Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Late breaking new from 2000

This afternoon I got into one of those pointless arguments, that I'm prone to get into every now and again. The argument was about how stupid the American alcohol laws are (need an ID to buy non-alcoholic beer anyone?). At one stage in the argument I made a random claim about how there are more alcohol related deaths in America than Britain, per capita. Now, I had no idea if this is true and I had no way of backing up my idle claim. After the argument both sides went away and furiously searched on Google to try and find evidence to back up, or refute, the claim. Needless to say, all that we found were a mass of contradictory articles and dodgy statistics. I still have no idea what the truth of the matter is.

Whilst searching I came across this BBC article from 2000. You've got to love that for an article titled "Huge rise in alcohol-related deaths" the number one link, on the right-hand side, is "Beer 'may be good for you'". Sometimes irony is a wonderful thing. (You've also got to love the quaint squashed-up look of the old BBC website design.)

In more current news, Wayne-fucking-Rooney. You're 18, you haven't played for 3 months, you move from (distinctly average) Everton to (glamour club) Man. Utd., and in your first game, a Champions League game no less, you bang in a hat-trick. Twenty million well spent? Possibly. But it's a hell of a start for the lad. And hopefully the kick up the backside United have been looking for.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Censorship questions

You may remember last week's post in which I stated my love for Samantha Bee. For those of you who are to lazy to follow links, my love stemmed from the fact that Miss Bee used the phrase "feathered felchers". Today I had a conversation with a female Indian feminist, in which I mentioned this comment. When I mentioned it, something occurred to me which had not occurred earlier: why wasn't the word felcher censored? I mean, after all, this is a TV channel which feels the need to censor the words piss, shit and fuck. But when you mention sucking cum out of an anus, that's just fine. So kiddies remember this important lesson: urination — bad, sucking cum out of your gay lover's arse — good.

Otherwise it was you typical conversation with a feminist, wherein she complains at my use of him and man but offers no alternative, and of course blames everything I say on my patriarchal society. You've got to love feminists.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Nannicock, and nothing else

I've probably mentioned, at some point, that I get emailed the word of the day from AskOxford. Last Sunday the word was nannicock. Apparently this is such a rare and obsolete word the OED does not even give a meaning for it. Instead they have this quote from 1600: "Hee that doth wonder at a Weathercocke ... And is in loue with euery Nannicocke.".

I should note that this entry, or lack of it, is from the Second Edition, when the Third Edition is published it will have a slightly updated entry, giving nannicock a definition. The meaning from the new edition is: As a term of contempt: a young woman; (more generally) a fool. They still have no real idea of the etymology. Although they do have a second quote, from 1935 this time: Was it well done to entrust my borders to this nannicock, for Zayana to make use of as the monkey do the cat's foot?" (For those of you as uneducated as myself the monkey/cat's foot reference comes from an old proverb in which a monkey tricks a cat into retrieving chestnuts from a fire. The monkey got his chestnuts, the cat got a burnt paw. I can only suppose that this fable was the inspiration for Sir Edwin Landseer's The Cat's Paw. Google knows everything.)

Somehow I'd managed to miss this email until today. To rectify this oversight, I have now made it part of my life's mission to reintroduce the, frankly excellent, word into common usage. Although I have to say I think we can do rather better than the draft definition in the OED. Without further ado here are my humble suggestions:


A fool: A man who is so feeble of mind that he employs a woman — a nanny — to keep him informed as to the location of his penis.


An inanimate bird watcher: a bird watcher who indulges in the sport of watching inanimate birds, i.e. stuffed birds, bird statues and weathercocks. In recent use it has been extended to include all those people who indulge in pointless, trivial pastimes.


An ineffectual man: a man who spends so much time playing with his penis, that he has no time to attend to anything else.


A daydreamer: one whose mind is as flighty as a female bird.

If you have a better definition, then please feel free to click on the little comment button below and share it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Feathered felcher!

Samantha Bee I love thee. You made a Daily Show feature on gay marriage in which you interviewed someone from Central Park Zoo about homosexual behaviour in animals. This is cool. The fact that you used the phrase "these feathered felchers", elevates you to goddess like status.

Samantha Bee I love thee.

Pretty girls, politics, poker and possibly more

Tuesday was a good day.

Why was Tuesday a good day? I'm glad you asked. Tuesday was a good day because of two pretty girls and another political discussion with my neighbour. The first pretty girl was Cute Coffee Girl, whom I saw, unsurprisingly enough, in the coffee shop. She was extraordinarily excited to see me after all these weeks. In fact I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone be as excited upon seeing me. Which, depending on how you look at it, is a good or bad thing. The second pretty girl I saw, also unsurprisingly, in my bar. She was a girl who myself and my neighbour had had a long Saturday afternoon political discussion with a few weeks ago. All that happened was she said hello to me when she walked in and brushed my back while saying goodbye to me on the way out. Such simple things can cause excitement. How the mind plays silly games.

The remainder of Tuesday evening and a few hours of Wednesday morning were taken up with a long political discussion/debate/argument with my Bush supporting neighbour and the Kerry supporting (well more anti-Bush really) landlord — both of whom are called Greg, confusingly. It was all very interesting, for me at least.

Poker. Sometimes I like to think that I can play poker. And, in truth, sometimes I can. However, there are also nights like Wednesday night, when I couldn't play to save my life. Fortunately I wasn't playing to save my life, I was playing to save ten dollars. I didn't. Instead I limped home eighth of eight. Bugger, bollocks and bastard. Still there's always next week.

In other news. Hawaii is very pretty. The sashimi in Hawaii is very nice. I spent the first week of my stay in Hawaii, attending meetings and socializing with my collaborators. I got to see a tiny little stretch of Hawaii in this week, the bit I got to see was basically the tourist trap bit. Still, from my hotel room I could see that big wet thing called the Pacific, and there are worse things to look at when you wake in the morning.

For the final two and a half days of my trip, I rented a car and drove around Oahu (or should that be O'ahu?). I have to say, it's very very pretty. My favourite spot was on this little peninsula jutting out into one of the bays on the windward (northeast) side of the island. From this spot there was the nice contrast of ocean, complete with small sandy beach and a few big rocks/small islands, on one side and the gorgeous green mountains on the other side. I took a few photos, and if I ever get round to getting them off my camera I might post a couple.

It's a little pathetic that the thing I enjoyed most while I was in Hawaii, was sitting on this peninsula with my back to a tree reading my book. Or it could just be that I'm reading an incredibly good book at the moment. It's called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and it's really rather good. It mixes the sort of historical realism you find in books like Jack Maggs (by Peter Carey) with this wonderfully fantastic world of magic. It's a very good book, and Susanna Clarke is a very good author. Needless to say I was recommended this book by Neil Gaiman, not personally of course but, via his ever wonderful blog. Once more, it seems, I owe him a debt of gratitude. Thea Gilmore, The Magnetic Fields and now Susanna Clarke. He really does know his arse from his elbow.

The other British thing which I enjoyed enormously whilst I was in Hawaii, was Angela McCluskey's new album. The lady can certainly sing. Her album is very good. It's part bluesy, part rocky, part lots of other things and lots of her voice. I'd definitely like to see her live, I reckon it would be an interesting experience. Her CD only left the player after I'd bought one of these cool little iTrip thingies that can broadcast my iPod tunes over the airwaves. 'Tis very cool.

Other cool Hawaiian things. The town of Waiahole, which obviously I pronounce, almost certainly horribly wrong but rather amusingly, as wahey-a-hole. (Sexual innuendo intended, of course.) The fact that I saw, entirely by accident whilst driving down a dead end road near the northern tip of the island, the location where they shot the plane wreck portion (complete with a plane wreck lying on the beach) of the new TV show Lost. Thankfully it's not another fucking reality TV show, but is actually a quality scripted drama. And based on last night's premiere might actually be quite good.

Hawaii is a very pretty place. There were other things I was going to say but can't quite remember at the moment. Maybe they'll come back to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Back in Columbus, back in my bar

Phew! I managed to make it back to lovely Columbus. I miss the big wet thing with waves and fishes, somehow the goldfish bowls in the bar downstairs just aren't quite the same. At the moment I'm writing this entry upstairs in my flat, during my own personal halftime from the bar.

Several interesting things happened while I was in Hawaii, but I'll mention them later. For now I'll just recount the interesting things that happened on the journey home.

I had to bring our balloon GPS unit from Hawaii to Ohio for software integration and testing. This meant that I had $15,000 of electronics in my backup and 70 lbs of GPS mechanics in my checked luggage. I was a little nervous as I checked in because there was a sign which said checked luggage over 100 lbs would not be accepted. Between my bag and the GPS case, I figured I had something upwards of 120 lbs. Fortunately my luggage wasn't weighed in Honolulu, if it had of been I may well have been somewhat fucked.

Needless to say the two hours before take-off were spent at the airport bar. As I sat there drinking girly cocktails — purely for medicinal reasons, helping me sleep, you understand — I noticed a sign behind the bar. Now, bear in mind this was a bar in the security restricted area, the sign said something like, vehicles should not be operated whilst intoxicated. In the restricted area, surely it's only the pilots who are going to be operating vehicles. I hope to god they're not drunk.

As I boarded the plane, I was playing seat lotto. Did my seat number correspond to an aisle seat? Would the person sitting next to me be a pretty girlie? The answer to both of these questions was yes. However, the girlie asked me if I'd mind swapping seats with her equally pretty friend — I was moderately drunk at this point, so prettiness determination may have been malfunctioning — being the nice guy I am I said sure I'll swap. So, instead of a aisle seat next to a (insert appropriate adjective here) girl, I had a middle seat next to some random guy and an old Asian woman. Still it could have been worse.

When the flicked the lights off to take off I had a very strange vision. Only one person, an elderly man five rows in front of me, had their reading light on. So directly in front of me was a glowing silver head of hair in an otherwise dark plane. I thought it would make a cool scene in a film.

The lottery was much kinder to me on the flight from LA to Chicago as I got both an aisle seat and a pretty girlie, called Bonnie. She was all scared and cute, and attending some sort of ventilation seminar in Milwaukee... no I have no idea what that entails.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Thoughts from a drying Hawaii coffee shop

It rains a lot in Hawaii. I didn't know this. When you think about all the greenery they have here it's somewhat obvious, but I didn't think about it. It rains for 10 minutes or so and then stops and everything dries in about half an hour. I'm currently sat at an outside table (they only have outside tables) at a Kimo Bean coffee shop. My bottom got very wet when I sat down.

Other things that I didn't know about Hawaii was that it's sometimes, and possibly correctly, spelled Hawai'i. I also didn't realise they have a Union Flag (or Jack, if you prefer) in the top corner of the Hawaii flag, like Australia or New Zealand do. I'm sure there are lots of other things I didn't know.

So far I've spent the vast majority of my time here in meetings. The project I work on, ANITA (although the website hasn't been updated in a while), had a big NASA review yesterday. They were, allegedly, reviewing the technical, management and cost aspects of the project. Essentially we're asking them for a load of money and the review board has to decide whether or not we would be capable of doing what we say we can with the money. If they think we can then the bigwigs at NASA decide whether or not to give us the cash. Unsurprisingly for the last few days, well weeks probably, tensions have been running pretty high in ANITA world.

I think, but what do I know, that the review went pretty well. Although I must admit that I found it fairly amusing that our second presentation of the day, "Management Approach and Schedule", started half an hour late. In November we'll find out if we get approved. Should be very interesting.

I know have to go to the post review collaboration meeting. Not sure how interesting it will be.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The rough with the smooth

The smooth — I am in Hawaii.
The rough — I had to endure an eight hour flight sat next to three big black baptist ladies quoting bible scripture at each other (actually they were three of the nicest ladies I've ever met, it's just the thought of being sat next to people quoting bible scripture which is horrible).

The smooth — I had an aisle seat and a very attractive stewardess brushed her legs against my arm as she squeezed by a standing passenger.
The rough — Seconds later a big fat bloke brushed his big fat arse against my shoulder as he squeezed by a standing passenger.

The smooth — I spent an hour or more on Thursday night chatting to an incredibly gorgeous girl in the bar downstairs from my flat. I saw her first on Sunday and thought "my what a pretty girlie" and then yesterday she was in again and I thought "my isn't she pretty. I ended up talking to her because one of the musician guys I'd just met had made her acquaintance. She was terribly gorgeous (I wasn't terribly drunk), it should almost be illegal.
The rough — She spent the last hour talking to musician bloke and gave him her number. Still plenty more whatsits in the whatever.

The smooth — I'm in Hawaii.
The rough — I'm listening to a talk about "Implementation Approach". Unsurprisingly enough it is somewhat buzzword heavy.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Quick post from the airport

I think that I forgot to mention I'm off to Hawaii today. Actually, I'm off to Hawaii in about 30 mins. Well actually, I'm off to Chicago in 30 mins and from there I go to Hawaii, but you get the point.

Obviously it's a work related trip. But if you've got to work somewhere why not Hawaii. Plus I even get a few days of not working at the end of the trip. But first I have to sit through reviews and draft runs of the review and then meetings and talks — some of which I'm meant to give and haven't written yet. Still I'll be doing it down in Waikiki, so I'm sure I'll pull through.

In which nasty people attempt to insert things into one of the author's orifices... yes that one

A while ago I moved from lovely State College to lovely Columbus. Obviously this involved me changing apartments. My previous apartment was leased from a collection of crooks calling themselves The Apartment Store. I now despise their very existence.

This week I received my deposit cheque from these crooks. I could not believe the amount of money they had deducted from my $462 security deposit. They saw fit to deduct $402.36. Four hundred dollars! I was only in the apartment for 7 months. What the fuck did I do to the apartment that caused them to charge me so much money? Fortunately they provided a breakdown of charges to answer that question.

Monthly Rent$0.03
Replace Bulb$7.11
Administration Fee$52.48
Repair Stains in Carpet$60.00
Carpet Cleaning$79.50
Repair and Paint Walls$91.94
General Cleaning Entire Unit$111.30

Now my previous apartment had 3 rooms: a main room, a kitchen and a tiny bathroom. How did they manage to spend $111.30 cleaning the apartment, after they'd already spent $230 cleaning the walls and the carpet? How? Because they are trying to fuck me up the bottom. And you know what the terrible thing is, they're probably going to get away with it (not the bottom bit, but the stealing my money bit). I'm going to send them a letter asking for some receipts and evidence that this ridiculous expense was necessary. But I just can't see how I'm going to get back anymore of my money. The bastards.

On the same day that the measly cheque (or check to any Americans reading this) arrived in my mailbox, there was a letter from Ohio State University. The letter was telling me that during the month of September I could enroll my same-sex domestic partner for health benefits. I suppose that they saw the way my previous landlord was treating me and assumed that I was of such a persuasion that I enjoyed being bent over and... well, you know what.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Why is Football365 excellent?

Because they're applying for the vacant Blackburn Rovers manager's job. Or at least Sarah Winterburn is. And with arguments like:
"I have played football at the lowest level for several years - with mixed results - and know all the rules. Except that I sometimes twist my body when taking a throw-in."
"After all, it's only a few short letters' difference between 'managing a football website' and 'managing a football club'. And I think I could learn that alphabet."
"I am well accustomed to working in the face of massive abuse and am not at all shocked by bad language, having been brought up in a working-class Yorkshire family."

And frankly I think she'd do a bloody good job there given the chance. Or at least only moderately worse than Graeme Souness. But, being that Blackburn are currently second bottom, it's only possible to do moderately worse than the new Newcastle manager has done so far this season.

It would only be a slightly more surprising appointment than Souness' at Newcastle, and less out of the blue than Jacques Santini becoming the new Spurs boss. We can but hope.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hinge snapping and the evils of drink

This morning I woke at 11 o'clock. When I woke up I was in that happy lull between being drunk and being hungover. As is the way with these things, the hangover would catch up with me later in the day. But when I woke up I just felt a little fuzzy around the edges. I'd even managed to brush my teeth last night so it didn't taste like someone had shat in my mouth. I'm not really sure how much I'd had to drink, but I imagine it was really rather a lot.

The first thing that I noticed when I got out of bed was that I'd managed to break one of my nice glasses in my drunken stupor. Bugger, I like those glasses. Now I'm down to three. I suppose it is quite remarkable that I managed to get through 9 months without breaking any of them, as they are very thin and fragile and I'm not the most delicate person.

The second thing I noticed was that my back hurt. Looking at it in the mirror — which in my tiny bathroom is something of a contortionist's feat — I noticed that I had what looked like claw scratch marks across my back. I had absolutely no idea how I got them. Being as I was running so late I didn't devote a lot of time and effort to working out what happened.

This evening when I got home from work I noticed a couple of other things. The first was that I'd thrown up sometime in the night. Amazingly I managed to avoid my bed and books and just hit a sheet that was in a heap on one side of the bed. I was very impressed with myself. I was particularly impressed with the way I hadn't noticed this morning or this afternoon when I showed the nice man from American Electric Power to my circuit breaker box. Hopefully he didn't notice either. (With any luck they'll now switch my account so that it's attached to the correct meter. It's hard to believe that for at least the last 9 years they have been mis-billing my neighbour and all the previous tenants of my apartment.)

The last thing I noticed was that the door to my walk-in closet had some broken wood near its base. This was about a metre away from where I found the broken glass. Closer examination revealed that the bottom of the door was pretty badly broken. In fact the bottom one of the two solid metal hinges, which are probably about 3-4mm thick, was snapped into three pieces. Something certainly exerted a lot of force on that hinge.

My best guess is that when I came home from the bar last night I went through my usual ritual of brushing my teeth and getting a glass of water. Then as I walked to my bed from the kitchen I slipped and fell. At this point I dropped the glass, which was promptly smashed in to many little pieces by my hardwood floor. Meanwhile I fell, back first, in to the door to my closet, probably hitting the door handle and thus scratching my back. The poor door, which had been hanging there minding it's own business, suddenly had a rather large Ryan crash in to it causing minor devastation and the aforementioned hinge snapping. Luckily I then managed to pick myself up, avoid the broken glass and get in to bed.

Suffice to say that tonight I abstained from alcohol.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

More people trying to rob me

I received a letter today from this bunch of crooks called New Millennium Bank. It told me that I had guaranteed approval for two credit cards with "total credit up to $10,000.00" — by the way you've got to love the way they include the cents to try and make the number look bigger.

Being as I want a new credit card, I read through the letter. The cheeky bastards were trying to fleece an application fee of between $35 and $69 from me, just for the privilege of responding to their mass marketing bullshit. At this point I was pretty pissed off, that because I've not been in America very long, the banking industry think that I'm a moron who's going to pay them to apply for a credit card.

When I flipped the letter over and looked at the small print on the back my annoyance changed to incredulity. It turns out that to get one of their "credit cards" you need to open a savings account and deposit between $300 and $5000. Then your credit limit is set to the amount in the savings account.

That isn't a fucking credit card. That is a fucking bank account. You can spend the amount of money you have in the account. Whoopee-fucking-doo. Surely a credit card should involve some credit. How stupid do they think I am? Maybe they think I'm stupid enough to work for American Electric Power. Grrrgh. Why am I beset by idiocy?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

More stupidity... but not necessarily mine

You may recall that I had a few problems with American Electric Power, my electricity supplier. For those with short memories, and those too lazy to follow links, when I called them up to tell them I'd moved in to my new flat they mistakenly switched my neighbours account in to my name. Sadly my problems with them are still not resolved.

During my first 50 days in the apartment, they claim I have used in excess of 2700 kilowatt hours. Which is over 50 kilowatt hours a day. About what I'd get if I was continuously running my washer/dryer every hour of the day, as opposed to the once a week I actually use it.

So, I decided to perform a test. I flicked all the breakers in my electricity box and watched the electricity meter. Lo and behold, when all the electricity use in my apartment was turned off the wheel in the meter still span round as fast as when the breakers were in the on position. However the neighbouring meter — which is registered in my neighbours name and for which I was originally billed — stopped. Hmmm, I thought. I smell fuck up.

Obviously, I was not entirely pleased with this situation. So, I called up AEP and tried to explain to them my predicament. They claimed that sometime in the next 10 days they'll send someone round to have a look at the meters. Being as they are not coordinating this visit with me, I guess they plan to divine where the electricity cables go just by looking at the meters on the outside of my apartment building. I have exactly zero confidence in their ability to solve this problem. In ten days I have to go to Hawaii for a meeting that will absorb a week and half of my life — I know, poor Ryan has to go for a holiday to Hawaii, but it's not like that, honest guv'nor — the chances of these fuckwits sorting it out before I leave are really rather small.

In other news, I haven't seen Cute Coffee Girl since Friday and I'm starting to get withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully today (as in Wednesday) will provide my next fix.

I'm very excited about Wayne Rooney's transfer to Man Utd. I feel my gambling will mirror this excitement.

I have to tell you about Dave Sim, but not now as I'm both drunk and tired.