Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Worst. Idea. Evar.

Over on Aint-it-Cool-News they've posted an article about a possible new Star Trek film, set in the mirror universe, and featuring Kirk, Picard and Archer, the three TV captains of the Enterprise (Well, if you exclude the guy from "The Cage", and the guy from "Yesterday's Enterprise", obviously). One of the reasons for doing this is that in the mirror universe there is no continuity, and no rules about what can and can't be done.

Apparently, this gives them free reign to produce a film with a worse premise than "Kirk fights God". If made, this film might well make Nemesis look good!

The thing is, Star Trek remains huge. It could very easily be revived, and done extremely well, but it can only be revived if it is done extremely carefully.

Here's how I think it should be done: Firstly, throw out any idea that features a prequel, or anything before the end of Nemesis, or anything gimmiky, like doing Starfleet Academy, the return of Kirk, or the Mirror Universe. Secondly, recognise that continuity is a Good Thing. It is one of the things that makes the Star Trek universe so vibrant, and to ignore it is to lose a lot of what makes Trek Trek.

Thirdly, hire the absolute best director and scriptwriters you can. Lock them in a room for a year, with carte blanche to do whatever it takes to make the best damn Star Trek story they possibly can. I have some ideas on this, but I'll comment on those later. I think my ideas are valid, but I don't think they are the only valid approach.

There is a question about whether to use the Next Generation crew, or any members of the DS9 or Voyager crews, or whether to have an all-new crew. I think using the Next Gen crew is valid, but I would be sorely tempted to have an all-new crew, perhaps given their marching orders by "Admiral Picard", if Patrick Stewart is up for a cameo.

Dial down the jokey elements. Don't throw in gimmicks. Make the best damn film you can. Anything else will destroy Trek, probably forever. If you can't make a film that kicks serious ass, don't make a film.

Now, what would I do?

I would probably create a 3-hour epic Star Trek story, featuring some new menace, or plague, or something striking the Federation. Alliances between the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians and others should be shown to shift and change, and the whole thing should be extremely tense, although with a strong action element. I would use an all-new crew, and not be hesitant in killing them off. That's the beauty of the new crew - you won't get death threats for killing Spock!

At the end of the film, the universe should be changed in some measured way. Perhaps the Cardassians join the Federation. Perhaps the Klingons are finally wiped out (fully and permanently). But the ending should be powerful, sad and yet hopeful. And you end with the commissioning of a new Enterprise, with a new (unseen) crew. Have the new captain read the "Space, the Final Frontier..." monologue, and fade to black.

And start the new series there. But, again, only do it if you can make it great. Take your time, apply whatever resources are needed, and make sure it kicks ass. If you make it, they will watch. If you make it suck, they will stop watching.

Or, give the think to Bryan Singer, and see what he comes up with.

Not posted for a while

I thought things would calm down after November, once the project had made its delivery, I'd recovered from the mystery illness, and the dust had settled on the ill-fated near romance I had.

I was wrong. December has been hectic, and I'm more tired now than I thought possible. Hence my not having posted for a while.

A Normal Christmas

In 2002, Cadence required that I be available on-call over Christmas. In truth, I didn't mind this - I got paid £100 per day extra for doing no actual work. After Christmas was done, I found myself without a job.

In 2003, I was still out of work, and very worried that I might be out of work for a long time to come.

In 2004, Honeywell asked if I could work over Christmas (not the day itself, but all the ones around it). I did so, because I had a big holiday coming up at the end of January, and the money offered was really good.

This will be the first normal Christmas I've had for 4 years. Yes, I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh my, I had forgotten...

Clone Wars volume 2 is sooo good. Worryingly, the series is actually better than almost all of the prequel trilogy.

Shaak Ti is the best Jedi evar!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

So, there's this girl...

On Sunday the 18th of September, the sun came out. I met an amazing girl - smart, funny, cute - the kind of girl you only meet a couple of times in your lifetime. And, even more amazingly, I was actually able to talk to her, and she seemed to like me.

We danced around each other for a couple of weeks, and I found myself falling for her, harder and faster than I've ever fallen for anyone in the past. I determined that I would have to find a way to ask her out. This is a cue for me to get all tongue-tied and awkward around girls I like (If I ever write my autobiography, I'll title each chapter with the name of the girl I couldn't find the courage to ask out).

But, she asked me out first!

I was stunned and amazed. There then followed three weeks of absolute bliss. I was so happy I walked around in a cloud. Things were (and are) tough at work, but I didn't care. Life was so good.

The date went amazingly well, that being part of the three weeks. The next few days were good...

and then I got the "it's not you, it's me" speech.

I didn't take it at all well. Firstly, I said we could be friends. That's what you're supposed to say, isn't it? Unfortunately, like a child picking at a scab, I then said something foolish and offensive to her. But that was just about survivable.

We're both involved quite heavily in role-playing games, and therefore I saw her on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. I found both occasions very difficult, almost intolerable. (In fact, on Sunday night I staggered home and literally threw up. Fortunately, it turns out I've caught a nasty chill, and am not at all well. So, I'm not a total obsessive loser :-))

There are a great many reasons why I find this situation so hard:

Firstly, in a situation like this, I would seek out one of a short list of people to commiserate with me. Sadly, Richard knows nothing of the situation, and anyway is in Scotland. Martin is on the other side of the world. The only person down here that I'm actually close enough to talk to about something like this is... her.

When past romances have gone bad, I've been able to point to a cause. Either we've just run our course, or one of us has made an irredeemable mistake (usually me). It hurts, but it's understandable. But here, there's no obvious reason I can see. I don't think I did anything drastically wrong. I really like her, and I know she likes me, and the chemistry was actually right for a change.

(Her LiveJournal was rather instructive on this point, although also very confusing. It seems she was concerned that she didn't want to be thought of as anyone's conquest. That's a fair concern, but not really applicable. Anyone who knows me would probably have a fairly good laugh about that. She also seems to have concluded that it was all too easy, and that that was a problem. I really don't understand that, but never mind.)

But the real bastard, the thing that kills me, is that I have to be right about every damn little thing. This is something that is true of all the males in my family, but with me it seems it's literally true. What am I talking about?

Many years ago, I concluded that I was going to end up alone. I resigned myself to this, and although I wasn't happy with it, I could deal. Stupidly, I allowed myself to hope that I might be wrong. I thought perhaps a decade of prayer was being answered. And now, in the back of my head there's a little voice reminding me that it told me so.

The smart thing to do at this stage would be for me to get over it, and go out with someone else. Personally, I think I'll just get over it. Really, who needs hope anyway?

Switching off comments...

For a while, the only comments I've been receiving have been spam advertising various other blogs and sites. I have therefore switched off comments on future posts. If you want to comment, feel free to email me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The No-stress Christmas

Normally, I refuse to give Christmas any thought before the start of December, on principle. However, my pipe band are playing on both of the first two Saturdays in December this year, and I'm very sure I won't be able to get absolutely everything on-line, which will necessitate at least one trip to a bigger town than Yeovil to shop. All of which means I'm having to consider Christmas early this year.

As this is also my first Christmas away from the family home, I'm also having to consider just what sort of Christmas I'm going to have.

Bluntly, I think the madness that has afflicted society regarding Christmas in recent years is a terrible thing, and something I'm not going to indulge in. I refuse to spend hours decorating the flat, only to not have anyone around to see my efforts. I refuse to spend hours meticulously building a list of people to send cards to, to make sure I don't offend anyone. And I won't be spending thousands of pounds that I don't have buying presents that will be opened, and then forgotten. Oh, and I won't insist on getting really drunk at the office party, with a view to doing something that will embarrass me the next day.

In short, I'm doing a no-stress Christmas. I'll put up precisely two decorations: one in the flat and one at work. I'll buy a bunch of presents for a select few people. And then I'll not worry about another thing.

Note that this isn't a case of me saying "Humbug" to the notion of Christmas. As a Christian, I do consider the birth of Jesus as rather important (oh, and let's not have the "it's really a Pagan holiday" argument - it might have been once, but it's been Christian as long as you've been alive). However, I rather suspect that Jesus wouldn't recognise too many of the trappings that we've put around this festival.

The Festive Ninja

Right, we have a guy whom no-one ever sees, but who has supernatural powers of infiltration and travel. This can clearly lead to only one conclusion: Santa Claus is a Festive Ninja!

Reading Comprehension

I've learned a couple of grand secrets since Friday:

When the cooking instructions say "allow 100g per person", this generally indicates that you should put more spahgetti in the pot when there is more than one person present. This is especially important when you comment to the other person that you'll actually weigh out the spahgetti before cooking. (In a related note, it is considered preferable to have more chairs than people, rather than the other way around. *)

When the packaging on the mince says "Buy 2 for £3", this is generally a good indication to the nature of the special offer.

In the larger scheme of things, I have found that there are all manner of secret clues hidden around in places you wouldn't think to look. Like on the front of things. But they're written in some obscure and secret code, using strange symbols called letters. Bizarre.

* Who did I have round to eat, you might ask. I'm going to be frustratingly quaint by not answering. However, I will point out that in the course of the evening we proceeded to watch "The Gamers", "Team America: World Police", "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie" and "True Romance" ('cos it was on TV when the others finished). This should both give a very clear picture as to the nature of my companion, while at the same time leaving you mystified about my DVD collection. Which is nice.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Goodbye, Star Wars

The Revenge of the Sith DVD came out this week. This is the last of the Star Wars films, and completes that part of the saga. This year has also seen the end of the excellent Clone Wars cartoon, and the cancellation of the Star Wars RPG. Finally, last year saw the end of the New Jedi Order series.

It seems Star Wars is now over.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Star Wars was so important to me for so long, that it is a shame to think of it as ended. On the other hand, maybe it's time for new legends to rise up to take it's place.

On the third hand, maybe I should just shut up and watch the DVDs. Yes, I think I'll do that.

Catching up on my correspondence

I think someone must be stalking me, and stealing all my time. 'Cos there never seems to be enough.

I've spent the evening catching up on all the nasty little tasks I've been putting off. I've done many of them, but not all. One of the more pleasant of those tasks was catching up with the emails that I've been telling myself for some time that I need to send. If you think you should have received an email from me recently, but haven't, please accept my apologies.

Why has life been so busy? Well, there are reasons, but the underlying cause is that everything has started to move forward all at once, and each thing is pushing all the others about. I should have it all sorted for some time next life.

On the plus side, my flu is now gone. I didn't die of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I like pressure. If I'm not really really busy, I get bored, and when I get bored I get depressed. No, I much prefer to be run off my feet, always on the move from one thing to the next.

The downside of this is that you can never stop for a moment. If you're busy keeping six plates spinning, you always have to be moving from one to the next. If you want to add something new, of do something unexpected, chances are you can't.

Another problem is that the only way to maintain that level of business is to use a tight schedule. Things have to run to time, and time has to be allocated in regular blocks. You can block out every Monday of the year easily enough; you can't randomly pick six Mondays during the year, at least not if you want to do other things with the other 46 Mondays.

At Cadence, I was asked on more than one occasion whether I was single. The answer was always yes. When asked why, the answer was always that I didn't have the time. No-one ever believed that. But, sadly, it was absolutely true.

I Feel Terrible

I have the flu. This is not fun.

Especially since magnetic fields seem to make it worse, and computer monitors produce big magnetic fields. I think perhaps I'm not in the ideal line of work at the moment.

Sorry I've Been Away

It's been a while since I last posted. It turns out that once you realise I can't talk about work, and won't talk about RPGs (since I have another blog for that topic), my life really isn't that interesting.

Shopping and Consumerism

Since my post of two weeks ago, hundreds of people have asked me whether or not you get extra points for parking closer to the entrance of the store. (Okay, that's a lie. No-one has asked. But, if someone were to ask, I expect that is what they would ask.)

Anyway, the answer is no, you do not get extra points for parking close to the store, at least in the British version of Shopping. However, it is worth noting that there is a similar but distinct game wherein one does gain extra points for just this trick. I refer, of course, to the American sport of Consumerism.

On the surface, Shopping and Consumerism share many similarities. However, the underlying rules of the game are quite different. For one thing, Consumerism is a far more serious sport, wherein many people each year are taken to hospital with serious injuries (usually in a clash over the 'must-have' toy for Christmas). Indeed, things have become so bad that the referees of the game, known as Wal-Marts, have taken to issuing all consumers with body armour (sorry, armor), the better to protect them. Additionally, all manner of weaponry can be found secreted throughout the stores (or, for the truly dedicated, the more advanced malls), for the use of Consumers in recreating the film Battle Royale.

Or so I've heard.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ah! Physics!

I was at work today when I was suddenly hit by a flashback to the physics I did at university eleven years ago. Try as I might, I could not shake off the nagging thought that things should work a particular way, and that I couldn't put together just how that was. By the end of the day, I was sure my head was going to implode.

One thing that was particularly worrying is that eleven years ago, I would have been able to see the connection I was looking for immediately, but today I was not. It's alarming how much is lost how quickly.

(There's a post in there for my other Blog, but that's not relevant here.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Single Bloke's Rules for the Weekly Shop

1) Like any other activity you engage in, the weekly grocery shop is a competitive sport, and should be considered as such. However, as in cricket, the scoring system is arcane and understood by few. Note that bowling spherical fruit in an underarm manner is considered bad form, and may lead to disqualification. Note further that, although one may get oranges at half-time, it is not acceptable to eat the oranges until after the final whistle.

2) Regardless of how much is purchased, or how near or far the car is from the house, all purchases must be carried to the house in a single trip, or a hefty points penalty is applied. This applies even if doing so makes it impossible to actually squeeze the purchases through the door.

3) Jedi mind-tricks are acceptable. Therefore, it is considered acceptable to ask for help, provided one adopts a somewhat mystical, far-off look, wave one's hand around in a Jedi-ish fashion, and say, "To the pickles you will take me, hmm?" Note that Hutts and Toydarians are immune to Jedi mind-tricks. Note also that children, although especially vulnerable to the use of the Force, are prone to growing up to become Dark Lords of the Sith, and are therefore best avoided.

4) Additional points are gained for clever stunts performed while in control of a trolley. However, if the trolley develops the "wonky wheel" defect during the execution of a stunt, no points shall be awarded for the stunt.

5) It is considered a mark of gentlemanly conduct to adopt a slightly baffled look, and ask an attractive member of the opposite sex's opinion on which brand of a product is best. This shows deference to their mastery of the field. The use of this tactic with regard to cleaning products is especially risky, but if achieved without being slapped brings the kudos of one's peers. Additional points may also be awarded if a second opinion is successfully solicited about the same type of product. One final warning: if the dreaded SO is present, it is considered unnecessary to ask for assistance. The SO will perform this duty, and is liable to be angered by your usurpation of his role.

6) Except as outlines in the above rules, it is not acceptable to speak to anyone in the store, excepting to answer direct questions. In this circumstance, answers should be kept as short as possible, with monosyllables being preferred. The use of 'please' and 'thank you' are considered Jedi mind-tricks, and so are always sanctioned.

7) When passing an aisle containing a 'special offer', it is necessary to take advantage of the offer, regardless of how much of the item, or indeed whether or not you even like marzipan-flavoured Penguins.

8) If someone 'phones you while in the store, it is acceptable to state that you are doing the weekly shop. However, if then asked what you are getting, it is necessary to list only items with a single syllable, such as beer and meat. Cheese is considered acceptable. An exception is made for Irn Bru; however, an exception is also made for soap, in that it may not be named. Bonus points are gained if none of the items listed are actually in the trolley at the time of asking. Finally, if the person calling is female (or a cat), it is considered acceptable to state that you are buying 'a big ball of string'.

Friday, September 30, 2005

An Odd Thing

When I was working at Cadence, the person sitting opposite me was a fellow Christian. Here, the person who was sitting next to me (until a desk move today) is a fellow Christian. Coincidence?

Here's another thing: I've been extremely frustrated at work this week. There's one particular tool that is just bad. It got to the stage where on Wednesday, I wanted to do nothing so much as to pick up my PC and throw it out of the window. (And, incidentally, the windows don't open to the best of my knowledge.)

Anyway, I'd reached snapping point. I was about five minutes from the point where I would have cleared my desk and walked out, never to return, and to hell with the consequences. And it was that precise point when one of the other Christians in the office, a person I met the first time I attended the church here in Yeovil, tracked me down and asked how it was going, how I was settling, and so on. Which is probably the only thing that got me through that day.

Could it be coincidence? Of course. But I don't really believe in luck, and my trust in coincidences is rather limited.

Falling Standards in Education

Every year, exam scores go up. Every year, the government hails this as a wonderful achievement. And, every year, we have a chorus of cries about exams being dumbed down, and standards slipping. Which is terribly unfair: each year, kids work very hard for their results, and are then subjected to a bunch of so-called experts telling them that their results don't mean anything, and that exams are now easy.

But it is vitally important that we have this debate.

Between them, India and China account for almost a third of the world's population. Every year, they produce masses of people, all of whom want to earn a living. And we cannot compete on cost - economic factors prevent that. Fortunately, a few really good employees are better for a business than a lot of really poor employees, which means that it is possible for us to compete with the Indian and the Chinese, if we generate people of sufficient quality. But that requires that our graduates are of a genuinely high standard, and not merely that the average result is four A's at A-level. (Bluntly, that's a meaningless statistic in itself - what matters is whether the students who get A's can count, not whether we can count the number of students who get A's.)

Now, back to the important question: are standards falling?

As far as I can tell, there are five reasons why exam results might be improving year on year:

1) Kids are getting smarter.
2) Teachers are getting better generally.
3) Kids are getting more support in their learning (from fellow students, tutors, teachers, or parents).
4) Exams are getting easier.
5) Teachers are getting better at teaching towards the exam.

Now, if true, any of the first 3 are a good thing (unless the 'support' consists of people doing the work for the kids - remember, the important factor is what the kids end up knowing, not whether they can pass an exam). Number 4 is obviously a bad thing.

Number 5 is the worst of the bunch, however, because it is a bad thing that doesn't immediately show itself as a bad thing. The thing is, if I can look at past papers for the last 10 years of maths and learn that there is always a quadratic equation, a differentiation and an integration, I can then teach my class to do these three things in a robotic manner. They won't understand any of the theory behind it, and won't actually learn any real maths, but they will pass the exams in large numbers. And it's hard to fault this approach - the exam papers are a good guide to what is considered important, and the kids are at least learning something. Sadly, what they are learning is of no actual use in the real world, where we don't simply face the odd integration - we face problems that need tackled with a variety of tools, and it's equally important to know which tools to use, as well as how to use them.

In the global economy, the kids leaving school this year won't be competing against their peers in the UK, against whom they at least have a level playing field. They are also competing against thousands of Chinese and Indian kids, who are willing to work for about a quarter of what the UK kids have to earn in order to live. It's a real bitch, but it's life. And it means that our kids absolutely must be the best they can possibly be, in terms of real skills that can be applied, not just the ability to pass some crappy exam.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Painting with Numbers

It is my understanding that when Michaelangelo would sculpt, he took a block of whatever medium he was working with, and proceded to hack off any bit that didn't look like whatever he was scultpting. By contrast, when an artist paints, he takes a blank canvas and progressively builds up layers until the end result is produced. (There is, of course, rather more to it than that.)

In this regards, producing software resembles painting rather more than it does scultpture. I take a blank slate, add various components, fit them together, and end up with a servicable program. Sometimes.

I think next time someone asks what I do for a living, I'll tell them I paint with numbers. It's at least as accurate as my previous comedy answer: confectionary machinist.

Incidentally, there is sometimes a perception that a person is either arty or mathematical. That is, you're either good at sciences or creative stuff, but rarely both. This is a huge misconception. There is as much art in the construction of a really clean and efficient automobile engine as there is in most art galleries these days, and the Eiffel Tower is a feat of tremendous engineering as well as one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. In fact, actually putting it together may have been the easiest part of building the thing.

(Also, Leonardo da Vinci is best known for the Mona Lisa. However, he also left behind notebooks featuring detailed designs for both helicopters and tanks. Of course, if you actually build these vehicles as he described them, they don't actually work. You might well call that a fairly crucial flaw, but in engineering terms, it's actually fairly small. The principles he used are sound, he just had a bunch of bugs to work out, and was prevented from doing so only by lack of resources.)

Fear of Success

My biggest failure, when it comes to teaching the bagpipes, has to be a young man whome I shall call Bill. He was a quick study, and rapidly learned a lot. He could have been a great piper. However, just as he started to get good, he disappeared.

He came back about a year later, and it was apparent that he'd lost a lot of his previous skill. However, he remained a quick study, and started to get good again. And, just as he was getting good, he quit, and didn't come back.

I think that what was happening was that he realised he was good at something, got scared, and so quit.

The fear of success is a very real, and very difficult, thing. A lot of people don't realise how difficult it can be. They think they would dearly love to be really great at something, and that that would be good. However, being good at things marks you out as different. Very few people can play the bagpipes at all, let alone well. Few people are truly good at football, or maths, or whatever else you want to name.

So what? you might think. Being marked out for being good can't be a bad thing, can it? But the truth is that being different hurts, especially for a young man. Our culture has raised mediocity to some sort of great status, where smart people are portrayed as boring losers, and where you don't need any talent to be famous - you just need to be on reality TV and make an impression. Jade, for instance, now makes her living as a professional interviewee - she doesn't actually do anything, but just talks about how she's still famous. (To her credit, Jade doesn't claim to be clever or talented - she makes a lot of money out of her very lack of these qualities.)

I sometimes wonder if Bill ever regrets not completing his training. He could have been a really good piper, if he'd stuck at it. But, that would have required him to stand out from the crowd of his peers. Would that have been a sacrifice worth making?

Tonight on "Young, Dumb and Slutty"

I was thinking today (as I am sometimes known to do): why is it that Britney, Paris and Jessica all have crappy "reality" shows in which they reveal how talentless they truly are, but no male "stars" do? I can't believe there's no audience - I would be willing to bet that the core viewers of any of these shows are the same pre-teen girls that make up the core audience for the likes of Justin Timberlake. I'm sure that, if he wanted a show of his own, he'd get one in an instant.

Which means that he must not want one. Does this mean he actually has some standards?

The world is more bizarre than I thought.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

To the bedmobile!

In other news, my bed finally arrived on Wednesday. It's a bright red sports-car, which has been fully taxed, so I can drive to walk before I have to rise in the morning.

Not really of course. But it is quite nice not sleeping on the floor any more.

The tyranny of small things

In virtually every arena of life, getting the big things right is actually fairly easy. Huge mistakes are pretty rare, largely because the consequences are so bad. Therefore, people tend not to reverse along the motorway. They don't hire totally unqualified people for difficult and skilled jobs. Most people know not to murder their neighbours.

However, it is the little things that cause problems. There are so many of them, individually unimportant, that it is impossible to tick all the boxes. And small problems have a habit of escalating. Ignore a small problem with your car and you'll be fine - until that problem causes something else to go wrong. Fail to deal with an unpaid bill promptly, and the interest starts to eat you alive.

This may well be why relationships are so hard. If there is a huge flaw in the relationship, it will either end the relationship or be dealt with promptly. However, each person carries around a whole host of 'small things', any of which can annoy the other (eg the whole toilet seat thing). On a good day, these issues get ignored. However, on a bad day, the people are less charitable, one small thing leads to another, the problem escalates, and the whole thing implodes.

Or, just possibly, not.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The value of true friends

The move had been coming for three years. It wasn't clear until recently when exactly I'd be moving, or where, and there were times when I thought it might be avoided entirely. However, the notion had been there, on and off, ever since I was informed that my previous job was disappearing. As a consequence of this, and in a bid to reduce the pain of leaving, I had spent some of that time drawing away from my friends back home. This in itself was quite an unpleasant experience, but there were still a great number of people I would consider friends back home.

Since the move, I have yet to make any actual friends. That's not particularly surprising: I've been here two and a half weeks, which isn't really long enough, and although the people here have been universally friendly, there is a gap between being friendly towards someone and being the friend of that person.

It is difficult dealing with the wrench that that represents, even for someone like myself, who is by nature fairly solitary anyway. Back home, the person I was probably closest to was my brother, the person I turned to to drive the length of the country to help with the move, and it was always reassuring to know that we could always talk about something. We understood one another, had a huge amount in common, and didn't need to explain ourselves. Now, although he's on the other end of the phone, it's just not the same. There's a distance that's quite unnerving.

True friends are rarer than diamonds, and far more valuable. Treasure those you have.

The paragon of vegetables

I miss chips.

Pretty much the only thing I can't cook in the appartment are decent chips. The canteen at work do chips, but they do them badly. Mourn with me, friends, for my loss is grevious.

One thing that I have discovered is that Tesco do frozen potato wedges. These are much better than standard oven chips (and more expensive, of course), but they're really a poor substitute. Still, they'll do the job for now.

(As an aside: why is that pre-processed foods are universally so frightful? It's as if the manufacturers want to punish us for our laziness.)

Bizarre summer...

It's an odd thing when the sporting and televisual highlight of the entire summer is England's cricketing exploits. Yet that's the situation we find ourselves in just now.

It's funny - for years the English team seemed to be specialists in a really dull game that focussed on desperately avoiding defeat. They finally drag themselves back up to a decent standard (getting to within touching distance of the best team in the world - albeit an Australia that is slipping from its best), and the coverage is about to disappear from free-to-air television.

I suspect it will be missed rather more than many people expect once it's gone.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

An age-old dilemma...

Starting as I mean to continue, here's post two:

In Tesco today, I was again faced with a question that has plagued men since the dawn of time: when choosing a checkout, do you go for the one manned (?) by the cute young girl, or the one run by the older, and therefore more efficient, woman?

(There is a hidden third option: the one run by a male assistant. I've intentionally discounted this for two reasons. The first is that there are vastly more female checkout assistants than male ones. That's a statement of fact, not a sexist comment. To aid comparison, reason two is a sexist comment: women tend to be better at running checkouts than men. I suspect the reason for this is that checkout assistant fall into two groups: those who do the job as temporary work while they move onto something else, and those who do it long-term. Those in the first group - which seems to include almost all the men doing the job - aren't there very long, and don't get very good at it. Those in the second group, however, improve through experience. Thus, the average level of ability of a male vs. a female assistant is different.)

Anyway, tangents aside, we return to the dilemma. One one hand, men hate shopping, and prize efficiency. On the other hand, men prize any opportunity to talk to a cute young female. So, which way do we go? (It is instructive to watch this in action. Try visiting any supermarket at 8pm on any weeknight except Friday, and watch the decision-making process at work. I expect it would be even more interesting to see how men choose over the course of a whole week. No doubt Channel 4 will do a reality show about this next year: "we took thirty supermodels and put them into a supermarket. See the crazy hijinks that ensue!")

How did I resolve this crisis?

Well, I didn't. While I was making my choice, the extremely efficient manageress decided to open a new checkout, just for me. Manned by one of the rare male checkout assistants.

First Post

So, a new chapter begins, with a move to Yeovil. This calls for a celebration!

Sadly, in order to have a party, you need three things: a desire to actually have a party, somewhere to host it, and some friends to invite. Score: 0/3.

So I've decided to start a new blog instead. Not quite the same, but it'll do.

The blog will be several things all at once: it will be a somewhat accurate, somewhat uncensored, somewhat regular journal of my life in Yeovil. It will be a collection of odd and crazy thoughts and notions I've been working on - as used to be included in my infamous "wacky emails". And it will be a soapbox for my ranting about a whole variety of topics.

Be warned: you might be offended. But then, I could do a blog about fluffy bunnies and someone would be offended. The internet is like that.