Saturday 1 May 2004
A less exclusive club
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia – welcome to the EU.
- EU becomes "normal" – Paul Reynolds, BBC
- Norway braced for EU expansion – Aftenposten
- Advice for a successful marriage – Budapest Business Journal
- Mixed feelings – Anke Bryson, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
- Impact of expansion on Russian-EU trade "cut by half by new deal" – St Petersburg Times
- Fireworks fail to fizz as expansion fatigue takes a heavy toll – John Lichfield, Independent
- Europe’s biggest gamble – Peter Fray, Sydney Morning Herald
- Thatcher’s EU vision becomes reality – Anton La Guardia, Telegraph
- New "Europeans" struggle to define that title – Sarah Lyall, New York Times
Monday 3 May 2004
Processed meat product
33 spam comments in 20 hours. If this continues, I’ll be forced to disable the comments function across the entire site until MT comes up with comments registration.
Tuesday 4 May 2004
Firewall up. Download update.
Up. Down. Up. Simple really.
Of course, if Microsoft could sort out their software in the first instance…
Death at Chatsworth
Devonshire, RIP. Not sure about his patronage of UKIP and his support for the entirely questionable "Right to Roam", but you have to admire the way he held together an ancient estate and made it a successful and profitable business in the face of terrifying inheritance taxes (a tax that I think is thoroughly indefensible – as if the relatives of the recently deceased need to have massive tax worries to consider).
Wednesday 5 May 2004
For those who have been following the exciting saga of my faulty broadband connection at work, I now have received a replacement Intel AnyPoint modem and installed it – and I still have the same problem. I’m convinced that there is a driver conflict somewhere, but nothing is reported in control panel, nothing is reported on any online help resource, and I have given up on the BT Broadband helpdesk as a bad job, as it clearly falls outside of their experience and they can’t think outside of the little menu-driven questions and answers that appear on their PC screens in front of them.
So I’m just going to carry my dear old Alcatel SpeedTouch "Stringray" back and forth between home and work – it may not be cool, but it works.
<begging>Anyone got a spare Stingray that they would give to a good home?</begging>
I don’t think I’ll show this post to my future wife. I don’t think that she has yet expressed any particular preference for men’s underwear (when worn by me, I hasten to add – she doesn’t wear men’s pants herself). I like my boxers from Next and I’m sticking to them (not literally, you understand).
Behold the power of graybo!
Thursday 6 May 2004
Weebl’s Kenya – the live action version. (Warning: Quicktime movie).
5000 ways to be verbose
One hell of a lot of words.
Lots of inanity. Occasionally boring. Sometimes controversial. Very rarely amusing. Often personal.
It’ll be interesting to see if this site makes it to 10000 entries.
Actually, that’s probably a lie – I doubt that it will be interesting at all.
Initial reaction: Woo! Yay! Blondie, Paul Young and Hot Chocolate to play the Chichester Real Ale and Jazz Festival!
Considered reaction: Bumhats! I’m in the Netherlands that week. It also clashes with Charlie’s wedding, which is a vastly more important event.
Online Spirograph type thingy.
Back end problem
I’ve been working on completing the archives on this site, and have made further revelations about the MT problem. It seems that MT is not rebuilding the monthly archives. If I edit an individual post in a particular month, then it rebuilds that month’s archive, but if I select "Rebuild monthly archives" in the rebuild menu, it doesn’t work properly.
I’m not sure that this will ever be fixed – I’m hoping that the upgrade to MT3.0 (whenever that may be) might fix all this.
Saturday 8 May 2004
For reasons that I won’t go in to (mostly my own stupidity), whilst I should be on the first phase of my holiday now (relaxing in the bath at Hels’s home), I’m stuck in Chichester until tomorrow morning.
Thankfully, this hiccup is not disastrous due to some fortuitous flight timing, so, to use a well phrase:
Bugger this, I’m off to Lisbon.
See you Friday (maybe Thursday night if you’re lucky)
Thursday 13 May 2004
… we’re home! Full report (with pictures!) will follow. For now, sleep is needed.
And thanks to everyone that sent birthday greetings.
Having spent too long this evening deleting spam comments from this site, I’ve noticed that the spammers tend to prefer just a handful of posts to leave their messages at. Consequently, I’ve decided to shut down comments at just those few posts.
So, if you find a post in the archives where comments are prohibited, you’ll know why.
Friday 14 May 2004
I organise plant fairs as part of my work.
There is one this Sunday at Pashley Manor Gardens in East Sussex. The weather forecast is good, the publicity is definitely working and I’m feeling very positive about it. Come along if you like – it’s only a fiver to get in, including the fabulous gardens.
I sent the application forms to potential participant organisations in late February. They had until 31st March to return them. Plenty of time, you would think.
Why then do some businesses expect to be admitted if they phone up on the Friday before? And, for that matter, try to make me feel bad by saying that they’ve been coming for years (which is true – but then they’ve also expected to come at the last minute before too).
This plant fair is very heavily subscribed with participants – more than would be good if the weather was bad. I’ve already turned away three potential participants because the event is over-subscribed.
I just find it so annoying.
Saturday 15 May 2004
Apologies for the on-going lack of content here. I’m up to my eyes in work, particularly preparing for tomorrow’s plant fair at Pashley (you are coming, aren’t you?), so blogging has taken a back seat for the moment.
Levity was provided last night in the form of dinner and birthday cake in the company of Charlie and Peeeet, with their friends Simon and Mikaela – and my beautiful fiancée, of course. A splendid evening, and something that we do far too infrequently.
Just a taster…
I’ve just downloaded all the Lisbon pictures onto the laptop. I need to sort them out and maybe even create a special page for you, but in the meantime, here is one selected at random:
A view over Belém from the top of the Pedrão dos Descobrimentos. From left to right: the Centro Cultural de Belém; Hels (obviously!) enjoying the sun and the view along the Rio Tejo; the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and, in the foreground, the Praça do Império.
Brighton away to Swindon tomorrow in the first leg of the Division 2 promotion play-off semi-finals. Anything could happen, but most pundits seem to think that Brighton are the outsiders in this competition. I certainly wouldn’t rate our chances if we had to face Bristol City in a play-off final.
Tuesday 18 May 2004
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
- up to my neck in work
- just reduced flat to £142,500 – bargain!
- Hels off to Vienna for a conference for a few days
- incredible quantities of spam pollute my inbox
- beer tonight
- lovely weather
- more soon, I promise
From Lisboa, in the Alfama district…
An Odd Man
Felix Unger, RIP.
You lucky people – five new header graphics, all based on photos I took in Lisbon. Of course, you haven’t seen the Lisbon pictures yet, but hopefully you should get to see them by the weekend.
Wednesday 19 May 2004
Beer last night with…
Lord Percy, Paul C, Kearn, Kev and Little Otik.
This site may look a little odd for the next few days whilst I change CMS. Bear with me.
Thursday 20 May 2004
It seems to be working
This site now runs on WordPress. If you see anything that is broken, please let me know.
I’m still sorting out the archives at the moment, and there also seem to be some CSS issues which need fixing. Give me a few days and I’ll get there. I also need to sort out the comments template.
- install WP in the same directory as your blog if you want an easy life
- the five minute install certainly works if you are starting a completely new blog – in fact, if you’re a little web-savvy, I reckon you could do it in four!
- it is possible to run several blogs from one database using multiple installations of WP, in spite of what some of its detractors will tell you
- the documentation isn’t bad at all
- importing MT entries is a doddle
- it’s free, and that has to be a good thing
Overall, I’d definitely recommend it. It took me about three hours to do the transfer from MT to WP, including revising the templates so that they look something like the site that you are used to.
UPDATE: I’ve been trying to get a gizmo going so that, if you should try to follow a link on another site that goes to the permalink for an old entry, you get pointed towards its new home. Unfortunately, it seems at the moment to point you to entirely the wrong entry. I am, as they say, working on it.
The Inland Revenue has been actively promoting their online filing services for employers’ PAYE. Let me list my complaints:
- if you want to use the service, you must register in advance. They then send your user ID and activation password to you by post "for security". Given that there are (I think) a million letters going astray each week, and that they do not use registered or recorded delivery, then I think that this is likely to be as secure as your average cardboard box.
- when you actually come to use the service, you are frequently met with "service unavailable" messages.
- once you finally do manage to get the service to work, the user ID issued to me, which I noted down carefully, and which matches the user ID confirmation letter that I got through the post, are not recognised by the system. Without this, you can’t do anything.
I’d like to point out that, overall, I find the Inland Revenue’s online filing system to be total and utter crap.
Up and down
To make up for my grumpiness in the preceding post, here’s a pretty picture.
The Lisboetas have a love affair with their trams. The ancient number 28 creaks its way from Martim Moniz to the Basilica da Estrela and back again, invariably packed with tourists and sporting sponsorship from Heineken or Coke. The locals are more likely to be found on the modern number 5 "bendy tram" which whizzes its way out to Belém and beyond.
But Lisbon is a city of hills, and the trams come into their own when they take the form of elevadores, trams built to match the slope of a steep hill and operating in pairs – one going down whilst the other comes up. Thankfully, the authorities seem to have taken the decision to retain the authentic yellow colouring in place of sponsorship, sullied only by a discrete logo for Carris, the public transport firm that operates them. There are three tranvias (the tram-type elevadores, as opposed to the Elevador da Santa Justa, which is a fancy lift) – this picture shows the most picturesque of the three, which operates up and down the hill in Bica. Here the tourists fight for seats with the elderly locals, usually weighed down with dozens of bags of shopping.
Whilst Bica is the longest and most picturesque, the most useful is the Elevador da Gloria, which links the Barrio Alto – the home of trendy bars and restuarants – with Restauradores, adjacent the main railway station and linking in to the metro. Having walked up the hill at Gloria after a very filling meal, I can vouch for the merits of travel by elevador. And only EUR1.10 each way too.
A case of the crabs
Nick Bounty – A Case of the Crabs – ideal for wasting an hour or so.
I haven’t said much about Brighton’s place in the Division Two play-offs. This evening, the hope of a quick return to Division One was finally laid to rest.
Without a new stadium, there is no hope of Brighton ever succeeding in Division One. The lack of capacity and facilities is also a handicap to success in the lower divisions. As it is, I now fear that the best players from the team will be cherry-picked for life in Division One, sold to help finance the on-going planning battles, leaving a team impoverished in both financial and sporting terms. I’m not optimistic for the future.
…which all goes to prove that it isn’t over until the fat lady sings. I need to go and lie down now.
BBC match report here.
Friday 21 May 2004
I’ve been busy.
And I’m missing H.
Anyway, I spent most of the day talking to Australians, visiting a garden, looking at a plant trial and trying to find some important papers that seem to have been eaten by my desk.
And to keep Lord Percy happy, here is a picture of your hero and mine, Little Otik.
I feel that I should explain the whole Little Otik thing, as I may be being a bit obscure for you all here. Some time ago, I went with Lord Percy and Lady Bren to see Little Otik at the cinema. It’s a film about a tree stump that looks like a baby.
B and G were working in their garden the other day and found a dead Pelargonium that looked like a little man, complete with hair. Naturally, they were reminded of the film, and with my birthday approaching, decided to put it in a spiffy little box and give it to me as a present.
Saturday 22 May 2004
I’ve spent the whole day driving many miles and visiting umpteen estate agents. I also viewed three properties, one of which is "really quite promising and high on the list". Another would rank as "very interesting". I looked at a third from the outside and ranked it as "having potential". All in all, however, the whole experience has been utterly exhausting and I’m fit to drop. I’ll be more than happy when we’ve settled on a place.
EDIT: it seems that I’m not alone.
…Alison C, Paul F, Malcolm, Stein and Kearn. I’m tired and a bit stressy. I wish H was here.
Monday 24 May 2004
Tuesday 25 May 2004
Little Otik abroad
I’m frighteningly short of time for creating content here, so apologies for that.
Even more short of time than me is Lord Percy, who is moving house this week. However, he has found time to do some PhotoShop wizardry on Little Otik:
Which seems as good an opportunity as any to launch a new picture editing competition. (You can find the results from the last one here – apologies for some of the broken image links – they’re on my old desktop which is currently mothballed and won’t resurface until we move in to our new home).
As usual, the prize will be a pack of pickled onion flavour Monster Munch (which, as Ade will vouch, is unlikely to ever be delivered), with firm handshakes for the runners-up.
For all the details, click here.
It would seem that we now have the nod for new fenestration. Now all I have to do is decide when to do it.
Wednesday 26 May 2004
Sometimes I wonder what life will be like when Hels and I can finally stop stressing about selling flats, buying a home and organising a wedding, not to mention work, family and all the rest. We’ve yet to experience anything that approaches what most people would consider to be "normal life" together. We frequently talk about the prospect of blissful times together, when we don’t have to do anything to a particular deadline, don’t have to worry where we will be living, not have to plan a major event and concern ourselves with the needs and desires of other people – and, most importantly, don’t have to hold those discussions over the telephone because we live 65 miles apart. We can’t wait for those days to come – at the moment, the prospect of those days is all that is keeping me going. Positive mental attitude. Positive mental attitude. Positive mental attitude. If I repeat it enough times, it may sink in and actually work.
[EDIT: actually, that's not entirely true. What's keeping me going is a very beautiful, amazing and wonderful woman who I love very much and who I know loves me too. But I didn't want to say that too loudly in case you all threw up.]
In other news, happy 40th birthday today to Lord Percy. I spent a few hours this afternoon with Lord Percy and Lady Bren, helping to tidy and pack at Percy Towers, as they are moving to the new and more imposing Percy Towers, complete with columns, tomorrow. To say that they are mildly stressed would be an understatement – I hope I provided a little light relief.
Play – it helps to preserve sanity.
Thursday 27 May 2004
I can’t wait…
… for heated sock spam.
I’ve just upgraded WordPress from version 1.02 to version 1.2. The upload took about 2 minutes over my broadband connection. Then I used the built-in upgrade software – that took about 25 seconds to execute.
Which rather knocks the spots off of the last MT upgrade that I did.
Friday 28 May 2004
Weebl and Bob go to the shops. Or do they?
Saturday 29 May 2004
This evening, H and I will be at Lord Percy’s Grand Birthday Bash. It’s a fancy dress do, and I’ll be in a fetching Superman outfit. H, on the other hand, will be dressed in PVC as CatWoman. I don’t think she is likely to let me post a picture here, unfortunately for you!
Very good luck to Brighton and Hove Albion in the play-off against Bristol City at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon. It has to be said that the Seagulls are very much the underdogs, and we’ve only got this far by virtue of a good deal of luck. That luck will have to hold, as City inflicted one of the biggest defeats of the season on us earlier in the season. But Brighton are a strong team defensively, and if they can hold their nerve, might just scrape a win. I don’t think it’ll be by more than a single goal, and I honestly don’t think it’s the most likely outcome. But I’ve been wrong before.
I won’t be watching the match. I’ll be hiding behind the sofa.
Sunday 30 May 2004
Little Blue Fox is dead. (That explains the broken link I posted the other day). Neurotic Camel is alive.
Jools Holland is playing an open-air concert near Tunbridge Wells soon. I’ve seen him twice before, but never with Sam Brown, who I know to be excellent. Hels has never seen him. But is it possible to justify forking out around £100 for two people for one concert? (I’m including two tickets at £28.50, two "booking fees" at £3.00, a fiver for petrol, £20 for picnic stuff and another fiver for a bottle of wine). Will we get value for money?
So, that means that next season, Brighton will be playing Leeds. I wonder what the Elland Road fans will make of the Withdean?
It also means that Brighton will play against Bobby Zamora at the Hammers, assuming that he doesn’t transfer to another team. I’m sure that at least one other blogger will be "delighted" about that.
Monday 31 May 2004
You never give me fleas
Excellent new episode of Making Fiends, featuring the brilliant No.2 Pencil Song.