Posted by: phynbarr | April 14, 2016

UPS (non) service

UPS logo.jpg

You absolute shower of plonkers. You couldn’t organise a p**s up in a brewery if you bought and paid for it. It has reached the point where we will enquire of any retailer(this is where you come in Ray-Ban)  if they use you as couriers and will refuse to deal with them if they reply in the affirmative.


Days we waited for a delivery. Days we had excuse after pointless excuse. One of which was that we didn’t provide a street address when WE DON’T HAVE A STREET ADDRESS. And you knew it because we told your helpdesk so when we rang when you failed to deliver the first time.


And when we go away for a few days THEN you deliver. But not the house. Oh no, that would be too simple, too easy and too efficient by far. No your driver decided the best thing to do would be to leave the goods at the end of the drive, in the pouring rain, under a recycling bin. Hettie will provide photographic evidence as we could not believe our eyes. Not only that, the tracking information said they had been signed for. Which is a good trick if you can do it from 300 miles away!


You can imagine how impressed we were with this service. Or may be you can’t. Because if you could imagine then you wouldn’t be providing this sorry excuse of a service that passes for what UPS thinks is it’s USP.



We are equally unimpressed that calls for assistance from the highest level of UPS have been comprehensively ignored.  You obviously couldn’t give a rat’s a**e about the business you allegedly run

UPS logo.jpg

Posted by: phynbarr | April 7, 2016

The country I live in now

Have we in the UK EVER been ruled (and I use the word circumspectly) by such a corrupt government?  I think back over the politicians of my lifetime – and I can remember Churchill’s death.  I was only 10 at the time so politics wasn’t a burning interest of mine.  In fact I can confess that politics has NEVER been a burning interest of mine.  I have voted in every election I was eligible for but the argy-bargy and hurly-burly of political argument has never been attractive.


However, back to the point


I remember the governments of Wilson and Callaghan and the Winter of Discontent of 1979.

Say what you will about Margaret Thatcher – and I frequently do – her politics was driven by ideology and a vision that things could be different if not better.  Following her departure we were treated by an ever-diminishing cavalcade of Margaret mini-me’s which culminated in the arrival of . . . .


The Blair and Brown Years!  Here we begin to see the developing glint of self-interest in the eyes of senior politicians.  Brown I will excuse.  I think he was driven by a desire for the top job but not the lining of his pockets so amply demonstrated by Cherie.

And then the pendulum swung (If it’s “swung” not ”swang”, why is it ”hanged” not “hung? Will I ever grasp my own language?) back to the blue end.


Initially modified by access to the yellow of the LibDems we were gulled and beguiled into thinking that life would continue.  Now unshackled, the true grasping nature of those at the helm is revealed.  Never has there been a crew so motivated by what they can get out of their positions for themselves and their cronies.  No-one who cared a single jot or iota would compel the state education system into private ownership.  Nor jeopardise the health of its country currently being crippled by lack of access to funds because PAYE is expected to pick up the tab for every bit on infrastructure we rely on from trains to roads to power.


Multi-nationals and those with trusts in Panama don’t expect to pay for the actual underlying support structure of the countries they parasite on (is that a verb?).  They hop, crawl and slink off to somewhere that pays less .  And less,.  And less. Neither knowing nor caring that the wheel will turn and the countries they are supposed to represent will eventually end up and the bottom of the pile


What does it matter to them?  They will smoothly depart on their luxury yachts to Elsewhere

Posted by: phynbarr | August 1, 2015

Of chickens and elephants

My mother used to say that if you pressed a chicken’s head down so that the beak touched the ground and drew a line away from the beak with chalk, the chicken would stay there.  Until it starved to death she reckoned.  Wikipedia says (so it must be true) that this is “tonic immobility” and can last up to 30 minutes.  Happens with rabbits as well.  Don’t mistake immobility and compliance with willingness and cooperation.  Those under threat learn early the benefits of stillness.

It is also said that elephant if chained as a calf will remain shackled for life even when it grows adult enough to be able to easily rip apart the chain and anything it may be attached to.  It has learned helplessness.

So it is with people.  Only we absorb our shackles internally.  They are rarely visible but they are just as powerful.  Lessons we take in before we can speak or walk and those that are given to us along the way. Like the elephant and the chicken, they may help us survive.

But do the chicken or the elephant or the person ever fully shake off those bonds?  If you removed every fetter would that elephant cub ever be free?

Can we reverse the tide?  Can learned helplessness become unlearned . . . . . . . . .  What is the opposite of helplessness?  Power? Confidence?  Authority?  Or are we as shaped by our circumstances as the cliffs by the sea?lulworth-cove-and-durdle

Posted by: phynbarr | June 14, 2015


It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.  And that, in itself, is indicative of the hole I find myself in right now

Is it going to be like previous occasions when I knew that something was wrong but chose not to see it, not to act on it?

Or is this situation going to be different?  Do I really not know, am I really unable to discern a way forward?  THE way forward?

So what are the facts of the case?

Here I am, halfway through a Foundation Degree in Animal Behaviour & Psychology; enjoying the relevant stuff I’m learning  but unsure (to say the least!)about all the other “fluff” that goes round it.  Personal Employability Skills Development.  Business Skills.  I’m not saying I’m acing them with high scores, but . . . .

So on the one side of that particular set of scales, I have a track record of starting things and not completing them and on the other, the strong desire to so any form of learning and get the animal behaviour  and/or nutrition knowledge.

So what is more important?  Get the degree and actually completing something or getting the knowledge that will actually be useful to me?

Then there’s another set of scales.  The financial one.  Yes, I have sufficient capital to wait it out for another year.  Finish my degree, consider my future, not grasp at that bird hovering so close to my hand but wait and see if there is anything in that bush.  Staring that in the face is the fact that bush could be empty and no amount of waiting will fill it in a year’s time or any time.  So I could end up still waiting, with rising property prices and less to spend.

And the final set of scales is location.  The fact is, I like it here.  I love the landscape, Tavy’s OK, Plymouth’s nearby.  Not only do I have reservations about the actual cattery at Chudleigh, I’m not even sure I like the town (village?).  It is closer to Exeter and virtually on the A38.  And yes, and yet, I keep resisting.

I need to respect my instincts, that way they grow more reliable.  And everything is shouting to stay here.  I have the very meagre beginnings of a social circle.  Yes, I know I could start again elsewhere as I started here

But, but, but, but

So having dumped my conscious brain, let’s see what’s left

Is this just an elaborate form of procrastination?  Or is there some real justification?  Is this “instinct” just a huge excuse to do nothing, NOT to commit to anything.  At all.  Ever.  To avoid a mistake by doing nothing?

But that’s not sustainable in the long term.  I can’t sit here forever making excuses

So let’s try looking at this a different way

When I look at moving to Chudleigh, the wall rears up and the brakes come on.  Is that instinct or avoidance?

When I look at moving to a different part of the UK, the same thing happens. (New Zealand is still tempting but such a long way from any form of support)

When I contemplate my degree I am reluctant to go back to Newquay – the driving was expensive and punishing and some of the teaching was woeful – and yet I am equally reluctant to give it up.  To be honest, people are impressed at a soon-to-be sixty-year old going back into education and that provide a little warmth.

Distance training in behaviour and/or nutrition looks ever-so-slightly dodgy.  What confidence can I have in the information they are providing?  Mind you, Newquay is accredited with Plymouth University and, after this year, what confidence do I have in some of the information THEY have provided?

But do I want to pore over academic journals and be castigated for not putting “et al” in italics and become an academic?  Does a BSC and a PhD appeal.  Weeeelll, much as the warmth of being at Uni at all does

Or do I want hands-on, practical knowledge.  Am I just a hands-on, practical person?

And here’s another source of worry.  Do I have the confidence, the ability, the chutzpah to be a consultant anyway?  If I do, wouldn’t I have become a consultant facilitator?  What if it all goes horribly wrong and  my advice only makes things worse?  Will I be responsible?  Yes, I know I will feel responsible, but that[s not the question I’m asking.

So what else do I know?   I know I don’t want to buy some dismal 2 up, 2 down and survive on a diminishing pension.  I have been robbed of one future and I now have a clean sheet of paper to write my own  The very thought of buying a house and sitting there doing . . . . . want exactly?

And when I stopped house hunting and determined on a cattery, it was SUCH a relief.

The trouble is, my perfect kennels sticks in my mind as the perfect opportunity that I let slip through my fingers.  It is close to Tavy but not in a town.  It is close to a main road but down a side road.  The house is set back on the property .  all of which means the cats and any future pets should be proof from road accidents if nothing else

It was already a thriving business and it had space to expand : move the kennels, build a daycare centre, improve the cat accommodation, etc., etc.

And it has gone.  Indisputably. Unequivocally. Inevitably.  Gone.  G O N E. Hankering won’t bring it back and the likelihood of it coming back on the market in 1, 5 or 10 years is so slim as to be dismissed.

So.  My alternatives and choices

Grit my teeth, but the cattery at Chudleigh.  Make a go of it        Meh

Continue studying for a degree                                                                 Hmmm

See if the bank will fund the purchase of suitable premises for development
Well that would be OK if such premises existed.

Buy myself that little 2 up 2 down and tell myself off for being so silly as to think I could ever make something else work..  disappoint myself, disappoint Hettie and prove Voldemort  totally and completely right.  A am that failure.

So has this helped at all?  Nope.  Just sounds like so much self-indulgent twaddle


As the late, great Dave Allen would have said.  If you have been, thanks for listening

Posted by: phynbarr | March 28, 2015

Project Zero

Been thinking about the flight that went down in the Alps recently and the comments on PPrune about the pressures pilots are put under – “buy your own training”, and the consequent debt, no job certainty, do more in less hours – and it’s such a familiar tune.


My own daughter, graduated with a 2:1 degree and is running herself ragged in 2 service industry jobs barely making a wage let alone a living wage.  And she’s not an isolated incident, many of her contemporaries are in the same boat, working far below their education level, swimming in debt incurred by 3 or 4 years of education, no prospect of saving enough to get on the housing ladder.  Even if you could afford a mortgage.


What have we done to and for future generations?


Those old enough to have walked out of university having used a grant and into a job and unbroken, ever-upward career appear to fail to appreciate just what and how little faces people getting into jobs these days.


And it’s not just their current situation, their future is hopelessly compromised with no company pension pot and a later and much diminished state pension.  I wonder, as an aside if the current “sanctions” will be applied to pensioners soon?  “I’m sorry you are ancient, blind and infirm, but you failed to apply for 6 jobs this week and didn’t totter 10 miles into town to collect your pension Mrs Blah.  I’m afraid you’re gong to have to manage without again”


I think the rot set in when computer became a business tool and the accountants took control of the board.  Now they could calculate where every penny went, it became apparent that your workers were far from an asset but an expense.  Wasn’t it about the same time that “Personnel” was replaced by “Human Resources”?  And you have to work those resources until they squeak.


We’re all too in thrall to those big organisations that seem to have lost any ounce of compassion or understanding.  as long as my job’s all right, Jack, I don’t care if you go home without the expectation of the same wage every week, let alone a decent wage.  and if we don’t want you, then we’ll subvert employment law and reduce your hours until you are forced to leave just to get paid somewhere else.  Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!


And government is in thrall to them too.  Sees people as “assets” to make money out of, not a society where supporting the weakest members benefits us all incalculably(is that a word?).  Where showing by example how to support others demonstrates our expectations from and to each other.


As the organisations get bigger and bigger and more and more multinational they care less and less about responsibilities.  You want to charge us tax?  We’ll just keep moving our taxable address around so you can’t catch up with us.  You want us not to test on animals, we’ll find somewhere in disarray where we can  pay for the privilege of doing what we like.  Paying below a living wage, making people work inhuman hours in inhuman conditions so a that someone can buy a new top from Primark every week.


I know I exaggerate, but not by much.  And the trend, the rot, is going in that direction.  How soon before exaggeration becomes truth?


So that pilot.  I don’t know the truth.  And neither, let’s be honest, does anyone else.  Its’convenient to make a scapegoat out of someone who may have had  psychological problems in the past (and if you haven’t, you’re a robot) who had their last emotional support knocked away from them and isn’t here to defend or explain themselves.  Even as a relatively uninformed citizen I can think of reasons why someone would appear to continue to breathe normally whilst physically incapacitated although I admit the blocked door does pose questions.


But I do feel the truth lies more deeply and the fingers should be pointing more at those over-stuffed fat cats who may have created situations like this.  and I fear this won’t be the last occasion where over-stretched people take a final revenge against unwilling and unwitting bystanders.


Get out of the corporations now!  Go back to self-employment where you can be the master of your own destiny and not the tool of someone else’s


sorry, I feel this is less coherent than usual so may comeback to edit as thoughts settle

Posted by: phynbarr | January 18, 2015

Yes but

Sitting here in tears because.

Because I am looking to buy a cattery and I let the one I really loved slip through my fingers

I fought so hard and did so much and then gave up at the final hurdle and Now it’s gone and I’m having to settle for second best.  Again

My head is saying yes but, the sale of the house. Yes but, servicing the mortgage, yes but, yes but, yes but

Yes but I gave up.  I abandoned myself.  I could have all that I wanted in the world.  A lovely house in a perfect location  (for me) earning a decent living. And I let myself down

You can call it self-sabotage or whatever but I am so tired of settling for second or third or fouth best.

And it’s all down to me

Posted by: phynbarr | December 24, 2014

This can’t go on.  I can’t go on.


My life and relationships are a landscape of lost and wasted opportunities and the whole social convention of living is a huge waste of time.


there are no spirits or angels or gods.  the universe is a place of randomness and my place in it is utterly pointless


Nothing will ever change


and so it’s time to go

Posted by: phynbarr | December 9, 2014

Cats and pancreatits

Just a word from the beginning.  I am not a veterinary or medical professional, I have no training in animal welfare, all I am about to say comes from my personal experience with one cat.  So please, if you think my story bears investigation in your own circumstances, then please do your own research and talk to your professional advisors.  Personally, I think there is scope for investigation and research here, but I am not currently in a position to carry this out.

First, the story

In June 2010, my Siamese cat had 3 male kittens.


The smallest and youngest had problems from the start and had to be fed supplement.  He also had fits at around 6 – 7 weeks of age and there were doubts he would survive.  But survive he did and, typically, it was this cat my daughter wanted us to keep.  So we did and he was called Moth (the original plan was to call the kittens Moth, Peaseblossom and Mustard Seed but being three males it didn’t really stick).

Moth was fine for a couple of years.  He was skinny little thing but then many Siamese are and there were no obvious medical problems.  Until I left the cats in a cattery while we went on holiday.  On our return the cattery owners said they thought one of the cats had been ill but they couldn’t be sure which (they were all in the same pen on my naive belief that they would be happier that way.  More later).  I could tell at an instant who was ill and he was off to the vet as soon as I could make an appointment.  Luckily.  This was my first introduction to a cat diagnosed with possible irritable bowel syndrome in cats and definitely pancreatitis.  With care, fluids and steroids he came through and were told he would have to be on a special diet for life.


And it was true, if he ate what the other cats ate he became quite ill quite quickly and life became trying as I tried to continue to feed him separately from the rest.  In the end, I put them all on this specialist and highly expensive diet food and they were all truly unimpressed.

In the meantime I was investigating pancreatitis, what caused it, how to deal with it and finding either blank walls or utter contradiction and becoming confused and fed up with it all.

There were more bouts of pancreatitis and it was becoming clear that stress was a factor in kicking it off.  And Moth’s health was not improving; he remained a stringy little thing with no more flesh on him that a wishbone.  So my investigations continued and by following lead after lead I eventually came up with this website (Cat Nutrition) and the phrase that would change my investigative direction and understanding about cat health for the future


What exactly is an obligate carnivore?  I think this can answer that question better than I can and in more detail but basically it comes down to the fact that cats are not designed to digest anything to meat.

That was the first revelation.  The second came as I traipsed up and down aisle after supermarket aisle looking for a commercial cat food that contained just meat.  Do you know how many I found?  Very few.  And what was worse, in looking at the contents described on the labels in detail it appeared that many commercial cat foods not only contained cereals but also sugars in various guises ( as a side note, just because it doesn’t actually say “sugar” do not be fooled.  Look for anything end in “ose” – dextrose, fructose – and you are looking at sugar.  Even oligosaccharides are complicit in the sugaring of otherwise unpalatable contents.  And vets complain about the epidemic levels of obesity and dental problems in pets!

That brings me to another issue – your veterinary professional.  Now don’t get me wrong, these individuals have spent many years going through their training and would not be in the profession at all if they did not care for the health and welfare of our pets and other companion animals.  However, it is a generally accepted truth (which I cannot, in all honesty, vouch for) that diet and nutrition gets very little space on the packed agenda of veterinary training and is often undertaken with or by pet food manufacturers.  Personally, I would be very careful about permitting organisations potentially with a vested interest or agenda to do MY training but the result is that many vets come out of training with a somewhat skewed perception.   So if you are looking at feeding your animal something other than a commercially available pet food – choose your vet wisely.  And remember that whilst they may advise from the professional knowledge you and only you are finally responsible for the health and welfare of your pet and are entitled to make your own choices.

Where was I?  Oh yes, discovering that many commercial pet foods on the supermarket shelves contained cereals and worse.  But I had also discovered websites dedicated to feline nutrition

I had nothing to lose in trying the diets offered and at least if it was biologically appropriate I could give it to all my cats without worrying about the expense or the consequences.


It became apparent that to the purists the cat owner should prepare the raw diet from basic ingredients.  This was a problem for me as not only did I not have the time or equipment of mince and rinse to prepare fresh food, I also had 4 little sugar addicts who were deeply unimpressed at being asked to give up their nice sweet diet.

Here’s something else I learned along the road


Unlike dogs who can be allowed to become hungry enough to eat, cats will very rapidly become ill with fatty liver syndrome or feline hepatic lipidosis if allowed to go without food.  It can happen very quickly – within days.  Check out this site and seek out your own information as well to confirm this.

The nub of this is that changing the diet of a cat cannot take place suddenly and, if they don’t like the change and won’t eat it, the consequences can be substantial.  My little sugar addicts were a case in point and after several false starts I found a formula that worked.  First of all I had to find a commercial cat food that was purely meat based.  Fortunately I had a sympathetic vet who offered suggestions and advice.  I am not a veterinary professional so whilst I can tell you what worked for me, PLEASE do not take this as advice but work with your pets and your professionals to find out what works for you.  I ended up using a combination of Nature’s Menu pouches (they despise the chicken with salmon and tuna but mostly it goes down OK) and the Nutriment cat food.  The key that made all the difference was to mix it all together in a mulch and add warm water.  They do like their food warm and, when you think about it, if you were catching your prey it would mostly be eaten at body temperature.  I also add some supplements to ensure they are getting enough taurine (an amino acid cats cannot get from anywhere else but their food) and some salmon oil for essential fatty acids.  Again, cats are obligate carnivores and would get their fatty acids from an animal source.  My understanding is that they cannot absorb seed oils (flax seed, evening primrose etc.) so avoid those.

I also feed little and often.  Remember that prey.  It is unlikely that a cat would settle down to a huge meal and their stomachs are comparatively tiny.  This can cause problems if you’re out at work and in the summer with flies but we’ve managed.  Mostly.

Where are we now?  We have our ups and downs.  Some days food gets rejected and I have to go back to basics and work out why.  One I thought they might be bored with endless beef or chicken and tried a new supplier.  That went down like a lead balloon and I was quickly back with the one they knew and trusted with a lot of wasted food to find a new home for.  Moth is now a substantial cat with a lovely coat.  He still gets pancreatitis occasionally but I am aware that the main trigger is now stress and do what I can to avoid it.  For instance, he recently got a scratch on his forearm and licked it raw.  The vet used an Elizabethan collar to keep him away from it and his stress levels hit the roof.  That was an interesting situation to deal with.



I wouldn’t go back to commercial cat food.  Not only because I now know that cats are obligate carnivores and it contains cereals and other products (investigate carrageenan) which are counter-productive to my pets’ health but also because they are just better for it.  Is it more expensive?  Possibly, but if you factor in the vet’s bills I was getting to treat pancreatitis which – as a pre-existing condition now – is not covered by insurance – I am quids in.

I also think there is mileage in undertaking proper research into the number of cats which appear to be suffering this horrible condition.   Like dental and obesity problems is it an indicator of what’s in our pet food?  Can it be that some cats (and it does appear to affect highly bred breeds such as Siamese) cannot tolerate the quantity of cereal in their diet and are quietly suffering IBS which ends up as pancreatitis?

As I said at the beginning, I am not a veterinary professional, this is one person’s experience with one cat.  I would ask you to look closely at what is in your cat’s food and not just the commercial brands on the supermarket shelf.  Look at the specialist diet you may have been “prescribed” and check that it is fit for purpose.

And I wish you and your cats the best of health and a long and happy life

Posted by: phynbarr | October 30, 2014

There are times

increasing times when I just wonder


wonder why I don’t just turn off the light, close the door and move on


It is all so pointless and I don;t ever see that changing

Posted by: phynbarr | September 4, 2014

Just thinkin’

I guess I should preface this posting with the recognition that whilst I am not enamoured of my current situation that I am hugely conscious that my situation is SO much better than that of many others,  I have discovered the real strength and meaning of good family and good friends and, whatever the future holds, I relish and cherish that.

That said, it has felt a supremely crap week and I’m not even sure why I am writing this other than I was “provoked” by reading this

Before I go on, I think I should clarify that any “crapness” has been entirely internally generated.  Well, mostly.  Being turned down for a waitressing job at a local café certainly didn’t help but, even then, one could say that it was my internal reaction to that “rejection” that was at issue rather than the lack of employment itself.

couldn’t “one” 😛

I suspect, looking back, that I was blessed in my youth (gawd, listen to her, would I really talk like this?) NOT to have been pretty.  Certainly not beautiful.  Or bright, or clever, or charming, or persuasive or wanted or anything at all really.  

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t feel like a blessing at the time.  But it has certainly meant that my expectations of society and society’s expectations of me have been suitably . . . . . . levelled.

It has also meant that I am capable of appreciating my own company.  If I want to go for a walk or to the cinema or shopping there is absolutely no expectation or requirement to be accompanied.  

I certainly never expected to have relationships or get married.  It was always going to be down to me.  So the fact that the marriage eventually broke down should really have been just a matter of course and not the devastating and surprising blow it turned out to be.

And, thereagain, in that situation, the resilience – early learned – has turned out to be a blessing.  Expectations lowered to “none” rather than “stun” and life trundles on again. 


So what did I intend by writing this small piece?


Not sure really.  It just seemed like something which needed to be said.  That it must be hellishly difficult for the <insert adjective here- beautiful, clever etc> to resist the siren songs of admiration from the rest of the world.  And why would they?  Where is the benefit in not fitting in and being the odd one out?  The geek in glasses

Except that I have long felt that it is actually very difficult if you have been lauded as “clever” from an early age, and effortlessly leapt every hurdle, to manage and deal with inevitable setbacks that will litter every life – no matter how gilded.  What feels like a rubbish experience of having to work hard for all you achieve means that you have generated resources that will serve you better in the long term


But then you knew all that, didn’t you?  It’s been said before from before Rudyard Kipling and since.  I’m sure even Lao Tse Tung chipped in at some point.

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