It’s been a while …


Well 10 days anyway. Nothing much to say really. My fourth, annual ‘op anniversary’ passed without any fuss. In fact it was spent working in the garden. What else … oh yes we updated our satellite television\telephone\broadbanddish subscription. I have to admit, I was a little worried about this, given that when he’s at home, R*** spend most of his time on YouTube and Nick Jr. Any issue with either the broadband or TV could would have caused real problems. However, everything went very smoothly. K*** is getting to grips with the new handset and the onscreen TV guide, but we will both get there, and R*** should not have any problems with it.

Now I say, “everything went very smoothly”, it did up until this morning. K*** wanted to print out her car insurance document printerand tried to do it from her iPad. Nothing happened! Our main printer, downstairs is a wireless network printer so printing from tablets, phones and the like is easy. I checked everything I could think off with no success, but the printer was showing as being connected in the network settings app . I checked the printer website and one of its forums and found that I needed to tell the printer that we had a new router as the IP address had changed. So after about twenty minutes of scrambling about at theSmug Mug back of the printer and another ten minutes rooting through drawers to find cables, I eventually got it working again. You know what, I felt such a “smug bas***d” when five copies of the said insurance document flew out of the printer!

Is it a scam …?


Yesterday, I received an email direct to my WordPress email from an organisation that calls itself  ‘My Trending Stories’. Having a quick look on their website, it seems that they collect posts from various people on various subjects.

The email drops a few flattering phrases into the body, such as “…and strongly admire the content. Your writing abilities and ability to engage readers is remarkable and a very rare asset…” and “…strongly believe that your writing aligns with our core value…” and concludes with “…we only allow a certain amount of writers on the website in order to provide mentorship and personal growth…”. Now, this all sounds very interesting and promising, but is there a catch? I emailed them back for more details, and the reply was very much of the same. It appears that I would have to post regularly eg two or three times a week and can even repost work I have posted on my blog at WordPress.

I did a little Googling around, and I understand that a number of people are among the ‘certain amount of writers’ that this site  is attempting to attract. I have to say, that I am a little intrigued, even interested, but I have doubts. Nothing I can put my finger on, but I’m a bit uncertain. Maybe it’s the commitment or maybe it’s the excessive flattery that worries me, I don’t know.

I would be interested to know if any of my followers/readers have had the same email or any experience of this site.

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Now for the “Rant of The Day.” I’m not the biggest fan of tennis. In fact, I’m not really a sports fan at all. But K*** like to watch Wimbledon, especially when it’s Andy Murray. So the point of my rant today is how it is shown on television. The BBC covers all the big matches, but they seem to like to mess around with the channels. Tonight, Mr Murray’s match was on BBC 1 until around 6pm when it was moved to BBC 2, to allow for the news. It then flipped back to BBC1. Why? Why could they not re-arrange the schedules and put the tennis on BBC 2 and BBC 3? It’s not as if they haven’t done it before. I have an idea, that it is to stop people from ‘live pausing’ the matches. That is all well and good and some of us can remember the days before live pausing, but it is a feature that a lot of people have and we should be able to use it. Come on BBC, get your act together.

Worrying day, going well …


I was going to have a go at with the new Writing Prompt app today (might still do later) but things that we were expecting to go bad, didn’t. I shall elaborate.

Mrs H*** decide, some time ago, that she wanted the rendering on the outside walls replacing. It has become damaged somewhat, and the last paint job did not work well at all. The issue has DSCF0167been that the paint is flaking off and exposing the ‘bare’ render. It is not a small job and requires that the old render be chipped off and a new render applied. My personal view was P1010864that it just needed the rest of the paint removing and the render skimming. As ‘Master of The House’ I was, of course out voted and we went for the a full re-application. Whatever we had decided on, it meant that the house needed scaffolding erecting. Today was the day that the scaffolders arrived. We were both worried that the noise would upset R***, as because of his Autism, anything out of the ordinary can cause him a problem. He was brilliant, and it did not seem to worry him in the least. He skipped from room to room looking out of every window, just watching everything that was going on.

Then, just we thought that we had cracked it came the the ‘big hit’. One of the guys knocked on the door and explained, that because of the position of our satellite dish and the positioning of the scaffold around it, we would lose the signal. Now whilst (whilst or while … which would you use?) this was a bit inconvenient, me and Mrs H were not too bothered. But R***! He watches (at least it is on all the time) the same programmes every day. From around 8am until 10:30pm it’s ‘Nick Jnr Too’. He then switches to ‘BBC2 NI’ until 8am the next day. This happens all the time he is at home with us. Never changes. So how will he cope with this? He seemed to be okay when he was having his lunch and when he finished, I managed to load up Thomas the Tank Engine DVD. Surprisingly enough, he accepted this without any issue. We were both amazed. He is now on his 4th DVD and has even picked his own choice. This certainly not what we were expecting at all. There is a lot of finger crossing and hoping at the moment, as he could just turn at any time. We will know when  it gets to BBC2 NI time!

Motivational photo ….. 1st go


Well it was my intention to start this thing on Monday 16th, but I have a photo and it’s given me something to say, so why wait?021515_1605_Motivationa1.jpg

The photo is the beginnings of my lunch for Monday. Basically it’s pasta with some bits of beef, mushroom, onion, carrot and mixed salad leaves. There is a boiled egg to add later, with some kind of dressing, mayonnaise or maybe even oil and balsamic.

There is a point to this. Mrs H and I tend to watch these cooking programs that seem to be on every channel at the moment. It kind of annoys me a little when the presenter (quite often not a chef/cook) tells the viewer that they ‘should not buy’ the pre-packed food from the supermarket. Then they go on to explain how much cheaper and more beneficial it is to ‘make it yourself!’

Here is the reality! From start to finish, the whole dish took just over 30 minutes to cook and assemble. It would take me just over 10 minutes to call in at the supermarket (at the top of the street where I work) buy the dish and get back to the office to eat it. As for the cost, in the supermarket, it would be around £2.00 – £2.50 for something like this. Of course it is a great deal cheaper to make it myself! Of course it is, but only if the ingredients I used are to hand. To purchase the ingredients separately would amount to a lot more than the £2.50 it would cost ready made. Aha, you exclaim ….. you have all the ingredients now to make another salad for the next day and the next day and the next day ……. and then what’s left goes in the ‘hot composter’ because it has gone out of date. See my point?

 

Getting back to normal (or as normal as it gets)


     After surviving Christmas, the next task was to get through New Years Eve. We did!! R*** was on respite, as he struggles with the NYE fireworks. It’s not the fireworks themselves that are the problem, it’s the randomness of the explosions coupled with the unexpectedness, if that’s the word I’m looking for. So he was away for two nights and came back on Thursday evening. Sounds like he had a successful time, there were no reported issues. S**** and his girlfriend A**** and another friend from his university days, went to a party. They were all staying over, so that left me and K*** ‘home alone’ as they say. So what did we do… go to the pub? go to a party? go into town??? Nope, we watched the television. Well that sounds a bit simplistic, but it was a nice evening. We had a nice meal, some nice wine and spent the evening relaxing.

     Then it was back to work on the 2nd. That was a more stressful day than the whole of Christmas and New Year together. It appears now, that the work review that we are going through is changing somewhat. We were originally told, that our service would be “picked up and dropped into the new service” and that “new opportunities would present themselves.” We are now told that we will be “slotted in” but will have to push ourselves forward and sort of make a case for our existence. So that sounds interesting! We have also been told, that we need to make a brief ‘pitch’ to promote each one of us. My direct manager, S**** was pushing the idea, that this was going to be some sort of ‘presentation’ and that I should use Microsoft PowerPoint to do it. Ten minutes each was the suggested time frame for each one of us. The fact that this meeting was only booked for an hour with eight people to speak did not seem to matter. It is now down to a two minute talk about who we are, what we do, where we come from and where do we want to go. I am not looking forward to it at all. I’m not one of those people that enjoys self promotion. I’m a background person that just want to get on with the job in hand. I’ve been told that I should always be looking for better opportunities. Sorry, that’s not for me. So we will see what happens at this meeting on Friday.

     I now have a Tesco ‘hudl’. th I mentioned it to K*** just after Christmas, that I was going to see if they were reduced in the sales. I’m not a fan of Apple products, so the Ipad or Ipad Mini were not something I could ever see me using, but thought it might be useful to have some form of tablet computer.She got a bit annoyed with me as she did not know that I wanted one. We looked on the Tesco website, and she bought me a red one. We shall see how useful it proves to be. With it being an Android device, I am quite used to the operating system, which is the same as my smartphone. I just need to be careful that it does not turn into a smartphone without the telephone part.

     My attempt at writing a story based on letters from the main character is coming along, albeit slowly. I have a good idea where I am taking it, but I’m just not sure whether it is moving along to fast or even too slow. I decided to write this back in October 2013 and had the idea that each of the letters is a chapter of the story. I’m now up to chapter six, and this is where my doubts seem to be creeping in. I will finish it though, but not sure when.

A little bit more ranting …


     I’ve just spent the past half hour posting replies to comments on our local online newspaper. I use the term ‘newspaper’ lightly in this case. I have stopped buying and even reading, physical editions of the press. To me it seems a little one way. With a hard copy, or paper copy if you prefer, the only way to have your voice heard is to write to the editor. He or she, then may or may not publish your letter/email when ever they see fit. With the online version, I can post or reply to a comment and it appears almost instantaneously. That is providing it complies within the terms and conditions. This to me, seems to be a far more interactive way of expressing ones feelings. I have to admit though, it can lead to my comments being ridiculed and attacked by some of the other people that contribute to the site. Like many online newspapers, there are a large number of people with right-wing tendencies, that seem to take delight in posting negative political and almost racist comments. I occasionally try and redress the balance.

     Work took an interesting turn on Friday. Our service manager called in at the end of the day, and asked to have a private word with me. The way things are going in the Council at the moment, it made me a little apprehensive. However, and I’m not supposed to say anything yet, she explained that that there might be an opportunity coming up in the next couple of weeks and that she wanted me to consider it carefully. Without going into any detail, it is an area that I did not think I have any experience in. I downloaded lots of information, and I may be doing myself down too much. I may just have enough limited knowledge to pass this off. If I get my head down and start reading all this information, who knows what may happen. Just hope I don’t tread on anybody’s toes!!

     The new car is living up to expectations. Now I’ve had it a couple of months, it’s getting more and more difficult to remember the old one. The mileage is better, although I’m not getting the 60mpg that i was led to believe. It’s more 48mpg, which is better than the 42mpg I was getting with the Ford, so it is an improvement, and with the low tax band, I will be saving. It still looks strange to see my car and S****’s car side by side in the car park. Especially as they have consecutive number plates!

     On a completely different track, I’m starting an online course on Monday 25th. I saw an article in the Guardian online, that explained a little about these ‘free’ courses. It is an organisation called Futurelearn and the quote from it’s website says:

“At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions.”

     I’ve signed up for a course about King Richard III. It is not something I know much about, but the discovery of his remains and the recent television drama about The White Queen, stirred my interest somewhat. It is free, so I have nothing to lose, and it may just benefit me should I attempt to go on Mastermind !!!! I’ve also signed up for a course in programming apps for smart phones, but that does not start until February 2014.

     A couple of post’s back, I mentioned a story idea that I had been planning. Well it is now into it’s fourth chapter, and the story will start to take a different direction. I will not say any more, but I may put an excerpt on here sometime. In fact, I have considered posting the whole story as weekly chapters, but I’ve not decided yet.

At the risk of sounding ……


I hate Christmas!

     Now I suppose, I should justify that statement. I hate to use that tired old cliché, but I hate what Christmas has become. When I was a child, Christmas was at the end of December, and it lasted, at the most three days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. That was it! Santa had his Grotto in the main department stores, but not before the 1st of December and most people did not put up their decorations until around the 20th December. Some of the local shops did their decorations a bit earlier, but I don’t really remember them doing much.

     Of course, there was not the mass media hype that we have now. Television did not have the power it now has, so Christmas advertising was mainly driven by what we would call small, posters. Now we have Christmas from around the beginning of October, with all the pressures that it brings. It is a similar thing with bonfire night. It used to be Mischief Night on the 4th of November, when we would go around knocking on peoples doors or pinching wood from other bonfires. Sometime, the older ones would let off ‘bangers’ and then run away. Then there was bonfire night itself. The only night when fireworks could be legally set off. Now it starts at the end of October and mixes with Halloween (I refuse to call is ‘Trick or Treat’), then goes of until the weekend after bonfire night. It’s turned into ‘bonfire weekend’.

     But I digress. This rant is a Christmas rant. this is also the time of year, when charities feel obliged to try and wring more money out of us, by mentioning ‘Christmas Spirit’. I don’t have a problem with giving to charity and regularly do so. My problem is that you get inundated with them, and you cannot give to them all. That does not include the professional charity collectors. Chuggers, they are called. They are the ones that stop you in the high street, carrying their obligatory clipboard, to sign you up to give only £2.00 a week. With their usual mantra of ‘….it can do so much….’ they attempt to make you feel as guilty as possible so as to convince you that £5.00 will do so much more!

     Now, we are in the midst of the worst austerity measures in  British history, with Local Authorities being forced to strip millions from their budgets. Yet they are still expected to spend many thousands of pounds on Christmas Illuminations and the ‘C’ lest celebrities to switch them on.

     To cap it all, when it’s all over, it will be only four months to Easter!