Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Msc - Job etc

Spent Monday in Birmingham for my MSc in Health Economics. A long day – but well worthwhile – got be quite fired up for doing the course – but also a little daunted at the amount of work needed.

My biggest concern is how to fit it around the workload at the hospital. We have a meeting this afternoon to look at structures and roles. I am pretty secure in my post, although there will be some changes to the range of areas I cover. I can’t see, however, there be any reduction in workload to accommodate the MSc. They are releasing me for the time to attend the courses – but there is a hell of a lot of reading, research, writing etc behind the lectures – where does that all fit!!!???? Maybe more will be clear after today’s meeting……wish me luck!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Doctor Who returns to TV

The BBC reports that Doctor Who will be returning to our screens. Hardly surprising, but it has taken long enough. Dr Who reminds me of those Saturdays as a kid when you wanted to watch telly. Now there is bugger all to watch on Saturday apart form relentless 'talent' shows like Pop Idol and Fame Academy. Thanks god we may get something decent to watch - although it may be up to 2 years before the first episode is screened. Big question - who should play the Doctor?

Legal fight for gay pensions

Really pleased to see that unions have lodged papers with the high court in order to undertake a Legal fight for gay pensions. Most employers interpret recent equality laws as not applying to pension schemes. The government is one of them, as most public sector employers do not recognise same sex couples for the purposes of pension schemes. Of course, it is different in parliament where they have changed the policy to extend their pension rights to same sex couples and unmarried couples. I suppose they would say they are leading by example, but I find it extremely hypocritical and another example of politicians taking the piss out of the electorate.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

How to Make the Perfect Mix Tape

How to Make the Perfect Mix Tape. Just follow the instructions!

Electronic paper prepares for video

Phillips are developing their current Electronic paper to a stage where it is capable of supporting video. This link has a whole lot more of the technical detail - but it is the practical uses that are fascinating. Imagine wallpaper made of this - fancy a new colour scheme or want to have an image of trees gently blowing in the wind? - just reprogram the paper. Pretty cool.

Lteter Oderr

Just seen an intersting piece on Wingardium Leviosa! blog. Apparently "Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnat tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Amzanig huh?"

Cetrnaily semes to be ture! Deos tihs maen taht I can ingroe the splel cehck?

NHS Managament

The hospital where I work is going through a post merger restructuring. This has taken almost a year and we are still waiting for clear structures and roles. Reminded me of a Dilbert cartoon that seems to encapsulate the current way we work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Wake David

Wake David is a site full of ideas and comments about the Blaine stunt. Check it for ways to keep him awake and for an unmoderated rant about the ridiculous nature of his stunt!

Barmy Blaine

Article on the BBC about the Americans attitude to the Blaine stunt. Apparently, they are bemused by our reaction and think he should be taken more seriously., What is there to take seriously about a man in a box? Full marks to those flashing him and taunting him with food. I think it is a ridiculous and pointless stunt that isn't even newsworthy. If he was doing a sponsored fast to raise money (and awareness) for people starving across the world, then maybe it would be OK. But what he is doing is purely about increasing his profile. Go back to the US David!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Anti-swap CD hits the racks

Interesting development in the CD piracy debate. A new CD has been released that contains 2 versions of the music. One version that will play on standard CD players, but is copy protected. And a second version that will open on your PC or Mac and can be downloaded to portable devices or make CD copies for other players, but cannot be uploaded and shared on other PCs. Seems pretty reasonable. It would allow me to make my own copies to keep one in the car for example and to save the tracks to the PC for playing on my PC or adding to a mix CD. I couldn't just swap them all over the net. Should please record companies and consumers - or am I being to naive? Read more


I have had all the confirmation through for my MSc in Health Economics and have an introductory day next Monday. Really looking forward to it, although there is a lot of reading and there will be a lot of work needed to support it. There go my weekends and evenings for the next 2 years! I am studying at Birmingham university, which is a bit of a way to travel, but it does have a very good reputation for health studies.

I have been ploughing through the reading list and will need to get a few of the key texts soon, although the main 5 day block isn't until November. Get ready for lots of dull economic facts heading your way!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Phone fix

Decided to add a new extension for the French phone in the living room. Didn't really want to trail a cable across the whole ground floor, so lifted the trapdoor and went into the floor space below. Most older houses will have a crawl space below the boards. The main thing to note is that is damp, dirty and dark. With the aid of a torch I crawled under the floors and fixed a cable from the kitchen to the living room. There is not a lot of room and I needed to knock a couple of bricks out to get through some of the smaller gaps. I assume the house will stay up OK! felt a bit like potholing really. Glad it is done, but not something I would want to do every day.

Took a while to connect all the wires and a bit of head scratching to get it all set up, but now works fine. Pleased it is done, although the French ring on a phone is very loud! Next job, may be to muffle the bell!

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Phone adaptor

One of the things we bought in Paris was an old 60s telephone in a lovely bright orange. Tried to re-wire to the BT system but the colours are all different on the wires and didn't fancy randomly testing them. Looked a lot on the net for adaptors with no luck, but finally found one on Friday from Multitel. They do adaptors for phones and modems for most countries in Europe, also USA, far east etc. They can work either way and really useful if you do a lot of travelling. Don't normally promote someone so much, but found this really useful.

Update on hair! - Decided not to get the skinhead. Had a friend over on Friday and I am an usher at her wedding in 4 weeks - she didn't want it that short! So compromised with a number 2 back and sides and shortish on top!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Back in the UK

Well back after our holiday. We had a great time – relaxing and with plenty of good food and wine. I do love visiting Paris, I know it pretty well and find it an easy city to get around. It is just a shame to have to come back. First day at work and already I feel like I haven’t been away – I am still going through a huge pile of post and emails after an 8.30 –11.30 meeting and am delighted to see that someone has added a 5.30 meeting to my diary! Thank god it is Friday tomorrow.

Big dilemma while I was away was whether to have my haircut or not. Currently got the usual mid length messy look but I am now thinking of going for a skinhead. Not sure how it will look (quite a few years since I last had a skinhead) and I am now in a grown-up job wearing a suit everyday. Almost feel I need my bosses permission first!

Monday, September 15, 2003

Paris, France

Almost on the last day of our holiday in Paris. Thought I would just update the blog from the internet cafe opposite the Pompidou Centre. It is a beautiful sunny day here and we have spent the last few days exploring some of the parts of Paris that i haven't seen before. I have been here several times and feel no need to view all the same old tourist attractions. It is great to explore a little off the beaten track and see some different areas and sights.

We had a long walk along the canal from Porte de Pantin to Republique and then onto Bastille and the Marais, a side of Paris that I haven't seen before, and well worth a visit.

Also seen many opportunities for House Gymnastics in Paris, will try to get some photos up soon!

Au revoir

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Inserting pictures

Thought I’d try to develop my blogging skills, so I have tried to add an image of Paris rooftops below. Hope this works.

Illness, holidays and work

Typical – I finally get a holiday (off to Paris tomorrow) and I am still nursing a cold, sore throat, headache etc. Popped into the local Walk-in Centre last night to get it checked out as my partner has had the same problem (but worse) and been told he has a lung infection. Thought I best get checked out as I don’t want to pay the French prices for antibiotics. Luckily, I am not as bad and just have a viral infection that will clear up eventually.

It hasn’t helped having to be in work, but it is worse going away knowing that you have left loads of uncompleted jobs. I was in 8.15 – 7.00 yesterday and hope I don’t need to do the same today. I am sure the stress at work with a new boss, new structures etc hasn’t helped.

Never mind – tomorrow I will be off to Paris. I haven’t considered if there is an opportunity to blog over there, never seem to see internet cafes, and it does seem a bit sad to make a special detour for the blog. So may be out of action for a few days.

Monday, September 08, 2003

What lesser-known Simpsons character are you?

On-line quiz to see which Simpsons character you are. Ignoring bart, Marge, homer etc...and focusing on the lesser known. Turns out that I am

What lesser-known Simpsons character are you?

Employers 'breach long-hours rules'

As the conference season begins, the TUC have decided to use their conference as a place to start attacking the long-hours culture in the UK. We are the only country to get an opt-out of the maximum 48-hour week. I cannot see anything changing over then next few years. My contract is for a nominal 37 hours, with the old proviso of being expected to do the hours needed for the job. This usually averages the 45 hour mark, and is never less than 40. There is a culture of accepting this without question. Employers 'breach long-hours rules' contains a summary of the issues. I will be watching this one with great interest.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Justin's "I Banged Britney" Home Page

Justin's "I Banged Britney" Home Page is a great little site that lets Justin tell you all about the 238 times he banged Britney!

Global Rich List

Global Rich List is a great little tool I noticed in the paper today. Enter your annual salary in sterling or dollars and find where you sit in the world's rich list. I was in the top 0.84% richest people in the world. Goes a long way to making you realise how well off we are in the west. You can also click to donate form the site.

Lapdance Island

I had a bit of a rant about reality TV the other week (Aug 21). Especially an new E4 programme called ‘Lap dance Island’. Seems it is actually a make believe programme that E4 had devised as part of a new programme called ‘Pilots’, whereby they expose members of the public and celebrities (minor) to ridiculous TV pilots to see how far people will accept the premise. Suppose it is good to show how stupid many people are and the lengths that they will go to for their 15 minutes of fame, but I stand by my original argument that it is demeaning and a blight on the TV schedules.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Peter Kay - mean with the brews

We have got a couple of my brother’s mates staying this week. They work for British Gas and are up in the northeast for a few weeks to help reduce the backlog on a few jobs. They were saying last night how they had been to service Peter Kay’s boiler. It amused me that Peter Kay has British Gas 5 Star cover for his boiler. It epitomizes exactly what his comedy is about. Apparently, he was recording some sections for a CD at the time, scrabbling around in a gravel tray for sound effects. He is also mean with the brews, not offering a cup of tea until his wife came home. First rule with gas fitters – always make them a brew first!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Three million follow Atkins diet

Three million follow Atkins diet reports the BBC. I managed the Atkins diet for about one and half days before I gave in. That is partly due my low will power, but more to do with the diet being so limited. I couldn’t manage to live off meat, eggs, cheese etc and give up fruit, most vegetables and bread. I know a few people who have lost a lot of weight with it, but most have given up after a while due to the restrictive nature of the diet and acknowledge they have had headaches, light headiness etc. Nutritionists always say that a balanced diet and exercise is the best way to lose weight. We all know this to be true, but cannot help believe a miracle diet will make losing the weight so much easier.

Safety Sign Builder

Saw a refernce on Matt Cryer's Blog to this great sign builder. Wish I could add pictures to the blog, you can have some great fun at this site. Wedgee warnings and other puerile humour beckons in a big way!

Had a pretty busy weekend. We have been in Stockton for my partner’s mother’s birthday. Had a great time, and especially funny as his mother got out all the old baby photos. Very funny to see my partner and his sister squabbling like kids over dinner and then see them doing the same twenty years ago!

Also been trying to take advantage of the Easy-Jet flight sale, but of course there are very few weekend flights available. You can fly Newcastle to Barcelona for about £10 return, but only if you want to fly Tuesday to Friday. Obviously everyone else has had the same idea and the weekend flights have gone already. Just have to accept that these flights must go as soon as they are online.