Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Joke Time!

If you like that sort of thing, the B3ta Sick Joke Book is available as a free pdf download. I think it's quite funny. My favourite one (which has made me chuckle all evening):

Q: Why does Edward Woodward have so many D's in his name?
A: Because otherwise he'd be Ewar Woowar!


Incidentally, that's not supposed to be a sick one, in case you're confused. It's from the small non-sick section at the back.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Computer Game Progress Update!

If you're wondering, I never managed to finish Metroid Prime when I played through it the second time. I did much more than the first time, but I couldn't get past bloody Meta-Ridley. I could get him nearly dead, just not really dead. Maybe I'll try again at some point - I think I was close to being able to do it.

Yesterday, I did manage to finish the new Zelda game, Twilight Princess. I thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part. Not sure if it's the best Zelda ever, but it's definitely up there. It took me about 45 hours in total which seems quite a lot, but it kept me out of the pub. Recommended if you have a Wii, but then if you have a Wii you've probably already got it.

I think now I'll go back and attempt to do on LOZ: The Wind Waker what I failed to do on Metroid Prime - actually finish it. First time around I got about two thirds through (at a guess) before getting distracted/bored. This time... I'll try and do better. I know some people don't like it because of the graphics and/or the endless sailing, but I remember it having a lot of good things about it too. Obviously I'm not talking about the sailing, people were right to dislike that.

Unless maybe because I'm five years older now, I am of an age to appreciate a more sedately paced boat-based activity. We'll see.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pooh for Dinner!

I'm trying to make more of an effort to cook things this year. It's not a challenge, or even a resolution. Just a bit of an effort.

I don't think I've ever cooked fish before. Not that I can remember, anyway. I probably have at some point. Tonight I made Tuna Steaks in Special Sauce with Mustard Mash and Odd Brocolli. It tasted lovely, but I think I could work on the presentation a little.

Relatedly, I've just watched an incredibly odd cookery programme, with Ray Mears cooking things in the woods, using assorted hunting spoils, tubers, seeds and the odd tub of sour cream. He had an old guy with him who would eat absolutely anything with masses of enthusiasm, and then say how lovely it was. I'm not sure it was meant to be funny, but it was. Next week, I think I too will be shopping not in Sainsburys, but in the 100 Acre Wood.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Leak Avoidance

I went to put some washing on earlier and in the seal of the washing machine door I spotted a dark bit. I figured it would be just a bit of fluff or hair so I reached in to pull it out. What I actually found there surprised me slightly:

It was a black Bic biro. It was all bent round into the shape of the outside of the door. I'm not sure how long it had been in there - it's hard to tell now. I'm normally quite good at checking my pockets though and in any case I rarely keep pens in the sorts of pockets I put in the washing machine. It's a mystery.

However it got in there though, I guess I'm quite lucky that
a) it didn't cause any damage to the washing machine door seal and hence a leak over my floor.
b) it didn't itself leak in the washing machine and make all my clothes black.

The most important question that I bet you're all asking though is... did the pen still work afterwards?

No, it was buggered.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Last time on Heroes

For a show that gets so many things so right, I just don't understand how Heroes has such abysmal recaps of previous episodes. The voice-over on them is unbelievably poor. I won't describe it, I think it really has to be seen/heard to be be believed. Why, why, why is it so awful???

Friday, January 26, 2007

Downhill from here

I went to The Junction on Wednesday night to see Drew playing - he was opening act on a four band set. He was in very strong voice and has written another song about monkeys.

The other bands were good, but not hugely innovative. The first sounded like Oasis, the second like all those new bands and the third like the Seventies.

It was all very loud too - to the extent that for most of yesterday my hearing didn't seem to be always quite at it's best. I'm not as young as I was. But then, I'm also not as old as I will be.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Did Ben Kenobi die for... this?

I've been trying to find one of these Darth Vader Transformers for ages. Finally got one from Edinburgh's John Lewis yesterday.

To be fair, it's a bit crap, Darth looks a bit camp and the whole concept makes absolutely no sense. But it's cool, camp, nonsensical crap.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bacon Wraps

Today I went up to Edinburgh for an Institute of Actuaries seminar on Wraps. It was being held at the head office of Standard Life which I had never visited before, though I did know where it was. I got there in good time for the 9:30 start and upon arrival at the reception I was directed to a little waiting room to await the organisers to take us to the seminar room.

I didn't recognise anyone else who was also waiting, but this didn't surprise me as I hadn't expected to. So I waited for a short while. Then a man came along and indicated that we should follow him to the room. We went through "security" and along a corridor into the rooms where the seminar was to be held.

Rather excellently, they had bacon rolls for us to go with the normal coffee. I grabbed one and sat down. Said hello to a few people whilst eating, but still didn't know anyone. There seemed to be less actuaries than I'd expected, but since the day was open to non-actuaries too, I didn't let this worry me.

As I was finishing my roll, I noticed that a couple of the people standing at the front appeared to be looking at me strangely and I think I heard one of them ask the other if I was with them. She came over and said hello and then after a quick exchange quickly determined that I had not arrived at the Wraps Seminar as I had thought. I had in fact managed to crash some kind of sales consultant development day (or something). Whoops. She advised me to try the room next door. I left slightly sheepishly.

But hey, I'd had a free bacon roll!

I tried this one, but it was empty apart from one organiser type person. I introduced myself and to save more embarrassment checked whether this was the Wraps Seminar. It wasn't. I despaired and headed back to reception.

This time they didn't send me to a waiting room, they advised me to go straight to the seventh floor (in a "special lift"). I couldn't find this lift but did then bump into some actuarial types who took me upstairs to where I was supposed to have been all along (which in my defense was not where it said on the joining instructions). I was happy to finally be in the right place.

Moral: It's really easy to sneak into Standard Life and steal bacon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It seems like an interlude now...

I was listening to a Morrissey album this evening, and a song came on called Interlude. It's great - a duet between him and Siouxsie Sioux (off of And The Banshees). Since I've had the thing for a while I figure I must have heard the song before... but allowing for that I was sure I knew it from somewhere else. Investigation showed it to be a cover of a song from a sixties film, soundtrack composed by Georges Delerue, a French composer. Needless to say, I am not hugely familiar with his work.

So I'm not sure where I know where I know the song from. I'll probably never find out as now I know it from itself.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Toilet Roll Origami

This is probably the wrongest thing I have ever come across in a Thai restaurant:

Toilet Roll

What were they thinking???

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Madder than the creationists...

I got a pamphlet through my door today from the Jehovah's Witnesses. I always enjoy reading their literature - it puts a smile on my face. This one was called "Who Really Rules The World?". Unusually for them it makes no claims that soon we will be living happily in pretty gardens, hand in hand with lions, tigers and bears who have all become vegetarian and stopped eating people.

Instead, it's about how the real ruler of the world is not God, Jesus or David Blaine, but is in fact (wait for it)... Satan! No way! It's not made clear quite how he goes about this ruling, but it seems to mainly involve him making people be nasty to each other. Because without his influence they'd all want nothing more than peace and happiness and would never hurt each other at all, honest.

It goes on about how Satan tempted Jesus: "The Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory". Now, geography is not my strong point but I think it would have to be an incredibly high mountain to see all the kingdoms. Not to mention the problems caused by the curvature of the Earth. Do they know that the world's not been flat since the Dark Ages? It's possible I suppose that there was a television at the top of the mountain perhaps showing programmes from The Geography Channel. Maybe the top of a mountain was the only place you could get a signal in those days (which would explain why most people didn't have televisions then!).

Anyway, to summarise for a bit, Satan's bad, blah blah blah, he tempts people and machinates and blah blah blah. He's really bad.

It then talks about one of the ways in which he tempts people - by "promoting the idea of survival after death, even though God's Word clearly shows that the dead are not conscious". This confused me a little, as it seems to be denying the concept of heaven, and claiming that dead people can't think anymore. I'm not used to actually agreeing with the JWs. Maybe I've done them a disservice and they do speak sense after all?

Then there is a warning against "spiritism". This "brings a person under the influence of the demons". You should "resist all its practices regardless of how much fun or how exciting, they may seem to be. These practices include crystal-ball gazing, use of Ouija boards, ESP examining the lines of one's hand, and astrology". They're probably right about astrology.

It finishes with that bit from The Usual Suspects about how the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. I guess that means I have been well and truly hoodwinked!

So by the end of the pamphlet, they had spoken so much sense and made me understand so much about how the world really works that I converted on the spot and sent off for more information. Or perhaps I watched Arrested Development and had a curry. Definitely one or the other of those.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Prison Break: The Musical

I went to see Chicago at the theatre tonight. I've not seen it before, and I didn't see the film, so other than knowing that it was a musical, I didn't really know what to expect.

It was a bit odd. Good, but odd. Kind of like an old black and white cartoon from the 1930s (a Betty Boop kind of thing), but with real people on the stage. It's very stylised and... odd.

I liked it though.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Busy Dancing

Dancing class was about as busy as I can remember it this evening. It must be the combination of New Year's resolutions, the end of another series of Strictly Come Dancing and everybody in York wishing to be in the same room as me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I've just watched Terminator 3 on the television - it's quite a rare thing for me to watch a film on actual telly rather than from a dvd. The film is alright, but certainly the weakest of the three. Seen it all before. It also feels a little unfinished - it's like there should be another movie to finish the story off. But there isn't. I guess Arnie's busy.

A funny thing happens in the last half hour or so, which will probably only be funny for people who live near where I grew up. [Spoiler Warning]. The girl's dying dad tells them to go to Crystal Peak in order to save the world or something. I shan't explain why that's funny. But it is. To an extent that it makes the whole thing hard to take seriously.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bedding down

For the first time, I went to The MacArthur Glen Designer Outlet today. I went to get a new duvet and some new pillows - most of mine are past their best. I quickly worked out why I had never been there before. It's rubbish. Nothing worth buying. You can't even get a newspaper, never mind some reasonably priced bedding.

So that was a bit of a waste of time.

Afterwards, I went for a haircut and then headed into York where they have some proper normal shops that sell things you'd want to buy. BHS sorted me out with some nice duck pillows and one of those duvets that comes in two parts so you can make it either, thin, medium or thick. If I had it my way, I'd leave it on 4 togs all year round, but never mind.

I hadn't realised quite how heavy and bulky four pillows and a big duvet would be. I'd planned to just carry them home but a short walk outside the shop quickly confirmed that this was unlikely to happen successfully. I was just about able to make it to a taxi rank though, so that's what I did. My arms were hurting like demons afterwards.

I hope I'm not allergic to duck down

Friday, January 12, 2007

Places I'd rather be

How I normally spend Friday evening: Leave work at five, go pub, drink beer, drink wine, go home, sleep.

How I spent this evening: Leave work at seven, go home, have a cup of tea, attend 90 minute directors' meeting of my flat's management company, go on 30 minute inspection tour of the various staircases, come home, write this.

I know which one I prefer.

The meeting did come with wine though, so it wasn't all bad.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Come on, let's crawl...

Today I bought "The Best Disney Album In The World... Ever!". A 3 CD collection of Disney songs. It has some great stuff on it, including most of the things you'd expect to get on a collection like that. 75 songs in total.

I'm not sure the title is accurate though - my mum and dad used to have a Disney Collection when I was a kid (On cassette tapes! Remember them?) and I reckon that was just as good at the time. Ok, it didn't have anything from Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin cos they hadn't been drawn back then. But it did have Ugly Bug Ball on it - a true classic if ever there was one. The new compilation has that too, though I didn't realise in the shop. I think my eyes were playing up. I was happy when I realised a few minutes ago that I'd been mistaken.

Perhaps it's unfair to compare a compilation made now, when I'm 30, to one made in the seventies when I was somewhat younger... but if you'd have given me the new one then I'd have said "Shiny!" and then dribbled over the CDs which I had no mechanism to play. Even if you'd have given it me on tape I'd have found a lot of it confusing. Films I'd never seen etc...

But for all the great songs, there do seem to be a few tracks that make me dispute the claim that the album is the best ever, now or 25 years ago. Proof: at the end of disc 3 there are tracks from Chicken Little, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, That's So Raven, The Cheetah Girls and Hannah Montana. Scrrrraaaappppppeeee. Yes that's the sound of the Disney barrel being well and truly scraped.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Shoes

My old shoes were in a bit of a state. Some time ago the laces broke so I bought some new ones. The new ones were a bit on the thin side and this meant that they would come undone on a regular basis. I have spent most of the last six months bent over retying my shoe-laces. Not much fun. Also the in-soles can only be described as "buggered to pieces". And the right shoe feels like it permanently has something stuck to the bottom of it even though it hasn't. I've checked several times.

Also, they are a bit dirty.

Therefore I decided to purchase some new ones. Actually, I decided to do this some while back but I only got around to doing it today.

My shoe shop of choice was Marks & Spencers because it's all self service and so I wouldn't have to talk to a shoe shop assistant. It always takes about an hour for them to go into the back room to fetch a pair of shoes for you to try on. I'm pretty sure that they always make themselves a cup of tea whilst they're in there. Or maybe they just sit down and do a Sudoku for a bit. Or maybe they catch up on Neighbours. Whatever it is, it takes ages and I couldn't be arsed with that today.

Hence M&S.

The first pair of shoes I picked up to try on would have been fine except that they were both left shoes, and there were no right ones anywhere obviously nearby. I abandoned them and tried a different pair. These were better as they came in both feet. I tried them on, they fit, I took them off and bought them.

They have fairly smooth soles so at the moment they are pretty lethal when worn on carpet. It's slip slidy slip slip. I shall have to be careful. I nearly fell over in the shop when I tried them on (maybe this should have put me off...) and so I think they'll need a bit of outside wear to get them a bit grippier. Hopefully they won't be as slippy outside... I'll find out tomorrow morning. I really hope it's not an icy day or I may actually die.

But at least I shouldn't have to keep retying my laces.

I also, whilst in the shop, purchased some new Day Of The Week Socks - the ones that say what day you are supposed to wear each pair on. I shall obey the instructions, initially at least. I don't want more bad sock Karma.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sock Karma

How does it come to a point where the socks I am wearing have large holes where each big toe should be, plus a big hole on the bottom of the left heel and another one on the back of the left heel? That is not a good sock look. They're going in the bin. Right now.

They were my Thursday socks. Perhaps it serves me right for wearing them on a Tuesday. It's sock karma.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Film Review! Casino Royale!

I enjoyed the new Bond film last night. It's definitely a change from the norm, but a good flick nevertheless. Apart from the following aspects:

1. There's a little too much poker. At times it felt like I was watching Late Night Poker on Channel 5 rather than a James Bond film. It was confusing that the table wasn't made of glass so you could see the cards as they were dealt.

2. The main baddy, Le Chiffre, is a guy whose eye leaks blood when he gets worried, but this barely happens throughout the film! It should be spurting constantly! You never saw Blofeld sitting around with his white cat whilst failing to stroke it. Same principle here. If you're a baddy you should evince your quirk at every opportunity.

3. Le Chiffre has shit hair. He looks silly.

4. And he doesn't have a cat.

But other than that it was good. Not as good as Goldeneye though.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Bond

I'm finally getting round to seeing the new Bond film tonight. I hope it's ok.

I'll have to take it on trust, I think, that the cinema is showing the new Casino Royale, not the old one. There's no way to tell from the listings. Fingers crossed

Friday, January 05, 2007

Books Read in 2006

For the second year in a row, I failed to read 24 books (2 a month) as I would have liked to, but I was close - I read 22 in total. I'll blame the missing two on losing spare time to the running.

Here's what I did get through:

* Thud! - Terry Pratchett
* The Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde
* Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
* The Lightstone 1: The Ninth Kingdom - David Zindell
* The Lightstone 2: The Silver Sword - David Zindell
* From a Buick 8 - Stephen King
* Titan - Stephen Baxter
* Lord of Lies - David Zindell
* On - Adam Roberts
* Paradox - John Meaney
* Context - John Meaney
* Resolution - John Meaney
* Pelican Blood - Cris Freddi
* Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde
* Coalescent - Stephen Baxter
* Exultant - Stephen Baxter
* The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
* Transcendent - Stephen Baxter
* Star Warped - A3R Roberts
* Cell - Stephen King
* The Brightonomicon - Robert Rankin
* Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure

Favourites from these would be Stephen Baxter's Destiny's Children trilogy (in the fiction category) and Richard Dawkins' book (in the non-fiction category).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Food Labelling Wars

A year ago I complained about the labels that Sainsburys are using on their food these days. They look like pie charts, but the segment sizes in no way correspond to the amounts contained in each slice.

These things have actually been in the news today as two new systems are being launched in competition with each other. The one that Sainsburys supports is the traffic light one as this is most similar to what they currently do now. I was suprised when I read this as I'd never noticed any traffic light colouring on the current pie charts.

However, looking at one now (on a pizza!) it is quite clearly colour coded red/amber/green for bad/medium/good. I feel quite stupid that I had never noticed this before, but it's possibly because on all the food I eat, all sections are normally green (ahem).

The other new system (that Tescos likes) is the GDA system which uses pastels and shows things as a % of your total recommended daily intake. I'm not sure which system I like best. It seems an odd thing for them to be arguing about when it would be easy for everyone to adopt the same standard that would have all the information. But I know that the electronics industry has had these kinds of problems for ever. It's easy to say that everyone should just use one format, but doing that in practice? Hard.

Mind you, whatever they do, I doubt I'll pay much attention. It's kind of obvious to me that some foods are healthier than others. Grapefruit good, Brie Bad.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Festive 20 - 2006

Every year, I compile a list of the top 20 songs of the year as voted for by me, the only person that counts. Rules for eligibility for inclusion in the list are flexible, but I think all on this year's list were released either as a single, or on an album during the year.

Let the countdown commence. In reverse order:

20: Monster - The Automatic
19: You and Me - The Delays
18: All Over Again - Ronan Keating and Kate Rusby
17: Crystal Ball - Keane
16: Bones - The Killers
15: Made Up Love Song #43 - The Guillemots
14: Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World - The Divine Comedy
13: Nature's Law - Embrace
12: My Secret Is My Silence - Roddy Woomble
11: Fill My Little World - The Feeling
10: It's All Coming Back To Me Now - Meat Loaf
9: Naive - The Kooks
8: I Feel It - Lorraine
7: Sea of Trouble - Cord
6: Patience - Take That
5: A Great Big Sled - The Killers
4: Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
3: Don't Go Gently - Four Day Hombre
2: Never In A Million Years - Cara Dillon
1: Winter - Cord

There are two artists to have got two songs each in this year's 20. The Killers have put out several fine singles of which Bones is one, but also A Great Big Sled is possibly the finest Christmas song of the last ten years and so I felt they deserved a second placing. Cord put out several fantastic singles - sadly the album was not quite as excellent as these had been (though it was still fine).

And yes, I know Ronan Keating is evil. That was still a great duet he's done with Kate Rusby there though so all credit to the (evil) man.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Coming Soon!

Coming soon in this spot...
- Top 20 Songs of 2006
- What books I read last year
- Details of my 2007 challenge (and indeed whether it exists or not)
- Less moaning about having flu

But for the moment, I still feel like crap, I haven't had any proper sleep for some days and since I'm now actually feeling quite tired I'm going to go shortly and take what I can get.

Night night!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Starting The Year on a Low

Happy New Year everybody.

My cold didn't really get any better yesterday. I was ok in the daytime (apart from the cough) but in the evening I started getting all shivery and had a bit of a temperature again. I also lost my appetite somewhat which meant I wasn't able to eat much of the nice tea I had prepared. I didn't go into town at all, not even to the Minster at midnight (cos nothing happens!) which was probably a good idea given the godawful weather.

By bedtime I was feeling more or less ok (at least in comparison) but then I developed a very painful sore throat and that's been with me ever since. My voice has gone a bit and when I speak it sounds like I've taken a small amount of croaky helium.

I hate having a cough. And the other stuff too.