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Story location: Home / welcome /
30/Dec/2006

I've added an rss feed to the website. I originally set it up a few weeks ago so my facebook profile could pick up blog entries but I've now added the appropriate code so that firefox can automatically pick up the feed. It's still a bit experimental at the moment. I'll add a button to the sidebar as soon as I'm sure it works properly. In the meantime, the link is here:

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Christmas Dinner

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /
25/Dec/2006

After we had our Christmas Dinner, we gave the hamsters some too. They seemed to enjoy it. At lunchtime Reggie had some beef and a little turkey. After dinner proper they all had a small piece of turkey, sprout and roast potato.

Theo eating some sprout
Theo eating some sprout.

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Archie eating some sprout
Archie eating some vegetables for a change.

Reggie eating some roast potato
Reggie eating some roast potato.

Baby and Silly
Gel and Alysia relaxing after their Christmas dinner. (Gel's the flat one underneath)



Secret Santa

Story location: Home / Blog / work /
22/Dec/2006

We had the secret santa present givaway this morning. Last week we had to draw a name out of a hat and buy a present for that person. I got a Bedlam Cube. I made the mistake of taking it out at lunchtime. I can't get it back in the box now!



Pizza Express

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
21/Dec/2006

We chose from the Christmas menu. This starts with a small bowl of root-vegetable crisps then a choice of starters. I had Caesar Salad and Emma had Garlic Bread Quattro Formaggi. For our main courses Emma had the Padana pizza (goats cheese, spinach, red onion) and I had the Natale (a kind of Christmas Dinner pizza with turkey, prosciutto and stuffing). A couple of weeks ago I had the idea to make a similar pizza myself. It was good to see such a pizza in a restaurant. Theirs came on an impressively thin and crispy base - ours probably wouldn't because we haven't perfected the art of thin bases yet.

We both started to feel a little full but we couldn't leave without a pudding, especially because it was included in the price. The Torta di Milano was suitably moist, cakey and creamy. The Chocolate Glory wasn't on the christmas menu but they allow substitutions. It was a wonderful assembly of ice cream, cake and chocolate sauce.



Ghosts in the Park

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
20/Dec/2006

It was foggy while I was walking home from work tonight. There was a dark and empty park to my left and a brightly lit shopping centre to my right, beyond the railway line. I looked across the park and thought I could see someone walking across the grass. I looked again but couldn't see anyone. I carried on walking and thought I saw several dark ghostly figures moving through the fog. It was a few seconds before I realised they were my own shadows, caused by the lights from the shopping centre.



Where have all the teaspoons gone?

Story location: Home / Blog / work /
20/Dec/2006

All the teaspoons have disappeared from the kitchen in work. There are usually plenty first thing in the morning but they all go by lunchtime. No-one knows what happens to them or where they go. There are people trying to make cups of coffee using forks.



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Christmas Stamps

Story location: Home / Blog /
18/Dec/2006

Santa on the chimney The current Christmas stamps have created a bit of controversy because they don't have any religious content at all. A slightly greater concern to children throughout the land is depicted on the 1st class stamp (pictured left). Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice, and if you've been naughty he'll poo down your chimney.



The Core

Story location: Home / Blog / films /
17/Dec/2006

Take care watching this film if you are a physicist, astronomer, metallurgist, geologist, biologist, cartographer or have a brain larger than a squirrel's. Remove brain before watching movie. Or get drunk first.

The film doesn't quite get into the so bad it's good territory. It's very silly. It's complete nonsense. But at least it manages to be entertaining so it's not a total dud. I won't list all the bad physics in the film. I'll leave that to the experts.



WGA Christmas Party

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
16/Dec/2006

I don't know whether all Warwick Graduate Association christmas parties are this empty. The Student Union was pretty quiet when we arrived.
Skabilly Rebels
There were two bands on tonight. The first were the Skabilly Rebels which featured "Roddy Radiation" from The Specials. They were good, performing a mixture of Ska and Rock with a little Blues thrown in. Sadly they seemed to be ignored or unappreciated by most of the audience. The so-called 'headline act' were an unimaginative Crappy Covers Band called Carte Blanche. Their highlight was when the lead singer gave her lungs a rest and allowed the guitarist to sing a fairly good version of Suspicious Minds.

I think the real high point of the evening came near the start when we had a go on the 'Rudolph' bucking bronco. I managed about 44 seconds which seemed average frmo what we saw, but my hands were hurting afterwards from gripping too hard trying not to fall off.



Frosty

Story location: Home / Blog /
16/Dec/2006

This winter hasn't been as cold as last year. There have been no cold frosty mornings on my way to work yet. This morning was the first frost of the winter, we had to scrape ice off the car before we could go to the shops.



Torchwood

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /
13/Dec/2006

This week's episode manages to keep up the 'wierd quotient' of this X-Files/Men in Black hybrid. The story was about a bloke who had an 'alien eye' in his possession. He got run over by a car but his 'ghost' followed Gwen's investigation into his death.

Part of the episode was set at 'Aberystwyth University'. I thought: OK, they've got the name slightly wrong but we should see some shots of the town and maybe the Old College building. Instead what we got was an interior scene which was actually filmed in the National Museum in Cardiff. I don't know whether they failed to get permission to film at the University, or whether it was too expensive, or whether they were just too plain lazy to drive to another town to film. It was a bit disappointing but didn't detract from the episode.

Update: Since I wrote this, Aber has split from the University of Wales and is no longer University of Wales, Aberystwyth and is just Aberystwyth University, as shown in the programme.



Flushed Away

Story location: Home / Blog / films /
13/Dec/2006

We went to the cinema again to take advantage of the 'Orange Wednesday' 2 for 1 tickets offer. I thought the film looked ok but not brilliant. I was in for a surprise. The trailers really didn't do it justice and downplayed a lot of the comedy.

The film was much funnier than I was expecting. Watch out for the slugs - they play a large part in the film despite being irrelevent to the story and provide many of the film's funniest moments. The film also has lots of 'blink and you'll miss them' jokes and references in the background and will probably benefit from a 2nd viewing.

I was suprised at the film's lacklustre performance in the cinemas. There were only 2 other people watching it tonight. It might have suffered internationally because so much of the humour was very British but that shouldn't have been a problem for a 'home' audience. The racist stereotyped French characters might only be a problem in France, although Jean Reno played the lead Frog so at least we know he's got a sense of humour. And we're used to seeing offensive British stereotypes in many American films and that doesn't usually affect box office takings over here.

In summary, a brilliant film, a 'must-see' comedy.



Human Bugblatter

Story location: Home / Blog /
12/Dec/2006

I was walking home from work, it was dark but there were streetlights nearby. A bloke was walking towards me, wearing camouflage gear. He obviously hadn't seen me and almost bumped into me. I think he might have been related to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.



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Brrr!

Story location: Home / Blog / house /
10/Dec/2006

This house is getting far too cold. The bathroom regularly gets down to 10-11C and the front room keeps dropping below 15C. We don't want to use the storage heaters because last year that caused our electricity bill to shoot up by several hundred pounds.

It will be good to finally be able to move out of this place. The kitchen wall still hasn't been sorted properly. Someone was supposed to come and paint the outside wall last month. We got home one day to find the house smelled of solvent or paint and there was a paintbrush in the wheelie bin. The kitchen wall looked completely untouched so we don't know what they actually did. The wall still gets damp but thankfully we don't get water running down the inside any more. The plug socket hasn't been replaced so we're still using the extension cable for the fridge and washing machine.



Christmas Do

Story location: Home / Blog / work /
08/Dec/2006

It was our work's Christmas Do today. I bumped into one of my office colleagues while I was en-route to the station to meet Emma. We went for a pint at the German Market before meeting everyone else at the restaurant.

The restaurant seemed to struggle with this many people. They had difficulty finding enough seats. Service was a little slow and irregular, it took a while to get served and we ended up with several spare starters and desserts. I think that's why they encouraged all the dancing, to distract people from the quality of the service. The food was good though.



Coventry Station

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
07/Dec/2006

I arrived at work in a bad mood this morning, thanks to an overcrowded and late-running train. I think it's time for a bit of a moan about Coventry Station.

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The new signs are working and no longer have the notices covering them. Unfortunately the old screens between platforms 2 and 3 have been removed but not replaced. This means that if you are crossing the bridge you can't see what trains are running late or what platform they are arriving at. They used to have screens on the stairs by platforms 2,3 & 4 displaying the next arrival at that platform. On the platforms themselves there were screens showing all the departures. These have all been removed so the only places where you can see this information are the main concourse and the ticket barrier.

The ticket barrier itself is a huge bottleneck at peak times. On most days the only way through is to insert your ticket into the slot and wait for the barrier to open. This is much slower than the set-up at Birmingham New Street where there are ticket inspectors who look at the tickets as you pass. It may be more thorough but it is much slower and leads to huge queues forming.

Outside of the station, the entrance to the long stay car park has been made incredibly pedestrian unfriendly. A new fence has been erected, forcing pedestrians to either walk the long way around or to squeeze through the gap between fence and hedge, over a muddy patch of ground. There is no pavement alongside the car park entrance so the third option is to walk in the roadway and try to dodge the traffic entering and leaving. The layout seems to have been designed with complete disregard for pedestrial welfare.

Ok, moan over. Hopefully my next blog entry will be a bit more positive.



At the Station

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
05/Dec/2006

Coventry Station
They are having new signs installed at Coventry Station to replace the existing screens and clocks. The old clocks didn't always show the same time as each other and the screens didn't always work.

I arrived at the station this morning and the old monitor screen between the concourse and platform 1 had been removed and there was a new flat screen monitor in it's place. It had a sticker on it claiming 'These signs are under test. Please disregard the information on them'. The signs on the platforms are of the type which show the time and the next train to arrive at that platform. These replace the old 'digital' ones where the segments flick over to make the numbers, only some of the segments had stuck so bits of number kept going missing. They also had the please disregard notices stuck to them. I had to hope that my train wasn't going to be too late and I didn't need to be on a different platform.



Dream

Story location: Home / Blog /
04/Dec/2006

I had a rather strange dream last night. We were watching Robin Hood on TV and there were some old (1940s or earlier) cars visible in the background, driving along a road through the woods. Then, still in the dream, we were watching the next episode. I was telling Emma about my dream of the other episode with the old cars. The episode we were watching also featured the same old cars, similar to the ones you get in the gangster-era films. There was also a bit in the episode where Marian was shot by an old duelling-style pistol. She was sleeping in the top room of a tower and there was a narrower stone tower alongside. When she stood up, someone in the other tower shot her.



JCB Dieselmax

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
03/Dec/2006

Another record breaking car is on display at the Transport Museum. The JCB Dieselmax broke the land speed record for a diesel engine back in August when it topped 350mph. It was already on display here in Coventry when easier.com erroneously claimed the first UK viewing will be at the Autosport International show in january.
JCB Diesel max



Kingswinford Hamster Show

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /
02/Dec/2006

We took our 4 roborovski hamsters along: Gel and Alysia to show to Alysia's old owners, and Psyche and Bumble to enter into the 'Pets' category at the show. The two boys did well in the competition, Psyche coming 1st and Bumble coming 2nd in their round. There were a lot of pets entered so two sets of awards were given. We can't complain, it doubled our chances of winning something.
Rosettes and certificates

I would like to say thank you to the Midland Hamster Club for today. It was their Christmas Show and they put on a buffet and provided tea, coffee and a range of soft drinks.



Leonard Cohen and REM

Story location: Home / Blog / music /
01/Dec/2006

I was listening to the radio this afternoon and Steve Wright (on Radio 2) and he played the song 'Sunzanne' by Leonard Cohen. I thought the song sounded very familiar but it took a bit of googling with the lyrics to find out why.

The lines (from Suzanne):

And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you

have the same tune and are very similar to:

You want to go out Friday
And you want to go forever.
You know that it sounds childish

from 'Hope' by REM. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), the band didn't realise how similar the two songs were until after they had recorded theirs. As a result (and presumably to avoid and ugly legal action) they gave Cohen a co-writing credit.