Thursday, August 30, 2007

Subway Recognition

I went to Subway for another 12" manwich today. All four people working there said "Hello" to me like they knew me. This worried me a bit. I've clearly been going too much when all of them say hi to me. Or maybe I have a distinctive face. Then after I paid, the money man gave me not one, but two thick, decent books of vouchers. Quite good ones too - the sort that give you free drinks when you buy a sandwich or things like that. I've never been given those before. He must have really recognised me!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Heavy Pockets

If I go out drinking, I tend to pay with notes. Drinks rounds rarely cost a multiple of five pounds and so inevitably notes and drinks beget change. And over a night, lots of notes and lots of drinks beget lots of change. It's not uncommon for me to leave the house of a Monday morning with upwards of fifteen pounds worth of coins in my wallet. Bulging in my wallet. To the extent it won't close properly.

But this has an advantage - spending coins doesn't feel like spending money. My notage hasn't decreased ergo neither has my wealth. In a good week I can get to Thursday or even Friday without having spent any real money.

I can walk into a sandwich shop and rather than spending money to buy a sandwich, I just do some weird voodoo thing with my hands that make them think I've paid for it. But I'm smiling inside because I haven't spent money! It's great.

It's even better when I can make pounds out of twenty pence pieces. Because then I can convince myself that I'm not spending money in cases when I'd normally have to spend a whole pound (eg a collection for someone's wedding or something).

Coins are great.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Whose the daddy?

A colleague (#1) had a baby last night (well done) - it came out of his wife. One of his staff (#2) sent an email round to let us know that it had arrived and that they were all doing well. Title of the email was "Whose the daddy?". This was bad in two ways. Firstly, it was clearly bad grammar. Or possibly bad spelling. She may have well sent round an email saying "I can't use the English language correctly. Please sack me now."

I personally would happily sack anyone from work who persistently abused the language in that way. But then we'd have no marketing department. Or finance department. Or directors. It'd just be me and the cleaners (and them only because they rarely have need to write anything). We'd all be very busy and I wouldn't like it. I'd have no time for Final Fantasy.

The second part of the badness was the implication that colleague #1 wasn't the daddy. For if he was, why ask the question? It was clearly being implied that there was some funny business going on. When challenged on this, #2 claimed to have no such intention but I didn't believe her.

Never trust anyone who goes by a number rather than a name.

In very related baby news (no it wasn't me. It was #1. I thought we'd established that) I'm disturbed these days that I have a vague feel for what, in pounds, constitutes a "big baby" and what constitutes a "wee baby". There's no need for me to know that. It's never going to help me win a pub quiz.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Eight or nine...

With just over a month to go until the Great North Run, I've been becoming a little concerned that I haven't done any long runs recently (and nothing over 7 miles this year - and that was months ago). So this weekend I'd "promised" myself a long run. 8 miles was the plan. It had to be today as the rest of the weekend I'd have had too much alcohol in the system to give any hope of doing anything good.

I planned my route - would have been just over eight but I figured I'd walk the final bit. The route took in the following York Landmarks:
1. The Tunnel
2. The Train Station
3. Micklegate Bar
4. Tescos
5. The new York College (opening September 2007)
6. The Sun
7. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter
8. Not sure about Saturn
9. Bishopthorpe Palace
10. The long riverside path, featuring nettles
11. The Millennium Bridge
12. T&G running in a different direction
13. The Bondage Warehouse
14. My work.

Due to number 10 above actually being a late insert, planned on the fly, The final distance run totalled 9.2 miles. Which means that I only need to do one more long run before the day, say 10-11 miles. Two weeks time will be a good time for that.

Currently the legs feel ok, but I'm expecting some aches tomorrow.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hot Jerkey!

I've had a couple of friends up visiting this weekend. Last night I took them out to amongst other places, the Evil Eye. I think they liked it, and that was without trying the (very spicy) food.

On the way out I bought some beef jerkey. I asked the barman for "a packet of your spiciest beef jerkey" and that is indeed what he gave me. It was good. Beef and spice all in the mouth at once. Is there a better food?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another one bites the dust

I finished Final Fantasy IX this afternoon, wahey! Just I, II, V, VI, X, X2 and maybe XI to go. Halfway through the end sequence I had to pause it to pick up a friend from the train station. When we got back I watched the rest.

I think she was impressed. Ahem.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Endless Console Updates

One of the more annoying things with the current generation of consoles is that they all think they're PCs and hence constantly try to update themselves with new system software of the internet. At least most of it is actually adding stuff rather than just correcting security flaws (that's what they tell us, anyway).

Last night I spent the best part of two hours updating the Wii, the PS3 and the 360. Partly this was my fault for not having played on any of them for a while, due to mainly (still) playing old PS1 Final Fantasy games on the PS2. And some of the rest was because I couldn't work out all the cabling to make the 360 work (you have to turn off the DVD player).

It makes me pine for me old Speccy. It was all fields then.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Norwich, A Fine City

At the weekend I went down to Norwich for Matt's (actuarial) qualifiers' Party. He qualified about five years ago but isn't very organised. It was the first time I've been down there and been able to have a proper look round for some years - normally when I visit it's a case of arriving at the train station and then taking a taxi straight to some out of town hotel, staying there overnight, assessing some graduates the next day and then heading straight back home to York again.

I don't think it had changed too much since I lived there. Most of the big changes happened about the same time I left. There was a big new glass thing in the city centre, The Forum, that I didn't recognise. Until I remembered I did recognise it because I'd been in and had a coffee before.

We had Sunday lunch in a nice bar near Tomblands called Indulge. It used to be a Hogshead, but I'm not sure if they have Hogshead's anywhere any more. I had a nice sausage platter and K had a big burger. Came with very nice potato wedges. Great French waitress who'd occasionally forget to speak in English and say things like "Sel" instead of Salt. I suspect it's the sort of place that could be horrid at night time, but in the day it was relatively quiet.

After that we went on through the Cathedral Close to the Adam & Eve. I'd planned to sit outside but it was just about to start pissing it down so we sat inside instead. I vaguely remember the serving staff there as being quite unfriendly and that, at least, hadn't changed. Predictably I banged my head on the low lintel as I left. I always used to do that.

I had then thought we could walk back to the station along the river but the rain changed that into a taxi.

Overall it was an enjoyable day and I enjoyed seeing things I used to see all the time. Ah, Nostalgia.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Secret Birthday

How the internet can get you in trouble:

Me: Hello!
Chris Colleague: Hello!
Me: Happy Birthday!
CC: How did you know it's my birthday?
Me: It was on the internet, on Facebook.
CC: Oh, bugger.
Me: Were you not telling anyone?
CC: Yeah, I didn't want to have to buy cakes.
Me: Is it the big one?
CC: Yeah, 30.
Me: Hey everyone, Chris is 30! Cake time!
CC: You get.

And that's why they warn you not to put personal information on the internet.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trains to Norwich

I've been down in Norwich this weekend (more of that tomorrow, if I remember). I reckon it is physically impossible to travel from York to there on trains that are on time. And you can never make the connection at Peterborough.

This time, the train from York was running half an hour late. We then transferred to a train in Peterborough that was also half an hour late. And then on to one from Ely that was also running late. No idea what was happening on the way back as I hadn't looked up train times in advance, but we had to wait for an hour in Ely station so I figure it can't have been working all that well.

So I had some cider.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Best Coffee In The World?

I think I've found the best kitchen gadget ever invented in the new Argos catalogue. It's on page 699. It's a machine that turns instant coffee into "authentic cappuccino"!

Amazing! It even does Americanos!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I had some good dreams last night. As in slightly interesting rather than good. They may have been two parts of the same dream or they may have been separate. It’s hard to tell now.

In the first I was in a train station with some heavy bags. It was a station in some crappy town like Swindon or Carlisle. The train started to approach the station but rather than slowing to a stop it slowed to a running pace only allowing a few people to jump on or off. Me with my bags had no chance. The train left the station without me.

The guard then realised what had happened and he did some clever gesture to the train to make it come back. It looped around and came back through the station and again failed to slow down enough for me to get on! I couldn’t believe it! I’d missed my train.

I was less gutted when I realised that I actually had an open return rather than a specific train ticket so I could just wait for a later one without having to pay more.

In the other dream I was round at a friend’s flat, next to the Yorkshire Wheel. No such flats exist in real life but this was a dream so it was fine. A breeze blew up outside. Then a gale. Then a stronger wind still. Eventually the wind reached such a strength that it blew The Wheel right over and it crashed down into the National Railway Museum. Amusingly we watched this being covered, live, on the television news.

What a disaster!

Shortly after (probably within the hour in dream time) the toppled wheel was split into two halves and each was towed away by a man on a bike. This struck me as strange even at the time – surely they wouldn’t have been able to split it into two that quickly?

And then I went home (the long way round as the road was shut).

So those were my dreams/dream extracts. Just thought I’d share.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not So Sick Day

I took the morning off work today, sick. I figured that I may as well make sure I wasn't going to be ill again. I don't really like taking sick days - I feel guilty about sitting around at home watching telly when I should be doing something useful. Even when I'd not be physically or mentally capable of doing anything useful.

By lunchtime I still didn't feel too bad. I still had a headache but felt like I'd be able to manage. And I'd had a good amount of entertainment so far (The Wire and FF again).

Therefore I headed off into town to earn my crusts. It wasn't too bad. I wasn't 100%, still probably a bit slow, but I got some stuff done. I delayed my long run for another day though. It's really got to happen tomorrow...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sick Day

I felt a bit crap yesterday, I put this down to a hangover. To be fair, I think 95% of it was.

This morning I still felt a bit crap, which was less blamable om the booze. I went to work and just about got through the day, but I was feeling worse by the hour. I figured I'd cut my losses and head home at four. Get some lie down, watch some telly. Chill. Abandon all pretence of the seven mile run I was supposed to be doing tonight.

Then just as I was logging off, I started to feel a bit sick. Luckily I made it to the toilets in time, and luckily there was a spare one (they've been unusually busy today!). Then I was ill. Not fun.

Then I went home with at least the justification that I really was ill, not just thinking I might be. I think it could well be mild food poisoning, possibly from the seafood risotto I had on Saturday night. Tasted good at the time but... ?

So the remainder of my day has been spent on the sofa, under duvet with some lucozade and peppermint tea. Watching The Wire, Big Brother and the new Richard Dawkins' doc. I'm feeling a bit better now and hope to be back to normal tomorrow.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flight Plans

We have finally got around to booking some holiday this evening. The full details aren't yet worked out but we'll definitely be flying to New York and back in October. The plan is then to visit a few other places too, possibly in Canada. Maybe Montreal, Quebec and/or Toronto. It'll likely depend on the availability (and cost!) of internal flights.

The flights ended up about £300 each, return. We initially thought we'd found some dead cheap ones - Zoom were offering flights for about £25 each way (or double that for Premium Economy). Pretty good. But then we found that that didn't include taxes, fuel surcharges and suchforth. They acted to push the price up to £300 each in total. So we decided to fly Virgin Atlantic instead. Same price but probably better in-flight entertainment (though no doubt I'll be playing Final Fantasy the whole time).

Incidentally, is "Premium Economy" the daftest name for a class of flight ever?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Buffy Is Still Best

K and her sister were round tonight and we, for no good reason, watched the Buffy episode Once More With Feeling. It was still great. It made me remember why I fell in love with that show in the first place. And then it mad me remember what happened to everyone before and after and inevitably, I cried a bit.

The only consequence is that we're now going to have to watch the whole bloody series from the start. Angel too. Darn. Worse things hapen at sea I guess.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies and More Lies

There were various fiascoes earlier in the year involving things being not quite as they seem on the BBC and other channels. I didn't see quite what the fuss was about - it's television! It's not supposed to be real! Why are people surprised that some things are staged, edited or just going wrong?

So it was very pleasing to see today the tabloids, the same ones who'd been so outraged about the telly, having to 'fess up that there hadn't really been a Great White Shark off the coast of Cornwall. It was just made up.

This again though shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Anyone who believes everything (anything?) they read in the papers, especially those ones is an idiot. Of course there isn't a big man eating shark off Cornwall. That's why nobody has been eaten.

My prediction for next week's news: "Incorrect Information On Internet Disgrace". Watch out for it. It's coming.

The best thing I saw today (which may or may not be made up) was on the way home from work. Up opposite the Railway Museum there was a drain in the road with lots of smoke coming out of it. Somehow, somebody had set a drain on fire. Quite good going. I'm assuming it can't have had much water in it. This would have been cool on its own but then a couple of Museum workers ran over with mini fire extinguishers and started squirting them into it. This seemed to do the job. The smoke stopped.

God, it's rubbish that that was the best thing I saw today.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Turning The Duvert Down

I'm surprised it's taken me so long to take the duvet down to four togs. I've been dead hot at night time for weeks now and nothing in my head seems to have linked this to the fact I still had the 10.5er on. Bit dumb. I changed it yesterday to the thinner one and slept much better last night.

It's quite hard to manage things like that though.

Maybe I should turn the heating off too (*).

(* joke).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

More Facebook

Since I last wrote about Facebook, I have used it quite a lot. But it is mainly a complete waste of time albeit a fun one.

There are a lot of applications you can add to your profile that seem to effectively do nothing except give a way for you to prove to the world how much spare time you have. For example you can identify endless music clips on iLike and nothing happens except you get a bigger score than all your friends. Or possibly your "friends". Or in Pirates you can pretend to be a pirate (Arrrrr!) and click a button that says "sail" a lot. And that's about it. Or a million other things, all equally pointless, except for the way they say to the world how little you have to do in it.

I might as well sit here (on my spinny chair) and write successive posts that contain nothing more than numbers that are one higher than in the previous one.

Or similarly, I could write this.

But sod it. It's great.

In other news... shiny iMacs!

Monday, August 06, 2007


I went down to visit a couple of friends in Birmingham at the weekend. I'm not totally sure, but I think I may have had a couple of beers. The kind of beers that leave you incredibly achy for a couple of days afterwards.

Other than that I had a good time.

When I got back here though my internet connection was down, and it stayed that way until about 11 at night. Hugely annoying. Not sure what the problem was, I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with the Sky this time.

It's back and working now, hence me here now, writing this.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sailing the Seven Seas Plus One

The Actuarial Profession has today published a draft of the new principles by which actuaries should conduct themselves at all times. It's called (and I kid you not) The Actuaries' Code. Sounds like something the Girl Guides would have.

It contains eight principles collectively named "the eight Cs" which all begin with... C. I've never been comfortable with these kind of mnemonics. Roygbiv is fine. Each letter being different helps you remember the colours. I've come across many others through my various periods of studying, some better than others. But just knowing that all eight principles of actuarial behaviour begin with C isn't too helpful to me. I'll probably remember six or seven but there'll always be an elusive one that just won't come back into memory. Is it "Commiseration"? Is it "Cheesiness"? Is it "Courduroy"?

So what are the true eight Cs? Conduct, Common Good, Competence, Compliance, Conflicts, Confidentiality, Commencing Apointments and Communication. Sounds more like six Cs, one CG and a CA to me. But that's quibbling.

I would put money that the wording that goes with the Code has been written by a member of the (Scotch) Faculty of Actuaries rather than the (English) Institute of Actuaries. My reason for this is because it says "members who disregard the principles or operate outwith their reasonable interpretation...". "Outwith": a word I'd never come across until I met people at work from Scotland. It's only used up there. They write it in documents all the time, not realising it's weird. The number of times we've had to correct bits of writing so that English people won't be confused, I've lost count.

So for it to crop up in the A-Code (as the cool actuaries will soon be calling it) clearly shows a Scotch, and hence probable Faculty, origin.

Does anybody want to take my bet?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Review Time!

It's the biennial time (I think that's the right one, not biannual. Or bicentennial. Or bicycle) of year (ie every two years in case I had got it wrong) when my mortgage is up for review. My two year fixed rate has run out and probably turned out to have been a good choice given that rates have been rising steadily since I took it out.

I booked a meeting at my local bank branch with a mortgage adviser. They sent me a reminder about the meeting time via text which I thought was quite cool. I turned up on time and for once had done some preparation so that I wouldn't be going in cold. I'd spent some time in the morning looking at the rates I was likely to be offered on the internet. I then used my green electronic yes/no decision maker to take a call on the tracker v fixed rate question. It chose tracker. Sounded fine to me. I also used mathematics to compare the rates that had an initial fee to the ones that didn't. For the size of my outstanding mortgage they were pretty much equal. Nice. Or possibly annoying

So when I was in the meeting, I had a good idea what I wanted and didn't change my mind. The mortgage lady did her bit, I did my bit, she keyed it into the system and that's it now for another two years.

Oooh, tracking, exciting. I can guarantee that this is bad news for the rest of you and interest rates are now going to go up and up and up!

Going to see the bank seems so adult...