Monthly Archives: November 2004

Start of a new week

Lots of stuff to talk about, but most of it is pretty uninteresting to people who aren’t me.
Last night was a lovely evening with my parents. My mum’s superb Lamb Casserole, good conversation and a lot of laughing. Surely that’s what life is about ?
Humph has been a little love recently. In fact, as I type, he’s singing and performing for my left hand. Sweet bird. He spends so much time on us that I worry about him while I sleep. A few years ago I used to dream about our servers…mainly /var filling up. Nowadays I have David Cronenberg-style dreams laced with images of Humph getting hurt. Why ? That’s not fair! I want to dream about nice things, and why shouldn’t it ? Humph is now sleeping next to my hand – you’ve got to admit that he (she) is a lovely bird 🙂
Busy day – apart from all of the firefighting, the new webserver arrived and this afternoon Geoff, JohnK and I installed it into the rack. Our first Opteron (cool if you’re sad).


OK, I know it’s of interest to a no-one but me, but today I took a break from gettting my head around Java with XML Schemas and had a go at converting my Mum and Dad’s “BBC Big Challenge” pedometer to use Imperial measurements rather than metric. Not that I’m against metric, quite the opposite, but I hate the idea that the option has been removed. Particularly when people of my parents age want Imperial. OK, I’m not reprogramming it or anything clever (and impossible) like that, but it clearly had the capability, as it had ‘inches’ and ‘lbs’ on the LCD, so I thought I’d give it a go. A few blobs of solder later and it was happily dealing with inches, miles and lbs. A very small victory I know. In fact, just ignore this.
Yesterday I had a go at the Sourceforge/Cloudscape contest to win an iPod. You have to download their database engine, install it, and then install a competition database. Then you need to write a JDBC app to search their tables for a magic word – which is different for every applicant. There’s probably an easier way and if you know it, please don’t tell me. It took me a couple of hours, to be honest, but I got the magic word right….and then I read the terms and conditions…and it’s only open to US and Canadian residents! ARSE! So, American readers, if you want to enter this comp, fill out the form, send me the e-mail you receive and I’ll give you your password.


The Department of Work and Pensions learned an important lesson about outsourcing this week. The same week we discovered that two of the impotent, useless, fannyhead companies that my workplace foolishly decided to employ have announced they are switching to MS-SQL server. I’m not going to sit back and watch another fucking disaster so it’s time to leave. I’ve had enough. Of everything. Reading The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (again..thanks Ben) really drives home how much of what we’re expected to believe is bollocks. Far more than even the average cynic can cope with. But enough of this maudlin cack.
Here are the high points of the last couple of days:

  • Last night- Lisa’s birthday. A top night where we all learned more about red wine and its effects. We ended up in a place called the “roadhouse”. Some sort of American themed hellhole I would never have gone to….except that it was great. Cheap red wine and (seemingly) infinite amounts of time. Hmm.
  • We went to Madras; a south Indian restaurant in Lewisham. Not only is the food superb but it’s insultingly cheap. I can’t begin to express how good that meal was. Before going there Michele and I went to the union and met up with some top people. A great night so far 🙂
  • Humphrey. Dear Humph. She’s been so loving recently. Preening us, trying to regurgitate for us (that’s a parrot compliment BTW)
  • I’m a celebrity get me out of here… I know how shit this is. I know it’s the worst sort of pap. I know. I KNOW! I love it though. But even I can’t cope with ITV2’s 24-hour-a-day worship-a-thon. Nancy to win.

Bollocks. Really.

Michele had a job interview today. She really wanted it and spent the last few nights preparing; they wanted all candidates to do a presentation. Why ? Christ knows.
Yet again, the internal candidate got it. Yet another public-sector setup. I know it goes on because I’ve seen it time and time again. From both sides of the interview table. It isn’t fair on anyone. Least of all the taxpayer who is shelling out for this expensive waste of time. Michele was, of course, heartbroken, but at least this time she was prepared, and asked whether the successful candidate was internal. At least she knows it wasn’t her lack of skill or preparation that was at fault. But what a bizarre and depressing dance to perform. Can’t the laws be changed so that people who are going to get the job anyway, can ? Why waste the time, smash the hopes, and generally piss off, the good candidates ? Why waste the time of the HR department and the, usually very well paid, people on the panel ?
I’ve been on quite a downer recently for many, many reasons. Believe it or not I’m doing my utmost to look on the bright side. So here is a list of good things:

  • I’ve still got a job…even though I wish 80% of the people that work here would kill themselves in a dignified way
  • That means that I like 20% of them
  • Some of the 20% I really like and consider to be good friends
  • I’m currently warm, fed, have a beautiful, clever wife, a beautiful parrot, a glass of red wine, good music and a lovely iBook into which I’m typing this blog. In fact looking at this I should really shut the fuck up whinging shouldn’t I ? It’s just that unless something changes in our lives we won’t have this much longer
  • Lisa’s birthday tomorrow
  • Humph was particularly loving and sweet today. I fell asleep on the sofa and when I woke up he flew over and landed on me. After that he spent a time clambering around me and the sofa (the parrot equivalent of mountaineering
  • We recently saw “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” which, apart from being the film with the most pretentious title ever and despite starring Kate Winslet, was one of the best films I’ve seen for years. Until watching this I’d thought Kate Winset was an over-hyped, sneering, munter, who can’t act very well. But it turns out she’s a gorgeous girl and brilliant actor. Who’d have guessed ? Watch it! Really! It’s great! (Thanks Ben)
  • As a result of watching it, I discovered this fact
  • Maryland Double Choc Chookies

Iraq’s a very serious question, fox hunting isn’t.

Classic 8:10 interview with 2Jags on the Today programme.
Humphreys was asking about the new raft of draconian laws that the Government are trying
to enforce, on U.S. advice no doubt, in the name of protecting the public. After the usual inarticulate blather from 2Jags, Humphreys asked if changing our foreign policy might be more efficacious in preventing terrorism, and mentioned Iraq. 2Jags immediately started making his funny noises and said:

Why is it you just solely keep Iraq [sic]? I do understand, it’s the obsession of the programme…

At the end of the interview, Humphreys switched the topic to fox-hunting, at which point 2Jags lost the plot and started making more strange noises and disdainful comments. And then a corker:

2Jags: Iraq’s a very serious question, fox hunting isn’t.
JH: [audibly gobsmacked]Oh isn’t it ?
2Jags: Naaaw.
JH: Really?
2Jags: Naaaaw.
JH: So why have we had all this fuss then ?
2Jags: You must people [sic] get obsessed with it.
JH: Including your Prime Minister ?
2Jags: How many people are really concerned with fox hunting – very few!

So there you have it. No-one cares about fox hunting, and Iraq is very important.
I never thought I’d ever be behind the Countryside Alliance, but I really hope they go for it this time.

Winning a battle

One of the things that makes work even more miserable is that feeling of hopelessness and disempowerment. Turning up every day, working hard, and finding things haven’t changed at all or, even more depressing, got worse. Knowing that the problems in your job, and the problems underlying those problems, cannot be solved by you. All you can do is patch things up when they break.
That feeling saps every vestage of life from your soul if it hangs around too long. It’s been shown that the lower down the power tree you are at work, the more unhealthy and miserable you become. Any time you hear some high-powered business man talking about the “stress of responsibility”…just slap him.

In fact, life in general is exactly the same. When you start to notice that your entire life is not in your own hands. Getting in more debt. Getting stung by banks, estate agents, insurance companies and lawyers. Watching the world decay into war, fascism and ignorance and knowing that whatever you do can’t change that.
But today I found a solution. Really. Well, a solution for the work one anyway. But who knows ? Maybe it can apply to other aspects of life too.
It’s so simple: just make sure that at the end of the day you achieve something. Preferably something that stretches you a bit. At 5pm, after a typically dismal day, I decided to knock an item off of my burgeoning TODO list. It was low priority but needed a lot of investigation to solve it. But afterwards it shone an entirely different light on the day. A feeling of triumph, no matter how small, really puts a crack in that relentless rolling wheel of misery.
Maybe the answer to feeling better about your life and the world is just to ensure you have the odd victory…no matter how small. These things add up.
OTOH maybe I’m just talking a lot of naive, whimsical crap.

Good few days

The misery of sofa-confinement has now ended. The end began on Thursday when Tony visited me. He lives in France and, for some bizarre reason, the French think Armistice Day is something to celebrate and ,consequently, take the day off work. Cheese eaters! It was a good to chat and talk bollocks with an old friend, which is what we did. Ian and Sue also turned up and it made me feel a lot better about the world; Sue and Michele both brought wine into the house, but I’m not suggesting this is related to my good mood at the time. OK ?
Friday, my first “long” walk for a fortnight. Down the road to the Walpole for lunch. How I’d missed that Thai food (and the company of my workmates of course 🙂
Things are healing quite well, but walking is still a problem. The solution seems to be to put a hand in the left pocket (anyone’s hand will do) and pull the jeans out to the front. Employing this method allowed me to cover quite a lot of ground on Friday.
In the evening the Walpole was full of people I really like. Not only the regulars, but loads of other top people, including those celebrating Claire’s time at Goldsmiths, as she is about to abandon ship. Lots of people will miss you Claire. Later in the evening, Michele, Ian, Mod, Rach and Sid had arranged to go down to Kaya House. It was superb as usual. However, due to feeling tired and emtional, I had to leave early. Michele helped me hobble home (it still hurts!)… As soon as we got there I hit the bed, but I’m told that Tony and his mate turned up afterwards. Sorry I missed you guys.
Saturday. Quincy has been cancelled on Saturdays by ITV2, without any consultation with loyal fans, but luckily another quality friend had planned to visit us. Ben arrived early afternoon with a wicked Guiness t-shirt, a bottle of chateauneuf-du-pape and a book. Too kind Ben. What could I offer back ? Tea and a crap sleepingbag….
But we went out to the Walpole. My nob was giving me jip but the “hand in pocket” technique worked well. After a few pints of the excellent Guinness we went home…via the Marquis and the Rosy 🙂
This afternoon we had some quality food and company round my Mum and Dad’s. BTW, their car turns out to have an engine that is so fucked that it would cost more to fix it than they paid for the whole thing!
Luckily, they bought it off the world’s nicest people, who not only agreed to give the money back, but also asked them to keep the car! That’s not right! I might start getting my faith in humanity back!
Back to work tomorrow I think. That clearly sucks, but at least our home is within hobbling distance from the office, so if it all gets a but heavy I can go home. And the weekend was really quite good I think.
Other things too…but another time.


Thanks to GAIM, I have just had a long chat with my mate Alex(q.v.), whom I haven’t spoken to for ages. Buddy Pounce is SAFE :).
That, combined with a judicious quantity of Bushmills has lifted my grey mood.
Nice one Alex!


This quote from BBC News says it all:
“The ill-fated attempt to set up a UK ‘e-university’ was described by the higher education minister as ‘rubbish'”

The only other question is whether The Day Today team will sue for copyright infringement.

A piece of news that bypassed me over the weekend was that Fred Dibnah has died. Only a week after John Peel left us deprived. Both items affected me more that you (and I) would think. The world is poorer for their passing.
On the other hand it does mean there has been, and will be, quite a lot of good telly for a while. John Peel tributes all over the shop and UK TV History showed Dibnah’s 1978 steeplejack documentary again today. They’ll live on.
I would have said that the good die young…but neither of them was spring chickens. Whatever the fuck a spring chicken is…

Voting Fraud

A serious allegation, that you can rest assured the U.S. media won’t pick up on, is from BlackBoxVoting, that Election Fraud took place in the last U.S. election. That’s a bit far fetched isn’t it ? In the land of the free ? You’re right…of course the government would never do something like that. They’re trustworthy and only have their citizens welfare at heart. In fact, accusing the current government of fraud, when they are such good pals with Our God Almighty is effectively blasphemy and so, in fairness, anyone that suggests such a thing should be BURNT.