Posted by chris on May 12, 2013
Soon after I moved in here, I was bought a decorative bird house, which got put on the side of my garage, just above the trunk of my espaliered pear tree. In retrospect, it wasn’t in a good position to be useful to birds – too close to the ground, so too many people (i.e. me) about. But, as I say, it was decorative and would have been lost higher up a wall.
All the time it has been there, not a single bird has nested in it. Until this year. I am not entirely sure what they are, as they come and go so fast, but there have been a couple of birds visiting the box. This year, I let the pear tree grow out a bit , and as a result, there is more growth around the box, and so it is more protected.
Unfortunately, it has been on the wall for a good few years, and the recent attention seems to be all that was needed for the box to start to break apart. When I noticed this, it was barely hanging on the wall. I carefully and gently moved it, so it was more lodged against the trunk, aware of the beady eye pearing out at me. I don’t want to interfere too much, but at some time, I think I will bend some of the new growth around it and tie them to keep it safely lodged.
Posted by chris on May 10, 2013
I recently acquired Fringe Season 4. It has been out for some time, but I was happy to wait until it was non-expensive.
I’ve actually had it for about a month, now, but hadn’t started watching it, for two reasons. Firstly, I had another DVD series on the go – Leverage; but mainly because I couldn’t decide whether to dive straight into Season 4, or watch some of season 3 again, which I last watched in December 2011.
But then I finished Leverage Season 3 (which is as far as it’s got with UK releases), so had to make a decision on Fringe. On a whim, I put on the Season 1 pilot, to get in the mood. A week later, I am still on Season 1, and enjoying it as much as when I first watched it.
So it looks like I am going to watch the lot again, all the way through. Can’t say I’m not getting my money’s worth out of them. But if I am going to do this, I’d better put in an order for Season 5 as well.
Posted by chris on May 6, 2013
Was fairly busy at home (and places near) Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I got two troughs planted with salad leaves, sugar snap peas, carrots and courgettes. All of these were “cheats” – baby plants bought from the local garden centre – but they will kickstart the garden after a non-productive spring, and I can plant from seed for later in the year.
Also on Saturday, I played with a new toy for the BBQ – GrillGrates. Will be writing more about this on my Food Adventure blog later, but had a great time experimenting, and managed to achived high temperature grilling on my pellet grill, something I had been told wasn’t possible.
Sunday was, in theory, a lazy day, spent playing music and watching video. However, I also managed to iron my way through a basket full of shirts that had been sitting there for weeks, so I think I deserved my TV time.
Today, I went out for the day with a friend, to Skegness. Excellent fish and chips for lunch, followed by a walk along the front, and icecream, candyfloss and rock, and finally a well-earned pint. We then headed home, where I demonstrated the GrillGrates by cooking tea. I don’t think I need to eat for the next week. Skegness was very busy, as befits a sunny Bank Holiday Monday. There is something about a sea-side town that I find irresistible – probably due to my time in Brighton. Skegness isn’t quite up there with Brighton & Hove, but it has sand on its beach, and donkeys too!
Posted by chris on May 3, 2013
I wasn’t working today, and the sun was shining, so here’s what I got up to:
- Uncovered, weeded and dug over 4 vegetable troughs, ready for planting. Due to the awful spring, I haven’t done any serious gardening this year, but I hope to get something planted later this weekend.
- Moved the wormery from the garage out into the garden, opened it up and dumped one layer, which had gone nasty; but another layer got used on the vegetable troughs. Seem to still have a good number of worms, so perhaps they need a good feeding.
- Rearranged the lounge, and in particular the TV area. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I’m getting the TV mounted on the wall, out of the way, so for now, I have moved the TV onto a book-case, at approximately the same height, to make sure it is where I really want it.
- Had a ten minute sit-down to have a cup of tea, and check out the position of the TV. Ten minutes in which I seem to have watched not one but two recorded episoded of NCIS.
Oh well, I guess the other chores will need to wait until tomorrow.
Posted by chris on April 29, 2013
Absolutely and positively pleased with myself, as I have fixed a piano that I thought might end up on the skip. At the same time, this is a story about procrastination.
Posted by chris on April 20, 2013
It seems that I have reached another milestone in my life – a time where I now shave, even if I don’t need to.
I’ve never been fond of shaving – I don’t get on with electric shavers (despite having tried a few), and I used to cut myself to ribbons, even with a safety razor; although the modern razors have improved this a lot.
At the same time, I don’t particularly like myself with a full beard.
So for as long as I remember, I have been in the habit of shaving to go to work, or for special occasions, and otherwise just letting the stubble grow. I found this actually meant that when I did shave, I got a better shave, with less cuts.
In the old days, that more or less meant shaving 5 days a week, and not shaving at weekends. However, for the past decade or more, I have mostly worked from home, which means weeks might go by before I either have to shave for a customer visit or a meal out, or to the point where it simply gets too scruffy.
That has changed recently, with the greying of the beard. My grey hair and sideburns have never bothered me, nor did the first flecks of white in my beard. But more recently when I stop shaving, I look less like scruffy 50-something, and more like beardy homeless guy. Which is why I have found myself looking in the mirror and thinking “I can’t go to the shops like this, I’ll have to shave first”.
If it carries on like this, I might even start combing my hair.
Posted by chris on April 19, 2013
Just wasted a couple of hours putting my foodadventure.org.uk site right.
I had been playing with facebook like icons, and noticed that the WordPress Theme I use had an update. I really like Magazine Basic, so I thought going from 2.7.9 to 3.0.0 must be a good move? Big mistake; and yes, I should have backed up, but normally a Theme upgrade is a trivial and reversable thing. Not this time.
The first thing it said was “Updating this theme will lose any customizations you have made”. This didn’t bother me too much, as – unlike this personal blog, and my board-game group’s website – I had made no customisations to the software or theme at all.
However, what they really meant was “Updating this theme will lose any *configuration* you have made – i.e. menu choices, logos, layout style. Everything I had done to make the appearance “just-so” was gone – even though everything had been done within the Theme, using its own menus.
Only after slogging through all the menus and getting it how I wanted did I realise:
- The new theme used fancy fonts that were not easy on the eye, and in some cases almost unreadable; and this was not something that was configurable from the theme menus either, only by editing the css directly. Which I can do, but is why I use Themes.
- There used to be an optional top bar containing things like login/logoff, access to the control panel, and personal profile, which was no longer there.
Furthermore, I couldn’t find the old version. Normally, when you install a new theme, the old theme is saved, but this one had been completely blown away; nor could I find it anywhere to download. However, I remembered I had the same theme on my test environment, so I grabbed the theme files, zipped them up and re-uploaded them to my Food Adventure site.
Not only did it work, but all my previous configurations appeared again. So I am now back to where I was before.
That is certainly not an upgrade I will try again! I would argue that a Theme that is so different from its predecessor that it doesn’t even attempt to use the old configuration, isn’t an upgrade at all, but a different Theme, and should be named and uploaded as such.
Posted by chris on April 18, 2013
Feeling very foolish.
Last year, round about spring time, I thought birds had somehow gotten into the front wall of my house and nested. At times, I could clearly hear movement, and cheeping; right behind where I normally sit, in the bay window. I searched high and low for how they could get to where they were – it seemed a bit extreme. I wondered if it was a single chick that had fallen down from above (occasionally birds get into my loft), and half expected it to die, but it continued for several weeks, which made me think it was getting fed.
The problem was the sound was very sporadic, which mean I was frequently standing in my lounge or front garden, waiting to hear a cheep that never came. I’ve examined air bricks, I’ve examined the felt roof of the bay window, I’ve examined the leading – anywhere they could get in.
Anyway, after a month, the noise disappeared, and I figured the chick(s) had either died, or – as there was no smell – got out and flown away.
But it’s Spring again – about 3 weeks ago, it started, and in the last week or so, it has been with a vengeance. What made it worse is that I have some cracked plaster in that area, which I had assumed was just cracked plaster; but when you hear noises as well…
However, tonight it has been a continuous cheeping sound, which meant I could work out exactly where it was coming from, even though it is now dark outside. To my puzzlement, it was not coming from the wall, as I had thought; but from my uPVC double glazing. Had birds somehow managed to get into the frame? Raising the blinds, to see how I might unscrew something to get a better look, I looked outside. It is blowing a gale, and I could see something moving in the wind.
Just outside my window there is a rose bush. I normally keep it clipped just under the line of the window, but in spring it gets a spurt, and I haven’t done any gardening this month. Going outside, the stem and foilage are rustling against the uPVC window ledge; and, in the wind, the thorns are scraping along the plastic, going “cheep-cheep”. That is reverborating through the whole frame.
A quick prune, and it all stopped.
On the other hand, I did find this immensely amusing and satisfying:
I was driving up to Glasgow on Monday afternoon, and hadn’t caught the news in the morning. So when I turned on my radio and heard her voice, I assumed it was a news item or programme about her, and immediately switched to CD. 20 minutes later, I switched back, and she was still being broadcast, so I continued with my CD.
An hour or so into the journey, I was amazed to switch back to radio 4 and find that they were still broadcasting Margaret Thatcher. Yelling at the radio, “Why is that woman still on????”, it was about then that I realised that something had happened.
I was then away for a few days, and have been either busy since, or catching up on sleep. I have noticed various discussions going on about what is appropriate to say or not say after someone dies, but didn’t have the energy to post.
I was becoming politically aware as Thatcher came to power, and had a dislike of her for many reasons, too numerous to go into here. Even so, I do not see any reason to celebrate her death.
At the same time, I do appreciate that, for many directly affected by her policies, to a life-changing degree, they may have good cause to be glad she has gone, and unless one has gone through the things these communities have, then it is difficult to criticise them. I certainly won’t
On the other hand, those young people I’ve seen waving banners, singing “the witch is dead”, and generally having a good time, and yet who weren’t even born when she was in power; well, in my opinion they are just showing their stupidity.
As for those on the right, who are taking great unbrage at anything they deem insensitive or disrespectful, I didn’t see them being particularly respectful when Michael Foot died.
Posted by chris on April 5, 2013
As I mentioned last month, my GPS broke, and although I have received a replacement, I haven’t cracked the shrink on it yet. Although it was an immensely expensive item, it never quite lived up to the promise; in fact, in some respects it was inferior to the old GPS that I had reluctantly retired.
While I decided whether to re-sell my in-shrink replacement, and shop more carefully for a new GPS, I have been using Google Navigation on my phone to get me around. It actually isn’t that bad, but the volume on the phone is not made for this kind of use, and can barely be heard above the engine.
So when I saw this Bluetooth Speaker in Tesco, reduced from 40 quid to 20, I thought I would take a look. It is fairly compact – about the size of the box my phone came in, and either runs off USB power or its own internal battery. It can be used as both a media speaker (for playing music, and navigation voices) or as a speakerphone. Despite being a small device, it does have two speakers, and claims to be stereo, although the separation is minimal.
But boy, it is loud! And the sound isn’t bad at all – it is currently playing a Concrete Blonde album, and not doing a bad job, bass and all.
It is all black, with a brushed chrome control panel on top. From there you have a standard set of media controls – Play/Pause, Volume and Skip Forward and Back. The Play button also doubles up to accept incoming calls.
I reckoned 20 quid wasn’t bad as a stopgap measure, so I could take my time over assessing the GPSs on the market. But I am actually quite glad I bought it. It is small enough to slip into an overnight bag, and turns my phone into a fully functioned clock radio and media centre.
Posted by chris on March 27, 2013
My office chair was coming to the end of its life. The gas lift was beginning to fail, although that could be replaced/repaired, but it was also getting a bit grubby with daily use. Then a wheel fell off!
It hasn’t done badly – I’ve had it for about 3 years, and considering it has had me sitting on it almost every day, I think it deserves a good retirement. In fact, I was so pleased with it, that I went back to the same company who sold it to me – Chellgrove Office Furniture, in Peterborough.
This time I selected a heavier duty chair – the previous one was rated for 25 stone, which I am about a stone over. The one I selected is good for up to 32 stone, which is way more than I ever expect to weigh. But it also has a good wide seat, and a decent back height and seat length, and height-adjustable arms.
As I am local, the proprietor delivered it personally, and even carried it up to my office. He then went through the controls, and helped set it up for my height.
These things are not cheap – over 400 quid – but for something I sit in every day, it is money well spent.