Friday, 31 December 2010

New Years Eve!

Hi guys!

Having a great time - hope you are too! 

Having great food, lots of time with the wonderful mrs RC, kids, dogs, etc.  Plenty of drink too - got a glass of Baileys going at the moment, moving on to the wine after walking the dogs...

Frou Frou just had her second injection which means we can take her out for walks soon.  Can't wait, it is going to be such fun.

Oh well, I can hear things going on in the kitchen again - better get back in there!

Hm, might see if I can get a quick look at a few blogs first though...

Have a great New Year!  See you soon!

Monday, 20 December 2010

"Fun" in the snow

Saturday saw 4 inches of snow arrive in a couple of hours - been 20 years since we saw this sort of thing.

Mrs RC and the kids were in Canterbury when it arrived - the bus got stuck and they had to walk 6 miles to get home!  Good thing that they were all dressed for the cold, are fit and had bought some doughnuts while they were out!

Puppy needs a cuddle now!

Bye for now!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Signing off for Christmas!

Yes, this could be my last post before Christmas, although as Terri pointed out I don't really have an excuse for not posting from home these days...


Work and school finish today, giving us a week to get in the last things we need for the big day.  We have got all the main presents now and I think everyone will be getting stuff that they want and will enjoy.  Going to add a few silly things just for the hell of it - I love silly presents.


My daughter played bass guitar at the school concert last night and did really well.  It was funny sitting there watching my little girl play guitar like that.  Going to have to encourage her to learn more now so she can play more interesting bass lines.  Must tread carefully, though.  She is very much like Mrs RC, wants to work things out in her own way without being pushed - push either of them and they push back twice as hard...


Puppy update!

The puppy's name is now Frou Frou (90% of the time anyway), and she is doing great.  She has her own food and drink bowls but refuses to use them, preferring to share Custard's.  We put the food down and she immediately starts stealing bits from under Custard's nose.  He growls a bit but she ignores him and grabs more.

The often play together now, with Custard laying on the floor while Frou Frou runs around, jumps on his head, nips his ears, etc.  The really scary bit is when he lays with his mouth open and she puts her head in his mouth and licks his teeth!  Will try to get pics/video of all this sort of thing over the holiday and will post them if they are any good.

2010 was a difficult year for us but we have no intention of letting this year's problems run into next year.  Frou Frou has been a great distraction in this respect and getting her has been a great move.  It is amazing the effect that 3 pounds of dog can have on a house!

So, time to sign off!  Have a great Christmas and New Year!  I hope that 2011 will be a wonderful year for you all, where ever you are and whatever you do. 

Hope to see you in the New Year, if I don't manage to wrest a laptop off the kids over the holiday!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Quiet...

Work is really winding down for Christmas now, so I have started digging for data for my dissertation.  Hoping to make some really good maps of the USA to show population shift over the last 10 years, and hopefully some more to show changes in what work there is in the different sectors.  Geeky but fun, IMO.

Christmas Story just finished!  I had it running on a spare eMac that is in the office.  Time to put on Die Hard 2, I think!

Really starting to get in the mood for Christmas now - bought a few more presents at lunchtime!  Why does spending money always feel so good?

More soon.


HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!!!!!

Just found out that the first results from the US 2010 Census will be released on the 21st!  Can't wait to see what they give us!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ho Ho Ho!

Almost finished the hall decorations last night!  Another hour or so tonight should finish it.

Bought a couple more presents at lunchtime - it is feeling really cold out there, and the ground is more or less frozen solid.  There is the promise of snow at the weekend - can't wait!

Don't think I have mentioned this yet, but Friday is my last day at work!  Woo hoo!  This term has been really manic and I desperately need to just kick back and have some fun with the family, dogs, rabbits, guitars and toy soldiers.  Can't wait.

Those who have known me for a long time (there are a couple of you left!) might remember that I had an idea for an action movie/book.  I am seriously thinking about writing it, and might make a start over the holiday.  I will let you know how I get on - if I do!


Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

'Tis a bit more like the season...

Getting a bit more into the spirit of things now.

Put some decorations up in the hall last night, but I stopped due to being a bit tired and having a puppy trying to eat my ankles.

Bought my daughter a great little present - her first bass guitar.  I think she will love it - small, light, and purple with a great sound.  Wish my first guitar had been as nice as this one!

Another thing that has added to my Christmas Spirit is that I will be going to a school carol concert!  I thought that this would be the first year in many that I would not get to sit and watch my children sing, but no!  My daughter is taking part (playing bass guitar in a band), so am forced to go along for the evening.  I hope everything goes OK - this will be her first time playing to an audience.

Looks like England will be getting a White Christmas too!  I think there has only been snow on one Christmas that I can remember, and that wasn't very much.  A real White Christmas would be sooo coooool.  Knowing my luck it will miss this corner of the country, so please send us some if you have any to spare!

More soon.

Monday, 13 December 2010

'Tis the season

Well no matter how hard I try to stop it, Christmas is coming.

Mrs RC seems to have put her finger on the problem this year.  Events in the family have robbed us of this year - we have spent the entire time gritting our teeth and trying to get from one day to the next without really experiencing the year properly.  Christmas is not due yet, as far as our body clocks are concerned!

Anyway, I got home on Friday to find that the tree was up.

I spent part of Saturday doing the Pooh Bear grotto in the front porch - it is nearly finished.  Just a few more lights and to finish reconstructing a Christmas sleigh that my eldest made many years ago.  I savaged the reindeer and made a new sleigh that will hold Eeyore-Santa.  She would have liked that.

Had a real pain with bike tyre inner tubes over the weekend:

  • Got puncture on Friday evening.
  • Saturday morning I put in my spare but it immediately got punctured by a small piece of grit stuck through the tyre which I had missed.
  • Went to buy some more inner tubes.
  • Opened the box and thought "Hey, these look small!"
  • Went back to the shop to buy the right size.  Of course, the girl on the til made this into a major drama, refunding me £14.99, making me sign for it etc, and then selling me the right ones for £14.99...  The people in the queue behind me were thrilled...
The cold sometimes affects my insides.

While doing some shopping on Saturday my stomach started to gurgle and clench.  I headed for the toilets.

Arriving just in time, I sat there for a couple of minutes checking that there wasn't going to be a sequel. I heard the outer door open.

"Oh, sweet Jesus!"

The door closed again.

I sniffed.

"UGH!"

Sirens.

Oh, not another heart attack in the cake aisle, surely...

I headed out to see the last of the staff and customers leaving the building - beyond I could see a guy in a full body suit - bomb disposal?  Chemical and biological?  Looked serious anyway!

I decided it was a good idea to get the hell out, anyway.  As I stepped outside there was a shout.

"Hey, you with the beard!  Hands up!"

"What?"

"DO IT!"

I did it.

As I was surrounded by armed Police, the guy in the suit walked into the building.

After a few minutes he returned, removing his helmet.

"I can't find the source, but the readings are off the chart!"

"Hm, maybe our 'friend' here can help explain things?"

After 2 hours, and a long awaited sequel at the Police Station, they believed me....



PS, some of this might be slightly exaggerated.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Busy...

Sorry for my poor showing this week.  Catching up on the snow days has tended to wipe out breaks at the beginning of the week and yesterday I had a short day.  My youngest had to go for an orthodontist check up so I had to go home to look after Suzie-Pickle, or as she is being increasingly called, Frou-Frou.  I have a feeling that this will end up being her real name - it really suits her.

Most of the snow is long gone, but there are still patches here and there - the temperature is hanging around freezing, meaning that my nose is getting very cold...

Christmas in under way at last - I have actually bought some presents and the decorations are going up this weekend, suitably altered to make them puppy-proof, of course.

Today is a big day in the UK - today is the day that our University fees become the most expensive in the world while the politicians try to convince everyone that they are actually getting cheaper.  Of course, the real killer is that half of the current government was elected on the promise that University fees would be totally abolished!  Changes like that should be against the law, IMO.

Ah well, onwards and upwards!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Snow days!

The end of last week saw most of England grind to a halt under heavy snow.

Usual snow duties befell me - feeding Humphrey the pony, making sure relative had what they needed, walking dogs etc.

Suzie-Pickle continues to keep us all busy too...



The snow has now gone, but it is cold and foggy outside [shiver].

More later - got some catching up to do!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Talkin' 'bout my generation!

OK, I will spare you the obvious YouTube clip and get straight on to the story.

I was talking to one of the students today.  They have got a group assignment to do and she was saying how her group was great because of the range of people in it.

There was her - educated, intelligent...

There was B - typical student who likes a good party.

There was C - the middle aged guy.

There was D - the older guy.


I laughed.

"I love your perception of age."

"What?"

"C is middle aged?  Love it.  He must be all of 25."

"Yeah."

Hm.  I am more or less the same age as D, making me another "older guy"...

OK I'll take it, I'm a man.  Nothing worse than an old guy thinking he is still 19.

Or is there?  Let me know if you can think of something!

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PS Do you ever find that you suddenly start using a word that you have rarely used before?

My new word is "spartan" - I used it twice in the assignment that I just finished (YAY ME!!!!) and also just used it in a comment on someone's blog!  Maybe that will be my new name - The Spartan Rock Chef!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Suzie-Pickle

Suzie is turning out to be a very clever little thing - as if you couldn't tell by looking at those photos!

At night we are putting her into Custard's crate which has a bed, food, water and milk bowls and a pad for her to pee and poop on.

She likes this and sleeps very well in there.

However, on the first morning we went down stairs to find that she had escaped from the crate.  The bars at the bottom are wider than the rest of them are, and she had squeezed through one of the gaps on the front.

After suitable modification (a strip of metal and some zip-locks) we felt that things were secure.

Last night, we heard Custard making a strange worried sound.

Mrs RC went to investigate.

Suzie had squeezed through the bars on the side of the cage, getting into the area where Custard has his bed!

I was oblivious to this, but Mrs RC added another strip of metal held in place with more zip-locks before coming back to bed.

This morning, as I was getting ready for work I saw Suzie embarking on the next part of her plan.  She was chewing at the zip-locks!

Custard never had this sort of cunning.  He never escaped from his cage.  In fact, most of the time we didn't even have to lock the door we just pushed it shut, making him think he was locked in!

I think Agg79 is right - she will be teaching Custard all sorts of new things!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Meet Suzie-Pickle!



Yes, we finally found a puppy!  We had more or less given up when my younger brother said he had passed a stables only a few miles away where they were advertising puppies. We all piled over there to have a look and instantly fell in love with this one. 

She is supposed to be a Yorkshire Terrier, but at the moment she looks more like a tiny 2.5 pound Rottweiller!  She isn't afraid of anything, loves Custard (even though his head is bitter than she is), takes over his bed if given half a chance and loves attacking the cuddly rabbit that you can see in the top photo..  She also loves cuddles, which is good because we all want to give her lots of fuss and hugs.

It is funny, but we all feel that this is the puppy that we were supposed to have, she fits in perfectly.

Of course, this is going to make the Christmas tree really fun this year!  Back to the days of toddler-proofing!

Friday, 26 November 2010

That Friday Feeling!

Plenty to do today - doing a nice big map of possible flood areas for a start!  Going to be fun to see the results!

Also need to do a bit of reading for a seminar this afternoon - mind-numbingly dull, but I guess it has to be done - it all counts towards the degree so who am I to complain?

In between this it is Graduation Day for the students who finished in the summer, so I will spend my lunch break hunting them down with a camera so I can do my usual poster showing the "before" and "after" pictures of those who have been through our department.  It will also be the last time I get to see most of them (although I am "friends" with a few of them on FB).

OK, computer still thinking about the latest stage of my map, so I can write some more.

I am 17 again.

OK, I'm not (thank God), but yesterday I got roped into doing one of those consumer surveys.  I spent a couple of minutes saying how rubbish the new Kit Kat wrapper was and they gave me a token for enough to buy a CD.  Got one that I had on Vinyl back in the day - one that has got songs on that we played in one of my bands.  I still see 2 of that band from that band from time to time (singer and guitarist, I was on bass), but I haven't seen the drummer for a while.  Last time I saw him he said he had worn out his shoulders drumming.  Sad, he was a great drummer - what he lacked in finesse he really really made up for in energy and aggression.  Hm, guess that's why his shoulders are knackered now!

Right,the PC is still thinking about stuff, so I will say bye for now and get some of that reading done!

See?  Studious and multi-tasking!  Am I perfect or what?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Losing faith

I am beginning to wonder if we are meant to get another dog.

We were supposed to be getting a Spaniel yesterday - the guy would bring it to us.

Nothing.

He did not phone us.

We phoned and texted him several times but got no reply.

Blah.

Why do people do this?



OK, just found out why people do this - I was paying 50p a minute to talk to this guy!  Now I am saying some really bad words - far worse than I said when my chain broke.

Giving up the dog hunt - too much of a minefield!  If one turns up on my doorstep I will take it, other than that...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Today could be the day!


I was cycling home last night, changing gear to tackle the big hill that I have to go over to get out of Canterbury when "CLICK", my chain broke.

My rucksack bulging with shopping for my dad, I got off, looked at the damage and said some bad words.

Yes, I know you are shocked, but I can't deny it.  I said things like "Oh golly gosh, that is dashed annoying!" and "Oh phooey!" and "Fudge!"

What, you don't believe me?  You think I said other words?  Hm, you could be right.  Feel free to try guessing what I said in the comments section, if you must!  I don't mind having my blog cluttered up with profanity!

Anyway, so all I could do is push my steed back to work, lock it up and catch the bus home.  Worse still, I had to get up extra early to catch the bus in to work this morning!  The nice part of this was that I caught the same bus as Number One Son and we had a good chat about stuff as we travelled.

And now I am hungry, because I never eat breakfast if I catch the bus - I tend to see it again if I do  :-(

Hoping to get a new chain fitted some time today....



But as the title says - today could be the day!  The day that we get another dog!

We have found someone nearby who has a young Cocker Spaniel that they need to rehome because their toddler is allergic to him.  Mrs RC is meeting up with them and will let me know how things turn out.  If we get him we are thinking of calling him Henry.

More news when I get it!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What was that all about???

Had a strange dream last night.

B&Q, the DIY chain store, had started selling wine.

The wine (which only came in one flavour - Merlot) came in cartons, like cheap fruit juice - the sort where you snip off a corner of the carton and then have to use it really quickly because you can't reseal it.

The wine was endorsed by a TV celebrity - Dermot O'Leary, who hosts the X-Factor talent show.


The wine was called, wait for it, "Dermot's Merlot" (make sure you sound the "t" in Merlot!). 

And it was disgusting.  My comment was that it made sense for a DIY store to sell it as it would make good brush cleaner.  But regardless of the taste, it was incredibly popular.  Cheap, strong, endorsed by a friend of Simon Cowell's and with great marketing behind it I guess it had to be!


Any ideas what that was all about?

Am I working too hard?

Do I just need a drink?

Should I run with it and see if this is my route to fortune?  Remember, you saw it here first!  :-)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Gotta love this!



My boss is really hooked on Polish folk music.  This is the sort of thing he bombards me with:




Today could be a great day.  Waiting to hear more about a possible puppy - an English Bulldog!  Will post more as and when things happen.

Great disappointment [sigh].  Although the bulldog breeder was advertising as though he was very local to us, he is in fact in Scotland.  I will not buy a dog from someone so far away - especially from someone who places misleading ads!

The hunt continues...

Friday, 19 November 2010

I just got mugged!

This is the prime suspect:


I was walking around the University, minding my own business, when I saw a Cake Sale, raising money for Children in Need.  (Pudsy Bear is their mascot).

The cakes looked great and I knew one of the people doing the selling.  But I had no cash on me!

So, off to find the nearest cash machine, which is in the Student's Union Bar.
And what was waiting for me in the bar?  Another Cake Sale!

So I bought cakes at both sales - and jolly good they were too, especially as I had the bonus of knowing that I was helping a good cause as I ate.

But then I realised that my 2 youngest had both got non-uniform days at school - on the condition that you made a donation to Children in Need!

And it is only lunchtime!  How many more opportunities will this bear have to seperate me from my cash?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Uh...

Not really sure what to write about today...

The hunt for the dog continues - thinking about a whippet or greyhound now.  These are two of my favourite breeds - I love the paradox with them that they are capable of incredible speeds but are generally very lazy and laid back.  And the way they look at you just melts you heart...

(Look at those eyes!  Note that this pic is off the web and not one of my dogs.)

Many years ago I had a whippet and a greyhound - both rescued and both called Lady!  They became Big Lady and Little Lady.  Big Lady ran across a main road one day and was killed.  Broke my heart.  Little Lady moved to Scotland with my mom and lived until she was 17 years old.  She hated people bending down to talk to her and had a habit of biting noses when they did!  She even did this to my grandfather, breaking the skin on either side of his not inconsiderable nose!

Right, things are nice and quiet - time to break ground on my assignment!  I have done enough reading to make a start!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Another walk in the woods...

It was a cold morning - the heavy frost slowly melted away as we wandered through the woods.



Holly!  How festive can you get?


I think that these flowers hung on a bit too long...


It was a great morning - must get Custard on the bus and bring him out to explore - and meet all the other dogs that we met on the way too!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Another week...

Well the weekend passed...

Weather was horrible - seemed to get soaked everytime I went outside!

Mrs RC and my daughter continued the search for a dog,spending hours surfing the web looking for something within a reasonable distance.  No luck, we were too late for everything I rang about.

One good side effect of this is that Mrs RC is becoming very nifty on the computer.  Until recently she has not shown much interest in them, but is now very competent.  OK, the odd pop-up that gets through does bother her, but she will soon get used to that.  And she is even showing a glimmer of interest in Facebook!

Christmas is rolling at us at high speed and we are totally unprepared.  It is going to be a rush job this year, I can tell.  No one seems to have any idea what they want, we just don't have any momentum yet. 

Maybe I need to watch a certain movie...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday - all too soon!

The week speeds to the weekend yet again!

My assignment is now complete and I think it is pretty good - I might have strained the word limit a bit but can't find a way to shorten it without ruining it!  Ah well.

Starting reading for me NEXT assignment now!  This one is about divisions within the UK - language, culture, history (think Mel Gibson shouting "FREEDOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!").  Should be fun...

We now have a few routes we are exploring for dogs - rescued Staffordshire Bull Terriers, another rescue centre and also the chance of a puppy Springer Spaniel!  Springers are great, if a little energetic so might not be the ideal companion for a plodder like Custard, but we will see how it goes.

Right back to it!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Just a quickie...

Appalling weather today - high winds, rain, cold.  NOT my favourite cycling weather.

The dog/puppy hunt goes on...

Had a great wargame last night.  I was Julius Caesar and totally failed to conquer Gaul.  He clearly had better dice than me!

My assignment is pretty much nailed - just a short conclusion to add an I am done.

See?  Studious!  That's ME that is!

Giving a talk to 3rd year students this afternoon, helping then with dissertations.  Always a fun talk...

More soon!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Must focus...

Working on assignment...

Mrs RC working on getting a new dog, which currently look like being a 1 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier that is looking for a new home...

Playing toy soldiers tonight and hoping that finishing the assignment will stop me feeling guilty about an evening of childish fun...

More later...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Can't stop watching...



The Middle.

The first time I watched it I was in pain, and doubted I could watch again.

You see the girl who plays the daughter:






in fact the whole character that she plays, is Sophie - the daughter that we lost.

After watching that first episode, I was almost relieved when it ended, even though I never thought to turn over - I felt compelled to watch, to marvel that my daughter was apparently reincarnated like this.  Everything was there - the braces, the hair, the joy, the amazing temper, the dress sense, the teenage crushes.  So I watched to the end and then swore I would avoid it in the future.  I half wondered if she really was like our daughter or if I was just imagining it, even sort of wishing it?

Then, a week or so later, I found my wife watching it, transfixed.  I knew what she was thinking and we watched together.

After this, all of our kids and my mom have independently said that this girl reminds them of Sophie.  It wasn't just me being a bit mad.

Now I watch it quite a lot, without the pain but sometimes with a touch of sadness.  I miss her quirkiness - I even miss the tantrums!  None of our other kids ever came close for that and gave up long ago, unable to compete.

So we are all agreed on this.  If you ever wonder what my daughter was like -just watch an episode of The Middle and you will know.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Our family might be about to grow...

No, not a baby - let's get that straight right now!

Not that it wouldn't be fun, of course...

But, no. Let's start again.

Saturday morning I had a rude awakening - the phone was ringing.  It as Mrs RC.  She had taken Custard, Spot and Bryn for a walk and on returning found some of my dad's neighbours with an old, apparently lost, Golden Retriever.

He was well fed (if hungry at this time), not frightened (so not used be being hit) and enjoyed a game of tug of war, but he had been given a rather rough home-done haircut and fresh hair growth suggested a recent skin problem.

All were worried about him but would not take him into their houses - what if his skin problem is catching?

Ah well, Mrs RC and I are willing to take him in for a while.

Custard liked him, which was good, so we took him home, gave him some treats, a bath, a brush etc, and soon he looked like a new dog - although his hair cut still looked a bit strange.

While he settled on a temporary bed and chewed one of Custard's chews, I contacted the local vet.  No missing Retievers reported, but they would be happy to scan him to see if he had a micro chip.

Off we went (the local vet is around 2 miles away).  He enjoyed the walk.  We saw lots of dog owners but none recognised him. 

The vet scanned him - yes there was a micro chip but after 4-5 phone calls it was clear that the chip was old and the data hand not been updated recently, so we would have to wait until Monday before anyone could access the data archive.  No problem, we would look after Henry (as we had named him) until then.  If it was not possible to find his owners we said we would keep him.

Half way home my phone rang.  Someone had just called to report a missing Retriever.

Turned out he came from the house right next to my dad - they have only just moved in, which is why no one recognised the dog!  He was very happy to get home again and the owners seemed like nice people, so everyone lived happily ever after.


But do you see where this is going?

For some time now I have been resisting pressure to get another dog, but now my defence has been smashed beyond salvation! My wife and daughter spent most of Sunday using our new internet connection to search for dogs that need to be rescued.  My daughter said that this is what she wants for Christmas.

Got a text from Mrs RC this morning:  "I think I have found some puppies."

Plural.  Did you see that?

We might have a very interesting Christmas by the look of things...

Friday, 5 November 2010

Friday rolls around again!

Not much time to talk, off to lectures in a few minutes.

Have made a bit of a dent in my assignment - the rest is all in my head, just need to get it out onto the page!

We finally have full wireless broadband at home!  YAY!  Set up was a bit tricky at first - but then I found the buttons on the laptops that switched their wireless on and everything was OK.

Just need to get thingies to connect the desktops up now.

Tonight is Guy Fawkes night - our big night for fireworks - and it is raining steadily.  Oh well, I guess that is what you get for picking a daft time of year for something like this!

More next week - or maybe even over the weekend if I get to use a computer!

YAY!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Hump Day!!!!

So, what of RC and his little world today, I hear you wonder!

Well first off, to add to my last post about prisons:  at lunchtime I was handed a free newspaper in the street.  Called "Solidarity", it is written by the local Anarchists - yes, we now have Anarchists in Canterbury!  One of the articles describes how they think criminals should be dealt with.

They shouldn't.

It is not their fault that they are scumbags.

It is Society's fault.

Society should look after them, be nice to them, and they will stop being scumbags.

Poor Anarchists - such innocence, so naive...

***********************************************

I am hoping that this afternoon will be nice and quiet (Wednesday afternoons usually are), so I can focus on tackling the assignment that I have been reading for.  As soon as I have finished this one I have another one to start on...

***********************************************

Think I have met the most obnoxious store manager ever.

A new late opening food shop has opened in my town and I visited one evening, partly out of curiosity.  Grabbed a few things and headed to the checkout.  The girl there looked at me and asked if I could use the self service checkout.

"No.  They are against the Geneva Convention.  They are an abomination."

"Oh."

Girl unlocked her till and started scanning my stuff.

Manager wandered over.

"If you had been 5 minutes later you would have had no choice about using the self service checkout."

"Yes I would.  I would have chosen to put down my basket and walk out."

"Ah, people don't like them, but they will, just like they got used to cash machines."

"But cash machines don't accuse you of stealing."

"That's only because people use them wrong.  Just think what a cash machine would do if you put your driving license in it."

"You would have to be a moron to do that."

"Could say the same thing about the checkouts."

He just called me a moron?

(Or maybe he actually did this and thinks I am calling HIM a moron?)

"Well that is why I want to be served by a real person who knows what to do, and why I refuse to use those things, even if it means cycling another 5 miles to the next shop that is still open."

The guy moved off.

I looked at the girl and pulled a face.

She smiled sheepishly and nodded.

As I left I wondered how long that girl could put up with working under a guy like that - and what level of desperation it would take for me to return to that shop!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Human-Bloody-Rights...

Well the European Court of Human Rights has made another landmark decision:

People who are in prison should still be allowed to vote.

I find this amazing - given that they tend to be doing time because they have ignored the rights of others not to be robbed, attacked, murdered, raped, etc, being told that they should retain their right to vote sticks in the throat a bit.

Never mind!  The world changes, and I suspect that politics might change a little in the light of this new development!  Political parties might feel the need to court the prison vote, or maybe totally new parties will be formed, especially given the likely shift to Proportional Representation in future elections!  How about having a Porridge Party?

So, here are a few ideas that might capture the Prison Vote in the next election.  Please feel free to add more in the comments...

  1. Flextime.  All prisoners will be allowed to serve their time as and when they want to, probably during the winter but going home for Christmas and weekends.
  2. Specialist prisons, allowing networking with others who have similar specialities.
  3. Visiting speakers.  Anyone who has specialist skills will know that being out of the loop for a year or so can make these skills redundant.  It is essential that the criminal population is allowed to keep track of the latest changes in burglar alarm technology, for example, to reduce the chances of a return to prison.
  4. Prisoner Exchange Programmes.  Broadening horizons by allowing prisoners to serve time overseas in prisons of their choosing.
  5. Alteration of criminal law, compelling courts to accept claims that "It wasn't me Guv, I was at my mum's all day" as gospel truth, unchallengeable by the prosecution.
  6. The eventual abolition of the entire justice system - just think of the money that will save!
That should win a few votes for the Porridge Party, don't you think?


PS I won't even THINK about the idea that British and French armed forces are going to be working together in the future!  Let's see, a British aircraft carrier with French planes on it (a serious suggestion, BTW!).

"Hello, old chap.  We need to bomb a terrorist stronghold."

"Non.  We do not agree that this is legal war and will not take part."

Great...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Reading...

Hm, anyone looking at the stuff I am reading at the moment, e.g. "The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System" might think I am turning into a pinko-commie-bed-wetter!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A walk in the country


Went for one of our walks with students this morning - great fun, as always,even though the weather was a bit grim.


The sun seemed to shine through the trees just for this pic.

I love the Autumn, but prefer it when it is a little warmer, dryer, less windy...

More soon.

Back again!

There were a few times when things got interesting - going through a field full of bullocks was one!  I kept the camera rolling just in case we had one of those blooper moments when someone got seriously mangled in a hilarious manner, but to no avail.  We got mooed at but that was all.

The weather seems to be settling down for my journey home, which is nice of it.  I hate cycling into a head wind after a long day.

I keep thinking that I should write a reply post to Terri's recent post about women's moods and how men should deal with/understand them.  A post about guy's feelings and how women could deal with/understand them.  This would be a very short post, though.  Men are simple creatures with simple emotions and needs.  IMO, a man needs the following to have a full and happy life:

  1. Food.  A well fed man is a happy man.
  2. Sex.  Preferably without having to beg or pay for it.
  3. Respect.  At least the pretence that he is needed and that his views are valuable.
  4. Toys.  Every guy needs toys of some sort - gadgets, cars, guitars, toy soldiers, welding equipment, scuba gear, etc.  We are, when all is said and done, children trapped in an adult's body.
See what I mean?  Hardly compares with Terri's masterpiece, but I guess this reflects the relative complexity of the subjects.

Please feel free to suggest additions to my list above, if I have missed anything!

Monday, 25 October 2010

So where is the haffalump?

We were sitting in the kitchen on Sunday when suddenly there was a horrible screaming/screeching noise outside.  My first thought was that a bird had been caught by a cat.

Custard was bouncing around wanting to go and have a look, so I opened the front door and let him into the garden.  Something was going on in the far corner - the shrubs were thrashing around like crazy - but Custard couldn't get right in there.

The screeching continued, so I went out of the garden for a closer look. There I saw a cat making a hurried exit (well done Custard!), and went to have a closer look to see what it had attacked and if it was OK. 

There was movement in a patch of grass...

I looked closer...

What on earth?


It was a weasel!  (Not the one in the photo, sadly).  And he was clearly very angry (but no longer screeching).  As I watched, he shook himself, looked around and then scampered off into the undergrowth, apparently unharmed by his ordeal.  I know these sorts of animals have a reputation for being able to look after themselves, but the size difference was a bit extreme.

I don't know if he is a new resident or just passing, but it was great to see him.  If he is a resident, I hope he learns to avoid cats in the future!

*************************************

Keeping with the animal theme, we had a near miss with the rabbits too.  A moment's lapse while cleaning their runs saw Blossom (a female who is in season) break into the run where Bubbles, our male, lives.

She went straight to him and introduced herself.

What did he do?

Like a lot of guys who meet a very forward female, he ran and hid!

We quickly returned her to her own run, but are now a bit more at ease about what might happen if she breaks in again while we aren't there. 

"Breeding like rabbits", like all generalisations, seems to have its exceptions!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday...

Phew, made it through to the weekend again!

Amazing!

Now I just need to make it to pay day!  Been a really tight few months and now we have got Christmas coming up!  Ah well, we will tackle that when we get to it, the government is determined to slash spending left right and centre so who knows what is coming next!  I have been a bit uncertain about stimulus programs but right now that is looking much better than Britain's up coming austerity measures - this is going to be very bad for a lot of people...

Blah, anyway, it is Friday, I am heading for home now - a spot of treasured family time, slouching in front of the TV and chipping away at my assignment if I find the energy!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Only in the Blogosphere...



Shrinky was intrigued by a comment I made recently - I mentioned that some time ago I had been made an Honorary Girly.


Well, this is roughly how I remember it happening.


When I started blogging I attached myself to a group that was forming - one was a real life friend, the rest were "virtual" friends - mainly female, as it turned out.  Most of this group is nolonger blogging, sadly, but Terri is still here and Ali keeps threatening to blog again (I live in hope, but little else).


So, anyway, our early days of blogging involved sharing background stuff that we thought others might be interested in. 


I talked about how much I love being a parent, how I became "Mr Mom" when my wife had to be away for various reasons - looking after relatives being the most common, but there was also the time just after our first daughter was born when my wife got bilateral mastitis and almost died.  In these times I take over running everything, and do a pretty good job, even if it does sound like I am bragging!


I talked about movies, the most relevant being Beaches (Bette Midler) and how I cry like a girl every time I watch it.








Hey, there I go again.

Meanwhile, in a group of mainly girls, lots of girly stuff got talked about - you name it, it appeared in print.

Now I can't remember the exact sequence of events, but at some point it was decided that given my relevant experience and qualifications (see above), it was OK for me to read all this stuff and I was made an Honorary Girly into the bargain.  I was assured that cramps and mood swings would follow, but I think that I dodged those...

So there you have it.  I don't think that many straight guys get that sort of award, and I am very proud of it!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Busy...

Hope to have time for a decent post later...


Meanwhile....


"Why do we buy bread?  We only feed it to the animals."

"Dad eats it too."

"Like I said..."

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Weekend

Had a good weekend - Saturday was really busy, Sunday was my Day of Rest - feet up, watching rubbish on TV, doing a bit of reading, snacking, etc.

Oh, I did cook the roast, but that is a one-braincell job, so no worries.

Back to work again - this morning was mayhem, no lunch until after 2pm, but now all is quiet so I am doing a spot of reading for my first assignment of the year.  Looking at cycles of boom and bust in the world economy.  Yes, very topical, and very interesting reading the different views.  I am finding myself siding more and more with the Marxist writers on a lot of this - a system driven purely by individual greed is bound to fall on its face from time to time.  Having said that, the alternatives are little better - Soviet Russia was hardly a thriving economy!

Right, diving back into the books now -


DO NOT DISTURB!!!!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Mystery solved!

A few nights ago, I kept waking up to the smell of raspberry yoghurt.  Well, the cause of that has now been found!

No, I am not pregnant (Shrinky and Terri).  I know I was made an "Honourary Girly" a few years back (this will be news to Shrinky, of course) but this was clearly too much to hope for.

I am not totally mad either!

The real story is this.

Mrs RC had been sorting out our bedroom and noticed a fly on the ceiling above the bed.  She tried to move it and then swat it once it moved within reach, but was unable to get it.

Not wanting to leave the fly in our bedroom, she grabbed a body spray from her dressing table and shot it down.  They fly, smelling very sweet but unable to remain airborne, crash landed and was promptly squished.  With hindsight, Mrs RC now realises that my side of the bed would also have been on the receiving end of the spray - which turned out to be RASPBERRY!

So there you have it!  Simple really!


I am now off to listen to 4 hours of lectures before heading home for the weekend - have a great one!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I am winning!!!!!

I have nearly finished the project that has been sucking up my time!

You want to know more about it?

Ok, a brief run down.

I have been using GIS (computerised maps) to work out all possible modes of transport (walk, cycle, bus, train, car) available to all of our students who go to one of our 5 sites.  Using these forms of transport and the distances involved we can calculate the carbon footprint for various scenarios, from the worst (everyone drives in their own car) to the best (everyone uses the greenest form of transport available to them).

Quite a task, I must say, but very useful to the University.

Right, just a few bits in Excel (some of you will know that I love using Excel - sad I know) and all is done...


Update - ALL DONE!  Yay me!

Before things take over...

Thought I would write a short post before work hits me again...

Had a great game last night.  Turned out to be a small battle between platoons of British and German soldiers in Normandy, 1944 - about 40 or 50 men in each force.

My cunning plan was to hold the line with 2 squads while performing a left hook with the other 2 squads.  Worked perfectly - I even captured the German commander in hand to hand combat!


Had a funny thing going on last night.  I kept waking up and smelling raspberry yoghurt - I could almost taste it!  I asked Mrs RC if she had used any raspberry lotions or anything, but no, she had run out!  So now I just want to eat raspberry yoghurt while wondering why I kept smelling it last night!

OK, on with the day!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Wednesday PM

Off to a meeting all afternoon...

Had a huge lunch...

Hope I don't doze...

Playing toy soldiers tonight, probably somewhere in the Ardennes, 1944 - The Battle of the Bulge as it was called...

Sorry for the short post, things are hectic...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Not fair!

Here I am at work, while Mrs RC gets to dog-sit a friend's Jack Russel puppy called Peanut!  She is about the same size as Custard's head...

Hmph.

More soon.




Phoned home at lunchtime - Custard has taken refuge on Mrs RC's lap so he is safe from the puppy.  He us such a Cowardy Custard!  :-)

More soon...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Children can be soooo evil...

Saturday saw me doing my nerdy best at the Uni Open Day.  I always enjoy these events, talking to prospective students and their parents and basically trying to make sure they are making the right choice - which MIGHT be to study with us, but equally it might not!

On Sunday I took the boys and a couple of their friends to play laser tag.  This is always great fun - last time we more or less had the place to ourselves and there was a lot of stalking and sniping.  This time there were 2 kids parties going on, so the place was swarming with 7-8 year olds - it was like fighting Ewoks!  They swarmed all over the place, crowding around, blasting you over and over again!  Evil...

We had drinks and burgers in the intervals, compared scores (somehow I came first in one of the games!) and I chatted to some of the other dads there.  One of them was clearly a novice.  He told me that one of the kids in his group was Japanese and didn't speak much English.  I looked at the kid - he clearly knew where he was and what was going on.

"I'll keep an eye out for him then", I said.

"Oh, if you could, just incase he finds things difficult."

Yeah.  Little git killed me 8 times!  Some things surpass the language barrier - if you have seen Star Wars or played Halo you know exactly what to do...

Meanwhile, Mrs RC and my daughter were nearby - the laser place is right by a big shopping centre...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Hum tee tum tee...

Just idling away some time.

Judgemental Son is helping out at an open evening at his school, guiding and talking to prospective pupils for next year.  He is looking super cool, in his black suit and black shirt...

Was just flicking around in Facebook.  It is amazing what some people will write, isn't it? I sometimes think that people forget who they have "friended" and forget that all of those people can read what they have said!

I should be reading something constructive, but it is too boring and I keep dozing off after a paragraph or 2...

Hm, mind's gone blank...

Need a good night's sleep...

Need a shave badly, the bristles have reached that nasty stage where they curl back and start to try to grow back into my face.  Not a problem that the ladies will have much knowledge of, but I hate it.  If I had the determination to stick it out I would be OK in another week, but I don't think I have.

Ah well, I'll have another go at reading this stuff....


ZZZZzzzzzzz........

A ride on the bus...

This morning I had to come to work on the bus, taking the same one as Number One Son who now goes to school in Canterbury.

We were among the first to get on the bus, and as we travelled he told me about some of the regulars as they came aboard.


Bluetooth Woman - pushes her way onto the bus and then has "private" phone conversations via her ear-piece.  Everyone on the bus knows all about her private life.  They also hear her complain that the bus is arriving after 8am.  Funny, that.  It is SUPPOSED to arrive after 8am - if she really wants to arrive BEFORE 8am she should get an earlier bus!


Bad Parent Woman - wants people to feel sorry for her because her children are out of control.  Her conversation is punctuated with her telling her poor kids to "f-ing shut up" or "f-ing sit down".


iPod Kid - the kid who wants everyone on the bus to hear how bad his taste in "music" is.


Annoying Businessman - the guy in the expensive suit who seems to have lost his driving license for drink-driving and now has to travel with normal people.


Judgemental Kid That No One Will Sit With - the one who sits at the back, watching everyone else with a very serious expression on his face.  People will stand for half an hour rather than sit next to or opposite him.  Oh, this is Number One Son!  He likes the space that this effect gives him.



We had a great trip - certainly the most enjoyable bus ride to work I have ever had...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wednesday wittering



Made it to Wednesday!  YAY ME!!!!

Things are just so busy right now, I can't believe it!  What is so different this year?

Anyway...


Today is my youngest son's birthday - he is 12!  Jeez, I am starting to feel my age...


Tonight we are having a bit of a party - the theme is "Man v Food".




OK, we aren't going that stupid, but it is all about building burgers and wraps with as much filling as you think you can handle.  Should be a blast!

What else can I say?  Oh, the rain seems to be easing off - got to work reasonably dry this morning and it had actually stopped by lunchtime.  Will it hold off until I go home tonight?  We will see.

Oh, and what can I say?  I am working on Saturday this week too!  Not my usual stunt, but it is a University open day and I am doing a bit about GIS (computer mapping) which is always fun in a geeky way.  One of my maps was actually inspired by a couple of blogger friends - it shows population change in Michigan from 2000 to 2009.  It tells a rather sad story, one that I feel a personal attachment to thanks to blogging!

Ah well, back to polishing my presentation for Saturday! 

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Random stuff

Eating lunch, waiting for DVDs to burn.  Baguette, cheese, ham, tomatoes, chili sauce, mayo.  Nice.

Number One Son had to have a new calculator for his new school.  Not just any old calculator, needed a graphing calculator that cost a silly amount.  He came home last night and told us that he had lost it.  Mrs RC was not impressed.  I had half expected something like that.  The good news is that he found it when he went to school today.  Might superglue it to his arm or something...

I think that confidence in our new government is on the slide.  Yesterday they announced that any person earning more than £44,000 would stop receiving Child Benefit (a small weekly payment for each child in a household).  Someone immediately pointed out that a household with 2 people each earning $43,000 would still get it.  Clearly they hadn't thought about this!  Makes you proud to be British  :-(

Going to try to get off to the library now - who ever thought that a 1-day loan was a good idea?

And finally - Norman Wisdom died today. He was a really funny guy, and by all reports also a really NICE guy!  Here is a classic clip:

Monday, 4 October 2010

Wet weekend

I think it must have rained for most of the weekend.  The only time it seemed to not rain was for a couple of hours on Saturday morning, which was good because we bought a chair at a charity shop in town and dragged it home on our garden trolley.  Mrs RC then re-covered it and a foot stool that is going to go with it, in preparation for an aunt who is spending this Christmas with us.

Rained again this morning as I came in to work.  Got totally drowned, but it wasn't cold or windy so I didn't mind too much.  It is the wind that really gets to me when cycling...

Ah well , back to it - sorry this is so short!  More soon...

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Oh grow up!


Should people, especially men, GROW UP?

OK, I know it is not a good idea if 40 year olds strut around as if they were 14, but I really feel that if a guy really truly grows up he may as well lay down and die.  There would be little purpose in continuing to live.

I mean, look at Hook in Peter Pan.  He grew up and look at him!  Not nice and certainly not happy!

I don't want to grow up...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday...

Hump Day...

Made it this far on the busiest week of my year...

Deep breath...

Not far to go now...

And tomorrow is Pay Day!  Thank God for that, September is a really expensive month when you have got 3 kids, especially if 2 of them are moving to new schools...

Nearly there...

Just hope I can stay awake in my lectures on Friday - yes, both of the lectures that I will have to listen to and take notes from are on Friday afternoon... 

Oh well...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Huh...

Spending the morning fighting with the photocopier.

It is a sneaky little bugger - every time I think I am about to do the smackdown finishing move, it wriggles free and pulls a new move that sends me flying out into the audience.

OK you sucker, where is that folding metal chair...


Argh, he got me again - I am flat on my face, trying to get to the ropes before the flying sledgehammer hits...

What is this?  Hulk Hogan* storming into the arena!  The crowd goes wild!  The Copier stops and stares in disbelief!  Before he can regain his senses The Hulkster is on him, he hasn't got a chance...

Finally, to the cheers of our adoring fans and a chorus or two of "Real American", Hulk Hogan and I make our way out of the arena, stopping to hi-5 a few guys and kiss a few girls...


*The Zerox guy.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Could he get away with it?

In recent months, we have been watching a TV trivia show called QI, hosted by the wonderful Stephen Fry.  Various subjects are discussed by a group of commedians who bounce thoughts around in what is often incredibly funny exchanges.  Sometimes it get a bit rude - but not too rude, IMO.   It is a show that we all enjoy and watch as a family.

In one episode, Dan Brown's books (Da Vinci Code, etc) were mentioned, and Stephen Fry described them as "utter arse-water".

A few days ago, my youngest was talking about a book he is reading and how he is going to have to tell the rest of his class about it.

"Do you think I would get told off if I described it as utter arse-water?"

I immediately recognised the origin of this wonderful phrase.

"You might get away with it if you said that you were quoting Stephen Fry.  And said it without laughing or having that cheeky grim of yours."

"So if I said it like Jeeves would say it, you think I might get away with it?"

"You might, I guess, depending on your teacher."

"Hm...."



Now I am wondering if he is going to say it, and if so if he will get away with it.  Maybe we will be summoned to the school and be expected to be shocked!  Not sure I could act shocked - I would probably laugh to be honest.

Such a bad parent...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Kicking back...


Things seem to be settling down all round at the moment, both at work and on the home front.  Phew...

Tonight I am spending the evening with my best buddy.  The evening will probably go something like this:

I turn up while he is trying to get his living room tidy enough for 2 people to fit in.  We clear some space, crack open a couple of beers and eat the fried chicken that I picked up on the way.

We put the world to rights - topics will include the government, how the Lib-Dems (the nice-people-party) have sold their souls to The Devil (David Cameron) for a taste of power, how the country will be back in The Middle Ages by the next election, etc.

Then we will crack open some more beers and play a game or 3 of Wings of War:




This is great fun, with each of us controlling 2 or 3 First World War planes and trying to shoot each other down.  It is a great little game, easy enough to play after a few beers but with a good feel for the dodging and weaving that these little planes did.

Then another beer as we discuss ideas for future games, then I head for home, keeping an eye out for people who have drunk as much as me but are driving 4x4s...

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Best Buddies for Ever!

That is something that my daughter says in a funny voice, but it seems sort of appropriate today.

I got thinking about a really good friend of mine.  We have been good friends for a few years now, meeting up for beers, playing toy soldiers, eating bad food, putting the world to rights - the stuff that good friends tend to do.  We share a lot of views and have a way of inspiring each other, feeding interests, distracting with new ideas, etc.

I would say that we are really good friends and tend to be there when needed, as well as when there is beer to be had.  The best sort of friends.

But there is one thing that bugs me about our friendship.  We met once before, about 15 years before we actually became friends.  We met up, started chatting, and then another guy joined in, took over and my friend went off, not be be seen by me for another 15 years!

I sometimes wonder if we would have become such good friends if our first meeting had lasted a bit longer.  Maybe, maybe not.  I don't think that either of us are the people we were back then. 

Maybe we missed out on 15 years of drinking beer together. 

Maybe we wouldn't be the best buddies that we are now.

I think overall I am happy with the deal we got. But I sometimes wonder.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Kitchen... one of the things on my mind...

It has been a while since I mentioned the kitchen.

This is because there have been a few problems that are really bugging us.

We point them out to the workmen who say things like "Oh it's OK, it's the floor that is slanting".  Then they say "OK, we will come back and have another look", and don't.

The problems?

I guess the main one is that the drainer for the sink slopes the wrong way.  Yes, the water runs AWAY from the sink, off the end and onto the work surface.  Stop laughing!  You want pictures?  No.  Just picture it in your mind, OK?

Another thing is that the supposedly smooth floor (they used that self-leveling silicone stuff) is very lumpy and uneven.

Some bits of wall are just plain botched - I could have done better myself!

OK, we rent the house so maybe we shouldn't moan that much, but the sink thing?  Seriously?

On the plus side, the kitchen floor is really slippy, which makes playing tug of war with Custard a total wheeze as you can drag him around and there is nothing he can do to stop himself!

More soon!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Too much to think about...

Lots of stuff going on at the moment - freshers arrive today, I return to studying next week, the kids are settling at school and doing lots of stuff...

Most of Saturday was spent on a very theraputic rebuild of our rabbit runs.  Bubbles, Buttercup and Blossom have now been sorted out for the coming winter, safe from wind and rain but still able to get outside if they want to.  They also have dirt boxes that they can dig around in, which is proving really popular.

Custard got a bit jealous of all this work devoted to his rivals, and when we went indoors he sat looking mornfully at his bed, so we gave him fresh cushion covers, fluffed it all up nicely and gave him a treat or two and he was happy.

********************************************

Here is a question for you!

How can someone spend years trying to do the right thing and still end up with some people seeing them as The Bad Guy?  Nah, enough of that, done with it now...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

On the work bench...

Greek Hoplites prepare to fight off the Persian Empire.

THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!
(No, I didn't paint the pictures on the shields,they are transfers - yes, I cheated...)

"Stop looking at them, I am much more cute!"