Category Archives: Uncategorised

Flat Out

I’ve been working pretty hard recently, it’s a busy time for surveys. So rushing around on a parking survey I clipped a curb and got a puncture. I’d hardly had any sleep for four days, and had loads of work still to do, so at the time it just felt like one of those downward spiral moments. Still, the rental company has a deal with AA and they sorted me out a new tyre in a few hours. What’s more I didn’t even have to pay for it, although I’m still not sure whether that’s a policy or an admin error on their part. I’m not complaining.

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Linked In

It’s nice when you find a simple thing that sorts out a problem that’s being bugging you.

I have an old desktop that doesn’t have wireless capability, that is usually connected via LAN. Because of a move, that’s not possible anymore so I was using my netbook for internet use. But then the PSU died, forcing me to attend to the issue while the replacement PSU is on order. I need the internet for work.

I got this TP-LINK TL-WN725N from Maplin (product listing here) for £14.99. It’s tiny, about the size of a finger print, but it does the job. I wasn’t sure in the shop, but the assistant assured me it would work (“you don’t have metal floors do you?”) and I couldn’t be happier. In fact the download speeds are much better than the wireless adapter in my netbook were acheiving. At first I thought it wasn’t working, but luckliy I figured out that I’d disabled the Windows Wireless Service because I wasn’t using it. Then, it turns out, the software that comes with it is unnecessary, and actual interferes with Windows connecting to the signal so I uninstalled that. And away we go.

Tales of a Gypsy Caravan

This is Muriel’s Caravan. I had to help her move it today…by hand. Luckily it’s not that heavy. Muriel is an artist and musician I used to live with when I was busking around London. She’s completely in her own, scary world but has a determination and spirit that it’s impossible not to be inspired by. She managed to buy this caravan and lived in it for a while parked on a regular residential street in Shepherds Bush. Rather her than me. This caravan can currently be seen brightening up one of the dreariest streets in London, Western Avenue…

Cycle Route

I had a day off today so took the bike out for a ride, along with my new phone, a Samsung Tocco Icon. I really needed and wanted it for the camera, both for work and pleasure. Taking pictures of my walks and explorations is a real pleasure for me, as well as the only way I can remember what I’ve done. I also needed a phone with access to email, which the backup phone I’ve being using doesn’t have.
I’m not sure if I chose the right one. I liked my old phone because it had a dedicated camera button on the side of the frame, whereas this uses the touch screen. We’ll see how it goes but I wonder whether I should have gone with the Sony Ericsson Mix Walkman which had such a button. I just didn’t take to the user interface on the Sony.
Here’s some snaps from my journey today. I started by going to Kilburn to buy some secondhand army socks. Unfortunately the shop had closed down which is a shame. They were £2 a pair and last for ages. Essential on cold working days too. From Kilburn I went down through Maida Vale, across towards Westbourne Grove where I got onto the Grand Union Canal towpath. I followed the canal up to Willesden Junction, down through Acton to Chiswick and back up through Hammersmith to Shepherd’s Bush.
 
An interesting building on the corner of the curiously named  Henchman Street
 

Dark Passenger


I’ve been working my way through back issues of Dexter, a crime series from the US. It’s been going for a while and initially I didn’t think it was my kind of show. But with time on my hands, no-one around to share it with and wanting to take my mind off the world I thought I’d give it a try. Whether filling that hole with a subversive and gory experience like Dexter was wise is another question.

I’ve reached the end of Season 3 and I have slightly mixed feelings about it. It’s absolutely brilliant but also incredibly dark when you sit down and think about what’s going on. Is it worrying that I identify with Dexter Morgan, a serial killer, or is it just good writing? I even felt weirdly sinister as I took my binbags out today having seen Dexter using them to dispose of his victims.

The writing is very, very clever. I really liked the exploration of addiction in season 2, surpassed by some great episodes in season 3. To watch Dexter use the words of an obsessive, deranged murderer, describing her ‘love’ for her victim, to propose to his girlfriend was quite something. It might be a cliche to suggest it, but Dexter does serve as an effective metaphor for the dark passenger in all of us and the writing so far has been more than up to the task of exploring that in fascinating ways. The acting is great, the humour works well. I’m very impressed, but the intellectual subtlety of the thing is worrying.

I Should Cocoa…

You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I take a keen interest in health matters. Mostly intellectual I suppose, but I honestly try to apply the things I read about. I take the odd supplement, I’m taking a daily vitamin D over the winter for example. The problem is I tend to oscillate between extremes; eating nothing but cottage cheese for a week and then binging on Ben & Jerry’s and pizza. I’m trying a more moderate approach at the moment in preparation for hitting it hard over the summer.

I read about the health benefits of cocoa. The Kuna Indians of Panama have very low levels of degenerative diseases and consume a shedload of cocoa. Up to five cups a day. That’s a compelling piece of science.

CannaCure

Like a lot of people I smoked pot at university. I had good times and bad times but I felt like experimenting with the drug added something positive to my life, even if the bad times started to outweigh the good and I stopped in my early twenties. Interesting research emerges regularly about the medicinal properties of cannabis. It has been found to be useful in the treatment of mental illness, despite the hysterical fearmongering of the right-wing press. I’ve always believed it should be legal but controlled, perhaps available through chemists. I think the reason that many sensible users end up in bad situations is because of having to deal with the criminal underworld in order to score. I think some of the social problems can be traced to it’s taboo status and that it’s current legal status has less to do with its potential harm than is claimed. This documentary enforces my opinions. There’s some strong evidence that cannabis slows the growth of tumours. I recommend you take a look at this if you think you might be interested. The talking heads seem to include respectable doctors and scientists. Who knows, watching this may save your life…

This Time it’s Personal

I’ve been using Tesco Holland Park for about five or six years. I live in the area and stop off there nearly every day. For the first few years that I shopped there I bought alcohol without being challenged, which isn’t surprising because I am a 36 year old man. People always tell me I look younger than that, which actually bothers me a bit. My fear is that my youthful looks reflect an immaturity which embarrasses me. That being said I don’t look 17, I don’t even look 24 (in terms of a Think 25 policy).

All of a sudden, about a year ago, one of the staff members who’d previously sold me alcohol without problem started to ask me for ID. Since then she has challenged me every single time. Each time I would tell her my age or date of birth and she would relent without me having to produce any ID. None of the other members of staff have ever asked, in fact noone has asked me for ID for longer than I can remember. Today I got annoyed when she asked me yet again when trying to buy a Crabbies. Although thousands go through that store every day, I would expect her to remember a regular customer she challenged after the 4th or 5th time of asking. So I told her not to be stupid. One of the other staff on the till was laughing at the situation. She called the manager and he apologetically claimed that I couldn’t be served because she didn’t believe I was over 18. Her opinion seemingly having more weight than that of any other, including his. This was made all the more galling by virtue of having to watch a girl who was borderline, to say the least, being approved alcohol at one of the self-service tills, where I, a bearded man with greying hair, had to explain myself after a long day to a couple of clowns on the till. I had no ID so had to buy some beer down the road.

I can’t explain this. The only thing I can come up with, without being too paranoid, is that she has a cultural problem identifying the age of Caucasians in the same way that I might with Oriental people. After all, she has no reference points in terms of work colleagues because I can’t remember ever seeing a white person working there. It’s an amazing coincidence, especially considering the more balanced ethnic make-up of staff at the Waitrose and Morrisons stores down the road, that the recruitment process hasn’t thrown the occasional honky into the mix. It’s almost like there’s some kind of ethnic bias or something. Weird. Which would be illegal of course, being serious about it.

Anyway, it also has to be said that she has a few odd, nervous ticks which might indicate some underlying issues. She mutters to herself and behaves in a slightly weird way, which is why I cut her some slack when she challenged me before. But I was tired and irritated and complained about it this time. Lets see if I hear back.

*UPDATE 15-01-12 They called me back today which is impressive customer service. They are forwarding my email to the store manager.

*UPDATE  16-02-12 I wondered whether this might happen. My complaint to Tesco included my pointed remark about the lack of white employees. Today there was a white employee on the tills at Tesco Holland Park. Could be a coincidence of course. Not just white either, he was actually English, singing to himself at the till.

Eggs 4 Headz


It seems that science has emphatically proved the health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. Unfortunately I hate fish. I think it tastes rotten and poisonous, which is strange because if it was so good for you then the human body should have evolved to like the taste of it. Mine doesn’t so maybe I have a recessive taste gene or something. I’m also a vegetarian so even if I liked the taste of it I wouldn’t eat it.

Unfortunately the evidence for the benefits is so overwhelming that, my life being what it is, I can do with all the nutritional help I can get. I tried vegan omega 3 supplements from algae but they also repeated a fishy taste like the conventional fish oil supplements. So I tried these eggs and they’re delicious. I’m aware that the chickens are fed some fishy stuff to produce the dha-rich eggs, which has implications for a vegetarian purist, but I’m doing pretty well at sticking to the regime in most other ways. If I found out that vegetarianism was bad for me I’d stop; ultimately my health is more important.

Enthralled and Disappointed


I heard about this show (Bored to Death) on the Too Beautiful to Live podcast and eventually checked it out. It’s a sitcom featuring Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson in the main roles; all actors whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. The situation for the comedy is that Schwartzman’s character is a struggling writer who gets dumped by his girlfriend and decides to become a private detective. Zach Galifianakis plays his oddball friend and Ted Danson plays a father figure and head of a newspaper that employs him.

I really, really liked it. It has a gentle pace to it which I like, with clever lines and slapstick moments living easily side-by-side. The post title is a quote from the first episode, taken out of context, to illustrate my feelings about it. I was enthralled by the show and disappointed that it was cancelled after just three seasons. I didn’t think that it was getting weaker and it saddens me to think a solid sitcom like this couldn’t survive. Anyway, check it out.