Archives for category: How it used to be
My deep seated fear of dentists comes from an event in my formative years that has left me deeply scared and general afraid of having my teeth prodded or poked in any way. While I was in hospital having my wisdom teeth extracted at the age of 17, I woke up on the operating table. I still have a vivid recollection of blood, my blood, and lots of it, and a general commotion amongst the staff involved. It wasn’t for long, seconds rather than minutes, and when I awoke in my hospital bed it seemed rather like a bad dream. My recovery was long and slow, and I’ve never felt less inspired by professionals since that moment.

I’ve had the odd brush (no pun intended) with dentistry in the intervening years. Some how I managed to maintain two of my milk teeth and about 10 years ago had to finally loose one of them (I still have the other and he’s doing just fine). That called for a visit to a dental chair, and not one that I enjoyed. The pain was long lasting and only served to reinforce my feelings on the subject.

Alongside the physical pain of dental work, there’s the financial pain as well. This is something that really grates on me. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that a trained professional deserves to be remunerated appropriately for their skill and execution of what is really minor surgery. What I don’t understand is why we bother getting the NHS involved ? It seems to me that NHS dentistry is a lost cause.

If you can find one (and it’s a big if), your friendly NHS dentist will be possibly the most overworked man on the planet. Because the cost of the service is subsidised by the taxpayer (via the government) it’s very reasonably priced, and as such in great demand. In fact, in some areas, mine included, demand is so high that the first available appointment may not be for a month. Of course, if it’s an emergency, there is a system in place for this too. A special number you call where miraculously they’ll find you a dentist. Of course, a pre-requisite for this is that they answer the phone. I’m sure you’re starting to understand the frustration. In the end, I’ve sadly thrown in the towel on the NHS dental system and shelled out the big bucks. There’s only so much pain one can take. I did some background research for good local dentists and paid 35 quid to talk to a receptionist. That said, a hour later I was sat in the chair and an hour after that I was back home with a wad of cotton wool in my gums, half a numb face and £100 quid and two teeth lighter.

They were a pleasure to deal with and I think this tiny dentists surgery tucked away a few hundred yards from home might just be the people to restore my faith in the dental profession. I’m sure the fact that they’ve alleviated my pain is clouding my judgement somewhat, but for now that was the best money I’ve spent this year.

I’ve kept the monster tooth, just to scare the kiddies with a Christmas and birthday parties. I might have it mounted.

Image

Take care, and brush your teeth.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Once more into the breach dear friends, once more. Thankyou Mr Shakespeare for coming up with the perfect phrase to describe how I feel about my imminent bout of Christmas shopping.
It’s that time of year and I suppose this weekend more than most is likely to be THE weekend of madness in shopping centres up and down the land. We’ve selected Cabot Circus in Bristol, as our retail outlet of choice this year, generally because it provides such an enjoyable experience. It’s easy to get to, usually with plentiful parking and is mostly undercover from the elements while leaving you with the feeling of being outside thanks to hit huge open spaces and interesting glass roof structures. There’s also two stores in particular that make it a worthwhile trip.
The downside however, will no doubt be the fact that the world and his wife will be out doing the same thing. Not only that, but they’ll have brought the kids, grandparents and family pets along with them too. I can’t wait… to get back home, and we haven’t even left yet.
Last night was a far more enjoyable experience. Mrs G had her Christmas dinner with work to attend. It was held in a quite posh hotel ‘up the hill’ in one of the villages. A pleasant spot. Son has his ‘Xmas Works Outing’ coming soon and of course Daughter hosts hundreds of them at the pub she works in when she’s not specialing.
My Xmas Works Outing is a much wilder affair. I work from home and while to many this may seem a sad and lonely existence, I’ve enjoyed it very much for the past 15 years or so (on and off). I had a bout of living in London and the US for a few years, but I recovered eventually. What this all means though, is that I don’t really get a ‘Christmas do’. It would be nice to catch up with colleagues both old and new and quaff a few pints to wash down a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and in days gone by that would most definitely have been the case, but the past 5 years have seen a change in attitudes towards such goings on.
In fact all forms of frivolity in the work place seem to be frowned upon. You can’t enjoy work anymore. The Health & Safety brigade along with the Political Correctors seem to have sucked all the fun out of working life and the bean counters have topped it off by going all ‘Scrooge’ on the employee entertainment and morale front. If your lucky, you might get a cold turkey sandwich in the canteen during December and they’ll probably still be hanging around in January too.
I’m not suggesting we should go back to the 70’s, 80s & 90s when it was quite normal for colleagues to be sleeping the effects of the office party off, at the office or to caught up to no good in the stationary cupboard. But at least people had fun. Now everyones too scared to appear to let their guard down in front of their boss for fear of future repercussions. It’s very very sad.
Being on my own in the office means I don’t have any of those trappings to hinder me. I also can’t get caught up to no good in the stationary cupboard, which I suppose is just as well. I can get completely slozzled without fear of looking stupid in front of the boss and I can sleep it off at my desk should I so choose (it’s in what would have been bedroom number 4 if I hadn’t used it as an office anyway). To this end, last night was my Christmas do although the company neglected to pay for it which is a great shame.
The only other human that’s around when I’m in the office is daughter so she and I went to a pleasant little pub up the road for a slap up nosh fest. The place was packed with people having their Christmas do’s all doing their best not to look like idiots in front of their bosses and all eating the same unappetising Christmas dinner. Each had a paper hat and bad cracker jokes.
I on the other hand, had a reasonable steak and ale pie (daughter had a reasonable steak) and the pleasure of her company. Far more enjoyable than any of the uncomfortable looking herberts pretending to be having fun. If only Starfleet had been footing the bill, it would have been a Christmas do to remember. Instead it was an enjoyable evening with Daughter.
I haven’t lost all hope. I actually love Christmas. Not so much the shopping and presents for presents sake side of it. Not the over commercialisation of it. But next year with a new role it’s entirely possible there could be a sociable set of people who aren’t over the top with the PC crowd, but I wont count my chickens just yet….
And now I must imitate the action of the Tiger, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint Nicholas’ – Merry bleeding Christmas.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

I’m sure you can tell from the quality of yesterday’s post, that I got a shed-load (verifiable quantity as per H.M.Weights & Measures) of work done yesterday. Had a very productive day, not that everyday isn’t productive, but yesterday was just more so. It’s a satisfying feeling, but will be instantly tainted by the need for something else to be done. Just like the Donkey and the Carrot on a stick, The Hamster & the Wheel, or  outer space…. it just goes on forever.

Luckily, the fact that I don’t have it allocated yet, should allow me a little bit of time to get some life balance stuff done.  In particular the 5th Wedding Anniversary shenanigans, which if I don’t get sorted (as any married man will tell you) my life won’t be worth living.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so probably best not to scorn, I say. I’ve got everything done but a card, so I’m going to have to have a quick trip into town at some point to find something appropriate.  There is a dinner plan, but I best not talk about that until after the event, just incase Mrs G decides she’s finally going to read this rubbish.

Moving on…

Let’s get wasted!!!!!  (Woah… hang on a minute… What!?? – Ed)  What I’m actually talking about is “i-dosing”. Still none the wiser?? Let me elaborate.

Parents of todays youth (that includes me), you should be very very concerned…. again…  Your kids may at this very moment be getting high as kites by downloading a speedball of sound from the evil Internet and uploading it into their brains via their ears…..  Or to put it another way, they might be listening to this new-fangled music that gets them high…. Or to put it another way, they might have discovered “Binaural Beats” which are used for sleep therapy and are labouring under the false impression that this tosh somehow makes them high…. It’s all here in the Telegraph, so it must be true…

Actually they probably are getting off their heads, because for 5 minutes they’re not texting, video gaming, facebooking, tweeting, flippin MTV channels or trying to figure out how to be an adult. A little bit of peace and quiet in an ocean of noise, can’t actually be a bad thing can it??  We used to call it meditating, but that’s the generation gap for you, always re-inventing the language.  So if you want your kid to get high (which apparently now means ‘relaxed’) without the use of drugs, send them off here: http://gethighnow.com. I’m sure they’ll have a gay old time… ooo… hang about, that’s changed as well, I mean… happy old time…  word…  I mean rad… I mean sick… no I mean random… oh, whatever.. D’oh!

Finally some calming video imagary in the form of animation. OK, so perhaps it’s not really calming, but it’s not exactly drug fuelled speed on acid and ecstasy. You probably won’t get “off your face” on it. Lagoa Technologies have released this video on ‘Vimeo’ (You know, the other YouTube – Ed.) which shows what they’ve been doing with Real World Physics Simulation.  Very impressive looking stuff if you’re interested in modelling and rendering and all that good stuff..

Lagoa Multiphysics 1.0 – Teaser from Thiago Costa on Vimeo.
Ta-ra then… I can hear the factory whistle tugging at me as if I’d caught my coat in a car door after disembarkation.

Does my nut in. I never seem to have any time to stop and enjoy the view. Not only are Starfleet keeping me loaded up during my waking/working hours, but I enjoy being a sociable old sod as well. This is just taking up a lot of time of late and my social calendar seems to be a bit jammed up again.

I must learn to say “No”, even if I don’t want to.

I also need to keep my sense of humour when it comes to daughter and her friends. You know how it is when you’re sober and everyone esle is drunk. You just seem to not quite get the hilarious joke and end up looking like the grumpy one who should have stayed at home. I fell foul of that last night even though I was the one who stayed home. To be fair to her it wasn’t ‘that’ late, but I don’t like being woken up by giggling buffoonery when I’ve got an early start.

Surprisingly I was young once and as I recall was a far less considerate son to my sainted parents than daughter is to me, so in all honesty I should cut her some slack. I’ve said it before, but things really are different now and the world has moved on from the follies of my youth, to a different set of follies of today’s youths. Worth remembering.

So I’ve spent a large chunk of the day at one of the Starfleet bases checking out some of the new weaponry and testing it on tribbles…. failed to kill any of them, but maimed a few. Turns out that if you don’t watch out for the recoil you could wind up with bandy ears, very dangerous, but it’s kind of like all-right. OK? Yeah, right. We also appear to have found an element of mushroom management going on which is a little (to say the least) disturbing. Being kept in the dark and fed sh!t is not my idea of having a good time, or a good job for that matter.

Of late, my heart is greatly saddened by the way that Starfleet have changed from a progressive, forward thinking company of intelligent beings, into a vast group of pencil pushing abacus operators who know next to nothing about “space exploration” and everything about satisfying the evil emperor while the rebellion flounders. I can hear him now (via my bandy ears) “You’re lack of faith disturbs me”….. and we all know how that story finished up don’t we ?

Talking of follies, it’s Thursday so it’s WTC which this week, well tonight actually, will be held in the Cheese Rollers Inn. Really looking forward to that as I’m such a fan of the sport. (Yes it really is a sport)

Failed miserably to write my 750 words yesterday and I hold my oldest (not eldest) friend entirely responsible for that. I have some catching up to do. Clearly he led me astray with alcohol and food and general chat of people we know, places we’ve seen and the goings on of the world itself. We set the world to rights and it was loads of fun.

So A&L&LittleA showed up mid afternoon Saturday, and we spread out in the garden and enjoyed the sunshine. A really beautiful day on Saturday meant that as well as consuming the odd beverage or two a full on bar-b-q (using the newly reconditioned BBQ) was the perfect way to watch the sun go down. LittleA has really become a great little character (she’s 14 months now) and gurgle’s away, points, says the odd intelligent word (like cat-cat or some such) and has an interest in absolutely everything for at least 35 seconds before being dis-squrriel-tracted.

Daughter arrived with S (and later C and Son’s “friend” S2). S had made fresh kebabs with Daughter which went down well and we spoofed for who would be first in the tub fully clothed. All very silly but entertaining stuff. By the time the wee small hours arrived we’d migrated back in doors to a game of Buzz and a bit of Singstar before we were all fully worn out and had to sleep. There’s only so much Lady GaGa as sung by the youths and mangled by the adults that you can take.

Early start Sunday morning because as anyone with kids will you tell you they set the agenda from the moment they awake, although this is perfectly normal in our house where we’re normally early birds. So by 9 o’clock we were all up and had feasted on a proper english cooked breakfast. The five of us (A&L&LittleA, Mrs G and I) took a stroll into the city and around the newly refurbished docks (Oh what a floor that is) ending up appropriately in Robert Raikes’ House for a spot of lunch.

Oh what a floor that is…

It’s appropriate because it was a Sunday and Mr Raikes was the founder of the Sunday School movement. In fact he was the founder of schooling in general (as Sunday Schools came before the state school system) and they where first held on a Sunday because the rest of the time, the kids were all at work (up chimneys, in factories etc etc. – Oh for the good old days) Today his house is a pub, and a very beautiful one it is too. Can’t say that the food and drink really lives up to the surroundings which is a great shame, but it’s still perfectly edible and quaffable. A greatly enjoyed weekend that we don’t do often enough. Luckily there are bank holidays on the near horizon and L has her special birthday coming up – so a weekend in Wiltshire with more buffoonery and catching up with more of the west country gang isn’t far away.

This morning I have a disaster on my hands though. A and I finished off the “Old Brown Java” on Sunday morning which means I’ve had to revert to the Lavazza, which while good is not the same. So at some point this week I have to have a trip to Whittards to pickup both more OBJ and either some Italian Expresso, Monsoon Malabar or Cafe Francais. Life without coffee would be like life without oxygen probably.

I also seem to be having some very odd goings on with my broadband connection this morning. It’s up and down like a pair of whore’s draws and I’m damned if I can figure out why. My router is particularly old and has been 100% reliable so I’m doubting that’s the problem. Of more concern may be network activity caused by some rouge piece of software. Now I have a fairly solid set of tools on the Mac that allow me to see exactly what it’s up to and nothing appears out of place there, so my suspicions point towards the slightly more volatile Windows systems that sit on my LAN. The work box only does work and nothing else (at least as far as is humanly possible) so I doubt that’s picked anything up, but it’s not impossible. I think a full scan is in order and we all know how tedious that is…..

Oh how heavenly it is to have a houseful of teenagers / young adults / youths / hoodies, whatever you want to call them. Daughter’s teenage years are numbered on the fingers of one hand and son passed that milestone a year and half ago, but there are occasions when you would truly believe that the pair of them are still only 5 years old. Of course, they are far more communicative now that their teenage-ness has mostly passed and that makes for some very entertaining conversations.

Then there are those evenings where Me and Mrs G are worn out from a long week and all you want to do is have an early night. Now daughter was working and son was firmly planted on the sofa wishing to watch sport relief. (When I was his age screaming horses wouldn’t have kept me in with my parents on a Friday night, but it’s nice to have his company.) Daughter got home about 9 and happily announced that she was going out to a local hostelry with her friends.

And there is the double-edged sword of youth into adulthood.

As a youth, you have no concept over your parents concerns for your safety on a night out. As a parent, you spend your life worrying about the little cherubs. So with one hand you worry that they may be too introverted and un-sociable (sitting on the sofa with the telly on a Friday night) and on the other hand you worry that they’re out to all hours with god-knows-who up to god-knows-what!

There is one and only one approach to this problem. Relax! You’d send yourself insane if you spent every waking hour chewing fingernails and jiggling toes. By this age, you should have equipped them with the basics to get by in most situations and if a new situation presents itself, well that’s a learning excercise for them – and often for you too. The world is not the same place as when we were their age, even if we wish it was. And it’ll never be the same for them when they reach our age either.

So in our example – the correct approach was for Me and Mrs G to go to bed and have a relatively early night. Son knows how to switch off and lock up and daughter has a key. She’s with friends and only round the corner and how long can a pub sensibly stay open for in the burb’s anyway?? The answer is 1AM!!! 1AM!!!! For crying out loud!!
But worse to come – instead of coming in quietly and going to bed without disturbing anyone – the whole household has to know she’s back and has brought a troop of followers with her. Finally we can get back to sleep and the house settles back down for the night all is. However, the kitchen this morning looks like a small thermonuclear device has been detonated in a McDonald’s. Wrappers and empty drinks everywhere. A half eaten McChikenThing, half a bag of fries, etc etc….

Why is McDonalds open 24hours and the pub open til 1am? These simple things made for a good night’s sleep for my parents, because by 11.30 there was nothing else to do but go home to bed

Of course – It sounds like I’m moaning only because “It wasn’t like that in my day”, but as I’ve already pointed out – it wasn’t like it is now and thank god for that on many counts. They have mobile phones (they can stay in touch), CCTV (they’re being watched – even if they don’t want to be), their own cars (we don’t have to drive them around), much stricter drink-driving laws (they’d never drink and drive – but in days gone by it was commonplace), more money in their pockets (so if they need a taxi they’ll get one). But then they have lax licencing laws (so the pub’s open til 1am), 24×7 food (so they eat and stay awake all night), no concept of sleep and…. don’t own their own homes yet.

We are very very lucky. They’re two very well rounded and entertaining young adults with plenty of friends and their whole lives ahead of them. So, in future just turn over and go back to sleep – if there’s something serious going on – you’ll hear about it soon enough. Sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that even though your fridge maybe empty in the morning, all your bedrooms will be full.

Hmmm – must consider putting up the rent – perhaps then they’ll consider buying their own houses. 😉 And there’s the subject of a whole other story. Transition from dependencies to non-dependencies… let’s save that for another time.