Monthly Archives: September 2011

Not the intention

Right, before any other business can I just exude on the topic of these headphones? That’s rhetorical obviously.

The headphones wrapped around my fat head at this moment are Sony MDR-V300’s that were picked up at a flea-market in East Falls a couple of years ago for a tenner.

Now, I spend the majority of my waking life wearing headphones; the only way to find the required seclusion for software development in open-plan offices necessitates headphones or earphones. At the last place they were “Koss” phones provided on day one by Mr Fritz, and they served me well in their various incarnations. Nowadays I have a cheap pair of in-ear “noise cancelling” cheapo mobile plugs that came with some phone or other.

At home there is rarely a need for headphones and so these Sony cans haven’t had a lot of use. Additionally I’m pretty skeptical about “high quality audio” for reasons too plentiful and intricate to go into here…but by god now I’m using these headphones it’s apparent they are orders of magnitude better than anything I’ve experienced before. Trying to describe how and why they’re better is going to be too difficult but just believe me when I say that it’s extraordinary how different a track sounds in these compared to the usual crap I’m used to. There’s bass – but not muddy, OTT, bass – just a proper bass response. There are details in the recording that were inaudible before. It feels like I was previously listening to music via ear-plugs.

Lifewise things have been pretty unremarkable (apart from a couple of unblogable things) but there have been some high points:

Well that wasn’t what I intended to write at all…

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

Reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists on the way to work will never feel comfortable. Whether you’re on your way to your decorating job, or on your way to be a hedge fund manager, it will make you think about things; it will, unless you are a complete imbecile, produce existential thoughts. One of the most astonishing and unexpected finds is that if the words “Tories” and “Liberals” were replaced with “Republicans” and “Democrats” it would be exactly descriptive of American Politics today. It was written in 1910.

This week my company organized “The Company Olympics” (where the word “Company” was actually the name of the company, but I’m not giving Google that much help). Even though it mainly involved rain and sport, it was a great afternoon. We also had to dress-up in “fancy dress” the theme of which was “Le Retro Sportif.” For help with this concept, Michele asked my neighbour Tim who suggested I go as Captain Lou Albano. This was brilliant for several reasons:

  1. All I had to do was put a rubber band in my beard, wear some gold chain, and put on a Hawaiian shirt.
  2. Tim had a suitable shirt he was willing to lend me.
  3. The Captain had longish curly hair.

Apart from one dude thinking I hadn’t bothered dressing-up, it was a success.

The rain became so serious that we were, fortunately, bound to abandon the sporty aspect of things and retire to the bar (all facilities were provided by a Ukranian Social Club BTW). The rest of the day/evening became what we Brits would call “a massive piss-up” and joy ensued. [Pictures are available on Flickr/Google+ to friends and family.]

Oh and they also hired the Guapo’s Tacos van for eats which not only provided astonishingly good food, but also Margaritas (all on the company).

Feeling the future

You may know that I’m not what you could call an “early adopter” but, despite holding out this long, yesterday I took the plunge into the brave new world of High Definition TV! Yes, it took a lot of courage but I finally took the plunge and splashed out $1.73 (including delivery) on a brand new HDMI cable.
Hooking it up between the Roku and our 42-inch LCD-projection TV revealed a whole new world of glorious sharp detail: the awsum powa of 720p! Now I’m going to have to watch all the Netflix films again in HD.
I’m thinking of switching to stereo sound soon too.

Some pun on the word flood

That flood in WissahickonHarold Camping was right after all – the world is going to end in October. In the last month Philadelphia has suffered an earthquake, a hurricane, and last night we had a fuckload of rain.

This morning was as normal as ever until I got to the bus stop at the bottom of our road. The school crossing lady approached me and gave me an extraordinarily detailed breakdown of the state of the region as part of a general warning that the usual commute would be less than straightforward today. All routes from where we were into Center City were blocked by floodwater, mudslides or the resultant traffic. The trains were stopped, the expressway was closed…in fact the bus I was waiting for, the 62, had the only viable way in: along Ridge Avenue – a long, miserable, busy route. But for me, this was fine: I have a book to finish and care not the slightest about sitting on an air-conditioned bus for a couple of hours.
As I waited by the almost stationary traffic, the usual punters arrived and were given their updated briefing by the de-facto Emergency Response Team. By now, she had received many updates by her people in the field (a friend on the previous 62 who was still stuck on Ridge Avenue, and a few other drivers in the road. ) The service we were being provided with, free, by the School Crossing Guard made me wonder whether she was perhaps a Socialist infiltrator. Obviously I reported her to the local teabag militia as soon as I could.
The 62 arrived shortly, and I settled in for a long drive. The bus filled to capacity very quickly and by the time we were at Shurs lane (the start of the flood related detour that’s about a 20 minute walk from my front door), 45 minutes had elapsed. Every few 1 meter-shuffles the bus made, one of the passengers decided to disembark out of frustration. After the comprehensive rundown of the problems, explained to me by the crossing lady, I knew there was NO other option than to sit on the bus, and so found it funny that people were willing to give yet another option a try. The temptation to shout “SPLITTERS!” as they alighted was only quelled by the knowledge that no-one else on the bus would know what the fuck I was talking about. We continued, and the brave few were augmented by other poor bastards desperate to go…anywhere.

What always astonishes me about emergencies is how well the mobile phone companies do out of it. Every single person in sight was obviously off to work, and it’s certain that around 99% of them, like me, do something of absolutely no use to mankind, but EVERYONE calls the boss to explain they will be late to do their vitally important job. Listening in to others’ conversations it becomes apparent that the responses from the twats who got in early range from “whatever! why are you telling me?” right up to “well I’m going to have to deduct a days pay because those TPS reports don’t write themselves.” And overall it strikes me as a bit fucking weird that we’re all on this bus to wanksville, when we could be doing something useful instead. So I laugh.

After an hour and a half, we had reached Wissahickon – a good 30 minute walk from my house. Suddenly people started getting up from their seats to stand in the aisle, point ahead, and say “oh my god” repeatedly. The bus pulled over. The driver got out to find out what was going on. After a while everyone got off of the bus in order to rubberneck the scene which, predictably, involved the road being flooded. But this was very unusual – the creek fed into the river at this point, and the level was so high it was level with the road.

The boss told me it was probably better to work from home and it didn’t take long to realise the only way back there was going to be a long walk, uphill, in the rain. I got home at 10:45 (after leaving home at 7:30), soaked, knackered, sweaty (it’s still warm and muggy), and irritated. The only good aspect was that I stopped to pick up a hoagie from the ropey looking deli on Lyceum Ave, and it turned out to be really rather good.

Labor, Chickens and Cocoa

The UK had a day off last week, and tomorrow the US follows suit: Labor Day. This has become my de-facto year marker over here (judging from previous blog-posts). What’s irritating about this particular holiday is how misjudged it has become. Ask people about Labor day and they will talk about cook-outs and grilling (barbecues), the end of summer, and the approach of autumn. This is part of the original cynical plan, and saddens me. Especially as I’m in the middle of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, and shortly after watching a great documentary on the history of Council Housing.

Yesterday was a great Saturday: It started with going for an amazing Dim Sum with Jon and Miko. Michele was also supposed to attend but had been suffering with a headache that kept her awake. By the time we returned to Manayunk Michele was feeling better and suggested that we go to a farm in Plymouth Meeting to buy a new chicken for the SWRC. So Helen, Michele and I did just that, and we consumed some smoothies made from harvested strawberries/lavender while we were there.

Since then I’ve been happily been playing in Cocoaland while Michele was slaving away at work. And the best thing is there’s no work tomorrow! Woohoo!

Except that Michele does have to work. Which is really bollocks. Hopefully her schedule will be toned down a notch after the baby squirrels have all been released.