August 2005 Archives

Genocide - Why?

A friend from the Landmark courses, Tessa, is off as part of her studies, to Rwanda shortly. She's been telling us of the plight, and organising various parties to raise money, and tell people what exactly happened there.

Last night, as I was flicking around the TV channels, I stumbled across a programme on BBC2 "Shaking Hands with the Devil". Looked interesting, so I sat down, cuppa in hand, and watched it.

The programme was a sort of biog on Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Roméo Dallaire, the UN commander of the Assistance Mission sent in to Rwanda in 1993. It went into graphic detail of the suffering and problems faced by all sides in what became a bloodbath. How the UN and the rest of the world failed the population of Rwanda. The genocide and it's beginnings. And how he felt on returning, 10 years later, to revisit the country.

Until last night I didn't really appreciate what the genocide really was. But on seeing that programme, it sickened me realising how something as horrific as that could happen in what is considered the modern age. And at the time the world seemed to be more concerned about one country and it's problems, and so willingly sacrificed another's :-(

They reckon that during the 100 day civil war in Rwanda near to 1,000,000 people were killed. And despite countless requests and agreements within the UN for support, the world just sat back and let it happen :-(

I wish Tessa all the best in her endeavours, and if we could all take on a little of the challenge of making a difference, as she is, the world itself would become, I believe, a much more tolerant place as a whole.

I Love Bank Holiday's

So, the last bank holiday for this year has all but gone. Another corker, with Geoff's retirement parties, lots of beer, a quick lunch out with Becky from the Landmark course, and Nige briefly appearing tonight to drop off Laura from her 2 week shopping spree in Hull. Lets just say she needs to get some seriously bigger wardrobes now ;-)

A few beers and a curry tonight to see the weekend off, and then back to work for 4 days before Nige's 31st.

Got the first internal Primavera training course to teach for this session, so will be prepping tomorrow. Hopefully there'll be a full house, eager to learn :-D

Bye bye Geoff

Our esteemed union baron, and all round good egg, Geoff "The Don" Leyshon, retired on Friday from work. A quiet drink at the local real ale hostelry Friday, which turned into a long night. That's the great thing about the unplanned. What was going to be a couple and then home, turned into a great evening, with so many people from work, past and present, putting the world to rights, as well as drinking several barrels of various delightful real ales dry :-D

That became the introduction to a fantastic weekend. Footy on Saturday with Sy, (they won 3-1 :-D), then a mad dash to Cambridge for Geoff's surprise meal at the Arundel House Hotel. I had the sugar cured fillets of Salmon, which despite the idea of fish and sugar, really worked. Then to follow, a gorgeous poached beef and chicken fillet on a bed of stilton mash, drowned in a gravy made from port and spring onion, yum :-p Several glasses of wine, and then a mad dash to the station to get the last train home, with minutes to spare.

Lay-in this morning, then off to Asda to pick up a few bits and pieces. Last nights culinery delights have got me creative juices working, wonder what I'll throw together next week :-p


Saw this bit of news on the BBC today:

Homeopathy's benefit questioned

Seems that, again, after a clinical trial, the effectivity of these treatments is being questioned.

When Jules tried out the Vitamin B-17 treatment, the so-called miraculous fix for all cancers, it was sold as something that would cure it, no question. Of course, when asking what evidence was available, it was sketchy at the least. And having an argument with the guy about how unethical it was to promise, 100%, that it would work. And how I would, one day, find him and kill him, if this treatment didn't work. All he had to say was, "Well, there's a risk it might not work, but it's a chance you have to take" and I'd take back my threat. But no, there couldn't be no doubt in it working, otherwise it wouldn't. But then, he was the guy taking £1,000's off people for the treatment, and not me.

Blind faith can be a dangerous thing. At least with understanding you can make informed choices.

So, whenever I do fall ill, I'll just keep taking my Smarties ;-)

So They're Well On The Way!

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Just checking up on Kieran & Ant's progress:

End-to-end UK

Punctures, rain, beer, and picturesque sunsets seem to be the order of the day ;-)

Fundraising's gone past their £2,000 target for Garden House Hospice, Letchworth, but there's still chance to get online and make a donation ;-)

Nobody Expects...


So, the phone rings, it's 2 minutes to midnight on Sunday....

"You remember the teacher with the strange name at Gilshill who had us sing non-religious hymns?"
"Err, yes, Jonathan, why?"
"What was the name of the hymn?"

Well, dear sir, it was When a knight won his spurs, and went something like this:

2 Years Ago

And I was with Jules, getting ready for her 2nd op, walking down the ward with her, jumping in a lift and waving her off to theatre. I wasn't allowed as far down as the first time, rules change so they said. So I had to say my goodbyes in the lift.

6 and 1/2 hours later she came out into ICU, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Where has the time gone? It feels like yesterday, I was wondering round London, wishing the time would speed by, then not wanting to go back to the hospital for fear of any bad news.

Yesterday, wondering round London, drinking and watching, as you do on Stag do's, you realise just how quickly life can swoosh by. And just how much time we waste arguing the toss, instead of just saying, "Whoops, misunderstanding, sorry" and getting on with enjoying and living life.

Life's too short. And wasting it arguing about whether the last few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, even years, were well spent is pointless. Learn from experience, but don't sit and wallow in it. Blink and you'll miss it.

Stag Do!

Another opportunity to go into London for beer, and as it's a Stag do, a chance to try our luck with the ladies...;-)

Or, at least, that's the impression you get of what it should be like. Instead, it was a rather sedate affair. A boat ride on the Thames, which I have to say was most enlightning. Never knew some of the history of London until that trip. Owh, and they had an onboard bar too, which helped start the drinking ;-)

Off the boat, another bar, and then off for food. And the hotest Korma in the world. It would've given a vindaloo a run for its money.

The Moon Over Water, a haunt of past trips when Mr Hughes lived Stevenage way. Then it's a bit blurry after that. I'm home now, ust've got the right train home ;-)

And serendipity played it's part. 2 years ago today I was on my way down to London with Jules, her last trip on a train. The 14:55 from Newcastle. So, getting the 14:34 down there, brought back memories of running around Kings Cross with her bags, making our way onto the Northern Line. She was so nervous, excited, and, I remember, loud.

What A Bargain!

Well, it is if you're into building plastic models of aeroplanes. Which, funnily enough, I am. Since childhood, when we'd get up at the crack of dawn and help my Dad build a basal-wood Spitfire at the top of the stairs.

When I heard on the Airfix grapevine that they were trying a spot of promotion with the forthcoming re-release of their 1:48th scale HS Buccaneer, I was down my local model shop like a shot. Only to discover they didn't have one in stock :-(

Completely forgot about it, and time passed. Then, this morning, after having my bi-monthly hacking of hair, I popped in, on the off chance. And hey presto :-D

The promotion is to offer 2 kits in the box rather than one, but only for the first 1,000 kits. The idea being that it encourages people to go to their local retailer, and also the retailer to promote Airfix kits. Snag, it appears, is that the middle men haven't told the retailers this. So the only way of getting one of these kits is to guess. Which isn't that difficult, as the box is bulging, and a lot heavier than a normal one.

The box contains the 2 original kits, a S2B and S2/2C/2D/S50, along with all the necessary decals and instructions. Of course, I could make do with one, and sell the other on eBay, but that's kinda missing the point of building 2 large models of a true Yokrshire flying great ;-)

Mo Mowlam dies

I remember, when searching for answers and comfort, how we discovered Mo Mowlam's illness, and how Jules took support from it. Here was a woman who, despite it all, got on with living life. So, the news today that she's lost her fight came as a shock and an upset :-(

She was an amazing woman, being what I consider one of, if not the catalyst for change in Northern Ireland. Stories of her breaking the ice by removing her wig during heated debates, taking a more relaxed approach to being driven around Northen Ireland during the troubles, and supposedly telling Gerry Adams during one meeting to, "Bloody well get on and do it, otherwise I'll head-butt you!" ;-)

"Everyone has got to give a little. No-one is going to get 100% of what they want. If everybody is willing to accept some change, we can do it"

It just brings further to focus on how common cancer is becoming, with famous people like Caron Keating, Emlyn Hughes, and BBC News' Online science and technology writer, Ivan Noble all eventually succombing to it :-( Family and friends who are fighting and winning, and sadly also loosing :-( Thankfully there are more and more strides towards finding cures, most recently the announcement that Aspirin 'cuts bowel cancer risk'.

No news on Richard Burns progress in his battle with a brain tumour (Astrocytoma).

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present."

Didn't Last Long Then

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Off work, the slight cold I've been harbouring since being bitten has come back full on, with a vengence :-(

I'm slightly deaf, can hardly breathe, but, surprisingly, my throat isn't sore. So, as colds go, it's not the worst.

Interestingly, it's the first cold of the year, as far as I can see in my diary. Which, if you know me and ailments over the last few years, is a bit of a record.

Off to bed, lemsips in hand. Don't want to be like this come the weekend, it's Phil's stag do after all ;-)

Bike Ride

A guy at work is doing a mental bicycle ride for Letchworth Hospice, riding from one end of the country to the other. Kinda puts the old little rides I did with school pals around the East Riding for Comic Relief into perspective ;-)

They've a site to keep everyone updated on progress, and also a means to make online donations.

After everything the Hospice did for Jules, I urge you to make a click, and drop some money into the coughers. And make sure you tick the bits for gift aid, and give the extra 28% in tax too ;-)

Back Home At Last!

Home at last, in my bed, warm house, and hot bath ;-)

The journey back wasn't as long as I expected, taking me a spritly 2hrs 45mins, rather than the usual 3hrs 30mins+. Mean't I got home early enough to sort everything out, feed the cat, and get an early night. Work in the morning, booo. Gotten used to the week off, will have to drag myself out of bed in the morning, no doubt ;-)

Why Do I Always Get Bitten?

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So, I've got Cellulitis

Bitten by something on Sunday, the first full day of camp. My fault, on account of me wearing shorts rather than trousers. But then it was sunny, and I am on holiday.

So, a trip to the local GP to see why the rash from Sunday night was slowly creeping up my leg. A few minutes later, I've a HUGE back of antibiotics, some more Lemsips, and a rash identified as a serious infection. Which, if I'd left it longer, would've put me in hospital :-O

Doc said to keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't spread any further, otherwise I'd have to have the large quantities of oral antobiotics injected direct into my leg veins :-O

Got to keep my leg elevated whenever possible, and draw a mark around the rash and monitor it's progress. Owh, and come back in a week. Which is difficult, as I'm in Leeds at the moment, and will be back home next week :-O

And the worst part? The discomfort, the aching calf? Nope, I'm not allowed alcohol for 2 weeks :-(

Flu is back

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Starting to feel lousy. Which is typical of holidays in the past. No sooner have I left work for a break, my body goes "Ahhh", and all the alements I've been fighting come to the surface, and knock me out.

This time, it feels like flu. Feverish, headache, and generally feeling like crap.

Lemsips on order. So their shares will no doubt be on the up again ;-)

Catching Up

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Another Agoonoree starts proper :-D And a chance to catch up with everyone I've not seen for nearly 3 years. A load of new faces, and many older, perhaps not wiser (;-)), faces too.

The camp itself is smaller than normal, a number of people either unable to attend, or, rather sadly, no longer interested in attending. Which is a shame, as it's one of the most enjoyable events of the year for me.

Sure, it's hard work, looking after kids and young adults with special needs. But the characters, and warmth of friendships, get you through the week. And it soon becomes more of a holiday away from usual life, rather than a bind or burden.

And this year, for the first time, I'm on the support team, rather than leading one of the patrols :-D So, I get to sit at the top table, don't have to panic about breakfast and whether there's enough time before inspection. And, most importantly, not worry about whether we're in the lead or not ;-)

It's going to be a great week, I'm sure. But I can already see that inviting, hot, Radox-filled bath, back home on Sunday :-D

Leeds Roads Are Crap

Sorry for those who think otherwise. Having spent nearly 2 hours driving around the various link roads, ring roads, and loops, I've come to the conclusion that Leeds is worse than Spaghetti Junction :-(

Simple enough objective, I wanted to get from the M1 onto the A660 and out to Bramhope. Looks easy enough on the map. But no, there's all these loops, city links, ring roads that don't seem to be :-(

First attempt somehow had me in Bradford, which was impressive as that's a completely different city. Second attempt had me heading back down to London, again, not where I wanted to be. In the end I decided to head out towards Hull, turn back at the first junction, and come in that way.

I'm here now, at last. Tent up, kids arriving, and, just to cheer me up, the sun is out :-D

The Godfather

I'd thought, at some point in my life, that I'd seen the Godfather's films. Well, since Nige's not gone to Amsterdam and come back down South, we set to tonight, BBQ burning, to watch them.

What a great series. And yes, I've not seen them, despite being totally convinced I had. Appropriate volience, and a gripping story line that follows through each one.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "I'm totally whacked...", think I'll be saying I'm feeling tired from now on ;-)

I've Lost Me Passport

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Idiot ;-)

Great Beer!

Went to the Great British Beer Festival today. 450 beers, a trade ticket (ta Tony ;-)), and 4 hours to get around and try a few halfs of strange and wonderful brews :-D

The fav of the day was a mild that tastes of Lapsang Souchong tea, a brew Jonathan introduced me to in his early London days. Very smokey, but only to my taste. Did end up drinking a lot, since everyone else didn't like their samples. Also, a number of delightful light summer ales, a corking honey beer, and plenty of Bishops Finger.

A quick dash back to the tube, home, sleep, and, thankfully, awake in time to get off at my stop. I'd have ended up in Kings Lynn quite easily otherwise.

Owh, and of noticable and puzzling interest, beyond the HUGE amount of police around on the tube, the streets, and the trains, was the Apache gunships hovering around the centre of London. I'm not really sure what purpose they're serving, after all there's not than many battlefield tanks on the streets these days. And until today I'd guessed it was some sort of fly past. But today was the third time I've heard or seen them, so it appears they've become a fixture of the skys, at least for now.

Half A Day

Both brothers have been down for the weekend, and they've been up to their usual helpful support, ripping through the house and cleaning out lots of stuff which, I'll no doubt be wondering where it's gone in the weeks and months to come.

The big project, tho, has been the car. Engine mounts have been showing signs of wear, and the gears have been getting harder and harder to engage. Having had 3 abortive attempts to sort it myself, the bruvs came to the rescue, and by late Sunday we had things working better. So, with them both off to Amsterdam tomorrow, and having nearly finished sorting the car, it only needed an afternoon to complete. So, no sooner in work than back out. Owh, and I'm off to the Great British Beer festival tomorrow too :-D

Gotta go, times a ticking ;-)


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I've been creating websites, albet slowly and badly (?) for 11 years now, using a fantastic package called Notepad. It does exactly what I need, and it's only downfall was not having a find and replace function, or being able to open more than 1 document at a time. These things were fixed in a fantastic little shareware package I was introduced whilst developing the IEE's pilot Centres website to by the, at the time, IEE Webmaster, called Webpad, but I've never managed to find a decent modern windows version, the tool working in pseudo-DOS and really struggling with FAT-32.

Now, having launched into some serious web development at work, I've now got Dreamweaver. And wow :-D :-D

Ok, I'm sure there's much, much better packages around that can do all the stuff this thing does, but you must appreaciate the move from my point of view. I'm editing entire sites, mass changing things. And realising, despite my claims of full XHTML and CSS compliance, there's quite a few bits which really won't work outside of IE :-(

Owh, and dynamic page creation with ASP, Javascript, SQL databases, and XML/XSL. I reckon I'm starting to understand how this place works too ;-)

I'm like a pig in shit, I tell you :-D :-D

About Alan Bell

Lapsed: electronic engineer, scout leader, project controller.
Now: Oracle Primavera training consultant, business support manager, occasional website designer.

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