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Waspie_Dwarf's Blog

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Not many thoughts.

I have just looked back through this blog. I am shocked to find that I started it mote than 11 years ago, My original intention was to blog my thoughts on... well any thing I had a thought about really.

In those more than 11 years I have had several periods where I have not made an entry for years on end. In fact this will be only the 83rd entry. It seems that I have less than 8 thoughts a year.


Privilege and prejudice

Sadly we live in a world of oppression and prejudice. People are subjugated and killed for their beliefs, race, creed, gender, political views, mental and physical handicaps and sexuality. These injustices should make all of us angry and drive all of us to be better people. We should strive to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

However, as well as those who are truly oppressed are the complainers, the whiners. Those who are complaining that they are subjugated simply because they are being prevented from subjugating others.

If, like me, you are a white, Anglo-Saxon, able-bodied, heterosexual male living in a rich western democracy then you are one of the most privileged human beings that has ever walked the planet. If you think you are the victim of prejudice then you really need to get over yourself.


Moonwalkers: And then there were four...

I am not sure what my earliest memory is. It of one of two. It is either my sister falling into a pond or it is sitting on my father's lap watching Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the moon.

I may not know which of those memories is the earliest, but I do know which one sparked a life long interest. If you need a clue, I have never had a pond.

So with today's passing of Alan Bean, Apollo 12 Lunar Module pilot and 4th man to walk on the moon, another of my heroes is gone. There are now just 4 moonwalkers left.

For many years I have feared that I would live to see a day when no living human being had walked on the moon. With the passing of each moonwalker that looks more and more likely.

The surviving four are all in their eighties, Charlie Duke and Harrison Schmitt are both 82, David Scott is 85 and Buzz Aldrin is 88.

I now have to console myself with the thought that I am young enough to see mankind return to the moon. Now I hope that it will be an international effort and that many will follow where the brave Apollo astronauts first left their foot prints.

RIP Alan Bean.


The counting routine

Saturday night and time for the weekly counting routine.

One, two for Sunday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Sunday night.

One, two for Monday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Monday night.

One, two for Tuesday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Tuesday night...

I always thought I would be an old man before I had a routine like this, counting out the tablets for the week ahead. I never thought it would happen when I was still in my forties.

I can't say I wasn't warned. "Lose weight or you will become diabetic," that's what the doctors said. I didn't lose weight and I am diabetic.

One, two for Wednesday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Wednesday night.

One, two for Thursday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Thursday night...

At least I'm lucky, it was caught early. It is under control. I don't have to inject myself with insulin and there is no eyesight deterioration.

One, two for Friday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Friday night.

One, two for Saturday morning. One, two, three, four, five for Saturday night.

So I'll keep up the counting routine every Saturday night. It's better to be bored than ill.


200,000 and rising.


It took my YouTube channel 3¼ to get 100,000. It's taken less than 3 months to go from 100,000 to 200,000.

I'm impatient for the next 50,000 now. "A quarter of a million" sounds cool.


100,000 thanks.

I never really intended to have a YouTube channel. It didn't interest me at all. The fact that I ended up with one was a pure accident.

On the 7th January 2011 I wanted to link to a NASA video about the sun. I just could not fathom out how to post it on UM. In the end I decided that the best way was to download the video then upload it to YouTube and connect to that. At that moment WaspieDwarf's YouTube channel was born.

I didn't expect to still be adding to it more than two years later. It has now grown to over 220 space related videos (all of which can be found embedded somewhere in the pages of Unexplained-Mysteries).

This morning my little YouTube channel passed the 100,000 views mark. I know that is peanuts compared to many sites which have millions of views, but it's more than I ever expected.

So to anyone that has ever taken the time to look at one of the videos I have posted, thank you.


Red Hot Chilli Peppers and other 2012 news.

Wow, it's been over two years since I last posted here, how time flies when you're having fun.

A few things have changed since I last posted here. At work I was transferred to a different hospital lab. I made new friends. A year later my old lab was shut and many of my old colleagues were transferred as well, so I was reunited with old friends.

In 2012 I also found out I have type 2 Diabetes, so I'm trying to break bad habits and lose a large amount of weight.

One of my successes in 2012 was growing my own chillies. So far I have managed 4 varieties.


From left to right: Thai Bird Eye, Jalapeño, Scotch Bonnet and Cayenne

I just need the Tabasco and Habanero plants to bear fruit now.


Snow, snow, thick, thick, snow.

The promised snow has finally arrived in my part of South East England. It may be cold and bring the country to a stand still, but it is pretty.











All photos above are from Bursted Wood, Barnehurst in Kent


A new arrival... of the furry kind.

I have commented before that my blog entries about my cats gain far more response than my blog entries about me. So in a bid to gain popularity some more about my cats...

When I first started this blog I had 2 cats, an older, more sensible cat called Zeta and a young nutter called Nyana. In January 2007 Zeta passed away. Nyana slowly grew up and now, at the age of five is a fairly sensible and mature cat herself. I rarely call her Nyana Nutter-Cat these days.


The sensible & mature Nyana

In August 2008 one of my workmates (Amanda) told me that her neighbours had rescued a young cat, about 3 months old. They had found it injured, it had been in a fight with a fox and had been blinded in one eye. They had taken it to the vets and it was now healthy apart from the loss of sight in the right eye. Unfortunately they had a toddler who was not very gentle with the cat and so they couldn't keep her (the cat not the toddler). Like a mug I said I'd give the kitten a home. Amanda christened her Daisy and the name stuck.


Daisy on arrival

It soon became clear that Daisy was the new nutter in the house. She was (and still is) a tiny cat, but in her mind she is a huge tiger. She terrorises my next door neighbours dog and the gave her the nickname Crazy Daisy. Despite this she is a very affectionate cat.

Finally, after 2 years, Nyana has grown used to Daisy and Daisy has learned not to attempt to leap on Nyana at every opportunity. They no longer fight all the time and now seem almost friendly. Daisy still thinks she is a tiger when she is out of the house though and still terrorises net door's dog.


Daisy & Nyana not fighting

So peace has broken out in the Waspie_Dwarf house, except...

A week and a half ago one of my workmates (Sally) told me that her son had an 18 week old kitten. He also had a young child (sound familiar?) He needed to find a new home for Ali(that's the kitten not the baby). Guess what I did. Yep, I know have 3 cats.

Ali is extraordinarily affectionate, a loving little bundle of fun. He is currently living in a separate part of the house from the other two and I will introduce him slowly.

Here's Ali Cat...




Ali... the new kit on the block


I must get back into the habit...

I really must start blogging more often. I keep saying that, but I don't do it. I've just been looking back and I've only made 2 or entries since July 2008. I notice that in that post of July 2008 I refer to my cat, Nyana. That shows how out of date my blogging has become. This week I got a 3rd cat. I'll mention more about my cats in my next entry.

My last entry was called "Tired, tired, tired" back in August. I thought I should update that. I've had blood tests and I'm not diabetic. I do have impaired fasting glycaemia but not impaired glucose tolerance. This means I have a 50% risk over the next ten years of developing diabetes. That means another habit I must get into is eating healthily. I have had a warning, It is up to me to listen to that warning.

The question now is, if I'm not diabetic, why am I always so tired?


Tired, tired, tired

Tired all the time (TATT). I see that all the time on paperwork (I work in a hospital pathology lab). It seems to be a very common symptom. Well I know the feeling. I come home from work and frequently fall asleep. Well I've finally decided to get off my bum and go and see a doctor. With my weight I'm a prime contender of type 2 diabetes. I rather hope to avoid that. I need to start looking after myself more, regardless of what the doctor says.

We'll see what happens after Tuesday.


I haven't done this in a while...

It's been 15 months since my last entry. I've been back on UM for about 2 months now, after 8 months without a computer and life has changed a little bit since then.

Once upon a time I had a good job, which paid well. Then the dreaded redundancy came. I was already suffering depression at the time and that pushed me into a state that took a long time to recover from. I was unemployed for around three years and in that time I managed to accumulate a fair bit of debt. Just under 2 years ago I managed to get back to work. The pay is a lot less than I was used to, and as for a carreer mocve I am back at the bottom step of the ladder... where I started out 26 years ago... but the important thing is that I am on the ladder.

The problem was that rather than helping the debt, initially it made matters worse. When my cats assassinated my lap top I simply did not have the money to buy a new one. I started my long exile from UM.

Then, unexpectedly I got a rather official looking letter. It was a large cheque, the result of some investments I had made back when I was sensible and had a good job. In the space of a few weeks two more such cheques arrived. Now I am not only debt free but I even have a small amount of savings. I also have a lovely new computer and my UM exile is over.


On the whole I'd rather be asleep...

It's 5:38 am on the morning. It's Saturday. I don't have to work today. I'm tired and in need of a lie in. So why am I writing in my blog? Well one word... CRAMP. It's not a thing I suffer from very often but when I do it hurts like a... well I can't think of an appropriate simile that won't be censored by the language filter, but it hurt LOTS.

It will be a while before I can get back to sleep now, if at all.

Much as I love spending time on UM, I'd rather be in bed.


Hard drive? Hard luck!

Okay, I have no one to blame but myself. I knew my hard drive was dying. I knew it needed replacing, but there was always something else that I just wanted to buy first. If it could just wait until the next pay day, or the one after that. And it did, admittedly I've become more practised in reinstalling corrupted software than I would have chosen but the drive kept on hanging in there. Then, at just after ten p.m. on Saturday 14th June, it died. As John Cleese might have said, <i>"This hard drive is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If Dell hadn't screwed it into the laptop it'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is data storing processes are now 'istory! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-HARD DRIVE!!"</i>

And so my computer has had a transplant operation and survived.

I didn't realise how much I would miss talking to my friends on Messenger or posting here. I would not advise U-M cold turkey to any of you.

It's good to be back.


Hair cuts.

Today I had a hair cut. Not that dramatic an event, but I absolutely hate it. I always have. For some people it is the dentist they hate, for me it's the barbers.

It's not really a phobia, I'm not scared of getting my hair cut, I'd just rather not.

I have wondered why I hate it so much. Partly, I suspect, it is because I'm a naturally scruffy individual, but there is more to it than that.

I suspect my dislike of getting my hair cut goes back to early childhood. My father would take me to one of those old fashioned barbers with the red and white pole out side. It was called, Peter's and had a huge red barbers chair. For the small kids a padded plank would be placed across the arms of the chair and I would sit on that.

Peter (for, unsurprisingly, that was the owners name) would chat away as he cut my hair. He would always say the same thing to the kids, "don't move, stay very still, because I don't want to cut you". He would then add the bit that, he no doubt thought of simply as a joke, " don't sneeze or I might cut your ear off". Even this didn't send chills down my spine, it's what came next that did, "I feed all the ears I've chopped off to my cat". Now even that might not have worried me too much except that Peter's cat was very, VERY fat. My childish logic told me that a lot of kids kust have lost their ears in that shop. I never twitched a muscle whilst I sat on that plank.

More than 30 years later I still don't like having my hair cut, but at least at Michael's (and no the owner isn't called Michael, it's Glenn), where I have it done now there isn't a cat.


Recharging the batteries.

It's funny how, during my long period of unemployment, I craved being around people. I missed the banter that you have between work mates. In fact for a large part of the time I missed conversation full stop. I live on my own (well there is also my cat, Nyana, but she's not much of a conversationalist) and days would pass when I did not exchange a single word with another human being.

Now I have two days off work and I am enjoying being on my own. We are a contrary bunch us humans, we always seem to want the opposite of what we have.

These two days away from work are an attempt to recharge my batteries. I am not sleeping well and I am tired. A couple of days relaxing and not doing much at all will help I think. It will also give me a bit of a chance to catch up on a few things that need doing at home (I've just finished dead-heading my rose bushes for example).

Then it will be back to the grind stone for a couple of days before I go to Tom's funeral on Friday... that is one day off I am not looking forward to.


Absent friends.

It had been my intention to write about the great day I had this time last week. About the thrills and tensions of watching Wasps win another title and about the enjoyment of celebrating with friends afterwards. That will have to wait. Sadly one of those friends is no longer with us.

Tom was in good spirits and (so I thought) good health when I last saw him on Saturday. Tom was the father of my close friend Simon and a friend in his own right. The word "nice" simply does not do Tom justice, he was a truly lovely man. He never lost his Geordie sense of humour and was a pleasure to know.

Despite being in his eighties and having fought back from cancer and a stroke in 2005 he was still more full of life than many men half his age. His sudden death on Thursday has left me stunned.

My thoughts are with Maud (his wife of over sixty years), Simon and the rest of the family.

RIP Tom, it was an honour and privilege to have known you.


In to battle once again.

It is that time of year again. The English rugby season is coming to an end, Wasps are in a final at Twickenham and I have a ticket.

This year Wasps are in the Guinness Premiership final, to determine the champions of England. Just as with he European final last year (and the last English Final Wasps played in, in 2005) are opposition are the mighty Leicester. Wasps beat Leicester in both of those finals.

So will Wasps finish the season with out a title for the first time since 2002 or will they win their 8th major title in 6 years? In a few hours I will know.


One of those moments that make you go WOW!

As the title suggests today I had a WOW! moment.

I have recently started walking home from work. I want to get fitter and lose weight and walking home seemed a good start, especially as it is a seven mile walk. Not bad for a fat boy eh?

Anyway, part of this walk is through a little park which runs beside the River Shuttle (it's hardly big enough to be called a stream). I enjoy wildlife and this little park is full of birds. I make no claim to be an expert bir watcher but I take an interest and generally know what it is I am looking at.

Today the Shuttle was more full than I have seen it before and faster flowing as a result of heavy rain at the weekend. As I neared the end of the park I noticed a tree trunk stinking out of the river bank. As I saw the tree trunk I thought to myself, "this would be a perfect place for a kingfisher". I have never seen a European kingfisher. I have seen pied kingfishers in Zimbabwe and Kenya but I have always wanted to see my native variety.

At the exact moment I thought this there was a flash of blue and a kingfisher flew past, not 6 feet from where I was standing.

To finally see one was good in itself but for it to happen at the exact moment I was thinking about it, that makes it a WOW! moment for me.


It's been a long time...

It has been a while since I visited this blog. That is ironic really because I stopped blogging just around the time I actually had something to say.

I had been unemployed for a long time. In November I returned to work. After a long period without work it was hard to re-adapt, but I haven't been sacked so I must be doing something right. Slowly but surely I am getting myself respect back and the fog of depression is clearing. Hopefully I will be back to my old self of a few years ago soon.

On the down side I had to cope with the loss of a friend in January. I had know Kristy since she was just 3 or 4 years old. To hear of her suicide at just 20 was a hugely painful thing. I can not begin to imagine how much it hurt her mother and step father, and still does to this day. Kristy was possibly the single most intelligent person I have ever known. Her loss leaves a huge hole, although I believe I am far from alone in having had my life enriched by knowing her.

On the plus side my sister's best friend Jacquie has recently got back in touch with her. They were always good friends am they are good for each other. I always got on very well with Jacquie and I consider her my friend too. Talking to her it is like there hasn't been a gap of many years. Talking to her was always easy and that hasn't changed. The problem is that I am spending far too much time on MSN and not getting enough sleep.

Jacquie's re-appearance has inspired me to get off my backside and start getting in touch with friends that I have let slip over the last few years. My friends were always an important pat of my life. Over the last few years, whilst wallowing in the self-pity of depression, I have not been a good friend to some of them. It is time for this to end.

I have said it in the past, "I am going to try to keep this blog up to date from now on". I hope I keep my promise to myself this time.


Too close for comfort

A few years I go a sat a psychometric test in work. It told me very little about myself that I didn't already know. I agreed with virtually all the conclusions except one. The test claimed that I didn't care about other peoples feelings. I don't believe that tom be true. I care deeply, I just don't know how to express it. I don't know how to approach people that are feeling great pain, that doesn't mean I don't feel for them or care for them.

In the last two days I have felt very confused by feelings and by events in which I was not involved.

On Thursday evening at around 8:00 pm there was a knock at my door. When I opened it I was faced with a female community support officer of the Metropolitan Police. I was a bit surprised by this (in the fact that she must have been close to being the shortest police officer in the World). She was helping to conduct door to door enquires. She told me that on the 7th of September there had been a brutal assault on two people, one of them a 14 year old girl. I asked her where and she pointed to just over the way from me. Had I opened my front door this assault would have been in plain site only about 50 feet from me.

I told her that I had been out that night an had heard nothing. Only after she had gone did I realise that I had been indoors watching TV when this assault happened. This doesn't change the fact that I heard nothing, but it caused me to think. If I had seen what was going on could I have made a difference. I can not believe that I would have done nothing, I would have at least called the police, but how far would I have gone? Would I have been brave enough to intervene. Would I have been proud of myself? Would I have got hurt? Would I have been a coward? I really don't know, but I couldn't help spending the next few hours feeling that if only I had heard the commotion two teenagers may not have been hurt.

I know that it is not my fault but I feel impotent that something happened so close t me and I knew nothing about it.

This feeling of impotence was magnified even more at lunch time today. Whilst I added a few posts to the Space News section I had the TV news on in the background. On the local London news there was an article about a 14 year old boy from Doncaster (a town in South Yorkshire - in the North of England). He had inexplicably left home and come to London. His mother was in London searching for him but he had not been seen in two weeks. This was all background, I wasn't really taking it in... until they gave his name and that of his mother. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I had met the mother and knew of the boy (although I had never met him). The boy's father was my best friend at school.

These sort of stories are common on TV but you never expect them to happen to someone you know.

My thoughts are with the Gosden family. I don't believe in a god myself, but if you have read this and you believe then please give a little prayer for the safe return of Andrew Gosden (and all the missing children) to their parents.

I might not be good at expressing it but believe me I care, I really care.


The saddest of ironies: the death of Colin McRae

Anyone that knows me knows that I have a passion for motorsport (despite never learning to drive myself).

Rally driving is amongst the most skilful and dangerous of motorsports. Whilst it is a branch of the sport about which I know little, I have a deep admiration for the drivers that compete in the World Rally Championship.

The UK has produced just two World Rally Champions, the Scotsman Colin McRae in 1995 and Englishman Richard Burns in 2001. Sadly Richard Burns' career was brought to a premature end in November 2003 as the result of a brain tumour. He died of the disease in November 2005 at the age of just 34.

Britain lost it's other World Rally Champion yesterday when Colin McRae was killed when the helicopter he was piloting crashed. The accident also claimed the life of his 5 year old son, his son's 6 year old friend and an adult family friend. I can not begin to imagine how those who have lost their loved ones feel at the moment.

I find it a sad irony that neither of these two champions lived into their forties and yet neither lost their lives to the dangerous sport that they excelled in.


Gravity hurts

I am scared of heights (I suspect that is why I stopped growing at 5 foot 4) and so I try and avoid them. Actually it's not true that I am scared of heights but like Rincewind I am scared of the ground (if you don't know who Rincewind is it is time for you to start reading Terry Pratchett's Disc World books). As Rincewind points out, it's not the height but the ground that kills people.

Being scared of the heights I try and avoid them where ever possible. When I can't avoid them I take as much care as is humanly possible... usually. Something went wrong today and I am in a whole heap of pain as a result.

My plumbing has been an absolute nightmare recently (well my house's plumbing, as far as I am aware there is nothing wrong with my own, personal plumbing). A week and a half ago both my down stairs sinks decided to block on the same day resulting in me having to remove two foul smelling u-bends. My cold water tank is also giving me a problem. It is over filling. I adjusted the ballcock a few months ago but the problem has returned. So I decided to fix the problem again. The downside is that my cold water tank is in the attic which meant climbing a ladder.

Usually I am very careful with ladders and thoroughly check that they are secure. I must have skipped this today. I had already climbed the ladder once with no incident. It was as I neared the top the second time that I felt the ladder slip.

As the ladder fell it was almost like slow motion. I felt like a cartoon character that hangs in mid air for a ridculously long time before gravity takes effect (although this was a false perception of course). it seemed to take forever to hit the ground. As I braced myself for impact that was a sudden brilliant white flash of light in my right eye. Looking back this was the moment my face hit the wall, forcing my glasses into my right eye and giving me a deep cut on the very edge of my eye and the first black eye of my life.

It seemed a while later that I hit the ground. Somehow I managed to avoid landing on the fallen ladder. Even more surprisingly I managed to land on my feet and not fall over (I very good thing as that may have resulted in me then falling down a flight of stairs).

Considering the fall I think I have got off luckily. I have the afore mentioned cuts and bruising to the right side of my face. I have cuts and friction burns on two of the fingers of my right hand. More painfully I have twisted my right knee and ankle. Walking is extremely painful at the moment but it could have been so much worse.

My fear of the ground has not diminished.