Sunday, November 20, 2005

2005-08-31 004 In limboYou know you're getting old when...

even the forgotten password link can't remember.

From Amazon just now: Assistance

We're sorry. We're unable to offer online password assistance for you.

We recommend that you create a new account. When placing your next order through the Shopping Basket, select the "I am a new customer" option and create a new account as you place your order. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

I assume there's something wrong with the database as the password I thought it was won't work, nor will any other password I use.

I was only trying to log in to find out how much more the postage would be on a USB data stick which they seemed to have fairly cheap (by which I mean about £10 cheaper than PCWorld's net-only offers). I know there's probably far better deals out there, but I don't know where to start, so I was taking the lazy-male-paying-too-much-for-ease/technologically-inept route. Except now that's not working it looks like I might have to brave the haze of condescension over Tottenham Court Road.

Oddly, in the past few minutes the price of the USB stick has dropped by three-pence.

All this because I forgot to email myself a file. A file which I spent most of yesterday working on. In an underpopulated office with large single-glazed windows, false floor and ceiling, combined heaters and coolers without power, but with the central air conditioning still on. I ended up trying to type with the cuffs on my coat bashing the spacebar. So basically I spent most of Saturday sitting in a fridge. When I'd finished the modelling (not finished as in completed, but finished as in "my eyelids are twitching and thinking has become hard") I ended up going into Heals purely for the purposes of warming up (but I like that table).

I had considered turning on all the computers in the room just to act as heaters, but I discovered they already were, along with the lights in all the locked rooms. Just as well I'm not paying their electricity bill (except in a way I am, and in the longer term we all are).

Of course as I type it's only just warmer than yesterday, but that's because I'm in a cold flat where I'm not at liberty to use the central heating. Brother out, flatmate in. Flatmate been making comments about why I'm still here. Flatmate had strop when he got back from New York at the beginning of the week. Flatmate probably hungover today. Flatmate also told girlfriend, with whom he'd been making those curiously pathetic noises during most of the night, that basically she was too clingy. Girlfriend left to go home and think about "the future of the relationship". I've been in hiding, and pretending to be working, all day.

Pretending because I ought to have been working, but I forgot to email the right file. I remembered to send the 32MB thing by YouSendIt, but forgot the 32kB one. The kB one makes the MB one, and has problems in it that I realised I may be able to fix (which therefore renders the data in the 32MB thing meaningless). I hadn't sorted out all the problems yesterday as a third of the time was taken up remembering how to use the programme, and about half the time was taken up trying to get rid of the errors. It got to the stage that although I still had a few screenfuls of warnings to work through, I was ignoring those just in case amendments triggered more errors (the simulation will run with warnings, but not with errors. But the warnings reduce the accuracy of the simulation). And it's really discouraging to see someone else doing something similar on the other side of the room only to realise that they're complaining because they've got 3 warning messages.

Hence looking for a USB memory stick thing.

So what else? I went to the Tate again on Friday night, but once I got there realised I was too tired to troll round the Rousseau exhibition, so went round the shop instead. Could have cheerfully bought enough books to sink a bank or two, and the problem is most of them are too expensive to ask for as Christmas presents. Not that asking for specific items as Christmas presents works as usually providing an ISBN just means that this year's present will be even more useless than last year's, but at least I'll spend longer trying to guess what it is than last year (it's when the guessing continues after it gets unwrapped that one ought to worry. Oh, and should anyone be thinking useless glasses, such as champagne flutes or martini glasses*, try to remember when packing them that it's something of a Christmas tradition to shake all box shaped presents to see if it's Lego. My cousin obviously picked it up from my brother and I, and keen to impress us tried it at the next family gathering. Which was Easter. I can confirm that Cadbury eggs are better engineered than Nestle).

* Reasons not to: big nose and too talkative respectively. The nose means I have to tip my head rather that the glass when drinking from things with narrow rims. Being talkative isn't so much the problem as what I do with my hands when I talk; I demonstrate and clarify. Which combined with holding a glass with straight sides angled at forty-five degrees means that once the drink starts moving there's nothing to stop it. Oh, well caught madam with the handbag. I think you got nearly all of it. But oh, the bag's not watertight and it seems to be oozing a bit. What an odd colour it's coming out.

Oh - at eleven minutes past seven on Saturday night in Selfridges (and freezers too); the first Last Christmas of the year. And oddly I was too cold, tired and hungry to mind.

After a bit of pointless milling, I left to go back to the flat (mustn't call it home in earshot of the flatmate, but then I've called a temporary-base-for-the-day "home" before). Immediately outside I saw a proper bus with where I wanted to go on the front. It has to be easier than getting the tube in these crowds only to have to change where it gets more crowded. So I hopped on (A. Cliché. B. Technically it was more of a skip as I landed on the other leg), waved the wrong card* at the conductor and went upstairs.

* Bane of my life. I know it would lead to all sorts of big-brother problems, but why can't there just be the one card for everything? Instead of a card for the building, a card for getting to the building, a card for living, a card for driving, a card for breaking down, a card for insuring, a card for belonging and keys for half of these as well (and most of the time it's not the one card). And the card for the building is part of a wallet which is rapidly dying, and which contains more magnetic and radio swipecards and barcodes than I can remember what they do.

Back to the bus. I've found a seat near the front, next to guy depleting his mobile balance. Diagonally behind me are two Germans getting sehr getrunken (yeah, wrapping it in a Sainsbury's bag will disguise your breathe catching fire, sure it will). Which reminds me: why is Congolese French so much easier to understand than that spoken by the French? The connection is overheard and understandable conversation on public transport - the French was on the Victoria line, so it must have been easy.

It's quite nice, I'm far enough forward to be able to see out of the front. I'm quite impressed with this. Normally buses take forever and involve changing umpteen times, whereas this one is from door to near door. We're soon off and making good progress down Oxford Street.

We slow down a bit as we get to Oxford Circus, but that's because New Oxford Street's closed (there's a crane in the middle of it). Then right onto Regent Street. Suddenly the progress isn't so good. In fact we're not progress. The engine bounces and shudders to silence as most of the lights go off. Er... Did something just go a bit wrong? There's some commotion from below. People upstairs offer their own opinions. One thing about bus passengers; they're a heck of a lot more vocal than people on the Tube. There's probably about the same level of interaction, but the people on the bus don't seem care whether anyone is listening.

The engine comes back on. I think the driver was just saving fuel or trying to cut down on the cloud of pollution which encircles the bus. Connected thought: why are bendy buses so loud? They sound like streetsweepers; they spend the whole time whooshing at everything.

We edge forward, but only when the lights are red. Once we reach second gear, but that was by driving through a red light. And so much for the view; the front windows are streaming with condensation. Through a patch not etched beyond clarity, distorted with smeared hair gel and with low levels of condensation, I get a good view into various shops. Hamley's have gone all out for Postman Pat this Christmas, which makes me wonder if it'll be Wizbit next year. Next think the future definitely is orange, and the girl opposite leaves to go and buy some jeans. I think she managed to get back on the same bus. Further down and I can see the renovations occurring in a gutted shop over the top of the hoardings.

It's now half an hour after I got on and we've only just reached Piccadilly Circus (I never understand the allure. It's just Boots, McDonald's, small branch of Gap, and some painfully bright things). This why I don't use buses. I can walk quicker, but once I'm on I'm too much of an optimist to get off. I'm sure it'll move in a minute.

We would make more headway, but we miss on set of lights because, hey guess what, there's a bus sitting on the yellow hatching across the junction. When he sees our bus approach he edges a few inches closer to the van in front (also partially on the hatching) in the hope that'll allow room for people to pass.

They move, we get through, and out again to see geysers of steam emanating from the contraptions used in Red Bull's event. We also get to see the happy people standing by a car with the bonnet open (though fortunately with an attendant AA van). Yeah, the edge of Trafalgar square, that'll be a fun place to breakdown.

Then down Whitehall, which from the driving felt as if it was too far round. Out over Westminster Bridge (only somewhere over 45 minutes), then southwards. I get a little confused as I could have sworn it said Vauxhall on the front, and one the other places it apparently went to, it didn't.

Anyway, then southwards, recognising bits and then plunging back into the unknown. I'm ashamed to admit the unfathomable route had be worried enough to check passing street names in my A-Z.

I hurriedly packed it away as I realised I knew the bridge ahead, and scurry downstairs, bound off the rear platform just as the bus accelerates away (so misjudging it paid off), deftly swing across the road in convenient breaks in traffic. Hurry down past the god-botherers who have a PA system loud enough to bother the most absent-minded god. And then remember I need milk (I don't know why I always end up needing milk on a Saturday, and therefore usually end up taking it to social events too). So back to the other side of the road, into the "shop for men or people who think like men", as known as, Sainsbury's Local (where they have one till reserved only for people buying five or more items). In fairness I did have a thoroughly thrilling Friday night of shopping, which consisted of buying 20 p per pound sausages (reduced and on "buy two get one pound off") along with everything else I needed, bar chips, because they'd sold out of every brand.

Then back onto the street, over the road, and into a dark alley where I am asked if I want Motorhead tickets. I have never been so insulted in all my life. Does explain the slightly odd queue in Sainsbury's though.

Then home to chicken pie, mock chips and peas. I probably shouldn't have had the whole pie. But it didn't say how many it was supposed to serve. It merely gave the nutrients present in a third of it. Anyway, I hadn't had enough to eat, and I didn't eat it all in one go. No, I cut it into quarters so I could pretend I had no intention of eating more than was on the plate, and then pause Citizen Kane to go back for more. Anyway, it's not even as if I felt full after all of it (I knew I should have used another potato).

Now there's a good Saturday night; pass up the invitation to a party in Camden (beginning at 10 pm on the wrong side of town, and being given by someone I've met 3 times and hardly know, but have already been annoyed by), sit alone in a house overeating unhealthy food watching a borrowed DVD of a film that's supposed to be good yet which I find doesn't quite work.

Next week reading a book with a glass of red wine, some chocolate and an optional cat.

And then today not much at all. House-hunting on the internet, because I'm feeling socially inept, and I'm not good at sounding sane on the phone.

Random thoughts from this week.
- Does the intensity of the city heat island effect vary at weekends?
- Why does TfL's Journey Planner refuse to admit the bus I used yesterday exists?
- Has anyone made a digital music player which slots onto to a USB plug (so would be the socket)? I know you can get dual data sticks and players, because the flatmate was given one by work (full of motivational gush he deleted unheard). But can you get one which you just pop over the end of the data stick? Ok, so I'm not quite sure what would be the point, but there's always an application, even if it's not apparent. I think it might just be flexibility, like those kettles, mixers and juicers which all run off the same power supply.
- KUBB (Reef + Rootjoose, which sounds like an alcopop cocktail) were on Top of the Pops last week (guess who's only just found where they've moved it and has missed it again this week). The caption on the bottom said that Dido's brother gave the lead singer his first break in the music business. Ignoring the veracity of that, does anyone else remember when Dido was "Rollo from Faithless's sister"? The music was nice enough, but forgettable. Probably soon to become the soundtrack for the ad for the Vauxhall Mondeo-alike.


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