keithlard's Wizzo Birthday

I am immensely attractive to females at the moment, and every night a lot of them come into my room and get in bed with me, and start nestling up close to me and biting and sucking bits of my flesh. Unfortunately they are female mosquitos, so now I am covered in horrid bites.

Sophy and I went for a birthday picknick last night in Alexandra Park, near the palace, chomping delicious home-made birthday cake and other foodstuffs, and looking at the soft hazy moon and the stars and wondering which one was going to turn into the Starship Enterprise. So that was great!

Today it rained and rained and rained so it was blissfully cool and I slept in beyond any possible bounds of reasonableness, and then went to Tescos for every kind of delicious brekfust item and some Indian style delicacies for later. Hopefully some lads are coming round for a lads’ night out which should by law include:

  1. A pint or five of Leffe and nuts at the Dignity
  2. Curry from The Balti
  3. Indian snacks and beer at home in front of amusing comedy
  4. My chums

That is it really. Also I have lots of wizzo presents and cards! I am looking forward to tucking in to all my super Amazon books.

I love you all, signing off now for coffee and sossidges :D

"No, Mr Bond! I expect you to diet!"

So last night I went out for birthday drinkies with Lisa, and we went to Quinns which is a giant beer museum where they have every type of beer! Except they questioned my demand for a pint of Leffe, as apparently in that area they are wusses and drink halves in girls’ glasses, with a little umbrella. I had not realised it but up here in Finchley we are rock, and drink pints.

Although as it was £5 a pint I will not be able to afford to do that too often. Bloody Southerners.

Then we went to Bintang which is a tiny Malaysian restaurant where the food is all delicious and cooked with lots of chilli and lemon grass and coconut ekcetera, I was not actually hungry due to nuts, but I managed to cram down half a garlic and chilli chicken, half a plate of fried squid with dips, and some prawn crackers. It is the best food ever, except for my cooking obviously. I was taking surreptitious notes so as to reproduce the menu at home (“Tamarind, you say? Hmmm, very intresting. *scribble*”).

I may have accidentally put back on some of that weight I lost, so I better bikle into work shortly and burn calories!

Importint bird information

Wizzo fluffy mallard ducks messing about, under Mum’s watchful eye

I went bikling into the woods by the cool shady pond as it was another super hot day, and thought I would take some photos of various of my bird friends. I have to apologise for the quality as low light and a long lens are not the best combination, but I thought you would like to see them anyway. I spent quite a while just sitting in the undergrowth being quiet and watching the birds. Their behaviour is fascinating really. I would love to spend more time there getting to know each individual and their relationship to the others, like Konrad Lorenz, or Jane Goodall for that matter. Only unlike dangerous mountain gorillas, waterbirds are generally fairly harmless, except a Canada goose might peck at you, or Henrietta the duck might try and eat your shoe.

I have been bikling nearly every day, and I’ve had so much excersise I’ve lost two kilos! It is the biggest dip in my weight graph since records began (January), so I am pleased. Later I went round to Jane’s for lemonade and cakes! It is a wizzo world really where it is full of lemonade and coots and sunshine and good friends, and cakes.

The new family of Canada geese!

A coot gliding around happily. The pond is awful scummy but it does not seem to bother them.

I found the secret nest of the Canada geese, and it was a bit like in Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, where they find the T. Rex nest, except that a Canada goose could not disembowel you with a single swipe of its terrible claws, or chomp off your head in one go. I am glad I do not live in the Jurassic period really (I am aware that actually T. Rex was a Cretaceous animal, so please do not write in; instead contact your local cinema).

Coots and geese mingling politely, perhaps they are chatting about the pond property market and the difficulty of finding a really good nest in a smart area and handy for the reeds.

Stars, picknicks, cakes, ekcetera

For obsessive Keithlard fans, of whom I know there are many, here is a blipvert of my quotidian minutiae.

On Wednesday I went bikling up to Highgate and had an intresting look round, it is a pretty village which just unfortunately is at the top of a bloody big hill. Later I met up with Sophy who lives near me, and it is great to meet fellow Finchleians, so we had drinks and crosswords (not cross words, because we had a lovely time) at the Five Bells and then tea and cake at her house. It was a super clear night and we looked at the Summer Triangle ie Vega, Deneb and Altair, and I told Sophy a multiplicity of ‘Fun Facts’ about stars. I am a big fan of the night sky as it is better than telly in my view, although the same things come round with absolute predictability every year, so thinking about it, exactly like telly in that respect.

Thursday: amateur dramatics, wrote Mr Kipling. I never actually understood those adverts, although I am immensely intrested in cake. We had a retrospective at work, which is where we all gather round and explain how each person has disappointed us over the previous year. Actually now that I say it, I got that mixed up with Festivus from Seinfeld. It was held in the pub which was a great idea, as we did not have to go to the pub afterwards as we were already there!

On Friday I had a long meeting in the afternoon about databases and storage technologies, and the hotter the weather got, the longer the meeting seemed to last and the hotter and smaller the office got. Eventually I left the office with a cheery smile and then nearly got crushed to death by a taxi on East Finchley High Road.

Today (deep breath as I normally do not have so much social news to relate) I bikled to Hampstead and looked at shops, then met my friend Angie for drinks and we sat outside a super pub (The Flask) watching posh types and yummy mummies buying vegertarian aromatherapy candles, and then we walked over to the Heath to join the OKCupid pickernick! There were various people there I knew including Steve the Sheep, Helena and Dan, and various people I did not called Kirsten, Robert, Dee, and a gorilla called Albert. It was fiercely hot on top of Parliament Hill and we chomped down a lot of super food and drink, and eventually we made our way to the Bull and Last on Highgate Road for a well-earned refreshing BEER. I nearly met a girl called Claire but then in the end I did not.

Apparently there was some type of foopball happening too.

So now I am relaxing with another refreshing BEER in front of my cooling fan, chomping popcorn and watching a super sunset to the soothing strains of Mogwai’s Hunted by a Freak, and pondring the delicious curry I’m going to make.

It does not get any better than that basically.

Wizzo for bikes!

I went out on the bike today and it was great! I cycled round some of my normal walking routes, through the woods and visiting Henrietta’s pond, then over the golf course and down past the substation onto Totteridge Common, round by the rugby club, through the allotmints and back along the brook. The bike stood up very well to the stony, rutted, hard-baked mud trails and a lot of shaking and bumping. I think it is likely that I will break before the bike does.

The only annoying bit, predictably, is having to ride on the road and being hassled by car drivers. You have two choices as a cyclist:

  1. Ride practically in the gutter so that cars can pass you, while you’re bumping over drain covers and colliding with incautious pedestrians, being squeezed and scraped by huge vans and lorries. This is dangerous as you are invisible, both to people overtaking you and to people waiting at side junctions. While riding past parked cars there is a constant risk that someone will blindly open their door and put you in hospital.
  2. Take a commanding position just to the left of the centre of the lane. This forces motorists to consider you as something to be overtaken, rather than simply squeezed past. They have to wait until there is actually room to overtake, which is much safer, but clearly infuriating to drivers as they roar past at one million revs, honking and gesticulating.

I’ll take a few honks, to be honest. I’m rather baffled at the fury that cyclists seem to engender in the average driver, but it’s better than being invisible. The curious thing is that when I’m driving I have absolutely no problem dealing with cyclists. I keep well back until I’m sure that I can pass them safely leaving plenty of room, and then I overtake smoothly and efficiently. What I don’t do is edge closer and closer to the cyclist’s back wheel, hoping to intimidate them into moving over, or falling off. I’ve never found myself delayed by being behind a bike - in fact, they’re usually strolling past me while I fume impotently in a long traffic jam. Perhaps that’s what some drivers find irritating.

I was curious about what the Highway Code says about road positioning for cyclists. Apparently, nothing at all - other than such helpful advice as not to carry things which might affect your balance, such as grandfather clocks, or fridges.

Wikipedia says “In the 1960s and 1970s it was common for novice cyclists to be instructed to ride as close to the nearside kerb as possible. It is now understood that this encourages dangerous overtaking, by acting as a tacit invitation to overtake and by giving a false impression of the amount of space a cyclist needs. Modern practice places the cyclist much further into the traffic stream.”

I do not remember what they told us when I did my Cycling Proficiency but it is probably irrelevant as that was in 1868. Keithlard’s cycling advice is to ride where you need to for safety, and tough luck for any cars behind.

I do not know what you think.

Keithlard goes bikling

As part of essential investment in plant and equipment for Project Hott, I bought myself a bike :D

It is this bike:

The man at the shop was super helpful and friendly, and with his advice and Steve’s I got all the right accessories including lights, a big badass lock, Pitlock skewers that stop you taking the wheels off without the key, a garishly coloured helmet, and a special saddle that is electronically coded to my personal arse! OK not that last one. But hopefully it will not be nicked, even though I am too nervous to leave it anywhere out of my sight, so it is probably coming to bed with me later!

I have woken up with a few strange bed companions in my time, though most of them were at least recognisably human.

So I bikled back home from work, and it only took 0 hours and 25 minutes! That is super quick really as it takes longer by tube. And it was uphill. I am hugely unfit obviously but I did not find it too bad, so that is encouraging.

They were great at the shop and tuned up the bike and fitted all the accessories for free, and I get a free service after a month. So everyone should get all their bikes and bikling accessories from Jason at Cycle Surgery in Camden. That concludes this commercial messidge.

Now I am relaxing with a cold beer and Indian snacks! So it was a good day all around really.

Quite literally eat off my face

O vanity, vanity, it’s more pictures of me. Well I am simply responding to pressure from Mariposa and hundreds of other girls. The tragedy of the situation is that I do not really look like this at all, I am three midgets standing on each other’s shoulders inside a big coat, with an unconvincing rubber head.

Why don't you come up to the lab?

Inside my Dad’s workshop. This ancient Cossor oscilloscope, which he’s repaired so often as to have practically rebuilt it from scratch, dates from an era when people designed user interfaces with a satisfyingly large number of buttons and knobs.

The workbench. I think I inherited Dad’s love of engineering and making things, except I work with soft, virtual, digital machinery instead of wires and solder. Nonetheless we’re in the same business.

A couple of the many bits of equipment designed and built by Dad, including amplifiers, signal generators, preamps, oscillators, speakers, and even a Geiger counter. (He likes to be ready for anything.)

A genuinely antique wartime signal generator, rescued for posterity. The label ‘Unearthly’ does not indicate an extra-terrestrial origin, but merely that the apparatus is not earthed (it was built in the days when a good jolt of electricity was considered an essential pep-up in the mornings).

Around Grimshall

This is my Dad’s house and where I mostly grew up. It has lots of garden and an orchard and fields and woods, and a stream. I love it now, but I guess when I was a teenager I thought it was about the most boring place in the universe :D

A super garden seat that my Dad made. I like to sit out here in the morning sunshine with my coffee and leaf through New Scientist or watch the little birds coming to the kitchen door looking for breakfast.

I spent lots of my youth roaming around the neighbouring fields and valleys, looking for (a) excitemint, (b) drink, or (c) girls. I suppose I did not find much of any of them, so now I make sure I bring some of all three with me when I visit.

Wizzo poppies in the garden.

And so the curfew tolls the knell of another parting day and the moping owl does to the moon complain, of such as wandering near her secret bower, molest her ancient solitary reign (potry).

Here's one, Ted. How'd you get to Carnegie Hall?

I walked home from work today. It is quite a long way! It took me about an hour and a half, but it is quite a nice scenic walk, and it is all useful calorie burning excersise contributing to Project Hott.

A young man approached me as I was walking up the A1 near East Finchley, and the exchange went a bit like this:

Man: Excuse me, do you know where North London is?
Me: Errrr… (trying to work out how to put this politely) We’re pretty much in North London right now.
Man: So do you know where the Apollo Club is?
Me: Sorry, no.
Man: But this is North London?

I cannot think of any way of getting to Finchley, short of a personal jet-pack, or teleportation from the future, without being aware that you are in fact in North London. Alternatively, I suppose it is possible to be so enormously drunk that you lose all memory of the actual city that you’re in, although I usually cannot afford to drink that much.