Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I ate another Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bar. I can't control myself. I know there's nothing really nutritous about them and I know they don't even taste all that good and they're small. But somehow I keep buying them. I think it must be their shiny packets.

I’m so tired today and still have tons to do :-( so obviously writing my blog is going to help me get through it faster. At the moment I have a list of the 600 most popular intranet searches for the last month and my job is to recreate the search, decide whether the most relevant resource comes in the top 3, record the URL etc and if the results are bad, find the most appropriate resource (it’s lucky I’m a pretty damn hot searcher) and then fuck about with metadata to get it into the top 3. Two points are clear from this:-

1) I must have done something pretty serious in a previous life to deserve this. Alternatively I may have been really dull and the Gods of the Eternal Wheel of Life think they are rewarding me.

2) Users are stupid. I know this is not a revelation for anyone in the IT world but the two most popular searches are " test " and " * " which together account for nearly 5 times as many searches as the next most popular search. And entering " manage* " or " form " isn’t going to get them very far either.

But why am I so tired – mostly because I couldn’t sleep. I was actually in bed by midnight but sleep was not forthcoming. So I got up and watched some TV. Then back to bed but no sleep. Watched a DVD in bed – still no good. Read Battle Angel Alita – just made me feel a tad queasy. This is why 2.15am found me alphabetizing the spice rack in the kitchen. I didn’t know there were so many herbs and spices that began with the letter ‘c’.

I’m generally not too bad on the insomnia front but sometimes it comes at me with avengance. I think I’m stressing about my upcoming trip to Japan. It’s supposed to be a holiday and is mostly pretty sorted, but I’m feeling broke right now and worried about overspending – even tho I know Japan is not that expensive anymore. Plus I really don’t want to make any hideous faux pas at the Onsen / Ryokan / anywhere really. I’m sure I’ll be fine when I get there. 48 hours from now I should (hopefully) be somewhere over Kazakhstan. YAY.

I quite like the idea of myFantasyLondon - you could go adventuring in other peoples and generally enjoy London as it should be instead of the bubo that it is.

Five things in myFantasyLondon

1) Tubes that ran 24/7
2) Pedestrianise The Embankment and put some cafes on it.
3) Accomodation for the homeless
4) Return The Sun and 13 Cantons to the way it was before they ruined it.
5) Inhabited Bridges (this rocks)

Monday, September 29, 2003

I found this at goingunderground and thought it was pretty eerie. It's almost like a gallery of the lost souls of the underground - doomed to look at a sign saying 'Edgeware 1 minute' for all eternity.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was on the tv last night so of course I watched it again for about the 25 millionth time and it made me laugh as much as ever. The scene where they drive the wrong way down the freeway is one of my Mothers all time funniest ever sequences. Unbelievably its 16 years old - seems like another world - Steve Martin was still funny and John Candy was still alive. It's also a kind of watershed - between 1984 and 1987 (3 years!!) John Hughes made or wrote the following movies :- Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Since then nothing but shit.

In that list alone there are three totally standout movies for me :-

The Breakfast Club. I got this out of the video shop with my sister and it was the first time we had agreed on anything. You could almost say it marked a sea change in our relaionsip [ from actively murderous to sneeringly tolerant ;-) ].

Ferris Bueller. I saw this when it came out with Mr C and we both thought it was fantastic. I was in Chicago last New Year and naturally had to go the Art Institute just because Ferris, Cameron & Sloan did. I too have zoned out at A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte à la Cameron. Plus of course I had a major thing for Mia Sara.

16 Candles. I never saw this at the time but years later I was working for a certain dot com who shall remain nameless and was trapped in New York over the weekend. I knew nobody in town, my colleagues were GRIM - fully paid up 'I only wear black from Ralph Lauren' idiots, and I desperately wanted to be back in London with my chums. To cap it all off I had a truly horrific cold which together with the 100° heat kept me on the verge of conking out altogether. Anyway I managed to get out of the office by about 8 and got a cab all the way back uptown to the UN Plaza which I have to admit is not too shabby:-

So I crashed back in my room, turned the aircon up to 11, opened the curtains to get the view along 1st Avenue :

and watched 16 Candles while eating my way through $80 worth of expense account shrimp. And by the end of it I felt brilliant.

I guess the question is what happens to people? I don't suppose JH woke up one morning and thought "Hey I've made some of the best teen movies of all time so from now on I'm going to make nothing but stinkers."? And where did it all go wrong for Steve Martin : L.A. Story.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I love the Barbican - in my fantasy London it's where I would live. It’s just the most amazing conglomeration of apartments and public spaces all built around a long lake and 3 angular towers. Plus of course 3 theatres, a concert hall, a cinema, bars, restaurants, and a library. Probably a gym in there somewhere too if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat. OK – it can look a little bit neo-brutalist on first acquaintance and even it’s biggest fan would admit that finding your way around it if you don’t know exactly where you are and where you’re going is challenging at best and ‘Never mind we missed the start of our show – how do we get out of here’ impossible at worst. But I love it anyway.

The point of all this rambling is because myself, Mac, Hari & Hari’s Dad all managed to find each other without any difficulty last night – which is fairly unprecedented. OK we were late but we were all there. And we were all there to see Cosi Fan Tutte. I have sometimes been a bit disparaging of the opera. And I might have fallen asleep in Tristan & Isolde, but not last night. It was fantastic – just brilliant. Totally reminded me of why I go to the opera anyway. When it all comes together it’s utterly stunning - Mozart rules. Puccinni is Mozart’s bitch. It was an ENO performance so in English and for once the enunciation was sufficiently clear to actually be able to follow the plot. And because it’s Mozart it’s funny as well. ENO are hanging out at the Barbican while renovations are going on at the Coliseum. I hope that goes OK cos if they fuck it up they are in so much trouble. To describe ENO’s recent form as anything other than ‘troubled’ would be pretty generous. Not corruption – just wild incompetence and infighting. So good luck guys. If you can keep up performances like last night’s you’ll have no trouble.

Unfortunately your new season looks a bit shit.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

As I was lying in the bath this morning I made a mental list of everything that was in there and it really seemed rather excessive:

1 x Bath
1 x Shower
1 x Sink
1 x Bathroom cabinet & contents
1 x Radiator
2 x Toothbrushes
1 x Witch stick
1 x Tea tree oil gel
1 x King of Shaves Hypoallergenic shaving gel
1 x Deoderant
1 x CK1
1 x Dettol
1 x Rubber duck
1 x Mr Muscle Bathroom cleaner
1 x Cif foaming cream bathroom cleaner
1 x Foaming shaving gel
1 x Listerine
3 x Toothpaste
1 x Bath Oil
24 x Assorted shampoos, conditioners & shower gels
1 x Coal tar soap
1 x Bath soap
1 x Mystery blue thing
1 x E45
1 x Shelf
12 x Disposable Razors
1 x Gillette Mach 3 Turbo
1 x Gillette Sensor
1 x Giant sponge
2 x Pummice Stones
1 x Cup of tea
1 x Pan (me)

And this where it starts to get odd

1 x Clothes horse
1 x Shoe rack
1 x Picture of laughing hippo
1 x Bucket
1 x Washing up bowl full of BBQ gear
1 x Floor mop
2 x Brooms
1 x Stepladder (small)
1 x Rubbish basket
2 x Recycling trugs
1 x Boiler
1 x Chest of drawers & contents
1 x Wardrobe & contents
2 x Karrymats
2 x Tents
1 x Rucksack
3 x Live plants
1 x Dead plant
29 x Items of clothing
4 x Towels
1 x Iron
1 x Ironing Board
1 x Rug
1 x Electric Heater
1 x Grow your own bonsai kit
1 x Chair
1 x Suitcase
1 x Vacuum Cleaner
1 x Guitar
1 x Mattress

Mattress!! What kind of flat has a mattress in its bathroom? As you have no doubt surmised the bathroom is pretty big but still - something must be done about it. Also the mattress is not on the floor. It’s behind the wardrobe – we bring it out for guests.

In fact it’s a miracle that I was in the bathroom at all. Somehow I managed to leave my keys at work and couldn’t get in as Flatmate 1 is in Spain and 2 was out. Kinda embarrassing as Marise was with me and in the end we had to get a taxi to her place. Which she wanted to avoid as it’s full of builders and dust. Fortunately managed to get hold of fm2 this morning and she let me in. Have spare keys now. Its all because my routine got out of sync and I left my keys stuck in the desk draw at work. DOH. I hate losing stuff – I have (so far) never permanently lost my keys and I have lost my wallet exactly once. I got home after having been to Tarboush. It’s a great restaurant (despite its eery lack of web presence) but if you go in a large group it takes them a long time and you end up drinking A LOT. And its really pretty weird - you walk up 2 flights of narrow stairs and then through a permanently empty nightclub to get to it. But anyway I staggered back to Hampstead with Hari & Mac and suddenly realised I no longer had my wallet. So I rang the bank to cancel my cards. Slurred a lot but all fine. Then I rang the restaurant to ask if they had my wallet. Had a quick drink and Mac rang the restaurant to apologise (don't ask). I rang the restaurant to apologise. Then I rang the bank to cancel my cards. By great misfortune I got the same call centre person. “Yes Sir, I can assure you that your cards are still cancelled.”

Got my Japan Rail Voucher as well this morning. YAY.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Well I resolved one little problem - where to get a Japan Rail Pass from on a Saturday. No-one has ever answered the phone "Moshi-Moshi" to me before. I always feel vaguely uncouth if someone speaks to me in a foreign language and all I can do is crack on straight back at them in English, not even knowing enough to say 'Sorry I'm an ignorant monoglot and your lingustical stylings mean no more to me than does the sound of a caveman banging his enemies head on a hollow log'. Or words to that effect. Seems inelegant somehow - not to say ignorant.

Really I just wish I spoke more foreign languages. I say more - I speak (or used to speak) OK-ish French and can just about order the beers in Spanish, German, Serbo-Croat & Hungarian. But that's it. And the bit about ordering beers is not an exageration. I might be able to stretch to ordering a coffee but if you want to find your way to the railway station you're on your own mate.

I’ve been having a lot of discussion about this which I found at The North Carolina Experiment. It’s a pretty macabre document but you just can’t stop reading it once you start.

Seriously : I’m against the death penalty – I just am. Not because I really have much sympathy for evil criminals but because it demeans the people who do it just as much – if we live in a state that condones licensed murder then we are all at least partly culpable. It’s simply wrong to take life. I can’t prove that – it’s a belief.

And there’s plenty of evidence that :-

a) The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime

b) Criminal justice systems worldwide have a less than perfect record in terms of getting the right man. Doesn’t matter where in the world you are – even with the fairest most honest systems available innocent people get convicted all the time. If they’re still alive mistakes can be corrected. If not . . .

c) I don’t believe a vengeful authority and a vengeful society is in anyone’s best interest long term.

I don’t blame the relatives of the victims for wanting these executions. I hope in similar circumstances I wouldn’t but of course I might well want exactly that - reading what these guys did is pretty horrific.

I just don’t really see how the state indulging in what could be described as ‘revenge slaying’ on behalf of the victims families is going to help long term. I would be quite interested to know if there are any resources available where victims relatives describe their feelings at the time of the original murders, during the trial and execution and then in the years subsequent to that. Maybe I’m wrong – if the victims families gain some level of relief from this then that at least is one positive outcome. I hope the above doesn't come across as mawkish.

Obviously these guys are not going to re-offend so I suppose that is something too, but this doesn’t negate the central issue – why is it OK for a group of people (ie the State) to carry out what is illegal for the individual to do? You can make all sorts of arguments about the morality of the masses and the legitimacy of elected government but they don’t amount to jack in the end. It’s a moral issue. Killing is just wrong. Whether it’s done by a robber with a .357 or by a state appointed criminal justice operative in a sanitized tile lined prison cell; killing is wrong.

Fatuously : If you want to avoid legal execution it’s simple : Every day sit down with a plate of fried chicken, a cheeseburger and a Coke. Take a portion of one and then stick your toe in the electricity socket. Repeat with the others. After a few days of this even the thought of these foods will make you nauseous = safe from state execution. To be doubly sure you may want to add ice cream, Mexican food, steaks and salad to the list.

16 People (6.25%) requested my own carbonated beverage of choise: Dr Pepper. Perhaps they can use this in their advertising.

Doctor Pepper,
What’s the worst that could happen?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Eeessh - still in the cube. If people can get thrombosae (pedant) from sitting in airplane seats surely they can get them in their cubes as well?? I suppose you tend to have more space in your cube really, plus there's the trips to the canteen etc.

That'd be a fun office - the one where you only have as much space as if you were in coach. Every time you wanted to go to the toilet or to get a soda or to go to the photocopier you'd have to ask your colleagues to stand up so you could get out. Actually the whole scenario has rather a nightmarish feel to it. The flight attendants would be the bosses - you couldn't speak to them and they would come to you only when they had something for you to do.

Assignments would be given out like the meals - if you got to work late and had to sit at the back of the office you'd get shitty assignments cos all the good ones would've gone. And you have to keep your elbows tucked in when you're typing or you'd keep knocking your colleagues dictaphone.

Really a nightmare. And speaking of which I'm having a computer nightmare at home. The PC has gone back to Mac where it belongs and I have broken my laptop. Don't know what I did to it but it totally died on me. I've managed to get it booting off a floppy but can't get Windows to re-install - the BIOS thinks it's a virus and I can't find out how to turn it off.

Think I'll try LINUX instead. Can't afford a new machine right now - going to Japan in a week. YAY!

Hah – nearly bought another Nutri-Grain bar but managed to stop myself in time. Bought a packet of Golden Wonder Bacon Flavoured Wheat Crunchies instead which are only – holy crap – 492 kCal / 100g. Way to go Wheat Crunchies.

If you had 500g you’d have practically all your calorie needs for the day and 500g is only a bit more than 1 lb. Maybe I should start a category of devil foods – those foods for which if you ate 1 lb you’d go over the daily recommended calorific intake in one go. Of course these things are completely arbitary but we’ll say k2.3 for women and k2.8 for men. So 492 x 4.536 (no of 100gs in 1 lb) = 2,232. Phooey. I’m disappointed – doesn’t qualify for men or women. My search for ‘Pound a Day’ food must continue elsewhere.

Of course calorific content is a very blunt tool; carbohydrate and fat levels are much more revealing. Let’s see what they are for the Wheat Crunchies :- Carbs : 56g, Fat : 25g. Wheat Crunchies ROCK!

WOW – all the sandwiches in the vending machine are new. I don’t mean new today (doy) but new flavours – this is unprecedented.

You might have noticed I spend a lot of time talking about vending machines but this is only because I work on a secure campus far from the nearest normal shop. As the rest of my team are based in the US its normally very, very quiet around here. As a result going to the vending machine is almost . . . social. I think they’re starting to develop totemic properties for me – when I lost my Girovend card I felt naked.

Before people start reaching for the ‘Lunatic Alert’ button I do have something approaching a normal social life outside of work – I simply don’t ‘get’ corporate social interaction. As I have neither a mortgage a spouse a car nor 1.7 kids I have little to contribute on this front.

I'm totally impressed with my Sister & Paul's new house. The house isn't new but they've just finished 6 months of serious DIY and it looks amazing. From the outside : normal London semi. From the inside : extensive open plan hacianda. It's massive. Looks like something out of Ineriors. Congrats guys you get 10 'cool' points and a bonus point for only having 3 types of flooring in the whole house :- hessian carpeting, tongue & groove, amtico.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I just ate a Kellogg's Apple flavoured Nutri-Grain bar With Calcium on account of it being the healthy option and all that. It tasted like an appley fig roll. I then checked the nutritiuonal values. Per 100g it's 370 kCal with 71g of carbohydrate (33g of which is sugar) and 9g of fat. So what you say? By comparison 100g of Big Mac provides 229 kCal with 20g carbohydrate (5g sugars) and 10g of fat.

I don't know why I bother to get on my high horse about these things. Guess I'm just sick of people (for which read multi national corporations) pretending things are something they're not. And why not make a fruit bar that is genuinely good for you instead of making one that is bad and then kidding people along. Probably because it would taste even shittier than it already does.

Soundtrack = Permission to Land, The Darkness.

The guy in the office behind me (I only have a cube) has spent 10 minutes arranging the chairs in his room. There are 2 of them.

Talking to Flatmate1 (formerly2) last night and she had some interesting insights on the whole God / belief / faith thing. Basically she has faith but is unable to prove this which for a dedicated philosopher is pretty unsettling. However she had this to say on the subject of belief (I'm paraphrasing) :-

"Individual experience is entirely subjective - we experience things but there is no way to actually ascertain if someone elses experience matches your own. We know what it means to reference 'the yellow wall' but the object 'yellow wall' may be perceived entirely differently by 2 individuals. The only real communication is via language : an experience which may be utterly non homogenous but is consistent is agreed to be labelled 'yellow wall' therefore we know what we're talking about. So what you might say?

The point of all this is that experience and existence is entirely subjective - it only exists for the individual. I cannot therefore prove that once I leave a room it continues to exist. I believe it does but I can't prove it does, nor can I disprove it. The same logic applies to God - I can believe in Him or not as I feel and either scenario is equally valid to the individual"

Of course the problem with that is that the individual can believe anything at all they choose to, and all beliefs are valid.

And why do these conversations have to take place so late and require the consumption of so much red wine?

I went to get some proper coffee from the shop as opposed to the vending machine slurry I usually consume and found I had lost my frequent caffeinator card. Clare who works there asked me how many stamps I had on it and I told her 3 which was true. Anyway she gave me a new card with 6 stamps on it!

I don't know why that should make me so happy but it did - and not because I got 3 extra stamps for nothing J

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Last night Phil and myself arranged to go for a drink but manged to miss eachother through sheer disorganization and incompetence rather than an unfortunate chain of events.

I really need to take charge and become one of those organized and efficient people I pretend to despise but secretly admire. I could start by sorting out my flat - I don't mean my flatmates ;-) I mean the steadily encroaching chaos.

You'd think that after all these years being responsible for the day to day aspects of my own life that I'd have learnt the basics wouldn't you? Huh-uhh.

Basic errors still committed by YT that only cause more work later.

1) Dropping dirty clothes on the floor
2) Not putting books back on shelves
3) Piles of videos, DVDs, games, system disks & CDs all jumbled up behind the teev
4) Leaving clean clothes in the machine so long they have to go round again (12 hours)
5) Not putting CDs back in boxes
6) Dropping clean clothes on the floor
7) Can't be bothered to program my mobile phone properly (sucky Motorola. Motorala! Yuk!)
8) Not paying utility bills till the final demand arrives. Why?? I have the money - it's not going anywhere?????
9) CV not updated as I go along.
10) Dropping dirty & clean clothes on the floor and getting them mixed up looking for a book. GODDAMMIT!!

Can't work much out from that except one I already knew - I hate doing the laundry.

Presumeably people other than me have taken a big swig of coffee thinking it's tea before. Do you guys then think 'oh I thought that it was tea but actually it's coffee' or do you immediately start to suffer strange conscious / unconscious brain conflicts.

I just did exactly this and my brain was saying 'that's tea' but my mouth was saying 'that's coffee'. Somehow this resolved itself as my brain deciding 'That's tea, but it's the most disgusting foul tea you've ever tasted.' So I found myself gagging on this hideous brew. Having choked it down and still with a strong bitter acrid taste in my mouth logic re-asserted itself and I thought it must be coffee.

And indeed it is so - going back to the cup, a peer, a sniff, a cautious sip. Yes - it's coffee. Entirely normal, inocuous coffee. But just because I thought it was something else it was transformed into something horrible. Just goes to show - physical experience is entirely subjective. But I guess we probably knew that already.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Actually I'm quite glad now we don't have Double Deckers in my vending machine. I've just eaten 2 (making up for last time) and feel a bit yacky. No-one to blame but myself I suppose.

Tchh - both the vending machines in the tea bar are now defunct so I was forced to wander over to building 6 to find refreshment. Those fiends have got double deckers in their chocy machine. It's discrimination if you ask me.

NB Double Decker = Cadbury's Chocolate Bar "filled with smooth chewy nougatine and crisp crunchy cereal" not a large red omnibus. I'm in a silly mood now. Probably because I haven't done anything today and I have a ton of committments at the moment.

Actually we had quite a lot of sensible discussions, along with the usual drivel. I've been kind of envious in the last couple of years of people who have managed to get it together enough to acquire they're own mortagages and property in London. I'm not so much referring to the smug marrieds (®Bridget Jones) who have 2 salaries but those people who managed to do it just on their own.

However I was slightly less envious when someone mentioned that if mortage rates doubled and she couldn't sell her house she would go bankrupt. As she has neither the highest debt nor the lowest salary I wondered how many of the other kids are facing a mountain . . .

A quick straw poll amongst my chums indicated that they are spending about £300 per month just servicing debt not including mortgages.

Frankly I'm shocked. I know we live in a world very much built on credit but all the same . . . .

I was talking to Mac late on Saturday night and the conversation strayed (as it will after that much alcohol) onto the topic of God, and not just God but organised religion as well. For some unknown reason I kept trying to get across the idea that something like Methodism is intrinsically more sensible than Catholasism because you don't have to worry about trans-substantiation or deadly vs venal sins or holy relics or papal infallability or all the rest of it.

Mac however made a very good point which really put me in my place. As soon as you believe, as soon as you have faith you've basically crossed the line. Once you are happy to stand up and say you believe in something for which by definition there can be no proof it really doesn't matter if you're a Lutheran or a Jesuit - it's all a matter of degree.

Once you've agreed to start believing in things with no proof per se, what you actually believe in is the least of your worries. And what right has anyone else to dictate where this leads you. Aliens from Andromeda - fine. Earth has a hallow core where dinosaurs roam - fine. Endless rebirth on the circle of life - fine. It doesn't seem to work that way though - the more exteme your own behavioural psychosis is the less likely you are to be tolerant of other peoples.

Well that was an interesting night at the opera - I've never been to the ROH before and it certainly is impressive. £200M worth of impressive I'm not sure, but definitely quite something. The production, Madame Butterfly however was fantastic. Pretty good seats for £40 as well - pretty much the best available for the money.

Went to Mac's for dinner Saturday and it is totally safe to say we drank too much. Bottle count : Champagne x 1, Proseco x 2, red wine x 7 and there were only 4 of us. We definitely set the world to rights. Hari has just returned from Peru and apparently even there they are reading all about the Hutton Enquiry and seem to be better informed about it than we are.

We wondered about this a while and then pretty much reached the same conclusion. Basically poeple who don't live in the UK assume that the enquiry is in some genuine way independent and it's report will accurately identify cuplrits, expose puppet masters and make genuine reccomendations to avoid a repeat of this in the future. Those of us who live here think the following will happen:-

1) The BBC & Gilligan will get a minor bollocking. They will promise to do better. Gilligan will be sacrificed on the alter of charter renewal.

2) The Government will be largely cleared of deliberately misleading the public. There will be some vague talk about lack of transparency and poor communications. A couple of insignificant civil servants will fall on their swords. Nothing will change.

3) That's it.

It's basically a whitewash to get Tony off the hook while allowing the BBC's enemies a field day of cheap shots and that's why outside of the media itself no one cares. Murdoch and Black can smell the opportunity to make some money by attacking those with genuine standards and a genuine committment to public service. They are circling in to kill off the BBC, nauseatingly attempting to disguise their naked greed with some kind of 'public good' defence. Everyone knows it, no-one thinks it can be changed, so we just don't care.

If it wasn't so disgusting it'd be laughable.

Soundtrack for the day Spit by Kittie. Suits my mood.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Am so not looking forward to the opera tonight. I love the opera but somehow seem incapable of going without a hangover that could fell penguins at 20 paces. The world record was Trstan & Isolde during the summer when my entire party fell asleep during the first act and basically never really recovered. Mac even fell asleep on a neighbouring Wagnerite not of our acquaintance and drooled.

At least this one is a corker - Madame Butterfly at the ROH. Bling bling-tastic. I'm going as I'm currently dressed - Jeans, trainers, and a t-shirt that says "Road Trip '98". Class.

Am feeling very confused today and not just because I have a blistering hangover and got exactly 0.0 hours sleep last night. Was up till 5pm and went to bed then, but no sleep. I might be in danger of having to handle an adult situation.

Not to mention a few flying brickbats.

Am I as dull as my colleagues?? God let it not be so.

Today (being Friday) is a big day for congregating in excitable chattering groups and going to the canteen for communal horror food. The DB boys started milling about behind my cube about 12 and talking so loudly about fuck knows what I was forced to start listening to the Donnas and thinking dark thoughts.

In the end they were forced to continue to their destination without one of their members. Where oh where was Derek? Seriously, the absence of Derek was causing major consternation! Just when I thought they were about to send out search parties Raj came by. By lucky chance he knew the whereabouts of the missing team-mate - he'd totally blown off those raggety-ass Oracle programmers and gone into town to buy a tie. BEDLAM ensues.

If I ever end up like these guys I might as well just get myself a noose because it'll be ALL OVER FOR ME.

Now I've done it.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Today is really turning into a non starter. My work is, like, rilly rilly dull. Metadata. I don't mind the concept of it, I just don't want to have to produce the stuff myself. I am after all a 'free text & intelligent categorization' kinda guy and having to manually edit and add words to stuff to make them searchable seems like 17th century suregery - ugly, nasty, and pointless.

Having said that it's also really boring (the metadata) and I don't suppose watching someone have their leg cut off by an entrepreneurial hairdresser was. Imagine it :

Good morning to you Sir. My name is Mr Cakeworthy I shall be perfoming your amputation today.

I see Sir. . . . and what are your qualifications?

I am priveledged to own my very own set of Sabatiers and I have just this very week acquired a new hacksaw made from the finest Sheffield Steel.

A new hacksaw you say! That's the stuff - I'll just drag myself on the table here, and then have at me Sir."

Didn't Douglas Coupland once define the concept of the desire to travel in time but only with the benefits of modern medicine? Weird thought - if we were living 200 years ago approximately half the people you currently know would already be dead. Eeesh.

My seafood pasta has pretty much reached perfection. For 2 (I’m assuming you know how to prepare pasta) :-

Finely chop 4 shallots, ½ a red chile, 3 cloves garlic, add the leaves from about 10 strands of fresh thyme, season and set in a frying pan over a low heat with the best olive oil you have.

Sweat for 5-10 minutes being careful not to brown the shallots. Add 1-2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, 2 handfuls of prawns, 1 handful of cockles and cook on a higher heat until the seafood is done.

Add the juice of 1 lemon and 1 glass white wine (optional) and cook till the liquid is reduced (this won’t happen that fast as the tomatoes will expel liquid as they cook).

If the pasta isn’t ready you can hold it at this stage on a very low heat. Add a large chunk of unsalted butter and melt in. Drain the pasta and combine with the sauce.

Believe me – it may not sound like much but it’s pretty fantastic. I can’t decide if it’s better with or without the white wine – it gives it a little more sharpness. If you miss out the tomatoes you have to add the wine. And you can of course try different seafood. I just really like cockles though - weird I know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Woo hoo! I just met the guy who fixes the vending machines and he showed me the ‘waste bucket’. I’m totally tripping – it’s medieval. The machine isn’t plumbed in at all – there’s just a bucket underneath a spout which comes from the grille below the cup dispenser. It’s not even covered. It must take months to fill up. Surely this can’t be right.

Bizarrely I want to use the other machine now – even though they are utterly identical and logic dictates that it too must have a bucket.

Lunch combos that don't work : Sweetcorn and Rice salad. Still - not as challenging as last year's (and I'm really not making this up) Sausage and Turnip.

This is fun : yourface.

Phew - its a whole week since I've been anywhere in the evening!! Some sort of record for me, unless you count Waitrose as going out which personally I don't as even I'm not that sad.

Watching Jamie Oliver last night I was struck by his incredible patience. The man is £2M down on the deal to help these rotten kids out (albeit whilst garnering some not inconsiderable publicity for himself) and they're still dicking him about, turning up late, slagging him off and constantly moaning and he's still helping them out and bending over backwards to accomodate them.

OK in his role as the Sainsbury's poster boy for twat you do sometimes feel like picking up the TV running onto the roof and hurling it 5 stories down onto a passing lorry transporting an unstable consignment of semtex just to make him shut the fuck up but even so . . . Jamie for your next series why not foget the disadvantaged yoof and instead open a restaurant staffed entirely by 30 year old IT professionals?

I can see the TV series now : "This week on 'Jamie's Kitchen : the Professionals' Jamie is embarrassed by being the last person in to work 3 days running and has to work the bistro as punishment. His lack of opinion on Andy and Steve's 4 week debate '5 door VW Golf Diesel vs Mazda Tribute Semi SUV' further fails to impress. Meanwhile Lisa has Bluetooth enabled the grill station and Roger cooks a hamburger with blue cheese via his pda whilst navigating the North Circular during rush hour."

Alright its a crap idea but so are the kids in Jamies Kitchen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Uggh - the tea&coffee vending machine at work is displaying the following message: SORRY NOT IN USE. WASTE BUCKET FULL. Somehow the thought of a swilling vat of rancid droppings bursting to overflowing inside the machine I drink from 10 times a day is not very nice. And I don't undestand - the thing is connected to the mains. Surely the spillages just go down the drain. Is this some other type of waste bucket - the meta bucket for waste other than liquid. And is there a guy from the vending machine company whose only job it is to empty THE BUCKET? I can hear him now "Those selfish bastards - they've been putting lard down the vending machine again!"

A very lazy weekend. I fully intended to get round the full suite of babies that my friends seem to have produced, but instead I managed to make it absolutley nowhere. Was slightly embarrassed by Teej telling me she wasn't really expecting me on account of having known me for 15 years, but I guess you just have to live with your reputation (mine = being really unreliable).

Suffice it to say I didn't actually get out at all really which is good from a penny-pinching point of view but bad from a having a life point of view. On the plus side I did get over 30 hours in bed so not all bad at all . . .

Q. Why can you password protect a word doc but not a ppt presentation?? Not that I'm going to lose sleep over it.

Phil is incredibly pleased with himself. He has a brand new Nokia 8850? and who wouldn't be happy? There's nothing like a new mobile to put the spring back in chap's step. Alright, he has just become single again, is unemplyed and currently lives on his sister's sofa, but he has got a new 8850. Go figure.

In fact he seems on cracking form. Just goes to show - the pursuit of intellectual freedom and socialist ideals will make you happier than any amount of cash.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Didn't go to work yesterday - stayed home instead.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

My train journey to and from work certainly can be lively. It’s been a continual learning experience since last August and I feel I’ve made great strides - I have come to accept the continuous and unceasing lateness of the trains. I have learnt to merely shake my head at the lack of any reason ever being given for this (“The train is running late because it has not yet left Liverpool Street” is not a reason guys). The fact that the trains themselves seem to be have been designated ‘safe spliff’ zones for the under 16s raises merely a shrug.

However even I was a bit pissed off last night when someone threw a large jagged rock through the train window missing me by 1 seat.

I mean I don’t want to look like a big girl’s blouse here. After all I’ve learnt to hardly hear the heroin dealers expressing their displeasure at their recalcitrant debtors; the more generally addressed imprecations of the schizophrenics – well that’s care in the community for you, and on one occasion I was threatened with being doused in petrol and set on fire by a man wielding a ball hammer. Maybe we should ignore that last occasion – he was, after all, clearly in the right if I had indeed been ‘looking at his friend’ as he so clearly believed.

I wonder what it’s like on the late trains when everyone’s been drinking?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

At least I seem to have provisionally sorted out my Islington Council problem. Like so much in life its unpleasant threats and uncaring manner was molified by the application of £££ and of course the offer of plenty more of the same in the near future. My flatmates are gonna blow a gasket when they find out. However 'tis not my fault if they are such paupers - bills have to be paid :-(

It seems to have taken all afternoon to get the basics of the deal down and then make sure I have enough money to cover everything else. Have had much discussions with my lovely Agents (BTW - those don't look like any IT people I've ever met) and a variety of HR people. I guess we can be thankful we live in the modern era and such things can be done online - sing YEA! for Fieldglass. Of course if it was still 1834 I wouldn't have had to pay so fast so wouldn't have had to raise the cash so fast. Swings and roundabouts. On the other hand I'd probably be dead if it was 1834, so shouldn't really complain.

Normally I wouldn't get so uptight about this but 1) I'm going to Japan next month and need the money 2) Flatmates are driving me nuts - always hanging aroud in the kitchen cooking & complaining that I haven't done the washing up / bought bin bags / taken the recycling out.

It's probably all my fault. Just so long as no-one talks to me during University Challenge and is suitably amazed when I get the physics questions right I will fulfil my manly role.

My God work can be a funny thing . One minute there you are merrily editing meta data files and the next thing you know you’re driving down a country road with your old friend Simon. But hold on – Simon doesn’t even have a car, let alone the large BMW this seems to be. And he’s driving it from the back seat sitting on a high chair! Uh oh. This can only mean one thing – yes – you’ve managed to fall asleep at your desk again.

And it’s not even 5 o’clock yet.

Fortunately I am an expert at this by now and generally remain completely upright with no more than 15° head tiltage and a maximum of 6” down the seat slippage. Plus I normally retain a tight grip on the old mouse as well. So basically provided that I don’t stay there so long that my desktop locks up, no-one need ever know. It’s not good tho – this is what it must be like to have narcolepsy

Very long time since any posting has gone on - not too much has been happening. Actually what am I talking about - been pretty eventful. We've had the hottest summer in living memory - I drank through it - went to Cornwall for an extended surfing break, got very ill, visited my parents, shaved off my goatee, didn't go out with Yip Yap, insulted a lot of people and amazingly am still gainfully employed, tho I don't want to think about that too much.

As a result of being ill and various other problems I am now officially as poor as you like and interestingly being sued by Islington Council. What a bore. Need to sort it out. Not that I really care that much, just can't really face all the shouting and house conflabs that would be needed. Except I don't have the neccessary £££ to make the situation go away . . .

On the more important side of things I am about to be a Godparent. Little James arrived just over a month ago, and for some incomprehensible reason his parents think that I am suitable material to step into the frame. Actually I spoke to the Vicar in question last Saturday at a particulalry fine champagne reception at the Bleeding Heart. Can't really remember what I said but I do recall speaking to his wife at some length. Speaking of some length was a really pretty fantastic evening. My old school chum Stev and his lovely wife Von A were our hosts and incidentally the parents to the aforementioned James. Suffice it so say that 100+ people sucking down champagne for 4 hours must have put serious dent in the old finances. Probably not as serious as the hole it put in my sobriety but never mind. Sunday was a bit of a 'mare actually.

Alas Phil the Greek and Abigail are no longer together. Not sure how she feels about it exactly but I know he is pretty traumatised. I think he feels pretty bad - it's tricky being in a relationship if you're heart isn't really in it. It is better just to be cruel to be kind and end it rather than let it drag on wasting everyone's time. Still, very unfortunate for both of them really . . .