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Monday, February 28, 2011

In pursuit of the commute



Why am I doing this? Can someone remind me again please.

It was lovely to have had Friday off. The wedding went with but one hitch and that was the one that was supposed to happen so all is well on that front. It didn't rain while we were outside, the kids that were present screamed in the appropriate parts of the service, the women all cried, the speeches were short (almost to the point of non-existent), the bridesmaids were gorgeous (not that I'm biased) and there was dad dancing. The dad dancing wasn't from me due to the back strain, but ordinarily would have been.
In summary a very British wedding and not a sniff of royalty in sight.

Saturday was to have been Alleycats golf, but I very wisely rested instead, despite the peer pressure, and as a result the pain has eased. Although not fully recovered it's well on it's way and I have no doubt that as long as I'm careful this week it'll be back (no pun intended - or existing) to normal very soon.
Keen to find out why Shep looks so miserable about the whole thing, especially as he has new golf clubs. :-)

Sunday was all about birthday lunch with Mother-in-law. Always a pleasure, never a chore. General topic of discussion was what a terrible start to the year we've all been having. In truth it can only better, although on a couple of issues it most certainly will get worse. Personally I'm trying to stay away from hospitals, but that isn't the case for some of the more frail members of the clan. Our thoughts are with them all.

Lunch was wonderful though. Rounded the day off with daughter and Mrs G on the sofa, a glass of red wine and dancing on ice. Not normally something I'd bother with, but they love it and it does have a smidgen of entertainment about it.

Now we have arrived at Monday morning. Back down to London for a 10am meeting. While 10am might seem like a leisurely start to the day (and when working from home it most certainly is) the logistics involved mean it's actually quite a challenge.

Alarm goes off at 5.45 giving me 20 minutes to get up and out the door. 30 minutes to walk to the station and a massive 10 minutes spare to get coffee and settled before the 6.45 departure. Arrives at London Paddington at 8.45 and it then takes a further 40 minutes (if all goes to plan) to get into the city proper on the tube which leaves me 35 minutes to make the 10 minute walk to the office and into the 10am meeting. Perfect.

Today however, I've been sat on the train at the station since 6.55 as it was late arriving. It's now 7.18 and we're just pulling out of the station so my 25 minutes of spare time has gone before I've even started. Unless the time is made up en route I will be late. Awesome start to the week.

The long list of reasons start with the speedometer not working, the central door locking not working and then some unspecified engine problem which had to be attended to by engineers. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the journey. There's also no hot food or sandwiches on board (as if I care!)

I also take the precaution of reserving a seat when I pre-book my ticket. I like to be forward facing at a table, just in case I fancy joining laptop club and preferably by the window. This is just for my comfort and is not essential. However, to really wind me up, why not accept the booking without comment and plonk me in an aisle seat, rear facing without a table.... Is it really that difficult ? I can see the table with no-one sat at it from here!

Ah well, at least I can feel self assured that we get value for money in rail travel in the UK. D'oh!!!

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Build a new server

Dilbert.com

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, February 25, 2011

Backs, Weddings and Golfing

Those are after all the three main subjects of today's meandering blathering. First up, backs. I've done mine in (to use the parlance of our times). I suspect it's down to lugging my backpack on the trains to and from London for the last couple of weeks. It's a sharp lower back pain that "twinges" when I bend in pretty much any direction. Readings of various sources and discussions with experts of sorts have left me feeling that backs are something that aren't very well understood. As a result I'm resting it by using it very lightly, if that makes any sense at all. In reality this means a little more standing than sitting (bizarrely) some gentle walking but absolutely most definitely no golf. Particularly annoying at the Alleycats Golf Society's quarterly is scheduled to take place on Saturday. I may attend for some light drinking in the evening, but let's not count any chickens just yet.

Today is a bless-ed day off from the toils of Starfleet for me and from the rigors of lunatic drivers for Mrs G. Those of you that have been paying attention will understand that my motivation for all things Starfleet has been well and truly mashed to a pulp of late, so a proper day off will surely help me put everything back into perspective. More so, because this particular day off is to be filled with a wedding.

One of daughter's friends has taken the "get pregnant and then married" start to her adult life and is tying the knot with her "old" man at the ripe old age of 21 and as a mother of two. I cannot judge, for I too married at that young age, although I should point out that neither I or my first wife were "with child". I can only hope that they grow closer rather than further apart. We all live and learn. Regardless, I have no doubt that today will be full of fun and frolics and an all round enjoyable day of celebration for everyone involved. Happily daughter is a bridesmaid and not a bride. She wants a life first she says - and good on her I say. I'll be standing mostly. Expect wedding photos later.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Get your free time working...

The World Community Grid is in it's simplest form, a screensaver. When your system is still switched on, but not being used, this screensaver kicks in and analyses data from scientific projects.... A worthwhile use of wasted processing power.




This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, February 24, 2011

E.T.2

Come on Mr Spielberg. Why not eh?



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NOT The Big Society

Off to town again and a wonderful education on the way.

I have a table seat and am joined by two "ladies" as I later discover they're referred to by our local council. They're actually two very driven new mum's. To call them mums-net types would seem to me to be mislabelling them, doing them a disservice and being patronising all at the same time. They are formidable mothers who quite simply are on a mission to get something done. A very specific something. To build and operate a school for their community.

Perhaps I should go back to the beginning and explain....

Mrs G and I used to live in Brockworth. It's a village in Gloucestershire that has three reasonably well known claims to fame. 1) The home of Cheese-Rolling on Cooper's Hill. 2) The playground (in his youth) of the now world famous actor/writer and nerd, Simon Pegg and finally ..3) The invention of the Jet engine took place here under the guidance of the genius that was Frank Whittle.

Of the three, the most pertinent to our tale is the third, for long after the second world war and Mr Whittle's jet engine genius-ness, the airfield that he used during the development of his now common-place device fell into dis-repair. Time passed, weeds grew and generally not an awful lot happened to the large strip of concrete fenced off from the main road opposite the grotty pub (sorry, but it is grotty) The Victoria.

Somewhen in the last 10 or 15 years, while the housing market was on the up, bits of the land became very interesting to the type of company that like to develop small trading estates and out of town industrial parks that aren't excessively industrial but do allow for massive warehouses. Wincanton distribution have been out there for quite a while (I'm sure you've seen their trucks on the Motorway) and then a large part of the Gloucester sorting office moved out there. There's an insurance company, a technology company, part of the NHS and a wine distributor. All well and good. It's also nicely situated for Motorway access and there has been a road bridge over the M5 for a very long time, but until recently the bridge came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the old airfield with no connection into the village itself.

And then about 5 or 6 years ago, the developers finally got a green light and a decent size housing estate began appearing on top of the airfield which is now never to be seen again.

A very substantial Tesco's arrived and then a Gym, a TravelLodge (well you have to, apparently) and a new pub (The Whittle) in memory of Frank. All of this to service the huge numbers of houses in an area now known as "Cooper's Edge". Great stuff. All well and good. Everybody's happy.

Ah.... Wait a minute..... Hundreds of houses means hundreds of family's means hundreds of kids means a school is required. Oh... Hmmmm.... And a housing market slump, and no plan of any great consequence and a small group of mums with no school for their kids.

You see where this is going?

These two mums have spent the last three years making it happen, and they seem to me to be pretty much unstoppable. There isn't anything they haven't yet overcome. They've successfully mobilised their community and now have plans which have been approved and a builder all set to go.

Best of all it's absolutely nothing to do with the coalition government's "Big Society". One of the recently appointed local MPs did try very briefly to suggest that his party's policies might have helped enable their superbly executed work, but a local resident who knew the truth soon put him right via the local paper. "Get back in yer box" seems to sum it up nicely.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure some elements of TBS are almost a good idea, but to take these "Ladies" hard work and pass it off as something you've "enabled" is as low as a... Well, its as low as a politician. Ah. Yes. Good point. Well quite.

Anyway, their race is far from over, but they seem not to worry and are all guns blazing for the next challenge that the project presents, whatever that may be.

Right now they're working on a community centre (well a temporary one), the fixtures, fittings and colour schemes for the school, library systems, ICT, staff rooms and classrooms, nurturing their own children, holding down full time jobs AND maintaing husbands. And we all know how demanding that lot is.

I'm seriously impressed and won't be at all surprised when women like these, up and down the country are putting the world to rights and shaming the rest of us into fixing the country properly with far less interference from local government, council and central government who quite frankly wouldn't know what to do with a mother and baby in their boardroom and that's before they realise that the mothers are explaining to them how to do their jobs.

Which leads me on to "what can I do?". Their spot isn't even in my community anymore. I don't have kids of school attending age and even though the senior Balls are involved in schooling, I'm not.

However, there might be an angle. Starfleet might have something in the form of corporate citizenship and doing smart and clever things for the community. For now, investigations are afoot. I've made no promises, but if comes to it, I'll willingly pick up a paint brush at the very least - should that be required to get the job done.

My hat is off to them. You can find out more about the sterling work that the two J's ("we're joined at the hip" or so they told me) have done and continue to do here: www.coopersedgeschool.co.uk



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

He's Back...

It's been a little while since Mr Adams had a perfect match with my day-to-day....   He fixed that yesterday....

Dilbert.com



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, February 21, 2011

This side or the other...

Here we go again then. Monday morning and back on the train. I don't mind it too much but at 150 quid a pop it's not something I'd want to do everyday, even if it is being payed for by Starfleet. It still feels like daylight robbery.

There are aspects of it that make it very convenient. I can be in the center of London in 2 and half hours (if the trains all run to plan) and I can join laptop club on the way and get some work done. No decent Internet connection mind you, but for local based work it's do-able if cramped. However, to be properly productive it's far from adequate so in reality the process knocks a good 5 or 6 hours out of my day before anything is actually done.

There is a lot to be said for being face to face with your nemesis (sorry) customer so I guess it's this element alone that makes it truly worth the money, the time and the overall effort. This week is half term, so it's going to be a much quieter affair. Already the train is almost empty in comparison to last week, although far more kids around so day tripping is in abundance.

As it turns out Mr and Mrs Ball senior (being gainfully employed by the education system) are also both on holiday this week and spending a large proportion of it in the capital city. Sister ball organised a tickets for a trip to Lords cricket ground for them and I think they're wandering around doing touristy things which you can do when you're semi-retired apparently. I've planned to meet up with them after work for a quick drink before I catch the train home this evening, so that's likely to be the highlight of my day - but you never know whats around the corner.

Perhaps a bank robbery? Having crowbarred the subject of bank robberies into this post, let's talk about "The Town".

Ben Afleck directs, wrote a hefty chuck of and stars in this All-American heist movie with a heart. Set in Boston, it takes it's name from a suburb "Charlestown" where we're told most of the bank robbers in that part of world live. The story shows us, in it's simplest form what happens when a bad guy decides to turn good.



So far so good. A solid action thriller with some proper acting in it too, and in fact it holds a precious gem tucked away inside, in the form of three scenes featuring the late Pete Postlethwaite.

For my money, these three scenes make it worth the watch regardless of how well turned out the overall package is (and it is very well turned out). Hard to not sound like I'm jumping on the bandwagon of plaudits in saying what an amazing actor PP was, but it is true and luckily I don't have to explain it in great detail when there is a wealth of his material available for you to judge for yourself. I'd highly recommend "Brassed Off" if you haven't seen it (or even if you have). A truly awesome performance and you should also see him in the unforgettable "Usual Suspects".

Sadly, In the "the Town" you can see that he "looks" ill but there's no denying that there's plenty of energy there and he was clearly still fighting the good fight. A terribly sad loss to the film and acting world, his legacy will no doubt live on in the body of work he's left behind.

Overall 8/10, but you can expect to see this film pick up an Oscar for the "Best Supporting Actor" - Jeremy Renner next month. So there it is for another morning.

Until when I see you again...This side or the other.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, February 18, 2011

Elementary my dear Watson



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Red Pill or Blue Bill?

You may have noticed that 40 years ago, this week the Bank of England suffered it's midlife crisis. As a result they gave up on pounds, shillings and pence and instead went for decimilisation as a way of fixing it's future and simplifying the whole process of making and spending money.

In a strange way, I find myself mirroring this moment in history somewhat. I too feel that I'm on the cusp of my own mid-life crisis. I sit amongst an overly and unnecessarily complex set of processes that cause poor performance with excellent accountability. It's a system that I can see myself giving up on (decimating if you like) in favour of a far simpler and sensible process of making and spending money.

Ahh, but let's not forget that I'm a Capricorn. The Mountain Goat. And as such, I'm known for not leaping into the unknown and very carefully picking the safe path so as not to fall.

It says here:

The sign Capricorn is one of the most stable and (mostly) serious of the zodiacal types. These independent, rocklike characters have many sterling qualities. They are normally confident, strong willed and calm. These hardworking, unemotional, shrewd, practical, responsible, persevering, and cautious to the extreme persons, are capable of persisting for as long as is necessary to accomplish a goal they have set for themselves. Capricorn are reliable workers in almost any profession they undertake. They are the major finishers of most projects started by the ‘pioneering’ signs; with firm stick-to-it-ness they quickly become the backbone of any company they work for.

Always bothers me how this stuff is so on-the-nail.

Have a great weekend.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just look around

You can tell a lot just by looking. Of course there's no real detail, put it paints a picture. This morning I'm sat with mostly women to begin with although judging by the numbers of seat reservation cards it's going to get very busy.

For now, there's an early morning member of the laptop club writing a letter. A youth working woman of cats judging by the reading material and scratched forearm. A couple who are most disturbed by their current working conditions:

"That shows how dysfunctional it is. He did pick her up? That's nice of him. It's ridiculous. I hate it, absolutely hate it. I don't care what Chris says any more. It's my life. I was shocked. Too much power, that's the problem." she said. "Yes it's annoying really." She replied going on with "She said she'd promise me she'd deal with it. But you know deep down."

And a woman with headphones and heat magazine.

What's great about this slice of the world is conversation. Like the two women unhappy with their lot, the snippets are just voyeuristic enough without having to get involved. Not unlike "Eastenders" or "Corrie" but real life. I imagine the writers of all good soap opera take the train on a regular basis just to mine the wealth of material. As we pootle (good word -Ed) eastwards the various stops are increasing our number and the variety of subjects. Let's listen to a few more....

"Yeah. So he was talking about online environments as well wasn't he? I'll send him an update" He said.

A retired couple with camera having a lovely day of tourism. "Those masts look like a modern totem pole" and "Did you brush your hair this morning?" - "Yes dear, I even back combed it a bit" he cheerfully replied. What I love about these two is their interest in the world. Everyone else seems to only be interested in themselves. These two are more interested in what's going on in the world. "Look at their daffodils". It transpires that she's a student of photography. See, it's never too late to learn something new.

iPad man reading his email and watching some video. "Pirates of the carribean - part 3" - Oh for heavens sake! If you're going to shell out 500 quid to show off on the train, at least watch something decent. I'm not jealous, but I'm not bringing mine on the train. The phone is more than adequate and makes me far less of an obvious "target"

"Hello, you alright?" she practically yelled into the phone "Yeah. I told you. Don't worry. Has it gone in the lock? And you've lifted the handle right up? I think there's something wrong with it."

The management overhead (not overheard) are having a loud and whining conversation about what they consider to be the tardiness of an engineer they've employed to build a server. "All day it took him! I would have expected it to be a couple of hours. I'm not enamoured." To be fair this guy is now going to spend a day moaning that it took a day to do it, so that's doubled the cost already. And when you take into consideration that he's probably paid significantly more than the poor engineer who was dragged out west on Valentines day to do it, well I'm afraid I have no sympathy. Post his moaning phone call he's gone back to his paper. Best place for him.

In other news... Daughter has to go to hospital tomorrow. Results of her CT scan will be published which may mean the removal of the cast. Hopefully this will be the case and she can start on the road of physiotherapy just in time for next weeks wedding. If nothing else, it will be good for Mrs G and I not to have to care for the disabled any longer. It's amazing just how much you can't do with a broken wrist.

Interesting game of rugby coming up on Friday night, which I'm hoping will mean some long overdue relaxation on my part. Engaging my brain in other subjects aside from work is currently very challenging and actually making me ill. The back ache (which I've not been talking about) has eased a little although 5 hours of travelling won't help that much.

For now, I'm enjoying my coffee and reading about "synthetic transactions" which for those of you without the advantage of having other peoples paperwork thrust under your nose is a type of financial investment.

Fully expecting another day of roadblocks but such is the way of things. I am looking for a way around them. Not holding my breath mind you. Management overhead, take note.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monumental

At Paddington, I can BEARly stop thinking about it. CIRCLEing in my head. EDGwareING toward my day I'm looking out for a BAKER because 'EUSTON, we have a problem'. Perhaps if I can kick start my PANCREAS then the ANGEL of OLD STREET might open MOORGATES for a brighter future. Regardless, a MONUMENTal effort is required to snap out of it and you can take that to the BANK.

See what I did there? :-) I am trying to brighten up. Honest I am.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

The Monday Commute

Now this might be an interesting moment of human interaction. We're pulling into reading and the woman sat opposite me is sitting is a seat that's reserved from reading to London. Interesting huh? I know, that's why you read this stuff.... Anyway, let's watch and see what happens...

Meanwhile... Very pleased to see Mr Firth (and all those involved in 'The King's Speech') getting some well deserved awards last night at the BAFTA'S. I suspect we may see a similar situation at the Oscars in a few weeks time, but then 'Inception' and 'The Social Network' (released on DVD today) have larger American influences and Oscar is a yank afterall. The over-hearing is very thin on the ground this morning. No doubt this is because it's the earlier train (which found me getting up at stupid o'clock) and all it's passengers are still mostly asleep. There was one, but it's all abit too familiar and boring:
"Due diligence, but we're still waiting to hear the outcome later this week." - see what I mean?

Ahhh. Here we are at Reading. So much for a bit of a scrap. Turns out she's getting off here anyway. If the journey is any sort of omen as to the rest of my day, I can expect boredom in spades and given my state of mind it's inevitable. All of a sudden I've lost all interest. But that's what happens when kick a man when he's down.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I am becoming 'Less'

Dilbert.com

Slowly fading. Less relevant. Less required.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Training, Working, Living....

On reflection from yesterday, one other thing that's most definitely changed in the 8 or 9 years since I was a regular commuter; Laptop club. In fact it's got completely out of hand.

It seems that if you're on a train out of London on any given weekday, you absolutely must fire up your laptop and appear to be working on something of great importance. I fear that what's actually happening is these people didn't have enough time in their working day to deal with all the email and/or write up the results from the meetings and brainstorming sessions they've attended. Not only that, but the majority of these people appear to be fraught and generally weary after what has obviously been a long day in the city. So what's the answer?
 

It's two fold.

1) Reduce email to zero (the zero inbox principle) and

2) Improve note taking in meetings to the point that they are complete when the meeting is complete. (the zero post meeting scribe principle). 

You may already have heard of number one (and if you haven't you really should have read this article ), but number two is a newer one now that the technology is catching up. With a combination of tools such as

Voice recognition
Note Sharing (Evernote) and Online storage replication (Dropbox)
Audio recording 
And good old typing in your meeting

you should actually be able to get a hell of a lot done and captured instantly rather than endless editing all the way home. 

But to my mind the driver for this is something far far more important than the technology which is a means to an end.

Treat your working day like a story; with a beginning middle and most importantly an end.

If you don't do that, then what little life you do have will simply disappear altogether and let me tell you a secret.....You will never, ever under any circumstances whatsoever get that time back.

It's up to you though.

Perhaps you've persuaded yourself that by giving away a couple more hours of your (yes it's yours and no one else's) time for free, you'll reap a greater reward. Not a bit of it. In the corporate world, you are almost certainly a number and not an individual. There are some small exceptions to this rule - mostly if you're self employed - but the basic truth is still very real regardless of the circumstances.

You are only here once. There are not two attempts. You have choices, and the strength to make them.

Something to think about isn't it?  



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Karma

The stuff I'm doing in London might be helping but in the short term I do not forecast a good outcome for the team as a whole. Not least because a few key players are going off on holiday and will leave gaping holes as they've been positioned through no fault of thier own, as the people that run the show. I pity the management team (and thats not something I say often) because sometimes a 'perfect storm' is the hardest fight of all.

Just to round off my travels to the Big City this week. I stayed much later in the office having the luxury of a later & cheaper ticket to guide me home. However, today the tube was gliding like a silky smooth stocking sliding down a banister (Don't ask me, but it is a picture isn't it) which meant I have an hour to burn at Paddington before the next train. At least it means I can have a wander and a wonder at Brunel's handywork followed by a 'London must'; namely a pint of pride.



Looking forward to over-hearing on the way home. Tomorrow sees me finally getting some movement on my cryptic conversations from last month. I'm pretty sure I can predict the outcome before it's started and I'm not happy about it. Sadly it will just lead to more grief and unnecessary expense down a road I do not wish to travel but am left with no other option. On top if which my levels of paranoia will reach a new high while my self worth will reach a new low. It is the most bizarre and stupid situation I have ever known and to anyone with common sense it is unsustainable.

I might need to order another one of these before I head home.


PS: Appologies for the lack of clarity, but such is the way of things.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

I beg your pardon?

Wednesday has arrived and here I am back on the commuter trek into London. After Monday's fiasco, one can only hope the management at TFL have learnt their lesson and not created as much dust in the tube. Apparently there was so much dust disturbance as a result of our old friend the 'engineering works' that the drivers were unable to see where they were going. Aside from the obvious discomfort this causes for drivers (and probably passengers alike) I do have to wonder why they need to see where they are going? After all, it's dark and they're on rails. Start and stop at station platforms. It's not rocket science (and we all know what trouble those sort of assumptions cause).

I'm sure you're aware there are many 'Mass Transit Systems' (to give them their more formal title) around the world that are mostly automated. The driverless train is a tried and tested phenomenon in some nations and it's not beyond the wit of man to get a train to stop at a precise predetermined point on a platform. In fact I believe that somewhere around parliament the existing trains do exactly that. From memory it may be the Jubilee Line. It's all bit chicken and egg though. An automated system doesn't have human error, but when it breaks down (and it will because it's designed by fallible humans) it requires human intervention to fix it again. The never ending problem and the bane of all automation engineers lives no doubt.

In conversation with the Badman yesterday he reminded me of the joy of public transport eavesdropping and of forming an immediate and irrational hatred of your fellow passengers. I need to point out here, that that (the hatred part) is something I actively do not do. This has the unfortunate result of leaving me as the strange individual that's smiling for no apparent reason. But it makes me happy even if you do hate me before you've met me. As for conversation, it's a little unfair to call it eavesdropping which implies one hiding under the eaves of a building and listening to the conversation dropping out. Overhearing is much nearer the truth, I'm hearing and then I'm over-hearing. Just turning up my listening volume and tuning into voices. A table seat also affords yet more over-reading opportunities as well. I digress. Let's get to the meat....

Another EU meeting taking place today. This time a woman involved in the sports council. Some comment on the preventive activities of betting operators among other things. I'm far from riveted. As is the bloke sat opposite. He's trying to read Haruki Murakami, £7.99 RRP. "Evocative, entertaining, sexy and funny" according to Time Out, but he's not gripped and has fallen asleep.

I've been enjoying today's overheard in flight conversations far more. These have consisted of (in no particular order)

Butchering. "It's not what it used to be." he said. "We used to stand out the front of the shop shouting. Now there's no one to shout at."

Getting your handbag nicked. "I always tell my misses to put hers under the leg of the chair or not to bring it at all." "Hello Brian, it's James." said James (surname supplied but redacted) "I'm paying you a visit on Friday. You'll be there will you? See you about 9.30"

"Just looking at the layout here. I can see there's some long rooflights. Sort of six panels." he offered "They're nice detailed drawings aren't they?"

"She can't carry on like this. It's just not working is it and she's not on it. She's on the opposite team." said the woman at the back on the phone. "I know it sounds awful but she doesn't know" and "They're all frightened of the comeback"

"Hailstones the size of golfballs!"

My personal favourite today: Trains. "Those regional ones are a bit clickety clackety aren't they"


It really is a joy - this brief insight into peoples lives. A tiny window through which we can glimpse a moment an construct our own back stories. It's a writers Inspirational dream isn't it?

Here we go again then. Just speeding through slough and not a bomb in sight. Once more into the breach dear friends, once more. Well, being loaded into the tube isn't too dissimilar.

Have a great day dear reader.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another visit from Oscar

It's nearing that time of year again, so here, for your delectation are the top 10 movies you absolutley need to have watched to be able to say anything of any use about the this years awards (the 83rd)

“The Kids Are All Right” (4 Nominations)
Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their birth father into their family life.

“Winter's Bone" (4 Nominations)
An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.

“Black Swan” (5 Nominations)
A ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odette's evil sister, Odile, the Black Swan.

“Toy Story 3" (5 Nominations)
The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

“127 Hours” (6 Nominations)
A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.

“The Fighter” (7 Nominations)
A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

“Inception” (8 Nominations)
In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception.

“The Social Network” (8 Nominations)
A chronicle of the founding of Facebook, the social-networking Web site.

“True Grit” (10 Nominations)
A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer.

“The King's Speech” (12 Nominations)
The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

If that's not enough for you to be going on with, then you should also pay attention to (in no particular order): 

“Alice in Wonderland”, “Animal Kingdom”, “Biutiful”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”, “How to Train Your Dragon”, “Another Year”, “Barney's Version”, “Blue Valentine”, “Country Strong”, “Day & Night”, “Dogtooth”, “Exit through the Gift Shop”, “Gasland”, “God of Love”, “Hereafter”, “I Am Love”, “In a Better World”, “Incendies”, “Inside Job”, “Iron Man 2”, “Killing in the Name”, “Let's Pollute” , “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)”, “Na Wewe”, “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)”, “Poster Girl”, “Rabbit Hole”, “Restrepo”, “Salt”, “Strangers No More”, “Sun Come Up”, “Tangled”, “The Confession”, “The Crush”, “The Gruffalo”, “The Illusionist”, “The Lost Thing”, “The Tempest”, “The Town”, “The Warriors of Qiugang”, “The Way Back”, “The Wolfman”, “Tron: Legacy”, “Unstoppable”, “Waste Land”, “Wish 143”

Everything you need to know is here: http://www.oscars.org/

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, February 07, 2011

Mugged on the tube...

Well, more sort of mugged by the tube and First Great Western.

Some erratic signalling meant that the 32 minute journey from Bank to Paddington took 1 hour and 15 minutes.

This in turn meant that even though I'd allowed an hour to get my train out of the city, I actually missed it.

Thus a requirement arose for a further ticket at the not un-princely sum of 32 quid plus sitting around on a cold platform for another 40 minutes.

I can see no reason to ever want to venture back up here again.

I'll be back on Wednesday. This time with a slightly more expensive open ended ticket to allow for underground ineptitude.

Deep Joy.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Up Laandun, innit.

For the first time on a very long time I have a day of doing some unusual things that used to be the norm. It's almost 10 years since I worked in London so to find myself on the early morning commuter train to our capital city with the promise of the tube, the river and the hustle and bustle ahead of me is not unwelcome surprise.

For a good 3 years I lived out of a suitcase in a number of hotels and a flat in and around the Victoria area of London and a thoroughly interesting and mostly enjoyable time it was. I may well be looking back at it with the infamous rose tinted glasses or the comfy huggableness of reminiscence but that's how I remember it now. At the time, week in week out in an Hotel wasn't doing my westcountry social life any good at all, but the glitz and glamour of the city made up for it for a little while at least.

In the end it had run it's course and my affair with the bright lights and streets paved with gold petered out with the realisation that bright lights made for a big electricity bill and there was a lot of scrapping over 'some' gold. I'll always be a country boy in my heart no matter where I am in the universe.

The world turns in a mysterious way (much like the way the lord moves if you believe that kind of thing) and so to be returning to 'the smoke' is an exciting thought not least to see how much (or how little) it's changed. Given the current circumstances I find myself in at Starfleet I'm surprised I'm travelling anywhere at all - straddled between two roles and uncertain of any sort of stable future. They have a lot to answer to - but that is for another day.

For now I'm enjoying (I never used to) the train journey, it being a relaxing romp, watching the dawn light drizzling over the western countryside. The reflections of the passengers in the windows slowly fading in the increasing daylight as if becoming invisible before disappearing altogether into the crowded streets of our destination. (I knew he could write if he felt like it -Ed)

It turns out there's a gentleman sat next to me who is off to a meeting of the European Commission to discuss the future of energy production. A fascinating subject on which I am now fully versed and ready to attend in his place should he suddenly drop dead. I've not spoken to him but he insists on spreading all his 'printed' (Oh for heavens sake!) emails all over the table and thus under my and everyone else's noses. I don't want to know, but now I do. This is one thing that's definitely not changed in the last 10 years. Still, I've got his email address now (and the rest of the committee members), perhaps I'll drop them a link to uswitch.com - bound to be of some use to them if they're find the costs a little high in this age of austerity.

Something that has changed is the addition of an 'Entertainment' carriage. I've heard of 'Quiet' carriages but an entertainment carriage sounds like all sorts of fun. Sadly it doesn't contain jugglers, fire breathers, sword swallowers or even buskers - but it does have a telly on the back of the seat in front of you. Presumably the train operators heard the complaints regarding peoples mobile phones, iPods and portable video games and the like and so after installing a space to be free of them, figured they should also have a space to be full of such cacophony for the travellers that left their gizmos at home (or given the ticket prices, cant afford them more likely).

Those unfortunates are now given yet another retail opportunity where they can pay for this telly to spew all sorts of annoying noise at them for about 3 quid. This begs the question what will they come up with next? I'm fully expecting a 10pin bowling coach and a Tesco's coach coming to a train near me soon! "The train at platform 3 contains a meat, bread and washing powder aisle, the pet food and fresh vegetables are at platform 4"

Here comes Paddington. Time for me to explore Boris' London and compare it to Ken's.

Have a great day!



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

Time, Job Hunting & Ting

I've posted one of these here before. The last one was on the subject of what drives us to do the things we do, and if you missed it and want to check it out, you can read all about it here.

This one is the Secret Powers of Time from Professor Philip Zimbardo. Are you a Past, Present or Future Orientated ?

Just while we're poking around in our heads, it appears that once again I'm providing the storylines for Scott Adams. I have no idea how he does this, but I'm beginning to suspect he has CCTV installed in my office.

Dilbert.com

And finally I'd like to draw your attention to what a friend of mine refers to as "the best thing on British Television at the moment".  Rastamouse. I'm actually really surprised at how much fun it is. I'm sure Bagpuss or the clangers never got up to crime fighting on this sort of level. (although there were plenty of others who did - Hong Kong Phooey, Scooby Doo and Dangermouse to name but three). I'd recommend checking him & the easy crew out. Dem makin' a bad ting good.

Here he is on the UK only (sorry) BBC iPlayer



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I prefer Strawberry Blonde


Taken at The New Inn Gloucester

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Counting big numbers and Expensive flashlights

We've finally run out of IPv4 addresses.  Them's some big numbers. Here's the announcement that came out today.

Costly high quality torches are one of those things I happen to know a bit about having spent some time researching with daughter when looking for a suitable device to turn darkness into light during her night time patrols. Incidentally, we settled on the Lenser T7 which is an amazing piece of kit.  However, if you don't want to spend 60 quid, it's always good to see someone modding something cheap into something expensive...

I'm rather hoping that it's going to help show me the light at the end of this tunnel.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I'm saying nothing...

Dilbert.com



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

What you really NEED to know....

2 Very important items this morning...

1) A useful infographic to explain infographics

2) Privacy and Facebook and what you didn't know about the US Government...



This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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