Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dan and Ian in label

Dan and Ian in label, originally uploaded by j0hncooke.

23:10 23 May 2008 23052008137


Label, originally uploaded by j0hncooke.

23:10 23 May 2008 23052008139

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Best Foot Forward

I watched the final Pirates of the Caribbean this evening, I was kind of shocked at it. I felt like they almost totally forgot number two, certainly the beginning was a confused mass of non stories that divert away and confuse the "plot". I didn't really like it I felt it was a little like cinema by numbers rather than a film experience.

After that I headed out to see Martina at the March Hair in Cheadle Hulme. She had been waving off Peggy who is returning to Martinique. We talked at length about her housing situation, about how cruel and calculated Suzanna had been to throw her out. I do generally thing its pretty unreal to throw someone out onto the street with only a few hours warning and not a care for their well being. I mean you can fall out with someone without trying to ruin their life, in the end Martina is a foreigner here, she hasn't got a lot of money if Mack and Pat had not agreed to put her up she could have experienced serious problems. She also told me how agitated she was apparently jumping up and down and shouting in German. It reminded me of something kasia said yesterday; Apparently her room mate Ola was in Argos and she observed two Poles getting increasingly irate at the store for giving them the wrong item. Only thet were shouting at the assistant in Polish and it wasn't getting them very far.

On happy topics, Martina's parents are coming to visit her. Though for some very strange reason they haven't chosen to travel from German by coach. This weill take 36 hours to get to London then another two and a half to Manchester. A flight only takes just over an hour, so it was a very strange decision.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

That's not my name

I had a long chat with Martina, she had been kicked out of her house after Suzanne the owner let living together tensions get the better of her. She is staying with a couple of retired folk she met at Japanese class who kind of adopted her. I think Suzanna her housemate bottled things rather than talk to Martina about them until the point she simply exploded. I think was pretty unbelievable of her to kick her out without any proper notice. The law states that excluded occupiers only have to have "reasonable notice" but this does not have to be in writing. I would say 12 hours is unreasonable but my opinion is that of a friend not a lawyer.

After chatting I went for a swim, managed 40 lengths then went to relax out in the sauna. There were a group of lads in there talking about the drinking binges they had been on. One of them threatened to take out another lad and "get him fucked up", the other one replied "yeah go get fucked smash some windows and get chased by the police". I felt both afraid to be in the same room and sad for humanity to hear this conversation.

In the afternoon I went to York to visit Kasia. We made a salad and sat and chatted for hours, it was a really pleasant and relaxed evening. I really enjoyed our time together and I was sad to leave, I wish she did not live so far away.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Long weekend

I had a great weekend, so I thought I would tell you all about it. Friday night was the first night of the M.A.P.S. festival Paul's band Ciné were playing. Unfortunately for me I had to go into work at 6am on the Saturday so I decided to drive.
Ciné were playing at the dry bar so we all convened there, it was a good crowd, Ian, Nick, Danny, Jo Holly myself Phil several of Hulme hall crowd including Sara and Catherine. Notable absentees included Bruce who went shopping with Nina instead and Simo and Sarah. Missing Sarah was a real shame given thanks to work commitments we have not been able to catch up in ages.

CinePaul was stressing there was some problem with the sound set up meaning that they had to go on without a proper sound check and once on stage apparently they couldn't hear themselves perform. It annoyed Paul so much I he delivered a stinging criticism during the middle of one of his songs. As much as the lack of sound annoyed Paul it was only negligible to the people listening. I thought they sounded really good. I like what the addition of the keyboard did to the sound. James and Paul were both on form, we all seemed to enjoy it.

After the gig (and much messing around, should never let Danny organise anything ;) we walked to Deansgate and headed to a bar called label. It was a very nice club, Sara's boyfriend was playing saxophone. The place had a kind of roaring twenties feel to it, there weren't any trouble makers. We were however accosted by a very drunken women; Paul and I were standing outside while he had a smoke, and she came up to us and started telling us about how she had "Just had her make up done", she was rocking on the spot, the conversation went downhill from there really.
When we came inside she followed us in and started looking for her bag around the table we were sat at, although she hadn't sat with us.
She was not the only drunk one, I left around midnight so as to be able to get up in the morning, I offered Phil a lift he dithered for about 5 minutes started following me out then stop told me he was getting a lift with Nick and wondered back. As a walked back to the car I passed all sorts of nightlife including one guy who was having his head put back together by the police, must have been some sort of altercation. It made me a little sad that this is England violent and drunk, I managed to get back the car and home though intact though.

It was very hard getting up Saturday morning my ears were still ringing as I sat in the early morning light. It was an absolute disaster too, I finished my part by 8.15am then had to wait until 2 in the afternoon for the SQL server to replicated the changes. The DBA blamed a lack of a proper test environment and I cannot say that I disagree.

Saturday evening was Sandboxes turn to play, this time on the rear stage. I thought they did a respectable gig though the event organizers seemed to cut them a little short. They all seemed happy enough afterwards though we drank a few beers and listened to the other bands.
Sandbox @ Dry Bar
Afterwards we went for Chinese food in China town, it was very tasty though by this point tiredness and alcohol took over. I had been awake for far too long and pretty much passed out on the car ride home. It had been nice to go out with the Sandbox crew though sans LD who played his last gig and took off immediately at the end.

Today I spent the day reading and generally chilling out, in the evening I went out with Nick and some of his builder friend in Knutsford. They seemed like a nice bunch of guys, though I a not sure how they took me. I ended up getting quite drunk hopefully I didn't disgrace myself.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Let It Die

I went to see Feist at the Palace theatre this evening. The Palace is a strange Venue for music all seated and geared up for plays and shows, I wouldnt like to have been on the top tier the view must have been poor. However it was nice enough for us in the circle. The gig itself was really great gig. The support band were an odd group of music geeks, they were entertaining if only for they variety. From a song about death to one about unrequited love of a teacher.
Feist was wonderful and had a wonderful stage set up. Most of the themes of the songs were visualised by a shadow puppeteer. So rather than the usual computer generated scenes there was a really arty backdrop. She even opened her set playing behind a white screen so all we could see was a shadow of her singing. During the gig she was constantly engaging trying to draw the crowd in, she also alternated between singling and playing on her own to using a full band.
All in all it was one of the best gigs I have been to for a while, I hope tomorrows Maps festival proves to be as much fun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Carolina Drama

I just about made it home past the hoards of football fans streaming out of the pubs and bars between my house and Martina's. The guys from work who took a half day to go and catch the game in the city should all be very happy and drunk right about now.

I didn't watch the game myself, I have never been a football fan, instead I went to Yoga class with Martina. It was actually really good, though I was the only guy in a room of mostly middle aged women, Julia the leader was really good I definitely feel stretched and worked out now.

We went for a take away curry and a chat after the class, idling our time setting the world to rights. The curry was really nice from a little take away behind Tesco metro in Cheadle Hulme.

My tickets to see Paul McCartney's concert on the 1st of June arrived today, I am really excited about it. I have never seen him live and its rumoured that Ringo Starr will appear, which would be just fantastic, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I reached the end of the line with a couple of the Estate agents, I got tired of being sent to look at overpriced junk. The spiky haired estate agent was trying to convince me that £137,000s for an inhabitable ex council house in the worst part of Cheadle Hulme was in some way a good buy. In fact I think that the particular chain of Estate Agents overprice, and hard sell some of the worst places on the market, I have decided (partially on Nick's advice) if possible not to deal with this chain anymore.

I had a Japanese class this evening, I performed pretty terribly. I really want to learn Japanese, the culture, country and people fascinate me. Somehow though I never seem to get enough time to practise or gain the critical mass of education that I can start to really read, write and converse in Japanese. A lot of people who have good language skills tell me the point I need to reach is to be able to think in another language, once you can get to that level its possible to really start understanding conversation and language. I really hope I can, I would love to be able to read a Japanese book untranslated.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What Else Is There?

After last nights gorging on Pestos finest Italian tapas with Emily Andy and Nick I decided to try and be healthy today. I lasted about 6 hours.

The morning wet well I started reading "looking for the lost" Alan Booths second and final book about travelling in Japan. So far its very interesting, his style is really very readable and interesting. World weary and angry yet so engaging and full of humour.

I managed then to go the the gym do a workout, then go and view a house in Hazel Grove. The owner showed me round, he struck me as an angry man constantly apologising and explaining why his house was as it was. To be honest for me it was overpriced and needed quiet a bit of work doing, so it is not the one for me.

When I got home I had lunch then went to Barton grange to pick up an out door table and chairs for my parents. I didn't; think it would fit in my car but the guy manhandled the box until it was just about wedged.

After putting the table together Nick called round. He had just bought a bike off ebay. It was two years old but basically had been left in a shed it looked brand new to me. We went for a ride around some parts of Poynton where Nick is looking for a house. It was interesting cycling around you can hear and see a lot more of an area, sometimes cars are just two divorced from the surroundings to be useful. After scoping out the houses we popped in to see Martin.

Martin was working on his new buggy, we chatted about bikes and kites for a bit. I think Nick was surprised how much of an adrenaline junky Martin really is. I thought he was alone until we popped into the kitchen for something and found Char ironing in the half finished living room.

It was Nina's birthday yesterday so we went for a curry to celebrate. Nick, Phil, Nina, Bruce, Holly, Jo and I went to the Spicy hut for a meal. It was tasty, we had nice conversations about life, houses, and business.

I got home and crashed, emotionally I feel very low. A lot of things seem to be going wrong my life is wasted on useless pursuits like the fruitless campaign to find a house. Everything seems to be a bit pointless, working for things that bring only pain, desperately trying to be somebody when the last characteristic anyone likes is desperation. So many bad decisions, failures and mistakes haunt me, I seem to have lost my way, but I no longer see what the path should be. Perhaps one day I can shake off the malaise and feel good about things again, I really hope.

I'm Insane

Driving back down the other end of my road, the fields illuminated in the moonlight I started to think that the reason I have so much trouble finding somewhere to live is because the place I live at the moment is so very nice.

I have done a lot of miles this weekend already. Last night straight after work I drove to meet Kasia. It took nearly one hour forty five to get there in rush hour. We had a nice evening together, have a short walk by the river shared a pizza and generally enjoyed each others company. She has to work two long days this weekend unfortunately so I headed home in the small hours. Part of the M60 was closed so I ended up driving home through central Manchester.

Today I went to view some houses, the first in Hazel Grove was a great house but the position was all wrong. Diagonally opposite was some sort of freight containers, and on the lamppost was a police dispersal order notice.

The next house was in Cheadle Heath, it was tiny, badly turned out and on a main road. The estate agent who arranged it offered to take us to another. I assented and we headed to Cheadley Drive. Nick bet me that the estate agent would have spiky black hair, a black suit and be holding his mobile phone in his hand, he didn't have his phone in his hand but otherwise fitted the description. The house looked like a bomb had hit it, apparently that is what £135,000 buys these days. I am not joking here either, the place had been repossessed, there was tape condemning the utilities, boards on the back windows and the state of the place was terrible. The was after walking past some guys stripping down a car in the road, I hope it was theirs... Nick and I struggled not to laugh at the prospect this place offered.

Disheartened I headed home wondering if I will ever find anything suitable. Fortunately Emily cheered me up by arranging for Nick and I to join her and Andy for some dinner. After a bit of wondering round Manchester, and walking out of one place after finding Andy's favourite dish had been dropped from the menu (he was actually happy to stay but I thought it best we find somewhere that we all could enjoy). We finally decided on the Italian tapas restaurant Pesto. Nick suggested it which was surprising as the last time we had eaten there was with his ex girlfriend. However it is a good place to eat. I really enjoyed the food and company, after the meal Nick left, he had to get up early to drive and pick a bike he bought from ebay up; the seller is in Birmingham!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Consoler of the Lonely

I had an harsh session at the gym this evening, unfortunately not due to the special amount of effort I put in. Rather because the air conditioning at the Wilmslow site is broken and the weather was good, the gym was extremely hot. I had to slow down jogging a bit to avoid hyperthermia. Like most of the patrons I was extremely sweaty and anti social that people were spacing themselves as far away from people as possible. One girl started off on a machine next to me after about a minute she moved two machines away XD

Martina invited me round for dinner so I headed there after the gym for her homemade German bread, which was very tasty. We also had some seafood combination thing from Lidl which was ok. After dinner we started putting the world to rights. She was complaining her students are always quick to email and Facebook everything. Today's technology means you can unleash your thoughts on the world maybe faster than good sense would allow. It made me think how different it must be for children growing up today. I had the Internet at college but it was very new then. Pre pay phones didn't really appear until then either so mobile phones were much more of a novelty. Now everyone has one, in fact I read a mobile phone customer is worth around £20,000 to the mobile operator over their life time, no wonder with charges like these. However I digress, my point was that communication is becoming faster, today we have instant publication via the web, SMS and instant message is it eroding or enhancing the quality? Obviously as a Blogger I think it is a positive step, of course there are new techniques to be learned and this is still really the start blog's and social networking is going to evolve a lot from its current form, nobody really knows how yet. People that claim to know what is going to happen with technology usually have an agenda to push. Most of the developments that really shook the market come from almost nowhere, and profits trying to push something often fail to notice the new waves, Bill Gates famously omitted the Internet from his book The Road Ahead.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Today work was the usual abrasive and counter productive mess that I have become accustomed too. I spent the morning working on quiet a simple .Net app, the aim was to import an Excel file into our system. I used the .Net ODBC connector to read in the file and turn it into a comma separated file so our antiquated system could read it in. I got it all working only to find that the version of mono we use is unable to provide the ODBC libraries I need, so rather than a simple webpage I ended up with a monster which reads in the file onto an IIS server turns the file into a CSV, then encodes it as a binary file send the stream to a webservice on the Mono box which re-encodes it to a binary file CSV that Basic can read in. Way more tricky that it needed to be.

I was have found it really difficult to blog recently. When I started blogging I always expected to say all sorts of profound and interesting things. Mostly though I have ended up simply detailing my life and its little foibles. I really don't want to fall into the trap of endlessly writing the same things I would rather keep quiet.

I think I might be bipolar. I am happy at times, like my holiday and meeting Kasia, but still sad at work and in other situations. In fact the moments of sadness seem to be winning out recently, I feel like I have a lot of daemons dragging me down. Some are of of my own making some circumstance I just need a change to break out of this ever decreasing downward spiral.

I went for a drink with Phil and Bruce, we were all really tired and in need of some R&R. No rest for the wicked though, even after Phil paid me for the gigs the last couple of weekends I am really behind, having had to pay for the car, and trying to save a deposit.

Fluorescent Adolescent

I went looking at houses in Hazel Grove tonight. After going on a viewing tour of 5 houses I think that Shaw Heath / Edgeley offers a lot better value for money. I saw a couple of the smallest houses since I frst began looking, compounded by being on main roads so having no parking. The trouble is nothing I can afford is actually my dream house, I know I have to compromise, but surely I should at least feel excited?
I think some people are going to have a bit of a shock that they cannot just trust the inflated price that pops into their head.
I went for a drink with Nick, I wasn't the best company after all the problems at work. We had a pint at the John Millington but it was dead, so instead headed to TGI Fridays where Ian was doing a shift. It was a blast from the past going there, thought it has been redecorated it still resonates the same air.
We chatted about life love and the vagaries of pleasing / disappointing women.
After a few drinks Nick took me home, we arrived and had a long chat about our respective love lifes. I think we both have a long way to go but in totally different directions. I cant really give away the details but needless to say we both got some things off our chests which I think hope (certainly on my part) made us feel better.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whiskey & Green Tea

It has been a long long week. Work has been incredibly stressful, I have found myself in a complicated web of competing demands from my employers and customers. Most of the time I spend feeling powerless and apathetic, not a great recipe for productivity.

All that said I suppose its slightly surprising that I agreed to help Phil out on with his webcasts. It was especially weird as I got up at 5.30 for a 6.20 pickup to get to Wrexham for the setup. I was feeling pretty tired after working hard and spending several evening s throwing together a web forum. Then last Saturday and this Saturday I have spent the day behind a PC watching a webcast of the most dull AGM's I have ever had the misfortune to attend. However his customer really appreciated our efforts. It was strange to get actual praise for doing a job.

On Saturday evening I went for a quiet drink with Phil and his sister. Phil and I both felt so tired after the days jobs and he had travelled back from Bristol. We had a few quiet drinks then went home, Tina went off with her friend for a big night out somewhere.

Today I had my first bbq of the year. It meant cleaning it up, there was compounded ash from last year and a layer of dirt on the grill to be scraped off. I cut the grass, cleaned everything up and lit the bbq, it was smoking when all of a sudden from nowhere it started to rain. The shower only lasted 15 minutes but it pretty much put out the fire, so I had to relight the fire. It was a tasty bbq in the end my dads home made burgers were really nice.

Once my dinner was digested I went jogging to Bramhall then Martina came round and we went for a walk down Old Hall Lane, before joining Bruce Nina and Phil for a drink at the Thieves Neck. Bruce and Nina were telling us about there time in Portugal, which sounded nice. On arriving home they arrived at Ringway only to be hit by a flash flood.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How to FIX IIS

I recently had an issue where IIS would not start giving a spurious error "Unexpected Error 0x8ffe2740". I did a google and found this site which showed the problem was Skype grabbing port 80, genius!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Polish Legendary Smak ;-)

Emily handed round a glass full of these Polish savoury snack. They were really quiet moreish even after a Frankie and Bennies club sandwich.

Vuelvo Al Sur

I have been busy this weekend. Phil talked me into helping him out on a job. He was putting on a series of live webcasts of the Co-operative groups regional annual general meetings. I had to operate the webcast encoder and help pack up at the end of the day. My gig was in Kettering (Phil had to go to Perth) so I had to leave straight after work on Friday night and motor down. I did get a rather tasty curry and a few beers when I arrived there. The event went really well, it was dry and boring to watch, top executives explaining the virtues of the business only to have audience members question why milk is 20 pence more expensive than another store.
We finished up by 5 so I was able to get home go for a quick jog, during which I realised I am really out of shape. Phil made it back around 10 so we headed to the Unicorn for a few drinks. I said hello to Julie but she was too busy working the bar to talk.
Yesterday I felt pretty tired, but I persevered, for the webcasting Phil needed a commenting system so people watching could leave messages for the presenters. I had put together a rough system using as a basis. However there were a couple of bugs with the login system. I managed to run through and fix that functionality.
In the evening I bit the bullet and headed to the gym for my first proper weights session in some weeks. My arms are aching today, and I am a lot weaker, Ill have to work hard to get back to where I was. After the gym Phil and I headed to Andy Gilmore's to play some Wii. Emile's sister Hannah, friend K and Hannah's boyfriend Carl were also in attendance. Starting with a Mario Kart session we proved just how random it all is, you can be winning a race by miles only to be massacred by a series of attacks dumping you from 1st to the lower rankings, sometimes even in sight of the line. After which the Wii fit board came out and we all got to perform rather embarrassing moves trying to balance of hula hoop.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Declare Independence

I went to see Bjork at the Blackpool Empress Ballroom this evening. I thought we would miss it at one point because the satellite navigation started taking an obscure detour through a series of A road avoiding the motorway, not a great idea in rush hour. After an hour of getting nowhere fast I went through all the options only to find it was somehow set on pedestrian mode! Whoops, back on car mode and we were soon tearing down the motorway.

We arrived in time to catch Bjork doing a DJ set; Rather than have supporting acts she puts on her own DJ set to warm everyone off. She was pretty good if a little random, at one point using a Paul Mckenna motivational CD. There was lots of feedback and noise.

After a short pause she returned with a brass band, DJ, drummer, and harpsichord player. The set she played was tailored to the instruments and completed with a light and pyrotechnic show. There were lots of songs from her previous albums. The show encore included the only song from debut the anchor song in tribute to the sea town of Blackpool.