Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lessons in life, part 12

Apparently, even when you're trying your best to lower the severity of your usual profanity filled prattle, blurting out 'GODDAMN IT!' when on the phone to a nun is considered either 'unprofessional' or 'hilarious' depending on whom you're speaking to.....

Sunday, 22 February 2009


I needed to vent a bit, and this place seems as good as any. Plus the cat gets upset when I start shouting at the walls. I've been stressed/down/annoyed for the following reasons:

1) There is a member of our team at work who is a contractor (the last one left). After some perceived slight I made about his coding style three months ago he has refused to speak to me (not long after I went permanent). Not long after my colleague equally switched to being a permanent staff member, this contractor refused to speak to him either.

This man is 63.

For a while he would reply to emails requesting that he did work, but for the last few weeks he's refused to deal with anyone but Idiot Boss, misses most meetings, deliberately sits down in the few 'Stand-up' meetings we have and has resorted to replying to direct questions via Idiot Boss, i.e.

Me: "{name removed} could you please check in your design elements?"
Contractor (to Idiot Boss): "Please inform {my name} that I will do that this afternoon."

I'd like to repeat that this man is sixty-fucking-three.

You wouldn't think it as possible for one man to suck the life out of a team of six people but work right now is a depressing, unpleasant, awkward place to be.

2) For the last 8 years of my life (the vast majority of my working life) I've lived the bachelor life. I've had total control over what I did or bought, where I went on holiday, what frivolous things I wasted my money on etc. I don't mean that I was single, more that in a 'career' that changed location every year - that had no permanence at all - I lived in the short-term. I didn't save, I didn't settle into one place or job - I just took the cash and I partied. Lots.

Last summer I took the decision to grow up a little bit. I met Mrs Red Squirrel, I took a permanent job, I started a pension, I started actually saving money. While this is great and what I wanted it has its downside, and that's budgeting. No longer can I just rely on the pay check clearing my debts at the end of the month.

While this sounds trivial it's a major mental adjustment. I'm having to go without things I'd normally not think twice about, remove bits of my life I can no longer afford and limit the amount of socialising I do that involves spending money.

It's a big challenge to change ingrained habits but I was getting there slowly but surely. This point isn't about me saying 'boo-hoo I have to do what just about everyone else does'. No, this point is entirely about me being pissed off that in the circumstances of suddenly feeling the pinch of restrained living, I then find out that my accountants (or, to be truthful, ex-accountants) dropped a bollock on my tax return for the current financial year.

I owe a lot more than I have right now and will have to reduce what I spend considerably further than my current cuts just to meet my tax obligation at the end of the year.

This has not put me in a good mood.

3) The current state of the world economy. My word, it's depressing out there. However in all of it I can't help feel rather annoyed at the base misunderstanding in all the news reports. Yes, banks have lost a lot of money off their balance sheets - but that's not real money. Something is worth what someone will pay for it, but it doesn't become actual money until you sell it. Money hasn't been lost out of the world economy at all - when Bank A lent Amos 'Only Two Teeth' Jones $200,000 to buy a shack in the bayou (despite the closest Amos ever came to a job was being paid to stop sleeping with his sister), that money didn't disappear. Whomever owned the shack got $200,000. On the balance sheet it looks like Bank A 'lost' that money but it still exists in the pocket of Swamp Shacks Inc. The problem with the world economy is that there are lots of people out there with money who simply aren't spending it, and the more the news reports the doom and gloom then the less they spend, and the more people lose their jobs. We're now in a vicious circle fueled by our wonderful 24-hour news culture of making every single piece of news sound like Armageddon.

Which brings me neatly on to....

4) Jade Goody.

I feel sorry that she's dying. Not very sorry admittedly. I feel about as sorry as I feel for the other 100,000 people who die of cancer every year in this country. There is a limit to how much grief you can feel for someone you don't know and whom has no connection to you or anyone you know.

Because that's what Jade Goody is. She's not a celebrity - she's a mentally deficient, racist bigot who didn't even win Big Brother. She didn't even come in the top 3 I think, of not even the first series. That's how much of a non-entity she is.

Yet for some unfathomable reason I cannot avoid her. The fact that she's dying has got more column inches than the Tsunami that killed 200,000 people. The LEAD STORY on the BBC website in the week was that her bottom-feeding scumbucket of a boyfriend (he's currently got a chip attached to his ankle and a curfew for assaulting someone with a golf club) is being let off his curfew so they can get married. He was given special dispensation by the fucking Minister of Justice personally!

The Prime Minister has even been commenting on how tragic it is that she's going to die soon.

In all this the woman herself, as much as I dislike what I've seen of her, has been entirely honest. She's netting £1.5m for the photo deal for her wedding, on top of whatever she gets for filming herself slowly dying, and she's said she's doing it all so that her family and children have a good life once she's gone.

I can't be angry at her personally, it's the media and the current culture of this country that is pissing me off. Fair enough that the tabloids would all have her has front-page stories - they would barely exist without Reality TV after all - but when serious broadsheets start having her as front-page news, when the BBC website has a new story about her on its main page every single day, when the TV news *leads* with the fact that she's got married.......garrrgh! It makes my blood boil.

Jade Goody is dying. I can't bring myself to care anymore.


And as a counterpoint to all the above because I tend to get carried away during a rant:

1) Contractor person is leaving in a week or so so hopefully he'll take the poisoned atmosphere with him.
2) I have a job and I should be grateful for it.
3) I'm equally not buying certain things because of the media-fuelled panic so I'm just as guilty as everyone else.
4) It won't be long before it's over and thick people can go back to worshipping her alongside Princess 'Bury Me in a Y-shaped Coffin' Diana and hopefully I never have to hear her name again.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Um, sorry....

I know I promised but I've been rather busy and stressed the last few days and I haven't given you all the suitable mockage material I alluded to.

I feel bad.

Only I don't, I don't really have enough energy to care. Please don't take it personally.

So, sorry, but I hope to be back to normal later in the week.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Sometimes life is good.

I know I sometimes bitch about work, but there are (genuine) times when my job isn't merely a means to an end.

If 'not being poor' counts as an 'end' per se.

I work for an academic publishers that takes submissions from all and sundry, rejects the silly ones and publishes the serious ones in a series of eminent scientific journals. As we accept online submissions from anyone we get to interact with all types of people, from the slightly mad to the bonkers insane.

The insane ones are more fun. So long as they never find out where you live.

We've had papers submitted with the frankly genius title of 'K - the Theory Of Everything' (even more brilliantly it was a mere 5 pages of Babelfish translated Greek). We've had a brief manuscript detailing the discovery of 'Chronons' which are subatomic particles that emit time 'like uranium emits radiation' and are not distributed evenly (which explains why time moves faster at some times rather than others). Sadly the proof section was slightly lacking because Chronons 'are impossible to detect.'

I'm convinced, dunno about you.

This week however, saw a new favourite in crank submissions - the exciting discovery of the Inverse Zero (or, as the author prefers to call it, the 'Baby Israel'). It was submitted from a clinic in a US state beginning with W - although it was uncertain as to whether it was submitted by a doctor or an inmate. I'd be happier thinking it was from Vernon, who spends most of his day sitting in the corner rocking back and forth and mumbling about the Amish.

Any scientific paper that starts with:

'Please have patience for I promise you that I will not go away because I have resolved the unified theory of the universe'

is off to a flyer. Implied threat of stalkage? Check. Outlandish claim? Check. Nutter credentials? Nope. No, wait, there's more:

'Walk slowly through my letter, it is in four dimensions and I have discovered the inverse dimension'

Nutter credentials? Check.

So, explain further Vernon:

'In fact God made the inverse. The inverse of a sphere is a 19 degree cone with ex-verse lips'

God eh? Uh-huh. And ex-verse lips? Is that what happens when a botox injection goes wrong? But sorry Vernon, I'm interrupting:

'Genesis of baby Israel, inverse zero, zero of mass energy . There is a reason in the name, Israel was a Amish baby I dealt with'

Ah, the Amish. Always with the Amish. Pray continue:

'I sincerely hope that I am not spilling my “mental semen” in a hole in the ground to produce a convoluted monster of single zero mathematics.'

Well quite. I'd personally rather you kept your semen, mental or otherwise, to yourself Vernon. You know what the nurse said.

'I will send you a four dimensional conal progression bonds. By E mail.'

You know, that sounds great. My email is sort of a bit broken at the moment though Vernon, but I'm sure it'll be up and running and ready to receive a four dimensional email in, oooh, roughly 2026.

Sadly it ends there, but I'll bring you a further installment of Vernon's theories when he next submits his mental semen.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Dear Snow,

Bored now.

Feet wet.

Fuck off please.


Red Squirrel

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Step away from the internet, ma'am...

I've not complained about work for a while. Mainly because if I did I'd have a RSI from all the typing inside of a week.

The secret saboteur in our team that's trying to get us all sacked? Not worth the typing effort.

The lazy arse contractor who does no work and doesn't try to hide it? I fail to see the point in getting worked up.

The boss that 'works from home' on the off-chance it might rain? I'm rising above it.

I have, however, mentioned the evil witch of a client before. She's still being an evil witch but I'm on unofficial strike after she did something retarded and then blamed me, so thankfully someone else on the team has drawn the short straw this month.

She really is the most insufferable person I've ever met. The fact that she's American is irrelevant - she has a corrosive personality that transcends mere culture. She's also, if I'm honest, not very bright.

She'd raised a request at the end of last year to change a part of the system that we've written for her. This was done, tested and rolled-out several weeks ago.

Last week she tried to use the system as she's been trained to do - for the last year - but got confused and did it very, very wrongly instead. Rather than admit a mistake, she raised an issue with the helpdesk that was (in its entirety):


My colleague, after briefly confirming that the problem was caused by a user with less IQ points than keys to press, decided to reply in kind late last night. He called over to me from his desk:

"Is 'I find it highly offensive to be called a liar by someone too stupid to use the internet' a bit harsh?"

"Er," I replied, "probably. How about 'I do not take kindly to having my integrity questioned when I have done nothing wrong'? I've dealt with her a lot and she'll take what you said badly."

"Good point. I'll go with what you came up with," he said, while typing away.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, on entering the office this morning to read that his reply was:

"I do not take kindly to having my integrity questioned when the problem was your fault. You daft cow."

Thank heavens he took my advice......

Anyway, talking of evil witches, here's a picture of today's snowman that I call:

Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!! I'm melting! Meeeeeelllllllllllltttttiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggg.......

Monday, 2 February 2009

Mystery solved!

It turns out that the Bristol Bus story mentioned in my previous post was this:- A bus, that was made in Bristol about 30 years ago, was shipped to Dubai for the filming of an episode of Doctor Who and had a container dropped on it at the docks.

Stirring stuff, I'm sure you'll agree, and definitely a story of such importance that it is the main headline for a city of 500,000 people. My attention is not at all brought back to the fact that Mrs Red Squirrel's unpleasant incident didn't even make the local news in her NY borough.

Compare and contrast *rolls eyes*

Anyway, it snowed today. SNOW! Snooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwww! Snowsnowsnowsnowsnow! It doesn't snow here very often (as you can probably tell). Once every other year it'll snow enough to settle on the ground, and once every five years or so it'll settle overnight - so to have an entire centimetre of snow on the ground right now has reduced most of the city's residents to gibbering simpletons trying to build snowmen and throw a handful of slush at passing walkers.

My snowman rocked.

The reason it doesn't snow very much is because of the gulf stream. Water, freezing in the arctic becomes more salty (and therefore heavier) and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This motion pulls warm water from the tropics (or specifically the Caribbean) and the resulting current of warm water heading north is called the gulf stream. I have helpfully illustrated this for you below, with the UK represented as a tramp with a begging bowl, the USA as a greedy Omnomnom sucking up the world's resources, the Arctic as a drowned polar bear and Jamaica as a palm tree smoking a spliff*

This is all well and good because as you can see from my highly detailed diagram, the UK should be as cold as the Labrador Coast (which presumably is where the dogs come from). Thanks to the gulf stream however, it's barely cold enough to snow down in the 'knee' bit where Bristol resides.

Unfortunately, as the Arctic ice melts due to global warming then the water doesn't get saltier anymore, and sinks slower or not at all - shutting off the warm water flowing north**

So consider your poor cousins across the Atlantic when the price of gas reaches three cents a cubic metre and you can't leave your Humvee running all night to make it quicker for your 200 yard drive to work the next morning. Consider poor us - because the only two places on the planet due to get colder thanks to global warming are the UK and Norway. Runaway soaring global temperatures and it actually gets *colder*. How unlucky can you get?

On the plus side, at least we'd come second in the Winter Olympics.....

*National stereotypes - lazy *and* fun!
**You may have seen the Atlantic Conveyor stop in a film called 'The Day After Tomorrow.' So, yeah, like that but over years and years and without the cold-enough-to-freeze-you-in-seconds weather. And without the tidal waves. And without the gross over-simplification of the plot. And without the stupid Hollywood sentimentality. Seriously - worse film since Armageddon. Don't *ever* get me started on Arma-twatfest-geddon....