Showing posts from 2008

Run Zombie, Run!

Have you ever wondered what a cross between Simon Pegg's Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy, Run would produce? No, me neither, but today I discovered what the result could look like as RoadRunner* kindly pointed out that the pics are in on the Great Run website, so now the world and his mum can see the full horror for themselves! Number seven says it all really... * Unfortunately, RoadRunner has stopped blogging, but you can still check out her pics with race number 35018 ;-)

Done and Dusted

Well, the curtain has been called and the set dismantled for another three-and-a-half months as our production of "A Murder is Announced" closes with a record audience number of around 130!! Henderson Hall is not a particularly large place and we generally have a maximum audience of 100, but due to so many advanced bookings for the Friday and Saturday nights, we had to put a couple of extra rows out.  Everyone has been astounded :-) I think it is safe to say that everyone felt Saturday night's performance was bugged by a few little gremlins, but everyone took it in their strides and the feedback from the audience was that it was a very enjoyable production, so smiles all round! As a way of saying thanks to the cast and crew, the producer managed to sneak some little gifts up to the dressing room for when the play closed and we all piled in full of the highs of a complete production ... I now have my very own Oscar!  LOL My first ... and final ... 'Oscar'!!

Everybody Ready?

Whoever coined the phrase "Out of the frying pan and into the fire" wasn't far wrong! No sooner am I back from the Great North Run than I am straight into final rehearsals for the next production by the Centralian Players , "A Murder is Announced", a fifty-year celebration for one of the group's members. Fifty years! That's a long time to dedicate to a hobby - I usually get bored after just a couple! :-) After three days of technical rehearsals that ranged from absolute disaster* to pretty good run-through, we finally opened last night and that's when the nerves finally hit. Its fine when its just the group of you that learned the script together, but add an audience to the mix and my stomache suddenly starts somersaulting like a clumsy trapeze artist. In fact, its starting its little routine again as I sit here typing this! Andrex is making a mint out or me right now. * Tuesday's technical rehearsal was the worst to date. That said,

Run Fatboy, Run!

Okay, not so much fatboy as love-handle boy, but the Great North Run 2008 was still a challenge! As per usual, I was a little late booking a place to stay but was incredibly lucky to find a characteristic little guest house called Bush Nook about a month beforehand, situated along the A69 between Carlisle and Newcastle. My little bed - very comfy! Slept like a log! The shower/toilet room - where I broke the flush :-$ Some of the room's character :-) Due to the bad weather on the way up on Saturday, I was rather late arriving and the owners were starting to wonder if I would arrive at all. I did ... seven hours after I set off. I know I'm not a speedy driver, but that's a long time even for me. The forecast was that there would be showers on the Sunday morning, so I had made sure that I had a suitable running jacket. I didn't need it. When I opened the curtains first thing Sunday morning I was greeted with a view that made me long to live in the hills: Im

Where'd ya go??

A year or so ago, I wrote a rather harsh review of the cappucinos made by a new smoothie bar that had opened in Tring, called Smooth ... and no, I'm not adding any links to that post as I am quite ashamed of how harsh I was! However, that didn't actually stop me from going there most lunchtimes to grab a smoothie and cookie for lunch: prior to M&S opening there, it was the only place to get anything reasonably healthy without hiking out of town to the little Tesco store. With the opening of M&S , all the good food options started appearing, so Smooth, Sandwich Plus and Tesco were all pushed to the back of my mind. Smooth re-opened after a short refurbishment period, but something seemed to be wrong. You couldn't guarantee from one day to the next that it would be open. Pretty much every other day, there would be a sign in the window stating that it was closed due to staff sickness, somewhate ironic considering the nature of the business! Then finally, during

IT Certainty Principle: Part Two

In the previous post , I introduced you to what can only be termed the ultimate law of the IT Certainty Principle: For any piece of IT work, the chance of implementing that work is inversely proportional to the amount of effort involved. This is, essentially, a law that defines the likelihood of a project being shelved. However, there are a series of other laws that you need to get through before this ultimate law can define the final fate of the project. The penultimate of these is one that I see all too often on projects and jobs that have the dreaded 'NOW' deadline: For any piece of IT work, the closer the deadline and the higher the priority of the work, the greater the occurrence of system issues and general interruptions. You all know what I mean by this! You either have a project that is closing in on the deadline with lots still to do, or you have just been handed a piece of work that needs to be done 'NOW'. All of a sudden, your computer - which was ru

LHC Eat Your Heart Out

With the LHC called to a halt for a short while, perhaps Brian Cox would like to consider measuring the impact of the collisions going off inside my head? Okay, there is no guarantee of catching sight of any Higgs Bosons but he may get to witness the IT Certainty Principle, the laws of which state that for any piece of IT work, the chance of implementing that work is inversely proportional to the amount of effort involved! I don't know about particle accelerators but I seem to be caught in a project accelerator, with everyone poised to see what kind of big bang I'll be generating ... hmmm, geeky intros are never a good sign!! I guess you could say that things are not going all that great right now. As the above suggests, I've been putting huge effort into projects that have then been canned and very little effort into projects that have actually seen the light of day. Currently, we are having to put a tremendous amount of effort into three major projects that are to

That's Business

When the Directorship position was first offered to me, I had a rough idea of what to expect, which is why I said no. Mostly, I wasn't keen on all the extra work for very little financial increase. However, at a time when I was completely zoned out from being on a high caused by diving in the Red Sea, I finally caved and took the first tentative steps into running a business. Today saw those tentative steps turn into a big stride into the unknown as we found ourselves in the culmination of a redundancy situation and the acceptance by one individual of a Compromise Agreement . With the recent cancellation of a major project and with the customer deciding to go elsewhere for the installation of off-the-shelf software, this means that it is my side of the company that has been hit. The consultation process started on Monday and, before our meeting with the guy this morning, The Boss and I had a little chat about the whole situation. I guess I was feeling uncomfortable but I cou

The Eyes Have It

We've all seen close-up photographs of women's eyes that make you wish you could meet the girl with such a vivid colour, and yet we all know that these photographs have been enhanced to make the eyes stand out and grab your attention. This past week, however, I had the good fortune to meet a girl whose eyes needed no enhancement at all. On Tuesday, I had to head to Richmond for a work meeting with an IT provider who has been working on a project for our customer since January.  Until Monday, I had no involvement and was only vaguely aware of what was going on. Now I was to get into the thick of it in order to try and help rescue the project.  Great. Before heading into the meeting, we were to meet one of our customer's new marketing execs at the local Costa, in order to introduce ourselves and make sure we were all singing the same tune.  As we had never met the girl before, my first thoughts immediately turned to how attractive she might be.   Well, who wouldn't?!

Cheer Up!

Okay, after that last little rant about work, you deserve a little funny by one of my favourite animators to cheer you up again ... especially if you actually made it to the end of the post!!! Enjoy!!

Grump Session

If there is one thing I really wanted to avoid with this blog, its posting about all the crud that happens ... another reason for intermittant posting. Sometimes, however, I just get so worked up that I can barely hold myself back from spraying the post with enough foul language to make even Vinny Jones blush. I shall try though... A couple of posts ago I hinted at some trouble we had been having with a customer, but glossed over it because I had some good news to report. Well, that trouble now seems to be going from bad to worse and everyone at work is reaching the end of their tether. Basically, we were working on a project, hitting all the deadlines, and having to write our own spec and get it approved because no-one else was willing to write it. We had meetings to make sure things were moving in the right direction and we had very frequent releases to test in order for the development to be highly visible. At no point did anyone suggest things were not well. Then on 26 Au

AMPed Up

Blogging is good for you. Fact. Well, good for Bloggers, not necessarily for the readers! If this article in Scientific American is to be believed - and there's no reason it shouldn't - blogging can be quite therapeutic, helping patients recover from surgery, and improving sleep* and memory. I can certainly agree with the memory aspect as it is approaching two weeks since my last post and I attempted to log in with the wrong credentials, something I hadn't had a problem with before. I guess you could argue that blogging is like Regaine for those with rapidly diminishing follicles: you're fine while you use it on a regular basis, but stop for any period and it quickly disappears back to its natural state. Unfortunately, my natural state is dazed and confused ... so, back to the keyboard!! What with work, rehearsals and training, I haven't really had a lot of time to do anything: I haven't even had the opportunity to learn my lines for the play , let alo

Editor's Choice

For at least a week now, I have been intending to write a post about all the crappy goings on but have been having trouble finding the words - not normally a problem, going by the length of some of my posts! However, I shall skip over the specifics of the car insurance people who screwed up my payment and the customer who put not only stuck the knife in but also twisted it for good measure*, and sum it all up with this: Idiots, the lot of 'em!! I would call them muppets but that would be a disservice to Muppets. Whilst I still have to deal with all that crap, I can now do so with a grin - which might make me look a little insane but if it helps, so be it. On Monday, I went to the Castle Combe race circuit with my cousin and took around 166 photos - not the most I've ever taken there, to be honest. Out of that little bundle, there were around half-a-dozen that I felt I could work with, one of which was of the gorgeous Morgan Aero . Unfortunately, the image itself was a lit

Its Puckering Time!

Once again, time has run away with me ... not so much to spend eternity with me as to dump me in the middle of nowhere and run away into the night, laughing like a disturbed seaside attraction . Okay, the disturbed laughter was actually me whilst spending every evening last week watching all twenty-four episodes of Boston Legal, season 3 , so apologies to the neighbours for the late night cackling ... and apologies to any ladies out there that may end up suffering my interpretation of Alan Shore's approach to pulling! Whilst they can all tell me where to disappear to, my colleague in the drama group isn't going to have much of a say as she has to kiss me in the next production. Poor soul. Last week, we were psyching ourselves up for kissing for the first time, both as nervous as the other and both giggling like kids: I even made sure I had a shave on the day and had a packet of mints to hand, just in case. As it turned out, all that prep wasn't required as she had a mi

I See Stars!

I was supposed to be heading out for a run tonight but, as is usual, I was distracted by yet another Smashing Magazine post that had some tutorials I thought I would try out. Being a bit of a sci-fi fan ... and somewhat lacking in artistic talent ... I tend to marvel at some of the artwork that people create and wonder at how they did it. I know that there are numerous tutorials tucked away in every corner of the net and I have tried them before, but never with much success. However, yesterday's post filled with 50 Photoshop Tutorials for Sky and Space Effects , got me thinking I should have another crack at it, so I thought I would try out the second one down, the Space and Planet Tutorial . So, how did it turn out? Well, this was the target image... Image from Free Photoshop Downloads ...and this was my attempt... Hmmm, a tad over-zealous with the lighting and Clark Kent colours!

Tongue in Cheek

In the last series of Doctor Who , the biggest question of the series was: why is Billie Piper talking like that? Well, after this week, I think I might have a clue At some point over the weekend, I succeeded in biting one side of my tongue, right at the back.  I'm not sure what kind of oral gymnastics I was performing to achieve this but I suspect it was when I was doing my usual trick of bolting food down my gullet - unfortunately for all of us, nothing more interesting than that! The result of this meaty encounter has left me talking in much the same way as Billie as I try not to clamp my gnashers on my half-swollen tongue ... only with a deeper voice, of course. As if to add insult to injury, my body has taken this little incident as a cue to start producing excessive amounts of saliva, so not only am I speaking like a failed ventriloquist but I am also on the verge of dribbling over people like our little Alien friend here... Image from

Unnatural Talent

I have never deemed myself a particularly scary person but it seems that I have an unnatural talent for unintentionally frightening people. I say unintentionally because if I make the effort to scare someone, it doesn't work - they seem to be more aware of me if I sneak up on them than if I just casually walk up to them and start talking. A case in point is Helen, a young* lady I used to work with who had an equally unnatural talent for making me pass wind when she thumped me: consider it a defence mechanism!! If ever I tried to sneak up on her it seemed that whatever radar was installed in her head made her turn around: you could almost see the moment the 'ping' went off. If I just wandered in and sat on her desk to wait for her to finish what she was doing, there would be no 'ping' moment, so seeing me filling up the space behind her would result in a series of expletives and reactions that would invariably result in a thump. My Mum is the same ... barring t

Tech Genius

Reading Foshie's blog today, I thought I would go and check out this airship jobbie - something I wouldn't mind trying out for myself ... credit card allowing. At least, I would have gone to check it out if the tech numpties had been on the ball: So, any guesses as to what message I should have got?? I'm guessing the naming of this server is not a coincidence considering Eris is the Greek Goddess of strife and discord!

Pulled by the Fuzz

Ever since I passed my driving test last Millenium*, I have always made sure that I have carried my license around with me in case I get pulled over. For the first twelve years, my license remained in pristine condition as it hibernated in my cash box for eleven-and-a-half of those years! Then, back in 2000, I bought my first car - which I am still driving today - and my license found a new home in my back pocket, where it was subjected to all kinds of abuse from being sat on to enduring the heat generated by a little salsa dancing. People always said to me that I need not carry it around as it was unlikely I would get pulled over. Being the kind of nervous person I am, that didn't stop me worrying about it. Fast forward to last Thursday and it finally happened. I had been allowed out of rehearsals a little earlier, so headed to my mate's to play PS3 for a bit as I have still to get one of my own. As is normal with gaming, things went on a little longer than expected so

Running Ettiquette

My training for the Great North Run seems to have gone totally to pot. I had started to work towards training on a Monday and a Wednesday night, but with the return to the drama group last week, Monday is now blown out of the water. I can hear your shouts now: Run to drama! Well, Monday, I did exactly that ... and I won't be doing it again! All decked out with shorts, sports vest, iPod gear and a change of clothes in my rucksack - complete with mandatory flannel and can of deodourant - I set off for rehearsals. Before I had even left the flat, I knew it was a bad idea, but I was adamant that I had to catch up with the running, so forged ahead. Boy was it a hard run: if you look at my graph for the day it looks like a seismograph output for a small earth tremor. Not that I moved the earth that night. If I had, the reaction would most likely have been, "Is that it?". I'm putting it down to running a lot earlier than I would normally so, mentally, I had not rea

Strange World

Is it me and my sense of normality that is wrong, or is the world around us getting stranger by the day?? A couple of months ago, when I was travelling with my cousin oop North for the Advanced Open Water dive training, we spotted something that took us somewhat by surprise. Stuck to the back of a passing motorcycle was what looked like two tupperware boxes glued together ... with a small dog inside. Seriously. I'm not sure how fresh the guy was expecting to keep his little pooch... Since that day, I have started to see more and more weird pooch pampering, from little rich girls carrying their Pomeranians in their handbags to cats on leads to things even more surreal ... ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Pet Stroller: Image from One question: WHY?! Please, People, be sensible!!! Your dog has legs for a reason: if it didn't, it wouldn't be a dog, it would be a Tribble !!! If Tring is any measure of odd trends, then you could start seeing

Strange Attraction

Just over one week ago, the Centralian Players had auditions for their October play, a celebratory production for one of its members who has been with the group an amazing 50 years! Personally, I can't see myself staying that long at anything as my interest in any activity waxes and wanes more frequently than any lunar cycle.  Not that I'm fickle, I just get bored easily and if the past few years are anything to go by, I will be leaving and rejoining the group so often that I would have to be around for another 70 years before I ever actually achieve 50 years with the group. To be honest, if I am around for another 70 years, I am more likely to be getting a telegram from Royalty than treading the boards with anything more than the Old Man Slipper-Shuffle. But I digress, as usual... With only around 25 people in the group and two thirds of those willing to be on stage, it was pretty much inevitable that those who wanted a part in the next production would get one: and yes,

It's Clobberin' Time

I think that, perhaps, I am starting to settle a little into my new role: today I had to 'have words' with one of the little fledglings. By 'have words', I am in no way referring to the police's interpretation of the phrase (according to my contact in the Met), as that kind of behaviour would result in them 'having words' with me and would put a real dampener on the blogging. No, this was more the bringing into line an individual who has been taking advantage of the relaxed atmosphere here. Whilst we do not operate flexi-time per se, if someone is a little late one day then as long as they make up the time, no problem. I'm as guilty as the next guy for being a few minutes late in, but at least I regularly stay into the evening hours: if anything, the company owes me hours, not vice versa! Although this chap is consistently late by anything up to thirty minutes, he has actually started to make up the time recently, possibly because he is now on some

Mr Calm

Ooookay, last post was a bit emotive - apologies for that! Hearing about the use of my card by a fraudster was another belly punch to add to the collection I've been having lately (mostly with work) and, unfortunately, I had to rant. Actually, its all good motivation to go for a run to try and burn some of it off, hence the calmness now. Perhaps next time I should consider running before I write a post!

Mr Livid

Here I was, all ready to tell you about the shenanigans over the past few days and suddenly it all pales into insignificance. My Dad stalked by a deer? Pah! My new dive computer and diving for the first time with my own kit? Who cares?! Finally finding out about the payrise to go with the job? Whatever! No, what has really got my blood boiling is receiving a call today from my credit card company and discovering that some thieving little bastard has attempted to use my card, this very morning, to book a £1,146 holiday through Expedia. Not only that, but the little sh*thead has, over the past couple of days, used it to pay for travel around London. The thieving little f*cker. I swear if I ever catch up with him, I'll kneecap the bastard! Over the past two weeks, I have only used my card twice: once for my car's tax disc and once for the quarry where Pygmie and I go diving. Whilst I have used the card to do both of these before, this is the first time I have left my

Worst Trilogy Ever

Ever since a wee young bairn, I have enjoyed writing. My sis and I would regularly write out stories on A4 paper, stapling them together to make books, then re-write them to make them more interesting. Unsurprisingly, nobody ever wanted to read them. Geez, that was a while ago! As I got older, I found myself drifting toward horror novels and sci-fi TV* and spent more time day-dreaming than writing, so my head filled up with ideas that became mostly forgotten: though I do still have one novel and one mini TV series that have been banging around at the back of my head since college days, back in ... um ... oh ... 1989. *cough* Actually, this is where blogging comes in. I may not actually write about much that is particularly interesting, but it is still writing ... and it seems I have inadvertantly written a trilogy. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... Dive Stores ... (bear with me, I'm tired and delirious!) As is want with these things, we started at Episode IV - A New Hob

Lotus 'Eagle' Rumour

So, this is rumoured to be the new Lotus, codenamed Eagle. Image from *sigh* Chances of me ever owning one are nil, but we can but dream... Of course, when looking for info on new cars, you're bound to come across various other rumours and concepts: also appearing on Paul's site is this model of the Proton PM5. Image from Does anyone else think this car is aimed purely at women? Why else would they pick a model number that looks like PMS?? Definitely one car you'll be eager to get out of the way of!!

Tech Support

Spot on!

Curiouser and Curiouser

I have to confess that blogging has become rather difficult of late, mostly because work has been taking up pretty much all my time. Unfortunately, this means the only thing to write about - other than my rampant spending habits last weekend - is the currently frustrating world of work. Boooooring! So, last night, I sat down to write something, even if it was only about the impulse purchase of the rather good Spiderwick Chronicles . Nada. I just wasn't in the mood. Then I heard the sirens. Living so close to the local fire station it is inevitable that you will hear sirens at some point and on quite a regular basis, but they rarely come down my road. When the sirens stop at the end of the road, you can be pretty sure they are turning in, which has me leaping to the window like a cat at a goldfish bowl. The last time they headed into the car park for the flats was to put out a car that had been dumped by joyriders and set alight, so my first thought was that the same had ha

Thing for Water

The past three days I can be pretty sure that I have emotionally flipped from one extreme to the other ... and as far as Friday is concerned, flipped is the right word. I am generally an easy guy to get on with: especially if you don't rely on me to keep the conversation going as I have more of a gift-of-the-vacant than a gift-of-the-gab. Basically, if someone is friendly with me, then I'm friendly in return; which goes some way to explaining why I spent 1.5 hours nodding at Tring Betty whilst she gave me her life history. Some people, on the other hand, push that friendliness to a point where even courtesy becomes very hard work. One of our customer's staff members is just such a person, a bully who throws her weight around, swears profusely in front of staff, suppliers and management, and who has a hissy-fit when she doesn't get her own way. She also has far too strong a handshake for a lady. We don't like her. Unfortunately for me, I am right in the centr

When can I do the real work??

I'm not sure if it is supposed to work this way or not, but since I became a director (in the loosest possible sense of the word) it feels like I am in one incredibly long, never-ending meeting ... and I still have the developer work to do, too! Monday saw me having an incredibly early start in order to meet my boss at Kings Cross at seven in the morning, which meant getting up before five and leaving my place before six.  I'll let those of you that know me get up off the floor before I continue...* We were to travel together to Darlington for a meeting at one of our customer's regional offices.  First class, no less ... which basically means as much tea or coffee as you like, but if you want anything else then you have to pay extra for it; a bit tight considering how much the tickets cost. The meeting was useful but as is usual, raised more questions that needed answering, some of which were answered in a follow-up meeting that I was asked to attend this afternoon, this

F for Effort

If I were still at school and blogging was part of the coursework*, then my efforts so far at writing posts have been somewhat abysmal. However, m'lud, in my defense, I haven't been able to park my derriere on a seat to hammer out any ramblings for a fair few days now ... and when I did get the opportunity, I fell asleep! Somehow, I managed to book a couple of days off work at the end of last week by telling my boss that I was helping Pygmie and Shagwell to move halfway across the country. Which was the truth. Partly. The little nugget of information I neglected to pass on was that I was to spend Thursday diving with Pygmie at Vobster Quay where we undertook our EFR training a couple of weeks ago (another little nugget I haven't passed on). Oddly, for me, I didn't feel guilty about it either. As my kit wasn't going to arrive in time, I opted to hire the kit at the quarry which, for an all-in fifty quid, proved to be something of a bargain. I could have tak

You searched for what???

Its been a couple of months since I went through the search keywords that were somehow leading people to this little corner of the web, so I thought I would take a peek to see if anything more of bafflement had been used since April's "white fuzz on my oscar"*. Well, it seems that Gimli is still topping the charts through May and June.  Interest in the diminunitive one does appear to be waning a little, though with searches like "gimli !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" its easy to think short, hairy men are in high demand! To be honest, with the lack of posts I have been making recently, the number of people popping in for a brief spell has dropped quite dramatically, so the weirdness factor of the searches is disappearing with it. However, these are the best of the bunch from the past two months: "police sex toys" backgrounds of bellybuttons bellybutton fluf

Amazing Talent!

And now for someone who, at the age of 2, has more talent than my little finger!!!


As of Sunday, I can now say that I am a bona fide Emergency Responder ... I have a card and everything! So now, if there is someone who needs help, I can respond by energetically throwing my arms in the air and screaming, "Oh my god, they're going to die!", whilst whipping out my little blue gloves and face mask. Basically, in support of the diving and some of our future planned specialisations, Pygmie and I went on an Emergency First Response course at Vobster Quay * so that we could at least provide some basic first aid and CPR if things went wrong for one of us. As the course meets HSE requirements, it also means that we can provide emergency assistance in everyday life, too ... something Pygmie thought he might have to do yesterday as he witnessed a near miss between two motorcyclists. Nothing like keeping the skills fresh!!! The course was taken by the energetic and bubbly freediver, Emma Farrell , and it wasn't until afterwards that I realised exactly wh

Where to go diving...

To date, diving in the Red Sea with Emperor Divers has been by far the best diving experience I have had yet. Okay, I only have ten dives under my weight belt, three of which were UK-based adventure dives in order to get the Advanced Open Water certification, so my breadth of experience isn't exactly vast.  However, that doesn't stop me from yearning for far-flung places with good weather and clear waters ... the Maldives would be an excellent place to do a little underwater photography! Then there is the place that, in my previous employment, one of my colleagues used to joke about opening a diving shop.  A little place in Northern Ireland near my mate's home town.  A place that probably grew tired of the same old joke over a decade ago! That place, is Muff . I kid ye not, there really is a place called Muff, which opens up a whole ream of other possible jokes ... I'll leave you to explore Urban Dictionary for yourself as some of the phrases are rather on the cru