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Saturday, 30 April 2016

1604.30 EARLY STAR WARS DAY

Morticia is of out with friends so I will be home with Rags. We've decided to have the household premiere of STAR WARS - THE FORCE AWAKENS. We haven't seen it since the cinema back in December.

We've also been to Iceland for a microwave curry. We're all set for an afternoon in front of the TV. I'm looking forward to seeing it again and re-appreciating the whole phenomenon. After this showing I'll be watching and analyzing ready for the next movie.

I know it's not Star Wars Day until Wednesday but it's the perfect opportunity to enjoy in peace (Morticia hates Star Wars). The curtains will be drawn and the phone on silent.

1604.30 LET'S DISQUS

I'm constantly trying to improve my blogging experience and management. To this end I've been experimenting with Disqus, a 3rd party commenting system, to manage my comments (or rather your comments). Since I do most of this on my smartphone it would help that I can keep the comments together and respond / manage with ease.

It was a bit fiddly to set up but it seemed to work ok on both mobile and desktop formats. At the moment I have it disabled although I may activate it later today, I'm still not sure.

My worry is that the change would be detrimental for my current readers, you guys. You can still use your Google account as well as other authentication methods (like Facebook) but it does ask you to set up a password for a basic Disqus account.

I do love receiving comments, makes me feel like I'm not shouting into the void.


Supplemental 14:57; Disqus is now live as the comments engine. I'll be evaluating it fully over the next week. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

1604. 28 THE GRIZZLY

Since the back end of last year I've been growing my beard. It has until last week become very thick and bushy. It's been great fun caring and grooming it over the winter.

The beard at its bushiest
It's getting to that time of year where it starts to get warmer (although you wouldn't think that with the cold snap we're currently experiencing) so I thought it'd be best to trim it down a little. As it goes I've left the length but it's not got the bushiness. I may keep thinning it down as the seasons continue but I'm really thinking of making it a seasonal thing,  so from the end of the year it grows until the summer? 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

1604.25 INIE OR OUTIE?

I'm a big advocate of using your democratic right to vote. People throughout history have fought and died for this right. Besides it's your licence to moan. You have no place moaning about current events if you did nothing to help control them (however insignificantly).

My dilemma is to to with Europe. This in or out referendum has me confused. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for advice on which way to cast my vote, if I wanted that I'd ask Barrack Obama(!) The problem is there are no hard facts, just opinions. These opinions are often offered as personal attacks on the 'other side'.

I have some homework to do on this since I know it's my duty to vote and the last thing I want to do is waste it listening to the views of megalomaniacs and xenophobes.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

1604.23 CHINESE PHONE

I've been looking through my blog posts for when I last renewed my mobile phone contract. It looks like I didn't share that event which is a shame since I would have liked to look at how I felt about the device back then.

Back in late 2014 I upgraded my LG Nexus 4 (which I'd been having issues with poor battery life) to the new LG G3 complete with 'circle case'. It's been a great phone although it became laggy at the back end of last year which I fixed with a factory reset and restore. A couple of months ago the SD card slot stopped working then this week, without notice, it began random rebooting, the WiFi and Bluetooth packed up. I tried everything to save the device from a premature demise. Sadly I failed and with the battery only lasting a couple of hours (it wasn't a battery fault, that was one of the many things I checked) it was time to source a replacement.

I was limited in my selection but I am now the owner of a OnePlus 2, a Chinese branded phone that's still fairly new to the market. I wasn't prepared for the quality of this device, the build is exceptional as are the features. There have only been a few devices (that I've owned) which have had that 'premium' feel, this is defiantly up there with them. For the record those devices were the Nokia E71, iPhone 4 and the Nexus 4. It's pretty much a stock Android experience with a couple of tweeks, which I prefer.

It's early days but so far I'm impressed.

Pictures from GSMarena.com

Thursday, 21 April 2016

1604.21 HAPPY BIRTHDAY MA'AM

I'm not a massive royal fan, not as much as Morticia, but I'd be pretty heartless if I didn't wish the old dear a happy 90th birthday.


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

1604.20 REST IN PEACE SIR

As I get older I'm aware that people in my past are dying, it's sadly a fact of life. I assume that some in my past are gone, others (that I'm not in contact with) maybe still with us. It always comes as a shock when you read that someone from your past has sadly died. This happened to me this week when I came across this article. It was about my old biology teacher who passed away earlier this month. I remember Mr Houghton as being a strict but fair teacher. I remember we called him 'Mini Hitler' and noticed his jacket pockets were always stuffed with chocolate (he obviously had a sweet tooth). The other quirk was the fact that that he had his signature on a rubber stamp that he used for school reports and when marking work.

Picture: tabletennisengland.co.uk/
I didn't know about his table tennis coaching, but it's not my thing.

Rest in peace Sir.

Monday, 18 April 2016

1604.18 LITTLE PAINTED BIKE

Cycling infrastructure is generally (in my opinion of course) just a tick box for my local councils. I cycle all over South Yorkshire and whilst sometimes there is a well planned cycle lane most of the time the council get around the provision by painting a bike symbol onto the path to create a 'shared use' path. On the whole I don't think that bikes belong on footpaths (although I'm not going to get into the issue on cyclists using footpaths). When councils put these in and a cyclist continues to use the road, which they are perfectly entitled to, they are open to abuse from motorists who then mistakenly believe that the bike must use the path provided. I'm not a fan of mingling bikes with pedestrians, it's dangerous for both parties. I'd much rather have a solution that mixes with traffic.
Shared use path, City Rd
photo: Google Streetview
Then there are badly thought out cycle lanes, the internet is full of them. Some are comedy gold but that's not a good thing. After all people's lives are at risk and I really think that town planners are not aware of this. Cycle lanes should be used to protect vulnerable cyclists from dangerous conditions (such as the infamous pinch points I've mentioned before). 

So my message to the planners is...  Stop with the tick box infrastructure. If you can't put in a bit of decent cycle lane then don't bother, just don't.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

1404.17 ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE?

I wasn't sure about writing this but it needs to be said, or I need to say it. When a work colleague is hurt whilst doing their job it affects us all. It's a sad time for us all. The government cuts have hit our organisation hard and some are saying that this may be a factor in this incident. All I'm going to say at this time is that I wish my colleague a speedy recovery and that they are in my thoughts.

I keep what I do close to my chest and intend to keep it that way. What I do is irrelevant. Anyone that knows me in the real world will know and may understand what I'm saying and why.

Friday, 15 April 2016

1604.14 MY POOR GIRL

As I've previously mentioned, last week I was ill. At the same time so was Morticia, she suffers from a chronic condition which means that any bug that the rest of us may contact effects her probably tenfold. So, although she does try to look after me when I'm struck down, this ends up making her worse.

Maybe that's the cause of her relapse this week, I don't know. All I know it's that I've watched her suffer and I've been helpless except for just trying to make her comfortable. Doctors so far have been pointless, they fob her off every time.

She's on the mend slowly, not that when she's better things will be great, she still has her condition to live with.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

1604.12 OFF THE SICK

07:18 -  It's my first day back to work after a week off sick and I find myself on the bus. I left my bike at work when I was sent home last week, if I'm honest I'm kind of glad as I'm not up to 100% health yet. I leave Morticia at home, she's had a relapse (she was poorly before I was) and is really struggling. All I can do is make sure she's comfortable and check in on her throughout the day.

07:31 - I usually beat the bus into work. It's frustrating sitting in traffic.

07:36 - I'm off the bus. I've a 10 minute walk to my place of work. The walk takes me past the building I had my very first job.

07:51 - And I've arrived. Plenty of time before briefing at 8am. I've got 8 hours to get through and that time to decide whether I'm going to cycle home or catch the bus.

16:00 - All done and I got through the day. Decided I'm going to cycle home, I'm just dying to get back on a bike.

The view from my ride home
The ride home was good (a little on the slow side) but I got home feeling a little more tired than usual but that's to be expected. I'm not back up to full strength yet but I'm on my way.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

1604.10 NATIONAL POLYESTER

It's a bit of a tradition in our house to have a little flutter on the Grand National. We aren't a gambling household and apart from the odd EuroMillions rollover and Morticia's odd bingo outing we don't do betting. We usually pick 5 horses and bet £1 each to win. None of us know anything about horse racing so everything else aside we chose based on the name only.

The thing is none of the horses we choose usually win (or even finish). This year though the horse Morticia picked was the winner - Rule The World. It came in at 33/1 which gave us a winning of £34!

It's a shame some of her friends on Facebook couldn't have been pleased for her, a couple got on their 'high horse' (excuse the pun) about the ethics of horse racing.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

1604.08 POORLY SICK

It started last weekend with a light tickle at the back of my throat. I initially dismissed it, thought I could just push through. I haven't been 'sick' since I was hospitalised in a cycling accident in late 2014 and appart from a bit of a sniffle I've been feeling in the best of health.

I cycled to work for a late shift on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday was hard work, I was really starting to flag. 

Wednesday I cycled to work and felt like death when I got there. No one fancied working with me since I was deemed to be 'infectious'. I was advised to go home. There was no way I was going to use the bike since it nearly killed me on the way in. I went for the bus.

Why did I even go in to work when I was feeling so bad? Because of the cycling accident (mentioned earlier) my sickness record isn't the best. It's on a 3 year cycle so I'd hoped that if I could manage till the end of the year I'd be in the clear. It's the pressure most people feel when they need to take a few days to get better. I ended up taking 2 days off and with a 3 day weekend ahead I hope that'll be ample time to get over it.

Getting better isn't as straightforward as going to bed for a few days. As a parent and a carer I still have stuff to do, meals to prepare and tidying to do (despite what Morticia says!). I have been managing quite a few naps in between.

Supplemental 1604.10;
Yesterday was a strange day. In the morning I felt really ill, worse than I had all week. In the afternoon Morticia wanted to go out for a bite to eat since she'd been stuck in the house all week. Even though I wasn't in great shape we went out to the nearest Wetherspoon pub (the one in Meadowhall). The food came within minutes of ordering but was far from ideal. Most of it was cold and the chicken I ordered was dryer than cardboard. Considering I wasn't feeling my best this wasn't what I needed. I left most of it (Morticia did the same). When they collected the plates we told them about our dissatisfaction, they offered us a free drink which we declined. We moved on to The Riverside (on our way home), it was here I threw up (in the big white telephone). About 20 minutes later I felt the illness flow away as if a valve had been released. Whilst I'm not back at 100% I feel I'm at 85% and climbing. This morning I'm feeling positive. I'm confident 'normal service' will be resumed shortly. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

1604.06 A TEAR FOR MY DAUGHTER

Facebook has this feature where it shows you old stuff. I'm not very active on the old book of face but I keep with it as it keeps me in touch with certain people. This week it threw up this one from my eldest daughter Harley... 


It was unexpected and it took me by surprise, I shed a tear. She's never far from my thoughts, wherever she is. 

For anyone who doesn't know our relationship with our eldest has been very rocky for many years which culminated in her leaving home at 16. She came home last year only to leave again (without explanation). To this day we have no idea where she lives. 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

1604.03 CYCLING AT THE EDGE OF ILLNESS

I was in 2 minds whether to go cycling with the club today or not. Last night I sensed a prickly sensation in the back of my throat and this morning it was a little worse. It wasn't really on my chest so I thought I'd head out anyway, after all I could always head back if I didn't feel up to it.

It was quite a large group up at the meeting point but quite a number of them were off to conquer Holme Moss. I wasn't up to that so I headed off with the remaining to Knottingley.

It was a good ride, I didn't let the beginning of some illness slow me down. We visited the Farmer's Kitchen at Brears Farm.
The ride home was good, I almost forgot about my throat. When I got home I realised I was more exhausted than I would expect. I knew this tickle was going get me in the end.

By the evening I felt dreadful.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

1604.02 A DAY IN THE PEAKS

The plan was to get out today (since I have an extra couple of days off). Morticia hasn't been well all week so the Easter holidays have been a bit rubbish for Rags.

Last night was a late one because (a) I was on a late afternoon shift, and (b) there was a power cut at 12:50am this morning which caused our alarm to beep constantly (and a neighbours one to go off).

The weather forecast was good but upon opening the curtains this morning wasn't so good. It was raining. On the weather forecast this morning it appears that a band of rain was sitting further south than anticipated. So we decided to wait a little longer before venturing out.

Around 1pm we set off deciding to head to Castleton. We're lucky that we have the Peak Park on our doorstep.


A photo posted by CaptainKirt™ (@captainkirt) on



Castleton is a beautiful place tucked away in the Hope Valley overlooked by Perrivel Castle. The hills are home to some interesting caverns like the Devil's Arse and Speedwell. We had a little wander before having some food in the 'Old Cheshire Cheese Inn'. 

Afterwards we drove over to Bakewell and had a couple of drinks in the Red Lion. When we left the pub it was dark so we decided to have a walk through the church yard before heading home. Rags befriended a local cat whilst admiring the church building (we are all fans of gothic architecture). 

We drove home through the darkness whilst Rags stared at the stars through the car's glass roof. 

1604.02 NEW SHIFTS

It's been a number of years since we've seen a change in our shift pattern at work. I suppose with all the cuts and people we've lost a change was inevitable. We found out about the new shifts at the beginning of the year (we are entitled to 90 days notice). The biggest difference will be moving from a 4 week to a 3 week rotation. It also means more weekend work but less late finishes. I have no choice but to embrace the change and get on with it, after a short time nobody will notice the difference.