Sunday 1 September 2002
Low-key party last night at
Low-key party last night at Jane G’s for her birthday, with her family, assorted self-sufficiency bods and various Zeneca (or whatever they are called now) types. Oh, and some goats.
A bird has just flown
A bird has just flown over the nursery, making a noise like a swanee whistle. It is black, about the size of a thrush, with a red beak. Any ideas? Never seen anything like it before, and I suspect it is an escapee from a nearby pet shop.
Monday 2 September 2002
More evidence that Cal is
More evidence that Cal is far too clever.
Giant potato salad! Enormous kebab!
Giant potato salad! Enormous kebab! – more random phrases for Lord Percy to add to the comments.
Incidentally, do readers-at-large think Lord Percy (a.k.a. Greg, a.k.a. Lordy Lordy) is Tourettic? Lady Bren suggested this in the pub a couple of weeks ago.
Perhaps using the good old Touretteaphone or Buffy Swearing Keyboard would help him get it out of his system (not safe for work, obviously).
I’ve just had a bill
I’ve just had a bill for running it, so I’m conscious that not many of you are listening to radio grayblog. Go there now!
I’ve got a whole bunch
I’ve got a whole bunch of ill-defined “stuff” that I’d like to get off my chest at the moment. But I’m not sure I can write it here, as so many people that I know, and that are important to me in various ways, read this site on a daily or frequent basis. Maybe there is something to be said for blogging anonymously in the C Side style, although I’m not sure I’d be very good at maintaining my anonymity. If I did have an anonymous blog, I’m not sure that I’d find it very satisfying. The whole point of sharing life online, for me anyway, is that it is cathartic and a sharing process – a bit like standing up at a Blogaholics Anonymous meeting and saying “hi, I’m Graybo, and I’m a sad bastard” or whatever.
So, anyway, I’m in Mood-swing Central at the moment, flailing between grinning like an idiot and being ecstatically happy, and then moping around and crying into my pillow.
But I guess that is life really.
Chinese government blocks access by
Tuesday 3 September 2002
Am I the only person
Am I the only person that prefers winamp 2.78/2.80 to the new winamp 3.0? It seems much larger and clunkier and generally less good that the older version.
Desperate times call for desperate
Desperate times call for desperate measures. TFF transfers:
OUT: Cudicini, Winterburn, Hayles.
IN: Dudek, Short, Maccarone.
At last, the official notification
At last, the official notification of my CIM exam results has arrived. And top marks to the CIM for the little touch of addressing the letter to Graham Spencer DipM ACIM – that feels good!
Wednesday 4 September 2002
Beer tonight with Dave, DA,
Beer tonight with Dave, DA, Kearn, Aris, Andrea, Kev, Nick, Dave, Paul F, Arron, Kristian, Leah, Holly (only 17!!!!!), Joel, Kate and other people. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
TFF: 21 points, taking me
TFF: 21 points, taking me to 60 points in total.
AFF: 1 point. hmm.
Memo to self: drinking huge
Memo to self: drinking huge quantities and getting home at 2am is neither smart nor clever.
Managing to do all that and only spending £2.50 is, on the other hand, very clever indeed.
hmmmm. via b3ta.com, which is
Hmm. The closing date for
Hmm. The closing date for the Guardian Best British Weblog Competition is fast approaching. Someone has used my internal search function to find the word "guardian". Are these facts linked?
Is Chichester big enough for
In fact, talking of being here first, this site will be two years old on the 16th of this month. Celebrate by buying stuff.
Interesting discussion. I’m not likely
Thursday 5 September 2002
So, being very tired and
So, being very tired and all, you’d think I’d take the chance of a quiet night and head to bed early.
But no, not me. Quiet night, yes, but sitting up reading and listening to music until 1am does not equate to an early night. Consequently, the effort required to drag myself from under EvilDuvet II this morning was almost beyond my means. At least it was until a workman outside yelled “can’t you read the f***ing sign, you f***ing idiot?” at the top of his lungs at some poor unsuspecting motorist.
I also sneezed so hard this morning that my lungs felt like they were going to be blasted out. As a result, my chest and throat is now very sore.
More and more people (five
More and more people (five out of the last 100 referrers) have found their way here by searching Google for "grayblog". Is this site that hard to find? Maybe I should purchase grayblog.com and redirect visitors to that URL to here.
How did you get here today? Bookmark? Updated GBlogs list? Random surfing? Leave a comment and let me know.
Friday 6 September 2002
I could really use a
I could really use a massage. Any volunteers?
All morning I’ve been having
All morning I’ve been having problems with my internet connection here at work. So I had a listen to the line, and could detect an intermittent crackling noise in the silence – that’s enough to cause most modems to drop the connection.
So I called BT, and they said that their test couldn’t detect a fault, but that they would send an engineer out. However, if the fault was with our equipment, there would be a call-out charge.
Of course, with the engineer due here by 3.30 today, the fault seems to have cleared itself up and the line is working fine. guh.
It rained this morning and has been very windy. Since a large chunk of the line to here is overhead, that can often be a problem. Now the wind has eased a little and the rain has dried up – and I wouldn’t mind betting that that is related to the now restored connection.
Best news of the day
Best news of the day is that Dad is going to come over and fit my new taps for my kitchen sink. I think I might do a quick survey tonight and see if I can find a few extra chores for him and his toolbag – the new shower rail springs readily to mind.
Strange goings-on….a small boy keeps
- a small boy keeps walking up and down past my windows, looking straight in at me as I sit here typing this. This is very disturbing. He is barely tall enough to see over the window sill. Graybo Theatre – do you think I could charge?
- a window has blown off of number 181 across the road and is resting on the edge of the roof, ready to fall to the ground. The window is often left open, and I’ve frequently noticed it swinging about wildly in the breeze and not on a latch. With today’s stronger wind, I guess it was all too much for the hinges. The glass is broken, and it really does look like it could fall on someone’s head at any moment.
Damn. I was going to go to the takeaway, but I see the lodger is now dangling out of the window in a very scary manner in an attempt to retrieve it. This I *have* to watch!
Darn – he’s got it in a most unexciting way. I was looking forward to some exciting smashing of glass or bone then.
Saturday 7 September 2002
Beer tonight with Frances, her
Beer tonight with Frances, her husband Simon and Karen B, with assorted others. Very pleasant indeed.
HarHarHar to the guys with
HarHarHar to the guys with the white van parked on the corner of Orchard Avenue on the double yellow lines who thought they would be clever and come and move their van at 9am. The traffic warden was more clever and gave them a ticket a 8.50.
More sex please, we’re Swedish.
After blocking Google last week,
After blocking Google last week, the Chinese authorities have now prevented their citizens from using AltaVista. It seems that they are attempting to render the internet useless for anything other than viewing Chinese government-approved online material.
Is your site blocked in China? Check here. This site is available to Chinese readers at the moment, but if I keep critising the Chinese authorities I guess it will be blocked soon too.
I doubt I have any Chinese readers anyway – but leave a comment and prove me wrong if you’re in China now.
Rate these things in order
Rate these things in order of foolhardiness:
- sending text messages whilst drunk
- dangling from a second floor window to retrieve a broken window
- shooting fish from a rubber dingy on a lake at 1am whilst drunk
- wiping bleach-covered hands on a clean red towel
- publishing details of your life on a website
- launching a unilateral attack on a middle east nation
- dating a woman who called her child Ryan
- wearing trousers so low that your butt crack shows
- supporting Brighton and Hove Albion football club
A full day’s DIY activity
A full day’s DIY activity with Dad, leading to the installation of new kitchen taps, a new shower curtain rail, a new bookshelf in the living room and a new light fitting in the kitchen. Top result. That’s another bottle of something that I owe him.
Happiness is…cheeky comments from vodkabirdbeer
- cheeky comments from vodkabird
- beer with Arron, Guy, Kearn, Greg and assorted folk
- coming home to very cool kitchen lighting and a very juicy melon (no double entendre intended)
- lots of other stuff too, but I can’t really relate to that at the moment because I am not experiencing it. ho hum.
- oh, yeh, and laughing at five very short bald men in the pub. heartless, amn’t I?
- random memory recalled of looking at wild flowers in a village halfway up the side of Mount Teide on Tenerife, many years ago
Sunday 8 September 2002
Sunday morning. A man lies
Sunday morning. A man lies asleep on a bench outside the post office, wearing only a shirt and jeans. Soon the nights will be too cold for that sort of thing – my guess is that he had too many drinks the night before to coordinate his limbs sufficiently to get himself home. An elderly couple on the next bench act as if he isn’t there.
A watery autumnal sun shines down on the litter scattered across the cathedral green as the bells ring out from the tower to announce the morning service to the waking city. A man sits on a bench under the lime trees rolling a cigarette, and looks up at me as I walk past him. Nearby, a middle aged woman stares vacantly into the middle distance as a young girl walks past on her way to the shops, where workers are unlocking doors and switching off alarms.
A pigeon picks at a discarded sandwich crust.
At the railway station, a mother and daughter speak in high speed Spanish about their plans for the day, clutching their tickets for the Brighton-bound train. Jamie, working the early shift in the coffee shop, gives me a cheery “good morning!” as I pick up my newspaper.
Two men disembark from the train as it rolls to a halt, tweed jackets slung over their shoulders, talking about cars and motor racing as they head to the courtesy bus to the Goodwood Revival Meeting.
The countryside rolls past the window, filled with the sights, sounds and smells of the harvest, as I flick through the stories of war, rape, murder and D-list celebrities. A woman on the next seat wth puffy eyes and tousled hair dozes blearily.
As I arrive at work, the sun becomes stronger – I can feel it on my arms.
Flash Long Jump – they
Flash Long Jump – they seem a bit harsh on faulters.
Monday 9 September 2002
Over the course of the
Over the course of the weekend, at least four people told me, with varying degrees of subtlety, that I could use a little more exercise and a modification of diet. And, yes, I know I still haven’t fulfilled that resolution in the sidebar to take more exercise. I should really get my bike fixed so that I can get out on it a bit.
What I really hate though is coming to work, opening up the e-mail that contains my daily horoscope, and reading this:
You may have some concern with the state of your general health — even some enthusiasm for proper diet and physical fitness. Enjoyment of food and drink can be your downfall. Today is a good day to join the gym and start that dreaded diet.
Harrumph. I *like* food and drink! It takes hard work to maintain my reputation as an epicurean! sulk.
UPDATE: it’s not just me then.
Almost forgot – food and
Almost forgot – food and beer last night with Bren, Greg, Bora and Paul F.
Another air hockey game to
Another air hockey game to enjoy on the wettest afternoon I’ve seen in ages.
Whilst researching a long piece
Whilst researching a long piece that will appear here on Wednesday, I found this: marketers explore product placements in music. As we all know well, Lola rhymes perfectly with Pepsi Cola. But we also know that the Beeb wouldn’t play it until it was changed to “cherry cola”.
Tuesday 10 September 2002
Sorry for the quietitude -
Sorry for the quietitude – busy busy busy, mainly dealing with an idiotic customer who has returned a perfectly healthy plant for no discernible reason, and without contacting us first. So I’m just sending a fresh specimen back, with a note to the effect that the original one would have grown just fine if only you’d left it in the bloody ground!
I don’t mind offering good customer service. But I expect my customers to at least use a little savvy.
My e-mail inbox has been
My e-mail inbox has been quiet all day. Not even much spam. Write to me?
Nick Robinson’s Newslog at the
Nick Robinson’s Newslog at the BBC is good, and appeals to the cynic in me (that’ll be all of me then, as I’m cynical to the core). Shame you can’t link to individual posts.
Comments should be functioning again
Comments should be functioning again later. And I notice that the GBlogs recently-updated list is broken too.
Yes, you too could own
Yes, you too could own a street-legal Star Wars Land Speeder!
Can you imagine taking this thing to your local supermarket? At eight feet wide, could you get it into your supermarket’s car park? A bit more interesting than your average Ford Escort, it must be said.
Wednesday 11 September 2002
For the past few days,
For the past few days, I’ve been trying to come up with an appropriate way to mark the first anniversary of the events of September 11th 2001. It is a subject that is being well-covered, perhaps to excess, on other websites and in every other medium. Earlier this week, Laura Bush, the First Lady, pleaded with broadcasters to show restraint in their programming for this week – I can see her motives, but I doubt that the broadcasters will be swayed.
It’s a time to reflect not only on the deaths that occurred that day, and the thousands more that have occurred since as a direct result, but also to look at our own attitudes that have been changed and modified and formed by the events and the events since then.
I think the biggest single lesson that has come from this is that there is never a simple or straightforward solution for anything. We live in a world of unbelievably complex networks, links and associations, such that any action in one place can have repercussions in a place far, far away, or on a group or individual that apparently seems far, far removed from the instigator or recipient of the original action. If a butterfly moving its wings in the Amazon rain forest can cause a storm in England, what impact does launching a battery of missiles in the Middle East have?
It almost seems trite to draw a literary comparison, but the best book I have read that attempts to look at nature of these connections is Ghostwritten by David Mitchell – I’ve just read it, and it is one of the best novels I have ever read.
But I digress.
Perhaps the best way for us to mark the anniversary is to carry on with life: to remember, certainly, but also to build, learning the lessons that have been or should have been learnt from the events that day, and the attitudes and mindsets that led up to them. And not just learning the lessons, but implementing them, allowing those ideas to form our new ideas and actions in the future. If we don’t do this, with the aim of creating a better world for ourselves, the people around us, and the generations to come, then the deaths of everyone in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Phillipines and elsewhere will have all been for nothing.
I hope and believe that this should apply to everyone, no matter what your race, faith, background, language, gender, nationality, colour, politics or belief.
If only I had the sufficient faith in human nature to believe that it could happen.
I’m not going to write anything more on the subject. I don’t think I can express my ideas sufficiently clearly – and those ideas are not fully formed and are always in flux, changing as new information becomes available to me. What I will do though is to encourage you to read widely – check out other people’s blogs and see what ideas they have; look at news sites around the world (see here for a list of sites that I visit from time to time); read newspapers and magazines, and not just the usual ones. Get opinion and “fact” from as many viewpoints and sources as you can.
I’m going to leave you with an article. It hasn’t been published online as far as I can tell. It is from the September 2002 issue of Marketing Business, which is the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. It is by Jaimie Seaton. She is a journalist based in Connecticut, and has written for many titles including the Sunday Times and Newsweek. I present this article without any further comment.
The premise is simple. Various people sitting around in front of a boring pea-green background, describing their harrowing escapes from the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11. The stories are riveting. No matter how many times we hear them, survival stories from that day never lose their capacity to touch the listener.
But these stories aren’t being told to a documentary filmmaker or journalist. They are being told as part of an advertising campaign for the brokerage firm, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
Designed by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, the campaign of TV spots and print ads feature Cantor Fitzgerald employees who survived a trip to hell and back. Cantor Fitzgerald and its subsidiary, eSpeed, have the dubious distinction of having lost the most people on that September day – 658 of 1050 WTC-based employees died in the attack. In the days that followed, Cantor CEO Howard Lutnick was a constant presence on American television, where he wept as he talked about the incalculable loss. Lutnick’s brother was among those killed in the attacks.
“It’s not so much a campaign as an opportunity for the employees to tell their story to the world,” says Amy Nauiokas, director of global marketing for Cantor Fitzgerald and eSpeed. “We wanted to let the world know we are here and we survived,” added Nauiokas, whose own story is featured in the campaign.
Reaction in the US has been mixed. While some viewers find the stories inspirational, others question its appropriateness. Brian Bernstein, a financial analyst at one of the major Wall Street firms that occupied the WTC, was sitting at his desk on the 38th floor of Tower One when the first plane hit. He describes the building swaying so violently that his first thought was that the tower might tip over completely. He was making his way down the stairs when the second plane hit.
“I do think it’s a nice service of the company to put the stories online and make them available to the public,” says Bernstein. “I’m just wondering if this is an appropriate angle to use in the firm’s marketing strategy. One can’t help wondering if Cantor is trying to profit from the tragedy, but one hopes that isn’t the case.”
Nauiokas bristles at the suggestion that anyone might find fault with the campaign. “September 11 is part of who we are now,” she says. “We want the world to know what drives us. The reason these companies exist today is because we are all here to honour the people we lost and we are going to take care of their families.” Cantor Fitzgerald has pledged 25% of profits to the families of the dead for the next five years.
Additionally, the firm is paying the health insurance for families for the next ten years.
“We’ve always been a unique organisation in that we know each other and see each other outside of the office. I’m proud to be part of a team that has kept the companies going and that is taking care of those families,” says Nauiokas.
In response, Bernstein says, “It’s very noble for them to live up to their promises to the victims’ families, and of course their responsibilities to the investors. However, the television spot digs a little too much into the tragedy by presenting the stories. I think it would be more effective if the company were straightforward about their goals. As it is, the spot leaves a blurred perception and makes one question if the sympathy card is being used. As a survivor, I can’t really say if the campaign is disrespectful, but it leaves a funny taste in the mouth.”
In Advertising Age, Bob Garfield wrote: “If any company has the right to invoke 9/11 – even exploit it for sympathy – it is Cantor. And it is beyond our reach to pass judgement. We can only muse. Why? Why run this campaign? Is it marketing or catharsis? Inspiration or pathos?”
In the end, the question of why the campaign was initiated may overshadow the campaign itself. Perhaps, as Garfield suggests, catharsis is the answer. Perhaps the survivors at Cantor Fitzgerald just need to tell their story.
eSpeed/Cantor Fitzgerald website – you can view the ads here.
Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund
BrandEra article on the same subject
Advertising Age article
One Year Later: A Triumph of the Ordinary – also from Advertising Age
BBC – Flashback to 10 September 2001
TFF: 2 points (only one
TFF: 2 points (only one match this week), taking my score to 62.
You lot are being very
You lot are being very quiet today.
Anyway, to keep you all entertained, I’m working on a new header graphic for this site, which should be launched sometime tomorrow.
Thursday 12 September 2002
New header graphic now in
New header graphic now in place. As usual, the photo was taken somewhere within Chichester, and the first person to correctly identify the location will win a firm handshake.
I think this one is pretty easy, but here is a larger image to save you squinting at your monitor.
ADSL update: well, I now
ADSL update: well, I now have my box of goodies (kindly taken in by my neighbour – why don’t BT give you the option to have it delivered to your work address?) and I’ve attempted the installation – and hit two problems. Firstly, it definitely will not run on Win95. Secondly, the cable supplied doesn’t reach my phone socket. Not a good start.
Thankfully, Arron has offered to help me out in the PC department (subject to a visit to the bar, of course). And hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up a longer cable from the DIY store – in fact, I think I’ll head there now.
Hmm – no joy on
Hmm – no joy on the cable front. Dad has a spare cable that is the right length, but has the wrong connection at one end. guh. Anyway, hopefully between us we will be able to cobble something together.
Beer tonight with Arron, Aris,
Beer tonight with Arron, Aris, DA and Kearn. And it seems that I’m still fat. oh good.
Friday 13 September 2002
Interesting: an aircraft that seems
You may recall (it’s in
You may recall (it’s in the sidebar, so it’d be hard to forget) that I made a resolution to take more exercise this year. Well it’s high time I acted on that, particularly as everyone keeps making jibes about me being a bit soft around the middle these days.
So I’ve decided that I’m going to diet and exercise, and you guys are going to help me. In the sidebar, you’ll see a new section entitled “Diet with Graybo”. In it you will see my current weight (13st 13lb – that’s 195lb or 88.5kg) and my target weight (12st 13lb – that’s 181lb or 82kg). I aim to reach my target weight by 20 December – that’s 14 weeks to lose 14lb.
At 6ft1in (185cm), I have a current body mass index (BMI) of 25.7. A BMI of more than 25 is deemed to be overweight, so I need to get my weight down to 13st 7lb to no longer fall into that category. My target weight will give a BMI of 23.9. (Incidentally, to be classed as underweight, I’d have to drop to less than ten stone – that’s ridiculous, as when I dropped to eleven and a half stone, I looked like a concentration camp victim).
So, how am I going to achieve this? Well, I’m not going back to the Corn Flake diet because losing a stone in three weeks can not be healthy. Instead I’m going to:
- cut out all snacks between meals
- go for a walk or cycle ride every evening after work, even if only a short one (must fix the bike!), because you’re not likely to see me in a gym
- cut out some of the fattier stuff at meal times
- eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
- cut down on beer (suggestions for alternative drinks welcome – is vodka and tonic fattening?)
How are you going to help? By being my conscience – watching those weight reports in the sidebar. And also by offering any practical advice that you may have. And if anyone from around Chichester wants to join me on the walking or cycling, I’d like that too (what’s the old Garfield gag? “Misery loves company” or “Diet is DIE with a T”) – I’m not talking about scary walking or cycling, with lycra shorts or anything – jeans and a sweater will do.
Wish me luck!
Incidentally, if anyone else wants
Incidentally, if anyone else wants to join in on this weight loss/get fit idea, and is brave enough to have their weight known by all the world (or at least the few people that read this site), then step up to the microphone now.
Vodka and tonic with Arron,
Vodka and tonic with Arron, Nikki, Joel, Kristian, Paul F, Malcolm, Sally, Wanda, Jo and Julie, but not all at once.
Saturday 14 September 2002
Expect even more prolonged silence
Expect even more prolonged silence today as I attempt to uninstall win95 and install win98SE on my home pc.
I now have win98SE. I
I now have win98SE. I also have a functioning ADSL connection. I also have real processor speed problems, and a severe lack of hard drive space – time for a clear-out, I think.
Big thanks to Arron for help and advice, and also to annoyances.org – if you are having Windows problems, I recommend a visit here.
Sunday 15 September 2002
Vodka and slimline tonight with
Vodka and slimline tonight with the utterly gorgeous Fi and the devastatingly lovely Julie, as well as Kearn, Stein and Arron, with sightings of Cat, Karen, Joel, Kristian, Nikki and various other usual suspects. This followed by an unexpected and pleasant call from Mr Nick T.
I need a hug. Which
I need a hug.
Which is a sure sign that I’ve had too much to drink. So I’m going to head off to bed, chewing a lump of celery as I go.
Yet another battleships game.
Yet another battleships game.
Have you noticed that every
Have you noticed that every Formula One fan, whoever they support, loves it when Rubens Barrichello wins? And that the Italians celebrate like no other nationality?
This is an utterly brilliant
This is an utterly brilliant and highly original game/logic puzzle – and you have no idea how much I enjoy flicking someone called Kevin into outer space by means of a giant rubber band!
We haven’t had one for
We haven’t had one for a very long time, but there is a new rogue over at Graybo’s infamous passport photo page – go see.
To make up for the
To make up for the fact that I didn’t do any walking yesterday for fighting with the PC upgrade (which seems to be working fine now), I went on an extra long walk this evening. It was a 14km circuit (that’s a little more than 8.5 miles) and took just under three hours (I walk at quite a brisk pace). The route took me through the city, to Apuldram, Dell Quay, Chichester Yacht Basin, and then along Chichester Canal past Donnington, Hunston and Stockbridge and back to the city.
Much to my shame, I have never walked along the entire length of the canal before, and I’d recommend it to anyone. My walk was made very enjoyable by the gorgeous weather, with the blue sky and lowering sun reflected in the sparkling harbour waters. Along the way I saw all sorts of wild flowers, too numerous to mention, but including some beautiful knapweeds and very tasty brambles (proper brambles, not the fat wild blackberries – they are smaller and have the most sublime taste to them). I also spotted terns, swans, mallards, moorhens and coots as well as a rapid streak of blue low over the canal – something that can only have been a kingfisher.
I can empathise with Dead
I can empathise with Dead Kenny – West Ham are doing just about as well as Brighton at the moment. Dark days.
And Sussex lost against Derbyshire in the one-day cricket today. gah.
Monday 16 September 2002
Things I am currently missing:wine
Things I am currently missing:
- wine gums
- sausage rolls
- butter in my sandwiches
- Red Bull
- sugary breakfast cereals
- …did I mention beer?
Could still do with a hug, too. gah.
Anyway – must be positive – it’s a nice day again and the weather forecast is set fair right through until after the weekend, so walking should be more of a pleasure than a chore. Marvellous.
Can I addmotivationto that list?
Can I add
to that list? Not for losing weight and getting fit, but for just about everything in general. I’m feeling very "blah" today – or at least I am now, as I was pretty lively first thing this morning.
Tonight’s walk took me down
Tonight’s walk took me down Westgate, along Centurion Way to Lavant, back through Fordwater and Summersdale (with a stopover at Sarah’s to chew the rag) and home – a distance of 10.25km or just over six miles, covered in slightly under two hours.
Centurion Way is a cycle route on the line of an old railway. There are some good views along there, both towards and away from the city, and the walking is generally easy. Seen along the way today was a heron, more brambles, some wild blackberries, hawthorn showing fruit ranging from cherry red through to deep blood red, rose hips and some lovely yellow toadflax.
Judging by recent audience figures,
Judging by recent audience figures, radio grayblog listeners must think I’ve died if the lack of updates over there is anything to go by. Well, you’ll be glad, if not downright excited, to learn that I’ve just added three fresh top quality tracks by the amazing Neko Case and Her Boyfriends for your listening pleasure, with more tracks to be added in the next few days. I’ll also get round to updating the playlist at some point so you know what you are listening to.
Tuesday 17 September 2002
AFF – 8 points. I
AFF – 8 points. I think I need to make a few transfers.
Arron tells me that the
Arron tells me that the best time to do exercise (in terms of its effectiveness in weight loss and getting fit) is in the morning before breakfast. So, by his reckoning, I’d need to haul myself out from under EvilDuvetII sometime around 5.30am to get my two hours of walking done and still get to work on time.
Hmm. Highly unlikely, I’d say.
However, one of the things I am considering is walking home from work. I need to suss out a route, but I reckon it is about eight or nine miles and would take two and a half to three hours. That means that I really would only be able to do it this week or next, as after that it will be too dark.
Not all bad news, but
Not all bad news, but still an alarming number of newly naturalized plant species, which, undoubtedly, is the fault of nurserymen and gardeners. A very difficult issue.
Lyssa is not having a
Lyssa is not having a good time. Go over and be supportive.
Wednesday 18 September 2002
Interesting night last night. Vodka
Interesting night last night. Vodka and tonics with Paul F (feeling his age), Arron (feeling “fuh, well, whatever” as usual), Bren, Greg, Cat, Karen and Emma, but not before unwittingly sitting through a presentation about a pyramid selling scheme. More on this later.
TFF: 45 points. Not great
TFF: 45 points. Not great in a week with so many matches.
Time to rush out and
Time to rush out and buy a new posh frock.
Fantastic! Tomorrow is Talk Like
Tonight’s walk, of 6.5km (just
Tonight’s walk, of 6.5km (just over 4 miles), took me around the city walls and down the canal to Poyntz Bridge and back. Poyntz Bridge is where J M W Turner set up his easel to paint the canal.
There’s a lot I want
There’s a lot I want to write here at the moment, but I’m just too tired. Maybe tomorrow?
Thursday 19 September 2002
You do all watch Weebl
You do all watch Weebl and Bob, don’t you?
Sadly and finally, after being
Sadly and finally, after being dropped about fifty times, my clunky but much-admired mobile phone fascia has finally given up the ghost. So it’s back to boring old bog-standard Nokia-supplied grey jobbie until I find a groovy new matt black one to replace it. Any tip-offs on good fascia sources welcomed.
One of the most lovable
One of the most lovable of all Graypies, Lizzie, has been added to the passport gallery. You next?
Google can be so helpful.
The World, Backwards – still
The World, Backwards – still amongst the best of the anonymous bloggers.
Tonight’s walk – 5.5 miles
Tonight’s walk – 5.5 miles in about 100 minutes.
Blimey – I’ve been so
Blimey – I’ve been so wrapped up in walking and pyramid schemes that I completely forgot this site’s second birthday, which was on Monday.
Happy belated birthday, Grayblog.
Friday 20 September 2002
Week 1 weigh-in: 13st 11lb
Week 1 weigh-in: 13st 11lb – yay! 2lb lost!
I bet it gets harder from here on.
Hitler made my train late.
I’m never going to work
I’m never going to work again. Mecha-Breakout. via LMG again.
Vodka and slimlines tonight with
Vodka and slimlines tonight with Bren, Greg, Paul F, Nikki and Helen, with brief sightings of Cat and Karen who gave me a lift home, bless her.
Outside the Nags tonight, kindly policemen gave a ride in a blue-light taxi to a guy in a Black Sabbath t-shirt who was so drunk that he could barely stand.
Saturday 21 September 2002
Today’s walk, to Lavant Down,
Today’s walk, to Lavant Down, The Trundle, along the south side of West Dean Park, back to Lavant and along Centurion Way, covered 18.25km or 11.25 miles and took around 4 hours.
Sorry that I’ve not had
Sorry that I’ve not had much to say today. Just fancied a quiet one, pottering about.
I haven’t forgotten to update you on the things I said I would, including the pyramid selling scheme adventure, but not tonight.
What I have done, though, is add four new tracks to radio grayblog – that’s seven new tracks this week, nearly 10% more than there were before. I’ll update the playlist too soon.
Sunday 22 September 2002
The Countryside Alliance Liberty and
The Countryside Alliance Liberty and Livelihood March is taking place today. Unsurprisingly, as someone who lives and works in a largely rural area, I broadly support the aims of the march. However, I think that the organisers need to be careful that the right message is getting across. For example, is it right that hunting should be the central and key issue? This is certainly an emotive subject (one for which I have a certain degree of ambivalence), but, ultimately, really doesn’t effect that many people directly, and is not likely to lead to a great degree of sympathy from urban voters.
Surely it would be much better to put more focus on the human aspects of the current situation in the countryside? Bankrupt farmers (the custodians of that nice green space that city folk like to escape to at the weekend), struggling shopkeepers and postmasters, school children who must travel 25 miles to their nearest school/doctor/dentist, young families who can not afford their own home due to falling incomes and spiralling property prices (typical price of a two bed cottage in a village in Sussex: around £180,000 to £200,000 – try affording that if you have a joint income of £30,000 and a child or two to support!) and so on. These issues have an impact on the entire community, and have ramifications on the entire national economy, environment and infrastructure, touching everyone from rural Cumbria ultimately to urban Camden.
Back in the 80s, under Mrs Thatcher, there was a north-south divide in this country. I’m sure that still exists, but in the last few years we have seen the beginnings of a new divide, between urban and rural. The perception, rightly or wrongly, is that central government is divorced from and has no understanding of rural issues. And doesn’t care.
But it is the responsibility of the Countryside Alliance to ensure that the message is effectively communicated. Two things have struck me about the media coverage of the event – the general focus on hunting at the expense of all those other issues, and the images (exemplified by the cover photo on today’s Indy of farmers who had ridden for four days to Hyde Park, celebrating by swigging from a bottle of Bolly) of wealth, decadence and hooray-henry-ness (the Indy also carries an article listing all the socialite parties being held tonight for march-goers – and before anyone suggests I should look at another newspaper, perhaps they should check that the Telegraph’s editor, Charles Moore, is actually hosting one of these parties). The CA should take a leaf from the Labour Party’s book, and learn to more precisely control the message that is being put over, focus on the true situation of tumbling incomes and faster falling rural land and business values – and not give any opportunity for the media to find mixed and confused messages such as those I describe.
However, in spite of that, the march does illustrate the scale and depth of feeling about these issues. Is it in vain to hope that it might make a difference?
It took me a while
Whilst in the house to
Whilst in the house to have my lunch (I’m at work today), I caught Holly Valance performing her latest song on Channel 4. She was dancing and “singing” on stage, surrounded by bemuscled dancers in black outfits. She was doing a very Britneyesque dance routine (I remember when Janet Jackson used to do that, but soooo much better. God, I’m getting old.), but you could see by the look on her face that she felt a right idiot and really didn’t want to be there.
You can take the girl out of next door, but it seems that you can’t take the next door out of the girl. Or something.
Beer (yes, beer) and food
Beer (yes, beer) and food tonight with Bren, Greg, Sally, Paul F, Aris, Nikki and various others.
Not before walking 5km/3 miles, mind you.
Monday 23 September 2002
Decidedly lacking in enthusiasm today.
Decidedly lacking in enthusiasm today. And I’ve got shedloads to do too. Best just get on with it.
Nico highlights this – reckon
Congratulations to Melanie, who works
Congratulations to Melanie, who works at the nursery, and revealed today that she is expecting a baby in April.
Tonight’s walk was to Hunston
Tonight’s walk was to Hunston and back, then to Summersdale and back. 9.5 km or 6 miles.
Tuesday 24 September 2002
Why do I find this
Why do I find this utterly laughable. When the Census is used by government, industry and business to set policy and make decisions, is it right that (one assumes) 12% of the figures are fictitious??
I’m tired and lacking enthusiasm
I’m tired and lacking enthusiasm again – which is not good, as tonight I have to go to Ruislip to give a presentation and will, therefore, not get home much before midnight, having driven 140 miles or so. guh.
Best go and prepare for it.
I’m considering changing that photo
I’m considering changing that photo of me in the sidebar for a slightly more recent one (that one is two years old now). Just considering, mind you.
Wednesday 25 September 2002
As people who have been
As people who have been reading this site for a long time will know, I occasionally go out to give presentations about plants to horticultural clubs and societies. I’ve been doing it for about ten years now, and have travelled all over the place – mostly in the south east, but also into the midlands and to Philadelphia. Just once in a while, I do a presentation that I really enjoy, and kudos to the people of Ruislip for making last night’s outing one of the best I’ve had for a long time. It’s the little things – a decent map showing the way to the hall, a cup of tea when I get there (as well as a round of sandwiches – the chairman of the group having realised that I would have missed my evening meal), having the tables, chairs and screen all set up, a parking space by the door, and an attentive and interested audience that actually take part in the presentation by asking questions, making notes and even laughing in the right places.
If only they were all like that.
Was pretty tired by the time I got home though – a 140-mile round trip, getting back through my door just in time to hear the midnight news (or I would have heard it if I hadn’t fallen asleep straight away on the sofa).
Big news of the afternoon
Big news of the afternoon is that old school chum David is to marry the beautiful and wonderful Andi – which is, I must say, utterly brilliant! David clearly has excellent taste, although I’m less sure about Andi’s!!
So I’m now looking forward to a trip to the States next autumn for the big event. Not to be missed.
You know they give you
You know they give you an Allen key to use in the construction of flat-pack furniture sometimes? And you know that they always say to keep the Allen key safe? Well, I’ve just put mine to good use and stopped my dining chairs from wobbling.
I’m so proud.
Right, long promised and long
Right, long promised and long overdue, here is my report on the pyramid selling adventure.
Firstly – how did I come to be there? Well, a person I know through work had talked to me earlier in the year about this “friend” of hers who was looking to expand a business that involved internet selling, and was looking for someone to join the business. Now, I should point out that I like and trust this person (although that is slightly eroded now), and this discussion was on the back of a conversation about my CIM course.
So when I got a phone call from her saying “remember that conversation? [umm....very vaguely] well, we’re having a meeting to discuss it, and I thought you’d like to come along…”, I said that of course I’d come along and see what the whole situation was and if there was mutual interest.
Bear in mind that I’m actively exploring career options at the moment, and have two other (related) avenues that I’m currently seriously investigating.
So, last Tuesday, I ambled (rapidly) up to Alton, having even gone so far as to iron my shirt (those that know me well will know that this is a major event). I found the venue for the meeting, and was immediately struck by the fact that this was not the natural habitat of the person who had invited me there. She is slightly leftfield in nature and of an artistic bent, not the sort of person you are likely to find in a 70s housing estate on the edge of Alton. So it was with some trepidation that I knocked at the door, which was answered by a total stranger. I introduced myself and said who had sent me, and was invited in to the lounge and offered coffee.
And was immediately overcome by the feeling that this was all wrong.
Present in the house was the host and his wife, and one other person who looked as uncomfortable and out of place as I felt. Whilst I sat there and made clear that I wasn’t exactly sure why I was there (or even if I was in the right place), a few other people arrived, including two other people already involved in this “business”, and four others who looked as uncomfortable as me.
The main thing that struck me was that the people already involved in this were so earnest and enthusiastic and even downright evangelical about it. “We’re really excited about this, Graham”. “It’s really huge”. “We’re seeing massive growth at the moment”. “This thing is big”.
Well, yes, but what is it exactly?
Then the star turn arrived. Chris.
Declared our host: “Chris is going to tell us all about this programme [uh-oh, don't like that word]. He’s very experienced [at what exactly????]. So without further ado…. Chris!”
(Much fumbling as Chris sets up whiteboard on easel).
I’d put Chris in his mid to late thirties. A slim bloke, fairly tall, with perma-bronzed face and arms (couldn’t tell if it was bottle or sunbed, as the light wasn’t good enough – but I’d err on the side of sunbed) and clearly loved himself deeply. He started out by being very enthusiastic, and continuing the mutual love-in, without actually telling us anything. He then went on to explain that he’d been involved in the “programme” (note careful avoidance of the word “scheme”) for more than ten years, having been introduced to it by his then girlfriend who is now his wife. Blah de blah.
He then went on to explain the scheme itself. I’ll not go into too much detail here (otherwise you’ll have reams of reading), but essentially you buy stuff from amivo.com, “an opportunity from Amway” (a name that will ring bells with anyone who has ever heard of any of the most widespread pyramid or “multi-level marketing” schemes in the US or here). You then encourage your friends to do the same, for which you receive a commission. But the “really exciting bit” is that if they go on to introduce people, you earn commission on what they buy too. *And* the more people that you recruit to do this, the more money you make. Moreover, it really doesn’t matter about the buying of the products, because the commission you actually make is based more on the quantity of people you recruit to the system, and the number of people that those people subsequently recruit, and so on until you reach some state of nirvana and float in the clouds on wings of cash. I may have got that last bit wrong, but hopefully you’ve got the drift.
Now, as you might expect, I was scribbling notes as this was going on, as well as looking at the faces of other people in the room (mostly blank and avoiding eye contact in the case of the uncomfortable newcomers, smiling and earnest in the case of the people already in the programme). I was also doing some quick calculations (and I could tell that the woman who had introduced herself as a part time accountant was doing the same thing), and was rapidly coming to the conclusion that what was being promised (in terms of potential income or “revenue streams”) was either being grossly exaggerated or was simply and utterly unsustainable.
Chris must have detected this in his audience, as he started off into discussing all the happy people who he knew on this scheme that had reached cash-induced happiness and displayed some photographs of smiling late-middle-age couples who had been, evidently, solicitors, doctors and teachers in past lives and now had substantial “residual income” through the scheme. He also bantered on about what we could all do with all this money (buy property, stop working, pay off our mortgages, get out of debt) – it was all focused on the personal benefits that new found wealth would give us.
But I don’t need anyone to tell me what I could do with more money if I had it (I have plenty ideas of my own). What I needed was convincing that this was a good way to achieve that (and I was a very long way from that). It was when Chris pronounced that “only unsuccessful people question the method. Successful people focus on the successful result” that I thought: Um, hello? Isn’t that like building a house with a really nice waterproof and warm roof, but not really worrying about the walls because they’re not really important and only boring and unsuccessful people think about that?
Chris wrapped up, handed out information packs and arranged dates to visit each person to collect the packs. I was preparing to really pick him apart with lots of incisive questions when everyone else left! Damn! They were all clearly eager to escape, and certainly didn’t want to linger and discuss it (particularly when we were told not to discuss it with other people, to keep it to ourselves, and only to direct questions to Chris when he called to pick up the packs. Say what?), which is a shame, as I was totally ready to pull his presentation to pieces and save these people from a terrible fate (although I got the impression that they were ready to save themselves).
As I left, I stopped to chat in the road outside with a couple that had been sat next to me. They were in their twenties and were clearly as sceptical as me. I asked them their impression: “ummm, no thanks! I think we’ll just drop the pack through the door so as to avoid him calling round for it. But wasn’t everyone so intense, and just staring and smiling like a bunch of happy clappers!”
Exactly my impression. I was reminded of Quatermass and The Pit – if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll know what I mean.
So there you have it. I deviously avoided meeting Chris again by being “called away at short notice” when he called round, having left his pack in a safe place for him to pick up (which he did).
I also got a follow up call from the person who had originally invited me, asking me why I didn’t find such good “revenue streams” attractive. So I told her – it’s a flimsy pyramid, I don’t believe the claims and I think I’d be foolish to get involved. With that goes the implication that I think she is foolish to be involved, and frankly, I think that is the case.
The whole scheme seems to rely on a sort of brainwashing, picking out vulnerable people (there was talk in the presentation on recruiting people who were unemployed, in sunset industries, on low pay or working long hours). Aside from the financial weakness of the whole thing, I think there is something mildly unethical about it too.
If anyone is listening to
If anyone is listening to John Peel this evening – yes, that email was from me.
Thursday 26 September 2002
Gah. There are too many
Gah. There are too many blogs to possibly keep up to date. I end up reading the same few, and rarely adventure out into the unknown, simply for lack of time.
So if there are any blogs that I really shouldn’t be missing, let me know.
Not suitable for cat lovers.
Not suitable for cat lovers. Um, actually, I like cats. But you’ll see my point once you get there.
I didn’t win. Or get
I didn’t win. Or get shortlisted. No surprises there.
Right, what’s next to stir up the British blogging scene? We need some new scandal and controversy now that that one is done with (until next year).
3 mile walk to the
3 mile walk to the harbour and back tonight. For the second time, I saw a little egret at close range.
Friday 27 September 2002
Weekly weigh-in: 13st 9lb (191lb
Weekly weigh-in: 13st 9lb (191lb or 86.7kg) – another 2lb lost in week 2. Yay! At this rate, I’ll reach my target in half the time I expected, although there is bound to be a setback sooner or later (there are a couple of dinners forthcoming that won’t help).
Today, I would rather be
Today, I would rather be walking by the harbour, on holiday in Portugal or spending time with friends (or all three). Instead, I’m sitting at my desk poring over catalogues, placing orders and updating databases. yawn.
It’s also decidedly grey today, which, after a few days of sunshine, is not good for the spirit.
Forgot to mention: TFF: 33
Forgot to mention: TFF: 33 points. Sticking with my team for the moment, but a major review next week, methinks.
Tired of losing out in
Tired of losing out in the battle between ADSL and dial up modems? Work off your anger with this game.
Anyone remember playing Jupiter Lander
Anyone remember playing Jupiter Lander on the C64? It came on a ROM cartridge that plugged in the back. (Apologies to all those kids for whom 5.25″ diskettes are not seen as a modern invention). Well, you can now play a similar game (although with far smoother graphics, better music and multiple levels – it’s just not the same!) here.
Tonight, as I was walking
Tonight, as I was walking back from the Slug and Lettuce, having bumped into Cat, Greg and Karen on my way home from work, I was nearly run over by Simon Weston. Somehow, I can’t imagine that driving the biggest Mercedes I’ve seen for a while is much compensation for what he went through.
Saturday 28 September 2002
Vodka and slimlines tonight with
Vodka and slimlines tonight with Dave, Gary, Paul F, Bren, Greg, Nikki, Arron, Sacha and Cat. Not feeling terribly charitable, and may even be described as “tetchy”.
Just got an email from
Just got an email from Sarah asking if I’ll be out tonight. After ending last night on an irritable note and having a mild hangover this morning (ending the night on a double JD and diet Coke was a bad plan), I’m less than enthusiastic about spending the evening with two couples.
Who’d have thought it? It’s
Who’d have thought it?
It’s pretty generally known that I’ve long admired John Major – whether you agree with his politics or not, he has personal qualities as an “ordinary” bloke that you have to admire, exemplified by his dignified manner in the face of general election defeat in 1997 when he pretty much said “stuff this, I’m off to watch the cricket”. But, in a rare moment of sense, Lady Archer today hit the nail on the head by saying:
Mind you, I’m not so sure that Lady Archer should be regarded as much of an arbiter of taste. Look at the plank that she married!
Football: Brighton: gah!
Football: Brighton: gah!
Sunday 29 September 2002
Vodka and slimline last night
Vodka and slimline last night with Sarah, Paul, Polly, Damian, Paul F, Ted, Arron, Kearn, Matt, Ian (with superhero hair), Dave, Mark, Nikki and other picture postcards.
It’s another beautiful indian summer
It’s another beautiful indian summer day, so I’m off for a long walk. Switch off your PC and get out there!
Today’s walk – down the
Today’s walk – down the canal to the Yacht Basin, a detour to Birdham Pool, and then back via Fishbourne. 14km or nearly 8.75 miles, completed in 2hrs 50min.
Seen today were dozens of walkers, cyclists and fishermen, as well as a curlew.
Absolutely fantastic food today at
Absolutely fantastic food today at Percy Towers in the company of Lady Bren, Lord Percy and Lady Turd, followed by beer at W2 with Paul F, Paul Sm, Ted, Bren, Greg, Aris, Nikki, the Nags posse, Guy and assorted others. And the band played on…
Monday 30 September 2002
Hmm. Interesting start to the
Hmm. Interesting start to the week.
Anyway, in other news, it’s another gorgeous sunny day. Which is nice at one level, but we do desperately need rain.
I know everyone is doing
I know everyone is doing it at the moment, but I’m considering a fairly fundamental redesign here. This site is suffering severe linkrot, the navigation could be improved, the layout is cluttered, the code is a mess (it looks like it has been constantly tweaked and added to, which is exactly the case) and I’m considering switching CMS. Which means taking one of my precious days off and spending it in front of a PC doing nothing but geeky stuff all day long.
Areas that need consideration:
- tables vs CSS2
- more easily maintained site elements, especially the lists of links and the about page (PHP?)
- cleaner design implemented across the entire website (one or two parts, such as the search results page, still use ancient designs)
- better organisation of content – is an archive that is ordered only by date the best format?
- improved accessibility
- continued balance between browser compatibility and standards compliance (there are still a few NN3 users who read this site, and I don’t want to ignore them)
No plans to change the overall content or writing style though. I’ve never really consciously developed a style, it’s just developed in a steady and organic way over the last two and a bit years. Most of the time I like it, occasionally it bores even me.
Ultimately, this is my site to do with as I wish. But you are welcome to throw in any (constructive) thoughts and suggestions. Which I am free to ignore if I so wish.
Why is it that I get a feeling that this may take more than a single day to implement?
Tom climbs into a strange
Tom climbs into a strange man’s van wearing only a towel, only in far from pleasant circumstances.
Whenever I hear of someone who has been burgled, it always strikes me as terribly unjust. Why can’t people just leave other people and their stuff alone?? And I guess this could be a reminder that it could happen to you (or me).