Sunday, 8 April 2012

DBA Dude - RIP


My uncle, DBA Dude passed away on the evening of the Wednesday the 4th of April.

We are still making preparations at this point, but he will be laid to rest in his home town in the north of Scotland sometime after the 14th of April.

DBA dude was laid to rest on the 21st of April in his home town in Scotland.


The Nephew.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Ups and Downs

On the up side this week I was on a training course learning about the programming language for Microsoft SQL Server; we have 4 servers running this at work and people have occasionally asked me to do things on them which I have done but it has always taken me longer than I would have expected.

The course was terrific, I learnt loads and now feel pretty confident that I will be able to satisfy any requests that my madcap friends at work land on my desk.

On the down side the course was held in a building just outside Euston station which mean that I had to use the tube each day to get there and back from Waterloo; it only takes 10 mins but the tube is my least favourite form of transport. Although the course started at 09:00 each day (apart from the first where registration started at 08:00) I continued to get there for 08:00 – which meant I avoided the crush of rush hour.

The finish time of 16:30 was a factor in my not being able to use the usual trains to return home, and even coming back to a different station and catching a cab I ended up returning home 30 mins or more later than usual.

My fellow tube sufferers were a pretty standard cross section of working stiffs in London apart from one dude on Wednesday; he was wearing a suit and tie, carrying an electric blue briefcase and had a bowler had painted to match. The real killer detail was that he had a “face pack” of matching colour on his face and hands; I have no idea what was going on but was impressed by the sang-froid of my fellow travellers who acted as though nothing unusual was going on!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hot Lava Java

On Monday of last week I made a very interesting discovery in my local supermarket; I was looking for ground coffee to fuel the start of my working day and they had none of their Fairtrade strength 5 on the shelves.

What they did have was Taylors of Harrogate Hot Lava Java which is a mind blowing strength 6! A blend of Java Arabica beans and Indian Robust (which deliver the high caffeine content) not only does it deliver what it says on the packet but it is very flavour full to my taste buds.

At the end of the week I returned to buy more but there was none to be found, last night it had returned so I bought 2 packs to keep me going.

A must buy for lovers of strong tasty coffee.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Nothing To See Here, Move Along People

I have been busier than a very busy thing at work for the last 6 months making changes to our application and wrestling with the quirks and eccentricities of the software that we use. The current score is 3 to 2 in my favour but that could change rapidly – especially if I have to use functionality for the first time.

Call me old fashioned but there is no substitute for a reference manual for a software application, one where all of the commands (and their purpose) are defined. If it also supplies examples of how to put them together to achieve specific goals that is a real positive.

What I face is a help file which does none of the above.

Still things are looking up, I delivered my second release of our application on the last Saturday in January and nothing has gone pear shaped (as yet) and after 10 months in the job I am starting to get a feel for when the underlying software is not going to play nice.

This week I received official confirmation that I had successfully completed my probation period and am now a permanent employee; which in these troubled times is a good place to reach.

In other news I was diagnosed with bad cataracts in both eyes last September (which explained my blurry vision for the last year or so) and after much faffing about/deliberation they finally decided to replace the lens(s) with ones that will almost correct my short sightedness rather than fully correct it. This took around 6 weeks but I finally had the first operation just over 2 weeks ago and what a difference.

Less than 24 hours after the op the vision in my right eye had come back into focus, colours were amazingly vibrant and the world is a much clearer place. Had the post op assessment on Tuesday and they were pleased with the recovery – looking to schedule the second op sometime in the next 4 weeks and I can hardly wait for it to be done.

It was a strange experience to know that your eye was being cut into and the old lens taken out but there was no pain and the procedure took around 30 minutes to complete.

I had my spare specs modified to replace the right hand lens with clear glass but found that using them was causing some double vision to occur so I stopped wearing them after the first week. Now for the first time since I was 7 years old I am not wearing glasses, the joy of waking up in the morning and not having to scrabble around for them before getting up is a fantastic feeling.

Will need to get another pair to fully correct the short sightedness but cannot have an eye test until 4 to 6 weeks after the second op; my consultant told me to get a cheap pair made up to correct -3 in both eyes but this is going to prove tricky. In the nanny state of England optical dispensers cannot supply glasses without a written prescription that is less than two years old; will try mailing the hospital to see if they will send me something which allows my local dispenser to meet my needs.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Taste - Rock Trios Part 1

On the train home one day last week I fired up Electric Ladyland on the mp3 player and (as ever) was impressed by the awesome sounds reaching my ears. This got me thinking about the classic 3 piece line up of guitar, bass and drums; 1966 saw the formation of arguably the two finest exponents of the genre, The Jimi Hendrix Eperience and Cream.

We begin our journey through worthy exponents of the genre with a lesser known outfit but one that I remember well from my youth: Taste, yet another example of European musicians heavily influenced by the sounds of the Blues.

Was never lucky enough to see them live, but this clip from their Isle of Wight performance in 1970 gives a taste (sorry, could not resist the opportunity) of what they were like as a live unit. Had trouble finding live clips of the whole band performing, this one is short but sweet:

This one features Rory’s fine slide guitar playing Gambling Blues.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I Predict A Riot

On Wednesday 10th 50,000 students marched through London to protest the Government’s plans to increase fees from their current level of around £3,000 a year to up to £9,000. The road outside our office block was closed as the march was scheduled to end just past us in front of Tate Britain.

Next to our building is a smaller 7 storey block which houses Conservative party headquarters (amongst others), at around 13:30 the fire alarm went off in our tower block and after gathering our possessions we started the long trek down 14 flights of stairs. By the time we reached the tenth floor we could smell smoke and when we got to the fourth we met some people coming up who told us that we needed to switch to the back stairs as smoke bombs had been thrown into reception.

Standing at the back of the building we could hear the baying and chanting of the mob outside the 7 storey block, after about an hour we were told we could go back inside.

The damage to the building next door was pretty extensive but none of our people was hurt which was a result. Today there are more protests planned and even as I write hatches are being battened down, who knows what will happen. In the meantime here are the Kaiser Chiefs with I Predict A Riot.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Not what I see of a morning:

Coming up for six months of the daily shuffle this week and I am surprised to find that the journey is not wearing me down; there are two explanations that might account for this.

The first is the daily uncertainty of wondering if I will make my preferred connection in Guildford; it stops at Clapham Junction where I hop onto another train and exit at Vauxhall – 10 min walk to work and arrive at desk at 07:45.

There is only one stop between it’s starting point and my hometown station but on average it is late two times out of five each week and the window of opportunity at Guildford is only 3 minutes wide, leaving very little room for operator error. Last Thursday was a classic, it arrived on time but the guard/ticket collector made the fatal flaw of walking the train before the 8 minute last leg resulting in 2 stops where we were stationary for over a minute before heading off as he had to walk the length of the train to close the doors.

End result is my connection is still there when I leap off in Guildford but the doors have just been locked so it is a 10 min wait for the next one which will se me arrive at work around 20 mins later than normal.

The second is the constantly evolving cast of characters that I see on my travels each day, on my preferred connection that list includes sleeping dude (25 mins into the journey but always sound asleep), bohemian chick (dresses out of the box c/f her fellow female commuters but always with an eccentric elegant charm), Telegraph dude (always wired into his mp3 while reading the Telegraph), FT dude (every morning he will extract 2 “pills” from a foil wrapped strip and munch away – indigestion tablets or some fancy mints, perhaps one day when my eyes get fixed I will find out).

The pair that I least like to see of a morning get on 2 stops after me on the first train, fortunately they are not regulars as they spend the entire journey talking about their kids football teams. Not so much about the play itself on the park but more around the labyrinthine backbiting on the coaches and other parents. The first time I encountered them I made the mistake of getting into the same coach as them on the second train and their dialogue continued all the way into London – not a mistake that I have repeated.

The good news (as winter looms on the horizon) is that I now have the kit that allows me to work from home; so bring it on Mr Snow I am ready and waiting for you!

Dave Grohl

This is one talented dude, most musicians never break through into the big time with their bands but he has done it three times; from thrashing in drums in Nirvana, to fronting Foo Fighters and most recently thrashing those drums again with Them Crooked Vultures.

Not to mention a slew of other side projects, more power to your fingers Dave – keep the good sounds a coming. Here are Foo Fighters on Jools playing Best of You.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Me and the Pope

The pope is in London on Friday and Saturday.

On a normal working day I leave the office just before 16:00, amble past MI5 HQ before crossing Lambeth Bridge and walking down Lambeth Palace Road to Waterloo.

This Friday at 16:00, the pope dude is visiting Lambeth Palace before crossing Lambeth Bridge at 17:00 in the popemobile.

As a result, the roads in pink on the pdf file in the link are being closed from 11:30 until 21:00!

Having learnt of this I arranged on Monday to finish at 11:50 on Friday (flexi) in the hope that I can escape before the hordes descend – I join Millbank around about the k in Millbank on the link.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Slash - Paradise City – Glastonbury 2010

Nuff said. Enjoy 9 mins plus of one of the many great musical moments from Glastonbury 2010.