Friday, 30 April 2010

Should have read the manual...

I have to be honest I've never been totally happy with Olympus Mini.

She rumbles quite nicely and the pebble showers are pretty good too but when you start to use some of the advanced functions and settings I end up slightly disappointed. The other day I was trying out the Pyroclastic flow feature and it was OK, but I expected the roiling torment of ash and pumice to be - you know - a bit more than I got.

I had, of course, done what every man does. I'd opened the box, examined the contents and everything looked straightforward so I'd ignored the multi language manual and just powered her up and started messing around with the basic controls.

I had taken a token glance at the page which showed where the levelling screws were so that the lava fields were produced on the right face of the cinder cone, but that was it.

Anyway, I wasn't happy so I actually read the manual and it was actually very good. I found out that it was WIFI enabled and all I needed to do was lift a flap inside one of the lava tubes, link her to the home wireless router and within 5 minutes were we well in to a required firmware upgrade.

I am so chuffed - it is a completely different product. I can turn her up to 5 and use the Incinerator function - she will reduce anything including metal to basic oxides instantly. TP is delighted as it is much more fun than taking the wheelie bin out.

She did incinerate domestic rubbish before but the fragments of Whiskers cat food pouches left in the lava field did tend to spoil the effect.

I also cant wait for the Bank Holiday barbecue now I know that the concealed rotisserie will do a 4 lb chicken in minutes with no risk of Salmonella or Listeria.

Roll on Monday.

Picking up on "Olympus Mini" and my plans for commercial breeding of miniature dinosaur pets I had another thought .......

...... all I need to do is persuade 30% to pose in a fur bikini with "Dippy" in front of the Olympus Mini and I can start to do my own reenactment of One Million Years BC.

"You are having a laugh" was the response - Oh Well I'm guessing that the mini black hole is going to be staying on the shelf at Homebase and the planned re-make of 2001, a Space Odyssey is not going to be happening soon.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Shetland Giraffe

An absolutely huge Spider is taking a sojourn in the Kitchen sink this morning. He is not the size of a dinner plate - not unless you happen to be a greedy Borrower - in which case you will probably be off to get your Darning Needle sword in case he comes round your house next, but he is BIG.

I like Spiders. Picking up on a thread from yesterday they are also a bit Ninja the way they scuttle across the floor on whatever mission they have from Arachnid HQ. I like the way they lurk in corners - obviously surveillance - for months on end. Talk about going deep under cover - very sophisticated.

These are not missions without risk. A lot of these guys and girls are caught by the enemy and the treatment they get is straight from the CIA "Bumper Book of Interrogation Methods, Fully Illustrated, Pop Up Edition". Hurled from 2nd floor windows, flushed down WCs, or given a terminal beating with a tea towel.

Lets stop and take a few moments to remember the fallen.

I hope that somewhere there is an Arachnid Forces Garden of Remembrance where Incy Wincy's name is forever engraved on an imposing granite slab. Don't forget Charlotte too. She was a civilian but she gave everything to save the life of an innocent piglet. And, of course, the Nameless ones!

Here at The Pile they are tolerated, but it was not always the case. When 30% and I first met she was not keen on Spiders. She wasn't the type to scream in the style of a 50s Silver Screen Angel ......

..... but it is fair to say that she definitely wasn't keen.

Early in our relationship a young Spy der (its not clever - its just coincidence again) had taken up his first mission in her bedroom. He was keen and in very good shape. He had a lot of potential but not if 30% had her way. "There's a huge Spider in the Bedroom. Do something about it" came the command.

I did what any red blooded male would do........

......... Later that evening as we retired there came an expression of alarm followed by "I thought I told you to do something about that Spider". "I did" I replied - "I've called it Dave".

"WHAT!" she responded. I confirmed that I had christened it Dave and from now on it should be referred to as Dave. 30% was not impressed but I stood firm as Protector of Arachnid Special Forces recruit #342/579 aka Dave and within a few days 30% had "got with the programme" and was referring to him as Dave too.

By giving the little devil an identity she actually came to regard him more as a pet than a pest and now is pretty cool where spiders are concerned. I know aversion therapy is supposed to work but my techniques are a little more sophisticated.

Ah - the giraffe. Sorry - I got distracted.

Yesterday I got to thinking about extinction and how, whilst it is a natural event, extinction as a result of man is not a good thing.

I therefore thought why don't we use all of our intellect and Bio Tech to create some new species to replace any that go extinct. In fact it should be part of international law.

This is where I came up with the idea for the Shetland Giraffe. You must have seen Shetland Ponies - small, shaggy, hardy, ideally adapted to the harsh climate of the Shetland Islands. Well how about the Shetland Giraffe......

.... recruit a team of scientists and using a combination of artificial selection on naturally short@rsed giraffes and genetic manipulation (possibly using Okapi DNA) I reckon before long we could get Giraffes that stood about 5' high and were a bit stockier and therefore able to handle colder climates. How good would they be - you could keep one in the garden and they could be introduced in to a much wider variety of habitats than Savannah. This is the future.

I do have a strong affection for Giraffes after my first face to face contact when I took TP to a Safari Park and was amazed by how gentle and huge they are.

Having sorted that out I then went further. Once they've sorted out the Shetland Giraffe they need to look to getting some commercial funding to keep this project running. Pets, I thought.

Do you know anyone who keeps a lizard. They are not the most entertaining of pets. Good to look at but not much fun on a country walk. So.......

...... Why not take the Giraffe Model and apply it to Lizards. Again, artificial selection combined with genetic manipulation with the aim of breeding a Diplodocus that gets to about the size of Jack Russel. Obviously the long tail and neck will make him seem a bit bigger.

How good would that be!

Apparently they ate conifers so imagine a Christmas Morning when his cute little face pops out from under your Christmas Tree contentedly munching on a mouth full of needles. The perfect pet and no need to take the damn tree down to the tip after 12th Night.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Is that the best place to put it?

I've already mentioned that Potato and Eddy have an interest in the local wildlife or possibly, more accurately, a scorched earth policy.

Like most serial killers, the Perpetrators approach is to stalk and disable the victim, then drag it back to their lair for hours of entertainment before dismemberment and ritual display of entrails on the kitchen floor.

I know its grim but I don't make this up - I just come down to the carnage in the morning. Its only by comparing it to "The Silence of the Lambs" that demonstrates this side of their nature.

I probably need to go on record now as a cat lover and that I do my best to clean up the evidence so that the CSI Team have nothing to pass over to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Saying that, there have been mornings where 30% has risen before me and there are little chalk outlines of mice on the floor and the cats "would like to telephone their Brief".

Anyway, there is one local mammal that they will tackle but don't seem to finish off and that is the mole. There are a few occasions when they have brought home moles and then let the damn things go. On two occasions in the garden and once in the house. The one in the house was easy _ caught him up and released him in my local Doctor's Surgery garden - that will serve him right for the crappy diagnosis he failed to make when I presented myself with a Repetitive Strain Injury.

The ones in the garden, I'm afraid, had to go so Mole Traps were borrowed from Dad and set. I know there are people who will tell you that cheap, ladies perfume poured in the burrows and children's windmills or empty wine bottles stuck in the mole hills will make them go away - my response to this is "my @rse". If you want your garden to look like the Somme in 24 hours flat go with Charlie and the contents of your recycling bin. If you want dead vermin go with mole traps.

Why the cats don't like Moles I cannot tell. They may not taste very nice or perhaps they are just too hard. It could be a combination of the two. On thinking about it - if you consider humans who are involved in significant earth moving activities I would guess that a) they are "hard" and b) they don't taste particularly nice.

It could be option c) - Moles are a bit "Ninja"

Anyway - back to the point - once we had trapped the mole and examined the carcass it was time to dispose of the evidence. I could have consulted the cats but their method of disposal has already been discussed and I don't have the Psychological profile for their preferred dissection and ritual display approach.

So we buried it - and that got me thinking - How do I know its dead? What if it is a Vampire Mole? Isn't burying it the quickest way to resurrect it and allow it to DO MORE EVIL? If you think about it it is a bit like someone dying and deciding that leaving them in their favourite armchair is the best way to dispose of the body.

To me, burying dead moles is just plain WRONG. So when the bloody cats did it again TP and I skinned it and learnt that preserving a mole skin is an interesting Dad/Son activity.

Finally..................... when my nephew was about 4 years old he was stroking the family cat that was stretched out in the sun. I told the aforementioned Nephew that if it got much hotter the cat would unzip its fur, remove it like pyjamas and just sit there in its pants. .................. then a while later I told my sister what I had told her son and stood back as she charged off to the garden.

Post Script: Cats really do sit on your sofa in their pants - they just put their little cat suits back on quickly when they hear you coming.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Four Horsemen of the Acropolis

If you were going to get a tattoo, what would you get?

First things first, I don't have a tattoo, I don't want a tattoo, I have seen some splendid body art in my time including, and, I kid you not, the cover art, originally by Josh Kirby, of Terry Pratchett's the "Colour of Magic" on a fat blond in a Swimming Pool in Birmingham.

The reason I ask is that I am interested in the way people think and this is as good 'a question as any for wandering around inside someone's head. Some people go with...."if you were a biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be?" but personally I think asking them what image they would have permanently displayed on their body really gets under the skin. ooh - that was almost clever!

Incidentally, I would be the manky, soggy, broken Rich Tea that has been lurking at the bottom of the biscuit barrel for a couple of months and is in no way an attractive morsel.

In my imaginary world I went to the the Tattooist and asked for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse dragging the still bleeding corpses of Maria Carey and the one who sang the Titanic Theme Tune along a road built from the bones of Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Unfortunately he mis-heard me and I have Steve, Davey, Wazza and Craig astride their Peugeot Speedfighters as they wait to deliver Hawaiians and Quattro formaggios from the Acropolis Pizza Palace on the High Street.

I must learn to a) enunciate and b) go to an Tattooist who says "are you sure?" rather than getting busy knocking up a modern urban landscape.

Back to reality.

Monday, 26 April 2010

No Glass Ceiling here

30% did question her alias after its first use.

I replied that the world is very superficial place and that she only need to take in the cult of celebrity, examining such publications as Heat, Hello, OK and Now to see that image is everything. I therefore decided to describe her as 30% to insure that, should someone actually decide to scan this drivel, they were likely to perceive this as a physical statement rather than as a quantification of her input to our relationship. Therefore any negative connotations to her alias sat with the reader rather than the writer. It should therefore be seen as a form of post modern irony.

"You are such a bullsh*tter" came back her considered response.

Going forward it may be necessary to re-alias 30% to reflect the equality of women and their status in the modern western world, acknowledging the fact that she makes an absolutely vital contribution to both the working and domestic worlds.

....... another reason is so that she stops punching me in the face.

So rather snappily 30% should be considered to be "an individual, in her own right, that, for the time being, currently chooses to partake of a relationship and domicile with a bad man and TP. Note that this situation should not impede her progress in the world of Telecommunications nor limit her freedom of self expression and self determination.

Also note that she has a wicked sense of humour and puts up with the nonsense I spout!

Well it’s Monday and it is cool outside. A project to separate Tyson and Marauder from the chickens and the road has been completed. A sort of Maginot Line in pressure treated 2 x 2 and chicken wire has been installed and now T&M and the birds are partitioned like the Greeks and Turks in Cyprus. I appear to have the role of a UN Peace Keeper since I seem to have access to both occupied territories.

I see little hope, in the near future, for an open border as the political views are extreme in their differences. It saddens me that the chickens refuse to accept that being feathery and tasty is gross antagonism of T& M and also that T&M’s genetic selection to be a retriever of birds can not be overcome by education as we are, after all, living in the 21st Century and such primitive ways should be put behind us.

International Politics is not something to be taken on lightly.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

There's no such thing as a free lunch.....

........ but sometimes you can get a cheap one.

Sunday mornings activities at The Pile depend on the time of year. TP plays for a local rugby team and consequently during the season there is much filling of flasks, emptying dogs, cajoling 30% out of bed and shouting at TP along the lines of "if you don't get your stuff ready the night before ..." so that we can make the match or training venue.

Truthfully 30% and I really enjoy it as the parents are good fun and it is often a chat with a rugby match going on in the background.

The season ended this week but the final match was last Sunday. Consequently there was no great impetus to turn up, so we didn't.

Instead TP and I made a batch of sausages.

30% is what is described as a "canny shopper" and regularly returns home from the Supermarket with some unbelievable bargain. Eyes half closed against the midday sun she surveys the "Reduced Shelf" like a lioness scans the plains waiting for the young, tender wildebeest that has a nasty limp. The plump one that was always last in the gnu egg and spoon races.

This week she had purchased loin of pork, a boneless shoulder joint and a pack of turkey mince. All at considerably less than their normal price. Apparently there are products in Tesco that don't have a "yellow label" on them but I've never seen them.

TP and I broke out the Kenwood Mincer/Sausage Machine and after consulting Paul Peacock's "The Sausage Book" we knocked up about 8lbs of sausages. We made two recipes; Pork and Turkey and Sweet Chilli Sausages and both get a big thumbs up.

The main ingredients were all half price and the other ingredients were salt, black pepper, garlic, breadcrumbs and sweet chilli sauce so not exactly bank breakers. The bottom line is that we have 6 packs of premium sausages in the freezer at under £1 per 1lb.

TP is an absolute genius at stuffing the sausages. His role is to stand by the mincer nozzle and control the flow of sausage meat in to the skins. For some reason he is an absolute natural. 30% and I made a batch once when TP was elsewhere and the results weren't pretty. Tasted great, but weren't pretty - think "Pensioners leg in tights" and you are probably getting the picture.

TP's look like he was apprenticed to the Queen's butcher for 10 years!

30% was in charge of stuffing that day and you can imagine the lively debate we had that day .... it was once of those "I cant drive the car AND read a map" type discussions.

Back to the present, 30% put a selection of the bangers in a pan whilst TP and I popped over to see friend who had asked us to re-home a pair of unwanted chickens. Now that has the potential to be a cheap meal too but more of that another time.

The evening saw us at Warwick Arts Centre to see Dara O'Briain's latest tour. I am far to old to use txt spk but it was very funny in fact almost pmsl

Saturday, 24 April 2010

You should have seen the Bear !

Ah - Saturday !

Today I hauled my sorry rump out of bed at around 8.30 - that's a lie in by my standards and unusually 30% was already up, still pyjama'd, but up and standing in the garden drinking coffee with Jules. I probably need to assert that Jules is not some form of garden ornament but is a real person. Jules is a "frolleague" of 30% and very good company.

Last night 30%, Jules and I attended a St Georges Day evening down at the Local. A good time was had by all and there was a three course meal, a few G&Ts and much toasting of the Queen. The G&Ts necessitated a sleepover by Jules hence her being in the garden at 8.30 this morning.

The G&Ts resulted in a leisurely start to the day, a few odd jobs in the garden, a dog walk and Tyson and Marauder had a trip in to the local Canine Grooming establishment.

They do tend to get a bit shaggy - unusual for Staffies - so we pop down there when we are feeling flush and T & M get to read the latest copy of Heat Magazine while they are having a shampoo and set. On this occasion we also took Sell-by-Date for a manicure.

OK - I'm getting to the bear.

I've covered members of the family in earlier blogs and have made scant reference to the 1.8 cats that live with us. Now is time for their formal introduction. One is called Potato and 0.8 is called Eddy.

We have had Potato and Eddy for 4 or 5 years and like most cats they do what they want, when they want and barely tolerate us even though we provide shelter, veterinary care and food and do the most peculiar things to try to keep them happy.

I'll start with Eddy as you may be wondering why I refer to him as 0.8. A couple of years back Eddy decided to cross the road without looking and learnt that cars are harder than cats. I learnt that pet insurance is not as expensive as having several x-rays, a rear leg amputation and a second operation to remove a broken tail. Hence he is 0.8 of a cat aka "Eddy Percent" - say it aloud.

He has made a fantastic recovery and despite being "special needs" does not seem in any way impaired as he continues his life mission to kill and maim any rodent or bird he comes across. He has a kill rate on par with a Teenager plugged in to Modern Warfare on the X Box and God knows what he would be like if he was 20% more complete. I'm guessing that the local farmers are somewhat relieved, as are their cattle and sheep.

Eddy has obviously used up eight of his nine lives and consequently takes no cr@p from either Tyson or Marauder. He tells them that the injuries came from a fight with an escaped Kodiak Bear and they leave him well alone. Hence the title of this post. If he can be bothered to reply, when asked about his unfortunate predicament, his reply very much delivered in the style of Clint Eastwood is "You should have seen the Bear"

Potato, on the other hand, is completely different and is entire - actually he is not entire as we chose to have approximately 4% of him removed by the vet quite early on in his life, as we did with Eddy. Having typed this I may need to do some recalculations to come up with a more accurate figure of how many cats I have.

Potato is very easy going and consequently Tyson and Marauder make his life a misery by showing puppy affection for him. Fortunately Potato seems to have a limited understanding of "dog" and tolerates being rushed up to and sniffed with amazing patience.

Alternatively it could be down to his "habit" as he is a cheese based life form. He adores cheese. Potato's view is that milk is for kids and its the hard stuff for him - preferably vintage mature cheddar and plenty of it. I watch him each morning lurking as 30% knocks up a cheese sandwich for her lunch and if she doesn't provide him with a couple of pieces he'll take matters in to his own paws and just tuck in to her butty when she turns her back to get a sandwich bag.

Once "monged out", he slinks away to sleep off the cheese rush on whatever bed or sofa takes his choice. Camembert Dreams perhaps.

.... and, on that final note, for the pedants and mathematicians among you I will finally clarify that I have 1.72 cats.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sell By Date / Best Before

Today started earlier than normal as Tyson was pacing the Landing. She is 7 months old and whilst SIT, STAY and BITE THE SCROUNGER are commands that she understands well "just hold on until the alarm goes at 7" isn't one of the current KC Puppy Training objectives.

In my sleepy state I therefore weighed the options of a) cleaning up dog pee or b) putting on a dressing gown and standing in the garden whilst she relieves herself.

I took option c and gave the other 30% a nudge. You may remember that I am a lark and she is an owl so a minute or so later I'm stunned by her witty early morning repartee and am unlocking the door and letting Tyson and Marauder out. Oh what fun we had charging round the lawn especially as we managed to find a mouse carcass that one of the cats had rejected for whatever reason. Do you know we all scampered round for a good ten minutes, all of us wanting a piece of the action before sense prevailed and we left it on the step and retired to bed for another hour before the alarm chimed.

On school days I get up at 7 so that TP does all that is necessary to get to school on time. To be fair he is good at getting up just as long as he is actually woken at 7. To achieve this I knock and call and to be doubly sure I accidentally let Tyson and Marauder in to his bedroom. They then pounce excitedly on to his bed and try to eat his face. This seems to work and I'd recommend it to any parent. I work on the principal that he loves the Staffies as much if not more than me so it stands to reason that it is an absolute delight to start the day with them. They are a bit like Chris Evans but brighter, funnier and more original.

Today I thought I'd write about "Sell by Date" or SBD for short. Anyone giving this far too much scrutiny will have noticed that I have mentioned three dogs but only talked about Tyson and Marauder in the "Does My Dog Need an Alias" post. SBD is Dog number 1. He is an aging beast who has reached the ripe old age of 12. The other 30% had him long before we got together so he is very much a one-woman dog. To be fare he has a lovely nature but he is very slobbery, very old and sheds hair like yak with alopecia.

He is referred to as SBD because his Breeder is on record as saying that if they (the breed) get past 10 you are doing well. He is therefore well past his Sell-By-Date. As I have said, SBD has a lovely nature but is definitely the other 30%'s dog. We have never really bonded - me and SBD, not me and 30% - and I am sure that he plans to outlive me just to spite me.

He may be spending to much time with the lawn mower!

SBD is in his dotage and spends his days lying by a radiator farting. I frequently work from home and unfortunately his radiator of choice is immediately behind me - see - he is in league with the lawn mower. He has the occasional walk - but that is usually just out to see how much damage he can do to the lawn.

Tyson arrived at the Pile late last year - she was, I suppose, a replacement for SBD but her presence seems to have rejuvenated him and I caught him making some long term investments with his broker which has me worried. Tyson became devoted to SBD - I've just noticed that SBD is also "silent but deadly" no - its not clever writing - just a coincidence. As a result of this devotion 30% was concerned about how Tyson would respond when SBD goes off to cock his leg in some Elysian Fields.

As a result, just as Tyson had reached the point where she no longer peed, or worse, on the floor, we got Marauder as company. This is how you ensure that you extend the pleasure of puppy toilet training for an extra 10 weeks. Tyson decided to revert just so Marauder didn't get a complex. I'm glad we have mostly stone and wooden flooring because there were days when the magic just didnt stop

Kitchen Roll and Disinfectant manufacturers have had a bumper period and were not as badly impacted by the recession as Robert Peston originally thought.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Forget all the vernal equinox versus the 1st April debates. Here at the "Pile" Spring arrives when I finally drag the mower out from its lair and use it with menace on the lawn.

Lets start with the mower. I like mowing the lawn - its not particularly taxing and the lawn isn't huge so its quite a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes or so on a sunny evening.

However, I don't like the mower it is an oily, smelly, noisy beast that coughs and splutters BUT WILL NOT DIE. My Dad has a beautiful mower that gleams and purrs and cuts beautiful stripes in his lawn. Last year mine kicked out a stone in a fit of pique that shattered one of our windows and I ended up forking out over £200 for a new double glazed unit. See, it hates me - why cant it be a perfect garden companion like my Dads?

Because I hate it. I neglect it. I don't have it serviced. I don't change its spark plug. I barely keep the sump topped up with oil. I certainly don't remove the accumulated grass and oil its chassis. BUT IT WILL NOT DIE. I just want it to fail so I can go to the DIY store and get a new one like my Dads.

Yesterday evening was its first outing of the year - hence the official beginning of Spring. I dragged the beast from its lair where it had been tipped on its side so that other junk could be crammed in there with it. I believe that piling rubbish on it over the winter ensures that it understands my loathing of it. To get me back for this poor treatment over the long winter months it slowly oozes the contents of its sump via the piston rings up in to the cylinder. A consequence of this is that I then need to remove the plug, clean it and then pull the starter cord several times to expel the oil from the cylinder - remember O Level Physics - You can't compress a liquid so pulling the started cord with a cylinder full of oil ain't gonna happen.

I dutifully performed these actions and then primed the carb and tugged that the starter cord. The beast decided that it would take revenge and gave a mean kick-back hence I type this with very sore fingers this morning.

Having taken revenge it then starts, fills the garden with an oily smoke and performs perfectly for the first run out of the year.

It is a love/hate relationship. I hate the mower and it loves the fact that I hate it. Hence IT WILL NOT DIE and allow me to go and get a new one like my Dads.

There is however a glimmer of hope, during the starting escapade I noticed a rust spot, quite a large one, on the chassis. Like a teenager with a zit I probed and picked and a hole appeared. MAYBE THE END IS CLOSER THAN I THINK.

Now to the lawn. Over the winter the lawn has been abused by three dogs and a trio of Light Sussex. I see a trip down to the garden centre in the next week or so for a couple of rolls of turf as surgery will be required in a few places. I find a freshly mown lawn a pleasing sight and the impact of three dogs and the occasional chicken means that some degree of Groundsman type activities are required each Spring. I may well offer the Guys at Wembley the benefit of my experience 'cos the state my lawn gets in to over winter makes their job look like a walk in the park.

While on the subject of Spring - the increasing day length means that the aging poultry flock have finally gotten off their perches and decided to pay me back for the vast quantity of food that I give them. For those unaware, a chicken only lays when there is more than about 10 hours of daylight which is why commercial birds have artificial light. They also lay less as they get older. My lot are definitely not Spring Chickens so generally can't be bothered to do much before the middle of March.

Egg production is now the order of the day and I take the odd box in to colleagues in the Nine Circles of Hell and the other 30% does quite a trade at her place of work. I now have quite a quantity of small eggs and it seems a bit mean to sell them so I'll be pickling eggs at the weekend. I absolutely love pickled eggs and they are nothing like those white blobs floating in cloudy, detritus filled liquor at the chip shop. Simply hard boil a few, shell them and put them in a clean jar with a 50:50 mix of malt and pickling vinegar and shut away for about 6 weeks. Then open and enjoy.

Oh Dear - it just went a bit Nigella there for a moment - apologies.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Does my dog need an alias?

Its obvious that I am new to the world of blogging and, to be honest, I made a decision a long time ago that I didn't really fancy having an internet presence.

I don't really get the Social Networking concept. Mind you I suppose I could well be veering towards hypocrisy with a blog. I justify this to myself by saying it is "one-way" and that it is just a way of brain dumping. If that is the case why have I installed a visitor stats counter?

Anyway, to the point of the post - when I say "point" we are talking "last pencil in the box, where the hell is the sharpener or Stanley knife" - just so you don't start expecting incisive journalism here,

It was a friend /colleague that suggested I blog saying that it was a way of dealing with the "stuff" that accumulates. A while back my Other Half or Other 30% as I'm sure she would like to be known also suggested that I write this stuff down - mind you that was probably so she didn't have to listen to it first thing in the morning - she is an owl - I'm a lark.

I'm getting there - don't be inpatient - aliases - The few blogs I have read all use aliases for quite understandable reasons. The name I ramble on under was suggested for me by Golfy when I suggested a couple of varieties of coffee for him to try. It has no relevance to the content or to me really other than being a label.

A while back I was walking the dogs and I bumped in to a fellow dog walker with a deaf Dalmatian called Marley. He was genetically deaf and she used hand signals as commands for sit, here, stay etc. It all worked very well and I asked why the dog had a name. As most people tend to use the dogs name to get its attention before giving it a command. Marley seemed a total irrelevance. She agreed and advised that sometimes she introduced him using a random name, often Geoff.

So - do my dogs need aliases. Probably, as they are bound to get a mention here as they are part of my world. Lets say I have two straining Staffies called Tyson and Marauder. I don't but it will help preserve our privacy - as does the low stat count on this blog.

Another alias that my "frolleagues" use is Starfleet for our employer. I'm not sure about this alias I think I would have seen Dante's Nine Circles of Hell as a more accurate description although perhaps it is a little too close to the truth.

Anyway another individual who needs an alias is "the progeny" and that will do - perhaps TP for short.

TP and I have been taking Tyson and Marauder to a local Kennel Club Puppy Training Class for a few months and Marauder, ably handled by TP, received her Puppy Foundation Assessment yesterday so next steps will hopefully be a promotion to the next class and a Kennel Club Bronze Award.

So that's about it for today - establishing a few lables for some of the family members and parts of my world

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Hmmm - well volcanoes have been in the news a lot and every man and his dog has something to say on them and here's my offering.

I have to say that I really fancy having a small one installed in the garden. Obviously not something with a 2km diameter crater cos a) the garden isn't that big and b) that would be showing off.

Say perhaps something about the size of a mole hill or perhaps, if you have the space, up to the size of a good ant hill.

On the plus side it is really going to shut up the neighbours who have been prattling on about their water feature and how soothing the sound of running water is in the evening as they sit out with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a selection of Tesco Finest nibbles.

Watch then shut up when you bring them round and show them "Olympus Mini" that you just picked up from B&Q. It will sit there rumbling malevolently and occasionally throwing up a shower of molten pebbles. Tell them that it is set on 3 and the dial goes up to 11 !

I'm guessing that the smoke and ash will be a downside but it cant be any worse that a garden bonfire so don't let that put you off this idea.

If you think about it - it could be really handy if you need any paving done - simply set up some asbestos shuttering and let the lava flow - instant Deccan Traps in miniature and you get the path laid in moments. You might want to put up some sort of barrier to keep the dog/cat off it for a coupel of weeks until it cools down as I'm pretty sure that molten lava path and paws are not a good combination. Mind you there could be a side line in thermal boots for pets.

Any vulcanologists with a side interest in DIY will get this. Any other readers will be reaching for the Google toolbar by now.

I really think that Dermot Gavin should add this to his repertoire - it could help reinvigorate his garden design career.