31st August

So the up spell didn't last long. Existence hurts again in that way that most people cannot understand. I'm off next week and I don't know if that will make things better or worse. Whether it will give time to address that which needs addressing and to enjoy that which needs enjoying, or if it will simply reinforce the general feeling of uselessness that has got me where I am today.

I would like to use the time to work on something very unlikely. I have an idea for the site's third birthday but I know it is not only impossible but very very improbable. I won't bore you with the details but you'll know it if you see it.

Though how much of a week off I'll actually get it is a bit in the air at the moment. We have a release on Saturday and it is not exactly going to plan. Ideally, the process for new code goes - development to master-dev to UAT to pre-production and then to production. We've now reached the stage where development and master-dev are being bypassed and new code is going - untested - straight into UAT. Indeed, pre-production has now been built and is being used without the UAT phase being signed off. Certainly no one has asked us if we're happy with it. All of which means we've been warned that the usual Saturday morning giving the production environment the once-over may turn into an all day, all night or even all weekend job. Not great but I'm not that bothered - either it goes well and I'm out of there by lunchtime or it goes badly and it buys me a new iPod. Just don't be blaming us when things go wrong - if IT are happy to have a mere eight hours of pre-production time then that is their look out.

And the transfer window is about to close with Siralex having ultimately failed in what I said was his most important close-season ever. One in / one out was hardly the blistering months of cash-fuelled genius that had been expected. It wasn't entirely his fault - most big name foreigners won't come to England because it is a miserable country (unless either owned illegally by Chelsea or drawn in by ludicrous wages) and those players that might come tend to become the subjects of bidding wars and there are clubs more willing (and / or able) to win such contests. Fergie may be well funded but he is - ultimately - still Scotch and therefore too canny for his own good. And then there was Hargreaves who wanted to come but his club wouldn't let him and his agent was actually on the payroll of said club and he wouldn't actually hand in a transfer request and Fergie may only have been after him because the sponsors told him to. Or something. Anyway, it is has been wretched and with so many of the young fringe players out on loan for the season (Rossi being a surprise late loanee) the squad is probably weaker than it was last year.

 

 

27th August

And so Kurt Angle becomes the first casualty of WWE's "wellness" policy. Or at least that is the obvious assumption given that the policy said the first failure would be noted, a second would lead to a 30 day suspension and the third would bring dismissal. Angle recently came back from a 30 day suspension and has now been terminated. It was well know he has problems stemming from spending a decade in wrestling (amateur then pro) with a broken (freakin') neck. It is another example of WWE's tough love - say what you will about how fucked up that company is (and I've got a great example of their up-fuckedness later) they will do whatever it takes to help their performers. They did everything they could for William Regal and Eddie Guerrero and even though the latter later died from the effects of years of abuse, the rehab he went through when he hit rock bottom and was released by the company gave him priceless years with the family he'd all but driven away. While wrestlers are under contract to WWE and being paid handsomely there is no incentive to get help. Even while under suspension there is the feeling "they'll bring me back - I'm too important to be left on the shelf" so nothing ever changes. Now Kurt knows he's got two choices - sort himself out (and I'm sure WWE would pay for any surgery or rehab he needs so he doesn't have that excuse) or his career is over. I hope he does find a way to put his demons behind him as Kurt Angle is not only one of the most talented performers the business has ever seen but also a man who had such extraordinary personal strength and determination. It would be a shame to see those qualities fail him and take everything else with them.

Ok, you want to know how fucked up WWE is? According to their own DVD "McMahon" - a glowing tribute to the chairman of the board - when Stephanie McMahon became pregnant Vince McMahon wanted to use it in a storyline. The real father - HHH - couldn't be the on-screen father because it would go against the story that HHH and Steph were married years ago and had a bitter divorce (ironically parting for good on screen round about the time they married for real). While it wouldn't be the biggest logic hole WWE has ever presented (that surely has to go to the royally screwed up biography of Kane who spent his whole life in a basement, was burned all over in a fire and killed his parents but was still able to go out on dates while in high school with the infamous Katie Vick). So anyhoo, a baby needs a father and Vince McMahon had the answer. The father of Stephanie McMahon's baby would be...

...Vince McMahon.

Yes - he wanted to go on nationaly television and announce he had impregnated his own daughter. That's perfectly normal behavior for the CEO of a publicly traded company. It would also sell an awful lot of pay per views and tickets because... nope... can't think of how it would make a dime. But it didn't happen as Steph nixed it immediately. Never fear - Vince had another idea. The father of Stephanie's baby would be...

...Shane McMahon.

Yes - while a father impregnating his daughter might be a little radical for conservative America, a brother impregnating his sister would be a winner. Again, Stephanie said no and being as she is the only person in the entire company who can say no to Vince the matter was dropped. It goes against company policy for major storylines such as this to go to anyone outside the family so that was that. Which is a shame as they could've done something with it - had Vince on TV demanding to know from Steph who the father was.

Vince: "Dammit - you will tell me who the father is."

Steph: "I can't..." (blub)

Vince: "Tell me or... you're fired.

Steph: "It's... it's...

Vince: "TELL ME"

Steph: "It's... it's Eric.

Yes - Eric Bischoff could've been the father. If only so he could go out on live TV and say "Vince - I had to screw you a number of times during the Monday Night War before I got what I wanted. I only had to screw your daughter once and I got what I wanted..."

But all that is way off topic.

You will probbaly (not) have noticed the lack of predictions for last night/tonight's UFC show. There are three reasons for this - (a) I can't make up my mind, (b) outside the two main events the show is full of people I've never heard of and (c) TheArtist is bicycling in North Britain and is unavailable to make some random guesses based on peoples names. But since I'd be making equally random guesses there didn't seem any point. Plus, the show has now happened so if I say Chuck Liddell to beat Babalu and Forrest Griffin to beat Stephan Bonner and they turn out to be right you'll assume I cheated. Or just cravenly backed the favourites in each fight. But I'm looking forward to the show - the last one was hopefully an exception to the general rule that they are a fun way to spend three hours. As Doctor Watson said, "A well-played violin is a treat for the gods–a badly played one..." and it is more or less the same with fighting. Or anything else really.

One slightly disconcerting story (if true) comes from Marcos Senna, as reported on the Sky Sports website, concerning his failed move to United.

Senna says Sir Alex Ferguson was handed orders from the club's new sponsors AIG to only buy English talent and therefore made their move for Bayern Munich's Owen Hargreaves instead.

"It went very quiet, then Mr Ferguson's assistant Carlos Queiroz told my agent he was sorry but they had orders from above," Senna said in the News of the World.

"Queiroz said the sponsor preferred English players and although they wanted me, they would have to wait.

"But they never called me back."

It would be rather a shame if, after the scare stories about the Glazer family interfering in team matters failed to come true, the new sponsors were dictating transfer policy instead. It would be the thin end of the wedge and no mistake.

 

23rd August

I'm on my own this week which not only means the responsibility of ok-ing a release for the first time solo (at least I only have to sign off the regression - AngryDave is in charge of the new stuff) but I've also not got anyone to talk to. So here are a few of the things I've not been able to babble about to people who sit near me.

Owen Hargreaves - the saga rumbles on with Munich saying "Nein" and United saying "We want him" and Hargreaves saying "I really want to go there - do you want to look at my Opta stats?". An impasse has been reached and Munich are threatening to report the matter to FIFA and shit. Buried, occasionally, in the many and various reports is a phrase like "Owen Hargreaves could hand in a transfer request if Bayern Munich continue to block his desired move to Manchester United" (BBC). Hang on - he's desperate to leave but he hasn't handed in a transfer request? I appreciate he would lose his cut of the fee if he did so but it makes the whole thing a bit ridiculous. He wants to move enough to ruin his relationship with a club he's played for for a decade (and who have him under contract for another four years), enough to go out in public and plead for a transfer and enough to get himself fined tens of thousands of pounds already but not enough to go that extra step and... you know... actually request a transfer?

I've been taking iron for a week now and it actually seems to have done some good. I feel slightly less utterly devoid of energy and heavy in the limbs. Being a weak-willed Holland and Barrett addict I keep buying tubs of things which may or may not contain anything more than dust. The jury is out on Ginko Biloba thus far but my return to St John's Wort after several years has coincided with a marked improvement in overall mood.

So it was the right time to be reading that new Noel Edmonds book. I never thought I'd ever find myself typing it. It was cheap, ok? Though why there should be a need to feel ashamed of reading anything is beyond me. It is actually quite good. Not the guide to "cosmic ordering" that some assumed - it is basically Noel using brief tales from his many and varied career to illustrate that being nice and happy and working hard tends to work out pretty well at the end. Nothing earth shattering, nothing revolutionary and probably not worth paying more than the 3.99 I spent but an interesting couple of hours.

And it helped me on the way to my goal of 52 books this year. It means I've read 64.109589% of the total number of books in just 63.461538% of the time. Yay me.

A side-effect of finding the Undersea Kingdom disc - and doing three chapters in three days - is that I've been rather foolish and ordered more. Sadly, not more from Crash Corrigan as he only did the one serial. But alongside Zorro and the wonderfully bizarre "Radar Men from the Moon" I have ordered four - FOUR - from the original, the best, the one, the only, Larry "Buster" Crabbe. The Hulk Hogan to Crash Corrigan's Ultimate Warrior. The Edge to Crash's Christian. The definitive Flash Gordon, the definitive Buck Rogers - the ultimate serial hero who died every week and then turns out not to have died the following week. For those that like Undersea Kingdom the good news is I intend to make dissecting movie serials a regular part of the site. For those that don't like Undersea Kingdom I'm sure there are lots of other things to fill your boots with until you learn to love Crash Corrigan like the rest of us.
 

 

20th August

I've had a problem for months now with my DVD burner. It kept deciding that certain types of disc were no longer to be enjoyed and would shun them forever more. It was baffling, Holmes, and reached a head when even Sony discs - it is a Sony drive - were given the cold shoulder. What, I asked myself, was going the hell on? Then it struck me like a teenager. Every time a make of disc was rejected it had different packaging. And why would blank discs change their packaging? What if it was because they had upgraded their blank discs to write at 16x? It seemed absurd that just because I had an 8x drive it wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of 16x discs. But the evidence was all there. When I tried some old Tesco 8x discs (which had been left to go dusty because they are rubbish) and they worked I knew I probably needed a new DVD-R drive.

I was planning to go on Friday evening after a final drink with the little fellow. I promised you a tribute to him and a tribute you shall have.

He was unique. From his lengthy beliefs that gay Hobbits would face intolerable discrimination in the Shire to his economic theories about cows being the most efficient form of currency to his stories about how easily bribed South African traffic cops are (one required but a single can of Coke to look the other way) to the hilarious noises he made after sucking his plastic nicotine inhaler. I suspect we drove him mad with our poor quality imitations and general mocking of his accent.

"It's over h'yah" he would say.

"Over where?" we would reply.

"Over h'yah... you guys are deeks."

He learned to perfectly impersonate the Manchester dialect but only with certain words so his Mancunian impressions would generally consist of such phrases as,

"Eeey ahr geraffff - where's meee spahhhhklah yer fookin monkeeey nugit?"

Amongst his many comical sayings were "Dude, have you been smoking your socks?", "Nice one, tiger", "Rah rah rah" and "Is she hod?" He could always be relied upon to use each of them at least once a day. We would sit with our bingo cards just waiting to see who would get a full house first. Actually, that would've been well worth actually doing for his last day. Sadly, we (by which I mean me for I was put in charge) got him mugs instead. Mugs with his face and his words on. And a book about SQL but that isn't funny.

He was the sort of person who could come in on a Monday morning and just drop a phrase like "I've never been prone to sleep walking before" in amidst the bland pleasantries of a pre-caffeinated morn. Or tell us the Tesco tales. Or do a rough imitation of a native gumboot dance. Or give us a fascinating fact about his name which was that it was actually short for something else. Or tell us something utterly libellous about what he did with Alyssa Milano in a nightclub. Or just but into conversations that he hadn't been following when he thought he heard something he recognised (such as "Leonard Nimoy? What about Leonard Nimoy?" during a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with Leonard Nimoy). Or use racial terminology which is thirty years past being acceptable here (or h'yah) but which is cutting edge in South Africa. Or get a flirty email from the site's resident glamorous lesbian.

Definitely one of a kind. He was also damn good at his job and we'll miss that too. It is by no means guaranteed that he'll be replaced and that would leave two of us (which of course means one of us for ten weeks of the year excluding sickness) to do everything. He was the one that went down to the post room. He was the one who dealt with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. He was the one that an unnamed team manager (who slutted-up on Friday evening and was apparently intending to try and pull AussieGuy while under the nose of her boyfriend) would pop round and see whenever she needed anything. Dammit, I'm going to have to dirty my hands doing mainframe testing now. Ugly, horrible, illogical pieces of twenty year old awfulness.

So we're going to miss him. First ShirtGuy leaves, then HalfPastThree and now AussieGuy. Each of them had something better to go to and couldn't wait to leave. Whether it is a superior job, a nice retirement or a sunny life in a can-do country, they all moved up and on in the world while we remain behind like Turlough in the Five Doctors. At least Susan sprained her ankle - Turlough was just ignored and left to face death by cyber-bomb.

I guess the difference this time is that South Africa is a long way away and I'm never going to see this one again. Which is weird.

Obviously, saying farewell to a comrade wasn't something that could be done and dusted in an hour so I didn't get chance to get a new drive on Friday. I did however get an unusual drive as ShirtGuy gave me a lift in his new car. It makes KITT look like something a clown would ride into the ring with and which would, for comic effect, blow itself into a dozen pieces. A petrol-electric hybrid with gadgets galore, no scary engine noises, a reassuring feminine voice and simply bursting with computer goodness, this was the sort of car I would love almost as much as I would worry about things going wrong. I mean, all that wiring. All those electrics. Yes, it is impressive as hell but I'm not ready for such anxieties.

So it wasn't until this morning that I finally got myself a new DVD writer. It was simple to fit once all the difficult bits were out of the way. Like only one side of the tower being removable and the drive appearing to be screwed in place on both sides. Another example of Tiny building machines which are a bitch to upgrade. Luckily it was just stiff (not something I say very often) and eventually I swapped the drives over, put the cover back in place and switched on.

Oh my word. What a noise. It sounded like someone hefty had sat on an irritable elephant as it argued with its wife. This was not good. I was pretty sure about that. So I powered down, took the case off and differentially diagnosed it. A clump of wires had slipped a little too close to one of the fans and, despite being neither a wire nor a fan, I was going to suffer for it unless I moved it. That I did and everything was fine.

Except I thought it hadn't worked because "My Computer" wasn't displaying the drive correctly. Having done a few experiments I'm fairly sure it is just Windows being primitive rather than there being something wrong with the hardware. Roll on Vista.

The upside to the whole affair (aside from being able to create DVDs again) is that I found my Undersea Kingdom disc. It had somehow managed to slip underneath my PC. So that's good news for the army of fans desperate to know the latest news of Crash Corrigan, Unga Khan and the several hundred men on their several hundred horses.

And tomorrow I get to be all alone. All alone all week actually as TheArtist is freezing his broken toe off in North Britain. I think I might go crazy. That would fill the time.

 

19th August

My little niece is so close to be able to crawl. It is adorable the way she wriggles her way onto her stomach, pushes herself up with her arms and then tries to get her legs in the right place to give her forward movement. It doesn't quite work yet and she has to turn herself round and then roll over if she wants to get anywhere. She still looks at me like I'm something strange though and if ever she realises the grown ups have all gone and I'm the only one left she starts crying. I suspect the chances of me being asked to babysit any time soon are fairly remote. Especially as I run away whenever there is talk of nappy changing. There are two kinds of people in the world - those that can cope with other peoples poo and those who can't. I know which side of the line I'm on.

Someone else who knows which side of an important line he's on is Alex Shelley. Who? Alex Shelley. It doesn't matter. Anyway, I was watching "Arena Warfare" - another show from top-notch indie group ROH - when the crowd started chanting "Shelley likes cock... Shelley likes cock..." Playing the heel as he was, Shelley shouted back at them. It was quite the retort...

 

17th August

I think I may have seen the funniest thing ever this evening. We were all out for pizza to pay tribute to our departing Australian when the waitress came to collect the remains of our starters. She piled up three or four sets of plates, napkins and cutlery and when to collect more. A knife fell from her arms like a suicide from a bridge and clanged on the floor. Whereupon ShirtGuy tried to be a gentleman and pick it up for her. All fine and chivalrous except she was already on the way down and all he succeeded in doing was violently headbutting the plates she was carrying. Some crashing and smashing followed but the knife was recovered, we almost died laughing and all was well that ended well. Expect a full tribute to our little colleague this weekend.

In other news my dental hygienist put into my head the idea that I might be anaemic. She also put prongs and wire into my head (mainly the mouth) so I don't think she's entirely to be trusted but I've Googled the symptoms and I undoubtedly have it. But, to be entirely fair, I've not yet Googled an illness I didn't turn out to absolutely definitely have according to the results that came up. Maybe now I have iron tablets I won't feel like crap all the time. Or not.

 

13th August

I was Google-Newsing Perks (as you do) and came across this excerpt from a Q&A she did with some North British newspaper or other.

I eat out a lot. Not necessarily posh food – I don't spend loads of money on preening myself so I'd feel a bit out of place in a fancy restaurant. I'm happy to have a veggie burger and chips in the pub.

Which suggests that (a) she's been advised to give up red meat on medical grounds, (b) she just likes veggie burgers, (c) she's become even more utterly wonderful by giving up the flesh time or (d) I am a sad and feeble mental case who should finding such things so fascinating because at the end of the day it doesn't matter what she eats because it's never going to be me.

Elsewhere, while on a Perks-hunt, I found this site which has pictures of the author's model Light Lunch set. A truly fantastic labour of love if ever I've seen one.

 

 

12th August

The latest episode of "The History of Light Entertainment" focused on comedians (or "comics" as they called them - not a word I've ever really liked). It was another good instalment of what has been a largely excellent series but a few things stood out.

Firstly, the never-in-the-slightest-bit-funny Jo Brand being included. She even had the nerve to complain that she kept hearing the men in the audience being cruel about her appearance. What did she expect when her entire act consisted of

I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards... I'm really fat... all men are bastards...

Secondly, aside from one mute clip in a montage there was no mention at all of Eddie Izzard. He is, in the opinion of this writer, the best stand up comedian there has ever been. His live shows (especially during his mid-90s peak) were awe-inspiring in their humour, their originality, their imagery and their sheer style. There was no one to touch him - Alan Davies tried and came across as a very poor copy. I've watched "Definite Article" or "Glorious" hundreds of times and they are still brilliant. I suppose the excuse is that he never really "did" television but the lines have been blurred often enough in the series to allow a couple of minutes for people to say how utterly fantastic he was.

Thirdly, some of the other great comedians not to even get a mention - Bob Monkhouse, Dame Edna, Fry and Laurie, Jack Dee, Harry Hill, Paul Merton, Julian Clary and Tommy Cooper.

Fourthly, they have decided they will get at least eight minutes of Little Britain into every episode regardless of the subject.

Fifthly, it was nice to see a fairly even-handed approach used when tackling the Bernard Manning question. Too many people - most of whom have probably never seen more than a few carefully selected jokes - give the usual crap about how he was (and is) nothing more than a disgusting racist who shouldn't be tolerated in the modern world. The reality is that he does his act and no one need see it unless they want to. Plenty of men, women, blacks, whites, Asians, Irish and every other subdivision of political correctness choose to go and see him perform. Is he a good comedian? Yes. Would I ever want to go and see him? No. But that's my choice. He has survived in comedy for fifty years and the only way to do that is to give your audience what they want.

What I want is a DVD of "Clerks II" but the R1 isn't out until December so it'll probably be some time in 2008 before it comes out over here. I bet it hasn't even come out in the cinema here yet. That last sentence really ought to be rearranged into something less awful. I suppose I could go to the local multiplex and see it there. Yes - that'll happen.

And, because I didn't want to overshadow AngryDave's greatest moment since the now legendary "Were they in the way?" remark, I left a bit out of yesterday's team meeting anecdote. I painted a disturbing picture in m'colleagues' minds and it was entirely down to modesty on my part.

The brilliant idea first mentioned on 2nd August (which earned me a

for my troubles) got mentioned and - keen to be self-effacing and not appear all "Me me ME me Me" - I said "[developer] and I came up with a solution". Unfortunately, I'd previously told someone that the solution came to me while I was in the bath. One and one were hastily put together and suddenly I was being imagined bathing with said developer. Not a pretty sight for anyone. Suddenly, my Inland Revenue forms and their brilliant solution were not the main topic of conversation. I literally cannot think why. Thank goodness AngryDave had set the bar so high that lunchtime that nothing and no one else would be remembered. Except here. Bugger.

 

11th August

We went out for lunch as an early farewell to AussieGuy (who has one more week but various people are off next week). Seeing as the on-site Starbucks was closed (the water supply was cut of yet again for the entire site as the utility company digs up a bunch of road and fucks around with a bunch of pipes) it was decided to have our scheduled team meeting in the pub. That means we were disturbed when (a) a crowd of children ran in to the pub and one of them may well have run smack into my chair and bounced onto the floor in tears, (b) we were not denied the now traditional 80s soundtrack (I spied Kool and the Gang), (c) there was a couple discretely courting in an alcove but still in plain view of everyone and (d) the same children later popped their heads through a window and starting saying "hello" to us. All of which was fairly jolly - we were well fed and reasonably pleased with life. Then AngryDave - who was minuting - stole the show. He was scribbling away when it came his turn to update us on his current project. He said -

"Ah - I can stop using my hand now and start using my mouth"

I was the first to crack.

I got home and found my Powerball had arrived. I'd long seen them at Play.com and wondered what on earth they were. I finally asked this question while in one of my eager beaver modes and did a bit of research. The clincher was when some blurb or other said they were (a) fun and (b) good for RSI. I like fun and am concerned that spending my life on a computer is giving me wrist ache. I've gone left handed at work but it seems to be not much better. So this little gyroscopic doodad - complete with its marketing claims to be highly addictive - is a stab at undoing the damage caused by living on mouse-back.

And - because I'm cross that the latest terror alert happened to come at a time when I was feeling sick about the horrors in the world (caused in a large part by "High Society" and one particular sentence on page 352) - I was very interested to read the incomparably clever Jasmine debunk much of the scariness being spouted.

Currently, the Blair junta is holding Britain at red alert, believing that triacetone triperoxide is within minutes of being manufactured on planes and used to blow them up. At first sight, this seems reasonable. The explosive is easily made from three colourless liquids- hydrogen peroxide, which is common in antiseptic solutions, acetone, which is commonly used as a paint thinner and nail polish remover, and sulfuric acid, which is available from many sources as a battery electrolyte and drain cleaner.

But let’s be a little bit more critical here. You have to keep all of these three liquids separate from each other until you want to make TATP. You have to use highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide, which is not nice stuff at all- after all, it maimed and killed thousands of people during the Second World War, when the Nazis used it as oxidizer for their A-4 engines. It also gasses off oxygen constantly and reacts aggressively with plastics of all kinds, which makes carrying it anywhere a challenge. You have to use hydrogen peroxide at least a hundred times more concentrated than that which is used as a hair bleach. Oh, and peroxides are already banned in air travel. You have to mix the acetone with the hydrogen peroxide during the reaction, which is actually the hard part. Acetone plus hydrogen peroxide is actually a hypergolic reaction at room temperature. You have to keep the stuff cold to stop it reacting and producing water, carbon dioxide and heat. Oh, and the reaction when you add the sulfuric acid is strongly exothermic.

Then you need to filter and dry the product, and probably use a blasting cap to detonate it. Interestingly, one mole of explosive will produce three moles of cold gas; this means that for a couple of litres of reagent, the most gas that can possibly be produced is just over 75 litres. I can’t see that producing significant overpressure in a modern widebody jet of volume many hundreds of thousands of litres.

I don't understand it but it sounds comforting.

 

10th August

Well, on the one hand I was wrong and the line wasn't spoken by Leela but rather by a bloke called Colby but on the other hand I was right that someone reading the entry below would know when I would find it in the story. So I now have the latest addition to my drop collection. Perfect for those times when you get home from work and find half a dozen emails which all tell me that I've won everything from Toys R Us vouchers to a lap top to a 42" plasma telly - all in competitions I've not even entered. Or for those times when you get exciting sounding messages telling me that I can get the best value life assurance from a company whose email address is something classy like bestvaluelifecover(at)hotmail.com. I get a fair amount of spam (don't they realise I have a vegetarian inbox?) and although I understand the principle of it, I utterly fail to understand the execution. Why do people send messages where the subject like is just half a dozen random words? Who do they expect to open it? And why do people open them? Spam exists because there is a tiny percentage of a fraction of a sliver of the population who are dumb enough to open messages that quite obviously contain nothing of any worth. Then you get the ones which make winning a valuable prize in a contest you didn't enter seem credible by comparison. The ones where a chick who has never met you wants to hook up and have some sex with you. I dare say there are plenty of chicks who have never met me and want to have some sex with me. They're called prostitutes. Do they really expect me to see a message from "Lilly" with the subject line "Meet me soon" and think "I say - I've got a secret admirer. It was only a matter of time. I thought that girl in the canteen was looking at me in a strange way. Of course I'll send her my credit card details so she can be sure it's really me when we meet". Another new kind are the ones inviting me to take part in an opinion poll. I never open junk mail (obviously) but I expect they contain voting buttons within the mail and when you click one you've basically lubed yourself up and stuck a public right of way sign on your ass.

I don't know which troubles me more - the knowledge that there are people who would send out a hundred million emails for the sake of a hundred successes or the knowledge that there are a hundred people stupid enough to think that "h0usw1fe 0ut 4 FuknFun" was a legitimate piece of correspondence.

So, to all you spammers out there I offer this simple drop.

 

9th August

There is a sound clip that I really want. It's from "Image of the Fendahl" and it where Leela says (and I'm going from the Discontinuity Guide here), "You must think my head zips up at the back". I've got IotF on DVD so I can record the clip m'self but I've no idea where it comes in the story. I've never, shameful as this may be to admit, had any interest in watching the story (not since my first UK Gold viewing back in what must've been 1994). So if you know roughly when she says this line I'd greatly appreciate a clue. My usual source for transcripts doesn't have this particular story so I'm groping in the dark. And not in a good way.

I had a strange looking insect crawling on my window this evening. It looked like an armour-plated wasp with big shoes on. Fortunately I am tough and brave and don't panic in such situations. I gave it a quick aerosol blast and it flew away. Nasty looking thing.

I am being brave reading "High Society". It is exactly the sort of book whose graphic descriptions of drugs, crime, prostitution, street violence and tabloid journalism brings out my worst "I was right - absolutely everything is evil and horrible and we're all better off dead" instincts. The argument at the heart of the book - that legalising all drugs is the only solution - is very persuasive. And you could argue that the gin soaked stupor of 18th century London was a similar problem to today's drug proliferation and that was resolved by legalisation, regulation and licensing. Sadly, that will never happen and the system that worked so well during Prohibition America will continue around the world.

One good thing - maybe - left amongst the needle-strewn wasteland that is Modern Britain is that Radio 4 have remade a classic Paul Temple serial using the original script, as much old equipment as was practical, actors with sensible names like Crawford Logan and Gerda Stevenson, and of course the original music. Click here to listen to episode one. Who would've thought Paul Temple would be over again in 2006? After thirty five years in obscurity he's really made a comeback over the past three or four. They released every surviving serial, release two audio books and now they're remaking missing classics. It's really rather marvellous.

It's also rather marvellous that people still want to write for this footling little site. In the past week I've had three - count that, three - offers of new features for the site. That's in addition to all the regular stuff people are kind enough to send. It's even inspired me to be a little less hopeless and get some stuff done which doesn't happen very often.

I've just voted on which episode of The New Series features Billie Piper's best hair style and I don't feel an ounce of shame telling you that.

 

6th August

Well, it's been a crappy pre-season for the boys in the ugly new shirts. Two suspensions, the only new signing is out injured, various other guys not fit to play and a piece of silverware that even the most ardent supporter cannot claim "Yeah but we won't the Amsterdam trophy so nurr". The Rooney sending off would be laughable except for the bit about him missing a bunch of matches that actually matter. The Carrick injury was just nature's way of saying "things can always get worse - see".

I thought I'd found a great leaving present for AussieGuy on eBay. A bargain at twenty English pounds. The perfect punchline to a joke that had run for eighteen months. Then the seller emails me to say they are DVD-Rs not an original boxed set. Bollocks. He or she said they would refund me if I wasn't happy. I wasn't happy so I asked for a refund. They have gone strangely silent since then. We are surprised.

[edit later - of course, as soon as I wrote that I had an email from her and have now had a refund so that's good]

I'm nearing the end of "Spare Parts" in the car as my Big Finish "Time Team" rages on. Listening to it for the first time in a couple of years reminds me how dumbed down and crappy the 2006 Cybermen are on TV. Oh they look good but they are a robotic body with a human brain inside. What the fuck? Spare Parts gives us a much more graphic, logical and intelligent birth for the Cybermen. Why we couldn't have had a TV adaptation of it I don't know. It has the same easy reference point (the Hartley family instead of the alt-Tylers), it could fit comfortably in a 90 minute slot, there is nothing it it which is more gruesome than we already see on screen and it creates more interesting Cybermen than the ones we actually got. Marc Platt even got a "thanks" credit and a wadge of cash which suggests they were going to use some of his ideas but they got watered down to the point where they were unrecognisable. I didn't like "Rise of the Cybermen" at the time and now I like it even less.

I've been watching more shoot interviews (I know a guy and get them cheap) over the weekend. Two of the biggest names from the 1990s - Tammy "Sunny" Sytch and The Sandman - who have both had pretty shitty times over the last few years. Tammy lost $180,000 when ECW defrauded her and then went bankrupt, she nearly died when her pancreas stopped working (and doctors still don't know how she survived), her battles with drug addiction which got her fired from both ECW and WCW, Chris Candido - her boyfriend since they were at school - died of medical negligence after breaking his ankle and flying home (a deep vein thrombosis developed and went straight to his heart) and hormone problems meant she ballooned to well over 200lbs and was pictured on the internet looking horrible. And do you know what? She's still going. Watching what should've been a two hour misery-fest was exactly the opposite because of her sheer strength of character. I hope she gets back into shape and gets another chance with WWE.

The Sandman on the other hand has been through a lot (amassing debts of over $400,000) but just gets drunk and has a good time. He's over 40, he admits he can't work twice in a week because his body is broken and as dangerous as he is to wrestle drunk, he's even more dangerous to wrestle when sober. It would be all to easy to feel sorry for him as he drinks himself into oblivion, breaks his body for a few hundred dollars a night and seems permanently stuck as an 18 year old who thinks what he does is cool. But you don't feel sorry for Sandman - you almost end up envying him. He loves - LOVES - what he does and wouldn't want it any other way. He's now working for WWE's ECW revival and I hope he's still having a great time while making lots of money. You can't help but like him. Maybe you wouldn't want to share a house with him but he comes across as someone who - like Tammy - really loves being alive no matter what shit gets thrown at them.

 

2nd August

Three things pleased me today amidst the usual fog of misery and doom.

Firstly, I found the answer to a long standing problem with Inland Revenue forms. For some reason (and I blame them using an overly complicated compression algorithm) they wouldn't render correctly in the post room. Every other damn printer in the whole damn place would reproduce them with the skill and purpose for which they were built. But the big printer - the monster - the daddy - said "what the fuck are these?" and spewed out gibberish. And now, after nearly two years of head scratching and confused mumbling from everyone, I may have given them the answer. I think I've earned a...

Secondly, the company have finally seen sense and decreed that every Friday will be a dress-down day. I like this a lot for I am still an essentially scruffy, unprofessional, studenty sort at heart.

Thirdly, I saw a 163 on the way home. Road works may suck the fat man's balls but do at least afford one a little extra game time and after about a month of not scoring at all I've now got two in just under a week. 2020 suddenly looks a realistic completion date. Or something.

In other news, we've been given the ability to disable the system. The entire system. The work flow, the task passing, the letter production, the statistics, everything. We have a link which would allow us to do this instantly. We've actually been given it because that particular profile allows us to login when everyone else can't so we can give things the once over in private. But the power. Oh! the power. How can I best describe this new toy? A significant control? A meaningful piece of apparatus? A potent device? Or...

Yes, that's it.