Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ISA Season

As the current financial year ends in April I have been attempting to sort out a few financial things. I am big on savings at the moment, its the only way I can see myself ever affording a house. I have found that the most effective way for me to save is to use my individual savings account privileges (ISA). Currently all UK citizens over 16 can save upto £7000 into an ISA account each year.

Even though they were intended as a simple savings vehicle, a lot of people get a bit confused about ISA's. The ISA is like a wrapper which can go round a range of accounts, anything from cash to bonds to stocks and shares can be held inside one. The government are a little fussy about how it works you can save upto £3000 in cash and an additional £4000 in equities. Alternatively you can pump the lot into equities.

There are two really great things about using ISA's. The first is that you don't have to pay tax like normal savings accounts. This means all the interest is paid gross. The second great reason is you never have to pay capital gains on the growth, though this is more geared towards stock market investments.

In my case save using both cash and equities. The equity part is in the form or Unit trust investments, I save money each month investing into the index tracker funds and various bond funds.

In short for taxpayers who save its pretty much a no brainer that using an ISA is highly effective way to save. So don&'t delay, act before April in order to get this years allowance.

Remember though I am not an accountant, so as ever don't take my advice do your own research ;)

Japanese html

I seem to have found a way to get unicode Hirigana fonts by using the escape codes from While hardly pretty its a functional method using standard html escape characters understood by just about all modern browsers (I have not tried in Links yet ;-)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Got a weird Chinese email from this morning wishing me good luck don't know who the sender was pretty weird spam though. I needed good luck today work was very trying lots of little jobs are dragging me down. I helped find the solution to a complicated long term issue, though someone else stole the credit and then a long term problem (its been wrong for years) suddenly jumped to the top of the priority list, sigh.

I had a Japanese class after work. In all honesty I was completely unprepared having done literally no practice since the last class two weeks ago. Fortunately I was far from the only one, and seemed able to get back up to speed pretty quickly. A guy a work with was telling me his nephew has been in Japan for 3 years teaching English. Apparently he barley knows any Japanese and survives on English. I would love to work in Japan for a while experience another culture, but not teaching I doubt I have the patients.

I went out for a drink with Bruce and Philip this evening, they are both doing well. Phil is just about over his flu virus and Bruce's house purchase is going well. I am hoping in the not to distant to get invited to the house-warming ;)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tell it like it is

Being woken up after a night out and only a few hours sleep on the floor of someone one else's house is not fun. So I was far from impressed that after going to bed after I was woken by loud knocking on the door at 8.10am. At first I thought it was the police given the insistence and tone of the knocking. After the third foray Ian got up and opened the door Michelle walked in asked where the party was and headed upstairs. Some 40 minutes later she was gone Woller went not long after. while I understand there are some issues she had no reason to be so rude to the rest of us and perhaps coming to talk when Woller had work was either very poor timing or very calculated. I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say poor timing after a boozy night.

Ian was king enough to give Paul and myself a lift back even though he was in a hurry to get to a job in London, he made time. It was my mums birthday so I wished her well and spent the rest of the day chilling in my room. Paul came round in the afternoon for a chat, he was showing me some of the potential candidates for his band, he is very excited and enthused about the project I cannot wait to see the band playing live.

I ended the day by going for a quiet drink with Bruce and Phil, the latter having finally got over his flu infection. They were both on form but I must admit my mind was in a bit of a haze.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Barracuda Nights

As Danny intoned on his blog, we have fewer opportunities to get out as a group these days. Certainly not so often as we used to back in the college / university era. Though I tend to disagree with his assertion that the lower frequency is a sign of increasing age. I think it is more a factor of the diverse ways in which we live our lives. I have a standard 9-5 (well 9 - 5.30 but lets not split hairs) however Woller works shifts and Ian has odd hours depending on what jobs he is on. Add into the mix the fact we a more geographically diverse and it make for a more difficult night out scenario.

Anyway, Saturday night was the first chance in a while for us all to go out as a group, Woller had kindly offered his floor, and Paul was up from Leamington. The consensus was to meet early head to Macclesfield, go for a bite to eat then head into Macclesfield town centre. Ian and I met up with Dan and Paul in Graze Bramhall (see below) for a 6pm early doors drink. We then convoyed down to Wollers, making a quick takeaway beer pit-stop.

Ian, Paul and Danny sat in Graze Bramhall

After a short break for beer, and for Craddy to have a shave and sort himself out we headed to the Flowerpot for some pub grub. When it finally arrived the food wasn't too bad, and refreshed and in high spirits we headed into Macclesfield proper.

First we headed to Weatherspoons for a cheeky red bull and vodka, the atmosphere was a little oppressive so we quickly drank up and left. Heading next to Barracuda, via the cash machines. The queue for Barracuda was huge, and we had to wait alongside the a group of college students. They did make me feel old. After what seemed like hours, though it was more like 20 minutes, we made it into the venue, unable to stash our coats as the clock room was full we found a booth to continue the banter and drinking.

It was a very funny period we were ogling some extremely attractive girls until Danny spoiled it by behaving far too conspicuously, never mind the night was still young. Spotting a better table we upgraded, and decided it was time for a shooter, so Ian got us some Sambuka's.

I was feeling quiet drunk at this point and we wanted to get up and have a dance with some of the pretty young things on the dance floor. Unfortunately we still had our coats, so we decided to go upstairs find a secluded area and dump them in the hops no-one would steal them. We found a table right up in the gods, and stashed our gear there then headed to the dance floor. About this time Woller's girlfriend and her friends came into Barracuda after on some sort of works night out. A groups of us hit the dance floor and the DJ played some superb old school hits I remember from going out as a under-age kid in the 90's. I danced like a loon totally enjoying myself, my styles however original failed to impress the ladies so I took a break after 20 minutes.

A few bad things happened next, Michelle lost her purse, Dan's coat disappeared and Woller and Michelle had a bit of a spat. It was 1am the place was shutting so in order to give Woller some time to sort things out Dan Ian Paul and I went for a kebab. I had a rather tasty chicken affair, the only downside being that the sauce was prone to drip everywhere.

We got a taxi back to Woller's house, and waited for the man to arrive, about 30 minutes later. Then a couple more beers a bit of a chat and a round of sonic and we got to sleep about 5am.

Ian Myself Danny and Paul

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mmm Birthday curry

It is my mothers birthday on Sunday so we went out for a meal this evening. My grandma comes round on Sundays so it would be difficult to go out. My mothers friend Kath also came along to wish her a happy birthday.
True to form we headed to our favourite curry house the La Quila in Handforth. I had a chicken tika sizzler, with Jalfresi sauce and it was simply delicious. Mum seemed to enjoy herself a lot and had a good chat with Kath. She is going to buy herself some hiking boots and start going walking with Kath more often, which I think will be great for the pair of them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cool as f*ck

Phil just pointed out this wonderful news artical about Swiss farmers doping their cattle. Apparently the farmers belever "the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, makes cows happy and produce more milk". It reminded me of the old Inspiral Carpets, they had a T-Shirt which had a logo of a twisted cow with the slogan "Cool as Fuck".

Smart Transport why bother

I got very annoyed with the government today, considering that the city council in Manchester want to introduce variable price taxation, the so called congestion charge.

Apparently they would prefer that we all got the train or bus everywhere, well here are some reasons why not.

A colleague lives in the Prestwich area of Manchester, near to one of the Metro stops. As an experiment he tried to find out how much it would cost him to get he metro and train on a monthly basis. Estimating a monthly fule and parking bill of £120 we looked up some pricing.

The GMTPE website was useless it couldn't even figure out the the best way was to use a Metro on the journey planner. The prices were only on a daily basis and basically said ring here for monthly. Only because the Metro dosn't come under the same umbrella as the railway the pricing is weird. For one did you know if you want to travel part of the journey outside of Manchester you cant buy a train ticket that works on the metro? As Wilmslow is outside the Greater Manchester area it meant he would have to buy a rail season ticket and an unsubsidised Metro one, costing way more than his current expenditure.

What a farce on the one hand the government is constantly telling us to use public transport. However it leave the pricing system incoherent and disconnected from the ways in which people need to travel.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lux Aeterna

I think I might have realised why I like the idiot so much. I think I might just be a little too much like the Myshkin character. Prone to long bouts of self reflection, check. Get lost in though sometime unable to concentrate on what other people say because so much is going on inside, check. Prone to make statements far too revealing, honest and at times naive, check. Oh dear it appears the questionnaire I filled in which said I was most probably bi polar and should seek assistance now might have been correct. Unfortunately I cannot claim to be as virtuous as the man himself, I guess I hope I fall somewhere in between him and the vain yet unfulfilled Ganya. One of the strongest features of the book other then Dostoevsky dark versus light is that both good bad, and indifferent people strive for the same things in life (though for different reasons). In this case Myshkin, Ganya and Rogozhin all chase after Nastasya.

Reading the book I was reminded of a conversation I overheard at work one of the staffers was talking about another in quiet unfavourable terms due to his lack of success with women. I took exception to this for too reasons first because I believe the author of the criticism to be a hypocrite of the highest order. You see I have it on authority that he regularly plays away from his wife and family, something I think is utterly despicable either. If someone lacks the emotional courage to leave something that dosn't work, or feel they don't have enough with their partner that something else cant hurt obviously has rather deep emotional problems. If something is worth making a commitment to you should be able to make the choice and visa versa, that is in fact one reason why I have ended several relationship because I never want to feel locked into something going nowhere. To me its is a feeling much worse than being alone.

On an unrelated note I bought the requiem for a dream soundtrack it was on offer and I have always loved some of the tracks. It basically classical music by Clint Mansell a modern composer. A lot of the tracks are done several times in different styles reflecting the darkening of the film as the cast fall deeper into their drug addiction.

Unlink a symbolic link

Had problems deleting a symbolic link to a directory today. That was until I found out about the "unlink" command. Just typing the following,

unlink symlink

Should remove the symlink in situations in which rm wont.

Fake Steve

Was just reading Weird online and found they have partnered with Fake Steve Its a bit weird but not a bad parody.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Vision of division

Today was a day of mixed emotions, I have been feeling very restless lately, I am a little stuck in a rut. A lot of my plans require a large amount of time to come to fruition though so maybe things are going ok. I could sure use a couple of shortcuts to success though! It is Ash Wednesday today, the start of lent. A traditional time of reflection and abstinence. I seem to spend my life reflecting at the moment so maybe I should try the latter and abstain from something.

I saw this crazy post on Slashdot. Its a perfect example of the sort of problem I have to put up with. The programmers at my company fall into three camps, those who think programs should handle bad data. Those that think programs crashing highlight bad data which we can then be fixed. The other groups are ambivalent on the issue.

In my opinion humble though it may be, data should be handled gracefully. Programs crashing out just serves to annoy users and whilst it highlights problems with the data it annoys the end user and can be a problem if there are no developers on site to sort it out. I am going to make a point of peppering code with error handling and input validation because I am tired of the same old bad data errors.

I was telling someone about my cat tonight, they refused to believe he is 20 years old. Its true though, we got him and his late brother when I was 7 years old and at primary school. He has been on a special diet and having regular injections for several years now I guess it goes to show that a proper diet really does extend life. Mind you I am not going to start eating his food anytime food, even if a doctor recommended it.

I spoke to one of my net friends this evening we were talking about relationships, she keeps complaining all her boyfriends are wasters, she cant find anyone nice. I pointed out she got bored quickly with nice guys preferring bad boys, so it was a little unfair to moan when the bad boy types acted well bad. She got annoyed accusing me (quite correctly) or being to morose and negative about everything. There is nothing like a little tension to bring peoples true thoughts out.

Fun Tests

Ah the internet full of tat, like these useless yet somehow addictive polls ;-) Thanks to liz for this one

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

You Are 40% Gross

You're a tad gross, but generally you're a clean, hygienic person.
No one can be perfectly clean all the time, and it's better to be human than a neat freak.

You Are Lemon Meringue Pie

You're the perfect combo of sassy and sweet
Those who like you have well refined tastes

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I am

I have been putting off doing a cardio session at the gym for over a week and I nearly did so again today. Something about the number of pancakes I knew I would eat this evening convinced me that I should really get myself into gear. I managed about 8KM in 55 minutes, which is OK but not great I definitely need to work more on stamina, I think my 10km target is in reach though.

Dan called me today, he was pretty excited, inspired by this blog he has decided to give blogging a try himself. I hope he finds it as pleasurable experience as I have. He is also trying to arrange a gathering on Saturday, which promises to be a good laugh, thought the plans are a little fluid at present.

Its my mums birthday this weekend I am a little unsure what to get her, I was going to order some flowers and take her shopping for clothes. I am not sure I would manage to buy anything decent on my own.

I went for a drink with Bruce this evening, his house purchase seems to be proceeding smoothly. There are a few issues arranging documents and such like he seemed a bit stressed with the signature process for his mortgage. Its actually not as strict as the one for work so he should count himself lucky! We had a relaxed drink in the Hesketh which I must say I really enjoy these days it has a very relaxed and comfortable feel these days.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Citizen Erased

Some days are just harsh and today was one of them. I should not complain too much thouhgt it was mostly my fault.

I went round to Martins last night to see how he was getting on after his op. He seems to be getting better, he looked tired, finding it hard to sleep with his arm tied up, and laid out on his back. He was in good spirits though feels everything went well and his arm is already healing. Its king of weird in fact because the surgery was keyhole there are only a few small marks to show for all of the work. Apparently he was under for two hours.

I got home just after 11 but for some reason I couldn't sleep. I kept waking every through hours. So I felt tired as hell this morning. My head felt like it was full of cotton wool, so I found thought even more difficult than normal.

Somehow I managed to get through the day, though it was far from my most triumphant. Several of the planned changes I made failed on live even though they passed QA on test. I even had to go and spend some time out on the floor, it made me realise just how little I have in common with the sales people sat out there. In fact I was very uncomfortable, users never like the system even though they would like paper a lot less (and e less productive).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Apres moi

Regina was on the Culture show last night, she played out the show on her piano, it was very beautiful much different to the concert.

I stayed in and watched TV and read my book, I was just so hung over all day. Philip and Bruce popped round with the latest editions of Lost, there has been such a long break since the last ones I has to remind myself what was going on. The first episode was great, the second was about Desmond it was a bit out of left field and as yet hasn't really added much to the story. I am keen for more about the others, and really Charley is annoying the hell out of me.

We also watched the film Carry. Phil had never seen it before, its a very good film based on the Steven King novel. Its quiet unusual for a horror as well virtually the entire film is a build up to the final chilling action. It also has a rather horrific conclusion with nobody saved no Hollywood cheer.
Regina was on the Culture show last night, she played out the show on her piano, it was very beautiful much different to the concert.

I stayed in and watched TV and read my book, I was just so hung over all day. Philip and Bruce popped round with the latest editions of Lost, there has been such a long break since the last ones I has to remind myself what was going on. The first episode was great, the second was about Desmond it was a bit out of left field and as yet hasn't really added much to the story. I am keen for more about the others, and really Charley is annoying the hell out of me.

We also watched the film Carry. Phil had never seen it before, its a very good film based on the Steven King novel. Its quiet unusual for a horror as well virtually hte entire film is a build up to the final chilling action. It also has a rather horrific conclusion with nobody saved no Hollywood cheer.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Broken Boy Soilders

For some reasons these days I seem to get the most terrible hangovers, well the reason is I drink too much. Maybe its part of ageing, my liver just cannot cope any more perhaps?

The reason for my extreme hangover (apart from the obvious excess alcohol consumption) was that I had been to a party at Andy G's house last night. His girlfriend Emily is about to head back to Lond to complete her placement so what better excuse for a party

Ian drove down as he had a bad back and was taking rather strong painkillers. This gave me my opportunity to have a few drinks. I chatted to Emily, she has really blossomed her work seems to have given her a new confidence in herself, very pleasing to see. I had a chat to Ian and to Andy.

I had a rather long and weird chat to Will, he was telling me about the very interesting work he is involved with. It sounds like a very interesting project, though I was too drunk to really be able to understand it. I did managed to find a load of FFT projects that you can use with open source. I forget to ask him what he was programming it in.

I must admit I hardly knew anyone there so that propelled me to drink a lot more. There were two bit of weirdness, one good and one bad. The good was Andy putting on tapes of the old college project videos he made with Ian Dave Catherine and the others. Its was so funny to see them I haven't laughed so much in a while.

The not so good were two of the parties participants having an argument, which left the girl sat crying in the kitchen. I cant bear to see crying women it has a really negative on me. Unfortunately I had to recharge my beer which meant going into the kitchen, sigh. To be honest I should have left it I didn't need more beer but typically I never know my limits.

So I have very much suffered today but never mind it was an enjoyable night out a bit different from the norm.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hotel Song

Tonight was the final ebb of Christmas for me, funny to say I realise. However I had bought Bruce, Phil Nina and myself tickets to see the rather wonderful singer Regina Spektor.

After visiting the Academy on Friday to the Guillemots on Friday I found out that Regina Spektor gig had been moved from Academy 2 to the larger Academy Proper. This meant there were extra tickets available and as Jo expressed an interest in coming I invited him. He wanted to come so I ordered tickets for himself and girlfriend Holly. Collection was at the venue, it transpired that on arrival we found collection consisted of a man standing out side. The conversation went as thus "Hi I ordered some tickets in the name of Cooke", "John Cooke?" asked the man, I replied yes and he handed them over, no security check. Next time I am going to ask for Smith!

After picking up the extra tickets and a short queue, myself Phil Jo and Holly positioned ourselves near the front. Bruce Nina, Lindsey and Sarah joined us shortly afterwards. We were well positioned, only about 10 meters from the stage. There was rather a long pause before the support act Only Son came on stage.

Singer Only Son has supported Regina every time I have seen her. I think that his act is pretty good. I like the I-pod supporting band trick, and he has a couple of stand out songs.

I got very busy about this time and the temperature was started to rise. There were some weird people in the crowd too. For example there was a Chinese girl reading a book in the middle of the crowd, I couldn't see which book it was but she was totally engrossed at least until Regina came on. There was also a very annoying guy wearing a fedora hat guy, and a really weird backpack sporting dude.

Unfortunately I think the heat and bustle were a bit much for Holly, her diminutive stature made it hard for her to see as well. Part way through Only Son Jo had to take her home, he made it to Levenshulme and back but the idiot bouncers would not let him back in, it was a real shame as it was a much better gig than the one he attended at the Lowery (though still not as good as the first time I saw her at Academy 3).

There was quiet a gap in between Only Son and Regina, in fact I was starting to get very restless. When she finally made an appearance it was totally worth the rate, she delivered a consummate performance. Played a variety of songs from her albums a typical eclectic mix. Overall it was an amazing performance, my favourite songs were US, Sampson and better. I thought the Country song was pretty funny though not really album quality, she is definitely an artist to see live her music really comes to life the extra vocal tweaks she adds are playful and engaging.

After the gig we were on a high. We decided to go for a Curry at la Quila, I was not really that hungry so I shared a sizzler with Phil. Had a chat and pint, it was a nice end to the evening.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hope overture

Ah valentines day, Surprisingly enough another year in which I received exactly zero valentines cards. Oh well maybe next year eh :P I think Jo summed it up best with his "I only received one red letter this morning it said please pay £88.50 love EDF", genius mate ;)

I went to pick up my visa today, its not quiet as impressive a stamp as the Belarussian one but I am certainly very pleased to have it. et again there were Chinese people arguing with the counter staff. I have no idea what over as the discussion was all in Chinese. On the way out I also got leafleted by some guy protesting about some practise of the Chinese government. They weren't there on Friday morning.

Things were a little weird today at work, there have been doing some chopping and changing I might have to go spend some time with another colleague to learn a different system. In principle I like the idea how much I can realistically learn in one day is debatable though.

Made it to the gym this evening, in total contrast to Monday it was nearly empty tonight. There must have been some football on TV or something I guess. This evening passed like any other but a conversation with one of my friends made me thing about Australia. I was so much more impulsive there, my attitude was like Nikes logo just do it. I think the thing was I had limited time which forced me to do things. Whereas here I am king of putting it off, there is always tomorrow right? Here you think you have forever but its just an illusion. I suppose thats why I am keen to do crazy stuff like visit people from the internet in other countries, because if I don't do it now I probably never will.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Idiot

I just started reading the Idiot a Russian novel (I am reading the English translation of course) by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is an account of a simple man totally who through his through his selflessness and sincerity makes his way into Russian society. Like the novel Crime and Punishment, the Idiot is at first glance extremely verbose and descriptive. I started reading this evening and have made it to chapter 6, With it being a translation and a text written in the 19th Century, some of the language can be a little difficult to understand.

The book is relatively light and very much a pleasure to read. I like the way Dostoevsky writes, he is like the Tarantino of the literary world. There are constant meanderings, which serve more to define the characters that further the plot. For all the extra prose it is never boring to read, always adding something to the "world" of the novel. Not that I am an expert on literature of course, I only managed a B at GCSE and that is about as far as I got with writing until the day I started up this blog (and I am by NO means comparing myself to a master author).

Apparently Dostoevsky is considered by some to be the father of existentialism. I never really gave it any though but he certainly does devote a lot of his material to inwards examination especially of extreme states of mind. Given I recently ordered some books about philosophy in an effort to expand my mind, without realising that I have already been exposing myself to a form of the art. I guess it exposes a gap in my education or understanding.

Andy "chief" Gilmore has invited me to a party / gathering at his place. The excuse is to wish Emily a fond farewell before she heads back to the big smoke to continue her placement. I am very much looking forward to seeing them again the chief is always good fun and Emily is always great company.

I have been very much alone these last few days, I have given up trying to contact people, I kind of get the feeling my low mood and work priorities have annoyed people so rather than labour the point I am leaving a little time and doing some exercises to help improve my demeanour.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dead Mans Shoes

I watched a film this evening, (it the post title) A psychological thriller about a man who takes revenge on the people who harmed his brother. He becomes the monsters they were in order to exact his revenge on them. It explores the nature of man, how basically when pushed we can turn into monsters capable of pretty much anything. As an only child I have never really had a very strong family instinct I cannot really imagine having that sort of bond with someone. I just have trouble imagining what could make me feel so strongly about anything. Despite my fiery temper I actually find it pretty hard to really feel about anything, I mostly feel nothing simple ambivalence to the world.

Maybe its all part of the modern malaise, people are individuals first and foremost. Rather than part of society these days, we seem to have forgotten community. Obsession with consumerism and keeping up with the Jones is the modern way. I think we have forgotten we won our rights to vote and change society by acting together.

I guess I have always had a pretty black and white view of how the world works but it doesn't seem to fit. I just dunno anymore, my views are too simple. I guess I need to update my point of view somewhat.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Had a day of nothing today, spent most of my time obsessing about moving out being my own man. Instead of furthering that dream I sat and played computer games. To be honest I did enjoy myself, after a busy week it was good to relax and not think about anything for a while.

This evening went to the comedy night with Bruce and Phil. It was a good laugh though we got totally picked on for looking like a quiz team apparently, I think its becuase we were basically the youngest gyuys in there. It was mostly couples. I had quiet a fun evening the comedians were good, and there place was full.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Bruce and I went to the Academy in Manchester this evening to see the Guillemots. I bought the tickets ages ago basically on the back of hearing there most famous songs "Trains to Brazil", "Annie Lets not Wait" and "Made up Love Song". I thought they would be a pretty different band to see live.

They were certainly different, announcing they had food poisoning in the first five minutes they played a very experimental set. I got the feeling they love to play and experiment which is cool, though I much preferred the bouncy songs to the melancholic solo (Amusingly during the solo the sound of people were talking louder than he was playing!) or the orgy's of experimentation. I have to hand it to them, they put different slants on their songs so the live act is definitely a different experience to listening to the cd.

The people in front of us enjoyed themselves, a couple of girls were dancing like lunatics, though from the way they were speaking it was clear they had indulged in a few drinks, we probably more than a few.

I am not sure if Bruce like it or not, I hope so. He made a couple of jokes, one song a new one called Big Dog, he thought was big cock, and in fact his lyrics fitted nearly as well...

I wasn't the only one with reservations a heck of a lot of people left before the end (the band did not come out for an encore either. I guess they weren't joking about feeling ill). I think its the most people I have ever seen walk out of a pay for gig.

Overall I am glad I went it was a different experience, and variety is always fun, still think Trains to Brazil is amazing.

Man on the moon

I have the day off today, went out earlier this morning in order to go to the Chinese embassy. I need a visa for my upcoming trip to Shanghai, and for Chinese visas you need to make an application in person at the Embassy. Fortunately they have an office in Manchester.

It was quiet weird walking in to the Embassy a women was arguing with the aide in Chinese. Thankfully I did not have to argue or even wait long, the aide gave my details a quick check and handed me a receipt. She told me to come back on Wednesday and pay then, result.

I spent the rest of the morning doing my VAT return, what a pain took me an hour and I only ended up owning £8.05, sigh. Thankfully I have a piece of software called Myob which helps loads in producing all the figures, all I need to do is keep it updated.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hablo Español!

My Mexican net friend is hosting a university radio show tomorrow about 3pm (Mexican time) I promised to link to her so, She is always interesting to chat to in English as for Spanish I have no idea but if you fluent might be fun to listen.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Killer Cars

I did not have the energy to blog last night, if I had I would simply have written my weekly Japanese was hard post. In truth I am still really shattered from the weekend and its so cold and oppressive at the moment

"Going out for a little drive and it could be the last time you see me alive", could have been my theme tune this morning. I defrosted my car, not very well dumped a load of hot water over the top, unfortunately it was so cold that I only got quarter of a mile before the damn thing refroze over I couldn't see a thing an had to drive for a few moments with only about 5percent visibility until I could find somewhere to stop.

Apparently it will be a very cold night tonight, talking of cold I think Paul and Ian must be annoyed with me. I know it was crap I did not "play out" this weekend, even though it totally was not my choice neither of them returned my calls recently.

I went to the gym tonight for the first time in over a week, I kind of went a little crazy and my body feels rather abused now. I still have not managed to get back to where I was before the Christmas break in terms of the weights, though my running is going well. I managed to beat me (quiet poor) best 5km time, did it in about 29 minutes. I was absolutely knackered but still managed a weight session afterwards. Perhaps a short break was not so bad after all.

I spoke to to ex girlfriends today, they both contacted me randomly, in either case I have no real idea what the purpose was, perhaps they just wanted to make sure I am not doing better than them?

Training aides

Found a really cool website you can draw on a map to work out how far / fast you have run

Monday, February 05, 2007

People are strange

Today has been a strange day for me, I actually received high praise for my work over the weekend which was very welcome but also pretty strange. It kind of shows that when all our effort is put into one project we can successfully complete it, promptly.

This evening I went for a quiet drink with Bruce at the Thieves, on the walk there we noticed a man stood at the side of the graveyard taking photographs of the church (or the graves we weren't sure). Given it was actually freezing we thought it was a rather odd thing to be doing. Bruce and I were just leaving the pub when a random women approached me and asked if my surname was Cooke. She told me she knows my dad from way back when he was a child, and my grandparents, the ones I never met. It was a rather surreal conversation and ended rather abruptly when I told her I still lived with my parents and never got to meet my grandparents on my fathers side. She told me he probably would not remember her and left without telling me her name. It all made for a very surreal evening.

Bruce and I had been having a quiet drink and chat about his search for a house. It looks like he has been gazzumped on his uncles place so he is looking around at some other properties. Current favorite is one in Cheadle. He was pretty upset at all the money needed to pay for other things, surveys, legal fees, and lender fees amongst others totaling somewhere around £5000. Its an expensive business this home buying that is for sure.

Which Superehero are you?

Your results:
You are Hulk
You are a wanderer with
amazing strength.

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Iron Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman

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I am not entirely sure how I ended up being 20% Wonder Women, I definitely said no to the push up bra question.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

For all the cows

Was interesting waking up this morning, I had two rather weird text messages sorry cant make the contents public. Contrary to message two sentiment I did not make it to Leamington, it was very upsetting for me but I have spent the majority of the weekend at work creating new mortgage screens.

Despite having worked yesterday everything I did needed to be changed despite it matching the brief the brief didn't match peoples ideas. I spent about 2 hours reworking to the new plan, and another couple of hours adding new features. Then I had to do the testing. I had to put up with a horrible anally retentive call center nobody, and a rather annoying call center manager. They apparently has to fight off girls with a stick, Jesus he is so fucking ugly in manor and tone are women so simple? Surely not, its bad enough I get asked to go dancing with my friends girlfriend, but being dissed by a call center pleb was nearly enough to bring on he red mist. Especially after two day super hard graft. I did have one new experience today,I had my first ever KFC meal. The IT managers girlfriend bought it for us which was pretty good to be honest I was getting hungry. However no exercise and a KFC I a on a dark path :(

I drank two bottles of Belgium beer tonight so my head is mashed. I also watched a film called the children of men about a future with no babies, its quiet scary guessing what England maybe. I hope it doesnt come to that, I would like to have some kids one day, if I find the right partner.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Oh Yeah

Some days things just don't go to plan, and unfortunately today was one of them. Everything started as usual I got up went to work, spent the morning working on a project to optimise some programs. At lunch time I came home and ate lunch with my parents, I got back to work on time at 1.30 then the bomb dropped, the big boss man at the customer had decided some work needed to be ready for Monday. The first I had heard of this work was yesterday when I was asked for a vague time estimate on producing a cu t down mortgage application, I had suggested it would take two days. That gave me less than half a day to complete the work, and get it tested, impossible.

After speaking to my boss I was persuaded that I was the only member of the team available (there is also another software roll-out at another customer happening on Monday). All this work related nonsense means I had to cancel my trip out with the boys, Paul sounded particularly annoyed with me. I find it hard to balance my career and social life. As Paul said I am not a director but if I had not have agreed one of my colleagues would have had to do the job, and I know they would not have thanked me for it as I would not I the position were reversed.

Its hard trying to make your way in this world nobody can tell you what the best thing to do is. I am trying to make a career; the problem is I am not sure if I am a model employee worthy or a promotion / pay rise. Or am I just another part of the machine downtrodden and ignored. All I know is all I have is my own efforts, there is nobody to bail me out, I cannot afford to take a big gamble and lose.

Anyway's, I hope everyone has a good weekend, albeit one without me joining in the fun. My weekend will be spent designing screens. I did manage to go to the gym tonight but have ruined the good intentions somewhat by starting back up on the beer. There were some cans in the fridge left over from the pre Christmas party at Jo's. It has been a month since I last had a drink and all the time they were sat in the fridge begging to be consumed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


My blogs have been a bit dull recently, I am afraid I think this is a by-product of me cutting back for January and staying tee total. However January is now over so I can have a beer again. more good news is that the trip down to Paul's is definitely on. So this weekend should be great llaugh as, myself Woller Ian and Paul out in Royal Leamington Spa :)

Upgraded the mono engine at work this morning, it went pretty well which was very lucky really its needed for a new project.

Managed 30 minutes running at 10km/h which I thought was pretty impressive for me, I was totally knackered on the cooldown I nearly walked straight out of the gym. I have meant to do a weights session but my arm is still bruised from donating blood.

I found out that on Firefox for Linux and Mac you can type define:word into the address box and it does a dictionary lookup rather than a websearch very clever. I also managed finally to get British English dictionaries on so no more red wavy lines under colour ;)

I spent this evening tussling with Ian' smartphone. It is a Sony P910, the same model as some the guys at work have, we managed to get Imap email working and with a bit of messing about I even made the sync software play ball. Its actually quiet a feature rich phone, though I don't really like the flip bit I certainly thinks it one of the best smart phones at least until the Apple i-phone comes out.