Friday, April 25, 2008

Tag, you're it

The Venerable G, on being tagged himself, and having determined he needed a token male in his list, and that I was the one nearest and most often about, tagged me. Having never been a token male before, and despite my reservations on being tagged for hanging about, will comply. So, with no further ado...


The rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people

This is not necessarily an easy task. In my life there tends to be vast quantities of reading surrounding me. Even a work there's a nice shelf full of fulminating and not so fascinating business logs. The question is, which book to pick? Having thought long and hard I decided that I would choose three sentences out of three books and see what the resulting mashup provided.

"My ideals, my political imperative. For IT maxims and IT investments and priority decisions, it was critical to have top-level, enterprise business involvement in both input and decision making. Consumers were assumed to notice an advertisement; become engaged by its overt promise or proposition; and thereby consciously persuaded to buy."

Quite scarily, it almost makes sense. And there you have it. Now, I don't tag, but if you care to take this little snippet up, do tell!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eyes to the front

Why is it that people are only polite to that which is in front of them? I mean, if you're in a long queue of cars, often the car in front will politely let a car in from the side, even though that car hasn't queued. This is illogical. Stopping to let the other car in actually worsens the queue, plus the other car has not "paid" in time the way those in the main queue have. Yet people see the car, and think they are being good and virtuous by letting it in, when they're not. The same in crowds, people will maneuver and stop to be kind to those they see, with no thought to those they don't behind them.

Am I being mad here? Is it incontrvertible human nature to only be considerate for that which you see?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Male Confidential

I live in a relatively small rural village. Its in commuting distance to London, but is proper rural. There's fields with cows and sheep, acres of vegetables and wheat, and lots of trees. Its an odd mix of types that live there, and we all consider ourselves pretty privileged to do so. There's those with money, usually quite a bit of it, and those with less. Not a lot in the middle, as you either own your house, and it cost a packet, or you inherited it, or you rent from one of the old estates.

We have a village shop with attached tea shop, a farm shop, two trout farms (one with its own smokery, and you haven't lived till you've had their alder hot smoked trout), a pub and a restaurant. I love it there, I really do. Most of all I like the people, to a soul they are hard working, honest and trustable. Of those that don't have much, they're the sort who work hard, and stay off the dole (indeed the sort who the abolition of the 10p tax rate will hurt the most (for those of you who haven't a clue what I'm on about, look here)). Our village just doesn't call on government services much, healthcare, schooling, and picking up the rubbish. That's about it.

The one thing that's subsidised is the village shop, it has a post office. Even that isn't subsidised much, but the lady who runs the shop, doesn't take enough to cover the costs of the Post Office. So, technically, it is subsidised.

So, in the recent "review" of post offices, it was one that has been targeted for closure. Now, believe it or not, it is used. There are a lot of retired folk in the village, and they do use it. The rest of us also do. Its bloody handy to walk down there to take out a bit of cash, or buy your stamps or send off a parcel. It really is the heart of the village. The lady who runs it, knows everyone and everything that's going on. She's lovely.

Yet its been targetted. The post office ran a "public consultation". We know that all but two households in the village signed a petition to keep it open. About a third of the households wrote individual letters arguing for keeping it open. Our MP (not a Labour MP mind), raised it in parliament.

But last week a poster was put up in the shop window saying that "After a full public consultation, taking into consideration the local opinion, this shop shall close on..." Clearly public opinion had absolution nothing to do with the decision. Now, I hate sounding a pompous fool, but the relative tax income of our village probably covers the social services of a fair sized borough. We also, as a village, don't consume nearly what we contribute. I don't mind that, I really don't. Those that have more, should contribute more.

Its just, this isn't necessary. These rural post offices contribute beyond the value of the pounds that pay for their operation. They are part of the glue that holds our society together. That may not be commercially fair to a corporate Post Office, but then I don't think the Post should be purely a commercial operation.

In this case, I think we've lost. Our shop looses its Post Office in about a month, and the lady who runs it is very scared about whether she can continue without that extra little bit of financial security it provides. When she looses the Postal counter, she also looses the steady trickle of business the rest of us provide. Best will in the world, we'll all go there less.

When is this government going to actually look and see the damage they cause?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

All Sorts

I am feeling out of sorts today. Something's not quite right, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Nothing serious, nothing earth shattering, but just a bit odd. I'm stuggling to concentrate, I'm feeling a bit rough, I'm not particularly hungry, not particularly motivated.

Out of sorts, its the only way to describe it.

Normal service will resume shortly...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Food Glorious Food

Food riots, a goverment toppled, Japan runs out of butter. A year ago would you have dreamed of such headlines? It is going to be quite the year between food scarcity and a financial crisis (coincidental they've happened at the same time btw (though both arguably have been caused by human greed)).

For over a century there has been scare mongering about how the population explosion will result in us not being to be able to feed ourselves. Now it is finally hitting home. In a sense it is not real. The scarcity is at least partially self engineered.

Its curious that each of these things in and of itself, but combined create a crisis. The joy of chaos theory in action. Seemingly unrelated events coalescing into something new. The question will be, what do we do? Times are going to be interesting folks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I'm blogging for Gay Paris today. Well, not so Gay, its overcast and a bit drizzly, so positively heterosexual. I always take the Eurostar when I come here, but yesterday was the first time I did St Pancras station.

Very mixed reviews. A grand lobby, and a nice big departure lounge, but no shopping. Plus the business lounge was positively spartan and small. I was very confused. Then you go up to the lovely Victorian concourse to get on the trains. Expect its only part Victorian and part modern industrial. The trains, unfortunately, are the same old ones and feel like a 1960's version of the future. I was sat beside a rather large chap on a full train, so was squeezed into the window.

The obvious bigger plus is that it now takes slightly more than two hours to get to Paris. What an improvement. I'd stopped flying to Paris years ago, but now with a good half to three quarters of an hour shaved off the journey, its a delight. Just enough time to watch an episode ot Grey's Anatomy, read the paper and have a meal. A very pleasant journey indeed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Up to date

I am not, up to date that is. Having decided to give myself a bit of a bloggy break I'm finding it increasingly hard to get back into the swing of it. There's no particular cause or angst, just time. Work is getting increasingly busy, though in the best of senses. I generally don't blog at home, so there's no time to be found there either.

Interesting this Times article. Though I pride myself on my techie edge, when at home I don't multi-task. I like to play with the kids, talk to my wife, or just zone out to music, a book or a bit of telly. Surfing and telly and texting at the same time just isn't relaxing. That's what home is supposed to be, isn't it? At work I can be doing five things at once. Since starting this post I've had a phone call, two people stop in the office, have dealt with a number of emails, and fixed a nephew's iPod. At home though, I take it easier. Which is another reason I haven't been blogging much.

Regardless, life continues. Despite the best of intentions, we spent the weekend at home. We had thought to go up to the Science Museum, but the traffic problems with the marathon put paid to that. Then we though of all going to a movie, but the kids couldn't agree on one. I was going to take them fishing, but thunderstorms every half hour didn't make that likely. So it was a bit of a home weekend. We've had a few too many of those lately. I feel guilty we don't get out with the kids more, but then, life together at home isn't all that bad.

Plans are continuing on building out extension. Its still looking good for starting in June. I still expect it to start later, this project has been a long long story of delays, why should it be any different now. Still, had been fun looking at bathroom fittings, and geothermal heating sources. I was reading up on solar power, but can't make up my mind if its worth it or not in England. We could install enough to power our heating and some of the other house needs, but its bloody expensive. I'm still tempted though, as it gets us close to being carbon neutral. We'd attach it to the grid, then mostly take a "credit" in the summer as that's when we'd generate the most power, then take it "back" in the winter. A bit of a cheat, but still tempting.

Work continues apace. I'm on the road a lot at the moment, which is part of the time deficit. I have such mixed feelings about business travel. It takes me away from home, which I hate. Yet I quite like meeting people in our local offices. I'd love to see more of the cities I travel to, but don't get much chance of that. LL and I were talking this morning about how it would be nice if she could come with me some times. Problem is then she'd have to take time off work, and neither of us is very good at that.

Any way, I will try to post and visit you lot more often. Promise. Meanwhile life continues apace...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Snow Beautiful Snow

It was meant to be a fun weekend. Get away from the house, go do something. Origionally we thought we'd go do the tour of Tower Bridge, but the kids weren't interested. They wanted to go see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Then we heard about the torch relay thing and thought better of the traffic mess. The final plan was to head over to Hampton Court Palace as Ali Baba had been with school and had enthused about the way cool medieval kitchens (go figure, but they are my kids (and those kitchens are way cool)).

But we woke up to this. We were going no where! BMWs don't like snow and we have two steep drives to navigate without even thinking of the chaos on the roads.

Not that anyone complained. Snow men, hot chocolate, snowball fights, a nice fire burning in the parlour, and indoor games like the kids making up a play complete with songs were the order of the day.

A pity we had to wait until April for a day of proper snow. Pity its all gone bar the snow men! It was still a fun weekend though...