Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sad

I'm home now after 3,800 miles of driving around the pacific northwest over two weeks. At times it was a fantastic holiday and some great photos will likely appear when I can get them.

However something, as always. overshadows this. I can't talk about it explictly as it's not my choice to. Either way my life is continuing behind a facade that is slowly crumbling. I try, I really try to care about things but I can't anymore.

I just can't.

Life shouldn't be about fucking memories, it should be about hope, excitement, joy - anything other than blind obedience to the party line that we all 'had a good innings'. It shouldn't be about what we did, what we lived through, who we once saw, who we saw do what. It should be about who we are. What we're going to do. Where we're going to go.

It should be but it isn't.

I have to be strong. I have to avoid the reality of the situation and be strong. I'm a thousand tonnes of rock supported by the sheer willpower of a thousand matchsticks. I cannot break, or rather I cannot break externally. I cannot allow it.

I may never return here, for which I apologise. Know only that I would not do this lightly.

On the other hand, I might be back next week. Keep 'em guessing and all that.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Evening...

I'm currently in the states visiting Mrs RS, so I'll update as and when I can get near a computer (we're road tripping from California to Seattle).

Thursday, 7 October 2010

I'll stop being cynical when the world stops being shit.

I have somewhat of a reputation at work for being cynical. So much in fact, that it was proposed that a 'Cynical Jar' was introduced so that anyone being cynical had to put a pound in it.

I just said that someone would probably just run off and steal the money before it could be used for anything useful, so what was the point?

The idea didn't get raised again. Which just goes to show that cynicism conquers all.

Or so I thought, because my place of work has managed to defeat by massive cynical streak by simply being worse than I could have possibly imagined.

How can you be cynical about something that couldn't actually be any worse? I find myself de-cynicalised, a feeling probably akin to waking up to find yourself strangely missing a hand.

And so, in a mild turn-up for the books, I've gone from acid-drippingly cutting for a couple of months to actually quite happy today. How can I not be happy? I was right. They really were doing that. They really are going to do that thing that even a lobotomised goat-fucker would think twice about. I have no power so I can't stop them doing these bollock-numbingly stupid things, so I may as well go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

If I was on the Titanic I'd be popping open the champagne right now. After all, when there's no tomorrow, who picks up the bill?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Squirrel Wisdom

What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, apparently.


Lies.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Goddamn it...

I was pretty much going to post this last night but got 'sidetracked', and then I woke up to find that the Daily Mash had done it in a probably funnier way anyway.

So, imagine I wrote this and then come back and tell me how great I am.

Cheers.

Friday, 10 September 2010

If you ask me no questions...

Having been a very bad blogger this year (although in my defence I have some justification for not being online as much), I'm starting to catch up a bit. Only 276 of your blog posts still to read. Piece of cake.

Hmmm.....cake....

Talking of which, a department of the NHS (or
Commie Pinko Conspiracy To Leave You Destitute to you Americans) has recently been offering quite large sums of money to anyone who can think of a way to reduce hospital admissions by 30% over two years.

Now that seems quite a drastic reduction in a mere 24 months, until you think about the actual requirement here, which is to reduce
admissions by 30%.

Therefore my solution is thus;

Narrower doors.

Bear with me here. You see about 30% of the population are dangerously overweight/obese, and that causes health problems both in the short-term and the long-term. So by simply shrinking the size of all the entrances, no fat person would be able to get in - and if they can't get in then they can't get admitted.

Obviously it's not that simple. For a start, simply changing all the doors wouldn't remotely eat up the huge budget allowed for this, and I'm all about reducing waste. So the next step would be bars on all the ground floor windows to stop an enthusiastic fatty rolling himself through one. I don't think we need to worry about any of the other floors because obese people don't use ladders.

Then we'd change the signs. Doors would now be known as 'Fatty Portals', and to use up the last bit of free cash we'd put up a few inspirational posters like these:



It couldn't possibly fail....


Obviously I jest, but it does highlight the problem with not setting the requirements of a project properly. I have to suffer this on a daily basis as someone who actually does 'the work' on a project. Too often we get ill defined requirements from a customer, deliver exactly that, and then spend the next six months changing it to be what they could've had to start with if only they'd told us
what they effing wanted in the first place.

As an example, I have in my inbox a requirement for which I have to provide an estimate of the effort required to complete it. The requirement in its entirety is:

Show statistics on the web

Now that could take ten minutes or ten years depending on how you define 'show', 'statistics' and 'web'. In fact, knowing this particular client, the definitions of 'on' and 'the' are probably up for interpretation too. Whatever estimate I come up with, however, will not be allowed to change and I will be crucified for over-shooting it, yet a realistic (and therefore large) estimate will mean the work goes elsewhere. Joy.

So all of the above is really a roundabout way of saying that I'm off on a Requirements Gathering course next week so won't be around (not that anyone would particularly notice at the moment!). I shall be educated in asking the right questions at the start of a project to make sure the usual problems are not faced. I presume the questions are:

'You want
what?'
'You want it
when?'
'Are you fucking insane or what?'

Have a nice week y'all.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Is the Pope catholic?

Well, yes he is - and he's a freeloading old bastard as well - but as rhetorical questions go that's probably one of the better examples.

The best example however, is definitely today's Daily Mail frontpage. Regular readers will know of the general disdain I hold for all staff, journalists or readers of that hideous rag, but today is a new highlight.

So without further ado, here it is (with helpful zooming in for those hard of squinting):



Now, let me think about it for a second......

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A question.

In your lifetime you've probably - many times - heard (especially if you're English) someone say "There's always someone worse off!"

Have you ever wondered if you're the person they're talking about?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Crystal Ball time part 2...

It's time for my 2010/11 Season Predictions!

1) Manure to win the league. I feel their young players are starting to bed in more into the side and they never give up.

2) Chelsea, but not by much.

3) Miles behind will be Arsenal - just not good enough in defence to go the whole season and how motivated is Fabregas?

4) Tough one this but I've got a feeling that Spurs can get 4th again even with the Champion's League commitments and no major signings. Sandro (once he arrives in September) should transform our formation to a 4-2-3-1 and this will help us away from home a lot.

5) Man City for 5th (again). Too many new players not used to the Premier League will mean a very slow start and I just don't think they'll recover. Probably win the league the year after though!

6) Very tight this but I've got to go for Liverpool over Everton purely because they have a bigger squad. However if Everton stay injury free and Torres has another six-month 'niggle' then they could swap.

7) 8th is the best Villa can hope for after imploding like that and probably losing Milner and Young.

8) Biggest surprise of the season? My bet is Bolton who I can see finishing in the top half.

9) Biggest disappointment of the season? Stoke, who will be a lot closer to relegation than they'd like to be.

10) The three relegated teams will be Blackpool, West Brom and Wigan - with Wolves, Newcastle and Blackburn not significantly further ahead.

11) Top scorer in the league is likely to be Drogba again. There's not a huge amount of competition!

12) I've got to go for a Premier League player having a drugs ban here. This will happen eventually :)

13) Spurs will get into the group stages of the Champion's League, scrape into the knock-out round and then drop out at the last 16 phase.

14) No English side will win a European trophy, although at least one finalist will be from the Premier League.

15) A team wearing blue shall win the FA Cup. Actually, why beat around the bush - Chelsea shall win the FA Cup.

16) First manager to be sacked is likely to be Mancini if Man City are out of the top four by November, although it's possible that Newcastle will panic if bottom after a couple of months and sack Chris Hughton. I hope they don't because he's ex-Spurs.

17) League Cup is too close to call - too many sides will play the reserves and will drop out. Suffice to say the the semi-finals shouldn't contain more than 2 of the top 4 in the Premier League last season (the new 'Big 4' weenie ;-P )

18) England to win every single Euro 2012 qualifier during this football season.

19) Tom Huddlestone will win his first competitive cap for England during this season.

20) And completely randomly, one of Newcastle, West Brom or Blackpool will pull of a shock victory in the first weekend (seeing as they're playing Manure, Chelsea and away at Wigan that's a really unlikely one!).

Crystal ball time...

With expert timing I've waited until 3 hours before the season kicks off to appraise last year's football predictions and make some for this season.

So without further ado, here's last year's predictions with results:

1) The winners of the Premiership this season will be.....Chelsea. A brave shout, but I think that their squad is old and experienced and so is their coach. Ancelotti will bring the best tactically out of what is still a pretty strong group.

Correct - Chelsea won the double in fact.


2) Second in the league will be.......Manure. Yes they lost Ronaldo and haven't replaced him with anything approaching the same ability, but removing the diving tosser from their side gives them a better formation to suit the other players.

Correct - it was close at the top but a bigger gap back to 3rd.


3) Third will be.......Liverpool. Losing Alonso is a bad blow, and any injury to Torres of Gerrard will be curtains for any title bid.

Incredibly wrong as Liverpool imploded. Gerrard had a terrible season by his standards, and Torres played under half of their games and didn't look at all fit after Christmas. I thought that they'd struggle to challenge but not end up 7th like they did. I guess their squad players really were rubbish.


4) Fourth will be.......Arsenal. Sorry Man City, I just can't see your best side emerge until too late in the season to challenge the gooners. Having said that, if the scummer's injury list get any worse then even holding on to fourth could be problematic.

Wrong, although not by much as only Liverpool's shocking season meant they finished 3rd. They were never really in the title race, but better than all the sides listed below.


5) I can't see beyond Man City, though they'll be closer to 6th than 4th.

Correct, although there wasn't much between 4th and 7th in terms of points.


6) I'm fancying Everton for 6th. Unless Lescott moves, then they might swap with Villa.

Lescott did move, and they did finish below Villa. However they finished in 8th so I'll have to count it as a qualified failure.


7) Villa for 7th. I'd hoped we'd poach Young but that looks a non-starter, and though they've lost Laursen and Barry I don't see them dropping off that much.

Mainly wrong as Villa finished 6th but only by a fraction.


8) Time for realism. I just don't get the feeling that Spurs will push on this season. It's a stabilising year for us. Yes we'll beat the big teams but we'll crumble at times and lose stupid games when the big teams would close it out.

Well we did beat the big teams (Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all losing at the Lane) and we did lose to the small teams as well (Wolves home and away for example). However we finished 4th :)

I must admit to having tried some reverse psychology here. I predicted them to come 4th for two years and they didn't, so I thought I'd be pessimistic this time. Might have to tip them for relegation this year!


9) The three relegated teams will be Portsmouth, Wigan and Birmingham

One out of three correct. Burnley and Hull were the ones I didn't get. Fail.


10) Top scorer in the league will be Jermaine Defoe (oh come on, allow me some Spurs bias!)

The top scorer was..........Didier Drogba on 29, with Jermaine Defoe coming in 6th with 18. Ah well, at least this one wasn't a serious prediction :)


11) Michael Owen will not score more than 15 league goals

He was 113th top scorer with 3 goals. Result.


12) But Darren Bent will

He was 3rd top scorer with 24. Kerching!


13) First Manager to be sacked will be Martinez of Wigan

Surprisingly not. I can't even remember who was sacked first. Possibly Jewell at Portsmouth after 42 minutes or something.


14) Spurs will be in the top four at Christmas

And they were! :)


15) A Premiership player will test positive for drugs (or will be penalised for not taking a test)

I'm going to keep repeating this one as it has to come true eventually!


16) England will qualify for the World Cup with the best record of any European country

They were one course until the final game, when having already qualified they drew away from home, handing the best record tag to Holland. Close but no cigar.


17) Spain will win the World Cup. They will meet Argentina in the final (after they beat England) and will win 2-1 with a goal from a winger in the 74th minute.

Spain did indeed win the World Cup, the other bits weren't true though. I'll claim a half point.


18) The squad that Capello picks for England at the World Cup finals will include Rooney, Heskey, Defoe and Owen, although Owen won't play a game.

The forwards picked were Rooney, Heskey, Defoe and Crouch. Although Owen was talked about by some quarters he was never in contention for a spot (quite rightly too).


19) Sunderland will finish in the top ten

Sunderland finished 13th, 6 points off 10th. They were up there for a while but had a disastrous February and lost every game. They never recovered from it.


20) Newcastle will not get promoted back to the Premiership this year.

My reasoning here was that their owner would have them up for sale all season, fail to get a buyer or put money in and they'd sell their few good players to make ends meet. However their owner had a change of heart and they didn't need to sell anyone, meaning that they won the league at a canter. I'll claim that as a near-miss ;)


So my final score was 6 and a half - possibly my lowest score. Senility must be playing its part :(

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Buses, that's what I'm like...

...you successfully avoid me for a month and then two posts in two days.

Sometimes I think I spoil you.

Don't hit me.

Anyway, I mentioned that a lot of my time had been spent making a prop for Mrs RS over the last month or so. This isn't something I normally do - I used to do some modelling in my early teens (that's making models rather than having my picture taken obviously) for those little lead-figure 'Warhammer' type games (not that I ever actually played, I just liked making things) - but Mrs RS wanted 'help' with it and I said I'd chip in here and there.

Mrs RS loves three thing in life (if you don't count cake, wine, vodka, ice cream or chicken); Me (goes without saying), Heurelho Gomes (goalkeeper for Spurs) and Bioshock. Bioshock, if you don't already know, was a huge PC/console game a few years back. Bioshock 2 came out last year. Mrs RS most emphatically doesn't love Bioshock 2. As part of her massive love-in of all Bioshock she's going to some sort of comic/game convention on the west coast of the US later in the month and she wanted to go in costume, specifically as a 'Little Sister'.

A Little Sister is a kind of brainwashed ten year-old girl who walks around the undersea city where the game is set collecting 'Adam' (a genetic substance you need to give yourself abilities throughout the game) from corpses using a fuck-off syringe. The Little Sisters are protected by Big Daddies who are the more recognisable face of the game as they're basically a huge 20's diving suit with a massive drill in one hand. Let me find a picture....ah yes, you may recognise it:



Mrs RS is sorting out her dress for the costume and I agreed to 'assist' (i.e. practically do it all) with the syringe. This isn't the first time this has been done at all - this guy did a brilliant one, but then he does it professionally - but I wanted to do it in such a way that;

a) we did it on the cheap using whatever we could find lying around if possible
b) we did it without using anything other than the usual DIY tools I have somewhere
c) the trigger turned the light on and off (not something I'd seen done yet).

This is what we were trying to make:



We knew it was based around a 20's/30's US-style brass petrol pump nozzle, and we promptly missed out on a really cheap one on ebay (they normally go for well over a hundred dollars). Instead we had to settle for a modern replica. This was the only part we really needed to buy.

So to start with, here's our pile of parts:



A petrol pump nozzle, an empty lemsip bottle, some assorted bits of plumbing plastic parts I found in my DIY cupboard, a length of wooden dowel rod, some milliput epoxy putty to sculpt edges and joins and some assorted electrical components I picked up for a couple of quid from Maplins.

It was obvious that our switch would need to go in the neck of the bottle, so to be operated by the trigger handle (inside the nozzle) we'd need to drill a hole through the middle of the top cap. At the same time, I stripped off the labels from the bottle and filed down the thread so that it would fit inside the plumbing part. As you can see here:



The next step was to sort out the wiring as the battery pack would need to sit in the end cap but everything else would be in the bottle. To do this some precision drilling had to be done to get the wires through the nozzle without disturbing the spring inside the nozzle or our trigger mechanism. I also attached some of the dowel rod to the trigger so that when pulled it would project from the top cap - as shown in these two pics:





Unlike other versions I'd seen, I wanted the light to be coming from inside the middle of the bottle. How to do this? Well I figured I'd use a glue pen casing (cut in half) inserted inside the bottle to create an airtight seal, and then have my LED inside that. More progress made in this pic as the bottle cap was broken apart to use in the end cap and switch mount:



So, next up was the light. I mounted the switch at the correct distance from the top cap for the dowel to switch it both on and off (achieved using part of the bottle top, filed down) and fixed it inside the hexagonal plumbing part using superglue. I soldered the LED onto the switch and the battery wires and then sealed the whole shebang into place with milliput:



When the battery pack was manually connected, you can see that the low-voltage, high-brightness LED was the correct choice (and note how I've marked the negative wire either end with black electrical tape. Such a geek.):



I'd pretty much been winging it here - after all I'd not done anything like this for over 20 years, and certainly no soldering for the same amount of time - but I felt the principle had been proved here so I cracked on with the other parts. The end cap I made with a piece of plastic pipe, the end of the bottle lid and some filed down milliput. I also tried out the 'brass' spray paint which looked more like 'whore's gold' to me. The bottle was filled with a mixture of half-set strawberry jelly mixed with the glue from the glue pen. I'd hoped this would make it quite viscous but unless it gets to 2-3C in the conference hall then it'll be quite liquid! The glue pen casing you can see superglued into place in the neck of the bottle:



The bottle was then fixed into place (and the original milliput sanded down to be flush to the plastic:



The next step was to seal it in with a watertight seal, which I did with sculpted milliput (amazing useful stuff as it's heat and water resistant once set):



The battery pack was soldered in and fitted inside the end cap which was glued and milliputted into place. Also, the teat from a baby's bottle was added to the top of the bottle (in the game the little sisters drink from this after harvesting the adam which is rather disgusting):



The needle we made (Mrs RS helped with this bit) from a piece of dowel sealed within half a cork from a wine bottle, then sprayed a dull silver:



The rest of the nozzle needed painting now, so after swaddling the other bits with masking tape I sprayed the nozzle and added parts pseudo-brass and the ring holding the teat in place a dull silver to make it look metallic:



The base-coat done, it now needed weathering which we did with an initial mix of acrylic black paint and turps to give a streaky black mark look:



The needle was then decorated by Mrs RS with dark-red nail varnish to give it proper 'splattered with blood' look (although it's a bit hard to tell from this pic):



The final step was then to give it a couple of 'washes' with enamel black paint mixed with enamel thinner to give it a grimy look, before a layer of matt varnish. Here it is finished, with light on and off:






Just to show that I really did get the trigger to work, here's Mrs RS showing it working (complete with her new mid-Atlantic accent) :) :




You can why it took some time! :)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hello, what's all this then?

I've not been here for ages! I also appear to have 476 blog posts in my reader. Christ.

It's been a bit mental recently - memorial day on the other side of the country for my friend Edd who died at the end of June, followed by stag-do, followed by a friend visiting from Australia, followed by family wedding, followed by ill cat (now minus several teeth) - and all that alongside work being a 'challenging environment' right now, my time/motion project that will be complete by the end of the year, building a prop for Mrs RS and then Mrs RS going back to the US yesterday to redo visas and.....

*deep breath*

...whatever, you get the picture. In fact, you'll get several :)

First off, the eddshrinker memorial cup which we organized last month. I knew Edd from football, specifically watching Spurs. We were both members of a closed forum and conversed on it just about every day for a couple of years, as well as meeting up regularly at actual games. He was a lovely guy - not just World Sudoku Champion (seriously) - but someone whom you met once and it felt like you'd known him all your life. There were 24 people from the forum at his funeral and we thought we'd organise a football match in his memory (as well as an opportunity to all get together and raise a glass in his direction).

I designed and got the t-shirts printed and someone else did the flag for the european away games we'll be doing this season. Here's some of us pre-match (I'm on the left in goalie gloves as I'd stupidly agreed to go in goal!):



I've blurred faces to preserve anonymity, but frankly it looks a bit creepy like that. Whoops.

And I'm not fat, thank you for thinking it though.

The game and the day were good fun - got sunburnt to fuck as the weather forecast said rain not blazing sunshine - although we (the whites) lost in the end. We were 4-0 down at half time as the blacks tore us apart and were using deeply unsporting tactics like 'passing', 'shooting' and 'scoring'. I kept the score down quite well as it could have been ten.

In the second half I got bored at the guys playing up front for us never passing and never scoring so I took on half their team from my own goal line and scored the best goal I'll probably ever score :)

Don't believe me? Here it is in blurry technicolour! Um, it might take a while to load it seems. Totally worth it.



Class is permanent *dons sunglasses*

The pile-on at the end nearly cracked a rib though :)

Now excuse me, I have some of your posts to read!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Hmph.

Do you know what the highlight of my working day is?

Probably not, but you want to know right?

Probably not, but sod it - I'm telling you anyway.


The highlight of my working day is arriving at work to find that the old lady that washes the spoons (or the 'Refreshment Officer' if I'm to be correct) has actually washed the spoons. The small effort required to wash a spoon before making my caffeine re-humanisation drink is enough to make or break my entire day.

I suspect I'm therefore in a rut.

However it is a paying rut, so it's a rut that I'll continue to furrow until this country has an economy again.

I feel rutted.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Cheerful News Bulletin

You may remember I posted a couple of months ago about a good friend of mine who had been diagnosed with something terminal. Well as part of his campaign to raise awareness of the problems with the organ donor procedures in this country (that results in around 1,000 people a year dying while waiting for a transplant), he agreed to a centre page spread in the News Of The World yesterday (the biggest selling Sunday newspaper here, that just so happens to be on my work's internet banned list as being 'Tasteless and Obscene').

You can read the story and/or watch the video here.

Also, if you're in the UK and are not currently on the organ donor list, then please consider doing so here.




Also, RIP Edd - who died suddenly yesterday on his 28th birthday. A tragic loss to everyone who knew him. My thoughts go out to his family.



It seems that the old saying 'Only the good die young' is particularly apt this year.

My favourite clip of Edd is one of him and a friend playing a piano placed at Liverpool Street station for anyone passing to play.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Hokey Cokey...

Mrs RS has been in and out of hospital and/or doctors for most of the last fortnight so I've kind of been away from the internet for a while. I'll try and catch up and comment and stuff over the weekend.

She was getting better, but today the 'nice' nurses that come in to administer her IV drugs managed to collapse a vein, so we have to go back to the hospital tomorrow to get another IV put in. Hopefully a final ten days of meds and then we'll both stop looking like zombies (neither of us are sleeping at the moment).

Thankfully any overnight stays on ward have been avoided, although we've spent many hours sitting on uncomfortable chairs/beds surrounded by sweaty, dying people and a cacophony of beeps from various devices that conspire to sound almost like Belgian techno without quite managing it. In many respects it like being in a massive microwave with an out-of-date Findus crispy pancake, or possibly even the least healthy McDonalds kitchen where no-one's bothered to take the fries out of the fryers.

Either way, hospital clearly makes you ill. Mrs RS shamelessly cried to get out of it, so we get home nurses now.

Anyway, I did discover that the Bristol Royal Infirmary has one of these:



A department of Gadgetology? I wanna work there.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Red Squirrel's Film Reviews. Parts 4 and 5.

This week's double special is:

The Ghost

Review:

Forgive me for a departure in my usual style, but we actually saw this film a few weeks ago at my suggestion. Based on the novel by Robert Harris (although I believe it goes by the name 'The Ghostwriter' in the US because apparently people there are considered too thick by the studios to not accidentally turn up to a horror film) of the same name, it's a taut political thriller.

I've always been a fan of Harris' written work (particularly Fatherland and Pompeii) but at times his adaptations have veered significantly from the essence of the source material (Enigma, for example) and sadly the same is true with The Ghost.

The final twist is subverted and made into a ridiculously over-the-top dramatic invention for no real reason - because frankly if you hadn't worked out the 'twist' by then due to some serious over-acting by certain cast members then you were a bit dim. The 'reveal' scene is faithfully done from the book but lacks any reason for the main character's motivation due to the acting of Ewan McGregor who does a fantastic 'puzzled and baffled' but that's about it. He's our Ben Affleck, if you will.

The film was shot against the backdrop of the director's impending extradition to the US, and despite being supportive of many of his previous works (films this is, not the forced sodomy of 13 year old girls), this one seemed lazy. For example, every shot in London featured an old Routemaster double-decker bus. Now they run on two heritage routes only and have done for years, so to use them smacked of bored corner cutting. They may as well have just done a stock photo of Big Ben with 'London, England' captioned underneath it.

Overall, disappointing.


Four Lions

Review:

A film that will almost certainly never be released in the US, it is nonetheless the funniest film I've seen in the last ten years. Scripted in part by Chris Morris (author of the fabulous satire Brass Eye with its Paedogeddon special) it's a brilliant film about four wanna-be suicide bombers from Sheffield.

Part pant-wettingly hilarious comedy, it's also deeply moving and touching in places. If you don't think there's comedy to be had in terrorism then this film isn't for you, but if you appreciate cynical, dry humour then you'll have an absolute hoot.

Don't watch the trailer btw, as it gives too much away. Instead, here's a clip that gives you some idea of the tone. I can honestly say that if you miss this film, you miss a small sliver of joy and happiness in this otherwise deeply crap world.




Thursday, 20 May 2010

Dreamposting

I've discovered another ever-so-tiny flaw in my otherwise perfect existence - the realistic nature of my dreams.

Some people have fantastical dreams and wake up breathlessly exclaiming about being chased down their old school corridor by a unicorn carrying the co-joined twins of Margaret Thatcher and Sting. I envy those people in some way because my dreams are exactly like real life. Exactly.

That's really quite depressing isn't it? I've even had arguments with people about things we discussed in a work meeting the previous week, only to discover that I dreamt the entire meeting and then remembered it like it happened in real life. That's quite fucked up.

The reason I mention it is because it appears I've been dreamposting again. There's at least three posts that I could've
sworn I wrote in the last month or so that don't exist anywhere, and now I think about it they were far too funny to have been real. Anyway, one that I'm going to have to post again because it deserves to be aired concerns the artery clogging magnificence that is the KFC Double Down:



You've probably seen it on the internet already. Well imagine you hadn't and this was the first time you saw it, because it would've been when I posted this the first time (um, on a technicality).

We're not allowed this amazing piece of food technology here, so I decided to make my own. Firstly I pan fried some breaded chicken breasts:



Until they were a lovely golden brown:



Next, the tortilla wrap was mayo-ed up:



The first chicken breast lovingly laid out:



Bacon was then added. Proper bacon, may I add:



Then grated mature cheddar:



Before the second chicken breast was placed in its true home:



Here's a side-on view so you can fully appreciate it:



And finally, the second tortilla is wrapped over (I needed bigger ones really):





I didn't eat for two days after that :)

Experimental cooking is where it's at, baby.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

I feel like god just shat in my head...

After a quiet start to the beginning of the year, a combination of a hectic period of work and a thrilling but emotionally draining climax to the football season (for a Spurs fan anyway) has resulted in me having a few drinks recently; culminating in an Alabama 3 gig in Bristol last night.

Great gig. Great night. Great company. With just the one slight problem.

My hangover right now.

Time for a short break from the beers methinks. Well, at least none tonight anyway.

Talking of Spurs - much to my surprise we held our nerve to finish fourth and have a qualifier in August for entry to the Champion's League (and more importantly a possible £30m of extra cash to help take the team up a level). It's been a strange season - landmark victories against the hated Arsenal, double-winners Chelsea and Liverpool were interspersed with losing home and away to newly-promoted Wolves and losing at home to Stoke. It's also been a nerve-wracking last few months with the team having to win ten of their last twelve games to clinch the final qualifying spot from a Manchester City team that's spent over £200m on players in the last year or so.

Even if you don't like football, I'd urge you to watch the following amazing video as it captures some fantastic moments of last season - Danny Rose's 30-yard volley against Arsenal in his first ever game, Niko Kranjcar's goals against Stoke and Man City, Huddlestone's missile against Bolton into the top corner (right in front of Mrs RS and I!), Benny's first ever goal against Liverpool in the opening match of the season - I could go on, or you could just watch it :)



Saturday, 8 May 2010

Red Squirrel's Film Reviews. Part 3.

This week:

Kick Ass

Review:

Ass-kickingly awesome.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

It's only a game...

In the not-at-all-nervous countdown to the Champion's League shoot-out tonight, I thought I'd pop in and say 'Hi! I am alive, but I am lazy, busy and pretty content with life so haven't been online that much.'

So without further ado:

Hi! I am alive, but I am lazy, busy and pretty content with life so haven't been online that much.

With that out of the way, does anyone remember Donald Rumsfeld? He was the evil warmongering mini-Bush who looked like Skeletor (as opposed to Dick Cheney - the evil warmongering mini-Bush who looked like Harold from Neighbours, or Paul Wolfowitz - the evil warmongering mini-Bush who looked like Kermit the Frog).

Old Rummy (as he liked to be known) made a very famous speech once regarding not knowing what the fuck he was talking about. It went like this;

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

You may remember it.

I was reminded of this speech the other day when my computer helpfully presented me with the following message;

Clearly it was expecting a known unknown, but was presented with an unknown unknown. No wonder it crashed, the poor thing.

At least we know where Rummy's been working these last few years.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Talking of things that have been away for a while, one of our senior managers has been out all day at 'Absence Management Training', a course designed to minimise your staff's time off from work through a combination of incentives and threats of casual violence (probably).

Number of staff that this senior manager manages?

Zero.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

And finally, it's back on youtube - the finest film ever made! Go watch it, butthorns!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I'd just like to say...

Spurs 2
Arsenal 1


After 20 games without beating them in the league, and in the context of our challenge for fourth spot, please forgive me for suggesting that we;


GET THE FUCK IN!!!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

And on the other hand...

...you've got to laugh or you'd cry, right?

I can't stop watching this clip, just for the blank look on Chris Kamara's face when he's asked about a sending-off during a game - a game that 'the watching of and reporting thereon' is pretty much his entire job description.

Too fucking funny.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Everybody hurts...

And everybody dies.

As the lyrics should go.

I have a friend, a very good friend, that I've known almost from the first moment I moved back to Bristol in mid-97. He's a bit older than me - in fact he has children the same age as Mrs RS - but we've been firm friends through business and social adventures that have been hairy, scary and exhilarating. We even stayed friends throughout me having a major falling-out with his brother (over the small matter of an unpaid business debt of several thousand pounds, the one thing that will rile me. Still; fool me once, shame on me...and...well....we won't get fooled again*)

We met via the local pub, back in the days when we still had them round here. Before a bunch of people who'd never run a pub before stripped out most of the local boozers and turned them into 'gastropubs' - and then wondered where all the regulars went when times were hard. I know his family very well, I've been adopted by them for numerous Christmas lunches when they thought I shouldn't be on my own (even though deep down I did want to be on my own), I know his kids independently of him and they're all brilliant people. He was one of the first people I wanted to introduce Mrs RS to when she visited last year, because his opinion really mattered to me. We managed a football team together, we dreamt up brilliant schemes over a night's drinking (although what scheme isn't brilliant after ten pints?) and we created moments and mischief that will live long in the memory.

I found out a short while ago that he's dying.

He has something for which there is no cure and for which the chances of a transplant are minimal. I was led to believe it was a six-to-twelve month time frame, but we saw him last weekend and the summer may not be as bright as hoped for. Hell, the next couple of months may be all we have left. As a Buddhist he's rather sanguine about the whole thing and is rather typically more concerned about the effect this is having on other people - and maybe if he's determined not to be bothered about it then maybe I shouldn't be bothered about it around him. But I am bothered about it. There are a lot of people I care about who are about to lose someone very dear to them.


I've lost relatives before, family friends etc. This, I feel, will be worse. You don't choose your family but you do choose your friends. I've relatives I never see, don't have anything in common with and don't particularly like. The relatives I talk to are the ones I see as friends too. Blood is not thicker than water to me, not in the slightest. This will hurt.

Lots has gone on in the last few weeks - work issues, illness, Mrs RS collecting every cold virus known to man, a birthday in the middle there somewhere, another cold during the four-day Easter weekend and a return to drinking for the next six months - but all of that is just a minor speck in the looming shadow of something I don't want to face, yet have no choice.

So please excuse the gap in posting and the introspection, but some things in life are just more important.



*Obligatory Dubya reference on today, the anniversary of his ascension to the rank of Grand Wizard in the Order of Twats.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Red Squirrel's Film Reviews. Part 2.

This week:

Green Zone

Review:

Anger-inducingly true, even if it is (at times) like watching Poirot with rocket launchers. Excellent.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Red Squirrel's Film Reviews. Part 1.

This week:

Alice in Wonderland

Review:

Turgid.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Seamlessly blending in...

Many thanks to a work colleague for this (because frankly I wouldn't be seen dead watching the local news round here).

Yesterday's 'Points West' local BBC news report contained a short segment from a field in Gloucestershire, where lots of tubby-looking brickies are shoddily throwing together a huge new army base for the headquarters of the Nato Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (all the details are available here should you be
deeply bored).

As part of the segment numerous senior army personnel were interviewed, sternly telling us all (well the 17 people watching at the time) about married couple's quarters, vehicle docking bays and single soldier's room space. There was also an excellent contribution in the new 500-seater briefing room from a Colonel Charles Turner, shown below:



That's right, you are looking at a man in a camouflage jacket.

And a high-visibility reflective jacket.

At the same time.


Um, it's either/or mate. Trust me.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

One second, Mr Marketing sir....

I have a confession to make. I am the progeny of someone involved in advertising.

Please don't hit me.

In fact, not only did my father have his own successful advertising agency in London for twenty years, but my sister works high up enough in the european advertising industry that my niece was a total brand snob by the age of two.

Until you've been put down by a toddler for wearing the wrong brand of trainers then you've never lived frankly.

Anyway, the point is that I've grown up around the culture of object deification and opinion manipulation for long enough that it's all second nature to me now. This makes it all the more amusing to me when you see a real clanger.

For example (bear with me here), I was at an industry seminar yesterday on 'Enterprise Social Networking' and 'Advanced Collaboration using Cloud Computing'. I know, gringeworthy buzz-word heaven.

(My favourite of the day was 'a synergy of hybrid cloud/on-premise collaboration technology'. Class.)

Cloud computing, if you don't already know (and if you don't then you read it here first and can thank me when it takes over the world in a few years), basically means using your software on-line. As in rather than having Excel installed on your computer it would be hosted somewhere else in the world and you'd interact and work using your browser with something that looks exactly like Excel. In short, you rent the software as a service. It's the future of application development and the big players have invested hundreds of millions of pounds on setting up their services.

The two biggest movers in the cloud industry are Lotus and Microsoft. Microsoft are slightly ahead having spent huge sums on their data centers around the world, and Lotus are trying hard to catch up.

The Lotus offering to the sacrificial god of The Cloud is called LotusLive and is rapidly being hammered together with a welding torch and a rivet gun. It might be ready soon. Maybe.

The Microsoft entry into The Cloud is called Windows Azure. Azure, it just slides smoothly off the tongue doesn't it? Azuuuuuuuuure. It's silky, it's classy, it's so good their marketing department has registered it as a trademark.

One small problem.

Azure means 'the colour blue of a cloudless sky'.


Marketing Men nil, Dictionary one.

Monday, 1 March 2010

I'm awake!

I am still kicking, I've just been incredibly busy recently. Mrs RS has now moved in but is rather ill (for reasons that I don't need to go in to) and will be for a couple more weeks. So my time has been spent looking after her or working.

I'll be back properly soon. Once I've read the 130+ posts in my google reader.

So probably around May then.

Anyway, one thing has been resolved - both Mrs RS and I agree that we never want children. I suspect her reasoning revolves around not pushing a watermelon down her birth canal, but mine definitely revolves around the vastly over-crowded planet we live on. I did have a nice, reasoned post about birth rates (over 300,000 babies are born
every day - more than were wiped out in the horrific Haiti earthquake), total population (even if overnight the world limited each woman to just two babies then the total population will still peak at over nine billion. Imagine the current world with over two billion extra people in it - it'll happen in our lifetimes) and the impact on the planet.

And then I saw this and figured he could just say it all for me:



Frankly, how can you not love someone who's catchphrase is "I'm Doug Stanhope, and that's why I drink." :)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Validation

I recently received an email from an un-named person asking me to check out their blog and start 'following' it. I did have a read of a few posts and it is indeed quite amusing - I shall be adding it to my google reader - however I won't be 'following' it.

Because let's be honest, it's all a little bit bollocks isn't it, this following lark? It's a teeny small step away from seeing how many friends you can get on facebook ffs. I assume it came from a twitter universe, but that's something I wouldn't touch with a barge-pole - just another excuse for people to increase the mundanity of the galaxy whilst using the fewest number of actual words.

(At least I use proper words on this...)

Let alone followers, I found it hard enough to keep a blog-roll on my previous blog (you may notice that I don't keep one on this one). The politics of it got to me. If someone added you on their blog-roll then it would be rude not to add them to yours, right? Then you find yourself not reading a particular blog anymore, but if you remove them from your list then are you sparking some sort of confrontation? Will they take it personally? Would this be the start of some long-standing internet vendetta? Just in case you leave them all there, and you're suddenly left with a list of blogs you don't read that gets longer and longer. Like some sort of outcast list from hell.

Or maybe I just think about it too much.

I guess it comes down to why any of us blog in the first place. Do you blog for yourself, or do you blog to get hits or comments? Personally I write because I feel like it. If I get a comment then I get a little 'ooooh I got a comment' thrill that maybe someone either liked what I wrote or wanted to advertise soft porn in Mandarin. If I don't get any then as long as I liked what I wrote then that's cool. The moment the hits and the comments start to matter it's a short, slippery slope to targeting them and the inevitable descent into the wankfest that is the 'bloggies'.

I mean seriously, could a series of awards for blogs voted on by people who read blogs possibly be more pretentious? Well yes it could. It could be blogher - a series of conferences (conferences for christ's sake!) for women who blog. Mainly about babies, the funny things that happen with babies, waiting for a baby to be born and how sad it is to not have babies anymore. There'd never be a bloghim, because frankly what would be the fucking point? I probably have more in common with the last person I passed in the street than some random man who happens to write a blog.

I don't have the time or the inclination to write as frequently as I used to. The truth is that there are things in the real world that are more important to me now. I enjoy venting or trying to make people laugh when I get the chance to do so, and I don't think I've done that bad a job over the years. I'll never be as inventively profane as Veggie, nor as eloquently verbose as Mr London Street (though he seems to be quite depressed at the moment for some reason). Unless something drastic happens I'm unlikely to ever be a published author like Elle (though she changes blogs so often that may no longer be a valid link. She's also my closest blogger geographically speaking so we're practically family), or have such a consistently funny outlook on life like Pearl. I'll hopefully never be as paranoid as P, or indeed work in the same environment as Kevin (how he puts up with it I don't know). And I'll probably never be a bananas gorilla either.

I've written some good posts - my ever-so-slightly-made-up guide to speaking Bristolian has been credited with two new words in an online dictionary AND has been cited in a linguistics paper about the origins of the 'pirate accent' (leaving me with the wonderful thought that an aged Johnny Depp will be blurting out 'TUGBOAT BUSTERS!' in Pirates of the Caribbean 7) - and my brutally honest stylings have led me to Mrs RS (for we met via the comments forms on each other's blogs). Plus I must be doing something right because you're reading this, and your taste in reading is exemplary. By the way, that top really suits you. No, seriously, it matches your eyes. And have you lost weight recently? I think you have...


Anyway, you're probably expecting me to retire from this place about now after all that nonsense, but really I'm just reflecting on the news that blogging is losing the interest of teenagers everywhere. I know, shocking isn't it? I wasn't particularly bothered until I was informed that:

One student said teenagers had lost interest in blogging because they needed to type quickly and "people don't find reading that fun".

And if people don't want to read, then why do we all bother writing? Now excuse me, I'm off to stare at the TV for a few hours like a cretin. Apparently that's 'fun'.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Cooking advice...

Dear Cook-in-the-Cafe-at-work,

Things that leeks and potatoes are good in:
  • soup
  • stew
  • the occasional pie
Things that leeks and potatoes are not good in:
  • curry
Please bear this in mind the next time you make a Chicken Bhuna.

Yours in gastronomic anticipation,

Red Squirrel

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Smile...

No matter what happens in my day, the best parts of it are always when people make me laugh. Maybe it's a product of growing up in England (after all, you have to have a wicked sense of humour to live here and remain vaguely sane) but genuine moments of mirth are to be treasured.

So hats of this week to a senior manager at Apple UK and a local landlord who have both amused me greatly.

The former strolled past a friend of mine last Friday about 3pm as he and a group of colleagues were idly discussing their plans for the weekend. The manager stopped, put his head around the cubicle wall and said, "Excuse me, do we pay you all a bit less on a Friday?"

Fantastic. I shall be using that one myself :)

As for my local landlord, well he's placed a sign in the window of his pub (at one end of a short strip of pubs, bars and restaurants) that reads:

'Last Pub for 22 yards'

:)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Breaking news from Apple...


They appear to have shrunk their board members for a start.


Midget Jobs struggled with his iPhone


What an utter waste of time, effort and money. I shudder to think of what they'll come up with next - the 42" version that sits on a stand in the corner of the room and is called the 'iView' perhaps?

Although I think the Daily Mash said it best.

IT DO TELLY!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I've been a bit lax at updating this recently, but I have a good excuse. Well actually I have four good excuses :-

1) Work. Lots of stuff going on that I can't talk about. Could be significant (you can take whatever implication you wish from that)
2) Tax return. I seriously dislike doing self-assessment every year. It's like doing a simple test with your gonads wired up to a car battery. It should be easy, but the thought of getting a wrong answer is enough to keep you on edge.
3) My girlfriend is moving in in just over two weeks (more on that in a later post)
4) It's cold, and therefore I'm mainly hibernating (as a good squirrel should)

All of the above has made my spare time as minimal as possible.

Talking of drinking (well, you were probably thinking of drinking), I may have made a slight miscalculation in my year of abstinence.

I forgot the World Cup.

I know! The world's biggest and most watched sports event and I totally forgot it. Of course, the last time I did a year off it was 2008 and although the European Championships were on England hadn't qualified - so it wasn't really missed. Plus drinking in the odd years means that I can drink during the Ashes tests.

It's a dilemma.

So I've come up with a solution that keeps my intake down by 50% but still allows me to enjoy those moments when having a few beers actually adds to the occasion - I'm going to do six months on and six months off. The clever part is that I'm going to do it from near the end of March (just in time for my birthday) until near the end of September, and then take winter off. A friend reckons I should extend the logic until I only drink in the first half of every hour, but come 9pm and I'd definitely forget (probably what day it is too).

So summer drinking it is, without destroying what's left of my liver :)