Une, Deux, Trois, Cat Cinq!

After the arrival of the ginger fluffball that is Tango we decided (or rather Sarah told me) that that was enough cats – we hadn’t intended to have 4 it just sort of happened – most of them have come from Freecycle which is where this story starts. It’s the sort of story that makes you wonder what goes on in the world and so far fetched that if it had been told to me I wouldn’t have believed it!

I saw this advert on Freecycle for a professional video monitor, the sort you use in edit suites it said, so I asked for it as I only had a small portable TV in my shed where my editing equipment is. A couple of days later I got an e-mail saying that the person who it had originally been offered to hadn’t turned up to collect it so would I still like it. As it was in Beckenham I went round after work to collect it. I arrived earlier than I thought so the lady who answered the door had to find where her husband had put it. Eventually she tracked it down to their shed and I took it and went home.

When I got home I took the tv out of the shed and replaced it with the monitor, it worked great and the advantage of it was that the top was flat so I could put other equipment on top of it. I also decided that I didn’t need the CD player either as I now had the DVD player I originally bought for the garage at the Big Blue House that had been on semi-permanent loan to Lissi’s room.  So I put an advert on Freecycle for them.

The CD player went a couple of days later to the second person who I offered it to. There had been someone who asked for the TV but they never came back to me so I offered it to a lady called Dee who said she would collect it on Monday night. However she rang me to ask if she could collect on Tuesday PM instead. I had intended to bring the TV in to the house but as so many people don’t turn up I left it in the shed.

The following night I left work and went to Tesco to put some petrol in my car but for some reason the petrol station was shut so I headed off to go to the next one. Unfortunately I didn’t make it and I ran out of petrol in Bromley. I took my can and walked to a petrol station got a fivers worth and headed back to the car. I put some of it in the tank and then drove to a petrol station on my way home which was absolutely packed out and I had to wait ages. Sarah rang me and told me the lady had turned up for the TV, which I had forgotten about. I thought if only I had brought it in or if I’d told Sarah where it was but Sarah had told the lady to come back in an hour.

So just after I got home there was a ring on the doorbell and I answered it. I went to get the TV and when I came back the lady started to talk about the house, saying it was a similar size and layout to her’s up on the top road. I asked if she meant Rainham Road and she said yes, I then told her we used to live on Rainham road.  The conversation continued when she said that she had off street parking (it’s a very busy road) and I told that we had too and told her we used to live in the Big Blue House. It was at that point she said something that completely knocked the wind out of me……

She said “Oh you lived there, I think we have your cat!”

A couple of months before we had moved out of the Big Blue House Sarah’s cat Pasta disappeared. She had had that cat since both the cat and her daughter were 18 months old which means she had her for almost 10 years. When she disappeared we knew she wasn’t very well as we had taken her to the vets a day earlier after we had come home from holiday to find somebody had been feeding her while we were away. She had had gum problems a few weeks earlier and she had been given antibiotics which had improved her and we were feeding her special food to stop her mouth from becoming sore again. We had left a friend to look after her while we were away, they were feeding her and she was able to get into our garage if she needed shelter (she had always been an outdoor cat and hated being kept in) – she wasn’t being neglected in any way. Whoever fed her while we were away had made the condition flare up again.

At first when she disappeared we thought that whoever had been feeding her must have taken her. We rang the RSPCA, vets etc but without any luck. We waited hoping that she would reappear, getting more concerned about her not having the antibiotics. As time passed we reluctantly came to the conclusion that she wasn’t coming back and we thought that she must have gone off somewhere and died. All of us were very upset especially the kids. They have been out searching for her since she had gone missing and up until this day one of them still looked for her and often said that she thought she has seen her.

So I was quite taken aback with this piece of news. The woman continued to ramble on about “her cat” and how she had taken her from our garage roof and then contacted the Cat’s Protection League to get them to pay for the vets bills. I couldn’t believe how proud she seemed of all of this and when she left (with the TV) I noticed that the living room window was open. When I went back in I asked Sarah what she had heard of the conversation and when I outlined it to her she was absolutely livid. She was so taken aback by this news that she didn’t know what to do. She posted on her forum gabble garden to ask what other people might do. The woman then sent me a mms picture of the cat – I couldn’t believe it – she actually seemed quite proud of the fact that she had stolen our cat.

It’s very annoying to think that while we were going through the pain of losing the cat she was only a few doors away. We really can’t understand why someone would simply take someone’s cat, no matter how concerned they were and not even attempt to let the owners know they had her. It’s odd but the daughter who often says she has seen her goes to Chatham Grammar school which is right behind the row of houses – so maybe she has been right all along. They must have kept her in for some time because it was August when she went missing and we didn’t move house until October.

Anyway to cut a long story short we asked for them to return the cat which they did yesterday. As Sarah said if she didn’t and it later came out that we had known where she was the kids would have been really upset. I did consider briefly how it would upset the woman but at the end of the day she didn’t have to tell us, she could have just thought to herself “Oh my god these are the people whose cat I took ” and made a swift exit. The question had to be asked – if she knew it was our cat why didn’t she come and tell us she had her or just put a note through the door (she claimed she thought the house was empty). Once we knew she was alive and where she was we just couldn’t simply forget about it.

So that the whole weird story (it could only happen to me) – what amazes me through is the string of coincidences that lead to the outcome. If the first person had collected the monitor, if the first person had collected the TV, if she had come on the Monday night, if I had brought the tv into the house, if I hadn’t ran out of petrol, if we hadn’t got talking,  if she hadn’t mentioned Rainham road or off street parking. There were so many times that if the outcome of one small thing had been different we would never have known about Pasta let alone got her back.

And then there were five!!!!!

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Woolworths – Worthit Webcam

When Woolworths was closing down I bought one of their Worth it webcams in the sale. I loaded the software onto my laptop and put the camera and all the bits into my laptop bag. When I looked a while later the CD with the drivers on was broken. Shortly after that I wanted to set up the webcam on one of the PC’s at home so I plugged it in. Needless to say Windows didn’t have the drivers so I searched on the internet for them but to no avail – all I seemed to find was posts from other people in the same situation – so I gave up!

Then last week I decided to have another go and after some detective work I discovered that the camera was made by a company called Pixart and was actually called a Easy Snap Snake Eye Webcam. Incidentally the camera seems to have been sold by other supermarkets such as Tesco as part of their value range. I found the Pixart website but there were no drivers there. I lot of googling brought up a few sites but they were mostly Linux forums which would have been fine if I’d wanted to attach it to the Linux machine but I wanted to use the XP machine.

I then discovered that the webcams ID was 093a:2468 so I googled that and eventually I managed to find a file that looked hopeful. I transferred the file onto the PC I wanted to use and ran the exe file. Then I plugged the webcam in and bingo it worked. If you find yourself in the situation the bad news is that I can’t remember where I found the file but the good news is that if you need it I have put it here and you can get it by right clicking the link and selecting save link as.

This has been a public service announcement!

A tale of two health services

On Friday I was working at a stud farm in Newmarket and it was a very hot day. So hot that it was difficult to be outside for too long and I had to keep retreating into a tent which, although out of the burning sun, was still very hot. At the end of the event we waited for our van to arrive but it turned out to be nearly 2 and a 1/2 hours late. We waited, and although I had changed into shorts and a t-shirt by now, it was still very hot. Eventually I left Newmarket at about 4pm to head home.

While driving down the M11 I noticed that I had a dull ache in the area above my eyes. As I neared the M25 I started to feel a bit nauseous and I started to worry about the seafood I had eaten at lunchtime. About 7 miles away from the Dartford crossing I hit the back of a traffic jam and ground to a slow crawl and my nausea got worse. After a while I had to pull over onto the hard shoulder and get out of the car and vomit! I then got back into the car and started to drive but after a while I had to pull over and be sick again, and again and again!

It was just after I had been sick for the fourth time that a passing private ambulance stopped and asked if I was ok. I told them that I kept being sick and they offered to take me to the service area just down the road. The driver told me to hop in while her colleague drove my car to the service area. They dropped me beside the petrol station, parked me in the shade and gave me some water, two of those cardboard things to be sick in and some tissue. They even asked the lady in the petrol station to keep an eye out for me.

After a while I needed to go to the toilet and as the ones in the garage were out of order I walked over to the main part of the services. While I was in there I was sick again and when I sat down I felt all faint and almost couldn’t get up again. There was sweat literally dripping off me and my arms had a film of liquid all over them.  Eventually I managed to get up and get back to the car where I drank some water which bounced a few minutes later. I had been speaking to Sarah on and off and she was aware of what was going on and obviously concerned. In fact she was so concerned she phoned an ambulance.

I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open and was sitting in the car with my back to the open door and my eyes closed. A Paramedic arrived and while he was asking me how I was feeling I was sick again at his feet, luckily he’d got out of the way in time. He took my pulse, blood sugar etc and told me he thought I was suffering from heat stroke and that as I was unable to keep water down I was becoming very dehydrated. he said it would be best if he got me to a hospital and said that he thought they would put me on a drip to get some fluids into me.

He called for an ambulance and told me I could either go to Basildon, which was about 15 miles away or to Darent Valley which was just over the Dartford bridge in Kent. Sarah suggested that I go for the latter as it meant I would be in Kent and be easier for her if she needed to get to me. So I was put in the back of the ambulance, where I was strapped into a chair (I had been hoping for the bed as all I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep)  and had all my vital signs monitored again while we crossed the Dartford bridge.

On arrival at the hospital they took me to the emergency admissions area where they talked to the lady on the desk. She dismissed us with a movement of  her head indicating the normal accident and emergency reception. We went through the doors and I was told to sit down while they checked me in. I did so and as I sat there on the hard wooden seats again all I wanted to do was sleep. I curled myself up into a ball around my bag and drifted in and out of sleep.

Then I heard my name being called and went through to the triage section where I had my blood pressure and temperature taken and had to tell my story to the nurse. She then told me she was sending me to the “urgent cases” section where I would be seen quicker.  She took the print out from the computer and went off to photocopy it. She then handed me the photocopy and pointed me in the right direction. The battery on my phone had gone dead so I looked on the form to see if there was a time on it. It said 9:35 and I realised that I had been there for almost 2 hours and that Sarah hadn’t heard from me in that time.

I rang her from my company mobile and told her what was happening (nothing basically) and then went and sat in the Urgent case waiting area. Well it must have been  a new meaning of the word urgent because there was nothing very urgent about anything that was going on in there. In one room two nurses could be seen chatting for about 40 minutes, in another a man sat reading the newspaper and no one was being seen. A couple behind me had their daughter who had a gash in her head. They had been sent from A&E to have the wound glued. After about 40 minutes they were called by the Doctor only to return 2 minutes later saying he had told them it need glueing!

In all only 3 people were seen in the hour and a half I was there. I had been sitting near a water dispenser so had tried to drink some. When that stayed down I continued to drink water and after about an hour I started to feel fine again. I rang Sarah and she said that I should wait to be seen so I told her I’d wait another 30 minutes. When 30 minutes passed I told her I wanted to come home and she suggested that I tell someone I was going. This turned out to be difficult as there was no one behind the counter. Another girl who was waiting said she had been there for 15 minutes just trying to check into the department. A woman was in the back office and appeared to be doing something on a PC but even though this girl was speaking quite loudly she didn’t come out.

I then went and approached the nurse who had been sitting in one of the treatment rooms since I arrived. It was her that had seen 3 patients and was now sitting doing paperwork. I explained what had happened and how I had been brought in by ambulance because they were worried I was dehydrated  and that the only rehydration I had received was self administered from the water cooler. She dismissed the ambulance service saying what would they know, they will always bring you in if you call them (this was not true as I was given the option of going to the hospital). She also explained that they were really busy and that I was waiting to see the Doctor so she couldn’t help me.

I told her all I wanted to do was go home, have a shower and clean my teeth and go to bed. She said that was up to me but she couldn’t say it was ok. I asked her if I should inform anyone I was leaving but the answer was no. I left the room and on my way out I spotted a sign asking people to be patient as they had just introduced a new computer system – surely it couldn’t be this that was causing the inactivity so evident in the department.

I found my way to the front door where I explained my situation to the man on the front desk. he looked at his watch and with a disinterested shrug said “it’ll have to be a taxi” and pointed at the phone. I rang a cab and went back to my car and proceeded to drive home.