Archive for November 2012

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Sundering Seas…

Posted by on November 29th 2012 in New tricks for an old dog

You've spent many a year wading through many of the works of the Tolkiens.

You've paddled around in the children's books.

You've dipped your toe into The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, vowing to go in knee-deep next time.

You've dived into the mysteries of Arda and have navigated the ways of Middle-earth many times.

The end of the voyage is in sight, the Quest is almost completed, each reading now extends understanding's depth rather than its scope.

But Lo!

There's more!

 The Fall of Arthur.

Scheduled publication date: 23 May 2013

You can pre-order it from Amazon - see here.

I suppose I'll have to get me a copy. My bookshelves will look bare without one.

Lucky Bs

Posted by on November 24th 2012 in Bargains, Shiny new kit

No, not


I'm on about the Extremities® Lucky Bags that Terra Nova have on sale here.

I ordered a couple after reading about them on Grahame's blog - see here.

So, what did we receive?

Chris got these:

Winter Hacking Gloves (RRP £27.00)

 Boreas Windy Took Hat (RRP £29.00)

 Merino Took Hat (Est £25.00)

Super Neck Gaiter (RRP £21.00?)

 I got these:

Lightweight Mountain Mitts (RRP £80.00) - outers on the left, inners on the right

 Balaclava (RRP £22.00)


 Windy Took Hat (RRP £26.00)

and between the two of us we got five mini-karabiners and a bottle-opener:

Unless I've lost the ability to do basic addition, that lot comes to a total of £230.

Yes, I know that Extremities® kit can be had from discount outlets such as TKMaxx, but I've yet to see the Mountain Mitts there for less than £20.

I'd say that these Lucky Bags are worth getting. If you're considering getting one, act soon - they're going fast.

  Now, you'll have to pardon me but I have to get back to the fight for possession of that Merino Took!

Oh and if you're wondering what a Took is, this might help.

Are you s#itting comfortably?

Posted by on November 23rd 2012 in Illness and injury


It's time for another butt update.

I should have seen my NHS consultant in July but, due to NHS cutbacks and issues with funding it turned out to be in October. Obviously there was no point in discussing the results of the Mebeverine trial, as I'd finished taking that stuff several months before. The long and the short of it was that my consultant had done all he could for me, and I was being referred to a different specialist, and I was given a choice of two - either the consultant who actually butchered my arse (and, the weekend after, discharged me from an emergency ward without examining me) way back in January, or a consultant that I'd not met before. I chose the latter.

While in that hospital yesterday getting my Dad repaired I took the opportunity to chase an appointment with that new consultant. I came home armed with his name and number, and today I was on the phone to his secretary trying to get something sorted out.

She confirmed that although no appointment had been made, the new consultant had agreed to take on my case and "a letter had been registered". In other words, he's sent a letter to his appointments manager asking her to arrange an appointment for me. That's as far as it went. I explained that my condition was getting worse rather than better, and I was passed over to said appointments manager.

That turned out to be an interesting conversation. Apparently they need to see me in the Functional Bowel Clinic. I can't have an appointment until the clinic managers find time to fit me in, and they can't fit me in because they have a...

wait for it...

are you ready?


I must admit, that did make me chuckle. It was a great choice of terminology.

And then the chuckling stopped. It's no minor backlog. They're still making appointments for folk that should have been seen in APRIL!

Which, of course, means that I have at least eight more months to wait until it's my turn.

Eight more months of unpredictable sessions of thrush, pain and/or bleeding, eight more months of alternating between incontinence and constipation, eight more months of unnecessary hassle.

Fellwalking and so on will have to be risked rather than enjoyed. Wildcamping is a no-no.


Let me be the first to wish you all a Happy New Year.


Posted by on November 22nd 2012 in Illness and injury

Top tip

Be careful on the stairs when getting ready to leave home for a routine ten-minute hearing-aid repair at the hospital.


 One blunt trauma, one 10mm laceration, one fine black eye and one working hearing-aid.
Followed soon after by two layers of suturing, at least five visible stitches and three unplanned hours in A&E.


I've pixellated parts of the image to protect my Dad's identity.


I should add that both service and patient-care were excellent - only a short wait for assessment and then a fast-track through X-ray, vision-testing, proposed treatment second-opinion, final treatment and discharge. The doctor and her trainee were in almost constant attendance throughout, and they did a fine job.

Observing Report 17th-18th November 2012 (Part 1 – in like a lion, out like a… bull)

Posted by on November 18th 2012 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

I spent ages outside in the freezing cold last night trying to catch some Leonid (LEO) meteors on camera. There were quite a few about and I was pointing the camera in the right direction, but after taking 443 30-second exposures I'd not managed to get one in shot.

I did, however, manage to snap this little beauty racing eastward between Auriga and Cassiopeia - it's a Taurid, probably a Northern Taurid (NTA):

I'm quite pleased with that result, and the whole exercise was good practice for next month's Geminids (GEM).

So, did you vote?

Posted by on November 16th 2012 in A bit of a rant, In the News

Yeah, I'm on about yesterday's PCC elections.

I'm not usually apathetic about using my democratic rights, but none of the candidates here seemed to want to put any effort into garnering any support. We've had no canvassers, no leaflets, no posters in the streets.

Democracy in action?

More like Democracy inaction.

Would I want our local Constabulary to be run by somebody who couldn't even be arsed to tell us his/her name, let alone what he/she stands for?


I didn't vote because I couldn't make an informed decision.

And now they're wondering why the turnout was so poor.

It doesn't take a lot of brain-power to work it out.

Observing Report 2nd-3rd and 5th-6th November 2012 (Addendum)

Posted by on November 16th 2012 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

Nearly forgot about this one!

I was using the Canon EOS 1000D on the 6" R-C scope and trying out the Planetary Mode of BackyardEOS. Using this mode of the software lets me make .avi files which can then be frame-stacked by other software such as RegiStax. The colours are natural, all I've done is to increase the saturation using Photoshop. The result's rough & ready but at least it's a start:


Posted by on November 15th 2012 in Bargains, Just for fun

Last time we were at Coventry Tesco we noticed that MoGo Insect Repellent Fabric Conditioner was on offer.

Has anybody out there tried the stuff, and if so was it any good?




Another "find" was this huge krab:


I'd no intention of buying it, I was just intrigued by the ambiguous packaging blurb -

"Parent Organiser... Keeps your bags organised!"

Seems a tad disrespectful, IMO.

"Parent's Organiser" or "Parents' Organiser" might have been better.



Observing Report 2nd-3rd and 5th-6th November 2012 (Back in business)

Posted by on November 14th 2012 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

Having brought the observatory back to full operational status after replacing the roof that was trashed by the hailstorm, I thought I'd better get out there and actually use it. I managed a couple of sessions of observing during a run of four clear nights, and used them for some experimentation and equipment tests. I'd fitted a better focuser to the 6" R-C, the new one's a monorail or linear-bearing focuser, it has much better stability than the original Crayford which means less flexing of the optical train under the weight of the coolbox-clad camera. This in turn means better auto-guiding and hence a much-reduced tendency for stars to appear elongated.

Anyway, less of the techy stuff. Visual targets were the Moon and Jupiter, both were putting on a fine display in the clear skies. Imaging-wise I managed to bag a couple more Messier Objects - M47 and M76. Both presented problems - M47 was so low that for some of the time I was imaging through the topmost branches of a tree that belongs to a neighbour three gardens away; and M67 is such a dim and small thing that I didn't take enough pics to capture all of the detail, so I'll have to gather some additional subs sometime soon. Pics and details as follows:

M47 (aka NGC2422), an open cluster in the constellation Puppis.
Subs: 18 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO800.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

M76 (aka NGC650/651, The Little Dumbbell Nebula), a planetary nebula in the constellation Perseus.
Subs: 18 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO800.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

As above, cropped and enhanced.

Debt: buy it and bin it

Posted by on November 13th 2012 in Uncategorized

Rolling Jubilee.

Looks like a great idea, I wonder if it could work this side of the pond?

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