30 November 2019 (Saturday) - Clowes Wood

Over brekkie as I peered into the Internet I saw that the astro club had had a meeting last night. Back in the day there would have been adverts about the meeting on all the local community Internet forums and websites during the week before the meeting, and Facebook would have been alive with posts and photos after such a meeting. This doesn’t happen any more; there were just a couple of mentions after the event on the club’s own Facebook page. Does that mean that the club is moribund, or just that no one there bothers with social media any more?

There were also whinges on one of the geocaching pages. Having found a film pot under a rock, some people haven’t been telling the world about it until months later. This is their right, but such late logging has actually been a problem for me on several occasions. Given a cache with a few “can’t find it – is it missing?” reports, I then got a “Found It” log. So I’ve automatically thought that the thing was there all along. However the “Found it” log was been dated from nine months previously and the cache was still actually missing.

With "er indoors TM" off to visit "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" I loaded the dogs into the car and set off to Clowes Wood. There is a series of geocaches there (would you believe it!) that in order to locate you first need to have solved a “Jigidi” on-line jigsaw puzzle. Over the last few months several people have grumbled about the puzzles… I must admit to a degree of frustration with the things. It wasn’t that long ago when I tried to set a puzzle cache using one of these Jigidi thingies. The reviewer at the time (now long gone) very rudely told me that Jigidi wasn’t allowed as it went against the rules. Geocaching HQ confirmed this. In the meantime the specific rule that they mentioned hasn’t changed, but loads of these Jigidi puzzles have appeared anyway. Perhaps it’s just me who isn’t allowed to use Jigidi?
Still, mustn’t grumble. They make for more caches to find, and with fewer and fewer people bothering to hide them, that’s never a bad thing.

We soon met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte, and had a rather good walk. We’ve been to Clowes Wood before; being Forestry Commission land the paths are rather good all year long so we didn’t get *that* grubby. Pogo was amazingly well behaved, only shouting at one other dog and either ignoring or playing nicely with the other hounds. Fudge was a little bit shouty, but he didn’t do his usual trick of disappearing in pursuit of pheasants and being missing for half an hour, so that was a good thing. And Treacle was quite content all the time Karl was throwing sticks for her.
We had a good walk hunting for our little pots; we found all of them even if at one point we’d transposed our co-ordinates and got a six and a nine the wrong way round.
I took a few photos as we walked. Interestingly if you look at the photos, have a look at the geo-tagging on the first two photos. Taken in exactly the same place, one is recognised as being in Whitstable, and one as being in Canterbury.

From Clowes Wood we drove into Whitstable. In February we’d called in to “The Monument” and had dinner in the garden. We thought we might go there again for food. It was a tad too cold for the garden today, but we had a good dinner nonetheless.
As we scoffed we listened to the pensioners on the next table quarrelling about politics. Bless them.

We said our goodbyes, and came home. It was a shame that one of the dogs had been sick in the back of the car on the way home, but they had had quite a few treats as we’d walked, and when in the pub I had been slipping them chips, and some of the steak from my baguette.
It didn’t take that long to clear up dog vom.

I spent five minutes fighting with a broken telly; finally fixing it by putting new batteries into the remote control, then spent a couple of hours doing the ironing until "er indoors TM" came home.
We scoffed tea, then "My Boy TM" and Cheryl came round. They brought cakes…

29 November 2019 (Friday) - Healthcare, Penguins...

I was fast asleep when my phone went off in the small hours. Someone had dialled the wrong number.
Oh how I laughed.

I shared my toast crusts with Fudge as I watched another episode of “Man Down”. It’s only the second episode, but I’m quite getting into the show. As I watched it I sorted the socks and undercrackers that I’d tumble-dried last night. As most of the world was still snoring I was organising my pants. There’s never a dull moment in my life!
Mind you the small part of the world near my house didn’t snore long this morning. Friday is bin day. The dustbin men *could* have been noisier if they’d tried, but it would have taken some doing.

With telly watched I turned on my lap-top to see what had happened overnight. As I read Facebook this morning I saw something which made me sit up and take notice. On one of the work-related Facebook groups I follow were some photographs of blood cells. Quite often there are such photographs of blood cells which are malignant or dysplastic (manky) or just “odd”. The idea is that by sharing such unusual cases we can all gain experience. The blood cells I saw this morning were characteristic of acute leukaemia, but the patient in question hadn’t presented at the GP as is usually the case. They had been brought into a trauma centre with massive gunshot wounds (which turned out to be self-inflicted).
This case was one from America.
In the UK if you are diagnosed with leukaemia there is often a reasonable chance of a recovery (look at Clive James and Timothy Spall) because although the treatment is very expensive, we have a national health service. Free health care.
In America you pay for your healthcare if you can afford it. And if you don’t you die. Realistically shooting yourself is a far quicker and cheaper way to treat leukaemia than to suffer a protracted death from an insidious cancer.
Bear this in mind when you are voting for a political party which is advocating for an American-style way of funding healthcare…

As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were again drivelling on about political issues and the upcoming election. There was quite a bit of consternation being expressed about some interview panel on Channel Four last night in which the Prime Minister declined to take part, and so they use a melting block of ice as his stunt double. 
There was also talk about how ecologists in Antarctica are monitoring penguin numbers and movements by satellites. This is far less invasive and disturbing for the penguins than having someone wander out to bother them.
And a sight warmer for the penguin counters too I dare say.

Compared to the traffic jams of earlier in the week I made good time to Maidstone. I stopped off at Aldi; yesterday we had our "Secret Santa" draw and seeing how I won't get many more chances to call in at Aldi before Christmas (I'm working at Tunbridge Wells for the next few weeks) I thought I'd better get the pressie today. I wondered about buying a "Kevin the Carrot" toy. They were selling three-feet tall "Kevin the Carrot"s - but who on Earth wants a three-feet tall "Kevin the Carrot"?
I bought a different pressie. I paid for it, and got it in a cheapo carrier bag. The cheapo carrier bags in Aldi can be used as bags in the food waste bins. I like that idea - that way I can re-use it. I don't tend to re-use the other carrier bags I get in Aldi - they just get stuffed into my locker at work. interestingly there are calls to increase the prices of carrier bags substantially (to over seventy pence each) as apparently the average family has already bought and used over fifty-five so-called "bags for life" this year.

I went into work. During a lull in proceedings I phoned Halfords in Ashford. As I drove this morning I saw the reflection of my car - it looked as though one of the headlight bulbs had gone. The nice man on the phone said he'd got a replacement, and would fit it for me on my way home this evening.

They did. And they only charged me eight quid for doing so. Result!!

28 November 2019 (Thursday) - Santa Shoots an Elf

Unfortunately the dogs had a restless night, and when they are restless, so is everyone else.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Man Down”. Originally broadcast some six years ago it was entertaining, and featured the late Rik Mayall.

I sparked up the lap-top and peered into the Internet. Not a lot was happening on Facebook really. There was quite a lot of political rubbish being posted. But for every post about how terrible the Conservatives are, there was another post about how awful Labour are. Both of the main parties seem to have as their election catch-phrase “vote for us – we aren’t as bad as them…
LinkedIn had emailed me (yet again) asking if I knew random strangers.

As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about the latest poll about the upcoming General Election. Our old friend Science has devised a really super-doper way of finding out how the general public are going to vote and has predicted that the Conservatives will win with a majority of about sixty-eight seat in the House of Commons.  That struck me as a rather frightening prospect until it was pointed out that the margin of error in this prediction was so large that it was equally possible that the Conservatives wouldn't even win at all.
So why bother with the prediction in the first place?
There was then talk about Mr Corbyn's latest revelation. He's obtained over four hundred pages of secret documents which (he claims) prove that the Government are going to sell off the NHS. Interestingly every single expert who's *not* a member of the Labour party feel that these documents prove no such thing.
There was a lot of petty bickering on the issue.
 A Rabbi was then wheeled on to give the "Thought for the Day" in which he suggested that the world might be a better place without all the petty bickering.

I got to work with no hold ups or delays today. Work was much the same as ever, but I did get to spend a little time with one of the trainees explaining to her the intricacies of human red cell metabolism and white cell function.  I used to do that all the time... do I miss it? I miss the teaching bit. I certainly don't miss the paperwork that goes with it.

With my bit done I came home along roads which were nowhere near as busy as they were last night. I took the dogs round the roads for a walk. Some houses have had Christmas decorations up inside for some time; this evening I saw the first full-blown garden Christmas display with illuminated snowman, inflatable Santa, reindeer, lights and pressies.
Don’t these people realise that Santa shoots an elf for every Christmas decoration that goes up in November?

We came home, and it wasn’t that long before "er indoors TM" came home. She’d been Christmas shopping.
A good bit of tea, and episode of “Junior Bake Off”… I need an early night.