Monday, October 31, 2005

Babysitting

Whilst Stuart, K and Radlet no 1 are at the footie, I'm round their's baby-sitting Radlets 2 and 3.

9.15pm, the Trick-or-Treaters have dried-up, the smaller 'nieces' are all tucked-up in bed and Aunty L1z has proof-read Radlet no 1's homework (in which we discover that Shakespeare makes Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet 'dramatically effective'...though we're possibly not entirely sure why...and we're equally a little conflicted as to whether 'act' and 'scene' deserve capital letters in certain settings...), so what to do, what to do?

I know I'll Blog.

Let's see if it's possible from this here computer...

Hmmm...seems to work ok.

I guess there must be some other reason why the Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses pages have been getting dusty...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Serenity



Somewhere in Joss Whedon's creation is a good film trying to get out. There's some intelligence and a good few quality one-liners, but ultimately the wit and originality is swapped by the same old tired, predictable studio sci-fi nonsense.

And fight scenes that just go on and on and on (S opines that we can blame the Matrix for this indulgence).

Oh and the River character? Well look I know she has 'problems', but really did lack of access to some shampoo have to be one of them?

Yeah, yeah, I know...I'm missing the point.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Poorly Sick



I spent the day fighting off a migraine.

No halloween parties for me...

Despite my head feeling like a large pumpkin someone has gouged the pulp out of.

Bring on the codeine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Back to Shoes

Especially for Giles and any other regular readers that may have been concerned, I'll reluctantly wade back in from the deep water and return to my natural home in the shallows.

A timely email from Pab should provide perfect fodder.

He suggests that I might find my next set of shoes here.

Bless him he even sends a picture:



And it's almost like he suspects I might not be fluent in my recall of biblical passages, because he kindly includes the text for me "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance."

Well Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!

Sadly the bidding has already ended.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Narcissism or paranoia

In passing through Serious Dan's blog, I notice a link to Who Links To Me.

So I had to go investigate, obviously.

The Site entitles itself: Who Links To Me - for the ultimate narcissist in you

Steve L will presumably relate to that claim, but the thing is, in my case, I don't think it is narcissim that provokes me to take that step and put the code in my template...it's definitely more akin to paranoia.

Same with Site Meter, I don't get thrills when I see the number of people visiting this blog each day, I get 'the fear'.

I mean it's ok if I know you...or even just kinda know of you; it's even ok if you're just a mad person who put a weird search term like 'custard powder (define)' into Google and ended up passing through here; it's the rest of you I worry about.

And as for the Bloglines subscribers...well there's names there that mean nothing to me...and a further three of you b@stards are keeping your identities completely private!

Site Meter, Bloglines, Who Links to Me...they all leave me feeling slightly nervous.

Who are you? How did you get here? And why are you linking to me?

And above all: why the hell would you want to read this drivel if you don't know me (or even if you do frankly...I mean it's ok I will still be your friend if you stop)?

I'm beginning to think I may not have the right pyschological make-up for this public blogging malarky...

What do you think? (please leave name, address and details of our relationship with your comment)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Corporate Gig Space

I was down in Westminster today doing that work thing I was dreading. (and yes I am aware some of you are still finding this amusing).

Happily, however the presentation thing is now going to be in March or April (they're not sure of the exact date, but I know I'm busy...), so today was just an AGM and stuff.

No need for a nice frock.

I did get within spitting distance of HRH though. But I managed to subdue my republican tendencies and refrain...I figured it would probably bring disrepute on the charity and my employers...

Anyway...whilst trolling through the subterranean world of Westminster's subways, I came across this busking space:



Is there no performance space left in the country, unbranded by these b@stards?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Sound of Siblings




Big Hands is one of my favourite little scabby-chic bars in Manchester. The perfect pre-gig/post-gig drinking hole, always with an excellent soundtrack.

After several rounds and some excellent laughs (Stuart is now going by the nickname Thierry Henri…), we head to the Academy for The Magic Numbers.

The last night of a tour can bode for both good and bad, happily for us The Magic Numbers have opted for the never tighter musically and exuberant mood style of doing things.

There is a slight lull mid-gig, but outside of that they deliver a performance large enough to live up to the overshadowing silhouettes on the backdrop.

The crowd roar for an encore and their efforts are rewarded in style, starting with a fantastic cover of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love. Following this the support acts (The Webb Brothers and Loose Salute) and various friends and associates join the band on stage for a fantastic version of their beautifully harmonic Wheels on Fire and then a cover of Dylan’s I Shall Be Released.

A great gig.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Leather



With the Angel Day cancelled a quiet day beckons; lots of little jobs to sort though.

All rounded off with an evening trip to the Strawbury Duck with P&S.

Sometimes I don’t know why we bother; it’s still a beautiful setting and a cosy atmosphere, but the food doesn’t come close to its former heights.

Their second attempt at a steak is slightly better than the first (ie at least just about the right side of shoe leather this time), but still not exactly a pleasure to eat. I leave most of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Niiiiice...



After Blah, a small group of us head to Matt and Phred's.

It's great to have time to kick-back and have a couple of drinks with Kester and Beki, but I'm not so sure how I feel about finding myself in a 'jazz club'.

Blah Manchester 3



Kester has posted his notes for Blah here – well worth a read.

He spoke on some really good stuff.

Thoughts that remained with me include the proposition that the church has perhaps developed up evolutionary blind alleys and the need for agitating factors to address this; the church, much like the city is a living system, it can not be controlled, but can be disturbed and through the disturbance, evolve.

The incarnation could, in this light, be seen as the mother of all disturbances.

I found this a useful concept in many ways. It gives the historical relationship between the divine and humankind a dynamic continuity, differing from the common conception that translates a ‘constant’ God as static; unchanging not only in essence, but also in interaction.

The story is often considered to be one of linear progression, whereas Kester’s model is one of summits that sometimes have to be abandoned and ‘come down from’ in order that the next summit can be scaled.

On the subject of the city, Kester also expressed a thought that just so perfectly summed up for me, the response I try to give to those that feel that God lives in the rural (the sunset, the landscape, the waterfall…possibly with a twee little bible verse superimposed on the bottom of the image) and is all but missing from the urban.

He put it like this: the materials we find in the city, the concrete, the metal railings, the bricks etc are formed from the same basic materials found in the countryside, but in the city they have been adapted by human hand. So in the city we see the work of the Creator in collaboration with the work of the human creators (made in the creative God’s image). The city is witness to God in partnership with humankind.

On reflection, it echoes one of my favourite lines from the eucharistic liturgy:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become for us the cup of salvation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Manchester Moves



Different views of Manchester tonight.

Before hitting the pub, a small group of us take the opportunity to take a ride on the big wheel currently resident in Exchange Square.

It's all over rather fast, but it's something different to do And it gave fantastic views over what was Market Street and the major revamping of the Arndale Centre.

And if ever there was a shopping centre in need of a facelift...

By the looks of things it will soon no longer look quite so sad and ugly next to its neighbours of Selfridges, Harvey Nics, The Triangle centre etc.

On the way home, we stumble upon this rather wonderful sign.

Time for Reform?



The excellent Pab draws our attention to the important matters that are engaging our Upper House these days.

Like whether "traditional singing and dancing, such as morris dancing" will form part of the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Still, nice to know some of them have a sense of humour:

Baroness Billingham: My Lords, could I express a little concern about the Question? Like every other Member in the House I have received an invitation, first, to join the Parliamentary Choir; and secondly, to join tap-dancing classes. I have to ask—this is of great concern—is there some plan afoot to ensure that Members of this House are in some way to be coerced into the opening spectacular of the Olympic Games in 2012?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I can reassure my noble friend that all that has happened is a long-overdue recognition of her outstanding talents.

Man on a Bridge



This evening, as I queued to cross the bridge over the Mersey, I passed this man standing staring at the water below. In the five minutes or so I was queued alongside, he didn't move.

Now I'm sure there's some good reason why a man with a bright pink inflatable ring is standing looking at the Mersey, it's just I'm not sure what that reason might be.

I suppose we can be fairly sure that anyone contemplating suicide, would probably not do so with lurid pink accessories.

Or come to think of it, any accessory in the buoyancy/life-saving genre of things.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Spirit Fire



For the last couple days a large part of W@rrington has stunk of gin and vodka.

The reason isn't the obvious, ie that living in W@rrington would drive any sane person to drink (there are reasons why I commute), but rather that a huge fire at the Greenalls distillery raged at the weekend.

Now I don't do gin (tis a foul abhorrence if you ask me) and their vodka brands are not ones I'd partake of if I had any choice, but they do produce one product that I know some of our circle have an affinity with.

Kathryn I particularly mean you love, so sit down before reading the next sentence.

The site is the home of Bombay Sapphire.

Happily I can confirm that whilst the BBC can't spell Greenalls correctly in their 'links to external sites' bit, their report that key stills survived intact is reliable. There's just a huge burnt out space where there was once a plant and warehouse.

So you might just need to bring your own bottle and ask it to be refilled direct...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Needs?

Bored on a Monday? Well here's a new pointless internet game for you: simple type "your-name needs" into google, complete with the speech marks (eg "l1z needs") and see what comes up.

Some people's results are scarily amusing. For example annoying colleague's name provides the result "X needs to button it occasionally".

I'll leave you to judge mine for yourself...there seem to be some themes...

  1. L1z needs a MAN! - well I don't think I'm so desperate as to need the capital letters thanks!

  2. l1z needs YOU! - putting 1 and 2 together, if you're male and reading this you should probably start feeling nervous about now...

  3. L1z needs catchy slogan - you mean you don't think I should just go with 1?

  4. l1z needs to be laundered - well I am starting to feel rather unclean...

  5. L1z needs to put a lid on it! - like we need the internet to tell us this bit of news ;-)

  6. ... L1z needs help, but she doesn't want to involve the police... - eek!

  7. Steve is really a private investigator, and that's just what L1z needs right now - well I suppose it's a good alternative to the policy, but which Steve are we talking about here?

  8. In the end L1z needs to satisfy one person ... herself - yeah who needs a man eh?

  9. l1z needs to start prozac or something NOW! - well yes this list is starting to depress me slightly

  10. L1z needs a doctor - presumably for the Prozac prescription?

  11. And just for good measure:

  12. I think L1z should dye her hair green:) L1z needs a life. - hmmm...I'm open to the idea of getting a life through hair colouring, but green? are we sure? with my complexion?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wallace and Gromit



S and P come around this evening for food (very healthy grilled marinated paneer and vegetables, with cous cous) and then we head to the local cinema to catch Wallace and Gromit.

I wish I could tell you it’s a fantastic film, but unfortunately I can’t.

It has some great moments (the song on the radio etc) and lovers of the well place pun and subtle background details will find plenty to amuse, but it lacks a strong enough story to carry the feature film format and length.

I’m sorry…I feel bad for saying it…but there it is.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Blogshares



Every now and again the internet really freaks me out.

Tracing back a referral today (hey I was bored…) I find this.

WTF!?!?!?

Not only are some sad muppets trading in make believe blog shares, one of them has actually bought stock in my blog. Though of course I'm glad to see I'm favoured by someone who clearly knows his blog stock, he's taken his starting capital of $500 to a current bounty of $1,051,211,567 in just 7 months.

Too, too weird.

I feel vaguely unclean.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Annoying Colleague

The Annoying Colleague

Usually I tend to avoid writing much about work on this blog (obvious reasons...), but for the second time in a week I’m going to break that rule and defame a second colleague.

Our team includes Britain’s Most Annoying Man.

No really...we have the certificates and everything.

His particular crimes include incessant moaning about all that is wrong in his little world and banging on and on about the tiniest minutiae of his life to person after person. Coupled with his booming voice, this means that if you sit anywhere near him you hear the same dull story again and again and again and again and again...oh and maybe once more for good luck.

Topics can range from the intimate details of his dog’s gastric problems (blow by blow, meal by meal, excrement by excrement), the never ending dealings with his insurance company (sub clause by sub clause), his game of bridge last night (card by card), his journey to work (car by car, junction by junction) the problems he’s having with his pc’s proxy settings (click by click) and so on and so on.

Today however I feel we hit a new low. He brought in from home the cardboard packaging from a ready meal that he and the wife had cooked the previous night, in order to show us all how unclear the microwave directions were.

What kind of person does that?

Oh f***, what type of person then blogs about it?

I’m doomed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

An Old Friend Comes to Call



Out of the blue I get a call from K the other night. Her and M are some of the loveliest people I know, but sadly since they ditched the rat-race of Manchester for the good life in North Wales, I don’t get to see them too often.

Some free-lance work back at her old employer the BBC, means she needs to be in Manchester two days running this week. An excellent opportunity to catch up.

I still feel rather under the weather, but even that can’t suppress the pleasure of catching up with an old friend over a fine meal (courtesy of the good folk at That CafĂ©).

So much shared history over quite formative times in our lives. It’s been far, far too long since we spent time like this.

It makes me realise how much I miss the old gang. Yet again I make the resolution to get better at visiting the various Manchester exiles.

Mind you P&R have moved to the strange village in the Dales where Annoying Colleague comes from...the very thought of visiting makes me nervous…though I guess at least I’d have a strange familiarity with the route (car by car, junction by junction)...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A miserable weekend



Having cancelled plans to see friends (being responsible and all) I spent the large part of the weekend on the sofa wrapped in a duvet drinking orange juice in an attempt to see off the bug that has caused me to ache from head to toe, run a temperature like a yo-yo and develop a head full of phlegm (where the hell does it all come from?).

It seems that the impact of working in an office that is about 90% male has been that I too have caught man-flu.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Evil Colleague



A number of us in the team are starting to feel like we’re coming down with the nasty cold/flu* thing that seems to be sweeping through the office.

There is a growing feeling that it would not be inappropriate to track down the git who first brought their sniffles to work and exact revenge.

*diagnosis appears to depend heavily on gender…female=nasty cold/endeavour to fight it off; male=flu/it could even be pneumonia you know.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A New Book Group?



Whenever I mention that I’m a member of a Book Group, the most common response is “oooh is it like that one on the telly, all arguments, affairs and intrigue?”.

Historically, I’ve laughed off such suggestions.

Then they turned out to be true.

Accordingly the Book Group sort of fizzled out amongst the various splits and fall outs and to be honest, with a busy summer, that was just fine by me.

Out of the blue, I hear from one of the former members about a new group he’s starting; small and select, meets in a pub, would I like to join them?

He’s great – an avid reader and a serious literati, a fantastic person to discuss books with. He’s one of the guys who dates back with me to the literature course we did at night school many moons ago, so amongst the book group crowd one of my oldest, though maybe not closest, friends.

He’s also one of the main people involved in some of the behind the scenes stuff that happened at the previous group.

Only I don’t know this through him and I don’t know if he knows I know.

Oh the dilemmas. Will it be ‘taking sides’ if I join his new group, even though the old one has never formally finished, just sort of faded away? Would a newer but closer friend be hurt and upset if she knew I was meeting up with him? Will it be awkward that I know stuff about the old friend that he probably doesn’t realise I know? Should I say anything? Should I give him the chance to put his side of things? Oh dear…dilemmas…

A second email - the book they’ve chosen for this week is Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.

I love this book.

I give in to temptation and sneak into the pub to meet them to discuss it.

I try to stay reasonably poker faced when old friend tells me he’s separated from his wife of 20+ years. I can tell he’s trying to work out if news of marital unhappiness comes as a surprise to me. Fortunately, the others arrive back at the table with drinks from the bar at that point, the moment is broken, discussion moves on to the book. I start to relax.

And that’s when it happens, the only person at the table I don’t know of old, states that she believes that racial segregation is a perfectly natural and acceptable state of affairs.

F***! Where do you go with that? A couple of us try and argue it out as calmly as possible and I try to remind myself that having grown up white in South Africa she has a different starting point on all this, but even so…

I try so hard to hear what she’s saying and see her point of view, but by the end of the evening I’m fighting back the old Spitting Image tune.

Do I go back next time?

Dilemmmas.

Anthony and the Moomintrolls



As Laura pointed out last night in the pub, Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons, may be immensely talented and responsible for one of the most beautiful albums of the year, but that doesn’t take away the fact that he looks like a glow in the dark moomintroll.

Notwithstanding the hovering attentions of a ‘tired and emotional’ and slightly amorous gentleman, it was a good night.

The surreal levels didn’t improve greatly though when Laura and I were joined by the post-Sanctus1 pub crowd…I have a vague recollection that at one point the issue of decoy reindeers was mentioned.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Project Cancellation



I arrived in work this morning to find that the Client (having failed to reach agreement with the regulatory body), has pulled my project.

Effective immediate. Don't finish up what you're doing, don't take things to a natural break point, don't pass Go or collect £200.

Bit of a downer given how far we've taken the design and that I'd come up with a natty little solution that stood to make savings against budget of several million pounds (which my company would get a decent cut of).

Needless to say the mood in the office as we pack away files and archive data is not the best.

On the plus side though, I no longer care as to why the Mechanical Engineers spent 5 months saying we need two 'X's and then last week suddenly decided they really wanted three. I mean it's only a case of whole rafts of the design having been based around their original answer...not a problem to suddenly change your mind at the eleventh hour, oh no...

Obviously this issue is now something of a moot point and the fact that I don't now need to get to the bottom of it all and bang heads together is a little bit of silver lining at least.

Or so I'm trying to tell myself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tanoy Annoyance



Why is it that mobile phones pick up railway tanoy announcements so clearly?

There must be a reason, why they get picked up disproportionately loudly - what is background noise for the individual in situ, becomes completely dominant at the other end of the call.

Attempting a Greenbelt telephone conference last night, with one of the nine parties participating on a mobile phone from Euston station was a little trying to say the least.

Still it was good to know which platform the Carlisle train would be departing from and where the quiet zones and shop can be found on the 19.05 to Manchester - you never know when that kind of information could come in handy...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Brummie Polar Bears



Thanks to Stuart, for sharing this little gem with me the other week...I keep forgetting to pass on the link.

Click Movies on the left hand side and then the right hand picture 'TV Series' and then the left hand picture 'Lenny Henry - Polar Bears'.

Funnier than Lenny Henry on his own by far.

My favourites are the Bamboo Group, Gary's Fall and the Breeding Programme.

Tips
  • if your video software is struggling to decode, download the DivX programme on the home page
  • if you want to shut up the very annoying cheeping bird thing - try hitting the 'Ouch' button
  • One of the links is broken (Work Placement) ftp://mir1.3dvf.net/3dvf/pyer/Untitled(AVI)-DIVX_work.avi should work. But it's not a very good one anyway...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Scheduled Repeat



Today this blog will be running an updated repeat.

You know, a bit like one you've seen before but involving a return visit...

Karen Phil and Sarah has arranged a girlie night out at the cinema last night, but the plans crumble a little when we're delayed getting to Parrs Wood and discover that Pride and Prejudice is sold out even though we're there 20 mins before showtime £3.50 at Showcase - bargain!

After much discussion of other films (nothing else much worth seeing on) the wonders of WAP tell me there's an 8.45pm showing at AMC Great Northern.

So we dash into town and eventually find our way to the car park despite all the road closures due to building works (great signage: sign 1 "For Great Northern Car Park follow Diversion"; sign 2, 20 yards beyond "Diversion Ends").

Following the previous night's shenanigans we ensure we're at the cinema in plenty of time.

UnfFortunately we miss therefore catch the opening, but hopefully not and I'm reassured that the previous night we hadn't missed too much.

I was worried that it would suffer in comparison against the 1995 TV series to watching it for the first time, but it holds its own well.