Saturday, December 27, 2003

LotR: Return of the King

Seen it! Big outing with 6 of us: me, my brother + fiance, my sister, Gia (old mate of mine from 6th-form + friend of my brothers) + his mate Luke.

I have been trying to organise to see Gia again for about 3 or 4 years, so I'm glad it finally happened - all previous times (there were quite a few) someone dropped out or whatever event got cancelled.

The film - it's better than the other two. Apparently that's the same for the books too. I won't spoil it for you in case you've not read the book or seen it, but there's lots of battle scenes, the ring thing is resolved, and the special effects are good. None of the views quite made my jaw drop in the same way as they did in the first one but it's definitely worth seeing.

Saw the trailer for Troy (Troi?) again - might be interesting, otherwise I haven't the faintest what the next film to see is.

Aguilera fan? Noooo!

Am I becoming a Christina (or "Xtina" - ugh) Aguilera fan?

The first album didn't do much for me at all - Genie in a bottle was cute-ish, as was she, but there was nothing particularly long-lasting about it. I can't even name any other tracks from it.

But with her current Stripped album, I've been quite moved by "The Voice Within" and getting into "Fighter" and other songs. I even quite like the long dark wavy haircut she has for the voice within video. I even went and bought the album. What's wrong with me??? No, I haven't started fancying her. I wouldn't kick her out of bed or anything, but she's not up there with the likes of Holly Valance, Kelly Brook (sometimes), Cindy Crawford, etc.. (yeah ok, make fun of my picks if you like). So... What gives?

She's definitely more talented than Britney, with a nicer voice that doesn't rely on tongued 'L's (why why why?).

Merry Christmas and a happy new year

How was your Christmas? Crap? Be honest. Mine was ok. Got some good pressies. It was a family oriented one (as they usually are) - New Year is the piss-up time for me. I saw the "Grumpy Old Men" show on BBC2 on Christmas day (one of a series, I think) and totally sympathised with some of the points made about the tackier/lame Christmas traditions. Like:

  1. Buying a Christmas tree that's several foot too large for the destination room and having to hack the top off; thereby losing the gradual tapering towards a tip, and requiring several hours to place enough decorations around to cover up the mess.
  2. Turkey for Christmas. No, actually this is fine. It's the turkey for boxing day, the day after that, the one after that.... that gets depressing.
  3. Christmas pudding that has to be lit no matter how much brandy it takes; this usually takes ten minutes to accomplish and uses half a bottle, leaving one very strongly flavoured, crispy, blackened, char of a pudding.
  4. Rushing into town on boxing day to grab stuff in the sales. Boxing day should be a day to chill out/recover/relax at home or with friends.
  5. Drunk relatives regailing you with stories from their youth (that you've heard a thousand times before anyway) before collapsing in an alcoholic stupor on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon.
  6. The absolutely abysmal Christmas chart no.1. which has nothing whatsoever festive about it.
  7. A complete lack of snow on the day itself, but all the cold, windy, and wet weather to go with it anyhow.

There were a tonne more but I can't remember them all. Luckily I(we) didn't suffer from any of them this year. Apart from maybe the no.1 single.

Punctuation (updated post)

"Eats Shoots & Leaves" - completely different meanings depending where, or if, there is a comma. It is a description of the diet of a panda, in case you are wondering. It's also the title of a book about punctuation, or lack of, in our society. A book my Dad was given for Christmas. I had a look at it while visiting the family, learnt some, and it reminded me that it does bug me a little when people get its/it's wrong or pick the wrong one of their/there/they're. Either a lot of people don't have the faintest how to punctuate English, or they just don't think about it when writing. People should care. I'm not perfect myself by any means, but it's good that someone's (with the apostrophe) taken up the cause enough to write a book on it. Made me think about writing a page with the basic rules on it for reference purposes for use by anyone. Couldn't be arsed, so instead:

  • "There is a blog on this site." (something IS)
  • "They're blogging right now." (short for "they are", apostrophe replaces missing letter)
  • "That's their blog." (shortened "that is", and the blog belongs to THEM, apostrophe again replaces missing 'i')
  • "it's time I blogged some more." (short for "it is")
  • "That page is it's blog" (blog is owned by "it")

Another one that bugs me is the where/were/we're combination. Again, if there's an apostrophe there (or should be), it replaces a letter that would have been there otherwise. So...

  • "Where are you?" (as in asking someone's location)
  • "Were you drunk earlier?" (as in third-person past tense of was, does it help to remember that 'was' doesn't have an 'h' so 'were' doesn't)
  • "We're definitely right." (short for 'we are')
  • "What will you wear tonight?" (ok, completely different but sounds the same as 'where' and including it for fun)
  • "There's lots of water flowing through that weir" (now I'm just getting silly, but it does pronounce like "we're")

The book also delved into hyphenation / dashes (not the same thing), bracketing, quoting (double or single?) and how to finish sentences, particularly those that consist solely of a quote.

Languages are forever evolving though, so give it 50yrs and this text might seem terribly formal and overly punctuated.

Did you get taught how to punctuate at school? Or were you taught during one of the dark ages for punctuation when the occasional full-stop and comma was enough?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Borrowed stuff returned, like a good little boy

Finally returned the network switch and car magazines I'd been borrowing for a few months from Russell, who I was working with on a web application project recently.


Grrr.... I'm pissed off with Insight (UK) and Citylink, and very slightly with Liz (my flatmate and friend).

I told Liz Monday eve's that stuff (ADSL gear + my 8-port6 switch/stuff, 2 deliveries) was coming Tuesday, asked whether she'd be in during the morning 'cos I was working till 1.50pm. She said she would be, but she had a dentist's appointment in the noon and I watched her book a cab to go in for it at 1.30pm. Fair enough, and she mentioned she could leave a note for that gap (1.30 to soon after 1.50) in case they turned up then.

So I get back soon after 1.50. No note anywhere, no delivery left anywhere, so I wait.

3.30pm ish, my ADSL modem turns up from Demon. Cool!! So I start to play. A while later the service is live + converted from dial-up and I'm sorting out my connection.

The time gets to 5.30, I'm thinking "where the hell is my switch?". I know they can deliver until 6.30, cos I checked when it might turn up. Nothing. By 6.30 I'm pissed off that I spent £10 on P&P and it's not here, especially after Insight not being very good at actioning the order after an update to my details (when it should all have gone through - it was ready to be invoiced/delivered end of last week).

Gets a little later; the next door neighbour pops round and drops it off - they'd passed it to him at 11.30am.... So why didn't Liz take it in????????????????? Eh????

This morning I found out she'd gone in during the morning. No note, no message to say so on my mobile, nothing!!! Ok, hard to tell me on a call what with me being not that disturbable by calls at work; but she could have left a message....

Not the first time she's done it either - when she knows an important delivery is coming and said she'd be in, then just disappeared without trace - I've said to the delivery people someone will be in, and given my no. to be called on in case; and been called and had to rush back from work to let them in cos she wasn't in. Grrr....

Citylink should also have left a card to let me know they'd tried to deliver it too though, and that it was next door.

Sorry, just had to get this off my chest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

ADSL!!!! YAY!!!

Hurrah! ADSL installed and working. Still waiting for bloody Citylink to deliver Insight UK's stuff to me such as the 8-port switch, but cooooooool!!!!!

I don't believe Citylink have a very good reputation, but we'll have to hope they arrive by 6.30 as it's supposed to be next-day delivery. Order completed yesterday in plenty of time...

Monday, December 15, 2003

Pretentious Pubs

Pubs with good food that think they're restaurants.

That think they're good restaurants. Good, expensive restaurants. Fair enough, they won an award for the food.

Then they go completely refurbishing the place to turn themselves into a restaurant with a side-order of small too-cosy pub. With lashings of attempted class and style, and self-publicity plastered over the corridor from the posh side-entrance inwards.

It's not gonna work...

We just wanted a good honest pub with not too smoky an atmosphere, decent people and bar-staff and a nice place to have our Xmas dinners (as has happened a couple of times). But no, they wanted more...

No names mentioned to protect the guilty.

Yet another PC!

Yep, I've gained one more.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contemplating my implementation of ADSL (ADSL router / USB modem + PC + hub or switch / ADSL ethernet modem + hub/switch (+ possible firewall PC) / ... the list goes on).

I would love to have a PC permanently on, fairly quiet, and just 'there' to run services and stuff - web, SSH, NTP, other techy stuff. But my main PC isn't really the one for it; I have old PCs suitable, but none with USB connections (the cheapest ADSL implementation). I started researching USB cards to go in my 'pute, and it's either buy-cheap-and-hope-it's-ok-with-Linux, or spend £20 and be fairly assured it'll work fine with Linux.

So I was talking to my mate Jim about this ponderance, and he says "I've got an old unused motherboard with USB on it". So we strike a deal; a workmate has a case he's selling and Jim can supply a network card too. Sorted!!! No, it's not quite as 'nice' a solution as an ethernet'ed modem or router, but it's cheap (important for me right now!) and I know the modem I'm being supplied with can work on Linux (from my web research) and it's just a damn common modem anyway.

TaDa! A few days and £14 (+ a bit in petrol from our Kill Bill trip) later, I have a fourth (yep, 4) PC. See earlier articles for where I gained the third. Sounds OTT doesn't it. Well, I thought so too, and so I'm gonna offer Liz (flatmate) one to keep downstairs for CD playing/web browsing once there's enough patch cable to go round.

Fun fun fun!! (said sarcastically, cos setting it up without any drives in it at present is proving interesting - great case design though).

Blog dates fixed

I finally figured out where the settings for date formatting on are; so you can see the real (UK) time I've been writing these blogs as opposed to what time it is somewhere in the US. I am also trying to sort out the stylesheet to look nicer and more "me". Lot of work; need to learn CSS better too.

"Kill Bill seen in last-minute frenzied rush"

Again, not a real headline; but rather true. The belief that it was on at Basingstoke was quickly shattered upon a return visit to the Warner Village's website; what were we to do? Checking other cinema's, a rescue plan was formulated: Reading had a single showing per day at 9.40pm. So the crew was rounded up, a day selected (Wednesday, as 3 out of 4 of us didn't have to get up early to leave for work on Thursday), and transport chosen (me...).

Apologies to Helen, who had to get up for work; but 12.40am return time wasn't so bad considering the showing time and 45min return journey.

Cool film anyway - glad I've seen it, and happy to have seen it at the cinema too. Definitely has a thing about spurting blood (and lots of hacked off limbs, and not magically disappearing the "bad guy" bodies they came from 5 seconds later - just like in real life!), it does. Weird mix in of some Anime too!

I'm Waiting for Part 2.

Perks at work...

Working at the Post Office doesn't have many official perks (15% off Post Shop stuff and no-charge on travellers cheques are about the best), but it does have a a few unofficial ones.

A customer left some frozen pavlova behind last Saturday and didn't claim it by today (Monday); so we shared it out. We rang the producers up (a local chef (/cooking) service who'll make meals and cakes for you) and they said it needs to be eaten within 48hrs of being defrosted. So it looked like it was a slice each ;-) ...

They said if the customer comes back and asks about it we should send them back to them (as we wipe away the last bits of cream from our mouths) and they'd get them a new one.

Unfortunately (yeah, right...) the customer never returned; so damnit if we didn't have to eat it up this afternoon. It was a hard job, but it had to be done.

Much better than the usual (spectacles, wallets, books) lost property that gets left there.

Friday, December 05, 2003

"Kill Bill disappears from local cinema screen. Disaster strikes."

(ok, fake and over-reacting headline, but it'll do as a tagline for this blog). Still not seen it. Basingstoke's possibly next best bet for a decent cinema still showing it (I believe there are two).


Acoholics who can turn abusive. Don't ya hate 'em? Particularly if they're your landlord. He's a nice guy when he's sober, and he can be pleasant when he's drunk too; but when it's 365days a year and it doesn't take much when he's drunk to "get his goat" as he says, it's gonna happen sometimes.

Party time!

Gonna be a busy few days - 2 full days work Thurs (just done)+Fri, Work xmas party Fri eve's + Saturday 10-4pm work. So don't expect many blogs.

Should have a good Sat. eve's out planned though (for once! almost organised to meet people! Got to try and get my mate Jon out too...)

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Kill Bill (part 1)

Have to see Kill Bill some time. Have a group wanting to see it, but trying to get a good time we're all free before it disappears from the screens or gets put onto the smaller crapper screens (7,8,9,.. at our local(ish) Odeon) is hard work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

ADSL ordered (hurrah!!)

HURRAH!! Double exclamation mark!! I ordered ADSL. Just gotta wait for the gear to turn up and my link to be enabled. Might be a few days yet. But hurrah! (again... sorry..) I'll be rid of damn slow modem links and having to dial-up/not able to take phone calls simultaneously.


You can't live with 'em, ya can't live without 'em. Ok, that's not true... But I'm still single (after a 3yr relationship that ended 1.5yrs ago), and seriously need to get invited out to things like parties and just chat to girls. Part of the problem has been just not knowing many young people in the town I live in after me and my ex split; a lot of old work friends had moved away when a previous employer went belly-up and I hadn't made that many friends outside of the circle of people there. Sure I had my hobbies and stuff, but no good (ie. drinking/hanging out/catching a movie) friends from those groups.

So you start trying to go out and meet people, and it's hard work when you don't have a lot of confidence (yeah - great... lose girlfriend + job within 2 months of each other).

I'm sure people are far more friendly further north, and my town can be a bit cliquey (sp??) but I'm gradually getting to know groups of people. Even (wahey!!) a few nice girls. I'll never be able to pick the courage up to make anything more of it though :-(