A few weeks ago we employed the services of a local farmer (Danny, who Hay used to know at school) to flatten the hump of spoil from the house footings. He spread it over half the field (you can see it in the distance on the left side of the 1st photo below), facilitating access to the hedge once more - which had additionally been severely pruned back by another farmer friend. It's useful to know the odd farmer - they have all manner of equipment.
Over the weekend we planted some shrubs along the 'garden' along the edge of the lane (on the right of the photo below, but out of shot). During the process we had to dig out the clay from about 20 holes and dump it on the upper field.
While Hay was dumping a barrow load, she came across what I can only describe as the foreleg of a Yorkshire terrier - at least that's what it looked like to me. Perhaps it had fallen foul of a local fox (possibly the one I saw flattened on the road on Friday).
Not aware of anyone local who even owns a Yorkie, let alone a lost one.
The shed you see on the left is the remains of No.1 Son's bedroom from when it was attached to the caravan. We left it in place and Perry is now using it as a place to do his drum practice. It will have to go soon though, as it's a bit of an eyesore.
The flattened foundation spoil.
View down the field toward the house, showing the pad for the cabin on the right. Hopefully the cabin will be finished this year. Next on the build schedule is a large garage and workshop for me and my eventual retirement.
Overheard at Curry's PC World (Hay is buying a new laptop):
Salesman: "You can buy it over 6 months interest free."
Hay: "Interest free? That might be worth doing."
Salesman: "There's a £25 admin fee."
Hay: "But if the laptop is £550 and the admin fee is £25 and it's over 6 months, that's nearly 10% APR equivalent, which is more than I get charged by my bank for a real loan."
It was sold with Windows 8 and Office 365. It took her about 6 hours to set it up and I think she was on the verge of taking it back or killing me. Gone are the days of unpacking a computer and it working straight from the box.
If Hay's laptop is anything to go by, I suspect there is going to be a huge swathe of 60 plus people who will be using Windows XP for the next 20 years, rather than go through the torture that is Windows 8.
Talking of interest, was watching Harold Pinter's 1971 film 'The Go Between' on TV yesterday (before losing interest in it) and noticed some obvious howlers. The film is set in 1900 (some say 1902), but:
There was a shot of Norwich railway station emblazoned with 'British Railways Norwich Railway Station'; British Railways wasn't created till 1948.
In another shot there was a very obviously late 1950s Bentley posing as a 1902 Bentley; Bentley wasn't created till 1919.
Alan Bates had a really ridiculous line - he said; "Can I trust you?" to a 13 year old boy he'd recently met. Never mind about a 13 year old boy being the most untrustworthy object on the planet, but the question itself is meaningless, as how do you know it's answered honestly?
One Cindy Crawford (age 48) has released some photos of herself where she's scantily clad. It is understood by this correspondent that the photos are un-retouched, which is a novelty in the world of modelling. Hay is over the moon - at age 50, her bod looks infinitely better than Cindy Crawford's 48 year old one - and I have to say I agree!
Yesterday I was listening to an Australian debate between Richard Dawkins and a certain Cardinal George Pell (Pell came off the worst, by a long chalk and was floundering badly). This question wasn't asked of Cardinal Pell, but I wish it had; if you were around in the late 1800s and knew (possibly by a divine revelation or a prophesy) Hitler was going to be responsible for 50m deaths in WWII (Cardinal Pell's number, used in the answer to another question), would you have aborted him? I think, but can't guarantee, that his answer would be a no, but he'd have a helluva job arguing why.
It's strange that in the world of the sciences you can get theoretical, experimental and practical disciplines, but theology strikes me as a discipline that can only ever be theoretical.
You know how on the continent - specifically the Mediterranean continent - you get roads named after dates that are important in the national history; well, we just don't do that here. There's no November the 5th Avenue (an obvious date), or 3rd of September Road (last battle of the Civil War), etc. I wonder why that is?
Hay: "I've been doing the old person thing of putting stars against suitable programmes in the TV listings."
Frozen Alaska Narrator: "The Arctic ground squirrel is conscious for only 12 days during the entire winter."
Hay: "Much like yourself, Badger."
Heard an interview on radio with Martin Lewis (the Money Saving Expert guy) about the benefits of switching electricity suppliers - I use the word suppliers advisedly, as it's just billing that's involved.
He said people would be surprised at how much they could save by using the U-switch service, which advises on what would be your best option and sets it up for you. However, the vast majority of people, especially old people, are reluctant to do it - and perversely, they're the ones who moan most about electricity bills.
Gave them a call yesterday and switched from NPower to ScottishPower, saving about £300 a year, based on my last 12 months' consumption.
Hay's challenge now is to get her dad to switch, as he's with the most expensive supplier.
I received an email (see below) from a friend in Canada containing a viral email from an American friend of his castigating ObamaCare as a power grab.
It went on to bemoan the fact that ObamaCare would cost the sender a large amount to subsidise Hispanics and ne're-do-wells.
Well, my American friend - that's what taxes do, due to the very nature of taxes being based on salary percentages. You could extend the argument to subsidising the poor in virtually every public sphere from defence to road building.
America likes to portray itself and a God-fearing, Christian culture. A lot of it just a selfish culture based on the NeoConservative ethos of let-the-Devil-take-the-hindmost, and it stinks.I'm glad I'm British and we have the NHS.
The sad thing is that the Amercian who sent the email to my Canadian friend was once a Brit.
Here's the email:
I'm a 54 year old consulting engineer and make
between $60,000 and $125,000 per year, depending on how hard I work and whether
or not there are work projects out there for me.
My girlfriend is 61 and makes about $18,000 per year, working as a part-time
For me, making $60,000 a year, under ObamaCare, the cheapest, lowest grade
policy I can buy, which also happens to impose a $5,000 deductible, costs $482
For my girlfriend, the same exact policy, same deductible, costs $1 per month.
That's right, $1 per month. I'm not making this up.
Don't believe me? Just go towww.coveredca.gov, the ObamaCare website
for California and enter the parameters I've mentioned above and see for
yourself. By the way, my zip code is 93940. You'll need to enter that.
So OK, clearly ObamaCare is a scheme that involves putting the cost burden of
healthcare onto the middle and upper-income wage earners. But there's a lot
more to it. Stick with me.
And before I make my next points, I'd like you to think about something:
I live in Monterey County, in Central California.
We have a large land mass but just 426,000 residents - about the population of
Colorado Springs or the city of Omaha.
But we do have a large Hispanic population,
including a large number of illegal aliens, and to serve this group we have
Natividad Medical Center, a massive, Federally subsidized county medical
complex that takes up an area about one-third the size of the Chrysler
Corporation automobile assembly plant in Belvedere, Illinois (see Google Earth
View). Natividad has state-of-the-art operating rooms, Computed Tomography and
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, fully equipped, 24 hour emergency room, and much
more. If you have no insurance, if you've been in a drive-by shooting or have
overdosed on crack cocaine, this is where you go. And it's essentially free,
because almost everyone who ends up in the ER is uninsured.
Last year, 2,735 babies were born at Natividad. 32% of these were born to
out-of-wedlock teenage mothers, 93% of which were Hispanic. Less than 20% could
demonstrate proof of citizenship, and 71% listed their native language as
Spanish. Of these 876 births, only 40 were covered under [any kind of] private
health insurance. The taxpayers paid for the other 836. And in case you were
wondering about the entire population - all 2,735 births - less than 24%
involved insured coverage or even partial payment on behalf of the patient to
the hospital in exchange for services. Keep this in mind as we move forward.
Now consider this:
If I want to upgrade my policy to a low-deductible premium policy, such as what
I had with my last employer, my cost is $886 per month. But my girlfriend can
upgrade her policy to the very same level, for just $4 per month. That's right,
$4 per month. $48 per year for a zero-deductible, premium healthcare policy -
the kind of thing you get when you work at IBM (except of course, IBM employees
pay an average of $170 per month out of pocket for their coverage).
I mean, it's bad enough that I will be forced to subsidize the ObamaCare scheme
in the first place. But even if I agreed with the basic scheme, which of course
I do not, I wouldneveragree to
subsidize premium policies. If I have to pay $482 a month for a budget policy,
I sure as hell do not want the guy I'm subsidizing to get a better policy, for
less that 1% of what I have to fork out each month for a low-end policy.
Why must I pay $482 per month for something the
other guy gets for a dollar? And why should the other guy get to buy an $886
policy for $4 a month? Think about this: I have to pay $10,632 a year for the
same thing that the other guy can get for $48. $10,000 of net income is 60 days
of full time workas
an engineer. $48 is something I could pay for collecting aluminum cans and
plastic bottles, one day a month.
Are you with me on this? Are you starting to
get an idea what ObamaCare is really about?
ObamaCare is not about dealing with inequities
in the healthcare system. That's just the cover story. The real story is that
it is a massive, political power grab. Do you think anyone who can insure himself
with a premium policy for $4 a month will vote for anyone but the political
party that provides him such a deal? ObamaCare is about enabling, subsidizing,
and expanding the Left's political power base, at taxpayer expense. Why would I
vote for anyone but a Democrat if I can have babies for $4 a month? For that
matter, why would I go to college or strive for a better job or income if it
means I have to pay real money for healthcare coverage? Heck, why study
engineering when I can be a schlub for $20K per year and buy a new F-150 with
all the money I'm saving?
And think about those $4-a-month babies - think in terms of propagation models.
Think of just how many babies will be born to irresponsible, under-educated
mothers. Will we get a new crop of brain surgeons and particle physicists from
the dollar baby club, or will we need more cops, criminal courts and prisons?
One thing you can be certain of: At $4 a month, they'll multiply, and multiply,
Overheard while watching a news item on a chap with cerebral palsy:
Hay: "It's sad how people think that those suffering from cerebral palsy are mad, thick or stupid simply because they have problems talking."
Chairman: " A bit like me when I put my dentures in."
90's hit children's show, The Teletubbies, is being remade. Not recycled, but remade. The show's original creator says she thinks this is sad and she will not be watching it. Neither will I. Her reason is it shows a lack of creativity on the part of the BBC's children's broadcasting; for me it's an age thing.
There's a scoreboard that mental health professionals use to measure psychopathy called Hare's Psychopathy Checklist. Essentially it attempts to measure your ability to empathise. Score over 30/40 and you exhibit potentially destructive psychopathic tendencies; I scored 14 while Hay scored 4.
It was Hay's dad's birthday yesterday and I'd bought him a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake (he likes steam trains). Hay wondered how a cake that was bought over over 2 weeks ago could have a shelf life of close to a month - it's just not natural.
Here's why - it's a bloody chemist's lab!
Was reading about the Conservative plan to withdraw benefits from obese people who don't seek help. Some obese woman said that she couldn't afford to buy healthy food. Never heard so much Tommy-rot. Processed food is more expensive than fresh - we can get a week's veg from our local greengrocer (Ian) for under a tenner - and that feeds a family of three. Not much in the way of meat is needed to add to that, if indeed any; you just need to select your cuts carefully. In our experience it's cheaper, or at the very least just as expensive, to buy the raw ingredients yourself than buy processed crap. The additional secret is not to waste any and recycle leftovers. What this woman means is that she either can't or won't cook and prefers to stuff herself with choc-chip cookies.
I would contend that even if you buy cheap, processed food from Iceland, you won't become obese unless you stuff yourself silly with sugar, fat and the crap that's in the Thomas the Tank Engine cake. There are lots of people who live on nothing but processed foods and yet don't get obese (university students, for example), simply because they eat in moderation.
Overheard in the restaurant at an early Valentine's meal (we're cheapskates)
Hay: "Have you ever stopped to consider that not everyone thinks like you."
Chairman: "Don't they? That's a hideous thought; no wonder the world's in a mess "
We have a wren's nest in the house! It must be behind one of the oak beams in the eaves, but we haven't heard anything.
Over the last week we've had to let 4 wren fledglings (I assume they are fledglings) escape - one was caught by the cat on the way out, but three made it through an open door or an open window before Kitty could react.
There must be a small access in the eaves somewhere through which the parents go out to forage, but the fledglings chose to leave the nest via the interior of the house.
Not sure they'll survive in this weather.
Now I have to find the access, as the hole is obviously causing a draft.
Hay: "I haven't slept at all well this week. I've been lying next to a snoring, snorting, groaning, farting lump of a person."
Chairman: "Have you been seeing someone else then?"
Apparently scientists have discovered the source of the strange cracks and pops that emanate from fridges at night and wake owners up. My fridge goes one better - it actually talks to me. I hear this soft voice at night calling me to the fridge at night. I'm led to believe these night-talking fridges usually only communicate with men.
What's Putin up to? I reckon he's just doing what every tin-pot dictator does when things aren't looking too healthy at home - creating imaginary and non-existent foreign threats and demons with which to rally people to his (or her, in the case of Argentina) flag. Everyone needs a scapegoat at some stage to cloak reality.
The Chairman and Hay are watching Tony Robinson's TV progrmame, "Walking Through History", showing an episode on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
A gent was showing an aerial photograph of Wigan.
Tony Robinson: "And so when was this taken?"
Gent:"Just before WWII."
Hay: "Looks like the aftermath of a Luftwaffe bombing raid during WWII."
The media don't half string things out. There was an accident in Bath earlier in the week in which I think 4 people were killed by a runaway dumper truck. Fully half of Tuesday night's SW News programme was devoted to it - a full 15 minutes of interviews with relations of relations, hospital doctors, local residents and binmen - in fact I'm surprised I wasn't interviewed.
Last night another few minutes were given over to it, with the reporter saying the area is just staring to come to terms with it and trying to resume normal life. A friend of Hay's lives just round the corner and said the mess was cleared up pretty quickly and everyone just continued as normal - nothing like the media-portrayed events.
My Samsung Smart TV asked me to speak up a bit last night.
Prince Charles has been to Saudi and had a word with King Wossisface. I wonder whether the world's kings and queens ever get together for a conference to talk about kingy things. There used to be quite a healthy market for kings and queens in the 18th and 19th centuries; there were loads of either overthrown monarchs or princelings ready to be hired out to any country that needed one. They don't seem to be in as much demand now though. It's strange to think that it was essentially one family that has ruled Europe for most of its history, as they were all related in some respect through intermarriage.
Hay's dad, who is a bit hard of hearing - no, very hard of hearing - received a communication from NPower yesterday. I'm not sure whether by using 24 point text they were shouting so he could hear, or whether they just got his affliction wrong.
No matter how I orientate the image in my computer folder, Blogger insists on this orientation and I can't change it.
Going back to Hay's dad, NPower also have their geography wrong - unless they think he lives in Welsh North Bristol.
Talking of afflictions, the Prado Museum in Madrid has commissioned texturised copies of famous works so blind people can feel them. NPower would probably just make have descriptions that are shouted.....in German.
Have you noticed how most irons seem purposely designed so you have the maximum difficulty in filling them with water? For the first time in my life, I came across an iron that doesn't spill water all over the show when you try to top it up with water for steaming - in Greece of all places, and it's a Sunbeam. I wonder when Dyson will turn his attention to steam irons, if he hasn't already?
Got an invitation to the Munich Oktoberfest (which starts in September) from my dealer in Munich yesterday. Not sure about that, not with my bladder.
In Germany till Thursday PM, then Athens till Friday PM - but I brought the wrong teeth.
I don't mean I brought someone else's teeth. I mean I brought the bottom dentures rather than the top ones, which are the ones I use to smile insincerely at customers without giving them a fright.
What with the flambeed Prussian hairdo (and matching eyebrows), the suppurating burn on the end of my nose and the gaping gap in my gnashers, I fear I look like something out of Night of the Living Dead.
Got a new hairstyle - it's the petrol assisted bonfire sweep.
Was applying some accelerant to the pile of tree branches and got a bit too close when lighting it. The result was an explosion that managed to singe off 90% of the beard and most of the hair on the front of my head (went right down to the wood on my front right) and some eyebrow hair. As a by product, it also took out the nose hair, so I don't need to do any clipping this week.
Had to get Sam, our hairdresser neighbour, to come over to give me another trim last night (the 2nd in a week). Not much she could do, but it will grow back.
Almost everyone saw the funny side. Hay didn't and gave me a rollocking.