September 2005 Archives

Ahhh, So it WAS You!

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News on the random popup's some of you have been experiencing of late.

I'm assured it's designed to advertise only once or twice a week, if you're a regular visitor. And since this announcement I've noticed a drop in the requests "To get a life".

As I said before, post a comment if it's getting beyond a joke, and I'll look at alternative provision for counting visits.

What's interesting, stats wise, now that I've been monitoring it for nearly a month now, is that I'm slowly creeping up the lists :-D. As of today, this place is 95th, Jules' site is 276th, and my website is a shocking 456th :-O. Of course, the Technorati ranking is terrible, I'm currently languishing at 775,745th...

You're Fat, Owh, and Forget Your Pension

2 bits of news yesterday. Having completed a medical for my life assurance renewal, the annoucement, in black and white, that I'm officially fat. 4 stone, to be precise. Following that, the Pension Update on our company pension, and the now huge £2.4billion deficit that's appeared in the last 3 years :-O

It would appear that, as part of the analysis into plugging the gap, there's to be an option to work beyond 65 in order to top up the fund. The funny part is the calculation to predict how long you'll last after you retire to spend what you've invested. So, at present calculations, I've 5.85 years beyond my 65th birthday. And, this is the best bit, they're suggesting I work another 2.5 years after 65 in order to help plug the deficit. I've to work for another 33 years, and will only have 2 years to enjoy it :-(

So, this lunchtime, this bit of news was most welcome ;-)

No More Terry's

No more Terry's, it's no longer ours :-( :

They're moving production overseas, in a similar vein to the closure of the Needler's sweet factory in Hull in May 2002. I remember, as I used to make my way to my Saturday job at GT Electrical every Saturday, the smell being the only thing making the trip down Aire Street and past all the tanneries bareable. And the surprise to find, when I first started at what was then British Aerospace, that the VIP sweet bowls contained nothing other than Needler's Sensations boiled sweets. A little bit of home from home :-D

Just A Little Prick

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The Anthony Nolan Trust - taking back lives from leukaemiaA bit of news on our work's intranet, about how you can help save a life by registering as a bone marrow donor. Something I know only too well, having been told the stories by Jules.

Well, there's a local registration exercise going on, down at the University of Hertfordshire. Organised by Sian Willbourne, a member of staff at the University, who recently was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). And, as it states on the pages, it's not as scary a thing as some may believe. It is, as the title says, just a little prick (No comments now, please, Ian). There's a shortage of donors, so it's even more important to get on down and register.

Full details can be found on the Hertfordshire Sports Village website - Bone Marrow Donor Sessions pages, or for something a little more local to yourself, visit The Anthony Nolan Trust.

Both this and giving blood are important. During the 2 operations Jules underwent she had more than 12 pints of blood transfused. Without donors the operation would've been impossible. And I'm not sure what levels of bone marrow she had whilst fighting leukaemia, but as with Sian's story, it can be the difference between death and survival. So, go and register if you haven't. You never know, your blood type could be super rare!
Support the charity fundraising at:
Justgiving - Help Sian Fight Leukaemia
Justgiving - Achieving the Impossible

Back Home

Ahhh, the joys of being home again. Hot bath, and a cat that's obviously missed me. Won't leave me alone, although I'm always sceptical that it's more to do with the fact he's yet to work out a way of opening his catfood himself. Once that's done, I'm history, I reckon ;-)

Anyway's, off to unpack and get the washing machine on. Early start in the morning, want to have Friday afternoon off ;-)

Time Flies By

Toby - Jules' little boy
I'd mentioned the other week just how fast time's flying. And going through various bits and bobs on Sunday made me realise it's now 4 years since Toby died.

And today, sorting through my diary for last year, and remembering Auntie Maureen's funeral. Can it really be a year already?

2 years ago tomorrow we organised what was then considered one of the biggest hospital breaks of the century...

Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard



... or how to destory your house on telly ;-)

The first of the series was on Sunday, and Jonathan's been keeping us abreast of the transmission dates. He's also collecting reviews, so pop over there if you want to add a comment about the show. He's the producer after all. Still amuses me, seeing his name flash past on the screen. Thinking back to the old days at Wiberforce, Malet, and even Gilshill. I wonder what Mrs Jones or Mr Bell would be saying now :-D

Corking Weekend

Got lots done, work, shopping, and a bit more tidying and sorting. The garden is all "Autumn-fied", as I'm busy now for a good few weekends.

And Sunday was spent helping out a guy in Club GTI with a small wiring problem. I say small, he'd had the car stripped without labelling up where things go. Suffice to say, it helped having a working GTI sat next to his, so we could work our way through the wiring. I also discovered why my electrics have been playing up during the damper weather. The cool air vents blowing directly onto the back of the fusebox :-O So, a good clean-up of leaves, damp, etc... and all seems to be working once more :-D

The radiator hose split again too, which was annoying. I've still to get a brand new one, canabilising yet another off the other cars. This weekend I think will have to be a dipping in pockets and buying new one. Owh, and filling it with some coolant. Just water isn't going to be doing it any good, and I suspect is contributing to the pipe-burst effects.

New Ford Drinkus TDI

I'll be writing a fuller experience when I get back, because it deserves it. The old Focus, I thought, was fantastic. And somehow, they've ruined it. How it's won "Car of the Year", I don't know. Unless the judges are short, thin people. But, more of that later in the week. This post is about the fuel, or lack of it.

Now, bearing in mind, it's a diesel, would it concern you if I told you it can do 280 miles on a tank :-O

It's either broken, or really not that good a car anymore :-(

More Training

Down in Bristol for more Primavera training. The room, and it's PC's have just been installed, albet only 4-5 weeks late. To say it's cutting it fine would be an understatement. But not as bad as another course run by my bosses, bosses, boss, where the painters were literally walking out as they walked in :-O They're obviously not using Primavera P3e/c, otherwise they'd be on time, to budget, and not having all these problems, cough ;-)

So, I left work at 6pm, finally, with the necessary PC's configured and working, at least. Chairs, walls, and all the other essentials in place, so all going well we should have 6 eager students first thing tomorrow morning. Traffic thankfully was none existant, so a quick trip down here.

And now? Well, I'm off down the pub, The Old Duke, for some beer and Jazz, mmmmm, NICE ;-)

Hot, hot, hot

News that the 2003 European summer was abnormally hot. No kidding, I remember, and Ian had to sleep with ice blocks on his head, he was that heated up :-O

This comes on news the other week that the soil is warming up and so increasing the rate at which the climate is changing. Predictions that the summer of 2003 will be considered a cold one in years to come. And that the seasons are slowly drifting, September and October are warming up. But, winter will become wetter rather than colder and snowier :-(

What's surprising for me, garden wise, is that I've tomato plants growing away, outside, and it's nearly October :-O Anyone for chutney ? ;-)

There's A Saying

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I'm sure, there's a saying somewhere about being hit once is bad luck, but to be hit twice means you're being picked on (or you've a brother called Ian ;-)):

Some people must be asking what they've done to deserve this :-(

Tessa Has Landed!

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Some of you, dear readers, may remember mention of a new friend, Tessa, and her mission as part of her extended studies, to Rwanda.

Well, email arrived last night to say she's arrived. And, not surprisingly, things are a lot worse than you or I can imagine.

Thankfully for us she's got internet access and post, so we can keep in touch with what she's doing. And I'm sure, at some point, there'll be a blog of sorts springing up to keep the wider world in touch with the charity work they're all doing.

More Life Please

News on the BBC that the top request for the most desirable feature of next generation mobile devices is a Long life mobile battery.

Interestingly, 2 days life was the most popular request, something I'd be happy with on my mobile. It now struggles with a day if I'm lucky, which means remembering to put it on charge every night this week if I'm to keep in touch with the world outside of Hammersmith ;-)

Other requests, with over half, was more memory, and in the case of mobile phones, better resolution cameras. It's hard to imagine a phone without a camera, and yet this is still a fairly recent thing. I can still remember 1 megapixel digital cameras being new and exciting, and now you can get a free mobile with two high res cameras :-O

What I want is a mobile phone, with a decent camera, speedy GPRS/Data connection, and enough memory for my calendar, contacts, and pics of my brothers fooling around on a night out ;-) All of this squeezed into a space the size of my current phone, the Nokia 7650. And I can see that being a reality now. Hurrah :-D



Owh, and before I forget...

Car exhaust is still making noises. Owh, noticed it on the way to the station yesterday. And, owh, noise all the way home last night too. So, owh, guess it's a job for the weekend. Owh, and I'll be sorting the radiator pipe. My fault, using a second hand one, owh, and it's still leaking.

Owh, and just in case you're wondering, there's only, owh, 2 people that'll probably understand the post. Owh, how they'll laugh ;-)

All Insured Up

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Had my life insurance/assurance assessment last night. Nothing major, just a 20 minute questionaire, measurements, urine sample, and weight check.

Turns out I'm an everage 30+ year old, overweight by 4 st 11lb(more than I thought), and in need of some serious exercise to get me back into fitness. But I've not shrunk any, I'm still 5ft 11.5 inches (never quite 6ft ;-))

She understood the stress and eating habits I've gotten myself into over the last few years, and appreciated why things are the way they are. Of course, that's now another person who's got the target I've set myself - 13 stone by my 34th birthday - so I guess I'm really going to have to give this a go!

Anyway, I'm off for a kebab and chips.... ;-)

Training The Trainer!

Primavera Authorised Trainer
Started my updated training for the next release of Primavera, release 5.0. It's part of the Authorised Internal Trainer agreement, attending the course and getting updated on the latest developments in Primavera software.

I'm actually here because the food is outstanding :-p O'Briens Irish Sandwich Bar is where it's supplied from, and the variety is fantastic.

Must remember, I'm here to learn, not grow ;-)

A Right Good Cry


Not had one for a long time. But, while down the cemetry today, the floodgates opened. It's now 16 months since she died, and over 2 years since she left for her second op. Just realising that not so long ago I'd have been coming home to Jules after Friday night. Getting a right earful, and probably ending up in shock on the Saturday morning wondering where she was, as she'd slept in the back room away from the drunken letch!! Not feeling lonely, but just having that someone who's there, no matter what, and without explaination. Because that's what love's all about.

And out on Friday we were reminicsing about how Carl had taught her some less that appropriate Italian when she was starting to speak again after the op. And in talking to some of Carl's friends, realising I've known Carl and Maria for over 8 years now.

Just makes you realise how quick time flies. And why it's important to get on with what you want to do, rather than dither around in a world of indecision. As tomorrow could, unfortunately, be your last day. And you don't want your last words to be, "Owh, bugger..."


If you remember, 2 years ago, Jules organised a surprise trip on a steam train to Scarborough. A long journey, but for those steam buffs, a trip behind an A4 class, or a train what looks like the Mallard if you're a bit confused ;-)

Well, they've obviously got our names on the database, as the latest trip brochure came through the other day. And it's on once more, but this time later in the year in December.

Anyone interested in a trip on a steam train? Wine, cheese, and a few hours sampling the real ales of York? And maybe the National Railway Museum for those who've not been ;-)

Fun Under The Car

Spent most of the day working on the car, sorting the water pipes that burst on the way back from Hull, and the leak on the exhaust. Which has gotten steadyly louder and louder the past week.

Water pipes was fun, it turns out just about everything is rusted and corroded. But it's not leaking water anymore, and seems to be keeping cool. Just need to sort out the anti-freeze mix. So that'll be a job for next weekend ;-)

The exhaust? Well, having thought it was a leaking gasket, it turns out most of the noise is coming from the infamous front joint. Which works loose with all the vibration and so causing leaks. Lots of exhaust assembly putty, and a tightening of the joint, and noises stopped :-D

So, off to the cemetry and Asda. Noise comes back :-(

The joints loose again. Jack up the car, and this time tighten the clamp with my breaker bar. And it ain't shifting now ;-)

Owh The Post-Aftershock

So who's bright idea was it to drink Aftershock last night??

Carl's leaving do for work, he's only moving offices really, but any excuse for a drink and night out. And I'd not been over to Letchworth for ages. Forgotten how easy and cheap it is getting there too. Only £3 on the train, and there's 2 trains after last orders. Which I'm sure is a HUGE improvement on the past.

Hogshead was the venue, and we stayed there pretty much all night, until closing. Bumped into lots of people I've not seen for ages, and even had me bum pinched :-D, which I can't remember happening in god knows when, by a cute young lady, who it turned out, had a boyfriend (they always do, don't they ;-)).

Then off to Hitchin and memory loss. And phone loss, owh, and money loss :-O Thankfully Janet was around to collect me, and Chris, who was over Hitchin with friends. Otherwise goodness only knows what would've happened ;-)

A corking night, and a great start to the weekend. Will have to get the Brothers Bell over there next time they're down.

Exciting Airfix News

Okay, so this isn't going to be exciting for most of you, dear readers, but certainly for myself, and possibly the Landlord ;-):

Test shots of resin mould of Airfix TSR.2
Test shots of Airfix Spitfire MkIXc

Reminds me of the hedy days of A-level studies and spending many a study period down at Humbrol looking at the latest releases with the R&D man, Trevor Snowden. It was like an Aladdin's cave, with all the new and re-released kits in various stages of build, strewn across Trev's desk ;-) I'd then take them home, build them up, as well as trying out new paints, and some rather smelly glues. I even had the task of fixing up some of the huge range of display models before and after the shows.

The Spitfire is a gorgeous kit already, and this latest one was to be a cut and shut job, using the new wing made for the earlier 1:48th releases (Seafire and F22/24). But it looks like they've binned that idea and gone for a completely new fuselage. I've still got the 1:72 scale Mk1a I built as a kid. And amongst the stash, a 1:24th scale Spit. Beautiful aircraft. Might even take one into work and replace my modern desk models with a proper plane ;-)

Rumour is that the 10,000 run for TSR.2 is sold out, and there's demand for 14,500 at the last count :-O Again, a fantastic looking aircraft, and if it hadn't been cancelled, would've made the British aerospace industry a very different place to what it is now.

No Money To Speak Of

It's not surprising, given the ease in getting silly amounts of credit, and that more of us are single, working-age adults with no dependants. News then that it's becoming the UK's biggest group living in poverty:

Of course, I always question the measure of poverty. For example, at one time it was based on, amongst other things, the number of TV's in a house. If you had more than 1 you were well off. But with the huge amount of credit freely available, you can buy TV's for every room. Still haven't been to a house that has one in the toilet, but I'm sure "Mad Mike" of MTV's Pimping fame has already looked at squeezing one of his famous 7 inch monitors in his WC ;-)

It still shocked me recently, realising that I'd sufficent credit on all my accounts, cards, and loans, to give me nearly double my annual salary. And that's not even including a mortgage, something I doubt I'll be in a position of doing anytime soon.

Not surprising then to hear that we're all going to be poorer in our old age than our parents.

Popping Up


Not sure if this is why, but I've noticed a couple of times now that pop-ups are appearing on the site. Digging a little into the Terms for Nedstat's counter, it appears that it could be them :-(

With the installation of Webstats4U on the site it is accepted that WMS has the right to place advertisements on the site in any format or through any channel, including but not limited to e-mail, layer ads, pops, banners and other usual formats without any forewarning and it is furthermore accepted that WMS takes no responsibility for the advertising content and that WMS shall not be liable for any losses incurred regarding this advertising.

So, if you're getting random pop-ups when you come to the site, or leave, can you post me a comment. And if it gets beyond a joke, I'll look elsewhere for a counter ;-)

Smaller is Hotter!

News that Sony are having problems with their PS2 power adaptors. It seems that as our desire for smaller and smaller packaging increases, so does the risk of overheating and power problems. This comes off the back of both Apple and Microsoft having trouble with their respective products (Powerbook, Xbox).

My works laptop gets so hot it's not really something you would want to have on your lap. Although the later model that's starting to appear does run much cooler. Hopefully, if my laptop dies for the 4th time this year I can convince them to replace it with a newer model. Least then I can sit at the airport and work on it, without setting fire to my trousers!

No More Fords!

Good news for work hire cars - Ford have sold off Hertz. So, hopefully there'll be more variety, like when we used Avis. There's been stories of Jags and Mercs being given out for hire, but I've never been lucky enough to have one. Whereas with Avis I remember having everything from a Alfa T-spark right thro to a Mini Metro ;-)

Bad Tackle

Watching the news last night, I caught the tail end of a story about an Argentinian football match which turned into a riot:

Sounded pretty serious, saying he's lost part of his lung. He'd gone over to the police to try and calm the situation, only to be shot at near point blank range :-O

Did It Again

Woke up this morning, didn't bother to start watching the cricket, looks like Australia have it in the bag yesterday.

Surprise, surprise at lunchtime :-O Looks like a complete turn around yet again. It has to be the most exciting series ever :-D

British Gas Up Again

Whilst other suppliers are staying the same, good old British Gas are on the up once more.

Surprisingly, my bank is now doing gas and electric, which came as a surprise when I was in there sorting my finances out during my bi-annual "I'm going to switch banks, what can you do to stop me?" ;-)

Time to switch again ;-)

Upgrading Your Brain

Proof that the brain is evolving, so a group of University scientists have found:

'Proof' our brains are evolving

What's fascinating is the speed at which these 2 new gene variants have evolved. And how it's suggesting that they have an influence on the size of the brain, i.e. human's have had some sort of expansion upgrade ;-)

Medical News

Interesting bit of news on the so-called MRSA pandemic

MRSA 'brought back' into hospital

When Jules was in hospital the second time round there were a number of outbreaks. Always affecting the patients around her, but never her. But, interestingly, the staff would always say that the cleaning and aprons were to protect the patients from us, not us from the patients. So, reading this news reaffirms the point that cleanliness at home is as important as when at hospital. Hospital's can be the cleanest places in the world, but if we don't all follow the same rules, it's pointless.

The other bit of news, this time on breast cancer research, is kind of odd:

Daily stress stops breast cancer

All research on cancer I've come across always suggests as a preventative measure to try and reduce stress. In fact, most medical advice on any aliment suggests stress causes problems. So its interesting to read that regular doses of stress are a good thing, and acute stress, for example a bereavement, is a bad thing.

Of course, this doesn't mean I can double my workload and take on the helm more often because it's a healthly thing to do, in case anyone from work is reading this ;-)

So It Wasn't Just Me...

So after my comments earlier in the week about all these recent plane crashes, news out from Boeing that 737 owners need to check something:

Boeing alert after fears that crash jet pilots misread warning signal

Lets hope that's all it was.

It's Getting Warmer

Reading up on the BBC about a recent survey on soil temperatures:

Warmer soils add to climate worry

It would appear that, as the climate changes and winter's are not as cold as they used to be, the soil is slowly warming up and releasing carbon dioxide. Of course, this has a big effect on climate change calculations, which currently don't take this into consideration.

So, rather than a slow change to climate, it could be a rather more rapid one. The impact of all the extra carbon dioxide from our lifestyles is causing further carbon dioxide from the ground.

All the results are under scrutiny, but it could be a exponential problem, rather than a more linear one as first thought.


News that Lego's loosing money, and considering moving it's production to the Far East to save costs:

Lego to shift production overseas

Only recently they sold off the theme parks to an investor. So things aren't looking particularly good for what was a staple part of any toy cupboard when I was a kid.

I suppose, like with Airfix and Hornby, it's not the first thing that kids these days scream for :-( It's interesting watching Hornby's moves into the realm of detailed modelling, rather than toys, with more and more expensive and realistic trains and cars. And with an increase revenue, they're now off buying up the Eurpean competition, most recently Lima, another model train maker I remember as a kid.

Airfix too, with a shift into the wargaming market with some fantastic kits, the returns from which, I hope, will be ploughed back into the plastic models business to rebuild it back. We will have to see how the rather bold model of TSR.2 fairs in a couple of months when released. Airfix have sold out, at least, to a distributor. Of course, that doesn't mean the market has said yes, so there's every chance that, like the footballers effort, it could go up in smoke :-(

NOTE: The Lego website is a bit worrying, hope they sort that one out :-O


At least, that's the best way to describe Craig's night. Was getting him to sort me exhaust, except he's been up all night with the missus - she's had a baby :-D

Is It Just Me...

or are there a lot of planes falling out of the sky at the moment?

Indonesia jet crashes on take-off

Seems to be one a week looking at the recent news.

The Day After The Night Before!

What a night :-D

A HUGE 14 seater limo took us all round the town, before dropping us off down Bev Road. Then met up with Bailey, Wendy, Mike, Hollie n Smiler (beef soooup ;-)), as well as the usual suspects, in The Old Picture House. Which used to be a cinema, many, many moons ago. It's one thing that's noticable, that a lot of the old shops and buildings are becoming pubs, clubs, and smart tasty restuarants ;-)

Many drinks there, then over to The Bevvy for a few (was MEGA busy in there), and then down to Mainbrace for last orders at 1am. No idea what happened after that, and still a little bruised and shellshocked today :-O

Pictures to follow, once I've gotten them uploaded ;-)

Back In Hull

Up North for Nige's birthday, we're all off out tonight for a few beers. Also a chance to catch up with everyone from the Agoonoree crowd. So a good night for all :-D

A few surprises are planned, a big one in particular, which, hopefully, Nige ain't expecting ;-)

They've Finished

Reading on Kieran & Ant's blog, and they've finished :-D

What a trip! As Jonathan's commented, quite a few broken spokes, which is unusual. But, and this is great, they've smashed their fundraising target for the Garden House Hospice in Letchworth, which is fantastic :-D :-D :-D



So, getting this place listed and out on the web proper :-D

I've now registered with Technorati, one of the weblog searching sites. Hopefully, soon, a nice little graphic will appear down on the right. And it'll give some new functions, such as seeing where this place is linked to and from.

Watch this space, as they say ;-)

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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