Saturday, December 27, 2003

Sorry if the formatting is screwed in this post, but I'm having to use some jury-rigged method to be able to post. Blogger is buggered (apparently). Either it decides not to exist, or when it does decide to exist I can get to the edit page, type merrily away, click "post", and then try to figure out where it's posting to, as it isn't anywhere I can find it (is Blogger one great sofa, and have I managed to find the hole down the back?).

So for when I finally find a way of posting:
Oooh, I'm a Googlewhack. Ok so I think it's supposed to be two words, but hey... And isn't it great to be able to find out what the poor fools who stumble across this site were looking for (a certain number one seems to be figuring quite highly at the moment).

And isn't Christmas[1,2] great, so much running round dumped on top of the usual chaos. Especially when you end up being given orders by your mother. Even more so when she then gives a different set of orders, which she then won't remember (which of course is my fault). And then you realise that you've become this complete misery guts, and that your parents are bringing out the worst in you, which happens to be an exact replica of them. So this is what festive cheer is then.

[1] Or according to one person the I know "Mass of Christ". What's that?
About 73kg?
[2] Yes that's spelt the longer way, as xmas is just ex-mus. I know it's supposed to be a cross signifying Christ, but surely if you're going to do that it should be +mas (which just looks confusing[3]), and anyway, when has English gone in for pictograms?
[3] And plus-mus sounds odd :-P (and yes that's deliberately below the bit about pictograms).

And isn't it also great when you are sent off to do last minute Christmas shopping in the town were you grew up, and so seeing lots of people you used to know.

And what is it about the news recently - it's going to the dogs, literally (ish). CNN currently reads 'Queen "devastated" by corgi death. Beagle speeds towards touchdown'.
[Obviously this was written a few days ago].

But then I'm far too easily amused by semi-quirky things. Such as wanting to swap two road signs round. On one junction I've been past recently there's the usual "Wherever 2, Somewhere Else 5" sign held up by two posts. Attached to each post are the brown tourist symbol signs for different local attractions: one is a monkey and one is a tank.
Currently it's the monkey marauding the tank, but I think it would work better if the tank was aiming for the monkey. Which is all stunningly dull isn't it? Sorry, it's just I happened to see it, and it's probably one of those "you had to be there" things (although you might not have been enjoying yourself had you been there).

And it was the result of struggling to think of something interesting, whilst avoiding the many things I'd prefer not to go into here (for one reason or another, though you can probably guess some of them).

Going for walks is fun, especially when one relies on memory derived from childhood night-hikes (Scouts. Be do very odd things), and don't bother taking a map. And very democratically (though subconsciously) alternate taking decisions with one's brother. So whilst we've both got quite good senses of direction, our navigating strategies
differ, so we end up using neither. Result: walking in a path that could at best be described as lollipop shaped (think a half molten, battered and probably slightly fluff coated lollipop), including having the great moment when I asked "that sign doesn't say what I think it says does it? Up there by that suspiciously familiar hedge". And then getting rained
upon on the way back (yay, trousers soaked with the run-off from one's coat).

Things I have discovered this Christmas:
- The moon is made of popped tadpoles (Belleville rendezvous, V good film, surprisingly anti-French, having heard people complain about the anti-Americanism).
- Apparently saying you got "a suitable boy" for Christmas can be misunderstood (it's a book, a big book, and I'm still in mid-Middlemarch).
- A worrying amount of people I went to school/uni with are now accountants.
- Some strange people prefer watching Only fools and horses to Amelie (un autre tres bien fillum [what's the French for film?]).
- Presents from friends bemuse me (what do they think of me?), although mine to them probably do that to them as well.
- My car still leaks (well I was hoping some moss might have grown in the right place by now).
- Saying "owie, owie, owie" does not stop it hurting.
- Turkeys are awkward to move (especially when dripping hot fat, falling apart and sticking to stuff).
- People don't ring they say they will.

And that's about it for now, except to say I might not be around for a while.

And they still haven't rung.

Which probably means I should got to the loo, as that always makes people phone you up.

And sorry for the low link:blurb ratio, but I haven't had much time to idle through websites.






Nope, they still haven't rung.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

[Edit: I've now found the hole down the back of the sofa, and it only took me two months. Sorry for the slightly belated post].
Hmm, somehow I have found the magic zone down the back of Blogger's sofa - everything I post seems to be disappearing without trace...which of course you won't know unless it stops.

Anyway, ooooh, I'm a googlewhack. Ok so I think it's supposed to be two words, but still...isn't it great being able to see what all the poor fools who stumble across here were looking for (currently a certain number one seems to be doing rather well).

Friday, December 19, 2003

I must learn to stop clicking on the links on Blogger's FP. First a blog called "scintillating", that's anything but (and eerily reminding me of how annoying I used to be[1], being one of my favourite sarcastic words[2]) and appears to be a franchise, and then another that's showing me slightly more than I wanted to see[3], in my post-Sainsbury's can't be bothered to watch Eastenders mood.
[1] So which response are you going to go for? "you annoying? never", or "used to...that sounds like the past tense?".
[2] And should that be ex-favourite? But sticking ex- in front implies I still have favourite sarcastic words (which I'm not about to admit to doing, as then I'd really have regressed).
[3] Think woman. Think S&M-ish[4] strappy black PVC clothing. Think remarkably well endowed. In places women aren't usually well endowed. Think oh. Mind has already seen want it does not want see. Close window. Reconsider watching Eastenders, but decide that if I was watching television, then I ought to be watching whichever harrowing documentary that is bound to be on channel 4, and really don't feel like that now, so retreat into the comfort of writing mindlessly to bemused strangers through the power that is blogging.
[4] Though they might sell in M&S by now.

And now to get round to finishing off the earlier post.
Update: Swear as I twig that the draft of the earlier post is no longer there, thanks to the glorious invention that is Blogger.

What was in it?
Cas-Av being him, and linking the Grauniad's interpretation of the Big read, amongst other stuff.
S+N being annoying and a posting a series of maths puzzles, days after I said I'd rediscovered various maths skills. Briefly: Complained I couldn't do any except one, then found I couldn't do that. Found I don't know what "asymptotic" means, and the definition I found does not help with what I think the question is. And I still don't get what the problem is with some of them.
Complained I couldn't think laterally and make great leaps, leading to something about making an etch-a-sketch and a Polaroid camera (with possibly magnetic prints), when I was aiming for a PC with Windows (it made sense at the time).
TV: Imagine on the OED (autopenotomy...ow), Bedtime (savage comedy, great scripts, dubious plots), Buffy is gone (and only the not quite humans got killed).
Other stuff I either can't remember or doesn't matter (which implies the stuff above moving swiftly on).
Oh and France are being arsey (and stupid, and French) over EU fishing quotas and stuff. But we knew that anyway, right, or at least we knew they would be.
And I'm trying to work out the effect of having "contemporaneous" in the bit Google's currently quoting.

And breathe...

Which reminds me (breathing, air in nose causes smelling, smelling perfumes and aftershaves of many people in Sainsbury's, staff in Sainsbury's)...when are Sainsbury's going to realise that making their staff cover up piercings with manky bits of blue tape is more worrying and off-putting than the piercings themselves would be. Some of the poor people look like they've been painted with woad.
And I'm obviously not of the right mindset - walk into Sainsbury's, and one of the first things you see is a round shelving unit covered in £2.99 tins of Goose Fat (labelled in French natch). Um, usually when I buy any sort of bird I'm annoyed enough if I find lumps of fat acting as make-weight flung into the cavity. And now you can buy it in tins. Obviously I missed the bit of Delia/Jamie Oliver[5] that said this product was vital.
[5] AKA Fat Tongue or Mockney, depending on how het up one of my ex-flatmates was.

More stuff to do now, so,

[Edit: What once was lost and now is found].

Having made comments about rediscovering maths abilities (due to tedious work), Signal + Noise instantly decides post a load of school maths problems[1]. Oh dear. I've done the folding paper one, I think, even if I'm not sure of what some of the words mean - algorithm, that's just a sequence right? But "asymptotic"? Well looking it up on gives me a definition[2], but I've no idea how that applies to the problem.

[1] Yes I know this implies I think the world revolves around me, but in one way it pretty much does, even if I'm not quite big enough for other people to notice this (and there are the effects of various other forces which disguise the fact).
[2] It sounds an example of one is an axis in a exponential decay curve - although thinking about the words it could be any straight line with a curve approaching it (but "tends" suggests the change of the curve's points in the plane perpendicular to that axis[3] decreases as the curve approaches the axis). But how this relates to the problem I don't see.
[3] I know an axis is a line not a plane, but bear with me, as I don't know how else to describe without having to draw it, or having my head go pop.

But my way of solving the problem...while trying to explain it, I've realised my way won't work (opps). But then I have been trying to do them all in my head, without anything to write on.

Except a computer...but that doesn't count as it's so useless for manipulating information in the ways you want (why is that, and why haven't I changed it yet?).

Getting back to the paper problem - can you tear bits off? It's not cheating - it's thinking laterally.

Is isn't fair - all we had to do at school was find the most economic packing shape (if packing material is limiting, it's a sphere, but upping the effects of packing complexity and tessalation and you get into a dazzling array of cylinders, cubes, rectangles, and various forms of pyramid). I think we came to the conclusion that the world shouldn't be as it is, but is as it is because that is how it is, and it would take too much resource use to change. And then you ask why do we need packaging - why can't the products be the packaging (and got start back to the "becuase that's how it is" arguement).

Hmm, folding paper - can the sections be made of many triangles?

And I really need to experiment with bits of paper to do this, so obviously I'm missing the blatent solution that negates the need for experience.

Which might explain why I've never been good at programming - I can learn how to build things, and cope with all the sequences required. But then I discover that someone's already built what I want, which pretty much flattens my patience for doing it myself. But I never seem to think of new stuff, the stunningly obvious things that other people just seem to magically come up with.

But then I'm probably the type of person who when intending to create a computer running Windows, would come up with an etch-a-sketch and a polaroid camera (actually can you get magnitised photographic ink? So then you just press the print to the screen to make a copy).

Still can't figure it out, so I'll move on. Casino Avenue has links to the Guardian's response to the Big Read, and assorted other worthwhile stuff.

New words for the day - asymptotic and autopenotomy[4]. The latter from last night's Imagine[5], on the OED.
[4] Think Ow.
[5] Why is everything decent on too late? First Bedtime, now this. Bedtime by the way - a cruelly scripted (in a good way) comic series, which somehow is both savage and kind at the same time, and is good despite of its denouements of dubious plots.

Getting back to the it me, or do some of them not seem like there's a problem?
Brief [read many hours] interruption whilst actually doing stuff [read forms, lots of forms]. But I'm back now. And I've got a headache. And I still can't figure out either an

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Following the recently published blogs of blogger's FP, I came across a blog by someone with the same birthday as my brother - how bizarre. Ok so I also found a blog where the menus are in Chinese (or similar) script, but the postings are in what appears to be Spanish, so maybe the co-inki-dink-er[1] isn't working today, so the fates are just going for random. Look I spent the day getting glue in paper cuts, loathing the boss's wife's "Only Me"[2] activities, and having radio 1[3] on all day (the same as yesterday and the same as the day before). And you still expect me to be sane?
[1] That which makes coincidences.
[2] Brainfade, I can't remember his name Enfield (having thought first of both Messers Hill and Potter) character. Pretty much interfering, and makes stuff go wrong.
[3] Better than most generic commercial stuff, but only in small doses. I think I now know their playlists off by heart. This comes from thinking "Oh this song must only be on their B playlist, as this is only the third time I've heard today". Although it's the twelfth time this week (minor exaggeration, well ish).
Doesn't help when the have DJ Muppet (AKA Scott Mills - any relation of Trego?[4]) keeps banging on about stuff he thinks is amusing - like some site about badgers. Um, would that be the one from the Weebl stable that was on B3ta aeons ago? My god, what do the BBC researchers do all day if they haven't found this yet? Maybe I should send him a link for the Hampster Dance [5].
[4] See Cornwall for more details - I explained it a few days ago, whilst ranting about crappy local radio. Oh how fickle I am.
[5] For the Johnny come lately's out there, this site was huge several years ago. Although apparently there was some big row over how to spell Ham[p]ster, and many accusations of usurpation. Although by modern standards the concept probably is a bit tired by now. Anyway it was one of those "love it or hate it" viral things (possibly before they were called virals) that got sent for the sole purpose of annoying the people you know. And I swear the music in it is from the Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood (which I loved as a child, and even have a copy of - although I haven't watched it in years).

Anyway where was I? (yes I know I'm here, existentialistic thought not withstanding). Radio 1. Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Nelly Fur-fucking-tado and the joy that is Dido. Over and over. Have you no personality, no originality, can you not think for yourselves or does every part of your day have to come those above? Except for Jo Whiley, who at least does passable, and plugs bands like Keen[6], Snow Patrol and Franz Ferdinand (ok so I know none of the are exactly "new", but still at she implies she's trying).
[6] Well that's what i thought they were called, but the nearest I can find on the BBC's site is Kenesis, who apparently are spelt Kinesis, and I now can't remember if the song I heard is one of theirs. Oh well.
And what is it with Radio 1 news? It's like they all want to work for the Sun. That and their dubious selection of news items. They started today leading with "George Bush wants Saddam executed". This is news? The guy who happens to like killing people[7] anyway wants to kill someone who is "evil". To quote the Americans, Holy Shit (though possibly not in the same tone). And is it his decision to make? Though fortunately this stunning revelation got downgraded and then bumped by other stuff during the day.

[7] Well I'm not to sure about "like", in a "I hope not, but I fear the worst" way. Anyway, a man who is an ardent supporter and user of the death penalty (remind me not to move to America any time soon).

Looks amusing, but haven't time to check it all out yet - Lego Leviticus. Although I'm not sure which bit of the bible Leviticus is in, and what it deals with (is it the one with the bedding virgins and goat sacrifices? Or possibly vice versa), or even how to spell it.

And those looking for [piano] sheet music for the Gary Jules and Michael Andrews version of Mad World - go here.
From the same site I also discovered Project Gutenberg - free classical literature. Not had much chance to explore, but I like the concept.

Anyhoo, need to go.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Hmm, what's it say about my life that the song that came on as the radio alarm switched on is the same song that was playing on the radio as I finished work. Ok so it says more about having the same radio station on all day, especially as I think it got played at least twice more during the day. Which means it's getting overplayed and I am inevitably going to end up hating the familiarity of it, which is annoying, as it's a good song (Mad World[1], the currently ubiquitous version).

[1] As keeps showing up on this site in search engines. Ok so the startreking across the universe song is a recurring theme as well. That and people looking up butter ads, oh and Ozzie Osbourne's address - sorry I have no idea.

Was back on the "you do know there are machines to do this?" job today. Wasn't helped by working out early today that if I continued at my current rate I'd have done 1600 (and a third)[2] envelopes by the end of the day. And counting up the empty boxes afterwards discovered I'd done sixteen hundred, plus about half a dozen more. Hmm, not sure whether to be depressed by how few hours of mindless monotony[3] produces, or depressed by how gargantuan the task is.
[2]Working it out the other way somehow avoided having the third. I discovered I could still do long division and multiplication in my head if I bothered, which is nice, even if I'm not quite up to Countdown speed yet.
[3] I discovered I can actually do this with my eyes shut (well all except getting the glue covering strip into the bin). Possibly I shouldn't have been trying to find out.

And was going to rant about stupid berks in Mercs (damn that rhymed [4]) accelerating hard whilst driving along a pavement that ends in 3m. Oh the joys of roadworks managing to cause gridlock across the entire town during the day, which transforms at 5pm to very angry gridlock. It's great though, because you can walk straight across roads without having to worry about traffic. Until you get to the pavement which people have now noticed is paved and without cars on it (there's usually a reason for that). It all looks very pretty though, when there are rows of lights in every direction (maybe it is all a planned part of the Christmas decorations round the town). Shame the mist swirling round them isn't mist, but hey you can't have everything.
[4] This is obviously bad, as know people will start saying "you're a poet and you don't know it"[5], which I may or may not be, it's just I have not intention of being [unless it pays well].
[5] And thus showing great wit by citing a phrase that makes a rhyme upon the word "poet". If you're going to be like that you really ought to do it in iambic pentameters[6].
Anyhoo, I really ought to stop now, as I'm trying to work out the di-dums, which given the precedent of yesterday's Glorias probably isn't a good thing to start.
[6] Spot the "I haven't got a link in this post yet" link.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Hmm, maybe it serves me right for listening to commercial radio, but Xfm seem to be having an utter mare - some audience voted charted thing, so the format consists of "speaking bit, play song, another speaking bit". Only not today, as during the song you'd here the continuity announcement [that was X, with Y, at number 19. And next is Z and their new track A] when there was about 30 seconds left to play, and then as the song ended you'd hear the same message again[1]. So I'm guessing it's not live then. And whoever was left in charge of pressing buttons on cue got a bit confused about which are the live channels, and which can only be heard in their headset (you might want to move that slider up or down before you check you've lined up the right track, as playing stuff over the live output doesn't sound so great).

[1] Well ok so early on they played the same message before and after the song (and it only applied to the after part), so I'm guessing they were playing it safe from there on in.

Hmm, and for the condnumdrumy stuff - how can someone be caught following a link to another site from this site, at a time when the tracker on this site says there had been no-one around for ages?
And it's the same tracker system so you'd think if someone was caught on one, they'd be caught on the other (and I haven't found a way of changing the timezone for the stats, so I'm guessing the other user didn't).
Not making sense am I? Here's what happened - I've got someone on an Oxford computer coming to this blog having clicked on an referrer link in Southern Cross's tracker (so guessing one of the Mr SCs). So I go to his tracker to check this out, and lo and behold (or maybe just behold) there's a link showing this blog's URL, and claiming that one of the people who'd visited SC followed a link from here.
With me so far? Well it seems pretty obvious, until you notice that (according to the tracker on this page) there hadn't been anyone here for hours beforehand.
Curiouser and curiouser. Perhaps.
So either there's some cloak and dagger[2] plot being planned that requires masking a viewer’s presence, which would mean imminent doom, or maybe the tracker's just crap. Although having malevolent sorts lingering about would be handy for blaming every time I cack something up.
[2] Or blanket and letter opener (well ok so a ruler's more likely) as resources allow.

Oh, and what do my merry readers make of the BBC's The Big Read? Other than an excuse to fill airtime with pretty cheap talking heads, and plug the BBC's various works (Pride and Prejudice on video for Christmas anyone?).
Top five (well six cos I feel like it):
6. To kill a mocking bird, Harper Lee. Very good book, the only GCSE[3] set text that I read as a book, rather than as a series of chapters for homework - I just started and didn't like what was going on in it enough to stop. Weird logic I know, but I was worried about what was happening in it, which is probably a good sign, and so I kept reading until everything finished.
5. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, J K Rowling - it's amazing where a degree from Exeter will get you (into the job you hate, before you give it up to become an author). Haven't read it (intending to, but the person I was going to borrow copies of the first 4 books off, hasn't taken the cellophane off them yet), haven't seen the film.
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams. Read it/them aeons ago, and like many people, liked them.
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman. Haven't read it, but know someone who's getting it for Christmas, so borrowing maybe a possibility (although this is the same the person who has untouched Harry Potter books).
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Um, I'm going to get shouted at if I admit I haven't read this either, aren't I? Especially if I then admit I've seen the BBC's latest version (that counts right?[4]).
1. The Lord Of The Rings, J R R Tolkien. Read it, once again got worried about the characters, and a bit scared. Ok, so I only read it so that I would have read it by the time I'd seen the first film (I have this thing about trying not to read the book after a film of said book). But in my defence I only read it so late (I was 21, and anyway pretty much everyone I know wanted to borrow a copy, so maybe the whole book then film pedantry thing isn't just me), as when I was very young my father used to read my brother and I The Hobbit at bedtime. "Ah" you might think, except he put on silly voices for each of the characters, and my father isn't very good at silly voices, and tends to do nearly the same one each time, and he can't remember which attempted voice he used for which character. Now factor in that he also tended to forget where we'd got up to, so we would either get the same chapter again, or be apparently starting halfway through the story. My father also didn't tend to notice if we were asleep, and so not listening to the story[5], and thus be incapable of understanding the next day why we have no memory of large sections he's sure he's read.

[3] It's amazing how your estimation of people plummets when they say they like the works of the Brontes.
[4] I'm not being entirely serious with that comment, so please don't flay me.
[5] Or maybe he had read Brave New World, and thought that sleep programming[6] worked.
[6] Spot who can't remember the right word. Anyway the theory of communicating with people's subconscious whilst they are asleep to transfer information (and thus control their behaviour).

And I've just worked out I've read 21 of the top 100, although this includes 2 halves, one for what I'm on at the moment (Middlemarch), and one Far from the Madding Crowd, of which I lost the copy.
Although I've seen various adaptations of many of them, but I'm guessing the point is actually to have read them.

Anyhoo, back to the top 5 - only one deals with reality, and even then it's not a contemporaneous form. And only one hasn't (yet) had some incarnation in another form of media. And strangely the one that tops the list also has a film of part of it out now (well next week). So what do these say about modern culture? As much as you'd expect for a TV poll.

And speaking of modern culture - I'm going all interactive, and doing the BBC's Big Read Quiz. Except I just got the question: Who is not one of Pooh's pals? a Piglet, b Mouse, c Owl, d Eeyore.
Er...I don't remember there being a mouse, but the Owl was called Wol. I know this much, because I had a stuffed owl (that's stuffed as in made of material, not a taxidermied bird) who was called Wol, thus displaying stunning originality, as children are wont to do. It's not fair, they really ought to do some proper research before they set quizzes like this. Said he who can scarce remember the book, having chewed his way through most of it. Except maybe Wol was called Wol, because the bear of very little brain couldn't spell Owl. Which would make this pointless pedantry misguided, and er, even more pointless [7]. Such is live. And only I would be wrong about Winnie the Pooh.

[7] Which reminds me - The Guardian's Guide had and article about diaries and blogs, and immortality (or at least being legible, and just about mediocre), and such, which pretty well damned me, but now I can't find it on their website. There might be more on this later. Perhaps.

Anyhoo, once again I really ought to shut up.

Oh the nostalgic wonder - Parents shouting about Christmas cards (the only ones I send are to family, and that's cos I have to, as everyone else I know has email), Carol singers doing the rounds. Except not. Because the Round Table in their infinite wisdom are repeating last year's (and thinking about, many preceding year's) stunt of sending round a car with loudspeakers attached, playing a looped tape of festive hits[1], as loudly as possible[4], whilst driving very slowly, and sending poor people scurrying across gardens to bang on peoples' doors to collect money. Except I think this household's response last year was "come back when you've learnt to sing, and are actually putting in a modicum of effort"[5].

[1] Think Vonda Sheperd doing Jingle Bell Rock. Now imagine a cheaper broadcast rights[2] version[3].
[2] Although possibly they don't worry about paying fees and copyright issues.
[3] Maybe they got a new CD, as it's lost the distorted quality provided the stretching 6 weeks of continuous play induces.
[4] A bit like police in armed sieges playing Cher at the barricaded. It'll only stop when you come out with your hands up (and wallet open).
[5] What? If I got volunteered into having to traipse round local housing estates on remarkably cold nights[6], I'm sure they can find unfortunate youngsters to continue the tradition.
[6] Ah, the joys of youth - itchy hats and cold cheeks, just enough feeling left in one's feet to know they're very cold, clouds of breath trying hard to instantly crystallise, seeing how long you can keep going without taking a breath in "ding dong merrily on high"[7], discovering the people are misers, and demand you sing a carol at each house (like you couldn't hear us singing next door, which is all of 6 ft away), and that strangely the success rate plummets as Eastenders comes on.
[7] Glor-or-or-or-orr-or-or-or-orr-or-or-or-orr-or-or-or-orr-ri-ah [snatched breath, 8], Ho-san-na in ex-chel-sis.
[8] I'm not sure I've got the right number of 'or's. Usually you just keep going till the person next to you turns blue.

And what is it about weekends in winter that encourage ploughing through books. Last weekend it was Christopher Brookmyre[9] making me read until my head hurt (possibly because it was getting dark and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink yet that day), and this weekend I'm working through Middlemarch (although I've been reading this for ages as it's going in spurts).
Although I'm wondering if I'm the first to read about Mr Casaubon whilst listening to The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips (and I'd forgotten how much I liked some of it).
[9] Ok so when he ran out of mini rants, and mocking the world (including those who mock), it got a bit clumsy, but otherwise pretty much good.

And what's happen - as suddenly lots of people I went to uni with are all popping out of the woodwork.
Well ok so one was being rung up to be told "hi, the wedding's not in November, it's in February now, oh and you're not invited cos it's on the other side of the Atlantic" (well, vastly summarised as the potential groom was quite well lubricated, and he usually complains I can talk the hind leg off a donkey[10,11], and I didn't get to say much [but hey, as long as it's his phone bill]). And having realised the significance of the date, I've just worked out they've been together 3 years. Life is strange.
[10] Where on earth did that expression come from?
[11] Possibly when the footnotes get into double figures it's time to do something about my writing style.

And oh wow (giving away that this was half written last night, and half today), it appears they've captured Saddam Hussein (and let me guess, he's found with 3,000 tonnes of anthrax in his shoe). And it must be true cos CNNsay so (and no way would the assorted governments let this out if it weren't believed true, as they don't really like admitting they were wrong).
Anyhoo, I might get round to writing about all the stuff I meant to at one point.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Glad I got annoyed with Blogger's spell check, and just copied it all into Word, as when I went to post, Blogger, in its wisdom, decided that I really wanted to log in at that point, so it could shrug its shoulders when asked "where's that big post gone?".
That must be the first time in my life that Word has actaully managed not to lose a large amount of unsaved text.

Wooyay indeed. Got to be on envelope stuffing duty today and yesterday. Discovered that there is apparently someone named Godspower (in Nigeria)[1]. And the people who typed up the address are none too bright (and have some odd interpretations of the World). Like the address that read "[English sounding address], Albany, New York, Albania". Georgia confuses the hell out of them too (so usually they give up on deciding if it's US, or ex-USSR, so stick it under Germany). Oh Amsterdam is in France, Kaapstad is in Jersey and Mauritius is in Israel. And apparently there's a place in Durham called Pity Me. There also appears to be a Mr Milk Shake living in "The Holy City"[2].
[1] Unfortunately not the guy living at Godspeed House, and I didn't see their cousin "Godsofrock".
[2] That's "the holy city" No. 1 (Jerusalem), not No. 2 (The Vatican). I wonder how many more franchises there are going to be - coming soon to a former green belt site near your "The Holy City 3: Return of the roundabouts”. Free Second Coming with every house purchased [see in pack for details, no purchase necessary, for further details please send a SAE to: Our Father House, Hallowed St, Art-in-Heaven, Kingdom Come. While stocks last. The organisers reserve the right to replace the Second Coming with a similar gift of a greater or equal value. Offer not available for employees or familiars of God Inc or their families.

And Cas-Av has beaten me to it - one of the problems with doing mind numbing repetitive actions all day, is that someone invariably puts on some awful radio station. First we had Radio 1 for a bit (ok so not to bad, but that's only once one reaches Jo Whiley after the whiney dearth that is Sara Cox[3]), and then it switched to pure local radio drivel. I can only say A. Thank god Shania Twain appears to have fallen off the face of the earth. B. Thank god it's not radio 2. C. But it's still as bad as I remember it (but lacking the County Kitchens ads[4]), and sounds exactly like radio station in Exeter that broadcasts on the same frequency[5] (but lacking the Trego Mills ads[6]).
[3] Who of course has been axed in favour of Chris Moyles. From her pure grating to Moyles's pretty much Moulinex 500[being a food processor (or sounding like it ought to be one), extrapolating out from the term grating. It's supposed to be funny, although obviously the joke's still in the planning stages, and you've only seen a mock-up. But you get the gist right, although this whole explaining thing has probably dampened the laughing a bit, hasn't it? But unlike most of my jokes it doesn't need a diagram to explain it, and that's got to count for something, right?].
[4] Which went "county kitchens, the best kitchens in the county". Which even as a child I thought lacked a certain amount of effort. For a start which bloody county?
[5] And turns out to be owned by the same company.
[6] The West Country's premier reason for realising one ought to leave the west country as soon as possible. That and the rampant Kernow flags (demeaning Cornish heritage and oppressing your language? Your parents are from Cheshire!).

Anyhoo, getting back to the point - the sheer awful roadkill stuck to the tyres[7] effect that is Ozzie Osbourne singing a duet, with his daughter (who is definitely the product of her parents). You know that Pogues and Kirsty Macoll song that always appears around Christmas - well at least deranged semi-drunken shouting fits into that song. Drug addled befuddlement and schmaltzy saccharine diva (who lacks the voice to be one), is not a good mix.
[7] And yes I am aware of how insensitive this is, given recent events. How do you think I felt when having just ranted in similar terms about this song, the news came on, complete with the Quadimodo story. Still is a truly abysmal song though.
And does anyone else, having watched The Osbournes, feel surprised that Mr Osbourne should happen to be using a quad. And then start having worrying thoughts about whether the guy has a driving licence.

And for pure shits and giggles, I have to link this - Powergen Italia. Sorry, what was that URL? Though apparently not connected to Powergen, the weather sponsoring people. Though I think I've had many spams on this topic, and I now I'm thinking about the concept too much (ow, with buzzy noises). Do you think they are aware?

And I was going to write about my excitement at getting my first Nigerian Official Money Transfer spam, and possibilities for ensuing cruelty, but couldn't because Blogger bloggered off. And then a second one arrived from someone who claims to have diddled Charles Taylor out of a few mill, only now he's being shot at, and has to dispose of the money otherwise someone will think he nicked it. Except his email's, which is a bit odd considering he's supposed to be in Liberia (although he seems a bit confused about which country he's in anyway).
Can I be arsed to befuddle the poor fool in a perfect illustration of muppetry? Probably not.

Argh! I've still got stupid Christmas songs stuck in my head. Whatever-ing cheap radios stations. And no, I don't wish it could be Christmas every day (something something to pl-a-ay), because then I'd have to hear this song every day, and that would not be good for the world.

Anyhoo, I'd better stop now as all I'll do is find more to rant about.

PS. Casino-Avenue (aka the Vispa-er), thinks I said nice stuff about him. Opps, must try harder next time. Except it's a bit hard to find stuff about him about which I can be not nice [right good grammar there]. But the nice stuff is never nice nice stuff, more just about not damning with faint praise (but not by much), much like Southern Cross's quote [convenient plug].
And I just discovered that if you search google for "Southern Cross blog", it finds it, and quotes them quoting me.
And now I'm feeling guilty for writing less than erudite stuff. So I'll give up.

The following was something I wrote on Sunday, after an odd dialogue via email with a guy who works in the Australian Parliament. At the time I didn't get round to concluding (but might tonight).

From this BBC story "Turnout across Europe [in 1999] was higher than in the last US presidential election, and I don't hear people questioning the legitimacy of the presidency of the United States" Pat Cox, President of the European parliament.
A. How did you manage that? Don't you have media or gossip in Brussels, or Strasbourg, or Frankfurt, or Luxembourg, or wherever the seat of power happens to be resting today?
B. Guessing Mr, Mrs, Miss, or Ms [and I'm praying they're not Dr, Lord, or Comrade] Cox hasn't been following Blair's example, and been having a Big Conversation (where the Pm consults the country on what they want done, only not on that, or that, or those, as there's the whole not backing down and facing down revolt issue).
C. Also guessing that [insert title here] Cox missed that whole series of chadding court cases, oh, and those pesky stories about the people who make and provide the [possibly erratic, unverifiable] votingmachines all happening to be Bush donors.
D. And before you get cross with me about not knowing who Pat Cox is, and where the European Parliament is based, tell me who runs the EU. Who has overall control? Try for hints. But whenever I try to get it figured out I end in a quagmire of committees, commissions and councils, and can never find the end.
It makes no sense, it is an amorphous being, lurking beyond and behind, not so much a hydra were for every head you remove another grows, but this abstract notion, where concept of looking for the head requires inventing new dimensions. It is unknown and unknowable, it speaks through these indistinguishable mouthpieces, united in dull awkwardness. Blank men saying nothing much. The media have more amusing things with which to fill their time, and so all mentions of occur only when stimulated by ineptitude and resultant anger.
I pity the EU's PR people.
Yet another story of petty bureaucracy dictating the impossible and the foolish? That'll be the EU.
Join the Euro, unifying equality for all, though obviously there are certain levels of equality.
We must must not be bullied (and you lot missed a good opportunity to keep quiet).
Stability pact? We may have agreed to abide by it, but that doesn't mean it's right, and as such we have the right to opt out, and damn anyone else. Sanctions? Come on if you think you're hard enough. Oh you're not, glad you noticed, keep it mind.
Amend the Common Agricultural Policy? Are you mad, you'll put our farms out of business. What do you mean "rationalise", that's what other countries do, not us.
You're surprised about the lack financial control, and the mislaying of money? But these things are...well they are to be expected. Correct them, prevent them - but why?

Vive L'Europe! (Mais "Vive La France", c'est plus elegant").

The EU is such a non-entity it can never defend itself. It a flickering illusion, unwittingly shrouding the horror stories. It is the ghosts of Whitehall passed, the emphemeral malevolence.
People don't know how it operates, whom it controls and who controls it. There is apparent reality, uninteresting, shiny buildings filled unknown corpo-politicos of miscellaneous descent, capitalised civil servants toiling for some great intangible force. Hoardes of underlings in streams of grey, occasionally some in witty beige, or rebellious navy, underlings for something or someone above.
It has become a thing of cardboard and superstition.
Where is the despisable figurehead? Who are the masses to boo and hiss? Bring us the "evildoer".
And if they are not the baddy, show us their great deeds.
Who is leader, who is the President, the PM?
Point to other countries or states and we speak of the ruler and what we know of them - UK = Blair, the rabid, manic, or just a bit unhinged. USA = Ar lawd uhn say-vyar Jawj Boosh, Ape-man, monkey-boy, bomb your way free. China = Hu Jintao I think, Australia = Howard, redefining "Liberal", France = Chirac, lesser of two evils. Germany = Schroeder, need I say more, Russia = Putin (lover of the Russian Queen? or Russia's greatest love machine?).
I think I just had a Kubla Khan[1,2] moment. I was writing following one train of thought, and for some reason I stopped, and now as I attempt to restart I cannot quite find where I was going. So anyway, an anti-EU [in it's present incarnation] rant, that I'm not sure I wholly agree with now. Oh well.

[1] Named after a weird poem written by someone who is bound to be dead by now[3] (i.e. I can't remember who wrote it, possibly Coleridge [none too sure of the spelling]). He wrote it whilst...being in a somewhat altered state.
[2] However in my case, no poppies were injured in the making of this statement.
[3] Look it was an English Lit lesson with a dim teacher[4] I hated - like I was going to be paying attention.
[4] But as her boss (the head of English[5]) told me that I'd "grow out of my dyslexia" (and that was on a good day when he'd admit the existence of such a syndrome). And yet he was still a much better teacher than her (though I hated the weekly essays at the time, but at least they made sure I was practiced for the exams - shame that by the GCSEs came round I had Little Miss Dim, who obviously set the minimum possible, so she didn't have lots of marking to do).
[5] Who greeted classes with "Come in, sit down and shut up". Even when it was the very first lesson we had at secondary school (this was after booting us out of the classroom first, and making us wait quietly outside, when we weren't even sure if it was the right classroom).

Anyhow, I'll give up on this (for now).

Friday, December 05, 2003

God I must be old - hearing a song on the radio, and not being able to figure out if it's ages old and I've heard it umpteen times before or if it's new, but well written enough that it feels familiar. Turns out it's a bloody good cover (i.e. I can't remember what the original sounded like, other than similar). But having gone a looked it up, it's Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules "Mad World", originally by Tears for Fears (and I was 2 or 3 when it was first around).
But then I also like the latest Limp Bizkit song, Behind Blue Eyes (which I have a hunch is also a cover, no idea of whose it was though).

After some mining: Tears for fears' version (Windows, Real), the new version (can only find .wma). Am I allowed to say I prefer the modern version? The other is very clumsy 80s.

Meandering round radio stations' websites is bad - especially when you come across The Darkness's festive attempt. You know some things are so bad they're good? And some just keep going straight past good into downright dubious territory? I know it's meant to be like that, and it's them extrapolating Queen, and copying the worst traditions of Christmas songs, and it's funny really, but somehow it just seems like the joke isn't quite what it wants to be. Fine you can analyse, you can copy, you can mock, but there's still an "and?".
But maybe it's more to do with me denying Christmas is looming. Bah humbug.
Can you still get humbugs? Do Sainsbury's sell them?

More serious music stuff - very useful series of mini-modules on musical theory. Guess who wanted to know what key was and what it meant, and could only get people to reply "it's the notes that sound best together". Didn't help I was also confusing key and chord. But I did remarkably little music at school, learning to play Silent Night[1] and the Eastenders theme on piano, and some dull thing on guitar[2]. I always got told I was very precise, although my rhythm could improve: which means I put my fingers in place for one chord, play it, move my fingers to the next chord, then play it. Sounds fine? Not when I hit a tricky chord, and have to use both hands to get my fingers in place, and so the song has frequent pauses.
[1] Sounds better in German.
[2] I also gave up on recorder when very young. Too much faffing about with remembering to move fingers and breathe at the same time. Though strangely I used to be in the choir[3], and that wasn't hard.
[3] Until I got a cold, and my voice never went back to normal. Although around this time I also noticed how ridiculous it all was anyway.

Now wondering why I didn't post this yesterday.

And who is James Blaylock? Other than someone who's been exposed to English cereal at one point. Confused? Coherence Engine will explain all. Well not quite, but nearly. CE assumed Weetabix was made up for a book (in vorpal way), and then discovered it was real. Weetabix being the biggest selling cereal in the UK (see F on Fri 21st Nov), but being unsellable in most of Europe (and probably America), and being called Weetbix in Australia and NZ (and made by a different company).
So CE discovered them on sale, but did he buy any? Did he taste them? They're not quite the same as Cheerios, in the same way Marmite[1] is not quite the same as chocolate spread[2].

[1] Another UK thing. It's too hard to explain. Though when did it start having celery extract in it? This mean there aren't enough breweries any more?
[2] American housemate, thought it was, so dipped finger in and sucked it. For a devout atheist they were a lot of references to god and his hangers-on.

And that's the third time I've mentioned Weetabix in this blog.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Procrastination - Apparently I'm INTJ, or ISTJ, depending on what mood the tester's in.
The Results:
Introverted (I) 59.38% Extroverted (E) 40.63%
Sensing (S) 50% Intuitive (N) 50%
Thinking (T) 60.98% Feeling (F) 39.02%
Judging (J) 60% Perceiving (P) 40%

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
ISTJ - "Trustee". Decisiveness in practical affairs. Guardian of time-honoured institutions. Dependable. 11.6% of total population.

The former sounds more like me, and has the added advantage of people subconsciously adding "criminal" in front.

Now what else was there?
Search engine fun - strangely the guy who typed "jonny wilkinson gay" was using an Australian ISP. Lots more people looking for ads, and even ad agencies, including searching for "LLOYDS BANK MUSIC FILM AMELIE". Which is great, apart from the ads that copy Amelie aren't for Lloyds (can't remember who they are for though, so obviously effective).
And it being nearly Christmas (well ok so any time after June is) people searching for certain shop of small things - and for the person who wanted Hawkin's Bazaar in Exeter - from Debenham's and Waterstone's it's on your left going west down the High Street, in the same row as Next, it's in the shop where Dolcis was (last time I saw it, the door handles still Dolcis on). From the Cathedral end, go up the High Street, and it's some where on the right after where Castle Street (round jewellers) comes in. I think, but I haven't been down there in ages. Unless they've moved.

Green Fairy on the insanity of pre-Christmas school rituals - Christingles, although I'm sure they were called pomanders.
Take an orange, assorted bits of ribbon and sparkly stuff.
Using PVA glue, stick assorted trimming to said fruit.
Discover that whilst PVA may stick rulers to the table, and children to chairs, it won't stick to oily fruit.
Try again using much more glue.
Discover that the colour from both the ribbon and the sparkly stuff dissolves in the glue, so everything has blue rings round it (but the ribbon's red, how's that work?).
Repeat until there are 3 ribbons loops round the orange, all crossing at right angles.
Put to one side to dry.
Notice the ribbons are falling off, so repeat gluing process until the ribbons are too stiff to move.
Take one cocktail stick, and stick it through the top of the orange, where two ribbons cross.
Break cocktail stick as the bit where the orange was attached to the tree is too hard (what is the name of that little pellet?).
Turn upside, and try again on the opposite cross.
succeed to penetrate skin. Now try to ram the other half of the cocktail stick into a small candle.
Find candle wax to be hard, and push the rest of the stick into the orange (if you're really lucky it'll be at an angle and come out through the side of the orange, usually right where you hand is).
Ignoring the lost cocktail stick, work another into the base of a candle.
Discover that despite the aid of pairs of compasses, scissors and anything else you consider useful, the most you can get in before it breaks is about 1 cm.
Your teacher will now help you, by inventing some contraption of hot bits of coat-hanger wire, to bore deep holes up from the base of the candle.
Using the pre-made hole, insert another cocktail stick into the candle.
Insert the other end of the stick through the hole in the base of the orange.
Cover the exposed areas of the orange with cloves, by pushing the stalks of the dried buds through the skin.
Find human skin is weaker than orange skin.
Discover dried bits of plant are quite brittle, and create a small slag heap of broken cloves.
Repeatedly impale the orange on the pointy bit of a pair of compasses.
Ram cloves into the newly made holes.
Turn over to cover the other side.
Ignoring the third of the cloves that just fell out, repeat to fill the other hemisphere.
Turn back over to reinsert the now sticky cloves.
Repeat until all holes are filled, possibly using concrete formed of clove-based detritus in a PVA binder as filler.
Now either insert four fruit laden cocktail sticks, or four assorted bits of greenery, at 45 degrees, at the mid point between the equator band, and the candle pole. This being done in usually Late November, or early December, the greenery available is likely to consist of two bits of holly with slug damage, one very stragglely and near dead bit of ivy, and bit of miscellaneous greenery (as there is never enough ivy), whose common name is "the prickliest bush known to mankind". If using fruits, dried fruits are preferable, as the traditional troika of an apple chunk, with a slice of banana, and topped with a grape is not well regarded for it's ability to stay fresh and lacking in mould. The middle fruit on the poles of dried fruit should preferably be unidentifiable.
You have now finished making your pomander, and should now leave it on a windowsill in an erratically heated room for at least a fortnight. During this time the orange will being to decay, oozing sticky fluid. A grey-green mould will cover some of the surface on the orange beneath the cloves. Near the end of the rest period, the orange will begin to dry, and stabilise, having obtained a flattened base that results in a 30 degree list of the candle.
Glue back on any parts that have separated during this period.
You should now either use your pomander in a tedious ceremony in the school hall, whilst walking down the aisle[1] of a borrowed private school chapel singing "Once in royal David's city", or in your own act created by your over-joyed parents (preferably whilst simultaneously watching Blue Peter, with one parent doing the crossword).
You will undoubtedly discover that spiky misshapen globes, with occasional squidgy and sticky bits, are not the easiest things to hold for a long time. Especially when being dripped on with molten wax.
To overcome the wax problem one may use a paper frill, or a silver foil mince pie container to create a collar containing the wax. The wax will still continue to leak, and the foil cup will hasten the melting of the upper section of the candle, whereas the paper will absorb some wax, and then burn very well.
You may also discover that assorted bits of wax coated cocktail stick work well as wicks and dramatically increase the flame size and rate of burning. You may then notice that assorted dried shrubbery, sugar coated dried fruits, glue hardened ribbon, oil rich cloves and dried orange skin will all burn well, often with fierce spitting.

[1] Although if you get the right chapel you can glide all the way (being dressed in the typical spare sheet garb of nativity plays can help disguise the lack of leg movement, preventing being shouted at).

Or of course you could just eat the orange and dried fruit, leave the garden intact, and keep the stockpile of cloves for the next 8 year's Christmas cakes. But where's the painful, sticky, window-sill staining fun in that?

Anyhoo, that was much too long, so I'm going.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Distinctly unimpressed by Hotmail's new look - now with even less functionality.
It doesn't help that it's lost all the new messages that weren't from today (the ones I'd left to remind me to do something about them). And it's also decided that something from September counts as new.
Oh got it now, stupid thing decided to stick new stuff at the end, under the oldest stuff (which is off the bottom of the page because I'm bad at sorting out my inbox).
And I can't find delete. Bloody Microsoft (and don't point out that I chose to use their service, as my main account predates them buying out whoever owned it before [back when they had that half-globe half-portcullis logo]).

And what's Error 500 mean? Cause it's all I can get when I try to access any blog on blogspot.
And blogger's slower on the uptake than I am - currently recommending Belle de Jour (why do I think that ought to be "du", even though she's "de" and so's the film of the same name [which I only know from watching crap TV]). In a similar vein Mon Mouth, an American (I presume) escort in London.

And there are some quirky searches picking up on me. Strangely there are a lot of people searching for Ikea sofas, stuff about John Howard looking miserable at the rugby (and by god he did), Christine Hamilton speeding (did she? Must have missed this), stuff about adverts, lyrics, and Aqualung. And the completely impenetrable "FAVOURABLE TO FRIEND NOT MOTHER BRAKING MOTHERS HEART". Which, once again, will bring you to the wrong part of this site. Go to the archives, and use the find feature of your browser (under edit in IE[1]). Helpful huh? Well there's only a few months worth.

[1] What I'm not being biased, I'm merely reflecting what the people who look at this site use. About 90% use IE, therefore I help the 90% (also the version of Netsacpe on this computer kaputted itself, and I haven't bothered to replace it, so I don't know what the Netscape version is called).

Finally remembered, something I meant to mention ages ago - anyone else seen those SMART sports cars? According to their website (on the UK version click smart range, then cars), they're called Roadsters. Me like. Yet to see a Crossblade though, which appears to be a motorcycle with too many wheels. I know people in other countries don't understand them (ok so by "other countries", I mean America and Australia, both of which tend to have cars like tanks anyway), but they're a slightly fun practical reaction to cluttered modern life. And they completely take the piss when you see two of them parked at right angles to the other cars, in the end space of a row. And as for them only having 2 seats - well most modern cars are designed for 2 adults and 2 kids, so the back seats become tokenistic, and incapable of carrying adults as they normally would travel.
And they sure beat the errant lawnmower effect of the original small cars, like the Beetle - diddy car, comically large turning circle.
But then I'm odd, I like the Chrysler PT Cruiser (the one that's half hearse, half Chicago gangsters car). And now there's a convertible. Admittedly looking round the rest of the site, they sure build some ugly cars.
And how come the UK site makes promenient use of the Chrysler building[2], when the US one does not? And who are Maybach? Turns out they're a lapsed brand being reignited (unfortunately the old cars look nicer than the new one).

[2] Which for years I thought was the Empire State Building (well it looks nicer). But as I later discovered it's not just me who gets them confused.

On other stuff, the ever recurring Rootjoose - this time as background music in a BBC 4 (but being shown on BBC 2) documentary on a cartoonist named Gerald Scarfe. Sorry, it's just not quite where I'd expect to find it.
Hmm, no obvious links for Scarfe, and BBC 4 is proving nearly as unhelpful. And i do wish they'd change the colours of the BBC's front page - it's all various shades of mushroom. Though they found his main website, whereas Google didn't rate it high enough.

Other TV stuff, Little Britain. Much too funny, with cruel stereotypes. Very the League of Gentlemen.

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