Friday, 25 February 2011

A long weekend...

Yes, I have a long weekend, having booked Monday off for Mrs RC's birthday.

True to form with anything like this that we attempt, spanners have been thrown into the works.

Firstly, due to carelessness with reading the calendar I booked the wrong day.  Should have been Tuesday.  Ho hum.  We were both under the impression it was Monday, so we shrugged that one off.

But that is a minor inconvenience compared with the latest twist.

Mrs RC has had a pain in her hip/lower back for a week or so.  Doctor said she should have an x-ray.  Guess when it is!  Yep, Monday.  No fixed appointment either, we just have to turn up and wait for someone to call us.  Think we might take a board game with us to pass the time!  We will also take something to read...

Talking of reading, I have been reading for my assignment about Afghanistan.  Fascinating stuff.  I can see myself pushing the limits of the word count again!

More soon - have a great weekend!

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Next Thursday I am doing a sponsored silence at work.

My boss has agreed to it too!

Hoping to raise some money (as part of a Uni-wide fund raiser) for a charity called Read International which is sending books to east Africa.

Think this might be fun, if somewhat challenging.

Thinking about doing a t-shirt that says what I am doing with the words "Yes", "No" and "Maybe" on the front so I can point to them as appropriate.

Too cute for words

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My brain hurts!

Trying to relearn the little I ever knew about Visual Basic...

Monday, 21 February 2011


Worked at a Uni Open Day on Saturday, which is always fun but exhausting.  The parents seem to be far more concerned about what is going on than their children are!

Yesterday was a busy day as we tried to get a whole weekend out of one day.  Good fun, but again a tiring day!

I do get a day off later on for working in Saturday.  Planning to make this next Monday - Mrs RC's birthday!  Not making plans to go out for dinner or anything - these plans always go wrong, so we just see how things pan out.

So now back at work and Monday hit me like a sledgehammer - but undaunted I fought back and have made a massive dent in the work that was waiting for me.  Main task ahead is to refresh my long neglected VisualBasic skills by Thursday...

The next assignment has reared its ugly head.  In this one we have been given a wide choice of topic, an approach also known as "giving them enough rope to hang themselves".  My chosen topic?  The geopolitics of Afghanistan and its neighbours, especially Pakistan and India.  Oh yes, I am going for the big one!  It will either be a splendid success or a total failure!  Either way it will be fun to do, which is what I want when all the dust settles.  Starting off with a timeline for the region, looking at the rise and fall of the various empires of the region, the arrival of the British, leading to more recent events...

I have started painting a new set of soldiers.  They have been sitting in boxes for several years but I am now determined to get them done.  They are medieval Lithuanians, barbarians of the north ready to fight the equally barbaric Teutonic Knights who I will be able to field if I repaint a few knights.  I have got some very fancy plans, involving snowy scenery, pine forests, frozen rivers, clusters of wooden huts, etc. Hope I find the time to do it!

So, the week is on!  Monday is over already!  Hope I can take the pace!

Friday, 18 February 2011


After reading Terri's post about reading, I feel inspired to talk a bit about books.

I have loved books for as long as I can remember.

As a child I remember building up a collection of Ladybird books.  These were a mix of children's stories and historical books about famous people.  I remember reading about Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt over and over again.  Hm, I guess some things never change!

As I grew up I read a range of books, but tending towards historical fact and fantasy/sci-fi fiction.  Harry Harrison, Azimov, Tolkien, etc. sit along side books about Stalingrad and the Battle of Agincourt.  No I don't still have that Ladybird book...

Some people can only read a book once.  Mrs RC is one of these.  To me, some books are like old friends that I never tire of reading.  I have read The Lord of the Rings cover to cover 4-5 times and have dipped in at random points more times than I can count.  Similarly my collection of Terry Pratchett books is battered and thumbed, uncomplaining witness to my repeated readings.

I love to sink into a good story and read at every opportunity.  I am well known for walking down the street while reading a book, glancing up to check that I am not about to walk into a post or something.  Sometimes something I read triggers a chain of thought and I find that I am staring through the page and seeing something completely different, maybe reliving a lost memory or developing a strange idea for something.  It is good to escape life from time to time...

We encouraged our children to read from an early age and they all enjoy reading in some form or other.  The hardest to get going was our eldest daughter.  Due to her disability she had difficulty imagining things that are not real.  It was not until she was 12-13 that she finally cracked it.  We were home tutoring her by this time and my wife had got her to read a story called "Goodnight Mr Tom", about a family during the Second World War.  It is a really sad story, and it had my daughter in tears.  Ha, I am almost crying just thinking about it!  But it seemed to turn a switch in her mind and allowed her to imagine for the first time in her life.

Books are wonderful things.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Parent's Evening

Got all of our issues out in the open last night.  My daughter was very forward and straight talking when airing her grievances, but my youngest found it harder.  But we still put his case and know it will be listened to. 

He found it hard to criticise teachers.  Afterwards we chatted as we walked home.  I told him about some bad teachers I had at school, including the art teacher who would use a red pen on your sketches!

I also pointed out that teachers are just people doing a job - if they are doing something wrong that is affecting you they need to be told.  You should not suffer for the sake of politeness!

Looking forward to seeing the changes!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Hump of Humpday...

Lunchtime on Wednesday - the tipping point of the week.

In between work this morning I have finished my assignment - YAY!

The next one (and the last for this academic year) is on a month's time, so no sweat...

This afternoon I have a nice little top-up training session, then it is off home for dinner and parents' evening at school.  The kids are doing great, so no problems there but we do have a couple of things we want to take the teachers to task over so it should be interesting.

Lunchtime arrangements:  D-
Access to lockers:  F

It has been a while since I had a good game with my toy soldiers.  Now that this assignment is finally put to bed I will set about planning a nice big one.  Yeah, my Romans need another outing I think!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


I am calling it a night - just one more paragraph to go, and I can't do that without learning a little more stuff, so that will wait until tomorrow.

Time for bed now!

I need it, but I feel like I have earned it now...

More soon!


In spite of the odd half hour here and there, my assignment is still not dead!

Going to force myself to sit up tonight and finish it off once and for all...

Sorry about the short post - more soon...

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I have a bowl of sweets on my desk with a sign:

Happy Valentine's Day!
Have my Jelly Babies!

They are almost all gone now.

In line with our Spartan approach to things this year we are not buying presents for each other, but we will be having a nice family meal tonight.  Not sure what it will be, that is currently Mrs RC's secret, but I am really looking forward to it.

Have a great day - make sure you hug those you love!

More later.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Friday lunchtime is here!

This afternoon?  4 hours of lectures and seminars, with me as a student.  Great fun, on the whole.

Tonight is official Pizza Night - my dad is chomping at the bit for another one, and will probably be after more on Saturday and Sunday too!

I am taking my assignment home, hoping to finally nail it.  There is not much more to do to it.  One "problem" I have is that I am having to say lots of nice things about a particular journal article.  What's wrong with that?  Well it was written by the guy who is teaching me!  I must find something bad to say about it to avoid looking like too much of a suck-up  :-)

My daughter had a bunch of friends over for dinner yesterday evening.  Not usually a problem, except that this bunch include a vegetarian, someone who avoids all dairy and another one who only seems to eat about 3 different things!  Mrs RC's genius solution was to have dinner as a "fill your own fajita" party - lots of bowls with all sorts of stuff in them so everyone would like what they had.  Went down a storm, as did the ice cream for pudding.  Funny, but I noticed that ice cream does not seem to count as "dairy"...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

[insert muttered expletives to taste]

Working on an assignment that will not die....

So much to talk about...

So few word allowed...

Wonder what would happen if I deleted every other word...

"The Revolution a away descriptive towards based of process.  Since, economic have a of of performance understand growth evolution regional and at range scales.  This will some these and to their and."
There, that's the first paragraph!  What do you think?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Valentine's Day Songs

The other day I received a SPAM email saying that as a music blogger I should post about romantic music for Valentine's Day and enter it into a competition.  I could win all sorts of wonderful prizes, a guitar, iPhones, etc.  OK, I am not entering the competition,but I liked the idea, so here goes.

When Mrs RC and I first got together we listened to a lot of Billy Joel. This is a song that is close to both our hearts as we used to cuddle up in our little attic flat in those early days:

My second choice is real classic.  Could have gone for the Mariah Carey version, but I still prefer the original.  If this doesn't give you goose bumps you have no soul!

This is a rather unconventional love song from The Smiths. I love it because it captures that young and so in love I can hardly breath feeling. Listen to the lyrics if this is a new song to you, they are great:

So there you have it - my 3 love songs for Valentine's Day. What are yours?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Law is an Ass

Often said, but for me this story proves it.

The mother of a heroine addict did not want her daughter to go out and buy more drugs, so she taped her legs together and kept her in the house.

Was she praised for taking such positive action to maybe save her daughter's life?

No, she was taken to court, charged with imprisoning her daughter and sent to prison for a year.


Holy crap, people get less than that for mugging old ladies in the street!

Rant over, back tomorrow.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Windy Weekend

We had high winds all weekend, which caused a lot of fun -

Frou Frou isn't very keen on wind, probably because she knows that a strong gust can lift her into the air.  We keep a tight grip on her lead, but even so...

Hurried strengthening of a fence that was moving a bit too much...

One of the gear cables on my bike broke, leaving me stuck in the lowest set of gears.  I guess this was OK when going into the wind, but very frustrating when I had it behind me and wanted to really make the most of it...

Strangely, my dad has fallen in love with pizza.  He asked if I could make him one on Friday, so I did.  A fairly big one.  He ate most of it, and took the rest home to have for breakfast the next day.

He seemed to think it was some sort of wonder food!  The best night's sleep in ages, plus it seemed to really agree with his often troublesome digestive system.

He wanted another one on Saturday...

And Sunday!

I think he realises that I won't be able to make him one tonight...

Managed to get some good reading done over the weekend, but have still not broken ground on actually writing my assignment.  Will try again tonight.  Maybe.  Might leave it for tomorrow, as I had a really productive day today.

I will finish with a piece of music.  Gary Moore, one or my guitar heroes, died yesterday, aged 58.  Far too young.  I suspect that this is one of his most famous songs...

Friday, 4 February 2011


Fitting this in between lectures!

Another busy week comes to an end and it looks like the weekend will be just as busy.  The kids seem to have built up a list of things they need for school - new shirts, shoes, etc, so a good part of Saturday is going to be spent searching for those.  We have decided to take Frou Frou with us too, so I might see if I can head away with her to one of the city parks while the others get what they need...  Here's hoping!

I only have 2 weeks to complete my next assignment - I know what I am going to write (more or less) but it is finding the time to write it up properly. Might have a late session at home over the weekend to break ground, so to speak...

The weather has changed again. Yesterday it was Spring!  Today we have high winds (apparently pushing 50mph at times) and rain.  I love cycling in this  :-(

Oh well, time up!  Must get to class now, via the Coke machine.  Had a late night last night - Frou Frou wouldn't settle down and by the time she did I wasn't tired any more!  I can normally fall asleep really quickly but last night I just laid there...  Ugh.

Have a great weekend - more (and hopefully more interesting) next week!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Frou Frou

Frou Frou is a Chorkie - a mix between a Chihuahua and  Yorkie.  There are a lot of names like this these days - Labradoodle (Labrador-Poodle) being the most famous I guess.

As you can see, she is slowly growing up - now over 3 times the weight she was when we got her - but still tiny compared with Custard.  The top photo really captures her alertness and intelligence.  She runs rings around poor Custard but he loves her.  Who could not love her? 

Well, OK she wasn't too popular at 5 this morning when she got Mrs RC out of bed and then went back sleep until 7.30!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A lick o' the cat...

Some random stuff today...

We have found out what the other half of Frou Frou is!  She is half Yorkshire Terrier and half Chihuahua, making her a "Chorkie".  Turns out that we know the owner of the father, who also has a dog who is Frou Frou's brother from an earlier litter.

Must get some new photos of the little terror...

Today is a big day at work - our secretary has returned after maternity leave.  It is so good to have her back, being not only mega efficient but also great fun.  Not that her replacements were not these things, they were great, but it wasn't the same.

As I have mentioned before, we are having period of belt-tightening at home to get our finances under control once and for all.  Things just went to hell when my daughter was taken ill but we decided that this year we will sort it all out.  And it is really working, we have been able to make some really big dents in things since Christmas (which was also done on a modest budget!).  One thing that I am enjoying is the food - at times like this, Mrs RC really goes to town in the kitchen, producing amazing dinners out of nothing - I wondered last night whether the kebabs were made from the neighbours cats or something!  :-) 

Cat or not, they were delicious...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Cold enough... freeze the balls off a brass monkey!

What a great old British saying that is!

Poor monkey!

Well, not quite.

Back in the old days of wooden warships, when Britania ruled the waves, and cannon fired iron cannon balls, these balls were stored on racks.  These racks were made of brass, and were called Monkeys.

I very cold weather, the iron cannon balls would shrink - shrink more than the brass racks did - allowing them to fall through the racks.

Hence the saying.

Oh well, it is still a good saying.

Now if the saying had been about freezing the balls off a Powder Monkey, things would be different - Powder Monkeys being the young boys who carried the gunpowder from the store room to the cannons...