Good Sailing opportunity!

i-bc3c592c39309c57bdcbc791f0b48c7b-morningstar-sailingship.jpgI haven’t posted here for a long time as I’ve been busy on other projects, but this is a quick sharing of a very good sailing opportunity (which I’d take up myself if I wasn’t working). Too many words to include on facebook and twitter!

Morning Star Trust (Sail training ship) Vacancies on board
7 day or a 5 day sailing trip with us for just 99 ! This is a special price to fill the last few places on the boat

(From the newsletter I get)…
– action please: (from Ted) We have some great news, people can come on a
7 day or a 5 day sailing trip with us for just 99 ! This is a special price to fill the last few places on the boat on the Normandy Wine Run (14th-20th May) and the the Channel Islands Adventure (23rd-27th May).

The only problem is that people don’t know about it!
You are by far the most effective way for them to find out. A recommendation from a friend carries more weight than any advert these days.

Could you make your friend’s year by emailing them or putting out a Facebook message or Tweet, telling them about these discounts and giving them the link to the brochure, which is
http://www.morningstar.org.uk/images/MSTBrochure2011.pdf
The brochure still shows the trips at 330 and 240 respectively, so please let them know that about the last minute deal. Thank you. I know you are busy people, but this seems to be the best way to help Morning Star Trust serve people

(Quick addition from me: I loved sailing on this ship as a teenager. It’s where I learnt about halyards, bowline knots, how to make pasta and cheese and so many other great things and memories – I recommend you all inundate them with bookings right now!)

Happy new year!

Happy new year everyone!

It may be apparent I’ve not been typing a lot lately. Well, I have, just not in the blog. Having caught up with work and other real life fun things I’m hoping to post several entries that are overdue. Before I do that, some suitable geek humour that had me in fits of laughter (good job I’m the only one in the office).

Sandwich
from: http://xkcd.com/149/

(funnier for me perhaps, ’cause sudo refers to the ‘root’ user…. hey, it’s geek humour, it’ll mean nothing to 99% of the population so you’ll not be perfectly normal not to understand it)

Laughing Horse? It's a comedy club a friend was performing at…

How do you spell “hungry horse” in 4 letters?

M T G G

Now you know why I’m not a comedian, but when my Nan told me that joke I thought it was very funny. Well, actually, she had to explain that another name for horse was gee-gee which is why I remembered it so I guess I didn’t find it funny.

Still, the reason for the bad joke was a weekend or two ago Rhonda and I went to London for the evening to see a comedy show. It began as a west end musical but the phone line of the show said they’d sold out for every Saturday. Then I remembered my friend Richard. I’ve known Richard for many years, first as a talented script writer, more recently as an Actor and Comidian. True, I’d seen more of him on TV in recent years than face to face but I’d never seen his comedy. From his myspace page I found out he was going to be at a comedy club that same weekend so I booked to go and see him. All of this was a bit of a surprise to Rhonda, this was a romantic weekend away complete with posh hotel. Best of all, I discovered comedy clubs are cheaper than west end shows.

This particular gig was organised by the Laughing Horse comedy club “Upstairs at the Old Goat Tavern” not far off… was it Oxford Street? I’m terrible with London places. Anyway, the upstairs room was about 8m long by 4m wide and comfortably seated all 20 or so of the audience. Intimate? Yes, giving me the feeling it would be very good or very bad.

It turned out to be very good. Richard told me afterwards that this sort of venue is great for testing out material before using it in bigger clubs. There were about 8 performers and a compare who was funny in his own right. I felt that the performances were lined up in order of ability, best last. Although, that may be simply the audience had warmed up more as the evening went on. Come to think of it, there may be a correlation between the amount of Ale drunk and how funny I remember people being.

Best of all, Richard was funny. When I booked I hadn’t considered the possibility of him being rubbish and then having to be honest with him afterwards. Rhonda enjoyed it too, we’ll definately go again.

Pure highway in car DAB radio – time to play with my prize!

What better thing to be done on a day off than play with the Pure Highway DAB radio that I won. So on a sunny afternoon I took the box into the car and unpacked it like a 6 year old unpacking toys on Christmas day.

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So here it is in the box, in the car. Ever get the feeling you’re taking too many photos of things not very interesting? Yeah, we’ll move on then.

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The way it connects to the windscreen holder is clever. It’s a magnet on the holder side. Though quite secure only one thing worries me – putting the holder in my rucksack near my laptop. Hard disks don’t like magnets very much and even though the radio itself is obviously OK I really will have to be careful. I guess the trick is to put the holder under the car seat and only take the laptop and radio with me from the car. I’m sure leaving the holder on the windscreen is just asking to have a window broken in some areas of the country.

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The next challenge is where to put it. First i thought to the right side of the steering wheel but it seemed a little big there.

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Then I thought in the middle which happens to be where my GPS phone lives. It’s OK there but I thought I might be able to find a better position. Both of these positions mean that I’d have to remove the radio every time I left the car in a public place – perhaps there’s a position where I could leave it permanently yet out of site and within easy reach?

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How about the roof? I could live without the sunglasses holder and maybe find an extra long power lead….

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Still not happy, maybe I could stick it to the dashboard above the parrot car kit display? Not there either, it would cover the air vents. OK, time to give up for now. Might as well check it works before I decide where to stick it.

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So, my car has an ‘Aux’ connection in the glove box that looked great when I spotted it but doesn’t actually work very well. I’ve tried connecting a 3.5mm Audio lead to it before from my phone and an iPod. It works sometimes, then sometimes gives audio to one speaker only, then sometimes cuts out completely. The 3.5mm plug fits but perhaps it’s a different size. I did try it again though and the DAB radio played through on the left channel only. So, the DAB works, time to see if the FM transmitter within it will do the job. On the plus side that means only two wires will need to be connected in use – the Aerial and the Power.

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The DAB radio may have been already set to use 107.9 as a broadcast channel. I tuned in and it worked first time. The only catch I found was when I turned it off to find 107.9 is the frequency for KMFM, a local station. The car radio quite happily reported PURE DAB as the station though and sound was crystal clear.

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So, back to the challenge of where to put the unit in the car. Maybe I could fix it above the rear view mirror?

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In the end I decided to mount it in the middle of the windscreen. I fixed the aerial to the left side of the windscreen. The instruction book said about 5 cm away from the side of the windscreen so I followed that advice. Usefully the box contained 5 sticky back cable holders so I fixed those to the windscreen to keep the cable under control. The one thing that I didn’t think so clever was the suggestion that the aerial be hooked to the windscreen mount. The windscreen mount will need to be removed when the car is left in public (at least, in some of the places I go the presence of a holder could be too tempting to a passing opportunist criminal) so that would mean hooking and unhooking the wire every time.

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Amongst the instructions was the very useful warning “Do not operate the unit while driving”. Perhaps that was also in the car radio’s instructions. I’m sure they mean – “don’t fiddle with it while driving, set it up then leave it alone and concentrate on the road”. However, the instruction do mention the need to retune the FM broadcast frequency from time to time on long journeys should there be interference from a local station so I can’t see how you could avoid fiddling with it.

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Finally it’s time to put it to use. I was going to Medway in the evening which is about a 30 minute drive. Radio station wise, I started with birdsong just for fun. It’s a station purely of birdsong, a little heavy on the cuckoo’s perhaps, but probably OK as background sounds. I quickly moved onto Radio 7 and Radio 6, purely because I can’t get them on FM. I settled on Radio 2 which is a bit of shame as I that I could do that using the FM band. At a couple of points on the journey I had to switch to another FM broadcast channel from the DAB unit to avoid interference, although technically I was probably interfering with their broadcast! I wonder how far the unit broadcasts? Maybe any cars passing me had their listening pleasure interupted with my choice of station.

I did find the unit wobbled a lot with the cars normal vibrations. The magnet held it on fine but the holder for my GPS phone is rock solid in comparison. Still, if I’m not meant to be operating it whilst driving I guess it doesn’t matter if it wobbles.

The unit has another plus too in that you can put batteries in it and use it as a portable DAB radio. Perhaps it doesn’t need the aerial when it’s outside the car but our home DAB alarm clock get’s nowhere near as many stations as this one does.

I guess the ultimate question is “If I didn’t win it, and I had the money and the desire to have more radio channel options in the car on long journeys, would I buy it?”. I’ve just looked at the alternatives because I hate the clutter of more things on the dashboard. I already hate to have the GPS phone mount and wires trailing to it. The alternative is to get a replacement for the car radio but to have DAB they seem to be in the order of 130 upwards, whereas Amazon are selling the Pure Highway DAB for 55 at the moment. The other thing I read is that a built in unit will need a new car aerial so it’s not something I’d make the effort to fit – so more expense and more parts to buy. I don’t have the worry about buying one then changing car in a couple of years though, we buy cars and keep them for a long time. So, if DAB radio was really important to me I’d buy a built in unit. However, it’s not. For the occasional long journey 55 is better value for money. So, if I didn’t win it and I had the money, yes, I’d buy it.

Red Mushroom, White Spots, found on my walk through the woods

Photo of a red mushroom with white spots
Red Mushroom with white spots

I love mushrooms. As an alternative to cheese (one of my other loved foods), I love mushroom sandwiches too. Bread is of course my other loved food. Yes, I’m a cheese sandwhich junkie first, mushroom sandwich junkie second.

Imagine my joy when walking through the woods to find this beauty. I’ve heard it said that most mushrooms in the UK are OK to eat… fortunately I don’t think ‘most’ is anywhere near a good enough probability ratio to experiment with. I did spend 10 minutes on my PDA accessing the internet to identify it but gave up and carried on walking. Having now looked up what this mushroom is, it’s an Amanita Muscaria and the website of “Rogers Mushrooms” give it an edibility rating of “Deadly”.

Perhaps the bright red cap with white spiky bits on top of the red are natures way of telling me “Red is danger, spiky bits mean danger too so you really don’t want to eat me Steve!”, that and I thought it looked like a friendly cartoon mushroom far to good to eat, happily growing in tree dappled sunshine.

Update: Steve in the comments section posted a link to a YouTube video from BBC Worldwide talking about this mushroom

If that was a small earthquake…

If that was a small earthquake, I never want to be in a big one!

For just a few seconds this morning (maybe 4) the building shook in a way buildings shouldn’t shake accompanied by a low rumbling sound. It actually felt like the building lent way from me while I sat at my desk but I would guess that’s just perspective playing tricks. I did get up and check the back to see something hadn’t driven or fallen onto it (tree perhaps?) but all seemed normal so I got back to work wondering if that was an earthquake.

Time to check the news services to find out about it:
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk
www.guardian.co.uk

La classe de franais

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Back row left to right: Irene, Lynda, Michle, Brigitte, Steve
Front row left to right: Rita, Mark, Jorge

Michle:bonjour tout le monde!
C’est un moment historique!
C’est la premire fois que Michle utilise un blogue!

Jorge:Se sour je pri une fote de la classe

Mark:J’aime boucoup votre site

Brigitte; je trouve cette classe trs sympa.

Rita.Je ne comprends rien encore.

Lyn: C’est la dernire classe et nous allons au pub

Irene bon voyage, a bien tot…..!

Welcome my first guest article writers for my blog.
My French teacher discovered my blog and made me talk about it in our French lesson – in French of course. OK, I didn’t need much persuading to talk about myself! The university rooms all have computers with internet connections and projectors. I decided to get them all to write something here themselves – easy when you know how.

Best foot forward

It’s been a week since I broke my foot and today is the first day I feel I can concentrate enough to get some work done. It seems my broken foot addled my brain slightly. I went back to the hospital this morning so they could have another look. They decided to put the foot in a plaster cast and have told me that in the next few days I should be able to walk short distances on it.
They modern cast is fibreglass rather than plaster of paris. When the roll of fibreglass is made wet it starts an exothermic reaction. The heat drys the fibreglass in minutes so a short push on my foot by Paul the technician and my foot is set in the best angle.
Now I’ve had both my wrists in plaster and one foot, I guess I can look forward to breaking the other foot one day in the future.