Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Have Been Blogged!

blogged rating 8.0

The other day I had an email which I thought looked a little suspicious. The sender had a name similar to those behind a lot of the spam I get into my Gmail account, advertising extensions of the male organ, replica watches and Viagra. The reason they find my email account is of course the fact that I use my first name, which is a very common Swedish name, and a two-digit number. So the machines generating possible addresses will always find accounts like mine. I delete spam every day. (No offence to the email author intended.)

The email said -

Dear Fruits of My Mind author,

Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.0 score out of (10) in the Personal Blogs category of This is quite an achievement! We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style. After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 8.0 score.

Can this be right, I thought. Google! That's what I did, and found that it was indeed a genuine company in California, much like Technorati and others. It was not a trick to make me go to a website that would infect my computer, or at least try to. I have all the latest up-to-date protection possible, so I am not worried really. Only one little problem; the description of my blog was obviously someone else's. It looked like I was some sort of Christian fanatic, and I left the church in 1973! So I emailed back and pointed this out. Believe it or not, but I got an answer within two days that it had been corrected. Boy, was I surprised! Somebody had actually read my blog, bothered to answer and corrected the mistake. Only one thing for them to sort out now, the tags mentioned are completely wrong. I bet I will get an email tomorrow saying they've done it already!

I have been rather busy lately and not had time to read my regular blogs (sorry!) and not blogged myself either. And it's getting worse; I will be off to Sweden for two weeks on Monday to attend a nephew's wedding and a niece's school graduation party, which is a very BIG THING in Sweden. It's tough, but I have to party for two weeks! ;-) See you all later. There might even be pictures when I return.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Great Tits in the Attic

We have an attic that we really do not use for anything more than keeping some cardboard boxes with old books in, which means we hardly ever go up there. As my regular readers know, we have many birds and other animals in our garden. Of late I have noticed some strange sounds coming from the attic, as if some creature was walking on the hatch in the ceiling on the upstairs landing.

Was it squirrels? I went up into the cobweb-filled attic to have a look about a week ago and couldn’t spot anything. But yesterday I decided to try again, and this is what I saw when I looked into the world of the cobweb after having carefully closed all the doors to neighbouring rooms.

This baby bird was totally confused, as you also can see in the video below. He just sat there, bewildered. Behind and above him other birds, most likely the parents, were flying around sounding agitated. All of a sudden I understood why the bird song had been so prominent lately. After a while I gently closed the hatch again and went downstairs and outside to continue to video. It is not bad having both a well-protected nest and your own airspace for flying lessons!

(Sorry about doubling some over-lay text in the video.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

ABBEY - Oh no! Not again! (cont.)

Palm Tungsten TX

It all started early in the autumn and I blogged about it in January. Abbey is my main UK bank where I used to do internet banking several times a week. Living abroad, internet banking is crucial, and it worked wonderfully well until I had to cancel all my credit/debit cards, internet accounts, passwords and usernames because I was pick-pocketed and lost my Palm handheld computer. I was not 100% sure that I had left it in secure mode, which could make it possible for someone to access very sensitive information, as you might understand. Everything was there, albeit some in coded Swedish. I was close to panic stations.

However I managed to prevent the misuse of the information through a series of phone calls. Most replacement cards and new passwords arrived without delay, with one major exception, those from the Abbey. After a while new bank cards were delivered, but the two secret pieces of information that I needed for internet banking never materialised. I rang again and again and again. I spoke to call centre workers, who all assured me that I would have them within a couple of weeks. As if! Over several months I tried four times in vain.

Then, the fifth time, I was redirected to another call centre that dealt with slightly different banking matters, where I managed to speak to a gentleman who seemed to sound like he knew what he was talking about. You know, when you listen to the voice, full of confidence and conviction, you just know that this is a proper bank person. He actually hinted at the possibility that a high intake of new call centre staff had made it difficult to train them well enough to handle a matter such as mine, to satisfaction. I tried to suggest it might have something to do with the fact that the bank had been incorporated into the Santander Group and they had introduced a new computer system too quickly, but he would not commit to any such claim. He was perfectly correct and professional. He even gave me his extension number, which is highly unusual, and told me I could contact him again, should I not be happy with the outcome of this matter. I only wish they would stuff, sorry, staff all call centres with people like him. Thanks to Michael in Bradford I can now do internet banking with Abbey again. I salute him!

Abbey - Copy

Monday, May 12, 2008

Trying Out Windows Live Writer

Interesting, I've just clicked around to find out what's there, and I discovered that when I click on "View Weblog", it actually opens my preferred Firefox. I remember reading a comment question from Rositta somewhere a few days ago regarding this. I have also downloaded ScribeFire, which I will try out later. Writing this, I notice as well that the blog colours are the right ones even here in Live Writer. Very clever. It seems to have Blogger's features and a few more. I will try and upload a photo now and see if it messes up the font like sometimes Blogger does, in particular if I have typed it up in Word first and then pasted it into Blogger. Here goes.

New needles

Well that was easy. I sharpened it and added a watermark, almost making my Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 superfluous.

Checking out what's in the toolbars and drop-down menus I discover that there is a lot more to investigate. So far so good. I have now run out of time, so I will continue later. Let's see if I can post this directly from here without any problems. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Pyramid Project

Well that was easy! My blogger friend Lynda in Cairo has just set up a new meme, which I thought at first would be very difficult to complete. The challenge was to find a pyramid of some sort somewhere. She also said it was importatnt to have fun doing it. Yeah right! I never got to have any fun because it dawned on me after a few seconds; I only needed to put my hand into my top-right desk drawer to find this….

Go on! See if you can find a pyramid.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Just Rewards

Glorious weather means the bikes come out. We had 20 degrees today and only a light wind; just enough to keep you cool, should you overdo the pedalling slightly. So off we went on all these little roads, forest paths and bridle paths in our area. It is so refreshing and gives you a wonderful feeling of being at one with nature. (That sounded a bit pompous, sorry.) A gentle workout of a total of two hours, bums on saddles, meant we were allowed a treat, a stop at the Bauern Café in Lüttelforst. Does it not look tempting?

Inquisitive birds

I think it s hormonal, the birds are very active at the moment, it is spring. Not only do they fly into glass doors like some kamikaze lunatics, some of them seem to be extra adventurous, in particular the Great Tits. The other morning I was having my breakfast porridge when I heard some unusual sounds from the kitchen. I went out but could not see anything that could have caused the unfamiliar sound. A little later I heard it from the hall and got up again to investigate. To my astonishment I saw a bird flying around in the hall, a Great Tit was desperately trying to find a way out. He hit the little side window, knocked something down, continued to almost hover, getting nowhere. I then opened the door, but he did not accept the invitation. Next I went into the lounge with the bird following me; he then flew into the front windows a couple of times while I made my way to the dining room to open the patio door. Zoooom! He sped past me like a bullet on his way out to freedom.

How did he get into the house in the first place? I wondered. He must have flown in through the gap at the top of some tilted window on his quest for food, female or something else he fancied. Maybe he had spotted this fellow sitting on top of my 87-year-old clock, looking for company?

(Christmas tree decoration from my grandparents)

I was thinking about how he had had the guts to fly in through such an unknown, narrow space like a tilted window, not as wide as his own wingspan actually. I believe I got the answer later that day when I saw some Great Tit(s) disappearing under a bush in the corner of our garden, the angle between our house and the garden wall to the neighbours. There is a metal grid on top of a well that lets in light and air through a cellar window.

They disappeared down there, just walked through a tiny, square grid hole, head first! What were they doing down there? I went down into the cellar to see if I could find the answer to the enigma. I approached said window in the dark cellar, not to scare anybody off. The window itself is always open for ventilation purposes, but there is another metal grid preventing unwelcome visitors. So, there I stood on the inside, in the dark, looking out into this small, dark space. It was just like watching a nature show on TV where they have hidden cameras in nests. Suddenly a Great Tit comes walking down through the horizontal grid, down the metal chain (the purpose of which I have not got a clue!) hanging in the middle, as if he were a Nuthatch or somebody. He is not supposed to be able to do that. For a couple of seconds he was sitting on the window grid 20 centimetres from my face. He then flew around a little in this cramped space before ascending along the chain and disappearing out into the ample space of the garden and its freedom. What was that all about? Not a clue! Are Great Tits particularly adventurous? Maybe they are. That afternoon, sitting upstairs in the study by my computer I saw another bird (same individual?) nearly coming through the upper gap of my tilted window. I had to shoo it off not to get another mad bird in the house. Maybe some reader knows more about these matters than I do, perhaps the self-confessed tit man, Haddock ;-) could confirm my suspicions regarding the nature of Great Tits. I know he has plenty of them in his garden.