Thursday 31 July 2008

Is Corby a cultural desert?

Every now and again I go to the Evening Telegraph website from my home town as every so often there's a story that makes me chuckle. Here's the latest.

Corby has been ranked as one of the worst places in the country for cultural and leisure facilities.
In the table, compiled by the Local Futures Group, Corby ranked 373rd out of 376.
Kettering came 359th, East Northamptonshire came 320th and Wellingborough was ranked 296th.

The index measured areas on factors including the number of national heritage sites, the concentration of outlets like cinemas, theatres, museums and galleries, shop floorspace and the number of leisure centres.

He, he, the paper is asking people for their opinions. I love that part, you get locals trying to defend the town but in all honestly it's a toilet. I may have been brought up in and around the town but if you look at anywhere else in comparison it is a total shit hole. I am so glad to have cut the bungy cord that used to pull me back in.

Liverpool pre-season

Liverpool's pre-season hasn't been much to write about but I will anyway...

Wednesday, 30 July 2008 Friendly Match
Villarreal 0-0 Liverpool

Tuesday, 22 July 2008 Friendly Match
Hertha Berlin 0-0 Liverpool

Saturday, 19 July 2008 Friendly Match
Wisla Krakow 1-1 Liverpool
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 Friendly Match
Lucerne 1-2 Liverpool

I know a lot of out main players haven't been playing (longer holidays if involved in the Euros, injury to Gerrard, or if they're involved in the Olympics) but apart from Villarreal last night none of the teams have been any good.

I really hope it is not an omen for the season to come. Yet another disappointment. The most annoying this is that all of the games have been on TV (Sky, Channel 5, Setanta or Liverpool TV) and i've watched all of them. What we need is to play an absolutely rubbish team and give a good old fashioned thrashing. It looks like my wishes have been granted, it's Rangers on Saturday...

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Who says insurance is boring???

TRUE news story. NOT a joke. Maybe. A lawyer in Charlotte, NC purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire among other things. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed a claim with the insurance company. In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued....and won! In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be "unacceptable fire," and was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires." But... After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine.

With thanks from

Wow! Something from IT that actually works.

As many of you know at the beginning of the year I was seconded into IT for 3 days a week (now only 1 day per week) to help them with their business reporting.

It has been a very frustrating time for me as we’ve been using the new data warehouse, in principle it’s a great idea having all of your data connected and in the same place but in practise I have rarely seen it work.

I am using COGNOS to interrogate the data and have found it so slow and unpredictable. It almost brings me to tears when it takes 30 seconds to run a report one day then the next it takes more than 30 minutes.

With the particular data set that I use, a major problem is that the data warehouse stores more than 100 fields of data on a transactional basis. This means that we have over a million records with 100+ bits of info each. Simple maths tells me that that’s over 100,000,000 single pieces of data. It is no doubt that it takes so long to summarise the data. In fact as the company will only ever get more information it will only become more of an issue.

In reality, to do my job (this part of it) I can do 95% of my analysis using only 20 fields and a grouped up level of data. A much more manageable 100,000 lines of data, for those with a maths GCSE that’s 2,000,000 bits of info, 50 times less than before.

Anyway… I suggested this nearly 7 months ago and they’ve finally done it for me. A report that I’ve created in the old system used to take between 10 minute and an hour now took less than 1 minute to run on my first attempt. You might think that that is impressive but that’s not the half of it. The development and testing of these reports will be much more time efficient, rather than running a report to see if it works then twiddling my thumbs and hanging around on the off chance that the report works. I will now know practically instantly.

Thank you IT. I never thought I’d hear myself saying that.

I think my experience in IT would have been much better had they listened to me from the beginning but hey, I’m sure I’ll get over it…

Tuesday 29 July 2008

4 Years of weather

Call me a sad bastard if you want... but I have been recording 'the weather' for 4 years now.
When I say weather I mean max and min temperatures for London. I started because someone said that this year was much worse (temperature wise) than the year before but I didn't think so. I looked up the data and proved them wrong. In you face!
I continued because I was playing with an offset function in excel (I was using it to extend the graph range automatically when new data is added) and wanted to see it work, I also think I have a very mild form of OCD (am much better now as I no longer have to have the TV volume on an even number).
Here are a selection of my charts.
I have also managed to get hold the same data going back to 1959 which does show a clear increase in temperature. Is this down to global warming? Who knows...
Interesting facts I have found so far...
1) Thursday has the highest average maxium temperature
2) Hottest day in London over the last 4 years = 35C
3) Coldest Day = -6C
4) Warmest Year = 2003
5) Coldest = 1963

Monday 28 July 2008

He's in the money...

I've been paid today, yeah! But that's not why i'm in the money.

I found a five pound note on the way to the train station this morning! Ha, ha, ha! Get in!

SC Movie Review 20

Batman: The Dark Knight.

I’ve been waiting to see this film for ages, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s the biggest film that out this summer, and it could have been bad, usually movie houses tend to destroy franchises by trying to make them appeal to a wider audience do bring in extra cash this results in mass dumbing down.

The first ‘new’ Batman was very good, nice and dark with plenty of action and a good story line. The new Batman continued where it left off with a great bank robbery scene, only Heat has bettered that.

I’m not going to go on about all the various parts of the film , if you like Batman and that sort of thing then go and see it you won’t be disappointed. I have a couple of gripes / questions though.

Can anyone tell me why the Sandman was there at the start?

I felt the whole mobile phone sonar set up was silly and added 20 minutes of unnecessary film length. The bullet reassembling to get the finger print was verging on the ridiculous. It reminded me of why I stopped watching James Bond. An invisible car, I mean come on…! People’s imaginations can only be stretched so far. At least make it vaguely possible.

April was disappointed that she didn’t feel more remorse about the girl dying but hey the girls are usually there for eye candy. I’m sure there’ll be a new one in the next film.

Another thing that annoyed me was not the film, it was a review on, it said to ignore the hype about Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, the real candidate for the Oscar should be Christian Bale. Did they watch the same film? Bale was fine, he’s a good actor but there’s no sense that he actually had to try in order to play Batman.. The Joker was excellent. Not having seen many other potential Oscar winning performances yet this year (Waiting for Ben Stiller in Tropical Thunder) I think it’s a bit too soon to tell.

Other than that great film.

IMdb Rating 9.4 (146,940 votes)
SC Rating: 7.8 (1 Vote)
April Rating 8.2 (1 Vote)

As an interesting side note, I now know what sort of person buys nachos when they go to the cinema. Aging electronic rockers… Gary Numan was in the queue in front of us when we were waiting to get ripped off for ice cream and a drink. He eventually sat a couple of rows behind us.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Insurance story of the week

Pushy National Blood Service

I received a text from the National Blood Service this morning saying.

"MR CLARK, we've written to invite you to give blood. Please see our mailing or call 0845 7711 711 for details. Thank you."

I've been a blood donor for over ten years and they've never hassled me before. They must be desperate. I'm now booked in for next Tuesday morning.

Monday 21 July 2008

First bit of Spam

I had my first bit of spam in my previous post (That is if you don't count the young Portuguese rugby fan). Some loan company told me my blog was 'great'...

Twat! Stay out of here. Friends only.

We are Scientists (last week)

Because April, can't be bothered with her blog any more, here's the pictures and movie she was supposed to post.

In order (up to down), April dancing, idiot with red shoes that thought he was Dorothy, Somerset House, We Are Scientists

Rubbish IT

It's the second day on the trot where my company's external e-mails has stopped working. What a load of rubbish. Today it took until nearly 4pm before they even owned up to it despite me logging a call at 10am.

Our e-mail servers are maintained over in the states, but surely there must be a way of fixing it before America wakes up. We handle over a $1bn worth of premium in the UK each year, we should at the very least be able to send an e-mail.

Come on IT, pull your fingers out. And before you say it, yes I am in IT today. But it has nothing to do with me. From today I am only here for one day a week. Daylight here I come!

Sunday 20 July 2008

Next week's bbq

I had my Dad, Anne, Steve and Jenny round for a barbeque today and it was quite successful, but there were only 6 of us.

Next weekend we have around 30 who have said they will come along... We can only hope that the weather will stay dry as there is no way that we can fit 30 hungry people in our house at the same time.

By the looks of it we should be okay (Forecast 27 for London on Thursday).

Saturday 19 July 2008

Worst film i've seen in ages award goes to

Dungeons and Dragons 2

Brief summary, a long and very poor episode of Hercules.


Friday 18 July 2008

Weekend of not a tremendous lot

This weekend I will mostly be doing...

Sitting on arse, gardening, barbecuing, sleeping, watching The Sopranos.

I'm probably doing nothing tonight, which will be nice. It was my old flatmate's birthday drinks yesterday so I had a couple of glasses of wine with her.

Tomorrow I'll be gardening with April before she heads off to Sophie's Hen night round Harriet's. I've been left on my own so not sure what i'll do. Liverpool are on TV, and i've loads of recorded movies so won't be too bored.

There's not much left to do (immediately) in the garden but there's still a few weeds to pull out and it would be nice to add a few new plants to the back garden before everyone comes over next week.

Sunday should be more fun, with my Dad and his wife Ann heading over. Steve and Jenny will be there too so i'll be getting a loan of the new Wire and Steve's pressure washer. The cats that have been spraying in my garden won't know what's hit them.

For your amusement

Thursday 17 July 2008

Dentist appointment

I went to see my dentist this lunchtime as I had a slight worry about my filling. It isn’t sore (yet) but my tooth felt differently after eating a number of packets of pork scratchings (3).

He said the tooth was fine but may need to be either removed or re-filled during my next appointment (next month).

For those that don’t know my dentist is my old rugby friend Iain who once had a practise in Corby, he now plays rugby with me for the Mayfair Occasionals and works in London. He laughed when I told him about the pork scratchings incident, apparently the only other place that he’d heard of that type of dental injury was in Corby.

He, he.

Update to last Friday night

Some more photos from the Madness / Queen gig

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Hello Boy 2

I recently added a handful of film release dates to my work calendar, the new Batman, X-files, Tropical Thunder and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Looking through the month of August for something else I spotted that I must have typed Hello Boy 2 instead of Hellboy 2.

A Freudian slip...?

Sunday 13 July 2008

Mmm... Sunday doing nothing

And by nothing, I mean putting my feet up whilst playing on my laptop and semi watching the cricket.

I think the only thing that could better this is perhaps a nice cold bottle of beer and some decent snackage. Unfortunately April's off shopping for a dress at Bluewater so i'd have to walk to the shops.

There's not much chance of that so i'm happy to just sit here.

Saturday 12 July 2008

Open air concert

I went to an open air concert with April and two friends last night. I was dreading it beforehand as it was forecast to rain (and it did lots) but i'm glad I went as well all had a great time.

It was held in the forecourt of Tonbridge Castle and I think they managed to squeeze around a 1000 people there, all there to see high quality cover bands.

We saw the Bee Gees first, then a Utter Madness and to finish it all off Killer Queen.

We brought a couple of bottles of nice wine and one of the bottles of champagne left over from the house purchase. April is not a well girl this morning.

The Freddy Mercury front man was superb. I actually think he believed he was Freddy on more than one occasion.

Afterwards they put on an impressive fireworks display. All in all a very nice evening.

Thursday 10 July 2008

'Overwork' kills Toyota employee

It wouldn't happen in this country, or at least not to me.

'One of Toyota's senior car engineers died from working too many hours, a Japanese labour bureau has found.'

The sad part is it happens so often they even have a word for it, karoshi.

The Sopranos

I have been a member of Lovefilm for about 6 months now. I think it's pretty good, a lot better than going to Blockbusters to find that they have no recent films available (Clapham High Street Branch).

Being a wonderful boyfriend I stupidly split the account in half which let April choose half of the DVDs we hire. 25% of her choices are good 50% are okay, the rest bad. She’s had the last one for over two months.

By bad I don’t mean they are bad films, I mean that I don’t really want to watch them. They have stories and stuff and probably won Oscars but when was last gun fight or explosion made during one? I can tell you, never. I get home after a ‘hard’ days work, dialog is the last thing I want to see.

My latest rental has been the first series of The Sopranos. What a great series, a lot of my friends are jealous because they have watched all 6 series and know that there will be no more, I however have 5 more to watch. I am contradicting myself somewhat as The Sopranos is very character driven and therefore has a great deal of dialog, but who cares. It’s great. If you haven’t watched them yet, then you’re in for a treat.

Another great series shown on the same network is The Wire. Again excellent, again great characters, again great story. My brother is hooked so all I have to do is borrow them off him.

My next rental is Rambo! He, he! I’ll have to wait till April’s out of the house though as I’m not sure if she would appreciate the artistic way a guy gets ripped in half by a machine gun.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Broken fly

I am out for a handful of beers tonight with friends and the zip of my works trousers has just broken. Doh! I have a spare pair and i'm sure they can get repaired but it's still bloody annoying.

My plan is to staple them half way up and hope it doesn't hinder going to the loo.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Darts and other pub games

I've been playing quite a bit of bar sports recently.

Darts, at a pub in Leigh called the Bat and Ball. This was the darts scoring system on the wall. Just like the old telephones. It worked quite well, but was sore on the fingers after a while.

Pool in a bar underneath a church near work (called the Crypt), last time I was in there the vicar was having a meal with 10 of his old parishioners in the room next door. Very odd...

And more recently bar billiards in an old mans village pub (The Cock Inn, Luddesdown). It's quite a fun game. A bit more tactical than pool but good all the same.

Next I want to find a pub in London where I can throw a yellow cheese at skittles. Is this just a Northampton thing?

Garden Update

I've had a recent comment from a friend that my blog is crap and boring. Well, just for her here's an update on my garden. Isn't the domestic life in Tonbridge just great...?

We've managed to cut back 95% of the larger weeds (nettles, brambles, random unknowns), the rest is pulling up all the roots and small saplings. Unfortunately that's probably the hardest part. And unfortunately for April, much of my interest dies with it.

I'm only happy when hacking into the undergrowth like Ray Mears trying to find a suitable place to camp for the night.

My next major task is to clean and paint my lovely blue shed. It's full of creepy spiders and cob webs so my plan is to hoover them up with a dust buster.

Finger update

I went back to Putney / Wimbledon today to get my finger checked out by my specialist Dr Davey. Despite it still hurting he said that it was progressing well and should be heal as much as it will ever heal over the next nine months.

Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, it's exactly what he said a year ago when I first met him. I have to say that it is much better now though. Movement is much better 60 degrees from 80 degrees.

All being well you should have another update by Christmas, that is if I don't injure it playing rugby first.

Friday 4 July 2008

Weekend activities

I work for a big American broker and as it's July 4th we're getting let out at 4pm today! Whoop, whoop! USA! USA!

It is however annoying. I'm due to meet some old work friends at 6 over near London Bridge so i'm going to have to hang around until then. There's not much likelyhood of that, seeing as it's a Friday it'll be a pub lunch and as my two bosses are off playing golf today it'll be a long one. That'll leave roughly an hour of work in the afternoon then straight out again to the pub for pre-pub drinks. I'm not going to get back home till late so it'll be a huge Leo Sayer (All Dayer).

Not that I don't like Leo Sayer, I do, it's just I had a skinful last night with Creaney, am out to a country pub on Saturday aftenoon with Freeman. And have the Germans round for a BBQ on Sunday. Before I know it'll be Monday morning and i'll be back in IT...