Monthly Archives: November 2007

News headlines

BONG! Printed Shazzie 31-hour brochure looks fantastic*; client reports a kick up the sales.

BONG! Design for 300-page superfoods book (by Shazzie’s friend Kate, published by Shazzie) nearly complete – waiting for remaining recipe photos mainly. Again, this is going to look pretty darn good.

BONG! Avaragado gives in and buys an iPhone. Currently a pretty brick while awaiting PAC (not PAC code).

Oink! Avaragado gives up the freelance life and starts a proper job tomorrow. Same company as Chris, but not working directly with him – I’m going to be messing around with intranet/extranet stuff (plugging things into other things, new tools, etc).

* Only one huge, glaring, in-your-face, mahoosive error that we should really have spotted, but never mind. It’s so blatant that people will probably miss it anyway and Shazzie has an excuseexplanation lined up if they do.

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Wherein Chef sets a new record, and other tales

It was Chef’s birthday last week so he invited us down to London for a quiet drink and a few light bites. Ahahahaha. In fact he booked a table at Enoteca Turi, which apart from being a very poor anagram for “Caution: Tree” is apparently one of the best restaurants in London. Or best Italian restaurants. Or best Italian restaurants in Putney. Or something. Chef said so.

I trained down early on Saturday afternoon and braved the crowds in the Apple store on Regent Street, successfully not buying an iPhone (not sure how long I can hold out though). Then I skipped across to Goodge Street, sidestepped loonytunes Scientologists recruiting outside their HQ near the station, and checked into the (rather posh) hotel in Bloomsbury that Mikey had booked, neither of us much fancying a night on Chef’s floor.

Chef’s detailed itinerary for the evening suggested 6pm at A Pub In Putney before 7pm at the restaurant. Mike and I made our own way to Putney, quickly discovering that neither of us had bothered to click on Chef’s link to find out where the restaurant actually was in relation to Putney Bridge tube. Chef then texted to say that they were running late; we unilaterally decided that a place called The Temperance successfully matched all important elements of A Pub In Putney and settled in with a couple of pints of Deuchars in old-man-style mugs. Flat caps, pipes and whippets were not provided.

We’d just started our second pint when Chef rang to say that his mob were going straight to the restaurant, and told us where it was: apparently we were the wrong side of the river. Putney Bridge solved that problem once we’d finished our pints, with Chef increasingly fretting via the medium of text since it turned out we only had a limited timeslot at the restaurant.

We arrived at Caution: Tree and almost immediately had to order. Proper Italian-style courses, too. I had some antipasti (v nice); something like wholemeal pasta with bits in oily, salty water (not v nice); and a pumpkin/cabbage lump arranged inside a pasta cylinder looking not unlike a big fat sushi thing (not bad). Accompanied, of course, by several bottles of wine chosen from the £££ end of the wine list. (Universal Poshness Indicator #94: new wine glass for each bottle.)

No dessert: our timeslot was up and the bill arrived with a hefty clunk. Nine of us, £606. Chef decided to pay half and our wallets were suitably grateful. God help us when he really decides to push the boat out.

Avaragado’s rating: 2 breadsticks

Back over the bridge we tubed to Tottenham Court Road and walked to Soho, having a beer or two outside in the cold at the Dog and Duck. When that shut we were directed across the road to an establishment called Garlic and Shots. In a downstairs bar we drank more beer and several of the party – but not I – moved on to shots. I did take a sip of one particularly evil concoction, I believe called a Bloodshot: like drinking fire. Chef’s friend Mark downed it in one, bless him, and spent the next ten minutes in tears.

Spirits exhausted, various flavours of bed beckoned. Chef headed home with several people in tow, and on past form they probably watched an entire series of Extras back at his while glugging more wine and with Chef cackling over all dialogue until 4am. Just a theory.

Mike and I walked back to the hotel to our beds. Here I learned the day’s amazing football results and decided that England still won’t qualify, obviously.

This morning, after checking out we wandered the streets for ages looking for a cash machine and somewhere to eat breakfast. We eventually found an acceptable little Italian cafe just off Oxford Street. Then Mike suggested the Science Museum, and it was so.

Hadn’t been there in, um, 25 years? Shocking.

Bizarrely it was Stephenson’s Rocket that got me, I guess because I wasn’t even sure it still existed. But there it was, behind ropes, the “ROCKET.” nameplate complete with punctuation in that funny way they used to have, with “No. 1” on the front. Cor.

Most of the other historical stuff was great too: the Apollo 10 command module, a V2 rocket, a 1958 Ampex video recorder, the 1919 Vickers Vimy that flew to Australia, Babbage’s actual brain, cuddly toy…

I wasn’t taken by the for-the-kidz newer interactive stuff, not being one of the kidz. I can tell you, however, that no kidz are interested in tedious Flash-like educational games even if they are projected onto a circular table. Two entire floors in one wing were closed without signage to that effect until you reached the entrance, which was pretty poor. Shame, I wanted to see someone’s laughable attempts at predicting the future.

The shop (sorry, “store”) was packed with oversugared children. We avoided buying anything; a low-tech mug was tempting but undersized, and I really don’t need a USB-powered plasma ball. I tutted disapprovingly at a “stationary set”; yes, as Mike pointed out, it wasn’t actually moving. But anyway.

Finally we took a packed tube to King’s Cross and the world’s longest WH Smith queue before boarding our respective trains home, feet complaining all the way.

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Man with noisy bag/wasp-bike man: the interview

Varsity, the Cambridge University newspaper, finally caught up with the bloke who rides his bike around town all day playing music from a carrier bag dangling from his handlebars.

I was unable to find a printed copy, but there’s a PDF of this week’s issue with the interview on page 4.

Note please the outstanding photograph on the right, used with permission and suitably credited.

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Emergency graphic design, and the Halloween gremlins

Apparently I can design and lay out a 28-page brochure in 31 hours.

On Tuesday morning Shazzie rang: a brochure due at the printers on Friday had returned from a graphic designer looking more like a wet weekend in Blackpool than the glossy magazine requested in the brief. Could I, she asked, help? And by help, she meant do it (with her assistance between mothering duties).

So for the last couple of days I’ve been in stealth mode to get the job done. Surrounded by bits of paper, stock photos of fruit and occasionally small children who know how a mouse works and don’t believe the “it’s broken” answer any more. Amazingly, I completed it in time: and it’s pretty good. Shazzie nitpicked to the last, nothing more than I expected, but she’s happy with it. I just hope it prints properly.

Attentive readers may be aware that yesterday was Halloween. The fact didn’t escape me, either. Its first effect was a fire alarm in my head and a lead weight in my stomach as I noticed that, despite being plugged in, my Mac (on which I was creating the brochure) was surviving on battery power only: one hour remaining. Ah. That dodgy power connector problem again. Which I couldn’t correct (with or without a visiting three-year-old on my knee) despite using all the tricks I knew: shouting, wiggling, shouting and wiggling.

OK: plan B. I backed up all the files to my server while I still had power and decided to switch to my PC. As luck would have it I’d downloaded a 30-day trial of InDesign CS3 a week or so previously as I’d been sent an InDesign CS2 file and couldn’t read it on the (obsolete) InDesign CS1 on my (obsolete) Mac. The 30-day trial is fully functional, but moving to it would mean I couldn’t move back to the Mac for file format reasons. Needs must.

I booted the PC. For the first time since I’d bought it, it refused to join my wireless network. Halloween, you see. There’s a rule somewhere. Shazzie and Evie then left for nursery, a wise move I felt.

I joined the network manually. Password required. Turns out that as well as emergency brochures I also do a good job at remembering a sequence of ten hex digits (I could get to the router from my Mac, but with only 30 minutes of power left…). Windows then decided that despite being within spitting distance of the router I had “little or no connectivity”. Lies, lies, lies. One PC reboot later, no change. One router reboot later, no change.

Then I turned off the option to “Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings”. And it connected just fine.

Then I tried the Mac’s power cable again. And the green light came on, charging the battery.

Halloween. Or a three-year-old. Or her mother. Or possibly all of the above.

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Cause and effect

On Saturday night at the Picturehouse we saw Sicko, Michael Moore’s new documentary about the glorious American healthcare system. Part-way through it turns into NHS-worship and Tony Benn is wheeled on to offer an opinion. Then there’s some French healthcare analysis that includes a man’s bottom. Apparently in France you get paid time off work for almost every conceivable activity, including moving house and going on honeymoon.

Moore’s usual tactics are in evidence as he takes some 9/11-affected Americans to Cuba for treatment. He’s typically befuddled-to-order by the horrific spectacle of socialised medicine and its dastardly “free at the point of use” ethic, clearly not the American Way. A short-cut to communist rule, according to sundry fat American cats rolling in the bloodstained cash and discarded body parts of privatised healthcare.

One-sided, of course: nobody could accuse Michael Moore of balance. But true nonetheless. We grumble about the NHS and its problems, but it’s far far better than the US system.

Three days after seeing the film I woke with a cold, the first I’ve had all year I think. I suspect doctors may have sprinkled vials of unidentifiable substances on the cinema seats to make us appreciate the NHS a bit more.

Avaragado’s rating: one bottle of Night Nurse

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