Archive for February 2009

Doldrums

Posted by on February 28th 2009 in Astrostuff, Blog on Blog, Camera kit, Great Escapes, Pics, Weather
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This February has been a total non-starter. So many things have conspired to cock-up all chances of getting out to do something worthwhile that I'm considering becoming a professional couch-potato and Wii Bowling Power Throws addict (my current top-score is only 733 but I'm working on it).

For me, February is usually the best month to get into some proper winter-walking, but this one was just rubbish. Due to adverse events at home, I've not managed to get suited and booted at all this month. We've the seeds of an idea to get away somewhere for a wildie during March, but let's face it - the chances of there being a return to snowy conditions are minimal. That said, whenever Chris hits the hills for our annual wildie together the weather's always good, so there's always a chance that we'll be lucky again.

Sadly, the scope's been as redundant as the boots. I rehoused and rewired the SPC900 webcam and invested in a few bits of kit (including a Baader MPCC and a Skywatcher LPR 2" filter) to improve my chances of getting some half-decent astropics but I've had no opportunity to use any of them yet, as we've not had one clear night all month. This means that I've not managed to observe Saturn, which is now showing edge-on rings to anybody with clear skies. Comet Lulin (posh name C/2007 N3 (Lulin)) is another target that I'm likely to miss unless the skies clear sometime soon. If you've got clear skies and want to know where to look to see this gem, see here, and if you want to see some nice pics and a mini-movie of it, have a look at this entry on John's Astro Blog. I've just had a quick gander at the latest weather forecast and it's telling me that the skies here will be totally clear here tomorrow night. TBH I don't believe a word of it, but I'll be ready on the off-chance that they're correct.

And don't get me started on the subject of beer sessions - I've a list of cancellations as long as yer arm!

March will have to be a better month. Let's face it - it's not got a lot to beat.

🙁

Only the Irish could do this

Posted by on February 20th 2009 in In the News, LMAO!

Details have emerged of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with Prawo Jazdy, the country's most reckless driver.

Classic stuff, you couldn't make it up! 🙂

Redox reaction

Posted by on February 19th 2009 in Thanks

Don't worry, it's not a chemistry-test!

The nice folk at O2 have been in touch to renegotiate the contract for my Xda Orbit phone. The timing was curious, as the contract's not up for renewal for another three months or so, but that didn't seem to bother them.

Anyway, a summary of the contract revision is as follows:

  • Calls: Increased from 300 to 600 minutes/month
  • Texts: Increased from 600 to 1200 texts/month
  • Web Access via Edge/GPRS/3G: Increased from "pay as you use" to Unlimited Free Access
  • Contract: Reduced from 18 months to 30 days rolling

And the cost for this lot?

They've reduced the monthly bill by 51%

Excellent!

Free advice

Posted by on February 18th 2009 in A bit of a rant
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The boiler had been playing up for a while, slowly losing water through the AAV which was so limed-up that I couldn't budge the vent-plug, and thus necessitating a temporary shift to "top it up now and again" mode until I got a round tuit.

A week or so ago I had a quick chat about it with a boiler-fitter who just happened to be next-door installing a new burner, and during one of his many tea-breaks he popped over and had a quick look at the mess to confirm that a new AAV was indeed required. Furthermore, he told me exactly which tools I would need and which bits would have to be removed in order to get the neccessary "great big feck-off wrench" around the offending part, which is right at the back of a 2" gap twixt flame-box and outer-casing - not exactly the most accessible place to put a user-serviceable part. OK, you can get a hand on it to adjust the vent-plug, but there's no way you could get a spanner to it. The cost of this professional advice? Nothing. He wouldn't even have a cuppa.

Anyway, I got hold of a replacement part, gathered a box-full of assorted wrenches, spanners and stillys, and waited for the end of the recent cold-spell.

Yesterday dawned warm and fair, and I judged it to be a good day to start the boiler-hack. I followed the bloke's advice to the letter:

  1. turn off the power, gas and water supplies - a 5-minute job
  2. drain the system to a level well below the boiler - a 10-minute job
  3. remove the outer-casing - a 1-minute job
  4. remove the fan assembly - this was a pain in the ar5e. 3 of the 4 screws had seized and needed to be drilled out after I'd mangled the screw-heads by forcing them too hard. I wasted nearly 2 hours on this bit.
  5. remove the fan assembly base-plate - not so bad, only 1 screw had to be drilled out. 20 minutes.
  6. remove the air-pressure switch mounting plate - another 5-minute job
  7. remove the collector hood - ten minutes for this, no knackered screws but a bit fiddly

After all that fecking-around, I had a well-earned brew. Mug in hand, I looked at the selection of wrenches and eyed-up the offending part. Reaching in to check that there was no obstruction behind the AAV, I gave the thing a casual twist by hand... and it moved! B@stard! I unscrewed it more and more until it disengaged. B@stard! B@stard! B@stard! I could have just reached in and unscrewed it hours or even days before without all that sodding disassembly.

Needless to say, the new bit was fitted and the whole shebang was put back together, tested and running just fine and dandy way before I stopped swearing.

B@stard.

Actually, that previous sentence is incorrect. It's now eight hours later and I've not stopped swearing yet. A lot has happened during those eight hours, not least the formulation of a plan to insert that "great big feck-off wrench" sideways up somebody's rear-vent.

And the moral of this story is... ?

It’s all in your head

Posted by on February 10th 2009 in Just for fun, Thanks
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On Saturday a fellow blogger alerted me to an excellent online mental challenge. It's called Zahada.

There's plenty of stuff there to challenge your grey matter for a good few hours - some riddles are so easy that you'll overlook the answer, others are really fiendish.

If you're tempted to have a go, here are a few tips that might be of help:

  1. Read the rules (you'll find them in level 1)
  2. Don't post the answers online
  3. Keep a record of your answers
  4. Some riddles have more than one answer
  5. Study the whole page, not just the obvious bits - some clues are "hidden"
  6. Think laterally rather than deeply
  7. Look out for bonuses

So far, there are two Phases. At the end of each Phase, you have the opportunity to add your name to the list of us winners:

Phase 1 Winners

Phase 2 Winners

Good luck. If you need help, just holler!

Thanks, George.  🙂

Control your weather

Posted by on February 5th 2009 in LMAO!, Weather
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Fed up of rain, snow and wind?

TBH, I'm not. I like such conditions.

That said, I'm aware that there are folk out there that don't like the wintry weather. They sit around moaning about it, wishing that it could be changed.

Well, I've found the answer to all of their prayers. Now they can do something about their local weather conditions!

According to LFTO/Trail, all they need is a pair of these new Mountain Hardwear OutDry gloves:

 

Click the pic to open the original article.

🙂

Rivers of Blood

Posted by on February 3rd 2009 in Illness and injury, LMAO!
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So there I was, in the kitchen, standing proud in front of a stack of well-washed crockery. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I was contemplating the drying stage when I noticed a small pool of blood on the worktop. I mopped it up and then noticed more on the floor, forming a trail that led into the lounge.

I duly cleaned all that too, and returned to the sink to rinse my hands. On the worktop was more blood...

Absolutely convinced that I'd already mopped it up, I did the job again, only to notice another trail back to the lounge. Off I went again, cloth in hand, in clean-up mode.

Back in the kitchen there was yet more blood. On worktops, appliances, towels, door-handles... Hmm...

While cleaning up the mess and trying to suss the mystery, I saw red-brown streaks all over the recently-washed crockery, so I washed it again. Standing there, I noticed that my Raichles were starting to stick to the floor, so I looked down to find that I was standing in a puddle of the red stuff. Moreover, the stuff was on my trousers and cuffs. And it was p155ing out of my finger. A neat, deep, clean cut, no doubt accidentally self-inflicted during the washing-up process.

Only then did I realise that I'd been tracking and recreating my own trails, in a bizarre Robinson-Crusoe-footprints-on-the-beach sort of way.

What a pillock.

But what about the first trail to the lounge?

Just after finishing the initial load of washing-up, I'd emptied the tumble-drying contraption and carried the clean/dry clothes to the ironing-basket in the lounge. Needless to say, I'm now doing the laundry... again...

Arse.

Not the End of the World

Posted by on February 2nd 2009 in Weather

The overnight snow here wasn't as apocalyptic as predicted. At the moment it's snowing very lightly, it's quite mild and the accumulated snow-depth is a measly 15mm at the most. Yes, that's mm not cm. The cars have a light dusting of snow, but they're not iced-up, there having been no overnight freeze.

Even this piddly-farty amount of the fabled white-stuff is enough for the local junior and infant schools to announce that they won't be open today. Less that a mile away from them, however, the local high school is open. How does that work, then?

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