject terror    written all over his face as he weaved past me jinking gently in the mist and rain with his hazard lights flashing...

I did think it's a bit late for that mate I've been skating for the past mile...I eventually got home driving at a sedate 20mph..... phew !!!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Welcome to gridlock Britain

I was in Carmarthen when the snow struck, and within 20 minutes Carmarthen was gridlocked.... It looks like our efficient county council hadn't gritted the roads they seem to have been taken by surprise.... or could it be a subtle hang back on the gritting front because there is worse to come ? .....

There's no disputing its been cold Powys has recorded it's lowest ever temperature last night of -18C .... that is cold, and I can confirm that it's bloody cold here in Laugharne so much so our brand new 47Kg bottle of gas froze solid the only thing I could do was pour boiling water over the cylinder until the pressure cranked back up then I gave it a nice towel overcoat to try and keep it's contents above freezing we shall see in the morning if that did the trick.....

Anyway this is all down to the cock eyed jet stream which has missed us yet again this winter and plunged us into unseasonable artic conditions.... I'm still waiting for this global warming malarkey to kick in so I can crack out my flip flops and shorts in November... Alas I think it might be a long wait....

It never ceases to amaze me how the UK is brought to its knees by a few flakes of snow

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Xbox boy done good

He's done his BARB test and has scored 75% which is brilliant his three choices are :-

Ammunition Technician
Amourer
Dog Handler/Trainer

I am immensely proud of him, it seems his life is finally snapping into place since dumping the girlfriend who controlled his every move...I think we can safely say she's history and somebody elses problem now and good riddance and of course don't bang your head on the way out of the door :)

Ammunition technician is a pretty dangerous job in civvy speak it's mainly bomb/munition disposal, but it also encompasses supply and safe destruction of ammunition, and he's been told that he won't actually be doing any bomb disposal for at least 18 months after training.... The recruitment staff at Army Careers said that not many make the choice of Ammunition technician ..... because of it's an increased risk occupation... but hat off to Stewart he's determined and if that is what he wants to do then it's not up to us to try and dissuade him.... and at the end of the day somebody has to do it....

It's far from written in stone yet but that is what he is wanting to do and it's his first choice so who knows, he has to get through selection first and he has to build up a bit of upper body strength and endurance, because the Army are only taking the cream of the crop these days. So roll on April 2011.... he'll be in his element and absolutely love it !!! :)

Immensely proud of him :)

As for the other ankle biters .....FOMO boy is due for an attitude adjustment course, which will entail bed by 9:30pm and complete banning of Xbox activities as he is starting to think he is bigger than his boots....He's been having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings and basically dawdling when doing anything, not to mention "forgetting" homework and seemingly muttering under his breath.....

We think he's under the impression that both of us were born yesterday.... where he's got that from I don't know because we are at least four steps ahead of him before he even thinks about doing anything remotely rebellious .... which must be frustrating for him ;¬)

You'd think he would have had a lightbulb moment by now.... but alas no.... I think it's a combination of Xbox exclusion syndrome characterised by the blank stare and twitching thumbs common in so many today...and I'm in Secondary School syndrome characterised by the classic "I know everything there is to know.....therefore I'm not listening to you"

He's also lost his coat because it's "SO NOT COOL" to wear one to school...it must therefore be "UBER COOL" to be drenched to the skin whilst in and outside school....because as everybody knows that's "JUST WAY COOL"

We'll see how cool it is once SS-ObergruppenFuherer D Brabrook and his second in command Oberstleutnant A Brabrook get to grips with him.... abandon hope all wannabe teenagers ... resistance is futile to coin a Borg phrase....

Friday, 19 November 2010

And life goes on...and on...and on

Xboxboy has decided to join the Army after dumping his ball and chain....sorry "girlfriend" ... I really hope he actually does it this time rather than think about it and fail to follow through..(that can be applied to both the Army and the Ex girlfriend)

The only advice I've given him is to go for a trade within the Army that can be used when he eventually joins civvy street rather than going in as a grunt... He seems keen this time, who knows..

He did say something rather funny in that he was commenting on how clean and tidy the barracks were on the DVD and were they all like that .... the penny dropped when I said "Yes they are, but who do you think cleans it ?"

Freya still has this amazing ability to melt both of our hearts sometimes, mainly with the crazy things her imagination comes out with and how she has moulded the English language to suit her.... such as the new english word "Willunt" which is her version of "Won't" She frequently has us in stitches, but that is probably down to living with three other siblings who are almost as barking mad as she is...

I've been married before, but I can honestly say I've never had this much fun or laughter in my entire life, having Freya and taking on three step children and a mad marathoning wife who "gets" me and who I can reduce to laughter in seconds and her me, has given me a new zest for life and I have to admit it is keeping me younger than my years.

like they say "life isn't a rehearsal.. enjoy it while you can"

Friday, 12 November 2010

Marmot

No not the small furry animal pictured to your left but the manufacturer of outdoors gear... I bought a rather expensive (£300 ish) all weather jacket a few years ago and I have to say it's been rather brilliant and it hasn't let me down once...not the slightest hint of wetness getting through.... 

I've only recently re-proofed it after it succumbed to the appalling marble sized hailstones and reservoir like rain up  in Llanberis (I say succumbed in reality the outer sleeves got wet but not on the inside)  for the Snowdonia Marathon...... but when I took it out of the tumble dryer I noticed the rubber sleeve straps had perished... they are still functional but it's only a matter of time before they snap and my cuffs on the jacket will flap around my wrists and when you're on top of a mountain (or indeed battling your way down the highstreet) the last thing you need is a draught up your sleeves ....

Anyway I decided to contact Marmot and see if they could do anything for me... I wasn't holding my breath but much to my surprise after an exchange of emails with a lovely woman called Stephanie and a few photographs describing my problem (for the exact same straps)... a few days later two straps and associated Velcro pads arrived which had been hacked off what looked like a brand new jacket !! (I would have been quite happy for them to send the entire jacket ;¬) )... I was gobsmacked at such brilliant customer service, especially on a jacket that must be knocking 4 or 5 years old...

I will certainly be buying Marmot in future :)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I despair...I really do

We asked the sullen one what she wanted for her christmas present on the way to work this morning....

She replied deadpan "A car.... a combined Christmas and Birthday present" she announced under her breath....

Andrea and I looked at each other briefly and both said in unison "A CAR??"

"Yes" replied the sullen one "it will motivate me to pass my driving test"

At this point Andrea said "You're being serious aren't you?"

"Yes" replied the sullen one "Why are you laughing at me"

I have to admit it was VERY hard not to laugh considering the cheapest decent car is about £500ish then on top of that insurance at well over £2000 possibly more considering she doesn't even have a provisional licence yet and can't until she's 17... then road tax of course.... Then of course you have driving lessons at £18 - £20 a pop...thereabouts....

Even if we were daft enough to get her a car for Christmas so that it could rust outside on the curb while she motivates herself until she passes her driving test.... she'd never be able to afford to run it, and we certainly wouldn't be putting petrol/diesel in it, or taxing it and definitely not insuring it....

We learnt our lesson with Xboxboy when we donated "Duran Duran" to him "whilst he learned to drive" it sat there for months the doors unopened, untouched by xboxboy... the only time it had human contact is when I went out to turn the engine over to keep the battery topped up... we sold it when we moved...and no, Xboxboy didn't get the money from it... if he had no interest in it previously then he had no interest in the cash it generated when sold.

It does make me wonder what school actually teaches them during school hours.... mind you apparently you can get a course in University about Lady Gaga.... So I have every reason to feel despair about this latest generation

Monday, 8 November 2010

Thar she blows....

The wind picked up a bit last night... well I say picked up it blew a gale more like so much so that our enclosed garden took a battering pushed a few chairs over and lifted our closed umbrella clean out of its holder and threw it down the alleyway and it's probably beyond economical repair now... ahhh well forces of nature etc...

Andrea has entered another race, I'm not sure which one they all seem to melt into each other these days, and I'm recovering from a short lived illness... although I think the medicine caused me more upset than the illness.... kill or cure probably !!!

We are starting to get the ridiculous Christmas present requests already ...mainly from FOMOboy who seems to have no idea of the value of money....and yes you've guessed it it's "another" games console he wants to add to his stockpile starting with his Xbox360(no longer working) his Nintendo Dsi (No longer working)...

In fact I think the only console he has that works is his old PS2... so he is jumping into Stewarts room at every opportunity to game on with his brothers Xbox360.... We've told him he isn't having an Xbox live subscription, we aren't letting him go down the same road Stewart did where his life revolves around it...we are determined to get some vitamin D into his sallow skin and break the habit before it starts....

If I had my way I'd chuck every games console we have in our house out into the bin and quite merrily watch them get crushed in the bin lorry... but then again I've never really seen the attraction of wasting hour upon hour of your life staring at pointless shoot-em-up games or any games come to think of it...whilst twitching my thumbs.... each to their own I guess....

The only other news is we ventured out to Manor Wildlife Park near Tenby and Freya encountered her first Wallaby (kangaroo to her) and various other exotics... overall there weren't that many animals in the place and the food in the cafe was extortionately priced ... but we would go back again..... I met Anna Ryder Richardson (the owner...ex changing rooms personality) ... she's much shorter than you'd imagine, but seems nice enough.... We'd go again but avoid the cafe.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Snowdonia Marathon 2010

Well Andrea completed the marathon in a very respectable 4 hours 28 minutes and I am immensely proud of her achievement and the dedication required to get a time like that on what has been called the toughest marathon in Europe !!

She is of course walking like somebody has taken a baseball bat to her legs.... but that will pass... she'll be out pounding the pavements and jumping into the bushes to avoid speeding cars in no time flat...

We stayed in a lovely cottage in Llanberis which had all mod cons and was considerably cheaper than the hotel we had booked... I'd tell you where it is but then I'd have to kill you..... so pointless ;¬)

I was supposed to be meeting up with my best mate Chris in Llanberis but he made a no show, with no reason... just didn't turn up... I supposed something more exciting turned up who knows... it did put a huge damper on the nights proceedings but things turned out ok in the end and a good time was had by all once enough wine and beer flowed in the right direction...

Highlights of the Marathon....

A) Being in awe of the fastest man at 2 hours 36 minutes
B) The cottage
C) The fabulous countryside
D) Pete's Eats

Lowlights of the Marathon....

A) The beer
B) The hailstones the size of marbles
C) The torrential rain (short lived)
D) Chris not bothering to turn up

Monday, 25 October 2010

Musca Domestica (bloody flies)

Yes I made the mistake of using Raid fly killer (tm) on a few flies which where re-enacting the battle of Britain in our bedroom... they were merrily battering themselves against our sky lights and each other so after being hit on the side of the head by a rather large bluebottle I thought the time had come to remove their genes from the fly genome using a good old fashioned aerosol poison....


Little did I know that the entire Luftwaffe and several squadrons of the RAF World War II re-enactment group were hiding in every crevice our bedroom affords, probably because our bedroom is at the very top of the house and any flying insect eventually ends up in our bedroom pointlessly battering itself against the glass of one of our skylights.....



Needless to say once the RAID got to them they came out coughing and buzzing in their hundreds..... it was carnage I was literally sweeping them up off the floor..... how we didn't notice them before is beyond me... maybe the cold in our rafters had immobilized them....

(I still rate DDT for it's knock down power after using some circa MOD 1969 issue in 1982 in our guardroom once and I've never seen flies drop like that in my entire life before .... or since.... no wonder they banned it if it killed flies that quickly .....)

Anyway getting back to the story .... "Ha Hahhhh" I thought "that got you ... all of you ....buzz no more you hideous little creatures...."

But no..... they had one last act of defiance before becoming a lifeless ex buzzy thing.... several squadrons managed to ditch their twitching bodies into our hot water header tank ... which when it was installed by the plumber did not have the tank cover put on the top.... in fact it was devoid of any kind of cover near it or placed remotely near it....


It gets worse.... much worse .......So several days later when I was running a nice relaxing bath for myself when I noticed black things wildly swirling about in my bath water..... on closer inspection I realised that those black things were in fact fly body parts...... legs, heads, wings, thorax's.....

I didn't have a bath that night.....unsurprisingly ..... I opted for a shower instead which isn't attached to the header tank (thankfully)


So today I've just spent the last 30 minutes draining the header tank out ,fishing out the remaining dead flies scrubbing the inside of the tank out and pouring enough bleach in it to turn the black hole at the centre of our galaxy white......

The tank now has a cover on it so any further mass genocides will remain outside of my bath water...... 

Shudder....

Bloody cowboy builders...... sheesh

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The girl hits the big THREE !!

Well it seems like only five minutes ago she was learning to walk and talk and now we seem to have a girl who is all grown up.... Time marches on as they say .... 

She had an absolute blast at her birthday party, my parents attended along with Niki and Justin with their kids .... Andrea slaved over the food for hours and overall it was a very enjoyable day... We bought her an enormous dolls house complete with wooden furniture which she has been playing with quite a bit since yesterday... she has such an imagination.. and has us falling about laughing most of the time and she knows we're laughing at what she says not her... she's a bright spark Freya....

Andrea is getting a bit jittery about the Snowdonia Marathon.... 


As for me I'm getting a bit jittery about leaving two teenagers alone in the house for three days..... God knows what we will come back to but I will actually go off my nut if anything is broken/damaged/trashed.....I will of course be equally displeased if the house is a mess.....
 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I don't know about you..... but


It's a tad worrying this latest cost cutting scythe that has sliced through the MOD here in the UK.... I'm fully aware that savings have to be made but to decommission the Ark Royal after only 25 years of service ???? 

Which means it leaves only HMS Illustrious and HMS Invincible  as aircraft carriers... but there isn't much point in having Aircraft carriers when the Government are also ditching the Harriers we have as well ....


Of course it didn't start with the new government it started way back when Labour got in power, as you can see above  (click the table above to enlarge) it's been quietly selling off war ships to other nations and pocketing the cash... I doubt Ark Royal will be sent to a breakers yard...

More like it will be re-badged and be sailing under another countries flag.... Britain seems to be turning into the Car booters of Europe when it comes to military hardware.... likewise 100 ex British Army battle tanks and several hundred (possibly thousand) artillery pieces will probably be sunning themselves in Saudi Arabia before the end of next year....with a nice KERCHING from the Government..... 

it makes you think when HMS Victory ( a Royal Navy wooden war ship launched in 1765) saw service..... she lasted for 40 years before she was decommissioned.... a wooden ship outlasting a modern aircraft carrier ???? surely not ......

Anybody want to invade us ? we've left the latch off the back door.... come on in......

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Teenage Angst & Whatever

We've had some ructions in this house of late that have wobbled the time & space continuum and quite possibly cracked the timeline of existence .....

Or to put it another way both Xbox boy and his sister have broken up with their respective boyfriend/girlfriend...I suspected it might have been something to do with increased solar activity or possibly a change of water or some lunar influence that triggered the double whammy on the same day... but nothing really fits ........

I suppose when you're 16 - 18 it can feel like the world has come crashing around your ears and they lack the clarity of experience not to mention the realisation that it's not really the end of the world... I won't go into specifics because that's not really fair on them and neither would I want to go into any detail here on my blog.... it's their life and sometimes taking a few hard knocks is good for you ......That said all we can hope for is that lessons have been learnt and that they won't go down that road again.... Alas I fear that won't be the case.... most teenagers seem to like the feeling of banging their head off the wall.... personally if something hurts .... stop doing it.....

Time will tell...... providing it hasn't been cracked by teenage angst

Destiny is a funny thing, when you get there...... you can't really blame somebody else, if you've let them drive......

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The wonders of ebay

I noticed our bonnet badge had taken a few high speed impacts with either stone chips or some very hard headed insects, needless to say the veneer over the top of the badge had cracked, then let in water and then had obviously frozen the water and cracked open even more and has basically split off large chunks of the badge... so much so it's almost a white circle on the bonnet...

So no problem I thought I'll find out how much a BMW badge is at the local BMW emporium...."NO that can't be right !!! £25 !!! after nearly spitting my coffee over the screen and keyboard I fell back to the old faithful ebay...

I found a much more wallet friendly one at £2.50 !!
 
Spot the difference ?
OK it's made in Taiwan but it looks the part and apparently you'd be hard pressed even with close examination to tell the difference between a genuine one and a copy.... and lets face it, it's not performing a vital function to do with car safety or driving experience it's purely there for a finishing touch...What I do care about is not filling up BMW's coffers with our cash for a tiny "genuine" approved badge which "might" last as long as the copy....

All I need to do now is get it booked in for an oil service and have the intermittent ABS sorted out and it's good to go. I have to admit I've never really been a fan of BMW's they tend to be driven by idiots...but I guess I'm a BMW idiot now because I love it... it sticks to the road like no other car I've had, the only complaint I do have is that it's a bit heavy on fuel if you drive it a bit urgently or go over 65mph but then I've been used to driving "Duran Duran" around which barely had an engine to speak of and only needed the barest of petrol fumes to run

Friday, 1 October 2010

Beauty and the Beast


I'll probably get sued for this but I'd like to introduce my estranged daughter Emma....(The Beauty) Hey who knows we might even get to see each other in court..... well worth it !!! (The Beast)


She's studying for her BA in Photography and I have to say judging by the pictures I've seen thus far, she is a very talented young lady. I've been following her for some time on the internet and was delighted when she started a blog to showcase her idea's and photography talents. I wish her all the very best in her chosen career.

I know what she thinks of me, and I can't change that .... neither would I want to... it's something that she herself will have to get her head around when the time is right for her.... I'll still be here (hopefully) who knows I might even get to introduce her to her half sister Freya at some point... what will be will be.....

ps/ all photographs in this blog post are copyright Emma Brabrook (that might fend off being sued) and if you like them you can see more >here<

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Snowdonia Hellathon is looming

Well for my wife at least..... some of us have more sense than to run marathons, let alone run marathons in probably the hilliest place in the UK.... but each to their own I guess.

We are staying in a nice cottage in Llanberis for a couple of days....myself and Justin (the husband of the other deranged runner) are going to provide vital support along the marathon route namely making sure water is available for our respective partners which of course will require stopping at every pub to fill up water bottles and it would be rude not to have a pint while we wait patiently for our respective running partners to zoom by... 

Then we have the strenuous task of breaking camp (after a bag of pork scratchings and a packet of crisps) and moving onto the next pub and doing it all again... it's a good job there are only three pubs on the route otherwise we probably wouldn't make it to the fourth pub.... These runners just don't know how much hard work it is supporting them whilst they go for a jog around the countryside.....  

Then we have all that awful drinking and socialising after the race to endure and of course "The Curry" ..... it will be hell.

The things you do for love eh ?
;¬)


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Wifi and Physics

Xbox boy after being banned from using the broadband connection for going behind my back and re-enabling it when I had disabled it has had a reprieve.... I've allowed him back on the internet with his precious Xbox 360... so he went out and bought a new usb wifi dongle from Microshaft... (well the ban had gone on for longer than a year... despite him asking at least four times to be forgiven ......let it not be said that I'm draconian unnecessarily)

I wasn't hopeful that he would get a decent connection because Lauren's computer has difficulty connecting through the 3ft thick stone wall and Xbox boy's room is directly above hers which means that to the wifi signal it's exponentially thicker because it travels up through the wall at an angle increasing the width of the wall by a factor of at least 4 maybe more... 

Needless to say it didn't work (very well....told you so !!!) so I told him to put the dongle in a plastic bag and hang it out of the window with a USB extender cable I had knocking around.... bingo full connection !!! although I can't see that lasting because Andrea is not happy about a plastic bag hanging out of his bedroom ..... I can see her point..

As for his full connection, yes he does have all the bars lit up but it's not really though because our router really doesn't like what the Xbox is throwing through it data wise so he's getting drop outs ..... There have been complaints about the Zyxel router we use with fellow Xboxer's ..... Which means I'll have to get a new wifi router that supports Xbox properly ..... NOT !!!

ahhhh well his in-house support for his Xbox network connectivity ended years ago... He's on his own now.... it works for Linux and Vista and XP and that's all that matters to me (and everybody else for that matter).....

Freya has managed to trash FOMO boys nintendo Dsi obviously by hammering it on something and breaking the screen, apparently it's only £32 to fix it so not as bad as we thought... but to be honest I think kids have far too many "gadgets" these days and one less is no loss to me..... (FOMO boy may disagree on that one) 

If all the consoles and gaming machines suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.... I can't see the draw with them to be honest, I also can't see how an adult can become so wrapped up in a "game" that it rules over all else.... a sign of the times I guess... maybe it's an escape from reality ?? who knows (or cares even)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Like music ?


And more importantly brilliant music .....
Then click on the link below





The man is a genius !!!

Just click the link above turn your speakers up 
and get blown away !!! :P

Friday, 17 September 2010

I'm a Nazi

Well according to Pope Benedict I am at least..... he made the astounding comparison when he addressed the nation in Edinburgh the other day.... He said that Atheism is comparable to the Nazi's ... Now I don't remember putting to death millions of Jewish people or putting them into forced labour..... I'm sure I would have remembered doing that and I certainly don't remember giving my allegiance to some despotic nut case hell bent on world domination at any point in my life.... Neither do I walk around in shiny jack boots or have I ever possessed insignia or a membership card of the Waffen SS or the BNP....
So I fail to see how the quite plainly mad pontiff can draw the conclusion that I being an Atheist equals being a Nazi.... but each to their own I guess.... live and let live.... I certainly won't lose any sleep over it or rush to get converted to the Catholic faith or any faith (ever).....Mind you I was never a member of the Hitler youth..... unlike Mr Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger

You don't need a bible to show what love is all about, the bible however is the most efficient instrument of hate ever created..... and lets face it a God who made imperfect human beings when he was perfectly capable of making perfect ones (allegedly) Then spends eternity blaming us for his mistakes !!! that's not intelligent design .... it's just bad design....

Anyway enough of the fanciful my PC is still limping along at half speed, I can't seem to find a supplier for Arctic Silver 5 heatsink compound and until I do I'm running at half mast on the Ghz which is a bit frustrating... That said I'm sure I will get hold of some at some point.....

Our heating/boiler/Rayburn has been fixed and we now have heat in the house... couldn't have happened sooner really because the days definitely have taken a turn for the colder.... 

It's just under six weeks before Andrea does the Snowdonia Marathon we were all prepared with the hotel booked and everything but we had the chance of booking a cottage for two days in Llanberis much cheaper so with Andrea's friend Niki and her husband we are sharing this lovely cottage for the duration which will give us a bit more freedom than the hotel.... plus it's right next door to Pete's Eats in Llanberis the home of the hearty climbers breakfast !!! 

So all systems go although Andrea has been suffering from some kind of cold/chest infection so her running/training has been put on hold for now but she's champing at the bit to get back out there....

That's about all the news there is at the moment I'll report back when I've something less interesting to speak about 


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Gravity.... it's ups and downs

I have enough computing power to concurrently run a moon mission, control Heathrow airport, calculate the end of the universe and play several games of chess concurrently..... Alas this needs a CPU cooler of monstrous proportions made of pure copper... which is HEAVY .... 

it's mounted sideways on the motherboard and strains on it's retaining clips like a breeze block suspended by spiders thread.... 

So let me set the scene... I needed to pull out the "beast" to plug a usb connector in for our ink hungry Epson printer.... simple job you would think.... but like most men I over estimate the length of things.... (slight pause for comic effect) .....and pulled the computer too far causing it to bump heavily down when the back end of the computer ran out of computer desk and settled on the wooden floor.....rather loudly....

there was an almighty "CRACK!" as the CPU cooler separated from it's fastenings and my 4 drives all decided that I had exceeded their operating shock (non  sinusoidal) limits.... and all recalibrated in unison having completely lost the position they had last left the read/write heads  (careless to say the least) .....closely followed by my Quad Core CPU immediately going into thermal meltdown a la three mile island style....ok it didn't melt it's way through the three stories of our house and continue on it's way to the centre of the earth.... but it had a good bash at it... thankfully AMD  have engineered their CPU's to become a little bit suspicious about temperatures above 86c and they immediately disconnect power to prevent thermal runaway..... 

However I was left with a broken CPU cooler bracket and a motherboard manufacturer which had closed it's doors in 2009 (Abit) so after a few phone calls to a local PC supplier  of whom I've been friends with for years......I had secured another clip off a dead motherboard !!! yay!!

or so I thought.... it seems now that the CPU is a "bit" brain damaged in that no matter how fast the CPU fan runs (currently nearly 4000rpm and sucking the air out of the room as I speak) the CPU will, if stressed above 90% peak at over 90c which is pretty bad for this particular CPU because it's rated at 86c max temperature..... :(
 
So as a stop gap until I can get hold of replacements I have cut off the thermistor which controls the fan speed and it's running like a Spitfire engine at full tilt  in a dive towards a group of Heinkel bombers over London .....which makes playing music different as the wind whistling past your ears and almost ripping your socks off as a veritable mini tornado under my desk  pulls anything within 4 metres towards the computer air intake.... does  detract somewhat ...... just a tad .....from the quieter moments of Pink Floyd's "The Wall

I will have to cancel the next moon mission and cut down my parallel chess games to just one....Heathrow will have to wait on a holding pattern until I can fix the problem......


Gravity sucks ......

Friday, 3 September 2010

SN9C202 web camera's (Microdia type)

These little beasties are pretty hard to get working in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS but here is a step by step walk through to get it working within minutes :) just type the highlighted commands in a terminal session....

firstly identify you have an SN9C202 or similar camera by using 

lsusb


which should return something like this 

Bus 002 Device 002: ID 045e:0040 Microsoft Corp. Wheel Mouse Optical
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0c45:628f Microdia PC Camera with Microphone (SN9C202 + OV9650)
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

Once you have indeed confirmed you have the offending camera follow the steps below.....


firstly install Git with the following command line

sudo apt-get install git-core

1. Download the source code

From a command-line prompt, cd to a directory where you want to download it, default "home" will do then run the command:

git clone http://repo.or.cz/r/microdia.git

This will create a folder named "microdia" which contains all the source code.



Sometimes the above command doesn't work. In such cases please try this one:

git clone http://repo.or.cz/microdia.git

2. Install bare minimum packages

To be able to compile the driver, you must have kernel sources and the necessary tools to compile it. For most applications you will also need libv4l.

Debian/Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install kernel-package linux-headers build-essential ctags libv4l


(this might take a while depending on how fast your connection is)

Note: linux-source is not necessary, rather linux-headers with the same version of your kernel will install /lib/modules//build.

Attention: Do _NOT_ under any circumstances use "sudo make" or "make". There are no root privileges necessary at this point and using them causes a never ending chain of different problems later on.

3. Setting up the compilation environment

The linux kernel needs to be locally compiled in order to compile the microdia driver.

If the kernel is not compiled, "make" will complain of "modpost" missing.

The Makefile expects the source of linux to be located in /lib/modules/$(KVER)/build, if this is not the case edit the Makefile to set KSRC to point to the linux source location.
 

4. Building Microdia driver from source

After installing Git (command line to get git shown above), you need to download microdia kernel driver source. After installing Kernel packages and necessary tools to compile it, you will be able to compile it by typing:

cd microdia
make

Attention: Do _NOT_ under any circumstances use "sudo make" or "make". There are no root privileges necessary at this point and using them causes a never ending chain of different problems later on.

Troubleshooting MAKE errors

If you get the following error:
make: *** [driver] Error 127
Error 127 simply means that the module is not in the proper location. This is not a major error.

5. Loading the driver

sudo insmod ./sn9c20x.ko

If everything works fine you won't see any message on stdout, but your dmesg will have lines like the following:

sn9c20x: SN9C20X USB 2.0 webcam driver loaded
sn9c20x: SN9C20X USB 2.0 Webcam - XXXX:XXXX plugged-in.
sn9c20x: Detected XXX Sensor
sn9c20x: SN9C20X USB 2.0 Webcam is now controlling video device /dev/video0
usbcore: registered new interface driver usb_sn9c20x_driver
sn9c20x: v2008.10 : SN9C20X USB 2.0 Webcam Driver


Troubleshooting insmod errors

insmod sn9c20x.ko
insmod: error inserting 'sn9c20x.ko': -1 File exists (which is what I experienced)

means a similar module is was already loaded into the kernel and needs to be removed first. To find out which model that is, do:

lsmod | grep sn9c20x

you should see something like this

 gspca_sn9c20x 31616  0
 gspca_main 26816  1 gspca_sn9c20x

From which you can then figure out the module name (gspca_sn9c20x in my case) and replace it with the new module as shown below


sudo rmmod gspca_sn9c20x
sudo insmod snc9c20x.ko


Make sure you type all of this from within the git cloned microdia directory or else it will simply bomb on you. You can now check to see if the module is loaded:

lsmod | grep sn9c20x

and you should see the driver installed.....


Update the dependencies for every module.

sudo depmod -a
sudo m-a update,prepare

if the sudo m-a update,prepare fails you'll need to run the following and repeat the command line above

sudo apt-get install module-assistant

then

sudo m-a update,prepare



FIXME: more possibilities
6. Test it using Skype or the command line shown below
Please note that the test requires libv4l for video decoding. mplayer does not support JPEG compression on its own.

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l2convert.so mplayer tv:// \
    -tv driver=v4l2:width=640:height=480:fps=25:device=/dev/video0 -vo x11


7. Installing the Microdia Driver

Once you're happy that it's working as expected ....

open a terminal session and put the following commands in to weld it into the operating system :)

sudo strip -g sn9c20x.ko
sudo mkdir -p /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/media/video/usbvideo/
sudo cp sn9c20x.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/media/video/usbvideo/
sudo depmod -a

Just cut and paste the above ... you might need to press the enter key for the last command to execute


voila .... working webcam :)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

School Time is upon us

The long lazy days of the school holidays are behind us (nearly) .... Andrea went back to work today and the other kids go back on Thursday (Phew!!) it's been a busy 6 weeks what with moving house and settling in.... I won't want to be doing that in a hurry again that's for sure... predictably the weather has improved remarkably in the last three or so days.....

We are still without heating, we are just using the immersion heater for hot water which is probably going to bankrupt us once the bill arrives.... but can you get a boiler engineer when you want one ??? ... you'd think in the "height" of summer they would be thick on the ground begging for work .... but alas no.... I'm under the impression they all hibernate in the summer and only come out of their work vans when the weather turns a bit colder and boilers fail like leaves off the trees....

I will have to lay a trap and see if I can catch one staggering back from the pub....

Andrea is in Carmarthen this evening "running one off" doing endless laps of a 800m circuit, it's something to do with building endurance or something like that... she did manage to beat her personal best at the St Clears 10k race, she beat her previous record by a few minutes.... which is a massive improvement :)

Snowdonia marathon is looming large now ... the heat is on ....

She is off doing the Merthyr to Brecon race along the Roman road this weekend I think...... it's 16 miles up hill and down dale.... she'll be cream crackered after that one....

Did I mention the kids are back in school on Thursday ??? (YAYYYYYY!!!)

and relax.....

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Settling in nicely :)

I've been fishing three times now since we've moved, nothing spectacular just a couple of sea bass and some small flatfish.... in fact the sea bass were caught just on the spot of beach you can see in front of Dylans boathouse... well a little further back than there but literally just out of picture.... as you can see it's a bloody awful place to live..... a complete eyesore ... (yeah right...) ;¬)

We still haven't managed to get the heating sorted out yet, we've been promised and promised but alas nobody has turned up.... the famous Pembrokeshire promise it seems..... thankfully it hasn't been cold of late, wet of course but not cold.... well it's August after all, torrential downpours are the in thing.... I guess that's why Wales is so green.... 

I'm off out fishing again this afternoon (shock...horror) after Andrea gets back from running the St Clears 10k .... She's incredibly fit now and doesn't think twice about knocking out an 8 mile run... but she needs to keep doing it if she is going to do well in the Snowdonia Marathon in October I've walked that course it takes you right around Snowdon and it's bad enough walking it let alone running it.....but she seems to be looking forward to it... I honestly didn't think she'd stick to this running lark, but I've got to take my hat off to her (if I had one) with the London marathon under her belt and numerous half marathons and 10k's....not to mention the seventy odd miles she's doing a week.... she's doing very well indeed and I'm very proud of her :) not to mention the fact that she's become very toned all over...she's a lean mean racing machine.....

I just broke off from updating my blog to get a coffee only to find that the kettle had died, it's been a bit iffy for a few weeks... you'd turn it on and it would go off with a crackle then back on again... then off then finally it would boil.... well it's finally blown when I tried to get a much needed cup of ambition.... so out came the screwdrivers and I disassembled it.... I found out what was causing it to stop working and have jammed a piece of cork into one of the leaf contacts to keep it down and a further piece of cork to keep the on/off latch switch down so it can boil.... it has to be watched now because it would boil dry.... but at least I've got my coffee :) it will last until we get another one.... another Bodge-it & Scarper job with a good result :) (I doubt it would pass an electrical safety test) but my coffee is hot and I care not .....


Well I'm going to have to break off yet again because my little daughter Freya has just come up and said "Daddy .... you're my best friend"

So until next time :)



Monday, 23 August 2010

We've moved

I have to say it was one of the most knackering experiences I've ever had... we only had a small van to do the move because we simply refused to pay the £150 to hire one (plus fuel).... so it took 252 miles or 7 trips there and back....

The teenagers were suspiciously absent except for the odd occasion, so basically Andrea and I did it all, FOMO boy was more help than both the teenagers put together... We did have some sterling help from Lauren's boyfriend Tom who's muscles and spatial ability came up trumps at a point where my brain had been frazzled by lack of sleep, tiredness and aching muscles. But eventually it was all done and all that remained was to put everything in its place and unpack everything.... (which is actually the hardest part!!!)

I have to admit I lost my rag on a few occasions, mainly through tiredness and  muscles screaming out to be rested and although I didn't fly into full blown massacre mode it was close..... however I did manage to keep a lid on it (mostly) but my patience was thinner than the skin on a rice pudding... I was bubbling away for quiet some time .....


It wasn't helped by the endless heap of teenage bodies which seemed to be appearing from every crack in the front door (Lauren's friends) ..... last thing you need after a house move are teenagers... in fact I think they should be banned from being seen or heard by adults until they are at least 21.....

Broadband and the phone appeared on the 20th as promised by the Post Office and at a blistering full rate of 8Mbits but I'd be silly to think it would be anything else considering how close we are to the exchange.....

I had to "undo" some "Larney" wheezes, such as the pub powering it's beer garden lights off our ring main.... that was disconnected immediately I found out.... we did have the landlord poke his head over our fence and ask us to switch a light on and off on our wall which they had "tapped" into... which was completely pointless as it had been removed at the fuse box ;¬)

We still have a few things to sort out such as the Rayburn only fires on the oven side not the heating, but we'll get that sorted out fairly soon before the cold weather hits.... (oh sorry it already has it's August already!!!)
other than that we are moved in and all systems go......