Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alarming News

Apologies for the slightly worrying subject name but this short (hurrah I hear) post is just about home alarm systems - well mine in particular - and at least I got your attention !  

My system has just had its annual service (Methodist in case you're wondering) and Matt, or maybe Mark as he muttered his name on arrival, left a few minutes ago.  Now I don't know how many of you know this, but like a lot of people, I had my system installed a few days AFTER I was burgled !

Yes, yes, I do know it's a lot better to do things the other way round but let's face it, one was my choice and the other certainly wasn't. If I hadn't been burgled, I'd probably not have an alarm system today.......human nature being what it is.

Anyway, one morning about 15 years ago I came downstairs to find all my kitchen cupboard doors wide open.  I can tell you it was a "Sixth Sense" sort of moment and it's proof of how movies play a bigger role in my life than crime as I immediately thought.........dead people !  With none around at the time that I could see or who owned up, my next thought was why did I open all those doors before going to bed ?!

Finally it sank in that I'd not been visited by unhappy dead people.  Nor had I come down for a midnight feast and couldn't decide what to have. No, I'd had visitors of a different sort and as this knowledge sank in, I have to say I went through a series of emotions from shock, through disbelief to mounting anger.  I checked around and thankfully very little had been fact I couldn't see that anything had been taken.  Had I been visited by the notorious Irish Burglars ??!!  A lot of my cds had been thrown around the living room but clearly the invaders hadn't thought enough of my musical tastes to take any !

It was disbelief that lasted the longest as I'm a very light sleeper and if anyone had told me that one or more people would break into my house while I was asleep, I'd have told them it couldn't possibly happen.  But it had.  Then something hit me like a blow to my naughty bits. I went outside and sure enough there was a space where my car had been.  They might not have taken anything from inside the house but they'd taken my most valuable possession from outside !

Ok so they'd taken the car keys from inside the house but let's not be picky and ruin the plot here.

Anyway, long story short, I got my car back a few days later when it was found abandoned and undamaged nearby (when the petrol ran out, so did the fun) and I had the locks changed on both it and the house doors.

It was THEN I thought about having an alarm system fitted as clearly I was a heavier sleeper than I thought.  Those few nights spent between the break in and having the alarm fitted were the worst of my life. I hardly slept a wink as we're always warned that thieves tend to return so I didn't waste much time. I had motion sensors fitted all over the place and felt particularly happy about the tiny personal/panic alarm box fitted at the side of my bed as I'd already decided that if I DID hear intruders in the house while I was in bed, I'd not be taking up my baseball bat (bought partly for that reason as well as a nice US souvenir) and charging downstairs like some sort of domestic Rambo.  Oh no, you never know how many there might be and if they'd be armed to the teeth.

Burglars hate noise, so having the alarm go off would be enough to have them on the run and nothing in this house is worth me getting bashed over the head for.....even my John Denver's Greatest Hits Limited Edition Box Set.

So when Matt, known as Mark, looked like he was packing up to go, I reminded him he'd not asked me to go to my bedroom (stop that now....I'm only on the basic cover) and activate the panic button as part of the test/service.  He apologised and said it's because so few people have that part of the system installed these days that he forgot in my case.

I couldn't believe it as, like anyone else who has actually experienced a break-in will tell you, peace of mind is paramount and having the ability to activate the alarm from your bed is wonderful.  He said they've actually been asked to remove the tiny box, about 2.5 inches square, from existing installations because the people don't like the look of them.....maybe before having the room redecorated or something !

WHAT !!!???!!!!

I hope those people never have to know what it's like to wake up at 2am to noises downstairs and experience that stomach churning feeling. You can talk big and say you'd grab something heavy (no not your half asleep partner) and charge down the stairs like a rogue elephant to protect your loved ones and loved belongings.  You wouldn't do it in most cases.  Why would you.....not knowing if a gang of drugged up , tattoo covered airheads were fixing tuna sannies in your kitchen using machetes to cut the bread ?!  

No, I love my panic button. I love to press it once a year during the annual service.  I love the deafening noise the inside and outside alarms make when I do so.

I love sleeping well at night.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back In The Saddle Again

This evening, my blogger friend, Milo, asked me to update my blog with the URL of his latest literary incarnation and in doing so, I noticed great changes had been made with blogger itself.......for example, many new dynamic templates had been added.

I looked at a few of them and despite losing a few of the extras I'd set up on my old template (like the time and weather in Leeds and Sebring, most recent comments and number of visitors etc) I've decided to renew my interest in all this by giving my blog a huge revamp.  Hence the template you see before you.......flip panels for every blog post.

It's a bit......different......and I'm not sure I'll keep it but at least it does highlight those posts with photos in case anyone wants to go to those at any time for a looky look.

For those not good at exploring web pages, if you move your arrow over to the right, a slideout bar will appear with some options, starting with my blog archives.  Use this to bring up the flip panels from each year going back to 2006, when I started blogging.  For some reason, most of the posts from 2006 don't show as having photos - but they do.  Clearly something happened within Blogger in Dec 2006 and suddenly photos appear. If you click on a post in 2006, it may well have photos but sadly you'll just have to see them within the post and not via the flip panel.  Hey ho.

Like I said, I may decide to go for a different template later as this is VERY radical for me and I'm not sure I do radical at my advanced age. I do like the flip idea but it's a bit weird to me to go to my blog and not see any text right away.  Freaks me out that it's all gone AWOL but one flip later, and there it is.

Anyway, moving on, it's mid winter here in the UK. We had a bit of snow a week ago and of course, as expected, the country came to a grinding halt.  Snow has this effect on us as it always comes as a complete surprise and we just don't know what to do about it.  So we close schools, stay off work and yet still manage to block most main roads by abandoning our cars as soon as the first flakes hit our windscreens.

"OMG we're under attack by that white for the hills.  Oh sod it, there's even more up there !"

Of course, being retired like wot I am, I had stocked up on food and so I sat it all out in the comfort of my centrally heated house. I watched the rush hour chaos from my cosy recliner chair and living room window and even enjoyed the sight of a few showoffs going by on skis pulling their spoilt offspring on sledges.

It was 4 cms of snow on a Leeds residential street for goodness sake.....not exactly the Iditarod trail !

Sadly it didn't last long. At its worst in my street, this was the scene and I think you can tell which was my car !  Told you I didn't go anywhere.

As these final two photos show, it was a case of here today and gone tomorrow as these were taken 24 hrs apart. The thaw had already started in the first one as evidenced by the lack of snow on the cars.

So it was fun while it lasted and snow was part of the reason I wanted to spend winter here at home after 10 years of spending them in America, mostly in Florida.  Mad ?  Probably, but I do like snow covered scenes.

Obviously I do miss the sun and warmth but hey, maybe we'll have a great summer as I plan on exploring this undiscovered country and good weather would be very nice.

Right, more updates to follow and I have to say, it's good to be back...........

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