Monday, December 31, 2007

Ski trip

I got home from Le Deux Alps about 8 last night. It was an amazing trip, full of fun food and ski.

Forever delayed

This has been a busy week, it all started at when at 4am on the 22nd December. My alarm woke me up to leave the house. Phil and his family wanted to arrive 3 hours ahead of time. I decided 2 hours was good enough (as indicated on the Manchester Airports website at least). Unfortunately my gamble for an extra hours sleep somewhat backfired on me. This was the busiest day of the year to fly and Thomas Cook staff weren't very good at keeping the queues down. It me 1 hour 10 minutes to check in then I joined the back of the queue for the security desk. I stretched across the airport from T1 departures nearly into T3. I had never seen anything like it and was convinced I wouldn't make the flight. Fortunately the airport staff dragged me out of the queue and I got into the fast lane. Once I was through security I literally ran across the airport to the gate. I walked on-board the aircraft 10 minutes before the scheduled take off, I shouldn't have bothered running. Thanks to fog in Lyon and the delays at Manchester we sat on the tarmac for an hour before take off.
There was a two and a half hour coach trip from Lyon to Deux Alps, the final hour of which was all uphill winding our way into the mountains. The coach rose though a series of hairpin bends, the bends were numbered!


Phil's family and Jules were staying in a hotel which was situated right at the bottom of the nursery slopes. Unfortunately there wasn't room for Phil and I, we were staying in a chalet about half a mile away. Unfortunately for us most of the distance was uphill. The chalet was located at the top of 5 flights of stairs. One of the reps at the hotel kindly gave us a lift up there (we would have really struggled with our bags otherwise) called the place Hogwarts because of the strange pointy roof. Apart from its position the chalet itself was actually quiet a nice place, it was designed to hold upto six people so felt pretty spacious with just Phil and I.

Ski Lessons

As neither myself Jules or Phil's mother hadn't skied for a while, we enrolled into ski school as level 1. Level 1 is not total beginners but not far off, for people who actually know how to put on their skis. I was amazed by how quickly the skills start to come back with a bit of tuition. Despite starting on the green nursery slopes (and falling over at lot) by the end of the week I was getting pretty good, god enough to have successfully (IE I didn't fall over) tackled a couple of Red runs.

Apres Ski

After about 4pm the light started to fail, the temperature dropped as the slopes moved into shadow at this point we were usually pretty tired having skied for most of the day so it was time to head back to the hotel. Ski resorts are out of the way places, up the top of a hill the only people there are people who want to sky or people who work looking after the skiers. Deux Alps is no exception; after skiing he only other thing to do is go for a drink or two, the so called Apres Ski. There were a few good bars in the town, Polar Bar (with its alpine pine panels and fireplace) the secret smithy's and club Avalanche. Phil and I went out most nights and visited most of the bars and clubs, I recommend avoiding French clubs they are stupidly expensive on drinks and entry. We actually made it into Avalanche for free after following onto a Neilson pub crawl.
Overall a really top holiday, I cannot thanks Phil's parents enough for inviting me it was an amazing trip.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Who's advice should I take?

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Martina bought me these guys for Christmas, I think they are fantastic :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Snowman, originally uploaded by j0hncooke.

17:44 22 December 2007 22122007031 Phils sister Tina and her Ozzy boyfriend Jonny built this snowman outside their chalet

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Medication X

Took this on my camera phone as my cameras memory card was full.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How Cold!

Phil and I went to the unicorn tonight, it was a pretty cold evening we were both wearing our sky jackets and on walking out of the unicorn it was a good job because according to Phil's car it was minus 40C the average temperature for Antartica at this time of year!
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Saturday, December 15, 2007


I went to John Lewis to do more shopping today, bought the all important thermal underwear, just the job for skiing.
I also went to meet a mortgage adviser, something I kind of promised I wouldn't do but gave in to pressure from the estate agent. It actually wasn't entirely unhelpful looking into budgeting and costings was helpful. I am still going to shop around for deals nothing is binding. I certainly would think twice about using the in house legal services. One thing that was very strange was watching the adviser interact with the computer system. It was very similar to ours only as a windows application rather than all command line. It asked a lot of the same questions and even had some of the same foibles though.

This evening was very dull no-one was about about so i stayed home sorted out my accounts for Server room and watched some Dexter.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I felt very dopey at work today, sometimes people say I was there in body but not in spirit, well thats very much how I felt. Fortunately I had managed to get through most of the important work already. Also slightly fortuitous for me today was the Customers Christmas do. That meant that everyone could get out slightly early, I was extremely grateful to leave work at four. I meant I could get myself to TKMaxx to buy some things for skiing.

TKmaxx was recommended to me at lunch time by the shopkeeper of the small sports store in Wilmslow. I went in with Paul to try and buy a sleeping bag. He was planning to stay at Woller's that evening and needed something to keep warm. He was up in for the final Gypsies Playground practice before the Christmas ball concert on Tuesday. We went to the Bollin Fee for their (in)famous beer and a burger meal. It was actually pretty tasty, I recommend paying the extra £1 for the flame grilled chicken burger over the breaded one. It was nice to see Paul, chatting about Radiohead and life in general.

After work I headed to TKmaxx. I was prepared for the worse queues, or a total lack of products. Luckily Friday night turned out to be a good time to go. The place was busy but not excessively so. I manged to find a ski jacket, pants and a few other bits pretty cheap. While I was searching I got a phone call from one of the people at freedom inviting me to the Christmas do. I was really nice to be invited but I had already arranged to go and see a film with Martina.

After shopping I headed to Northern Moor to Pick her up, she had been tutoring a child in German. We headed for some food in Rusholme. We ate in Kebish, a small restaurant take away. The food was ok, I had Lamb tikka and a narn, Martina has Alu Gobi which was very tasty.

We went to see "We Own the Night". I thought it was ok a little long and drwan out I think Martina liked it a lot more. Focusing on Bobby a prodigal son who was enjoying his life as a bar manager of an up and coming night club in 1980s New York. Unfortunately his club becomes the center of a drugs investigation led by his estranged brother and father. The story then becomes a coming of age one for Bobby as he steps up risks his life then loses his freedom before eventually joining the police force and stopping the Russian mob. There were all sorts of subtexts which Martina liked but I thought was pretty overdone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Its been a long day for me, I arrived at work at 6.30 this morning. It was cold and dark, no time at all to be awake working.
After work I headed to the gym lifted some weights in the hope I would find it relaxing. It felt good to be in the gym, it was empty as well. The usual calm December before the storm of January.

Phil dropped a crazy one on my this evening. He invited me to go skiing with his family to the French Alps. It means I wont be able to spend Christmas with my family and that I will miss the next Lan Party but in the end this is a really good opportunity to do something different at Christmas.

I must admit though I am a little apprehensive about skiing I have been before. I went to Andorra on a ski trip at school, but that was (and I am showing my age here) 14 years ago! I will definitely have to make sure my insurance will covers me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Must be the wind or something but the last two nights I have seen broken umbrella's lying in the road. Phil drove over one last night and I saw one on the way home from Martina's.
I went round to practise some Japanese, I should not have bothered really I am coming to the conclusion than my mind is unable to digest foreign languages. I found it incredibly frustrating I have difficulty remembering even the most basic of phrases and grammatical structure. I think that it must have really pissed her off because she had no patients for my mistakes tonight. I doubt even extra practise would make any real difference I will always be a British guy with a strong regional accent attempting to speak Japanese, Much like the pigeon English which find so amusing myself.

Today hasn't been the greatest really the whole house thing is becoming a chore. It seem very difficult to find anything in my price range, let alone consider all the things people tell me. There seem two schools of thought, people like Nick and Bruce think a lot about making improvements and having a projects. A few others are more keen to get shiny new property somewhere that needs no work that is a nice place to live. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, I an not as a hands on as Nick or Bruce but I would like to put my own authority on somewhere rather than have something totally new. It all very confusing, I will ahve to sit and have a long think about the whole thing. No doubt the estate agents will be on the phone again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mrs. Robinson

Yesterday was a very long day. It started out reasonably well. I had to drag myself out of bed bleary eyed to get to work for 6am. All software updates at the moment have to be undertaken out of working hours. So that means if I need to take the system down to upgrade the databases I need to get in hours before the call centre open do the upgrade and have everything up and working. For various reasons the last few upgrades haven't gone very smoothly. Touch wood, I had everything done and working this time so that when I go in Monday morning there will be no issues.

I had booked a couple of viewings on Flats for the afternoon. Bruce offered to come with me to check. I looked at another place in the same road, very similar to one I saw last week. It hadn't been modernised so needed a new kitchen and bathroom, plus central heating, it did however have a loft conversion which gave a lot of extra room. The owner / vendor showed us around the place, it was a strange experience.

It was a foul day and we got soaked walking to the next viewing, which was doubly annoying given the owners were out. So not for the first time I wasted 10 minutes stood outside their door waiting for an answer that never came.

I was feeling a little tired by the time I got home, the early morning starting to get to me. My parents are no help, they only offer dark warnings about how much money Ill lose if I choose the wrong place and no encouragement about my house buying. I went for a nap as I was planning to stay up for the boxing.

I got about 10 minutes rest before Paul rang me, he wanted to tell me about his Belgium trip and have a chat about the Radiohead boxed set. It was nice to hear from him, sounds like he enjoyed Belgium. Apparently Woller nearly didnt' make it back, after leaving his passport in his room.

After the call I was wide awake so I went to play on Mario for a bit, I managed to beat Bowser. I felt great only now the next aims is to collect all of the star. I have 40 remaining, and as I have completed most of the simpler worlds that leaves all the hard ones, so it might take some time!

Phil picked me up around 7 and we headed to Gilmore's flat. He paid for the Mayweather Hatton fight so we were planning to eat play some Nintendo then watch the boxing. We ordered Chinese from the same place as last time and an hour later tucked into yet another huge Chinese meal.

Andy and Emily got me a birthday gift too, which was really incredibly nice of them. They bought me the Nintendo Zapper and Crossbow game for the Wii. It was really quite fun shooting things :)

It got to 2.30am and both Phil and I were fading fast, we found out the actual fight did not begin until 4am so we decided to make tracks. It was a shame not to see the fight but I wouldn't have made it. I was sad to learn Hatton was knocked out in the 10th round when I woke up.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Radiohead 2008 @LCCC

I managed to bag tickets to see Radiohead next June, its going to be great, Phil Paul myself and Martina. I cannot wait.

Talking of Martina, it was her birthday today so I joined her and her friends for a Birthday curry.I was with Martina (German) three French guys (Etienne, Damien,and Romen (i think not sure how to spell)) a Spanish girl whos name I didn't catch, Michael a Chinese man and a French girl Paige.

Etienne followed me to Rusholme I dont think he knew the way, it went pretty well and we made it OK. I found a side street to park on unfortunately he had a great deal of trouble parking up behind me. There was plenty of space but it was wet and misty difficult to see properly.

I took them to the Spicy hut because I think its tasty and pretty well priced. Damien surprised me for a thin guy he eat like Bruce stiffing away two starters, a Pasanda and desert! An eating machine! I had my usual Chicken k Sizzler with Jalfresi sauce

Martina seemed to enjoy her vegetarian dish. After the meal she opened her presents and made an origami hat for Etienne. It was a different evening for me enjoyable but I did feel somewhat out of place, I was the only person there who didn't speak at least two languages fluently. Is strange when I was at school I never realised how wonderful and useful languages were, though I blame this partially on the terrible quality of language tuition at my school. OK I realise I could and should have tried harder but its was difficult with the emphasis on punctuation and grammar rather than speaking and listening.

That aside it was a very fun evening, great food nice company and something different which I always good fun.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Down is the new up

I had today off work, initially I was supposed to be heading to Antwerp to visit Marianne that however long ago ceased to be a possibility. I went to view a couple of flats I had seen on right move. It was the first time I properly viewed a place, even the house I stayed in at university was chosen by the other housemates.
It was a pretty weird experience wondering around someone else's house and being prompted for a commentary by the estate agent. I wasn't entirely sure what I was even meant to look for. I guess it would have been a good idea to take someone like Nick along.

I arrived home about 1 to find my Radiohead boxed set had arrived, it was very exciting. A whole new CD a booklet and LP version of the original in rainbows CD. I hate to sound disappointed but the second CD sounded more like Amnesiac to Kid A. The booklet was also somewhat disappointing, the artwork was well below the work done for previous albums, it didn't speak to me.

I spent the afternoon looking at more houses on the net and listening to Radiohead, then went to Japanese class. Class was very hard, we had a Japanese girl Yukiko who we got to ask questions of. Only one problem she could barely understand our broken Japanese and when she twigged she asked us questions back!

I was really exhausted afterwards, but Bruce asked me to the pub so I though hell why not. He was a bit down apparently a couple of his colleagues have decided to move on and its making him think hard about his future. We talked about that and I told him about the flats I viewed. Then Julie came and chatted to us a little she is going to the British museum in London to see the terracotta army. It sounds like a great thing to go and see I think I might have to go and check it out myself sometime before it heads back to China.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Salmon Pasties

Every year the customer goes on a company outing, as usual this ment a trip to Parrs Wood then a few drinks afterwards.
I go invited to make up numbers, I was unfortunatly awful at bowling and embarrassing came last and second to last. Never mind I did manage to have a go on House of the Dead and was a bit more successful.

Dinner came in the form of fast food from the in house Wimpy. So los of Chips a few bergers and a rather ramdom salmon pasty. One of the call centre manager rather too exception to the salmon pasties. He remarked that the call centre would function better if they were hadned to the staff and on scoring a strike exclaimed "Salmin pasties".

After bowling we headed to the Slug and Lettuce in Didsbury. After a round of drinks someone suggested we try out some drinking games. First one was word dissasociation in which you have to say a work totally dissasociated with whatever the last person said. While ths game sounds easy after a few drinks things get a little difficult.

Next stop was the Picture and Piano, the alcohol had already started to bring out a series of work tensions. I mainly kept out of it and drank down afew more beers. When time was called at the Piano the we designer suggested retro bar in Manchester. A short taxi ride later and a few more beers and my head was beginning to swim. I remember thinking it was a good idea to try and find a club though that didnt work out and we ended up in a curry house.

I ended up sharing a cab back to with the IT manger my head was swimmming and I was out the moment my head touched the pillow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Old School

I traveled down to London yesterday after being invited to see Grand Central at the Islington Carling Academy.

I arrived about an hour before the sound check, just enough time to grab a beer and have a quick chat. Paul had to go off and help move stuff so I spent half an hour with Pippa. It was a bit difficult at first but we eventually got chatting about travel and life.

After a bit of messing about Paul, Jules, James and his girlfriend joined us for a drink and bit of a chat in the bar whilst they waited on the drummer to arrive.

Once the band were assembled it was off to the Watching Paul and the band set up. There was a really officious security guard who seemed intent on kicking us out, fortunately the event organiser was kind enough to hand out some passes. I have never had a pass to a show before it was quiet fun taking all the stuff to the back stage room.

Plenty of people turned out to see the gig, including Paul's Dad, Stepsister, his new housemate and Pippa's Australian housemates. They were really cool people, I had almost forgot how fun Aussies are, full of energy and excitement. I was a little scared of Paul's house mate he was very very drunk standing next to me. I was a little scared!

Grand Central kicked off the evening with a bang. It was the first time I hear him Paul play with a band since Australia, and the first time they played with James the new guitarist. I must say these are the these guys were much much better, much more in tune than revolution 9 and better musicians than the guys from Austrlia. They really took his songs and filled them with music. You could really tell they were enjoying themselves, Paul was exuberant, his presence filling the stage. The rest of the band were playfull all giving it there all. I also got a birthday shout out which was really exciting :)

I think the real testament to the gig was the round of applause at the end, it was so passionate, not just from friends and family but from the crowd. There were a couple of music people in the ranks and they both very much enjoyed it, the female one was dancing around. In fact everyone I spoke to afterwards really enjoyed the gig, it was mass of compliments and superlative being bandied around.

Paul spent a while chatting and meeting people so I sat with Pippa and the Aussies having a chat and a few drinks, listening to the other acts on in the evening. Once Paul had fulfilled his duties we all went for a Chinese meal. I was a very tasty buffet, I must say I eat more than my fill, the food was really good, (and I was very hungry long time since lunch).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Morning

Its been a while since I wrote a gonzo post, mostly I have written some time after the event, tonight is like the old days. I just got back from Didsbury.

It's been a strange day really. It was pouring down when I woke up so I decided to have a day of rest and Mario on the Wii. I also had to arrange something to do this evening. Originally I planned to go to Pesto the restaurant we ate at before the Foo Fighters but on ringing them, not only would they only do bookings for parties over (there were 7 of us) but the were full. I haven't organised a gathering ofr a while and had forgotten how difficult it is, messaging people to see if they will come, organising the place and the time, telling people when to turn up, giving directions it was all quiet stressful. I wanted to go somewhere a bit different but I ended up choosing Casa Tapas in Didsbury.

In amongst theorganisation I had several other phone calls, the first was from Lisa. She was out in Syndey and sounded a little drunk she wished and in fact sung happy birthday to me. Which was both surreal and wonderful, otherwise she sounded a little unhappy, out on a friends 21st and feeling a little old. I can really empathise I feel pretty old myself! I hope her night picked up. The second phone call I got was from Maia, she remembered my birthday was close and called me to wish my a happy birthday, have a chat and catch up. It was really nice and totally unexpected.

I went to Casa Tapas at about 7.30, we had the Banquet, the waiter was a bit funny about it, only a few of us wanted the banquet but he told us it was an all or nothing thing. In the menu it said for three or more people he made everyone get it. Fortunately they did a vegetarian version for Holly. We had a really fun chat an the food was tasty. I was a little dubious of the service, they didnt refrsh the plates between courses nor were they very speedy in taking drinks orders. The food was delicious though. I especially liked the mushrooms in garlic sauce and the meatballs. The aubergine with cheese was pretty special too.

After the meal Jo and Holly left, the rest of us headed to the picture and piano for a few drinks. Phil started us as we ment to go on ordering Mohjitos. We dranks and chatted. Becky was trying to encourage Phil and I too go chat up women but I was too drunk and totally lacking in confidence, even after all the rum. Becky managed to take her own advice though and spent the evening slowly getting with some guy. Eventually seizing the opportunity and going up to chat to him, I was quiet impressed but I guess she is a girl used to getting what she wants.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I went for a couple of drinks with Nick this evening. Foo Fighters apart I haven't really seen very much of him since he moved in with Brie. He dragged me to the Governors house in Cheadle Hulme and sneakily manoeuvred us toward the TV so he could watch the football (England Versus Croatia). I don't really like football very much but I suppose it was England so I acquiesced and we sat near the TV.

We were a little late on the start of the match and were a little bit bemused to find England already 2-0 down. I sat through the rest of the match almost in horror as England fumbled about eventually losing 3-2 at home to Croatia, oh dear. People were quick to blame the manager but they team as a whole were rubbish even I could see the mistakes the total lack of form.

Whilst not watching the football I was discussing buying houses with Nick. He gave me some good advice and kindly offered to help check places out for me which is a very kind gesture.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mario Galaxy

Phil came round today, the first thing he said to me was, "Sorry John I am going to make you spend £30's". He wasn't wrong either. A few minutes later I was playing Mario Galaxy on my Wii and loving it. What a game its so intuitive, the attention to details is incredible the levels are interesting and varied, from the traditional stomping on enemies to flying around like a bee or swimming in the ocean.

I had to buy it, so Phil and I went out on mission to buy a copy, Toys R Us were having a special. It has been years since I last set foot in one of their store, I have to say I found the place an overpowering labyrinth of consumerism. I would be scared to bring my children there, probably they would wear parents down to the point they would buy anything just to escape.

As we were leaving Andy text messaged and invited Phil and I over for an evening of Wii. It sounded like a plan so after a short sojourn at the data center we headed to Abito.

We sent out for Chinese food and while we waited for the delivery we warming up with Tennis and bowling. When the food we were feeling really hungry. Fortunatley arrived in those American style boxes. They look quiet petite, but are actually like little tardises. They hold a size able amount of food. I was very happy with the vermicelli, it was way more than I could consume.

We returned to the couch all feeling somewhat bloated, our hunger more than sated. Next up was Mario, we took turns hurtling through the levels all enjoying the weird and wonderful level designs. I also enjoyed a few beers :) Overall a great game, great night.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Infected Mushroom

A strange thing started off yesterday evening. I was booked to go to a blood donation after work, so I turned up at 5.40 for my appointment and was asked the usual questions, the final one being have you been out of the country in the last 12 months. I answered yes to China and Turkey. The nurse got all twitchy and started thumbing through a book of places then finally asked when I went I told her May and she said sorry you cant donate today you might have malaria. I was a little surprised given I was told I wouldn't need anti malarial shots when I visited the nurse before I visited China. I have also made a donation since I returned from China, so I found it very weird to be refused.

I planned to go round to Martina's she had organised a meal / DVD night with the other language assistants at her place. I headed to Cheadle picking up some Ice cream and a few drinks on the way. I was the first to arrive and we chatted about stuff. She had been backing the kitchen had a pleasant cookie smell.

The others arrived about half an hour later, a French guy Damien, and two Chinese people. One of the Chinese guys Michael took charge of the cooking frying up some rice and eggs. It was a pretty nice meal. After which we had a chat about languages and the perception of different cultures. Damien was amused at my typical English lack of language ability.

The Chinese guys had to leave early as they wanted to go see Liverpool in the morning. Damian gave them a lift home, when he returned we watched a film called Chronos. It was about a man who found a beetle which would keep him alive but at a price. I found it a little confusing because of the language (it was Spanish with English subtitles) but also because I wasn't much in the mood for films. We seemed to spend more time talking and joking then watching.

It was fun though many amusing moments. The only weird part of the evening was when the Martina's friend arrived, the were two girls and a bloke. Apparently both the girls fancy the guy, I have no idea why he was fat and seemed rather ignorant in the few sentenced we exchanged. It seemed a little weird to me putting up three people you hardly know who then go off and do there own thing, but that is her prerogative.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Everybody Knows That You Are Insane

Some days you everything seems possible, it seems like no matter what the problem its surmountable. Today was a little like that for me, at least the majority of it. I managed to solve a major problem for Phil, and some things at work finally clicked.
It left me feeling pretty happy this evening, I even received a little reward from Phil in the form of a couple of pints at the Orange Grove.

I also managed to finished my current book "The catcher in the rye". I enjoyed it the main character reminded me a little of myself, albeit a more affluent and socially outgoing version. I understand his obsession with the falseness of displayed by the majority of people. The hypocrisies and downright falseness displayed by the a great deal of people is incredibly depressing. However tonight I refuse to let such things dent my good mood.

The temperature has plummeted this evening. I am sitting in my room close to almost shivering from the cold. The heating ticks off about 11. I have spent the last couple of hours looking at places to buy. I tried both the local papers and online. Unfortunately the choice was a little limited but with my birthday coming up I have decided it high past time I did something to move on. I have been following the same path for over three years now so it time to make some changes and re-evaluate. One of those changes is moving out its going to take a few months to sort thing out but I am moving in the right direction now. There are some more change to make but that is for another blog.

Monday, November 12, 2007

For What It's Worth

Today was a struggle, I feel a little like I am at sea swimming against the tide, no matter how much I raise my game I am still going to drown in the end. I struggle on though getting through the days and weeks trying to get my work done.

I went to the gym after work jogged for about 50 minutes on the treadmill. I was disgusting by the time I was finished covered in perspiration. Fortunately I did have the good fortune to be on a running machine next to an extremeley attractive young lady which made the process somewhat more tolerable.

I feel pretty awful today though, I am not sure exactly why, mostly frustration with work and a lack of progress in life I suppose. I really need to move out of home I feel like I cant breath hear anymore, my parents are always around they stifle me. They never really have any faith in my abilities which is greatly depressing especially when others do, to them I will always be a little child.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Devil

Another Sunday, another hangover, more blurry memories. Last night I went round to Martin house for a Firework display and BBQ. It was a great evening well attended by many friends.
I had great fun listening to Becky's tails of bad dates, she also looked totally horrified to see Martins deconstructed front front. To be honest I had no idea how much he had taken it apart, it really is back to basics at the moment. Bruce and Nina, turned up she had some of her homemade fudge, it was excellent if dangerously fattening. Martin was his usual exuberant self, Endo seemed Jolly even Martins sister seamed to enjoy herself. Jo and Holly turned up I dropped off his new pc after making another trip to Aria to get a replacement motherboard, it finally seems to have solved the problems I have been having with it (touches wood).

I lost my usual BBQ master chief role to Simon who seemed to have great fun cooking away. It gave me a chance to go mingle so it wasn't so bad to be relegated. I hung around the super heated air radiating from the chimnenea, Martin really loves to get a good fire going!

Most of us brought some fireworks, though I don't feel like it was as much of a show as last year. It was still very funny though, I had a most enjoyable evening.

I only took one photo on my phone, left my camera at home like a fool :S
bonfire at martins

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Pretender

Did something pretty different this evening and went to a book reading. I had never been to one before, so I really didn't know what to expect. The girl from Japanese class invited me, her German network were all going.

The reading was by the author of Angela's Ashes Frank McCourt. He was a very interesting guy he told us a little about his life before giving a shore reading from his new children's book. He had a very powerful personality and waxed lyrical about how his miserable childhood gave him the material for his book.

I had a most enjoyable time listening to him, I would like to say he inspired me to work harder on my book. Unfortunately I feel quiet the opposite, he was so eloquent, so good at drawing characters I don't think I can ever get to that sort of level.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Remember Remeber

Foreign friends often find it strange that every year we British burn an effigy on top of a huge fire, then setting off a load of fireworks. They are even more amazed to find the celebration is based around the fact that a man named Guy Fawkes failed to blow up the houses of Parliament. There is something very British about the celebration of failure.

As usual I headed to the Woodford Community bonfire, its the only event of worth since the Woodford air show stopped. Joining me were Phil, Bruce and Nina. They parked at my house and we all walked down to the show together.

We found a nice place round the back. Not too close the the speakers which were blaring out music far far too loudly. Becky and some of her friends joined us. It was the first time I have seen her properly since she and Nick went there separate ways.

The display was pretty damn good, lots of big explosions lighting up the nights sky. There was a slight moment of Panic, when after a large volley of fireworks and despite the best efforts of the organisers the wind blew the fireworks over the crowd. This meant the hot ash fallout started to rain into the crowd, people went from "ooo" that's night to "OOO, run!" within moments. Fortunately the ash had cooled enough not to cause a mass panic and no one was trampled to death.

After the show we all headed to the rather less crowded British Legion round the corner. They had been rather enterprising and shown let people watch from there (their view probably just as good as the actual community centre). We had a couple of drinks and chewed the fat for a while.

I walked back with Becky and her friends then finished the final level on resident evil. I was still awake so I watched a film called "This is England", about 1980s Britain and the rise of the Skin head. After the loss of his father one little lad seeks solace with an increasingly violent group of skin heads. It highlighted how such radical groups could use people fears and basically offer a friendly environment, just so long as your face fits. Its a challenging film but definitely worth a watch.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Long Road To Ruin

What a weekend, havent't had so much fun for a long long time! Friday night I headed out to Bramhall with Phil. We had a chat and a few pints in the Orange Tree. Ian and Paul joined us after their Gypsy's playground band practise. Phil and I were already on our way to drunktown. We went for a drink in Belgua then into the Graze, to be honest by the end of the night I was so drunk I could hardly work out who I was. It was a funny evening though, I don't usually think of Bramhall as a going out place but I quiet enjoyed it. Some photos taken from my phone here

Saturday was a great day, at least after I recovered from last nights drinking binge. I spent the morning and early afternoon reading and dozing preparing myself for tonight's gig. Its nearly 18 months since I last saw the Foo Fighters at Lancashire Cricket club. That was an amazing gig so I have been eagerly awaiting this one.

Nick cunningly managed to get seated tickets for the gig, he timed the length of the phone call getting through the automated menus and called up exactly that amount of time before the phone lines opened enabling him to get the tickets. The standing ones sold out in minutes.

There were quiet a few of us going, Nick, Bruce, Bruces workmate Stephen, Nick, Mike and some of Nicks friends, I didn't quiet get the names of :( bad John. We met up in the Moon Under The Water beforehand for a drink then headed for food. Heading to a Mediterranean restaurant called Porto. We all chose the tapas special "Fiesta". it was excellent. £15 got load of tapas dishes to share and they were all very tasty. Calamaris, Chozio sausage, pizza olives, bread pizza, meat balls, salad, feta and steak tomatoes, I was very satisfied.

We still had a little time to kill so we headed to the Slug and Lettuce for a drink because the drinks were so expensive in the MEN. Phil used all his skills to muscle his way to the front and I was right there behind him. We managed to get about 4 people from the front, it was amazing. Watching the band so closely. We were buffeted and bashed about but it was all worth it, during most of the show we were literally meters from the band :)

The band were on excellent form, they played some of there new album some classics. Then changed tack a bit moved to whole band to a stage setup more centrally in the arena playing a acoustic set. The sound was fantastic and it was a really nice chill out, they ended playing Everlong. They played it partially acoustically building to a full rock out crescendo.

One thing they did that was quiet strange was bring a kid on stage to play Baker Street with the band. I have no idea who he was but for an 11 year old he totally rocked!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

15 Step

Today was an interesting day of work, as part of the new more inclusive team I was invited to a Buzz Session meeting. The aim was to impart the new business strategy of mission control. I think one of the IT lad encapsulated it best when he said "It's just all common sense really isn't it". Personally I didn't enjoy the thinly veiled psychological programming, presenting us with 5 options, 4 of which are negative but have components which you are meant to make you think yeah I don't want to be like that I want to be an effective follower. In fact all the messages were presented as stark choices basically your on board on message or your out. In my opinion and experience life, motivation, and reasoning is very rarely so clear cut.

I did learn a few things from the meeting though, it let me see that sometimes managers really have no clue about what is going on, they need the feedback and push back from staff in order to be more effective.

Nanowrimo started today so I started to write my first novella / novel. I am not sure how much I will manage to get though this month but it should be fun trying to pen off a few chapters. I think it might mean a slight slow down in the number of blog post though please bear with me and hopefully there will be something other than my rants to read ;)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let Me Know

Life is hectic at the moment, thanks to working on the weekend I started the week feeling frazzled, my shoulder still hurts and I felt terrible this morning. Work is very very stressful the workload is simply gigantic and everyones feeling a little pressured. I think its worse for me because I am not a real employee.

After work I headed to Japanese class with Phil. We had a weeks break because of the half term holiday. Adding to my hassles over the last week has been Jo's PC. I built him a PC last week and due to its modernity and some of his requirements. Its taken myself and Phil both a not inconsiderable amount of time to get it running. At the start of class both myself and Phil got some phone calls. Class was very difficult for me I was tired and out of my depth, I think I did learn a few phrases though.

After class we both went to go fix up Jo pc we left it all working hopefully he is going to be happy, it is an excellent pc but the whole process has been a nightmare. I spent hours getting the bits, building the pc fault finding installing software. Phil has also spent time on it. Considering I did this as a favor and its proved to be such a nightmare its made me decide never to build a pc for anyone other than myself again.

Apart from Jo someone else called me while I was in Japanese class, Lisa. She sounded a little fraught, I hope everything is OK with her. I might try and give her a ring back tomorrow. Olya sent me some photos today, she is looking beautiful but I have no real idea why she wants to keep in contact, just to tease me perhaps. I had just about started to forget her.

Fortunately I have a few things to look forward to, chief among them is the Foo Fighters concert on Saturday. Unfortunately Ian' has had to drop out due to work commitments it would have been good to catch up with him. Its going to e interesting to meet Brie Nick's new interest though.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Suicide pact : you first

My Sunday was nice and relaxed. After a hectic week including yesterdays action it was nice to chill out a little. I rested read a few chapters of my book, listened to the Archers, and cleaned out the fish. Usually I would have headed to the gym but my shoulder is still painful so I stayed in and tried to start moving a few customers cross to the new server. I only managed to move two sites in the end but it was a start. I also managed to sort out at least some of the weird email problems I have been having, well that my customers were having. Andy Gilmore can now relay mail, and is now on the new server complete with redirect.

I also made and effort to try and catch hold of a few friends for a catch up chat, I caught up with Paul, and Jo. Jo was happy to hear his PC is ready for collection. Paul was in a good mood he recounted Paul McCartney, Pippa managed to arrange him a last minute ticket. I was really jealous! Was nice to catch up with them I really must be more proactive at keeping in contact with people.

I watched a weird little indie film with Phil this evening. It was called theThe Chumscrubber. Basically focussing on the interconnected lives of a group of people from the suburbs. Everyone pretends their lives are great whilst chugging down wine or pills in a vain attempt to stay sane. There is a bizarre (and frankly disconnected) parallel video game intermingled with the action.

Goodbye Mr A

Apologies for the verbose nature of this post but it has been a long day! This morning [Saturday] I arrived at work at 6am in order to do an upgrade before the call centre opened at 8.30. Fortunately things went verywell, meaning I was able to get away for about 10. The was especially fortunate as I had promised to help install his new server in the data centre.

He was in a rush, wanting to finish the server set-up in order to get to an Akido event, unfortunately things took rather longer than we planned. I protect the servers with a Cisco Pix firewall, it was an pretty expensive piece of kit but unfortunately Cisco don't do updates unless you pay for a very expensive support contract. Fortunately between us we managed to backdate Java and get on to munge the configuration. Before we left we had a running web cast demo, which puts us well ahead of schedule.

After the data centre Phil and I headed back to his place to fix up Berger's PC. He missed his session, so we used our time productively. After much searching and fiddling we found two problems, firstly the memory liked to be run at a higher voltage. For some reasons the default 1.8v isn't enough to drive it that explains the random not turning on. The double boot problem was solved by a beta bios. It now not only works but is incredibly fast.

Phil's parents treated us to a curry at the Sangam III. The food was excellent, and I very much enjoyed myself. After the curry I headed to Poynton to meet up with Martin, Endo, Adam and Simon for a drink while Phil disappeared off to a leaving do for one of his Akido pals.

I managed to cadge a lift both ways, my dad took me to Poynton and Simon gave me a lift home, what nice chaps. It was a very funny evening nice to catch up with everyone again. Everyone was on form and happy it was a really fun evening. We mostly chatted caught up, Martin and Simon had a very funny exchange about clothes, Martin was laughing at Simon's G-Star jeans and Simon was laughing at Martin's lack of taste.
Mark looking amused
Simon and Adam

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sandbox @ In the city

I had a pretty frustrating day today. Despite having a day off work, thanks to being owed some time in lieu, things didnt really go to plan.

I bought the bits to build a new PC for Jo, unfortunately I am having problems. I think the motherboard might be faulty, sometimes it works sometimes not. Its really annoying when brand new gear dosnt work correctly especially as I bought it on my credit card :S
I spent the afternoon trying in vain to make the computer work so failed to go to the gym again :( I did manage to go jogging yesterday but its not enough really.

Tonight was fortunately a lot more fun than today though. Phil and I went to see Sandbox playing at the in the city gig. They were excellent, I especially like the new funky version of Light Blue, and 1 million Marlboro Lights. Ian also tagged along it was good to see him, its been a while. He enjoyed the gig and was in a pretty good mood, apparently he has a job n Barcelona, lucky guy! Talking of Barcelona, there is much talk of a boys trip there next year. I have never been on a "lads" holiday before but I expect much beer leeriness. Barcelona is an excellent city though, really vibrant and exciting should be great.
None of the other bands really set the world on fire but it was nice having a chat and hanging out, took my mind of Bergers non working PC for a while. Emily told me about her second life project, and about teaching. Kay battered my head about elder people. I left about 11 my ears could not take any more, and eveyrone was tired or hungry. Sandbox plus Emily and Kay went for Chinese Phil and I headed home.

I am also having issues with an ispcp configuration problem I need to get one domain to forward to another but unfortunately ispcp lacks the level of documentation to explain to a user like me how to do it. I posted on the message board but got the usual frustrating just do X are you an idiot reply. The thing is I am not an idiot just inexperienced in using this product, but I don't have the time of inclination to go rooting through the code just to do something trivial which could / should be documented.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fish Care

Since one of my fish died I have been taking measure to try and improve things for the remaining two.
I cleaned the water but it didn't seem to help much. So I got out my chemistry kit and did some analysis. I found that the nitrate level was too high over 80ppm. I changed the water 4 changes worth for two days and expected it to have a noticeable impact on the levels. My dad came up with a method of working out the number of water changes needed to reduce the levels, it turned out to be a LOT more than I thought. I have made a little a on-line calculator.

You can only change 10% of the water in a fish tank in a day, and you have to ensure the water going in has the chlorine removed, either by using an additive or leaving it to stand for a few hours.

Continuing the web design theme this evening I worked on something trying to get media streaming work for an upcoming job. It was pretty tedious but we eventually got to the bottom of it. Only one more piece of the puzzle and a bit of site design to go. I think its should be a pretty slick operation once we are done.

Faust Arp

Spent today tidying my room, I managed to get rid of some rubbish, and a lot of dirt. I wish I could do so more often, my parents are terrible hoarders. To a certain extent I have inherited that triat. I didn't really have much to do everything was about the build up to the big rugby match.

I went round to Jo's house to watch the match. It wasn't the most inspiring game I have ever seen. After being built up all week this was a war of attrition far from the 36-0 romp England played well in a very physical game. Unfortunately they were unable to push their territorial advantage and gave away a lot of stupid penalties a couple right in front of the posts. I supposes its ironic that England lost to a side who kicked the ball from the spot, so often England's fortes.

I feel really cut up the team played well, and I don't even want to talk about the denied try. I ate too much tonight, its why I will never be thin if there is food in front of my I just cannot help but eat it. Jo made some really tasty nachos with salsa and cheese, so nice but so fattening, sigh :(

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Second life

I opened the Telegraph this morning and on the front of the property section had a most revealing article about the world of the second life. For those not in the know second life is a virtual world, not really a game more a in which you can live, own property. I always thought it was about sex people living out their lives vicariously or attacking journalist with flying penis.. However increasingly it seems that people are living out there lives even making a living from Second Life.

The article in the telegraph was talking about Prim Perfect a magazine showcasing some of the more imaginative the houses in Second Life. I knew Second Life was big when I started to read about companies and country opening up shop there. Such as Reuters opening a office in second life. Though part of what I found funny in that was the Reuters reporter imitating Jennifer Government and taking the name of his company in the virtual world.

I suppose virtual worlds give creative people a canvas to create, whether it be objects, or art and others who want to surround themselves with nice things. Perhaps things they can buy only in a virtual world. I think I might be somewhat behind the curb I was going to create a character for the screening of Four Eyed Monsters in Second Life, then for the technology expo. Maybe Ill open up a shop, I just need to think of an angle ;)

TV Envy

After a long and tedious day spent trying to understand how qcb blocks work, I felt worn down. Not too worn down that I didn't want to kill some zombies though. After dinner I jumped onto Resident Evil 4 Wii and blow the heads off a few more zombies. I managed to get my pc running again as well looks like a lose cable (I took the side of and disconnected and reconnected everything and fortunately it came back to life).

After a zombie massacre I spoke to Phil and ended up at his house. He has just bought a new TV; A 46 inch beast, capable of a stunning 1080p . It is a pretty huge screen, a whole 6 inches bigger than Bruce's (which I already thought of as massive).
We hooked up Bruce's Playstation 3 and tried out "Resistance: Fall of Man". It looked beautiful in high definition glory on this screen. The game play is a very similar to Quake 4 or Halo (from which many aspects are borrowed).

I totally want one but something that size wouldn't even fit into my house. I wonder if we can watch the world cup there tomorrow...

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I spoke to Paul yesterday the planned outing to catch McCartney to in Paris is off. Instead of putting the tickets on sale he has decided to sell them only on the day in Paris. So it would mean traveling there on the hope of getting them, and its a smallish venue so not good odds. I could have done with some time off to be honest this week seem to be going on forever, having a really problematic upgrade. I have been in meetings and conference calls and yet we still seem to be hitting brick walls.

I am actually in a foul mood at the moment, my pc has developed a fault hanging on the bios screen, it only a few months old and wasnt in any way cheap, I was also in the middle of doing a web page about fish care when it froze. I rebooted and nothing, very frustrating. Fortunately my laptop is still going.

Prior to my computer expiring I had been in the middle of writing up a piece about dealing with the fish. Including a little calculator to wrk out how much water to change. My remaining fish is just about hanging on, today my dad bought went to the aquarium centre and bought some treatment for common fish problems, and some different food to try. He didn' seem very interested though. I am really worried the water quality has improved nitrate is down from over 80ppm to around 20ppm so I had hoped to see an improvement, nothing tangible yet though.

I have had a pretty rubbish evening, no-one was about and I felt to tired for the gym, so I came home and killed some zombies on Resident Evil 4. At least until a big one got the better of me. I tried to cheer up the fish but he wasnt any better, then my pc died and I got very angry, apoplectic really.

At least is nearly the weekend, not that i have anything special planned in fact with it being the week before payday I am pretty skint, Paris was definitely going to be a credit card job so in some ways its good I am not going. I kind of promised o I would build him a replacement PC it looks like I might have two to do now, I think I should leave my credit card at home when I go.

Monday, October 15, 2007


My friend Kasia sent me the following poem Desiderata. It's about attaining happiness in life I thought it is quiet nice.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann, Indiana

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our Velocity

Yesterday in between the 4 times daily changing of the fish tank water, I attempted to get into the data centre and do a backup. Unfortunately some one locked the rack and I still dont have a key. Instead I met up with Phl and had a look at doing his video streaming service. I think its fairly straight forward not too many wrinkles.

Last night I went round to Bruce and Nina's place to watch England versus France in the Rugby world cup semi final. Joe, Holly and Phil were also present.
Nina and Bruce put on a really good spread cooking lasagne potatoes and lots of garlic bread. I actually severely regretted the garlic bread today at the gym, after my workout I was sweating garlic. That aside the food was great and the company most enjoyable.

We sat and watched the rugby, England played pretty well and after a tense and exciting 80 minutes just about came out on top. I was pretty impressed and elated to beat the French in the Stade De France in the World cup semi finals is incredible. Roll on South Africa next week!

After last nights fun today was a little flat, a visit to the gym then the afternoon spent trying to sort out a problem on the server. I learned a lot about Iscpc but I would rather it not have been so pressured.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chemistry is fun

I haven't done much this evening. After I got back from the gym no one was really about so I stayed home chatting to people on-line and relaxing.

Since my fish died I have learned a lot about water chemistry. I learned that fish, food and plants decay into ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. High levels of Ammonia or nitrite kill fish pretty quickly. Nitrate level on the other hand don't kill immediately they just put stress on the fish. My fish tank nitrate level has been high for some time (I know this because my research has informed my large amount of algae are a sign of high nitrate levels).
Unfortunately for me nitrates are one of the most difficult pollutants to remove, all I can do is change 10% (36 litres) of the water in the tank per day and hope that they are diluted. So over the last few days I have done 4 water changes a day very tedious and time consuming. So far the level dropped from over 60ppm (parts per million) to 40ppm, I need to bring it below 20ppm for the biological agents to be effective. Look like I have plenty more water changes to go.

Tomorrow is the England France game which should be excellent and I think is going to be very close.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Photos from Belgium

I finally got the photos from Belgium uploaded. I still haven't written the stories up maybe I never will now, who knows.

This evening I went to see a film with my friend Martina from Japanese class. We watch 3:10 to Yuma. Starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe its a pretty standard cowboy film, encompassing all the traditional American values; redemption, good men turning bad, bad men doing good. Russell Crowe is the typical child from a troubled family turned to a life of crime, blah blah heard it all before.
I was actually pretty disappointed I expected a little more than a slight twist on the buddy film, but oh well.

Bruce has invited me to his house on Saturday, apparently he will be screening the rugby on his big screen. It sounds fun but means I have to miss what could turn out to be a fun party in Didsbury. I really do not want to miss the England game after last Saturdays performance though. I think the game against France is going to be pretty tough close and exciting so I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Rainbows

This week isn't a good one for my pets. on Monday one of my fishes expired and today I just received the following from my dad.
"Just to let you know that Sootie has been put to sleep humanely on the advice of the vet.

She said that death was imminent, and as she put it, "The cat was ready to die".

A sorry day, but at least its misery is over."

Its really sad for me, my fish John was the first pet totally my charge, I have been looking after him for about 7 years now, its so sad watching Ozzie swimming around on his own.

My cat was 20 years old a very ripe old age for a cat, he has outlived all predictions thanks to a lot of TLC from my parents regular vet visits and a special low protein diet. We were told that once he started having regular steroid injections that he wouldn't live more than 2 years, at was over 4 years ago. HE had a long life, I remember when I was at primary school watching him chase table tennis balls around the house. He sent so many hours sat on the sofa or by the fire, or sunbathing in the garden he had a pretty good life for a cat.

The house won't be the same without him around, crying for food or attention. I am listening to the latest Radiohead album sat working on some documentation in an empty office, and feeling very sad.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Had a pretty quiet day today finished closing time I found it a really good book but not a patch on Catch-22 and a heck of a lot harder to read. Basically the characters young and vibrant but dealing with lives cut short now deal with lives close to the end, and the absurdities of modern life. Heller is so witty and intelligent almost too clever by half at times writing some incredibly complicated prose.

Phil and I spent some time practising our Japanese we are both pretty shabby but a few more hours a week sure would help.

Paul phoned me he has a plan about going to see Paul McCartney live in Paris later this month. To be honest it sounds like a lot of fun hopefully we can get tickets and I can get the time of work because I reckon it will be great.

Tonight Phil and I watched Zodiac, a film by David Fincher he of Fight Club and Panic Room fame about the infamous serial killer Zodiac. It was kind of ironic I never realised Dirty Harry (which I watched only last night) was based partly on the story. The real life killer was never caught despite the best efforts of the police and an ex cartoonist who penned a novel about him. The film was good if a little long and drawn out, the cinematography was excellent I especially like the grand theft autoesq top down view of the police car.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Last night was the work quiz night, I joined the IT team. Despite not knowing what the Ford Mustang logo was we managed to come in second place.
Afterwards we went for drinks in Wilmslow, I drank too much and felt horrible this morning. I think I might have made a bit of a fool of myself getting far too drunk and acting like a loon, hopefully not but hey ho.

Unusually for me I spent most of the day watching Sports. England played Australia in the quarter finals of the rugby world cup. I pretty much expected it to be a total drubbing by Australia but instead England stepped upto the plate and played a darn sight better rugby than I have seen from them for a long time. The forward pack were particularly strong. It was a shame to win on penalties alone but our backs just dont seem to have the presence and play makers to break through.

In the evening France managed a similar trick and overcame the all blacks in an sensational game at the Millennium stadium. It will certainly be an interesting game next week with England versus France.

To cap the day off Khan put on a dominating display in the boxing :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

No Tommorrow

Today was a hard day, I had a rather combative conference call regarding one project I am working on. I found it very difficult, sometimes being nice and bending over backwards goes nowhere.

This evening I went for a drink with Phil, Bruce, and Nina. Firstly Phil and I took a trip round to Bruce and Nina's abode. It has changed somewhat beyond recognition since I was last there. There is a floor and decoration, and technology lots of technology.

We went out for drinks at the local pub the March Hare, chatting about work and life we laid the world to rights. Mostly we talk about work these days all our lives are dominated by it in one way or another.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free WiFi

Fon have announced a new partnership with BT which should exponentially increase the number of FON spots available to anyone willing to share their broadband.

I have had a FON spot for quiet a while now, in fact my Nintendo Wii connects to the internet through it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

An Honest Mistake

I was talking to one of my good online friends this evening, she sometimes reads my blog, and I have told her that I like to write. She thinks I should sign up to and attempt to write a novel in a month. I am not sure I have the skill, determination or ideas but I guess its only a bit of fun so I might give it a go I just need to think of some inspirational ideas.

A long time ago I started a screenplay with Paul, we never got far our concentrations drifted off in different directions. I had some good idea around it, but maybe I should try something different out. I shall ruminate see if inspiration strikes. The competition dosn't start until the 1st November so there are a few weeks to get ideas together.

We were also talking about films and both love Pulp Fiction. I hadn't realised how old it was, released in 1994. I remember so vividly watching it at and taking about it sat in C block, Bramhall High School with Alistair Roy, Andy and all the other people I thing about with in my schoolboy days. Its kind of strange how memories work, sometimes I don't remember where I just put down my pen, but somehow I can picture scenes from years ago so precisely its almost as if I were still sat there, the people the jokes.

Today's post is sponsored by Nintendo please use the link below an dsign up for club Nintendo so I can afford to download Street Fighter 2 and relive my youth ;)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Speed of sound

I was far too tired after Japanese class to start writing up my Belgium adventures. Well either that or I am not ready to share them yet. I did manage to order a copy of the new Radiohead album which I am now very excited to receive.
I also managed to get a quick last orders drink with Bruce, he seemed in a very good mood and apparently his house is very nearly finished. We went for a quick drink at the Thieves. He was also telling me he has signed up to Virgin 20mb broadband and bought a Playstation 3. Honestly I can't imagine why you would want to spend so much money on a console with next to no games, so It plays blue ray disks does he really want to pay twice the price of DVD for each disk? He must be getting paid far too much (read more than me ;-) to be able afford all the work on his his and such expensive toys. Sour grapes I suppose, I can even imagine affording a house, then again I have never come into money from relatives, not am I likely to, I have to fend for myself.
Talking of fending for myself my mother is so convinced I cant take care of myself she has taken the rather ridicules step of taking a sabbatical rather than let me lend my car to my dad so had can drive to Derby while I use the bus / train. It seriously pisses me off that she has such a low opinion of me, and has made me more determined to get out of here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monster Hospital

I have been away for the last few days in Belgium, I got back earlier today. I was a really good trip and I shall be writing about it soon, there are also going to be some pictures on the gallery, but not tonight. I feel very tired and I am back to the grindstone tomorrow.

Today is my fathers birthday, he is 60. For a milestone but he dos't seem to be much interested. After some consternation about where to go (I definitely inherited his indecisiveness) and headed for the Il Pomodoro in Poynton.

I haven't been to this Italian restaurant in several years, it has a changed a little except for a coat of paint and having an extension into what what the ice cream shop to provide more frontage. It wasn't much needed tonight thought the place was nearly empty. We ordered to mix plate starters, garlic bread and a salad to share. The Pomodoro platter had some Parma ham, fish, olives, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and Italian sausage. The garlic bread was about 50% the size I remember it from last time, but still tasty. My parents also enjoyed it, mum had the salad to herself and let us eat the contents of the platter. For my main course I had a pasta with spicy Italian sausage and tomatoes sauce, it was very tasty, mum found her Penn a little salty but my father enjoyed his Carbonara. It was a nice meal, I couldn't really fault the quality of the food and the service was good. The prices certainly arn't cheap especially drinks £3.95 for a pint.

Hopefully providing Japanese class dosn't kill me I will start putting up some photos and writing some stories from Antwerp tomorrow., for now night.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ever Present Past

Today has not been a great day, but somehow I don't feel terrible. This morning I was locked out of an office, more or less told to fuck off by a colleague. Fortunately a quick rant later and most of the problems were sorted out; sometimes it pays to be proactive.
I spent the rest of the day answering phone calls emails and trying to understand a methodology Model-view-controller. I am not sure I totally get it yet but I am on my way.
After work I was a little pissed off so I went to the gym for a couple of hours to blow off some steam.
When I got home I ate some dinner and was meant to go see a film with a friend but that fell through so instead I went for a quiet drink with Nick. As I left the house I looked up and saw that the moon is out and the sky clear, it was very beautiful evening, it felt fresh and clean.
Nick was in the best of moods far too cheerful and I soon found out why. He has met someone new, apparently she makes him laugh and feel great. I am happy he has found someone that makes him feel such but FFS, does he really need to that happy! I am of course being jealous, its a long time since I had a relationship and infatuations like Olya aside, I have been alone for years, I want to be happy too :-(
Sour gapes is no excuse I am happy for Nick, he says he feel happy so good for him.
In other news I love the Paul McCartney album Paul gave me a quick play while I was in London so I bought it for my dads birthday (Monday), its so well produced and better than anything he has done for years. The new Foo Fighters album isn't half bad either.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cross Purposes

I realised it is somewhat excessive to have two laptops, a desktop and a spare pc. So in order to cut down the clutter and because it the oldest I have been trying to sell my Powerbook. Initially Ian wanted it but for one reason or another we never did the deal. One of Nick's Polish builders told Nick he wanted a laptop, and Nick asked me if it was still for sale. So I backed up my data deleted my profile and boxed it up. Unfortunately on arrival it turns out the whole point that it is an Apple Powerbook was lost in translation. Pre Intel Apple computers like this one use OSX and cannot run Windows natively. The lack of Windows was bad nut not fatal, what actually killed the sale was that Tomak's English is not spectacular so he wanted to turn the menus to Polish, either Apple have neglected to build a Polish language support or I could not work out how to change it.
So I returned home complete with the laptop still in its box. Nick was very nice though he bought me some Chinese food to cheer me up, which was very kind. He thinks I should try out some different careers, which is fine in principle without having the same motivations he does.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Last Song

I have that Sunday feeling today, vague alcohol induced head ache, lethargy. I wanted to sit and play Zelda but unfortunately my dad decided it would be a good idea to light the fire so its about 100 degrees in the living room.
Yesterday was a long day, I had to do an upgrade at work which meant arriving early before the call centre open. So at 6.30am on Saturday morning I was sat in the office upgrading the computer systems.
The upgrade was actually other peoples work I was simply there to move it across. Unfortunately this meant when things went a little wrong (luckily not with the most important part) I didn't really know where to look. I managed to find a few work around for the short term, hopefully I will be able to get to the bottom of it Tomorrow.
House party

Andy and Emily invited Philip and my self over to there place for a house warming party. They have been living there for quiet a while now but haven't had a party yet. Phil had also been working so we arrived a little late. We also stopped off on route to pick up some beers and a house warming gift. Big Brain Training for the Wii. Shopping in Asda was bizarre none seemed to want to serve us and when I tried to use the self serve till all sorts of weird stuff happened. Phil played some Wii while chatted to Emily, K Andy, Will and others. K and Emily are about to start back at uni.
We had a long conversation about different sorts of fish we liked which was rather too adult for me.I worked my way through beer after beer, in fact judging by my head this morning I had way too many. To finish the night we had a game of poker, I only played one round I felt too drunk and tired to really try hard.
I really like their flat and its made me more sure I need to get out. I spent several hours on right move this afternoon, but It looks like I will really have to compromise or wait another year and save hard because I simply cannot afford more of what out there.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Aqueous Transmission

This evening Phil and I went to see Incubus at the MEN Arena. It was a really good gig they played a mixture of the old favorites, Drive, Mexico, and The Warmth. I enjoyed the old songs immensely.

They love to experiment many of the songs featured eclectic electronic openers and in the middle of the set they did a prog rock esq bit where all the band members played a solo section.

It was a strange gig really Bandon Boyd hardly said a thing, they were late on went straight into it played until 10 had a break then a 20 minute encore. They finished the set by playing Aqueous Transmission, it sounded amazing but the insect sound they played and left playing soon chased everyone out of the venue. Overall not the best gig I have been to but enjoyable and different.

I have been finding it hard to write recently it used to be a release I enjoyed and there are a few things mulling around my mind. Somehow though I cant really find a way to get things down onto my blog. Hopefully my mind will open up and Ill be able to write again soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Phil hooked me onto a new TV series called Dexter, its a completely dark take on the police series genre. Dexter is a forensic scientist working for the Miami police department, so far so CSI. The twist is that he is also a serial killer, a serial killer who targets serial killers in no less.
Its incredibly dark from the gruesomeness of the murders and forensic detail to the morbid plot lines of the sociopathic tendencies of Dexter. If you like dark and clever series its really worth a watch.

I managed to finally get the last piece of the puzzle completed today at work, it put me in a really good mood. Afterwards I went to the gym exercised my legs and came home to watch some more Dexter.

I spent some time searching for houses on right move, over the last few days I noticed a terrace for sale on the way to work. I wondered how much it would cost to buy. I must say I was pretty surprised to see the price more than 100,000 more than I imagined. In truth there was nothing even close to my price range which I would want to live in. I guess I should aim low buy something to "get on the ladder".

The thing is I don't fancy living in some horrible poky "apartment" with a huge mortgage hanging over my head. It seems like the prices are only affordable for multiple income buyers, like couples. For a single guy like myself mortgage plus bills would leave me short.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Surface All Feeling

Work was very hard today, the project manager was back and pushing me to the edge of sanity with meetings, reports emails and questions. Sometimes I think I would get more done if I was just left alone to get on with tasks instead of being constantly drawn into other things. I also discovered a whole portion of the system which is so badly done it should be rewritten really, if only I had the time!

My dad managed to get himself a contract, its 3 months in Derby. He has been tossing it up, annoyingly asking just about everyone in the world what he should do. Including my friends, I do wish he wouldn't talk to so many people and make his own mind up. I am however really glad he has found something, it will keep him occupied an while it might not be long term its good to keep his hand in.

This evening I went round to see Bruce. He was taking a night off from working on the house, so instead we worked on getting the DNS for ispcp fixed. I wrote some scripts for our servers, which I will tidy up and be posting soon here and on their forum.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fake Plastic Trees

I took my mum to the garden centre this afternoon. Partly prompted by my conversation with Holly yesterday coupled with thE fact the the carnivorous plant Martin gave me a couple of years ago has come back to life. It is a bog plant, so unlike me it has greatly enjoyed the wet summer. I had thought it was at deaths door, its been stunted and never grown any fly catching cups until the last month were it has perked up immensely, spawning a cup and another on the way. Hopefully next year it will catch some of the fly's.

I also had to go to the pet section and get some more filters for the fish tank. Whilst I was there I they talked me into buying what is basically a chemistry set in order to perform all manner of tests on the water. I think I might leave it to my dad his eyes lit up when he saw all the bottles of testing fluid. I bought my mum some plant pots and an Aloe Vera plant, its not the prettiest but she seemed to like it, she is into natural cures at the moment.

This evening one of the people from Japanese class invited me round to practise and borrow a graphic novel, in return for a copy of some software. She is living on the road next to Bruce, it was really weird hearing her give me directions.

I was truly appalling at Japanese, I felt so embarrassed to be that bad. I really need to practise an awful lot more. I think it must have been greatly annoyed to her as she is a lot better practised. We chatted for a while afterwards, its interesting to hear the point of view of someone who has very different life experience, and she is certainly well travelled.

We have a conversation about some of the different nationalities behaviour, she is German. She made an interesting comment which might amuse Nekena, when I get a chance to relate it to her. Martina says she think Spanish women always look amazing, but that she dosn't ever think British people and Spanish people could work out. Her reasoning went something along the lines of "You British people drink warm tea with milk Spanish people drink warm wine, it just isn't going to work".

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret

Went for a BBQ at Jo Bergers today, I think its the first possibly the only one I will go to this year. Usually summer is bbq madness but this year the weather has been so poor this summer. Apparently Joe had a freezer full of food thanks to lack of BBQ action so he decided that as the weather should be good today it was time to use it.

Phil and I went down and dragged the Wii along, stopping on the way to pick up some beer and baps from the supermarket on route.

We arrived about an hour and a half after the first guests. Some music friend of Jo's, we had a chat with them and ate some bbq food, unfortunately they had to make tracks as they had a gig.

After they left I ate far too much meat, and had a chat with Jo and Holly. She seemed in an especially good mood, we talked about her new found love of gardening and work and life. I really enjoyed chatting to her, which was nice as Jo was busy cooking and entertaining.

I probably wont surprise you when I mention after the bbq we moved inside to play on, you've guessed it the Wii. Carlos a neighbor of Jo and Holly's brought round brain training and Tiger Woods golf. I found Tiger woods very difficult for a mess about game, more of a one player practice and improve than the Wii sports hit and hope games.

One of os friends came over and wow he must play a lot of games because he was so well practiced it was frightening. Apparently he is some sort of lawyer and they have games to chill out on in the office, wonderful I want them too!

Brain training was hilarious though, though I was feeling a little bit drunk at this point which I am sure adversely affected my play, unless I really am that stupid :S

Friday, September 14, 2007

My names John and I am a Wii addict

I am addicted, I just love the Wii. After playing in London I have had three nights of Wii this week.
Tuesday Phil and I played after Japanese class, then last night I went round to Andy and Emilie's mainly to chat and play some Wii. I arrived in the middle of the England game, Andy and Emily were in personalised England shirts. Never having been a footbal fan I found it quiet surreal.
We played a few games, I actually made up some points on golf and bowling. Phil arrived later after Akido and basically thrashed everyone at tennis. Andy got a bit stressed out by it all I think he was annoyed he didn't play very well and well he dosn't like losing either ;-)

I have even being playing Wii fitness when I venture home for lunch I find I have just enough time to get it donw before I jet back to work. I know I am probably a bit excessive at the moment bt I am sure I will calm down a little once the novelty wears off. I havent had a console this sociable since I bought my Nintendo 64 and Mario Kart our player!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Angels and Demons

Last week I received a rather cryptic email from my boss informing me that there was a management consultant coming in to assess the business. All sort of troubling thoughts were going through my head as this could easily be a byword for I am selling or downsizing. I spent part of the weekend getting rather stressed about it all.

It turns out I wasn't entirely correct in my assessment, the business might be sold but in a few years time, before which they want to grow the size to improve the return. The meeting I had was a bit strange but mostly positive so I hold out some hope for the future.

Weekend In London 3

If I felt hungover yesterday today I felt destroyed. Fortunately Paul saved us by cooking a nice big breakfast. Even though the sausages were a few days out of date they smelled OK and tasted great. With some food inside I felt much better.

I was too tired and my train was due at 15:50 so there wasn't much to do except chill out at the flat and play some more Wii. Paul was getting a bit frustrated at golf, they can be pretty competitive.

I tried to make Pippa's wireless connection more secure, by putting WPA encryption on. It seemed to work ok thought she had a little problem after I left. I felt very grateful she let me stay all weekend it was good of them both.

At 3 Paul gave me a lift to the station and within a few hours I was home again. In truth I was pretty sad to be home, it had been great to catch up with Paul and Pippa. Hopefully our paths will cross more often in the future, and maybe next time Ill get out and see something of London.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weekend In London 2

After the late night drinking we all woke up a little late and somewhat groggy. Pippa had someone coming round to view her spare room and as we were in no mood to set off early we waited around and tried to drown our hangovers with tea and coffee.

The girl viewing the flat arrived so Pippa showed her around while Paul and I waited. She seemed a nice girl, Pippa was keen to get her back for a second "interview".

We set off to Angel in search of sustenance and excitement. Food was pretty easy to come by, we all bought these tasty Ciabatta filled with mozzarella and salami from a local delicatessens in Angel. After eating we were feeling a lot more refreshed so went for a wonder around the shops.

In truth I had rather hoped to see a bit of London but even after eating I felt a little tired. Also Paul had kind of helped talk me into buying a Nintendo Wii. I have been really enjoying playing on Andy's, and Phil's Wii and seeing one pre-owned in Game I though, "Why not?".

After a quick search around I managed to source a second controller from Woolworth's, the last one available at any shop in Angel. After a quick Frappuccino in was back to Pippa's for a few games.
We spent most of the afternoon playing Wii, joined later on by Pippa's friend Monica. She was great at the games putting us to shame but she didn't seem to enjoy it all that much. She did I think enjoy the Pizza we ordered though :)

After eating we headed out on the bus into Hoxton. A night of drinking and carousing ensued as you can see from the photos here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Weekend In London 1

I decided that it was high time I went to visit Paul. With that in mind I got myself return tickets on a Virgin Pendolino train to London, I left pretty much straight after work just enough time to nip and grab some things. Friday was dress down day so I didn't have to change just grab a bag and jump on the train. The new high speed trains are great, it took only two and a half hours to London, the train was clean and nice and ran exactly on time. I couldn't have asked for more really. I arrived in London and after a short tube ride met Paul in Angel Islington. From there we went to Pippa flat in Dalston. Stopping along the way for a few drinks and a catch up chat in Paul's local pub. It was a nice evening to sit out and catch up, its been quiet a while since I last saw him. After much chat and a couple of drinks we headed to buy some takeaway goodness from the local Chinese. Pippa seem pleased to see us (especially loaded with food). I was impressed with her flat it is a pretty specious 2 bedroom affair in a low rise development. The area is multicultural, but pretty clan and safe from all accounts. We all ate and chatted then played Gamecube for a while before retiring to bed. Fortunately for me Pippa's lodger had recently moved out so I was able to have the spare room.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I often think its funny how unpredictable life is. No matter how well you know people they always have the capacity to surprise or dismay you.I suppose I spend a lot of time people watching.
While I difficult to say I am surprised that Nick and Becky split up after the troubles they have had the last few months its not exactly surprising. Going back in time though it wasn't so long ago I thought they were a great match.

We went to the Rectory, and sat upstairs having a long chat with a couple of drinks. She was in a pretty good mood talking about an impending trip to Wales with Nicky. We mostly talked about other people in fact pretty much skirting around the whole break up issue until the end of the evening.

She told me that she was beginning to find out who her real friends were, I was never really that pally with any of my ex's friends so it mattered very little to me when we broke up. Added to that I have never really had that good relationships with both member of a couple who have split so I imagine there will be challenging moments ahead.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Get It Together

Just got back from another night of Wii play at the Andy and Emily'. I found it difficult to play tonight I was feeling tired and run down after work and arguing with my parents earlier.

I got really annoyed with them mostly unjustifiably sometimes people kill you with kindness, sometimes I just need to have things my way, I just really need some space to breath and at the moment I haven't got it.

To be honest it isn't just my parents who are disturbing my mood, I got a text message from Olya today. She is happy with this Russian guy, but she wants me to come and visit them. Part of me really wants to, to see her again, and some of Russia. Many more parts of me think its a god damn crazy idea. I wish I could control my emotion better really, should learn not care so much. Olya isnt the only ex flame who I have spoken to recently Maia invitied me to come see her husband and new apartment in Milan and in a real blast form the past Jenny added me on Facebook, all So complicated.

I got round to the Abito apartments about 9. The Wii was soon out, Tennis was first. Then Andy thrashed me at Golf and Emily demolished me at baseball, in fact I only managed to win one game all evening. It was fun though, in between playing I managed to get the old pc Andy used to use working.

Emily was also showing off her extremely snazzy mac book pro, I want one!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I really should have stayed home tonight, I have been to the pub for three nights in a row, both my liver and my wallet would have thanked me.
That would have been boring though so instead myself, Ian, Bruce, Phil and Ian's Brother Jono went to the local alehouse for a few pints :) Originally I had planned to set a few website its and bobs up with Bruce, only he had some thing to do on the house and Ian tempted me with the pub in return for looking at his laptop.

Ian had come round to my house earlier so I could have a look at his laptop. In better his addiction to downloading on-line games and Ben surfing for porn there were a few less than desirable applications lurking on there. Fortunately I was able to clear it up pretty effectively.

Just as I was finishing up Bruce arrived and we headed out to the pub, picking Jono up on the way. Phil met us at the bar, just in time to get a drink in ;)

We sat outside chatting an laughing, both Ian and Jono were on top form. A few beers later and we were laughing and joking, talking about Nick and Becky, houses, business and life.

Finally the last orders bell went and it was time to get off home. Phil and Bruce cut one but Ian and I went back to Jono's for a Cup of tea. It was nice excpet for the huge spider running around his kitchen, I hate them!

I was sobering up a little by the time I got home but I have been drinking quite a lot recently I might have a break in between going to Belgum and my birthday.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Certain Romance

An apt tine indeed to listen to whilst writing this post tonight, its a long story but I will begin in the morning.

Today has been a pretty average day mostly, I woke up ate breakfast, wrote some blogs and relaxed. Had lunch with my parents and Grandma, roast Chicken very tasty. I had arranged to go for lunch with Paul but he had to drive Emily and Matt back to London.

This afternoon I went to the gym to try in vain and work off all the Pizza and crap I ate yesterday. It wont make any difference of course, calories in are far more important than energy used, if only sigh.

This evening I went out for a drink with Phil and Nick. It was quiet pleasant sat in the pub having a few beers and a chat. Pleasant that was until Nick dropped a bombshell, he and Becky have split. Now I realise I have been through this before, but this time he seemed a lot more final about it. We talked a lot about the reasons, and while I understand them I do worry that he focusses too much on career and nothing about personal happiness. It his life and his choices though so I wont second guess other than make one choice.

What was really weird was on returning home getting a message telling me Becky had written on my Facebook wall. She finally had chance to look at the changes I made to her site. I feel slightly compromised but I would like to think I was friend with the both of them and have no quarrel with either, so its ok that I am worried about both.

Sigh life is strange I really though they were a compliment it each other, I even thought they had nice balance I would like. I suppose you cant always see what is under the surface.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Terminal Tournaments XV

Yesterday was the 15th an largest lan party held by myself Bruce and Phil under the ejected brass name. In case you missed out its a gathering of people who enjoy computer games, beer, pizza and a few laughs. We are a little community who every few months drag our PC's so we can murder each other, in game! Its usually a fun day and yesterday was no exception.

It was the highest ever turnout, though there was only one new person (somebody Berger roped in following their trip up Snowdon). The rest were returnees pretty much everyone who has ever been to an event before before. It was really good to have so many people though I was quiet tired helping to get everyone going, working the bar running the game servers and clearing up at the end.

We made a pizza order for 21 pizzas from the pizza place in Cheadle Hulme it looked pretty funny me and Phil carrying so many pizza boxes out of the place.

I think everyone had a good time, we made some money to buy new kit for next time, definitely including some new power strips. At one point due to a bit of bad planning all the power cables were plugged into each other and the wire was starting to get awfully hot! Fortunately we didn't burn the club down :)

I actually really enjoy running the events though I often find it difficult to get the time to do all the setup which is required. If we can grow the events further though it would be great to see how big we could go.