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Got in from walking Mali just after 8 last night, and was surprised to hear a knock at the door. Answering, I discovered that it was a meter guy for the electricity, so I let him in, and he walks past me into the hall of Castle Fox as I'm closing the door behind him.

"Hang on a sec," quoth I, "I've got a dog..."

Electricity meter guy ignores me (rather rudely, I thought) and opens the door to the Banquet Hall himself and walks straight in.

The. Dog. Goes. Mental...

Now, Mali is, um, kinda 'in your face' when he meets new people. Actually, he's a bit over-boisterous when he meets people he's familiar with. But I have never before let anyone walk into his domain without me leading first, so that I can keep a hold of him

Anyway, he was not happy with this stranger, and hurled himself at him. Electricity Guy beats a hasty retreat back into the hall, trying to close the door behind him as I attempt to get past him in my own house to calm down the dog who's now in full on attack mode, heckles raised and growling.

Pacification took a little while, but was achieved with only mild scratches to myself, at which point I let the Electricity Guy read the meter, and then he went on his way (not unhurriedly).

Perhaps next time someone says 'hang on a sec,' to him, though, he might think that there could be a reason beyond perhaps the house-owner wishing to remove an incriminatingly paused DVD image from the screen...

As for Mali, I'm certainly not complaining about him; Electricity Guy was surprised and caught unawares, but not physically harmed. So I figure Mali did his job there. *proffers biscuit*
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I picked up some more dogfood for the hound this afternoon, and whilst so doing took the opportunity to pick up a bone for Mali to gnaw on.

Well, I say 'bone', but all evidence would seem to suggest that this is actually the BEST BONE EVAH!!1!!eleven

Mali is currently blissed out, gnawing away, curled around my feet :D
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It's a pretty uninspiring morning here in Hull today - wet and grey on the walk in.

Am very much enjoying Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash at the moment - about 90 minutes in, so far (hard to tell, because the Shuffle's not big on UI), and the recording's a really good reading, too. I like Stephenson anyway (Cryptonomicon is awesome), and the setting appeals, so yes, currently my kind of book. But I've a long way to go (I think it's 16 hours, all told), so it'll be a while before it's finished.

Weekend coming up, which is good and welcome; despite going to bed early these last couple of nights, I'm still tired. Matters weren't helped by Mali having a barking frenzy at 4.30 this morning... why, I know not; normally he's silent overnight, so something triggered him, and maybe he was just doing his job of warding off potential intruders...
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's been a quiet Saturday, all told; I took advantage of being dog-less to have a lie-in, until 7.15am.

It was pouring when I went to fetch the hound, but has since eased off a bit. Nonetheless, given the recently thawed snow will have saturated the ground, it's no surprise that the roads were starting to do the Venetian impression...

I was actually wondering if I was going to be able to get online today at all - the router dropped the net connection this afternoon, and I've been flicking it on every hour or so since to see if the situation had corrected itself. Assuming that this post does, y'know, post, then that should be evidence that a resolution of sorts was found, but it's a bit disappointing to lose access across the weekend - especially when KC have an effective monopoly as the ISP for this fair city.
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At the desk three days this week, and then for Thursday and Friday I'm on a training course off-site. This in turn means that Mali gets checked into his Happy Holiday Home on Thursday morning, picked up on Saturday morning, because I can't get back to him at lunchtimes.

It was a very static weekend on my part - it wasn't the snow so much as the ice: the ice was lethal. Put it this way; when Mali, with four-paw-drive, is falling over, you know conditions are dicey. However, the rain started on Sunday and has made substantial inroads on the ice/slush, such that one can walk along with some fair degree of confidence, for the most part, that you'll manage to stay upright.

Finally, Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte were talking on Security Now last week about ShadowServer, a site that tracks botnets across the interwebs. From the graphs, it looks like there was some massive cut-off on New Year's Eve...

Beach dog

Jan. 1st, 2010 10:30 pm
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M&D, although in Hull from yesterday afternoon, didn't turn up at Castle Fox until this morning, whereupon they summoned both myself and the hound to join them them for a walk on the beach at Withernsea.

It was a really nice day, and Mali had an excellent time running around across the sand, hurdling the groynes and saying 'hello' to the relatively few other dogs about. For their part, M&D seemed rather taken with Mali, which surprised me, because they don't see him that often, and he can be a bit, er, Full On, as it were.

They're off back down South first thing tomorrow morning, so I'm not expecting to catch up with them again before they leave. But 'twas a pretty decent day, so leaving on a high note means it's all good :-)
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It feels like it's been a long day: Castle Fox to ex-Brother-in-Law's house and back in day. 400 miles, c8 hours driving, so as to pick up P.

Anyway, because I knew I'd be out of the house for longer than my five hour Mali-threshold, I took the hound with me; he had a good walk through the woods with P and his cousins, even if the world was just a little muddy.

Anyway, it was a long drive down, so I stopped half-way, to let Mali have a break from the Fox-Mobile. And we got to the target abode c1.30ish, just after lunch (I purposefully timed it so that I'd miss lunch there, it not being practical to join them with Mali in tow). Then we had the walk, and then P and I (and Mali) set off back to Hull.

By about 5ish, I was feeling hungry, and P opined that whilst not exactly wasting away to nothing, some sustenance would hardly go amiss. However, I didn't really want to leave Mali in the car whilst we had a meal proper, so we went for the lazy option, and a McDonalds Drive-Thru.

McDonalds doesn't have a wealth of options for vegetarians, but their Spicy Veggie Deli thingy's OK, so that's what I ordered. P had a cheeseburger. We pay at one window, and crawl forwards to Window 3, where the attendantette hands us a milkshake (correct) and a bottle of water (um, nope), which really should have been the clue.

The water was promptly changed for a fruit juice, as ordered, but when the bag of food itself was handed over, the girl was already looking behind impatiently at the queue of cars, so we set off without checking.

So it was only once underway that we realised that we had someone else's order; given that I had Mali in the boot, I didn't want to get into parking up, explaining the mix-up to the staff and waiting for a resolution, so we just made do as was.

On the positive side, though, at least it meant I had the right change for the Bridge.
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Huh.

Mali and I are just back from a pretty short evening walk. Admittedly, we had two much longer walks earlier in the day (at 7am we had the world to ourselves), but we'd barely crossed Marlborough before the dog went on strike, and although the pavement ice was plenty accommodating enough to drag the dog around the Avenues on his bottom, I'm not sure that it would have been hugely dignified... for either of us.

He was happy enough to come back home, and is now curled up on his the chair, so it's not like he's champing at the bit to be out again. We'll have another walk later on, but it's a bit of an anticlimax to get all togged up for the event, only to wend our way home ¾ of an hour early.
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Mali and I are in from the evening's second walk - he was having a bit of a rough time on the first circuit; I think he was getting ice caught between his paws every now and again, and we had to stop so that I could massage the stuff out every time he started acting all tripod. The more travelled routes are just wet. Offshoots from those are slush, and the quieter areas still are just sheets of ice.

Tomorrow's just a half-day at work, which is most welcome; we've got the whole week off next week, so don't return until 4 January 2010. Definite call for w00t, methinks.

Incidentally, I'm definitely saying 'twenty-ten' in my head, although lots of people are referring to the coming year as 'two thousand and ten'. My thinking is it's pretty inconceivable to me to refer to the year 2037 as 'two thousand and thirty seven', as opposed to 'twenty-thirty seven.' So, given that we're going to make the shift at some point, it might as well be sooner rather than later. Obviously, it's cumbersome to refer to the single digits in this fashion - hence why I'm predicting that this next year will represent the changing of the guard, numerically speaking.
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So today was spent mostly on the A1, travelling down to a mutually distant place of meeting for both my parents and myself and P. The weather's been a bit dicey of late, so I had to nose the Fox Mobile a little gingerly away from Castle Fox's immediate surroundings, the streets remaining, as mentioned a day or so back, complete sheets of glass in terms of traction-like qualities.

Nonetheless, once we were out onto roads proper, conditions improved, even if the weather did not, freezing fog hanging around us as we headed over the bridge. These days, y'see, rather than the old M62-M18-A1 route, I prefer to go over the bridge and round Lincoln. Yes, you pay the bridge toll (£2.70 now), but it's shorter, and the reduced trip distance offsets the cost, not to mention the time factor.

The downside is that the A15 to Lincoln is an evil road, with helpful signs up every now and again telling you how many people have died this year compared to last.

Anyway, P and I arrived at the appointed hostelry a little early, but M&D, having similarly worried about the impact the weather might have on logistics, had set off even earlier, so were waiting. Everyone was in good humour, though (which is surprisingly rare for these things), and the parental units were pleased to see P (I hadn't mentioned he'd be with me, thought it'd be a nice surprise).

Pub meal, chats about eBay (M&D are getting into selling some surplus stuff they have about the Parental Abode); to be honest, I had been fretting somewhat about their adventures with the 'Bay, but it seems my fears about them unknowningly swimming with sharks are unfounded, so I'll just leave them to it on that score.

After two hours, though, conversation was drying up quickly, and both sets of us wanted to start wending our ways back to our respective starting points, so Present Exchange and done.

Drive back was in better weather, and we made even better time - and P agreed with me that that section of the A1, where the central reservation gets wide and the road North goes up and down and left and right, at speed, feels just like Out Run (common cultural frames of reference FTW!).

Dropped P back off at the Farm from whence I'd collected him yesterday evening, and then trundled carefully back home to an empty Castle Fox - Mali's at his Happy Holiday Home for the day (because there was no chance at all of doing the whole there and back again within five hours, and I will not leave Mali alone for longer than that), so I pick him up tomorrow.

Which means that the whole present-swap operation really takes something like 36 hours all told. So I hope they all like 'em...
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Quick update whilst I transfer The Wire 1x13 to a USB drive to watch on the XBox (yes, I could just as easily watch it on the PC, but I prefer the XBox, and it's the one with sound, which is obviously beneficial).

Out walking Mali on the ice this morning, and was pulled flying to land hard in the middle of the road. Predictably, there was a wide and varied audience, and it grieves me to confess that a car stopped to enquire after my health in the aftermath.

Me, I was fine - light bruising to hand, more bruising to ego. Ah well.

Have read Morganville IV, moved swiftly on to Morganville V. P and I went to see Avatar, review to follow tomorrow, methinks. Will note that there were trailers for Percy Jackson and Alice in Wonderland, and a great big display in the foyer for Sherlock Holmes, along with the trailer, which suddenly made me slightly more warmly disposed to the concept...

Am spending this evening finishing off Season 1 of The Wire, which is excellent.
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After lunch with [personal profile] cynthia_black yesterday, I got back into work only for parts of my vision to start dropping out... the critical, dead-centre parts, naturally, and with such migraines, experience has taught me that all I can do is go for a forced reboot, and crawl into bed.

So I came home, walked Mali, and was in bed by 4pm. Although I got up a few times, and let Mali out into the yard for good measure, I didn't get up properly until 6.30 this morning, feeling mostly better, but still a bit woozy.

As a result, I've avoided the PC until this evening, hence the slightly odd update time for this post.

The migraine threw a few things out, actually - aside from missing an afternoon's work, I also had to postpone a vets' appointment for Mali (kennel cough vaccination - been and done this afternoon instead), and had to put off picking P up from the Farm, too :-/

I also had a plumber returning to look at a leak under the sink - the stopcock got replaced last week, and now, by the power of PFTE tape, I think I've finally reclaimed use of the undersink cupboard. Which is nice.

Anyway, because the plumber had fixed the time as 'Saturday morning', and I had a vets' appointment for Mali at 2.30pm (the only available slot I could shift to from Friday at such short notice), that meant I couldn't reliably pick P up any earlier than 5.

It snowed a little, the last couple of days - this is always bad news around the Dukeries, because the snow compacts, converts to slush, then freezes, and the roads become ice-rinks. The drive up to the Farm gets better once we're onto the main arterial routes through Hull, but once onto the winding roads past Beverley, conditions got just a little slippery once again, and I could feel the car squirming around as we pootled rather gingerly along.

Not pootling fast enough for the BMW (what else?) driver, who roared past on the return flit, though.

By the time we got back to Castle Fox, the Snow Proper started to fall - we don't get much of the stuff, so when it does fall (and, more importantly, settle), it's a Big Thing. More amusingly, Mali turns into a sort of inverse dalmatian when we're out walking in it - the flakes creating white spots on the predominantly black coat.
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P was only at Castle Fox until lunchtime yesterday - he had a party to go to Saturday afternoon, and for a change ex and co came to Hull to pick him up, rather than me ferrying him back. Unfortunately, ex not having much practice in the commute, sort of underestimated the time it would take to get here, and ended up being an hour late. But hey, all good in the end.

Today saw me venture into town at lunchtime, just as the skies went almost completely black. I caught a single glimpse of lightning off in the distance, but it would seem that the weather wasn't really that interested in putting in the requisite effort for a storm proper, and instead just contented itself with a spot of rain.

Mali and I have had a couple of brisk walks around the Avenues - if I move quickly enough, he'll walk to heel almost perfectly. And he maintained that for a little while as I attempted a light jog, but patience isn't that dog's strong suit, and he eventually went into Race Mode, so we called a literal and metaphorical halt on that one. But I'm going to try and add some light jogging into the standard walks every now and again, and see how that goes.

Bookwise, I'm currently reading (or trying to read) One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald. This is the tale of that guy who traded items sequentially on CraigsList, starting off with the object of the book's title, and moving ever on up until he managed to trade himself into a house. The parenthetical hesitancy is due to the little 'zen wisdom' nuggets that pepper the end of each chapter. Since we're currently on one chapter per trade, and we're at him having acquired a camping stove, I'm somewhat fearful for my sanity, should I have to endure too many more observations of the calibre of 'now was two words ago' (I actually make that five, and so does Kyle himself in the paragraph explaining this gem, which makes the paragraph's title all the more bizarre).

Anyway, since Christmas is coming up, obviously this is the time of year when I buy myself stuff, and so I now have Assassin's Creed II for the 360... I know all the hype this year is about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but I am hopeless at FPS titles (seriously, Colleague N lent me Gears of War once, and I couldn't make it out of the training level without being killed. Repeatedly).

So expect the book-reading to tail off a bit as the year closes ;-P
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Today is one of those days where, from about lunchtime onwards, everything needs to run exactly to schedule if I'm going to achieve everything in time.

I've got my appraisal this afternoon, which is a little bit weird, because it's going to be with New Boss, who still doesn't really know what I do day to day, nor has he been in touch with Old Boss/Effectively Still Acting as Boss to find out said. Hmm.

Anyway, that's scheduled to end at 4pm. Which is fortunate, because I then need to pick P up from school, so that I can get the two of us back to Castle Fox to walk Mali, eat (speed dining FTW!), possibly take Mali out for Walk 3, and then amble across to the KC to watch Hull City take on the mighty Everton in what will be P's first evening match.

I've only been to one floodlit game before now, which had a less than optimal outcome for the Tigers, so I'm kinda hoping for better things tonight.

I'm currently reading Rachel Caine's second Morganville Vampires book, Dead Girls' Dance, which is... not quite as much fun as the first instalment, but is certainly readable. Proper review to follow on completion.

Kitten!

Nov. 23rd, 2009 01:32 pm
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I got accompanied by a kitten for a short while on my walk back from Castle Fox just now!

She was a very cute white/tabby, and came bounding up to me when she saw me walking along, and demonstrated that she could walk to heel better than Mali can.

Whilst, obviously, an office cat would have been a desirous outcome of this happy meeting, I suspected that teh kitteh's owners might've had a different view of her kidnapping.

So there then followed a protracted play 'n hide 'n chase game where I tried to entice the kitten back into the garden from whence she'd sprung (whether that was her true abode I know not). She was too large to stand in the palm of my hand, but was quite happy to sprawl out along my forearm, and was very purry.

In the end, we had a bit of an attack game with me wielding a twig which she was trying to kill dead, and when she was fully absorbed, I flicked the twig over the wall out of sight. She gamely bounded after it in hot pursuit, and I made my getaway, sight unseen.

I wouldn't be without a dog, these days, but I do like my cats.
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Day off tomorrow. Serious w00tage imminent... I kinda feel like I need the break.

Currently listening to Paul and Leo on Windows Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Weekly, which is definitely shaping up to be a good 'un.

Rather oddly, in what could almost be a moment of cross-podcast contamination, Leo's eating the same Chicago sourced brand of popcorn as the guys in FlashForcast.

I finished Haruki Murakami's After Dark, which, on the whole left just about every key issue raised in the book unresolved, although not in an unsatisfying/frustrating way, but more in a kind of reflective manner. I'm not sure I'd rank it as one of his better tomes, although I did like both Mari and Takahashi, and I thought that it caught that 3am feel to the night rather well (in what must've been a nightmare decision for typesetters everywhere, the chapter titles are all times displayed on an analogue clock).

Having failed to resist the urge to succumb to Waterstones' evil '3 for 2' again, I'm now reading (the late) Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was starting off relatively so-so, until Blomkvist is having his conversation with Vanger, and Vanger reveals the real reason he's commissioned him, and I can feel the gravity starting to suck me in.

Mali and I are just back in from the post-dropping-P-off-at-The-Farm walk - we went for a good hour or so, up and down the Avenues, and he's now curled contentedly up on his chair, looking settled for the evening. There are two other Mali-types about the place - both spaniel/collie crosses, and we met one of them in this morning's walk; 'tis amusing to see how similar their mannerisms are.
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Mali is fed a special diet - although he does his best to supplement it with assorted burger and kebab remnants as left thoughtfully on pavements far and wide in this fair city, the basic staple is Burns Fish and Brown Rice (since you asked).

Which, if I may lapse into pet-food ambassadorial mode for a moment, is great stuff.

And until today, I didn't think it was that pricey, either - a 7½kg bag does us (well, actually, just Mali, since I don't partake) for a month, and normally hits me for £23.

Imagine my mild consternation earlier today, then, when the shop assistant rang the new bag through at £22,109.99! This was one occasion where I decided to shelve the standard-issue British reserve (part of the standard complement of functions gifted to those of us born in this green and pleasant land, alongside the legendary stiff upper lip*, a fabled Sense of Decency™ and an alleged fondness for a peculiar game known as 'cricket') and query the charge.

The second attempt was more to my liking, at £2.99, but the shop was less thrilled at this (being an 87% discount - I mean, I'm a good customer of theirs, but I'm not that good).

So it was a case of Third Time Lucky (and incidentally, I've noticed in fics of US-origin, that people seem to favour 'third time's the charm' in the colonies, whereas such sounds distinctly odd on this side of the pond), and I thus avoided having to re-mortgage Castle Fox to keep Mali in the type of lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.

* - my own stiff upper lip is not so stiff, being as I arrived with it in kit form, so to speak
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In just about any given situation, you can usually rely on me to sequester myself into the metaphorical corner of the room, trying to avoid intruding on any person(s) present. It's a pretty much universal rule that I've lived by for just about as long as I can remember.

UNLESS you've got a piano...

Read more... )
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Castle Fox interwebz are still best characterised as 'sporadic'. Hence why I wasn't able to post Ch 27 of the OotP re-read until just now.

'tis at least a nice day outside - washing currently drying, by which readers may have deduced that my reassemblage of the washing machine doesn't seem to have been as immediately disastrous as any number of worst-case scenarios might have played out. Am still treating the object with a fair degree of caution, though.

P and I are about to head into town - 's been a quiet morning, mostly. Couple of dog walks, reading the paper (albeit skipping quickly over the footie results) and such like.
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As compensation for the truncated morning excursion, Mali and I walked out to the marina yesterday evening. We don't normally head out that far, and we got back pretty late, but 'twas a good stroll.

I'd seen at the weekend that the right hand side of the marina had been redeveloped, but the crowds were so thick at the time it had been impossible to see what was new ('new', here is a relative term, and should be read as 'new to me'). The walkways have blue underfoot LEDs to light the way, and although last time we were up there I had to carry Mali across the lock gates, this time he was perfectly happy to pad across, leading the way.

In other news, I've swapped Castle Fox's net connection back to the old router. I'm not wholly convinced that things have improved, particularly, and the whole reason that I bought the second router was that I thought the original one was subfunctional. It all rather points to problems with the line. *sigh*

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