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My Gran gave me a wad of cash for Christmas, so I bought a new Apple keyboard for my Mac, and a woven cotton hat from Reiss. I hope she doesn't mind me jumping the gun a little, but the broken dot key on my old keyboard was really starting to get to me.

--

Another handy toy in my pursuit of Quicktime assisted video piracy:

A52Codec: A Quicktime component for AC-3 audio.

--

Tomorrow, I get to learn all about JSP and templating for Magnolia. Woo.

Festen

Aug. 24th, 2006 09:19 pm
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Trying to combine a film festival, sleep, work, the desire to keep a journal, and a strong urge to party just isn't really practical. Something's got to give somewhere along the line.

Well, the films have been mostly excellent so far. One or two disappointments, but no disasters. The two big stand-outs for me so far have been Empire In Africa, and London To Brighton—both equally harrowing in their own ways.

The Empire in Africa is a documentary about the ten year war in Sierra Leone, which saw atrocities perpetrated by either side. Whilst conducting interviews in the country film maker was given ten hours of footage of these acts by the government's official cameraman. This film is the end result. I honestly felt the urge to scream at times. It's never exploitative, but there is sheer horror in how vicious people can be to each other, and how governments (our own, natch), can capitalize on people's suffering to meet their own needs.

London To Brighton tells the story of a prostitute and a homeless girl on the run from the London mob. As much as the actors, the setting plays a starring role in the film. The London portrayed is a filthy, hostile place. It is a film with its own uniquely English voice, but it confronts us with the worst of England, and pushes us through many horrors on a journey to a conclusion that seems painfully inevitable.

But, it was not all negativity. Two light hearted films that really stick in my memory were Change of Address and Colour Me Kubrick.

Change of Address follows a man and a woman who live in the same flat, and should be together, but never seem to quite realize it. Instead, the chase hopeless relationships and befall the pitfalls that are cliché, which of course makes their tale all the more bittersweet. It's a cheap romantic comedy, but when it tugs at the heartstrings so fervently, it's hard not to love it.

Colour Me Kubrick is whimsical to the core, with John Malkovich's flamboyantly (ridiculously so) dressed confidence trickster metaphorically dancing his way into our consciousness. The story of a man impersonating Stanley Kubrick in order to obtain entry into posh private clubs and lots of sex with young gentlemen is one that begs to be treated in this way, and the filmmakers have given it all that it deserves.

Work, Baby

Ooh. I'm now being paid to write C#. Or at least I would be if I could get my head around Windows.Forms and somehow persuade the flaky vertical market software that I'm supposed to be integrating to play nice. Oh Well. I think I will buy a book and regroup on Monday.

Cheers to [livejournal.com profile] brucec for the friendly pointers.

On the other hand, I did get to redesign the company web site, using PHP, CSS and lots of other shiny acronyms. It now looks kind of passible. I'm just waiting on my boss getting it approved by the Financial Services Authority.

I also get plenty of opportunity to practice my m4d MS Excel Macro skillz. Er... yeah.
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I now have my RYA level 2 certificate, which means I can hire out a boat. Ooh yeah. So, anyone want to get together sometime in September and hire out a Wayfarer?

~

As promised, I got well hammered on Saturday at my flatmate's party. We all had a good time, though I think I scared a few people by ranting about Britain's nuclear armourment after one too many drams of Highland Park. That wasn't before I'd persuaded my flatmate to model my Bates & Co fedora and Jed phoenix self-tailoring jacket.

I also got to talk to [livejournal.com profile] dizziebeth properly for a bit. Although I imagine my ranting probably put me in the bad books.

~

To my many responsibilities at work has now been added "web designer." So accordingly, I spent the day re-learning (again) CSS, and coming up with a design that looks pretty in Internet Exploiter and Mozilla Firefox.

The boss liked it. W00t.
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It's diane sauce. Made with courgette. And served with a chicken kiev. Honestly, it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. It wall worked out really nicely though. Although it did set the smoke detectors off when I flambéed the sherry, which was fun.



Lunch time today was spent outside of the central mosque handing out fliers for the national demonstration on the 12th.

I borrowed a book on Windows Small Business Server 2003 from work today. Somehow I have to figure out how to use Group Policy Objects by Monday. Except I'll spend most of the weekend sailing, knackered from sailing, or pished ootta ma heed. Silly me.

Mmmm...

Jul. 19th, 2006 11:47 pm
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The very best thing about my new workplace is... Free hot chocolate. Yum. :9

Manga

I'm onto the second volume of Fruits Basket now. What a bouncy cute story it is. So delightfully detached from reality. It felt a bit disjoint at the start, but I kind of got a feel for it midway through the first volume. People suddenly appearing through panel walls mid-page etc. Tohru's flashback opening volume 2 illustrates this style perfectly, with incongruous details being piled on seemingly out of nowhere. In short, lovely.

I've also bought volume 2 of Love Hina and volume 1 of Princess Ai for my lunch time reading. I really need more Ranma though.

Big Eyes, You Know The Drill

The BESM game continues to get curiouser and curiouser. After running into a young lady seemingly under duress by a group of samurai, we engaged in small scale street warfare to rescue her. Turns out she's a ninja (or a proto-ninja) who is also my great^23 grand daughter (remember, 400 years have passed). So she didn't need much rescuing. In fact, it was her who dealt the killing blow against their leader. Though [livejournal.com profile] kunshu revoking said leader's "breathing privileges" went a fair bit towards the victory too.

We're all having fun acting out our messed up characters. Kunshu as the opium addicted senjojin was a laugh. He took "easily distracted" to heart and spent most of the game staring into space or playing with the shafts of light. Andrew's character is now in denial that she ever was a living being and is now doing her best to be an emotionless programmed automaton dedicated to destroying all evil. And Iyo, Eric's character is as psychopathic as ever, but with four hundred years of putting up with her even more psychopathic alter-ego piled on top of this.

I'm not sure exactly how a dryad ought to behave, but I seem to be getting away with it so far.

So, much entertainment abound. Kunshu, as promised, brought cookies. All fifty-two of them were devoured in short shift. Stephen wants to continue the game beyond the summer, since he'd rather not rush things, and we seem to prefer to take the proceedings at a "leisurely" pace.
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I went sailing today, as part of a taster course at Port Edgar in South Queensferry. The days instructions covered setting up the dinghy, steering, tacking and sailing into the wind. I've been sailing before, with Compsoc, and before that, with the New Deal programme. Having a whole day's tuition, in a smaller group and with far more explanation of the theory helps a lot in understanding what is going on. I still haven't quite grokked how sailing into the wind actually works, but at least now I know how it's done.

The sailing was done in a Wayfarer, with two other students and an instructor. Sailing under the bridges is quite breathtaking at times. I also got to fulfill wone of my lifelong dreams of taking a close up look at Inchgarvie, when we got carried too far east by the tide. A rather gruff supervisor came along in a motor launch and towed us back, to our tutor's dismay.

~

I've been very busy these past two weeks.

A good deal of that time has, as you'd imagine, been spent looking for a job. And of course, I haven't found one yet, but I didn't really expect to either. My current plan is to spend my first week of unemployment searching for temporary work. Hopefully something along the lines of the team secretary job I had before starting with the bank, but I'll most likely have to take whatever comes along.

So, what else happened?

Ho-Il has left for South Korea now. I'm sorry to see him go, and I wish him luck with the rest of his studies. He'll be back in a year to finish his degree at Edinburgh. We've had a good deal of fun playing videogames and cooking for each other. I hope I can someday cook as well as he does. I doubt I'll ever be as good at Tekken 5, but playing against him has been inspirational.

I played my first proper evening of Big Eyes Small Mouth on Wednesday. Not only did Stephen turn me into a Dryad, but he dropped me straight into a love triangle! Quite a mindfuck. We've already had the obligatory bathhouse scene, so it looks like things can only go downhill from here.

I left my job on Friday, and my colleagues gave me an envelope stuffed full of cash as a parting gift. It actually surprised me to see some of the signatures on the card, since I can never really tell what kind of effect I have on people. I can't say that I will miss the job, but I will miss many of the people I worked beside. Just about everyone there was a character (in a good way).

After work, I went to a demonstration held by the PSC outside of the Edinburgh office of the European Commission, in protest against the EU's sanctions on Palestine. For a four pm start, we got an impressive attendance, in fact, more people than were at the demonstration outside of the Disney Store. Several passers-by even joined in the protest. A representative from the Commission met with the demo's organizer, and they discussed things in a very civilized and erudite manner, before agreeing to pass on the PSC's message to his superiors.

Not long

Jun. 2nd, 2006 08:36 am
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Eleven working days until my current job ends. Next week, I will begin emailing my CV to employment agencies and arranging registration interviews for the week following my departure.

I definitely feel a lot better since I resigned. Continued failure at interviews was really starting to get me down, and it had started to occur to me that I might never leave that damned warehouse. At least now, it feels like my life is moving somewhere again, even if it will at best be sideways.

I don't think I'll ever have any sort of meaningful career now at this rate. My ambitions don't stretch much beyond becoming a team secretary or personal assistant right now, and I very much doubt that I'll ever be earning more than £20k a year, if that.

I just want to find a job where I'll be happy and where I'll be making good use of myself.
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So caught up in the joy of discovering a working Cygwin installation hidden deep within the depths of the Windows XP machines at work, that I kind of forgot that most people haven't a clue as to the significance of this find. "Unix? What, you mean like the people with no testicles?"

Ahem.

Kendo and Friday Night Politics


Anyway, since Anime Soc is done and dusted for this academic year, I can move my kendo class to a Tuesday, which means I once again have my Fridays to myself again. w00t. This Friday is the last Tokyoblu at the Venue. The reason being that the Venue is closing down. Since Tokyoblu was the first club night I went to, I feel that I owe it to them to help give the Venue a good send off.

As for the kendo, it's going as well as can be expected. I've missed about four weeks due to a combination of fear and laziness. Returning after the break went surprisingly smoothly. I found to my amusement that I could remember the names of the nine kihon-waza, but I couldn't for the life of me recall what any of them did. Never mind.

After a very rigorous warm up, the sensei took as through a variety of shinai exercises in slow motion. This afforded a good deal of opportunity to concentrate on footwork and posture. The slower pace also helped me in getting back into the swing of things.

Big Eyes Small Mouth


The first night of Stephen's BESM game happened today. The entire time was, as promised, spent on character generation. Quite an elabourate process. I now have an ingame persona that I'm happy with.

BESM is a roleplaying system designed to facilitate anime themed games. It places emphasis on roleplaying over combat (allegedly), and uses a much simpler system of attributes compared with D20. It pretty much boils down to Mind, Body and Soul. (Sounds a bit like kendo.) The game in question will begin in a heavily mythicized golden-age Japan, bordered on three sides by the beast folk, spirit folk and the dragon blooded.

In our party, there is conveniently one of each. Kunshu from AASoc is playing the spirit being. I haven't met the other two before, but they seem like fun blokes. All four wield elemental swords (think Cloud in FF7 for an idea of scale), fashioned by the human emperor as symbols of the truce binding the four races.

My character is a human samurai whose scarred face belies a dedication to spirituality and scholarship. Although loyal to his clan and emperor, a troubled past may well come back to haunt him as the game progresses.

I'm a little curious about what I've gotten myself into, as by accounts, past games with this lot have involved among other things spontaneous gender change, lesbian seduction and cute school girls going through goth phases (whatever that might entail). It certainly won't be boring anyway.
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At work today, I was cruelly tricked into pilfering a cake belonging to the resident hard man. By way of recompense, the trickster came up with an elabourate scheme to fool said hard man that the culprit was in fact a recently retired former employee who had returned for the sole purpose of swiping a strawberry tartlet. Needless to say, it didn't quite work, but the whole thing amused him enough that he let me off. He's also quite a sound bloke, which helped.

I also discovered, by means of a card through my letterbox, that I am of blood type A+. Which, if you go by Japanese blood type personality theory means that I am conservative and reserved, but introverted, stubborn and self-concious. Sounds about right to me. Although I don't know about "punctual." And "good with plants" is right out.

Brick is quality stuff, and if you have the time, I recommend you see it. It's one of the better neo-noirs, with an uncompromising attitude to dialogue and plotting. It's full of moments where the audience are left just far enough outside to know that they are looking into a different world, but never makes itself impenetrable.

In my view, a noir depicts people who are struggling to survive in a river of something poisonous. Some get dragged under, some survive by changing to become the poison, and the few make it through by learning to work with what they are swimming in. These few are the heros and anti-heros. Brick and its characters make up such a world in a way that is both understanding and unafraid to explore.

Tonight is the first night of Dark City 2006. Woohoo.
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I may or may not be finishing my work for the bank on 9th June. I'll know for certain next week. The one agency I called today said it was too soon anyway.

PSC


Todays PSC meeting opened with a very informative talk looking at the Israeli peace movement. Cut for politics... )

This Saturday, a national day of action against Disney is being organized throughout Scotland. This is being done as part of the boycott philosophy on account of Disney's support of and investment in Israel. From noon, there will be a stall, lots of leafletting and hopefully speakers. It should be a good laugh.

This and other upcoming events received much planning to everyone's satisfaction. Then for some unknown reason they nominated me as secretary.

This will be fun. A fair bit of work too, I imagine. But given my forthcoming unemployed status, I think having stuff like this to keep me busy is a good idea. I also finally get to learn what this kind of job actually entails.

Outdoorsy Stuff


I shall hopefully get to go on one final outing with the bank's hill walking club. This is the one aspect of my current job that I really will miss. So I will need to find a hillwalking club in the outside world. Looking at the options, there are several clubs geared towards Edinburgh residents. Either that, or I can continue pretending to be a student and join the EUHWC.

Much as I don't mind the pretending part, or students for that matter, I feel that I should really be trying to join life outside of the university. This is a risky option however. On one hand, I found the bank's hillwalking club to be full of people I get on well with. On the other, it was a long time before I met anyone at kendo who seemed really approachable.

Still, since University term has just finished and there is a long summer ahead, it makes most sense to try one or two of these clubs and see how it goes.
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I handed in my letter of resignation this past Thursday. My contract with my employer ends June 16th. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get away earlier though, as I have five and a half days of annual leave left to take. In preparation for my newly unemployed status, I have update my CV and list of referees. I've also been accumulating the contact details of as many recruitment agencies as I can.

~

I was supposed to be investigating content management systems for the PSC this weekend. Instead, I spent most of my time fighting with PHP and MySQL. And losing. The CMS chosen by their website admin does indeed seem like overkill for what they are wanting to do with it. On the other hand, Narada's suggestion of Wordpress doesn't really seem to fit the bill either, as it doesn't seem to have any reasonable means of managing a non-trivial number of pages. But Wordpress does have familiarity and a plethora of ready-built templates and plugins going for it.

Apart from that, I've watched a lot of The West Wing of late.

My flatmates threw a party last night, which consisted of watching Eurovision followed by a lot of drunken conversation. One of their friends brought his iPod, which served as the entertainment for the night, although his taste in music failed, in the opinion of my flatmates, to be cheesy enough for the proceedings. I got to sneak some Pink Floyd on the system eventually, and we finished the evening by talking about cinema over the bottles of fake Smirnoff Ice that had sat mysteriously in the fridge for the past six months.

~


The Budapest Symphony Orchestra playing at the Usher Hall
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"Now then, tell us about a time when you sat in a job interview, staring at the floor, mumbling incoherently in ridiculously convoluted and incomprehensible language about an occasion when you might, more in-spite of rather than because of your own abilities, have functioned successfully as part of a team."

No, I don't think I got the job. They'll let me know on Friday.

On the other hand, there are more important things in life than employment. I spent most of Sunday at my parents' house, showing the dandelions in the garden what for with a lawn mower. I also made a good start at ridding the garden of debris: mildew infested garden furniture, old dishwashers, etc. It's now all in a neat pile at the front, which with any luck a white van man is going to remove this week. My Dad has apparently bought a new barbecue, and it would be nice for the whole family to make use of it at least once this year. We didn't have time to empty the greenhouse, but I'll be returning in three week's time, so I'll see to it then.

My Dad had cooked beef olives (something I've not had in a while), and to accompany them, we prepared asparagus spears and mange tout. The asparagus turned out lovely, with the stalks al dente and the tips bursting with flavour. I'll have to make them at my flat some time.

Ho-Il visited tonight, so there was much playing of Killzone, and more cooking. We finally came across the machine gun that resembles the one used in Jin-Roh, which cause much delight. When I say "machine gun", you have to understand that this thing resembles a man-portable piece of artillery. Lots of fun. Although I prefer the assassin character, who is pretty much a rip-off of every female sci-fi assassin character ever, but wields an Aeon Flux-esque needle gun and a shiv, and talks with an oh so sexy Islington accent.

For dinner, I made a sort of chicken jalfrezi, using one of the "make your own curry" kits they sell in Lidl. These are little shrink-wrapped packets of fresh ingredients. I quite like the idea actually. It's not like you can buy a single birdseye chili in most supermarkets, and I don't think I've ever seen turmeric root in the shops. To that I added diced chicken, one onion, one capsicum, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a little powdered ginger. Et voila. Everyone was happy with the result.

I'm still a little funny about cooking. If I'm going to cook, I have to see cooking as a pass-time in itself. Something to do instead of watching a film or coding or whatever. I enjoy cooking for friends and family, even though I'm still learning. And I enjoy cooking for myself, providing that it's all I'll be doing that evening. If I'm cooking, I can pretty much write off getting anything else done. In my experience, self cooked food isn't any cheaper than ready meals, and most of the time, I would rather save the effort and devote my time to what I actually intend to do that day.
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I spent yesterday evening in town, doing my best to chill out. A curry was enjoyed at the mosque, a pint of Coors downed at Centraal, and a pot of ginger and lemongrass tea savoured in the Forest. I also managed to purchase a ticket for Ballboy's concert tomorrow night at the Liquid Room. I should add that Coors is rather delicious, very clean tasting and refreshing, with a subtle maltiness to it.

All of this was in aid of a planned meeting with Scottie later in the evening. A restauranteur acquaintance of his had tasked him with delivering a bespoke point of sale solution, and I had been offered the opportunity to assist. So we talked about possible means and software designs, and examined available hardware and ready-built solutions. We envisaged waiters taking orders on tablet computers and database driven backends doing crazy wacked things with statistics.

I'd like to help out if I can, because it is some time since I've had any opportunity to do any real programming.

Speaking of opportunity, I have a job interview on Monday. The first in a while, since I postponed my job hunt on account of the therapy I'm undergoing. This is for a helpdesk operator / registration administrator for the e-commerce web site at the bank I work for. It should be interesting, but I don't have a lot of confidence right now. I know where I'm going wrong, but I just don't feel I have it in me to fix the problems. Still, I think I have better stories to tell the interviewer than I did a few months ago. The last month at work has been surprisingly eventful.

I do like the prospect of working closer to the town centre. Well, to be precise, I like the prospect of working across the road from the Blue Blazer.
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LOL. This all goes to prove that I just can't do anything right.

Thinking that it was maybe about time that I did something unselfish for a change, I went along to the blood donation centre. I'm pleased to report that the pre-amble is pretty much hassle free and the procedure itself is painless. Just a slight discomfort at having a pieve of metal in ones arm for fifteen minutes. The problem came about because there is a time limit. It seems that not enough blood was flowing from my arm to satisfy the quota necessary for a transfusion before the clock ran out.

Still, I can try again in three months, and an appointment has been made. I'm just so disappointed.

At work today, I learned how to migrate auto-correction entries from Word 97 to Word 2002. Much to everyone's delight. (Hint: Google for "autocorrect.zip")

Hmmm...


From the alt.suicide.holiday Methods File:

Email conversations suggest 10+ stories works ALMOST all of the time. Try to land on concrete. Quote - "9 out of 10 people who fall six stories will die". Note that it may take a while for many of those 90% to die.


Knowing my luck, I'd be the one who survives.

PSP Nonsense


May 5th is going to be a big day for the European PSP, if Play.com are to be believed. I mean, look at all this fun stuff:

05/05 Locoroco
05/05 Tekken Dark Resurrection
05/05 Gran Turismo Mobile (if you care about that kind of thing)
05/05 Me and My Katamari
05/05 Puzzle Bobble Portable
05/05 Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

I doubt I'll be buying all of those. My days of buying everything that looks even remotely fun are long past. But Locoroco and Katamari are definites. Tekken eventually and Puzzle Bobble if its cheap.

If anyone needs convincing about Locoroco, watch this video. Do it! Now.

Aargh. And there's still OutRun, Capcom Classics and XI Colosseum.

Anyone who says the PSP still has no decent games is lying. It has far too bloody many.
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So I got to hear plenty of nice industrial at Opium last night. Unfortunately, fatigue kept me from staying past 1 am, but enjoyed myself, and once the place started to fill up, strangers actually seemed quite agreeable to random banter. The people who invited me proved very accommodating, and I enjoyed the novel feeling of meeting people from a club night on a separate occasion. Gary, the DJ from Neon, played an impressive set, despite one of the CD decks in Opium being dodgy.

As per usual, I got the unwelcome impression that I was intruding on a social circle where I didn't quite belong. I dunno to what extent that is the case, but I'd prefer if it happened to be an imagined perception. It gets so bad at times that I'll retreat to the other side of the room.

The manager I spoke to today turned out to be quite pleased with the work that I had done, which makes me happy. He had some changes to make, but they all made sense as far as I was concerned. There's just one more manager to speak to on Tuesday, and I can get it sent off to the printers. Job done, assuming the proofs turn out to everyone's satisfaction.

I'm on holiday from work for the next four days, because of Easter. Bankers really like their holidays. I'm rather skint, but I have lots of fun and (hopefully) inexpensive stuff planned. Surprisingly few films, but I still hope to fit a couple in, including Junebug. No big club nights however. I'm just not in the mood for crowds right now, and Easter 'events' are usually packed. Hobo on Sunday seems like a good idea though.

Music


Fuck backlashes. Placebo were never bad, and You Could Have It So Much Better with Franz Ferdinand is a far more rounded and complete album than their debut. The wealth of quality tracks has made it a mainstay on my MP3 player for the past couple of months. I'm also fair getting into Placebo's new album, Meds. In places, it's more of the same, but it's also very fresh sounding in others, not least of which the title song. Meanwhile, a recent introduction to Combichrist has fed my insatiable hunger for industrial techno.
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I visited the dentist today, to put right the consequences of a nice chap at Dogma deciding that it would be a good idea to punch me in the jaw whilst holding a mortice lock key in his fist. Fifteen minutes of drilling and filling, and twelve quid later, it was all over. I just have to wait for the damned numbness to leave my face before I can go out for the evening. I wouldn't mind if I could somehow get rid of the taste of rotten meat that is hanging around at the back of my mouth. It almost ruined the glass of Palm that I had to accompany my tea.

The plan for tonight is to head to Opium, where a friendly bloke I met at Neon is DJ'ing industrial. It should be fun, though I can't stay too late, as I still have had next to no sleep.

At work, I spent most of the day redesigning a form. Because it is used by just about everyone, this involved running around the warehouse getting feedback from various people and reconciling their differing requirements. I actually had quite a bit of fun doing this, and I'm pleased with the results. No really. I like the feeling that I am enabling people to fully realize their goals. That is why I enjoy admin work so much. Shame it's such a small part of my job.

Maybe I can use this as an example of something I did on my own initiative next time I'm in an interview.

The wine merchant in Marchmont has Scapa 14 for £25. I'm seriously tempted, tho I may go for a bottle of Poit Dubh 12 instead. They also sell Sailor Jerry for £18.
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Be ill on four occasions inside of twelve months, and you have to attend a health and well being meeting. This is not a disciplinary meeting, you understand. It is merely out of concern. So I explain to my line manager, and I think that an explanation is due, that the reason I am attending weekly therapy sessions is that I have been depressed since before Christmas. He is quite understanding actually. He even offers me an hour a week on medical grounds to attend the sessions. I decline of course. So all is well at work.

They are migrating the office to Windows XP. I help my line manager by migrating his desktop shortcuts and Microsoft Outlook settings. I just want to help, but I'm scared that the IT guy will think that I am getting in his way. Maybe I am. Or worse, that I am after his job.

When I get home, there is a ticket waiting for me in a Whisky Society envelope. Woodford Reserve have organized an evening of bourbon and horse racing. I don't know much about horses, save what my Dad taught me on Saturday mornings, but I love bourbon. Especially when it's free. The event is also free. I just had to wait on the ticket arriving, and here it is.

Cut for alcoholism... )
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Now that UK Shells' web server is working again:



El-naffo camera phone snaps. Remind me to get batteries for my real camera.

Work


You gotta love a company whose employees send print outs of emails (on 100 GSM paper, no less) to the document processing centre for scanning and electronic archival as bitmaps. The paper of course then goes in the confidential waste to be recycled.
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The games night went well. Angus and [livejournal.com profile] scotm arrived shortly after I did and a fair bit of Soul Calibur 2 was played. [livejournal.com profile] brucec more or less showed everyone who was boss, as he fended off our attacks with disturbing ease. Once we realized that there were four people in the room, Gamecube Bomberman was booted and much craziness ensued. Around nine, dinner was ordered from the Bangalore in Tollcross, and we enjoyed a well made Indian meal whilst discussing the games industry and the year's cinema.

Once the food was out of the way, we moved onto Virtua Tennis 2, which was rather more evenly matched than Soul Calibur, although I reckon that anyone who can win as Tim Henman deserves some bonus kudos. At one point a set went on to six deuces, which induced a certain degree of amazement. Finally, Street Fighter II was broken out, and Angus was given a crash course in the quintessential 2D beat 'em up, before we all had to leave to catch buses.

Kate was sadly notable by her absence, which was a bit disappointing. She apparently "feel asleep." Ten points for the unintentional Metal Gear reference.

For the next games night, I think I will try to obtain Mario Kart for the Cube and some more good PS2 versus games.

End of an Edinburgh Institution


The Golf Sale is apparently no longer on:



Fun facts:

  • The company owning the shop was actually called "Golf Sale Ltd." in order to circumvent advertising laws.
  • The guy who holds the sign gets paid eight pounds an hour.
  • He gets asked "Excuse me, do you know where there's a golf sale on?" quite frequently, and it apparently gets old rather quickly.


File, Print, File, Print, File...


As a measure of how monotonous my job is, it was an exciting occasion when my boss asked me to compose an email on his behalf.

Boring work stuff )

~

Oh, and I've booked myself a weekend of sailing lessons at Port Edgar.
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Meta



Okay, this is my first attempt at a day log. I'm confining these to Live Journal. My more essay-like entries will continue on my Word Press diary on my web site. Let's see how these go.

My Day



I've now committed myself to going ice skating at the end of April as part of a work's outing. This should be a laugh. Yet another one of these first attempts at something I should have done as a child. The work's two resident skater boys are also going. Apparently, they're going to be showing everyone up. I'll just be happy if I don't fall and break my wrist. (Last weekend taught me the dangers of landing wrongly.)

After work, I headed to Valvona and Crolla to get the rest of my Dad's birthday present, to supplement the DVDs I've bought for him. Tbh, I'm not all that impressed with the place. It seems like it's good for certain things, specifically coffee, cold meats and cheese; but I get the impression that the shop is really just catering to those with £5 to burn on a jar of pasta sauce or someone who wants only the best olive oil (at £40 a litre) for their salad. Call me a philistine, but I couldn't tell it apart from the stuff I get from Lidl. I got my Dad several jars of antipasti, pickles and condiments, most of which I'm sure I paid too much for. For myself, I bought a bag of amaretti and a bar of 85% chocolate.

Of course, I couldn't resist the bevvy section, and picked up a bottle of Nocello walnut liqueur and W.L. Weller. I have still yet to see a shop that has a comprehensive bourbon selection, but on the other hand, this is the first time I've seen Weller in an offy. Weller being my current fallback bourbon at the Blue Blazer. Being very fruity, it reminds me a lot of a Lossie Speyside malt, but of course demonstrating the caramelly notes characteristic of bourbon, without letting those flavours overpower its own unique qualities.

Just to cheer me up, when I got home, my ticket to Dark City had arrived.

Later tonight, I'm heading to the left bank to see a couple of bands playing. These are the groups of two guitarists / vocalists I heard play at the Listening Room in the 'Blazer on Sunday. Being a busy night, they only got to perform two songs apiece. I'm hoping that they will be able to play more than that tonight, as I enjoyed both of their sets, especially Ross's, and an expansion on what I heard is most definitely needed.

Capote



I guess for someone who does it full time, writing must be a really tortuous profession. Truman Capote, in this film, comes across as hiding behind a mask behind a mask. Seeing a story about a quadruple murder in a small Kansas town, he endeavours to write an article about it, and article that develops into a non-fiction novel (the first, by his reckoning). In the course of his writing, he befriends the two murderers, one of whom, being well read and articulate, fires his imagination. His motive for the friendship is purely cynical, in fact, once he has what he needs, he even goes as far as cutting of the legal assistance he had been providing, in the hope that their execution will be speeded, allowing him to finish his story.

He lies and double deals, but ultimately, it transpires that his cynicism is yet another persona, adopted out of necessity, and one that he finds impossible to maintain. His affection for the killers gets the better of him, and eventually tears him apart as he awaits their execution. Throughout the film, he is portrayed as someone facing an uphill struggle to convince people that he is not as his high pitched voice would lead them to believe, but perhaps what has happened is that he has built himself up too far, and cracks in the facade, that would otherwise be healthy character flaws, grow too far and reveal the ill-structured person underneath.

None of this would be possible of course, without the excellent workmanship of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He plays to an archetype, but he is more than worthy of the task of making one feel for a character seen frequently in life in ways that are most definitely atypical. He gives the audience a perfect view into the character's head, and Capote provides the perfect stage for this understated grandstanding performance.

Syriana



Syriana is the map to the underground railway system of an impossibly large city. As has been frequently stated, there is no way in which one can take in the whole thing at once. We see tiny snatches of criss-crossing disconnected lines, that look like they might be related, but can't see any connection. Their paths cross from time to time, and suggestions are made of how it all fits together. Then, inevitably, the connecting station is arrived at, and boom. Of course, complete comprehension never quite arrives, but we get a sense, and idea, of how this thing, far larger than any of ourselves, might fit together.

Syriana is about, among other things, the oil trade, geopolitics, ethics, espionage and fanaticism. It is, in every sense, a modern global epic; in the same way that Nixon and JFK are epics of mid-20th Century America. Where Syriana differs from Stone's book-end tales is that the individual characters are dwarfed by the story they inhabit.

Syriana gives as a real sense of the world we now live in. How no single person has a grasp upon it. How many try, and although their influence reaches far, often beyond their own ken, it is never enough to completely affect the sphere they wish to influence an a way that will satisfy. Corrupt polititians, idealistic proscecutors, naive but ambitious businessmen and acolyte fundamentalists all have a part to play, but what they play a part in has grown to such a state that the outcome will most likely (and probably thankfully) satisfy no-one.

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leynos

January 2015

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