Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sleepy Bird

No, not my jet-lagged wife. This little fella:

He decided to take a nap on the ledge above our porch last night and huddled himself up into a ball that, in the dark, freaked me out a little bit. He must have slept well though since he didn't even move when I shone a torch on him and took a photo. Nikki wanted me to poke him with a stick to see if he was dead but I rejected that plan. This morning, he was gone. Probably got annoyed at the train driving mofos. Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 19, 2007


On Saturday night, to celebrate Nikki coming home, to have a late Valentine's day and to observe my birthday, Nikki and I went to 17. I'd read good things about it before, but Houston has so many great places to eat that we'd never got round to going. Well, we'll be back, soon.

Nikki started with the gulf coast lump crab, which I had thought about ordering myself. The crab and the avocado was great, I could have done without the grapefruit it was sitting on, but that's just me. Nikki likes grapefruit and I don't, so she had no complaints. I had the duck ravioli, which was absolutely delicious. For main courses Nikki had the lamb chops, they were really tasty and I had the Texas hill country venison, which was outstanding. Both main courses were wonderfully presented. The butternut squash and the chestnut tart with the venison were absolutely great but the best thing about the meal, the most unforgettable piece, was the side dish of black truffle macaroni and cheese we ordered. It was unbelievably good. Next time we go I may just order 4 of those instead of a main course.

The chocolate cake I had for dessert was really nice too and they wrote Happy Birthday on my plate with chocolate sauce which was a great touch. Nikki had the crème caramel which may or may have been very good but I didn't get a sample, so I wouldn't know.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 16, 2007

Saké To Me

Alex and Fi ordered me 3 bottles of G Saké for my birthday and they arrived today, a day early. I'm really looking forward to these. I was very tempted to buy them for myself when they were on offer on Woot a couple of weeks ago.

I guess like most people I've only ever tried the sake that they serve hot in sushi restaurants. It turns out they do that because it's full of crap and high in alcohol. This one is real premium stuff that's meant to be served cold, so Nikki and I will have a fun night or 12 drinking these. Now we just have to figure out how to make sushi. One's in the regular fridge, two are in the wine fridge. A couple of days to settle from the journey and they'll be ready to drink.

In case you can't see it, the bottles are really quite cool. As well as being a cool shape the label reads:

Men can't find it.
Forces can't make it.
Time can never change it.
Genshu Saké - an American masterpiece.
Cask Strength. Hand Crafted 18% Alc by Vol 750 ml

Joy indeed. Thanks guys, much appreciated!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A New Pet Hate

It's been a while, I know. Nikki's been away, which usually leads to lots of blogging from me as I go slowly mad without her, but this trip I've been so busy that I've had no time to fill with my usual nonsense. No plants have died. No house stuff has needed doing. Nothing has aggravated me enough to send me racing in the general direction of my keyboard. (Actually, one thing has, but that blog post is going to be a multimedia extravaganza that I haven't quite figured out how to prepare or present). Fortunately, just as I started to fear that this blog had gone the way of such previously prolific, but now almost dormant, titans of yesteryear as Fi & Alex and Iain & Vikki, along came two e-mails from different sources, with one common theme...The wonderful unmanned mailbox:

Subject: Demolition
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 17:05:33 +0000

Dear Homeowner:
Our records indicate that we are due to demolish your house tomorrow using lasers from outer space. This demolition will commence at 7am. If your house has been scheduled for demolition by mistake please call the House Demolition Hotline at 1-800-555-5201. Office hours are 8am to 5pm.

Your friends at the space laser company that cares.

Please do not reply to this message via e-mail. This address is automated, unattended, and cannot help with questions or requests.

I have now decided that not having a valid e-mail address that I can reply to is a crime worse than having a call center in Bangalore that I have to spend 45 minutes on hold to only to get through to someone who cannot help me.

When I called AT&T today, (for one of the offending messages was from them) to resolve the same problem I've called them about three times previously, that they have notified me about by e-mail that I could not reply to three times previously, they did exactly what they did the previous three times. The problem is identified in the first two minutes of the phone call. (Well, technically the first 32 minutes of the phone call, but hold time is another blog entry for another day.) The rep then tells me that it's going to be fixed and then I hang on the line, silently, for 20 minutes, listening to a rep going, "OK...Uh-Huh...I'm making the change now...I'm still on the line...our systems are very slow...I'm still here...the update is in...I'm just waiting for the confirmation...".

This is madness for all concerned, surely? If I could have replied to their e-mail saying, "No, check out my file, we've been through this and here's the previous confirmation number" their rep could have fixed it with 2 minutes of work from me and 5 minutes of work from them, at a moment of their choosing. Instead I spend 50 minutes on the phone total, 20 minutes talking to two different AT&T reps and all to fix a problem that did not need to be fixed immediately.

All they would need to do is have someone check a mailbox and route incoming e-mails into the problem resolution system they use when you call. How can the current system be more efficient for them or their customers?

Sunday, February 4, 2007


I could do a "Where am I, part II?" post but I think most of you know where I am. I've been travelling around alot, from the US to Labuan. Then a ferry to Brunei. (photo looking back on Labuan from the ferry)

Then a car through Brunei back into Malaysia to get to the town of Miri.

This is where I was doing my offshore training course. Including practising escaping from a helicopter, floating around in a wave machine and jumping off platforms.

Then I went to the island of Labuan, where I was supposed to go offshore, but they cancelled the job.
So then it was back to Singapore, but first I had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur for a night. This was the view from my hotel room.

Now I'm in Singapore for a couple of weeks, to stock up on noodles and choccie biscuits.