Monthly Archives: June 2008

11 Years Later

Yesterday marked 11 years of marriage between me and Michele. I know! Mad eh ? I’m only 12. We were both just as surprised. Looking back it’s been surprisingly good and we find ourselves in a very comfortable position at the moment; it would be perfect if I could still be with the other people I love. Physics is a real bugger.

Making friends is as hard as we thought it would be over here but so far we’ve been pretty lucky. I keep ending up working with sound people – it really helps. Last week we had two people over for the evening – three if you include our excellent next-door-neighbour, Tim, who pops by occasionally. Back in the UK, once we’d both made it back to the billet, we rarely entertained. Not because we didn’t like having people over, we did! But more because we were far more into chilling out and going to sleep.

So, for our anniversary we decided to have an enjoyable day at the zoo. When the day arrived, it was so hot and humid we couldn’t face the ordeal of being outside – even at the zoo – and so we did something else that would involve air conditioning, nice food, and family. We went out with Helen, Michele’s mum, and Dot, Michele’s gran, to this excellent Vietnamese place called Pho Hoa. I can’t tell you how delicious, unusual, enormous, and healthy their food was; look at their site for details. Michele’s gran casually told us that she’s been going there for years with her Laos and Thai neighbours!
Have you ever had Taro bubble tea ? If not, I highly recommend it. OK, not so healthy, quite sweet, but the flavour will knock your socks off.

We drove home via Helen’s house where we pretended that I had agreed to do some work for Helen. In reality it was an excuse to give Michele a big box of present I’d ordered off one of teh Internets: a solar powered bird-bath and fountain.

The fountain didn’t look like it did in the “Silicon Solar” catalogue. In fact, it was fucked. We got it working, but, even then, the design has a major flaw: the water evaporates like the clappers until it runs dry and the pump breaks. I tried to complain to the company, but it wasn’t long before I realised they are widely regarded as being unreliable. In fact, I’d advise everyone to steer clear of SiliconSolar Inc. It would appear that SiliconSolar Inc have been accused of many other types of malfeasance in the past too. So, my advice is not to buy anything from Silicon Solar ever, because, in my opinion, SiliconSolar is run by a bunch of crooks. Hopefully you will never have to deal with Silicon Solar. Silicon Solar can, in my personal judgement, fuck right off.

Lesson: Always buy stuff on teh Internets with a credit card. Don’t use a debit card.

Later that night Michele and I trudged through the humid, rainy, jelly to a very nice local eatery and celebrated properly. The meal was, using my words at the time, “life changing”. In other words it was spectacularly good, as was the large serving of Oban ordered as a nightcap. All wrongs in the world were righted, and we went home to bed, happy and contented.

After I die…

…I want to come back as a goose who lives in a business park. The office building in which my current company nestles is situated in one of the many, identical, soulless, business parks located throughout the suburban areas of the western world. It has landscaped gardens filled with unimaginative plants and water features in an attempt to remind the employees’ subconscious’ of their raison d’etre; it’s just enough to prevent them topping themselves and thus saves money on expensive HR procedures. To be on the safe side, none of the windows open either; you wouldn’t want to mess up the shrubs at the base of the buildings with loads of human remains.

However there is one set of creatures that don’t recognise this cynical setup: Canada Geese. Every business park I’ve ever visited over here has a huge number of Canada Geese who appear to live there – usually near the water feature. All day and night they just hang-out by the lake/pond in big groups. They just seem to sit, sunbathe, swim, eat, shit and fuck all day. That can’t be bad can it ? OK, they probably don’t get healthcare, but it sounds like quite a good life to me.

Bus Nutterdom In The Colonies – A Qualitative Study

It’s quite reassuring to know that public transport [mass transit] in Philadelphia competes favourably with London Transport in many ways, including price, coverage and quality of on-board loony. As a simple and wholly unscientific measure – what we social scientists call “qualitative” – I would like to document two quality bus nutjobs I’ve encountered since I moved to the colonies.

The most recent bus-barmpot was encountered during today’s hour-long commute home. A lady sitting a few rows behind me was talking into an invisible mobile phone to a wide assortment of characters. Her voice was so obnoxious and cartoon-like that I spent half the journey getting annoyed that one of the loud, feisty, girls, who always sit at the back of the bus, were so insistent on doing a comical impression of a rancorous old bat for so long. In fact, it wasn’t until I watched them leave the bus that I realised that the voice couldn’t possibly originate from them.

I’ve no idea who the people were on the other end of that imaginary phone, but whoever they were, she felt very, very strongly about the way they were living their lives, and was only too happy to impart her worldly advice to them in extremely frank terms. She was clearly not a member of “the politically correct lobby” either; she was telling them straight in as overtly racist, sexual, homophobic and crude language as was obviously necessary to convey her strength of feeling to the callers.

SEPTA buses are one of the few places in Philadelphia where you get to see some real cultural diversity and so this barking-mad wrinkly could have been in trouble. However, she was so obnoxiously mental that, after a period of mass adjustment, the most she managed to educe from the weary throng was the occasional snigger.

Prior to this, the best nutter I have observed on mass transit over here was during Ralph’s stay. We were two stops into a bus journey to Center City [on the 9 for bus nerds] when an ebullient chap, wearing a brightly coloured baseball cap and sporty t-shirt climbed the stairs. He was obviously a local celebrity because he knew everyone! Well, he certainly appeared to know the driver and the few people in the front seats because he was having a right laugh with them all about something or other. OK, he was doing most of the laughing and joking, but then that’s what people like about tubby men: they are so happy. He was also wearing shorts, white socks and bright trainers.

At the next stop, a tall skinny man wearing a Phillies t-shirt took a seat near by our hero. Being very observant, our man immediately noticed the Phillies t-shirt and used it as the basis of a conversational opening gambit. He was also wearing a bum-bag [fanny-pack].

“Oh you like the Phillies ? I had a room mate that liked the Phillies. But they really are bad aren’t they ? I mean, they’re the worst!” offered our colourful friend to the Phillies supporter. He continued:
“Like, they could play against the worst team in the worst league and you know what ? Actually, they could play against a girls’ school. They could play against the worst team in a girls’ school. No, they could play against the worst team in the worst girls’ school in the country and you know who would win ? You know who would win ?”
Concerned that the Phillies supporter may have thought this was a rhetorical question, he asked again:
“Who would win jya think ? Who do you think would win ?”
“The girls ?” replied the Phillies supporter through gritted teeth with the vague hope that this cock with the shiny face would fuck off if he gave him the answer he wanted to hear.
“Yeah! The girls would beat the Phillies!” explained our voluntary fantasy-baseball pundit.

At this point I looked away because something nasty was clearly going to happen if this dickhead didn’t shut his gob. But he didn’t shut his gob. And he kept up a barrage of bullshit for the entire duration of the journey. Even when everyone around him had been staring at their shoes for at least ten minutes, he still continued his monologue – he just stared into space while he was doing it. One topic that he seemed obsessed with was the fact that he’s “not allowed to drive.” Despite that meaning we all have a risk of bumping into him on a bus in the future, it also means he won’t be driving…which made everyone feel a lot better about life.


Last night my friend Kevin played a gig in South Philly supporting Christian Death. As Kevin is my best, and arguably my only, friend on this side of the pond, I was anxious to see him play. However, being in my late 30s and being a bit porky, and needing to use public transport, and it being over 85F, and the venue being in a scary part of town with no public transport, and me being knackered, and because I had to get up early the next day to get into work on the bus because Walter’s aircon is still not fixed, I ended up crying off just as my bus crawled into the Wissahickon Transport Centre. The traffic was as bollocksome as it could have been and by the time I’d sweated into South Philly it would have been Friday.
Fortunately, as I found out today, the gig turned out to be sub-par and so it’s fortunate that I opted to stay at home with the flock instead. The only worry is that we’ve been doing a lot of that recently: staying at home. These days I prefer it…how sad.
The hugely inconvenient commute to work, which I share with a bunch of other bus regulars, amazes me more than ever. Why are we doing this ? Spending 3 hours a day of our lives traveling to and from somewhere we dislike, in order to spend 8 hours doing something we’d rather not be doing. In London this depressed the hell out of me, but for some reason that is not understood, I’m currently ok with it. Perhaps it’s a combination of the joy of uninterrupted reading time, aircon, a challenging job, and effective anti-depressants that’s doing it. If I should lose one of those benefits then it might be time to resort to drastic measures. But, at this moment, the thought of going in to work on Monday isn’t filling me with dread and annoyance…even though it should be! Why do we do this ? Anyone who thinks that it’s because a day job is a necessary evil, or that work makes you a real person, is a tragic fool. There’s no dignity in working too hard, it’s just pathetic. If you do work too hard you will never be wealthy in any sense of the word. Some people find that work gives their lives structure and a purpose; these days I pity them. A few years ago I would have concurred and tried to justify working my weekends out for no extra pay or credit. Now I just see it as blinkered ignorance.
Skive for fucks sake, skive! Spend some time with people you like! What’s wrong with wanting to spend the majority of your waking time doing something you enjoy rather than something that you do because you “have” to.

What am I talking about…

Right – the weekend is ahead and therefore some pleasure:

  • Not working
  • Speaking to my family on the Internets
  • Reading more of my books
  • A barbecue
  • A curry
  • Playing with my new Technics 1200 (mk2) that a very generous workmate gave me
  • Listening to some nice sounds
  • Sitting in the sahn with nothing better to do
  • Reviving my old iBook
  • Enjoying my flock

Nighty night!

Hot as balls

So many things to talk about but I’m too knackered to bother…for the benefit of my memory, here is a list of stuff I don’t want to forget:

  • The spice-warehouse/analog-recording-studio/house of friendly drunks in need of a lift to a gig where one of them is supposed to be sound engineer despite being legless.
  • The comic fair.
  • The oppressive, humid, hellish, nightmare heat.
  • The bike race and associated drunken partying.
  • Quality time showing Philly off to Frances and Marshall (my excellent sister and her excellent boyfriend.)

It has been hot here. Hot! Too hot for comfort. Regularly over 100F (they still use Fahrenheit in the colonies) with 100% humidity. It’s a nightmare, or rather it would be a nightmare if we didn’t have the beautiful, sexy, dripping, oozing, purring, air-conditioners. I love those things. In fact I love them so much that Michele keeps getting jealous. But they are so gorgeous! I want them all at the same time. Oh Jesus England, you don’t know what you’re missing.

One day I’ll write something worth reading.

Primitive cultures

There’s an interesting story on the BBC Newspod about a newly discovered, indigenous, isolated tribe in Brazil. Aerial photos of the tribe show them firing bows and arrows towards the plane containing the photographers. It would seem that they’ve never made contact with the outside world and were therefore quite perturbed by the sight of a plane. The BBC reporter asked the “expert” they’d wheeled out, what the tribes-people would have thought the plane was. After admitting that he didn’t know he proffered:

…they might think of them as a spirit of some sort, or a large bird…

“How primitive”, we jeer smugly! Fancy thinking that a plane is a big bird or some sort of spirit when it’s just a simple flying machine. Who’d have thought there were places in the world where people believe all of that archaic nonsense ?

Next on Radio 4, a debate about whether creationism should be taught in schools.