Saturday, 23 February 2008

PhotoHunt: Wooden

Florida Driftwood

Here's a piece of drftwood which I saw on Sanibel in Florida a few years ago.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I've started my new job. A four-month contract (with a, fingers-crossed, possible extension for another 3 months, if I'm a good boy). I shouldn't really mention where, but sock puppets might give you a clue in the UK...

It's a completely different environment to my last job. Busy, but a relaxed busy, if that makes sense. And with none of the excessive rules, regulations and paranoia that I had to put up with before.

My previous employer's policies were, to say the least, a bit over-the-top. If one needed to claim expenses for a business lunch (say a £2 sandwich from Tesco) or a taxi journey, the expense form had to be signed in blood and counter-signed by my team leader, the IT Director, UK Finance Director, EMEA Head Of Mergers and Acquisitions, Worldwide CEO, The Pope and King Harald V of Norway. The recent papal interregnum caused a 3-month holdup in petty-cash claims.

Any requests for additional IT access or resources were even harder to achieve, and were often turned down by George W Bush, despite the approval of Congress!

In contrast, my new employer is much easier to work with. Today, after only 24 hours on site, I needed to request access to a service which could enable to me to shutdown the entire infrastructure of the corporation, plus, potentially, large chunks of the whole Internet. The request was written in pencil on a Post-It note and stuck onto the monitor of a junior member of the PC support team. He wandered over 10 minutes later to tell me that he'd actioned my request and additionally given me the ability to manipulate the German stock market, control Sizewell-B power station, administer all the blogs on Blogger and fix the results of next week's edition of 'Dancing On Ice' . "Just in case it comes in handy", he said, "but do be careful you don't break anything".

So, I'm writing this post from my new office and wondering what that new button is on the Blogger edit page. I wonder what happens if I pre------

Monday, 18 February 2008

Glory Days

My old chum Ian is a pretty talented photographer. He's just started uploading a load of shots taken at college onto Flickr, so I thought I'd highlight my favourites of the ones he's scanned in so far.

I don't think I've seen any of them before, and some of the occasions that they were taken are hard to pin down.

This first one was taken on a charity fund-raising day. I can't remember what it was for, and I don't remember the photo being taken, but I'm pretty sure that the bus was stationary at the time. I certainly didn't have the cojones to hang out of a moving double-decker Routemaster like that otherwise!

I remember that "sheepskin" coat though. A mid-1980s charity shop special. And very warm. Blimey, I was thin back then! Ah dear. Perhaps one day I will be again.

This next one is Phil at his drums. It sums him up perfectly. A drumming astronomer who was the most off-centre of all our gang at QMC.

The whole "1-stop overexposed" grainy look of the picture reminds me of Anton Corbijn's work - in the 1980s he was THE photographer to emulate, I guess. I don't know if Ian deliberately set-out to follow that style, but it works for me. Very evocative of the time and a stunning image.

Another great atmospheric portrait. Of Jon this time (he hasn't changed a bit - the lucky b****r!).

I'm glad of the poster behind him as it pins down the date to a one-month period in the 3 or 4 years we were at college. I guess the Rugby Club didn't invest a huge amount of money or effort into graphic design!

Thanks for the memories, Ian. I'm so glad to have seen these pictures.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Still Here!

Thanks to Mima for the Mwah! Award. I know I'm probably supposed to pass it on, so my Mum and sister can have the award too.

It's been a bit quiet here recently - sorry about that. Two weeks off between jobs and I've just been lazing about doing not very much, so I haven't had much to tell you!

We've done the first weekend of our Farrago. Mum took some pics of the dress rehearsal. It's gone down quite well so far, which is good and should make some cash for the group so we can put on the play in the summer.

I have to put together the Players' newsletter today, as well as sorting out some household chores, so I'll sign off now.

Oh, but before I go, spare a thought for Dave "Delmonti" Dawson who's going into hospital tomorrow for his hip-replacement op. Good luck chum!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Pour Me Another

Home Secretary Jackie Smith (wasn't she one of the original Charlie's Angels?) has been spouting off like an ignorant tabloid-reading, middle-England, red-faced ranter in today's Guardian:
But Smith also warned parents that they had a responsibility, saying that nearly half of the alcohol obtained by young people appeared to come from the family home: "The idea that you can hand your kids a six-pack of lager and tell them to disappear off for the evening - with no thought to consequences -is frankly baffling to me," she said, urging the police to make greater use of parenting contracts in the most persistent cases.
Now, I know that there is an underage drinking problem in this country. I don't know exactly how bad it is - probably not as bad as the newspapers make out. But you would expect politicians not to contribute to the wailing and caterwauling that we get from the media, wouldn't you?

What does the survey actually report? Well, we don't really know because the results aren't due to be published until "later this month", but if the Guardian story is accurate it will show that "more than half of 13-year olds have drunk alcohol" [my emphasis].

Not "more than half of 13-year olds are binge-drinking, hoodie wearing troublemakers". No. "have drunk alcohol" it says. So while this counts the noisy, obnoxious minority who knock back Tennants Extra in the precinct, it also counts well-behaved, nicely brought-up kids whose parents are responsibly (and perfectly legally) teaching them to appreciate and respect alcohol by giving them, for example, a very small glass of wine with a meal on special occasions. You know, just like you and I and most of the rest of us.

Of course, Ms Smith needs to get her headlines, doesn't she. Politicians can't just stick to facts nowadays, can they? Silly cow!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

PhotoHunt: Narrow

Zhouzhuang 9

This was taken on our honeymoon in Zhouzhuang, an historic water-town in Jiangsu province, about 90 mins west of Shanghai. Built on canals and well preserevd as an example of ancient Chinese architecture, the whole town epitomises this week's theme.

Narrow streets, connected by narrow alleys. Narrow bridges span the narrow canals while narrow boats float beneath. It was a very charming and memorable place.

Friday, 1 February 2008


My last day in the job today and I was pretty gloomy as I finished off the last few tasks that needed doing. Then, minutes before going down the pub at lunchtime, I got a phone-call from an old colleague, out of the blue, offering me a 4-month contract to do some work with him.

Fantastic! My mood swung 180 degrees.

It's obviously not a permanent solution, but it gives me time to look for something long-term. Excellent! And it's work with someone I am already friends with. What could be better?

So - I was going to say this today anyway - thanks to everyone who has been in touch with messages of support and encouragement. I really do appreciate them all. I've been too wrapped-up in it to reply to you individually, or in comments, but it really does mean a hell of a lot. Thank you all very much.

And finally... Wahey!