Monthly Archives: December 2007

2007 predictions: those zero scores in full

Let’s open the envelope and see how my 2007 predictions worked out. Recommendation: don’t hold your breath. Marks out of five for each.

In religious fundamentalist news: Dick Cheney departs this mortal coil – heart failure. Loonybins Bush nominates crazy name, crazy gal Condoleezza Rice as replacement VP, thus kick-starting her run for the top job in 08.

He was hospitalised once, I think. I crossed my fingers but sadly he recovered. I can’t award any points to myself here.

In the war against Eurasia: Oh, I imagine some strike against Iran. With a cowboy Major riding the bomb on the way down, a la Doctor Strangelove (note to future self: award additional 50 points if this actually happens).

I think I might have been a year early for this one. You can see the US administration preparing the way for this any chance they get. Still, zero points.

In a shock occurrence of democracy New PM Gordon Brown calls an election for October, after the party conferences, since blue-green David Cameron still won’t have any policies by then. Labour wins again.

This was about one opinion poll away from happening precisely as predicted. But Gordon Brown chickened out at the last minute, and he may live to regret it. Since this was so close and even a few weeks beforehand the pundits were all pooh-poohing the idea, I’m awarding myself one point anyway.

In alien invasion news: A photo is taken of actual running water on Mars.

Oh, so close: ‘Active glacier found’ on Mars. I’m giving myself two points for this.

In a blatant rehash from last year A citizen journalist dies trying to get a story. Wailing and gnashing, death of the net, etc. This’ll happen, oh yes. You mark my words. I’ll keep predicting it until it does.

Still nothing. Come on, reckless youths! Surely someone wants to sacrifice themselves for five points!

In the only tennis that anyone cares about: Can’t see past Roger Federer at Wimbledon this year. Tim Henman has a long run, making it as far as the fourth set before losing in the first round. Andy Murray squeezes into round four but no further.

Well, Andy Murray didn’t play due to injury. Tim Henman was down two sets to one in the first round, but eventually won in five then lost in round two. And, of course, Federer won again. I’m awarding myself a massive three points.

In Portuguese wardrobe news: The Premiership and international footballer whose name rhymes with Phristiano Ponaldo announces his friendship with the Wizard of Oz character whose name rhymes with Porothy.

Rhymes with Palse. Zero points.

In the Oscars®™etc Helen Mirren gets Best Actress for The Queen. I really don’t know who gets Best Actor; Christian Bale for The Prestige, maybe? My hunch for Best Film is United 93.

Mirren, yes. Chris successfully predicted Forest Whitaker for Best Actor and The Departed for Best Picture. 1.667 points to me, 3.333 points to Chris.

In predictable celebrity deaths: one point for each of the following: Prince Phillip, Pope Benedict the smiling nazi, Margaret Thatcher, Denis Healey, Patrick Moore.

None of them! All still alive! I was briefly under the impression last week that Patrick Moore had gone to the Sky at Night in the sky, but it turned out to be a joke. Zero points.

In unpredictable celebrity deaths: five points for Pete Doherty.

Amazingly, he’s still alive too. The deathwatch appears to have switched to Amy Winehouse these days. Zero points.

Total score: 0 + 0 + 1 + 2 + 0 + 3 + 0 + 1.667 + 0 + 0 = 7.667 points out of 50. That’s exceptionally poor.

I predict 2008 predictions soon, once I’ve thought of some.

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The secret of comedy…

I felt fine on Christmas morning. It was at about 1pm that a slight feeling of nausea drifted round my head, and a tell-tale chill descended. I ignored it as much as I could and got through lunch.

As the Queen blathered on I helped with the washing up, feeling rough. Then I made my excuses, abandoned the celebrations and went to bed for a couple of hours. Aches, shivers, feverish.

I struggled downstairs for Doctor Who (summary: not bad, standard RTD cheesy fare) and sat through various other Christmas TV shows feeling generally rubbish – like most of the TV shows, in fact.

Back in bed I didn’t sleep much: a thumping heart, a sheen of sweat, unhappy joints, semi-delirious thoughts. All to the accompaniment of Fairytale of New York, which has been in my head all week.

I must have slept for a few hours as I woke up to a mild headache and nothing else. That has eased during the day, leaving me feeling no worse than if I’d been up till 4am or something.

As Christmas presents go, not the best.

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Merry Christmas to all my reader

Merry Christmas!

In a few days I’ll unveil the dramatic final scores for my 2007 predictions. I am, literally, beside myself with excitement. Which is slightly annoying as I didn’t buy myself any Christmas presents.

Oh yes I did (cue traditional Panto response). I bought a new duvet, since my previous one was so old it was stuffed with mammoth hair. The label, written in runes, appeared to say something about washing only in meltwater from an ice age glacier (who’d have thought there was an ISO-approved symbol for that?).

Its Tog rating is “three dodos”. I think Tog lived one cave along from Stig.

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Incest, guilt and Orangina

  • The office Christmas party was on Thursday night: the Big Buddha. I spent most of the evening chatting to Nigel, who it emerged knows Piers (then/now) from their days at Element 14 and Broadcom. He also worked with Anil at Creature Labs. Incestuous Cambridge strikes again! I took four photos in the Maypole afterwards.
  • At work on Friday I learned that WoC didn’t have any more stock of the display I ordered and had offered some alternatives. I naturally went for the better end of the list; the responsible adult said OK, and a few hours later I had a (cough) 24 inch, 1920×1200 Iiyama on my desk. I had the decency to feel guilty.
  • Andrew and I ate at the Punter on Friday night – I had a wonderful lasagne’n’chips. We then went to the Fleur, where I papped the world’s orangest man. We’ve decided to call him Orangina, though he’s approaching Ribena.

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Latest government initiative

New government 10-year Children’s Plan to turn children into adults.

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Compare and contrast

Company A:

  • May 9th 2005: after a verbal request followed by a twenty minute one-on-one discussion on the topic with my boss, the Development Director, I write an email as requested justifying my request for a 1600×1200 LCD display so that it might be considered by the directors.
  • August 11th 2005: the order is placed. I’m told that I may be obliged to do without it for some periods if it’s required for customer demos.

Company Z:

  • November 26th 2007: I arrive on my first day to find dual-head 17 inch 1280×1024 displays, like most of the people in the office. I’ll see how I get on.
  • December 7th 2007: I wonder aloud to my boss whether there are any 1600×1200 displays in the office; I’d prefer one of those to two 1280×1024 displays as it fits better with the way I work. He says he’ll see.
  • December 10th 2007: I arrive at work to find an email from him, dated late on the 7th (last Friday), offering two alternatives – 20 inch 1600×1200 or 22 inch 1680×1080 (widescreen), both Samsung. I choose the 1600×1200: more pixels. Five hours later it’s on my desk, bought and paid for.

I guess that’s the difference between a company run by an accountant and one run by engineers.

Of course, the punchline is that by 5pm my shiny new display was bust. Not my fault: it was a dud, an hour’s usage enough to trigger an underlying fault. Back in the box, back to the supplier, back to 1280×1024 for another whole day. I’m sure I can cope.

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He’s not the messiah, etc

With yer Radcliffes and yer Grints of this world growing up into not-quite-as-rubbish actors in the cash machine that I am legally obliged to call the Potter phenomenon, there’s a new set of kids on the block. No, not the tedious Narnia tosh again, at least not yet; now we’ve got the parallel world of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, as realised in The Golden Compass (Northern Lights being too subtle a title for the U. S. of etc., or maybe they were worried about possible confusion with the 1985 “Canadian supergroup” of the same name).

I do read books, honestly, but I haven’t read Northern Lights. I may get round to it some day, since I have a soft spot for the parallel universe/alternate history genre. However, I suspect that day should have been before yesterday, when I saw the film along with Chris, Melanie, Louise and Mikey.

Unlike JK’s oeuvre, not I understand deeply troubled by the wonders of a multi-layered storyline, there’s a well-known religious allegory in Pullman’s work. And, praise be to Dawkins, it’s not the CS Lewis perspective of magically resurrecting lions seducing buck-toothed children through the preaching of dental treatment or whatever it was. Here we’ve got talking animal demons and a good old adventure romp for the kids, with the talky intrigue and allegory to keep the sniffy grown-ups amused.

But there are flaws in the film: kids, dialogue, pacing. The kid problem is the usual one: I don’t think there’s a convincing British child actor under 13. We don’t have any Dakota Fannings or Haley Joel Osments, sadly. The lead actor, Dakota Blue Richards (what’s with all the Dakotas?), isn’t bad but isn’t that great either.

The dialogue is generally OK, but every now and then it goes a bit Basil Exposition. And I think it does so because they wanted to keep the pace up: cutting the “boring bits” to the bone to keep the running time under two hours. That being, I presume, the maximum time between toilet visits for overexcited preteens. Consequently the film feels a little rushed.

In the cinema I was pleased to note the general absence of noisy kids. Only one screamer dragged out temporarily by a harassed parental unit, but then I too would have been scared aged fourish by the sight of armoured polar bears yards from a front row seat. I did hear a constant subdued commentary from some mini-Motty girls old enough to know better in the row behind us, though it was not enough to rouse me from my traditional British reserve.

As is now apparently law for all film trilogies, there’s an appearance by Christopher Lee. Bizarrely only a single line. I don’t believe he was CGI, though as Mikey said, they’ve probably scanned every inch of him in case he’s, er, corporeally unavailable for sequels.

Though not confirmed, I assume this film will be followed up with adaptations of the other two books. It’s interesting and exciting enough to earn back its $180 million budget (Charlie Chaplin used to make his films alone, you know, for a farthing and a bowl of porridge). And I’d like to see what happens next. Or maybe I should just read the books?

Avaragado’s rating: four gobstoppers

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Exsquiddy 2007

If it’s the second weekend in December, it must be time for the annual Exsquiddy Christmas party. This time with subtracted crackers and party hats!

As usual our venue was La Margherita, and as usual we had an exceptionally good time. From there we moved to The Punter, some of us staying until the staff chucked us out. Andy, Chef and Mikey came back to mine for another bottle and an episode of Fawlty Towers through the magic of DVD.

My photos, Chris and Melanie’s photos, Lynda’s photos.

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A man, a plan, a canoe: Panama

This story, obviously.

I’m only blogging it so I can make the gag in the blog title. It’s one of the funniest jokes in the world, I tell you. Not the funniest, obviously.

I thought of the joke at about 12.45pm today, only to find that someone else had posted it fifteen minutes previously.

Just as everyone else thought of the Tom-Cruise-playing-a-Nazi “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” line that I did at work to general hilarity.

One of these days I’ll think of an original joke and you will BOW DOWN BEFORE MY GLORIOUS VISAGE as I receive my tenner off Private Eye or random Radio 4 comedy show.

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Dabblin’ in Dublin

In a shocking but entirely predictable turn of events, Ross is soon turning thirty. Thirty! Ross, with his cheeky grin and his amazing ability to display seditious imagery concerning his line manager in your eyeline while you talk to the aforementioned person and try your best to retain a straight face. Thirty!

Since he now lives in Dublin, a subset of the usual suspects flew over on Saturday to help celebrate. Chris and Melanie took the 8am flight, which I’m sure was lovely if you like getting up before you’ve gone to bed. Lynda, Andy, Chef and I took the more reasonable 11am flight.

The descent into Dublin airport was a little bumpy, there being a gale blowing. Lynda, the only nervous flier I know who flies to Australia, grabbed hold of my leg to help her through the more exciting parts of landing. A gentleman a few rows up lost his lunch; sadly for him Ryanair neglected to include such unnecessary frivolities as seat pockets containing sick bags. The unmistakeable aroma of a half-digested meal drifted around the cabin as the obligatory hen party whooped and clapped on touchdown; a little prematurely I thought, since the nose was still up and we were proceeding at a fair old lick down the runway. They were probably already drunk anyway.

We deplaned, eyes averted from vomit man who sat impassively with his lady companion and a fat wodge of tissues supplied by a stewardess.

Next we endured Dublin’s Funniest Taxi Driver. Lynda was especially fond of his punchline habit of digging her in the elbow on which she recently had surgery.

All except Chris and Melanie stayed in Cassidys on O’Connell Street. Very nice, and a room to myself. We checked in and almost immediately set off to find somewhere for lunch. An icy gale blew us towards the river, past the Spire: impressive and ridiculously tall, but a little incongruous. After a few false starts we found a little Italian place that I quickly identified as the best Dublin restaurant I’d ever visited. The bottle of wine we drank helped us brave the weather – now enhanced with drizzle – back to the hotel to warm up and put on our faces for the night out. (Chris and Melanie stayed in a higher-class establishment that served champagne and strawberries and such like. First up against the wall, etc.)

I took advantage of the free wifi for an hour or two, and found an iPhone bug or two.

At 5.30 we walked to Pravda, a themed bar as if you couldn’t guess, where we met Ross and later some of his chums. Chris was already merry, having started drinking with his customary airport pint at around 6am. At 7.45 or so we crossed the river and found La Caverna, home for the evening’s nosh.

Ross had booked the entire cellar area for the 25 attendees. Sadly five of those were unable to attend; this was enough for management to invoke strop privileges and turf us out of our seats for five minutes while they rearranged the furniture to accommodate more drop-ins. They left us with a table that quickly proved a tight squeeze for twenty.

The wine flowed remorselessly; if only the food service was as efficient. I don’t think they took our order until 8.30. The starters didn’t arrive until 9.30. Two guests received their main course as their starters were removed, having told the waiter that they had to leave early; the rest of us were kept waiting until 10.30, by which time Melanie didn’t feel like eating much at all. Dessert, ordered with the other courses all those hours ago, arrived at 11.15.

Chris turned down the offer of coffee, pointing out that we were only there for the weekend.

The lightweights, in which category I include myself, bowed out at 11.45 and returned to our hotels. Chef stayed out until 2am; I believe Ross got home at 5.30am. The tray of flaming sambucas, in lieu of candles on a cake, helped keep him (and several others) going.

Avaragado’s rating: 30 glorious beers

Roughly speaking, Sunday was Saturday in reverse. Hotel breakfast, checkout, wander round town in a gale, taxi to airport (this time driven by someone not entirely unlike Jim from Corrie, so he was), tedious waiting at the gate, flight, drive home. Despite warnings of a bumpy flight the landing back at Stansted was fine: my leg remained unsullied, and to the best of my knowledge nobody vomited (bags were supplied this time).

I took only two photos, but see Chris and Melanie’s and Lynda’s too.

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