Poor Harry

Poor Harry, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Harry the Cat has been to the vet today for an op: he’s lost a tooth and a lump from his back leg. He’s back home; and he’s obviously a bit sore, which is hardly surprising given that incision in his leg. Otherwise he seems fine, apart from being pissed off at being kept in.

Give him only half a helping of this special soft food, and no crunch says the vet. So Noreen did just that: he wolfed down the paté, and then proceeded to demolish Sally’s whole helping of their normal food. Meanwhile Sally is pissed of ‘cos there’s no crunch!

Keep him in until you bring him back to have the stitches out in 10 days. Some hope! He’s already eyeing the study fanlight. Oh and he’s currently sitting on top of my scanner which I was actually using when he arrived!

Cats! Love ’em to bits.

10 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

Every week the BBC News website posts an item called 10 things we didn’t know last week. I just happened to look at this week’s and was struck by some of the oddities therein …

1. The UK’s national time signal is accurate to within 1,000th of a second of Coordinated Universal Time.
2. Drinking, drug-taking teenagers are in the decline in England, according to a survey by the Information Centre.
3. The average water temperature of the UK’s rivers and lakes is 5C in winter, 18C in summer.
4. Eight of the 10 most crowded train journeys in the UK are outside London. [That did surprise me when I saw it earlier in the week; but then note they are measuring overground trains, not the London Underground.]
5. The average duvet is home to 20,000 live dust mites. [I’m surprised that’s all; I would have expected the number to be 100 times bigger!]
6. Designer discount retailer TK Maxx is called TJ Maxx in the US. [Try to understand the importance of this.]
7. Having a baby can cost you up to two months sleep in the first year. [I would have thought that continues for something like 20 years, doesn’t it? Though never having been selfish enough to have children I wouldn’t know.]
8. Chimps and bonobos differ from humans by only 1% of DNA and could accept a blood transfusion or a kidney. [I knew the 1% difference in DNA, but hadn’t realised the implications for transplants. But why a chimp would want a human kidney baffles me.]
9. Britain’s peat bogs store carbon that is equivalent to 20 years’ worth of national industrial emissions.
10. Dogs can seemingly perform the Heimlich manoeuvre (a technique for helping someone who is choking). [I have this bizarre picture of a coiffed miniature poodle trying to do the HM on an 18 stone rugby player!]

Getting to Know Me Better — A Meme

I’ve just come across this meme lurking on my machine — see they never die out! I’ve no idea where I got it from, but let’s see if we can start it off again.

Getting to Know Me Better

What time did you get up this morning?
As it’s Saturday I had a nice lie in, following a late-ish night. Didn’t get up until about 09.45. On work mornings it is anything between 6 and 8am depending on what my schedule is.

Diamonds or pearls?
If I must, pearls, but I’d much prefer tanzanite or amber.

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
I keep telling you I don’t do films, so it’ll be no surprise when I tell you the last time I recall going to the cinema was to see Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition in 1973! It was on with a film by The Strawbs which was really why we went.

What is your favourite TV show?
Channel 4 TV’s Time Team. Three days of serious archaeological investigation condensed into an hour of TV. Usually interesting even if they do dig too many Roman and pre-Roman sites for my interest.

What do you usually have for breakfast?
I used not to do breakfast, other than a large mug of tea. However since I’ve been told I’m diabetic I do try to have something, even if not the ideally balanced breakfast the medics would like. So now it’s that large mug of tea with some fruit, yoghurt or toast.

Favourite cuisine?
It’s probably a toss-up between Indian and Italian.

What food do you dislike?
Egg custard is my biggest hate. Not over keen on milk puddings. And I don’t like meat and sugar (meat and fruit is OK as long as it isn’t sweet as well).

What is your favourite CD at the moment?
Pink Floyd; Wish You were Here. But you could choose almost anything from late Beatles or 70s Pink Floyd, Yes, Caravan.

Morning or night person?
Neither. I don’t generally survive much past 11.30pm, though I can get a second wind after midnight. And I’m useless at getting up in the morning, as was my father before me.

Favourite sandwich?
Whatever I fancy at the time. Choose from: smoked salmon, chicken & avocado, bacon, prawns.

What characteristic do you despise?
Most of all management lies and politics. Being a cynic I see through it all. I also hate people who know it all, who have to be right, or think their God’s gift.

Favourite item of clothing?
Nothing. I wear as few clothes as I can as much of the time as I can. We both spend a lot of our time at home wearing nothing; or a t-shirt and jeans in the middle of winter. Fortunately our house is naturally warm so we don’t have to waste energy on heating it; the heating thermostat is set at about 20C. But then I’m not one to feel the cold and never have been; when I was young and playing cricket I was always the first to discard a sweater and the last to put one on. Now I have a good covering of blubber.

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be?
Difficult. For a “do nothing” holiday I fancy a naturist village by the sea in a nice sunny area of France (and I mean a real village; none of this Cap d’Agde rubbish). For a sightseeing holiday I rather fancy Japan. And travel has to be by magic carpet, door to door.

What colour is your bathroom?

Favourite brand of clothing?
I’ve already told you I don’t wear clothes if I don’t have to. In consequence I don’t couldn’t care less about brands. Vain I am not.

Where would you retire to?
Probably Dorset, South Devon or Norfolk, although I suspect we’ll stay where we are.

What was your most memorable birthday?
My 21st. It’s about the only one I do remember. I was given a coffee percolator and in road testing it got caffeine poisoning.

Favourite sport to watch?
Cricket, as long as it isn’t this one-day rubbish played in pyjamas. But then I’ve lost tough with cricket as I got disillusioned quite a few years ago with the way the game was being run and bastardised as a marketing exercise.

When is your birthday?
11 January

What is your shoe size?
10 or 11 depending on the cut; I have very broad and deep feet.

Two cats and lots of fish (tropical and pond).

What did you want to be when you were little?
When I was really little I hadn’t got a clue; I was always worried that my friends all knew they wanted to be engine drivers or whatever when I didn’t even know how to start thinking about the problem. By the time I was 15 or 16 I knew I wanted to do scientific research, which I achieved if only briefly.

What is your favourite flower?
Hmmm, probably daffodils and lilies.

What date on the calendar are you looking forward to?
The one when I get that big lottery win and retire.

What music do you like?
Almost anything before Bach and 60s/70s pop/rock.

Your Favourite Book?
Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. But then you knew I’d say that.

That’s it. I’ll tag Kelly, Jilly, Sue, Noreen, Misty, Chris. Either post your answers on your weblog and add a pointer in the comments here, or post your answers as a comment.


Parakeets under threat?

According to yesterday’s BBC news the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has commissioned a study to look at the problem (what problem?) of increasing numbers of Rose-Ringed Parakeets in Britain. There is now a large population (estimated at 30,000) of these handsome bright-green birds around the southern and western fringes of London and into Surrey with enclaves building elsewhere in the country. No-one is sure exactly how they birds arrived here, about 50-60 years ago; there are a number of competing theories none of which has been substantiated.

It seems Defra and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are worried that the parakeets will start out-competing native songbirds for food and nest sites and possibly, as their numbers increase, cause economic damage to fruit crops. However the RSPB website does admit that there is currently not a problem and that the birds have protected status; but it is reported that the RSPB is prepared to consider culling the parakeets, they say only as a very last resort.

These are wonderful, colourful and cheeky birds – albeit they can be a bit noisy and they’re not native to the UK (they come from the Himalayan foothills in India). Although I don’t see them often in my part of west London (not enough really big trees nearby, despite it is quite a green area) they do pass through my garden a handful of times a year. Personally I would be sad to see them disappear or even be culled.

Two BBC News stories: Parakeet ‘threat’ to native birds and How do parakeets survive in the UK?

Sisyphus Rolls His Jelly

Earlier today I was on a conference call trying – in vain – to get a supplier to commit to completing a piece of work by the date I need it. I’ve worked with this supplier before: they bob and weave to avoid dates, and when they can’t they (or to be fair often their suppliers) ignore them. I often liken getting things done under such circumstances to rolling jelly uphill through treacle with a toothpick. Which explains the little ditty I jotted down after today’s call:

The mountains of treacle
Grow up to the skies;
The mouldings of jelly
Grow fat in pigsties;
But my toothpicks, my toothpicks,
Stay tiny and slight,
No wonder my job
It is stressful and shite.

I might improve it, but it’ll do for a start. 🙂

Are you an eccentric?

This quiz measures eccentricity compared with the normality of Joe Public. Do not confuse eccentricity with a lack of inhibition. Also eccentricity has no relationship to social class or gender; true eccentrics can come from any social class.

Answer the following questions. You have to be scrupulously honest in your self-assessments. You could even get your partner or friends to score you as a check – or just for fun!

Score one for each YES answer.

  1. You don’t/won’t/haven’t had children because you’ve deliberately decided not to.
  2. You don’t have a car/motorbike.
  3. You can’t drive a car/motorbike.
  4. You regularly read books; difficult books not pulp fiction.
  5. You have more than 250 books in the house.
  6. You decide what you believe regardless of what the media/government says.
  7. You passionately believe in freedom of speech. (You may not agree with someone else’s view but you will defend to the death their right to hold and express that view however uncomfortable it may be.)
  8. You do not have a mortgage.
  9. You do not have a bank loan or overdraft of any sort (and have not had one in the last 3 years).
  10. You pay off your credit cards in full every month.
  11. You live in the smallest house that you need, rather than the largest you can afford.
  12. You grow some of your own fruit and veg.
  13. You were taught to think for yourself and make up your own mind and you still do.
  14. You sleep in the nude.
  15. You regularly walk around your house in the nude. Have an extra point if you regularly go nude in your garden.
  16. You sleep in the same bed as your partner every night.
  17. You talk to your partner about meaningful things like history, literature and your beliefs.
  18. You value your money; you don’t spend money you don’t have; you regularly save a significant part of your income.
  19. You have no more than two baths or showers a week.
  20. You don’t take foreign holidays.
  21. You don’t fly places as a leisure activity.
  22. You regularly eat food in strange combinations, or a peculiar order, because that’s what you like (eg. celery, strawberry jam and Marmite sandwiches; pudding before main course). Have an extra point if you’ve ever done this in a restaurant rather than at home.
  23. You do whatever you like/enjoy rather than what you think others expect of you and regardless of what they may think.
  24. You enjoy this country as our heritage.
  25. You take an interest in things around you like nature, history, architecture.
  26. You can name 3 or more breeds of these farm animals: one point for each of cow, pig, sheep, chicken.
  27. You do as well at University Challenge as the student teams do.
  28. You know and use unusual words like: antediluvian, peripatetic, antepenultimate, opiate, apiary, verisimilitude, febrile. (If you don’t know what all these mean you don’t score; definitions below.)
  29. You try to get things repaired before you succumb to buying a new one.
  30. You don’t have net curtains at your windows.
  31. You can draw, paint, sculpt or embroider and do it regularly for pleasure.
  32. You never watch soap operas or game shows on television.
  33. You don’t play golf.
  34. You ignore fashion and buy new clothes when you need them, not just because the season’s colours have changed.
  35. You don’t buy gadgets or boys’ toys.
  36. You wear a hat as part of your normal street attire. (Baseball caps, motorbike/cycle helmets, turbans and hoodies don’t count.)
  37. You keep an unusual pet. (Dogs, cats, fish, snakes, rodents, chickens, canaries don’t count. Parrots, llamas, goats, monkeys, Michael Jackson do count.)
  38. You spend less than £100 on your partner (or if single each of your children, nieces, nephews as appropriate) at Christmas even though you could afford to spend more.
  39. There is one unusual thing about you which makes you stand out. For instance: you are habitually known by an unusual nickname (Ripples, Binki); you always wear fluorescent green eye shadow; you always carry a gent’s umbrella in your rucksack. (Tattoos, piercings and dyed hair don’t count.)
  40. You habitually turn down free food, free gifts and “bargains” because they are not things you want/need.
  41. You have a pre-1960 car which you still use for everyday travel.
  42. You have retained a childhood/youthful interest long past what is generally deemed an appropriate age (eg. you’re still youth hosteling or camping in your 60s). (Score 2 points if you can honestly say you have more than one.)
  43. You have an unusual hobby like breeding daffodils, bellringing, playing church organs or learning Cornish. (Score 2 points if you can honestly say you have more than one.)

Score one point for each YES answer; the maximum score is 50.
43-50 A true eccentric’s eccentric. One of the best.
32-42 Definitely eccentric. You’re the sort of person of whom it is said “They’re mad”.
20-31 You have the potential to be eccentric but you need to sharpen your skills,
0-20 Boringly normal.

Word definitions
antediluvian. Occurring or belonging to the era before the Biblical Flood. Extremely old and antiquated.
peripatetic. Walking about or from place to place; traveling on foot. One who does a job which takes them from place to place.
antepenultimate. Coming before the next to the last in a series.
opiate. A sedative narcotic containing opium or one of its derivatives. Something that dulls the senses and induces relaxation or torpor.
apiary. A place where bees and beehives are kept, especially a place where bees are raised for their honey
verisimilitude. The quality of appearing to be true or real.
febrile. Feverish (as in when you have ‘flu).

Oh and just for fun I measured 39 on this scale.