Out of Focus - the diary of a student radiographer.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Happy day-after-birthday Adam

Most remiss of me - I forgot to blog yesterday about the momentous occasion that was Adam's birthday. I won't embarrass him here by mentioning his age, save to say he is older than he looks. The day wasn't terribly exciting - he went to work and so did I. We will be having a meal out in his honour on Saturday.

My brother Simon sent Adam this card.

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I think I'll throttle him when I next see him.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Clock watching

Its not fair. If I'm going to have to do a night shift why couldn't it have been last night which would have been an hour shorter than usual. Instead I had to work the night shift Friday night (which was ultra-bloomin'-busy) and then get up an hour earlier than usual to do the early shift this morning.

I don't see the point of all this messing around with the clocks. It just serves to confuse the dim and cause hassle for the rest of us.

You forget just how many time-telling devices you have until you get to this time of year.

Friday, March 26, 2004


It occured to me that, even though they are a big part of our lives, I haven't blogged much yet about our cats. I guess its because most of the crazy things they do aren't unusual to me any more.

So I thought I'd better start at the beginning with the first cat Adam & I lived with, Minstrel. I had never had a cat before but Adam had spent nearly all his life with at least one cat in the house so I thought I'd give it a go. We went to the RSPCA and looked at a few cats. Adam noticed Minstrel as he thought he looked bright and alert (Minstrel, not Adam). The nice RSPCA lady let me hold him (Minstrel) who immediately climbed up me to get a better look out of the window. We thought this was cute so we took him home.

Minstrel was a brilliant cat. He was about 1 year old and had had a tough start in life. He had been found wandering the streets of London (someone told him they were paved with gold?) and with cat 'flu. He had a few antisocial habits at first, although he was neutered he occasionally sprayed indoors (I was not happy when he chose the clean washing on the dryer). He also decided to attack my legs as I walked past but my loud scream made him think twice about doing it again. He never completely got over the cat 'flu and kept having to go back to the vet when he got the sniffles.

He quickly learnt the things we didn't like him doing and became a fun and endearing cat. He would do daft things like climb out of a tiny open window at the front of the house and run around to the back and saunter in through the patio doors. He wasn't much of a hunter but he did bring us present once - it was early morning and we were lying in bed and heard this *thud, thud, thud* coming up the stairs, then Minstrel struggles in with this hude, dead blackbird. Well, we appreciated the gesture.

He also had a tendancy to wander quite a way. We thought we lived on a quiet estate but Minstrel's wanderings came to a sad end just 6 months after we got him - we found him run over in the next road. I got an artist to do a pencil drawing of him from photos which now hangs in the hall. I also scanned the picture which can be seen here.

Sleep well, Minstrel - you were our best mate and we still miss you.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Sorry for a bit of a blog gap but I've not been feeling very motivated. I've found myself with 3 days off in a row in the middle of the week this week. Normally I work 4 days a week - officially I do 3 but I always try and book an extra shift each week that is convenient for me, but this week there wasn't an extra one I could do. I always look forward to time off but I'm rather bad at motivating myself to do the things I should do like housework and other odd jobs. This means I get miserable with myself which in turn makes me less motivated and so it goes round in a vicious circle.

One thing I did manage to do was book our summer holiday in the Shetland Islands. It'll be an epic trek getting there as we are driving to Aberdeen (which will take two days from Kent) and getting the overnight ferry. We're doing it this way partly to avoid the horrendous expense of hiring a car for a fortnight, partly because we're self-catering and would like to take more stuff than is practical to take on a plane.

I'm well known for getting very travel sick on boats so I'm hoping a generous dose of travel sickness pills will sort me out until I can get my head down. I don't fancy 14 hours of nausea.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Marking time

Yesterday I had to fill in my timesheet. Yes, that is just one month.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Wiggly Woo

I'm currently taking a break from filling in the hardest part of the application form for the job I am applying for. Its the toughest part of nearly any job application form - the bit where they ask 'Tell us why we should give you the job' or something similar. The box usually takes up the whole of one side of A4 and you feel you must make an effort to make the box look full even if you can only think of three lines to write.

The hospital have been nice and produced a Word document you can download, fill in, and e-mail back to them. I think they must have reckoned without people like me who have been happily managing with Word 97 and see no need to pay Microshaft any more money for an upgrade thankyouverymuch, as the formatting is a bit wonky thus giving me a bit more work to do. Still, its better than trying to make my handwriting deciperable.

In other news, Adam and I joined forces with 4 members of my am dram group and took part in a quiz in aid of the local goat sanctuary. We came 5th out of 11 which wasn't bad. The team who won were a team who win every local quiz going and take it far too seriously. We were the only team to get 10 out of 10 on our joker round though. It was the 'sport' round and we just gave our question sheet to Paul who filled it all in in 20 seconds flat. He was unsufferably smug when the results for that round came out and will probably be for about a year.

Things I learnt yesterday: earthworms have 5 hearts and pogonophobia is the fear of beards.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Whether the weather be fine...

The BBC's weather information is a bit broken. I wanted to know whether it will be wet or fine tomorrow and, as I happened to be sitting in front of the television, I thought I'd check BBCi. The BBC's digital TV information service offers weather reports in several formats, two of which are a 24 hour forecast by region and a 5 day forecast by region. The 24 hour forecast for the southeast assured me that there would be no rain tomorrow. The 5 day forecast for the southeast insisted that it would rain quite considerably tomorrow. I don't understand - why the discrepancy?

So, not knowing which to believe, I looked at the BBC website which agrees with the 24 hour forecast thankfully.

I forgot about my memory

Something I forgot to mention on yesterday's blog was that our shiny new camera takes a different kind of memory card to the old one. Consequently we are now stuck with a redundant 64MB Compactflash card with no device to read it. I don't like chucking things away that might be useful to someone so I considered selling it on Ebay, but we have this problem.

I remembered to save all the photos off the old card onto my PC before the camera went back to Jessops so that's not the problem. The problem is I forgot to erase the photos from the card. I can't honestly remember what photos are on the card, all I know is there are lots, and in all probability some of them are highly embarrassing. When you know your photos aren't going to be seen by some technician in Boots you don't have reservations about what you take photos of. Ahem.

So this card is not going to anyone unless it is blank. Anyone got any bright ideas?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Free stuff II

Funny that Sarah should be making cards, because so have I. Well one card actually. Its a Mother's Day card for my Mother for, erm, Mother's Day. A piccy of it is here. Not a good photo but I'm still getting used to the new camera.

The new camera was a bit of a result. Our old one, a Jenoptik 1.2 megapixel subbornly refused to stop working just short of its warranty in about November last year. We got a brand new but exactly the same model camera as a replacement. This was fine until February when I first tried to take a picture when the sun was shining. We then found the exposure thingy wasn't working as the piccies came out all bleached. The warranty had by then expired but, hurrah, the nice people at Jessops took it back anyway. A few weeks wait (whilst having a loan camera to play with) and Jenoptik sent us brand spanking new 2.1 megapixel camera, complete with LCD screen and lots of other nifty features. It even records sound. Woo-hoo!

Another thing I am doing today is applying for a new job. All part of the grand plan y'know.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Feline hurt

Today's blog is dedicated to all those who think me so obvious that I would do my secret santa blog all about cats. I'm quite hurt. Really.

Coming home from our weekend with the in-laws I am always struck how different my in-laws' cats Molly and Sal are from ours. With the odd exception to consume food or perform ablutions, Molly and Sal spent the entire weekend in their favourite spots - Sal by the fire, Molly in her basket by the boiler in the kitchen. Our Dizzy and Tasha, by contrast, tore round the house like a couple of furry missiles when we got home and have been poking their noses into everything we have done since.

At least none of these four cats, to my knowledge, have ever relieved themselves in a handbag. OK so my blog was a bit about cats.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Santa Baby

OK, I know my secret santa blog is a day later than everyone else's but I've been Norwich. So, better late than never, it's over to my mystery blogger...


I'm not really sure what the world is coming to you know. Whilst out shopping the other night, I spotted a bit of a bargain in the toilet paper department - 12 rolls for the price of 9, and you know what a sucker I am for a bargain. Plus you can never have too much toilet paper, so I picked up the packet and put it into my trolley. As I was doing so, I noticed on the side of the packet that there was some sort of promotional offer - something to do with puppies; it's not my usual brand, but I'm as much as a sucker for puppies as the next girl.

It was only when I got home and was putting them away in the cupboard that I realised I wouldn't be able to have a free puppy, because the 'promotional offer' was in fact an exclamation that the toilet rolls now have 'added puppies'. I'd have thought that it would make their fur awfully messy, but still, you never know what genetic engineering can do these days, so I opened the packet eagerly to see how these puppies would be manifesting themselves on the toilet roll.

It appears to be a bit of a con; the only sign of a puppy is as a stamped decoration! Rather kindly, they are sitting down with their paws held out in rather an obliging fashion, which is rather good of them I suppose.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Keep those wagons scrolling

It was my birthday yesterday and a good time was had by all. Adam bought me tons of lovely-smelling Lush stuff and we spent the day in London geocaching again. This time we took a gentle stroll through London's parks starting in St James' Park, moving onto Green Park, then Hyde Park and finally Kensington Gardens, hoovering up the caches as we went.

We went to one of my favourite London restaurants in the evening, Navarro's, and got well fed and a little tipsy. The train home was one of those ultra modern jobbies with a huuuge toilet cubicle (presumably to fit a wheelchair in) and a scrolling message thingy in the carriage like they have in the newer underground trains. As I was a little tipsy I found myself staring at this thing, and after about 15 minutes of 'The next station is Otford' scrolling across the screen, I realised that Southeastern Trains have missed an opportunity. They could display the news headlines, some recipes or maybe some jokes.

The only thing that spoilt the day was coming home to find that Parcelfarce (sic) had tried to deliver a parcel despite me phoning them up on Wednesday to tell them there would be no-one here Thursday and would they please deliver Friday? How hard can that be? I think I spoke English when I phoned them.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Clutch me

I went to my friend Helen's house last night, along with a mixed assortment of members of my am dram group, to practice lines from the play we are doing. Helen's husband is a fireman but I am too happily married to notice how good looking he is, or how large his muscles are...... oh, er, ahem, *cough*.

Anyway, we got talking about car design and how come its so difficult to position the driving seat so that your right foot is comfortable on the accelerator but at the same time be able to reach to depress the clutch fully with your left. I thought it was just me who had this trouble but everyone last night experienced it too, no matter what car they drove. Do all car designers have longer left legs than right legs?

Monday, March 08, 2004

Free Stuff

I seem to have been playing my own version of The Tesco Game today, except in Sainsbury's, without even trying. I ran out of credit on my pay-as-you-go mobile phone days ago and spotted they sold vouchers in Sainsbury's whilst I was doing the weekly shop. Only they don't do vouchers for Orange any more, its a swipe card thingy instead that you register and the shop puts credit on it.

Anyway, I when I checked my phone to see if the credit was on the phone straight away (it was - hurrah for technomalurgy), I found that I had £5 more credit than I had bought! I checked the receipt and, no, I hadn't been charged for the extra £5. Whoopee! I expect someone will spot the mistake and take it away again in a couple of days, though.

Also at Sainsbury's I bought Calendar Girls for my mum for her Mother's Day prezzy. Not only was it cheaper than on Amazon, I got a free box of Quality Street with it too. Whoopee again! I've just got to resist eating them before Mother's Day comes around.

When I got home I found I had a letter from my union, Unison, offering me a credit card. Normally I just sling such junk in the bin as we always pay off our credit card bill at the end of the month, but they were offering me £40 in M&S vouchers if I signed up and it appears all I have to do is use the card once, within the first 30 days. I think I may as well get one, use it the once to get the vouchers, then cut the thing up.

So, quite a good day all in all - I make it I'm nearly £50 up!

Sunday, March 07, 2004


Watched Australian GP (videoed). Michael Schumacher won. I'm not happy. That is all.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Ant Hill Mob

Adam & I spent a pleasant afternoon geocaching today. We got scratched and poked by twigs whilst trying to find our way out of a bit of woodland we got slightly lost in and Adam trod on a huge ant hill but managed to get off quick before any of the ants stung him. Doesn't sound pleasant but we enjoyed it, honest. We're getting dangerously close to 200 caches too, so yay for us!

I'm now debating whether to set the alarm for 3am to watch the Australian Grand Prix. Bearing in mind I have just drunk half a bottle of a very nice Chianti I doubt I will wake up at 3am, and if I do I probably won't stay awake (wine makes me very sleepy). I think I'll set the video.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Fake food

I had a Chocolate Fudge Brownie today. We'll ignore the fact that it is bad for me for the moment.

What interested me was the wrapper.

The brownie was made by a company called 'The Natural Health Co' and the company logo was accompanied by hand drawn fruit, no doubt to enhance the impression that this product was natural and healthy.

I will argue that this product was nothing of the sort by listing the ingredients, which contain very little in the way of actual food:

Wheatflour, hydrogenated vegetable fat (i.e. vegetable oil made solid by the addition of lots of nasty chemicals), sugar (refined, of course), glucose syrup (more sugar), reduced fat cocoa powder (cocoa butter probably removed to use in cosmetics - more profitable), maize, starch (more processing), whey powder (processed!), dried egg white (and again!), salt, flavourings (this could be anything), skimmed milk powder (fat probably removed to sell as cream - more profitable), malto dextrin (more sugar), preservative E202 (I'll allow them this as the brownie would go mouldy otherwise), emulsifiers E471, E472b, E477 (without these, all this fake food would turn out nothing like a real cake).

Oh, and I still ate the brownie.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Lead aprons

As I mentioned before, I have spent most of my life not knowing what job I am going to do when I grow up.

That's not to say I haven't spent the last 15 years trying to find out. My first job, for no better reason than I couldn't think of anything else to try, was as a laboratory assistant at an agrochemicals plant. The job was OK and they paid for me to do part-time study but after a few years I got bored. As I tended to spend a fair amount of my time fiddling with the computers rather than doing lab work, I figured this would be a good direction to try next.

My Dad knew someone who worked in the IT dept of one of the 'big four' banks and he got me an interview to go on their IT trainee programme. This was fine and I happily wrote mainframe code for a few years until reorganisation and cr@ppy management stepped in and I ended up doing boring, boring system testing, admin and finally, literally nothing. So I asked for voluntary redundancy, got it, and got a new job with the local council doing user support and training.

In this job I discovered the joys of helping people. I hated trying to teach a small roomful of people but working with one person at a time was great, so this is why I started working in a hospital. I'm really pleased I spent the last year as an HCA. I get to work without having to do any serious brainwork, I have no responsibilities and I am fitter. But now I'm getting bored again. The ole brain needs a challenge. To this end I have decided to apply to University, having rejected notions of becoming a nurse or a midwife, to train as a radiographer. Of course this depends on them accepting me but I have put my application in so all I can do is wait.

All the above waffle is the explanation as to why I spent the day in the Medical Imaging department at the hospital today. I got to see several x-rays being taken, a CT scan, an MRI scan, some ultrasound examinations and, wahey, a chap having a barium enema.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Oh, what a night

When I was at school, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. Now, nearly 15 years later, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

As I sit here, writing this blog on my Palm in the office on the labour ward, working a night shift where we haven't any patients, sorry, customers, feeling bored and trying not to fall asleep, I am giving this issue some thought.

I've only been working as a healthcare assistant for about a year and only been doing shift work for 6 months. Night shifts are one of the reasons I'm not likely to stay doing this much longer.

I really hate night shifts. I only have to do 2 of them a month but I still dread them coming round. They are so long. I'm here at the hospital 11 hours on a night - 10 hours working and 1 hour break. And all at a time when my body keeps telling me it wants to sleep. I don't feel terribly with it either - it's a good job I don't have to make any life-or-death desicions.

Oh, god. 4 hours still to go...