Thursday, March 31, 2005

Places to go and see in York #7

Today I visited one of York's premier tourist attractions. My destination was a place which I have not visited before. It was also a place that involves a large mound, a castle and some history. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I visited Cifford's Tower. I walked to it, but it's also possible to get the bus.

Clifford's Tower and a Bus

Actually, that's as close as I got. Couldn't be arsed to go in. Hangover. Sorry.

Clifford's Tower
Time spent in attraction: n/a
Does it have a bar? No
Fun: ???
Suitable for a rainy day? Not sure

Note To Self

Hmmmm.... It's quite hard to win at late night Mario Kart when you fall asleep during each race. If that sounds like a poor excuse for losing? It is!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Places to go and see in York #6

Today I visited one of York's premier tourist attractions. My destination was a place which I have not visited before. It was also a place that involves heights, churches and a man who lives at the top of some stairs. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I visited The Tower of York Minster, the entrance to which can be found just on the left as you go in through the main entrance of the Minster. One vital thing that any tourist oriented city needs is a tall thing to climb. Paris has an Eiffel Tower, Toronto has a CN Tower, New York has an Empire State Building, and (old) York has a York Minster.

To get to the top there are 275 fairly steep and narrow spiral stairs. They are narrow enough that you can't have people going up and coming down at the same time, which means you have to wait at the bottom for a bit until everyone that went up last time has come back down. There is no lift.

When you get to the top, this is what you see straight away:

Top of Tower

It looks more like a prison than a church tower top. But at least there's little danger of accidentally falling to a quick and painful death (unlike the city walls which are highly dangerous). Also, there are some top of the range comfy chairs to sit on for a bit, should you be tired from the climb. A little man sits in a booth at the top of the stairs. His job is to answer the question "Can we go down yet, little man?" when people ask him. Based on what I saw today, this is roughly every 30 seconds. Eventually he starts saying yes and people start the descent.

You get some pretty decent views from up the tower. This isn't hugely surprising since it is the highest point for many miles around. And due to a strange local law, it will stay the highest point, since other buildings are not legally allowed to be higher.

View From Minster

The view (south? south-east?) above is interesting since on it you can see the point where I took a photo last week of the place where I took a photo from today. If that makes any sense. I reckon a decent computer could take the two photos and combine them to produce a full three dimensional model of York. And all its residents. I don't have time to do that myself and in any case I have easy access to the real York and so don't need a computer model of it.

York - West

This view is even more interesting since you can see my flat. Clearly I'm not at home, but I bet any prospective burglars had no idea I was spying on them.

Access to The Tower of York Minster is just three English Pounds, even if you have a special Minster Card (like I do) that lets you get into the main part of the building for free. It's not suitable for people in wheelchairs, people on crutches, babies or Blind People. I'd hoped that the day I went up would be a bit sunnier and hence give clearer views. But since York is in England, it is always hard to guarantee sun.

The Tower of York Minster
Time spent in attraction: 25 minutes
Does it have a bar? No
Fun: 6/10
Suitable for a rainy day? No

Tips on not eating fruit

I can't stand bananas. I've mentioned this before ("They smell nasty, they taste nasty, they look ridiculous"). But I'm not alone in this. And there are other fruits that other people dislike just as much, if not more. So in a gesture of goodwill to my fellow homo-sapiens I have put together some useful tips for how to live a better life if you hate certain fruits.

A tip for someone who hates...

Kiwi Fruits: Avoid the no. 13 at the Juice Bar in The Shambles.

Pears: Try not to suck on Pear Drops or drink Perry.

Apples: Don't eat apples. Not even Cox's Orange Pippin.

Oranges: Go and see a psychiatrist. You're mental. Oranges, satsumas, clementines and their ilk are all gorgeous. You're a freak.

Raspberries: Don't eat raspberries.

Strawberries: Don't go to Wimbledon.

Pomegranates: Well, I can hardly blame you - they can be quite fiddly. But perservere. Go on. Try using one of those spiky things that you put in the end of corn-on-the-cob. See, easy! Nice!

Melons: Don't eat melons. Don't say melons. Don't dream about melons. Don't go to melon fairs. Don't go on melon-spotting trips to Cumbria. Don't marry a melon-farmer. Don't juggle small melons. Don't carve a face in a melon and pretend it's your best friend. Don't attempt to skim melons across a lake. Don't drop melons from a great height on to a hard floor. Don't advertise melons. And don't, under any circumstances, let an evil-hypnotist make you believe that you are a melon!


I hope this is helpful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Places to go and see in York #5

Today I visited one of York's premier tourist attractions. My destination was a place which I have not visited before. It was also a place that involves old things, black monks and a shop at the end. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I visited The Yorkshire Museum, in Museum Gardens, York. Here it is:

The York Museum

In front of it, you can see some stone columns - a sure sign that what is within is worthy and good. You don't see columns outside Burger King or Megabowl. That's because those places are bad for you. There's no culture there. Just youths with bad clothes, bad hair and no prospects. Also outside the museum you can see the lower half of a white bust. I believe that this is part of a collection of sculptures that are currently scattered about the gardens. I assume that the lack of an upper head is a deliberate decision by the sculptor rather than vandalism caused by the youths from Burger King.

The Museum itself has various sections. The initial part contains fairly random things, including a skeleton of a Moa (extinct big flightless bird) and a child's bicycle (I'm not sure which child). After that, there's a lot of bits about the Romans, and York and Yorkshire. York was the second biggest city in the UK back then, except that we didn't have a United Kingdom at the time. Maybe it was just the second biggest in England. Or North England, or maybe it was just the second biggest city in York. I forget.

There are lots of big panels to read containing information and there are also artifacts and pictures. Kind of like most museums, I guess.

After Rome, we move on to the Vikings and then to a bit with William the Conqueror. Then there is a large section about St Mary's Abbey which used to be on the same site as the museum. The remaining parts of the abbey have fallen into a slight state of disrepair now...

St Mary's Abbey

It's seen better days. At one point it was the wealthiest Abbey in the North of England. The monks that lived there were Black Monks. I hoped at first that these might have been evil monks but it turns out they were just normal Benedictine Monks with a penchant for black robes. The Abbey was eventually closed in the 16th century when Henry VIII dissolved the monastaries. By the looks of it now, it seems he may have dissolved them with acid.

The main museum ends with a selection of aquatic dinosaurs. And you can go upstairs and look round a pottery exhibition if you have no life.

Outside the museum, you can see another old building which at one point formed part of the Abbey's Hospitium where pilgrims would hang out:

Museum Gardens

I went to a craft fair there once and bought some soap from a man who sold soap.

Perhaps the best thing about the whole experience was that I was finally able to obtain a discount by using my York Card. Outsiders would normally have to pay four English Pounds to get in but I paid absolutely nothing. Result.

The Yorkshire Museum
Time spent in attraction: 41 minutes
Does it have a bar? No
Fun: 5/10
Suitable for a rainy day? Yes

Monday, March 28, 2005

End of Easter

Another bank holiday today, so again I was exempt from being a York Tourist, and spent a large part of the day shooting zombies and other strange monsters. I'm hoping for a sunny day tomorrow though: I have plans!

With Easter now come to a close, I think this could be the first Easter weekend since I've been old enough to eat chocolate, that I have had no chocolate at all! I have got some in the fridge but I forgot to eat it. And I haven't had any Easter eggs.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Music to watch sausages by

I was in the sausage restuarant last night, and the music seemed to be much more eclectic than normal. Sometimes you go in and it's just Elvis all night. But songs I remember from yesterday include:

Ladykillers - Lush
Common People - William Shatner (excellent version!)
Spit it out - Brendan Benson (from the brand new album)
Radiation Vibe - Fountains of Wayne (haven't heard that for years!)
The Timewarp - Pinky & Perky (or at least it sounded like them)
Living on a Prayer - ??? (No idea who was singing, but it was a female vocalist in a Latin American Ballroom style)

There were others too. Some good and some less good. But I've failed to make the required mental notes in my head that would allow me to add them to the playlist above.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I don't get it

Two comedians go into a bar. One says "where's the punchline?". The other says "Yeah, it does, doesn't it?". Happy Easter everyone ;-)

Friday, March 25, 2005

Day Off

Since today is the Good Friday Bank Holiday, I haven't actually had to take any time off work in order to be able to not go there. This means I feel no need to go and do touristy things today. This is a good thing since everywhere is probably really busy. Everywhere will be full with those little shouting, screaming people. So it's best that I stay in where it's less busy. Just me on my own, all day. In fact, I haven't left the house. I haven't been outside, not even to go and see the bins. What I have done is shoot a truck-load of zombies. Hundreds of the buggers. And some evil monks for good measure. And a big chap who had his eyes sewn shut. He was nasty.

What may also be obvious, is that I seem to have had approximately zero interesting thoughts today. Oh well.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Places to go and see in York #4

Today I visited one of York's premier tourist attractions. My destination was a place which I have visited before, but not in this year. It was also a place that involves water, seats and a man giving commentary. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I visited a Boat Trip On the River Ouse, courtesy of York Boat - purveyors of trips up, and indeed down, the River Ouse. For a mere £6.50, they will take one adult (today, this was me) for a one hour boat trip with a choice of entry and exit points. I joined the trip on Dame Judi Dench Walk by Lendal Bridge. A nice young lady took my money and invited me to step onto the boat. Also on the boat were:
- A party of French teenagers
- Some old people
- Some staff
- A driver man / commentator

There didn't seem to be any other young males who were doing touristy things on their own whilst having a holiday in York. Just me, as normal.

To begin, we went up the river as far as Clifton Bridge. Here's Clifton Bridge. It's not very nice and since it was built in the 60s, it is made of concrete.

Clifton Bridge

At this bridge, the boat turns round and starts to head down river. By this point, I had made my way downstairs to purchase a bottle of Stella Artois. Finally, I had found a licensed tourist attraction, albeit one that is only allowed to sell alcohol whilst not docked.

There isn't actually that much to see along the river. I did find these people though. They are some council drainage men.

Ice Cream Van

I'm pretty sure that at the time of this photo they are arguing about whether they should buy an ice cream or not (from the adjacent ice cream van which appears to be named "Roger"). Their main point of contention is the weather. Dave and Rod think that it's too cold for ice cream, whilst Jason and Kenny think that it's never too cold for ice cream. I'm unable to tell you how this turned out though, since when I later walked along the river bank the drainage men had all gone. Roger was still there though, but I did not taste his wares.

The journey continued downstream as far as the Millennium Bridge, some way out from the town centre. We saw Rowntree Park, the Bonding Warehouse, the Foss River Flood Preventer Thing and a teenage sk8er boi pulling a moony at the boat. I though this was very childish behaviour and I hope that later, he tragically fell off his skateboard and went under the wheels of a passing juggernaut.

Another exciting site we saw was York Beach:

York Beach

This is an actual beach in the centre of York that you can take deckchairs and donkeys down to for a relaxing Summer day out. Since it is currently Spring, nobody had actually done this.

Finally, after a stop near Ouse Bridge to let off the French, we returned to the start where I alighted onto the riverside and begun my journey home.

The Boat Trip is a pleasant way to while away an afternoon. I'd particularly recommend it on a hot sunny day rather than the slightly cold day that today was. My hands were cold.

Boat Trip on the River Ouse
Time spent in attraction: 1 hour and 3 minutes
Does it have a bar? Yes!
Fun: 5/10
Suitable for a rainy day? Not really

You need take no action

Due to complex technical reasons that you wouldn't understand, I have had to change the URL that World of Lint is published at. The new address is

Now, because I love you all and don't want to cause you any problems, I have logged into the accounts of everyone that links to here and updated the link for you, erasing all trace of the old, now unusable, URL. If I've done it properly, the whole thing should be seamless and you should notice no difference at all. If you do have any problems, then let me know and I'll see what I can do to fix things.

All of us here at World of Lint would like to apologise sincerely for any worry that this may have caused you and your families.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Places to go and see in York #3

Today I visited one of York's premier tourist attractions. My destination was a place which I have visited before, but not in its entirety. It was also a place that involves walking, heights and potential death. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I visited The City Walls of York. In days of yore, these would act a kind of "wall" between York and the rest of the world. They would keep out Scotsmen, Welshmen and Englishmen who weren't from York. I'm not sure what the policy on women was. Nowadays, large parts of the walls are still in existence, though some parts were heavily renovated in more recent times. You can walk along the top of the wall for around two thirds of the distance, in three distinct sections - as shown on the map below:

Map of York City Walls

Starting from the south side of Lendal Bridge, you can head on to the first section - this is the only part you can access in a wheelchair since it is accessed by a gentle slope rather than steps. This also means it is the part that is least protected from old-style Daleks, so you have to be careful. There did not seem to be any Daleks, or indeed any aliens at all, out there today.

This leads to the highest part of the walls and you can get a decent view back over the city. Look - here's the Minster!

York City Walls and Minster

As you continue going round, you can visit two museums housed in two of the "bars" that form gates in the walls into the city. The first is at Micklegate Bar. I didn't go in. The second is the Richard III museum at Monkgate Bar. I didn't go in there either, despite it claiming to have the "The World's Smallest Prison Cell" and "Possibly The Only Working Portcullis In Britain".

Monkgate Bar does have the most exciting part of the walk, which is a fully enclosed, dark, low-ceilinged, stone staircase from street level back up onto the wall. It feels like going through a secret passage and I must confess, I was a little disappointed to find myself emerging still in York rather than some outlandish land of dreams.

After this you come to a bit of the walls which heads around the back of the Minster. Today, it smelt strongly of paint and was populated with many council workmen with paintbrushes. They were painting railings. Then you get to this bit:

York City Walls

Which is interesting by way of being the only bit where there are actual walls on both sides of the path, rather than railings or just nothing. I'm often surprised how many people fail to accidentally fall to their deaths from the walls each year on the more open sections. It can't be safe.

And shortly after that, my sojourn on the city walls came to an end. I had walked along all that there was to walk along. Admission costs were fairly reasonable at £0.00 (York Card not required!), and it was a pleasant day for a walk.

Although I was going around in an anti-clockwise direction, it is also possible to walk around the walls in a clockwise direction. I don't recommend this. I have my reasons.

The City Walls of York
Time spent in attraction: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Does it have a bar? No (*)
Fun: 4/10
Suitable for a rainy day? Not really

(*) Ok, there are actually several bars - Micklegate, Victoria, Walmgate and Monkgate for example. But they are not the right sort of bar, and you're not meant to drink in them.

Non-Random Thought

Re the iPod Shuffle advert: Why is it the same song playing every time?

Writing On Vans

Ambulances often have the word "ambulance" printed in mirror writing on the front of the ambulance so that people can see in their rear view mirrors that there is an ambulance behind them. I think this seems slightly unnecessary. It is normally quite easy to tell there's an ambulance behind you. The following three things are a dead giveaway:

1. You can see a ambulance in your mirror - no reading required
2. You can hear a loud siren - this will alert you long before reading is possible
3. Cars all around you start swerving off the road in a desperate attempt to get out of the way.

And so I don't see the point of having the mirror writing. In fact, the only people it probably helps are deaf people who can't recognise shapes, and I don't think they should really be driving in the first place.

Mr Tesco and Mr Sainsbury obviously agree with me because their vans just say "Tesco" or "Sainsburys" in normal writing on the front. And they don't even have a siren!

Thinking about this, maybe they should give the same right to supermarket delivery vans as they do to the emergency services. After all, there can be few people who would disagree that it is as important for me to receive timely deliveries of beer and frozen pizza as it is for some sick bloke (who will probably die shortly anyway!) to get to hospital quickly. If the politician people put together a law compelling delivery vans to bear sirens, then I for one would give them my vote. I expect you can get better healthcare from the supermarkets than from the NHS in any case.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Places to go and see in York #2

Today I visited one of York's premier tourist attractions. My destination was a place which I have never before visited. It was also a place that involves time travelling and odours. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I went to the Yorvik Viking Center. This is a place that quite literally takes you back to the time of the vikings and lets you experience their lives, loves and smells. After you've paid your £7.20 entrance fee to the little man who doesn't let you have a discount, even though you have a brand new York Card, because it's the "wrong time of year", you go down some stairs and enter the Time Machine. If I'm honest, it's not the best example of a time machine I've ever seen. But unlike the Tardis, it has plenty of seats and unlike Marty McFly's DeLorean, it has plenty of seats and unlike HG Wells' Time Machine it has plenty of seats.

Our trip back in time lasted only a few minutes, and we did experience a small amount of Time Turbulence. But apparently if you stand or sit at the side of the Time Machine, you don't experience this turbulence. Probably because there's a special damping field or something. As we passed back in time, we witnessed High Ousegate and its inhabitants moving back with us. This was a bit strange because the Time Machine wasn't on High Ousegate. I'm guessing that they must have achieved this effect with a complicated series of mirrors.

Anyway, eventually we made it back to Viking times, and we left the Time Machine and got into a new mode of transport which was to take us around Viking era York. This was rather like the cars on Nemesis at Alton Towers, but a bit slower and with less foot danglage. I was a little confused by this because the car appeared to be powered by electricity and I didn't think they had electricity in Viking era York. This clearly shows how badly educated I am! I can definitely state here and now, that having seen things with my own eyes, the Vikings did have electricity!

So the car took us on a little drive round the town centre, and I saw some blacksmithery and some cup-making and a man in a Viking-style toilet cubicle. We went up Coppergate, which in those days was a thriving shopping street. Much like it is now in fact except that they hadn't built The Coppergate Centre back then.

Eventually we found ourselves back in the present day. I'm not quite sure how this happened as we didn't get back in The Time Machine. Maybe I fell asleep for 1000 years or something. However it happened, I was home and relieved to have survived the experience relatively unscathed.

Overall, I found the experience slightly underwhelming, and slightly short at under 20 minutes (I will of course retract this comment if it turns out I was actually in there for 1000 years and twenty minutes). Possibly this is what happens when you've been waiting around 20 years to go somewhere. It's always going to be hard to meet the expectations that can build up over that length of time. But on the plus side, there were no queues.

Yorvik Viking Centre
Time spent in attraction: 18 minutes
Does it have a bar? No
Fun: 4/10
Suitable for a rainy day? Yes

Challenge #5: PROMOTE - Complete!

One of my challenges this year was to try and get promoted at work. I'd kind of hoped that this would be a pretty easy challenge that would just involve me waiting around until someone came along to me and said "Well done! It's time you were bumped up, my lad!". But there comes a time when you realise that that isn't going to happen. And so we reach a new era of Pro-Active Career Management. Making things happen rather than waiting for the world to happen to me.

A few weeks ago I found an internal job advert. It would be working for my old boss in an area that should be pretty interesting over the next couple of years. And it would be at a higher grade (which is the important bit for the purposes of this challenge). So after some thought I figured I might as well go for it. After all, the worst that could happen would be that I'd not get it and would end up doing my current job which I quite enjoy. And I'd at least get some interview experience.

On Thursday morning last week, I had an interview. It was entirely competency based, which I wasn't particularly pleased about. I really dislike competency based interviews (CBIs). I'll probably write a big long rant about them at some point. But anyway, somehow I got through it (Q: "How do I personally demonstrate the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour to people I work with?" A: BY SHOUTING AT THEM).

And then on Friday afternoon I was told that I had the job. I'm not sure when I start or indeed about many of the other details, but I am now officially going to be an Actuary rather than an Assistant Actuary. Pah! I spit on Assistant Actuaries. Losers. They can shine my big black boots. The Power Trip starts here.

Go me!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Places to go and see in York #1

Today I begun my tourist odyssey around York. My first destination was a place which I have never before visited. It was also a place that now I have visited it, I will get cheaper entry into some other places that I might visit. Can you guess where it is yet?

Today I went to York Library. And I joined it too! I haven't been in a library for many many years. I don't think I ever visited the one in Norwich when I lived there so it must be some seven or eight years since I was last in one. It was much as I remembered it. Not that I've ever been in this particular one before, but it pushed all the right library buttons in my head. Libraries seem to have a certain libraryness to them, and I think that should I be plucked up by aliens and then deposited in an unknown locale, I would instantly be able to determine if I was in a library or not. It's a talent I have.

There was no way that the little old lady on the front desk could have been anything other than a librarian. She had those special librarian glasses that have chains coming from the arms and going back around her neck. Librarians must be very prone to losing their glasses, because they all seem to have the little chains. I wasn't really sure how to go about joining the library. I had imagined I might have a conversation like:

Me: Hello Miss. I'd like to join your fine library please.
Lady: Shhhh!
Me: Sorry. Can I join the library please
Lady: Why? Can't you afford to buy books? Are you a PAUPER?
Me: Yes, er no, look I just want to get a library card please.
Lady: Have you WASHED your hands boy? We don't lend books to people with jam on their hands.
Me: I've washed my hands. Look. They're clean. No jam.
Lady: Good... Have you used a library before?
Me: Yes, but not for several years.
Lady: You weren't banned for HEAVY PETTING in the stacks, were you?
Me: No! Of course not.
Lady: That's.... gooooood. I'll need a three hundred pound cash deposit and then you can have your card.
Me: Fantastic!
Lady: Shhhh!

The reality was not quite like that. But I got my card and the old lady explained how things worked to me and used some words that old ladies don't normally use, like "online" and "PIN" and "DVD". It's not like it was when I was a whippersnapper. And being able to renew books online now... that's just wrong.

I ended up having a bit of a look around and even "borrowed" a couple of books. It felt bizarre, but I did it anyway. It seems wrong too that they let you do this for free. But this means that one day I will have to go back to return the books, and then I'll be tempted to borrow more for free and then I'll have been drawn into a addictive cycle of borrowing and returning books. It can only end badly, I fear.

I'm going to be rating York's Fine Tourist Attractions in a consistent manner:

York Central Public Library
Time spent in attraction: 16 minutes
Does it have a bar? No
Fun: 4/10
Suitable for a rainy day? Yes

It rhymes with ripe and type

Last night I my made my first ever VoIP call (using Skype). I found it to be a pretty impressive system, once I'd worked out the correct combination of microphones/headphones that I needed to plug in at my end. For info, the laptop's internal mike works fine, but headphones are useful for preventing an echo at the other end.

Several advantages were immediately apparent:
- It's free to call other Skype users
- The sound quality of the other person(s) is noticeably clearer than when using a standard phone
- I was able to speak to my sister and my brother-in-law at the same time
- You can do instant messaging at the same time

It's true that you can achieve most of these things using other methods and it does have a disadvantage in that it's not so easy to walk around the room at the same time as making the call, but I think it's worth it for the better sound quality.

We had a small discussion in the pub last night about how to pronounce Skype. I was right (though I suspect I may have been being wound up). I checked in their Support section :-)

Now all I need is to know more people that use it too...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Holiday Plans

I have two weeks off work starting tomorrow, and am planning to spend it here in York for the most part. That might sound rubbish and lazy, but it's not! No. Because York has many fine attractions d'touriste (as the French say) and I am intending to sample them. I may try and do one every day unless I am tired, hungover, tired and hungover, out of town, out of luck, out of cash, out of my mind, French, lost, ill, dying or dead. Oh, and I might not bother if it's raining either.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Great Pop/Rock Cheese Mix

So in a freak accident, a load of pop stars accidentally merge with the contents of a cheese shop. Possibly using that machine from The Fly. This is what you get:

Edam and the Ants
Gwensleydale Steffani
Feta No More
Simply Red Leicester
The Brie-ders
Delta Gouda-rem

And at that point, the kerfuffle comes to an end, as I'm all out. Feel free to contribute more.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Sleep. Is. Now.

And a very busy week at work comes to a close. I'll have more to write soon, and may even catch up on writing some emails. But for now, what I intend to do is.... Sleep.

Sleep.... zzzzzzzz....zzzz....zzz..zz.z

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sage advice

The wise Chinese man, he say: "Make sure you put on your slippers before stepping on cold stone floor". He very wise.

I'd better go and find my "slippers".

Potential Pen Problem

That could have been worse... Upon opening my washing machine just now, I found that not only had I washed lots of clothes, but also a black Bic biro. If it had leaked, I could now have a lot of black clothes. But it seems to have held its ink. Good pen. I wonder if it still works?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Prelude to a Break

One unexpectedly humorous side effect of having requested quarterly bank statements rather than monthly ones, is that when my first one arrived today, it was so long that the bank had decided to send it in two separate envelopes. One envelope is clearly not a sufficient size for six sheets of paper! OK, so maybe it's not that humorous, but it's been a long day.

I love doing 12 hour days (only half as much as I love 24 hour days). Especially the ones where I come home and have things to do there too that can't be put off, albeit even if they are to some extent things that I have brought upon myself. But I only have two more days in work before embarking on a wonderful, lazy two weeks off. Maybe I'll think of something to actually do in those weeks at some point soon... At the moment, two weeks of sleep is sounding like a fine plan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


There's something that I've been meaning to do for a while, which I have now just done. I have finally got around to registering with the Telephone Preference Service. With a bit of luck, it will stop at least some of the many, many random telemarketing calls that I get.

I find junk telephone calls are much more irritating than junk mail or even spam - I think mainly because every time it happens, it involves the phone ringing which is quite distracting. And then I might have to speak to someone. Urggh. At least with junk mail you get the warm feeling that comes when you receive some post.

The numbers of these calls seem to have increased noticeably over the last six months or so, and they've also been coming at more inconvenient times - after nine at night, or before eight in the morning. I reckon I get at least two or three a day. I have now stopped answering the phone at all unless it displays a number. I had one just after I got home tonight and just swore at the phone rather than answering it. Maybe I should have answered it and sworn at the phoner instead. But that wouldn't have been very friendly.

Anyway, it'll take up to a month for it to take full effect, and I suspect that even then I'll still get calls from over the big pond where UK law is not so respected. But I won't answer the phone. No. I won't.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Coach Trip (around Europe)

Last year I went on a coach tour of Western Europe with strangers. Beforehand I had been thinking that this would be somewhat like Big Brother, but on a coach. One obvious difference was that on the coach tour, there wouldn't be evictions. Everyone would be able to finish the journey regardless of how odd they were (Even CCJ - little in-joke there for anyone who was there).

I think it's true that everything you can think will probably happen at some point, somewhere.

I found a show on Channel 4 this morning called "Coach Trip". You'll see where the name comes from in a minute... In it, a selction of maybe 10 couples go on a coach trip around Europe. Then, each evening, the couples vote for which couple should leave the trip and go home. Losing couples go home and are replaced with a brand new couple. This may go on forever - it wasn't clear.

It's a bit like people are reaching into my head, pulling out my thoughts and televising them. I hope that they don't make a habit of this.

When I saw the show this morning, they were in Munich. They watched the Glockenspiel. Just like in real life, it was rubbish.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

College Dinner

Friday night was my old college's Annual Dinner in the North, held for the second year running at St William's College, York. Last year there were around six or so youngsters (under 30s) and I'd expected a similar number this year. However, there were not quite so many... The alumni officer claimed that they'd all "moved away" since last year.

After the drinks reception, we headed to dinner, and then had the usual fund raising spiel. They're currently in the midst of a massive building project, putting up new student rooms, an admin centre and also a new auditorium and associated bits. It should all look pretty good when it's finished, and based on the photographs they showed us, it looks to have developed a lot since last year. Though it still looks mainly like building site. There's a webcam which you can view progress on. And you can even watch time lapse movies of each day of building!

The Master recognised me from last year and said to the waitress: "Don't give this man any wine!" as she was pouring my wine. He was joking, of course, and she either realised this or was just delinquent, as she carried on pouring.

Over dinner I learnt some things about what's going on in the university (interesting), some things about the Japanese language (interesting) and some things about rowing (not interesting). The food was pie and I had second helpings. It was nice, and I was hungry.

The Master said that they may have it somewhere different next year - not in York. Possibly Durham, or somewhere on the west side of the north of the country. Not sure if I'll go if I have to travel and do hotels, but... never say never.

Spider Legs

I met up with my mum for lunch today.

Me: How many legs does a spider have?
Mum: I don't know. Six?
Me: No, a spider has eight legs. Eight.
Mum: Oh - I was getting confused with Henry the Eighth having six wives.
Me: ????!!!

Mysterious Delivery

It's Saturday morning and fairly early - not yet nine am at the current time. If I'm honest, I'd rather be in bed. But I have had to get up to wait for a delivery. The unusual thing is that I have absolutely zip idea what it is that will be delivered.

Now in case you are thinking that I have just got up on the off-chance that a random delivery might arrive, that is not the case. I have not felt my spidey sense start tingling or anything like that. Last Friday I received a cardboard card telling me that a delivery had been attempted. I hadn't been expecting anything, so I arranged to have it redelivered today to avoid me having to take any time off work.

It was clearly not something I needed quickly or urgently, since I did not know what the item was. Waiting an extra week would cause no problems at all.

But I can only imagine that I'll be disappointed with the thing when it arrives. Unless it's a plasma screen TV that I've won in a competition. Or maybe a car. It's probably not a car. They could have just left that outside in my parking space (unless they couldn't because I need to sign for it...)

Oh, the suspense.

----------------- Update 12:56 --------------

Right I know what it was now, since the little man has just been! Idlewild tickets. Not sure why they didn't come via standard Royal Mail recorded delivery. But at least now I can go out and get some lunch.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Not very red hair

Today is Comic Relief's Red Nose Day. Because of this I decided to dye my hair red. But you wouldn't have known it without looking at me quite closly, and even then you might just have thought I had a mild case of sunburn on my scalp. Red hair gel and dark brown hair don't combine to give red hair. They combine to give dark brown hair. I had suspected that this might be the case, but figured it didn't hurt to have a go.

I've washed it out now.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Filing System

I often joke that the paper bin next to my desk is my filing system (Yes, I'm that funny), and it's true that it does act as a fine place to store documents, especially if they are not going to be needed in the near future. In general, if I have a piece of paper more than a day old, I'm likely to have forgotten what it was for in the first place so it may as well go to special filing.

But sometimes this system can work as an actual storage and retrieval system.

A couple of guys came over earlier to ask me about some figures I'd produced. I was aware that I had produced these, and was also aware that I'd passed them to special filing a few hours previously. Hence I was able to stand up, remove the lid from the bin and reach in to quickly retrieve the numbers they wanted. I could tell they were impressed. And slightly confused.

Afterwards I replaced the figures where they'd come from.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A review of a hotel what I stayed in last night

As I mentioned yesterday, I have just been to a sales conference in Birmingham - this involved me staying over in the hotel, since we had dinner and drinks afterwards. I was actually a good little boy and went to bed reasonably early (ie midnight-ish) rather than staying up late in the bar. The conference was at the Hilton Metropole which must rank as one of the ugliest hotels I've ever seen. There's definitely a good reason why they don't show a proper photo of the place on their website. It's hideous. And very brown. It is pretty decent inside though.

My room had a lovely view of some pipes:

Hotel Pipes

Other than that though, it was fine. Pretty standard hotel room except for the following things:

1. It had electric curtains. Well, one electric curtain. Its partner was manually operated.

2. It had two showers. In the same cubicle. One fixed one and one on a hose (but also fixed on the wall). And you could only use one of them at a time because there was a lever that diverted the water either to one or the other of them. I still haven't worked out what the point of this was.

3. Since it was a conference, my luggage was taken up to the room by servants during the day time. And they hung my coat in the wardrobe for me. I was slightly disappointed that they hadn't completely unpacked all my things and done some ironing whilst they were at it.

4. There were no biscuits. This was a shame.

I'd mark it out of ten, but I'm too lazy.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Don't forget the CD, mate

I'm off to Birmingham for a conference today, where I hope to be running (or at least partly running) a business game for around 500 salesmen. The day is likely to be somewhat on the mad hectic side, but I do get a free black-tie dinner at the end of it all. It should all go ok, as long as I remember to pick up the VERY IMPORTANT CD that I burnt last night with final versions of models and presentations on it. I really should remember to take it.

I'm bound to forget to take it though.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bed sounds

I had a reasonably long post to write. But I can't be arsed. It's late and I have a relatively early start tomorrow morning and I can hear the sound of my bed calling for me. It sounds like springs slowly contracting and then expanding before contracting once more. So the reasonably long post will appear another day. And I will get my well deserved sleep. But only after I've finished the lovely cold bottle of beer I've just opened. Chill. Yes.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Trip not suitable for vegetarians

I was reading the brochure for the rafting holiday that I'm going on in the summer, down America's Grand Canyon. There's a section about the food that they'll be giving us. It says:

"Lunches are a favorite for many with its variety of deli meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. Our menus are created from years of satisfied guests."

I wonder what they do with the unsatisfied ones?

Now, I'm not saying that company running the trip has cannibalistic tendencies, but frankly I find this slightly disturbing. It is disturbing because either:
a) They actually are cannibals
b) They have awful grammar
c) They are cannibals with awful grammar. The worst kind.

I will have to be careful.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Check out the checkouts

I'm not sure when the last time I visited my local Sainsburys was, but since that time they have installed some new checkouts, shinier and more metallic than the old ones. Whilst I like the shininess, I'm not so convinced by the reduced amount of room at the end where your shopping goes when it's been scanned. For me, this isn't a huge problem since I rarely buy more than one basket of items at a time. But if I was a family of four, the lack of room could be more problemmatic unless I was a really quick packer.

It does all feel a bit roomier and airier overall though.

And I did get some nice new teabags (wild cherry and cinammon). I like tea.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Curry Time

I've just come back from a curry. It's the 4th of March and I think this may have been my first curry of the year. This seems slightly wrong to me. It was good curry though.

Perhaps more importantly, the Curry House has the same tiles in its man bathroom as I do in my bathroom here in the flat. It's a relatively new curry place, so I can only conclude that they have copied me somehow. They must have sent round a secret curry spy when I was at work one day.

I wonder if they have the same wardrobes as me in their Curry House Bedrooms. And the same bottle opener in their Curry House Cupboard of Bottle Opening. And the same c... nah, that one has to just be me. If it ain't, I'm gonna sue.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Three Questions

Three pretty pointless questions I have never asked myself before, along with my answers:

Q1. If I was living in a box (living in a cardboard box), would I hang pictures on its wall to make it more homely?
A1: No.

Q2: If I had the power to make flowers wilt just by staring at them, would I use that power for good, or would I use it for evil?
A2: Definitely evil. Well, mild mischief at least.

Q3: If I had been the man who invented the pogo stick, would I have shared it with the world, or would I have kept it to myself? Would I have kept it to myself and laughed at all the people who walked by my window, all the pogo stick-less people, all the poor saps who didn't know what they were missing because I, the great me, the one who invented the pogo stick had refused to share my wonderful, wondrous invention with the rest of the world?
A3: I'd have shared. An invention like that could not be confined for long.

How about you?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Another bad day

It's strange how every bad day Jack Bauer has goes on for exactly 24 hours. Obviously that's how long most days go on for since a day here on Earth is 24 hours long, almost by definition. But Jack just seems to have bad shit happen to him for 24 hours in a row and then magically clear everything up.

I'm almost hoping that in series 4 everything will be sorted out after 22 hours, and the final two hours will involve Jack:
1. Having a short nap
2. Taking some time out to watch a popular American drama series
3. Smiling at some girls as they walk past his window

I suspect that in fact the last two hours will instead involve Jack:
1. Shouting
2. Shooting his gun
3. Shooting his gun and shouting at the same time

I haven't yet worked out how the terrorists are going to get the Moon to leave its normal orbit and head towards Los Angeles yet, but then I don't expect the script writers have worked it out yet either. Actually, I have no idea what the ultimate aim of the terrorists is at all this year. Maybe it is the Moon thing. It'll have to be the Moon thing one day.

da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da
Jack, Oooohhhh-oooooohhh
He saved every one of us

Or at least he probably will. Good luck fella.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hey, what's that sound?

It would be nice to have a theme tune that played every time I entered a room. Everyone in Bod used to have one. Farmer Barleymow, Aunt Flo, the postman chap and Bod him/herself. I'd like to have my own. The big question is: should it have lyrics?

I may write more on this topic tomorrow.


Update 02/03/05 08:23
It has been pointed out to me that Ally McBeal covered this whole theme tune thing fairly comprehensively in one episode. I have no idea what tune she decided on though, or indeed if she made a decisison. Or in fact whether there was a decision to be made...