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Monday, July 31, 2006

Inarticulation 

I have mentioned the beard forum a few times in this blog. It is actually two forums (fora?), one for beard related issues and the other for anything else. Go have a look: it's safe.

On the anything else forum a debate has been raging for the past few days that was kicked off by an innocent comment about George Bush and the "Yo, Blair!" fiasco. Basically the (American) guy who posted thought that Bush (his name for him was Shrubby - nice!) was just generally ignorant and rude to other World leaders.

Anyhow, some days in to this debate, a new guy started posting and the basis of the debate changed to much heavier matters, ranging from Islam to fundamental Christianity to how America had not been bombed since Dubya decided to attack Iraq. He made most of the posts.

I joined in to criticise him for the attitude that nowhere else seemed to matter in his world. America hadn't been attacked again so that was all right. Other places had been attacked (London for one) but, hey, they weren't America.

I was deeply offended by this guy. He represented all the things that most non-Americans find bad about the US. Loud, opinionated and so self-centred.

By the way, I know other Americans and I know this stereotype to be as wrong as the one that all British men wear pinstripe suits and bowler hats. Nevertheless, this man was spouting this attitude and no matter how many people disagreed with him, he would not stand down.

This is where, at last, I reach the point of this posting. I could not post an adequate response to the man. It was not because I wasn't violently opposed to his point of view; I was. It was because I was so angered that I could not think of anything to say that was not personal and/or insulting. That would make me look worse than him (insults and name-calling are really the last resort of the ignorant) and would, more than likely, get my posting deleted by the moderator.

I did make a response of sorts but it took me a while to formulate it. I am not Oscar Wilde, more's the pity, and trying to conjur up a whithering response that was not a blatant insult either to the man himself or, more importantly, to his countrymen (most of whom on the forum have much less bigoted views on the world) was difficult.

I settled for the half-hearted response that I made and to resolve to not enter into discussions with the man again. He's a wanker and doesn't deserve my attention.

There was an ideal five word response which I would have loved to use but could not, for reasons already cited. It reads:

"you, sir, are an arse."

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Work related joke 

How many Prolog programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?

No


Sadly, me and my colleague, Efua, found this hilarious but we suspect that we're in the minority.

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GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!! 

I am having one of those days. No, not one of those days but one of THOSE days.

Last night, I tried to renew my subscription for my antivirus and antispyware software. I've done this before and it's not a major job. It should just be a matter of going to the website and paying for a download.

I did that but the software refused to believe I had paid.

So I tried to get support. No luck. It closes at 6pm and opens at 8am. So I had to wait until today to contact them. I can speak to someone using a pathetic little chat window or I can pay for telephone technical support. Pay! I'm not paying for support on a product I haven't been able to use since I bought it.

The women on the other end of that chat session (imagine, me having online chats with women!) seem to use nothing but automated scripts that stick my name at the end of every sentence. Automated politeness does not work.

They have had to delete my expired products and seem to think that what I have bought will now work. We will see.

On another equally annoying topic, my train was short of a carriage or two and there were tons of extra people on the train. I spent parts of the journey with some woman's hot fat arse on my shoulder, then another woman's rolled up paper digging into my upper arm.

I really was not happy.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Merry Christmas! 

Oh, hang on, it's still July.

Pardon my confusion. The conference centre that we back onto has Christmas trees on their balcony and have what sounds like a small chamber orchestra playing Christmas songs.

Pleasant but unnerving.

Better hurry with that Christmas shopping: there are only 151 days until Christmas!

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Experiments with milk 

Sick of having to buy "special" rice milk to use on my cereal and having filthy looking mugs through not having milk in my tea, I've decided to try a few experimental cups of tea with milk.

I originally stopped milk in my tea because I suspected I had some sort of lactose intolerance. I was getting rather bloated and "gassy". I also stopped other dairy products such as cheese, butter and cream and some other foods.

Whatever was causing my digestive problems seems to be fairly specific as despite allowing cheese, cream and butter back into my diet, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between them and any bloating attacks.

So far my experiments have been inconclusive. Sometimes the tea tastes okay with milk, others, like the tea sitting on my desk as I write this, taste like it used to taste when the milk was going off. Perhaps I'll stick to dirty cups.

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NO! 

On my walk to work from Charing Cross, I pass a very small park. Just recently the owners have put up some signs:

No Drugs
No Drink
No Bikes
No Dogs


While I agree with the sentiments, I'm not sure I agree with the wisdom of so many signs. For a start, those at whom the first two signs are aimed won't really give a toss as to whether a sign is there or not before they stick the needle in their veins. Likewise, the winos that grace the West End aren't going to be that bothered.

Anyone stupid enough to ride a bike in such a small park really won't be smart enough to read the sign and, well, we all know the old jokes about the reading abilities of dogs. This last one is probably the most appropriate as dog owners do have a choice of two areas in which they can exercise their pets. This sign really means "go next door".

So many unnecessary No signs always makes me think that they should be replaced by one sign that just says NO.

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Photo again 

I'll have to change that one. It makes me look like Oddbod from Carry on Screaming.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Hot 

It's too bloody hot. It's all very well having weather like this on holiday. Then it's nice but, when you're at work and you're trying to concentrate, hot weather seems to make your brain melt and trickle out of your ears.

Or is that just me?

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Channel 4 news 

Jon Snow appeared to be doing a new report from the traffic island in The Strand just outside Charing Cross this morning with commuters swarming disdainfully around him. One or two weak-willed individuals did look back ("oooh, TV!") but most of us were made of stronger stuff.

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What annoyed me this morning? 

Was it the stupid girl sitting further down the carriage carrying on a conversation with a boy sitting behind her when there was a seat next to him and three seats next to her?

No.

Was it the woman who sat next to me who suddenly and very vigorously started to scratch her head so much that I shuffled as far as I could away from her without falling off my seat?

No.

Was it the man who jumped at the only empty ticket barrier at Charing Cross, then stood there holding up the line while he found his ticket and then have it not work anyway?

Could be.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

New Photo 

I changed my profile photo again. It should be bigger and is definitely more recent.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

2 minutes of silence 

We just had the 2 minutes. It wasn't as quiet as last year and not so many people took part but then the emotions aren't so raw as they were. Time happens.

It was, however, moving to see that those people who did take part took it seriously and were silent, stopped their cars, got off their bikes and stood in silent reflection.

I was moved by that reverence this year more than anything else. I didn't rage. I looked inside for it but it wasn't there. Nor was I sad for the people who had died. I had a moment of sadness this morning on the lead up to the time of the first bomb: 8:51am. I thought about all the people who had more closely affected by the bombs than myself: those that had died, had lost people, had been injured and I was deeply sad for them then.

I normally find respect and reverence difficult. Unless there is a connection to the people I am to respect, the feelings are abstract and empathy strained. So if someone famous dies, I find it odd when people say they are upset about it. Unless they know the person, really know them and not just their public face, I don't feel they have a right to be upset. The person's family, yes, their close friends, yes, but not the general public.

Today, however, there was a connection, albeit indirect and somewhat tenuous. People died nearby one year ago. I knew none of them but they were ordinary people, just the same as me, on their way to work using familiar buses and tube-trains. Someone stole their lives for a senseless reason.

So respect and reverence were the order of the day and it was good to feel it.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Silence is Crimson 

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the London Bus and Underground bombings. There will be another two-minute silence.

In some ways, it seems like yesterday but in others it seems a lot longer ago than a year.

We had a two-minute silence last year about a week after the bombings. I wonder how I will feel this time? Last year's silence was a bit of a strange time for me. As well as the ultra-strange sensation of London quiet, I remember, almost for the first time, actually thinking, really thinking, about what the silence was all about. Other one or two minute silences were, for me, just a mark of respect and triggered no real emotional response. This was different, it was, to use a much-worn cliché, personal.

Oddly, my predominant emotion was not fear or pity or sadness but utter and almost all-consuming rage. I could not, and still cannot, believe how angry I was against the people who had blown themselves up killing many others and injuring many more.

I don't know how I will react tomorrow or if I will at all. After the bombings last year I noticed that my attitude towards armed police had changed from wariness to "go get the bastards!" Last night, on my walk to Charing Cross, I passed an armed policeman, the first I had seen for several months. When I say armed, he wasn't just carrying a pistol, he was fully togged-up in kevlar body-armour and carrying a semi-automatic machine-gun. I was surprised to feel the return of my normal wariness and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

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The Value of Friendship 

I have introduced an ex-colleague, now a friend, to my bosses in the hope of getting her recruited. My aims are completely altruistic: we need someone with her talents and she would be an asset to the company. She is a very clever woman and thinks in the right sort of way for AI development.

There is a bonus scheme in operation here when you introduce someone to the company and they are recruited. I can honestly say that, although the money would be extremely useful, the bonus was not at the forefront of my mind (or anywhere else) when I suggested we should approach her.

I'm not sure I gave that impression when Alan, our CEO, mentioned the scheme but didn't know how much it was. Quick as a flash I said, "it's £500 on recruitment and then another £500 after a year, I think".

Well, I suppose it'll help pay for the car.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Classy! 

This morning I went to the dentist. Exciting, eh?

Afterwards I got back on the train and made my way on to London. Unlike my normal train I had to change at London Bridge as the next Charing Cross service wasn't for another half-an-hour.

At London Bridge there were loads of people waiting for the next Charing Cross train. Many, like me, eager to minimise my lateness to work, had gathered near to where the front-end of the train would be and, when the train arrived, that's where we got on. The front-end of the that carriage was designated as First Class and was guarded by a ticket inspector. This meant that this part of the carriage had three people in it while in the rest of the carriage we were squashed nose-to-armpit.

First-class carriages on commuter trains into London are an unnecessary indulgence and the train companies would be wise to remove them from service. All that the passengers get for their money is a slightly different coloured seat, albeit guaranteed, and the emnity of hundreds of their fellow commuters. I can see the benefits for longer journeys: better seating and refreshments for one thing and more room but for short commuter journeys into London it's stupid.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Photo 

I just added a photo to my profile. I only just noticed that I didn't have one.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Hong Kong Phooey 

Hong Kong Phooey popped into my head this morning. I was answering an email to David with the words "could be" and, inevitably the rest of the line followed it...

"Who is this superhero? Sarge? No. Is it Rosemary, the telephone operator? No. Is it Penry, the mild-mannered janitor? Could be!"


Amazingly, it only ran for 19 episodes. Like the 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, it seemed to run and run forever.

There are rumours of a film. Oh dear.

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Nice weekend 

I loved Saturday's episode of Doctor Who... Rose telling us she died, the Cybermen and the Daleks. The Daleks were very nearly a secret. Apart from one bit of a trailer with the negative Dalek death-ray special effect there was nothing to hint that they would make an appearance. Not even a Dalek special in the Radio Times.

We went to Eastbourne for the day on Sunday. There was a glorious breeze from the sea to take the edge off the heat and I had a paddle in a sea that was cooling but not cold. Marvellous!

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