Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Winners

Well done to all the Oscar winners. Here are my thoughts on the main winning films:

Million Dollar Baby: Looks dull.
Ray: Looks dull too.
The Aviator: Looks dull and overlong.
The Incredibles: Haven't seen it, but I think it's out on DVD soon.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Looks dull but is actually fantastic.

Ok, so the only one I've actually seen is ESOTSM, but they could at least make the trailers for the first three look interesting.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

There's Something About London

There's definitely something about London that makes me more impatient than normal. Generally I tend to not bother checking train times before turning up to a train station - in general I can be happy that I won't have to wait more than half an hour to go to most of the places I regularly go to. And a half hour wait isn't too bad, especially if I have some tunes to listen to.

But when I turn up to a tube station, I get frustrated if I have to wait for even a small amount of time. If the electronic sign tells me that the next train is only three minutes away (eg Whitechapel: 3 mins) then I get really annoyed. It should be here now! I shouldn't have to wait. I know that three minutes isn't a long time. There are a lot of things that you can't do in three minutes (Hmmm that sounds like an idea for another post...) because it isn't long enough. But I don't want to have to wait for a stupid tube train!

Maybe it's just because of the extra level of crowding that you get on the underground. Perhaps a mild claustrophobia that means I want to spend as little time underground as possible. Or maybe I'm just impatient. Oh well, at least I don't have to live there.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Live Party Cam!

Well, this is quite exciting. Here's a live feed from the party I'm at tonight. Watch me have fun! Watch me have beer! Watch me fall over! Hours of fun for all!

>>Party Cam<<

Update: Party over, link gone.

A Temporary Absence

It's Saturday and soon I will be travelling down to Smelly London for a party in a friend's flat. It would be nice if my friend could rent a church hall or something up here in York, and have the party there instead - so much more convenient for me - but he selfishly has chosen to not do that. Git.

I don't think it's really too much to ask though. But because he isn't holding his party here, I have a four hundred mile round trip ahead of me. Which may make me tired. And though I can sleep on the train, I can't sleep as well as I could on my sofa. Git.

Friday, February 25, 2005

More W, Less L!

It's late and I have not yet written anything today. What are the odds of me thinking of something interesting in the next 30 seconds...? Yes, that's right, Nil! Oh, well, back to the telly.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A question of identity

You remember how when you were a kid, your mother used to sew your name into your pants and your trousers and your t-shirts on little pre printed cloth strips?

Some very minor debate went on after a recent post I made, between Jaq, Maine and Myself concerning whether I was in fact someone else, specifically, whether I was in fact, Maine. He had said I was "easily one of the world's five funniest men", and the others appeared to disagree. I disagree too. It is in no way easy to be one of the world's five funniest men. It is in fact, very hard. Maine should have therefore said that I was "hardly one of the world's five funniest men". Oh... wait...

Anyway, I was reasonably happy that Maine and Me are not the same person. We are different people. I thought I knew this. Then I looked down at my scarf and saw the following thing:

Maine's Scarf

Now I am confused. Who am I?

The light of silence

Some good news: the buzzing light outside my flat has been silenced. Those of you who have been round here recently will be aware just how loud it was - roughly similar to the sound of a plane taking off. Well, now it is totally silent. Someone has either come round to fix it, or possibly it has just burnt itself out. Either way, I've had the quietest night's sleep for a couple of weeks. Result.

It's still not actually emitting any light though.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Master of the English Language

I'm quite pleased with myself because I just used the word "fungable" in conversation, in a natural way. Witness:

Staff: Can we use the money we get from XXXX for anything, or do we have to use it for a special purpose?
Me: Oooohh! Ooooh! I know this one!!! There's a word. Hang on... Fumble... Fangle.... Finulet.... Fungable!!!! That's it, Fungable!!! Yay, I'm great.
Staff: eh?
Me: We can use it for anything because money is fungable!!!
Staff: I do not know what you mean.
Me: Oh, look it up.

Never have I slipped one in more naturally than that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Shopping that rhymes

At lunchtime today I bought

- a half-price pair of gloves
- and the new album by Doves.

I then decided that I'd only buy things that rhymed with gloves, but unfortunately the only other thing I wanted was a sandwich and I couldn't think of an appropriate filling. The best I could do was "Can I have a cajun chicken baguette, love" because that's how we talk here in Yorkshire. Except I didn't say the "love" part because it would have felt silly.

I thought it in my head though.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Walking 'round the room singing stormy weather

I wanna stay in bed. Outside it's been snowing. I think Chip may have brought it back from Canada with him. Git. If any Candadians could confirm whether or not there's a big hole where your snow used to be, that would be useful.

Currently I estimate the depth of the snow to be close to 9 metres, and it's falling at a rate of 4 inches per minute. And annoyingly, because I've used both metric and imperial units there, I am unable to work out how long it's been snowing for. Around six years I think. The only plus point is that it should all be reasonably crisp and not have become slippy yet. That will come later.

But it would be nice just to stay in my warm bed and wait for winter to depart once more.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Don't take these things out with you

Based on a conversation we had in the pub at lunchtime, here is a list of things that it is potentially not a good idea to take on a first date with a girl:

1. A duvet
2. Clean sheets
3. Your mum
4. Your girlfriend
5. A lingering odour
6. Surveillance photos
7. Your spare set of false teeth
8. A Ladyshave
9. The local under-17s rugby team
10. The Isle of Man
11. A ladder
12. Musical prophylactics
13. Handcuffs and/or manacles
14. The pickled body of a dead relative
15. Coroner's reports of your last four girlfriends
16. A detailed gynaecological map
17. Your parole officer
18. Herpes
19. Harpies
20. A platter of processed cheese

There are more, but I forget them. Any ideas?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Feeling a bit sick

I'm wishing that I hadn't just eaten a whole bag of Jelly Babies. This wish ain't going to come true :-(

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Other Me

I have had a slightly confusing email exchange today on Gmail. For the purposes of this, we'll pretend that my real name is Lintford Christie, and hope that it doesn't get too complicated (though I think it may have done already...)

Even though my full name is Lintford, my email address is The email I received today was from It said:

"Are you a real member?"

I replied with

"A real member of what?"

Which seemed a valid response to me, since I am a real member of many things, including, but not limited to, my bank, Blogger and the human race.

It later transpired that poor Lintford (the other one, not me) had just joined Gmail and was annoyed (in a friendly, non-aggresive way) that he had to have the lintford.christie address rather than the lint.christie one that I already have.

I can only wonder if his initial question implies that he thinks there are a lot of fake fictional people set up on the system, purely for the purposes of annoying people like him. I kind of wish I'd replied with "No, I am not real. I am a product of your own mind, and you have multiple personality disorder. Have a nice day!". But I didn't say that.

To add to the confusion, my actual name on the Gmail (rather than email address) is Lintford, and his is Lint. I don't think I'll extend my communications with him further, since I would start to worry that I had multiple personality disorder myself. In fact, maybe I have. Who is writing this anyway?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Make me some good tunes...

It's been a while since a band came along to inspire real long term devotion - someone I can enjoy for years and years and years. Like The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian or The Tindersticks. Come on world, get your act together.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Light, converted to sound

Since the power cut on Sunday, there has been a problem. There is a light outside my front door, between my flat and the next flat. It's a ceiling light that used to emit sufficient light for me to do things like see where my lock is situated. After the powercut, this light... changed.

It used to emit light. Now it doesn't. It now emits a very loud buzzing noise. Loud to the extent that you can hear it in the bedroom. You can hear in in the living room. Last night I was in Norwich, and I kinda felt I could hear it there too. It is most annoying. Worst thing is that there is no Off Switch anywhere. The light seems to be hardwired into the National Grid.

If anyone can explain the physics behind this phenomenon to me, that would be grand. And if you have any ideas how to make the f***er shut up, that would be lovely too.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


No time to write anything here today! Lucky all of you!

Monday, February 14, 2005

How to make music REALLY small

Miniaturisation is a wonderful thing - a few years back I would have needed a small truck to carry around with me the amount of music that I regularly do. That's not because I take a lot of music around with me, it was more because I'm weak and lazy. But now I don't need a truck at all because within the last couple of years they have invented Hard Disks which store everything I want quite compactly, like an old vinyl record without the scratches.

And the way they've got round the problem of scratches is by keeping the disk in a box the whole time! Genius really - imagine how many scratched LPs could have been avoided in the 70s if we'd had a way to play them without removing them from the sleeves first! But I don't think things have gone small enough yet, so I was having a think earlier about how we can store more things in my iPod at once. It's all about compression.

Compression is all about squeezing something big until it becomes something small. You can do it with sleeping bags, and you can also do it with music if you know the tricks. The boffins know lots of tricks, but I've got some that they may not have considered...

Number One: In the majority of digital storage media, information is stored as a succession of ones and zeroes. Like this: 11100010100210001. The easiest way to store this in a smaller space is to write smaller! I know that it sounds too easy, too obvious, but really just imagine how much more information could be stored on a hard disk that used really small writing! I estimate that nearly 1.4 times as much tunage could be stored on current hard disks using just this method alone.

Number Two: The compression methods used have to be able to cope with a wide variety of noises: singing, trombones, pigeon noises, screams and several others. It’s not easy to encode all these types of noise since a different algorithm is needed for each one. And each of these algorithms takes up space and makes the whole thing less efficient. So my idea is to cut out the ability to encode the less used noises and hence make a more efficient (albeit slightly less comprehensive) algorithm. Possibly the best thing to cut out is French. No longer will unnecessary time and space be used up encoding and compressing a silly language that nobody wants to hear. It means that I won’t be able to listen to Je t’aime or Joe le taxi on the iPod anymore, but I think this is something I will learn to live with.

Number Three: The final method is so secret, so cunning and so plain brilliant that I can only write it here in a special code, at least until I am able to obtain the proper patents. It would be truly terrible were some industry bigwig from Sony to see this, steal my idea and rob me of my rightful royalties. Here it is:


It's quite a good code, so I doubt you'll be able to crack it.

And that concludes my selection of excellent ideas to make music really small. Yes, I am a genius.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


It's Sunday afternoon afternoon and we are having a power-cut. I have no power at all, except for things like the laptop and other mobile devices. So at least I can still type! I just won't be able to publish this until later. Hopefully not too much later.

It happened just literally 30 seconds after I'd started playing the new Star Wars KOTOR game on the Xbox. It had just got past the various Lucasfilm and other company logos and started the introduction, then zzzzziiiiiipppppp and it all went dark. A burglar alarm started off outside somewhere as I believe there is a legal requirement for at least one alarm to go off whenever the power goes.

It did occur to me soon after we lost power that this could be the result of a terrorist attack, or nuclear strike or Flash Gordon style Moon Crashing Into Earth scenario, and I'd never know the details because I have lost the internet (and am too lazy to plug in my dial-up connection), I have lost the radio (and have only just remembered I have a battery powered one in the bathroom) and I didn't buy a newspaper in the supermarket this morning. That might at least have had a warning in it. Since there doesn't seem to have been any blinding super hot flash of light come this way in the past few minutes, I think I'll rule out nuclear strike as an option.

So now I need to occupy myself without electricity (and without cups of tea!) for however long this takes. So far I have done the following things:
- Experimented with my own burglar alarm to see if it still works during a power cut. It does.
- Written a birthday card and its envelope.
- Written this.
- Paired a pile of socks and put them and some other bits of washing away.
- Tidied some wires by the television. Slightly.

The electricity's just come back on now. The outside burglar alarm had stopped a short while ago, but the sudden advent of power seems to have started it off again. Darn.

And now I'll have to spend the best part of a day resetting a million clocks around the flat. Darn again.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Boats and helicopters

My summer holiday is now semi-booked ie we've booked the main course, but not the flights and additional hotels etc. As I mentioned last week, myself and two friends are going to be heading over to America's Grand Canyon and sailing down it in a little rubber raft. Or something. Whilst boats and sleeping under the stars and rivers and all that are all well and good, the most exciting part will be right at the end. Because that's when we get to go in a helicopter!

I've never been in a helicopter before, but I've always thought that it'd be a pretty cool thing to do as long as it didn't crash like they always seem to do in films. I am aware of the basic safety tips that should be followed:

- Don't jump up and down whilst entering and leaving the helicopter (if possible, duck your head at all times)
- Don't touch the main rotator blades whilst they are in motion...
- ... or the little one at the back
- Don't tickle the helicopter driver
- Keep all bags out of the aisle so that the waitress can push her trolley along safely and easily
- No heavy petting

So if I follow those rules I should be ok.

I can't help thinking that we could save a lot of time by just getting a helicopter down to the far end in the first place, and not bothering with all this boat nonsense, where there is after all a fair chance that we'll get wet. But I guess as with life, it's all about the journey rather than the destination, which with life is always ultimately death. Cheery!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Not so much of a surprise

Sometimes when you go to work, you don't know what the day has in store. You don't know what will be on your desk.

Today, I know exactly what will be on my desk. The second half of a bottle of red wine.

But don't worry - there are some plastic glasses in my drawer.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Go to bed

Here's something that's worth realising: This post actually exists. Really. It's stored on some server and is made of little ones and zeroes. In total it is comprised of:

a) 56
b) 456
c) More than 456

ones and zeroes. There isn't a prize,

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Rather embarassingly, I have just spotted that yesterday's post about VideoPlus codes was a week out of date. The author had been looking at the previous week's TV guide by mistake.

The management would like to apologise for this stupid mistake, and would assure all readers that the writer responsible for the piece has been taken outside and severley shot.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Short Code Day

Today looks to be a bit special. According to my TV guide, there are a number of programmes on this evening with a VideoPlus code that is only 1 digit long. Hollyoaks (1830-1900, Channel 4: OB goes on a blind date!) has a code of 8. The ITV Evening News (1830-1900, ITV: Including the weather!) has a code of 6. And the code for Massive Nature (1930-2000, BBC2: Featuring Flamingos being attacked by baboons!) is just 4.

But beating all of them is Eastenders (1930-2000, BBC1: It's Zoe's 21st birthday!) which is encoded with just 2.

To my mind it's quite impressive to be able to encode all that information in just 2 bits. I have never really known how VideoPlus codes work and have never attempted to find out. I had wondered how short they could be though. I guess 1 digit is a minimum.

Isn't this interesting?!

Monday, February 07, 2005

An arresting sight

I saw a criminal being arrested in town this lunchtime. It was around the back of that notorious evil vice den, Habitat. It's not surprising he was caught since he completely stereotypically looked like a criminal. I offer the following evidence of this:

1. He had very short hair - shaved all over.
2. He was surrounded by policemen - there were at least two of them.
3. He was being handcuffed - this one is always s dead giveaway when identifying criminals.
4. There was an evil air about him.

I don't know what his crime was - possibly he was one of those mass-murderer serial-killers that we read so much about. Or maybe he was a terrorist! They are everywhere! Or possibly he had been claiming unemployment benefit whilst working. It was hard to tell because I couldn't see his face to determine exactly how evil he was.

Well, whatever he had done, he clearly wasn't very good at it since he had been nabbed. Well done the York Police Force. You are making the street behind Habitat safer for all of us.

Five Pound Willy

Last night, I went to Fibbers to see Willy Mason. Since it was an acoustic gig, they were handing out little pieces of paper warning us to keep the noise down during the performance at the risk of being asked to leave. I'm guessing they were handing out pieces of paper rather than just telling us to be quiet, since it was quieter to do it that way. Do you still have to be quiet in libraries? Do Librarians still go "shhhh!" at every opportunity? I hope they do.

So what did we have... One young guy with a guitar. He's come all the way over here from the USA. I'm not sure whether he was sitting or standing because it was sold out and I was about halfway back, so I couldn't see his legs. See if you can decide:

Willy Mason

I think he might be standing, but he could just have a stool. And he sounded pretty good. Played most of the album (maybe all?) and a few older songs too. Oxygen seemed to be a curiously slightly truncated version.

I think he's still really young (like under 20) and he really is very talented for someone of that ilk. Most of us in the audience were probably old enough to be his older brother.

Unfortunately I've nearly run out of time for further excellently descriptive and evocative writing as it's time to go to work shortly. The support guy, Nathan Burton, was also solo acoustic and very good too. Sounded a bit like Ben from Ben & Jason, apart from one song near the end where he went a little Kelly Jones.

The title of this post is a joke because if the gig had been free it would have been Free Willy. Like that film with the whale. But it wasn't free, it was five English pounds.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Challenge #3: DATE - Complete!

I had a semi-blind date last night (with a girl!). I say "semi" since I had spoken to her on the phone and via email several times over the last couple of weeks. But I hadn't actually seen her before. Meeting at the station was quite strange - I knew she'd recognise me easily enough from the photos on here, but all I really had to go on was a height. And girls are notoriously good at changing that by using heels.

Luckily, when her train arrived she spotted me straight away. And didn't run off. So that got the evening off to a good start.

We proceeded for a quick drink (or two) in a little pub - slightly strangely I chose one that I'd already been to this year so I wasn't able to increase my pub total. But since my chairs had arrived in the morning and I was currently on a date, I felt that sufficient Challenge progress was being made for one day.

I'd tried to book a nice restaurant like Burger King, but sadly it was fully booked. As was MacDonalds. So instead, we went to The Olive Tree, auspiciosuly situated in the shadow of Clifford's Tower. I think I promised to do a little research into the history of the tower, as I had forgotten what it was for. So here's the official website! However, just so that your mental picture of this evening is accurate, I used the phrase "in the shadow" there in a metaphorical way. It was night-time and dark and there was no sun to cast shadows upon a restuarant. I hope that's cleared that up.

Anyways, both the food and the company were excellent, and as we left later one of the waitresses was very very happy that we'd had a good time. I hope that this wasn't because everyone else that eats there normally has a miserable time and we were the first ever satisfied customers.

And by this time it was getting a bit late and it was time to head back to the train station.

Despite the failure to book Burger King, I had an excellent evening, and hopefully she enjoyed herself too. Hi there, you!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Dog eat dog

I looked out of my bedroom window earlier today to see quite a sight. There was a crowd of people (well, maybe six) over the other side of the road and they were doing a bit of shouting and arguing. It was this noise that initially caught my attention. On closer inspection, there were two dogs in the middle of the people. Both dogs were smallish, one looked niceish and one looked a bit mean. Initially I thought that the two dogs were making mad doggy love, right there out in the street. On even closer inspection, I realised that this was not what was happening.

Nasty Dog had bitten Nice Dog's tail, right the way down to the bottom and may have even had its teeth right in Nice Dog's rump. And he really didn't want to let go. Several people were trying to get him off, including a man in gardening gloves. But Nasty Dog wouldn't let go - I was watching for about a minute or so and eventually the dogs were separated.

A middle aged lady who I took to be Nice Dog's owner was crying and quickly came to pick up the injured dog. She then took him off somewhere. Hopefully to get medical attention. And then Nasty Dog was also led away, and I was able to hear phrases like "Killed another dog" and "put down".

I didn't like Nasty Dog.

And that's about as much of this story as I am able to relate. I don't know what started the fight. They were probably arguing over a bitch they both fancied or something. Note that I'm allowed to say "bitch" there since I'm talking about dogs, not people. You shouldn't call them bitches bad names.

Later, on the way back from the local shop, I passed the middle aged lady, and she had Nice Dog with her. It seemed to be walking ok, but she still looked quite upset. But at least the dog was alive. Unless it was in fact dead and she'd stuck castors on its feet, so it was like one of those fake dogs that you have when you're a child. Maybe it was one of those all along, and she was a child who had dressed up as a middle aged lady...

I don't know the fate of Nasty Dog. I like to imagine that later today, a group of dogs dressed as policemen came and arrested him, to take back to the doggy police station for questioning, all the while waving their little doggy truncheons. But I don't think we have a doggy police force in York any more. The bears scared them all away.

I've chaired up now

I'm sure that you will all be as happy as I am when you hear that I now have dining chairs. Four of them. John Lewis managed to find a van that was less high than a Redwood and hence were able to bring all the chairs to my door by half past nine this morning. Rather nicely, they even match my table - something it was hard to be sure of until I saw them.

For the novelty, I sat on one of them for a bit, but it was a bit cold from having been in warehouses and vans and whatnot. I'll maybe sit on it again later when it's had a chance to warm up a little.

Since the chairs do not have arms, it also means that I finally have something reasonably decent to sit and play the guitar on in a comfortable position. This can only be a source of inspiration. After all, weren't John Lennon's best songs written whilst sat on a new chair? Weren't they? Course they were.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Snip snip snippety snip

It's time for what some have called... Snippets.

- Today is Hat Day at work. Everyone wears a hat. I believe that there was a national hat day to raise money for old people (like they don't have enough already!) but ours has two key differences: It is quite localised (with no more than ten people who are aware of it) and it is designed to raise absolutely no money for charity at all. Not a sausage. Incidentally, it was not my idea, though it was inspired by something I said about Royal Ascot.

- Despite it being only early February, plans have started to be made for this year's summer holiday. This is very early for me, and the only explanation I can offer is that all the organisation and investigation so far is being done by a friend, and I just have to say "yes" or "no" occasionally. And then if all goes well, pass him a cheque at some point. We're thinking of rafting down America's Grand Canyon and then heading over to Vegas for a brief while. And then going home due to having run out of money - more from the overall cost than the ill-conceived gambling.

- When I saw Athlete play live last year, they weren't hugely impressive. The album was also not fantastic, though it did have one or two decent songs on it. Their latest single, Wires however, is on whole different level. Mournful yet optimistic, evocative with a great sing-along tune. Possibly the best song to ever be written about a hospital (though I haven't thought too hard about that). It could be this year's Run.

- Does anyone else hate it when people call something "This year's [Insert thing here]? It's lazy.

- I got the letter yesterday which officially appoints me to my new role following last year's work restructuring. My favourite phrase is: "This appointment has been made on the basis that your new role is essentially the same as your current role". A negative person might interpret that as "We don't think you are capable of learning new skills or doing new things, so it's probably best if you just stay where you are and keep your nose down." I don't think it was meant that way :-)

End of snippets.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Too many invitations...

I think Google might be getting ready to take Gmail out of Beta test. I say this on the basis that they have just given me another 44 invitations taking my total up to 50. I'm not sure what makes them think that I know 50 people, never mind 50 who want to join. Not that I mind, since it's a great service and far superior to any other web-email systems I've used. Even my mum uses it. But still... 50... Too many.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The band, not the Nicole Kidman film

There's a relatively new band that emerged last year called The Others. They seem to have a real buzz about them at the moment, great live reviews, lots of press and an album out this week. They have become known for the art of guerilla gigging - playing impromptu sets in unlikely and inappropriate places. Shops, lifts, the back of a Volkswagen, those kind of places. In a lot of ways they are reminding me of The Libertines when they first emerged, before they fell apart for the eighth time.

So I feel somewhat like a small boy pointing his finger at a naked old emperor when I say: Is it just me, or are The Others a bit... rubbish?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The taste of Britain

We seem to have started to do reasonably well at our regular Monday night pub quiz over the last few weeks. Last night, a second place led to me taking home another couple of cans of Carling Black Label. On the side of the can it says that Carling is "The taste of Britain". I think this may be true - if I was to go outside and lick the pavement, I'm sure it would taste of piss, just like the beer.

Only joking. It's a lovely brew.

Only joking again. It's not that nice really.

When I was a kid, myself and my sister both had a small orange glove puppet called Lambchop. I think my father picked them up from somewhere. At the time, I had a vague belief that this may have been a famous puppet from the telly, but I don't recall ever seeing it on telly, or who its human controller was. I think I must have had a vague inkling of the name of the puppeteer though, since when we had the question "What was the name of the puppet operated by Shari Lewis", I instantly wrote down Lambchop.

It's nice that a small silly looking glove puppet finally turned out to have given my life some small benefit. Even if it was only a single point in a pub quiz. Everything happens for a reason! Sometimes it just takes a lot of years to work out what that reason might be.