Sunday, 31 December 2006

Stansted Airport

Well, the flight got in 20 minutes early, which was a nice surprise. I've already cleared customs, and i'm currently sat at the Pret A Manger in the main Stansted Terminal.having just finished off a Smoked Salmon sandwich and a bag of crisps. I *really* needed something to eat and theres a distinct lack of a burger king here - which there used to be many years ago. It was also a damn sight cheaper to get a sandwich, than pay for something on the flight - £1.40 for a small tub of pringles?! You've got to be fucking kidding!

However, they did have a decent deal on train tickets. See, to get to Stansted, i took the Stansted Express, which for all of 15 minutes and 2 stops, costs a whopping £15 which is pretty fucking steep. On the plane, the rather fit, somewhat large breasted irish girl that tried to interest me in her snacks, offered me a single ticket to London for only £10 - which is a decent saving. Then again, she was fit enough that she could have offered me a bucket of dung and i'd have paid for it.

Unfortunately, the wireless internet access they provide in the terminal isn't free, which is an arse - and if you did want to pay for it, it's rediculously expensive - at £3 for 10 minutes!

Right - time to pack this crap up and get going - i want to be back at the flat before 1pm....

If i don't post later, then i'd like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year. I'm hoping that 2007 is going to be at least marginally better than last year...

Glasgow Airport

So, here i am, waiting in the departure lounge. Security and customs weren't as much of a problem at this end as they were at stansted. Unfortunately, you still have to take laptops out of their bags and have them X-Rayed. Those silly little plastic tubs they give you to stick your stuff in are annoying as well, i swear they're designed to extract the change from your coat pockets...Honestly, you put your coat in the tub, it goes through the X-Ray machine and the contents of your pockets are strewn about the place. Phone, change, keys etc - and whats worse is that they swabbed my phone for explosives residue AGAIN! I mean come on, do i look like i'm about to hijack or blow up a plane? Really?

*sigh*

Looking out across the tarmac now, still no sign of the plane. I doubt it'll get here for at least another half an hour. I really don't see why we have to wait this long for the damn plane. Check-in is too early. Hell, i had to get up at 6am, make sure i had my bag all packed, check out of the hotel, get in the rental car, check that in at the Hertz desk at the airport, faff about there for 20 minutes waiting for the dipshit woman to get the right forms and calculate the mileage - come on love, subtract the lower number from the higher number! It's that fucking simple!

** 3 minute interlude **

Jesus - i just got hauled into the security 'office' (in reality nothing more than a simple screen behind the X-Ray machine. I always seem to get picked for 'random selection' on the trip back from pretty much anywhere. This time, it was the Dell's spare battery that caused the grumbling. I should have remembered to take it actually, i only have the one battery and the CD-RW drive in at the moment, which is why i'm typing this on a dimmer-than-normal screen to preserve battery life, which, with one battery, isn't long enough! According to the battery meter, theres almost 2 hours remaining, although thats always dubious. The more you do on this machine, the faster it runs down. It could be the battery though - it's about 3/4 years old by now and repeated charging cycles have probably taken their toll. With two batteries, i seem to get about 3 and a half hours out of it, which to be fair, isn't bad.

I did have a really nice HP laptop that i took with me around the world in summer, although i never quite got used to it, and subsequently sold it, preferring to use this 'shit can'. Sure the HP was a widescreen 1280x800 res, and it had a DVD re-writer, but the feel of it was all wrong. I like this Dell. I really, really like it. It's comfortable to use, the keyboard is the right size and layout, the 1400x1050 screen is pretty crisp, and it has marginally better graphics than the HP. Then again, the HP only had intel integrated graphics, so thats not hard. At least i can actually *play* Half Life 2 on this, albeit at 800x600...

I've pimped it out a little as well. 768mb of PC2100, 40gb 5400rpm Hard Disk with 8mb Cache, 2nd Battery, DVD-Drive, it's a good little machine that i hope will last me for a long time. The only beef i have with it, is the USB port, which is dodgy as hell. When you plug something into it, it doesnt make very good contact, so i have to keep wedging it to one side with lumps of cardboard which point blank refuse to stay in the fucking hole.

Am i rambling too much?

Probably. Right, blatant subject change.

When i get back to London later on this morning/afternoon, i fully intend to have a doze - i'm tired. Waking up at 6am after 5 hours sleep isn't fun. I was having a nice dream as well, and it involved several women - which was nice. I'll tell you about that later...maybe.

Tonight, i'm fully intending to go to Steve & Dans LAN party - which ought to be good fun. Last two years, as New Years, i've either gone to bed early, or been too busy chatting on IRC to care.

Oooh. The plane just touched down. It wont be long now until they start calling us to board the plane. Although, they generally piss around a fair bit when offloading passengers, so i reckon i've got at least 20 minutes before i ACTUALLY get on the plane.

Well, i think that's my cue to stop writing and stuff this thing back into my bag, at least until i get on the train at Stansted.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Glasgow

It's fucking freezing up here. Despite the fact that i'm sat here in my nice double bed in a Travelodge, it's cold. It's foggy. I cant see more than 20 feet without seeing low lying cloud.

I'm glad i've got my laptop with me, else i'd be bored to tears. Thankfully, wifi connection is included with the price of the room. It's not monumentally fast, but its enough for what i need.

So far the conference has been boring. My god, the stuff they're teaching, is worse than what lecturers tried to foist on me 2 years back when i was doing computing. Come on, we all know what an SQL statement looks like!

I have another day of SQL database management to grit my teeth through, and then a spare day on the 30th, before i catch the morning flight on the 31st, just in time to spend New Years in London.

Speaking of New Years - anyone want to do anything?

Monday, 25 December 2006

So there it was, merry christmas...

The day actually went okay. It felt a little odd being in someone elses house, eating their food and stuff, but it was enjoyable all the same. I even got a present from Lloyds dad as well, which i certainly wasn't expecting. A bottle of Jack Daniels and a hip flask - should come in handy for those cold nights after work....or during the lunchbreak ;)

Christmas telly though, was a joke. Monsters Inc. was good, and the Doctor Who Christmas Special was....mmm...okay i suppose, not as good as last years though. The rest was total tripe - with channel 5 showing 'most embarrasing TV moments ever', and after that, advertising for some bullshit programme that appears to revolve around george michaels beard. Honestly, what the FUCK has happened to TV in the last few years? Dumbing down? NO SHIT!

TV companies have realised that there are so many people that have so little to do in their lives that they actually watch crap like Big Brother, Lame Academy and I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of here. I mean god almighty, WHY? It's the thick leading the terminally retarded these days, you have a programme that typically involves a bunch of low IQ losers that want to make it big, or a posse of Z list anti-celebrities that want to get back on telly again. Then watching them you have stupid people. People that have that so little going on upstairs that they find watching these inbred gnome fuckers embarrassing us as a nation amusing or shocking!!!

I swear, one of these days there's going to be an uprising, people will refuse to pay their license fees or stop watching telly altogether because of the sheer volume of drivel thats being force fed to them through the screen, by the people that apparrently 'know best'. Turn this horseshit off! I want INTELLIGENT programmes, stuff thats educational, stuff thats interesting, news, current affairs, more stuff like Horizon and 'Space' with people like Sam Neill.

If in 5 years time, peoples obsession with reality tv and the culture that feeds it hasnt died a horrible and meaningless death, then I shall gather a large and innumerable crowd of people and lead them through the streets in an effort to purge stupid people from our country. Once that is done, all archive material of any reality tv will be launched into space on a collision course for the sun so that never again will 21st century society have to endure the mental pain like this.

Once this has been done - i believe that my leadership skills will put me in a position to run the country. Hows about that? Me as a president of the Republic of Great Britain, Because of course, the queen can shove her royal status up her arse and fuck off while she's doing it..

I wish it could be christmas everyday...

...or do i? Come to think of it - the only thing thats really any good about christmas these days, is the food. Christmas telly has gone downhill since the mid 90's, the presents are mostly bollocks (at least once you get older) and the whole 'forced happiness' thing is just a pile of shit.

The last two years have been pretty crappy as far as christmas goes, although this year seems to be looking up a bit, seeing as i'm staying with a friend of mine until afternoon boxing day. It's nice to get out of the flat, its nice to socialise with different people and i suppose doing the family xmas kinda *thing* is nice as well.

However, no matter which way you cut it, christmas is ultimately bollocks, and nothing more than an exercise in making you feel like a complete gimp, especially if you're in my situation - no family and single....

Despite all this, i will go out of my way in some circumstances, to make sure other people have a good time, or at least try to.

*sigh*

I hope things are different next year...

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

The Best Pasta in the World.....EVER!

I thought that to supplement my earlier bitching about low fat crap, i'd post up a recipe for the best pasta in the world....ever!

Now i've fed this to a few people (Dan, Nick) and they both loved it. Now i warn you now - this is NOT a light dish. It's rich, its got cream in it, and you WILL be full up after eating it.

You need two pans - one for doing the pasta itself, and another for doing everything else. I found that a large, heavy stainless steel wok is best for this. Loads of room in it.

Now, you're going to need the following ingredients:

* Fresh Tagliatelle Verdi / Dried if Fresh unavailable - really *should* be Verdi.
* Three Chicken Breasts
* 6 Rashers of unsmoked, rindless back bacon
* 4 Large white mushrooms, peeled and sliced
* Jar of Green Pesto
* 400ml Tub of Double Cream

Now, this is reasonably simple, but you'll end up with a spectacular meal.

First, cook your chicken breast in an oven, make sure its cooked all the way through. Once cooked, dice into small, easily manageable chunks. Add to wok.

Fry or grill your bacon, it doesnt matter, but make sure its cooked. Don't let it get TOO crispy. Once cooked, like the chicken, slice it up into small bits. Also add to wok.

Get mushrooms, which you should have peeled and chopped beforehand - remember to remove the stalks! Add to wok with the chicken and the bacon.

Open the jar of pesto and take a large amount out - say, a dessertspoon load, and bung it in the wok (yes, we're going for accurate cooking terms ladies and gents) with a tablespoon of groundnut oil. As tempting as it might be, don't use olive oil - something with as neutral a taste as possible works best here. Olive oil is too overpowering.

Heat through on a blisteringly hot gas ring, making sure the chicken, bacon and mushroom are all mixed together nicely and coated in a fine layer of pesto.

Turn the heat down to the halfway mark and dump in the cream. Now you may not need all of it - it entirely depends on how much chicken and bacon you've bought and used, but generally you want to make sure that the contents of the pan (wok in our case) are almost covered by the cream. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, start boiling the water in the other pan, ready for the tagliatelle. Once boiled, add your pasta. Now i'm assuming you're using fresh pasta here - if not, just adjust the cooking time to suit. Fresh tagliatelle for this meal, takes around 3 minutes to cook in boiling water.

Once the pasta has finished boiling, drain in a colander and divvy it up between your plates. Turn the wok off. Use a serving spoon (one of those ones with holes in it) to divide up the meat/cream/pesto sauce.

Do *not* add parmesan to it - trust me, it's good as is.

There - a fine meal brought to you by me, using no low-fat ingredients!

Low Fat? Fuck off!

I'm rather annoyed at the moment. You'd think of course that it being nearly half two in the morning would see me in a calm mood. Instead, i've just finished putting a load of yoghurt pots in the bin, and that has inspired me to write this.

It's not so much the clearing away of the yoghurt pots, its that whilst doing so i noticed the 'low fat' label on the side of them. Now i've never been a fan of anything low-fat, i don't believe in all the hype surrounding it, and in many instances, low-fat foodstuffs taste like crap.

Take mayonnaise for example. If you look in a jar of regular, hellmans mayonnaise, its eggshell white in colour, thick but spreadable and tastes like mayonnaise should. However, if you go for the low-fat shit, you end up forking out something that looks like it's just been collected from Ron Jeremy's underpants and tastes absolutely vile - nothing like the mayonnaise it purports to be on the jar.

Thing is, the trend of making everything low fat is rapidly spreading across the supermarket shelves. I can't buy a large tub of strawberry yoghurt without it being low fat (i've tried, it - it's fucking horrendous). I'm forever picking up cheese and putting it in the trolley, and then realising almost too late that it's low fat. For fucks sake! Cheese is fatty - removing said fat and replacing it with something inert makes it taste horrible! Whats next? Low fat butter?!

Unfortunately, people buy into the hype surrounding it. And it's destroying peoples culinary taste. You dont *need* low-fat at all. If you're that bothered about your weight or what you eat - all you need to do, is watch your intake of food, don't overeat and do some fucking exercise. None of this low-fat bollocks went on in the 50's and 60's - people were still healthy though, weren't they?

Now, i'm not overly bothered about my fat intake - if i want to eat something that contains fat, goddamn it i'm going to eat it!

I want to cruise the supermarket aisles and find them bereft of anything low-fat. Just standard, fat containing food. I WANT MY FAT BACK!

Come on, who's with me!?

*charges off in the direction of Sainsburys wielding a SPAS-12 and a raincoat*

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Too early for coherent conversation...

Okay - it's early morning, so you'd think i'd be wide awake by now, right? Wrong - i still havent been to sleep since yesterday seeing as i just *had* to get Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis.

While i may sound like i'm coherent - i'm running on borrowed time, so let me note down a list of things that are currently running through my head.

"My neck is stiff"

"Why does my mattress keep slipping?"

"This bed squeaks too much"

"I wonder how long it'll take for my trousers to dry"

"Need to get bread"

"I should tidy up the yoghurt pot on the windowsill"

"Ooh - bottle of water."

"There goes my neck again"

"My eyes sting"

"Fucking heatings gone on again. You'd think that for a week without heat i'd be grateful, but noooo, here i am needing to be in my set climate range..."

"Uh-oh, yawning again..."

"What the fuck is that clicking noise?"

"Goddamn ear itches again. GRR!"

"Fuck it - i'm going to sleep. No really, i am."

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Santa Claus is a hitman

Recently I heard the hit "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". I listened to it
with my usual abandon until, for some reason, something about the song hit
me. I did some in-depth study of the lyrics and found their true meaning to
be quite alarming. So be warned! Santa Claus may not be as wonderful a ole
model for our children as we think. Here I have broken down the song so
that you can see the hidden meaning behind the lyrics.

"You better watch out"

This immediately puts the listener into a defensive mindset, implicating
that there is something he should de aware of that could cause him alarm.

"You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why"

This line seems to hint that this thing that is to be feared preys upon the
weak of character or the emotional individual, certainly not portraying the
sweet old man that society has painted of this legend.

"Santa Claus is coming to town"

This brings to mind a portrayal of a "bad boy" western film character who
roams from town to town creating havoc and mischief, and who's attitude
towards the citizens of said places is one of malevolence and ill will.

"He's making a list

Checking it twice;

Gonna find out who's naughty or nice."

A list of what? This line seems to imply that Santa Claus is in the process
of making a hit list, the victims fate based on the extremely vague term of
"naughty". This leaves the listener to wonder whether or not he has been
"naughty" in this what-looks-to-be-serial-killer's terms, seeing as the
word "naughty" is not clearly defined. This impresses a "who is next?" fear
in the listener.

"Santa Claus is coming to town"

Once again the impression of a big, bad and bold character who blows into
town at will to intimidate those weaker than him.

"He sees you when you're sleeping"

This, to be sure, is one of the more disturbing lines in the song, bringing
to mind an obsessed and somewhat twisted individual who mounts hidden
cameras in people's rooms to watch them in the helpless state of seep.

"He knows when you're awake"

Once again, this brings to mind a disturbed individual who watches your
every move to the point of knowing the exact time of your awakening and
retiring for the night.

"Hee knows if you've been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake"

Again, a threatening statement which implies that he is capable of
assessing your actions and applying his own set of moral standards, the
last line being an open-ended threat leaving the listener to imagine what
kind of horrible fate awaits those not compliant with this man's rules.

This, to be sure, is a much more violent and disturbing portrayal of the
character we all grew up thinking of as a harmless, fat old man who likes
to bring presents to little children for no apparent reason other than the
kindness of his own heart. Of course, being imprinted with this image since
early childhood we immediately connect the ideas in the song with innocent
connotations. But what if this song is actually the truth about Santa
Claus? A twisted serial-killer who hinds behind a fa├žade of innocence and
good-heartedness. To further simplify me idea, I have put the song's
inner-meanings into a condensed form.

You'd better watch out! (Santa Claus is to be feared.)

You'd better not cry!

You'd better not pout! (He preys upon the weak.)

I'm telling you why,

Santa Claus is comin' to town.

He's making a list (He is a serial-killer who makes hit lists.)

And checking it twice.

He's gonna find out who's naughty and nice. (And he's coming to
get you.)

Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping. (Santa Claus is a pervert.)

He knows when you're awake.

He knows if you've been bad or good (And a stalker.)

So be good for goodness sake! (So be good... or else.)

And there you are! Be afraid of Santa Claus. And just a tip: always be wary
of over-analytical and paranoid people. They can be scary.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Rasterbation

So, its been a week since i last posted anything, due to tiredness and apathy mainly.
Still, i thought it prudent to inform you all of Rasterbation, a process whereby you can load a photo into this online application, and get fed out a PDF that you can print out and arrange into a massive poster. Basically, it converts your photograph into a buncha dots that up close look like nothing, but from far away, look like a really cool poster.

Find out more about it here:

http://homokaasu.org/rasterbator/

Sunday, 3 December 2006

TV Nostalgia

Does anyone else remember watching Saturday afternoon telly on ITV? I'm talking about 1992 or so here - when they broadcast stuff you wanted to watch.

I always liked Saturdays. I'd get my pocket money, which back then was £1, and i'd go down to the corner shop at the end of my road, buy about 3 bags of Nik Naks (the original cheesy ones, not the new fangled 'cream & cheesy' ones), a Caramac and the rest on penny sweets. At the time it didnt occur to me that the bloke that ran the shop might have been a little dodgy - he looked like the werthers original bloke and called everyone 'little miss' or 'young sir' which now i think about it, sounds really creepy...

Anyway, after getting my oversized haul for the week, i'd make sure to be back home in time for afternoon telly on ITV, 4 hours of TV nirvana, including, but not limited to: The A-Team, Airwolf, Knight Rider and MacGyver. All shown in a row. It was priceless. The only time of the week i'd give my parents any kind of peace - staring at the telly for those 4 hours, with all movement restricted to the ad-breaks.

What ever happened to it though? Saturday afternoons these days are comprised of pretty much bugger all to watch and all the kids i see are too busy out smoking, wearing chav-gear and being cunty little bastards. Who raised these children, satan?

I guess its something that only people of a certain age can relate to, the pre-CD:UK and SMTV: Live generation. *cue old man voice* in my day, it was Saturday Swap Shop and Number 73....followed by Going Live, Motormouth, Ghost Train, Parallel 9 and Live & Kicking....

The aftermath of all of this, is that now, i'm downloading 44gb of MacGyver - just to satisfy my childish curiosity :)

Friday, 1 December 2006

Man Flu

When a bloke gets sick, its quite possibly the worst thing in the world. Women may have to put up with childbirth at some point in the life, but to a man with the flu, it's irrelevant.

For a start, man flu isnt like ordinary flu, its more akin to the bubonic plague, albeit with a startling absence of sores and buboes. With even the slightest whiff of flu - men will take to bed, clutching hot water bottles (if one is available), blankets, untold piles of pharmaceutical products and drinks.

While i dont have the flu, i do happen to have what i believe to be an impacted wisdom tooth and it hurts like hell. For the most part i've kept the moaning to myself, but like all men, the urge to harp on about it is too much to bear. I almost want to pick up a megaphone and recant the details to the whole street.

Until the next evolutionary step of mankind, i doubt the trend of us men being really crap patients will ever subside.

There was no actual need for this post, other than to point out the blindingly obvious to those that may have glossed over it, and yes, to tell you again that my tooth hurts. See my point?

The Trip-Hop Phenomenon

Andy Barlow and Louise Rhodes need to make a comeback.

I mean, where did Trip-Hop go? I mean, here i am, sitting at my desk, chilling to some 'Lamb' and theres nothing like it anywhere else in my music collection. My flatmates don't have anything even approaching the musical style of Lamb, which is officially labelled as 'Trip-Hop'.

From what i can tell, it's a musical style/genre that seems to have had a very short commercial lifespan. I'm sure theres still people producing it, but i'm talking in terms of being able to find a CD of it, rather a *new* CD of it, in your local HMV.

Now if you've never heard trip hop - i suggest that you try the most recognised track, 'Angelica' by Lamb to give you a fair idea of what its about. Think classical music with a modern, stylised edge.

I'm pretty sure that once people hear it - they'll like it and may even recognise some of it from the occasional programme on telly, assuming you watch the kinda of programmes that feature it - like design programmes on Channel 4.

In some circumstances, 'Hybrid' come close with the occasional track, but their entire musical style defies categorising. One minute its Nu Skool Breaks, the next its Progressive Trance, the next it's classical with a twist - you just cant pin them down.

Before you rubbish the mere idea of listening to Trip Hop, the fact is - its not fast, its not techno, its not 150bpm trance - it's slow, chilled and yes, the lyrics are meaningful and not at all related to Hip Hop, which is more like 'kill whitey, kill women, kill anyone that looks at you funny, yo yo yo yo'.

If you like it, buy the album. If you buy the album, HMV & Virgin Megastore will take notice. If HMV & Virgin Megastore take notice, then the music industry will more than likely take notice and start sticking their fingers into some obscure white label pies, giving us all more Trip Hop, which can only be a good thing, unless of course Simon Cowell has some kind of involvement. In which case it'll be godawful and you all have permission to hold me responsible.