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- Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:30am. . . walked . . lifted a couple of 'sunken' paving slabs on the middle tier of the back garden, and dumped the ash from the recent barrel bonfire under them. Stashed the barrel back in the garage . . sadly, on close examination of the rainwater butt, it appears it is NOT really holding water. Turns out it actually has a split in the plastic near the tap. It's purely holding a bit of water now and again, because debris in the water sometimes blocks the split. It does NOT look in any way repairable. That's bad news. Worth around 40 - no way am I in a position to be spending that sort of money to replace it. :o( . . prodded for a short while at the bare earth out front where I recently removed the dead hedge, and filled a bucket with just 'some' of the masses of eyesore rubble which makes up most of that ground. . Carried the bucketload of rubble up to under the carport out back, added a heap more I've had awaiting attention for ages, and eventually set to with the lump hammer and crushed rocks for an hour or so. Eventually dumped all the 'chippings' in a couple of potholes in the lane . . . finally forced myself to get round to doing some paperwork, and at length, succeeded in balancing my accounts and clearing away much of the pile of papers from the desk. .bit late to nap, so skipped food and just PCd/monitored radios for a bit. . walked . . . guitarred much of the evening away with the largely unwatched TV on. . cooked and ate a whole pack of small sausages with chips followed by some chocolate and later some biscuits . . to bed around 1am.
30 - Up around 8:30am. . . walked carrying a heavy rucksac of a few books, to donate to a charity shop. Played ball on the green as usual and then carried on down town and quickly donated the books. . walked to the post office to pay-for and pick-up the letter which had been sent to Mum without the required amount of postage paid! A birthday card from Sis1 apparantly. Turned out the alleged underpayment was just 6p (???? because it was just 'slightly' larger than a 'normal' letter, and won't fit through the new 'slot' template perhaps?), but they'd also slapped on a 1 handling charge too!!! Outrageous. Bizzarely, the postal guy at the enquiry office counter 'waived me away' as I was handing over the charges money. Dunno how he was able to dismiss the charges like that, but I was grateful. . . returned via Mums for a coffee. . . PCd . . messed with morse keys for a bit as heavy showers passed through. The rainwater butt 'appears' to be holding water again?? . . . vacuumed . . ate four ham rolls, banana, crisps and chocolate . . napped . . skipped the walk . . radiod locally for a bit . . .guitarred . . TVd . . ate a banana and cooked and ate two ham rings with a tin of sausages in baked beans with two crusts of bread and butter . . TVd until bed around 2am.
29 - Up real late around 9am or just after, and only then because I was woken by car-door banging and a defective exhaust noise outside!! . Walked in the sun real late, with threatening shower clouds building in the sky. Found plenty of fleas and lots of skin irritation on Bella this morning! :o( . Returned via the store for milk . . 'stirred' the ashes in the bottom of the barrel in the garden. STILL some glowing embers in there! Left it to cool still further. A heavy rain shower passed through a short time later around 11:30am, almost exactly as forecast. . . PCd this. In a strange mood. EVERYTHING seems - um - 'insignificant', perhaps because I appear to be alone in an alien world surrounded by people who think EVERYTHING isn't. . Bizarrely I can't help but idly wonder, how many suicides 'the Olympics' will end up being 'responsible' for. There WILL be some - but probably no-one will ever know. . .ate four small bread rolls with mayo and corned beef, crisps and a little chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 7pm . . PCd . Waited in for the end of another morse key auction I'd been watching (a plated MkIII type this time) and bagged it for 8.99 inc postage. 8 of that was allegedly the postage, because of a heavy base!!!! No more for a while (if ever) I think!!! . . walked . . TVd and in desperation for something to watch, hooked up the router to the TV and watched a Dads Army episode on the IPlayer . . PCd. Although NOTHING appears to be really working with Bella's fleas, I have somehow convinced myself that the tablet I gave her earlier in the week, HAS resulted in the best temporary beneficial impact. Went online and ordered three more packs of the same Johnsons three tablet treatments for 11.15 inc postage on e-bay. This is costing me a ****ing fortune!!!! :o( That is at least, considerably cheaper than buying them in the local pet store of course. Prompted by that purchase, and with her showing signs of real increasing discomfort again, I went straight down and gave her another tablet with a couple of gravy bones. . bumped into a buy-it-now listing for someone selling a bunch of the same type of downlighter bulbs like I just bought in the local hardware store for a massively inflated price. I've a horrible feeling they don't last very long (in-line with my own experience, I've bumped into online feedback suggesting the same!) but while they do work, they DO seem to give the sort of light output I'm looking for in my alcoves (better than the expensive, equally short-lived LED ones I've tried in the diner alcoves). Ended up thinking, ahhh what the hell, and went ahead and ordered '10 x Kosnic 11watt GU10 Warm white' bulbs for 23.13. A big (long term? Yeah - I bet - NOT!) investment, but that's 'almost' ten for the price of just two in the local store! So - lets see how quick I get through THAT lot! :o( . so much for my e-bay sales money, which I'd hoped to buy a new radio with. I'm just 'frittering' it away on such things. It'll all soon be gone. :o(. . .pottered around trying to get on top of the real mountain of receipts and paperwork I've neglected for pretty much the last couple of months, but at length, only suceeded in making a slightly neater pile of it all on the desk!! . . PCd a bit of this until early. . .TVd nothing and ate a banana and a couple of biscuits before eventually to bed just after 3am. Couldn't get to sleep and tossed and turned for ages. Even had to get back up and put the summer duvet back on the bed because I was feeling a bit cold! Probably gone 4am before I finally got to sleep!.
28 - Up around 7:30am. Tired out! Blue sky sunny. . the barrel fire was all smouldered down to hot embers. . walked . . neighbors were unfortunately putting washing out, so no chance of making the most of the embers and carrying on with the burning of any more cuttings. Scooped up the garden full of chopped hedge cuttings and debris, filled four dustbins (!! :o() and stashed them back in the garage away from any rain showers. That's all gonna have to sit there for the forseeable future now. What a neverending pain! :o( . stirred the embers to keep them smouldering and breaking down to dust, propped the lid back over the top and left it to cool. Got the long-wire antenna back up . . vacuumed . . PCd . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats . . ate four Mum donated mini pork pies, crisps and chocolate . . .napped until around 5:30pm. Woke feeling really very tired and wiped out. .went out of my way to tune into the ITV news (because the BBC doesn't do 'news' anymore apparantly!) which happened to soon be on. I wasted my time. I don't think I missed anything - the entire fifteen minutes news slot appeared to be ENTIRELY dedicated to talking about the olympics!? I despair. REALLY! . .I DID at some point manage to see (on the BBC 'news' ?) 'some' of the footage from the opening ceremony, etc. It DID appear to be an incredible spectacle - and have some neat funny bits (The Queen, Rowan Atkinson etc) here and there. . walked. Spotted the woman with the two dobermans in the distance where I normally sit. They were off their leads. I just wasn't in the mood for any more 'stress', so didn't even bother crossing the road to that bit of the green. Just stayed on the main grassy playing field. . . PCd . . trimmed my hair and beard, got clean and finally rid of the all pervading smell of smoke! . . .TVd nothing/guitarred for ages. Stiff aching hands! . . . ate a pastry slice, crisps, mini apple tarts, banana and chocolate . . TVd/PCd until eventually to bed around 2am or later.
27 - Up around 7:30am. Overcast and a little cooler. . PCd this with the radio on for a bit. At some point, on one of the VHF repeaters over Dorset way, someone deliberately keyed up their mic at length to widely broadcast the ringing of some nearby to them, church bells!!! I gather that as part of the olympics 'nonsense', it had been decided (by ?) that at a certain time, 'everyone' across the country should join in and ring a bell to mark the start of the olympics!???? (I may be wrong, but I 'think' the local church(s) did NOT join in - and I was cheered by that.) They'd even apparantly rung 'Big Ben' for three minutes straight, for the first time since something similar was done to mark the death of the former king! What UTTER nonsense! Why of WHY anyone (other than those taking part) should give a s**t about the olympics is completely beyond me. The hype about it seems to have somehow turned into mass hysteria, as though it actually has some actual significance - when to me, it is SO crystal clear it absolutely does NOT. (I feel like the confused child in the 'Emporers New Clothes' fable!) To ring big ben for three minutes, for the first time since it was done to mark the death of the country's monarch - for something as trivial as a mere sporting event - hosting some 'games' - I think that is awful. It devalues the significance of the act. I even think it was innapropriate that someone took it upon themselves to broadcast what they did on the repeater. Surely a breach of licencing conditions, if you wanted to get really silly about it? Blah blah blah. Anyway - the olympics furor has absolutely NO interest to me. I think it a trivial irrelevance, turned into little more than a money making scam for a select group to get rich on, by brainwashing all the little people taxpayers into paying for it all (more of the army is now allegedly doing security on the olympics than is fighting for their lives in Afghansitan!??) - right when we are deep in a recession and allegedly can't even afford to adequately fund defence, social services, healthcare, police etc etc ad infinitum! The press and politicians CONTINUALLY spout on about how it is going to 'inspire a generation'. Really? Inspire them to do what exactly? Seek to spend their lives 'playing games'? I don't think the upcoming generations need inspiring to be doing THAT! (They'd just rather spend all their lives doing it on an LCD screen!) Rant rant rant. Suffice it to say, I feel there is something terribly wrong with what's going on with all this olympics nonsense. Some things ARE 'important' - the olympics is absolutely NOT. . . walked . . With showers forecast in the next day or so, with half the back garden covered in hedge cuttings, and with a bit of a breeze in the air, today was going to HAVE to be 'bonfire' day. I don't like 'inflicting' it on the neighbors, and figured it'd be best to try to burn as much all in one go as I possibly could. That meant, it made sense to finally tackle the big dead hedge all along the bottom of the front garden, and get that all cut down and ready to burn too. . unfortunately, as I started the mammoth clearance job, the cooler cloudier weather cleared to full hot sun. SO hot out there, I could only manage 'so' much of the hard strenuous work, before HAVING to frequently stop and retreat into some shade to drink a whole bottle of water each time. The sweat was absolutely POURING off me!! Drenched by it! . broke up the woody hedge largely by hand and filled dustbinload after dustbinload, and had to periodically carry it all through the house to dump up with the rest of the 'drying' debris in the back garden. . all the difficult to remove green ivy, weeds and various other types of ground cover filled several more dustbins! . eventually managed to dig and hack out the rotten root balls and main trunks. The ground out there seems to be as much rubble as soil! It's gonna need a whole bunch of digging and de-weeding and seperating out lots of the rocks before I can actually do anything with that bit of ground. It's just going to have to remain as an ugly bare-earth scar for the time being, while I try to formulate a plan as to what to actually do with it now and what to plant there, etc. Now it's finally all cleared, I'm not sure that continuing the post and rail fence across like I HAD intended, is actually going to look right or be appropriate. For an easier life, I 'could' almost live with it just being tidied up and grasssed over! . while doing the work, I had a brief conversation with a neighbour from up the street. The conversation got onto bonfires. A nearby house having a lot of garden/renovation work done, has recently had some truly enormous bonfires in their back garden (which even I had found just a little concerning and irritating, because of the size of them). The last one, just the other night, resulted in lots of little flakes of ash falling across the neighborhood into everyones gardens (mine included). Apparantly, a couple of the neighbors up the road had gotten so irate about that, they actually went and complained and had the guy come and sweep their gardens!!!!! Good grief! How intolerant and silly some people can get about such things. It's an occasional minor inconvenience which is soon passed for goodness sake. (I'm far less tolerant of the smoke that billows out from SO many peoples wood burners for months on end during the winter these days! There are times round here in the winter when it's like having been transported back in time, to the heavily polluted victorian age or some such!) Anyway - being told about that, simply increased MY anxiety about possibly upsetting the neighbors by having MY fire later! . . shifted the remaining bin loads of debris through to out back, and called it quits by mid afternoon - exhausted and really fit to drop! Given my unhealthy lifestyle and poor diet etc, etc, there are times of EXTREME exertion like this, that I'm amazed I continue to survive! . . recovered a little before getting the ladder up against the post at the end of the garden, and quickly taking down my long wire antenna out of harms way. Brought out the three bin loads of wood and tree branches I'd been drying out in the garage, together with the oil drum burner, and shifted all the cuttings and debris into appropriate heaps, and generally got everything ready to have my fire later. If I reasonably could have, it'd have made much more sense to just go for it then and there, but laundry was out on a couple of neighbors lines, so I thought it best to delay until the evening. . .just sat around and recovered a bit, drinking LOTS. . TVd. Ate spam sandwiches, crisps, banana and a little chocolate . . napped for almost a couple of hours despite the heat. I was just So, SO exhausted. . . . skipped the walk and impatiently hung around with coffee and cigarettes in the back garden, waiting for the neighbours to take in their washing - aiming for lighting my fire at what I considered was the most likely acceptable time of 8pm (aside from anything else, I figured most of the neighborhood would be indoors, watching the Olympics opening ceremony on TV) . . time agonisingly slowly passed, with STILL no sign of my next door neighbor taking in their line full of washing, only ten feet or so from where I was going to be creating clouds of smoke!! Actually wgave up waiting and went and banged on their door, with the intention of warning them what I was about to do and encouraging them immediately to bring it all in. The bad news was, there was no-one at home! Sorry guys - rain is forecast - I've GOT to go for it - I've been putting it off for the last five hours on your behalf!!! . . got the fire going in the barrel after a brief false start, and started feeding all the woody stuff in over the next hour or so. (Next doors washing was inundated with clouds of thick smoke, swirling all over the place on the breeze!! They are surely going to HAVE to wash it allover again!!!! Yikes.) . . at length, all the woody stuff was gone and I was down to the mountain of chopped up green stuff. That did NOT go well! Despite the heat and good barrel load of burning embers, the first armful of cuttings I dumped in there, pretty promptly stifled the fire and just turned it into a horrendously smokey, slow smouldering nightmare - like I've had before! FAR too much 'wet' and green! So - that was that for the next several hours - just a town full of smoke, and little progress. The next door neighbor eventually appeared, to take in her washing at getting on for 11pm! I apologised profusely of course. Thankfully she was good naturedly accepting of the situation! At length, it became pretty obvious I was NOT going to get through even a fraction of what I'd been hoping to burn! Either I'd have to stay at it all night, through the night without sleeping (whilst trying to be quiet while people slept!), or I WAS going to have to call it quits and end up with a garden full of debris still to somehow get rid off! Damn damn damn! . . . too tired and worried about upsetting the neighbors to do the 'all nighter' idea, so eventually pretty much called a halt around 1am. Filled the smoking oil drum with one last armfull of choking green cuttings, placed the lid atop my metal-bar spacer over the top, and left the thing to either go out or safely carry on smouldering through the night. VERY disappointing not to have managed to get rid of it all. Having burned all the tree cuttings and dried out timber I have, I don't really have enough material to be able to get a decent blaze going again for the forseeable future, so burning the rest of that mountain of greener stuff, is now going to be out of the question and I'm gonna be stuck with it!! :o( . . . Eventually collapsed in front of the TV, expecting to be able to catch-up on and watch, a few of the highlights of the Olympics opening ceremony thing - just so as not to be completely alienated from and out of touch with, the rest of the people in the world! Bizzarely, even though it was still doing non-stop saturation coverage of the event (and ONLY the event!! NO proper world NEWS got a look in!!!!) the BBC news channel was NOT broadcasting any live footage???? All it was doing was putting up captured stills of this and that?? Huh???? It was almost as though some controlling power hadn't yet released their grip on the propaganda machine and allowed them to, as you WOULD have imagined - of the BBC especially. Sounds a bit like I'm turning into a conspiracy theory nutter doesn't it!! Well - ok - BUT - the other day, a British cyclist won the tour de france for the first time ever or some such. I happened to be in front the TV when it was due to end, and he was to cycle across the finishing line in Paris. I tuned in on the BBC 24 hours news channel - and it WAS being given 'hysterical' saturation coverage - but there was NO video of the event!!!! It is my assumption that somehow the event sponsor, the all powerful Sky media empire had put a block on it being broadcast by anyone else!!!! Instead of being able to watch that bit of 'news' because Sky 'owned' it? - on the main BBC24hrs news channel, I was forced to LISTEN to presenters on a RADIO channel (radio Five I 'think' it was?) DESCRIBING the 'momentous' event!!!!!!!! What the F*** has happened to this country/world??! Greed, selfishness and corruption is EVERYTHING. I feel so utterly UTTERLY NOT a part of ANY of it any more. Just TOTALLY aliented by EVERYTHING that seems to be going on EVERWHERE! Why IS everyone just going along with it all? Why ARE they all SO blind? The lunatics HAVE taken over the asylum. :o(. . ate the other half of the tin of spam in sandwiches, crisps, banana and a little chocolate again . . TVd, occasionaly looking out into the garden to make sure all was still safe, until eventually to bed at getting on for 3am.
26 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:30am. Hotter and sunny . . . slow getting going again! Walked late . . worked in the back garden. Dug out and eventually successfully removed the big heavy root-ball and trunk of the latest bit of hedge I'd removed. . the postman delivered the latest morse key (same as the others more or less) I'd won for 8.40 inc postage. It's ok for the money, but not in particlarly good condition that one. It works ok. . trimmed hedges back with the hedge trimmer, de-weeded the paths and generally got the back garden into pretty reasonable, under-control shape. Dumped all the mass of cuttings and debris onto the tier of the garden where I'm trying to dry stuff out a bit for burning (tomorrow I think). . hot and exhausted after working in the sun and heat, I ended up just having to stop and sit around for the rest of the day! Drank a glass of red wine and guitarred in the garden for quite a bit . . cooked and ate four SMALL beefburgers with chips . . walked under some hazy cloud. More comfortably cool at least. .as we crossed the field along the path, heading for my current 'usual' seat, a woman with two dobermans was walking unseen on the other side of a dividing hedge. Her dobermans scare me (I AM nervous of Dobermans now, given what recently happened!) - and I've told her so in conversation. They always go crazy at the sight of Bella and strain on their leads barking trying to get to her! So far, I've always managed to keep a distance between us, and the woman always seems to keep them on their leads and walk away from us when we appear. As we appeared from behind the obscuring hedge, it transpired her dogs were NOT on their leads, and they came running towards Bella scarily barking!! Bella was all about her ball and didn't seem to be particularly unnerved, but oh boy - I WAS!!! Really, really scared me to death - trying to get hold of Bellas collar and keep her close to me, as the two dobermans ran right up to us all barking and having a 'challenging' sniff at Bella, as I just kept walking towards the seat! I really was actually frightened. Perhaps because Bella had her ball in her mouth and did not respond to their sniffing at her by turning and defensively 'nipping' as she often can (which of course can START a fight), the dobermans did not make real contact and we eventually reached the seat unscathed. I held onto Bellas collar and got her to just sit there, still, next to me. One of the dobermans returned to its owner (and lead) whilst the other continued to bark and 'stand off' just in front of us. It eventually got distracted by a guy who was walking across the field and ran off to do a similar behavior with him! He took it remarkably well and made a joke of it, that the dog was mugging him for his wallet. Many people (me included) would have been terrified to have a doberman run up to you across a field, and start barking at you close-up like that! After what seemed like an age, the dog returned to its owner and she carried on walking them around the field - on their leads! . jeeze - it took me ages to get over all that. The whole stressful business really made me feel pretty unwell for ages! . . I'd thought for a while there that the flea tablet I recently gave Bella had done the trick, because she didn't seem to be scratching 'quite' so much. I was wrong. I can STILL find fleas on her! :o(. . briefly returned Mums earlier anspahone message . TVd/guitarred the evening away. . ate a couple of kipling apple pies . . to bed around 1am.
25 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:20am. Full sunshine again, and a substantial 'lift' on 2mtrs . . walked in the heat and didn't play ball for long at all. Returned via Mums, to sit in her garden for a bit with a coffee after having wished her happy birthday . She said she'd heard on the radio that a young womans body had been recovered from yesterday's landslide/rockfall. :o( . .tried awful hard not to just waste away a whole nother day, and ended up in the back garden, spreading out all the bin-loads of hedge and tree cuttings from the garage, all over the middle, slabbed tier of the garden, to dry it all out in the sun for a couple of days. Should make the eventual burning of it go a lot easier, assuming I don't get caught out by rain before I put it all back in under cover. Maybe I should aim to burn it in the next few days? Just a bit concerened about the whole neighborhood having their windows open in the hot weather! . cut down more of the remaining bit of hedge alongside the fence, and actually ended up cutting down pretty much all of it, with the exception of two main trunks, which ARE partially supporting the wobbly fence as I'd feared. (HOT work!) Close examination of the wobbling fence post there, revealed it's actually the metal spike which is the problem, NOT a rotten fence post (I think). The actual metal upper part of the spike, deeply buried in the ground between cement and concrete blocks, appears to have split and opened up a bit, thereby allowing all the to and fro movement in the post which slots into it! That's gonna make sorting it all out a BIG pain!!!! Not even sure how I can do anything about it! :o( . just by chance, I thought I heard my doorbell whilst I was out cutting (Bella hadn't!??) and I managed to catch the postman trying to deliver a small parcel. Yayyyy - the morse code key I'd won for 3.99. Nervously opened it up and - was pleasantly suprised. "KEY W.T.8 AMP. No 2 MK II"- mounted on its original old bit of timber from a training school somewhere (minus all the other fittings), exactly as pictured on e-bay. It isn't in 'perfect' condition, but IS well worth what I gave for it. Yyayyy. . finished pottering with the hedge cutting, and left the final removal of the trunks and awkward fence/post work for some other time. . Image of a KEY W.T.8 AMP. No 2 MK II and homebrew morse code practice oscillatorEnded up messing with the morse key after a long break to recover. Immediately removed it from the wooden plinth it was still screwed to, and then set about dismantling it all and cleaning it up just a little, with a drop of paraffin and a stiff paintbrush. There IS a small piece missing (actually not really necessary for the way they are used today), and there ARE a couple of weird and poorly/roughly drilled holes in the bakelite (presumably from where it'd once been used with the original training buzzer/wood plinth assembly?), and a couple of other things which would put off a die-hard 'collector', but overall, it's in perfectly useable condition (now - after my cleaning of it) and unusualy has a non-standard but rather neat skirted knob on it too. (Wouldn't mind being able to find somewhere I can cheaply buy something like that one, to replace the absurdly tall, non standard knob I've got on the Himound HK-705 key I bought on e-bay ages ago! Although a 'reasonably' priced deal (with hindsight at todays crazy prices), that 705 key HAS inexplicably lost tension in its return spring (non standard replacement?) and now 'needs work'!?? :o( ) . . All in all, I'm VERY happy with what this new old key has cost me. :o) (What SHALL I do with the original thin wooden plinth it was screwed to? Can't throw it away because it has the words 'Buzzer Sig Training' engraved on the front, and has an original old paper glued on the reverse, showing a 'Schematic Diagram Of Connections Of Buzzer, Etc.' Wonder how it came to pass that everything but the key was removed and disposed of? More 'clutter' I'll have to keep somewhere! Can't imagine anyone would want to buy it on e-bay - it isn't at all in 'pristine' condition) . manually, hit and miss set up the gaps (I'm gonna HAVE to search out my old spark-plug feeler guages!) and tested the key on my practice oscillator for a bit. :o) . . PCd this . . eventually sat and waited for another key auction due to end around 18:50 hrs. A metal-plated MKIII type this time (I 'think' they are ALL brass under the surface coating). Duly did my snipe bid thing, but did NOT win it! It went for a suprisingly 'robust' 15.73 inc postage!!! Awww. I have a feeling my bidding like I did, actually forced the winning bidder to pay at least 5 more than he would have done otherwise. lolol Oh well - there's always another. It isn't as though I'm desperate is it, given how many I already have. Shame though. I DO prefer those black bakelite MKIIIs. . . PCd more of this. An uncomfortable 25C in the PC room! Not good for 'equipment/toys' methinks! . . . walked late and sat around with a coffee for quite a bit as the sun set and the temperature dropped to a slightly more comfortable level. . TVd . . ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of tuna and garlic mayo sandwiches, crisps and a little chocolate, then bowls of rice krispies a little later . . to bed around 1:30am.
24 - Up around 7:40am again. .Bella had scratched and gnawed herself raw again, with her flea irritation!! :o( . . walked in the hot sun. Bizarrely, as we reached the green, a huge bank of cool fog was just drifting in. I'd actually thought there was a big fire somwhere nearby, given how the fog was drifting across the green in waves. Really quite weird. In very quick time, the waves of fog enveloped us in a proper little 'white out'! . . eventually carried on down town . . toured charity shops and then headed for the big/little local hardware store. Bought a replacement bulb for the living room downlighter. WHAT an OUTRAGEOUS cost! Absolutely OUT F**King RAGEOUS!!! A 'Kosnic' 11W GU10 warm white energy saver (supposed to last for 10000 hours - I'm making records now!) for 9.99. ONE single bulb - 9.99!!!! FFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! . . carried on up to the local pet store and bought a pack of three 'Johnson's 57mg 4Fleas tablets for dogs' for a pricey ('local' always is!) 5.39 - but, needs must!!! I'm gonna HAVE to try anything and everything!!. . recovered from the walk and gave Bella a flea tablet straight away with her breakfast, then vacuumed and did laundry . . pushed on and did the mountain of dishwashing chores. . heard snippets on the radio (mostly from the rescue 106 helicopter, because most of the other comms was out of my range) about an emergency going on somewhere over Dorset way, involving a significant landslide on a beach!!!!!!eventually mustered what it took, and left Bella at home and walked up the builders yard to try to get going on this replacement fence panel thing for Mum. I've NO intention of doing it in this weather, but I figure I DO need to get moving on actually getting a panel to Mums somehow, so I can get on and do it when I'm in the mood/have the energy/suitable weather etc, etc. Measured up the panels they had, and decided on the size which would have to do ('slightly' different style and size to her existing, because of the metrication of everything, etc!) and then got one of the yard guys to move everything so I could 'give it a go' at carrying it. If I'd have to have it delivered, it'd cost 10 just for the delivery!! Mum was all up for paying that, but the way 'I' have to live is a hard habit to break, and I figured if I could in any way carry it the 'short' distance, and get away with NOT paying that, I would/should. It wasn't heavy of course - just big and awkward. There WAS worryingly a gentle breeze blowing, but after a bit of a test across the builders yard, I figured it was 'just' manageable. I could 'just' reach across enough, arms FULLY outstretched, to be able to grab each of the short sides and walk - JUST! Bought the '6 x 5 Grange Lap Fence Panel G/Brown' for 22 and headed off towards Mums in the blazing hot sun. It hurt - and I had to stop a few times on the way to rest my aching arms mostly, but eventually I made it to Mums. I was just threading myself through her front garden gate when she noticed the commotion and came to her door. "You SILLY boy!" she said. lolololol Yeah - I'm still her little boy! lololol . Mum looked suprisingly unwell!???? Apparantly she'd been working in her front yard yesterday, dropped the secateurs on one foot, and then crushed the other with a falling stone from her rockery wall!! She's really getting too old for doing all this stuff she does!!!!! . . temporarily propped the panel against the broken one to make sure Mum could live with the diffferent style/colour, but also to FINALLY see EXACTLY how different the size was. Actually pretty close. Just gonna be awkward getting a piece of timber the right size for replacing the upright then. The uprights are actually 4"x2" timbers, bolted to a cemented-in-the-ground piece of angle iron! The fence panels are nailed directly to the SIDE of the upright timber. i.e. the upright piece of 4"x2" timber HAS to be EXACTLY four inches wide - EXACTLY - or it ain't gonna work! THERE'S the problem. Go to a timber yard and ask for length of 4"x2" these days, and you get a broadly equivalent METRIC sized piece - which is SEVERAL millimeteres LESS then 4" wide!!!! I'm not entirely sure how I'm gonna get around that. I am SO loathed to end up having to buy wider bits and then try to cut them all the way down their length with the circular saw - but I have a horrible feeling, that's how it'll have to go. I'm in no hurry to do the job, entirely as a result!! :o( eventually stashed the panel in Mums garage for the timebeing. .recovered from my exertions with a coffee, and then after discussing gardening work and the like, and how she MUST start calling on me to do things for her, whether she likes it or not (and she doesn't!), it was agreed I'd fetch my hedgetrimmer and tackle her overgrown back garden hedge of really tall, nasty prickly stuff. . . returned home to pick up Bella and the hedge trimmer . . . trimmed Mums hedge and actually managed to push on and mostly with the hedge trimmer, chopped up the mountain of cuttings and filled Mums refuse sacks with it all. (She pays (has no choice!) by the bag, to have the council come collect it all.) It took a while, but we got that nasty job literally 'hanging over her', nicely done. :o) Mum INSISTED on not only paying me for the fence panel, but also for 'the work' of doing the hedge trimming and eventually fitting the panel!! Eventually headed home with 50 in my pocket!!!!!!!!! . . felt tired out. Just sat in front the TV watching the news for ages. There HAD been a serious rockfall on a beach - and one person (young woman) was 'missing', feared buried in it!! More overheard snippets on the radio revealed an 'exclusion' zone was being put in place on nearby beaches by coastguards/lifeboats and a police launch. Even the coastguard MSI broadcast later, confirmed the exclusion zone included an area offshore! What was particularly disturbing about the news footage on TV, was how it 'appeared' that SO little was actually being done for SO very long!??? Yes, ok, so it was really dangerous and all, and there could well have been further falls, and frankly it wasn't likely anyone could have survived it, but it really did appear to be a slow, SLOW response - with just one ill equipped JCB on the scene on all the aerial news footage!! Around 7pm, I overheard a coastguard message on the radio, which appeared to suggest that they had 'just' managed to find a 'rock-picker' somewhere, but it'd take between two and four hours to actually get there!!! IF those ARE the circumstances of what I may have heard, then really - what the hell were they doing for the seven hours it took to arrive at that point? FFS! Really distressing, the whole business. In a bizarre way, such incidents always seems worse and sadder to me , when it's such a nice day weatherwise!???. . .skipped the evening walk . . TVd the night away mostly, hardly moving - even though yet again, I was unable to find anything at all worth watching!. . guitarred briefly . . ate Mum donated sausage rolls, pastry slice, cheese, a tomato, crisps and then a whole pack of shortbread biscuits! . . to bed around midnight.
23 - Up around 7:40am . . walked in the hot sun. Very warm. . Bella didn't have an appetite for her breakfast!! That's worrying. She IS of course, STILL riddled with fleas! :o( . . .PCd a bit of this . .just sat around and wasted away the whole day doing absolutely nothing!!! I'm no good at hot sunny weather! . . .Bella didn't touch her breakfast all day - and then sure enough, eventually pooped (badly!) in the garden, confirming she had an upset stomach! Bagging up that runny poop was difficult, and it is my habit under such circumstances, to fill my old plastic watering 'can' with water from the rain butt, and wash the remains away into the lawn as best I can. Right when I needed it, and in a period of hot and dry, it turns out that my rainwater butt has a leak, and it was completely empty!!!!! FFS! Something else to have to try and sort out some time! :o(. . applied another tube of the totally ineffectual 'Beaphar Flea & Tick Drops' spot-on stuff to Bella before walking . .walked . Returned and fed Bella as usual - and she woofed it down as usual, so just a passing stomach upset I guess (caused by the bone yesterday maybe?!!!). . delayed eating and PCd instead. Sat and nervously awaited the end of YET another morse key e-bay auction I've been watching. (Just another of those same sort of little '8 AMP' type keys, of which I'm so fond.) 'Sniped' my bid in, four seconds from the end - and won it for 8.40 inc postage. :o) Content with that. I figure, any I can bag for less than 10 not including the postage is a GOOD deal, and worth me 'gambling' on. Trouble with the MKII ones I've bagged of late - from a purely 'visual' or aesthetic standpoint, I reckon the all black bakelite MKIIIs are far neater and more fitting being paired with my oscillator box(s)! I also wonder if I am in danger of actually driving UP the prices on e-bay! I may have to give things a rest pretty soon. Risky/pricey fun and games! :o/. . TVd . . ate a trio of corned beef, mayo and grated cheese rolls with a tomato and a little lettuce, followed by a couple of squares of chocolate . . TVd until to bed around midnight, sleeping under just a sheet because it was so warm.
22 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8am. A gloriously sunny, full-on summers day - at last. . .walked , feeling a bit too hot for comfort. lol. . recovered with a coffee and guitarred in the conservatory for quite a while. . eventually mustered up the energy to mow the back lawn. As I was doing so, next door checked that I had no objection to him cutting back some of the branches of one of my overhanging trees - because the shade from it was preventing their washing from drying on their rotary clothes line. I had no objection of course, but pointed out that what was most likley putting their washing in the shade was the hedge between us. I'd long since noticed at different times of the year, that thick hedge growing up through the fence, puts their washing line in full shade much of the day. I HAD intended to cut it all down and reveal the fence timbers like I've done on the other side, but had delayed doing so, because it appears one of the fence posts has rotted right there, and the fence is probably being held up by the hedge growth! Hadn't planned on doing anything of the sort on such a hot and sunny day, but decided to show willing and cut back a section of that hedge right there and then. . far too hot a day to be doing such things in the full sun (and all my storage dustbins are already full of cuttings, drying out in the garage ready for a burning some time, so nowhere to put any more at the moment) and after making a small break in the hedge for the sun to reach through to their washing, I eventually called it quits - with yet another dustbin full of chopped debris to get rid of, just like that! . . defrosted a bone from the freezer and then treated Bella to it out on the lawn while I was messing with the hedge . . . . guitarred some more in the conservatory and garden . . eventually retreated inside from the heat and ended up working on the oscillator circuit board in front of the TV, yet again trying to rework it, so as to make it as small as it can possibly be. That first one I made, was very experimental, a real unknown to me, and I'd tried to spread everything out in a logical way to enable me to easily solder the wires etc, etc. I'd actually used up a whole single one (of the five I'd bought) of the 25mmx64mm vero boards - and then trimmed off and threw loads away! Seemed awfuly wasteful. . at length, after MUCH fiddling about, I eventually managed to come up with a plan for mounting all the required components onto a tiny QUARTER sized piece of one of the veroboards - only 30mmx12mm!! Cutting the 2mm wide copper tracks where necessary with a stanley blade, was a real pain - pretty much at the limit of what my failing eyesight could cope with!! Eventually had it ready and after setting up my 'solder station' on the kitchen worktop, I had a go at the soldering, with Dads old Antex iron with the medium-fine tip on. HAD to use the magnifying glass on some of it!! . it actually suprisingly went 'ok'. :o) Eventually nervously temporarily connected/soldered all the wires to make up a complete circuit and gave it a go. NOTHING!!! Damn - where to start trying to debug it (if even possible!)? :o( Figured the easiest place to start was simply, is the loudspeaker actually working (tested by just connecting the battery straight across it!). Well I'll be damned! That new loudspeaker from the pack of eleven I'd bought, was NOT working!! (So much for thinking that was gonna be a good deal then! Grrrr. :o( ) As it happily quickly turned out, that was ALL that was wrong. I binned the duff speaker, soldered in a new one, and the thing was working fine. Yayyyyy. VERY pleased to have got all that crammed in to such a small bit of circuit board. It really couldn't be ANY smaller (actually - 'maybe' one line of holes less still from one end - but that really would make life difficult??)Image of the minimalist 555 timer circuit board inside my morse code practice oscillator. . carried on working at it and after many hours of searching through the garage for tiny nuts and bolts, more bits of telephone wire, some plastic to make a couple of spacers, etc, etc, I eventually soldered everything up, had the speaker 'hot glued' into the box, and had my old '8 amp' morse key fixed to the top of the box, hiding the speaker holes and connecting wires. Image of my self contained 8 amp No 2 Mk II morse key and morse code practice oscillatorIn short - more or less as I'd envisaged it, I finished the thing and had it all working! (It currently does NOT have a line-out socket fitted, because I seem to have misplaced the two sockets I SHOULD have laying around in a packet somewhere! I've searched and searched, but can't for the life of me locate the damned things! REALLY frustrating! Do SO hope they haven't been inadvertantly thrown out!) Anyway - THAT proves that what I'd imagined would be possible, absolutely IS. A VERY compact and functional, fully self contained, morse-code practice oscillator and key unit, all in one. A mere 12.5cm long, 65mm wide, 73mm high overall. Dinky - and to MY strange eye, a real little thing of beauty. lololol I'm really pleased. So - there we go - two prototypes of what I'd imagined was possible. I HAVE started the long job of doing a rough calculation of what they 'may' have cost me per oscillator box. Not entirely easy at the moment because all the actual components have been what came in my original 'dummys kit', and until I start buying replacements, I'm not sure how cheap those components will work out at, but - so far, it 'appears' that each of the units (not including the morse key(s) of course) isn't 'that' far off the 10-12 target I'd somehow set myself along the way. I HAVE of course spent lots more than that because I bought various things in bulk - but of course, that does mean I have lots of bits and pieces laying around for further experiments. I DO fully intend at some point, to experiment with different circuits in an attempt to improve upon the actual tone produced, and a few other niggling characteristics I'm not content with. Nevertheless, if I'd gone out and bought a 'proper' new one - like maybe the "MFJ 557 Morse Key with Oscillator" advertised on e-bay, it'd have cost me 51.90 including postage!!!!! In my opinion, I've created a much smaller, neater, nicer version, for less than half that price! I'm very pleased with how they've both turned out. :o) I AM in danger of 'blowing the budget' and ordering a couple of silver/metal knobs for the volume and tone controls, just to make it REALLY look the part! Also, with the minimum of effort, it would be entirely possible to swap that old morse key for one of my beloved black bakelite and brass ones - because although 'slightly' different, they ARE fundamentaly the same, with the same footprint and mounting holes etc. So I may end up ordering two pairs of fancy metal knobs - two silver and two 'gold'. Silly, silly, silly - but I can't help seeing them as works of art, and wanting the oscillator to do that justice. lolololololol . . . walked REAL late with a much needed coffee, and sat around and played ball on the green until after dark . . TVd . . drank a celebratory glass of red wine - while playing with the new oscillator lots - sending any text that appeared on the TV screen during the advert breaks! lolol . . ate a banana and then cooked and ate four burgers in buttered rolls followed by a little chocolate . .PCd until bed around 1:30am.
21 - Up around 8am after a poor broken nights sleep. Sunny . . walked and carried on down round the harbor and out along to the breakwater beach again, just having a look at whatever may have been going on today as part of the last day of lifeboat week. Not much actually. Threw Bella's ball into the water lots by the lifeboat again (no dogs allowed on the beach this time of year of course). Bella got all 'hyper' again, making for another difficult walk back through town again!!! . . pottered around/PCd, messed with an oscillator circuitboard (dry fitting components - AGAIN, trying to figure out how to miniaturise/minimalise the size of the board), etc until Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats. . ate Mum donated mini pork pies, crisps, lettuce and some tomato followed by a little chocolate . . napped the afternoon away until around 6:15pm . .PCd and checked on a bunch of 'watches' I have on stuff on e-bay. Someone hadn't done their homework, and had innapropriately listed an old 8 Amp type morse-code key as a 'buzzer switch' a few days ago, in a silly inappropriate category. Haven't a clue how I stumbled across it, but I had high hopes for that one. If no one else spotted it, I really would have a very good chance of bagging that one for very little money. I'd been the only bidder on it all week! It was due to end soon - but right when I really should be out walking Bella. Should I delay and sit and wait in for the auction end (only to likely get sniped AGAIN as so often has happened of late)? I ummd and ahhd for ages. I eventually increased my maximum (still rather low) bid to, I 'think' it was 15 including postage, and reluctantly decided to let fate take it's course while I was out!!! . . walked and sat around on the green for ages with a coffee etc, - but occasionaly glancing at my watch to see when the auction was ending! lolol . on the way home, someone was having a bonfire. THAT wasn't just a bit of garden waste! THICK black plumes of smoke billowing over the town. I even imagined it could have been a house or car fire - but it wasn't. It WAS in someons back yard! Naughty. . . . fed Bella and then eagerly fired up the PC to see if I'd been outbid on the morse key, or worse still, won it but been forced into paying through the nose. Yaaaaaayyyyyyy. I'd won the auction for 3.99 inc postage! On the face of it (assuming it's in generaly good/working condition), that's a very good deal. (Easily worth 15 or more at current crazy prices.) Finally - a 'bargain' - maybe. :o) . . . guitarred/TVd the night away . Would you believe it! The 'spare/replacement' low energy spotlight bulb I recently had to fit in the living room, just died on me!! FFS!!!!!!!!???????? WHAT a rip-off those bulbs are! Do they time-expire like food or something? This is ridiculous, and costing me a bloody fortune!???? We surely HAVE been conned into being forced into using these 'low energy' ones haven't we. How CAN they get away with constantly advertising them as having a longer life than standard ones, and being worth the considerable extra expense? Someone somewhere is lining their pockets at everyone's expense, with the corrupt government in on the deal. F***ing outrageous. <conspiracy-theory rant. lol>. . . ate garlic sausage sandwiches, banana and much chocolate . . to bed around 1am. s
20 - Up around 7:30am . sunny spells again . . PCd this . . walked late (with a small morse-code key in my pocket!! lol). Stopped by Mums on the way back to have a good trawl through some of Dad's old jam-jars of nuts and bolts, looking for some small ones that'll match and fit through the base mounting holes of the morse key. Surpisingly and disappointingly didn't manage to find ANYTHING suitable!?? . . caught out in a torrential downpour on the short way back home and got drenched! . . PCd/monitored radios for a bit . . ended up wasting away the next MANY hours working on my next morse-code practice oscillator design, concentrating on the project box, as showers passed through. It took hours, but I eventually ended up with all the 'hidden' holes drilled for the speaker, the morse key mounting holes drilled, and the holes drilled and the volume and tone controls in place. Yayy. In principal, it looks as though it really IS going to work out nicely. 'Just' need to knock up another - hopefully smaller/more 'refined' oscillator circuitboard now. . As part of lifeboat week, the SAR Sea Kingg helicopter demonstration (which I've actually STILL not seen since I've lived here) was due to happen down on the Breakwater beach around 5:30pm. I ummd and ahhd much, but in the end, couldn't tear myself away from working on my 'project'. I gave it a miss, although DID listen-in for a bit of it on the radio . Typical - almost every other year when I wanted to see it, it was cancelled for one reason or another. This year it actually went ahead and I miss it. .Image of Breitling Wing Walkers during their Torbay Lifeboat Week 2012 displayWalked not 'that' much later just after 6pm, and WAS in time to be sat playing ball on the green when two great sounding old looking biplanes appeared in the sky. Turned out it was the 'Breitling Wing walkers' flying in to do a display for the crowds on the breakwater and beach. Actually a pretty damned good view from up in the park where we were, and I had a bit of a 'prod' with the camcorder. Pretty spectacular stuff really. Impossible to imagine the experience of those actual wing walkers. WHAT a view/life they must have! . . Listening on the scanner, there appeared to be a bit of a 'lift' on, and radio signals were coming in from normally unheard, further flung coastguard stations. From a brief snippet I picked up, somehwere over on the Isle Of wight there appeared to be a SERIOUS shout going on!! (I think it was an incident reported on the main news later. Something like two kids had fallen overboard from a vessel and been caught in the propeller!!! VERY nasty! One fourteen year old died!!!). . guitarred for a good hour. . TVd and actually finally got round to watching the film Avatar . Wow! No wonder people made a fuss about that when it first came out. Amazing effects. How far things have come. Really amazing. Despite how good a film it was, overall, it really was NOT in ANY way to ME, a 'feelgood' film AT ALL! The 'analagies' were obvious - and it just seemed to sum up everything that's wrong about how we are living in todays society, with absolutely no hope of an end to that anywhere in sight. Good film - nasty taste in the mouth after all the killing and destruction, and absolutely NO 'happy' ending! :o( Just like the real world! . . ate a bowl of stew, four pieces of bread and butter, banana, chocolate biscuits and chocolate . . to bed around 1am. s
19 - Woken around 8am after almost no sleep at all, by a distant neighbor outside hammering something! Feel utterly tired out! . Sunny spells with a hint of a drizzle shower every now and then throughout the morning. Much warmer nicer weather. .talked on the radio briefly as a couple of the new local 'Riviera Amateur Radio Club' people drove to Brixham, to set up a special-event station as part of the lifeboat week events. They both had 'APRS' running on their radios, and it was possible to log-on to the APRS.fi website and monitor their progress in real time! lol . walked late, played ball, and then carried on down to the Breakwater carpark to meet and see the guys setting up their radio equipment. I felt oh SO self-conscious and awkward, I didn't hang around for more than a couple of minutes before 'fleeing'! FFS!! :o(-//- . . threw Bella's ball into the marina on the slipway by the lifeboat for her to swim to fetch quite a bit. She got SO hyper and uncontrollable afterwards (as usual with her after a swim so I've learned), the walk all the way back home round the busy harbor and through town was just a nightmare! :o( Ended up in a pretty foul, down mood as a result - again! . . recovered with a coffee and then had to head back up the local store for milk supplies which I'd forgotten to get earlier. . so, so, SO tired! . . the postman delivered the three logarithmic potentiometers I'd ordered . . radiod a little chatting locally on 40mtrs with the local MX0RIV special event station. Sods law - they'd gone to all that bother setting everything up, only to find the propogation conditions were dreadful, and the band was almost entirely dead! Chatting with them and being a perhaps more noticeable presence on the band for them, did NOT help! Almost a completely dead band.. . drank a glass of red wine. . sat in wait for the end of another e-bay morse-key auction. I did NOT win it. Demand for keys does seem very high at the moment, and very few seem to actually be coming up for auction! I've also missed out on a couple I DIDN'T bid for, which went for 'low-ish' prices. Sods law ain't it. I've actually lost track of the number I've had a go for of late - and not won, because the price went too high for me to justify it. I've certainly cost quite a few people quite a bit of money, forcing their bids up in the last few seconds like I have done. . ate a couple of mayo, grated cheese, lettuce, tomato and garlic sausage sandwiches, crisps and chocolate . . napped the afternoon away until the alarm at 7pm . . walked . . took the morse-oscillator apart, did the soldering and swapped out the volume control for the new logarithmic one. Actually ended up also having to replace the LED, which in the process of attempting to slightly modify the internal connections, I ended up having break. I ALSO swapped out the tone control pot and fitted a new/spare one. During the build and experimentation, I'd had to solder that one several times in different ways, and I'd ended up slightly 'cooking' the connections and making it intermitantly 'faulty'. All in all, it took quite a while to all sort out. Well - I guess the logarithmic potentiometer volume control IS 'better' - but not much at all - and at or near full volume, it does appear to be slightly altering the frequency of the oscillation more than the linear one! (Another common complaint with those 555 oscillator circuits which I'd been trying to avoid!) I do actually wonder if those cheap potentiometers are actually poorly built and not entirely reliable/'linear'(or logarithmic) in the way the resistance rises when turned? Oh well - it still works well enough to practice on - I'm maybe being far too perfectionist about it? . . TVd a bit, messing around with the oscillator and my little 'ornament' morse-keys, plotting an alternative oscillator box design. Turns out one of those keys I've got on display, is actually not working/making connection on the contact! I need to dismantle that again some time and figure out exactly why (now I have a better understanding of exactly how they all come apart)!? . . microwaved a bowl of stew concoction and ate with four pieces of bread and butter, followed by a couple of buttered Chelsea buns and some chocolate . . all the flea battling and fumigation of the house yesterday DOES seem to have had 'something' of an impact on the number of fleas I can find on Bella at the moment. She certainly isn't clear of them, but as I say, it did seem to have had 'an impact'. . eventually to bed at getting on for 3am.
18 - Woke earlier, managed to snooze on, then didn't get up until around 8:45am!! . . jeeze! Bella appears to be absolutely jumping with fleas again!!??? Easily located a bunch on her this morning. That MUST surely mean she's 'replenishing' her infestation of them from the carpet during the night doesn't it? Why else would the number she 'appears' to have, vary so wildly like this from day to day? Jeezuz - this really IS like something out of the 'Aliens' film!! No sooner do you think you may have acheived some little victory in the battle, they spring out at you all over again. . this 'Aliens' film analagy is something I've reflected on a lot of late. It REALLY IS just like the film - and I do wonder if whoever designed that alien, did so with fleas in the back of their mind in some small part? They really are SO similar! . applied yet another single small tube of the 'Beaphar Flea & Tick Drops' to Bella before walking . . walked late in the strong cool breeze and got caught out in a shower . . . recovered with a coffee building up to todays major flea fight. There's no putting it off any longer - I've got to give it my best shot. . spent pretty much the whole morning and well into the afternoon moving furniture and having a MAJOR vacuuming frenzy ALL over the house (with the one exception of the spare room, which has bare floorboards anyway and the door to which I've got in the habit of keeping closed). Bit by bit after having vacuumed each room, I made sure Bella and anything edible was shut safely out of the way, then sprayed all around the place with one of the 500ml cans of 'Bob Martin Home Spray Plus' I'd bought off e-bay. I have no choice, but I don't like the idea of breathing that in all the time!! The whole house stinks of it now! I used-up and emptied the entire can! (Probably should have used both cans!!). . let the spray dry out a bit before eventually microwaving up a bowl of stew concoction VERY late in the afternoon. Ate with four pieces of bread and butter followed by some chocolate. Actually - whenever I say bread and 'butter', what I actually mean is bread and Flora margerine. I've been eating Flora pretty much all my adult life. I started doing so primarily because it can be kept for quite a while and comes out of the fridge spreadable, rather than too hard to use like butter does. I'd always found Flora to be quite palatable, and as far as MY smokers tastebuds were concerned, it tasted enough like butter for me to not really notice the difference. I put a LOT on anything I use it on. I'll even eat it like a sauce, and have equal mouthfulls of the stuff with cooked meat or burgers etc, and even sometimes with chips!!!! Anyway - why go into all this? Well - the f***ing idiots who manufacture the stuff have suddenly decided to do that 'new improved recipe' nonsense on it. (Yeah right - don't treat me like a fool. We ALL know it's just an excuse to make it cheaper and maximise your profits!) The result of their marvellous change is, the damned stuff has changed from being reasonably like butter, to now tasting like a cheap, disgusting margerine! After all these years, I'm now having to search out an alternative brand! The first one I ended up buying up in the local store just the other day was something called 'I Can't Believe It's Not Butter'. I've yet to look into the comparative prices, but that Butterly stuff is pretty damned good. FAR better than the ruined Flora. I surely can't be the only one who's been appalled at what they've done, and I hope the Flora manufacturers start seeing a massive drop in their sales and have cause to reflect on their greed and stupidity! . . couldn't help myself on a full stomach, and after so much hard labour battling the fleas alll day, ended up laying down for a nap around 6pm!!!!!! . . .difficulty waking with the alarm at 8pm . . just didn't have the energy, and skipped the evening walk again. Actually figured it also wasn't a bad idea, in order to keep Bella in around the anti-flea stuff for as long as possible before going out for a possible 'top up' somewhere along the way! I need to know if what I've spent and done, has actually had any positive effect (because I have absolutely NO doubt, I'll be having to do it all again pretty soon!!). :o( . fed Bella another clove of garlic with her evening meal (total waste of time THAT old wives tale remedy is!). If all what I've done doesn't get to the bottom of this flea infestation on her, then I'm really starting to think NOTHING will!!! I guess I've yet to try shampoos and tablets on her? If today doesn't have a significant impact on the damn things, then I guess next time I'll be having to buy/try that as well - just to add it to the list of expensive and totally ineffectual things I've been through!!!!!! I really AM starting to feel a bit desperate about the situation, for Bella's sake. :o( . . PCd. .played with the morse-code practice oscillator for a bit. Proper playing - practicing sending code, and just using it like it's been designed for. :o) It's just nice to finally have one - no matter how high the cost (which I STILL haven't had the nerve to work out! Maybe I just shouldn't ever! Without doubt, if I tried to sell it, it'd make a loss for sure. :o( Nevertheless - I DO have EVERY intention, of making at least one more - maybe a couple!!!?!!! I need more morse keys! lololololololololol)! . . . PCd this until early . .went to upload this and YET again, couldn't get a broadband connection. This has been going on quite a bit of late. I'm also getting slower speeds than when I first had the service put in. I'm gradually 'brewing up' to dumping Virgin as my host. They've REALLY sadly lost the plot in terms of customer service. I've had absolutely NOTHING from them, in terms of upgrades or suchlike, in all the years I've had the service and been paying them! They won't even provide a free upgrade to a wireless modem for existing customers! I'm thinking going BT. Just SUCH a lot of hassle changing everything is what keeps holding me back - and you can just guarantee something'll go wrong for me if I try to change anything. . .ate a banana and two buttered Chelsea buns and TVd a bit before to bed at getting on for 3am. Tossed and turned for ages and just could NOT get to sleep - and yes, I admit it, thinking about oscillator circuits enclosures and morse keys much of that time!
17 - Up around 7am. . . walked . . couldn't help myself and ended up prodding at 'the project' again, trying to get to the bottom of the earphone socket thing some more - AGAIN! Eventually called it quits and resigned myself to the fact that given the values of all the components I've used, it simply isn't going to be possible to have one (or at least one that works properly - so no point in having one at all!). . Mum called, talking about her health problems!!. . updated my circuit diagram picture as best I could, and then played more 'three dimensional chess' with the little circuit board of components, trying to make things as neat and small as possible, etc etc etc. Eventually became overwhelmed with continually poking at it and not really quite knowing where I'm trying to get with it, and decided to just go ahead, 'sacrifice' the components, and have a go at soldering one up proper. . set up my little soldering station in the kitchen under the worktop strip-light, and eventually went for it. Used a stanley knife blade to meticulously remove parts of the 2mm wide laminated copper strips, for a handful of required/desired breaks in the tracks . . soldered all the components onto the board and then decided, despite the large amount of work involved, I really had no choice but to temporarily solder up an entire circuit of battery, speaker, volume, tone, etc controls, just to make sure that my first attempt at the thing really was actually going to work! It DIDN'T!! . . eventually managed to find my errors, corrected and resoldered as necessary and - YAYYYY!!!!!! It works! :o) To be honest, I was actually quite suprised. I'd convinced myself that soldering that 555 timer IC straight onto the board like I had, would surely have 'cooked' and ruined it. Well I'll be damned. No wonder people like those chips. VERY forgiving in EVERY respect. . . worked out the amount of space in the project box (actually MUCH less than I'd thought!!!!) and eventually cut down the little circuit board to about as small as I could possibly get away with, before then putting the breadboard circuit to one side and actually working out all the real-life cable connections for the actual circuit board/project box, etc before soldering everything up appropriately (I did hook up the LED but did NOT bother with the now redundant on/off part of the linear 'volume' control. I HAVE ordered a new logarithmic potentiometer to try as a volume control - so will be swapping that out as soon as it arrives, to give it a go.) . . to cut a long story short, I eventually had it all wired/soldered up and working - with the circuit board just loosely stuffed inside! It's all so tightly packed in there, it can't move, and there seemed little point in worrying about actually fixing it to anything. Took it all apart again and drilled the side of the project box and fitted the 'line-out' socket and relevant soldered connections. . called a halt and after a congratulatory cup of coffee (whilst tapping out some morse code on it, out in the conservatory!) I re-located to the PC to tap out some more and check the line-out socket was working ok (with the Ham Radio delux decoding software). . well - it isn't perfect, and there ARE some very iffy connections inside (to be revisited and hopefuly resolved when I get and fit the new volume pot. ) but it DOES work, and IS VERY useable. I guess, overall, that could be regarded as a pretty successful first attempt /prototype. . played with it lots! lol :o). . . walked with a coffee . . returned via a brief stop at Mums and a visit to the local store for bread rolls . . . ate four, garlic-sausage, mayo, lettuce and tomato bread rolls with crisps and then some chocolate . . . TVd/PCd and then PCd this until early befiore eventually to bed around 2am.
16 - Up around 8:30am. Grey and drizzley . .walked . . half heartedly played with 'the project' and discovered a problem with my plan to include an earphone socket . the small value of the potentiometer required to alter the volume on the speaker, appears to prevent me from being able to suitably alter the volume when headphones are attached. I've a horrible feeling contrary to what I'd imagined,there is NOT going to be a simple way around that! I DON'T think I'm going to be able to have a headphone socket!!!!!! That's a blow! :o( . feel 'burned-out' with it all, sick and tired of it, and overwhelmed with the pointlessness of the whole business - in fact, the whole radio thing in general!!!! . . drank a glass of wine and cooked up a big pot of stew concoction. Defrosted mince, chopped potatoes, onion, garlic, peas, oxo cube, half a packet of 2010 use-by date stuffing mix!! Guitarred in the 'downtime' while cooking . ate a large bowlful with two crusts of bread and butter followed by chocolate . . napped until around 7pm . . walked . . prodded some more at the project for hours swapping different value resistors in and out, and sadly pretty much confirmed my earlier conclusion about not being able to include a 'controlable' earphone socket! . . TVd . . ate another bowl of stew with four pieces of bread and butter followed by more chocolate . . to bed around 2am.
15 - Up around 8:30am. . sunny spells. As forecast - a brief lull between bands of rain! . Very tired - slow getting going . . walked late. . guitarred briefly . . got the long extension lead out down to the front gate and had a bit of a go on the gate-handle with the angle-grinder. The ground/gate-pillar appears to have shifted a little (without question, the whole side of the hill is slowly sliding down towards the bottom of the valley!), and it's been starting to stick of late, particularly when it's sunny and the metal of the gate expands a little. When I made that new gate latch and handle, I made it all SO close fitting, I didn't allow for ANY such movement (or actually even the thickness of the paint!). Ground off a couple of millimeters from the protruding end of the handle so it no longer fouls on the wall, and also ground off just a little of the sloping latch part, in the hope of making it just a little smoother as it is pulled closed - and more likely to close of its own accord when on the swing. It all needs scraping down and repainting, but that's a whole little project in itself. Also I may yet want to grind off a little more, so I'm content for it to carry on rusting as it is for a bit until I know how it's behaving. I'm VERY picky about how my gate works. lololol. . fitted the new solid-brass door-knocker I'd scored in a charity shop the other day for 4 (unopened - brand new) to the front door, to replace the awfully corroded one I've ended up with. Jeeze - I hadn't studied it to notice before, but even that wasn't put on straight by those bloody window guys! :o( . . guitarred some more in the conservatory. A nice sunny day it's turned into for the first time in ages - but I feel all headachey and tired and fit for nothing, so am gonna pretty much waste it and get nothing done! :o( . .Bella appears to be all flea ridden again - and unlike last night, all of a sudden I was able to find and dispatch a good handful this morning!????? Where the hell ARE they coming from??? (I just don't have the energy (again!) to start the major fumigation of the house today!) . . PCd this . . ate grated cheese and mayo sandwiches with crisps and then a couple of jaffa cake bars . . napped for less than a couple of hours . . seem to have spontaneously descended into a pretty down mood! Walked with a coffee. Jeeze - that was a strong cold breeze. Actually returned feeling pretty damned cold! . . . . PCd and messed with and experimented with the 'project' for hours more. BB called
ate a banana and bowls of rice krispies . . TVd a bit until bed around 2am.
14 - Up around 7:30am. .walked in sunny spells with building threatening clouds . . mowed the back lawn but a heavy rain shower stopped me being able to do the front - again! The front garden is starting to look a bit of an overgrown mess. Aside from the fact I don't want to 'waste time' working out there on it, the recent constantly rainy weather has made it unfeasable to do so anyway. . vacuumed . . PCd/radiod a little . the postman delivered the loudspeakers I'd ordered off e-bay . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats . . the showers held off enough for me to race out and mow the front lawn for the first time in a while . . PCd and put a modest last minute 'shark' type bid on e-bay on a small morse key, but got outbid again of course . . played with my 'project' for a bit . . ate a pork pie, crisps and biscuits . . raining again. Napped for an hour and a half until the alarm at 7pm . . guitarred in the conservatory as more rain showers passed through. Gave Bella a LONG session of grooming and flea hunting. Bizzarely I couldn't find (hardly) any fleas whilst doing so? Weird? . Eventually decided to skip the walk . . ended up back on the PC surfing e-bay ads and then messing with my project some more until early. Happily succeeded in a working out an appropriate small resistor value to put in series with the tone control, and have now made it far more sensible in range - removing the absurdly high and low frequencies it WAS possible to dial-in. (Actually - playing with it (as I SO often do!??) as I type this, I may yet revisit that resistor value and restrict it some more). Put in lots more time trying to make tiny modifications to the breadboard layout, in order for me to try to work out the best way to ultimately transfer everything to the veroboard. It really IS a mindnumbing rubics-cube like puzzle!!!! I'd totally understimated how much hassle I'd have knocking up an actual circuitboard! :o( I can see this dragging on for weeks at this rate!!!!! . . eventually ended up actually trying to knock up a proper circuit-diagram of what 'I' have so far ended up with, in terms of layout and component values, etc. Bit of a long-winded time consuming job even just THAT is (and of course I've never EVER done any such thing like it before!)!! I haven't bothered searching for or downloading any software to do it - I'm just using someone elses jpeg image of a diagram as a starting point, and then using Paintshop-Pro to alter, cut and paste, etc, etc!!!!!! VERY time consuming - but I DO need to do it, so I can keep track of what I've found works, and would be able to re-produce it from scratch if something goes wrong with what I have on the breadboard, and if I lose track of what goes where (which IS now a real issue, given all the modifications I'm making almost every time I touch it!)! . .ate a trio of corned beef rolls, crisps and chocolate before to bed around 2am.
13 - Up around 8am. Overcast and breezy, but not actually raining at the moment for a change. .walked . . pottered around, and ended up inevitably messing with 'the project' again. The postman delivered the couple of mono jack plug sockets I'd ordered for plugging in the morse key, so I ended up actually working out where it could go and eventually at length successfully drilled the case and mounted it, and soldered on some temporary hook-up wires. Also knocked up a proper little lead, with a stereo plug on one end (only two of the poles connected) and two spade connectors on the other, for actually now being able to plug the key into the front of the box. Yayy - that looks and works nicely.
. Surfed e-bay and the net for hours, but try as I did, I was unable to find ANY sockets to
MATCH the neat ones I've just got, which would work for a headphones connection! :o( The headphones socket needs to have the 'switch' bit, to disconnect the speaker. Plenty cheaply available all over the place - but NOT matching the (simple mono connections) ones I just got, which I SO wanted because of how neat and appropriate they look. Damn. I'm gonna have to go for the more usual externaly visible, chrome ring/nut type. SUCH a shame! Either I'll have to make them all the same style, or have a mix of the two types! Not good. :o( . . . messed around and connected up another resistor on the breadboard and took a couple more temporary wires out to a mono audio socket, and then experimented with feeding the fixed, low-level audio into the line-in and mic sockets on the PC sound card. Yayyyy - that worked a treat. Why bother? Well - using the Ham Radio Delux 'Digital Master' CW decoding software on the PC (or I imagine, any similarly capable, widely available free software), I'd figured it should be possible to plug my practice oscillator in like that, and use the software to instantly decode and display as text, whatever I send on the practice key. A useful training/practice aid. Well - it works a treat. Played around for ages sending all manner of nonsense, and watching the decoded text duly appear on the screen. VERY cool. VERY handy for getting character spacings and speeds right, and seeing where you're making mistakes and the like. Right then - (as I'd always planned) my project DEFINITELY has to have a line out socket. :o) Actually - at some point - I think it was today - I figured out a slightly different way of connecting the circuit up. It's still using the NPN transistor to avoid the undesireable frequency rise upon first key contact, but I'm now fully able to return to keying up the whole thing from the main battery wire, without ANY noticeable undesireable affect!! THAT makes the on/off part of the volume switch AND the power-on LED, entirely unecessary again - because unless the morse key is down, absolutely ZERO power is flowing to drain the battery. Yayyyy. Oooohhh - that is SO much cooler again. Theoretically I 'could' continue to incorporate an LED (which now just flashes on and off when characters are keyed), just for 'fun', or even for a 'signalling lamp' training aid!!??? lolol :o) . . . walked in the cool breeze under a grey sky, preoccupied with 'the project' - as EVER at the moment!!!!! I haven't been this TOTALLY absorbed in something, since I got into programming that visual basic software system at work - before I ended up having my - um - 'breakdown' of course!!!!!!!!!!! :o/ I need to try to chill out and not be so obsessive about it! . TVd/PCd . . grated the last of the garlic sausage and mixed it with some grated cheese and microwaved it before making up a six pieces of bread and butter pile of sandwiches. Ate with crisps, a banana and some chocolate . . TVd until bed around 1am.
12 - Up around 8am. Raining - AGAIN! . .walked and sat and played ball in the rain.. . frittered away the whole day PCing mostly, poking at this and that and getting nothing done, as the rain poured all day! . . TVd a bit as the news channel and then BBC1 local showed the olympic flame arriving in Weymouth etc. Awful weather! . .skipped the evening walk. Drank a glass of red wine while poking at my 'project' some more, trying to get a handle on how to transfer the components on the breadboard to a proper bit of vero-stripboard. . .The more I look at it, the more I realise I've underestimated how difficult it's going to be. In fact, I haven't a clue where to start! There MUST be a simple little 'trick' to working it all out, but having never tried anything like it before, I'm TOTALLY mystified about where to even start. It's a bit like trying to work out an entire three dimesional chess game in your head - without even having yet worked out how to make a board to put the pieces on!! . . Surfed and eventually downloaded a free piece of circuitboard designer software. Installed it and had a prod. Just getting a handle on the software could now take me ages - although already I can see, it is NOT capable of doing 'quite' what 'I' want from it. Maybe I should search out a better free program - although I have a feeling, I'm probably just gonna carry on and try and work it all out for myself - somehow - bit by bit!?!!. . . cooked and ate four small cheeseburgers followed by chocolate and then some biscuits . . TVd until bed around midnight.
11 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8:10am. . .walked in the dry under a threatening sky . . played some more with the 'project' - and there went YET another day of heavy rain showers and sunny spells!!!!!! Had to re-solder a couple of the dodgy temporary-wire joints on the tone control potentiometer! Much of the rest of the time was spent playing 'feng-shui' inside the little project box - again. Eventually after MUCH measuring, I dared to have a go at drilling and mounting the 3mm red power-on LED in the box, in a 'sensible' place (internal components allowing!), near the on-off/volume switch. I messed up!! It WOULD have gone ok if the damned hand-held electric drill hadn't moved slightly as it bored into the plastic! Boy I could SO use a little pillar-drill for precision drilling of stuff like that! Oh well - that little (millimeter or less) noticeable imperfection, now fully makes it a 'homebrew' looking, amateur job doesn't it! Very disappointing. :o( Image of progress on my morse code practice oscillator projectPushed-on and temporarily soldered up a couple of wires to the LED, and routed all the temporary wires out of the battery compartment, so I could plug everything into the rest of the circuit on the breadboard. Well - it works. :o) The sound comes out of the speaker pretty loud at full volume - the 'tone' (frequency of oscillation) knob works fine-ish - the on-off/volume switch works (but NOT yet to my 'perfectionist' satisfaction , and the volume mostly appears to really increase, at the very far end of its travel. I've used a 'linear' pot - I've belatedly read online, the human-ear hears logarithimically!?? It's either that, or I need to completely revisit the value of its resistance!)) - and the LED illuminates when it's on. Apart from drilling holes and mounting some 3.5mm plug-sockets in the bottom edge of the box for plugging in the morse-key (and for line-out and headphones maybe?), that's the actual 'enclosure' very much worked out. It all JUST fits and yet there is plenty of room inside for eventually fully enclosing the little circuitboard of components. It isn't as perfect as I'd hoped, but as a 'concept-prover' / project-in-the-making / learning experience / rehearsal for a 'proper' one, it IS getting there. :o/ Ok, ok, so there ARE plenty of much smaller 'homebrew' ones all over youtube etc (commonly in 'Altoids' tins) - but 'I' think it's the simple functionality of this one which sets it apart a bit. The easy controls - and most of all, the fact the enclosure has a 'proper' battery compartment with a slide-opening cover underneath. 'I' like it. lolol :o) I DO need to work out how much it's cost! It IS rather a LOT!!! WELL over 10 I think! I shudder to think how much over, now!! . . . PCd a bit of this . . .Bellas flea problem seems to be flaring-up pretty badly again. It's little consolation but a couple of other dog walkers have reported similar problems with their dogs, and have remarked how nothing they've tried has worked and how the fleas appear to have developed an immunity, and even multiple vet-pescribed treatments haven't worked!!! :o( . . walked a little early and got back in time to get on the radio to eavesdrop on the local club net, intending to do their slow morse practice afterwards. Turned the radio on just in time to find out they'd decided to change the time when they do the morse, and I'd missed it! Irritating. . sorted out just a couple of pieces of paperwork on-line (meter reading, electoral role registration etc) and tidied up just a small part of the cluttered desk . . .BB called . . ate a banana and then a tin of stewing steak with four pieces of bread and butter followed by a few squares of chocolate . . returned BBs call . . PCd until bed around 1:45am.
10 - Up around 7:40am - woken earlier by banging/running on stairs noise from next door I think! Sunny spells with passing showers. . woke with coffee and cigs at the PC, mostly looking at pictures (70+!) of a new bulldog puppy ('Emily') DS appears to have got. Oh SO very cute. :o) PCd a bit of this while listening to all five of the tracks in my music collection, with any mention of 'Emily'. lololololol I'll go with either 'For Emily' by Simon and Garfunkel, or of course more likely 'See Emily Play' by Pink Floyd. lolololol :o) . . .walked and played ball as usual before then continuing on down town, for a major tour of the charity shops AND every other shop which 'may' have stocked ANYTHING I could possibly use as a speaker-grill on the 'project'! Eventually ended up buying a 1.25 metal '3Pcs Sink Strainer' set from the '1' type store! If nothing else, the smaller pair of those strainers 'could' be used as a drill template for just drilling the project case where the speaker is mounted - in true amateur-looking 'homebrew' style! EXACTLy what I was trying to avoid! . . worked on the project. On NO!!!!! The three on/off volume-control pots. I'd ordered and had arrived in the post, turned out to have the wrong length of shaft!!!! Surfed for ages and could NOT find ANYWHERE that had the exact type/size I needed! Bugger. That's gonna be a major problem which could end the whole project right here! Damn, damn, damn! I didn't see THAT one coming!:o( . . put that MAJOR hickup to one side and after much working-out how best to try it, dared to have a go at drilling speaker holes in the project box using the sink strainer as a template for the hand-held electric drill. To be honest, it didn't go 'too' badly - but it is NOT a professional looking job. :o( It'll just have to do for the time being. 'Maybe' it could be improved by just gluing a circular disk of felt-like material over the top? I'm STILL searching for the 'holy grail' of a decent looking speaker cover!!! . . took a break from the project-work mid afternoon, to watch an e-bay auction end. I'd been VERY tempted to put a bid in on a rather collectable 'bath tub' type morse key. I managed to resist - but probably shouldn't have as it turned out! I'd imagined it'd go for up around 30, based on how much others always go for. Some lucky devil bagged it for a 'mere' 26.10! How come every time I 'resist', I miss a good deal - and almost every time I 'go for it', I get stung and pay top dollar?!?? Just my luck! . .returned to the project, and with nothing to lose, and with only a couple of s invested in it, had a go at 'butchering' the on/off switched volume potentiometer, to see if I could FORCE it to fit where/as I wanted!!!!! I sawed off almost all of the overly long splined shaft etc, and also had to 'slightly' modify one of the knobs, but to cut a LONG story short, I FINALLy managed to get it to work for me. Eventually had it mounted in the enclosure and temporarily wired up to the breadboard. It IS a dreadful botch, but - well - it doesn't show - and who but me is ever gonna know? At least on my 'working it all out' version, it'll do. . vacuumed and cleared up a bit . . PCd and waited-in for the end of another e-bay auction I'd been watching all week - for yes, another damned morse-code key! I want at least one more like the bakelite and brass ones I already have a pair of! That pair look SO good, as (meaningful to me) ornaments atop the fire surround in the living room, I want to keep them there and don't want to use them for anything, anywhere else. I DO however want one the same, to explore an alternative practice oscillator type configuration - with the key actually mounted ON the enclosure!! I HAVE gone mad haven't I! . anyway - I did NOT win the auction. I'd imagined NO ONE else would be mad enough to bid for it, because the seller was asking 12 JUST for the postage (I 'think' it was mounted on a heavy base) - and those keys have historically frequently gone for MUCH less than that INCLUDING postage!!!! (The two I have, worked out at around, with hindsight, a VERY reasonable 8 each.). Anyway - that key in the auction had no bids right up to the last few seconds, and then a couple of sharks bid and one won it for an astonishing 18.33 inc postage!! I don't understand what's going on. All of a sudden, 'some' of the prices things are going for on e-bay have gone crazy???? It's just a bloody lottery isn't it!! . . .walked. Eventually carried on down town and bought burgers and bread rolls . . TVd . . drank a glass of red wine and eventually cooked and ate four quarter pound cheese and mayo burgers in buttered rolls with ketchup, followed by chocolate!! . . TVd until bed around midnight.
9 - Up around 8:15am . . woke with coffee and cigs at the PC as usual. Been watching an e-bay auction for a morse key for a few days. It was STILL listed with silly low bids, so I figured it was worth maybe having a go for. . walked quickly and didn't hang around too long before heading back, to sit in for the end of the morse-key e-bay auction. .waste of time - again. In the last few minutes/seconds the 'couple of pounds' bids suddenly leapt up to over 25, which of course was FAR more than I was willing to pay. (Prices of such things DO seem to have gone a bit crazy of late. With hindsight, some of the morse keys I've ended up with, really were a pretty good deal, so I guess I should be pleased.) . eventually walked back out with Bella in a bit of drizzle, to pop up the local newsagents for tobacco supplies (and to briefly call in all the units on the industrial-estate, searching for ANYTHING that could be used as a small speaker-grill! There was nothing of course. It really has become something of the 'search for the holy grail'!? Given how many such speakers are used all over the place in projects, kits and suchlike, it's extraordinary to me that there aren't loads easily available???) . . rang up the gas board to get to the bottom of why I'd suddenly received a notification of a change to my direct-debit details - and more importantly to me, why a duplicate(ish) had been sent to Mums (my previous 'temporary') address!! The explanation for the notification was all to do with historical bank takeovers, and was 'acceptable' - however, MUCH less acceptable to me was why they'd sent a 'duplicate' to my 'previous' address! Turns out their computer database (PERMANANTLY!????) retains information for EVERY (supply/correspondence) address I've EVER had - and 'links' them! VERY uncomfortable about that - but pointless trying to do anything about it. (It'd cost me 10 just to do a freedom-of-information request, so that's out of the question for me!! They really should change the law and make it so the (large organsisation) database-holder, pays for that!)Eventually after MUCH ranting (and a little apologising) on the phone, I just told them to touch nothing and leave everything as it was. (Change ANYTHING, (as in my experience has been proven to be the case, time and time again) something'll suddenly go wrong through human-input-error, and I'll be liable to end up having something more crucially screwed up won't I!) Grrrrr. . . unwisely radiod on the local repeater briefly - having a 'rant' - about everything!!!!! . . PCd this at length - and there goes another day - in a big mess (of tools and components etc etc) ALL around the place, and getting nothing at all done! I can hardly even find room to type this, because the desk is so horribly cluttered and piled high with 'stuff' I don't want to move or lose (until more ordered components arrive!)!! . . eventually drank a glass of wine and ate corned beef, grated cheese and mayo sandwiches with crisps and chocolate . . napped dreaming and all 'clenched' until around 6:45pm. Back up feeling all aching and tired-out as a result! . . walked with coffee . . . PCd for hours more, searching the net for 'the holy grail' to no avail . . ate a packet of crisps and a tin of baked beans - cold from the tin with a spoon, followed by half a coffee sponge-cake . . TVd until bed well after 2am.
8 - Up around 8:25am . . oh my god - it's sunny! . . Put the permanently wet training-shoes I've been wearing of late, out in the sun in the garden to dry out for once, and walked in boots instead. . playing ball on FGn as usual, at some point doing a big ballthrow, I somehow caught the front of the sole of my right boot on the path as I pivoted, and would you believe it - the whole top part of the boot seperated! NEVER had anything like that happen before! More cheap rubbish! Problem was - how to walk home with it like that! I really was VERY close to just taking it off and walking barefoot, but somehow by walking in what must have look a very weird high-stepping way, I managed to walk home with it like that (without tripping 'too' much). Actually carried on to Mums to show her (for a laugh) - but also to 'take possession of' Dad's old hot glue gun from the garage (which 'may' be of use in my oscillator project thingy?). Stopped for a quick coffee and gave Mum a good laugh over the state of my boot and how I was having to walk. Image of a worn out shoe'Oh thank you so much - hah bloody hah!' lololol Well - that's YET another pair of shoes fit for the bin. Actually, this is a prime example. When I talk about my footwear and say I've 'worn them out' and they are 'fit for the bin' - I MEAN it!. . . . pottered around and PCd a bit before having a quick prod at the hot-glue gun. Well - it works, but I'm not sure it'll be of use in what I had in mind. The (ancient) glue seems less than entirely 'stiff' even when cold. Worth hanging onto though. Maybe 'new' glue would be different?. . ended up working on the 'oscillator project' a bit. Actually had a go at using different tools to remove the unwanted lugs (one of which I'd tested the hot glue on) inside the project box. Turned out it was pretty easily done using a wide wood-chisel, pre-heated on the gas stove! In fact, it appears the project box I'm using is made from 'hot-mold' type 'plastic' - which can be 'moulded' and altered using a hot tool. That revelation enable me to have a go at modifying another part inside the box with a hot knife for partially holding the speaker in place. Messed around doing such things for ages - but eventually 'conceptualy' JUST managed to have a couple of potentiometers mounted in the case, together with the speaker as I'd envisaged. Feng-shui on steroids! Very pleased with how that's starting to shape up. No 'major' stumbling blocks SO FAR. :o) The main problem I've got is how to make suitable loudspeaker openings in the case. No way can I accurately just drill lots of little holes in a pattern (as is the usual and frankly naff-looking 'homebrew' way out of the problem). I don't have a pillar drill and simply couldn't get them all straight and in-line and nice looking! . . . ate four ham rolls, crisps and a little chocolate . . napped until around 6:15pm . . PCd for almost another couple of hours, desperately searching for a 'speaker-grill' for my project. Bizarrely, I could not find ANYTHING, ANYWHERE to do the required job! ????!!! . . walked late with a coffee and sat on FGn for quite a while . . ended up back on the PC searching and searching and searching for hours but mostly to no avail!!! Hmmm - this speaker-cover issue is a bit of a stumbling block. :o( Put it on the 'back burner' so to speak, and eventually had another bit of a buying frenzy on e-bay, buying more 'pieces of the puzzle'. This really is working out pretty absurdly expensive!! The cost of the parts is greater than the value of the whole!:o( I haven't yet - but it IS reaching the point I'm gonna have to knock up a spreadsheet, to work out the actual 'unit' cost (so far!), just to see if I've yet passed the point at which it just makes NO sense to continue with the idea! :o/ - although, I'm 'stepped in so deep' now, I may as well just carry on regardless! It IS now a full blown obsession - and I WILL not rest until I've acheived as near to what I'd envisaged, as I reasonably can!!!. . . ate two bananas and half a coffee sponge cake . . to bed around 2am.
7 - Up around 8:15am. STILL raining pretty heavy. :o( Well - that's the writing on the wall now isn't it. We've kinda missed out on 'summer' this year it would appear. All that remains would seem to be just exactly how bad the flooding is going to be everywhere! :o(. . Walked in the rain in full gear - although to be honest, it wasn't that much more than a light drizzle once we were out. Got wet feet mostly - again! I've had pretty permanently wet feet for days, so it seems!. . . PCd and then radiod on the local repeater a bit, until Mum arrived shortly after midday . . chats etc . . .ate Mum donated susage rolls, crisps and chocolate . . napped . . walked in just the lightest hint of drizzle. Didn't even need my leggings. Soaked my feet again of course . . fed Bella some more garlic in her main evening meal - which was more successful than with just her breakfast. . . PCd/TVd the evening away. . . ate a trio of garlic sausage rolls, crisps and chocolate . . to bed long after 2am.
6 - Up around 8:45am just as it began to pour with rain again. . walked FGn in full weather gear in the rain, and sat in the rain and played ball for as long as I could stand. There is NOwhere to shelter from the weather on that green! :o( . . I HAD intended to get serious with attacking the fleas again today, now I have the cans of spray for the house, but given Bella (and the carpets) are all damp now, I think it best to hold off for a while longer . . PCd. This morse code practice oscillator project I've been playing with, really IS starting to drive me a bit nutty. The more I think about and look into it all, the more infinite are the possibilities - specifically in terms of creating a nice looking and functional finished 'box' to house it. It's pretty much reached the point in my mind, where the actual oscillating circuit (which IS of course what it's REALLY all about!) has almost become a secondary concern to me?!! I've downloaded perhaps up to half a dozen different designs of oscillator circuits from the net, and fully intend at 'some' point, to amass a collection of enough components, to have a go at building each, to see which makes the best sounding tone, and offers the best battery life, etc, etc. Whichever I ultimately end up with, the actual circuit board part will probably end up being small enough to easily fit into a matchbox. From what I've read, and would like for myself, ALL of them will pretty much require the same few controls and sockets and such, on whatever 'container' they ultimately end up in - big or small. SO - if I start off with the little rough sounding 555timer oscillator I've currently got prototyped on my breadboard, and make a permanent version of it on a little bit of vero board, I can then concentrate on the design(s) for the 'container'. The ABSOLUTE key to the WHOLE thing for me, is to end up with a finished article that does NOT look 'particularly' 'homebrewed' (like almost every other I've seen, DO - even commercially marketed ones!!). IF I can come up with a good 'container' (SERIOUS research and feng-shui with the battery holder, knobs, sockets and enclosures that are available. Hell - I could even do a highly expensive delux varnished timber and brass version! - the sky IS the limit!), then just swapping the actual oscillator circuit board for a different/better sounding one at a later date if I wanted, would be simple. SUCH a silly/pointless obsession - but my mind is just racing and FULL of it all at the moment! I can't seem to escape it!!!!!!??? None of it is gonna be a five minute job - but I'm SO eager to start having a go (once some of the stuff I've just ordered arrives). To hell with using the radios. I'm gonna spend the rest of my life trying to make something that just goes nicely BEEP. lololololololololol <NURSE!> lololololololol . . . PCd this as heavy rain showers came and went . . the postman delivered the cheap multimeter, some knobs, and LEDs I'd ordered. On opening one packet, I was convinced I'd been sent the wrong LEDs. I'd ordered 3mm bright red - the ones in the pack appeared to be white (clear glass). All ready to start sending a complaint, I briefly stopped to test one in my oscillator circuit before doing so. Turns out they ARE red - when lit! Shows my ignorance huh? lol . The cheap 3.29 digital multimeter IS very cheaply made - but it DOES 'appear' to work. How reliably accurate it is, is a whole nother matter! Given it does a lot more than my old one (includes a transistor tester, etc!) it WOULD have been nice if the information sheet had included ENGLISH language instructions! :o( I'll be pausing to learn French now then!! Zut Allors!! lolol . . . Ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps and chocolate . . napped the rest of the afternoon away until around 6:45pm . . the forecast rain had started in earnest. The forecast complete with 'warnings' is for hours (days?) of torrential rain, with many flood alerts in place for the region. They are talking of a month's worth of rain in the next twenty four hours! (Every day or so - as always! - I HAVE been popping out and making sure my silly little rainwater drain in the corner of the patio is clear.) . . skipped the evening walk. . guitarred a little . . PCd/TVd the evening away as the rain just got heavier and heavier. As per the forecast, somewhere after midnight it really had turned persistantly torrential! I think I'm gonna need a boat!!!!!!! . . . ate bowls of co-co pops, banana and biscuits . . eventually to bed around 2am.
5 - Woke earlier then up around 8:20am. Grey, overcast. . walked late. In conversation, YET another dog walker suggested some people swear by garlic for helping eradicate fleas. If all the chemicals I've poured on Bella haven't worked, I can't really believe that a silly bit of garlic is gonna do a damn bit of good - but - well - I've reached the point where I'm willing to try everything! Back via the store to buy a BIG garlic! . . gave Bella her breakfast with a very large clove of garlic mashed into it. Mum called to touch base. Bella ate 'some' of the garlic, but clearly (understandably!) wasn't happy with it, and managed to leave quite a few bits spat back out into her bowl. lol The whole house reeks of the stuff! . . Vacummed a little . . PCd the day away, watching some 'electrical' tutorial videos on youtube, etc, etc. . The postman FINALLY delivered the two big cans of flea spray around 1pm . .PCd more . . walked with a coffee. Image of Bella amongst the wild flowers near Furzeham GreenOn the way to FGn, a small area of rough grass alonsgide the path has been seeded (by the council?) with wildflowers. They've done a similar thing to a larger area in the playing field over St Marys too. I have no particular appreciation of how 'pretty' flowers are, but even 'I' thought that it was a pretty good idea to do that around the place. I'd mentioned how cool it looked to Mum, and suggested she should walk that way when she goes down town one day. Because of the trouble she now has walking, there appeared to be a danger that she wouldn't, and would soon have missed the best of the display. Briefly stopped and grabbed a snip of video on the way through to FGn, be able to show her. (I hardly EVER video anything these days, but always still carry it). 'Sacrificed' a few of the flowers and got Bella to pose in amongst them. Actually not a bad shot I thought - damn - should have brought my 'proper' stills camera. . Carried on down round the harbour and eventually out to the end of the breakwater and back, in the warm sunny spells. Threw Bellas ball out into the harbour by the lifeboat, for her to swim out and retrieve quite a bit. The cold water made her SO hyper!!!! She was literally bouncing for a good while thereafter and SO hard to contain and control all the way back round the harbour!!! Climbed back up all the steps and eventually sat on FGn for my coffee, listening to the radios as the inshore lifeboat was called out on-service to aid two kayakers over by 'Hope's Nose' who's kayak had apparantly sunk. There'd been numerous 999 calls. From what I heard, I think the two people actually managed to swim to rocks and safety, 'just' as the lifeboat reached them. They'd been in the water for around 40 minutes!!!! They were transported back to Torquay to be checked over (and warmed up?) by an ambulance. How fragile life is at sea. How easily they could have been lost! . . drank a glass of red wine and cooked four sausages, chips and two eggs. Ate followed by chocolate biscuits . .TVd . . PCd until bed around 1am.
4 - Up around 9am again! Misty drizzle . . walked FGn real late again in the 'mizzle'. Back via the store for bread and milk . . .PCd a bit of this. The oscillator circuit and LED is still going strong on the battery so far. :o) That's hopeful. If it's gonna go on like that for a bit, then the other test I'll have to do some time is see how long it lasts (MUCH shorter!) when it's actually oscillating and driving the speaker. That'll be fun - NOT! I'll need a soundproof container! lolol . . .vacuumed. . Much more evidence of fleas on Bella today!!! I'm gonna be having to hit her with YET more spot-on treatment pretty soon I think! :o( . rang up and hassled the supplier I'd ordered the flea spray from. They 'allegedly' sent it only a couple of days ago (the listing stated it WOULD have been delivered by today at the latest!) so I'm gonna have to just continue to sit tight and wait for Royal-Mail to slowly do their thing. :o( . . guitarred just a little . . fried up some slices of spam and ate spam and grated cheese sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate . .An amazing thing happened as the day wore on - it actually stopped raining and turned to sunny spells! . . napped until the alarm at 7pm . . walked FGn in the late sunny spells . .Well - the battery running the oscillator circuit and LED, finally gave up the ghost - with a sad, increasingly quiet squeak through the speaker when I keyed it to death. lol. I'm actually not sure if that's good or bad - although it wasn't 'particularly' long lived was it. Hmmm?PCd and ended up doing a monster buying frenzy on e-bay!!!! All manner of mostly components for making up morse code oscillator(s) - my 'latest' uncontrollable obsession! I'm gradually moving towards hopefully eventually making up a 'proper job' for myself. (Two most likely!) Apart from 'big' 'expensive' things like a NICE (hopefully) case to put it in (around 4), all the other components are far cheaper if bought in multiples - so I'm actually spending quite a bit, in the full knowledge I'm gonna end up with lots of 'left overs' and quite seriously 'invested' (s) in it all. (e.g. I need a small loudspeaker for it - so I bought 11 for 12.50!!!!!! lol) Bit of a gamble, but if the worst comes to the worst, I should be able to claw a 'bit' back by selling it all on e-bay. . by the early hours, I'd spent around 30 on such stuff!!!!! (My e-bay sales/postage money disappearing fast!) Yikes! Oh well - if the closest I ever get to 'having fun' is being VERY absorbed in something - then I guess I'm getting my money's worth of 'fun' at the moment!?? :o/ One of the things I ordered, very much on a whim because of the absurdly low price, was a brand-new "DT830B LCD Digital Multimeter Electric Voltage Tester" for 3.29 inc postage! How CAN that be possible at that price? IF it actually works and isn't some 'fit-for-the-bin, toy', it'll be a big step-up from the ancient analogue meter I've been using for decades. . . PCd a bit of this until early . . .TVd . ate crisps, lumps of cheese and spam, a banana and a square or two of chocolate before to bed getting on for 3am!
3 - Up late around 9:15am!! Still raining! :o( VERY slow getting going and PCd this . .walked FGn .Ok - Bella DOES still have plenty of life on her! Caught one - another got away! Amazing how fast those damned things can 'scurry' across her fur when I start trying to grab hold of them! :o( Where the hell IS that flea-spray for the house I ordered? Should have been here by now. One more day and I'll be able to start getting irate and chasing it. . . played with components and the breadboard again. Wish I'd bought myself a bigger breadboard! Moved all the components for the little amplifier circuit, which I want to hold onto for the timebeing, up to one end and then meticulously rebuilt a 555 oscillator circuit in the cramped space at the other end. Messed around 'mixing up' different circuit diagrams, and making up my own version of it, in an attempt to avoid the apparantly common problem, of having the oscillation frequency slightly change, when using a morse key to simply key the battery power supply. (I've even read criticism of costly professionaly produced ones doing the same thing!!) Copied a solution I'd found online of inserting another transistor in the circuit, and actually keying-up the circuit via supplying voltage to the 'base' leg of the transistor 'switch'. It DID improve things - although I have a suspicion it may increase the battery drain? I'm not sure - don't understand it enough (yet?). I also have a suspicion, that if I actually learned enough to more fully understand how that's now working, it should be possible to much more accurately work out what value biasing resistors I SHOULD be using, to get a much more controlled switching effect for a given minimum voltage. (It's the slight rise in voltage across the morse key contacts at the point that they are 'JUST' making contact, which I think is what I'm trying to escape?) SUCH a simple little circuit it's supposed to be - but I reckon I could spend the rest of my life playing with it and testing the effect of different values of components, etc, etc, before I actually understood it and was happy with how it performs. . after several hours, I did at least have a 'useable' square-wave morse-code practice oscillator on the board. To be honest, if I just made that a permanent setup, and put it in some little box with a volume (and tone) control, it'd be more than adequate for learning. Sadly - that just isn't good enough for 'perfectionist' me! The whole thing really has worryingly become an all consuming OBSESSION!!!! I can't think of anything else at the moment! Ridiculous. Whenever I turn on the PC, I simply end up surfing components, enclosures, switches, knobs and suchlike, and am getting NOTHING else done!! As far as I can see, the sad fact of the matter is, if you cost all the different bits and pieces required to make a 'proper job' of it, it'll end up SO expensive, it just doesn't make sense. Despite that - I have a horrible feeling that just to be able to lay the obsession to rest, I AM actually going to HAVE to go ahead and throw some money at it!! . spent the whole day 'playing' like this, as the rain continued to fall. Before managing to tear myself away, as a final bit of experimentation, I worked out how to put a power-on LED into the circuit. Figure that will ultimately be desireable (together with an on-switch - ultimately a combined switchable potentiometer for the volume too?), now I'm no longer just keying the power supply. Eventually called it quits, but deliberately left a rechargeable 9V battery connected up to the circuit with the LED glowing, in order to get a feel for how long the battery may last with it left 'on' like that. . happy with results, I treated myself to a glass of red wine. Cooked and ate four grated-cheese hot dogs, followed by biscuits and chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 7pm. . STILL lightly raining. Skipped the walk and ended up back at the oscillator, PC, and surfing components - AGAIN - stopping every now and then to tap out some morse on the oscillator, just to see how the battery drain was going!!!! And there went the whole evening! . ended up around 1am on e-bay, ordering "5 Small 25x64mm Copper Strip Boards" for 2.08 including postage. . TVd briefly and ate spam and mayo sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate. . to bed around 2am or later, leaving the oscillator circuit with its glowing LED, STILL connected to the battery.
2 - Woke earlier lots and then up around 8:15am after really hardly any sleep at all! :o( . Still raining-ish. . Walked in full weather gear in what ended up being little more than a grey mist. . . guitarred in the conservatory for quite a while . . vacuumed. I could NOT find a flea on Bella today. She probably still has them, but MUCH fewer and further between now. The ravaged skin under her fur is starting to look quite a bit healthier too. VERY good news. NOT such good news is, I'm STILL waiting for the flea-spray (for the house) I ordered off e-bay to be delivered!!!?. . PCd. Actually sat and waited to put a big-money (all my e-bay sales/postage money), last-minute bid on an e-bay auction for a Yaesu Ft-897 that I've been watching. (I seem to enviously watch them ALL as they come and go! :o() I did NOT win it - it went for a mere 10 more than I'd bid. Still a pretty good deal to the lucky winner. :o( . . . rain, rain, rain, and more rain! What a crappy 'summer' this is turning into. . . PCd this . . PCd/Tvd the whole day away, feeling back-achey/headachey and not up to doing anything again! . . eventually ate four buterred chicken and stuffing slice rolls, crisps and lots of chocolate around 5pm. Banging noise from next door 'upset' Bella, and she took herself off up to her bed in the bedroom. Too late to lay down for a nap - but I was SO, SO tired, I somehow ended up falling asleep on the sofa for an hour or so! (Role reversal - Bella upstairs, me down!?) NOT a good place to sleep - aggravated my bad back/trapped nerve thing lots. Still raining and I felt SO awful, it was easy to skip the evening walk - again! It really has reached the point, that I really am actually walking Bella only once a day most of the time now hasn't it? Oh dear. :o( . . sucked an annadin tablet and TVd the evening away, hardly moving . .as always (no matter how down and tired I feel) , as the evening turned to morning, I started to feel just a bit more awake and less down. Eventually back onto the PC - surfing youtube videos of circuits and tutorials of components etc mostly . It would appear my microsoft optical mouse has become faulty! Been putting up with eratic behaviour now for a while. Finally proved the point by swapping it for my old one - and immediately the problem was rectified! Damn! More expense. All that e-bay sales/postage money I was hoping to buy a new radio with, is gonna end up just being frittered away on bits and pieces isn't it! :o(. . .eventually exhausted to bed around 2am.
1 - Up around 8:45am tired-out. Slow getting going before eventually walking real late. Caught out in a shower (again!) on the way to the green. . . radiod locally a bit and then messed around with components and the bread-board, having a go at building the little three transistor preamp/amp circuit I'd found on the net. It eventually seemed to work out ok, so I connected up the output of my signal generator to it, and sure enough, it DID work and make the output MUCH usefully louder. The bad news 'appears' to be, it's 'power hungry' (I think - given my total lack of knowledge/understanding of such things). That amp needs a 9v battery source to run it - and I'm guessing is using-up most of that. Any attempts to 'slave' the power off the other 9volt battery already powering the signal generator, results in the thing just kinda breaking down and making a rasping oscillating type noise. Shame. Back to the drawing board - again! :o/ Having said that, it IS tempting to actually make up a permanent version of that little amp, to keep for any future such experiments. Seems like a useful little thing to have, for testing low level audio outputs. I may have to order some 'veroboard' stuff. (Everything I've built on that tiny breadboard so far, has been dismantled when I try something new. I COULD maybe do with a bigger breadboard, so I could temporarily keep one or two of the circuits on it for experimental interconnecting? ) . . . drank wine and guitarred a little while defrosting a bowl of mushroom cheese melt concoction from the freezer . . eventually ate with two buttered bread rolls and a couple of crusts of bread and butter, followed by a little chocolate . . napped the rest of the afternoon away until the alarm at 7pm. Difficulty waking, and felt awful when I finally did. Raining. Skipped the evening walk and TVd for a bit feeling rather unwell. . PCd/TVd/monitored radios/PCd some more. Surfed for hours looking at circuits and flea treatments and e-bay etc, etc - still feeling a bit nauseas. Skipped food and eventually to bed around 3am. Difficulty sleeping.