Saturday, March 31, 2007

Children of Men

If you haven't seen Children of Men and you don't want to know anything about the plot you should look away now...although I don't think I've given anything away that you don't know from the trailer.

My brother claimed, on this very blog, that it was utter rubbish with the strangest ending ever. I, as usually happens when one of us takes an opinion on anything, disagree with him. I mean, it wasn't as great as I had hoped it would be, it could have certainly done with more explosions and a couple of ninja kung fu fights but it was a pretty good film. It's no Rocky Balboa, but it's pretty good. Oh and the ending wasn't strange at all, I mean, clearly they owe us a few answers like 'is this the only pregnancy since everyone became sterile 20 years ago?' 'cos you know, if it is, then what's the point? One baby's not going to save mankind. But all that aside, it's set in a wonderfully bleak future, every sequence seems to be a single camera shot that lasts about 15 minutes, the action sequences that are in there are pretty unique (the gang attacking the car for example) and Michael Caine is worth the price of admission on his own.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Personal Growth

So, insurance woman just left with two test tubes of my urine (96.5 degrees!) and two test tubes of my blood (it looked fizzy). She weighed me and measured me. I am, according the Mutual Insurance Company of Omaha, 6' 3 and 1/4". Now all my adult life I've told people I was 6' 2". When asked, not, you know, apropos of nothing. Recently though I've begun to think I'm shrinking. I've always worn 34" leg trousers but lately have had to switch to 32".

At first I thought this was some kind of global conspiracy by the clothing industry to force men to spend more time in their shops. By mixing up the sizes they can force us to actually try clothes on, instead of, when we need new jeans, walking into a shop, grabbing a pair in the size we've always worn, paying for them and leaving.

Since I have a day off every other Friday I now have time to perform actual science so that I can test some of my theories. Well, the global clothing conspiracy is disproved:

32" it says on the label and 32" they are...
Unless they've moved where they start measuring from, that looks about right to me.

So according to some blokes razor if everything else is wrong, whatever is left is right. The only logical conclusion is that I've grown, not 1 and 1/4 inches, but 3 and 1/4 inches in my upper body. Lucky for the IT world this growth coincided with a 2 inch shrinking of my legs, otherwise I'd be packing in this computer nonsense and heading off to the NBA.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you all about the really cool spidery tripod Nikki bought me for my birthday, it's all flexible and bendy and can grab onto tree trunks and stuff:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Weekend Is Here

For me anyway. You suckers who don't get every other Friday off, or who do get every other Friday off but had last Friday off instead of this Friday off, will have to wait. But for me, the weekend is here. Finally. Man it's been a long week. All I want to do tonight is crack a few cold beers, eat some pizza and lounge in front of the TV. Possibly whilst watching Children of Men which, by my calculations, Netflix should have delivered at half past three this afternoon.

This presents a problem.

I decided to buy some life insurance, not enough to make it worth Nikki's while to sign me up for duathlons and bike races, but enough to pay for the house and a nice black dress for her should I kick the bucket tomorrow. Well, technically some time after tomorrow, but, you know, soon.

Before giving me the policy they want to make sure I'm not actually going to kick the bucket tomorrow. This is pretty smart of them, because how would they know I'm a superfit, chiseled, hunk of health? They wouldn't and, probably because of the lies of the usual idiots who spoil it for the rest of us, they will not just take my word for it. So they're sending someone to weigh me and prod me with sticks and stab me with needles and see if I can take a punch and stuff. This person arrives at 9am tomorrow.

If I've had a few bottles of delicious Anchor Steam beer and more pizza than is strictly necessary she may get the false impression that I regularly drink more beer and consume more pizza than I should and based on this false premise decide that her insurance company shouldn't give me a policy.

But man, I'm thirsty.

What to do?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Have The Power

I bought my iPod years ago. It's a 3G with 15GB and I use it pretty much every day. It doesn't really owe me anything, so over the last few months, as the battery life has diminished to less than an hour I figured that it is almost due for replacement anyway. I'd decided I'd buy myself a new one as soon as this one no longer lasted through my drive to work and back. It's almost at that point now. I can't change tracks too often on it without the battery dying within 30 minutes. Today I took a trip to Fry's Electronics on my brother's behalf (they wouldn't refund me for the memory, bruv, but they offered to replace it. I'll try and get your money back under the manufacturer's warranty instead) and decided to check out the iPods whilst I was there. My options were a 30GB or and 80GB, which since I've never really filled up my 15GB seemed like overkill, although with movies I reckon I could manage. Anyway, I also spotted replacement batteries for my existing one for $40, which measured against $350 for the 80GB seemed worth a try. Here's my iPod disassembled:

The battery is the black rectangle in the bottom right of the case. The cable wraps under a little piece of the circuit board and then plugs in. I had to remove the little screw to get the cable tucked back in neatly.

This is the hard drive, it's in a blue rubber case. It sits on top of the battery and circuit board, the copper ribbon has the connector that plugs in on the bottom left of the circuit board. The old battery is sitting next to it. It says "This battery does not contain mercury" so I think that means I can chuck it in the bin.

Phew, it came back up. I'll leave it charging overnight.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

By Request

Nikki asked me to post this. I'm not sure if it was because she thought it was so hilarious that I had to immediately share it with the whole world or if she just wanted you all to suffer from my crap jokes as much as she does...

What's brown and sounds like a bell?


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I believe I mentioned that my back was killing me after cleaning the filter cartridges. Well, it's only now starting to ease. I took Monday off work 'cos I was in so much pain. I even passed up an invitation to a crawfish boil on Saturday afternoon. Anyone who knows how much I love those spicy little critters will realise just how desperate things must have been. I've chewed down half a bottle of Tylenol and gone through a box of those icy hot back patch bandage things since Friday night. On Tuesday morning it still took me about 20 minutes to get my socks on, this morning, I managed it in about 5. I don't have much more flexibility so it was mostly down to improved technique. I'm also convinced my entire body has tilted left a bit. I'd take pictures to prove this, but the Geneva convention forbids me from posting nude or semi-nude pictures of myself on the Internet.

From now on, cleaning the filter is a two man (or one man, one woman) job.

My inability to bend over has given the weeds in the garden a chance to make a brief comeback. If I'm feeling better by the weekend, they're getting it with every type of chemical I can find. I'm not taking prisoners anymore. Organic, Shmorganic. Last week's storms washed most of the mulch into small piles in various corners of the flowerbeds. The liner covering the herb garden is still doing its' job though and there is not a weed to be seen. I reckon that might be the way forward for everywhere else, but that might be a job for next spring.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Calcium. Mum's love it. Pools, not so much. Ours has loads more than it should, that reduces the effects of all the other chemicals we put in. The woman at Leslie's pool supplies reckons the best thing to do is drain the pool all the way down and refill it. Leslie's take on the whole sewer versus drain thing is that I should do whatever is easier, she knows of no city ordinance one way or the other. I can probably rent a pump from home depot, but I may wait until later in the year when there's less water in the ground.

The pool is currently a chemical soup. I've added a calcium free shock, phosphate remover and something to make all the little bits of crap that keep passing through the filter clump together into big bits of crap. I'm still on target for swimming tomorrow.

Meanwhile - Here's Rasta Chicken!

Oh, and check out Thou Shalt Always Kill by dan le sac VS scroobius pip. It's going to be a big hit if I know my Indie Electronica Hip Hop. It's on My Space, so will play immediately upon loading, you have been warned if you're at work.


Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. All I had to do was release all the air from the filter unit by opening the valve on the pressure gauge on the top. Then undo all 8 of those clamps round the middle, lift the top off, lift out the two, huge, soaking wet, manky filters and the one small, but still manky filter. There's a drain underneath the filter pump, but I couldn't open it. I'm not sure it's ever been opened.

Instead I removed the tap on the front. Actually the whole white thing there came out. That drained the pump most of the way. The tap itself was totally bunged up with crap, so I disassembled it a little bit and cleaned it out. Then I hosed down the filters to clean them up a bit and reassembled the whole thing. I had to run the filter with the air valve open until water shot out, then I closed it and turned the tap on. Success! The water came pouring out. So I hooked the hose up.

Following my brothers sage advice I decided to continue dumping pool water in the lawn, so I ran the hose across to the back lawn and will dump it there until the lawn is saturated, then move the hose to the front if I have to.

See? Good stream. Nice flow. Very happy.

This was the pipe I thought might be for dumping water down. I filled it up with water from a bucket and it didn't go anywhere. Though a lot of crap floated to the top. I thought it might be clogged, so I poked a big stick down it. The stick wasn't big enough. It floated back up. So I poked my big stick with another littler stick and hit something that felt like dirt. My big stick floated back up, so I jammed it down with some force at which point it got stuck in whatever crap was down there. Damn. I'm not sure what I can do about it at this stage. I'm not particularly attached to the big stick and I can't see how it's going to be a problem, so I guess I'll leave it there for now. My back's killing me, those filters really were quite heavy, so I'm off to eat leftover pizza and maybe treat myself to a beer.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Full Pool

Yeah, it rained a bit yesterday:

Hooking the hose up to the running filter pump usually allows me to pump water out of the pool, but the tap on the pump was only sending out a trickle. I'm new to all this pool stuff, so mild confusion has set in. I read the book Nikki bought me for Christmas, but it didn't enlighten me any. I think maybe the filter pump is too clogged with crap, so I guess that's how I'm spending my day off tomorrow. I may also go buy a pump to drain water independently of the filter system. When I get the pool back to its normal level I'll have to throw loads of chlorine in because what was in there has probably diluted so much that the mosquitos are enjoying the clean sensation. That will keep the pool off limits for 24 hours or so, but if I time it right and the weather holds up, I'll be celebrating Mr. Shanks' birthday on Saturday by watching Scotland salvage some pride from their otherwise disastrous 6 nations performance with a win over France in the morning and a wee swim in the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Man, that came in fast. Compare that view to the one behind my big head from September. Guess I'm stuck in the office for a little while. Bet the bloody pool is overflowing too. Posted by Picasa

Whilst I'm Moaning

The Cricket World Cup is on. Scotland are playing. Right now. I can not bring myself to care. I tried. Really I did. A lot of the guys in the office are into it, big time. The West Indies beat Pakistan yesterday and there were tears and taunting all over the place. I would normally be interested in watching Scotland compete at a world level and I'm not ruling out a change of heart should we play England, 'cos let's face it, Scotland playing England at tiddlywinks is going to be ultra-competitive, but I don't think it's going to happen, because Cricket is boooooooooooring.


Google's word verification thing is playing tricks with my head. Every time it pops up now I clearly type in the visual verification correctly, only to be told I got it wrong. Sometimes it takes three or four attempts.

That's bad enough, but now after I do successfully post a comment I get the comment box back with my original comment still in it and think I've failed the word verification. So I hit "Publish your comment" again, leaving my comment twice. If you've noticed a lot of "This post has been removed by the author" things on your blogger blog from me recently, that's why.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring's Here

For one reason or another I didn't make it out of the house much during daylight hours this weekend. As a result I missed the arrival of Spring. The pear tree in the front garden was bare last time I saw it. I came home last night after work and, thanks to the early switch to DST, it was still light enough to see that it now has little leaves and flowers all over the place.

I'm taking it as an official sign and declaring that Winter is over. You may put your heavy coats, scarves and hats away now.*

* May not apply to residents of Stonehaven or surrounding areas.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Brazilian Arts

Saturday night a friend and I went to the Brazilian Arts Foundation for an evening of, well, Brazilian Arts. There was Samba, loud drumming, free booze and a Capoeira demonstration:

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that involves a little bit of dance and a little bit of acrobatics but from what I could see, though these blokes were aiming to miss each other, if they really wanted to do any damage to you, they could.

Anyway, the most interesting thing about the night was the discovery that I am the ultimate wingman. On two occasions Saturday night the guy I was with needed assistance, once to distract the bored friend of a girl he was chatting up so that she didn't start sending the secret 'let's go' signals and another time when he couldn't remember the name of a girl he was dancing with who we had both been introduced to earlier. No trouble for me, I couldn't remember her name either, but since I had no agenda, I had no problem saying "I'm sorry, I forgot your name, what was it again?" and then relaying the information.

So there it is single blokes - now you know. Some people say you need another single bloke as a wingman, but let's face it, he's looking out for himself and is direct competition, plus you have to return the favour. I've heard another theory that you need a gay bloke as your wingman, and that may get round the competition problem, but you still have to spend time being his wingman too. Nope, there's no-one better for the wingman job than a married bloke and all it costs you is a few beers.

Friday, March 9, 2007


So I'm going, with about 300 other guys (and Salimah), to the movies tonight. We're going to see this movie that's got, like, a 300% freshness rating on rotten tomatoes and is almost 300 minutes long. We're all meeting up in the Red Lion where we'll have 300 beers before we go to see it. I can't wait. I think it's called The Spartans Kill Lots of Persians Then Die.

Oooh, pretty.

Blogger's got all this cool new template stuff that I want to start using, but I've heavily customized the HTML on this blog, so I think most of it will break if we upgrade.

I've set up a sandbox over here for me to play with it and see what happens. Snagged my own name for the URL too, that was cool. Let me know what you think, here, not there, 'cos I'm not checking there.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Root of All Evil

The chicken thing totally worked.

We made 39 cents in advert revenue out of the chicken entry, compared to only 17 cents for the herb one, so that's it, more chickens* from now on. Presenting, Rasta Chicken:

*I think I've pretty much run out of chicken pictures from the rodeo** and I don't think pictures of precooked chickens is going to do it, so there may not, in fact, be more chickens from now on.

** Now that I think about it, there may be more pictures on the other camera. I'll check later. I recall taking a beauty of Rasta Chicken, but it's not on my cell phone, so there may, in fact, be more chickens from now on.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Nikki and I, with much help from Malc and Sandy, did a lot of work in the garden last weekend. Nikki now has her herb garden:
The big plant at the back is Rosemary that was already in the garden, to the right at the back is mint, hopefully contained in its own pot buried under the soil. I don't know what any of the others are except the basil, second from the left at the front.

The impressively large Rosemary, not showing too much transplant shock we hope. We dug it up whilst turning the soil over and replanted it not too far from its original position.
This poor little Basil had a tough time. First of all he's notoriously fickle about where he chooses to grow, then he got trod on by a size 10 flip-flop, then he got totally covered in mud and lost until we dug him out. Don't think he's going to make it.

Also being planted were some tomatoes. The hose pipe behind is porous, throughout the herb garden it's under a liner and the mulch, but it's lying on top of the soil round the veggies for now. It may get buried under a little soil later, we need to see how good a job it does on the surface first.

This is a Cayenne Pepper plant, there's also a yellow Bell Pepper plant in the garden. We've heard that planting veggies in the spring is a waste of time in Houston and that the autumn will yield bigger and better crops, but it's not like we're going to starve if the tomato plant fails, so we'll see what happens. Check back for regular updates.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Recruitment Drive

In the 7 months since the move to Blogger not one person has clicked on the two adverts under Selling Out (bottom right, under the Archives, in case you're looking, which, let's face it, you haven't been so far). I know I could move the adverts somewhere else on the page, like to the very top, but I'm not really trying to make a living out of this, I just want to see what happens and I don't want to take up valuable top of the page real estate with commercial crap. So how do I solve this problem? Well, it's quite simple, I need to drive more traffic to the site. More traffic, more eyeballs, more chance of people spotting the ads, more chance of people being interested enough to click on them, more chance of me making enough money to buy a round of drinks at the gravity enabled space bar of the future in 2052.

Now, I could do this by writing one or more carefully crafted entries every day that are entertaining or funny or controversial or all three, slowly allowing word to get around about what a fun few minutes it is to visit here regularly, but I need instant gratification, plus, you know, I don't write too good. But fear not, for I have a cunning plan. I present you with gratuitous pictures of baby chickens for no reason at all! Tell your friends.