Apr 02

Friday Night Project

I was on TV last night, or at least the back of my head was. A few weeks ago, my friend Carmel had some tickets to go and see the filming of the Friday Night Project, staring Jimmy Carr at the LWT studios on the South Bank. I’d never been to a TV studio before, nor seen filming done beyond an episode of It’s a Knockout, a birthday treat a long time ago! It was slightly weird in that the programme was being filmed 3 weeks early, so there were topical jokes about weddings and races that took a while to get into. Sadie Frost was the guest and she did a good job and she did a good job of avoiding wife-swapping questions – and was not phased when there were a couple in the audience who had been to such parties 😉

A fun night – we’re now waiting for Top Gear tickets to come through…

Mar 30

Childhood remembered…

…well, sort of. Glitter and Twang has posted a list of covers from The Sound of Music, all done in a very modern way. It’s like Coverville – but in a weird Twilight world.

The saddest thing – the Jesuit saying about ‘give me a child until they’re 7 and they’ll be mine’ is correct. Repeated exposure to the film on TV every Christmas combined with grandparents who had the album with the lyrics meant I knew every word.

Mar 26

The Application of CSS

Just got my hair cut, so it’s back being tidy. Got the usual shock when it came to pay – £50 (although that’s far cheaper than some i’ve had). For about 15 minutes of attention. £200/hour. I’m in the wrong job. The whole experience did involve 5 people though. One to take may name a the desk and collect my money at the end; another to take my bags and coat and get me a cup of tea. One to wash my hair and set me up with towels/apron etc. One of give me a hand massage (Ok, this is not the normal treatment at a hairdresser, but obviously Shiatsu scalp massage is now old hat) and one more to actually cut my hair. Lots of people, lots of money. Men’s haircuts are generally cheaper, but this this salon still charged £40 for them. So what do they get different? Definitely discrimination to me!

Between the washing and the cutting, I got handed a cup of tea and some magazines. Never worked out why there is an assumption that going to a hairdresser means you only like one type of magazine – the women’s glossies and gossips. I did get a choice – but it was between Hello and Eve.

Found one good article in Eve that did stike a chord with me – a description of CSS. In the context of women’s magazine’s, however it means something completely different – Competitive Stress Syndrome. Googling this leads to lots of pages about overtraining in athletes and work related stress in men, but that’s not the story here.

So what does it mean? You’re sitting in the bar, or coffee shop, or anywhere and start talking about how your life is going and how hard it is and how bad you feel, and you colleague/friend/relative interrupts with their moans, about how hard their life is, how hard they are have to work. Then the third woman jumps in. Everyone trying to share the fact they are really stressed with their life – btw…the winner will always be the one with children!

The article went on to say that to really get the most of such a session, you have to treat it like a game of tennis – take it in turns. Share and then stay quiet for the next person. Let it all come out. Really it’s a bonding session; the point not to offer improvement suggestions or provide solutions, but to have a bonding moment, mutually agreeing about how hard life is today. And you leave the session understanding that of course you have highest stress levels – but you’re not alone :-). CSS – the new topic of conversation.

Mar 26

Large orders

Captured this image in the bar at work the other day; the staff there must love it when large orders are all the same, instead of doing 11 individual cocktails.


Mar 25

Stating the Obvious

Quote for the day: “the bible is essentially a book of writing” from a bishop on Breakfast TV (should have got his name but I was half asleep). I really must write and thank him for that revelation..I’d never quite realised it!

Mar 23


I’ve finished the first book on my list (The Art of Intrusion). Some interesting stories, and I can relate to what happens (or not) at work. The next one is A Devil’s Chaplain, evolutionary essays by Richard Dawkins.

And here’s this quote, in an essay about the general evolutionary process:

” Stand tall, Bipedal Ape. The shark may outswim you, the cheetah outrun you, the swift outfly tou, the capuchin outclimb you, the elephant outpower you, the redwood outlast you. But you have the biggest gifts of all: the gift of understanding the ruthlessly cruel process that gave us all existence; the gift of revulsion agaisnt its implications; the gift of foresight – something utterly foreign to the blundering short-term ways of natural selection – and the gift of internaliszing the very cosmos.”

And what do we do with this gift of ours? For many people, use it to drive the very process of selection. Look at the internet, rife with money-making spam and pornography. Power, sex; all drivers to spreading the genes to the next generation – although the spread on the internet could backfire as the users of such info could spend too much time actually internalising the process instead of getting out there and putting it into practice 😉

And to experience revulsion against the implications? That can lead to things like this story in the New York Times (you need to register). It relates how a number of IMAX theatres in the US (mainly the South) are refusing to play films/documentaries that mention evolution for fears it will lead to protests or charges of blasphemy. The wonders of a brain and mind that can take a look at itself.

Mar 22

Weddings and Websites

I think I may have given myself some work. For some reason, weddings seem to be on the cards with the team at work.

One of the team is emigrating to the US and getting married later in the year. He’d pulled together a website to let the disparate family members know what is happening. Two of the girls are also getting married in a few months – so they wanted their own sites, as long as they were better and prettier than the first one! For some reason I volunteered to develop and host (consider it a wedding present!). So two sites to keep up to date with the changing wedding plans

Mar 22


Waiting for the train home at Waterloo today, I wandered into WHSmith. On the one side of the store were all the ‘female’ interest magazines, with the glossies, the home decorating, pets and the hobbies section. On the other side – male magazines, music, PCs, sports and gadgets.

But they got one thing wrong – the chocolate was on the supposed male side. They’ve still got a lot to learn!

Mar 20

Photo trips

My parents and one of my sisters visited yesterday and we went into Richmond for lunch. A bit of food, a bit of shopping and a walk around on a wonderul warm spring day. We could not walk far as Jayne has jsut had an operation on her knee, but it was nice on the Green, with lots of people taking time out ot play and just lie in the sun.


I took a lot of photos yesterday and then today I decided to take the tube and go into town for a walk. Starting off from Embankemnt, went across Hungerford Bridge, back across Westminster Bridge then down Birdcage Walk and through St James’ Park to Buckingham Palace before catching the tube back. I took a lot of photos and they are all on Flickr; pity the day was not as good as yesterday – grey skies are not as good as blue…


Mar 18


Hey, it looks like I’m going to be around £13 a month better off under the budget, according to this handy calculator. Now, what can I do with that? It’ll pay for a new album with a bit of change, a bottle of wine (or 2, or 3…) or a takeaway. Choices, choices!

Mar 18


I agree with the Londonist about the boring reality behind the BBC headlines yesterday for the prevention of a multimillion pound bank robbery. I was imagining prevention being closer to the police’s actions around the Millenium Dome diamond robbery, with them lying in wait to pounce, but no, this was cybercrime – behind the scenes.

But I’m glad (!) to see the idea of a grand plan is not being lost, with a gang in Scotland driving around and taking out 6 cash machines in one night

Mar 17

St Patrick’s Day

It’s St Patrick’s Day; to celebrate, we get free Guinness and pretend racing in the bar. The pretend racing is the on video – one of thoese event companies that allow you to bet pretend money on videoed horse racing (not quite Cheltenham). Our team proved quite good at picking the winners and ending up as one of the top money making teams. Our prize – Guinness merchandise, including this hat.


Mar 14

New Books

I bought some books today…looking at them now they appear to be a rather mixed bag.

  • The Earth by Richard Fortey – a geological history
  • The Middle Mind by Curtis White – a examination of popular culture
  • The Art of Intrusion by Kevin Mitnick – hacking stories
  • A Devil’s Chaplain by Richard Dawkins – evolutionary tales
  • Redcoat by Richard Holmes – history of the British soldier
  • The Road to Reality by Roger Penrose – an account of the physical universe

That should keep me busy for a while!

Mar 08

in house entertainment

My neighbour upstairs plays in a band and practices a lot from home. Most of the time this does not bother me – I’m not here that much, butover the last few days I have noticed. The music he plays is not too bad, sounds like original rock stuff. However, practice seems to involves playing the same line again, and again, and again. Not quite sure what level of perfection they are after, as it all sounds the same to me…at least the song does vary everyday

Mar 08

slowly going insane

I’ve spent the last 4 days in the house with this cold….although I’ve spent the last 2 days sort of working, or at least attending telecalls with a croaky voice. There’s definitely only so much I can spend here..time to go back to work 🙁

One thing I have been doing is looking at holidays…definitely thinking about Thailand for some diving

Mar 06

Second Geek Dinner

Went along to the second Geek Dinner, organsied by Lee Wilkins, in London last week and had a great evening. The venue this time was a lot more casual, the Tapas bar Salvador and Amanda’s, near Leicester Square.

There were fewer this time, with 8 people, some new ones and some returnees. But that meant there was far more possibility of actually talking to everyone there, especially with a little shuffling around. Talk as usual covered a wide range of topics, from wireless connections, through community involvement to superstring throery. The latter was the subject of an indepth conveersation between David (the star guest from Microsift) and Andrew, whose phone is loaded with pictures of the universe. As an astrophysisist, Andrew has been asked the same questions at both dinners to date – next time we need an animated slide show I think! One other thing that was mentioned was a BloggerCon…we got as far as proposing a venue (Imperial College), so maybe that can be a topic for the next one.

The food was good, typical Tapas fare, with plenty of sangria available. It was a lot lower cost (10-15) so a lot less hassle with counting up the contributions. I enjoyed the place so much, I went back last week with friends from work. And I see the next dinner is also going to be there.

Mar 06

it is spring really..

Despite the snow and cold weather in the last week, my one gardening effort (a window box) has decided it is spring. Bright yellow daffodils to cheer me up.