Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Spotify

Has everyone tried this yet?

http://www.spotify.com/en/

It's very similar to

http://www.pandora.com/

But here you can actually choose each individual track.

My brother showed me on Sunday and I gave it a quick go last night. Type in the name of the artist / album / song title using the search facility and a big list will appear. Click on the song you want and it plays. It's very impressive.

You can set up play lists, choose genres etc. So far I can't really fault it, the best part of it is that it's free. Free music. There are adverts floating about but they're not intrusive.

As suspected Metallica aren't on there (they're rubbish with this kind of thing) but all the other tracks I looked for were.

Try it and find out.

Museum of Curiosity recording

We're off to see and episode of the Museum of Curiosity (radio 4 comedy) get recorded tonight. It's made by John Lloyd, producer of QI, Not the Nine O'Clock News and Blackadder (amongst other things). Should be good. The first series had Bill Bailey in it but he's far too busy now and has been replaced by Sean Lock.

Next week we're due to see another radio production getting recorded, this time it's a show with Clive Anderson.

I've been to one of these things before and it was very good. It was a topical comedy panel show hosted by Armando Iannucci, Charm Offensive. Basically you turn up, have a few beers, get ushered into the studio, laugh for an hour or so, they edit out all the unfunny bits and it gets played on radio 4.

I may introduce a distinctive laugh so you can tell I was there.

Oz Clarke goes back to California

In this case Oz being April and Clarke being Clark. As you know we're off to Vegas in September for Steve's wedding, as we're going that far 10+ hour flight we're going to take two weeks off from work. We're very excited and are looking up places to stay and things to do as we speak but by all accounts you don't really want to be hanging around Las Vegas for too long.

After all the wedding stuff we're thinking about taking a flight down to San Francisco, there we can look around the various sites and sounds of the area and we could do a driving tour round a load of the vineyards.
P.S. Ian: Is Oz Clarke secretly your Dad?




Monday, 30 March 2009

Yeah for a bonus

I had a meeting with my boss this morning to talk about pay and bonuses. And it went very well indeed.

A month ago I wasn't expecting anything as it's only for the work I did in 2008 (3 months), but during the appraisal process my boss told me i'd be getting a little bit to recognise my hard wok. Excellent I thought, an extra £500 would be lovely. For some reason the powers that be have deemed it necessary to pay me more, a lot more. He, he!

Although after income and April tax (new downstairs floor fund), it's not in the millions it's a very nice surprise. I'll treat myself to something special but then pay off my graduate loan (an extra £205 a month) and with the rest pay off some credit card debt.

I haven't had a bonus since March 2006. Result!

Send in Steve Guttenberg

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7971271.stm



I'm not one to make light of a horrible situation but I reckon I know of a way to break the seige.



Send in the real Police Academy, Tackleberry, Jones, Mahoney and High Tower will sort it out in no time.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Payday today

Yeah! Payday is great, I do feel much better on the 27th of each month.

Panic in the streets of London

Financial Fools Day is next week ( 1st, Wednesday) in addition to this the G20 conference is due to start in London (2nd, on Thursday).

We have been warned at work by the police that mass protests are due to happen in the city. It's business as usual for us, but some companies have asked their staff to dress down so as not to attract attention.

And an academic from some university has been suspended for suggesting that there will be some bankers hanging from lamp posts before the week is over.

Can I say just now that I work in insurance not banking, nothing to do with me.

I will be sharpening my umbrella just in case.

Idiots!

So good I'm plugging the site twice

http://ifyoulikeitsomuchwhydontyougolivethere.com/2009/03/26/remembrance/

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Cat and Mouse

Biscuit caught another mouse last night and felt it necessary to bring it up to our bedroom and play with it. I again was oblivious until April shrieked and woke me up to get rid of it.

Bloody thing.

2-nil to the cats.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cool, 'free' money

I've just had an e-mail from the Pru telling me that they're going to send me a cheque for £50! As I haven't claimed on my health insurance this year they're giving some of the premium back. I can actually claim back £700 if April and I don't claim but I need to be a platinum member which would entail me being healthy. Oh well...

I might celebrate with a big mac and a big fat cigar.

Great site for people like me

http://ifyoulikeitsomuchwhydontyougolivethere.com/

We've got a bleeder!

I've just given blood for the 20th time. It was a little exciting for a minute or two straight afterwards though. Having sat down to get my free tea and biscuits (the only reason I do it) the tea girl spotted that i'd started bleeding again. Eek! No real panic but there was quite a lot of fussing by the nurses afterwards.

In all I was out of the office for an hour and a half, only two minutes of that was for the extra blood donation. Last time I went it was similar too. It's quite poor, as you actually book a time slot and in theory should go straight in. If everything goes to plan you should get back to your desk in 30-40 mins. I was waiting in reception for over 30 mins before they tested my blood for iron.

On a lighter note they do have some great buildings to collect their blood. This time I was in the Fishmongers Guild. It's right on the Thames next door to London Bridge and basically a huge stately home.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worshipful_Company_of_Fishmongers

I’ll post a picture of the inside if I remember.

P.S. If you don’t currently give blood please make an effort to sign up and start donating.

http://www.blood.co.uk/

Mmm, muffin as big as my face

Yum, yum, yum!

Monday, 23 March 2009

PR Guru needed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7958501.stm

$1,000,000,000,000 worth of toxic debt! Jeez, the first thing the US government should be doing is employing a spin doctor PR guru to come up with a better name than Toxic Debt.

How about cute little puppies debt, lovely flowers debt, or even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious debt?

Getting old

We've just had a team meeting detailing changes to the structure of our department. It's interesting to see that my new title will be Capital Modelling Senior Analyst. It isn't a promotion per say as i'll be doing the same work but it's nice to get a more senior title.

Some people may say that it's because i'm turning 30 this year, like a senior citizen.

Also I am now officially permanent, just received my letter now. As well as other things mentioned before it means the process of me starting my CII exams has also started.

Yikes, back to studying, who am I kidding? I've never studied...

Security

I've had a verbal confirmation that my 6 month probation period has finished (should get the paper work over the next few days). I was never worried about passing it but in this climate it's nice to get it in writing.

Viva Las Vegas!

Steve went to the Isle of Wight for the weekend to check out wedding / reception venues for their wedding later on in the year. I guess he didn't like it...

I've just had a call from him saying that they're now going to get married in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas here I come!!!

Liverpool for the league?

Liverpool's last three results have been truly amazing.

Liverpool v's Real Madrid 4-1
Man Utd v's Liverpool 0-4
Liverpool v's Aston Villa 5-0

But have we left it too late? I've just done BBC's predictor and have Liverpool winning on goal difference on 84 points with Chelsea a very close one point behind Liverpool and United on 83.

Arsenal pull away to get the last Champions League spot, Tottenham overhaul West Ham, whilst Stoke, Middlesborgh and West Brom go down.

If only...

Friday, 20 March 2009

Tagging

Looking at the various tags i've used in my blog (since May 2008) here's a list of the most common ones.

Idiots 28, Work 18, Money 15, Argh 14, Trains 13, Booze 12, Local News 11, Rugby 9, Movie 9, Idiots 9, Doh 9, Car 9, Weather 8, Comedy 8, Bored 8, Beer 8, Weekend 7, Tired 7, Meal 7, Blog 7, Tonbridge 5, Snow 5, Pub 5, New Car 5, Job 5, Holiday 5, Football Manager 5, Christmas 5
and BBC 5

A psychologist could have a field day looking through this.

Mostly i'm interested work, money, booze and having a go at idiots.

Very interesting...

Google maps- Street View

Google's new street map facility on the UK's biggest cities is pretty cool.

I used it on the streets of Manhattan a while back but not knowing the area well enough my interest didn't last long.

It is fun checking out various places but once you've had a look at all your old houses it loses much of it's appeal too.

I think all the stories about some of the photos getting pulled are quite funny.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7954596.stm

A guy being sick, a guy going into a sex shop, a guy getting arrested. And all for the world to see. Ha, ha, ha! Hopefully it's not the first stage of a giant google cctv camera network with streams of video vans clogging up the already congested cities.

BBQ tomorrow

I'm having a bbq tomorrow. It's meant to be yet another sunny day so why not? Although not the warmest, 12 degrees Celcius, i'm sure it'll be fine with us all huddled round the barbie shivering.

I'm going to have another proper big bbq in the summer so watch this space for a date. probably late July / early August. Which reminds me, I need to start brewing again...

A deathly lull

It's 10:54 on the 20th March 2009 and everything in the office goes quite.

Has something happened? I hear you cry?

Nope...

It's just the Champions League Quarter Final draw and every red blooded male in the country is frantically pressing F5 on their keyboard so that the live text draw on BBC's football page refreshes.

Should I laugh?

Should I laugh at someone if they look like Dwaine Dibly? There's a girl on my train that looks very similar to the Cat when he turns into Dwaine Dibly (Red Dwarf), when I see her I can't help but chuckle inside.

She had the last laugh this morning though, she sat next to me on the train and proceeded to play some tinny Whitney Houston like music through her CD player for the whole journey.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Still ill

Yesterday was pretty boring being stuck at home. I didn't really do anything other than falling asleep in the bath and dropping my book.

I'm feeling a bit better today and my boss said to make sure i'm better before heading back in so will take his advice and probably head in tomorrow.

April's off ill today too, we seem to have different symptoms though so hopefully we won't catch each others too.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Hot and cold flushes

Am I experiencing the menopause? I bloody well hope not, let's hope it's just a cold. I thought I was a little better this afternoon so headed out to the shops to get some soup.

Just by walking round I bloody started sweating! What's that about? Maybe I need more lemsip...

Monday, 16 March 2009

I have a cold

For the last few mornings i've felt not quite right, I thought it was maybe hayfever so this morning a took a tablet. Over the course of the day I think it's turned into a cold.

I'm blocked up, snotty, sneezy, have watery eyes and have a bit of a fever. Those that know my out of work schedule this week will know that i'm supposed to be going to the theatre with April later today may be suspicious.

But I truly am coming down with something. Hopefully April can replace the irreplaceable for the evening.

On a related note I’ve just popped out to buy some lemsip, my usual trick is to overdose on them so perhaps that will do the trick. I’ve just been to the kitchen to boil the kettle but it appears to have gone missing. That left me with a dilemma. Do I use cold water? Or do I use one of the automatic tea sachets and mix it in? Luckily I saw someone getting hot water from some sort of urn so I just used that.

Interesting fact of the day: The directions on the back of the box of lemsips state that they are for oral use only…

Friday, 13 March 2009

Amusing comment

I'm waiting for a couple of models to run on my PC on a Friday afternoon so had a quick look through BBC's entertainment pages. There's a story about people struggling to get tickets for Michael Jackson's 02 gigs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7938206.stm

Blah, blah, blah. Who cares what your experience was? It's lazy journalism getting the public to pretty much write the story for you. That's what I thought until I saw this gem.

I had no problems whatsoever - registered by text with AEG last Thursday and went online this morning at 0830 as I was preparing my breakfast and styling my hair. A 15-minute-plus queue but the page refreshed itself and then around 20 minutes later it popped up with available tickets in an excellent section.

Colin, Sutton, Surrey, UK

Ignoring the fact that he's a bloke. Who 'styles' their hair these days? Or more to the point why do they feel the need to tell me about it?

What a cock!

Free weekend

A friend was supposed to stay round this weekend but that's now been postponed. That means i've got a free weekend!!! Yeah! I've got a game on Saturday but that's about it. There are rumors that we may be painting the living room but we'll have to see about that.

5 Stars

Not for the film The Watchmen (I reckon 68 / 100 on the SC scale) but for South Eastern Rail! 5 morning trips out of five that have got me into work on time. Not one of them was late. Why couldn't his be done before?

I handed in a reclaim form a couple of weeks ago for the snowed in day but so far they haven't replied. So not all good, but praise where praise is due.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Important Blog Entry

This blog entry's purpose is solely to get the picture of Mr Guttenberg off the first page of the blog. I'm sure i've had a few curious glances at my screen as people walk past... What must they think?

a
b
c
d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
m
n
o
p
q
r
s
t
u
v
w
x
y
z

That should do the trick.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Let April's education begin...

A little while ago it became clear to me that April hasn't watched some of the greatest films ever made.

I see it as my duty to teach her the errors in her ways. Before she met me she hadn't even watched the Goonies, let alone National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Films April hasn't watched

- The first three Indy films
- The Back to the Future Trilogy
- None of the Police Academy films (She doesn't even know who Steve Guttenberg is!)

The first film I intend to make her watch is going to be The Great Outdoors (Just bought it for a fiver from HMV)

I will report back with her review...

What's going on?

After a disastrous winter for South Eastern Rail, the start of spring seems to have brought with it trains that are actually on time. I know, who'd have thought?

So far this week all three of my trains have arrived on time, I don't think one was less than five minutes late for the previous three months.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Appraisal

I've just had my appraisal, it went very well. Like you're surprised...

Amongst other things I had to mark myself from one to four on about 20 different catagories. These ranged from analytical thinking to treating people with respect. Then my boss had to do the same. We differed on 6, but he gave me a higher mark on all of them! Woo hoo!

The appraisal is officially just for 3 months though, 2008, which means if I get a bonus, it'll only be a quarter or one.

On a simialr note though, we've just anounced a record profit for our 2006 account so we're getting champagne after work. Yee ha!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Only in Australia

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7932870.stm

The quote of the day must surely go to Mr Ettlin,

"My initial thought when I was half awake was, 'it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window'," he said.

9 days off

So what did I do?

Friday
Drinks with my old flatmate Sophie, we hadn't seen her since her wedding back in August.

Saturday
Drive back home to see the guys, for a bit of gaming, have a few beers and eat unhealthfully.

Sunday
Forced to go to church with April, one of her friends was in a clarinet .recital over in Kingston.

Monday
Bought light fittings .

Tuesday
Leeds Castle then Bluewater to buy some new sunglasses.

Wednesday
Lights fitted by a nice old man.

Thursday
Walk round Bewl water then into Tunbridge Wells.

Friday
Drove to Hastings for Fish and Chips, bought a painting for April then off to a winery.

Saturday
Rugby, I broke my jaw again and have a swollen knee. Then it was off to a comedy club above a bar in Chalk Farm where the main act, the guy we were there to see, didn’t turn up (Brendan Burns).

Sunday
April’s birthday meal with friends in Finchley or Fletching as April and the rest of the world likes to call it.

Phew, I need another holiday.

Happy birthday April

Lots of love from Stuart's blog

SC Movie Review 25

Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood plays a grizzled old ex army officer who fought in the Korea war, his wife has just died and he’s left to live in a community which is now populated mostly by Vietnamese. Being openly racist, this does not go down well.

When one of his neighbour’s sons is pressured by a local gang into steeling his prized 1972 Gran Torino he sets about trying to reform him. In doing so he learns to appreciate his neighbours and integrates himself into their extended family. Trouble continues with the local gang and Clint looks to take action.

This is hardly a stretch for Clint’s acting ability, he certainly looks the part, but he does play it well. There are some ‘deep’ moments in the film but this is coupled with a good handful of laugh out loud moments where Clint bumbles along as old men do.

This is a great film, I recommend it to everyone.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1205489/

IMdb Rating: 8.4 / 10 (42,573 votes)
SC Rating: 82 / 100 (1 vote)
AP Rating: 84 / 100 (1 vote)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Petrol Shortage

I very nearly ran out of petrol on the way home from Corby this afternoon. The yellow petrol light came on as I was passing Cambridge so I fiddled with the Sat Nav and got it to tell me where the nearest station was.

I turned off the M11 and went down a few country lanes and eventually arrived at where Mr Tom Tom thought there was a station. There was no station, he was wrong! I set it again and chose the next closest. Tthis bloody directed me all the way into Cambridge another 10 miles away.

Thankfully I made it but I think it was close, however it's good to know that you can do 20 miles or so after the car thinks it's short on petrol.