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Long (LONG) time, no update.   
06:07pm 09/07/2012
  OK, since a few friends of mine have quite sensibly decided to give good old LJ a revisit, I thought I would do the same with a bit of news.
It looks like I'll be moving out of London in October due to the other half starting a Master's degree course in the University of Glamorgan!

So, to summarise:
Leaving friends in London (Bad)
Moving to Wales (Kinda good)
Leaving well-paid job (Bad)
Leaving overcrowded, overpriced city (Good)
Moving to area of high unemployment (Bad)
Moving closer to family (Good)
Moving back to a more familiar culture (Good)

So, a bit of a mixed bag there, but it's going to be quite the adventure. I really can't say that I'll miss London at all, other than the people who I've become firm friends with and it may even be quite the chance for a career break - you never know.


EDIT: .....assuming that the bulls don't get me later this week!
 
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10:23am 05/05/2009
  Is it possible that, just for once, users can have a weekend off without forgetting every one of their passwords...?  
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20 years   
10:12am 15/04/2009
 
mood: melancholy
20 years ago today I was 10 years old and watching a game of football on BBC1 on a sunny Saturday afternoon, back when top flight British football was still available to terrestrial television viewers. Living in the Midlands at the time and as a keen young football fan, my father quite often took me and my younger brother along to games in the area, usually to cities like Birmingham and Derby as away supporters since I support Liverpool and my brother supported Everton and Merseyside was simply too far to travel for home games.
The game that I had settled down to watch wasn't a normal Saturday afternoon game; it was an FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest up at Sheffield Wednesday's ground, with the winner going on to face Everton in the final; the possibility of my brother's team and mine meeting in this fashion was just too intriguing.

What happened that afternoon is, of course, history. But at the time nobody watching at home and very few inside the ground realised the gravity of what was happening as thousands of supporters were coralled through a woefully undersized, understaffed and antiquated ground into a small terrace with steel fences on all sides where 96 people were crushed to death.
Today, survivors' reports of grown men crowded in so tight that they were unable to breathe, move their arms or to stand on their own feet are easily accepted and understood, but at the time the game kicked off the only sign that anything was amiss was a very small group of supporters who had been lifted over the barriers onto the pitch behind the goal. Supporters approaching the pitch area was not uncommon in the 1980s since the fences negated the need for a large amount of pitch-side stewards so neither the players nor the crowd took much notice.
It was only when the referee stopped the game shortly after kick off and we saw masses of people now being lifted over the barriers and into the upper tiers of the stadium that it became clear that something had gone horribly wrong. Even at this early stage I remember hearing the commentators talking of fatalities in the crowd as fans shuttled the fallen onto the pitch for medical treatment that was never to arrive.

It seemed so surreal and distant to see all of this unfolding and only being able to watch mutely as the reports of the death toll went up almost by the minute. I remember my Dad being absolutely horrified as only a few weeks earlier he had taken both my brother and myself to Derby County's ground which was more or less the same age and same size as Hillsborough. Sheffield was only a 90 minute drive from our house at the time.
And today we come to the 20 year anniversary of that day and it does seem odd to think that it left such an impression on me when I had not yet been to Liverpool and only saw the events unfold on television. It's also odd that most of what I recall of that day have only just started coming back to me in the last year or so.

The youngest victims of that day were 10 years old; the same age that I was at the time.
I always get a little bit annoyed when one of my non football-supporter friends pipes up with a cry of "it's just a game", but on a day like today with everything put into context, they're dead right.


 
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08:45pm 30/03/2009
 




Had to be done...
 
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Now with extra zombies!   
11:12am 31/01/2009
  Oh my!  
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The state of the nation.   
12:58pm 14/01/2009
  As the new US President prepares for his inauguration, I can't help but think back over the last 8 years that has shaped America as we know know it.

No one thought Al Gore would be a loveable president, but, after eight years in the White House, he has gotten truly tiresome. The droning voice, the purchase of an eco-friendly robot dog, the campaign for carbon-free diamonds - all these things were hard to take, and he has been way too smug about reversing global warming. I think we've gone too far in the opposite direction, especially in light of the glacier that recently crushed Wasilla.

I think I started to dislike Gore when he stirred up a media storm after the Feds broke up the terrorist ring conspiring to fly airplanes into buildings back in 2001. He could have let it pass quietly, as Bill Clinton did with the millennium plot arrests in 2000. Instead, Gore held a press conference to milk it for political gain and scare us into a 15 cent per gallon gas tax. But who can afford to pay over a dollar and a half per gallon? No wonder we're resorting to electric cars these days.

And why did he pressure the universally admired Fed chairman Alan Greenspan to step down early in 2002? Replacing him with that old warhorse Paul Volcker was a nasty surprise, especially when Volcker choked off a promising housing boom in 2002 and imposed old, outdated regulations on lenders. Some properties lost as much as 8% of their value that year. Now housing prices are rising really slowly, and GDP barely grew by 3% this year.

To be sure, Gore did accomplish some good things in foreign policy. The Middle East is definitely better off now that Israel and Palestine are separate states. It was clever to transfer the most diehard West Bank settlers to the Gore Biosphere in North Dakota. But in Iraq, even after the demise of Saddam from virulent salmonella, Qusay has proved to be no more agreeable than his father, and Uday is simply out of control. (Grinding up the players of the national football team and roasting the remains on a stadium-sized spit was the nadir of his coaching.) When a group of foreign-policy luminaries - from Bill Kristol to Paul Wolfowitz and Kenneth Pollack - urged Gore to invade Iraq and remake the entire Middle East, the president didn't even listen. That's rude.

Then, of course, there were the countless scandals and ethics problems. Recall that in 2003 a department of justice official failed to report receiving a bottle of Bordeaux wine from the French government, even though experts agree that its value would be in excess of the amount permitted as a gift. Then there was the case of politicising federal agencies, when Gore officials were accused of changing the wording in a report on global warming to say that it was a "severe" rather than a "serious" threat. The Republicans held hearings on that for weeks.

Of course, the biggest disappointment was Gore's failure to handle Hurricane Katrina properly. Not only did the massive evacuation of New Orleans prove a costly and time-consuming overreaction, since the levees - fortified in 2003 - held up fine. The emergency management agency also took over 24 hours to set up trailers for evacuees along the Gulf Coast, leaving them without government housing assistance for a full day. And Gore's decision to single-handedly venture into a flattened house in Mississippi and free a trapped two-year-old showed him to be an irresponsible showboat. Sure, President Gore knows CPR, hears like a German shepherd, and has the strength of 10 men - but we didn't need to see it.

All in all, the Gore combination of psychodrama and condescension won't be missed. It's also time for the Democrat stranglehold on power to end. What we need now is a bit of adult behaviour: a Dick Cheney presidency won't be eventful, but at least it will be calm.
 
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Itinerary for tomorrow:   
09:58pm 18/12/2008
  - Get up
- Dress as pirate
- Go to work
- Avoid working
- Go to pub
- Go to see the Pogues
- Join workmates for staff night out
- ???
- Profit

Oh hell yes!
 
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Facebook help needed   
03:49pm 17/12/2008
  Ok, for all of you who use this site a lot more than I do, is there any way that I can put settings on individual users that controls which of their actions/updates appears on my page?
I have one friend who posts dozens of photos and comments every day and it just swamps my own page; I don't want to have to turn this option off for everyone though. Any ideas?
 
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Note to self...   
02:24pm 02/12/2008
  Note to self: when buying shower gel and mouthwash that are the exact same colour, do not put them next to each other on the same shelf!  
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01:13pm 20/11/2008
  A football-related video that even football haters will love:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7lJpFwAcCs&eurl

How cute is that? :)
 
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War is hell   
04:35pm 14/11/2008
   
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Work dilemma   
01:22pm 14/11/2008
  Help me decide - tea or coffee?  
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02:25pm 07/11/2008
  I have just opening a gold holding account in Zurich. How cool is that?

Now if anyone needs (or wants, hint) to pay me any money, I can tell them "just have it paid in bullion into my Zurich account". Next step, world domination...
 
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Long time coming   
10:08am 07/11/2008
  Oh. Hell. Yes!  
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It's beginning already...   
09:27am 24/10/2008
  The crazies are starting to turn on each other:
http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=7736

I genuinely dread to think what would happen if their party got back into power!
 
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Another reason for recycling - the cost of materials!   
02:24pm 23/10/2008
  If you had purchased £1,000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago, they
would now be worth £4.95.

If instead you had purchased HBOS shares, last week your £1,000 would
have been worth £16.50.

If you'd invested in XL Leisure your £1,000 would now be worth £0.

However if you'd bought £1,000 worth of Kronenburg one year ago,
drank it all, then took the empty cans to an aluminium re-cycling
plant, you would currently get £214.
 
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Sci fi geekery   
02:34am 19/10/2008
  OK, I'm no fan of Dr Who fan, I've always thought it to be just a wee bit too silly but I finally got around to watching the episode "Blink" today. How good was that?
Not only was it a genuinely creepy and scary "old school" Dr Who bad guys who remained effectively unseen, but I loved the continuum time travel paradoxes as well; such clever story writing all round!
 
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Who said religion is pointless?   
10:35am 26/09/2008
  Manager brings in lots of cakes for the team.

Much of the team are Muslims and fasting for Ramadam.

They cannot eat the cakes.

More cakes for me.






Religion is awesome...
 
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London update time   
07:41pm 03/09/2008
  OK, so my contract is pretty much finalised, I start work on Monday and I've just found a nice little flat within walking distance of both Camden Town and my new workplace - win! I'll be heading down on Friday to do all the paperwork and staying in the area until Saturday when it's moving-in day. Anyone up to anything that weekend?
I'm really looking forward to this move; not only is it a nice job with fairly good pay, but I know some good friends in London. And Lars... :P
 
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06:59pm 13/08/2008
  Quite a bit has been going on in the last few weeks, so I think it's time for an update.
I was made redundant from Cardiff University in June, which was a real shame as I loved that job. However, it was the kick in the arse I really needed to get myself out of that city as there was nothing keeping me there apart from that job. So, I've been spending the last couple of weeks living down in West Wales and jobhunting in London: 15 or so applications and 2-3 interviews per week is NOT fun, believe me!
Anyway, I was down in the capital yesterday for a few interviews, the first of which was for a more senior IT role in Camden Council, the job that I really, really wanted after first applying for it a couple of months ago. Anyway, on the train to my third interview the IT manager from the council rang me to let me know that they had chosen me - victory!!!
So, as soon as the paperwork is sorted I'll be heading down to London after having found somewhere suitable to live. I'm really looking forward to this now; not only is it a really nice job in a good area but unlike Cardiff, I already have a number of good friends down there and there isn't going to be any shortage of things to do in an evening. Talk about silver linings...!
 
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