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Monday, July 30, 2007


It's the last day of July. Payday.
It's been wet. Now, it's sunny. Cool, but Sunny. And for the first time I can wear sunglasses without them needing to be prescription. It's great.

I went to the gym tonight. Wow, will I ache tomorrow, and Wednesday and Thursday. Actually, I think I might go swimming tomorrow evening. I took the boys on Sunday, and with the lenses I wore goggles. Normally I don't like wearing goggles, they're not very comfortable. However they are necessary, and actually it wasn't too bad.

So, after work, I'll get in the pool and do a few lengths. The most I've done in one session is 1km. That's 20 lengths. Now I think about it, I'm quite looking forward to it.
Went to Tesco this evening to pick up some Goats milk. The Baby was extremely sick this afternoon, and so we're going to give him a lesser dairy option. Well, I say 'we', but actually I mean The Wife - she'll be the one doing it. I also bought a selection of Marmite snacks. I love Marmite - remember the advert? "You either love it or you hate it". Well, I love it. No-one else in the family likes it, so they're all mine. Hee hee.
This month is the most posted for me this year. Not bad. I really hadn't imaged I would have made it this far. As for Facebook, that has just taken off. There's no controlling it. It's totally addictive, and terrific fun.

I'll see you in August.

Friday, July 27, 2007

That Was The (Wet) Month That Was

July is drawing to a close, and with it, one of the wettest months on record. I've already written about the floods that have caused devastation around the country. It's been a busy month at work, as momentum continues to build for the implementation of our new Oracle system.
  • The final installment of Harry Potter was published;
  • Lewis Hamilton admitted to 'messing it up' at Silverstone
  • Ferrari & McLaren are at loggerheads over stolen documents
  • Facebook continues apace, with more 'friends' - now they're in a legal wrangle with ConnectU
  • The biggest film of the summer (so far), Transformers, was released;
  • The Simpsons debuted on the big screen;
  • The BBC have just launched their iPlayer - more here
  • The rain continues to fall;
  • We should start a Sun Dance, to bring the sun back again. Do they do such a thing?
  • I started wearing contact lenses (although the left eye is causing me problems!)
  • The Boys broke up for the holidays - and The Wife is doing an excellent job of keeping them entertained and busy.
I am off each Friday, for the next 3 Fridays, making it a nice 4-day week, and a chance to spend some time with the children during the summer break.

We're planning a trip to Bournemouth at the end of August, and I've just paid for our holiday to Menorca (at the end of September).

So much to look forward to. But, first the weekend. Hope you have a good one. I certainly intend to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Floods

I just wanted to add my own thoughts about the flooding crisis that has hit parts of the country over the last couple of weeks.
I can't begin to imagine what life must be like; it surely is the worst peact-time disaster to affect so many people.
No water and no power!
What does that mean?
  • Unable to wash
  • Unable to drink
  • Baby feeds can't be made (you can't use bottled water for babies, because of the mineral content)
  • Unable to cook
  • Businesses can't function - many businesses are ruined
  • The tourist trade decimated - hotels can't open without running water
  • Disease is a distinct possibility; due to lack of hygiene facilities
There are so many stories about individual feats to help and save people and possessions, and it doesn't appear to be over yet. Even though the waters appear to be receding, the weather forecast is not positive, with more rain due, leading to further surges down the rivers.

Something has to be done, but what. Without building huge dams or walls to keep the waters at bay, which would spoil the aethsetic look of the countryside, there needs to be a concerted effort to design and develop flood defences that can withstand the pressures of these events.

Let's not forget the fire services, who have been doing a remarkable job, in many cases, where the officers homes have also been flooded. I think they call it the Blitz Spirit. Everyone has combined efforts to help each other, and try to keep morale high.

It has been reported that there will be no mains water for up to 2 weeks. So, bowsers, bottles and tankers have been drafted in to provide the supplies necessary for essential cooking, drinking and cleaning.

These are dire times, and my thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Can See Clearly Now

On Saturday I had my contact lenses fitted. It was a weird experience, followed by a short lesson on how to remove and refit them. It's quite unnatural to play with your eyes. There is such a strong reflex to protect them, through blinking. Over time I will get used to this, a countless others have before me. At the moment, I just need to persevere until I get used to it. Once they are in, it's amazing. There are no more 'edges' where the frames of the glasses were. Just plain vision.

I've been given one pair of lenses for the week, and 2 different types. Apparently, one is more comfortable (read 'expensive') than the other, but I wasn't told which. That way, I can make a more informed decision. I'll be going back at the end of the week for a check-up and to get the first lot of lenses.

It's been an interesting few days, and I'm slowly getting the hang of putting them in and taking them out; although first thing in the morning is not easy.
Facebook is taking off. I mean, it's already popular with millions, but a certain inertia seems to have taken hold, and 'friends' are popping out of the woodwork (so to speak). It's great to hear from them. My friend base has almost doubled overnight!
I went to the gym last night, and starting to feel it now. The pecs are tightening up. You know what that means, don't you. Yep - I'll have to go again.
Tesco are coming tonight. I love this delivery to your door thing. It's lazy, but after a hard days work, who wants to schlepp around a supermarket?
Right - that's enough chitter chatter. Back to work. More soon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

First Contact

The day has arrived that many have been waiting for. The final installment of the Harry Potter stories reaches the bookshelves at midnight.
Entitled "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". Of course, at the moment, no-one knows what to expect, so I can't comment. Although JK Rowling has said that a couple of characters will die.
I hope the postman remembers to deliver my copy in the morning.
Tomorrow is exciting in another way. You may remember some time ago I was all set to have laser surgery on my eyes. Well, that idea was scuppered by The Wife and my parents. So, I am going to get contact lenses. Yesterday evening, I was helped by a friend, who is an optician, to see if I could put the lenses in. It was quite a success, suprisingly. So, I have booked an appointment for a consultation tomorrow, and will hopefully become a contact lens wearer very soon.
Planning to see "The Transformers" tomorrow night. Will probably be going with my brother-in-law and wife. Both of The Boys want to see it, and as it is a 12A, I will take the opportunity to check it beforehand.
So - have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Donations Greatly Received

In the news yesterday, it was reported that the Chief Medical Officer wants everyone to automatically become an organ donor, by default.
In other words, when we die, if we have any suitable organs, they will be removed (and re-used) regardless.
It will be up to us to Opt Out of this scheme which, in itself, presents a number of questions.
  1. How easy would it be to opt out?
  2. How much would this option be advertised?
  3. What happens if we die before we have opted out?
What would happen if the person had opted out, but the hospital made a mistake and harvested the organs. Who would be responsible? Where are the checks?

There's also the religious aspect. There are many religions who don't agree with organ donation; we should leave this earth as we arrived. How would they be assured that their views and beliefs weren't ignored? Or, would they have to Opt Out as well?

I appreciate that donors are in short supply. However, maybe access to Donor Cards could be made more widely available. Perhaps, instead of free CDs and DVDs, our daily newspapers could distribute these cards to the masses. I am sure the take up would be much greater than just having them in doctors surgeries and hospitals.

Quite frankly, this scares me. The government should concentrate more on getting people to opt in, and continue with getting the NHS back on track.

There - said it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Blue Screen of Death

Wow - it's Tuesday. Doesn't time fly.
I'm typing this on a replacement laptop - mine died "The Blue Screen of Death"! I'm still waiting for someone to repair it, so in the meantime, I have this heap of junk, with a dodgy keyboard, and virtually no processing power.
We went to the Trafford Centre on Saturday, which was quite pleasant. Number One came off best, as much was purchased ready for his starting in Junior school.
In the evening we went to Pizza Express with a couple of friends, and we had a lovely time.
I took the boys swimming on Sunday, and in the afternoon, we played on the Wii.
I've just realised that the new Harry Potter book is out on Saturday. I hope the postman doesn't let me down and deliver it in a timely fashion. I've also paid for a copy of the new Mario game, bought on eBay. So looking forward to that dropping through the letter box, hopefully in time for the weekend.
I've also put some stuff up for sale on eBay. Some Playstation 2 games that I don't play, and one for the Wii (well, I hope it sells for more that I can get in part-x at the shop).
On Friday I booked the hotel for next years British Grand Prix. However, I found out last night that there is a school do on the same day, so it looks like I won't be able to go. Never mind, we'll save it for another year. Now, to cancel the booking.
On the subject of the Grand Prix, it seems McLaren are in a spot of bother over the Ferrari documentation affair. We'll have to wait about 10 days for the FIA hearing, but I hope that they are not found guilty. Apparently, the punishment could reverberate around the team, and Lewis may find himself short of a few points. We'll have to watch this space.
Facebook is providing much muse at the moment. Everyone seems to be 'biting' each other, and I've slowly started to add some more friends. It's a strange concept that just seems to have taken off.
Right - back to work. There'll be more later in the week. That is, if I don't suffer too much after my workout at the gym tonight!! Ouch.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


In this edition, I want to talk about books. I am a bit of a book worm, and recently have read a number of ripping yarns. So, I thought I'd share them with you.
Firstly, I should explain that I have a very varied tastes in genres, from mystery and thriller, to comedy and adventure. Some of them contain all.
So, let me introduce the first - a book by Tess Gerritsen.

I'll start by giving you the first paragraph from the back cover:

The beautiful woman appears to be just another corpse in the morgue. But when medical examiner Maura Isles looks down at the body, she gets the fright of
her life. The corpse opens its eyes.

Tess Gerritsen writes fast-moving thrillers. As a trained doctor, she convincingly captures the medical aspects, whilst keeping you hooked to the last page. I recommend it.

Next, something completely different.
The Time Traveler's Wife (yes, I spelt it the American way).
Written by Audrey Niffenegger, this is a love story with a difference.
It's the story of Clare and Henry, who met when Clare was six and Henry was 36,
and were married when Clare was 22 and Henry thirty.
I don't want to give away too much. It's a lovely story, which, whilst sometimes tricky to grasp in terms of time, is truly original.
It's also being made into a movie; with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams in the leading roles. Due for release sometime in 2008 - you'll need to have read the book to really appreciate the film.

Finally - The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. This actually came out last year, and the follow up has just been published. As I haven't read the new one yet, I thought I'd give you a flavour of what they're about. Just read this:

It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and the shattered, tuxedo-clad corpse of local businessman Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found lying beneath a wall in a shabby part of town.
This is a story of the Nursery Crime Division, and DI Jack Spratt. It's funny, surreal, in places absurd and quite frankly one of the funniest books I've read.

Which is why I've just bought The Fourth Bear.
The Gingerbreadman - psychopath, genius, convicted murderer and biscuit - is loose on the streets of Reading. Another case for DI Jack Spratt. The final paragraph on the back cover says it all: could the bears' porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time?
So, if want want to try something new, if you haven't read them already, then you won't be disappointed. If you have read them - post a comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thoughts Of A Tired Man

It's 9 o'clock in the morning.
By rights, I should be fast asleep after getting home at 3.15.
That's right, six hours ago I was leaving the M60 to get home after a marathon 18 hour day in the office.

I should be catching up on some sleep. Recharging my batteries. So, why am I sitting here writing this, with that hazy feeling of cotton wool inside my head?

Personally I think the body is amazing.
  • Take the brain. This mass of cells, each with a task of its own, practically floating inside our skull. The massive network of nerves that send electrical impulses to muscles, which move and act in a totally natural, unconscious way. The way we 'learn' and remember. A filing system bigger than any computer could have.
  • The heart, constantly pumping red blood cells around the arteries, veins and capilliaries, like a huge road network, carrying the necessary oxygen to the organs.
  • The white blood cells waiting to be called into action, should infection occur.
  • Our skeleton holding the organs in place, and containing much needed nutrients to help us remain healthy.
  • Our lungs, consistently inflating and deflating as we breathe in the air around us.
  • The skin, itself a mass of cells, holding everything together, keeping the weather out, whilst at the same time helping to regulate the temperature within.
  • Our eyes, ears, nose.
  • Our mouth. Teeth. Even our tongue is divided into sections to help us appreciate the taste of food.
We need to sleep. All day long our bodies are working. Sleep helps it to regenerate. Our brains take the opportunity to file away our thoughts, our memories. Without rest, we become fractious as we 'fight' to keep going. How much rest we need is always in debate. I like my sleep, but others can recharge their batteries in a few hours.

So why, after a relatively short sleep, has my body decided that I've had enough and I awake to another day?

Thankfully, I'm not going to work today. I don't think I could manage the journey. So I will take it slowly, and I'll have an early night.

Our body is amazing. It's important that we look after it, as it has been 'designed' to look after us.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Green Issue

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
That's the new mantra these days. Use less. Re-use what we can of what we haven't already used, and recycle the rest, so that someone else has the use of what we bought too much of.

It seems that we are not doing quite as much as we should to 'save the planet'. I fully agree, as I have just noticed how much paper there is in my office. I had to move a mountain of it to find something, and that has prompted me to type this blog.

Household bills. Notes. Magazines (lots of magazines). Brochures. Manuals.

Not to mention the boxes, books, packaging and general accumulation of 'stuff'.

OK. I could stop it all going in the waste, and let it build up and up. That would definitely save the landfill.

Then I'd have nowhere to sit, and wouldn't be able to access my computer, which, by the way, is left on 24/7 - because I have broadband that is "always on". This means more power being used during the day, for no reason. I'm at work all day during the week. So, I could just turn it off.

But then I'd be paying for something that is "always on" but 'Off'!

Stay with me here.

As for the rubbish. Most of it needs to be shredded, to prevent my personal information falling into the hands of identity thieves. I can see them now, prowling around outside the house, waiting for me to put the bins out!

Once I've shredded (which, let me tell you, is going to be a few evenings work to get through the backlog), I then have to put the strips of paper somewhere.
  • A plastic bin liner. Not very green.
  • A cardboard box maybe - labelled as such, so that the collectors take it away.

Alternatively, I could use them to make decorations - but that would be taking recycling a little too far - don't you think?

Now, I like to think that we do our bit for the environment, but isn't it all just common sense?

I admit, the council have made it much easier to recycle, by providing different coloured bins to put our waste in. It's now about educating the children. No - put that in the bin. Now - put that in the green bag, and the bottle in the blue bin.

We also have a waste disposal unit in the sink. This has helped to reduce the volume of waste quite considerably. It also reduces the smell in the kitchen.

I'm considering a composte bin for the garden. It's just that The Wife doesn't want creepy crawlies anywhere near. Personally, I think it's a great idea, and another way to prevent landfill. We should also get a water butt to save the rain water - and there's been enough of that lately to water a few gardens.

So, all in all, recycling isn't difficult. It's jut a mindset sort of thing.

Go on. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Grand (Prix) Day Out

What a day!
  • Alarm - 05:00

  • Left hotel - 05:30

  • Arrived Cherwell Valley Services (to leave my car) - 06:00

  • Arrived Silverstone (car park) - 06:50

  • Found a spot - 07:00

It was quite cool, but at least the sun was shining. The first race of the day was at 09:00 - a GP2 race. This started to get everyone in the mood.

This was followed by a Porsche race, which was actually quite exciting. The F1 drivers were then paraded around the circuit on the back of a low-loader.

Whilst they got prepared, The Red Arrows did their stuff (to lots of ooohs and aaaahs!)

Finally, at 13:00 the race got underway, and whilst Lewis made an excellent start, he was no match for the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. It was lucky that Felipe Massa had trouble at the start, otherwise he may not have been on the podium.

So, he is 12 points clear in the championship, and with 2 in the top 3, McLaren extend their lead in the Constructors Championship.

And the day itself? Apart from having to queue 30 minutes for the toilet, it was a fantastic day out, and thanks to My Dad for providing the company. We had a lot of fun. Thanks also to My Mum for providing a stellar food supply (which was much nicer than the c**p being served up).

The drive home was a little laborious, but I had the tennis on Radio 5 Live to keep me company, as well as a few showers and heavy downpours.

Whatever - I hope we can do it again sometime.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Grand Prix Fever

The free practice sessions today saw Ferrari dominate the McLarens, however as we don't know the setup of the cars, it doesn't really matter until tomorrows qualifying.

Yet another team has been embroiled in the saga surrounding team secrets etc. It seems a shame that Lewis' results are being undermined by those who are jealous of his achievements. Just let the talented 22 year old get on with his job. He has proved he has the pace, whilst at one point today being the fastest on the track.
I have just checked the weather report and it is looking really good for the rest of the weekend. I might even need to take some sun cream with!

Click here to see the latest forecast for Towcester, from the BBC.
On Monday, it is The Wifes birthday, and as I won't be around on Sunday, I have decided to forgo my lie-in tomorrow morning. It will give me the chance to get the boys to write the birthday cards, and at some point tomorrow we will have to go and buy a present - but what?

Answers on a postcard - or by clicking the link below.
So, an early night, in preparation for a long(ish) day tomorrow. There probably won't be any more blogs until after Sunday (can't think why, I must be busy...).
If you're going to watch the race on TV, then let's hope it's a good one.

Sleep well and enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reaching Out

I've decided to try to push this blog further into the blogosphere. It's time to go public.

Since I started this, at the beginning of the year, it's only been between me and you, but the time has come to try to get this further out there.

So, now you can subscribe via an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). Without getting too technical, this means you can use a reader, such as Feedburner, or add it to the likes of Google or Yahoo, and the updates will be posted for you to read at your leisure.

Alternatively, you can subscribe through the wonders of email. Just enter your email address in the boxout on the right and follow the instructions. Updates to this blog will then be delivered, automatically, to your inbox.

I've also added a link on my profile page on Facebook.

I'll keep you updated on how this is going, and feedback on numbers!
Whilst I am keeping an eye on the weather forecast for this weekend, I haven't really mentioned the current state of the Great British Summer.

You've probably read it in the papers, but hailstorms in July is not my idea of fun, and driving home in the pouring rain, EVERY night this week has been hard going. So much so, that I had to stop at the services the other evening for a rest.
I got one. Eventually. Wii Play has arrived and Number One was ecstatic. The bid on eBay fell through, so I checked around and found stock in Argos. So, I reserved one and picked it up this evening on my way home from work. We had a quick play before bedtime, and it looks a lot of fun. I think 2-player will be quite exciting...
That's all for now.
Although I realise that the posts are going to have to become a little more interesting and less self-absorbed if I want to attract a regular audience.
However, there is always the forum to feedback - just click on the comments link below.

Weather Watch

With the weekend fast approaching, I've been keeping a keen eye on the weather forecast.

You can click here for the BBC Weather for Towcester. Well, I need to know if it's wellies or shorts (or both!)


Finally. At Last.
My McLaren membership pack has arrived. I only ordered it on 8th March!
Yes, nearly 4 months ago.
We're now half way through the season, and eventually (and after a few emails and phone calls, it's actually arrived).
It included 2 caps, 2 polo shirts (exclusive - not available through the shop), membership cards, and I've already been receiving the Racing Line magazine.
I'd forgotten about the caps, and have already bought one of the drivers caps - see previous blog. They're adult size, but maybe Number One can wear one!
That's all for today. Off to get a cup of coffee, then read a document prior to a meeting.
Have a good day.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

In more ways than one, today is Independence Day. For one man this is, indeed, a long-awaited day, as after 114 days in captivity, Alan Johnston has finally been released by his captors.
We may never know the whole story of his release, and no doubt Hamas will see this as a major PR coup, but nevertheless, this is a wonderful day.
On another note, Mickey the (Gold)fish is doing really well, and I will be working to keep his tank clear. It always seems a little murky - which I can't understand. Still - it's not as bad as when he was in the vase. He seems happy, and swims about much more - so that's good news.
I brought home the latest Nintendo Official Magazine yesterday, and Number One has been pouring over it - he even wants to take it to school. He was quite surprised there is a whole magazine dedicated to Nintendo games. This morning he was in bed, reading the articles. I'm not sure how much he actually understands, but he's definitely not just looking at the pictures.
More Wimbledon today - although this is the wettest since 1982. Poor Rafael Nadal has been playing his 3rd round match over 4 days; he's not a happy bunny. It's not fair on the players (not to mention the spectators) and there is no momentum in the matches at the moment. How long will the finals take?
Happy Independence Day

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Five Days To Go

I'm so excited. It's just five days until the British Grand Prix. So checklist time:
  • Hotel - booked.
  • Wellies - ready, just in case
  • Radio - a couple of Walkman radios to listen to the 5 Live commentary.
  • McLaren shirt - ready
  • McLaren drivers cap - ready
  • Tickets - ready
More revelations today about Ferrari and McLaren team members apparently behaving badly. Who'd have thought it eh? Watch this space for further developments.

That's it for today. Short and sweet.
Back soon.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Birthday Surprise

So, another year has passed, and I enter my 40th year. Yes. It's my birthday today. Not sure why I didn't mention it earlier, but anyway.
We went to parents evening, and I am happy to report that they are both doing very well. Apparently they work hard, and Number One's SATS results were terrific - 2 x 2B and 1 x 2A (for maths). We are both very proud of them.
After we finished at school, I popped into a friends to pick up a pair of wellies. I think I might need them next weekend at Silverstone, for the Grand Prix. Then it was to a restaurant for a meal.
We had arranged to go with my brother-in-law and his wife, as they are celebrating their wedding anniversary. When we got there, who did we see but my mum and dad.
In itself not amazing. Except they live in Bournemouth! That's 230 miles - for dinner! They hadn't called. What would have happened if we changed our minds, I don't know. But - it was absolutely lovely to see them.
That's it for today. Sleep well.

8 out of 8

Good morning. Welcome to the first post of July. I'd like to say it's a bright, sunny morning. Only it isn't. It's wet and miserable with the temperature just above 15 degrees.
However, if you are in the Lewis Hamilton household, it's probably hot, hot, hot. After taking 3rd place in yesterdays French Grand Prix (the last at Magny Cours), and taking his 8th podium finish, out of 8 races, Lewis has stretched his championship lead to 14 points. He is now the first British driver, since Damon Hill, to go into the Silverstone round ahead in the championship.
It must be said that McLaren have some work to do though. The Prancing Horse found it's feet yesterday and trumped the British outfit, proven when Raikkonen took the second place at the start of the first lap. It's down to Halfords for Ron Dennis, to get some fresh parts!

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Did you see Concert for Diana. It was a great show, with some terrific acts - Rod Stewart seemed to be enjoying himself; especially kicking the footballs into the crowd. Everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves. My only gripe was the television presentation. Whilst it was 'live' and therefore gaps were expected, why was the sound faded out at the end of an act. I would have thought hearing the cheering and clapping was part of the atmosphere.
It's parents evening tonight, so we'll hear what the teachers think of the boys progress at school. Personally, I think they're doing quite well. In fact, that was my reasoning for buying a Nintendo Wii at the weekend. I wanted to say 'well done' to them.
It's a great little machine, and the concept is quite a clever one. I was happily playing tennis, bowling and baseball, and Number One was enjoying the boxing. I just need to get the Wii Play game (it comes with a controller, making it a cheap way to get the remote. No-one has stock, so I've placed a bid on eBay.
That's it for now. Need to do some work, so I'll write more soon.


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