Squodge Squodge

The Purple Penguin

Monday, September 30, 2002
This year's Mascot Grand National has been won by Chaddy, the Oldham Owl.

And in other news, apparently blondes are an endangered species.

posted at 8:13 PM
Sunday, September 29, 2002
Yesterday I watched Lord of the Rings for the second time. I was the only person I know who didn't enjoy it the first time round. In my defence, we saw it about 9pm the day it came out and I had a really bad cold. I'd had a really long day at work and I was feeling really grotty. Going straight to bed when I got home rather than out to sit in a cinema for 3 hours would have been a better idea. With the passing of months punctuated by people raving about it being the best film ever I'd been wondering more and more whether I would have enjoyed the movie if I hadn't been more interested in curling up into a little ball and sleeping when I watched it. And boy, did I enjoy it :-) I'm now trying to work out if I'll manage to find the time to watch it again before The Two Towers comes out.

posted at 8:41 AM
Thursday, September 26, 2002
I couldn't let this one go by unremarked. Jeffrey Archer has been moved back to a closed prison after being a naughty boy and going to a party on a home visit. It would appear that he didn't think he was doing anything wrong. Now where have we heard that before .....

The latest crop of new words in the OED include Jedi, Klingon and Tardis. Are they really trying to tell me Jedi wasn't already in there?

posted at 9:36 PM
Today we had a day off work. Let me tell you what we did. The alarm went off at 7.30, which is not usual for a non-work day. This was because we had a loft ladder fitter due at 8. Of course, the chap didn't turn up till 9, so I could have had an extra hour of sleep (which would have come in handy seeing as someone had parked a shiny new BMW outside the house, with a loud piercing alarm which went off every couple of hours all night). But I'm wandering off-topic, so I'll get to the point. While the loft ladder was being installed (and very functional and ladder-like it is too :-) we removed the carpet from a room which will eventually be a kitchen, and put it in the car. No mean feat seeing as the car is a tiny little Polo.

Having then done some sweeping to clear the dust caused by removal of said carpet,
owen then proceeded to start removing the panelling which was boxing in the stair case (with some helping and hammer-fetching from me). We'd seen an episode of Grand Designs a couple of weeks ago in which a bloke pulled apart the panelling on his stairs to reveal some gorgeous Victorian bannisters underneath. Inspired by this, we thought we'd give it ago. Result! I leave it to the man himself to do the full write-up as he deserves most of the credit. Remembered to take before, during and after photos, and I'll try to whack them up somewhere soon. Still a bit of work to be done tomorrow, then a lot of work for me, as I've volunteered for all the sanding and varnishing that comes next.

As a break from all this hard work, we took a trip to the local dump to get rid of the carpet from the morning. Then popped into a furniture shop and picked out some stuff we want. Then we went to the high street to buy a mop and some curtains (got the mop, but not the curtains). Unfortunately we also got a parking ticket :-( Does anybody out there understand the secret code they use on parking signs? We thought we were legal to be parked where we were, but it appears we weren't.

This evening I have been mainly cleaning up glass because we also smashed some window type things in a partition as the first stage in tearing it out. This would make more sense if I had the pictures! Tomorrow we have the electrician coming at 8 to finish up the last few bits remaining from the re-wire. So no lie-in then either :-( We're having the weekend off though, as my sister is coming to stay before disappearing off into Bolivia for a while!

update - preliminary photos via bloing (aka Mr Squodge).

posted at 9:26 PM
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Sad news for Nintendo fans - they've sold Rare to Microsoft. So all the fab new games will end up on the X-box instead of the GameCube :-( Not that I've got my GameCube yet, but I wasn't intending to get an X-Box.

posted at 5:50 PM
Monday, September 23, 2002
A slight delivery error has left Abu Dhabi with blue traffic lights instead of green ones! How surreal would that be?

And in an update to a story that was floating around ages ago, Mike Batt has settled out of court in his copyright battle over a track comprising of 60 seconds of silence.

posted at 10:07 PM
Sunday, September 22, 2002
The MIT are going to put loads of degree course material on the web, free for anyone to access anywhere. Apparently, as a university, their mission is to educate and not just to make loads of money. Freely sharing information with the world - I wonder if it will catch on :-)

A researcher has developed an intelligent alarm clock that connects to the web and wakes you up at different times depending on the traffic reports. What a cuuning idea. He's now looking for someone to make them commercially, so it will be a while before we see them in the shops.

The fifth Harry Potter book is nearly finished, according to JK Rowling. I can't wait.

If you're getting impatient waiting for it, try the His Dark Materials trilogy from Philip Pullman. I've just finished the first one (Northern Lights) which was superb. Book two is already in my bag waiting for tomorrow's commute :-)

posted at 9:02 AM
Saturday, September 21, 2002
It's been a very busy few weeks, and what with one thing and another I've barely had time to read my e-mail, let alone surf or actually put together a post. Apologies if you've been wondering where I've gone.

So what have I been up to? We've had the house completely rewired, which has caused a certain amount of disruption, and taken 4 weeks instead of the estimated 2. They've not quite finished yet and there are still a few niggly bits to be sorted out. Including the ADSL, which hasn't worked properly for a week now (hopefully to be sorted today!). Until it's fixed we're a bit stuffed for surfing, as we can't connect for long enough to do any more than load a single web page or download an e-mail. The dependance I have on the broadband link is very scary. I might even have to locate my cheque book and then walk to the nearest post box to pay my credit card bill if something doesn't happen soon :-)

On the positive side, we now have these little buttons on walls around the house. When you press them little demons in the ceilings make lights come on :-) It's all very exciting. Previously some rooms just didn't have working lights at all, and some light switches had to be gently coaxed into working at all. Plus, my PC now has it's own plug socket, instead of running of a 4-gang plugged into a 4-gang. There's even a socket by the TV waiting for the Nintendo & PlayStation to come out of the boxes they've sat in since we moved house last November.

Whilst the sparks were sorting out the wiring, we also had the plumbing done. And I really mean done. To take a step back and explain, we live in a house in south-east London which is about a hundred years old. We bought it as a single house, but it was roughly split into two flats. An old lady lived downstairs, which had been last been modernised around the 1950's. No central heating, just highly inefficient and ineffective electric storage heaters and a couple of gas fires which should have been condemmed on the basis that they pumped out as much carbon monoxide as heat. Hot water came from an electric tank which had no timer, and so was either on permanently or off. She apparently did not have use for electrical gadgets, seeing as there were only a couple of single power points in any room. We have been significantly overloading the circuits for quite a while. The old lady's nephew lived upstairs. The top half of the house had been done up, but not particularly well. There was central heating, and some of the wiring had been half redone in the last couple of decades.

The plumbing involved ripping out the old boiler and replacing it with a more powerful one that could handle the whole house. And a bigger hot water cylinder, and new piping everywhere to run both halves of the house from one tank. Plus new cold water tanks, new radiators downstairs, new valves on all the radiators upstairs. We also had an array of old tanks including the old back-burner which used to heat all the hot water from the fireplace in the days before dedicated boilers were commonplace.

We now have a house with heating, which is handy as it's been getting colder in London over the last couple of weeks. We actually put the heating on on Thursday. We have light switches in sensible locations, although I keep going to the old switches which aren't there anymore. And I keep walking halfway up the stairs in the dark before remembering that there's a landing lightswitch at the bottom now so I can have light if I want it. We also have brink and plaster dust everywhere. And I mean everywhere. The huge cleaning mission is in progress, although it feels pointless seeing as the next phase in the house project is getting loft ladders (and I do mean ladders - we have 3 lofts!) installed next week which will generate more mess!

Back to the clean-up operation, but I promise to try and get back to some normal blogging at some point over the weekend if we can get the internet connection fixed. For now, I will attempt to login and publish this post. For the record, it is currently 11.10 on Saturday. Now to compare with the published time on the permalink :-)

posted at 10:12 AM
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
There have been relatively few major world events in my life time that everybody instantly recalls. For example, I remember watching the Berlin Wall being torn down by the people of the city. I remember one long morning listening to Trevor MacDonald trying to fill air time while the world watched the bridge to Robben Island for the emergence of Nelson Mandela.

And then there was last year. It was the final day of my honeymoon in Jamaica. We'd had a fantastic couple of weeks and we'd set an alarm so that we'd wake up in plenty of time to pack and relax before flying home to London. The alarm went off about 9 (we were on NY time) and we were lying in bed sleepily listening to the local radio station when an announcement came on that news was coming in that a plane had just hit the tower. Assuming that it was a small plane that had somehow gone of course, we turned the radio off and turned the TV onto CNN, where things seemed fairly calm. The pictures were showing smoke coming out of first tower. To be honest, it looked bad, but not earth-shattering to me at the time. It didn’t seem real at that point – it was more like watching a special effect from a movie. I do remember turning to Owen and saying "it could have been worse - it's still quite early so a lot of people won't be at work in there yet". Minutes later the second plane hit. I couldn’t connect reality with what I was watching. We just sat watching in silence for what felt like hours as gradually the news stations started putting things together and it became apparent that we were watching the impact of two separate jumbo jets flying directly into a building. At some point the news started to filter in that the Pentagon had also been hit, and that there was a fourth plane unaccounted for. At this point it began to sink in for me, and then the towers collapsed. I remember thinking that I was witnessing the beginning of World War III. I started mentally working through all the people I know in New York and trying to work out if everybody would be OK.

I guess we watched TV for about 3 hours before we ventured out of our room and headed over to the main hotel. Everybody seemed stunned. It was so very quiet. All US flights had been grounded, and for the first time in two weeks the constant hum of the planes crossing the sky had stopped. The majority of the guests were American, and people were worried about their family and friends. A lot of people were due to go home that day, and had no idea when they would be able to get there. There was so little hard information coming in that we didn’t know what to think or what to do.

As our flight over the Atlantic would not pass through US airspace we could leave. I was nervous as we headed out from the hotel towards the airport. The atmosphere there was very tense. There are normally several planes an hour going in and out of Montego Bay, but on that day there would only be two flights in total. A normally busy place was deserted. The normal bustle and noise of families checking in and getting ready to go somewhere was completely absent. Everybody was very quiet as we went through layer after layer of security checks. The thoroughness of the searches was reassuring, but I still didn’t really want to get on the plane. I think I was largely operating on auto-pilot as we boarded after a final hand luggage search on the tarmac as everybody was checked again before we were allowed up the steps.

Fortunately it was an uneventful flight. We arrived home more or less on time on the following day, to e-mails and phone messages from family and friends. They were worried about whether we’d been able to get home and wanting to know we were OK. We were lucky that day. Everybody I know personally, both friends and colleagues were accounted for fairly quickly, and for that I am thankful.

posted at 9:40 PM
Monday, September 09, 2002
Just a quick plug for someone else. One of the first blogs I got started reading regularly was Kane Blues. Jeff took a bit of time away from blogging, but he's now back and writing again. Whether you read him before or not, I'd recommend clicking over to see him.

posted at 4:06 PM
Gloucester church-goers have been asked not to donate baked beans for this years harvest festival. It would seem that the recipients of the donations, who are largely asylum seekers and refugees just don't like them. The Diocese is now running out of room to store all the unused tins of beans. My suggestion - wait until the next Red Nose Day and give the excess beans to the people who think sitting in a bath of them is a great way to raise money.

New rules being considered would ban peers sentenced to more than a year from sitting in the House of Lords. For any Brits who have been living on the moon for the last few years, that should include Jeffrey Archer, currently serving 4 years for perjury.

The president of Guinea has ordered the the national football team to get haircuts. The theory behind this seems to be that the Brazilian team, who are the best in the world, have sensible haircuts. This reminds me of the old philosophy argument that "all swans are white, so therefore all white things are swans".

Here's an interesting article on AI in games, which looks at several games inlcluding the use of San Tzu's "The Art of War" as the basis of the AI in Medieval. Well worth a read whether or not you're a gamehead.

posted at 3:28 PM
Thursday, September 05, 2002
I've been acumulating bits and pieces for a post but failing to find time to string it together coherently. So here are some unrelated odds and ends.

If you don't read
gert, you should wander over and read her post on the Iraq situation. She's summed my thoughts up neatly, so I'll let her get on with it and save myself some trouble.

Via enthusiasm, photos of CrashBonsai. You can actually buy little model cars ready dented to fit around your bonsai tree :-) If I'm a good girl, maybe Santa will bring me that Lotus for Christmas after all.

I got into moby's blog via several people blogging about the eminem / moby business at the mtv awards. While I was exploring the rest of his site I came across these lovely blips of album tracks from 18. I enjoyed them so much, a few clicks later I finally got round to purchasing it. Now all I need is the time to listen to it. Also bought the eminem show at the same time.

In the news - it's now illegal to play on-line games in public in Greece. Does that mean you can't play 4 way Mario Kart on the beach?

ITV digital monkeys were going for £150 in the auction to sell off the fixtures and fittings to pay the auditors. Apparently nobody told the bidders they cost £25 in the gadget shop.

Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it.

posted at 8:53 PM
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
It's been very busy here of late. More to follow later (too late to get into it now), but I thought I'd pop this one in to amuse a few people I know who read me. I was hit yesterday by someone looking for "star wars map open door counter strike" yesterday.

While we're at it, can anybody explain to me why loads of people are searching for "women in wellies". For some reason I get a lot of traffic from people searching for the articles henceforth known as waterproof boots.

posted at 11:31 PM



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