Ramblings of this guy you know!

Tech Stuff and random observations on life as I see it….

Category Archives: Just…Life

Visit to Deer Abbey

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Fed up with the rain and wanting to explore our local area, we went out for a walk to find Deer Abbey which resides just of the A950 about half a mile outside Old Deer in Aberdeenshire.

We had walked via the railway line from Mintlaw till we got to Old Deer where we came off and made our way to the main road and walked down the narrow verge there. It would have been better to carry on along the old line till we got to a point where a road intersects the path. This is Bridgend and is just passed the Abbey. Come off the line and turn right then turn right again when you come to the main road and you will come to the abbey entrance within a couple of minutes.


Customer Feedback – A Rant

I got yet another customer feedback email in my Inbox today… Is anyone else getting as fed up of them as I am?  I have officially started seeing red about constantly being bombarded to give feedback all the time… Its getting to the obstructive level…

You go onto a website and before you can look at anything… “HI there! How are you! Hope your having a super time on our super site! Please tell us how good we are… Please, please, Puleeeaaasssee”.

Likewise, you get these overlays on sites that say “Our online staff are ready to answer any queries you may have, do you want to open a chat window?”… NO I DON’T… IF I WANTED TO DO IT, I WILL DO IT MYSELF, I am capable you know… I can get up, get myself dressed and clean my teeth by myself too and have been for years… SOD OFF!

And then there are these sodding emails asking my to let them know what a flipping good job they did with their last customer services call they took from you… You an bet that I am only ever going to fill that  in when you left me waiting hanging on the line for twenty minutes.. You do know that, right?

Now I know that gaining feedback from your customers is one of the easiest ways that a business can ensure that they are meeting their needs. It can help strengthen and deepen the customer relationships – If it’s done right. Right now I don’t think it is being done correctly, it’s overkill and I’m done with it!

Much like with cold calling, If I want something or if I have something to say,  I will let you know, have no fear of that!

Our cat contracted FLUTD – A scary week for Mac and Us

What is FLUTD?

Feline lower urinary tract disease “(commonly referred to as FLUTD, LUTD,FLUDT or FUS–feline urologic syndrome) come in at least three distinct varieties. All of them put together affect a small percentage of cats, but for those who are affected, it can be a major problem. Bladder diseases occur in both male and female cats, although males have a higher risk of life-threatening blockage of the urethra. Male cats’ urethras taper toward the opening at the prepuce making them especially susceptible to forming a “plug” which obstructs normal urination. All of the constituents of a urinary plug can be the result of a true bacterial infection or a complicated disorder called Feline (Idiopathic) Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or FLUTD. It is usually first seen in cats between 2 and 7 years of age (though some very young and very old cats may develop signs). Episodes of FLUTDs are usually triggered by stress, such as home remodelling, severe weather, or loss or addition of a family member/pet.”

Meet Mac…

Mac on Pirate Ship
…our Maine Coon cross cat. He’s as soft as butter and the friendliest cat you could hope to meet… Unless that is, you are our dog Magic who Mac seems to hate with a passion and seems to blame for his current predicament… But I am getting ahead of myself…

I had a week off work recently and I was looking forward to some R&R, catching up on some cinema films and perhaps fit in some running along the way. All that went out the window when Mac stopped going to the toilet just before bed time. It wasn’t much, he just sat in the litter tray and did nothing… It might be something, it might be nothing. However, if you know the signs and when you see them you take note and that put Mac on the watch list. He’s not the first cat we have had problems with, Silver (my first cat that I had) also had problems though his was from Struvite crystals.

Next morning however there was no doubting that there was a problem… Mac always greets you in the morning with a miaow and a rub but he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. We found him in a scratching post box looking miserable and with a very wet bottom. To give you an insight into Mac, if you were to personify him as a human, he would be a dandy, dressed in finery and perfumed. His bottom is normally quite perfumed anyway, I don’t know where he has a bottle of the stuff hidden away. So, to see him wet, was very disturbing…

Day 1 – Calling in the Vets

We are so very lucky in our neck of the woods to have the Ellon Mobile Vet service and so after a quick phone call and a short while later the vet was with us.He was diagnosed very quickly as having Flutds by the vet feeling that his bladder was full. The vet managed to squeeze the bladder hard enough to release the blockage and empty the bladder. A swift multifunction test swab showed us that there was a bacterial infection in the urine that was the most likely cause of the problem. Mac got a couple of injections, a long lasting antibiotic and and anti-inflammatory to hopefully release the blockage. Sure enough, through the afternoon we saw signs that he was going to the toilet though in small amounts and not the size of what he usually does. By the time we went to bed, he had stopped going.

Day 2 – Off to the vets

Next morning and Mac was back to leaking again and his sides were more solid than the should be so it was straight on to the vets again and they promptly came out and expressed his bladder again to relieve the pressure. Then he got whisked away in a carrier with a promise that he would be looked after.

All the catsThe other cats, you an see them all on the left there, were shocked when they came in after Mac had gone. They all looked so concerned that he wasn’t there and spent the entire day slinking about with their tails down.. I think they thought he wasn’t coming back. Mind you, If I had a tail, it would have been down too…

We called later that day and he had been put on a drip in his foreleg and a catheter at the other end to flush his system. He had been sedated but he was OK. “Hopefully”, they said, “We’ll get him back tomorrow morning”.

It was a long night.

Day 3  – Another overnight Stay

As soon as the vets were open the next morning, I was back on the phone to find out how he was. He was doing Ok they said but he was going to have to stay in another night as he had pulled his catheter out overnight and they wanted to ensure he was fully hydrated before they let him home… He was also starting a course of antispasmodics, Hypovaze from Pfizer. The hope here is that if we are dealign with a bacterial infection then the antispasmodics should help while that passes through his system and then hopefully his bladder will have recovered to normal function.

Another long day followed by a long night.

Day 4 – Back home again

Friday, we got him home. He got transported back to us from the vets and was very happy to be back home. We were happy to have him back and cuddled him half to death I think. The cats were overjoyed at him being back too.

So what happens now?

As well as continuing his course of antispasmodics, we have been instructed that he is to receive no dry food at all for at least three months and to give consideration to keeping him off cat biscuits always… This comes right after I purchased a 10Kg bag of biscuits from Amazon, typical! Beyond that we are adding extra water to his cat food so he gets as much fluid as possible – Have you ever tried to get a Cat to drink voluntarily? They never drink near enough.

Our other secret weapon is cat milk…. yes, horribly overpriced and with added sweeteners, Goats milk – Did you know that cat milk was Goats milk in disguise? I didn’t. However, Goats milk didn’t float his boat at all so back to the expensive stuff it is… If it keeps him healthy, he can bath in it if he wants.

Beyond that, it’s crossing our fingers and hoping beyond hope that it doesn’t happen again….

You mentioned the dog?

You’re so right, I did mention him right at the beginning of tho didn’t I? Poor Magic is getting the sharp edge to Mac’s claws at the moment. If Magic’s tail strikes anything too loud, if he barks just a little too loud, then Mac is on him. The cat for some reason blames the dog entirely for his current situation and gives him “the hairy eyeball” each time one or the other walks into the room with each other… There’s an uneasy truce until Magic makes a noise, then it’s all fur ‘n claws.

Off to get seem Felliway diffuser and a DAP diffuser to se if that helps…

My Chocolate Cheesecake



3oz (75g) butter
1 tblspn (15ml) golden syrup (or honey)
6oz (150g) digestive biscuits


150g Cadburys bournville chocolate (or 75g each of bournville and dairy milk)
8oz (200g) cream cheese
3oz (75g) caster sugar
Half pint (284ml) double cream


1tsp (5ml) instant coffee powder
3 tblspns (60ml) Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur
1tsp (5ml) gelatine 


Melt the butter with the syrup and stir in the crushed biscuits. Carefully press on to the base of a 9 inch flan dish and chill. For An alternative taste to syrup or a more natural sugar use honey.

Melt the chocolate in a double boll. Once melted leave to cool slightly off to the side. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and add the chocolate to the mix gradually. If you are going to add the coffee and liqueur addition to make it more of a mocha cheesecake then dissolve the gelatine in a teaspoon of hot water and stir in the instant coffee and liqueur and fold Into the cream cheese mix. Finally fold in half the cream.

Spoon the mixture into the flan case an refrigerate. As another alternative to the single chocolate layer is to make a dual layer with plain and milk chocolate. Simply divide the cream cheese mixture in half, melt and spoon into two bowls. First spoon in the dark layer on the bottom of the flan dish and spoon the milk layer on top… I’ve tried marbling it but can’t get it to look good enough for me.

Lightly whip the remaining cream and spread on top of the cheesecake and decorate on top with some chocolate curls.

Blogging in 2012 – My goals

This blog started off life as my rants against the world and those article comments that were too long for Twitter to cope with. Then came the occasional posting about significant runs or goals met.

Laterally I started writing tech posts mostly aimed at the students of the School of Computing at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen where I work. The reality was though that even if I rewrote about tech events etc in my own words it is still technically scraping what is already there and becomes a very time consuming. As a result, by the end of October I ran out of steam to keep it up.

Now at the beginning of 2012, I’m going to try again to write about the aspects of tech news that catch my eye but rather than repost what is there, I intend to post links to original articles and write my own opinions about them. Short comments and opinions will end up as Twitter retweets that will appear on my paper.li weekly publication or may end up as weekly digests embedded into WordPress posts…

Time will show how I get on…

Mince and Cheese Baked Potato?

Mince and Cheese Tattie

Mince and Cheese Tattie

Sometimes, I hate being quite typically British in that I am prone to being quite reserved… This usually gets me into trouble in shops namely walking away with too little or too much change (and agonising about that later too), getting the wrong item etc etc etc… I’m sure you get the idea and I know I am not alone.

On this particular day I decided I wanted a Baked Potato… I was Nostalgic for my student days back in Nineteen Mmmphh Mmphh (too long ago to admit to) where the humble heated spud and filling were part of the staple diet and found myself heading for the Tastie Tattie here in Aberdeen…

In I went in and my nostalgia dropped a notch…. Wasn’t the Tastie Tattie nicer than this all those years ago? Probably not in reality if I’m honest to myself… But I digress… I asked, I’m pretty sure in a nice clear voice, for a baked potato with Beans and Cheese….

Here is when I got my first inkling that something was wrong as the woman behind the counter looked at me as if I had asked for monkey brains in there but then went and scooped up some cheese in a tub and picked out another for putting into the microwave.

“That’ll be £5.05 please” she says…. Do I say “Gosh that is expensive” or “are you sure that’s correct?” I hand over the tenner and say “Do you want the 5p?”

I start to get the idea something is not quite right here…

Ting! goes one microwave (Baked Potato ready).. Ting! goes another (that’ll be the beans then).

Something distinctly non-bean coloured is poured on the Potato… I am mute but inside I am screaming “THAT”S NOT BEANS!! SAY SOMETHING” Cheese goes on top, lid closed in a bag and handed to me…

“Thanks” I say and leaves… muttering to myself

Like I say, I hate being this repressed and unable to complain….

… On saying that the tattie was nice! Still want one with Beans and Cheese though…..

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