Monday, February 28, 2005


Okay it's still not my business, but, as requested by my devout blog followers (well, Leo), here is some slightly less vague waffle.

Let's suppose there's a person, A, who runs a business and employs persons, B and C, who've worked there for something like four months and two years, respectively.

Now one day when A is adding up the amount of money made, they discover that it doesn't tally and there appears to be some money missing. What does A do? Do they:
  1. Talk to B and C and try and work out what happened in a calm, rationale manner, figuring that there are a number of ways said money could be missing, or appear to be missing?
  2. Naturally assume that B or C, or possibly B and C acting together, stole the missing money, act very strangely for a few days, then, whilst drunk, try and arrange a staff meeting (and at the same time ask curious onlookers, namely me, how to spell the jig is up), at the staff meeting (nearly a week after the incident) accuse B and C of theft, then fire B and put C on 'hold'?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Dilemmas, quandaries and more of that procrastination nonsense

I find myself in state of much confusion. What do you do when someone, who you (rightly or wrongly) considered a friend, does something really rather shitty to two other people, who you also (rightly or wrongly) considered friends? Apparently, if your name is Ryan at least, what you do is write a really vague self-centric post about this thing which is not really anything to do with you and not really your business to discus, the latter part of which leads to the vagueness.

Last week I thought I had a very simple, easy to understand life. There was just enough excitement and intrigue to keep myself interested (that is interested in general as opposed to interested in myself, which is probably not the kind of thing one should encourage), but not too much such that it swam into drama or melodrama. All of sudden, due to the aforemntioned shitty thing, I'm not sure where I stand or, more alarmingly, where I want to be standing.


In other, less vague and mopey, news, I've added a few places to my drank-there-in-Columbus list recently. The highlights of which were the Thirsty Ear Tavern (which came complete with live music from Chief Johnny Lonesome, and him and his band weren't half bad), Mac's (faux-Scottish) and the Ringside (although yesterday their 'open jam' was both too loud and not really good enough). The lowlight of which was a shitty Chinese restaurant/bar that we went to for a friends birthday last night, we only ended up there when we discovered that our destination of choice, the Blue Crystal, was both closed and looked more like a strip joint than a restaurant (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

Oh, and Tuesday night I wrestled with a cat — for the record, I think he won as I still have a couple of teeth or claw marks on my hand.

And yes, I'm just dicking around before going to the gym.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Drinking tales

Yesterday morning when I woke up, although quite whether awake accurately describes the state I was in is somewhat debatable, I found two unusual items in the pockets of my coat. The first of these items was an empty beer bottle, but not just any beer bottle, it was an empty St. Peter's Brewery beer bottle. For the uninitiated, and those who can't be bothered to follow links, St. Peter's Brewery is a cool little Suffolk brewery who make a selection of really rather good beers, and they sell them in, what are quite frankly, very sexy bottles.

(In a quick aside, I was thoroughly amazed to discover a bar in Columbus that sold beer from this tiny little brewery from back home. I was particularly amazed as I only know of one or two bars in London that regularly stock St. Peter's beer — one of which, the Head of Steam, I feel the occasional pang of nostalgia/longing for — and here I am in the wilds of Ohio and I stumble upon a place that sells it. I'd do a jig if I was that way inclined.)

The second unusual item I found in my pocket was the key to someone else's apartment. Now, I must confess, when I found these two things in my semiconscious (read semi-drunk) state on Monday morning it did take me a few minutes to piece together exactly what I'd done the previous evening to acquire them. If I'd only had a couple of extra beers, I imagine my confusion would have lasted a good deal longer than a couple of minutes. After all, obscure English beer bottles and keys to other people's apartments are not everyday items to find in your pockets after a night on the lash. Come to think about it, even after completely sobering up I'm not entirely sure why it is I have the key.

Yesterday's post work highlight, I can't think of any during work highlights, involved my first brush with Columbus's finest. Well it wasn't really my brush, more the driver of the car I was in's brush. But the nice police officer did want to see my ID when he saw I wasn't wearing the lap belt part of my seat belt (of course, I'm pretty sure he didn't have a clue what to do with my UK driving license when he saw it, but no-one does over here it seems). In the words of Bill Hick's the driver then got to audition for his freedom. I was very impressed when he passed the audition, as I swear even stone cold sober I'd probably fail one of those tests. Fortunately, the police officers clearly hadn't heard Bill's routine and at no point was any forced to do a flip, say the alphabet backwards or stick their dick in an exhaust pipe. (Oh by the way, Bill Hick's — hilarious)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ryan's new favourite word

I have a new favourite word. It's: cunctipotent.

Cunctipotent apparently means omnipotent. The only downside with my new favourite word, is that I doubt I'll ever be able to say it without saying cunty-potent (as opposed to kungk-tip-uh-tunt), which when you think about it is more of an upside really.

Dallying with white collar crime, large trucks and different drinking establishments

I'm not sure, but it's possibly I was committing some white collar crime yesterday. What's disappointing is that it wasn't even particularly interesting or high reward white collar crime. All I was trying to do was to send some money from my American bank account to my British bank account, a simple enough task you'd think. Normally when I've sent money back home to the UK I've sent it as a wire transfer from my bank. I knew they were charging me exorbitant fees but I never looked into exactly how much they were charging me. It turns out they are charging me really rather a lot, something like a 3% commission and $20 flat fee (so about $50 if I ship back $1000).

So, I thought I'd try and use PayPal to send money, as they only charge 2.5% commission. PayPal has a few interesting quirks, one of it's quirks is that you have to tell it what the money is for: eBay purchase, other auction purchase, goods, service or quasi-cash. Deciding that, for a change, honesty was the best policy I ticked the quasi-cash (just exactly what quasi-cash was not made clear to me, but it seemed the most appropriate of the options — I particularly didn't want to claim I was paying myself for services rendered). Anyhow, it turns out that quasi-cash is not allowed for cross-currency transactions, so I had to go back and click on goods instead. They only let me send $40, which may have something to do with the relative newness of my UK PayPal account and their enhanced security measures as a result of this. After this first $40 payment they allowed me to send four further $20 payments, before they stopped letting me send money. Now, I'm not sure if sending myself money like this through the PayPal system is entirely legal (obviously, I didn't bother to read the terms and conditions when I signed up for my PayPal accounts). I have a sneaking suspicion that in this land of crazy banking laws it is illegal, as practically everything useful is, but hopefully nobody is going to worry about the odd hundred dollars here or there.

My latest attempt at a cheap foreign exchange is to use XEtrade, an on-line foreign exchange service. In theory, as long as I don't mind waiting for a while, it should be possible to make commission free, fee free exchanges using their service. In practise, I may well have died before I finish their excessively convoluted account opening procedure. The final step in this process is to send these lovely people copies of a variety of documents including my passport, visa, a voided cheque and probably some other nonsense I'm forgetting. Their preferred method for me to send them this information, is via email. It's not my preferred method. I think I'd be a little nervous emailing somebody a copy of my passport and bank account details. I particularly enjoyed reading their page entitled Protect Yourself Against Fraud And Identity Theft shortly after they recommended me sending all these documents to them as an unprotected email.

Away from the seedy world of foreign exchange, I saw something rather amusing on the way to coffee yesterday. We were walking passed a truck getting, or giving, a jump start to a van, when the truck started rolling towards us. The man in front of the truck, the driver I suppose, panicked a little and tried to stop the truck rolling down the slope by pushing against its front. Unsurprisingly this method was not particularly successful and after a few seconds he scrambled up into the cab and put the handbrake on. This little man standing in front of this great big truck trying to stop it roll down the slope by pushing against it, was so perfectly the image of utter futility that it still it makes me smile.

I got drunk, although only somewhat drunk not fall down drunk, somewhere other than Vic's last night. I feel ever so proud of myself. One of the reasons that I feel ever so proud of myself, was because I managed to ride down to the bar in the front seat of a little car with a guitar stuck between my legs, and neither myself or the guitar are any the worse for wear. The destination was open mic night at Club 202, which is actually quite a cool little bar, with a nice sound system, in what seems to be a converted warehouse. In contrast to most open mic's I've been to a large fraction of the performers were really quite good. The guy who was playing when I walked in was particularly good, and there's something very pleasant about walking into a bar for the first time to be greeted with the sound of good live music. Hopefully, I'll be able to drag myself away from the comfort and convenience of Vic's and venture out down there again sometime.

And yes this is another one of those nights when I was planning on going to the gym, but had to faff around for a while beforehand.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A post that ended up a long way from where it started

So here we are on Monday afternoon once more, it's amazing how it seems to come round on an almost weekly basis. And here I am once again, contemplating going to the gym and procrastinating over it. I like to tell myself that the reason I procrastinate before going to the gym is so that it's a little less busy by the time I actually get round to working out. Of course, the truth is probably just that I don't particularly like going to the gym. But anything that lessens the chance of my comically obese doctor commenting on my weight is a good thing. I'm not sure why but I seem to have a habit of acquiring comically obese doctors, and these doctors invariably tell me that I should lose some weight, and I have to try and not laugh in their faces and tell them about Mr. Pot and Mr. Kettle.

Thinking about my first comically obese doctor, reminds me of my Scary Doctor Story. It happened way back in the mid-nineties, when I was still a fresh faced sixteen year old school boy. The summer after I turned 16 was the first, and indeed last, time that I went to Zimbabwe to stay with my father. (It's odd to think that I haven't seen him for over ten years, at least I don't think I've seen him. Close is probably not one of the words that you would use to describe our relationship, come to think about it relationship probably isn't one of the words either.) Venturing out from the relative safety and security of England to the wilds of Africa meant that I had to get a whole raft of vaccinations. Most of these I received with only a minor amount of discomfort, but then there was typhoid. At the time, it may still be true today, typhoid came as a course of three injections, two a month or so apart and then one six months later that pushed your immunisation up from one year to ten, or maybe forever. The first typhoid injection was unmemorable, the second was pretty much unforgettable. It started with the phrase, "You may have flu-like symptoms for the next 24 hours" and the doctor sticking a needle in my arm. Pretty much instantly I started feeling light headed, but I thought it would probably pass. Thirty seconds later as I was leaving the doctor's office and heading through the waiting room to the front door my vision started to cloud. I successfully managed to navigate my way out of the building and started walking towards the high street, the doctors office was on a pedestrianised alleyway about 100 yards away from high street. With each step I felt more and more disoriented. After about 50 yards I could barely make out the shapes of the buildings, and my head was diving and swimming. Right, I thought, there's a bench about 20 yards in front of me, I'll just go and sit down until I feel better. Sadly my body had other ideas; 10 yards further up I collapsed against the wall of the Post Office and lay in the gutter unable to see, barely able to breathe, wondering what the fuck was going on. I can't really say how long I lay in the gutter, it might have been anything from five minutes to half an hour, it seemed like an age. Eventually, bit by bit, my eyesight returned and I managed to get up and sit down on the bench. Flu-like symptoms, I thought, I don't ever want to get the flu. What I didn't do was to go back and tell the doctor what had happened to me (he might want to do it again), or go back for that third typhoid shot. I mean how bad can typhoid be?

I think I had a rather good weekend. It involved, in chronological order, good music (from those nice people who make up Gruver-Deeluxe and The Bogtrodders), a meandering wander on a sunny day, a lesbian bar (although there was only one lesbian, the owner, while we were there), the end of a Valentine's day show (entitled Cupid is Stupid), and my first ever visit to Dick's Den (the visit was very brief, but left me with a very favourable impression of the place). And, of course, the whole weekend involved a liberal sprinkling of intoxication.

Ooh, I've now got two Valentine's day cards, well actually one Valentine's day card and one Valentine's eve card, 'tis all very exciting. I almost feel guilty for not giving anyone anything, almost, but not quite.

Okay, I think I've procrastinated long enough. Lets see if I can haul my lazy arse down to the gym and do some of that exercise nonsense. Strange, when I started writing this post I didn't realise it was going to have any mention of doctors or fathers. Okay, so I'm still procrastinating. I promise I'll stop soon.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Broken glass and bangles

Something exciting happened in an upholstery shop last night, okay it more happened to the upholstery shop than in the upholstery shop, but still give a guy some leeway. The shop in question was the one I live above, i.e the one that's adjacent to, the oft mentioned in these posts, Vic's cafe. The excitement occurred last night, just about half an hour after I decamped from my apartment to go down to the cafe. Some dastardly person, or persons, smashed in one of the shop's windows. I'm not quite sure why anyone would want to break the window of an upholstery shop, or break into an upholstery shop, but there we have it. The result of all this was that I had flashing police lights outside my window until some early hour of the morning, complete with banging and crashing sounds from below. It was all very tame really, but did cause a flurry of excitement among the patrons of the bar last night. There's nothing like a little bit of violence and destruction to get everyone's pulses racing, or at least at a mildly elevated rate for a short time.

In completely unrelated news, in fact it's about as unrelated as it is possible to get, I ran across this rather wonderful tale of the Zimbabwean entrepreneurial spirit on the BBC News website. Now I'm not much of jewelry wearing fellow, but I think I would be tempted to wear a brightly coloured bangle if I knew it was made from the ring of a female condom. So there you go, if anybody wanted to send me an early birthday present or a present for any other reason, give the gift that keeps on giving — the female condom bangle.

As a point of contrast some of the associated headlines form the BBC website are: Can election be free and fair?; Judges under pressure; Aids - yet another crisis; Torture training camps; The struggle to survive distracts Zimbabweans from politics. Oh what fun it must be to live in Zimbabwe these days, I'd probably be wearing twenty or thirty bangles on each arm, just to distract myself from all the other shit that's going on.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Time flying, gratuitous swearing and then some more gratuitous swearing

Time flies when you're having fun, or alternatively time flies when you're flying back and forth to California. I can't believe we are already up to the 8th February. It seems like only yesterday that it was payday, and now, thanks to those lovely folks who made February have 28 days, it is only three weeks until the next one.

Essentially, my entire Saturday was spent sat in taxis, airports and planes. It was not a particularly fun day. Although I did at least get to sit next to respectable businessmen on the plane, and write in my little book of swear words. For those who are not in the know, which I expect encompasses nearly everybody, my little book of swear words is a mini legal pad that I was given by a friend a couple of weeks ago. I was given it so that I would have something to write rude words on, when the need arose (and the need arises quite frequently), without having to find a receipt, piece of paper or other suitable surface. Anyhow, while I was squashed in to an economy class seat the need to write profanity did, unsurprisingly, arise. One page of the notebook is now entirely covered with the phrase "Bollocks Cunt Wanker", repeated many times in a nice, almost geometrical fashion. On the second flight the phrase of choice was "Arse Fucker Whore" (which as a friend pointed out to me once, would have a slightly different meaning if it contained four words and not three).

The second flight, which was the short hop from Chicago to Columbus, was filled with little odd instances that left me bemused and/or amused. I had a window seat for the flight, and it was one of the most deceptively uncomfortable seats that I have ever had this misfortune of sitting in. — when I sat down I thought this is quite a nice seat, but by the time we took-off my arse and knees where in agony, the joy of little planes. As we taxied out of the gate area I had a chance to look at the genetic throwback that was guiding us out, he was not a million miles away from John Nicholson's description of the Bubba, which did not fill me with confidence. It was right at this moment that the stewardess said something to the effect of, For your safety, window blinds must remain open during take-off. So, I'm sat there looking out the window at this strange ape-man, who is apparently in charge of where the plane will go, wondering how the window blind being open is going to aid my safety. As far as I could tell all the window blind being open did was terrify me with a view of the kind of workers who are allowed access to the 'secure' areas of the airport. Later on in the flight, when we were over middle of nowhere Ohio or Indiana, I saw one of the better looking sunsets that I've seen recently. I'd try and describe it, but I'm sure you can all imagine what a pretty sunset looks like, I do really wish I could have taken a photo of it though. I think that the pilot also really liked the sunset, as we, for no apparent reason, performed a 360 degree turn at this point before continuing in, seemingly, our original direction.

On the subject of gratuitous swearing, well we were before I got distracted by Bubba and sunsets, I have to thank whoever (and I'm moderately certain I know who it was) sent me the link to the excellent London Underground song. In fact I thought it was so brilliantly sweary that I went ahead and ordered myself a copy of the CD, it was only a tenner and, of course, all the profits go to those poor little kiddies.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

An odd week

It's been a very odd week. Or maybe I just think it's been an odd week because I went from the snow and cold of Ohio to the unseasonal warmth of the Bay Area.

The oddness started, and maybe peaked, on Monday when I went to the gym. And no me going to the gym was not the start of the oddness, although I'll confess it was a little out of character. The start of the oddness was a woman running on a treadmill, not in itself an odd thing you'd think, but when that woman is wearing a headscarf and an ankle length dress, complete with chunky white running shoes, it becomes very strange. I was just amazed that she could run on a treadmill while wearing an ankle length dress. I'm sure if I tried to perform such a feat it would end with me tripping up and being strangled by the dress, not that I'm particularly tempted to either wear an ankle length dress or run on a treadmill. It was a very strange sight.

Tuesday's oddness highlight was probably when a slightly drunk friend walked up to a couple of us who were sat at the bar and said with a serious voice, "I'm not a slut". Context is irrelevant, it was very funny, both funny strange and funny ha ha. The rest of Tuesday night was spent getting drunk enough that waking up at 6:30 am on Wednesday, to catch my flight, was very tricky. In fact, I was feeling so 'fragile' when I got on the plane, that I was very relieved to strap myself in to the seat as it made the world a little steadier.

Oh well, tomorrow I'll be back to the chill of Columbus, and to think I've spent three days in the San Francisco area without having a single Anchor Steam.