30 June 2012 (Saturday) - Swimming, Embezzling...

Having had a few days when I had no need to be up promptly I slept well. Needing to be up in time for a 9am start at work today I was wide awake from 4.30am. I am now certain that my insomnia is related to having set an alarm. So I lay waiting for that alarm, nodding off five minutes before it went off.
And when it did, because of my unfamiliarity with my new phone I couldn't turn the thing off. "er indoors TM" did laugh.
Over the last couple of days I mentioned that I have backache. It continues. It's a pain. Literally. I hope it gets better soon; I have all sorts of things I need to be doing, and having a back which isn't up to scratch won't be any good to me.
Whilst scoffing brekkie I sorted out the astro club's accounts. Last night was quite lucrative - I shall have to make a journey to the bank before much longer. But whilst we have some cash to hand I shall have to embezzle enough to pay for a colour print cartridge; constellation game sheets don't print themselves.

As I drove to work there was an interesting article on the radio - as from tomorrow swimming is banned in the River Thames. Apparently too many boats are having prangs having had to swerve to avoid swimmers. One can still swim in the Thames however; all you need to to clear it with the Port of London Authority and get their written permission. I would imagine that they wouldn't give it without an argument, though.
And having obtained it, if challenged, who would be able to produce such written permission from their bathing costume?

Regular readers of this drivel may remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was entering a short story competition. I wrote the story, circularised the first draft for critical review, re-vamped it, and then sent out the second draft to Beckenham for more comment. Comments have arrived, and I spent a few minutes re-writing today, and the third draft is probably ready. I shall sit on it and re-read it in a day or so before doing too much more with it. It's very difficult writing to a word limit, but it keeps me out of mischief (mostly)...

29 June 2012 (Friday) - Astro Club

I must have been overdoing it this week - I woke with backache this morning. A backache which lasted all day long.

After a spot of brekkie we set off to Smeeth. The "er indoors TM" -mobile has got a problem. The boot doesn't open. Experts have had a look, and it would seem that the locking mechanism is knacked. We found a scrap yard from where we got a replacement. All that remains now is to fit the replacement part. I'm sure that will be easier said than done.
Whilst we were out we thought we'd replace the tyre with a slow puncture. Or that was until we saw the queue at Road Runners. We'll go back another time, eh?
To Tesco's for some shopping. We also got Belgian buns for a spot of lunch. Not that I'm any expert, but Co-Op do make a better Belgian bun. And they do them cheaper too.

The afternoon was rather dull. With my phone number back to what it should have been all along I then updated my updated information with several employment agencies, and applied for more jobs I don't have a chance of getting. And then with the Folkestonians in tow we set off to astro club where we had a really good evening. We had over fifty people along - lots of new people, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
Astronomically we could have done with a darker evening, but the dark winter nights will come quickly enough,
We've also borrowed the solar scope, so that should put paid to the recent spate of good weather...

28 June 2012 (Thursday) - Gardening

I think last night's walk must have been more arduous that I realised - I didn't get out of my pit until gone 9am this morning, which is unheard of. I spent a little while applying for jobs I know I will never get, and then I mowed the lawn. First round the edges with the strimmer, then back over the lot with the mower. And then I raked the trimmings up. That lawn gets worse, but these days mowing the lawn is all the gardening I do. I then scrubbed out the pond's filter. A physically hard job, and smelly too. But it needed doing.
A bite of lunch, then I made up the beer kit I bought yesterday. It takes about six weeks to do, so it should (hopefully) be ready for the kite festival in Teston which is by some strange co-incidence in six weeks time.

I then spent a little while obtaining a PAC code. Having got my new phone yesterday and having started to tell the world my new number, I didn't realise just how widespread word of my old number had spread. To say nothing of having had all sorts of publicity material made up for Badger-Original-Landscapes-Bespoke-artwork (all of which had the old phone number on it). So I came to the conclusion that keeping my old number might be a plan.
I phoned my old phone provider and asked for the PAC code. They didn't want to give it to me. They wanted to keep my custom. Funny how their attitude had changed since yesterday. But I was adamant; they'd had their chance to deal with my complaints and hadn't done anything. After half an hour's insisting they eventually gave me the code I needed. I told that code to the new people, and the great number switch-over will now (in theory) happen tomorrow. Here's hoping.
If any of my loyal readers haven't got my mobile number, just drop me a line (or send a comment to this blog entry) and I'll send it through. If anyone's unsure, as of tomorrow the number will be one number less than "er indoors TM" mobile number.

I then did three on-line surveys. I don't get rich doing these surveys, but a few pennies here and there pays for little treats - like a bottle of port for camp. I scoffed a plate of salad for tea, and as "er indoors TM" set off to the gym I kept up the healthy theme by cycling to the astro club's committee meeting. Twenty minutes on the bike was good. We had a productive meeting - all sorts of things planned. I even had an idea for a talk I might give to the club later in the year, and I had a really good cycle home again afterwards.
Must get my bike out more often...

27 June 2012 (Wednesday) - New Phone

Up with the lark, and I was distributing catalogues to the masses before 9am. Let's hope the masses know a bargain when they see one. I shifted one hundred catalogues in just over an hour, came home and went up town. I got the makings of some beer for the kite festival in Teston in a few week's time, and had a squabble. The beer kit was clearly priced at six quid. They charged me eleven. I argued it, but they were adamant. The six quid price referred to something else. They were vague about exactly what else this might have been, but were insistent that the price was eleven quid. Even at eleven quid it was still less than half the price of the home brew shop, so I handed over the readies.

I then went to the mobile phone shops. First of all to my current mobile phone provider to have a gripe. One of their people phoned me the other day to try to sell me another mobile phone. I told her I wasn't happy with them. She told me to phone someone else. I told her that I was telling her, and that in a few days she could phone me back with a solution to my complaints. Needless to say no one had phoned me, and when I went into their shop today they had no record of my complaint. They listened to what I had to say, namely that their signal was rubbish and that the Nokia N8 hadn't lived up to their promises. They said that if I'd like to come back in a month's time and give them money to buy out the remaining contract, they'd think about what I had to say then.

So I went to the mobile phone shop run by the people who do my home broadband internet connection. They were keen to talk to me. And they did me a good deal in which I got a better phone and a better package at five quid a month less than what I was currently paying. And they even gave me enough money for my old phone to pay off most of the outstanding contract on that old phone. And as an added bonus the new phone even doubles up as a Kindle.

Home; where I spent most (all) of the afternoon getting to grips with my Samsung Galaxy Ace 2. The nice lady in the shop had already copied over all of my contacts from the old phone. In retrospect that might have been a mistake. When I synchronised the phone with my Google and Facebook accounts the thing went mental. Pretty much everyone that I know has multiple accounts all over the Internet, and all of them are now duplicated and quadriplicated on my phone. "The Man with No Alias (Patent Pending)" appears on it five times. I shall have to do something about that. I then copied over all my sound and music files. I'm having trouble getting a customised message tone to work on the thing, and the battery life seems rather non-existent at the moment. But I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. On the plus side the Kindle app seems to be working fine.

Being the last Wednesday of the month, it was arky-ologee club. We met up at the chip shop in Lenham for a spot of tea, and then went on to Harrietsham where we met up with the recently formed Harrietsham Historical Society, and together over fifty of us set off for a stroll. We walked round what was supposedly an ancient hill fort. From one angle it looked hill fort-ish, bit only from one angle. I wasn't convinced.
But we had a good wander in the countryside on what would otherwise have been a dull evening. Might have to go back to that part of the world for another stroll at some point...

26 June 2012 (Tuesday) - Keeping Busy

I had planned for today. First of all I got the washing on the line, which was easier said than done. Next door’s obsession with roses means that his plants are now (in places) over six feet onto our side of the fence. In the past I’ve cut them back, but unless I’m out there trimming on an almost daily basis I can’t keep up with it. And I’m left with having to get rid of all the trimmings.
And having the washing on the line just upset the dogs on the other side and set them off yapping (again). A couple of years ago I spent a lot of time and effort and money on making the back garden half-way decent. Now I’ve all but given up with it.

I went through my letter rack: I hadn’t done that for some time. There was some old drivel in there. I started with a ballot paper to choose members of the council of governors for the local hospital. I was asked to choose between various people I’ve never met (and probably never will) to sit on a committee the job of which is rather self-evident. i.e. running a hospital.
There was a letter from Virgin Media. Did I want a Tivo box? Not yet, but when my mobile phone contract is up I will probably look at consolidating TV, Internet, phone, mobile phone, shopping, gas, leccie, and everything. I’ll worry about that later.
I had a new bank card. That was nice. And a letter from the Aspinall Foundation telling me what they have been up to lately. Capital One offered to lend me money. WyeVale’s Gardening Club had written to me. It would seem that the demise of the entire WyeVale chain has in no way affected the output of their gardening club,
There was a reminder that my subs to the kite club are due. I might have to let that lapse this year.
The astro club’s bank statement had arrived. And to the correct address as well. It’s only taken them a year to stop posting it to the wrong place. I hate to think what’s going on at that place now that the news tells me that their computers have gone west. I had an interesting ten minutes trying to reconcile the bank statement with my records until I realised where I’d gone wrong. It’s nice when the figures agree.
My own bank statement had also arrived. Those figures agreed too. Not as healthy as they might have been, but they agreed. I shall content myself with the thought that it could be a lot worse.

I then spent a little while updating my calendar for the next few months. I’ve already got a lot of stuff planned, and I’ve added to the schedule. What with one thing and another I have something planned for every weekend up until the end of September.
Following on from last weekend’s successful stall, I’ve added the astro club’s stall at Challock Goose Fair. Following on from my whinge about not knowing about kiting events I’ve added the one day kiting event at Capstone Country Park.
And in a serious bit of wondering where the year has gone I found myself pencilling in bonfire parades: I have the dates of the parades in Hastings and Rye, and have established that there (probably) won’t be one in Shadoxhurst this year. It would be good to have one or two more bonfire events planned, but they are predominantly a Sussex thing; and as such necessitate quite a bit of driving to and fro.

I realised that I’ve not regaled the world with any video nasties recently, so in a spare five minutes (whilst waiting for my laundry to dry) I put a little video together. It features various blog piccies from the last few months (copyright me!) and a track which is a particular favourite of mine and which was freely available to download from the internet, so here’s hoping that the nice people at You-Tube won’t find fault with this one and delete it (like they did the others!)
With the laundry dried I then cracked on with the ironing. It only took four hours to do. And whilst I was in a laundry frame of mind I sorted out the smalls; something which is easier said than done.

Tuesday - the usual suspects met up at the Chrisery where we played with the trains and watched another episode of "Being Human". Didn't see tonight's twist coming - it's getting good again....

25 June 2012 (Monday) - So Dull...

Some days in my life are eventful, some days there's all sorts of things going on in the world around me. Today was remarkably dull. About the most exciting thing to have happened in the world recently was the naming of the world's officially ugliest dog. Funny looking thing really (!)

I came home this evening to find that some blog entries had received some comments. The post I made on 20 April 2010 attracted the this little missive "Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read? Stop by ..." and then it went on to plug a web site about decorating.
The post I made on 30 April 2010 got this epistle "Currently it appears like Expression Engine is the best blogging platform out there right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog? My web-site..." and then it went on to plug another web site about decorating.
And 6 March 2011's witterings got this "This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks! check city Also visit my webpage ..." and it tried to sell cheap loans.

Dull, so dull...

24 June 2012 (Sunday) - Rain Stopped Play

I was up relatively early this morning. The plan for the day was a walk in the countryside, but the rain had rather spoiled that plan. It was torrential. Which was a shame - I'd been told that we probably had about twenty people (and half a dozen dogs) lined up for today's planned event. It was only fair to let people know that rain had stopped play. Some would be coming from a long way away where it wasn't raining (like Folkestone). I've re-scheduled the walk for the end of July. Here's hoping the weather perks up by then.

Over a spot of brekkie I browsed the Internet. I saw the Kent Kite Festival was on today. That was kept quiet. You'd think that the organisers would have published and advertised the event. Mind you the same people who are doing this event run a kite festival every year in Tonbridge that I always hear of after the thing has happened. It's a shame because I wouldn't mind doing more kite-related things (if only I knew when they were happening).

The phone rang - Chip fancied going for a wander regardless of the weather (which was starting to clear up). Did we fancy a stroll round Kings Wood? We went along, and picked Fudge up on the way. We had a good mooch round the woods, but on reflection were probably right to have cancelled the planned walk. It was very muddy in places in Kings Wood: our planned walk would have taken us through several swamps. And would have had us rained on a couple of times as well.

We returned Fudge to the Fudgery (with instructions that he might need a bath) and went on a catalogue collection. Oh, how frustrating that can be sometimes.
When I deliver the catalogues I make a note of the houses we don't deliver to: those with signs up asking for no junk mail, or if the householders say they aren't interested. That way we know where not to collect from. "er indoors TM" made a mistake today and knocked on the door of a house where the chap living there had specifically told me that they weren't interested. The nice lady living there said she didn't remember seeing the catalogue (because I hadn't left one), asked for one, and made an order. I wonder how many other orders we are missing by not delivering to every house on the planet.

And as "er indoors TM" set off bowling I slobbed about in front of the telly. I was rather miffed to see what a lovely evening it was outside. I had half a mind to go out and do something. I wasn't sure exactly what I might have done though, and then it clouded over (again). So I stayed with the telly. There was a drama about King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson which was relatively entertaining...(!)
I have so many channels on the Sky box. I wonder if a Tivo box has anything better on it?

23 June 2012 (Saturday) - Shadoxhurst Dog Show

I had the weekly weigh-in. I say "weekly" - this week I've weighed myself every day. No more weight has come off. My weight seems to have stabilised somewhere between fourteen stone and fourteen stone two pounds. I suspect the key to further weight loss is to do more exercise. Not keen on that idea(!)

I got my bits and pieces together; Steve and Sarah arrived and we set off to Shadoxhurst. The astro club had been asked to run a stall at their fete and dog show. I'd gone along to help and had taken the "Badger-Original-Landscapes" stall; the idea being to raise a little cash and to sponsor the stall.
We arrived, found our pitch and set up. As luck would have it an old friend from my scouting days was setting up his photographic stall next to us. Jason soon arrived, and before long our stall was ready; as was the cake stall. We had a cuppa and a cake, and started up. The wind was against us for most of the day, but the sun didn't hide behind too many clouds. Doing an astronomy demonstration during the daytime has us rather dependent on the solar scope; after all there's only one star you can see in daylight. Mind you I did get rather fed up of explaining that last sentence during the day. "One star - what is that then?" "The Sun" "I thought you said star?" "The Sun *is* a star(!)" "No it's not - it's the Sun". Oh dear - I suppose that being rather interested in things astronomical one tends to forget that the general public know diddly-squat about space things.

Before long more club members arrived, and the telescopes were doing a roaring trade. It was a lovely day to be out in the sunshine. We sampled the wares of the home made ice cream stall, saw the hawk and the llama, and even looked at the beer tent. In years gone by I would have probably based myself there. Not any more.

All too soon the afternoon was over and it was time to pack up. As a club we'd had a successful day - a lot of interested people. A lot of people who didn't know about the club who now do. From a personal and mercenary point of view the day wasn't a success - I had hoped to sponsor the stall from the profits of the sales of paintings. I didn't sell anything. But then I had been watching the other stalls. Cakes and ice creams had been selling, but the photographs hadn't, not had the bicycle parts or the home made cushions. And the dog accessories stall hadn't really done a roaring trade either.

Home, and then round to the Fudgery for tea. We had a couple of beers, a smashing bit of tea, and spent the evening watching films and chatting and dozing before staggering home shortly after midnight. A really good evening - must do it again...

22 June 2012 (Friday) - More Stuff

A late start, so I had a bit of a lie in. Or that was the plan. I dozed fitfully from 4am till 7.30am. And because it was time to get up I fell into quite a deep sleep. Why couldn't I have done that at 4am?
I got up, and over brekkie I did an on-line survey about beer. Once a subject very close to my heart, it was surprising how out of touch with the stuff I have become. Which is probably for the best, and also probably why I'm only three quarters of the man I used to be. Talking of which - I had a look on the website that I use to count calories today. I have eleven people on their listed as my "friends". Only three of these people seem to log in with any regularity, and some haven't logged in for months. It's no fun doing this calorie counting on my own. (Mind you it's no fun doing calorie counting at all...)

As I drove to work I listened to Desert Island Discs. An odd radio show - everyone has heard of it; everyone knows the format (a celebrity chooses their favourite eight pieces of music), but few people actually listen to it. It's a program which can be as fascinating as it can be dull; depending who the castaway is. Today the program featured the Egyptian writer and commentator Ahdaf Soueif. I'd never heard of her. She would seem to be rather an interesting person: she was the first Muslim woman to be short-listed for the Booker Prize and her life has been divided between Egypt and Britain. I liked her choice of "Hotel California" as one of her discs and I can live with the Beatles, but her other six music choices..... oh dear(!)
Am I being racist in saying that it wasn't so much music as a truly dreadful howling? The wailing, added to the aftermath of two glasses of wine from last night gave me a headache which lasted all day. A headache complemented by the tune of "Hotel California". Which (I suppose) makes a change from having "Suburban Homeboy" running through my head.

On Monday I mentioned that I left my mobile at home and didn't miss anything. If I'd forgotten it today I would have missed out. An agency called with a possible job opening. A college called with an offer of a course I'd asked about. And I had a telephone interview.
The possible job opening is (another) non-started; being office based in Brighton. The college course is also pie-in-the-sky: whilst I wouldn't mind re-training as an electrician, fifty quid per week for a year is a bit steep. But the telephone interview was interesting. The position I'd applied for was selling stuff to hospitals; I liked the sound of it, and the bloke said that he'd already done ten interviews this morning in which the candidates told him that they weren't interested. So here's hoping...

A week or so ago I mentioned about an old friend who've been sent to the chokey. I mentioned that I'd like to write to him; finding where to address the letter takes some doing. The Home Office have finally replied to my email saying that they've received it. they will now try to locate the lag in question, ask if he's happy for me to write to him, and let me know. I've been told I should hear something in six weeks or so. 
Oh.. and I've found a photo from the last serious diet I did. I lost enough weight so's I could tuck "Daddies Little Angel TM" down the front of my trousers. She was a bit smaller in those days, but I've lost more weight this time. I wonder if she'd fit again.....

21 June 2012 (Thursday) - Stuff

After a bit of general whinging on my part, it came to light that there was a Sony PRS-600 ebook reader sitting about doing nothing. I've got the thing on approval, and am giving it a test run to see how I get on with it. If I like it I have the option to snap it up at a reduced rate.
Do I like it? Well, yes. It's OK. In many ways it's very little different to the Kindle. As an e-reader, it'll do. But.... (and there's unfortunately a big "but")
I've managed to get all of the books that were on the Kindle out, and I've put them through the converter to make them back into .epub format so the Sony device can read them. However anything that I downloaded directly from the Amazon store is unconvertible. Which is a pain. I've spent out quite a bit of dosh on ebooks that are now useless to me unless I get a replacement Kindle. Which won't be cheap.
Also the availability of free ebooks on the Internet isn't what it once was. The site from which I blagged every James Bond book known to science now has less than six of them available; and the mobile phone site which once was good for forty ebooks a day has been replaced by a legal notice saying that they got sued for breach of copyright for giving away all the books for free.
I have mixed feelings about this. As a writer I'm glad that my work is now being protected. As a reader on a budget I can't help but feel a tad miffed.
I watched a video: I had a phone call from a chap who'd been sent my C.V. by one of the agencies, and he thought i might be just the person he wanted. After he'd been talking for half an hour without actually saying anything he sent me a link to a video to see if I would be interested in his company. Basically he wanted me to shell out several hundred pounds to then sell Aloe Vera based products on his behalf. I'm already embroiled in one such scheme that (it has to be said) hasn't really lived up to the hype. I'm not going to start another.
And spare a thought for comedian Jimmy Carr today. He's all over the news, and ha admitted to having made "a terrible error of judgement". It would seem that rather than having his tax deducted when he is paid (like most of us mere mortals), he gets to pay his tax in a lump sum. And, like everyone, he doesn't want to pay more than he has to. So he took advice, and participated in the "K2 tax scheme". I have no idea of the details; suffice to say that it is all legally fine. But the Government didn't like it (presumably because it reduces the amount of money they have available to waste), the Prime Minister has declared it "morally wrong" (!) and poor Jimmy Carr is now running scared. If the Government don't like current tax laws, then they are ideally positioned to do something about them. If the Government want to change the law, then that is their prerogative. But to pick on an individual and make him the scapegoat for the failings of their own laws is surely morally wrong itself?
Perhaps Jimmy might squander some of his riches on a ticket to the moon? Those with (a lot more) money than sense have the option to buy tickets on a four-month trip to the moon and (hopefully) back again. The trip is being organised by some bunch who've got their mitts on some left-over Russian kit and are planning to set off in the next three years, but won't actually feature any trained astronauts because (apparently) it's not the sort of thing which might appeal to them. I would have thought that going to the moon would have been right up their street, but what do I know?

20 June 2012 (Wednesday) - Gone Fishing

I got up earlier than perhaps I might have done this morning. It was odd - my head was sweating; my feet were like blocks of ice. And so I couldn't settle to sleep. I had a bout of brekkie and then distributed over a hundred catalogues to the masses. Some of the masses weren't impressed.
I realise that most people don't even look at the catalogues I deliver - we only get orders from maybe one in every thirty that we hand out. But it's still depressing when people open their doors and give the thing straight back to me. Do they have to look down their noses with such contempt? But after all is said and done it is their loss really. There's some good stuff in those catalogues. Cheap too, and we deliver it to the door.
I suppose after a few months once we've built up a customer base which orders regularly we won't have to do mass catalogue drops to an ungrateful world.

I then popped up to town to the bank. Dull, but it needed doing. And then I had a look in WH Smiths to see their Kobo ebook reader. It does much the same as my Kindle used to, at a lot less cost than a new Kindle. And the hooky ebooks that are free to download don't need any re-formatting and converting before I can read them (unlike the Kindle).

Home again where I looked at the ironing pile and decided against it. I scoffed the last of the black pudding (left over from camp) for lunch. There's no denying that I've been somewhat flatulent of late. I suspect two week old black pudding has possibly had something to do with that. But the black pudding's all gone now. Hopefully my guts will start clearing up soon.

I checked the weather forecast for Sunday. I'm hoping to lead a walk through the countrside; weather permitting. Metcheck dot com predicts glorious sunshine; the BBC's weather website predicts heavy rain. One will be wrong. I wonder which.

And then the first fruit of my loin arrived and we set off for an afternoon's fishing. A couple of years ago a group of us organised a syndicate to obtain fishing rights to a small pond, and we went back for the first outing of this fishing season. Littlun wanted to come, and it made for an entertaining couple of hours. "Have you drunk all that lemonade?" "No.... but it's all gone". The fishing was so-so. I caught twenty-four; first fruit caught four. Which was rather embarrassing. And coming home was rather delayed when littlun announced that she wanted to say goodnight to all the cows in the world before we left.
It was good to get back to the pond. However the pondweed has got out of hand. I may well go back next week with a rake and hoik some of the stuff out.

This evening "er indoors TM" went round the scout hall for their committee meeting. I went round to meet her afterwards, and to meet up with some old friends. For all that the electrics have been re-wired and the place has got a new kitchen, it's the same old scout hall. I did feel a little nostalgic about the place. I do miss the scout group. But would I go back? If I could get a job which might allow me to do so, then I must admit I might be tempted.....

19 June 2012 (Tuesday) - Busy

Finally getting a day of decent weather I got to catch up with some of the chores I've not been able to do. Following the minor flood from defrosting the freezer at the weekend I got the lobby carpet out on to the washing line to dry. I got to strip out my fishing bag to get that dry as well. Whilst I was at it, I had a tidy-up in my tackle box - a job which was long overdue. I then mowed the lawn. I had a bit of a sort-out in the shed and the garden lock-ups. (If any of my loyal readers think I'm looking after any of their camping gear, do let me know; because there's a lot of gear taking up space I can't spare).
And as the sky became overcast I went into cyber-space and had a little tidy-up on Badger Original Landscapes. I've re-worded some of it - it would seem that the masses are put off by words they don't understand. Like "bespoke" and "discerning". I've more to do on that website. I'll do it later.

With the first three reviews of my short story in, I then gave the thing a few minor tweaks (almost total re-write!) and then sent it off to Beckenham for more opinion. Writing for a short story competition is something of an experience. Writing to a word limit is something I've not done for years, and getting all of what I want to say said in three short pages is tricky. I'm very grateful to my volunteer beta-testers. Having proof-read myself for others in the past I know that it's very difficult to be critical of friends' work, but I am grateful for the criticism.
For example I know I start sentences with the word "and" from time to time. I do it in this blog. I know it's grammatically wrong, but I feel I can get away with it if I do it occasionally for dramatic effect. I seem to do it in almost every other sentence. Must stop that. Also I get "its" and it's" mixed up. And (I did it again!) I use brackets far too often.
I can get away with these idiosyncrasies when blogging. After all, like Bob (Ross) said about paintings, this blog is *my* world. And my loyal readers have come to expect this from me. But if I'm going to be writing stories, then I need to follow the rules to garner mass appeal.

Having been reviewed I then got to do some reviewing. One of my reviewers is also entering this same competition and, in a move akin to comparing homework notes, we've agreed to act as reviewers for each other. His story is..... well, it's something I'm not going to expound on here (it would be wrong to do so). But I will say that I liked the story, and couldn't find much at all about which I could be picky.

Talking of books and writing, my Kindle remains knacked. There is talk of replacing the screen, but for the cost involved i can't help but feel I might buy a Kobo ebook reader. I shan't buy anything just yet. I know that within half an hour of my buying something I will be told of a place, shop or person who could have sold me a better thing cheaper. So I'm holding out to find out what that better cheaper thing is before I part with my cash.

And whilst I did all of this, my mobile rang and rang. Job offers. Was I free to take up a post doing something I really didn't fancy next week? Was I available to start working for a double glazing firm the week after?
Whilst I'm not going to pursue those offers, it's heartening to know that there are possibilities out there.

Being Tuesday is "Being Human". The clans gathered in Somerset Road this time. We had another good evening; rounded off by a creme egg each. I rarely have chocolate these days. It was a very welcome treat, and less than two hundred calories too...

18 June 2012 (Monday) - Stuff

I set of to work this morning as usual. I was half way to Canterbury when I realised that I'd left my mobile phone behind. I rarely use the thing during the average work day, and maybe get an occasional text message coming in. But I've got used to the feel of the thing in my breast pocket, and I felt quite lost without it today.

Meanwhile in orbit Chinese astronauts have docked their spaceship with the makings of what will eventually be their own space station. One can't help but wonder why they didn't save a few quid and throw in their lot with the rest of the world on the ISS. Did they really need to set up a rival space station? Well - of course they did. National prestige is at stake. The Americans and Russians played that game forty years ago until they realised how much it cost. I wonder how long it will be before the Chinese realise the same. And, bearing in mind human nature, which country will then take over from the Chinese to go it alone at taking over the cosmos.

Mind you, it's not all beer and skittles on the ISS. It would seem that the international contingents there are planning to get competitive and join in with the forthcoming Olympics. That should be interesting.

Also on a futuristic theme, for many years the pundits have been banging the drum about catastrophic global overpopulation. With a finite load of resources and an ever increasing human population, something's got to give at some point. And now it would seem that the Malthusian doom-sayers have found something else to worry about. Your average porker needs more food to keep giong than do us skinny people (he gloated!) And with calculations showing that twelve Americans weighing the same as seventeen Asians, it would seem that western obesity is effectively reducing the available food resources as badly as adding an extra fifty six million people would.
Perhaps diets might be in order. Works for me (!)
Mind you, when you consider the latest gadget to hit the streets - automatic cake dispensers - is it surprising we have a world of chubbies?

And then I dropped my Kindle. For all that I love the idea of ebooks, an ebook reader with a knacked screen is no good to anyone. If any of my loyal readers could recommend a cheap ebook reader, I'm all ears...

Ticket America

One of these days I am going to go on that holiday I've always promised myself. I've always fancied going to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and when there I want to see the Appalachian State Mountaineers.

I'd use the auspices of Ticket America to get the best deal. I've also had a hankering to got to Arizona. The Sun Devils and the wildcats are others team for which Ticket America has the best deals.

17 June 2012 (Sunday) - The Psychic Fair

I'd been planning for today for some time. I'd been offered the opportunity to run a stall at the local psychic fair where I could flog some paintings. And so (after a lazy morning) off I went.

What does one expect from a psychic fair? A clairvoyant helter-skelter? A carousel which foretells the weather with uncanny accuracy? A roller-coaster that gets messages from "the other side"?
My hopes weren't high when I saw Tony Lemesmer (from the "Alan Partridge" show) starring as one of the psychics. And my hopes fell lower when I realised that (at least) three of the psychics had stooges sitting with them to make it look like they were busy to entice the punters to form queues.
It wasn't just psychics at the fair. There was a lady flogging crystal healing paraphernalia. I thought it was rather ironic that she was on crutches, obviously in pain, and couldn't walk more than a few yards before needing to rest. And I actually laughed out loud at a particularly stout chap who was flogging a herbal weight loss product.
The spiritual healing was quite interesting. Young ladies got to lie on a couch, got covered with a towel, got touched up, got told what Arthur had felt, and got to pay ten quid for the honour. And the punters were just as bad. I was particularly impressed by the one with the word "colostomy" tattooed on her forearm. I was also warned about the vicar of the local spiritualist church who was trying to recruit psychics to his flock.
There's no denying that I went along expecting the worst.

But it's easy to be cynical. As the afternoon wore on the joss sticks had been lit, and there was gentle hippy music in the background. The place had a very soothing aura. It was so relaxing just sitting and watching the world go by.
I couldn't help but be nosey and listen in to the reading which was going on next to me. Whilst I couldn't say that the chap had completely foretold his punter's life in every detail, he certainly had hit several chords. His punter was moved and impressed, and hadn't actually given away any clues. Another reading finished with the punter amazed and the psychic in tears.

There were quite a few people along this afternoon. Apparently attendance was down on the usual turn out because it was Father's Day. But those who were there went along knowing in advance what they wanted. The psychics and healers did a roaring trade, as did those selling crystals. I had a lot of people interested in my paintings, but time and again people said that they hadn't brought any spare money, and asked if I would be at the next fair. It would seem that the punters knew in advance what stalls would be there, and had brought exactly enough money for what they wanted. Quite a few people took my card and I had an in-depth discussion about a possible commission.

Financially I didn't get rich on the day. By the time I'd paid for my pitch I was actually down on the deal. But I'm not discouraged. As we were setting up I got into conversation with a chap who told me not to be upset if I didn't sell a thing, and if I took over two hundred quid I shouldn't expect that next time. Apparently (financially) some fairs are gold mines and others are deserts.
There's another one in a month's time. I shall be there.....

16 June 2012 (Saturday) - Still Busy

The weekly weigh-in. My weight remains constant at about the fourteen stone mark. I suspect the major pig-outs at last week's camp did little for any possible weight loss this week. But I'm happy with my weight remaining constant. The overall trend is downwards. As long as weight's not going back on, I shall remain content.

The morning post brought a letter from the pension people. It would seem that my recent tribulations haven't affected my pension anywhere near as badly as I originally feared, and so gave me more cause to smile. The same post also brought a pile of business cards which I'd secured really cheaply from the Internet for tomorrow's stall at which I shall tout the merchandise of Badger-Original-Landscapes-Bespoke-artwork (dot com).

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd completed the first draft of a short story I've written for a competition. This morning I shaved some excess words off of it so it's now the correct word length. "Daddies Little Angel TM" had the honour of having the first read. I don't think it was an honour she fully appreciated as she fell about laughing over the opening line. I didn't think it was *that* sarcastic.

We popped to the bank this morning. It was good. There was an epically-breasted young lady with a rather revealing dress who was practising what I can only describe as a "these are my knockers" pose. I was impressed(!)
And then on to the farm. Last weekend we'd camped and left the tents up. Today they were (mostly) dry and a couple of hours' work got them taken down and packed away. The Rear Admiral's tent might need a little maintenance before it's used again; but then again, couldn't we all?

Home again, and we collected in the catalogues I touted out on Tuesday. Some interest - someone wants to work for us touting catalogues on a sub-contracting basis. That's nice. And then after a quick shower we set off to East Malling for Denver and Jo's wedding reception. The bride looked radiant; brides always do. The groom looked vaguely harassed. As is the way of the world.

Meanwhile I have the tune of "Suburban Homeboy" by Sparks stuck in my head.....

15 June 2012 (Friday) - Busy

Friday - recycling day. Oh - the binmen were noisy about it today. I had naively hoped for a bit of a lie-in this morning. It didn't happen.

I had made plans for my day today. I had all sorts of errands to do on the computer, and a stack of laundry to sort as well. The plan was to alternate between computer and washing line; getting all the jobs done before the forecast rain started at 3pm. A good plan; or so I thought.
I had all the on-line chores done and the last load of washing in the washing machine by mid-morning. And then the rain started. So I put loads of washing round the house wherever I could, fell asleep in front of the telly and woke a couple of hours later only to remember all the chores that I had forgotten about. Astro club finances, uploading the blog backup, having yet another re-write of my C.V., some promotional stuff for the stall I shall be running on Sunday. I'd been planning to do them all week, and had forgotten.

And just as I thought all the chores were done an agency phoned with a possible opening. Would I possibly be interested in.... The nice lady described *exactly* the sort of job I would like to do. So why did she wonder if it might only possibly be of interest to me? Probably because it's such a specialised job that even the specialists don't realise what's what.

I've decided I'm going to enter a writing contest. A short sci-fi story of between seven hundred and fifty words and one thousand five hundred words.... easy-peasy. I've chosen to write up humanity's fourth extra-solar mission. All I need to do now is to shave twenty five words off of the first draft.
I shall be tapping up proof readers in the next week or so...

14 June 2012 (Thursday) - Stuff

On Monday I blogged that we'd left wet tents standing after the weekend's camp. On Tuesday I whinged that the rain had stopped us getting the tents dry. Yesterday the weather was wonderful; and today it wasn't bad. It's rather frustrating knowing that dry tents are sitting in a field and we're not able to do anything with them. Here's hoping they stay dry till the weekend.

Here's a thought.... I browse the web using Firefox. Because I like it. Other people use other browsers. I believe that this blog is readable in all of them. If it's not, then there's not a lot I can do about it. But as websites evolve, some of the older browsers are having trouble keeping up. An Australian on-line retailer has now started adding a fee onto all transactions made on its site using Internet Explorer 7. It costs them money to make their website work on antique browsers, and they want to recoup that money. Personally I'd rather have a website with a few less bells and whistles that actually works....

And I'll end today with an ethical dilemma. More and more carnivorous plants are turning vegetarian. Is this a triumph for the vegetarians in that less animals are getting scoffed; or a triumph for the meat-eaters like me who see a carnivorous plant going vegetarian as being akin to scoring an own goal...?

13 June 2012 (Wednesday) - Justice...?

The electronic age is wonderful. Through Friends Reunited, Facebook, ICQ, Yahoo, email and the like I keep in touch with people I've known for years. There are some people with whom I squabble daily, some not so often.

There is one old friend from school with whom I've been in touch over the net for some years now. Sometimes we message each other on a weekly basis. Sometimes years go past between communications. He had a hankering to be an actor; doing ghost walks in Hastings Old Town. He was in a Typhoo Tea TV advert playing the part of a dancing train guard. And on stage he actually has been the very model of a modern major-general.
Today that chap is the subject of gossip on my old school's Facebook page. I couldn't believe the news. He has gone to prison for five years; having apparently defrauded a local firm of the best part of a million quid. I remember the bloke in question very well. Even as a teenager he was a true gentleman. In many ways old before his time, he was a leading light in his local community. He was on the committee of the social club my brother goes to.
Surely that story couldn't be true.

So I did a little finding out. And saw that the damning report came from the police's own website. And, as is always the case, to coin a phrase "quis custodiet ipsos custodes." A more balanced report of the whole sorry tale is given by the local newspaper. My old mucker had done wrong. A little wrong. A small wrong. He'd temporarily "borrowed money" from his employer to help out a friend who was in difficulties; with every intention of giving the money back. But people far more unscrupulous than he found out what he had done, and blackmailed him into stealing more money from that employer over a period of some years.
And so he got caught, and he went to prison. Interestingly neither the local newspaper nor the police website make any mention of what happened to the blackmailers.

I've blogged about miscarriages of justice before.... I shall drop the chap a line. Maybe not as often as I've written to prisons in the past; ink and stamps aren't cheap in this new world order.
But I shall send him a letter. And some stamps too. There's not much that I can do for him, but I can do that much.....