Friday, 27 September 2013

landlord returns

My landlord came back the other day.

I'd obviously set myself a list of things I wanted to get done, which included:
  • Sort stuff in the shed
  • Put some of the shed stuff on e-bay, including some of my figurines, old art books and DVDs
  • Clean my car
I sort of did all of these.

I cleaned the car, but it was only a "normal" clean, rather than being a full-on polish.  This wasn't so bad, as I'd polished the car a few weeks back.  However, I did also top up things like the oil, washer fluid and tyre pressure, and it was while doing the last of these that my old foot pump finally gave up the ghost.

I've had it ages, and it's been a bit temperamental for a while, but it's just typical of the recent months that it's another thing that's broken that I have to replace.  I've blogged about this recently, but I've had some more things go as well.  For example, I broke the Ethernet switch I use to connect my computers to the BT hub, so I had to replace that, and some of the buttons on my printer are dodgy (you have to press really hard and they don't always work) so I'll need to replace that.

Anyway, I'm waiting until I get paid this month before replacing the pump, which means I've actually been running on slightly low pressure tyres, as it was the connector to the tyre that broke.  This meant it was bleeding out air and whenever I tried to pump it would pop off, so it's deflated the tyres a little - nothing disastrous, but it needs sorting.

I attempted to sort the stuff in the shed, but there were a couple of problems with this.

The first was that my landlord didn't actually go until Saturday lunch.  I also missed him leaving, so it was quite late in the afternoon before I ventured out to the shed.

The second was that I had also decided to try to stay up all night.  I've mentioned before that I have been having trouble staying asleep and waking in the middle of the night.  While I still think stress is a part of this, I think the whole "habit formation" I also talked about is a big part of it.  One of the ways I've found to sort this is to basically stay up all night, which totally disrupts my body clock and allows me to reset it.

However, when you're doing that after having spent all day shifting big heavy boxes around, it doesn't quite work.  You're not only tired from being up; you're physically shattered from the exercise.  And of course, it's not a 1 day job, so going into the night sorting boxes became quite a chore and I wasn't really alert and thinking straight.

In the end I did go to sleep for a couple of hours that night.  The night time waking is still not sorted - I am waking up early, but it's early morning (5AM-ish), rather than middle of the night (1AM-ish) so I'm just a bit tired, rather than the walking dead.

However, I did generate a lot of stuff to go on e-bay.  And I mean a lot of stuff.  So much that I was too tired to put it on that first weekend and instead left it for this weekend, which also turned out to be a free-listing weekend.

This wasn't such a great idea.  I'd used the Saturday to clean the car and do other bits in order to leave the Sunday for it, but partly because of the Interview earlier in the week I was so tired I had to have a lie in on the Sunday and it was late before I started.

I then just launched into it without really thinking I would "do x, but not y" so I ended up doing it all day, and even then I had only put on about two thirds of it all.  I've also apparently been missing a trick with my auctions - I knew Sunday was the best day for them to end, but apparently he evening is the best and I was ending mine mid-afternoon.

By the time I'd finished I had 85 active auctions.  Now to be fair, some of these were re-lists I was doing to take advantage of the free listing, but still, that's an awful lot of stuff!

Thursday, 26 September 2013


What a terrible film.

I thought it best to just come out and say it.  The problem I had with fanboys is that it was just a sort of weak, thinned-down version of a Kevin smith film.  Indeed if you take the dialogue of Clerks and mush it into Jay & silent Bob Strike back then you've basically got fanboys.

The idea behind it is of a bunch of nerds going to Skywalker Ranch to steal/view Star wars Episode 1 ahead of its release.  So you're talking about a bunch of nerds and you're talking about a road movie.  And that's basically it.

Unfortunately, the movie is just not as well written as a Kevin Smith film.  The dialogue lacks real punch.  It also seems to try to be "inclusive" of non-nerds - it felt a bit toned down and 'lite', instead of being full-on nerdy.  It was like they felt they couldn't be too extreme with the jokes because they might alienate some of the non-nerd audience.

The characters also felt a bit thin - fairly loose stereotypes, without a great deal of interest or individuality to them.

And of course the plot is very minimal - more like a series of sketches than a plot.  Given it's a road movie it could perhaps have had some saving graces in terms of how it was filmed, or the places they went to, for example, but it fell down thee too.

I'm being very harsh.  It wasn't painful to watch, the acting is okay and it's watchable, it's just that it was supposed to be funny and I didn't laugh once.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

dad's dog & fraud

I mentioned that it wasn't just work that had been making my time just recently a bit rubbish.

One of the other things was unfortunately that my Dad's dog has died.  He was a Labrador and apparently average life expectancy is around 10 years old.  My dad's dog was about 13 or 14 I think, so it has been on the cards and therefore wasn't totally unexpected.

However, that's not to say it wasn't a shock.

Being a typical Labrador he was motivated by his stomach and when he went ill the first few symptoms were "loose stools" and he wouldn't eat his food.  As such, my Dad took him to the vet promptly and they worked out that he was suffering from kidney failure.

Obviously you'll be aware kidney failure is pretty serious.  When people get it they have to do dialysis (filtering the blood, which is the kidney's main function) and need a transplant fairly promptly as they don't tend to last too long.

For a dog that would be an extreme length to go to.  They tried a few drugs in the hopes it might restart his kidneys but they eventually decided to put him down.

It's a shame - he was a nice dog (although to be totally fair he could have done with a few obedience classes).  My Dad has obviously therefore been a bit down and of course I'm so far away I can't be there in person.  I am going down to visit him for my holiday in a couple of weeks, though.

The other thing of note was that I suffered some internet fraud.

Well, I say that, I have a very strong suspicion they fucked up.

I have a PayPal account (you unfortunately can't get away from having one if you use e-bay) and what happened was that I received an e-mail saying that I'd made a payment to one of these online money things.

I hadn't, obviously, but the money had come out of my bank account (PayPal links to your bank & a credit card, in case you're not familiar).  It was £42, so not a giant sum, but significant, particularly given my current financial situation.

I immediately flagged it and they solved the case in my favour.

However, what makes me think it was a cock-up is that it was a single sizeable payment (they often do lots of little payments with fraud), but also it was how it was how my account was described on the e-mail.

Initially I'd thought it was just a phishing thing, but as I say, I checked my accounts and it had come out of my account.  But here's the thing - the account name given on the e-mail was not mine, but it was a sub-string of my account.  So if my account was "" then the account it said was "".

So as I say, this leads me to think they fucked up and a genuine transaction for somebody accidentally came out of my account.

The most annoying thing, though, was how long it took them to process the actual refund.  So I spotted about 6 hours after it happened (it was a weekend) and flagged it to all concerned.  Within 24 hours it had been decided in my favour and I was informed it would be refunded.  Within 48 hours I had received an e-mail telling me it had been refunded.  However it was 2 weeks before the money actually made it back into my account.

I've said it before, but PayPal is a fucking racket.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

and more moaning

I'm guessing it's not been fun to read for anyone that does, but it's felt quite cathartic to get all this stuff out in the air.

Hopefully today will be the last about work (well, for a while), but I'm certainly a long way from finishing with the moaning!

And this one's only a bit about work.

Around a month ago one of the Directors got married.  Congratulations to him, but it also acted as a stark statement of my standing.

Basically, I've known him longer than all but two other members of staff, and one of those was a friendship from way before he started working here.  However, most of the rest of the staff were invited to the wedding proper, whereas I was just invited to the evening reception.

Well, that's me told where I stand.

Anyway, when I arrived at the reception a bombshell was dropped on me. I would have to attend the redundancy meeting for a member of staff they're making redundant as their witness.  Or shit-canning them as I like to call it.  The reason I would have to do this was because the member of staff who was going to do it has had a tragedy (which has also really helped to improve the atmosphere in the office!)

They've actually made a complete mess of things with this employee, to be honest.

Now I will hold my hands up - I never really got on with this employee.  They're not my sort of person, and I found them a bit annoying.  I also found them quite unprofessional and borderline incompetent.

I honestly couldn't see why they'd been given a job, or, failing that, why they'd been kept on following the initial trial period.

But setting that aside, the reason for making them redundant was entirely about getting rid of them, and not about change in the business making that position redundant, which is what redundancy is supposed to be about.

And don't get me wrong, they did something that essentially made them useless to my company.  Basically the company is (currently) about selling out people as consultants to work for our Customers.  And this person initially was happy to do this, but then suddenly flipped and refused to do it.

Now instead of this being dealt with calmly and rationally, the MD flipped out.  The redundancy was how they decided to get rid of them.  But it's a poor decision, and I think the employee may take it all the way to a tribunal.

Anyway, the thing I was going to say is that the other element of why I had to attend this meeting was because there were fuck all other staff in the office.  The MD who got married took three weeks honeymoon straight after.  The other MD also had that week off and, in fact, there were only two members of staff in for the normal office for that first week and then it was hardly any better in the second week.

And to further underline my status: even though I was the only vaguely senior member of staff in the office, both of the MD's out of office messages said to contact other members of staff who were in the office for about 2 days during the whole period, but not me.

Monday, 23 September 2013

singapore grand prix

Singapore grand prix this last weekend.

The circuit used to have a rather notorious corner "turn 10" (why do none of the new circuits have proper names for the corners? I mean, I appreciate they also should have numbers, but giving them names too adds character.), which was essentially a chicane on a corner.

However, in order to make the drivers go around it properly it had really high curves.  The idea behind it was that with it being a street circuit, there was no run off so they wanted to encourage them to take the corner properly.

But, of course, racing drivers being racing drivers, they would always push it to the limit and therefore run over the curbs.  However, they were so high this launched the cars into the air and there were more than a few cars damaged by the subsequent landings.

This year they did away with the chicane element, so it was a normal corner.  This shaved a good 5 seconds off the lap time, but it wasn't enough for the circuit to become a decent length.

The race itself wasn't actually too bad in the beginning and end sections, but it had quite a long middle period where very little happened.  And because it was Singapore it meant it was banging up against the 2 hour limit.  Of course, being Singapore it also had a safety car period after someone hit the wall, so I guess if it hadn't had that it would have been under 2 hours, but every time the race has been run they've had a safety car.

Unfortunately for the championship, Vettel won, making it almost certain that he will win.  He has almost enough margin that he could miss a couple of races and still win.  I mean that in a reliability sense, rather than him taking a holiday - if the car blows up and Alonso wins he would still have a huge margin.

But then, given how reliable all the cars are nowadays that's not very likely.

There was also finally the announcement that Raikkonen will be moving to Ferrari next year, which seems to mean Ferrari will have two number one drivers.  This is very odd for them - they're a team that likes to have a clear number one and a number two.

Rumours therefore flew that Alonso might go to McLaren, but I doubt this, and, interestingly, Ron Dennis was at the race.  Ron was the main part of McLaren that Alonso didn't like.  Plus, given how things are changing next year, it's a bit of a crap shoot - even Adrian Newey at Red Bull might be wrong footed if the Renault engine isn't up to snuff.

Unfortunately the unluckiest man in Formula 1, Mark Webber, had a problem with his car that caused the engine to blow up (wasn't clear if it was engine or gear box) and to cap the weekend he then got a reprimand for running out onto the circuit to get a lift back from Alonso.  It wasn't the lift that was the issue, but the going on to the circuit, but because he's now had 3 reprimands he gets an automatic 10-place grid penalty at the Korean Grand Prix!

It's weird how it's always Mark that has these issues - KERS failures seem to be particularly favourite.