Mar 23

Reading

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

Stereotyping

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.

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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…

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Mar 18

Budget

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

Heists

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.

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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.

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Mar 05

Winter Colds

I feel miserable today. I started a cold on Wednesday and it’s following it’s usual path, just slightly worse than normal. The first day i get a runny nose and a cotton wool head. It then progresses to blocked sinuses and a cough. But today, i’ve got a sore throat, glands swollen so I can’t move my head without pain, headache and chills. Nothing to do except keep warm, drink fluids, keep taking the pills and suffer.

But it is the first cold I’ve had this season, so not too bad.

Mar 05

Ice and Snow

As noted below, the snow melted quickly and I did not have to watch it go grey and slushy. By the time I got out of the office it had all gone. as the sun had been shining most of the day. The clouds had gathered, slightly warming the place, but by the time I was going home tonight, the skies were clear and everything was frozen.

Tonight was a late night, a girly night with friends from work. A wonderful Tapas bar just off Leicester Square (Salvador and Amanda’s) at which we had good food and even better wine. I’d been there the week before as part of a geek dinner (for which I still owe a write up for Lee) and it was even better on a Friday night – a fun place for gossip and dancing.

I must have got the last tube home. As I came out of the station, there must of been nearly 30 workman, ganging together in groups of 3-5, bright yellow jackets, waiting for the passengers to get off the trains and for them to start work.

As they start work, I get home to start a weekend of not being at work – which mainly means sleep. And I got sort of lucky this weekend – it’s my Dad’s birthday tomorrow and Sunday is Mother’s day…but the parents have gone on holiday to Cuba so I do not have to visit – instead they are comeing to see me in 2 weeks time

Mar 02

BBC

Onthe news it’s saying the BBC license system looks like it will be extended for a further 10 years. Count me as someone who is perfectly happy paying this fee to allow me to get advertising free viewing. Saves me keep hitting the fast forward button to skip the ads on any commercial channel I watch.

Feb 27

Shoplifting

Went up to the High Street yesterday and went to get some food in M&S. As I was trying to get some veg, I was blocked my a couple who were also grabbling something fromthe shelf.. they then turned away and hiding behine a column, shovelled all the stuff from the basket into the guys bag. The woman then walked the opposite direction, the man left out the front door, then the woman followed. This was all done so very quickly that it was only as I the woman left that I realised what was I happening – I was still trying to choose tomatoes!

So I went to inform the staff, and got a reaction of..so, they’ve left we cannot do anything…and they went back to what ever they were doing. So that’s why you pay a premium, they don’t care about shoplifters. But, funnily, I do.

Feb 20

Wireless?

I finally got round to plugging in the new modem/wireless connection. Previously, the USB modem I had would not work with the work PC, so I was restricted to dial-up only for this; in addition it’s set me up to network the TiVO (when I get the right parts for that). So a wireless network..doesn’t that mean less wires? Not really – it’s only allowed me to remove 1 cable, whilst adding 3. The biggest number are power cables – there’s the printer, speakers, 2 PCS, monitor, router and modem. Then I throw in charges for phone, camera and media player – I’ve run out of plugs and have to get yet another externsion cable. I need wireless electricity!

Meanwhile, I’ll continue packing…off to Connecticut for a few days for meetings

Jan 31

24

Last night caught the first 2 episodes of 24 Day 4 (or should I say Tivo’s them and caught up today). As a special ‘treat’ they were shown on Sky Travel, which is available on Freeview. So to continue watching I need to get Sky 1, which is difficult as none of the major cable companies supply here yet and I can’t put up a dish in the place I’m in (at least without some trouble). Or I can wait til the DVD comes out, most likely in August, or look elsewhere. As one of the prgrammes that I enjoy most, not sure wht I will do 😉

At least we’ve got rid of the addiction storyline!