Sunday, March 30, 2008

Paranoid Android

I woke up really early this morning, 6am. It was quiet strange given I stayed up late last night coughing and sputtering and full of a cold.

Sleep wouldn't return so I sat awake and read "On the Road (Penguin Essentials) ", in fact I got through about half the book as dawn broke on the world outside. Its an amazing read the story really moves along wrapping you up in the beat generation world of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty as they live out their crazy existence across America.

I would highly recommend this book, its hard to describe its got so many interesting narratives and characters but it draws you in so that you just want to see how it all plays out

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Diamond Hoo Ha Man

Back to work today, you would think after 4 days off I would be feeling refreshed but in fact quiet the opposite I felt sluggish. I managed just about to fix a several bugs and make inroads into some new data changes we needed though.
I was going to go to the gym after work but when Dad picked me up (I still don't have my car back, tomorrow always tomorrow) I chickened out. Which was a real shame as Kasia told me I have put on weight, very depressing. I suppose I have had a lot of meals out and not enough exercise recently. Two Indian meals over Easter was extreme overkill but being invited out by two separate sets of friend both of which I want catch up with and I do love Indian food. I love meeting up with friends too even though I mostly get drunk I love meeting people hearing their stories.
I received my Japan rail pass in the post this morning, it pretty exciting all I have to to now is get my travel money and pack. The only slightly unfortunate thing about that is that the exchange rate is currently terrible. The pound might be strong against the US Dollar but against the Euro and Yen its running at a huge discount. Oh well its very difficult to predict these trends, I am really excited about the trip I cant wait to go wondering around Tokyo taking in the sights.

Scary World Theory

Call me a glutton, but somehow I ended up getting talked into going out for another Indian meal last night. Endo arranged for himself, Jo, Martin, Charlotte, Adam, Steph, Phil and I to have a meal at La Quila Handforth.
Martin was on good form telling us all about the Delorean (he even took me for a ride in it, it sounds great!).
After the meal we headed for a few drinks at the Bulls Head, pictures here We were getting merry and talking about the time Martin accidentally threw a milkshake over his car. To celebrate this fact Phil poured wax onto Endo's leg.
After closing time we went back to Martins house. He didn't really invite us, I think partly because He still hasn't finished his living room. I guess he had other things to spend his money and time on...
I was very drunk and probably chatted incoherently a lot. I woke up this morning feeling like death, spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself. I went to watch a film this evening, we watched the Bank Job. Based on the real events the film focuses on a robbery of a London bank to recover incriminating photographs of a royal, I quiet enjoyed it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Delorian

 
 
Martin Has bought himself a Delorian!
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Seven Spices

After a rather dull day I had a very interesting evening. Hooking up with Nick, Ian, Phil and Gilly we headed out to the new(ish) Indian seven spices in Cheadle Hulme. The place is attempting to be an upmarket Indian restaurant. They have excellent decor and the food was a cut above the normal.
Poppadoms were scarce they server a kind of salt and pepper Poppadoms, not just the usual deep fried affair. They tasted great but there wasn't really enough to go round for 7 hungry people.
I started with Sheek Kebabs, which were excellently prepared, just about the right level of flavor. I swapped half for Phil's Afghan Tikka, I wish I had ordered his dish. The chicken was succulent and tender the preparation superbly flavoured.
My main course was akin to a Jalfrezi, chicken tikka with a green chilli onion an pepper sauce.
The drink service was pretty good the Polish girl serving us regularly asked us how we were doing. The food service wasn't quiet so hot, we had to wait for some time for our order to be taken and as I guess everything was cooked to order the waiting time was fairly long. The portion sizes were good all the food arrived server in deceptively sized copper pots.
Overall the food and surrounding were top notch, in fact some of the best I have tasted. The service was good in places but it took a good while to actually eat anything. The bill came to about £27 a head pretty expensive for Indian, and pushed up by the high cost of the drinks which due to the wait we ended up drinking quite a few of. I would say for connoisseurs is an excellent choice for people wanting a traditional Indian its a bit overprices and definitely not fast food.
After the meal we headed to the John Millington for a drink, then wen on to Bramhall for a couple of drinks at Graze. I was so full I found drinking a chore and got a lift back with Nick at one.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

An end has a start

I am so lazy today, I have sat here for about 2 hours trying to psych up the energy to get dress and get to the gym.
I have really done much the holiday weekend either. Yesterday I fixed up the shed roof, the extreme winds had torn off the felt, fortunately we had a roll in the shed.
After that Phil came over to help me set up the new server, we got about 10 minutes into it when Martina turned up. She is going on a trip to the south west today. I must have bored her to death watching us play with the computers.
In the evening I went round to Phil's House to watch films and drink beer, it was nice to relax the cycle home was a bit chilly though. We watched John Rambo which was incredibly graphic even for Rambo. I quiet enjoyed it though I wasn't sure of some of the messages.
Tonight I am going for a meal with Jo, Holly, Phil, Ian, Nick and Sarah. We are planning to sample the new restaurant call the Seven Spices in Cheadle Hulme.
That said I better get to the gym!

Neko Rahmen

I have been watching Neko Ramen a Japanese animation about a cat running a noodle shop, its pretty good and available for free via bit torrent on Azureus Vuze.

The Cure

I am sure most people at some point get the feeling that they are merely pawns in some sort of great game, to which we dont really even understand the rules. I often feel that way, and every so often I see something whihc captures it, this is one of those things. It is a clip from Zeitgeist, the Movie To be fair its the sort of documentry film making which blends fact with clever filmmaking to labour a point sometimes bending things wildly out of their original context. Still a very interesting take especially given the current liquidity crisis in which some of the big banks have been scooping up rivals at exceptional discounts.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Remember me

I know, I have been terrible recently never posting blogs, I have several half written pieces that for one reason or another are waiting on completion.
In fairness to myself I have been very busy with work and various other things, perhaps I will get around to writing it up one day.
Today was quiet a good day really, work wasn't too horrible and I met Sarah for lunch at the rectory. We had a few drinks and both tried to shake off work stresses. I really enjoyed taking time out to just sit and talk about life the universe and everything. During lunch we also arranged to hook up with Jo, Holly and others on Saturday night for a curry.
I had a couple of drinks with lunch and I felt very relaxed and in control back at work, and in the afternoon I managed to get through a few little issues pretty well.
This evening was Emily's birthday and a Sandbox gig at the Night and Day Cafe in Town. Ian drove down and we picked up Danny on route. I hadn't seen him for a while so it was pretty good to catch up.
We arrived in time to hear the second Sandbox song, they sounded really good except Andy's bass drum was trying to make a great escape. He was getting pretty vexed by it, at one point lobbing his drum sticks away in disgust.
I caught up with Emily she seemed to be having a fun birthday, and K was also in a very good mood.
I must admit at first I found it hard to be communicative, I was feeling really tired and a little depressed from work but after a few beers I warmed to conversation. I had a long chat with K about her dissertation, she is writing about surveillance it all sounded very interesting.
Ian was showing us his dance moves, from the quirky "feeding the chickens" to the downright outrageous "sprinkler" we were very amused at his techniques.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mr Brightside

I have been feeling really angry and upset the last week. The garage are really messing me about, they have had car for three weeks now and I still don't know what is going on. I have had so many stories, I think that they are covering up a complete lack of knowledge.
My house searching is not exactly going very well either, either my budget is just too small or I haven't yet seen the right property. I am getting a little fatigued searching though.
I think I am just generally fatigued, I realised that for nearly two years I have worked on one high pressure project after another, there have been so many deadlines and work its all starting to make me battle weary.
Today was Budget Day, and as typical for the New Labour nanny state beer is getting more expensive, as is fuel. More and more I feel that working people like me are paying a huge burden yet more and more people are excluded from life by the increasingly Byzantine system. Everything seems to be about complexity rather than transparency and fairness. I really think it it detrimental, I really think a simpler system would be fairer to all, at the minute the middle of society is screwed while those that can afford clever accountants (and non doms) avoid a great deal. I think my view is backed up by the fact that despite all the extra taxes the divisions in society are growing, quiet quickly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Silence

Over two weeks and still I am carless. Its been sent to a difference "expert" today, still no concrete costing or date for getting it fixed. I feel totally powerless, when it initially broke down I thought its not worth fixing new car time but I allowed myself to be swayed by the mechanics, big mistake. It was of course in their interest to fix it and generate work rather than tell me to buy something new so at the minute I am caught no car and an expensive bill to come. Not exactly what I need, cycling can be a chore, especially with the bad weather.

I was really annoyed when my dad picked me up from work, its slightly unfair, but he sided with the mechanics and still does. I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill until my calves burned and my t-shirt was saturated with sweat. I felt an awful lot better walking out than when I went in.

I went to see my friend Ali. Its been a while so she invited me round for dinner, which turned out to be a rather tasty spaghetti bolognese. She has three kids, two boys and a girl. I really have no idea how she copes I think I would go crazy, I remember, just about, how much of a little bastard I was at their age. I think that she does a pretty good job on her own its kind of inspirational.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

In Between Days

I went out with Nick this morning to look at a couple of houses in Shaw Heath. The first one was an ex council house on the edge of Shaw Heath, I didn't like it from the get go, the area looked unloved and the houses were that horrible council style so utilitarian and ugly. It also boded badly that as we parked up we were able to watch the police rapping on the door of a house further down the street.
Inside the decor was frankly awful I couldn't wait to get away, unfortunately the owner was keen to show us everything.

The second house was much better, a two up two down terrace on one of the little side streets. Nicely done up and maintained I liked all but two things about it, to the back over the passageway was a commercial building. Worse thought was the price, I think 10-15
more than I would want to pay.

Nick was reticent to talk about his absence from the comedy evening making only a dark comment about not being in the mood to laugh. I decided not to push the issue. He did however take me to see some of the houses he has been looking at, which was interesting.

After all the house hunting I took mum to the garden centre to look at plants and bought some pots. Then I went swimming to relax.

In the evening I headed round to Phil's to catch up with Lost, it made my head swim. I really am being to get very confused by the plot twists and turns, its gone from the sublimb to the ridiculous and beyond. Rather than parallel the man of faith versus the man of religion we are now firmly into the Sci-Fi realms.

"the cake is a lie"

I feel really tired today it has been a long week.

I had to work early Saturday morning and I felt tired that I just stayed home played portal and chatted to Kasia online. Portal is amazing, though nowhere near as hard as Bruce and John led me to believe.

Saturday morning was hard because I needed to be in work and my parents needed the car early morning I had to ask my dad nicely if he would give me a lift in for 6am, fortunately he said yes. The job actually went pretty well apart from the usual suspect not doing his bit.

Dispite the problems we managed to wrap up by 9, so I had enough time to rush home get changed grab my bike and cycle to Cheadle Hulme in time for the spring Yoga Morning. Yoga was relaxing but also quiet a work out. There were 3 guys including myself in the class of 36 people and the women were mostly a heck of a lot more flexible than me. I did feel really good if a little tired afterwards. Cycling home was really hard, feeling tired after three hours of Yoga and cycling into the wind.

In the evening it was the monthly Laugh at the Legion. I arranged to go down with Martina, Nick, Phil and Bruce. Ian gave Nick myself and Martina a lift down before toddling off to meet Gilly for some drinks. Nick was a bit quiet and said he forgot his wallet so disappeared again, strange thing was he didn't reappear. We all enjoyed the show there were a couple of really good comedians Martina was very amused by the singing grammar Nazi. We all got really quiet drunk, apparently she was making some strange comments in the car on the way home, I walked home in an effort to get rid of some of the alcohol.

When I arrived I was just making a snack in the kitchen when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was drunkenness. I made a double take at finally focussed on the field mouse sat under the chair in the dining room. For a couple of minutes we stared at each other, the mouse made the first move though darting like lightning across the kitchen then leaping to freedom in the depths under the sink.

3V

Here is an interesting idea. Bascially you buy vouchers at payments points which can then be used to buy goods and services online.

Each voucher you purchase has a visa number on the receipt the expiry data and cvt2 are sent to your email or mobile phone. These are the three details needed to make purchases online.

Unlike some other payment cards this can be used at any site that excepts Visa. While this does look like a coinvent solution for people whom don't have or cannot get a credit card there do seem to be a few little quirks. The actual physical card is only used to purchase vouchers each voucher has its own visa number and while you can move money from one to another there is a £1.75 charge. Some of the vouchers themselves have a charge to purchase and the maximum amount that can be used cannot exceed £200's

Further more like the pre pay mobile phone vouchers this scheme is clearly based around the vouchers have an expiration after which their value drops to zero.

You could use these for anonymous online payments couple with an unregistered pre pay mobile phone.

Over all I think this is an interesting but expensive and fiddly system which isn't worth it for the average person. Given one of the pay points local to me is a high school they are clearly targeting young people who are used to buying top up for they pre pay phones and cant yet get a real credit card. They might also be useful for people paranoid about fraud shopping online after all the maximum you can lose is the vouchers value.

One thing to note as these are not real credit cards you wont be protected by section 75 of the consumer credit card act so if you were buying items and they arrived damaged you would not have the credit card company to back you up.Here is an interesting idea. Basically you buy vouchers at payments points which can then be used to buy goods and services online.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Happy House

Sorry for getting all political but ID cards really annoy me. Labour MP Jackie Smith was on the Today program this morning talking about the plans for the introduction of ID cards. Initially they will be foisted on foreign workers in the UK, I guess Kasia and Martina will both need one. Apparently by 2010 the government will start offering these cards over to young people. She made one specific point about how ID cards would help them in particular because at the moment they need to take in 5 types of ID to register for a bank account. I couldn't help thinking that its the government which made registering for a bank account so difficult in the first place in a misguided effort to cut fraud (given the level of fraud hasn't changed I don't think it worked).

I wonder if this is government strategy, to help acts pass make life deliberately difficult and then pose the act they want to be passed as the answer. I think back to the rumours going round London about the congestion charge, that prior to the introduction of the charge the traffic system was slowed by reorganising of the traffic lights. So that immediate gains in congestion could be proven straight away. Is it paranoia is are we sleepwalking into a big brother state?

I really cannot see ID cards being anything other than an expensive and overreaching system. No matter how good the security measure I imagine there will be a cottage industry around fakes within a few months of their launch. On PM a security firm ridiculed the inconsistencies in the security and the many pitfalls in the system. In the end no matter how secure the system is the weak link are the actual checks done at ground level by staff. The same staff who for example who let a Brazilian cleaner get away because she ran, and the self same ones who allowed a male journalist to use a fake passport with Jackie Smiths picture on it.

I went for lunch with Sarah, the second time in a week. She seemed a lot more at ease today, last time I think her work had rather been taking its toll on her. We ate in the Bollin Fee, I had a cheese, bbq chicken and bacon panini it was really rather tasty. I feel a lot more relaxed with her now and we seem to have really enjoyable conversations, I am always sad we only get an hour at lunch.

This evening I watched the assassination of Jesse James with Martina and Phil. It was a very long film, beautifully shot but I found it a little drawn out and self indulgent. Martina really enjoyed it, Phil seemed so tired he barely concentrated.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

An Ending

I got back from the Gym in time to catch the Japanese part of around the world in 80 Gardens. You can catch it on the bbc iplayer for the next 7 days. Kyoto looked so wonderful, I really cant wait to see it for myself. There is one scene where Monty Don is in a taxi driving past a bamboo patch and just has to stop and admire it, it looked like the scene in house of flying daggers!

Owners on the orange phone network get two tickets for the price of one at Cineworld cinemas every Wednesday night. As Martina is an Orange customer was indulged in an Orange Wednesday night.

We went to see Juno, a film about a teenage girl whose life is turned upside down after she becomes pregnant. Rather than aborting she decides to have the hild adopted, the film follows the emotional twists and turns. I found it a really touching and cute film. The dialogue and acting were excellent and the sound track is superb, well worth a watch.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

50 faces of

When I blog I always write what I think at the time. Unfortunately like most people I am emotional and erratic and hypocritical. I say things I should, emote my frustrations, anger and temporary feelings. In the beginning it hardly mattered, my readership was limited to the odd Google whack. I saw a T-Shirt the other day which read "this slogan has more readers than your blog", which is eerily true. Over time though there are a few people who noticed and started following and I have had a few comments usually in the real world that gave me pause to think. I am not writing to upset people more as a release, for myself however given that its the internet plenty of people can read my output. So the choice is to stop, to moderate or to continue and risk alienating people, so far I have mostly chosen to moderate, I hope that is the correct course to take.

Today was really difficult, I found out my car is totally trashed and had to make a snap decision on whether to fix it or not. In the end I decided to fix it as it would be better the devil I know. I could have gone out and bought a banger but whats to say I wouldn't have faced the same problem next month. It just couldn't have come at a worse time, I just paid £300 for a service and MOT, and £400 for my gym membership. On top of an expensive trip to Japan I am forced to dip into my savings which in turn diminishes my house deposit.

I met Sarah for Lunch though I felt it wasn't the best of our meetings. She looked harassed from work and I after a couple of comments I came to the conclusion some of the tings I have blogged might have come across as negative. Sometimes I get so into writing that I almost forget the connection to the real world. Anyhow to set the record straight, I do shy away from contact, but I like hugs, I just shy away when I don't know people well. Anyway my rather rambling point is it has been most enjoyable to meet Sarah and swap our respective stories and take a break from the hustle of the office.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wake Up Alone

Bit of a strange quandary this morning. I opened my email to find a message from somebody I had never heard of before at the client. He was asking for some rather sensitive information. He had actually forwarded me an email conversation from several people at the clients site discussing how they will work on a new version of something we currently provide them. I forwarded it onto my boss, he found it all very disturbing, me too.

This evening I went to the gym and spent 45 minutes on the treadmill then 15 minutes cycling. I then pretty much undid this all by eating two dinners and lots and lots of cake. I had arranged to go to Martina's to watch Eastern Promises. Martina said she had made cake and I was in a rush so I only half read her email, so not only cake but also a second dinner was waiting, I'll never be slim!

The film was pretty good, Naomi Watts tries to investigate the parentage of a baby girl after her 14 year old mother dies in childbirth. She is drawn into a London underworld of Russians, prostitutes and villains. It was a pretty entertaining film malevolent and violent (in a real not cartoon way) I really enjoyed it.

After watching Bruce text messaged me so we went to the March Hare for a quiet drink and a chat. Bruce has to go to Belfast for the rest of the week.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Z.N.S.

I had two main tasks to do today. The first was to work on a comments system for Phil. He wants a really simple comment page that he can use with some commercial system he has purchased. I knocked together a very basic script.

Tee second task was to go for another viewing on a house in Shaw Heath. I took Nick with me to capitalise on his knowledge, it was very interesting watching him work. Poking around seeing things I just didn't notice at all. Firstly he noticed there was a right of way across the back of the property, then that the wall at the back of the place was falling down, the vendor had put a wooden fence in front of it to cover it up. His advice was, if they are covering up that what other sorts of things where lurking below the surface. I trust his superior experience so I wont be buying.

We did however take a walk around Shaw Heath. It is a regeneration area and as such the council have been making various improvements such as replacing frontages, clearing up the passageways and improving security. Nick was impressed with some of the housing stock and the variety of different type of houses.

He in fact gave me a lot of advice, so while the house was a dead loss the experience was a positive one. I saw a couple of streets which I am going to try and target and see what happens.

This evening was not bad, I ate Chinese food with Phil then we met up with Nick and went to see Semi Pro which was quiet funny. From the same team as Anchor man and Talagdada nights it was another modern comedy. Set in 1970's Flint Michigan the jokes were pretty good very good period stuff and Will Farrell was at his dead pan best. I still think Anchor man is by far an away the best thing he has done, but if you like that you might like Semi Pro.