Cats like orange

We have this bright orange bag that we got when we bought some cookware and it is a cat magnet! Without fail, every time this bag is left out the cats are laying on it or touching it in some way. In the case of the photo below the bag was full and laying on it wasn’t an option so Charlie stood next to it and pulled one side down so he could at least get his front paws onto the bag.

I conclude therefore that cats either like this bright orange colour, or, they have been paid by Le Creuset to advertise their high class cast-iron French cookware.

When I say “wasn’t an option” up there I think “wasn’t something he was in the mood for” is probably closer to the truth. When not being mesmerised by orange bags our cats are seeking out uncomfortable things to lay on. For example, why lay on the sofa or a nice flat floor when you can lay on the laptop charger cables or the tv remotes or a pile of books?

Easter 2018

We now bask in the calm that comes after the hurricane that is the Easter feast. We had enough to feed the five thousand but there were just seven people and a week-old baby boy (Kostek).

Approximate distribution was: 25% eaten, 25% taken home by guests, 20% wasted, 30% put back in the fridge.

The dishes were:

  • salad with potato, gherkin & onion
  • vegetable salad
  • salad with lettuce, broccoli, corn, salmon & parmesan
  • salad with mushrooms and eggs
  • eggs sliced in half and topped with mayo + black caviar
  • eggs sliced in half and topped with mayo + red (salmon) caviar
  • minced up fish pate in jelly
  • sliced fish ‘roll’
  • 3 kinds of bread
  • sliced ham (two kinds)
  • sliced pork (two kinds)
  • sliced kielbasa
  • pasztet (kind of pate)
  • babka cake
  • easter cake with chocolate
  • easter cake with orange
  • makowiec (poppy seed cake)
  • coffee, tea, white wine, water

(I may have missed something)

Looking back

I wrote the passage below over 19 years ago as a sort of “bio” for an online community. I happened to find it today while trying to work out how long I’d been there, on and off. I was struck by the feeling that whilst I recognise the things I do not recognise the person. Even though it was myself it seems a little other worldly as if that person died and a new person was born. Very strange.

Was I really very interested in politics, human rights and globalisation..? Check out the technology – Psion Sienna, fax machine, 33.6 modem, Sony Walkman!

This was written less than a year before I came to Poland for the first time. After that everything changed. The life below was left behind and with it most of the possessions mentioned. By some weird accident I do still have the plate from Jordan.

Anyway, I thought this snapshot was worth preserving, so here it is.

Right now it’s 00.20 on 1st July 1997 and I am sitting in my study staring at this iiyama 17″ vision master screen. Also in the “straight ahead” view are: speakers, Viglen midi tower (with p166 32Mb 2.1Gb 10 speed CD 33.6 modem etc), HP 690C printer (stood on top of filing cabinet), empty coffee cup, mouse, keyboard, joystick, CD of game called “Outlaws” Also ahead but at higher level on a shelf:, model Ferrari 308 GTB, brightly coloured stuffed parrot on a perch that talks, model of a London Taxi Cab with Burger King sticker on its side, 3 Corporate trophys, Sub woofer.

The “Right hand view” has a pin board with – Instructions on how to type international characters, more instructions on how to embed an image & link in html, details of required specification of Jaguar car, photo of mum & dad, a small piece of abstract artwork, phone numbers of various local golf courses, Lufthansa upgrade vouchers, my accountants business card, Fax to Dubai office with details of trip to Kuwait & Dubai on Saturday, assorted other phone numbers. Also there is a clock, a Casino chip from the Swiss Hotel in Istanbul, an invitation to the opening of a Burger King restaurant in Sharjah, a notice saying “It is an offence to allow your dog to foul the footpath” and another one saying “Level in English and in Braile”. Also, slightly further round, next to the window: a sheet with the history of my surname, a Van Gogh calendar and a Far Side calendar, fax machine, telephone, pen holder, ashtray, Psion Sienna, desktop filing tay, calculator, sunglasses, remote for Radio, Post It notes.

To the “Left” – Large poster of Berlin Mitte, Dell Lattitude laptop with case & leads, numerous airline timetables & hotel guides, Michelin guide Europe 1996, CD storage case, piece of the Berlin Wall, piece of Vesuvius, floppy discs, floppy hat from the Oktoberfest, Jordan team pin from German Grand Prix Hockenhiem 1995, Plate from Petra in Jordan, Small framed pencil sketches with scenes of Munich, a clip used by climbers (carabina ?) given to me in memory of a training course in Miami, 2 sets of Arabian “worry beads”, a Sony Walkman, assorted papers awaiting filing, stapler, stopwatch, briefcase, ten year service award, Nintendo game boy, 2 passports, assorted airline frequent flyer club cards, Duracell batteries, dust.

I live with Vicki in Worplesdon, a village between Woking & Guildford south of London. We have 3 Rottweiler dogs (Gromit 2, and brothers Benson & Hedges 9), 3 Horses (Bing, Lucas & Sam) and assorted wildlife in the garden. I also enjoy Travel, Golf, Football, & Clay Shooting and am very interested in History, Politics, Human Rights, Globalisation, Technology, Food & Drink.

There is nothing like a Dane!

Mail to a friend.

Dearest Viking,

Let me be the first to express how delighted I am that your fine country of birth has regained its rightful place at the top of the list of happy countries!

I also notice that Iceland, Norway and Finland are in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places and yet Sweden is only 9th, which must be pissing them off a little. Is there something about snow, trees, herrings, expensive alcohol, undercooked meat, limited daylight, weird music and depressing TV crime dramas that makes people happy?

Let me say, furthermore, that I was about to wonder how one squared the happiness with the high suicide rates but having done some research (just for you) I see I was being lied to about suicide rates in Scandinavia being very high. It is not so. According to Wiki; Russians, Hungarians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles and Latvians all kill themselves more rapidly than the worst of Scandinavian nations, that being Finland in 33rd place. Iceland is close in 35th place and then Sweden in 58th and finally Denmark and Norway in a suicide pact at 81st and 82nd places.

By the way, mentioning Wiki brings on pangs of guilt. Dalling Jimmy W mailed me recently asking for me to renew my 50 zloty donation and I didn’t do it. To be more precise, I tried to give them even more than 50 zloty but it got very complicated with passwords, or card numbers or something technical and I was forced to abandon my attempt. Sorry, Jimmy! I will get back to it when I have time.

One thing that is clear, dearest Viking, is that Burundi is badly in need of cheering up as it comes bottom of the happiness table and is also ranked 10th for suicides. As Stevie Wonder said “It’s that Burundi’s in need of love today, Don’t delay, Send yours in right away, Hate’s goin’ round, Breaking many hearts, Stop it please, Before it’s gone too far.”. I think that says it all.

Hoping this might reach you with sufficient force to deserve a response,

Lord Snoot

Progressive lenses


The above photo is representative of a pair of glasses, similar to but not actually the ones I bought.

Executive summary – progressive lenses are expensive and a bit weird. They might be useful but they are almost certainly not the answer to your dreams.

So here I am at 57 (would that be Heinz age?) with eyes that need three levels of power-up for me to be able to see clearly. Round figures I need;

  • Distance +1.25
  • Mid range +2.25
  • Reading +3.25

That said, I can perfectly happily walk around and even drive without any glasses at all although with driving I find glasses help when I’ve done more than a few hours behind the wheel especially at night.

Let’s go back a few years to when I bought my first pair of half-progressive lenses mainly for use at work to cover the range from computer screen to reading, roughly +2 to +3. Aside from a very short while needed to get used to them, they have been superb. They do, however, only cover one aspect of life, namely sitting near a computer screen, and while this is something I do often, that one pair of glasses had limited use in daily life leading to my collection of about 10 other pairs of glasses ranging between +1 to +3 that I had obtained from shops, opticians and petrol stations in Poland, Italy, Greece and the UK.

Having so many pairs with differing practical uses was getting annoying. I was always having to carry around at least two pairs and often found myself a focal length short of what was needed. I could see what was happening on stage in the theatre but I couldn’t check the football scores on my phone. I could see what was on the supermarket shelves but couldn’t read the labels. Or vice versa. Not to mention that those purchased without prescription weren’t exactly of the best quality!

And so it was that I jumped to the conclusion that I needed to get an eye test and buy some new glasses and furthermore that if I was so happy with the half-progressive pair then getting some full progressive ones that added the third, long distance, dimension might be a whizz of an idea.

Vision Express in Zlote Tarasy is where I went, I explained what I’m trying to do and after many tests they were positively gushing about how perfectly suited my eyes were for fully progressive lenses. Despite the utterly ridiculous price, I ordered two pairs.

When I went to collect them, one pair seemed fine in the shop but the other had a problem when reading such that one side of the page was in focus and the other side was not. They were returned for adjustment and I took the others. All was well until I tried to use them at work with a laptop. Absolute disaster. Could hardly read anything on the screen unless I moved my head around all the time side to side and up and down to try and get some focus. Agghh!

Back to the shop and explained the problem, which is when they decided to tell me in more detail about how progressive lenses work. A little too late.


As you can see from the above diagram you get a big area for distance, an acceptable area for reading but a small area for mid range that is also acting as a corridor between distance and reading. In real life the effect is very strange. When doing anything other than working with a computer the progressive works very well and allows you to get everything in focus. They work best with distance and reading but even things that are the same distance away as a computer screen are well enough defined as to make them good all-purpose glasses. Get them anywhere near a computer though and try to do some work, web browsing, whatever, and they are utterly useless.

At first we all thought I just needed to get used to them and there’s no question they improve the more you wear them, or perhaps your brain works out how to interpret the signals better would be more scientifically correct, but I’ve been using them for a while now and they are still useless for computer work.

So, my dream of one pair of glasses to cover everything crashed and burnt. The only question was whether to keep them or to change my order. To be fair to Vision Express they were happy either way. What I’ve decided on is a strategy of keeping the progressives for all general use but also having a separate pair of half-progressives for computer work. This could be achieved by only having only two pairs of glasses but given that I want spares of each I’ll end up with four. Two pairs of full progressive, one of which I carry with me each day for general use + my old half-progressives to be based at home for computer use + a new pair of half-progressives based in the office for work use. All three being upgrades on the current set-up.

At least all my glasses will be proper optical quality and not gas station quality and I’ll be able to throw a lot of old pairs away.

Close but no cigar.