Friday, April 27, 2007

Good Postman

A good postman can make a day. If a Postie has a smile, a sense of humour and greets you in a morning it's a win-win situation - even if the weather is drizzly. This morning, I was called out of my bath by my daughter shouting "Someone's at the door". I wrapped a towel around my midriff and rushed downstairs. (Now, a bit of back story might help: I was refunded only yesterday for a package off e-Bay that never arrived). I open the door and there's a happy, smiley postie - he asks if I'm waiting for an order off e-Bay or something and it turns out that my package was delivered down the road. The Postie was great, he made my day because I got what I ordered (I had resigned to it being lost) and he worked out where the package should have been delivered to. Postie's like that are worth their weight in gold.


When I moved up to secondary school at 11/12 I received my own TV, which I had in the bedroom. Over the next couple of years I had some favourite TV shows. The real treat was being able to "stay up late" to watch a few shows that my parents wouldn't have let me watch. I say "late" but it was probably only 9pm, it was a different time back then though. A show that was regarded by my parents as "borderline" watchable for my age was SOAP. I haven't seen it in years but I did find it funny and daring (for my age). It would be interesting to watch again to see what I feel about it today. The other show that was OK by my parents for me to watch was WKRP In Cincinatti, I loved this show more than SOAP. I've always wanted to work at a radio station like that. I love the way that the shows were based around characters, just like Friends is really. My other favourite US show as a kid was Mash, I loved the theme song and I thought it was witty, intelligent and was certainly not your straightforward comedy sitcom. I was surprised a few years later to learn that the show aired with canned laughter in the US, it doesn't work with canned laughter. It would be interesting to know which (if any) British shows were popular in American homes a few years back.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Energy and Memory

For some reason, I'm finding it really difficult to find any energy this week past 7pm. I'm sure there is something I should be doing about that but what?

A weird thing happened this morning. I got up at 6.20am (later than usual for this week) and made my daughters lunchbox up for her to take to school. The Thermos lunchbag from the day before was out and I got a couple of iced gel packs from the freezer to put in it and I put the lunchbox in and closed it up all ready for it to go. I knew exactly what I had made and as far as I was concerned it was all done and dusted. I went upstairs to start running my bath. I came down as the bath was filling and my wife was saying to my daughter "You'll need a fork". They had the lunchbag open and were looking at the contents. "Is this yesterday's?" my wife asked, "No, I've made today's and she's got a spoon in there - I put one in". The thing is this: in the lunchbag was yesterday's leftover pasta lunch and on the table was the lunch I had made this morning. When my wife opened the bag I couldn't believe it - I would have sworn I put the lunchbox I had packed in the bag and taken the old one out. I think I must be losing my marbles.

My family and I have been doing some brain training this week, with a DS game designed to stimulate your brain. There are different types of number and word puzzles. The object of it is do use it daily and track your own progress and compare your performance with others (it holds 4 profiles). My wife is quite good, she has a brain age score of 28 today while mine today is 48 (about 10 years older than I actually am). The brain is certainly a weird and interesting thing - I'm quite good at some types of puzzles and can score well without really feeling I'm trying but for some other types of puzzle I just end up guessing. There's a game that starts off with a set number of stick people and then a house drops on top of them and the occupants leave and new stick figures enter. You have to do subtractions and additions at the same time and at the end say how many remain in the house. The speed gets faster slowly but at the end is really too fast for me. I'm not very good at that game. Another game is where you have 6 or seven numbers that appear briefly for a couple of seconds and you have to indicate where they were by going from lowest to highest and tapping their location on screen. I'm not too bad at that one. My brain was operating at Train Speed it told me and a picture of train went past. It don't feel like it now though!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Sorry folks, several "up at the crack of dawn" mornings this week has left me needing my bed over my need to blog. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Without Thinking

Rachel's post about stuff she did as a child got me thinking about some of the skeletons in my closet from my younger days. One incident happened quite innocuously one summers day while I was spending time in the back yard with the daughter of a neighbour.

The houses we lived in at the time backed onto a field, which was actually an exhumed cemetary. Although I say we were neighbours there was one house inbetween us and the occupant had recently died, he used to have an old shed at the end of his garden but it had been pulled down by his surviving family to make the property more saleable. One upright beam had been left standing for use as something to attach a clothes line to. My friend was female and about 3 or 4 years younger than me, I can't remember exactly how old I was - probably 9 or 10 maybe. We were on the field near the upright beam and for some reason had a length of white plastic clothes line wire - the type to really sting if you got whipped with it in a fight with a brother or something. I don't remember the conversation but the game involved tying one end of the wire to the beam and the other end around the girl's throat with a knot that would tighten. Her task was to run as fast as possible to the trees on the other side of the field. The wire is probably between 30 and 60 feet long and is clearly not long enough to allow her to reach the trees. But we are a little more than just friends, she's smitten with me and would jump off a cliff if I told her to. So anyway, she's motoring on and I can see her running through the heat haze above the grass. Suddenly the wire is at full stretch and silently she is yanked backwards off her feet and onto the grass on her back. I race to her and she's in tears. The wire is tight around her throat, really tight and she can't get it undone and is struggling to breathe. I start desperately trying to loosen the knot. I know it was stupid. It was cruel. Now all I'm hoping for is to get the knot loosened, slip the wire off her neck and comfort her with the aim of stopping her crying and from telling on me to her mother. Time seems to stretch out into an aeon of despair when horror of horrors - her mother comes into her yard and starts calling for my friend to come in for lunch. I can't loosen the wire, she's crying, her mother's yelling and now getting angry. Her mother is a fierce woman. The one Saving Grace is that we're too far for her to hear the crying and they have a tree in their garden that obstructs the view. It must have felt like years but it must only have been seconds because I was able to get the wire from her neck without her turning blue. She went in for lunch, after the tears had subsided a bit (although her mum must have known she'd been crying) and as far as I know that was the end of it. She probably got a telling off for being late for lunch, how unlucky is that? A scary few seconds though and how stupid could I have been to do that? I'm just glad it wasn't a hanging prank, I would definitely not have got the wire off!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Post-Easter Catch Up

Easter is over, it was OK actually. The weather was incredible - sunny and bright and warm. We all caught the sun accidentally on Sunday, it wasn't red hot but was obviously hot enough to burn. I feel awful that my son and daughter had red skin where the sun had been because we didn't cream them up.

On Sunday the Car Boot season began again. Car Boot sales are run by entrepreneurs who own some land and they charge something like eight pounds for you to park your car and sell your stuff. Somewhere close by, controlled by what I would loosely term "wardens", there is car parking where the buyers park. If you pay a pound each you can get to the sellers before 11am but after 11am it is 30 pence to get in. People sell all kinds of stuff - I like to see stuff that reminds me of when I was a kid because either I had it or I wanted it or I knew someone who had it. Literally anything can be bought and you often see the same stuff for sale on lots of stalls - kids clothes are very common for obvious reasons and kids stuff in general come to that. You have to appreciate how some stuff must have sold in the millions for so many people to be selling it in car boots - like board games, exercise equipment, kids annuals, toys and so on. We came away with the game Monopoly (British version) and it was in good condition for one pound fifty. OK so the new version does do away with money and has a "banker unit" but the old version with sorting out the money by hand is just as good in my opinion - it's nice to get loads of 500s in your hands because you know its never going to happen in real life.

Speaking of business, making money and financial greed. The Apprentice has started again on the BBC and it's as entertaining as ever. Jadine and Tre seem to be the most irritating people so far but they have narrowly escaped being fired. It's about the only regular programme, other than re-runs of Friends that I watch.

The fine weather is expected to continue for at least until Sunday, which is going to be very warm. So I expect to be out in the garden mowing the lawn at the weekend. I have Monday off, so I'm looking forward to that. Not sure how I'll use the time, my daughter will be with me as her teachers have training on that day. We might have to invent a game. She loves the re-runs of the competitive fitness and body building show The Gladiators. So maybe I can come up with Gladiator style physical challenges for her at the local park's playground?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Dirty Weekend

It's the Easter break yay! The weather is going to be fine. No work for four days in a row. We're at home, so no rushing about (apart from me picking my daughter up from the grandparents today). So it's going to be a dirty weekend for me, yes you guessed it - time to go out in the garden and begin sorting it out for the summer. I don't mean the patio, my wife has done her part - planting the pots and stuff. Now it's my turn, that means mowing. I have a hover mower that was the cheapest model in the range and although it cuts the grass, if the grass is long you have to go over it twice at different blade settings. So, as a consequence of that, it takes twice as long to cut it. It doesn't pick the grass up either, so I'll have dirty green fingers at the end of it (I don't like wearing gloves). There may be other dirty jobs to do too, like sorting the shed out. I've put this off too long, now its time for action - unless I can find something else to suggest we do instead (like go to the zoo) ;-)

Whatever you get up to over the break, I hope you have a great time.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Forced Absence

In the past week I've had time off, hit several IT problems, enjoyed myself 10 pin bowling, been away from home and generally been forced to take a break from Blog World and my podshow. Although the sequence of events was something I didn't choose, in a way I had a good time despite the difficulties.

The photo above is of Sooty and Sweep, two characters who have been part of childrens television in the UK since the sixties. I enjoyed watching them as a child and we took my children to a live Sooty show this week. Some shows appeal to children and adults alike, like The Simpson's. This was definitely a show aimed at the kids. Fortunately, for the first time in what seems like ages we weren't sitting in the first two rows and were infact several rows back and to the side. There was A LOT of water going into the audience within the first three rows, so I'm especially glad we didn't get a soaking. I didn't enjoy it very much, the kids loved it and I think a soaking would have just made me annoyed (a Grumpy Dad attack), a little bit of a water is OK but there some very wet people by the end - who must have found it uncomfortable to sit in their clothes.

I don't go ten pin bowling very often but it is always good fun when I go. We went out for bowling and a Chinese meal this week, as a small group of couples, and it was great fun. So hopefully, we'll be repeating the event in May. I prefer a lighter ball, it had a number 10 on it but I'm not sure if that referred to size or weight or what. I didn't score a strike unfortunately but someone in our group managed to score 4 strikes in a row, which I just find incredible. I didn't manage to win any of the games, the boys beat the girls, and I didn't even score over a 100 in either of two games. I did improve with practice though, it's just that I don't think I can afford to practice very often. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself and it's a good sport to enjoy with friends.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Teatime last Thursday our Internet dropped again and it only came back on this morning. This is starting to become a monthly occurence and I've had enough, so we'll be changing our Internet provider. I'm also experiencing problems uploading last week's podcast and lack of internet has meant I've not been able to follow the problem up and I've been unable to do the research for this week's show, which I would have recorded over the weekend. So it's not been a good week for me techno-wise. I feel like I've been muted. I'll post again later to today, I've got today off so have things to do now - catch you laters.