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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

1606.28 REMEMBER MSN

From time to time I get asked to fix / work out / play with technology for my friends and family. This week I was asked to give the 'kiss of life' to an aging laptop that belongs to a friend's mother. I got the old machine to boot up and noticed it still had old MSN Messenger on it. That got me reminiscing...

I've had computers since I was 13 years old but didn't connect to the internet until the early 2000s. Some of the first things I did when I got online was; start a blog, learn how to build a simple webpage, use MSN.


The wondrous world of text chatting to your mates (SMS texting was about but at 10p a message was restricted) and if you were lucky viewing them on a dark fuzzy image  if they had a webcam. This was the world of 56K dial up where you couldn't use your landline at the same time as being online. Also our PC was in the dining room so being online, whilst being digitally social was anti-social because you were away from the rest of the family.

I remember finishing a late shift and arriving home at 1am only to jump on the PC and chat away with everyone I'd just seen at work. These sessions could go on for hours with multiple conversations and group chatting.

Far cry from now with WhatsApp and the like in your hand on your mobile practically wherever you go. Always on internet and never being online. Is this a good or a bad thing though?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

1606.25 SIGH OF RELIEF

Following a ready bad day for our future yesterday I'd like to share some really good news we had this week. Some time ago I learned that planning permission had been sought to erect a number of flats on the land behind our house. I wrote about it here.

This week I learned that the planning has been REFUSED! I can't express the relief I feel at this news. It looks like the council agreed with mine and my neighbours concerns. They used similar wording to what I'd put in my objection like 'over development' etc.
Notice of refusal published on the local authority website
So now the land stays empty until the owner can come up with more acceptable plans. While they do I'll continue to enjoy the lovely view over the Don Valley.

Friday, 24 June 2016

1606.24 DAY OF RECKONING

Yesterday the United Kingdom voted in a referendum whether or not to leave or remain in the European Union.

I watched the polls close last night at 10pm then listened to opinions and predictions until the first few results were called. I'd spend the day touring a number of polling stations (as part of my job) and it was clear that the turnout was unprecedentedly high. As I went to bed there had already been a couple of shock results in favour of Leave.

I set my alarm for 6:50am to catch the result only to find that the result was already in and that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union.

In the two hours that followed the UK economy lost $350 BILLION. That’s equivalent to 40 years of EU contributions. Nigel Farage then came out and said it was a 'mistake' for Leave to claim there'd be £350M a week for NHS. Scotland (SNP) then said they may start looking for independence again and Northern Ireland may considering reunification.

How leave won the referendum

Then Prime Minister David Cameron came out to say he intended to step down following his support of the Remain cause.

I voted remain. I have always thought that the EU needed reform but I would have liked my country to be part of that process. I didn't like the focus of the Leave campaign on immigration and the hate some of their supporters expressed. I believe this vote was a reaction to austerity by the working classes against the elite and was sometimes twisted by the so called 'experts'.

I'm guessing that Boris Johnson positioned himself in the Leave camp so that if this eventuality played out he'd be favourite to be the next Conservative Party leader and thus Prime Minister. The idiots of this country love Boris, he's comedy gold and seen as a harmless buffoon but be warned - he's the UK equivalent of Donald Trump.

As it stands now I feel numb. I fear for the future for my children. I can only hope that whoever ends up in charge manages to keeps the country together and to negotiate trade links with the world. 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

1606.22 ID4 - DOUBLE BILL

I've never been into the movie review business and I'm not about to start. If you're looking for an in depth look into the new Independence Day movie you're in the wrong place. I'll be doing my usual Movie Review in Seven Words at the end of this post.

I've not been to the cinema in an age which is a bad show on my part for two reasons; (1) I love movies, they are my music, (2) I have an Unlimited Card which I haven't been utilising (basically I've been throwing money away). Today I intend to break that cycle, when I heard that there was a double bill featuring the classic 1996 film Independence Day together with the new sequel, Independence Day - Resurgence, I jumped at the chance to reboot my cinema going ways.
I went with my best mate Mr C who picked me up (he has a company car). We weren't able to park in the complex (Valley Centertainment) car park as the neighbouring Sheffield Arena had Lionel Richie playing and complex security never stop arena patrons from parking (thus avoiding arena parking charges). We parked in my work car park which is only a short walk away (about 15 minutes). 

The original movie was shown in an extended version and really benefited from the big screen (I have the DVD but it's not the same). The credits rolled at about 23:30 which gave us 30 minutes to use the facilities and grab a second overpriced drink.
First movie ends
The new movie was in 3D and the most noticeable thing was the quality of resolution compared to the old one. The presentation finished just after 2am, we then had the walk over to pick up the car. By the time I got into bed it was 2:40, my alarm was set for 6:10am - I knew the next day was going to be difficult. 

The Captain's Movie Review
in Seven Words... 

GREAT SCI-FI ACTION, ORIGINAL STILL LOADS BETTER. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

1606.21 CRAVING ADVENTURES

Yesterday I had cause to visit a camping shop. My daughter is off to her Cadets camp this weekend so we had to get some supplies.



Rags at Cadets
I found myself in the tents section even though I had no need to be there (we were looking at sleeping bags and mats etc). I haven't been camping since I was a teenager since Morticia wouldn't ever entertain the activity. I found myself yearning for an adventure. Loading my bike up and venturing out on the open road and pitching up at a site for an evening before venturing on.

I know others who have been on such expeditions. Can I make this happen? I think I'd like to share the experience with a willing participant.

Monday, 20 June 2016

1606.20 BABY SEA MONKEYS

Since I last reported by Sea Monkeys have been busy. The other morning I checked the little aquarium to find loads of tiny little sea monkeys swimming amongst the 6 adults. Not sure how that's going to pan out but there is potential for a few new friends for my aquatic pets.


Then yesterday I observed 2 of the adults swimming together, on checking a few sea monkey websites (there are a few) my suspicions were confirmed. My sea monkeys are mating, apparently they can be coupled together for days!! 

A photo posted by CaptainKirt™ (@captainkirt) on

So there is a chance that there could be even more babies after this latest litter grows up.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

1606.19 IT'S FATHER'S DAY

Father's Day in my opinion is a very important day. It celebrates male role models that are sometimes sadly lacking in some children's lives. I'm a firm believer that dad's are an important part of a person's life. Good dad's need to be celebrated and that is what today is all about.

Sadly I've not been on great terms with my dad for some years so today, for me, is just a 'one way street'. I'm not going to linger on the matter - let's just get on with the day.

I am lucky to be the father to 2 beautiful daughters. Anyone who's read my blog for a while will probably know that my eldest doesn't live with us anymore and is not in touch. This is solely her choice and we wait with a metaphorical open door. My youngest is poles apart, she is the light in my darkness and my hope for the future. She is a mature and caring young lady who makes me proud to be her father.

My morning starts with breakfast in bed. Rags insists even if I have to wait an eternity for it! My cards and gifts come next.

My little girl knows me too well. 
We had a little trip out later to Hathersage, had a walk around the church yard (quick visit to Little John's grave) before visiting the Scotsmans Pack Inn. Later, and closer to home, we enjoyed a carvery dinner. 


There are a couple of other pics over on my Instagram

I only wish my eldest daughter had elected to be part of today. Sadly, so far, I haven't heard from here. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

1606.17 DEATH OF AN MP

It was really sad news yesterday to hear about the vicious murder of MP Jo Cox. It's still early in the investigation but the thought of being killed because you hold public office is frightening. She was the first sitting MP to be murdered since the 1990. A man is in custody, described as a loner with 'mental health issues'.


This is a crime fueled by hate, there seems to be a lot of that around lately.
“While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.
Jo Cox’s first speech as an MP 
BBC News story here.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

1606.16 EBOOKS AND PAPERBACKS

I enjoy reading, however I struggle to get time to read. By the time I stop at the end of the day I tend to start dropping off to sleep. I read when I can which usually means grabbing an odd few minutes here and there, especially the meal break at work. To this end it's not really convenient for me to carry a physical book around with me. I am thankful for the chance to be able to carry a book around with me wherever I go. Smartphones mean I have all the books I ever need in my hand.

I have 2 apps on my phone for books, the Kindle app and I have an app that allows me to borrow and read books from my local library (Overdrive).

The Kindle Bookshelf
Some people I find get really snooty about ebooks stating the look, feel and even smell of 'real books' as the reason to snub them. Surely the point of reading is the words on the page? The story? I think the act of reading is the most important and the medium is only secondary. I usually find many of those people that cite this argument are sometimes the ones that rarely read. But let's look at the advantages;

  • You can read wherever you are, you always have a book with you.
  • You can buy/try a new book anywhere.
  • All the popular reading apps sync between devices.

Yes there is certain books, especially if you are a collector or there is a specific book you just need to 'have' to physically keep. I get that. But reading is reading and I use the format that suits me the best.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

1606.13 FLAT CAP

My hair (at least the stuff on my head) said goodbye a long time ago. The stuff that's left I shave off. That's all good, I have no problem with it but what about the elements outdoors? The cold, the heat, the wind and the sun. Some time ago I decided I needed a 'do it all' bit of headwear that would protect against it all.

Baseball caps are not me. I'd look like a dick in a baseball cap. Fedoras or similar? No. Beanie hats are only good for the cold. What about the Norse helmet I wear in my cartoon alterego? Sadly I don't thing that would be socially acceptable even though I bet I'd rock the look. Then I tried the flat cap. When I first tried one on they weren't as fashionable as they have become recently so I was a little apprehensive. What do you know, it was perfect. Cool in the summer, shielding my delicate bonce from the sun and warm in the winter, protection from harsh cold weather.

Since that time I have amassed quite a collection. The latest was added this week. Morticia bought it for me from Camden whilst she was away last week.
My newest flat cap

Sunday, 12 June 2016

1606.12 I STAND WITH ORLANDO

Once again hate turns to violence and suffering. I once again don't have the words to express the sadness and anger I feel right now. 

This time Orlando USA is the place and the victims are innocent people out for a night out. The difference this time is that the victims belong to the LGBT community. My thoughts are with the victims, their families, survivors and the community. 

I will repeat my words from the Belgium attacks earlier this year... 
Now isn't the time to start laying blame against innocent people because of their religion or background. The perpetrators are a minority, we will only win if we don't give in to hate and turn on each other. We will win if we stay focused and get on with our lives. We owe it to the ones we lost today.
I stand with my brothers and sisters in Orlando.

1606.12 THE FOOTBALL

So apparently it's the European football championships or "Euros" at the moment which means as a non-football fan I'm having to put up with football talk all over social and regular media, mealtime chat at work and just football - football - football everywhere.

I'm not bothered that it's on the telly. It's not like the old days with 4 channels and 2 with football matches on, I have about 200 channels + Netflix to watch. It's just the constant bombardment that is going to make the next couple of weeks difficult. 

So as I just wait for next month and the Tour de France (my sport of choice) I watch the neanderthal football fans rampage through France (the hosts), smashing up bars and throwing bottles and chairs at the local police. Not really civilized is it? You never see riots at a cycle race.

There was a time I'd try and like it just to join in on the conversation but I'm getting to old for faking it just to fit in. Enjoy your game (and it is just a game) but please don't try and engage me in conversation about it. I don't really give a toss.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

1606.11 THE PICKUP

Today, together with my youngest daughter Rags, we headed south to go and pick up Morticia. I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm at 6:45am, Rags had said she was getting up a bit earlier to grab a shower. I couldn't hear the shower. I shouted her.

We set off at about 9am. The cat was sorted with plenty of food and water (and a clean litter tray), the SeaMonkeys were fed. The traffic on the M1 and A57 was a little heavy with loads of caravans on the road. The traffic cleared as we went through Sherwood Forest.
Driving through Sherwood Forest
Rags was a rubbish co-pilot who instead of giving me nibbles and keeping me hydrated just nodded off. We arrived at St. Neots just before 11:30am.

We were reunited.

In the afternoon we had a trip into the town. It looked like there was a Morris dancing convention in town (they were everywhere). Morris dancing isn't something we see back home so it was a bit of a novelty. After tea we headed back to Morticia's mother's house. Tomorrow we head home, tonight however we're off to the pub to enjoy being together again.
Morris Dancing in St Neots Market Square 

Friday, 10 June 2016

1606.10 LAST DAY ON MY OWN

So my week without Morticia is almost over. I've spent the week mostly being horizontal, eating junk and watching movies and Netflix. Why? Because in 'real life' that's not what I do (except for the odd evening in). The week has gone by pretty fast, in the morning it'll be done with and after the weekend life will return to 'normal'.

Apart from the odd cloudburst it's been hot and sunny all week, perfect cycling weather yet I haven't turned a pedal all week. I could have set up the turbo trainer but if I'm honest I didn't want to. I needed to be fully relaxed.

I've eaten so badly I'm at the point where I'm craving pasta and grilled chicken. One of the supposed culinary highlights of the week was a Chinese takeaway that I'd promised myself weeks before. Sadly I was disappointed and whilst it was OK, it wasn't as great as I've come to expect from my favourite restaurant. I've drank so much Pepsi Max I think I'll be off the stuff for months.

I hit the movie collection pretty hard, I've watched...
The Hangover Trilogy, Star Wars - The Force Awakens, Casablanca, Edge of Tomorrow, Paul, A Good Day to Die Hard and Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation.

There is also the favourites that I always seem to watch when Morticia goes on a trip; Brassed Off and The Flying Scotsman (Graeme Obree story).

Netflix was hit too, I binged on Marvel's Jessica Jones and watched the Jimmy Carr stand up special.

So what about Rags? My daughter has been here but I've barely seen her all week. She has a busy after school life, with Army Cadets and helping out with the school play our quality time has been very short.

So tonight I tidy and clean around the house, pack up a few bits for tomorrow I go get my Morticia back!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

1606.09 HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAN

Yesterday I went to see my Nan, it was her birthday this week - she's 84. I've not been to see her for a while which is pretty unforgivable of me but I'm fully intending to make right of this. We sat and talked about lots of things including my Grandad. She told me she talks to him every day, I told her I do the same. It's almost 6 years since we lost him. She was in good spirits although she's started to become a bit forgetful and repeats herself a bit.
Happy birthday Nan 
[pic: Uncle Keith]

1606.08 DO I STAY OR DO I GO NOW?

Ok, I've been listening to the debates and to the opinions of others and I've made my decision. I've decided that I'd rather stay within the European Union. I don't like the idea of giving our government free reign to exercise their will over employees rights. Without the protection of the EU I believe that we could lose that protection. Not one of the 'Brexit' supporters has convinced me that there are any tangible financial benefits to leaving the EU, in fact I think there is a massive risk to be had. If Brexit wins we also run the risk if that dangerous buffoon, Boris Johnson becoming the next Prime Minister.

What convinced me the most was the interviews with the great unwashed on local news programmes and some of my less intelligent contacts on the book of face saying they wanted out because of those "bloody immigrants". That's the sign of someone who hasn't a clue about the real issues. 

I haven't a problem with anyone who votes out because they believe it's the right thing to do and have reached their decision after listening to the facts.
Anyway, I've submitted my postal vote now. I'm happy with my position besides I refuse to side with that imbecile, Nigel Farage and that prick, Michael Gove.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

1606.08 SEA MONKEYS

Back in March this year I put out a flippant tweet about Sea Monkeys. "Sea-Monkeys is a brand name for brine shrimp—a group of crustaceans that undergo cryptobiosis—sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets." - Source, Wikipedia. 



Well my birthday came along and thanks to my step sister in law I GOT SEA MONKEYS!! Sea Monkeys come with a mini aquarium, a feeding spoon and 3 sachets (water purifier, Sea Monkey eggs and growth food). So a couple of days later I started the process.

Purifying the water
Adding the Sea Monkey eggs
The next day I had hatchlings, hundreds of them...
 So since then I've fed them and cared for them. Loads of fell by the wayside and today they are getting  quite big. There are 6 left, all seem pretty healthy and active. I've read they can last for up to 2 years. Let's see how they go.

Monday, 6 June 2016

1606.06 HOME ALONE

Well, not quite alone but all this week it'll be me with my (not so) little girl, Rags. Morticia is off to spend a week at her mother's while life goes on up here at home. This is a regular thing, she goes probably once or twice a year for a little restbite. As always I think it's a good idea right up to the point that she has to get on the train, then it gets emotional. Anyway, I put her on the train and then dashed home (5 minutes away) to track her journey on the National Rail Enquiries website. Surprisingly she got to her destination with little issue (just the booked seat booked not being as requested).

Morticia leaving on the train (this isn't a stock pic,
it's the actual train leaving Meadowhall Station).
People abroad and in the south may be looking at this picture wondering how this train is running without electricity. Well up in the "Northern Powerhouse" our trains are pretty much long buses on train tracks. Luckily this was just the first leg of her trip, the rest of the trip was on more modern electric trains.

So what plans have I for my temporary freedom? Not much really, I'm planning to watch a few movies, grab a Chinese takeaway and generally relax. Naps without nags are in this week!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

1606.05 TOP TELLY PART 3


The final installment of my pick of current shows being piped into my television... 

Doctor Who
I've watched Doctor Who since I had eyes. What is there to say? I love it.

Angie Tribeca
An Airplane/Naked Gun style comedy that's actually quite good.

Celebrity Juice
Got fed up with this ages ago but with a live show to start the latest series off I ended up watching the rest and enjoyed it (again).

Have I Got News For You
Classic comedy current affairs panel show. Still good stuff.

Marvel's Agent Carter
A spin off from Captain America this show featured a strong female lead. Sadly the American tv execs have decided to bin it after 2 seasons.

Big Bang Theory
One of the most successful sitcoms since 'Friends'. What's not to like?

Aliens
I thought this was going to be like 'Misfits'. If there's a season 2 I might just give it a miss.

Wentworth Prison
A reboot of the old Australian soap 'Prisoner Cell Block H'. With season 3 about to arrive in the UK this show is surprisingly great drama.

The Last Leg
Current affairs discussion with Adam Hills. One of the funniest and thought provoking shows on TV. New series from this week. 

The Secret Life of the Zoo
The only documentary on my list. Behind the scenes of Chester Zoo.

The Walking Dead
Gripping zombie action. I would like some progression towards an end game next season.

X Files
It was great to see this show revived after son long with the original cast. I'm still only halfway through.

Mock the Week
Another comedy current affairs panel show. 

This list isn't exhaustive, it's a selection of shows I've watched this year. 

Friday, 3 June 2016

1606.02 NEW TOP GEAR

Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and the most widely watched factual television programme in the world. It began in 1977 as a conventional motoring magazine programme, but over time, and especially since a relaunch in 2002, it has developed a quirky, humorous and sometimes controversial style. [source: Wikipedia]

Ok, I admit it. Top Gear used to be a bit of a guilty pleasure. When the controversy ensued and the original trio were no longer going to be presenting I thought it was all done with. But no, the BBC pushed forward with an all new presenting team. Chris Evans was named the new front man with Matt LeBlanc and a number of other journalists assisting. The critics were against the new team before it even started. But they went ahead and made a new series, it aired on Sunday.

So today I decided to watch on iPlayer. I went into this with an open mind not listening to the critics. I wanted to like this, I was worried however.
Source: BBC
So the presenters? I like Chris Evans, I did feel the style was a little forced but this was the first show so I accept he needs to find his level. Matt LeBlanc seemed like fun, he handled the transition from acting to presenting. All in all the ingredients were there but what was wrong? The chemistry just wasn't there. I can't put my finger on it, maybe it'll find it's feet.

Overall the programme felt overlong even though it was the same length as previous episodes, I found myself distracted by anything and everything. I think the word I'm looking for is "boring".

Will I watch again? I may try episode 2 to see if it gets any better.