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Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
10:00 pm - Dad Update
Phoned Mum for an update this evening and was pleasantly surprised to be told that Dad was out of hospital and resting at home. Proceeded to chat with dad for a while and he seemed in generally good spirits.

Prognosis is positive and whilst he has to avoid physical exertion and go back for further tests in a month (probably a repeat of today's test which apparently involved riding an exercise bike for a while) he'll probably have a hard time not doing the various bits of DIY, car fixing and other stuff that normally keeps him busy (not mentioning the ongoing house renovation in Penne or the village music festival in July).

Thanks to everyone who lefts comments and support here and elsewhere. He's not out of the woods yet, but being out of hospital so quickly can only be a good thing.

current mood: relieved

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Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
10:00 pm - Dad
Had a phone call at 7:50 this morning from Mum. "Your Father's having a heart attack, the doctor is here and we're waiting for an ambulance." After an exchange of phone numbers to make sure that mum could contact me with further updates she went off to call someone else.

5 worry filled hours later I got an update. Dad is stable in intensive care, hooked up to various monitoring devices and being kept in for observation. His condition was sufficiently good that there was some debate as to if he'd had a proper heart attack (involving blood clots and the like) or merely a very painful angina attack. A rapid response from the GP and a specialist ambulance team meant that treatment was started well before Dad made to the local hospital.

Dad's been many things to me over the years, a DIY master, a chess grandmaster, a purveyor of the finest wisdom and the worst humour. I suspect I will now have to Mortal to the list.

current mood: worried

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Saturday, May 31st, 2008
9:00 pm - Leaving OUP
Yesterday was my last day at OUP.

There was a mix of goodbyes to friends, clearing of desk, embaressing speeches and nice bottles of whisky.

The @oup.com email address will die at some point in the future so if this is the only contact you have for me please change update your address books to the equivalent @gmail.com address or use the obvious @livejournal.com option.

Starting a new job on Monday which will mark a large change in organisation size, culture and role. Heres to the future!

current mood: mellow

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Monday, August 20th, 2007
11:12 pm - Global Travels
It's been rather quiet around here of late. In an attempt to recover past glories there may appear some brief accounts of my recent holiday in the USA.

As a taster of the adventures which were enjoyed on those fair shores, I present a photo of a rather aptly named company in the town where my sister lives.



current mood: geeky

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Sunday, May 6th, 2007
12:00 pm - Verdigris Deep (Plug)
A friend who is referred to as "The Hatted One" (not to be confused with bellinghman or Terry Prattchet has just had her second book published.

I acquired my copy through work, and collected it yesterday (I would have had it earlier in the week had I not been languishing in a bunker near heathrow) and will post my own thoughts as soon as I've finished reading it.

In the meantime, a review from the Sunday Times.Collapse )

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Friday, May 4th, 2007
11:59 pm - Disaster Recovery
Spent the past week on a DR exercise with work.

A week spent in various nondescript and impersonal boxes.

If the box had an en-suite bathroom and a bed it was the hotel room.
If the box had no windows and a bunch of computers then it was the DR facility.
If the box had wheels and an engine it was the hire car.

Overall things were successful, for the first time we were able to connect the recovered systems to the DR office in Coventry and to our warehouse in Corby (the latter only after I drove up the M1 to put the test server onto the correct network).

HP-UX's Ignite mechanism and support for bootable tapes was quite impressive and worked very well as part of the recovery process (though previous attempts at the same exercise have apparently come unstuck when tapes and drives were temperamental). Somewhat oddly the most recent version of HP-UX has dropped all support for the DLT8000 drives that we normally use, so we had to implement a number of workarounds to get some systems restored.

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Saturday, March 17th, 2007
10:00 am - Luminox
I spent last night being a steward at Luminox, a combination of music festival, fire art, commissioned sculpture and general coolness taking place in the middle of Oxford over the course of three nights.

The fire art was courtesy of a french collective called Carabosse, who provided a range of impressive metal and flame structures including a giant chandelier hanging from a crane outside Balliol (images from the Phantom of the Opera flashed through my mind every time it swung in the breeze), to cascades of fire pots (essentially large candles made with flowerpots) descending from the top of the Bodleian to the streets below. My favorites were the large chimneys which were placed along Broad street, The glowed a dull red and flames licked out of the top. Some had a technician controlling the distance between the bottom of the chimney and the fuel bucket strung underneath so they could play with the flame rising from the chimney making it die and flare in succession. By the end of the evening I was wondering if it would be possible to construct a similar thing for the back garden, a great (if somehwat dangerous) toy for summer evenings.

The commissioned sculpture was Spire, a 15M high bamboo tower leaning to one side, from which hung a flaming pendulum (a metal firebowl with some wood burning in it). According to the program the pendulum swung 1000 times during the night to represent 1000 years of Oxfordshire. As a steward my allotted patch was around the Spire so I spent a lot of time walking around it, making sure small children weren't attempting to climb the bamboo or other such unsafe behaviour (everyone seemed to be behaving themselves though, it was a remarkably civilised evening). One of the other stewards said that when the three day event was over it was going to be sold on eBay, so if you would like such a construction in your garden you know where to look.

The music comprised three acts over the course of the evening. The Bandstand was right next to the Spire, so I was able to appreciate the music whilst wandering about. The first act (Daniel Weaver, according to the program) blended into the background somewhat, not exactly memorable. Next up was Emily Burridge and BJ Cole provide steel guitar and cello duets, a combination which worked surprisingly well for something which on paper I'd have written off as a novelty. Finally there was Spiro, folky bounce which nicely rounded off the evening and sent people on their way with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.

Bumped into various people (including, in no particular order, chrisvenus, joe_smoke, bopeepsheep, elleblue, triskellian, smiorgan, people from choir and people from work), but apparently didn't bump into just as many people. It was a different way to spend the evening and fundamentally very cool.

As a steward there were several eventualities we were briefed for (lost children, fire, toilet locations) but there were other questions which were more common that had to be made up on the fly, so incase anyone is thinking of attending tonight here is my wisdom.

Q: What is this?
A: It's call Luminox, it's sort of erm... installation art

Q: Where is the swinging pendulum thing (when standing in front of it)
A: There -> *points*

Q: (Of the bamboo spire) Is that it?
A: Yes

Q: (Of the bamboo spire) Are they going to set light to it?
A: No

Q: Can I drink beer in the street?
A: Erm, we've not been told you can't, but I think there are signs prohibiting it down at the Kings Arms.

If you live in/near Oxford and haven't been yet, I strongly recommend you go along tonight, even if it's just to spend half and hour doing something unlike anything you've ever done before. Wrap up warm though, it got quite chilly last night.

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Sunday, January 14th, 2007
11:25 pm - Today I will mostly be singing Hallelujah
Today I joined several hundred other people in singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus as part of a project called Oxford Sings, under the supervision of Ivor Setterfield.

Spent the morning in a workshop to brush up on the basics of he piece. Some present had never seen the piece before and there was a good atmosphere of learning and fun about the place (the latter aided by the tea, crisps and chocolate provided).

The afternoon session was held in Oxford Town Hall and saw many more singers from around Oxford joining those from the morning session. More rehearsals, first with piano and then (after a brief tea break in G&Ds) with orchestra. Finally we did four "Live" recordings, the best of which was later broadcast on Radio Oxford.

Fun day all around, very interesting working with a different conductor and a definite sense of achievement at the end of the day at having produced something which (as a participant) sounded damn good and certainly a lot better than the start of the day.

current mood: accomplished

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Saturday, October 21st, 2006
10:00 pm - Spamalot
Last weekend I went to see Spamalot in London.

Those familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the rest of the Pythons' work will find much enjoyment in the 2 hours of the show (plus interval). Others may have to look beyond the taunting French Soldiers and renditions of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (yes I know it's from The Life of Brian) to enjoy a well produced and very funny west end show.

The show starts rather slowly and the first new song (I'm Not Dead Yet) seemed a little forced, with a distinct feeling of taking a good one liner and stretching it into a 5 minute song and dance routine. Things rapidly improved though and the show is generally at it's best when it breaks the fourth wall and does its best to make the audience laugh.

Tim Curry thoroughly enjoys his role as King Arthur and whilst he appears to be taking it rather easy at some times, there's more than enough of his presence on stage to carry the role. The rest of the male cast spread themselves (but not too thinly) over 3 or 4 roles each, continuing the pythonesque feel.

Good Points:
Laughing until your sides hurt
Tim Curry
Lancelot Comes Out of the Closet
Killer Rabbits
Songs about needing a Jew
Leggy, Blonde, Chorus Girls
Aisle Seats

Bad Points:
Not Dead Yet song and dance
Not enough Mud
Theatre Seats with No Legroom
Coffee Revels

As you can see, the good outweighs the bad. Get yourself to London and laugh 'til your sides ache.

current mood: amused

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2:00 pm - Close but no Cigar
BBC News 24 uses an automatic system for it's subtitles presumably based on speach recognition. This works reasonably well for most of their reports but just occaisionally it goes wrong.

Today I was in the Nationwide, waiting for an appointment to be arranged I was watching News 24 with subtitles on the plasma screen. I was quietly amused when the subtitles stated that it was 40 years since the ABBA Van Tragedy.

You'd think that someone, somewhere would check things like this...

current mood: amused

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Tuesday, October 10th, 2006
11:00 pm - Schadenfraude
Outside Exeter College on Turl Street this evening was a white van, it's hazard lights flashing out a regular warning blink to the street.

Beneath the van a certain degree of damage was evident, a closer inspection revealed a visible quantity of oily broken metal where you probably shouldn't have been able to see bits of the engine.

Behind the van, trailing back to the rising bollard outside Lincoln college, someone had spread a large volume of what appeared to be cat litter over the road, in an attempt to soak up what I can only presume was engine oil from the defunct van.

Residents of Cambridge have related numerous tales of the various bollards which rise and fall for local buses and taxis claiming the scalps (or should that be sumps) of cars which attempt to tailgate their way behind authorised vehicles, but Turl street is quiet and the bollard is rarely used so the incentive for people to attempt to sneak through is relatively small as there is little opportunity to do so. Still it looks like someone was stupid enough to try their luck this evening.

current mood: amused

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Saturday, October 7th, 2006
9:00 pm - A year of House
Today is the first anniversary of buying the house. The last year hasn't exactly panned out as expected, but if life always did that then it wouldn't be that exciting would it.

Sorting out the house situation is dragging on somewhat. This is down to the bank losing the transfer of equity paperwork (like a mortgage application with added knobs). With luck it will all be sorted by the end of the month, though christmas may be a more realistic target.

Many things to be done to keep the house ship shape and bristol fashion. A front door which doesn't leak in heavy rain is on the todo list, and a number of smaller jobs are on the list for the planned parental invasion/visit of next month.

It seems that most of my posts of late are commenting on anniversaries. Hopefully there will be something new worth posting about at some point.

current mood: thoughtful

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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
8:30 pm - Team Roles in an RPG Group
On a recent Project Management course provided by my employers we covered the concept of the Belbin Team Roles. For those unfamiliar with the basic concept it simply states that a successful team needs members to occupy all of 8 different team roles (an individual can occupy more than one role in small groups). As with all such things there are flaws in the model and it won't work with every group you encounter, but it provides an interesting tool for looking at the way people work together and identifying things which a team might need to help it work better.

With this in mind I wondered if the model could be applied to the altogether more social team that is a roleplaying group. Cut for ramblinessCollapse )
These are fairly random thoughts at the moment, not certain if pursuing them would result in better games. Let me know what you think.

current mood: geeky

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Saturday, September 23rd, 2006
10:30 am
Full marks to bellinghman and undyingking for correctly guessing that the mystery object in my previous post was something to do with a new sofa.

So without further ado I present pictures of the new sofa.Collapse )
The sofa is available to all visitors for the usual functions and is very comfortable. it's not really long enough for sleeping on (though there is a spare room for that).

current mood: working

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Thursday, September 21st, 2006
6:00 pm - Mystery Object
I received the a strange item as part of the maintenance package for something which was delivered today.

See if you can guess what it is for. The small green thing is an AA battery to provide a sense of scale.

Picture BelowCollapse )</LJ-CUT?

current mood: silly

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Sunday, September 3rd, 2006
12:45 pm - Geek Theatre
Next week (7:30pm Thursday 14th September) sees The One Man Star Wars Trilogy performing at the Oxford Playhouse.

One of the few perks that my employer offers me is a discount on tickets at the playhouse, so if you'd like to join me for the evening I'm happy to act as a ticket agent. The discount only applies to the first four tickets purchased, but if lots of people are interested I might attempt to persuade some other employees attend virtually.

Ticket prices are 7.50, 12.50 or 15.50 (I'd probably opt for the middle bracket). Leave a comment or drop me an email if you're interested in joining me.

current mood: geeky

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Friday, August 18th, 2006
1:45 pm - Friday Night is Movie Night
Anyone in the Oxford vicinity fancy going to see Nacho Libre.

I've got a spare ticket for the 19:15 showing at the Vue Cinema due to the originally scheduled partner in crime being overcome with a bad case of life.

Leave a comment if you're interested, other people welcome to make this a larger expedition but I've only got one extra ticket already booked, so you'll need to sort yourselves out. Lifts to the cinema can probably be arranged.

current mood: rushed

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Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
11:30 pm - Employment Anniversary
Well I've now been working for OUP for 6 years. During that time I've had 5 bosses, 3 desks and countless meals in the staff canteen.

The job is different. New responsibilities have been tacked on, more infrequently old ones have dropped off as legacy systems have finally been replaced. I've been focused on life outside work for a while now and the convenience of a job with a close commute and reasonable colleagues means I'm unlikely to be looking to change anytime soon (though the long promised pay review would be nice) similarly I'm unlikely to turn down a better offer if one comes along, I'm just not looking very hard.

Living to work rather than working to live seems to be the order of the day.

EDIT
That last line was supposed to be "Working to live rather than living to work seems to be the order of the day." I was certain I'd proof read it as such. Maybe recent overtime at weekends has lead to my subconscious rebelling on that particular belief.

current mood: contemplative

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Wednesday, July 12th, 2006
6:00 pm - Forthcoming Attractions
A couple of things have caught my eye recently. People who read this journal may be interested in some of them (mainly Oxford and London People I suspect).

Thursday 14th September: The One Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Oxford Playhouse.
Friday 29th September: Porcupine Tree at the London Astoria.
Monday 30th October: The Divine Comedy at Oxford Brookes.
Friday 17th/Saturday 18th November: Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, 40th Anniversary Tour at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London.

Not certain which ones I'll go to (One Man Star Wars is quite likely).

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Friday, June 2nd, 2006
10:00 pm - Single
Kathy broke up with me earlier in the week. It's a fairly amicable breakup though the joint ownership of the house makes things a good order of magnitude (or 2) more complicated than any previous parting I've gone through.

Need to make sure I avoid the hermit instinct and keep myself from hiding away for most of the summer.

current mood: melancholy

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