Friday, 29 February 2008

Fond Farewell

AOL, part of Time Warner, has announced that support for the Netscape browser is finally being withdrawn tomorrow, 1 March 2008.

Like with many this marks the end of an era for me. Back in the 1990's more than 90% of people used Netscape apparently. My first introduction to the internet was via Netscape Navigator and I've remained faithfull ever since. I never dreamt the internet could offer so much! How I marvelled when Netscape Communicator appeared with it's browser, mail and newsgroups client.

Since those early heady days other browsers have launched, some more successfully than others and have erroded the Netscape monopoly to the point where only an estimated 1% use it. But I stuck with it: We went through several upgrades together and I now love Netscape 9, having moved to web-based mail; I guess I will continue to do, until such time that applications will not run correctly on it.

Oh I know there are prenty of alternatives out there and they've all done their best to win me over but I guess they're just not the same and never will be.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Run Baby Run

Last night's ceramic booty will shortly be uploaded to my Webshots page. Returned home with four completed pots.

Unfortunately one of the new glazes I tried seems to have a tendancy to run. A lot. A couple of the pieces are therefore interesting to look at but next to useless! Have had to be quite creative with the camera angles in order to create a good impression. Am I giving the game away LOL?

This one behaved and was good, glazed quite nicely- Marbled Blue with Bright Orange/Red. Can you tell which is which? Should do as a small fruit bowl, although it does sound like the base is slightly hollow for some reason.

There's a link at the bottom of the page if anyone wishes to take a look.

Did anyone actually notice the Earthquake last night? Apparently at 5.3, it's the most powerful felt in the UK for 25 years. Think the fridge door opened a crack.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Hospital Visit

Mum is off to the hospital this morning at 9.

She's due to receive treatment for her spine (bone strengthening drugs) and also speak with the consultant for an update. Hopefully he'll have the results of the emergency MRI carried out on Friday.

Finger's crossed.


Sadly mum's spine is in fact worse than we thought. The oncologist has said it has deteriorated further but it is treatable however there is no cure. He proposes to start a course of radiotherapy in conjunction with the bone strengthening. He has also suggested that because of the state of her spine it may be necessary/possible to inject resin in order to provide some support. If they go ahead with this, it should help avoid any nerves becoming trapped as well.

One step forward, one back.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Pork Chop Anyone?

In a zoo in California , a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth. The mother tiger, after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve. After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there wereno tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother.

The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans that could be found quickly were a litter of weanling pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Would they become cubs or pork chops? Take a won't believe your eyes!!!

Now, please tell me one more time... Why can't the rest of the world get along?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

So I Own a Bank

Seems I'm now the proud owner of a bank, namely Northern Rock. Or at least I'm a part owner now that HM Government has decided to nationalise it. Mind you, I guess I should use Prime Minister Gordon Brown's prefered phrase of "temporary public ownership."

The newly appointed Chief Executive is said to be on a salary of £90K (about $180K for the Transatlanically Challenged) per month. Yes read that again: Per month. Nice work if you can get it, as they say.

Any chance I can get a cheap loan by the way? LOL

Monday, 18 February 2008

Mum has been experiencing quite a bit of pain in her spine and arm lately. The pain relief isn't really touching it. She visited the hospital this afternoon to speak with the specialist.

By the time she got home there was a message on the home phone from the the hospital: they have arranged for her to have an urgent MRI this coming Friday morning. She's due to go back Monday for her scheduled bone strengthening treatment, so will see the oncologist and should get the results then.

This slightly blurred image is of the fantastic sunset that greeted me as I left the office at around 6.15 this evening. Believe me it looked better in reality. Honest.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Random Fact

British singer Gary Numan is 13 days older than actor Gary Oldman.

Just thought I would share this random piece of information.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Farewell Three B's

For longer than I have been around, my local town of Reading has been known as the home to the 3B's.- Bulbs, Biscuits and Beer in the form of Sutton Seeds, Huntley & Palmers Biscuits and several brewers notably Symonds, who later became part of Courage Beer.

Sadly Sutton's uped to moved to Torquay years ago; their offices long gone and the fields they used to grow the seeds, now an industrial park that does at least bare their name.

Huntley and Palmers has also gone now. The one truely recognisable town centre landmark building left, now turned into trendy appartments for the good people of Reading. Their main site next door now demolished and rebuilt as the home to Prudential.

So what of the brewers? Well Courage moved out of the town centre in the 1970's to a (then) state of the art plant right by the M4 motorway. Through various changes in ownership the brewery is currently owned by Scottish and Newcastle, the UK's biggest brewer. This week they announced the now out of date plant is to close in two years, with the loss of some 300 jobs, bringing to an end the era of the 3B's. Kinda feel sad about that.

No doubt the real estate value is far higher than any benefits of continuing to brew on the site. I guess we'll end up with yet another "exciting business park" that will sit largely unoccupied, like the others in this area.

So as this doesn't sound all doom and gloom, Reading does have it's Football (Soccer) Club to be proud of: up there in the top flight, Premiership league. At least for the rest of this season. Come on The Royals!

Any history fans out there might like to research this some more and maybe take a look at Reading Abbey, now a ruin thanks to the sacking of church property by a certain monarch who didn't quite see eye to eye with the clergy. Such was the status of the Abbey and Reading in general, there is said to be a King burried here but also the town was once the only place outside London where Parliament could be held.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alien Coil Pot

I have arrived home with a finished piece of ceramic work- the first of 2008.

Here's a sneak preview but if you want to see more, please make your way in an orderly fashion to my page on Webshots. There's a handy link at the bottom of this page.

As the name suggests, this has been built (more or less) entirely from coiled clay. This is quite a slow process since you can only build up so many layers of clay before you have to leave it to consolidate and dry out. Otherwise you face the risk of collapse. So you need to be prepared to take your time and chill a little, which is great because you get the opportunity to think about exactly where the work is going in terms of shape and form. Am I going on a bit too much? Quite probably.

Anyway please do take a look and if you feel like telling me just how bad you think it is feel free. Then again, you might just like my work...

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Brrrrr- It's Cold LOL

Should have posted this yesterday but, well you know how it is...

Who in their right mind goes out before 8 on a Saturday morning in February? LOL

The temperature was a cool -2 degrees Celsius according to the display in my car, when I had started the engine and finally removed the thick layer of ice.

At least my ever expanding belly (it's not that big, honest) kept me warm. Fish and Chips twice from the Chippy this week, Pancakes (cos I'm oh so religious LOL) and a never ending supply of chocolates is helping to pad me out. OK so maybe the latter should have been given up for Lent, I guess it's not too late to start. The question is do I have the will power? Let me munch on a few Quality Street while I think on that...

Friday, 8 February 2008

Fire up the Quattro!

Ashes to Ashes the follow up series to the BBC hit Life on Mars made it's debut last night.

When I tuned in I had high hopes and I have to say it didn't disappoint in any way. Gone was Sam Tyler played by John Sim, gone was Manchester and also gone was 1970's nostalgia. In their place was Keeley Hawes as DI Alex Drake, London and scary 1980's music and fashions.

In the midst of it all as ever was the thoroughly non-politically correct DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister). In this incarnation of the time- travel tale, the focus it seems has finally shifted to the real star, the snarling DCI Hunt.

Reviews in the press have been mostly favourable and this has also been matched by overnight figures suggesting some 7 million watched. Not bad for a Thursday night. Here's hoping the next 7 episodes maintain or exceed the high standard set last night and also by the series that spawned it.

Let's not forget to mention the perhaps sinister Bowie Clown, plus Zippy and Bungle from Rainbow- now that was a happy memory from childhood.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

No- Pottery Tuesday

It's normally on a Tuesday night or some point on a Wednesday that I write something (hopefully interesting) about my ceramics work. I attend class Tuesday nights so often rush home with a new 'masterpiece' to tell the world about.

Things have been a little quiet of late in that respect. Not because I haven't been productive, oh I have been churning out pots of all shapes and sizes for sure. It's just that our new technician is rather keen on getting some new glaze samples produced and out on display. As a result, students work is kind of on hold, firing wise.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed very soon and I'll have lots to bore everyone with. In the meantime, please feel free to look at some of my work on Webshots. There's a link right down at the bottom...

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Groundhog Day!

So what was I just saying about Spring being round the next corner? It was -2 degrees Celsius (about 28 F) when I stepped outside at 7.45 this morning, with thick ice on my car as well. Brrrr!

What exactly was I doing out on a Saturday at that hour? Well apart from being my contact day with Little Lad, we do swim lessons at 8.30 each week. At his level it's a small group of around 6 kids, with a parent in the water with their young 'un, plus the tutor. We both love it and it's a great time for us to have fun, while he learns some vital skills. He's been doing this since he was about 6 months believe it or not, so confidence in the water is high. These days he can jump in from the side and swim unassisted to me in the centre of the pool, without arm bands and then swim on to the other side. He then turns, kicks off, swims back to me in the centre and on to the other side. Considering he only turned four the other weekend, that's pretty good. Can you tell I'm proud of his ability in the water? I have no doubt if ever he fell in, he'd know what to do to get to safety.

Afterwards it's breakfast and then playtime. We do some drawing or painting and then go out for a walk, often with the intention of feeding the ducks, swans and geese.

Of late he's chosen to invite my parents along as well, which is really nice for all of us. There's a small lake near us that is very well populated with foul. You know the usual mix of Mute Swans, Canada Geese and Mallards but also this pair. About 10-15 years ago a pair of Egyptian Geese where introduced to one of the local lakes. Breeding pairs can now be found at several lakes in this area. This pair seem a little confused though. You see to their left the brown and white spec? Think it's a little early for babies and (sadly) I'm not surprised there's only one. They often seem to produce between 4 and 6, I guess the others didn't make it. Either way Little Lad loved seeing them and throwing some bread. Good fun had by all, I think.

I've just read that Punxsutawney Phil ( has proclaimed another 6 weeks of Winter. Thinking back to first thing this morning, it sure feels like that might be the case. Anyway Happy Groundhog Day everyone!

Friday, 1 February 2008

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month

Where exactly has January gone? It seems like only a short time ago we were singing Auld Lang Syne. Not actually into the whole singing bit but you get the idea.
So now it's February and already we're thinking about the approach of Spring time and Easter. Mind you the shops have been stacked with chocolate eggs since New Year, if not before Christmas.
Is it just me or do the weeks and months pass quicker as I get older? As a kid, next week was ages off, an eternity. When a teen, next week was when home work had to be done by and could be put off for a few more days. Now I blink and it's another week closer to the end of the year!