December 31, 2005

Like Buses...

...nothing gets posted for weeks and then suddenly 3 come along in the same week. Or thereabouts.

Today I feel like shite.

ElshaUK tells me its because we've eaten nothing but junk over Christmas and this has resulted in us feeling like shite - lethargic, weighed down, tired.

I finally got around to watching the last two episodes of Babylon 5 - an amazing 5 season long DVD set. They were great and reminded me so much of when I saw them on TV. And contrary to popular belief (and I mean Indy by this) Season 1 is not the best season. Season 4 was by far - the end to the Shadow/Vorlon Saga and the beginning of the fight to reclaim Earth.

On Tuesday, I also spent about 5 hours playing Starcraft with Jimbo - an Old Ealonian, and possibly one of the only one of the Old Ealonians who actually likes playing computer games with me. We've played Diablo, Diablo 2, Neverwinter Nights, Starcraft, er, more Starcraft, Age of Empires, Age of Empires 2, Empire Earth and even more Starcraft. In fact, we definitely love playing Starcraft.

He tends to play Terran and churning out huge armies of Marines whilst I go for Random loving the unit friendly Zerg or the powerful Protoss.

And then we sit back and play on a map that an Ozzy mate made for me back in 1999, where we get to kick the shit out of computer opponents.

The one time we played against each other, he created a vast army of marines whilst I had secreted a cloaked Protoss Observer in his base, watching his every move.

Ah fond memories.

I mentioned to Kalistro and Jimbo (you remember, the WoW wanabee) that we should try and meet up online in a multiplayer game. Diablo 2, I think.

Mainly because it has a very good linear story and meeting up on Battle.Net (Blizzard's online server medium) should be particularly easy for all concerned.

I can already feel the excitement building up as we meet up together to take on the Three Prime Evils.

Ah well. New Years Eve draws close. A new year with new resolutions already being thought up. A new year with new goals.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whomever you're with - Happy New Year...!

December 30, 2005

RPG explained

ElshaUK and I were out having dinner with the Old Ealonians on Wednesday night and the subject of Roleplaying came up.

"So no board? How does THAT work?"

Roleplaying is essentially Storytelling or unscripted amateur dramatics if you wish. 1 person is designated the Referee - he sets the stage, so to speak, and fills everyone in on the backdrop to whats going on. So for example, if we were playing a Call of Cthulhu game:

"It was a dark and stormy night. The car sped up the winding mountain lane as heavy rain obscured the driver's vision. He tapped his cigarette on the side of the dashboard and settled into his chair, stretching at the same time to stop himself from falling asleep."

So here we have a detailed environment and a particular character. Who the man is and why he is driving in such weather still remains a mystery, but the players are told that the man is not one of the players. He is, in fact, a chaffeur, driving them somewhere.

The story background begins to gel in the Referee's head and he invites the players to create characters to match the mood of the story so far.

In most roleplaying games, the players have to roll up statistics for their character's attributes (normally, things like Strength, Dexterity/Agility, Constitution/Endurance, etc). These attributes remain mostly fixed for the duration of the game, perhaps increasing only when the characters have suffiencently advanced in levels or when they have recovered magical items that they can equip - as a reward for their patience and endevours.

Once that is done, the players name their characters and work out other details - such as equipment, knowledge, etc.

As the story progresses, the players gain information and make decisions based solely on what their characters are aware of. For example, you yourself might be aware of how to repair a car but that doesn't mean that your character does. Their narratives essentially make up the rest of the story/game.

So whilst the Referee is telling the audience what is happening in the immediate background, the players are telling the audience what their actions are.

At this stage, there are two very important distinctions to be made: OOC (Out of Character) and IC (In Character). Most of the time, the players will be in IC until they wish to disagree on a ruling or ask for more pertinant information at which point everyone switches to OOC.

In the above example, let's pick a character called Edward Black, a journalist for a small newspaper, the Scyamore Herald. He's about 25 and just starting out on his writing career. He has never been involved in the Cthulhu Mythos but when he was younger he did have an experience with a ghost-like manisfestation that left him with a shattered childhood, and to this day he is still a little insecure.

I've decided that Edward is travelling to talk to a professor of archaeology regarding an article for his newspaper.

This is something the Referee did not take into account at the start of the game but decides to run with the idea. It just so happens the Professor of Archaeology will fit in with the game quite nicely - so long as a few minor changes are made.

As other characters are introduced to the game, their decisions will affect the outcome of the beginning of the story as well, and it is the job of the Referee to intregrate these ideas into the game.

The Referee, by the way, is considered an unbiased person. Even though he knows the players and knows the background of the game, he is neither against the players nor for them. He is simply telling a story and adjudicating battles and other judgement decisions.

A roleplaying game has no clear ending. Whilst there are objectives - rescue the princess, kill the dragon, etc - the game doesn't come to an end once those objectives are completed. The princess might have to be escorted back, the dragon might have been a servant of some greater evil.

You can get more information from Wikipedia

December 25, 2005

Merry Capitalism-mas Everyone!

Well, its been a while since I last posted and I've been putting things off until christmas arrived... and here it is.

First of all, an explanation of why I dislike Christmas. It's a time when people seem to go mad in their gathering of presents for their friends and family. Mad is not the word, sadly. They become selfish misers who are out for blood - they want presents at the expense of other people and this selfishness is put on display for all to see during this time.

People who would go out of their way to say "Thank You" in shops now shoulder past looking for that single present that will clinch their dealings with their family. Parents use their children's prams as rams as they batter you out of their way. People just go crazy at this time of year. Maybe they should rename Christmas to Capitalism-mas.

Happy Capitalism-mas folks.

Saying that, I've bought ElshaUK presents and she's bought me hers. So am I a bit of a hypocrite for saying all that stuff about selfishness? Not really. I didn't go mad when buying her pressies and she didn't go mad buying me pressies. We took it calmly and bought all our presents either over the internet or the week before Capitalism-mas.

So, what did I get?

Well, first and foremost, the best present so far was not from ElshaUK but from her folks. They were 2 x home-made vouchers made out to the sum of "a one way flight ticket to Perth, Australia before Xmas 2007".
Now, that is a brilliant Christmas present.

ElshaUK and I have been thinking seriously about going to Perth, Australia to live permanently but the money side of things has always been a worry. How do we pay for flights, for the visa, for sending stuff over, for paying off credit cards, for paying off loans...

...well this takes a huge chunk of that money off our hands.

Other presents:

A nice shiny new black Logitech Keyboard - which is going to take some time getting used to.

A Sony Walkman 256Mb MP3 player + Holder - those who know me well know I don't have much taste in music. It appears that 2006 will be a complete change.

A pair of flannalette pyjama pants

A leather Wallet (which had the airline vouchers in)

A bag of authentic Dungeons & Dragons Dice

A World of Warcraft Atlas

A World of Warcraft Strategy Guide

A Hair Trimmer for side burns and err other unslightly hair.

Everything has been a complete surprise, especially the tickets to Oz and the MP3 Player.

Now I'm off to have some breakfast, a shower, and some playing of the above mentioned toys and reading of the above mentioned books on a day of complete relaxation where both of us can do whatever we want (either playing on the computer or watching tv or listening to music) without any cares or worries.

Maybe Capitalism-mas isn't so bad after all...

November 22, 2005

Revenge of the Prequels

These past two weeks, I saw two movies that I never got to watch at the cinema - Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith and Batman Begins. What can I say? Both are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of likability.

First of all, let's start off with SW3: RotS.

The film is basically a live-action cartoon depicting the events leading up to Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. That's the entire plot in that sentence alone.

The story is convoluted and disjointed leaving so many issues unresolved. Why, for example, doesn't the Emperor find out where Yoda is hiding - he has 20 years to despatch billions of imperial probe droids (taking into account it only takes about 2 years to find out about the Rebel's base on Hoth)? How does Leia know about her mother being beautiful but sad (as she explains in Return of the Jedi) if her mother died in childbirth? Why doesn't R2 remember Obi-Wan or tell Luke about his father if only C3-PO's memory was wiped?

The film also has a problem with its special effects. Each scene has more special effects than normal acting, rendering the effects useless. Rather than highlighting the story, it paints over them instead. Also the use of cutscenes is rather bad - in A New Hope, it was used to indicate movement of the story. Here its use destroys that movement.

I also find it unlikely that a huge religion that spanned a civilisation could become in 20 years "ancient and hokey" as Solo describes the Jedi in A New Hope. As a 32 year old, I can easily remember 20 years ago! And why is it all the space craft that were shiny and sleek 20 years ago are all battered and dusty now? I just don't understand it - have they stopped making space ships?

These are just some of the most basic problems I had with the storyline. Don't get me started on how stupid Anakin seems to be when he gets "seduced" by the Dark Side (he wasn't seduced, he made a direct choice) or how it seems very unlikely that Obi-Wan, his friend and mentor, would cut his right arm and legs off and then leave him to die on a lava planet after he's discovered to be in league with the Sith. Somehow, I think not. And knowing that Anakin possibly died on the lava planet, why then the reason to split his children up? Neither Palpatine nor Anakin knew of the twins and it would have been just as likely that the children died in child birth.

On the other side of the spectrum is Batman Begins - a re-write of the Batman saga, this time explaining just how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. The story starts off Bruce Wayne trying to discover what it is to be a criminal and what makes them tick and ending up meeting Liam Neeson as the mentor that teaches him how to be a ninja. When given a choice to be judge, jury and executioner, Bruce jumps ship and returns to Gotham to become Batman and to instill fear into the hearts of criminals.

The plot is well done and leaves you gasping for more, the fight sequences are believable. In fact the whole thing is really well done but how does it compare to Tim Burton's Batman? Well, Batman was iconic, it was dark and moody but its aged. Batman Begins is much the modern take but somehow it's not as iconic. Still I look forward to the sequel.

October 17, 2005


Why did no one tell me it was a Western? As I said in my last post, I bought the entire series of Firefly thinking it was a really good sci-fi. And it is.

Except that it's a Western set in space. When I told people they said, "oh but so was star wars".

No, Star Ways is a swashbuckling adventure set in space. Light Sabres, Laser Crossbows, Space Barges. The whole thing is a pirate-type genre.

Firely, on the other hand, is a Western. As depicted by the horses and wagons seen in the pilot, by the fact that even though it is set hundreds of years in the future, people still use revolvers and talk in an American accent (although they do sometimes lapse into Chinese when swearing).

I can still remember ElshaUK whooping with delight at my face when the title music started and it slowly dawned on me that it was basically cowboys in space - not my favourite genre especially :P

On the other hand...

It's a damn good series. No, really. Really, really good. I can see why people say the Movie version, Serenity, is better than Star Wars. That's because it is. It doesn't concentrate so much on the story but on the characters. And let's face it, that's why the last 3 Star Wars movies have sucked so much - because they don't have characters or a storyline, just lots of wonderfully colourful special effects.

We've watched about 6 episodes now and are hooked. The episodes tend to revolve around the whole western genre as do the characters, so you have Mal, the ex-soldier captain of the Firely-class vessel Serenity. You have Zoe, his comrade in arms, and Wash, Zoe's husband and wise-cracking pilot. And that's another thing. A sci-fi series that openly talks about sex. As in Zoe telling Wash "Hey husband, let's go have some sex."

The other characters make up the usual sort of people you'd find in a Western town - a chaplain (Book), a prostitute (Inara), a doctor (Simon Rivers) and a mechanic/blacksmith (Kaylee).

And it all works wonderfully well. Go and buy it and for heavens sake, give it a chance to get going (by episode 3 I guarantee you will want to carry on watching).

Now we're looking forward to watching the feature-length movie at the cinema. If I convince ElshaUK to go with me...

Other news - I'm ill again. :( A re-occurrence of the original infection from 2 months ago. Why oh why does this happen to me.

I hate 'phoning in sick. Your employers always ask you the same questions:

"Have you seen a doctor?"
Err. Yes. I've seen a doctor and he believed me when I told him I was ill. Why can't you believe me?

"Will you be in today/tomorrow?"
Err. Shouldn't I get better first?

"It's really a bother, we're so busy here."
Great. I love being a slave as well.

Companies should just wake up to the fact that their employees are actually human beings and stop treating them with carrot/stick motivation. It would probably make everyone happier. The Star Trek era should just arrive and make monetary concerns redundant.

...And finally, I can't finish without mentioning that I'm now level 58 and soon to be 59 in World of Warcraft. Hopefully in the next week or so I should be - finally - 60.

And then I can begin all over again. :)

October 05, 2005

Same Old

Just an update really. No new news to tell - or at least any interesting news.

My 5 year anniversary came and went at work with nothing said at work. I doubt if anyone even noticed. Meanwhile, I have been told that I am now the Hardware Engineer. I'm sorry, I thought I was the 2nd Line Support Engineer. Now it seems I've been relagated to make sure the infrastructure doesn't crumble. Great.

Scythe's replacement has finally been found. Another South African, by sheer coincidence apparently. I don't believe in coincidences and I told Management that to their faces - they laughed it off but I still wonder.

I'm starting to grind away in World of Warcraft so I can get to level 60. I'm at level 56 at the moment, soon to hit level 57. They say the game opens up at 60 but I'm sure what they mean is, if you have the time... For the first time in a while, Horse, Scythe and Kitten were all on at the same time - which is frankly astounding, given that we now all play at different times. They're all level 53, which gives me a slight advantage to hitting 60 before them.

I am still reading Johnathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It's a good book and the adventure hasn't lessened up in the slightest, although I have, if you know what I mean. I'm not keen on reading huge books so even though I will be disappointed when the story ends, I will be happy to start reading something else.

I'm not too sure what else to read - Engines of Destiny sounds about right. A "What if" story, it asks:

"What would happen if Captain Montgommery Scott (now in the 24th Century [ST:TNG - Relics]) zipped back in time to just before Captain Kirk disappeared into the Nexus [ST:Generations] and beamed him aboard a cloaked ship, thereby saving his life?"

The answer is, of course, a complete disaster. Kirk never disappeared into the Nexus which means he wasn't there to help Picard stop Soran from exploding the Viridian Sun. It also means that Kirk never died in that stupid way.

As you can see I am a Science Fiction fan. The other day, interested by the film Serenity, I went out and bought the entire series (14 episodes) of the original tv series, called Firefly.

Tonight I get to watch the first episode with ElshaUk to see if it was a good choice.

September 22, 2005

Back from our holidays in "fairytale" Cornwall - St. Ives, to be precise.

We (ElshaUk, the Father and Stepmother-In-Law) spent a glorious seven days pottering around Cornwall, seeing sights and drinking copious amounts of Tribute Ale whilst enjoying ourselves immensely. We've been there before, once again with them, a couple of years ago so this holiday was a more sedantry affair. Neither rushed to see all the sights nor many a shopping trip in the local towns, this time we spent the holiday as it should be - slowly unwinding.

Illness-wise, I am feeling much better. No longer on antibiotics or creams [touch wood] I am up for work tomorrow, well actually today in about 8 hours. I dread to think what my workmates and manager have been up to whilst I have been away, but I'm sure I won't be surprised by their stupidity when I get to work.

I am still looking for a new job. This has been a cause for concern to me as I am coming up to the 5th anniversary of my current position. This means that instead of the usual 4 weeks of notice, I must now give 5 - meaning extricating myself from work will be that much harder. Still, I am insistant that I remove myself from my work place. No more shall I be made to suffer the indignity of working for sheer incompetant managers that pay themselves about £15k more than me whilst making me do all the hard work.

Unfortunately, 3 days into my holiday in Cornwall and mainly caused by severe bouts of insomnia, I read straight through the two books I mentioned in my previous post and ElshaUK made me buy another book I had taken an interest to in a local bookshop - Johnathan strange & Mr. Norrell. This is one of those books that turns you into a compulsive obsessive; every day you will force yourself to read more of it and to ponder on the meaning of every chapter.

The story is set in a fictional alternate world of the 1800's where Magic actually exists. Not the magic of Dungeons & Dragons nor that of Paul Daniels but the other-worldly magic long since forgotten by adults - the Fairy-tale magic of old. The plot revolves around two gentlemen magicians - Johnathan Strange and, of course, his one-time tutor, Mr. Norrell and their attempts to revive English Magic from centuries old neglect.

One quote from the book is:

‘“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never could”’ (p.304).

This book is up there with Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien but is more similar to the writings of E.R. Eddison's "The Worm Ouroborous" - a long-since forgotten contemporary of Tolkiens. Apparently it took the author, Susanna Clarke 10 years to pen it.

If you read one book this year, read this one!

September 10, 2005


Off to Cornwall now for 10 days or so.

Feeling a little better but still far from ok, illness-wise. Had a terrible night's sleep last night (nothing new there) so will probably sleep in the car on the way down from Bristol (train from Reading there).

Otherwise, I'll see you all soon.

September 09, 2005

Bad Elves vs Good Elves: Discuss...

I am still ill.

This hugely frustrating state of affairs has not only stopped me from continuing to look for work elsewhere but has made me more and more morose regarding my health.

Why does this always happen to me when I go on holidays? This time at least I wasn't stressed. At least, I don't think I was stressed. Alright, so Scythe and Assassin-UK left me holding together the company's infrastructure like it was my guts spilling out all over the floor but I don't think I was that stressed.

On the other hand, of course, I will get better. Eventually. Hopefully before my holiday finishes.

On other news, I've been playing World of Warcraft some more and have decided that before the Expansion pack comes out (it's rumoured to be coming out for Christmas) I will get Crucifer up to level 60. At the moment, he's level 52 and in a very nice tourist site known as The Searing Gorge. It's not that bad to be honest, but the necessity to team up to complete quests are becoming more and more irritating.

Unlike a lot of people, I don't have a lot of time to spend on computer games. When I'm not playing Wow, I'm reading (and soon to be reading Terry Pratchett's "The Last Continent" & Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time Prequel: New Spring"). When I'm doing either of those things, I'm on the internet looking up info on roleplaying material for our game or spending time with Elsha.

Following on from the last post, we decided to sit down and finally build ourselves a game world, asking very serious questions like "why are elves good?". Tolkien made them good of course, that's why. And everyone else followed suit for a long, long time until TSR finally brought in evil elves called Drow. And again, everyone followed suit.

We've decided to use some of the ideology from the Stargate Universe - Elves were ancient beings that eventually transcended their material forms and left for distant parts unknown. Those few that remained behind kept to themselves. Some other elves, the Drow, decided to return to the Material World and work with the humans.

And so, we have our first real issue. Good Elves with a non-interference policy trying to stop the Drow (bad Elves) from helping the Humans, who don't realise what's going on (nor would care even if it was explained to them).

But the main point that we're looking at in terms of the above is why are the elves there? Not just because they have a passing resemblance to Legolas but the actual reason for their existance. Now it's something very interesting that we can work into the game's storyline maybe.

And bizarrely enough, my browser was having problems with Blogger's composer bar. After reinstalling IE6 SP1, eveything is working again. Yay.

August 29, 2005

An Overdue Update

well its been nearly a long month since I posted last and I wish I could say lots of good things have happened. Alas, I've been ill for practically the whole time with one of those... erm... embarrassing illnesses that seem to crop up every now and again and is kept out of polite conversation.

I took a couple of days off work and was reminded why I was looking for work elsewhere. My boss rang me a couple of times and wanted to know if I was coming in - not from any concern for my wellbeing but because she wanted to go to the Passport office and my not coming in was preventing her from going.

Deciding to look after myself for once, I said no and she went out anyway. Nice.

Job-wise I am still looking for a better place but like with flats, you spend ages looking around, maybe get to see one or two really nice places and then find out that either they're not good enough or there is a catch - and you go back to looking for that perfect place.

Not feeling very well has only made it worse.

I haven't been playing WoW much. Susan's Dad and Step-mum came over from Oz via Canada and so we've been doing the flat up. We spend friday, saturday and sunday morning with them and had a great time. Now we're back to vegging out until the 8th when we go down to St. Ives for a week long holiday in Cornwall.

This saturday I'm doing another stint of paintballing but first I have to get checked out by the Doctors to make sure I am fit to go.

Roleplaying has taken off again. We've been trying to meet up every week or so to keep continuity and so far it all seems to be working. The world-designing is really taking off and we're mostly having fun. Except Jamie who thinks Dwarves should look like Dwarves and Elves should look like Elves. But shouldn't dance. Especially under stars.

I will be posting a bit more about that and WoW when I'm feeling a little better.

August 03, 2005

Scythe's gone AWOL, Sarge!

Tomorrow (Thursday 4th August 2005) will be Brett's last day at work.

I am both dreading it and looking forward to it all in the same breath because although on the one hand that old comraderie I have come to expect from going to work will be gone, I will have no reason to stay there anymore. This is a turning point in my life and I need to realise that there is more to the world than my crummy job where other people take advantage of my skills and abilities.

To mark the occassion we had a good old Red Faction game night, where Bufu, Horse, Kitten, Scythe and even Assassin-UK logged in and hunted each other like stalking tigers. It was great fun and I think we will be doing it a lot more in future.

Here's to you Scythe, *big gulp of wine*

Gone, but never forgotten.

July 31, 2005


Hmm, thought I would give imaging a go. Funnily enough I don't seem to be able to instantly set up pics like other people do.

Anyway, the pic below is from an online game called Asheron's Call 2 - now no longer played as we've discovered WoW. Still I played the game from October 2003 until November 2004. A long long time playing as the Tumerok Missile/Healer Crucifer.

Test Pic from Asherons Call 2 Posted by Picasa

...the devil you know... a saying I absolutely agree with and unfortunately, readily identify with.

Just as we thought the flat was perfect - washing machine working, power shower working, window opens, bathroom door looks nice - things went horribly and very drastically wrong.

As Susan was opening the blinds last weekend, they came crashing down on top of her and the tv, tearing a chunk of plaster out of the wall. Susan was thankfully ok; so was the tv for that matter. But the wall looks horrendously bad. And it doesn't look like it's something that will be fixed in one day.

The landlady finally came out to have a look last wednesday and she brought a builder with her. Lots of umming and ahh'ing took place, with lots of "there were no cracks in the walls when we installed the blinds" statements by the builder.

Of course not, Susan and I got up on chairs and repeatedly hammered the walls just to get that effect (that's sarcasm by the way).

As far as I'm aware, they will have to tear out the loose remnants, mix up some cement, apply it, plaster over it, and then in a weeks time when the cement has set, re-attach the blinds to it. That's if the landlord decides that it's worth the bother and not just attach a curtain rod.

This means more time off for me and its at the worst possible time. Not only has Brett resigned and looking forward to leaving (which means he will only help me occassionally) but another guy has been made redundant and the 1st Line Support engineer has gone on holiday as well. Arrrghhh!

Over the past few days, the idea of working in a company where the 3rd Line Support Techie is leaving in 4 days, where the web designer is leaving in 10 days, where the 1st line Techie is on holiday for another 5 days is all too much for me.

I have been run off my feet the past week, and I have another week to look forward to. I can't take time off for interviews because I've been warned by management that any time off I may take will conflict with business-critical issues. A fancy way of saying "if you leave, we'll be up shit creek without a paddle".

The question I'm asking myself more and more is:

"And why do I work for these people exactly?"

July 12, 2005

The Flat Vs The Job


We've moved into the new flat and things were looking up. Then, unfortunately, they looked down again.

Firstly, and because this is at home, its very important, there are a lot of things wrong with the flat. "Hiss boo sucks" I hear you say? Yes, unfortunately.

The power shower doesn't work. The washer/dryer doesn't work. The sink leaks. The sealant around the bath isnt there. The WC isn't flush against the wall. The carpet in the hallway hasn't been tacked down. The main window in the lounge doesn't open. the bathroom door handle keeps falling off... The list is endless. I'm glad to say though that some of these things are being fixed as we speak. Hopefully, things will begin to look up and we will be happy to spend shed loads of money for a flat that actually doesn't annoy us.

EDIT: Hopefully some of these will be addressed soon. We've since found out that the Washing machine doesn't work because some clever genius attached it to the Hot water mains and not the Cold water mains. This means that on a cold rinse, you get... wait for it... hot water. In fact, on any programme, you get hot water.

This could also explain why the power shower doesn't work, because it too is on the same pipe network.

Next, Brett has resigned from work. For those of you who don't know, Brett was the Senior Network Manager and the guy who kept on about paintball for weeks after TheNumNum's stag do.

Brett kept wondering if there was life out there and decided just before his appraisal to actually look. Indeed there was life out there and in fact, that life was better than the one he had at the moment. So he made a big decision, went for an interview and came back all smiles. I think he was actually looking to see how much he was appreciated here but no counter offer was forthcoming and he resigned.

He came over yesterday and whispered in my ear "You need to think about your future". Which, of course, made me think, 'am I appreciated here?'.

When I gather the courage to find an answer to that question, I'll let you know.

EDIT: The answer to this question has been a dismal "maybe". Unlike Mr. Volunteer (That's Brett to you and me), I don't put myself into a situation where I can be exploited, therefore I'm not integral to the system. Still, I am now looking for work as I'm coming up to FIVE years in this company. I know I wanted solid experience in the IT industry but this is getting ridiculous.

June 28, 2005

"I just want a melon..."

As the Malibu ad explains, "why make life unnecessarily complicated?" Mind you, after the move from hell, I could have done with a bottle of "seriously easygoing" Malibu to wind down with.

The removal company, Abbey Crown, were frustratingly customer-unfriendly as they quoted us as arriving at 9AM and actually came at 2PM - that's 5 hours late for a move that only took 4 hours in total. The driver and his mate weren't bad at all but they didn't work for Abbey Crown directly (so big cheers to Peter and Kaleem, who helped out a lot on the day and though they didn't get the couch through the door, they tried extremely hard).

Yes, our couch didn't fit as it was too wide and the angles of the hallway door was just too tight. Peter and Kaleem tried their hardest for about 30 minutes, even taking the front door off its hinges, but it was evident to all that it wouldn't fit through. In the end, we despairingly held our hands in the air and surrendered. The couch was dumped and that cost us as well to have it removed. All we have now are memories of sitting on our mandarin-style blue couch watching CSI and eating our dinner.

*big cry*

Still, we had a futon hidden away and that can double up as a couch and as a second bed, which will be handy as Susan's folks will be coming over to stay for a few days later in the year. Would we have moved though knowing that the couch wouldn't have fit? Well, to be honest, we sort of knew that the couch woulnd't fit - we were just hoping that it would.

Waseem [Kalistro] and Jamie, two Old Ealonian chums, came over last night and helped assemble the futon, the main bed, some wardrobes and 2 desks - which totals most of the furniture in the flat. Without their help (and it even took us 4 hours to get it all right) we would have been spending days sorting things out so we were very much in appreciation.

As always with a new flat, problems have begun to emerge. The power shower (the one we were enamoured with) doesn't seem to work, bringing up a "low pressure" warning light - strange because it's meant to handle low pressure fairly well.

The bathroom door, is hung badly on it hinges so that there is an inch gap at the bottom, allowing you to see in.

Minor niggles include the bathroom door handle which has been botched. And some of the windows are sticky, although it might just take us some time to get accustomed to them.

The neighbours are extremely friendly and we've met Kev (not Kevin!) who lives in the downstairs flat, and Tony and Gloria who live across the lawn from us. Susan and I are still coming to terms with neighbours who actually speak to you.

For 2 and a half years, we've lived in Boston Manor where our neighbours spoke a total of about 200 words to us. In 10 minutes, Tony and Gloria had spoken about 400 words and, if I hadn't been dragged off by Susan, would have probably spoken another 400 easy. But they are nice, which is good, as it adds to the whole atmosphere of the place.

So in the end, I just wanted a melon, but had to wait five hours before I managed to get an overripe mango. Not quite what I wanted...

June 26, 2005

T Minus One day

Well, in one day's time we'll be moving to our new flat in Ealing. Is there some trepidation? Absolutely.
Things are starting to go wrong with the move. Well, not quite the move itself, but the packing.

We estimated the packing would take about 10 days tops. It hasn't; it's still going on. Basically, 90% of the packing took about 5 days and the last 10% is dragging on, partially due to a mixture of reticence on our parts to do any more work and the fact that there seems to be an unending accumulation of "stuff". Where did it all come from, we ask ourselves? But the answer is, we've been living in a very large spacious flat for two and a half years and this is the end result. Boxes and boxes of "stuff" - we're truly running out of patience on explaining to each other what things are and why we have them. They just end up being "the stuff we bought last year for this purpose, remember?"

Susan's back has gone as well. She's had back problems for as long as I have known her and every now and again she ends up with a bad back. This time it seems to have happened as a result of the high temperatures in her work place - stress about moving out have taken their toll on her.

So this means that Plan A - to dismantle the furniture tonight (the removal company arrives in the morning) has taken a major turn for the worse. I can dismantle most of the stuff but I'm going to need help. I've sent out a call to various Old Ealonians for help. If the worst comes to the worse there is a work mate I can call upon but I'd rather not.

The new flat looks good but beneath the glossy sleek exterior, I've already spotted some problems. Nay, problems is too harsh a word. Niggles, mainly.

1. The main window in the front room doesn't open all the way. It looks like it should but just before the pane clears the frame, it gets stuck. It looks as if it's been put on wrongly.

2. The bathroom is a complete tip. Nothing a major clean won't put right and even though we would clean the bathroom anyway, it's not something we wouldn't to do straight away.

3. Parking. Where the hell do guests go to park? There doesn't seem to be anywhere for them. This is something we'll have to speak to the neighbours about, along with where to put the bins and what day they get picked up on.

The new flat hasn't got a phone line yet; it's going live on Wednesday 29th June, which means all we'll have for two days will be our mobiles, assuming of course that BT actually gets things right first time.

Wanadoo Broadband is another matter completely. I've been told that I will need to phone when the new line is active and then it's going to take up to another 20 days to move the broadband from the one number to the other.

Now my question is WHY?

It takes BT 5 days - FIVE - to set up a new line. Surely it's not going to take Wanadoo 20 days to move a line? What are they going to do, come to Boston Manor, dig up the line, transplant it to Ealing and then bury it again? That, I can imagine, would take 20 days. But moving a line - most likely, on a computer - should take about 20 minutes (well, with a backlog, I'd be ok with 5 days). This does not make me very happy so come October, when it's time for us to renew our broadband, I will be going elsewhere for my broadband account, maybe even sooner.

Alas, this means we will be without broadband access for awhile. As the phoneline goes live, we should be able to dial up with a modem for awhile, at least. But we will most likely limit ourselves to checking emails so alas, I will be unable to post from home.

June 22, 2005

Excuses, excuses...

Take, for example, the discussion at work I've been having recently.

I've decided to walk to work from my new flat. That's from Eaton Rise in Ealing to Mansfield Road in Park Royal. Look it up on the map now.

You see? It's about a 30-45 minute walk to work.

When I first mentioned I was thinking of walking the distance to work, everyone was heaping praise on me - "well done", "it's great exercise", "you'll lose lots of weight".

Now, as the day of my first walk fast approaches, people are changing their tunes - "you're mad", "it's miles", "why don't you look for alternative transport".

First of all, it's meant to be exercise. I'm meant to dislike it because if it was easy it wouldn't be exercise.

Secondly, it gives me time to reflect on Life, The Universe & Everything. Whilst other people are running around like mad chickens on speed getting to work on time, my aim will be to walk to work knowing full well that either I'll be on time or I'll be late - because I won't be dependant on any other variable. Like Traffic, or crap excuses for why the trains are late.

Thirdly, and this is only a bonus point, it will cut costs.

Maybe they're right, though, and I'm completely wrong. Maybe it is too far. What are the options?

1. I could learn to ride a bike/scooter/alternative vehicle.

2. I could walk to the Western Avenue and catch a bus:

This will of course involve a 20 minute walk, followed by god knows how long actually waiting for the bus, followed finally by waiting for the traffic to move. A possibility perhaps for when it's absolutely pissing down.

3. I walk to Ealing Broadway, catch a train to Ealing Common, catch another train to Park Royal and walk to work:

Hmm, this involves a 15 minute walk to Ealing waiting for a train, a 3 minute train journey, waiting for another train, a 5 minute train journey, followed by a 7 minute walk to work. At around 30 minutes minimum, this is a particularly stupid option considering I could walk to work and save myself £40 and a whole heap of stress.

June 16, 2005

Oh What Fun...

Well, events have definitely been whizzing past in the last few weeks.

Firstly, we've been looking for a flat and finally found one. Next I attended TheNumNum's Stag do, and that left me aching all over.

But last friday TheNumNum finally did the deed and got married, hosting the reception that evening at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel near Heathrow. The hotel looked very spectacular and both myself and The Missus attended, as well as other members of The Old Ealonians. We had a great time - except for the dancing, which I always hate. I'm normally propping up the Bar when there's dancing to be done, but in this case there was nowhere to hide...

This sunday he's going to have the full blown Indian Ceremony, with hundreds of other guests. Now, you might think that as I am an Indian myself I would have been to loads of these ceremonies, but I'm afraid to say that this will be my first. Even my eldest brother had a registry wedding and did things in a particularly Western ceremony, so I really don't know what to expect. I shall be watching wondering just what the heck it all means...

The other thing that's moving at a fast pace is packing, so that we can move into the new flat. I'm starting to hate packing and I know from past experience that as well as it being a very draining experience it can also be incredibly stressful. Plus, how the hell have we accumulated so much stuff? Magazines, books, games, cds, dvds, videos - where the hell did they all come from? So far we've packed 14 boxes and the Study looks marginally emptier. We still have the lounge room and the other bedroom to pack. And all the stuff in the kitchen.

We also have to work out what to do with the fridge/freezer as we won't be able to take it with us to the new place. Do we bin it or do we have it delivered to the folks and have their old one binned? What to do...

The other thing that's been bothering us is how we actually move all the stuff. Up until now, we've been planning on moving some of the stuff by van and the rest by a professional company .

But I finally broke down and realised that Susan was very right and I was very wrong - moving anything ourselves is only going to add to the stress. We should just pay up and get someone else to do all the hard work. So we just booked with a removal company and paid shedloads for someone else to work out how to move the sofa and armchair and all the other furniture out of our current second floor flat and into the new first floor flat without breaking anything.

Meanwhile at work, the main fashion brands are launching at the very same time that I am moving flats. Work management have asked me not to move so I told them that if they would pay for my removals fee, I would gladly stay at work. So they said no and gave me the day off. I replied, "Oh great, means we can't be that busy then." I got glowered at, but I don't care. My point was made.

My life comes first, work a distant second. Possibly third, after... I don't know but at least that space is reserved for something other than work. No one can say I don't have my priorities worked out in my head!

So that's what I'm up to at the moment.

June 13, 2005

Like a headless chicken on speed

Another of the Old Ealonians asked if he could have a go with my guest pass at World of Warcraft. The pass allows 10 free days of gaming - once the key is activated, there's no stopping it. I wasn't using it so I said "Go for it".

He created an Orc Shaman by the name of Kalistro and soon got to gaming.

But he started running into problems. His guild list wouldn't work properly, only after he logged out and logged back in. Quest items wouldn't "drop" properly so he'd have to go back and play out the quest again. The list started to build up until he told me he wouldn't want to pay monthly for a game that didn't work properly.

To be entirely fair, WOW is just like the majority of games out there - some will work on your pc and others frustratingly won't.

I remember when I was testing out City of Heroes - the game ran fine on my computer except that the cursor didnt show up. It made the game horrible and eventually I worked out that if I dropped the monitor res and raised it a few times, I could get the cursor to show up as a big black block. I mentioned this to NCSoft, the makers of CoH and their reply was "Oh it's your video card. Get a new one." Except it was happening to loads of different video cards with different chipsets.

In the end, I thought it was a great game, but no way was I going to spend that much money on something that didnt work and that wasn't being supported properly. So I can sympathise with Kalistro.

However, I've been playing like a headless chicken on speed and have managed to get up to Level 48. I also have an alt (alternative character) called Azaghul, a level 20 Undead Mage.
Looking for a new flat was sapping my online time and moving to the new flat will do the same thing. Level 60 will have to wait a while longer, methinks.

June 05, 2005

Massive Update

Well, it's been a fair few months since I posted here and theres a fair bit to tell, with various events occurring in my life.

Firsty, Work decided to impose some restrictions. They of course didn't call it a restriction at the time but sharp-eyed eagle me spotted it straight away. Work want me to account for my time spend on support calls.

So.. if I've spent an hour trying to post a blog post and it all goes horribly wrong when the browser crashes then I have essentially lost an hour of work time and they will know I have been doing things that perhaps I should be doing on my own time. Like perchance spending some time on the loo. Or having lunch and not wanting to be disturbed.

The upshot of this is that I don't get to spend much time on the internet at work anymore. Which is probably a good thing anyway since I was one of the highest Internet browsers at the company (if I didn't know better [and for those of you who think I've missed their point, trust me they don't have a point except to batter me with control methods] I would have thought they instituted this to lower my internet time).

Secondly, Susan and I have joined Weight Watchers. So far I've lost 4 pounds, and she's lost 11 and a half.

Susan decided to go back to Weight Watchers and this time, rather than have me snack away on the sidelines disturbing her, I decided to join her so we would both be working towards losing weight.

On other news, TheNumNum is getting married. In June. Like next week. Heh, actually I've known about it for awhile now. So long in fact, that I was shopping out to get a suit and some ties and a shirt, while the missus bought herself a very nice jacket and trousers.

Yesterday was the Stag do and except for a couple of the Old Ealonians not turning up when they should have (why am I not surprised?) and a whole bunch of people cheating at the event, we had a great time Paintballing.

Now, you might be surprised at myself even thinking about paintballing, being someone who doesn't care to exercise much more than running for the bus, and more importantly, someone who has a phobia of pain (I really don't like pain!). But it was for a good cause, namely to keep TheNumNum in good spirits and so I decided, 'what the heck, it'll be a good laugh'.

I'm glad to say I was right. Except now I ache all over. Lots. I'm being treated to a special bubble bath by Susan with lots of her nice smelling oils, powders and dusts.

In the last few weeks, Susan and I have been looking to get a new flat. The one we're in is ok but badly maintained (as in not) and the kitchen is a cupboard of a thing. You sort of have to see it to believe it (which reminds me, when I figure out how picture blogging works, I'll post it).

The new place is much better, is in a better location, has a power shower, new kitchen and carpets, and a humungous lounge with extra dining space.

Two small niggles. The bedroom isn't very big, probably only big enough for the bed. The second niggle is that we have to put down a £700 holding fee, which although counting towards the final bond, is a lot of money. More than we were counting on to spend on a holding fee.

But the missus and I are eager to grab it as its so holy wonderful. Susan and I can both walk to work which means we dont spend £95 on transportation costs and so it brings down the total rent of the place to £815, which is well below our discussed rental price range. Plus it means we can walk to work most of the time and when the weather is absolutely horrible, we have the choice of taking bus - the E2 and E9 routes run right outside the house, thankfully.

With all that's going on at the moment (work, Stag do & Wedding and Flat hunting) we've been particularly stressed out but hopefully by the end of July, it shall all have blown over.

I'll make another post about gaming a bit later on.

March 18, 2005


I was on the bus the other day and I overheard another conversation - this time between three school children about how "utterly rubbish" buses were.

Statements like the ones below were made:

"They're filthy. Always full of litter and rubbish."

"They slow down traffic."

"You have to wait for them. And then they cost £1.20 per ride. What happens if you want to take a quick bus ride?
My dad says he would rather take his car."

There was more but you get the gist of it.

As they were kids I allowed them their skewed perceptions. Their frame of mind only extends to what they know and that isn't much, to be honest.

What I wanted to say to them was:

"Buses don't slow traffic down, bad motorists do."

This is something that really pisses me off, no end.

Buses pick up and drop off people. Therefore, you'd expect people to not park in or around bus stops. In fact, you'd expect people to be sympathetic when buses have to stop in the middle of the road to pick up and drop people off because of the idiots who have blocked off the buses in the first place. But no, they ignore this fact and target the bus driver and his 50 or so passengers.

Why is it motorists target buses with such vitriol? It's almost as if motorists have joined a brand new club - that of the selfish "think only of thine self" club.

"Instead of driving everywhere, why not walk (especially if it's a short distance away)?"

I'm tired of people treating luxuries like everyday boring shite. Public transport is ace. Think of London without any kind of public transport.

Rant over.


I was going to leave this post without mentioning WoW but I don't think I can (can you spot the signs of addiction? I can!)

Crucifer is now level 27 and solidly rising. Hardly a day goes by without a fight with the Alliance, most of them ending with me dead (although I have won a fight or two).

From level 22 on in, the game content is brand-spanking new and pretty good, for the most part.

Solo questing is still going strong but now, with the threat of death at the hands of Alliance players, grouping is becoming more of a necessity. Besides which, the game becomes much more colourful with other players in your team.

I suppose that's why it's an MMO...

March 04, 2005


It snowed today.

One thing I've noticed about the weather is what it brings out in people.

When its sunny, people generally are happier about things. When its raining, people are moody.

When its snowing though, people take a further step - they acquire an instinct of self preservation at any cost. I've seen motorists cut up traffic solely to get an extra minutes movement. I've seen buses clog up traffic solely to stop the motorists from gaining that extra minute, even though it'll add to the congestion nightmare.

And people are the worst of the lot. For some reason, they begin to act shamelessly.

Take the incident at the bus stop today, for example.

Susan and I were queuing for a bus. So were lots of other people. We waited patiently. The Countdown system counted down and eventually it read due.

A woman in a red coat walked up to the bus stop, paused to look at the Countdown display (noticed it read "due") and pushed in front of the queue to get onto the bus.

Now, normally, I wouldn't be annoyed. But today it was cold AND snowing. Today, I was in a mood. Why should I stand in the cold, patiently waiting my turn in the queue to have Ms. Red Coat push in? But I was with Susan so I didn't want to cause embarrasment. I silently hid my annoyance though if looks were like daggers...

However, another man behind us in the queue did say something. When the bus finally pulled over at the bus stop, he reached out and grasped her arm.

"Young lady, can you not see there is a queue for the bus?" he said.

She replied, "Oh sorry, I didn't realise."

It was a crap excuse and everyone in the queue took silent pleasure that someone had stood up for their benefit. People got on to the bus whilst this altercation went on.

However, Ms. Red Coat's embarrasment at being questioned soon turned into indignation.

"Let go, cheeky sod!" she exclaimed.

Indignation quickly turned into self-righteousness.

"Don't touch my arm, you arsehole!"

Inevitably, Ms. Red Coat pulled herself up against the older gentleman and forced her way onto the bus, which eventually drove off.

Now, if I could turn back the clock, I would give the older gentleman a round of applause for not only being right but actually standing up to the woman in a world where being chivalrous is taken for granted by women who, quite frankly, don't deserve it.

On other news, I've finally managed to get Crucifer to level 22 in World of Warcraft (the same level that I got to with Ladonna in the Beta).

The game continues to occupy most of my spare time but I'm also spending a fair amount roleplaying again, which is always good news. I've also managed some writing up of a rpg session and also of what the notion of "epic" means to me. I'll post the session-write up later.

February 21, 2005

Too much time on my hands...

In case you're wondering, I haven't forgotten about this blog.

I've just been way too busy playing World of Warcraft for anything else to distract me at the moment. Over the weekend I clocked approximately 20 hours or so, a staggeringly hugely unusual amount of time. And it's not just me either - check out this press release from Blizzard. Now correct me if I'm wrong but that's a lot of players out there!

I've finally decided on playing on the Al'akir PvP server - I'm on as Crucifer, a level 16 Tauren (that's a minotaur by the way) Hunter accompanied by a level 16 pet - a lion called Battlecat.

A couple of guys I work with have joined the same server. Scythe is on as Shibby - a level 14 Tauren Warrior, Kitten is on as Saffyre - a level 12 Tauren Shaman, and Kaynej is on as Horse, another Tauren Shaman though level 16. Also, another of my friends is on as a level 7 Troll Shaman - though he's miles away in another area of the world.

And if you think I'm spending too much time on a game - check this out. And nope, that's not a joke either. I just hope WoW doesn't go the same way. Or if they do, they choose a better pizza make.

Last week, I took a brief hiatus from playing WoW to celebrate a special occasion. Susan and I celebrated our Seventh Anniversary. It was 7 years ago that we met at Heathrow Airport for the first time and spent a glorious 4 weeks travelling around London and England seeing sights, etc. 7 years down the line, we're now living happily together in domestic bliss (apart from the odd argument about my spending too many hours on World of Warcraft).

Bookwise, I've just read The Legend of Huma by Richard A. Knaak. Of all the Dragonlance writers, I love his books the most. He has a most vivid way of humanizing his heroes. By that I mean, they're not these epic heroes of legend, just every day guys and ladies who end up being immortalised in stories.

February 12, 2005


After managing to copy all my relevant documents and files to Susan's computer, my windows 98 Operating system finally gave up the ghost and refused to boot up due to a .dll error. Fortuitous to say the least, it's an indictment of exactly how bad my computer has been for the past six months or so.

Windows 2000 is the shiny spanking new operating system of choice but already I feel despondant about connecting to the internet. This bold new frontier is already filled with so many scripts, trojans, worms and viruses that apparently an unprotected pc will last up to 12 seconds without some kind of protection before it succumbs and becomes infected. That's a shockingly short amount of time...

World of Warcraft (WoW) went live yesterday. I've already received the wonderfully packaged Collectors Edition which contains The Art of WoW Book, the game in both DVD and CD format, the full soundtrack on CD, an hour long Behind the Scenes DVD, a cloth map depicting Azeroth and Kalimdor and other sundry items. It looks very well packaged and I'll be looking to pick up any other Collectors Editions from Blizzard in the future.

Hopefully, I'll be able to meet up with a bunch of other players from a guild called Inner Circle. Most of them are decent players (apart from Hei Tiki) and I've played with them before during my year tenure on Asheron's Call 2.

At the moment I'm torn between 3 different characters - the Troll Hunter, the Tauren Druid and the Undead Warrior. I'll probably create all 3 and try them out to see which one is the better class to solo with.

Finished reading The DaVinci Code by Dan Browning. It was a pretty good read but I kept guessing the twists. I suppose they were very cliched. A much better book read was The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, and it's in the same genre as well. Actually, I couldn't help shake off the feeling that this was The Name of the Rose Part 2.

Work continues to be busy and exhaustive and I'm continuing to complete as much as possible whilst being plagued by support calls. Some good news - I might be able to buy a 17" monitor and an old USB scanner for £20. Hopefully, I'll be able to buy it soon - this monitor is starting to show its age (8 years old).

February 05, 2005

Getting Underway

After an exhausting week at work, it's finally the weekend. I think it's been all the more exhaustive because I had the week before off. All manner of things have been going wrong at work and I have had less and less support in finishing projects. My boss did have a quick chat with me just before I left on friday to say she had noticed a high rate of calls completed in the last week - Hurrah! someone finally said something positive. Not that it will stop me from writing up my cv and looking for work elsewhere...

Next big piece of news is that World of Warcraft will go on sale on February 11th. I have already pre-ordered my Collector's Edition so hopefully I will get this before that date but you never know with distributors.

Ladonna is now level 21 and exploring all parts of the WoW world. She's even managed to take parts in some Horde raids (players join together to go raiding into enemy territory - it's called Player vs Player and manages to poke fun at other players). Unfortunately, the servers will be wiped on the 10th and Ladonna will cease to exist. When the servers come back up, the chances are I will be playing Horde as Scythe and Kitten (and Kayne and a few others) will be playing that Kingdom. I loved the Hunter class so I think I'm going to go with that again.

Before that happens though I'm going to wipe my hard drives and install Windows 2000. Lots of things have been going wrong with my computer and I can only imagine it's because I've updated from Windows 98 First Edition to Windows 98 Second Edition. Apparently (although no one explained it to me before which makes me think that no one knew and only now claiming they knew all the time), upgrading always leads to instability in the OS.

So for the last week, I have slowly been uninstalling applications off my computer. All I have left are the basic internet tools and World fo Warcraft. And 1.5Gb of files. I'll copy those over to Susan's pc, fdisk my C: and D: drives (they're on the same hard disk), blow away the partitions, create a brand new 20Gb one and reinstall Win2k. Then I'll slowly add programs and convert drive E: (which will become drive D:) to NTFS. At some point I'll purchase a bigger hard drive but I don't need anything fancy for now.

Now, a word of explanation. People keep asking me "Oh. So not XP then?" The answer is NO! XP may have all the bells and whistles and look nice but it's also memory intensive. Plus any DOS programs will cease to work.
I've also noticed that XP tends to fall over a lot - far more than 98 ever did.

Other news - last week, I was watching a particularly interesting programme on TV, called
"Undercover Angels", about the shocking practices in hospitals by nurses (you know, not administering medicine properly, not sticking to protocol, essentially not giving a shit) and they featured Ealing Hospital.

Now, I've been to Ealing Hospital recently and I can confirm a lot of what the programme said. Last October I took Susan to Accident & Emergency because she had a really bad migraine and was throwing up (we were actually advised to go by NHS Direct). After she was checked and admitted, they left her for an hour and a half whilst they sat around a table and chatted. The only people I could see being looked after were the people being the noisest or making the most racket.

I've also been several times when my father has been ill and each and every time I wonder just what is going on behind the scenes in the wards. You can just stroll in and have a good look around before walking out (you're meant to be questioned by the nurses). God forbid I actually wanted to start screwing around with drips, etc. It's really that bad.

Finally, we're off this weekend to investigate getting a 0% Balance Transfer credit card so we can do something about our credit card debt. We've looked at the ins and outs and we've decided to take the initial step with a real bank (so if anything goes wrong we have a face to face explanation) - in this case Halifax. We've calibrated our budget and worked out we can make lots of savings. This will force us to spend those savings on the credit card repayments rather than just spending them on booze and takeaways.

January 31, 2005

Better Late Than Never

EDIT: Meant to post this last night but decided on spending the evening computer-free...

Well, it's been a week off work this week and it comes to an end tonight.

What have I accomplished this week? Not much but there is one bright ray of sunshine in this feeling of melancholy that I have - I feel rested and at peace with myself, I've started a new diet and I continue to be positive with the world that I'm in. I've had lots of time with the missus (though she would say I've spent a much bigger proportion on World of Warcraft rather than being with her) and we're feeling much more relaxed. She's even made the monumentous and incredibly difficult task of quitting smoking!

We have plenty of goals to reach though. Next on the list are our finances. Like all people living in London, we're hit by financial constraints, especially just now after Christmas. Thus we are in the process of sorting out a budget that will be stuck to dilengently.

A good website is here - there's something there for everyone so go check it out.

Watched a good (and thought provoking) movie on Friday afternoon - The Butterfly Effect. The movie's premise is "what if you could go back in time and change a moment of your life - possibly for the better - what would happen as a result?"

The answer would, of course, be complete disaster. I used to imagine myself getting good A-Level grades and going on to the University of my choice - East Anglia University. I liked the feel of the town, the vibes of the university and the layout of the courses.

But if I had gotten good grades, well then I would never have cemented my relationship with The Old Ealonians whom I only really met when I took my re-takes. I would never have gotten that job at Cyberia Ealing Internet Cafe which means I most likely would never have met Susan online.Freaky!

Finally finished The Crossroads of Twilight. Was it a good book? Ummm... Strictly 5 out of 10.

I enjoyed the conversation pieces between the main characters but the rest of it was tiresome. It very much felt as if Robert Jordan wanted to string out the whole story so he could make more money out of the series. Though I am a bit perturbed by TheNumNum's (and others) criticism that they can't understand the wordings and terms in The Wheel of Time, and that it isn't like The Lord of The Rings.

Maybe it's because there is so much of LotR in the media these days. I mean, they've turned the books into films, into cartoons. You can't not know who Frodo is now so surely the understanding of the books becomes a little easier. If they turned WoT into a cartoon series, would that make it easier to understand? Possibly, quite possibly.

In World of Warcraft, finally managed to get Ladonna to level 20. Whoa. Everything has changed. Previous to this level, everything was racial-based. You wander the Night Elf cities doing Night Elf quests. But now, you get to visit the Human cities, the Dwarven cities, etc. Right now, I'm in West Fall, in the Human lands, finishing off a quest for a gnome who lives in the Dwarven city of Ironforge. Weird...!

Not looking forward to going back to work. Why? I've heard rumours that things have been very busy at work and that tomorrow I shall be ensconced with all the shite that people have left to one side whilst I have been away with the intention of giving them to me when I return tomorrow.

Ah well. I will get up tomorrow nice and early. Have a coffee, shower, maybe have breakfast, get to work on time (early if I can manage it), draw up a list of things to do and see how many of them I can do before the end of the day.

January 23, 2005

On Holiday


I've been meaning to post again in the last couple of days (honestly I have) but things have been very busy, both at work and at home and I simply haven't been able to keep up with it all.

It's Susan's birthday this week so she and I have managed to scrape together 5 days holiday from last year so we can take this coming week off. No, we're not going anywhere in particular but it's nice with the beginning of a new year to be able to sit down, have a cup of coffee and let the worries slip away.

A friend who's just bought an LCD screen has kindly offered me his old 17" screen. That will most likely go to Susan as part of her birthday prezzies and if she doesn't like it, I'll nab it for myself.

I've also finally bought a 4 port ADSL modem router so that we can stop being dependant on the shitty program we use for Internet Connection sharing called
Wingate. Recently, all sorts of things have been going wrong and it's very frustrating for the person who's "piggybacking". This means I can play World of Warcraft and when things go wrong and I'm forced to restart, Susan can happily carry on with her surfing.

I'm now 300 pages into Crossroads of Twilight and I'm forced to reconsider my words in my third post. Yes, Robert Jordan does go on and on and on with his writing but you can't help but be drawn into his world. I'll probably change my mind once again later and just throw the book away but for now it's a good read and a gripping storyline.

Talking of books, I went to the library earlier this week and got some books out.

2 x Transformer Graphic Novels
Ill Met In Lankhmar & Farewell To Lankhmar by Fritz Lieber
Nobody True by James Herbert
Life of Pi by Yann Martell

I've already read the graphic novels. Hey, what can I say. I'm a fan of
Transformers. I'm not particularly into the notion of the cars and jets (I actually liked the Dinobots more) but I loved the idea of robots talking and able to transform into various shapes, etc. I've noticed the Transformers movie is at £3.99 in HMV so I'll most likely spend a little and grab it for myself. The movie is very well done and stars the voices of Leonard Nimoy (Galvatron) and Orson Welles (Unicron).

World of Warcraft-wise, I've created a new character called Ladonna who is a 10th level Night Elf Hunter. Hunters are better than rogues because they can "call" pets whom they can quest with. It's a great class for soloing and since Scythe and Kitten (two online friends of mine) currently don't have internet access it's something I can get on with whilst they're away.

By the way, Ladonna was one of the wizards of the Order of Black Robes in the
Dragonlance Chronicles. And if you haven't read them, do so now. These books are one of the cornerstones of Fantasy and especially Roleplaying.

That's all the trivia I can think of for now, expect another more serious post soon.

January 18, 2005


Got to work on Monday at 9:20am (10 minutes early).

Got to work today at 9.15am (15 minutes early, but actually 15 minutes behind schedule because two fellow co-workers hadn't made an appearance and all hell was breaking loose on arguably the most busy day of the year for the company).

People always say to me "Oh you're early today. How come?" to which I reply "Oh no reason" but which I always think "Because I'm paid to start work at 9.30am and it takes me at least 10 minutes to get ready for work." The people that ask me that question, I've noticed, always arrive on their start time but then take about 15 minutes to get a coffee, go to the toilet and chat to their mates before actually starting work. And even then, they're not really paying attention to work.

When explaining this point to people, it seems they suddenly don't remember they signed a contract to do these hours (from start point to finish point). Me? I'd rather spend 10 minutes having a quick coffee, checking my personal emails, do some websurfing and then - Bang! Work starts...

On the way to work, I overheard a loud conversation on the bus between two A-Level students about the choice of their University courses. Mr Y said he was not going to pursue the English Lit course he originally dreamed of because there were no career prospects whilst Miss X said she was going to carry on with her chosen course in Biochemistry because, at the end of the day, this was her final chance to live a little before being enslaved to the system and ending up in a dead end job.

That's not what was said, obviously, but that's what it boiled down to in my opinion. Great to know that we're continuing in the destruction of teenage dreams.

Bookwise, I'm 200 pages into
Crossroads of Twilight and I wonder if Robert Jordan actually has anywhere to go with this book. I could do this myself - create a story that has a start point and an end point but then make sure the rest of the story is forever unfolding - kind of like A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

Hmm... I've sworn to persevere now, if only to find out first hand what happens next.

Some New Year Resolutions

1) Be more positive - it's easy to whine about things. Smile more and mean it.
2) More exercise and balanced meals - no more snacking.
3) Less drinking alcohol - I turn into a prat when I get drunk.
4) Write more - if I have a knack for writing, I want to discover this now, not when I retire.

Actually, these aren't New Year Resolutions because I was doing all these things well before the New Year but I like to keep reminding myself of them. I do have one point to add:

5) Always reply to an email straight away. I got an important email recently, thought about it, had a conversation with the missus, then forgot about the original email.

Bad, bad, bad.

Finally, I've decided to stop playing
City of Heroes in favour of World of Warcraft. CoH is a great game but there are a few problems - the chat system is antiquated and buggy, and the quests get very boring very quickly.

World of Warcraft, on the other hand, just blows you away on practically every level - graphics, the chat system, the AI, hell even the scenary is spectacular. At the end of the day, if I'm going to spend my time in a virtual world, there is a pre-requisite for it to look cool.

January 16, 2005

Post #2

Before I go any further into my second post, I need to make an apology. In my first post, I said that my encountering The Old Ealonians was "the most soul-saving act that has happened so far in my life". While it was definitely soul-saving, another event in my life trumps it. This is, of course, meeting the woman who became my fiance and will [soon] become my wife.

I met Susan eight years ago in February on the Internet, in a charming little chatroom called #Britzone. She was living in Perth, Australia, I was living in London, England. We got chatting, and when she came over here on holiday we met up and had a great time. So great in fact that I went to Australia for 10 months and stayed with her. We've been living in the UK now for six years now but have plans to move back to Australia.

That apology said, back to the ranting and raving.

Just saw a movie last night - The Majestic, starring Jim Carrey and Martin Landau. It's set in the 50's I guess, and is about a movie writer who's ordered to appear before Congress on the charge of being of being a Communist (back when the Americans were scared of Reds). Carrey decides to take a drive whilst drunk and ends up in an accident and loses his memory.

He wakes up on the beach the next morning not knowing who he is and wanders into a town. There he gets mistaken for the son of one of the townsfolk whom he appears to resemble. After a series of encounters he begins to settle down. You do begin to wonder whether or not he actually is the son who disappeared in wartime 9 and a half years ago.

I won't say anymore in case you haven't seen it. All I will say is that it is a Frank Darabont movie. If the name is unfamiliar, shame on you. He's the director of the Shawshank Redemption, another movie that's absolutely amazing, and one that I would recommend you watch as well.

It has an excellent line near the end though, and one that I'll paraphrase here. Mainly because it sums up what i think of Politics:

"Democracy is essentially a contract - at the end of the day, it is a piece of paper with your signature at the bottom. But like all contracts, it is renegotiable."

A very nice way of putting it.

The other thing I've been watching recently is Sea of Souls on BBC1, about a group of parapscychologists investigating events in the paranamormal. The series presents its episodes back to back, with one episode showing on saturday and the other on sunday. This has the advantage of making sure that when you go back to work, you are able to talk about the whole thing at work.

Other events - I've been stuck for what to read next.

Susan asked me to read "River's Edge" by Nora Roberts. At first I said no, because I thought it was a romantic novel but it's actually more a murder mystery. It's actually well written but I sort of guessed the murderer right at the beginning and never quite changed my mind.

I've also just finished what I would consider passably the best book I've ever read - The Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb. I don't know quite why it's the best book but it reaches me in ways that leave me gobsmacked. I had to actually force myself to not skim read and to read every single word and savour them.

So of course now I'm left with the notion of what to read next.


There is actually one book that I've been avoiding - Crossroads of Twilight, book Ten in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

Now that
The Num Num has begun reading the Wheel of Time, I find myself held responsible to read this tenth book, if for nothing else but because I've told him that he must continue reading the series.

It's a good set of books, but awfully long winded. The Num Num says the language of the books is very difficult, with odd names thrown in to puzzle the reader. I suppose it's because I'm a roleplayer that I happily assimilate the information. I do, after all, create my own roleplaying campaigns with strange names, religions, cities, etc., all from scratch so creating someone else's setting in my head isn't so hard.

The idea behind the series has been done before, that there was once an ancient civilisation that was much more powerful than the agrarian culture present today but that some huge catastrophe wiped them out leaving behind only traces of that civilisation, but never to such great effect as in the Wheel of Time.

Pick up The Eye of the World and have a read, but be warned that it is a hefty read and one that will leave you puzzled if you're not into Fantasy or Sci-Fi.

More events - I've been playing World of Warcraft and hopelessly losing myself in the virtual world of Azeroth. I'm playing a Human Rogue called Crucifer on Beta Server 2 (a few of my friends are playing there as well), and I have to say this is the most well-realised computer game I have ever played.

Just the other day I was running a delivery for the Rogue Trainer and I saw in front of me, a rabbit running from a wolf. The rabbit ran straight past me, the wolf gave me a look, ran past me as well and killed the rabbit. Then it ran off into the forest.

'Shit' I thought. That has to be AI controlled, but never before have I seen such an AI.

I now I'm going to lose myself more in this world. What can I say? Go and buy this game. Play it. Involve yourself in possibly the most realised virtual world currently on the computer game market.

January 13, 2005

My First Post


Well, finally here I am with my own blog.



I'll start with the usual questions - the what, who and why's.

A. What Is A Blog?

The term "Blog" is an abbreviation for the word Weblog. A more in-depth definition than anything I could offer can be found here.

B. Who am I?

Like many other people who blog, I would like to reserve a certain level of anonymity - not because I have something to hide, but because I may rant and rave about things that ordinarily would not reach polite conversation.

That said, there's plenty of other things I can tell you about myself.

1. I use the Internet handle "Crucifer" because my first Internet handle was becoming too well known. If you think you know it, try searching for it on Google - you'll come across pictures of me, forum posts and other sundry information.

(by the way, the name "Crucifer" comes from a UK comic called 2000ad - Crucifer is the name of one of the planets Durham Red visits after her millenia incarceration in a Suspended Animation pod.)

2. I am one of the Old Ealonians (I am actually the oldest of The Old Ealonians), a group of people who attended Ealing Green High School (now closed and taken over by a college). I wasn't in the same year as the other Old Ealonians but thanks to:

a) not being taught properly
b) being lazy

I flunked my exams and ended up in their year - probably the most soul-saving act that has happened so far in my life. I'm proud to call them my friends.

3. Among my many interests are:

Roleplaying Games - Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer Fantasy, Call of Cthulhu and most games set in the White Wolf Universe.

Computer Games - including any Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games - Asheron's Call 2, World of Warcraft and City of Heroes

Practically anything in the Science Fiction and Fantasy mediums


C. Why the Blog?

The idea of creating a Blog originated as a New Year's Resolution to write more.

When I was younger, someone told me that I had a knack for writing but that to perfect it, I should take every opportunity to write as often as possible. Back then, the only thing I was ever interested in was Roleplaying so I wrote about that.


Nowadays, I'm enamoured by the Internet. It's a place where everyday individuals like you and I can put down our innermost thoughts, reflections and social commentary on "life, the universe and everything" in a medium populated by millions of computer users.


And so, here I am.