The end of the world . . .


Picture this. It’s Wednesday. The time is 16:55. All along the street people are sat, poised at their keyboards. Fingers twitching, waiting for the clock to reach 17:00. As the big hand on the clock reach the top, it starts!

“Disgraceful!”…”It’s happening all the time!”…”What are we paying for?”…”Typical mismanagement!”

So, what has happened? Has there been another stabbing? Has there been another joy-rider ploughing into a residents wall? Has there been another gas explosion? No. None of these. So what terrible event has happened this time.

The recycling bin has not been emptied!

It annoys me that these “keyboard warriors” can’t wait to have their say. Now, have they checked with the Council to find the reason? Did they ring them or check the website. No! In order to vent their anger, they turn to the local group page on Facebook. Had they looked on the website, they would have seen that if the bin doesn’t get emptied on the right day, leave it out to be emptied the next day. It’s standard practice.

What people don’t understand, and mostly refuse to understand is that the refuse vehicle has a weight limit. The equipment at the rear of the vehicle is known here as the “bin lift”. This equipment weighs the contents of the bin as it is emptied. Once the weight limit for the vehicle is reached, then the “bin lift” stops operating. The crew then have no alternative, but to return to the refuse site to empty the vehicle. This can often take two hours to turn around.

Some of the comments were absolutely ridiculous. One even stated that “...they should prioritise us, because we pay more council tax…”. One even moaned that”…we shouldn’t be using Euro limits now…” Again, they haven’t taken the trouble to find out the details before they start. The weight limits are set by the UK government and are actually lower than the European limits.

All is good . . . eventually . . .


Well the update went as well as I had expected. This time it only took 9 hours and 40 minutes a massive improvement on the 11 hours and 10 minutes of the previous update on my secondary machine. Everything seemed to be fine, with no issues, until yesterday morning. Everything seemed to be slower, a lot slower. Three minutes to open Outlook, which used to open in three seconds before, for example. Throughout the evening, it remained as slow as the morning. I wondered if I had got a virus or some malware ad been installed.

I opened up the Windows settings and at the top of the screen there was a message that Windows update needed attention. I opened it up and saw that one recent update had failed, due to some service not running (a bit beyond me) and needs to run again. It also told me that there was another four updates that needed running. They were only small updates and it didn’t take long to run. After a restart, all is good again.

I posted the issue of an IT website, to see if anyone else had had the same issue, and it turns out that the major update (the 20H2 update) that I ran earlier has a tendency to disable tis particular service. I happens randomly and nobody seems to be able to understand why. But there you go, that’s Microsoft for you.

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It’s that time again . . .


That time of the year when the Politicos send forth their minions to fill our recycling bins with promises that most have no intention of keeping. Today it was the Green Party, whose candidate claims to be a local person. Last week it was the Conservative Party. Next week we get something from the Liberal Democrats together with some of the more niche or ‘weird’ parties, as I like to call them. If the last local elections are anything to go by, then there will little or even nothing from the local Labour Party.

This time, we have elected to have a postal vote. The polling station will be open but it will be easier to do it by post. I seem to remember reading about a local bye-election early last year where most of the voters had to queue, in the rain for an average of 40 minutes. Anyone I have mentioned this to have asked if I’m not worried about the postal vote. “They might get lost in the post!” was one comment. “How do you know it will get counted?” was another. How does anyone know that their vote at the polling station gets counted? If you’re not doing the counting then you don’t know and have to rely on the integrity of the counter. Then you get the ‘conspiracy theorists’ that warn you that “They will know who you are, where you are and who you voted for!” Do I really care? Not a jot! They have already sent me the voting instructions, so ‘they’ already know who and where I am, and I don’t really care if they know who I voted for.

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I gave myself a pat on the back for yesterdays post. Within a few minutes of posting, a message came up informing me that the post had been number 1000.🎉 I knew it was getting close, but I hadn’t looked at my stats page for a while, so it came as a pleasant surprise.

So this becomes the first post of the next 1000. Hope I make it 🤔.

Here we go . . .


I’ve been wondering when it would start. I kept checking the update and security page but nothing showed. Then this morning around about 11:00am, I noticed that my laptop was very slow. Files were taking minutes rather than seconds to move. Opening documents was even slower. I wondered if I had got a virus or some malware had found it’s way in. I tried to look at Task Manager to see what was running in the background, but that didn’t seem to want to open. It soon became obvious that I had a serious issue. I opened the settings and then saw it. The Windows Update icon was showing that it “… needed attention …” It could only mean one thing. I had run the regular, what Microsoft calls ‘Cumulative update’ only yesterday and Windows Defender updated at the same time. It must be a system update. Of course when I opened the Update page, there it was … I was being updated to version 20H2 which is the current latest version for my machine.

I literally groaned. This was the update that took over 11 hours to run, on my other machine. The system told me that it was at 46% downloaded, which considering that I only just noticed the problem gave me the notion that it may be quicker this time. At time of writing (14:40) we are now at 89% installed, which seems to be going quite well 🤞.

I hate updates! It’s all the uncertainty that surrounds an update … will it work … will it be slower or faster … will it break the machine? Although, what worries me more, is when will it happen to my youngest son’s machine. His autism would not let him understand why is machine is slow, and why it keeps shutting down and restarting. They have an IT team at his care home, but I’m not sure how they will cope, if one of his care team shut’s his laptop down while it is updating.

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It’s my birthday next week, and it’s one of the ‘biggies’. Yes, on Tuesday I will be an officially, state registered ‘old bugger’. Birthdays and the related age number doesn’t usually bother me. I never feel any different and it’s another day for me. However others seem to think that I need to celebrate! No, I don’t! Somebody once said to me “What am I celebrating? That I have managed to get this far or that I’m just one year nearer the grave.” I don’t quite think along those lines, but I do wonder what the point is. However, I am duty bound to at least try and enjoy the day and I will put a brave face on (hopefully).

We are apparently going out for a meal at a pub/restaurant close to where the eldest son lives. We have been before, but it’s a long time ago. Will have been about 30/35 years ago. I don’t remember much about the place and I probably still won’t when I get there. I have had look at the menus, and I’m not sure. They seem to be these ‘trendy’ menus that have things like ‘Grilled Squash’ and ‘Halloumi chips with sriracha yogurt’. There is the obligatory ‘Vegan’ burger and there is something that they call ‘Shepherdess pie’ which is made with lentils and curried parsnips! It’s going to a long day I think.

Fifty years on . . .


After a recent online chat with an old school friend, we both realised that he had forgotten a few things from those last days, and so had I. So, I thought it would be a good idea if I made a written record of some of the things I can still remember.

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From early on in my final year, there were rumblings about students going to university. It is interesting to note, that in year five, we were now students as opposed to being school kids. The previous year saw 20% of the students go on to university and the teachers (yes, they were still teachers and not tutors) were hoping to improve on that percentage. The previous year had twenty students, but my year had only 16. That meant that if the same number of students went on to university, the percentage would rise to 25% which had the teaching staff chomping at the bit, so to speak.

We had some informal discussions with our form teacher regarding what we wanted to do, what we could do and what was expected of us at the end of year five. I had this idea that I would have liked to be a Technical Draughtsman. I was excellent at Technical Drawing and coupled with my math skills, meant I had a good chance of realising that ambition.

In January 1971, the formal career discussions began. I outlined my ‘ambitions’ to my form teacher who also happened to be the Careers Officer for the Education Authority. That discussion, which lasted a mere twenty minutes shattered any dreams I had of becoming a draughtsman. It was explained that I would first need to go to university for two years (pushing the university theme again) followed by a three year course at a technical college, with a two year apprenticeship after that. The very thought of another five years of full-time education, and then earning a pittance as an apprentice was not something I wanted even to consider. I was told to go home that night, have a talk with my parents and come up with some other options. He said I should have a think about the things I liked to do, hobbies and such like. I didn’t think I could become a professional Airfix model maker or eastern European stamp collector, which were my only hobbies at the time.

It was a neighbour that came up with the cooking idea. I did like cooking and was, even though I say it myself, quite good at it. But then again after discussing this with my form teacher it became obvious that it would be a two year full time course at catering college.

At the time my maternal grandmother, who had recently retired from a clerical job, was working for her next door neighbour. The family owned a local Italian restaurant, and my grandmother was washing up three nights a week. For some reason, she had been invited to have a meal with some of her close family as a celebration. I have an idea that the place had been open for five years. Whilst we were eating, the owner was told that I was interested in cooking for a living, but that I wasn’t happy doing a full-time catering course. He said that he could only take on trained Italian chefs but would keep his ears open.

It was then that something, which I still find a little bizarre happened. A fellow diner at the next table apologised that he had overheard the conversation but wanted to offer a suggestion. He explained that his younger brother had wanted to be a cook but had had no luck in finding anywhere suitable. He told us that his brother had then seen an article in the local newspaper advertising a training scheme for cooks at one of the local hospitals. He went on to explain that his brother would be in a working kitchen, earning money but at the same time going to college one day a week to learn how to cook professionally. It sounded like a great idea, and it could be just what I was looking for. Training and getting paid. Best of both worlds. We asked at the local career’s office and they investigated it for us.

Schofields of Leeds

At the beginning of September, I had left school and was working as a porter at a large department store in the centre of Leeds. I received a letter one morning asking me to come for an interview at the Leeds General Infirmary. My Dad went with me, but if I remember correctly all the questions were directed at me. It seemed to go well, and I was quite pleased with how I had handled the interview. A week later, I received another letter asking me to go back for another interview. I was convinced that I hadn’t got the job. But everyone told me that you don’t get a second interview if you haven’t got the job. They were correct. I was asked if I was still interested, to which I seem to remember blurting out “Yes please!”

I was asked to start at the beginning of August and had to explain to my manager at the department store that I was leaving. I was told that I should have given a months’ notice, but as I had only been there eight weeks, a months’ notice would not have been very practical.

And that’s how I started my working life in full.

Not so straight forward . . .


I see puzzles like this all over the internet. It is basically Algebra and at first glance, many people will think the answer is 50. Then some people will believe that using the mathematical “… order of operations …” the answer is 14 or even 10

Quite simply (in my opinion) the answer cannot be found from the information given. Now here’s why:

  • We can determine from the first equation that the image value of the cookie is equal to 10.
  • From the second equation, we can give the image of 2 bananas a value of 2, as 14 minus the cookie value is equal to 4, hence the 2 banana image must equal 2
  • The clock image value must be equal to 3 because if you take the value of the 2 banana image (determined as equal to 2) from the total of 8, you are left with 6, therefore the image value for each clock must be equal to 3.

That is as far as we can go. We cannot safely assume that the image of the single banana is equal to 1 simply because there is only one banana. It could be any value. The same applies to the clock image (with the hands now pointing to 2) and the cookie image with the seven dots.

Therefore, in my opinion the answer cannot be found.

A big surprise . . .


I’m not really a gambling person. I do the Postcode Lottery and the National Lottery Thunderball, but that’s about it. However, I do have a SkyBet online account. I opened it a couple of years ago, when I could not get to the local bookmakers, to place a bet on the Grand National. I wasn’t that bothered but a colleague at the time told me that a horse called Many Clouds stood a good chance and was being ridden by a friend of his. It was the only way I could get a bet on. The start-up was a minimum of £10.00 and they gave me a £10.00 single bet as a new customer bonus. It was a shame that I didn’t use that free £10.00 on the race, as the horse, Many Clouds won at 25/1 which would have been a good win. In fact, I didn’t even have a bet on the race as I had completely misread the starting time.

But all that is beside the point. I have this online account and I use it occasionally. The thing is I don’t speculate with large sums of money. I decided very early that having the opportunity to gamble whilst sitting at my laptop could lead to serious repercussions. So my betting account is just for fun! The largest bet I have made with it was a £5.00 bet on a horse that my sister-in-law’s partner has a share in. It lost! After that, I limit my bets to small wagers. Very small wagers. I like to randomly pick a venue, pick a race, and scroll down the list of runners and riders until a horse name strikes my eye. More often than not, that horse will not even be placed. Occasionally I will get a second or third place and get some of my money back. But they are never big winners, until recently that is.

Towards the end of March, I had one of my usual small bets, a 50p each-way wager (that’s how small my bets can be). It was the third race I had placed some money on and I didn’t even wait until the race had begun before I logged out and went to do some household jobs. It wasn’t until the following Monday, that I even checked the results. Big surprise, the horse had won and won at a price of 25/1. That gave me a return of £49.00! But it doesn’t end there.

Yesterday, I had a scroll through the various race meetings and I spotted that it was the day of the Irish Grand National. I scrolled down the list and picked a horse that was priced at 20/1. £1.00 each-way on that horse and then another one that was running at 10/1, another pound each-way. As a bit of a joke, I scrolled to the last horse in the race. The price was 125/1 and as I had an odd pound, I placed a bet, this time only 50p each-way. I logged out and completely forgot about it until this morning. Can you imagine my surprise when I checked the results and found that my ‘joke’ bet had won and my winnings were £75.00.

It had to go . . .


For quite some time now, I have been a moderate fan of MSN News. I say moderate, because while it’s definitely not the the best news portal on the internet, it’s one of the easiest to navigate. It is certainly better than the BBC news service, which seems to be quite biased in it’s reporting sometimes. I decided this morning that MSN News no longer offers what I like to read about. It’s not so much the actual news that’s the problem though.

Recently the comments has been restored and although I like to read comments (some of them are laughable) there seems to be a hard core of commentators that express their opinion on every story, regardless of the topic. They seem to range from hard right wing extremists to conspiracy theorists to simple sales pitchers, all hiding behind pseudonyms. Comment moderation appears to happen only when some reader reports the comment, even when the comment is blatantly offensive to a section of the community.

So it has to go. For now, I have replaced my news digest portal with the online version of The Huffington Post. Most of the big national UK newspapers require to ‘subscribe’ to their website/newspaper in order to read full articles and I for one am not prepared to do that. It is simply a matter of cost. The average price is between £6.00 to £18.00 per week.

They’ll not be happy . . .


Opposite our house is a small parking area. Beyond that there is a medium sized (whatever that means) field. there is a sort of path that runs along the edge of the field, but I have been informed that it is not an official footpath. however it seems to a haven for the local dog owners. Dog ownership in the village seems to have increased over the past few months, which is probably due to the pandemic.

Last year the farmer grew nothing in the field, which happens every few years. About three weeks ago we noticed that the field was being sprayed with something. This usually happens before the farmer starts planting. The very same day saw at least 3 dog walkers in the field. Now I don’t know what the spray was, but I certainly would not walk my beloved pet anywhere that has been sprayed with anything.

Today, I noticed some people in the field with a commercial digger. They appeared to be picking up some of the rocks that lay scattered around the field. In the past half hour, I watched as the small ‘entrance’ to the field was blocked with soil an some of the rocks. I’m now of the opinion, that the farmer is going to graze sheep on the field, as the ‘entrance’ was blocked a few years ago when sheep were grazed. What now for the dog walkers. They will have to use the proper public paths to walk their animals.

They’ll not be happy . . .

Is it panic buying . . .


I think I may be in a little bit of bother when my wife gets in. You see I have this habit of buying things when I think I should buy them, rather then knowing we need them. Take today as an example. I was doing my usual weekly shopping trip to Aldi.

© Aldi

I had traversed isles one and two and was making my way up isle three. After passing all the soft drinks we come to the ‘household’ shelves. This is where I came unstuck. I had reached the kitchen rolls, which I knew we didn’t need (just yet) and was progressing towards the toilet rolls area. That’s when what could only be described as a little bit of panic. Our usual toilet rolls come in a four pack, a nine pack and more recently a good value sixteen pack. Trying to remember if we needed any, I suddenly became aware, that there was only one sixteen pack and only two four packs on the shelf. What should I do?

Well of course, I picked up the sixteen pack. Only sensible thing to do. Better in my trolley than anyone else’s. Now the bit of bother I was referring to is this. I came to unpack the shopping and to put the toilet rolls in the cupboard. It was then that I realised that we still had twelve rolls left from a previous shop. A total of 28, and that didn’t include the ones in the bathroom cupboards.

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Mrs H is working on the garden at the side of the house. When we moved in, nearly twenty-eight years ago, there was a hedge that ran down the whole path. Over the years she (along with a bit of help!) has transformed in into a little flower bed, which looks really good.

However, not all the hedge was removed, and it has now come to the time, when the rest has to go. I made a start yesterday, but I think it will be a long job. I managed to get rid of about a fifth of the upper branches, but now the garden waste bin is full. The really hard part will be digging out the root system. What I think may be the best idea, is to dig down and severe the root system below the soil surface. I have this theory from somewhere, that without any light getting to the plant, the roots will simply die off. Well that’s what I’m hoping anyway.

Who’s calling . . .


I got one of those calls again. I may have mentioned before, that I have a policy of not answering a call, if I don’t recognise the number. I work on the basis that if the call is important, then they will either call back or leave a message. I started this policy some years ago, when I got a call, which started with the caller saying “We are sorry to hear about your fatal accident …” Over the past few months, I have had a number of calls starting with the same four digits … 0758. As I understand it, these numbers are allocated to the EE network, but can be transferred to any network

I spoke with a former colleague a day or two ago, who indicated, that these calls are probably from ‘claims experts’, wanting to help me with my claim (that I don’t have.) Another possibility is that they are crooks posing as Amazon couriers. This works on their hope that you are expecting something from Amazon. They tell you that they have tried to deliver a large parcel, but you were not in and as this was the second attempt, there is a charge before they can deliver again. The charge is usually minimal, say £1.00 but it is so they can get your bank details. A third idea is that they are just ‘phone harvesters‘. These ring random numbers and when you answer, it tells the ‘harvester‘ that yours is a live number and can be sold on.

My wife will answer any call that she gets, regardless and laughs at me when I don’t answer. But I think it is better to miss a call than to get scammed.

Random tech problem . . .


© Microsoft

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my OneDrive. I have two laptops. My main one is downstairs but when I bought it, I decided to keep the previous one upstairs as a kind of back-up machine. It is a bit slow, but it was a good machine. I did want to try and connect both as a home network, but that doesn’t seem to work with Microsoft Home edition. I had ‘misplaced’ a couple of files that I now need to use. They were not big or even complicated files, I just didn’t want to re-write. I thought they were on my OneDrive, but I could not find them. I then had the idea that they may just be in the documents folder on old laptop. And they were.

© Microsoft Office

I copied them into my OneDrive, along with some video files that I had forgotten about. Must have spent a good couple of hours opening, and copying the files, or so it seemed at the time. I shut down the old laptop and trotted off downstairs ready to work with these newly found files. But … they were not in the OneDrive I was accessing from downstairs. I ‘ummed and ‘ahhed for a while before deciding that I must have two OneDrives. Seemed reasonable as the Office package on the upstairs laptop was Office 2013 and downstairs it is Office 365. All I need to do is copy the files I wanted onto a Flash Drive and then onto the downstairs machine. Problem solved … or not.

Try as I might, I could not get the files copied and was receiving an error message:
Error 0x8007016A: The Cloud File provider is not running …
Restart after restart would not cure the problem and in the end I gave up for the evening.

© SanDisk

This morning, after a lot of Googling, it came to light that I must not have signed in to my OneDrive on the upstairs Laptop. In fact, the service was not even running, I must have disabled it in Task Manager. More clicks and reboots ensued and finally I was able to copy the files to the Flash Drive and onto the main machine. Then I found that they had synchronised and so all the copy and pasting was a total waste of time. Thankyou Google and all who sail in you. If the fact that I was not signed in to the OneDrive upstairs reason had been one of the first in the Google search screen, I could have saved a lot of time and unnecessary brain work!

Not really retirement, but . . .


This post is an attempt at a response to the Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge (fingers crossed I get this right)

Back at the beginning of 2016 our Head of Service, brought our team together for it’s monthly ‘Team Talk’. The theme, if you could call it that, was staff cuts. There had been a lot of hushed chatter among some of the more senior members of the team regarding the reduction of office staff in the department. The Council’s solution was a programme called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. What people liked to think was that it was Early Retirement, but was actually Voluntary Redundancy, with the benefit of being able to draw down the works pension scheme early, albeit slightly reduced.

It was made clear to everyone in the room, that the Department were looking for ‘volunteers’ to take advantage of this. It was also clear that this was a case of ‘jump before you are pushed’. If that had been the case, then it would have been compulsory redundancy, with no arrangement to take the pension early. After a lot of discussion at home, I decided I would go for it.

Not the real cake!

The day came, and it seemed to be just like any other day. I was taking calls and trying to keep my excitement under control. My manager asked what time I wanted to leave, and I had worked out my hours so that I could finish at three pm. At about half past two the office manager appeared with a large cake which was shared with the staff on duty. It was significant that my line manager and the service head weren’t present.

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I decided that I would have a couple of weeks living the life of luxury, then get a part time job. It took a lot longer for something to come up. After about 18 months, my current part-time job suddenly happened. Now furloughed (as at 11/03/2021) I am now just waiting to return. It is not looking god, but I will have to just wait and see. But . . . on the 19th April this year (2021) I will have reached my state pension age and will have to decide the future. Do I carry on with two days a week? Or do I cut down to one day a week? Or . . . do I just stop all together?

It’s not the way I’d do it . . .


I had a need to find a post for someone to link to. I did not know the title or the category and the only information I had was that the post was from the end of 2009. I could not find a way of doing this, except by going to the My Sites > Posts section and scrolling through page after page. This would not be so bad, but with a large number of posts it gets a little tiresome. I have nearly 1000 posts to scroll through (not boasting … really) and to find the correct post too a good 10 minutes.

I then found it. Just by accident. There was some posts in the ‘Trash’ folder and I usually delete them regularly and I know how to do this. That is when the fog cleared. I went to ‘WP Admin’ and selected the ‘Posts’ option and it was there. All the posts were listed and I was able to list the posts by month, using the ‘All Dates’ drop-down box.

I did log a call on the WordPress.com forums, but have now closed it as resolved. Just got to try and remember for the next time.

It ain’t going to work …


We have had a 20mph speed limit in the village for about a year now. Maybe a bit longer, but I would say that well over 80% of drivers take no notice at all. The problem is, and this is my opinion, there is no enforcement. None whatsoever. We have the main 20 mph zone signs as you enter the village together with smaller repeater signs, but that’s it basically. There is one of those ‘smiley’ face signs near the school, but that is mainly ignored by the majority.

A great deal of the time, these “speed merchants”, (and again, my opinion) are local people. People who know that they are not going to get caught. I was at the local bottle bank last week, when a van went past. The sign showed that he was travelling at 35mph. The lady who was walking past stated that “… they should not be allowed to enter ...”. I had to explain that the van and driver was from the village and in fact from the same road that I live on.

It was announced in the Parish Magazine, that the Parish Council was putting a bid to purchase a Mobile SID (Speed Indication Device) to raise speed awareness in areas of concern. I don’t think it will have any effect. If drivers already ignore the sign near the school, are they going to take any notice of any signs. Back to my opinion again, but the only thing that will stop this is proper enforcement. Signs at the entrance roads saying that mobile Speed Cameras are in use, together with a Police Office with a Speed Gun would be the better idea. Nothing gets a message home better than a fine.

However, the latest idea is to have a sticker on your refuse bin that tells drivers to slow down. A sticker! On a bin that is only put out one day a week. Really? Is that the best they can come up with?

Higher than expected …


I had my INR (international normalized ratio) test yesterday and it was a lot higher than I expected. My range is 2.5 to 3.5 with a target of 3.0. Yesterday it hit an all time high of 4.3. I have put a short guide to INR on a page on this site for those who are not aware of what the INR is.

I take Warfarin, which is an anticoagulant (commonly known as a blood thinner) to control my INR and I have a regular test to ensure that it stays within the range decided for me. I have been on Warfarin since my Mitral Valve replacement back in 2014. As I understood at the time, the surgeon has three options when performing the surgery. The ideal option is a repair, then the next option is a replacement with an organic valve (usually from a pig) or a mechanical valve. The surgeon will decide when the chest is opened which option is required. For me he opted for a mechanical valve. As it could be dangerous if blood clotted in or around the valve, an anticoagulant is prescribed to increase the time taken to clot.

For a long time, my test has been within the range and often hitting my target. Back in August last year, I had a small infection on my leg for which anti-biotics were prescribed. I was advised to get an INR test after taking the anti-biotics as they are known to have an effect on blood clotting times. And indeed this proved to be the case as my INR went as high as 3.9. It seemed to take a long time to get back to ‘normal’ but by the end of the year it was looking better.

I had my previous test mid January this year, and whilst it was in range, it was only just. The nurse decided to increase my Warfarin from 15mg to 16mg (3mg Sunday and Tuesday, 2mg every other day). Not a huge amount, but I think it proved a significant change. After yesterday it is now back to what I was taking before, which is 3mg Tuesday, 2mg every other day. I’m back for another test in three weeks and we shall just see what happens.

Can’t keep shifting the blame …


I don’t know what has happened to our postal service over the past few months. I know coronavirus has a lot to answer for, but twelve months down the line, you can’t keep blaming it for the current issues. We seem to have seen an increase in issues over the past two months.

Back in November, a parcel was delivered to the wrong address and annoyingly the people at that address moved house just a day or so after the parcel had been delivered. Since then two more, smaller parcels have gone astray. Last week three bank statements, all with the same address were delivered to three different addresses. One came to us and the other two went to neighbours at either side of us. The week before, K***’s new bank debit card was delivered to someone in the next street. We even had a letter from the DWP hand delivered by someone in the next village. It is not good.

On Friday, the post did not get delivered until just before 2pm. Now I’m old enough to remember when we used to get a second post, which was usually around mid-day, but that’s not really acceptable, considering how little is actually being delivered by the Royal Mail.

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I received a reply back from WordPress support regarding my ‘suggestions’ for the desktop app. I get the impression that it was a standard reply. Basically thanking me for reaching out‘ and for my feed-back‘. I am told that they ‘...can’t say whether or when they’d be implemented, but consider them noted…’ which is better than nothing. I do hope they consider them, as the app could be a great asset.

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Youngest son did come home for the weekend on Friday, which was great news. Because right up until his car and support worker pulled up outside the house, I had a very odd feeling that it may not come off. But he was in a happy mood when he got here and S**, his key support worker and friend, said that he was so happy that he could come home and see us. He will go back on Monday sometime and hopefully he will be home again in two weeks. His regular ‘home visit‘ pattern is to come to us every other Friday for three nights, but outbreaks of the virus at his care-home put paid to that again. So as long as there are no outbreaks on his unit and we stay clear, it could be back to normal(ish).

Good start to the day …


We have been hoping that our youngest can come home for a weekend visit today. He has been in ‘lock-down’ at his care home since he went back on 28th December due to him and others testing positive for the virus. The ‘lock-down’ on his unit was lifted on the 22nd and preparations have been in progress since the 10th.

So this morning, K*** and me had our Lateral Flow Test. Not a particular pleasant event, but the result came back negative. This (I believe) means that neither of us have the virus and that our son can come home for the weekend. So two great positives there.

Then, K*** got a text message from the doctors say that she can now book her test. Another great one. However, that was soon short lived as twenty minutes later she got another text from the doctors apologising for getting it wrong. Apparently the doctors had been given incorrect information. But here’s the interesting thing, she was half way booking online at the centre I had mine and decided that she would wait for the doctors to call. When the second message came through, she went back online and booked her appointment without a hitch. All a bit mysterious.

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I am giving the desktop version of WordPress another go. I had given up with the app because of issues I was not happy with. One of the issues is with the way when the app opens, it opens with the last post you have written with the app. In my opinion, it should open at a blank page with the option in the file menu to open a previous post. It gets a bit annoying if you create a couple of posts via the browser or Blogpad on the iPad, and then use the Desktop app and it opens an old post. In this (ver 6.10.0) and previous versions opening a new post is done via the Window menu which is a strange way of working. I have mentioned this in the forums and the answer I received was that the app was still a ‘work in progress’. There doesn’t appear to be much difference that I can see from the last few versions but I will persevere and see where it goes.

“Jab Done” …


I had my first Covid-19 jab yesterday. I had to go the a mass vaccination centre at Askham Bar Park & Ride car park, near York. I have to say it was an extremely well managed operation. There were signs on the A64, about a mile from the Park & Ride junction and once off the main road there were numerous signs showing the way. That, coupled with many officials directing cars made it one of the easiest things I had done.

Mass Vaccination Centre

Cars were parked with an empty bay separating each one. I was asked to wait in my car, and someone would come and tell me were to go. I was early by just 25 minutes and I told them I was not in any rush and didn’t want to queue jump. They told me that it wasn’t too busy and I could go straight in. Once in the centre, I queued along with the others for about 10 minutes before entering the ‘Vaccination Clinic’.

I was told to take a seat, whilst a member of the local Fire Service took my details. I had a list of my medications and dates of both my flu jab and last INR test. The doctor seemed a little reluctant at first, as he felt it would have been better if I had taken my last test last week. However I explained that if I had a problem, I could get an emergency INR test done the following day. I had the jab, waited in the car for 15 minutes and that was it. My second one is due on the 12th of May and the only side effect (and I’m not even sure it is a side effect) is a slight headache this morning.

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I noticed when I started WordPress up earlier in the week, that WordPress seemed to be a promoting a Podcasting service called Anchor.fm. After a bit of research, it seems that this is one of the biggest podcasting services around and it’s ‘owned’ by Spotify. From what I understand, it is only recently that WordPress.com has started using the service.

I have often wondered about doing some kind of podcast, but a couple of things have stopped me. Namely not knowing what to ‘cast’ about and the fact that I know what I sound like. I don’t like the sound of my own voice sometimes. There is a built in voice that will read text and convert it to audio. The downside is that the built-in voice is American as you would expect. I have tried this new service, and succeeded in converting one of my posts into an audio post (now deleted). It worked quite well, I thought but it sounded a little weird with the accent. I may have to give it another go using my own voice.

A few pics and a bit of writing …


I have recently been updating my ‘Google Sites‘ page. It’s a strange thing, but until a couple of months ago, I had forgotten I had the site. I have been asking one or two ex-colleagues and they tell me that we all created one as part of our departmental social network. It was back in 2009 and I never really used it at work, in fact I didn’t put anything on the site until the middle of last year when I received an email telling me that the site needed some maintenance. All that meant was that I needed to add a recovery email.

It’s not as intuitive as Google Blogger and like the way WordPress seems to be heading, content is created in blocks. Since I have the site, I thought I might as well use it, but I didn’t know what I would use it for. It then struck me. I do a little bit of ‘creative writing'(?) and was tending to put little bits on my Google blog, but it’s a quite boring site and I don’t really know what I can do there. With having this paid blog on here, it didn’t really make any sense to use Blogger. But I didn’t want to post my writing attempts on WordPress, as I thought I would have to create a new page to put the musings, to keep them separate and I didn’t want to do that. I think some blogs can look a bit messy with many pages.

So that’s what my ‘Google Sites‘ is going to be used for. Because scrolling through a long page full of text may be a little tiring, I have interspersed the writing with some of my photographs. All the writing is my own, and one day I shall bundle them all together and publish my own book, although it will probably be some kind of eBook. It is still a ‘work in progress’ but I will keep updating it (when I remember.)

It arrived …


My invitation to book a Covid-19 vaccination arrived on Saturday. The way the letter was worded gave the impression that I would get a letter from the doctors surgery soon advising me on the dates they were offering. By yesterday (Thursday) nothing was forthcoming. I decided to have a look on the local Medical Centre’s website to see If I could find anymore information. There it was, on the front page of the site. I had to book my ‘Jab-spot’ online , the Government website as they were not offering the vaccine locally yet.

So, off I trot to Gov.UK website and quickly found the ‘booking’ page. It was quite easy to navigate and I soon had booked both first and second jab at a vaccination centre just under 10 miles away. Sorted! Now we have to await for my wife’s invitation which should be in the next phase.

This morning, less than 18 hours since I had booked my appointment, I received a txt message from the local Medical Centre. The txt said, in it’s simplest form:

“You have recently been invited to have your coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination centre. If you would rather come to the ******** site please contact our reception team who can arrange for an invitation to be sent.”

I gave them a call. Unfortunately they were unable to offer me the dates I had booked, and It would be probably be the 1st week in March. I declined. The vaccination centre is 11 miles away, as opposed to the Medical Centres 5 miles. Not really much in it and as my car is getting 2 months to the tank of petrol, a bit of a run would not do it any harm. I just thought it was typical that if I had just waited for another day, I could have gone really local.

Coincidence or … ?


I use Microsoft Money 2002 to manage a number of financial accounts locally on my laptop. It is no longer supported by Microsoft, but still works the way I like. I run it in a compatibility mode as if it is running on a Windows XP machine. There has been a number or rumours that the next update to Windows may disable some compatibility modes in order to force customers to purchase newer products. These rumours, whilst not being confirmed or denied by Microsoft tend to flare up now and again and there has been rather more this year than previous years.

In order to ensure that I have some kind of continuity, I have started to look at maybe using Excel to do the job. I had encountered a few problems with formatting and a couple of formulas. Nothing I tried seemed to work, so I posted a question on an Excel forum that I used when I working for the council. After about 30 minutes or so, I got a reply. I followed the instructions, but only partly did what I wanted. I thanked the responder and gave a bit more detail. The next reply came back within 5 minutes. Once applied, everything worked as I wanted.

Now for the coincidence. This morning I received an email from Microsoft. I get regular updates as I have a Microsoft account that came with Office 365. This email was advising me that the new Microsoft Budget Template was now available in Excel. Prior to today, the template was only available in America. First impression is that it is something that I can work with if Money 2002 is blocked.

Was it just a coincidence ?

** Update … it appears that the Money in Excel is still not available in the UK. Microsoft are (supposedly) looking into why I received the email **

So annoying …


I’m still on my quest to find the best blog editor for me. Open Live Writer was my BlogDeskpersonal favourite but it seems to have been forgotten. The last release was back in 2017 and even the copyright statement has not been updated since 2020. I have been tempted by reviews (some of them a year or two old) that BlogDesk is a very good editor and is actually used by at least one of the “Happiness Engineers”.

However (and these days, there is always a “However”) I am having real problems setting the thing up. I can get part way, then the set-up ask for my “Blog ID” with a button to automatically find the ID. This doesn’t work. So I can manually enter the ID. But where is the Blog ID on my WordPress blog? I have been through all of the settings I can find and there doesn’t appear to be anything that relates to a Blog ID. 

FrustratedI have searched the Internet and have had a few ideas thrown at me but all seem to fail. I have logged a topic on the WP support forum, but have had nothing from there. So I’m stuck.

** An update from WordPress, I am told that my site needs to be on a Business Plan to use a third party editor. Which doesn’t seem quite right as I have used third party editors before. **

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Now I’m not anti-cyclist, in fact for many years I was extremely pro-cyclist. I used always cycle to work when we lived in our previous house. Even after passing my driving test and buying a car, I often cycled to work. I have a greatcyclists deal of respect for the whole ethos that surrounds cycling. But I was really annoyed by a cyclist today, who seemed to have either no knowledge of the Highway Code or thought that it didn’t apply to him. I was driving back from the supermarket today and was approaching a bend in the road when a cyclist in front of me moved from the left-hand side of the road to the centre, indicating he was turning right. All very good you may think. but no! The road he was turning into had a No Entry sign as it is one way. He seemed oblivious of the sign and the rules. Which really winds me up. It was lucky that I have driven that way many times as it is a favourite route for horse riders, so I wasn’t going at the maximum speed limit.