31 March 2014 (Monday) - Dull, Really

What with the clocks having gone forward I found myself waking an hour later than usual. Still far too early, but an hour less early than usual.
Yesterday’s walk had clearly taken its toll on “Furry Face TM “; he was nowhere to be seen at brekkie time. For once I had my toast to myself.

I stopped off in Bybrook on my way to work to collect a Munzee. It brightened up an otherwise dull journey. The radio was rather dull this morning; it was full of talk about how an independent Scotland will retain the pound as its unit of currency. All of the experts were adamant that in doing so would leave an independent Scotland still under the yoke of London’s control. Even the pro-independence lobby conceded as much, but for no explicable reason they thought this was a good thing.

Once at work we had cake. Home-made cake. Very nice. I spent the morning constructively, then went out to my car for the lunch break. Another saxophone practice session. I played with a bit of Dvozak; I thought my tune was recognisable. And my new music stand worked well too.

Once home I was again grateful for the hour’s time change. With a lighter evening I was out for nearly an hour walking “Furry Face TM “. We made a short video whilst we were out.
Once home, with ‘er indoors TM off bowling I sat through the last set of video lectures for my on-line course about the Internet. There is the big quiz to be done next week, then it will all be over. It’s been an interesting course but it’s dragged on. I wish they had made all the course material available right at the start then I could have got on with it and finished it all back in the days when I had time on my hands.
Now to sort out my socks…

30 March 2014 (Sunday) - Cooling

What with a late night combined with daylight saving I crawled into my pit shortly after 2am last night. Despite a small dog crawling over me (I wish he wouldn't) I didn't actually wake until nearly 7am. Almost five hours sleep. That's unheard of.
I shared my brekkie toast with "Furry Face TM". I say "shared"; "gave it all to" might have been a more accurate description. I wasn't hungry, and I did have belly ache. I then spent half an hour looking at the geo-map planning next week's walk. Everywhere I looked seemed to have rather fiendish puzzle caches.
Why is it that whenever I can't solve a really hard puzzle cache everyone else gloats about how easy they are, but when I set one that involves a little thought I get told that what I'd set was insoluble and the only way that anyone could find it was through cheating?

We set off to collect Gordon Tracy, and then we drove up to Cooling. I didn't realise that I'd been there before. Cooling is the site of a personal best; I once drank twenty one pints of London Pride in one sitting there. Today however was dog walking and tupperware hunting. We parked up, and pausing briefly to read the village notice board we found out the designated keyholders for the village heart defibrillator. I can't help but wonder how many other villages have a defibrillator.
So, ably advised in case of a cardiac incident we wandered round the Cooling Crawl series of geocaches. It was a rather good walk. It was certainly muddy in parts, and I would have put one or two more caches along the way. But nevertheless it was a really good way to spend the morning.

As with all circular walks we soon found ourselves back where we'd started, and we walked into the village where we sat in the garden of the village pub and washed our sarnies down with a rather tasty pint of a local ale. From here we then set off for a much shorter walk in the other direction. Only three geocaches along this way, but one involved a bit of a tree climb, and another one was a "Pooh, Tig and La-La" hide.

From here we then did some "cache and dash"-ing; drive-by geocaches. We did half a dozen without incident including one hidden by "tugmaster" (!)
And then we read the description for the next one on our itinery. "The Nest" said "...is what you would expect in that its high up. But there's a twist....You dont need to be an eggsellent climber but don't forget; no cache is worth losing your life over and more importantly no cache is worth the 999 call out". We thought it sounded too dangerous and we decided against it. But then we realised that "er indoors TM" had just found her 2699th cache. A special cache for her milestone would be nice. it wouldn't hurt to have a look-see at this dangerous cache, would it? After all, how bad could it be?
We soon found the cache. I say "found"; I could see the thing clearly from twenty (or so) yards away. the trouble was that those yards were up. It was rather high. Gordon Tracy was up that tree like a rat up a drainpipe (presuming, of course, that rats go up drainpipes). It was only when he got to the top that he realised he'd forgotten a pen to sign the cache log. So he came down again. "er indoors TM" scrambled up and down, and in a triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense I brought up the rear. I signed the log for everyone (One signature saves space!) and I even managed a selfie too. It was only when I was coming down that I wondered if I should still be climbing so high up trees at my age.
Was it dangerous? Yes. Was it that dangerous? Not really. Had I slipped there were so many branches that I wouldn't have dropped like a brick, I would have bounced my way down. Would I do it again? Most definitely.

We did have plans to go on elsewhere, but time had run out. We came home and "Furry Face TM" had a shower. If he will roll in fox poo he must pay the price. With "er indoors TM" off out at bowling I set the washing machine loose on grubby laundry, put some photos of our day onto the Internet, and then watched episode three of the new documentary "Cosmos". I wasn't impressed.
And I then ended a rather good weekend by ironing shirts...

29 March 2014 (Saturday) - Shed Roof, Music Stands

A rather good night's sleep for a change. I was going for an early half asleep tiddle, but a phone call woke me up. Expecting disasterous news (why else would anyone be calling so early) it was rather frustrating to find it was nothing that couldn't have waited. I wasn't going to get to sleep after that.
Why do some people assume that if they are awake then everyone else should also be up and about? I shall start phoning selected people at 4am to let them find out how anti-social early morning phone cells can be.

"My Boy TM" arrived and we set about fixing the shed roof. The winter storms had all but trashed the felting, and so we set about replacing the felt. We decided that I should be the one actually on the roof as I am (probably) the lightest. But as our maxim we were chanting "don't fall through the roof, Dad". We got the job done in less than an hour; on my own I would have taken all morning.
I then took "Furry Face TM" for a walk. We got as far as Bowen's Field. We would have gone further but the silly pup smothered himself in fox crap so we came home for bath time. With dog bathed I sorted out the astro club accounts and sent "er indoors TM" off to town to pay the cash into the bank for me. I then looked at my own bank accounts. I got a little bit cross.
In December the mobile phone people said they would reduce my monthly payments. I checked and saw that for the third consecutive month the payment has gone up. I phoned them to ask what was going on. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing I got through to someone in Mumbai who told me not to argue with their computer as it is never wrong. I have three months left on the contract, then I shall tell them where to stick their mobile phone.

And then it was time for my saxophone lesson. It went rather well, I thought. More tips on how to improve my technique, and faced with three tunes I'd not seen before (on sheet music) I didn't do too badly at all. Having my homework for the week. I just needed to see if I could get hold of a cheap music stand...
Argos had one according to their web site. Available at the local branch I could reserve it on line. I did. But when we went to collect it, young Spotty behind the till told me they didn't actually have them in stock. Despite what their web site said, it wouldn't actually arrive until Friday. So I went to the Folkestone Argos and bought one from there. Ironically as we were driving down the motorway to Folkestone I got an email from Argos to tell me my order had arrived in the Ashford branch.

Whilst in Folkestone we visited "Daddies Little Angel TM" and her associates. I spent an hour asleep on the sofa, I fussed the dogs, and played Crash Barbecue (!) on the Nintendo DS. And from there we made our way to Cheriton for a birthday bash...

28 March 2014 (Friday) - ポケットモンスタ and Sputniks

Another bad night's sleep; I finally nodded off five minutes before "er indoors TM" woke me by going for a tiddle, and was up and watching Family Guy shortly after 6am. "Furry Face TM" liked my toast; as he usually does. I then had a quick surf of the Internet and as I watched an email arrived. A new geocache had gone live not a mile from home. However it wasn't a standard one; this one's location could only be found by solving what looked to be a particularly fiendish puzzle.
However bashing my head against the wall and then trying random entries on Wikipedia soon gave me the clue I wanted, and after surprisingly little mucking about I had the cache in hand not forty minutes after it had been published. First to Find. Happy dance.

I carried on to work, listening to the radio as I went. The Government's bedroom tax would seem to have been an abject failure. Only six per cent of people in rented accommodation with spare rooms have moved on. The Government had been hoping for a lot more; the idea being that by taxing people living in houses with unused bedrooms, single people in multi-bedroomed houses could down-size to make room for larger families. In theory a good idea, but in practice it's not worked.
Nearly a quarter of the people affected by this tax are now in arrears with their rent where they weren't before. Furthermore they interviewed the leader of Wiltshire council who said it's their policy not to build one-bedroomed accommodation. So those who the tax is trying to force into one-bedroomed flats clearly have nowhere to go.
A Government spokeswoman came on and rubbished all of what had been said; it was all patent lies, the figuers quoted were all wrong. When pushed she reluctantly admitted that the percentage of those in rented accommodation with spare rooms who have moved on was not only six per cent; it was a rather impressive eight per cent. Big deal! And she had to concede that there are precious few single bedroomed houses or flats. Why do politicians go on the radio when they know they are in the wrong? Surely they'd get more respect by admitting when they'd made a mistake?

There was also consternation about how freely available filth is on the Internet. The pundits interviewed a sour faced harridan who seemed to think there was merit in hounding British smut merchants so much that they moved overseas. She seemed to think it was a good idea to have filth based abroad where there could be no UK control of it, rather than keeping it local and licensed.
A leading porn-monger then pointed out the obvious; there are plenty of cyber-tools to prevent kiddies seeing things on the Internet if only people would stop being so proud of being ignorant of how to use the technology.

I stopped off to get petrol on my way to work, and once there I did my thing. It was quite a good day. Not only did we have cream cake, but one of the lads has been nominated for the award of National Apprentice of the year. All rather exciting.
I had another sax practice at lunch time. As well as gettting a surprising amount of notes out of the thing, there was an entertaining interlude in which the introduction ot "Paint it Black" turned into part of "The First Noell".

After work I set of to McDonalds where I met Stevey and the Rear Admiral. We sneered at the antics of the Great Unwashed, then set off to astro club. Tonight's meeting was rather disjointed as our speaker had been delayed, but the meeting was nonetheless excellent. Interesting news, a good little chat on what there is of note in the constellation Bootes, and a really interesting talk on the Soviet space program...

27 March 2014 (Thursday) - Not Much Happened

I was up with the lark and watching the latest episode of the re-made "The Tomorrow People" shortly after 6am this morning. Having been marking time for a while, the plot seems to be going somewhere now. And once I'd watched the show I watched most of my brekkie toast go down my dog's neck. He likes toast.

My drive to work was dull; the news was not memorable. Work was unremarkable; but my lunchtime sax practice went well. I can now get just over half of the notes out of teh thing; even if "C" does elude me. And I got something resembling a tune as well.

There's no denying that my piss boiled as I listened to the news on my way home. A new dwarf planet has been identified, and irregularities in its orbit hint at a planet-sized object out there in the Kuiper belt. But rather than treating the discovery seriously, Radio Four wheeled on Sky at Night presenter Dr Lucie Green and openly and publically insulted her and the entire astronomical community. Rather than conducting a serious interview, they asked three schoolchildren to interview her. I'm not sure why they had children involved, but they asked some rather stupid questions. Does anyone really need to ask if a planet so far from the Sun would have life? And then having been given the obvious answer, who would then ask if the planet had oxygen?
Again Radio Four takes a space-related issue and trivialises it.
I was also rather gripped by jealousy by the Norwegan chap with more money than sense. Having moored his rather expensive yacht he hen forgot about the thing. Few people could afford a yacht; fewer still could afford to forget they had one.

Once home I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk. We weren't out for long; being caught in a thunderstorm rather put both of us off of the idea of a stroll. So we came home to dry off. I expect that shed is now awash again...

26 March 2014 (Wednesday) - Zoos, Music

Being so tired from the recent lack of sleep it's only really fair that I should have had a good night's sleep; I say "good" - I was awake for about half an hour around 3am, and got up shortly after 5am.
Having burned my morning toast I fed most of it to my dog. He didn't seem fussed that it was burned; he just seemed to like having it because it's mine.

I checked out social media over brekkie. I know I shouldn't let it wind me up, but it annoys me how people are still being taken in by the untruths and deliberate misquotings being generated about Copenhagen Zoo. There was an article on the radio about this so-called scandal some time ago. Far from being heartless murderers, the zoologists at Copenhagen are doing the best they can under less than ideal circumstances. Species that are only being kept from extinction by zoos are obviously very low in numbers. therefore it is vital to maintain genetic diversity so as to prevent the problems of in-breeding. Such as is happening in certain breeds of dog such as pugs and dalmations.
Furthermore when animals breed they often don't just have one baby; they have several. And being commercial institutions (often ones which run at a loss) zoos don't have the facilities to keep loads of any given animal. So consequently they have to cull from time to time. They need to have the greatest genetic mix available in their breeding popuations. It might be a heartbreaking fact, but there is little alternative.
All the stories circulating on social media about there being zoos willing to take on excess zoo animals have been comprehensively debunked by many respected zoologists. The implication was that the so-called zoos wanting to take on excess animals are little more than people who fancy having a tiger in their back garden.

And despite all the hype and nastiness aimed at Copenhagen zoo, what they are doing would seem to be happening in all zoos actively involved in conservation.
After all one needs to conserve a viable species; not force it to extinction by uncontrolled in-breeding. Does anyone seriously beleive that a major zoological institution is killing off animals for fun?
Why do people beleive these scare stories when they have shown not too be true? I'm reminded of the stories circulating on-line a month or so ago about KFC getting their chicken meat from genetically modifed birds with four legs and ten wings apiece.
How is it that reasonable people beleive patent nonsense by its simply by being published on the Internet ?

Having watched the morning fix of Family Guy I set off to work. It lost count of cyclists on the pavements as I went; most of whom had i-headphones preventing them from hearing anything. Few were looking where they were going, and one had a haircut reminiscent of Cousin It (from the Addams Family) with face completely obscured by chin length hair.
I've ranted about idiot cyclists before. How is it none of them ever get mowed down?

And so to work. I did my bit, and again had a little sax practice at lunch time. There's no denying I need the practice. I set myself up at the far end of the car park and squawk away, and shall do until I receive a formal complaint.
Today during a bit of a scale I surprised myself by recognising what I'd just tootled. I tootled it again. It sounded just like the introduction to "Paint it Black"; which I have subsequenetly learned is a song by the Rolling Stones and not the Stranglers.
From my rather limited musical ability the song seems to start with an "E" note and then goes on with F - G - A - G - F - E - E (again) - D# (whatever the # is?) - E - F. I shall work on this during tomorrow's sax practice and see how it sounds.
Bearing in mind it has no "C" notes I am hoping for the best.

25 March 2014 (Tuesday) - Laser, FTF...

After a frankly terrible night's sleep I got up and on seeing "Furry Face TM" was also up and about I thought we'd have some fun. I got out my laser pointer and thought he might like to chase the laser spot. After all other dogs and cats enjoy playing that game. My furry associate had no interest in charging about after a spot of light; instead he started whining and crying. He wanted the actual laser pointer itself. Presumably he thought it was a stick he could chew.
I gave up with that idea and had brekkie instead. I watched a couple of episodes of Family Guy as I scoffed, but half an hour later had no idea what they had been about. I can remember enjoying them, but as for what happened...?

I checked my emails; a new geocache had gone live. Not only was it less than two miles from home it was also on my way to work. It had been out for nearly an hour, so I had no thoughts of getting a First to Find, but it would be something to cheer up what might be an otherwise dull morning. So I set off, and to my surprise on one else had charged out and I was first. That was a nice little bonus.

As I carried on to work the news was of the (apparently) scandalous behaviour of Malaysian Airlines who had formally told grieving relatives that they had abandoned all hope of their being any survivors of the missing flight MH370. It was considered bad form to make the announcement by text message. I can't help but feel that bearing in mind the hype that the media had stirred up about this, they were hardly in any position to take the moral high ground.

I had another saxophone practice session at lunch time. The idea of practicing in the works car park was that my dog wouldn't sing along. After only a couple of minutes spent squawking I realised I had an audience; a labrador had appeared from nowhere and was watching me intently. Eventually his owner showed up; I was told that he was interested by the sounds I was making. I suppose that was a result.

Once home I took "Furry Face TM" for his evening walk. We went to have a look for that geocache of mine that I couldn't find yesterday. I'm pretty sure it's gone; the area where it was has had a rather intense tidy-up. I shall archive the listing.

Being Tuesday the clans gathered. Tonight at Queens Road. We played Jelly Splash, we considered possible casting for the Carry On film that was never made, we watched (or slept through) Merlin. I wish I could have stayed awake through that program and had that sleep in the middle of the night...

24 March 2014 (Monday) - Assorted Ranting

Another terrible night's sleep; with me seeing every hour of the night. This appointment with the sleep clinic can't come fast enough for my liking. I eventually got up shortly after 5.30am and shared my toast with my furry associate watching yet more episodes of Family Guy. It's a bland enough show for my waking mind.

I left for work a little earlier than usual; a frosty night had left the car covered in ice. It don't scrape itself off you know.
As I drove to work there was talk about the western governments getting together to talk about developments in the Ukraine and Crimea. I can't help but feel that it's all a little bit late now as Russia seems to have got its nose firmly in the Crimean trough.

There was also talk about a radical change to Labour party policy; leading lights in the socialist world had suggested that actually having some policies might be a vote winner. As the Con-Servatives and Labour are neck and neck in opinion polls a recommendation has been made that shouting "Don't Vote for Them; They are Crap!" doesn't inspire as much confidence in a potential government as saying what they would do given the current political and economic climate.

I stopped off in Morrisons for some shopping before going to work. How my piss boiled. I wanted sugar. Thos few of the staff who could be bothered to acknowledge my presence had never heard of sugar; let alone knew where it was kept.
And the self-service checkout was playing up. Wherever I tried to weigh my apples the computerised scales inside the thing would crash. A numbskull assistant came to help me. She announced that the scales worked better if you weren't gentle with them and smacked the apples down. The scale still didn't work. She bammed the apples harder. No joy. On the fifth smackdown the bag burst and sprayed apples everywhere. She then said she'd use a different scale. Her face was completely blank when I told her to leave the apples and go and get me fresh ones. She asked why I wanted fresh ones, and seemed oblivious to the concept that a dropped apple bruises. I asked if she'd ever actually eaten an apple, but the expression remained blank.

And so to work. At lunch time I took myself to the far end of the car park and had a little practice on my saxophone (which I’d brought along). I mucked about with scales; I’m still having problems with “C”. It was during a particularly vigorous toot that the elastic in my undercrackers gave up and I spent the rest of the day constantly hoiking up my pants.

Once home I put the lead onto “Furry Face TMand took him for a stroll. Whilst out we checked on one of my less-frequently visited geocaches; the thing seems to have gone missing. This was another one that had wasn’t cheap and quite frankly I’m inclined to archive it off and be done with the thing. I’ve mentioned before about needing to archive some of my more problematical caches. I shall make a start soon…

23 March 2014 (Sunday) - Camer and Luddesdown

I took myself off to bed around 11pm last night. There's no denying that I would have slept better had a certain Patagonian Tripe-Hound not jumped onto my chest and started gnawing his bone at 1.30am. And much as I like my furry associate, I can think of others whom I would prefer to lick me awake at 6.30am. But all things considered I had a reasonable night's sleep.

I watched an episode of Family Guy over brekkie and checked out the Internet. Not a lot had happened overnight. And so we set off on today's excursion. Pausing only briefly to pick up Gordon Tracy and another dog we made our way to Camer Park.

We'd seen there was a geo-series in Camer Park, but the walk listed was only one of a couple of hours. Patagonian Tripe-Hounds need more of a walk than that. So a quick peruse of the map showed that there was another nearby geo-series. Together the two would make a good walk for the day. I'd contacted people who'd done the route recently and found it wasn't too muddy, so I thought I'd give my new walking shoes (from Cotton Traders) their first proper try-out. I was quite impresed with them.

And so on with our walk. The weather forecast had predicted light rain showers. It hadn't said anything about hail. The hail was quite heavy. It only hailed a couple of times; but that was enough. The weather today was very changeable; going from bright sunshine to heavy rain (and back again) in minutes. We sat down for lunch in glorious sunshine and as we ate we watched the black clouds come over. One minute we were basking in the sun's glow, the next minute I was putting on coat and gloves.

We saw pigs whilst we were out. There were goats in a field, and there were pigs rummaginging in the woodlands next to that field. I don't know if the pigs were supposed to be there, or if they were wild pigs, but they seemed rather sweet (as pigs go). And as we walked round we met up with Chris and Scarlett who were doing the loop in reverse order. it was good to have them with us as I found what I later realised was my 2900th geocache.

We had a really good outing. We found some really clever puzzle ideas; but none of the hides were too difficult (I hate it when cache owners don't seem to want their hides to be found). I experimented with not logging as I went (to save battery power) and it worked to a degree. I tried using my camera rather than my phone (again to save battery power) and used it to take a few photos whilst we were out. Let me know if the photos are any better or worse than what I usually produce.

We could have gone on and collected a few puzzle caches we'd solved previously, and we could have gone on to get one cache which was some way up a tree. But time was pushing on, and with the threat of the car park being locked at 5pm we decided to call it a day and come home. After all we'd been out for over six hours and had been up hill and down dale for nearly ten miles.

Once home I bathed my dog, and with all of the fox poo hopefully removed he then settled down and snored for the rest of the evening. I set about washing my onesie. I do like that onesie.

I then watched "The Great Escape"; I say "watched"; I missed the first half-hour. I always do. I must see the film from the beginning at some stage...

22 March 2014 (Saturday) - Long Day

Being wide awake at 2am I thought I might load up the washing machine. So I did that, and went back to bed where I lay awake until the thing finished. I then lay awake until the tumble drier finished. I was sorting out my smalls whilst watching episodes of Family Guy beofre 4am, and had done three loads of washing before 6am. If nothing else I was using cheap rate electricity.
My little dog sat with me for six hours of total boredom. By the time "er indoors TM" emerged from her pit I was bored senseless. And it was at this point that a very sunny morning gave way to rain. I had planned to go out to Sevington to do some geo-maintenance this morning. I abandoned that plan. My next plan was to archive the entire Sevington Saunter series of caches as they are too far out of my way for me to maintain easily, but I was persuaded not to do that (for the time being).

I then spent a little time working of my presentation on galaxies for the astro club, and I did some of this week's course on the Internet. Eventually the rain slackened off enough so we could go out without getting totally soaked, so we walked "Furry Face TM" round the park. He made a nuisance of himself with every other dog he could find and then quite comprehensively rolled in fox crap.
He therefore only had himself to blame for his subsequent bath.

With my furry associate having been bathed and a cream cake scoffed for lunch I set off to Henwood. Earlier in the week I'd been searching out saxophone lessons; today I had a free taster session. It was really good. It turns out that whilst my sax isn't the best in the world, it is far from the worst. And I would seem to have got it for a bargain price. It is an alto sax (!) and I am reliably informed it has a very good sound.
I had half an hour with a very good teacher who showed me what buttons to press and how to blow into it. For the time being I am sticking to the bare essentials of the thing, but in all honesty there is more than enough there for me to be getting on with. With a little effort I can get two octaves out of it all the time I remember "BAG FED" (it's a sax thing). There's no denying that I'm having problems with the note "C" but hopefully I can muddle through for the time being.
From my lesson I popped into Ashford to buy a music book that my teacher recommended, and then I came home.

I was very keen to carry on with what I had learned, but "Furry Face TM" does like to sing along, and with "er indoors TM" off shopping there was no one to settle him. So I finished off this week's work for my on-line course about the Internet. I got ninety per cent on security and decryption protocols, and I then slept through "Carry on Constable" until "er indoors TM" came home. With an assistant to keep my dog amused I had a bit of a go on my sax. There's no denying that I am struggling with the upper and lower ends of the thing's range, but that will come with practice. I have a plan that every day I shall park up at the far end of the works car park and have a bit of a toot during my lunch breaks.

By the early evening I found today's early start was taking its toll. But my new routine doesn't allow me time mid-week for dull laundry any more. So with "er indoors TM" off out with the Hose Beast and assorted others for the Saturday film night I set about my shirts and my smalls.
I do hope I sleep tonight...