Thursday, 31 January 2008
I'd spoken to the District Nurse and local Social Services and was fully aware of the plan for today.
What I didn't expect was a call from the respite care home. Apparently Dad turned up with nothing: no clothes, no toiletries, no glasses, nothing. The nice gentleman at the end of the phone explained this and just let this fact hang in the air. It was clear he wanted me to fix the situation.
At this point I explained I was 250 miles away. And I asked why it was that Social Services that managed the move didn't think about this before extracting Dad from his home. I explained that we can probably rectify the situation to some extent because my brother lives close by but I wondered how those without relatives close by would cope in such a scenario.
What kind of ineffective organisation is it that takes a man of 85 and leaves him in a new environment without necessities, let alone some home comforts?
To say I'm furious would be an understatement.
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
I had no idea that people were actually setting up home with complete strangers in the virtual world.
I do have a Second Life account. I've looked at Second Life once because it was being hyped at work.
I found it too complicated. I didn't understand what I was supposed to do. It wasn't a game and it didn't seem to have a purpose.
I've just seen a programme that showed people having affairs in the virtual world that spilled over into real life. I saw a couple get married in the virtual world with the mother of the bride and best man joining the ceremony via PCs. Later they viewed their virtual wedding album.
I still don't get it, and I think that's a good thing.
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Anyone who has ever tried to travel with children will know it's a challenge. Ideally they need to have enough "stuff" to keep themselves amused in case the plane gets delayed, the car gets stuck in traffic or mummy gets stuck in immigration.
Previously we've given the children backpacks to contain their stuff. This is not a great solution. Children's backpacks are small and they lack any ergonomic design. I've found that after about ten minutes it's the grown ups that are carrying the Scooby Doo/Thomas the Tank Engine/Winnie the Pooh/Groovy Chick backpack.
I needed a solution that gave the children their own luggage space for which they could have responsibility. I needed something that made luggage fun. Cue the Trunki.
I ordered one pink and one blue, along predictable gender lines, and they arrived today.
I am the sort of person that has to open mail and parcels as soon as they arrive. I don't do restraint or patience, so I opened the boxes and let the children loose on their new fun luggage. If their immediate reaction is anything to go by (racing around the house like a couple of nutters) then I think the problem of the children's holiday luggage is solved.
Monday, 28 January 2008
So at bath time he might have looked spotty, but he was safe.
Hannah on the other hand, happened to look a little spotty. But she's had chickenpox so she's safe right?
We'll see. It is rare, but possible, to catch the poxy pox more than once. We plan a spot inspection tomorrow morning. Any more blots on the landscape and she, and either Dave or myself, will be staying at home.
Surely we can't be that unlucky.
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Once again it was time for Education Sunday at church today.
You may remember I took Hannah last year.
This year Hannah thought it only fair that Dave take her. I did suggest that fairness might not come into it and perhaps she'd like to consider Dave's wishes, but she decided that fairness was paramount.
This is his report on the service which, remember, is all about Education Sunday.
The head of the junior school did some preaching of sorts. His theme, and he used these exact words, was "Education is dangerous." An interesting slant given that the congregation was for the most part comprised of children and parents and that the church was fit to burst with additional chairs being sourced to accommodate late comers.
He followed this pronouncement with a parable about mice who lived in a piano and who enjoyed the beautiful music which came from unseen hands. One day, however, an adventurous mouse went off exploring and found himself amongst the strings and hammers that produce the sounds of the music. He went back to tell his fellow mice the origin of the beautiful music. The unseen hand continued to play but the mice now credited the mechanics of the piano rather than the unseen hand.
I think you can see where he was going with that one. The unseen hand is always there even if you don't give it credit. It's dangerous to go off and explore and get an education because one might encounter evidence that contradicts belief.
So remember everyone "Education is dangerous."
Saturday, 26 January 2008
If you do something deliberately nasty to me then I'm likely to remember.
If, a few years later, you want something from me that is within my power to give, then you can get lost.
I won't necessarily let you know why; I just won't co-operate.
Actually, letting you know why did cross my mind and I thought that would be particularly satisfying, but I let it go.
So you've realised this isn't hypothetical. This is real. And it really didn't happen. And it really serves you right.
Friday, 25 January 2008
IKEA is not for everyone. But that was our destination. I didn't plan on buying anything of consequence, just stuff.
We had a trolley containing most of our purchases and Ethan wanted a ride standing on the side of the trolley. Pushing the trolley straight on was difficult so I pushed it broadside. Ethan was having fun, wanting me to go faster, but I didn't. My caution was not repaid.
The trolley hit some uneven ground and tipped. I tried to prevent the trolley from falling but couldn't because it was pulling me over too.
Ethan landed on the floor and the trolley landed on top of him whilst whacking me severely on both shins.
Within minutes we were in the first aid room and Ethan was being examined for bruises. He said his bottom hurt so that's what I checked and there were no signs of damage. The IKEA man offered him ice cream and a doughnut which he declined. He was happy with Mummy's offer of a lolly. Meanwhile ice packs were applied to my shins.
I was shaking like a leaf and was still shaking as I drove home.
At bath time it was obvious Ethan had suffered more injury than he'd let on. When we were applying the anti-itch cream we could see that his right hip was bruised and swollen and he was wincing when we went near it.
After phoning the doctor out of hours service we were comfortable that it was just bruising.
Wasn't he suffering enough with the chickenpox and the trip to IKEA?
Thursday, 24 January 2008
If he had a mild dose that wasn't visible then nobody would be any the wiser. Some children are lucky and their entire experience of chickenpox comprises of about three spots. Ethan has approaching four hundred spots and a fair few of those are found on his face and hands.
People frown and raise eyebrows when a pox ridden child is seen outside in daylight.
From those who are pregnant and not immune I can understand this. In the early weeks of gestation there is a risk of complication for the 10-20% of women who are susceptible.
From those who don't have children, most will be immune and will be unlikely to catch it, and surely it would be better to catch it whilst fit and healthy rather than when the body is old and frail and less able to cope with disease.
From those who have children, I don't understand it. I have wanted my children to catch chickenpox as soon as possible after the six month milestone. I've always seen one of the benefits of nursery to be the opportunity to catch chickenpox. I had chickenpox aged 16 and I suffered. I would have preferred to have caught it sooner, and suffered less.
I wonder whether these people who look down their noses are thinking it's cruel to take a sickly child out of the home.
Well Ethan has just spent two and a half days indoors. He and I are going stir crazy. Normally we're always off out and about. So tomorrow we're planning an outing. Ethan will be looking his worst but he wants to go out. I'm considering adopting a Michael Jackson style veil for him.
Look out Essex!
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Too many people needing organs, not enough people signing up to gift their organs in the event of their death.
Well there's another way to increase the number of organs available without resorting to the default of consent.
Remove all speed limits on roads, make it OK to drink and drive and prohibit cars with safety features.
There you go, loads more bodies to raid. Granted many won't have signed up to organ donation but with an increased body count one will automatically increase available organs.
I think it's the perfect plan, if all one wants is to increase the life expectancy of those in need of replacement organs.
Alternatively click here.
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
So I grab a couple of large milk plastic carton thingies and some coffee beans.
The milk was cold and heavy and I had my hands full because I hadn't picked up a basket. I needed to get to a checkout quickly.
Just before I reached my destination I bumped into someone I haven't seen for ages.
So we both launched into "Hi! Haven't seen you for ages...how are you...what are you doing these days?" etc...
And then it happened. My grip loosened and I dropped some milk. Four pints went smashing floorward. The container split and spewed milk. The carton bounced and milk flew all over me. I was a whitewash or awash with white.
So we continued chatting while staff buzzed around us. We walked back to the milk counter and back to the checkouts and said our goodbyes.
At the checkout the assistant asked "Are you on your way home?"
I replied "No. I'm on my way to a hot date. How do I look?"
But at least I didn't cry.
Monday, 21 January 2008
Some people put two watches on and don't really know how it happened. Others forget things that they would normally remember with ease. People can become snappy where normally they'd remain calm, or detached where they would normally be engaged. Not being able to get to sleep and waking up early are well known clues too.
But I have a theory. Of course I have a theory. This is a blog and if one can't pontificate from within the online confines of a blog then where can one?
I think too many or too few coffee breaks is a bigger sign. Too many coffee breaks and someone just can't face the work or the people or they need someone to talk to. Too few coffee breaks and they're so overworked they don't have the time to think about coffee or tea or food or water.
So the next time you're fetching yourself a coffee, spare a thought for those that have beaten you to it, or aren't going to make it.
Sunday, 20 January 2008
The Wattson started it all.
Anyway, after a trip to my brother's house in Devon we became interested in controlling the combi boiler by means of a programmable thermostat.
We surfed and found one on ebay. It arrived and it was only after I'd left positive feedback that we discovered that the circuit board had been wired in error. There are three ways to deal with this. One is to contact the ebay seller, another is to contact the manufacturer and finally one can get the soldering gun out and try and fix it.
We tried the bodge it solution and we ended up with something that was very Heath Robinson.
It was wired in place of the very simple thermostat and it didn't take long for us to lose all heating and hot water.
Upon investigation we saw that the fuses had blown. Once replaced we discovered that after a very short while the fuses went again.
We replaced the original thermostat and called British Gas.
A dishevelled individual who clearly had no concern for hygiene or any care about his appearance turned up this morning. He used a torch to investigate the fuses and decided that we needed new circuit boards and a new boiler clock. When we tried to suggest that there may be a problem with the fuses or asked questions about his diagnosis he became grumpier than he had started.
After he left Dave nipped out to a hardware store and bought some one amp fuses, fitted them and all was well; hot water and heating restored.
We still don't know why the problem occurred and we're nervous about fitting the new thermostat again but we are left wondering about the quality of British Gas engineer training. Use of a multimeter would have determined that the fuses were blown. A torch is not the tool for the job.
Anyway, until we call British Gas to cancel, they're planning to call round on Tuesday to fit a new circuit board and clock. I think I my have mentioned British Gas incompetence before.
Friday, 18 January 2008
Anyhoo (to quote Stephen Fry of all people). My friend has a problem that involves her husband. A married woman is flirting like a good 'un with her other half.
He receives calls and text messages at all hours. When he is sitting next to this 'other' woman (in an entirely legitimate context) she leans across him and brushes against him and whispers in his shell-like. OK I made the shell-like bit up but actually it wouldn't surprise me.
He tells his wife he's not at all interested and, frankly, I believe this. But how does one know?
I'm sure he'll be flattered. I'm pretty sure he's not been tempted to do anything other than be on the receiving end of some attention. But, and it's an important but, he's done nothing to fend off this attention. It would be awkward to close things down but not impossible. I think it's possible to demonstrate, with just body language, that flirting is unwanted.
How can my friend know that nothing more significant has happened and how can she allay her fears?
Oh, and if any of you are thinking I'm the other woman - forget it. What were you thinking? Honestly!!!
But I have harboured a secret desire for one of these gadgets for a while.
The January sales arrived and I did some secret research which, frankly, served to confound me.
And then I passed some on a shelf with some effective sale point of sale material. I forgot my research and succumbed to the marketing.
I bought George Foreman grill.
At this point if you're not laughing there's something wrong with you. I never thought I'd buy one...ever.
But I did, and you know what....we've used it lots. And the person who's keenest to plug it in...? My sceptical husband who'd never fall for any marketing ploy ever.
Thursday, 17 January 2008
A recent trip to the dentist has changed my view somewhat. The dentist said Hannah must stop using her thumb for comfort because she has adult teeth coming through. The outward pressure on the top teeth and inward pressure on the lower teeth can mean that incisors are pushed and pulled resulting in them moving away from their correct position. All of this could mean braces at a later date to correct things.
I never wore a brace as a child but I do remember envying Elizabeth Egerton the cool line of metal in her mouth. I think I tried to replicate the look for myself using a remodelled paperclip. Yuk. This doesn't stop me wanting to avoid braces for Hannah.
We tried constant nagging and after six months that hasn't worked. I have been threatening to visit a chemist and buy some evil potion to stop the habit but I've only recently followed through on the promise.
Putting the product "Stop" on Hannah's thumb nails was a challenge. It's a sort of wicked nail varnish that when dried and licked or sucked, tastes foul. One of the methods of persuasion we employed was that Dave and I would join Hannah and wear "Stop" on our thumb nails too.
So yesterday morning all three of us had worn "Stop" all night. Hannah reckons she sucked her thumb only three times.
Yesterday, several times, Dave and I both made the mistake of touching our respective mouths; consequently a tiny number of our taste buds were assaulted by the most foul lingering taste one can imagine.
I think Hannah will be cured by the weekend.
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
The first is to blame everyone else and hope that the problem fairy will get off her backside and fix the damn problem.
The second is to figure out what steps are needed to resolve the issue and tackle them yourself getting help where and when needed to complete the necessary tasks that will ultimately fix things.
I have been known to use both techniques. The second one generally works the best, but I wouldn't want to speak ill of the problem fairy in case she refuses to come to my assistance in the future.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
I got a headache. I think that was when my head was upside down for too long.
I got the shakes. I think that was the result of trying too hard and staying in a pose for too long.
I hurt. I never warm up before exercise and I never stretch properly after exercise. As a result I have some areas of very limited flexibility. I cannot touch my toes; my calves simply won't allow it.
I surprised myself. There was much that I could do which showed me that, even though I'm very inflexible in some areas, I'm very flexible in others.
Monday, 14 January 2008
If I have to buy a belt I have two choices. I can buy a size small which, when I wear it, will probably do up on one of the last available holes near the end of the belt. Alternatively I can buy size medium which will probably do up up at the other end of the available holes, farthest away from the end of the belt.
The small belt has the advantage of being compact but it makes me look fat because it is obvious that it would be possible for me to lose weight and tighten the belt.
The medium belt has lots of excess leather which needs to be tucked into belt loops, but has the advantage of making me look less fat because it makes it look as though I've lost weight because I can't tighten the belt any further (should that be farther?)
So which sort of belt do you choose?
Sunday, 13 January 2008
Yesterday though I noticed that the display showed the artist and title of the song that was playing at the time. I considered this to be value add.
Having noticed this feature I looked at the radio again today. This time I saw an advertisement for the Fiat 500 launch. This isn't a great feature anymore. It's an intrusion. I want to know how to turn it off, but it's not possible.
I guess there are few spaces left that aren't being bought by advertisers.
Well I'm old and the noise was causing my ears some serious damage and I honestly thought my head might explode. But anyway....
I dithered about what to wear tonight. We went to the Sugar Hut which is a haunt of the occasional Z list celeb, and we did spy Jodie Marsh which reinforces this fact.
I went for a very safe bet; something anonymous and non showy. I knew I'd feel out of my comfort zone and figured that being able to hide away would be a good thing.
I could, I discovered, have worn anything to have fitted in. The place was full of freaks, as well as Jodie Marsh. There were a small number of people there that looked normal but most of the teenage majority looked weird.
One woman was wearing a Victorian style short nightdress, another was wearing a tiger, a wig (or crap extensions) and fake (or ridiculous) whitened teeth. I would describe more but it defied description.
It was a classic meat market with some interesting tactics. There were the three women who engaged in a three way snog as a means to attract men. There was the "wear as little as possible" brigade but I didn't see too much bling, which is what my taxi driver had expected me to see.
I'd always wondered what lay upstairs in the Sugar Hut and now I know. I won't be back in a hurry, I'm too old and normal.
Friday, 11 January 2008
a) wait until your partner's job was confirmed and then resign, which might mean that your partner moves to the new country before you causing a split relocation
b) tell everyone that you're moving because your partner has a fabulous new job overseas, you're moving for a better lifestyle and more money, and you resign in preparation for impending job move?
Can I recommend the first option. The second option could mean that you leave your job and your partner's impending assignment never happens.
Thursday, 10 January 2008
Well we had a visitor tonight - the lovely Tiscali TV engineer, Lloyd.
He changed the box.
Oops, Houston we have a problem.
He changed the home plugs.
Oops, Houston we have a problem.
He changed the filters.
Oops, Houston we have a problem.
He reduced the bit rate.
Oops, Houston we have a problem.
I suggested that the root cause might be the fact our house is haunted. It must have been "the ghost what done it".
And when Lloyd left, after two hours, I felt beer was in order.
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
They've taken three celebrities and placed them with separate families where there is just one involved parent. During the programme the parent leaves their children in the care of the celebrity. All celebrities were chosen because they don't have children. The premise for the programme is "Let's see how the celebrities cope."
I know - another reality TV show. But how dumb is this one?
How many people actually think being a single parent is easy? Not many, I'll warrant. But also it doesn't seem fair to pick celebrities that don't have children. Of course they'll struggle, at least initially. If you put anyone into an environment where they have to demonstrate a skill they've never used or practised, then it will take a while before the skill can be demonstrated efficiently and with ease.
I watched the first show in which the celebrities were being inducted into their new, temporary roles. At this point the poor celebs (who I am sure are being paid to participate) showed some nervousness.
I also saw the trail for the next show, in which all celebrities were predictably crying "I can't do it anymore. I want to go home."
I think I know the way the next programmes will go. The celebs will struggle and find it tough. They'll get depressed by their failure. Then they'll turn a corner and by the end of the week of the experiment the children and celebs will be happy and the celebs will be saying it's tough but rewarding.
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
The argument is compelling.
I try to buy organic chicken. But I'm not sure I'm making a sensible choice. Apparently organic chicken has less nutritional value than other chicken. It's also a costly choice. A quick check on the Tesco website shows that organic breast fillets cost £15 per kilo, free range breast fillets £11 per kilo, intensively farmed breast fillets £8 per kilo and Value brand breast fillets (whatever the hell kind of production that is) are £6 per kilo.
So Hugh is trying persuade people to spend, in this example, between £3 and £5 more per kilo.
I think he might have persuaded me to save £4 per kilo. Thanks Hugh.
Monday, 7 January 2008
Today Brown has made announcements about the NHS and how everything will be so much better in the future with many measures to aid early diagnosis.
Let me tell you a little story about our wonderful NHS.
Today a blood test was needed. Patient is told to turn up between 10:00 and 12:30. Patient turns up at 11:00. Patient is asked to take a seat. At 11:15 the nurse emerged announcing that no more patients would be seen.
Our patient says "But it's only 11:15."
Nurse replies "But I've done 35 tests and that's all I have to do. If I've done 35 at 11 o'clock then I can go home."
Patient rebuts with "But I was told to turn up anytime between 10:00 and 12:30."
Nurse concludes with "Sorry. I've done 35. I'm off home."
What kind of dumb system is this?
The people that get their tests done are the elderly folk who turn up at 9:30 to ensure their place in the queue. The people that don't get their tests done are the ones that are trying to fit the test into the work day, hoping to turn up, queue for a short while, have the test and then go back to work or the mums with small children that are trying to fit a blood test around the demands of her children or...you get the picture. The people with the least time are the ones who end up expending the most effort.
But that's not the issue. My guess is that the nurse is paid to do tests between 10:00 and 12:30. We pay that nurse for those two and a half hours. Yet, for some reason, she stops working when she's reached a target of 35 tests when there are still people waiting. Why, why, why?
Sunday, 6 January 2008
Well we didn't like the pigeons nesting in the hoppers at the top of our drainpipes. I don't like pigeons and I really didn't like half mangled, half dead pigeon chicks.
We were planning to wait until the pigeons on both sides of the house vacated their respective nests. When they disappeared we intended to remove the nests and throw up some chicken wire to prevent recurrence next year. Well that was the plan until I had a chat with my mother-in-law. I am now aware that pigeons nest all year round. The buggers!
So this weekend Dave shinned up a ladder and cleared two nests which meant making two pigeon couples homeless. As Dave discovered in one nest, it also meant disposing of two eggs. Oops. But I don't like pigeons, and neither does Dave, so we didn't feel too guilty. And we have lots of nice trees in and around the garden so I'm sure they can make more baby pigeons (just hopefully in somebody else's garden).
Saturday, 5 January 2008
Later I heard the following conversation from under the blanketed table.
E: You're going to have a baby
H: Really? .... Tell me when it arrives
H: Joseph, will you come here and change Jesus's nappy
E: I can't. I'm going to work
H: Joseph didn't go to work. Come here and change Jesus's nappy
Friday, 4 January 2008
I heard a bit of a conversation today....and then it continued in my head. I'll let you judge where my imagination takes over.
A: I put on 10.5lbs over Christmas
B: Really? You must have tried quite hard to achieve that
A: Well if I'm going to do something, I'll do it well
B: So when did you weigh yourself?
A: Yesterday at Weight Watchers but I was wearing jeans
B: Well that'll make a difference
A: And a heavy belt
B: Well there's five pounds right there
A: Well not quite five pounds. Maybe a pound.
B: Were you wearing a bra?
A: Of course
B: Was it underwired?
A: Yes, I always wear underwired
B: Well underwired - that's metal and metal's heavy.
A: And then there's the ski gear I was wearing too
B: What the salopettes and the jacket and the hat and gloves?
A: And let's not forget the thick socks and really solid ski boots
B: But not skis?
A: No, they wouldn't fit on the scales
B: Well I think we're close to explaining the 10.5lbs don't you?
A: Did I mention the chainmail?
B: No, you didn't but that really is heavy. So you were wearing full body chainmail?
A: Yes, plus armour
B: Well you should have said. I think you lost weight over Christmas. Cow!
Thursday, 3 January 2008
We got fed up with the number of exclusion dates for the course that meant that often there would be three weeks between classes. We also hated the rush to get there straight after the school run and we weren't happy that, if we did get there on time, the class would start late anyway. There was also the attitude of some of the instructors who would turn up late and spend more time attending to their text messages than looking at the children on the trampolines (the exception to this was the lovely new Portuguese coach who was very keen).
So we needed a new diversion for Thursday after school. So how about Karate?
Only Hannah can go at the moment, but in six months time Ethan too can join the fun.
Hannah was initially nervous, but seemed to have a lot of fun in her first session. I think she particularly enjoyed trying to look mean, although she wasn't very good at it and corpsed many times. I was surprised she didn't excel at this given her genetic advantage...
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
I was expecting a bigger museum and I was also expecting more toys. Dave kept saying "I used to have one of those", "Sarah had one of those" or "Our neighbours had one of those". I found myself far less vocal. I don't know whether that just meant I had a deprived childhood compared with Dave or whether I just have a really bad memory.
The good news is that this didn't make me feel terribly old but it did make Dave feel ancient, and a bit weird. I think I understand that. It is strange to see things that were part of your everyday, in a museum.
I didn't feel that it made me feel old though because even recent toys were on display such as the Xbox 360 or the Roboraptor. And some of the toys were amazing.