October 2021

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Sunday 31 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635681115

Spring forward; Fall back

So, British Summer Time has ended with the clocks going back. We're back in Greenwich Mean Time now folks.

And that means that my body clock is completely fucked up for about two weeks until I get used to it. And nobody tells my parrot or my cats that the clocks have changed!

Can't we just stay in GMT? The old excuse of it being for the farmers is bunkum (and they have these things called 'lights' now!). The only reason I can think of is that it's too expensive to change all of the clocks that automatically change the time. But surely that's not insurmountable? And the Capitalists would love to sell you some new clocks...

Saturday 30 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635584512


Whilst out for a drive yesterday afternoon, we encountered this 'puddle'. Younger me would have been like "Yeah! Let's do it!" but the old, ex-firefighter, sensible me said no...

Nope. We'd probably have gotten stranded in that.
Nope. We'd probably have gotten stranded in that.

Saturday 30 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635584205


I've just received the seven honeysuckle plants that I ordered in July (to be fair, they said that they don't ship until the plants are established at the end of September). And now they are in the ground. Which will be a shame if we get the news that our estate is about to be flattened and rebuilt...


However, the other amazing success of the year is the compost bin. After two years, it's actually working at last - and it's working well. The compost I'm getting from it is dry, powdery and sweet-smelling. Just like you buy in bags from the garden centre or DIY store. It's actually amazing and very satisfying.

Growing up, we always had compost bins, but I can only ever remember getting wet, smelly, sludge out of them - and that's always put me off doing it myself. But with the right mix of nitrogen and carbon ingredients, and lots of patience (well, two years), you get the proper stuff. I'm really pleased with it.

Honeysuckle Shrub No. 1 in the ground
Honeysuckle Shrub No. 1 in the ground

Thursday 28 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635438586

Giving Back

The OSS community has been very good to me over the years. I've always felt slightly guilty that I've been a bit of a leech/sponge and not given anything back in return. Mainly because I haven't felt SQEP enough to offer anything. Linux is one of my favourite OSS projects (well, it's a movement and a programme rather than a project) and I've favoured Ubuntu for learning Linux over the last 10 years4, so I've started testing the daily builds of the next planned releases. It's not much, but it'll help and I feel at last like I'm contributing something to this fantastic community.

Tuesday 26 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635243966

Autocratic Britain and the Tories

As a nation we are well and truly fucked. People, once again believe the Tory Lies2 about immigration, the environment, Covid-19, and the economy. They either vote Tory because they (or their fathers) always have and they can't vote based on policies or facts, or they are wilfully ignorant of what is happening.

Brexit was always about deregulation. That "independence" and "unshackling" from the EU was made to sound like "We don't want unelected3 European bureaucrats making our decisions", but was merely the ultra-right government saying that we shouldn't be held to the same environmental, health & safety laws that the rest of Europe is upholding. Therefore, water companies can dump raw sewerage into rivers, streams, seas and oceans. We will (not yet because of the backlash) soon import chlorine bleached chickens from the USA, and we will continue to allow HGV drivers to work & drive for long and unsafe periods.

Capitalism loves it - "We can make bigger profits by charging the same/more for less", "Who needs Health & Safety?" - yet these are the rich people who can afford private healthcare, better hospitals, better food, and holidays to places that have clean beaches (e.g. the Eu!). Not us.

And yet, the ignorant people of the UK keep voting for the Tories like Turkeys voting for Christmas (if we even have Christmas this year).

Monday 25 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635186203

Zebra Crossing

I was almost mown down by not one, but two cars whilst trying to cross the road at the Zebra Crossing at the top of Albert Road this afternoon.

It was still light and way before dusk. The Sun was obscured by clouds so nobody was getting blinded by the glare (which I can understand on the West-facing carriageway at the top of Albert Road in the late afternoon). I was wearing a hoodie, but lowered my hood before approaching the crossing so that drivers could fully see my beautiful visage.

The first driver at least had the decency to wave an apology at me as he tried to mow me down, but the second guy didn't even know I was there. And then he pulled over just after the crossing to let a sheepish-looking passenger out.

Please, please take care at pedestrian crossings (of all kinds) as it's literally a matter of life and death.

Sunday 24 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1635071426

A Year with Zero Alcohol

When I gave up drinking, I told myself that I wouldn't be religious about it or avoid it entirely. But that didn't really work, so when I returned from Holiday in Turkey last year, I said to myself that I'd just stop completely.

So today it's one year with no alcohol1 whatsoever.

Saturday 23 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634982248

Un an de cours de Français

Friday 22 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634889698

Domestic Abuse

Kim accidentally (so she says) punched me in the face in the night.

It's a very rude awakening when you take a forearm roundhouse smash straight to the nose!

Just waiting to see if the black eyes start to appear...

Friday 22 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634889590

Get Into Golf 3

We broke out the big boys last night. I was absolutely rubbish with them. It seems I've picked up too many bad habits over the years and trying to correct them is difficult.

But when I did pull it all together and hit one, boy did it ping! Straight and long, just how I want it...

Wednesday 20 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634754640


So this arrived today.

So this arrived today. I'm officially a Chartered Engineer (at last - I did this for my Dad to make him proud. It will have little affect on my career, having reached Chief Engineer in two disparate disciplines in a FTSE100 company.
I'm officially a Chartered Engineer (at last) - I did this for my Dad to make him proud. It will have little effect on my career, having reached Chief Engineer in two disparate disciplines in a FTSE100 company.

Tuesday 19 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634675957

Booking.com = Booking.Hell!


So I booked a room in Bristol tonight through Booking.com. It was listed as a 1 bed apartment and also a 1 bed room in a 3 bedroom house.

It was the cheapest in the area (still £67 without breakfast!) so I took a punt on it - I'm a big boy.

Well, when I upload the video you'll see that it was a box room in some bloke's house. On the bedroom door was a ripped piece of paper with handwritten "Booking.com" and a WiFi password.

There was something about the bloke from the get-go that made me feel uneasy. And he had the heating on full blast when I arrived. The first thing I noticed was that there was no lock on the bedroom door, and with the bedroom window open to lose some of the heat, the door rattled and banged in its frame.

He told me that he worked nights and would be gone in a few minutes - he was just waiting for me to arrive. He would be back early in the morning. I felt better that I'd be alone.

So I made my excuses and decided to go out for dinner. Just to get away from him and come back when the coast was clear.

I sat in the car outside for ages after dinner because I just didn't feel safe going in there. It was fucking creepy.

So I made the decision to fuck the money and book a £70 hotel room nearby.

I went into the house to get my clothes (I had taken my laptop out with me earlier) and I noticed that his bedroom light was on and the TV was on too. I called out. No answer. I called out again. No answer.

I went to the bathroom and the shower curtain was pulled across and I half expected him to jump out from behind it.

I quickly collected my belongings and started closing windows and switching lights off as I went. I was just about to go out the door when I heard footsteps upstairs getting quicker. Panicking, I was struggling to get the key in the lock quick enough and put the key in the outside key safe.

I ran to my car and locked myself in and with my hands shaking like crazy, I eventually got the keys in the ignition and took off.

It was fucking scary, man! And I'm a big, shaven headed bloke.

  • The room sign
    The room sign
  • Kitchen
  • Front room
    Front room
  • The room door
    The room door
  • The bath
    The bath

This is what I got for my £67...

Sunday 17 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634478488

Eastern Eye

Last night, I went for a lovely meal with Mark & Hannah Dawson (Hannah is Mark's Daughter).

They were on a weekend break, so we met up in Newton Abbott and had a few drinks and a lovely meal at my favourite Indian restaurant, the Eastern Eye.

Terri Lamerton met up for drinks beforehand, but had her children to look after this weekend, so didn't stop for dinner.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening. I have to say, that since I stopped drinking alcohol, I have enjoyed my evenings out more and more. The company, the chat, the food. It's amazing.

However, I think the Eastern Eye may have lost its edge. The food was nice, but the Chicken Chaat starter wasn't a patch on what it used to be, and the plate was decorated with tomato ketchup and mustard!

The main was good. But the complementary main that they always do has 1.5 pieces of chicken in it (for 3 of us).

The waiters were both very young (~16-18) white males and the guy who said he'd been working there for 6 months didn't recognise Chicken Chettinad when I ordered it.

They still do the complementary shots of Sambuca and Tia Maria with cream, but as Dawson was the only one drinking, he had to do all three shots with stuff he clearly didn't like.

And no cleansing orange segments between courses like before.

But I'm being hyper-critical. It was still a good meal, at a great price.

Saturday 16 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634479342


I went out (on my own) around Sparkwell Golf Course. It was a beautiful, crisp day. I forgot to take my golf trolley so carried my clubs which made for a good workout - I certainly built up a sweat walking up the long Par 5.

I didn't score myself because it was about practice and trying different shots from different lies and different grass lengths etc.

I was pretty bad.

But my short game (pitching and putting) has vastly improved since the Get into Golf lessons. I'm really happy with it.

So I'm really looking forward to James doing his magic with my drivers and long game.

Again though, I really enjoyed my traipse around Sparkwell.

And in the clubhouse while i was paying, I bumped into the lad who I'd played with at Central Park the other day! Small World.

Thursday 14 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634479042

Get into Golf 2

Had my second lesson of Get into Golf. I am clearly the better person in the group (I played a bit 20-odd years ago) so I get left to my own devices a bit, and seem to be hitting them properly fairly consistently. On Thursday we were shaping our shots to bend them left or right.

We had a little competition to see who could produce the most bend. We were told that the Monday group's highest has been 37ft (measured on the radar system they have at the range at China Fleet Country Club, Saltash.).

Our group's highest had been 32ft.

Mine bent around the correct flag and curved 92ft.

(Then the instructor, James, tried and went 147ft...)

So, it's going well and I'm really enjoying it.

Wednesday 13 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1634157185


So today I received notification from the Institute of Engineering & Technology that my application for professional registration to become a Chartered Engineer has been successful. I can now legally use CEng after my name.

Having been a Chief Engineer in a FTSE100 company, and then a Chief Engineer in a difference discipline in a FTSE250 company, I can't seeing it improving my career much. BUT, that's not the reason I went for it. It was all for my Dad who had previously said it'd make him proud...

When I told him the news this morning, he said, "Ah, OK. Look, the cat's come in."

I almost welled up with pride...

Sunday 10 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633884741

Pitch 'n' Putt

I went up to Central Park's Pitch 'n' Putt course these afternoon to just practice on some real grass that isn't dead flat.

Quite good as when I got to the 2nd tee, there was a chap waiting for a family who were on the 2nd green. We got yapping and then a younger lad turned up behind us, so we all ended up going around as a threesome together.

Thoroughly enjoyable it was, too!

Saturday 09 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633802174

Get into Golf

On Thursday, I took part in the first of a 5-week course at China Fleet Country Club called Get into Golf. Led by the excellent James, it's a introductory course for beginners and folks like me who used to play (hack) a while ago.

It's the first time I've had lessons and I have to say it's worth the money (£10 a session or £40 for the five sessions). It's already taught me so much about what I was doing wrong. It's amazing that I was getting some fundamentals like which leg the weight should be on just because I had blindly believed the guys who got me into it years ago (who had probably only played for a few months more than me).

I went to the driving range this afternoon and the difference is remarkable. I might be alright at this golfing lark!

Thursday 07 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633617440


I mentioned on Twitter today that the term 'humdinger' refers to a particular type of thermionic valve (old glass doobries that used to run TVs and amplifiers before we had transistors). It's onomatopoeic - it sounds like it's name. The valve would hum and then ding as the glass casing heated to a certain temperature. It gain some traction on Twitter as a learning point, so I thought I'd repeat it here.

I also went onto say about glass chambers cooling and making that 'pinking' sound as the glass crystalline lattice restructured with the contraction. That's what an Earthquake is in essence. The subduction of plates caused by the cooling of the Earth's silicate mantle.

Science, bitches!

Wednesday 06 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633531983

Book Review: The Chaos Kind

The Chaos Kind (John Rain, #11, Livia Lone, #3.5)The Chaos Kind by Barry Eisler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is just the kind of mindless, no-thought-involved, violent hitman (hitmen and hitwomen, actually) book that I needed between serious reads.
It's a well written, decent enough story, and clearly, Amazon Prime Reads haven't checked to see if it was in the middle of a series where a priori knowledge of the people and history would have been a huge advantage. But it's a good book.
Finished a bit too quickly to my mind and it was a bit anticlimactic, but if that fits with the other adventures in this series, I guess it'd be OK?
I don't really get the title though...

View all my reviews

Wednesday 06 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633524740

Virgin Media Down

You obviously won't be reading this until it's back up, but Virgin Media has been down since 0900 this morning. Which, when you're working from home isn't great. I was able to tether my phone to my laptops earlier, but that seems to have stopped working now. Luckily I had downloaded locally 2 documents I need to review, so now would be a good time to do that!

Tuesday 05 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633450769

Sound Bar

My new soundbar arrived today., Never had one before, but I can now see (well, hear) the appeal in them - it's flippin' amazing!

Tuesday 05 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633450546

Washing Machine

The washing machine broke today - it was 3 weeks out of warranty. I know that they don't cynically put a break in the software to cause this, but it does seem to happen a lot. I wonder if that would've happened if I'd taken out the extended warranty plan (something I'd always advise against)?

So it's a £65+VAT flat fee for the call-out plus any parts. Not too shabby, but annoying. It'll just be a blockage in the pressure system making the machine think it's still got water in the drum even though it's empty.

Sunday 03 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633261601

Dawson @ Expleo

I can't remember if I told you that I've gotten Dawson a role at Expleo. I don't actually know exactly what his role is, as I've kept myself recused from it to stop any conflict of interest conversations happening. But the team is back together!

I have warned them about putting us in the same team - after all, we were once asked to leave a team meeting and only come back when we could stop giggling! (I think we were playing slow-mo YMCA, or the yes/no game or something...)

I'd like to say that we've grow out of all that stuff by now, but I know we haven't.

But when I told Ed about it, he said that he used to do the invisible wire trick at the photocopier, so I guess he's just as mad as us...

Saturday 02 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633167317


I happened to see a chance to get fuel in Torpoint yesterday. Forget the cost of it, I just saw my chance and filled up. It's gotten that bad now that people are following fuel tankers around. I witnessed this in Torpoint yesterday.

Well, some people are following fuel tankers around...

Charlatan and the Tories

And yet, like Turkeys voting for Christmas, the (unts will still vote for the Tories next election...

Friday 01 October 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1633071977


Still feeling a bit grotty today. But blood tests are not showing a blood clot or anything serious, so that's good. But I hate not knowing what's making me feel ill.

  1. The body produces alcohol naturally, and there is <1% alcohol in some of the "Non alcoholic" beers that I have, but I'm discounting those.
  2. Aided by a compliant right-wing media. "Don't worry about sky-rocketing prices ans supplies of food and fuel; worry about 8 people in a dinghy coming here to save their lives. Better yet, turn them away so they go and die in the channel"
  3. They are elected. By the European elections.
  4. Other flavours (distributions) of Linux are available. In fact, that's the whole point - you pick and choose the best for you!

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