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.