Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Had a great 4 day weekend!

To be honest, I am not sure why we have this one (not that I am complaining!), but I did watch a fair bit of stuff on FoxNews and found out why it is special in the USA.  There was one interview which really struck home - a guy who had lost a leg to a bomb and was now dedicating his life to looking after those who are left behind.  This guy spoke with such passion, straight from the heart - you couldn't not be moved.  What he said meant far more to me than any amount of speeches by officers, generals, etc.  When a guy goes out and puts his life on the line for his country it is the country's duty to see that those he leaves behind are cared for.  Hope people were listening to him.  Hah, I can't really say much more here - read some of Karie's posts if you want more on what it is like for those who are left to pick up the pieces.

OK, back to normal programming!

The weekend was long and lazy.  Number One Son had a great time in London, getting there and back without incident.

It was far too windy for a barbeque - going to have to really go for it when the wind does drop, I am getting withdrawl symptoms!

Most of my time was spent watching TV and painting toy soldiers - I have nearly finished a set of armies for the eastern mediterranean at around 60BC.  Obscure but very interesting - plus you get to call the Judeans "splitters"!  You will get this if you have seen Life of Brian...

So back to it again now!  Trying to catch up on your blogs - if I haven't visited yet I will do soon!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

In for a long weekend!

As Monday is a holiday over here, I decided to take tomorrow off too.   Should make for a nice weekend...

Not really planning much - food shopping tomorrow to restock the freezer etc, maybe a barbeque at some point.  I feel the urge to cook something really bad...

Mrs RC is getting a bit up tight because Number One Son is having a day out on London with a friend.  The trip should be easy enough but it is the first time either of them will be in London without a parent.  Staying close to the phone...

Well, that is about it for now!

Have a great weekend - I intend to !

More soon.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

I Won!

I won the award for Support Staff!
(My category)

We have great students...


This is the t-shirt that a couple of 3rd year students gave me.  GIS is Geographical Information Systems, i.e. doing maps on computers and stuff.  Suggestions for alternative meanings welcome!


Not very much going on at the moment...

Exams are done and dusted...

No major traumas in the family...

Great weather, although we desperately need some rain...

I have been sorting out some data for my dissertation and it is looking very interesting - might post a map soon to give an idea of how things look...

It is the University's Golden Apple Awards today - I have been nominated by some of the students - will post an update later saying what happened...


That is about it, really!

Dull and uneventful is nice when it happens, but does not make for exciting blogging...


PS - Sorry if I haven't commented on your blog or on your comments on my blog - I am having issues...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Great minds...

At lunchtime I was walking along a side street in Canterbury.

It is one of those streets that is closed to normal traffic during the middle of the day, and you only see pedestrians and delivery trucks.

One of these delivery trucks was trying to get along the narrow road but could not because a sports car was parked right in the way outside a wine bar.

The driver sounded his horn - VERY LOUD in the narrow street.

A guy, looking remarkably like Robert Wagner in Hart to Hart, stormed out of the wine bar and said something to the driver.

The driver said something back.

Robert then jumped into the sports car, started the engine and then shot off down the road, tyres screaming in protest.

Of course, this being Canterbury, he had to stop after 100 yards or so because he reached a junction...

I watched him go, along with everyone else in the street, and then turned to continue my stroll but caught the eye of a woman in front of me.

We both rolled our eyes and in unison said:

"What a D%$K!"

Friday, 20 May 2011

Coasting into the weekend...

Now that my exams are over I have started pulling together data for my dissertation.  I am looking at industrial change in the USA from 1998 to 2008 - hopefully I will be able to map shifting patterns of manufacturing, finance, services, etc at county level - my spreadsheets have over 3000 rows and an ever increasing number of columns...  Plenty to get my teeth into.

A pair of students gave me a great t-shirt today to show how much they appreciated my help during their 3 years here - it says "G.I.S. GURU" in honour of my skills with the mapping software that we use.  I would not have bought this myself, but will wear it with honour as it was given to me.

Something else that made me feel good is that I have been nominated for a University Award - the Golden Apple.  Students are voting for their favourite member of staff and I seem to have a bit of a following!  Nice to be appreciated.  The prize giving is next Wednesday, so I will let you know how it goes.

Another sleep over this Saturday, but as it is the boys who are having it I am guessing that it will be more of a "playing xBox all night and then crashing as the sun comes up" thing.  Should be fun, though.

The trip plans continue to take shape, with a diversion to Toronto where an ex-colleague now lives.  She has promised to show me around and take me to Niagara Falls, so that will be hard to resist!  At this rate I am starting to wonder if I will actually make it to Gettysburg at all - my short battlefield trip is turning into a road trip visiting old friends!  Not that this is a bad thing, of course, I am actually getting more and more excited about the prospect!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Dreaming of guitars...

I was in a local guitar shop, trying out an utterly beautiful bass guitar.  It oozed quality from every orifice, and had a sound to die for.  The swirling grain of the wood, the gold hardware, the fat, black pickups all whispered "buy me, buy me" ...

I stood up, approaching the guy sitting behind the counter.

"I'll take it."

"You sure?  It's a thousand quid for that one, you know."

"I know, but it is beautiful."


I was about to hand it over, then hesitated.

"Hm, maybe not.  I have plenty of basses.  What I really want is a totally shit hot lead guitar.  Have you got something that really kicks ass?"

The guy let a half-smile slip.

"Follow me, sir."

So I followed him.  He lead me out of the shop, and up to the traffic lights.  Once over the junction we marched up a long, steep hill until we reached the church that sits up there.

Without a glance back, the guy took me into the church and stopped in front of a blank section of wall.

"Are you ready for this?"

"Guess so..."

He grabbed the wall, and pulled, shifting it out and around to reveal a flight of stairs leading into the crypt.

Down we went into the cool darkness, a final turn in the stairs revealing what must have been the ultimate collection of totally rocking guitars...

Then I woke up.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My brain can relax...

Yes, my exams are over for the year!

That feels good!


Just thought I would add that pic so you know how the OOOOOH YEAH should sound.

I can feel my brain relaxing even now, but last night I was just a vegitable.  We sat and watched the start of a new crime series starring Andie Macdowell.

The badness of it was hypnotic - the show lasted nearly 2 hours, but I think it could have been done and dusted in 30 minutes (including ads) if they had taken out the laughable amount of flashbacks (often with the people in black and white and the background in silly colours) and montages of people thinking about each other.  My youngest son claimed that one of these montages was actually the "hero" thinking about himself, because the woman wasn't present in a lot of the scenes that were shown.  "Oh, yes, I looked so good when I turned quickly in that bar".  Near the end we were howling with laughter everytime one was wedged in.  But my favourite bit was that the big reveal of "who dun it" was spoilt because they had already shown you in one of those damn flashbacks!

It is on again next week - wonder if it will be as good?

Hope you are having a great Wednesday!

More soon...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Exam Number 2 approaches...

My second and final exam of the year is in 45 minutes.

I think I have enough to get through OK - not doing any more revising, if it isn't there now there is no way it will stick in the next few minutes!

Today is also my younger daughter's 15th birthday. Yes, my little girl is getting all grown up.  It is a strange feeling, watching these kids growing up.  Having lost an older child, we are still on familiar ground, but soon we will be into territory that we never got to before - University, leaving home, serious boyfriends and girlfriends, jobs...  Hope we are up to the task!  We seem to have done OK so far, all things considered.

Vague plans for my trip continue to roll around - the latest is that Number One Son might want to tag along to keep me sensible.  The trip would fall between his first and second years of University, so it might be a great time to do something like this together.

OK, better go.  Maybe one more flick through the lecture notes...


Exam over with  - seemed to go OK!  Thank God that is over with for another year!  Off home now!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Battle in Barnet

Had a great trip back to Barnet yesterday.

It was all planned - catch the 7.37 train to London, arrive at 10.01, then grap the tube to arrive in Barnet by 10.30 to meet up with my friend from Canada for a tour of the battlefield and then a wargame and a beer.

Got to the train station to find:


WTF?  There was nothing about this when I fine tuned my trip last week!!!!

So, half an hour later the bus arrives, and then chugs along until we can finally get a train.  I feel doomed, there is no way I am going to get to Barnet on time at this rate.

But then, as I travelled I had a growing thought - if I get off a stop early (London Bridge), that might put me in a better place to get to Barnet.


This is me planning a short cut again...

That is always disasterous...

But the day is looking disasterous anyway.  Yes, Ken and I have no way of contacting each other...

So I took the gamble - and it paid off beautifully!  I rolled into the station at 10.27, to see my friend and his wife waiting on the platform for me.

We had a great day - strolled the battlefield, had photos taken, drank beer (called DOOM BAR) and played one of the best wargames ever - my general and his bodyguards smashed right through the enemy line and out the other side, fighting of repeated attacks, only to fall in one final death or glory charge.  If you have to lose a game, there is no better way!

After that, we finished our drinks and headed off to find some food before jumping back on the tube train into the city.  From there I headed for home while my friend and his wife returned to their hotel to get ready to see Roger Waters (The Wall) that evening.

A great day.

Now I have to focus on my exam tomorrow  :-(


I mentioned my 2013 trip to these friends and they suggested that I should start my trip by visiting them in Edmonton, before travelling across to Gettysburg.  Not sure how practical this is, but it might make for a really interesting trip - Edmonton, Minneapolis/St Paul, Chicago, Gettysburg, Washington DC (or maybe New York) and then home?  I would not want to make lots of flights, so maybe I could use the trains or Greyhounds?  Will have to work on this - any comments/suggestions/advice more than welcome!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Exam number 1...

...was at 1 o'clock today.

I thought I had revised as much as was possible without causing brain overload.  Came to work and did a few of those therapeutic jobs that don't need too much brain power.

Headed off to lunch early, hoping for some time to sit and have one final run through my notes, but ended up buying dog food instead.

Wandered over to the exam hall and joined my co-students, all in varying states of mind, ranging from quiet confidence to resignation to about to cry.

Into the hall, finding my seat and waiting for the kick off.

3 essays in 2 hours...

Turned over the paper.


These were NOT the questions I had revised for!

OK, have a slug from the Coke bottle and look again.

OK, these were NOT the questions I had revised for, but with a bit of mental adjustment I could have a fair stab at that one.

Oh, and that one isn't too bad either.

I will worry about the third essay once I have nailed these two!

Nailed the first two, (can't actually remember what one of them was about now, which is slightly worrying!)  over running on time a little, but still have 30 minutes to do the last one.  OK, I will spend that time saying how nasty the Germans are and how nice the Canadians are.  That should do it!

Apologies to any Germans out there, I like you really - some of my best friends are Germans...

Sorted!  Thank you for the good wishes - I could feel the positive thoughts as I wrote  :-)

Time to relax the brain a bit!  My daughter is having a party and sleepover on Saturday, then I have my day out on Sunday, complete with a nice train journey which is great for revision, ready for the next (and last) exam on Tuesday!

Wish me luck for that one too!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Well the trip to Gettysburg looks like it could be a real event!

I will post about this at intervals as things develop.  My latest idea is to try to work in a detour to Chicago too...

I have an exam tomorrow afternoon - one of two that I have this year.  The second is on Tuesday.  In between, on Sunday, I have my return trip to Barnet to meet up with my Canadian wargamer friend who is visiting Britain again.  A busy few days!

Probably not posting again until tomorrow afternoon, after the exam...

Wish me luck, or at least pray that my brain doesn't freeze on me!

Monday, 9 May 2011

The big 50...

OK, I am not quite 50, I still have a couple of years to go, but...

A while ago, Mrs RC and I realised that my 50th year coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Now as far as I am concerned, this (together with the fall of Vicksburg immediately afterwards) marked the point at which the South becamed doomed - the war should have ended in the summer of 1863 rather than dragging on for another 2 bloody, destructive years.

Anyway, when we realised this, the ever wonderful Mrs RC (note - every guy should have a woman as perfect for them as Mrs RC is for me!) said that I should have a trip over to Gettysburg to celebrate my 50th.

Time passed...

I had almost forgotten about the idea...

But not Mrs RC!  She has remembered and said that she will start a Gettysburg fund to make sure I can have that trip!  Woo hoo!  I have never flown that far before, so will soon start checking out the likely costs of flights, etc.  I am not intending to go during the actual anniversary celebrations, I want it to be quieter so I can really soak up the place. 

Can't wait!

Interesting times...

British politics have taken an interesting turn...

In research for an essay before Christmas I found a journal article (written a few years ago) that predicted the break up of the United Kingdom if there was another recession.  The argument went that during the good times. London was giving the regional governments plenty of cash to keep them happy, but as soon as things got tighter and London decided to reduce the cash flow the Scots etc would start thinking along the lines of "damn English, who do they think they are ripping us off like this!  FREEEDOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!"

Well we have another recession and the Scots have just voted in a party that wants full independence from England etc!  They are putting it to the vote in a couple of years time - I might need a passport to go to Scotland after that!  A strange thought!

Friday, 6 May 2011

The origins of Blogging

This was sent to me and I had to share it.  I am sure that it does not accurately reflect any of my readers...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Being heard

Today the UK is voting.

Where I live we are voting for 2 things:

Local council elections.  Our local government has been in the same hands for a long time.  I am voting for a guy who lives around the corner - a big guy who used to play rugby, and still coaches at local schools.  I want to see what sort of a stir he causes in the council chambers.

Whether to use a different voting system for our main elections.  This is the issue that the Liberal-Democrat party sold its soul for, backtracking on many election promises to get it.  The old system isn't the best, but the proposed system doesn't seem to be a big improvement so I am voting for no change.

Other stuff?

The big change has been my dad.  We recently started cooking his main meal each day - it started with pizzas at weekends and then spread to all week.  We have been feeding him lasagna, curry, macaroni-cheese, fish and chips, chicken casserole, etc, all in huge portions. He has been eating it all.  And he has been feeling a lot better for it too!  He has reclaimed his garden, trimmed a huge hedge to within an inch of its life and has now started joining us on evening dog walks!  This being someone who not long ago was having trouble getting up and down stairs!  Good stuff!

Revision for exams (which are next week and the week after) is difficult - work is busy and buy the time things are settled at home I am too tired to really concentrate.  Having to rely on short bursts here and there.  Hope some is sinking in!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

With apologies to people in call centres...

Over the (otherwise very enjoyable) weekend we were organising our finances on the computer, as is now usual.

Looking through some stuff we found a credit card statement that said we were being fined for a late payment.

Incensed, I phoned them up.

"Yes, I would like to complain because I was fined for late payment when I actually paid several days early."

"I have no record of a fine here."

"Really?  It quite clearly says I was fined here on this statement.  Do you think that there was a hickup and the fine was removed when my payment was found?"

"No, the system would still show that.  Um.  Is the statement for 2011 or 2010?"

"What?  Oh. Um.  I see what you mean.  Thanks.  Bye."