almostwitty: (monkey)

If, like us, your household has been sucked into endlessly shopping at Sainsbury’s in an attempt to get more golden Lego trading cards, then you’ll also have amassed a huge collection of duplicates.

In case you want to swap one of your duplicates, for one of our duplicates, then here’s our list of Lego trading card duplicates. Please comment below if you want to do a swap!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

So, you may not know (and if you don’t know, I’m amazed, it’s usually the third most interesting fact about myself I unselfishly volunteer without being asked), but I was a performer at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, which was roughly two years ago yesterday.

So, anyway, in a way of a minor celebration/salute, I decided to put on the key musical track And I Will Kiss today in the office. At the key drumbeat points, my body somehow remembered that I was meant to DO something, but my conscious brain couldn’t actually remember what.

That didn’t seem to matter to my body, which KNEW it had to do something and so … well, if you’d been staring at me in the office, you’d have seen my arms and elbows raising from the keyboard for one second in an extra-ordinarily unchoreographed movement, because darn it the arms and elbow just KNEW it had to do something…

Will the body ever forget these movements from 2012 ?!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

I was at my local Tesco’s lunch queue, patiently waiting with 30+ people ahead of me in a long snaking queue that goes right across the store. Then a little old lady walks up and down the queue, holding aloft one of those new Tesco tablets, going on about how they’re cheap as chips at £60 and great toys.

A few huge problems with what’s happening:

  • You already have 30+ customers waiting patiently to be served. Instead of trying to sell them something they’re NOT going to buy casually in their lunch hour, why not put your resources into serving your existing customers, before they get fed up of the queue and go somewhere else?
  • You can talk about the new Tesco tablet all you like – it’s NOT something people are going to casually buy while waiting to buy their sandwiches in their lunch hour.
  • The little old lady, bless her, has zero idea what a tablet is. She is obviously just repeating the selling points by rote

The list of failed big companies is littered with examples of where they went chasing after a new product, while in the process totally forgetting about or taking for granted their existing customer base (Blackberry etc.) Looks like Tesco are going the same way.

Harumph.

* Well, ok, not EVERYTHING wrong. There’s the fact that rampant consumerism is burning up what’s left of our planet’s resources while we’re simultaneously still in one of the worst economic recessions ever, while the 1% are still well-off… but hey ho.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)
Me in costume at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony
Me in costume at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony

In the best tradition of every sports story, my moment as part of 10,000 performing volunteers (1,000 in my sequence alone) in the Industrial Revolution sequence of the Opening Ceremony was merely the climax to a very long journey, way back in the first auditions last Autumn, through to tonight’s moment.

Along the way, there’s been heartbreak (my dearest wife was also accepted, but had her offer withdrawn due to visa restrictions), struggles (rehearsals every weekend since early May, mostly in a Dagenham car park), pain (my muscles seized up during one particularly intensive rehearsal to the point when it hurt to type for a week, and I’ve caught colds standing in the rain), stamina with 4 mile-walks back and forth across the Olympic Park, disappointment (my role in the ceremony amounted to lifting fences and turf in style!) and surprises (the turf we move get twice as heavy after it rains – and it’s rained a LOT during rehearsals!) not to mention a preview of the transport chaos.

It’s tested my patience with the constant changing of plans in the early days, and stamina with all the physical activity that’s been involved from the very beginning of the auditions – I’d never had to “walk with sass” before! There have been weeks when I’ve barely seen my family and friends with my work and Olympics commitments, and missed my son’s first steps as well as a friend’s son’s christening (sorry Matthew!) 

The constant travel across London to the rehearsal venues has been a little wearing – although I stopped complaining when I realised a fellow volunteer had to fly in from the Falkland Islands every week! I’ve also missed out on opportunities to enhance my skills by volunteering at work for some of the Olympic duties, which has been annoying.

All this for an Oyster card, daily sandwich lunches – oh, and the chance to squeeze my theatrical performing urges in front of an audience of 60,000 and a TV audience between half a billion and four billion or so (depending on who you talk to).

County Essex!

Some of the County Essex performing volunteers

It’s been an amazing journey, and one I’d do again in a heartbeat if I could. I’ve made friends with a totally random selection of fellow volunteers of the great British public, from 18-year-old students to retired PE teachers. We have a sense of purpose and unity that’s not often found in everyday life. We’ve laughed in the middle of the Olympic Stadium, cheered people on as they went on an impromptu run around the track, and cried at key moments of the Ceremonies – even when we’ve seen it three times already.

Waiting to go on stage at the Opening Ceremony…

And that’s not to mention the indescribable feeling of walking on “stage” into a stadium filled with flashing cameras – a feeling that I am very unlikely to ever experience again.

Tonight, we feel a sense of elation that our families can now finally understand what we’ve been working towards for the last twelve weeks, tinged with a sense of sadness that this will be it for some of us. We’ve been given the opportunity to take part in other ceremonies, but personally, I think it’s time I came back to normality, and saw my son a bit more often.

But at least I can have a lunch that doesn’t involve Pringles crisps and crunchy bars!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)
At the dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony

A crowd of 60,000 people at a dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony (via @2012govuk on Twitter)

So as you may not have noticed, I’m one of the performing volunteers for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, in front of a total of 200,000 people in the stadium over three nights, and one billion TV viewers worldwide. Which, oddly, isn’t that daunting – probably because I’ve got a relatively small role.

You won’t get any particular spoilers from me (unless you want to know precisely where I’ll be, in which case just ask!) – but you may want to carve out 90 minutes of your life on Friday to watch the ceremony. I’ve seen most of it four times, and there are bits that still manage to either draw out a small tear. Or have me playing air synth with gusto.

So get in front of your TV just before 9pm UK time (or 4pm New York, 1pm California time). You’ll love it, I promise.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

Amongst all the time-sucking hassles that December brings along is the need/desire to set up Christmas decorations.

Admittedly, only those with a true heart of rock-solid stone could fail to be impressed by blinking fairy lights and tinsel chasing away the dark December nights, but oy vey, the hassle of setting it all up.

First of all you have to get all the decorations, tinsel, lights and then the huge plastic tree from last year down from the attic or your storage arena. Or struggle to wrestle a new natural tree all the way home from the local dodgy pop-up market around the corner, covering yourself with thistles and thorns in the process.

Then you have to carve out a space in your living room area near the window just to put up the tree. Assuming you had any spare space to begin with. For bonus points, if you have a crawling baby, you have to put enough obstacles on the living room floor so that he can’t actually try to climb up – or more likely, eat – the tree.

Then out come the fairy lights out of the box. Which are all hopelessly tangled, so you have to spend a good 30 minutes untangling them to begin with – while also keeping an eye out on the baby to ensure he doesn’t try to chew the fairy lights. Once you’ve untangled them comes the joyful task of tangling them again around the tree. Before realising that it’s all too far from an electrical outlet so you’re forced to decide whether to move everything else out of the way so you can put the tree near the electrical outlet, or try dangling an extension cable in such a way that the baby won’t eat it.

Then you open the box of last year’s tree decorations, and hope to goodness none of them have been smashed. Then you realise you can’t use any of them anyway because the baby may just decide to try eating a glass globe.

Which is why, this year, my wife’s taken the initative and set up a unique Christmas ‘tree’ of our very own, incorporating books and a fez. Because fezzes are cool.

Our Christmas tree, 2011

I still wish I had the time to set up some more fairy lights around the place, though.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

Decades ago, when I was a mere media student with dreams of doing something great, I used to stare lovingly at a huge coffee table book about the work of Industrial Light & Magic. Then one day, I saw it on sale at a discount bookshop, and grabbed it immediately despite being a poor student (though obviously not THAT poor if I could afford to waste it on a discounted heavy coffee table book).

Then for the next two decades, it’d follow me from room to flat to flat, down to London, across to Cardiff, North Wales, Manchester, and then back to London. And each time I struggled to lift the box that I’d put that book in, I’d curse its heaviness before eventually finding a place on a heaving bookshelf. Where it would stay, dusty and unread but peripherally loved, until the next move.

Earlier this year, in an Hyperbole-and-a-Half-style attempt at rationalising bits of my life and sorting stuff out, I listed it (amongst many many other things) on Amazon for sale.

Now someone’s bought it for £60 or so. And I’m sitting here putting off the decision to box and ship it, mostly because I don’t want to let it go, for purely selfish reasons. I’m never going to get round to reading it – the best I’ll do is coo at the pretty pictures. But it’s a huge hard heavy book, and really it ought to go to someone who’s willing to pay out £60 for it.

But I haven’t sent it yet. And now I’m getting nagging emails about it.

What would you do?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

Every other post on the Internet suddenly seems to be about The Avengers. Except it seems to be a bunch of comic superheroes in silly costumes, walking in slow motion. (Ob. disclaimer: I haven’t watched the trailer yet)

DEAR INTERNET: IF IT’S NOT ABOUT STEED AND MRS PEEL, IT AIN’T THE AVENGERS.

Now that’s what I call class. Besides, the British version started in 1961 – two years before the comicbook appeared. Bah.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

Now that we’re getting rather unseasonably warm temperatures for September/October across the UK, the old stereotypical mutterings are cropping back up about how we Brits are obsessed about the weather, and how we didn’t have a summer at all. Allow me to blow away at least one of these often-muttered statements.

Sure, maybe the British are occasionally occupied with the weather. Maybe the best way to start off a ridiculously casual and pointless conversation with a random person at the bus stop is to mutter something about the weather. But we British have nothing, as per usual, on the Americans.

They have a weather channel on every cable station that pumps out nothing but weather news 24-7. The local news goes into excruciating detail about the local weather conditions. Americans will often mutter on their way to work “Oooh, it feels like a high 70s today” or something, without having actually left their house or checked the news forecast. Ironically for a nation with wild temperature extremes, they can tell when you turn up or down the air conditioning by ONE Farenheit. The only reason they don’t get the reputation about being weather-obsessives is that generally, they don’t talk about it to random strangers on the bus. Mostly because they don’t really have buses. We British don’t really do any of that.

Of course, this may well be down to the extreme weather conditions Americans get – deep snow in the winter, scorching heat and tornadoes in the summer. In contrast, Britain gets temperatures of 26 Celsius or 80 Farenheit, and to us, it feels like we’re in Arizona.

The other thing that the British mutter, every summer without fail, is that we’ve never really had a summer, ie a sustained period of hot weather with sunshine. Given that most weekdays during the summer, I’m stuck in an office, the appeals of sunshine are somewhat lost on me but it usually feels like we’ve had the same summer as we have every summer. One year, I want to maintain a daily log of whether today is summer or not, and then collate the results at the end.

Of course, it’s one thing having sunshine and summer weather. But what do you DO with it? It’s too hot to actually stay out in the sun for more than a few minutes – and sure, it makes biking more fun, but the days of sitting in the back garden of a pub with a nice pint of beer are alas well beyond me these days.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

My wife – as well as being an all-round fabulous person – happens to be American. And slowly but surely, she’s started polluting my brain with American words instead of English ones. It started off with all the words revolving around babies – especially since I had no prior experience of looking after babies before my wife came along. Thus, I’m already used to calling nappies diapers, for example, which causes some confusion when the topic pops up.

However, the nadir happened this morning, while we were half-watching the Rugby World Cup match between Wales and Namibia, and saw a Welsh player heading for a try. Thus, the conversation in our household:

Wife: “That was a great goal!”
Me: “You mean touchdown….”
Wife: “Err… Try…”

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

Our household currently has a Playstation 3 and a Wii – both game consoles acquired before the arrival of the baby. Oddly enough, aside from the odd spurt of gaming (mostly Portal 2, Wii Fit, Goldeneye and Crysis 2), the game consoles have mostly sat in the corner unplayed, due to the lack of time available. Who knew that dealing with a baby was a time-sucking vortex?

Now we have the opportunity to buy a brand-new XBox 360 with Kinect at a relatively cheap price. I’m severley tempted, mostly on the grounds that we could play Dance Central (my wife tends to prefer the active dancey-type games) and control the TV using our voice – something that would undoubtedly come in handy since the baby has taken to playing with the TV remote control at all times.

What other arguments can I deploy to persuade my wife that we simply must have all three game consoles? :)

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

Way way back in the early days of YouTube, when viral videos were a cool neat thing, the Back Dorm Boys made a name for themselves by miming outrageously to Backstreet Boys tracks. Like this:

Unfortunately, it seems this may no longer happen. China has blacklisted 100 songs, including – you guessed it – the above track, which was released over a decade ago. Bad timing, Chinese censors…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

According to the Media Guardian, BBC News executives lived in fear of a major breaking news story during the Royal Wedding – and that any decision to break into said coverage would have to come from the very top. I’m guessing they’re rather relieved that the US didn’t move against Osama till Monday as opposed to Friday…

On the slightly annoying front, we’re off on a plane to the United States next week. Oh boy….

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

When the first sustained period of sunshine comes after the long dark winter, people tend to go a bit mad, and gobble up as much of the sunshine as they can. We even went for an impromptu picnic on Sunday – although onto a piece of green land surrounded by busy roads, so it’s rather arguable how close to nature we got.

However, during the week, what can I do to take advantage of all this sunshine? Sure, I could go out and sit on the lawn – but then what? My brain won’t switch off from worrying about emails, and it’s not as if I’ll be hanging out with my team – i tried to organise a work celebration lunch three times but scheduling conflicts always seemed to get in the way. And going further afield for a spot of good lunch seems rather impractical.

So I end up grabbing a lunch from somewhere, and sitting back at my desk – with the brief exposure to noon sunshine enough to convince me that it’s bloody hot out there, and I should head back inside to the safety of my desk and emails.

Oddly, I then started IMing my wife, asking if she and our son had been outside for a bit of sun yet. Why is it that I’m eager for our baby son to have some sunshine (albeit with protection) when I tend to run and hide from it?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

Every so often, I have ordered (online) a pizza from Pizza Hut. I must have spent at least £100 with them over the last few months alone – what with having a pregnant wife with cravings, and then being a family too tired to actually cook anything and craving some sort of treat.

So it was in this atmosphere – as well as being my wife’s birthday week – that we ordered a pizza online from Pizza Hut on Tuesday. I duly entered my credit card details, and got a receipt number. Then waited for my pizza. And waited. And waited.

After an incredibly hungry hour of waiting, I called the relevant branch only to be told that as they had never received my order, they wouldn’t be doing anything at all. They just told me to contact customer services, who of course aren’t in on a hungry Tuesday evening.

So I filled in the web form to complain, and got an email with an apology and that they’d refund the cost. No mention of whether they’d try to make it up to me, or offer me vouchers or discounts on my next order. Despite the fact that I’ve been a loyal customer in the past.

Since Pizza Hut don’t value me as a customer, I won’t be valuing them as a company.

Besides, in my furious hungry anger, I ordered with Domino’s instead – who sensibly take payment when the pizza is delivered – and their pizza was, it has to be said, far more delicious.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

and fancy coming to our wedding renewal vows and christening of baby Alex in North-Central Ohio (an hour west of Cleveland), America, then please let me know!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

So, [livejournal.com profile] bijziend and I were watching the news reports about yesterday’s violence by some anti-capitalist demonstrators in Central London yesterday. Up flashed an image of a McDonalds being attacked.

The next thing you know, she has a sudden craving for McDonalds, and if it wasn’t the fact she had a baby strapped to her bosom (and she maintains that the taste of British McDonalds’ meat is sufficiently different to American McDonalds’ meat as to make it inedible), she’d probably have gotten up and biked over to our nearest McDonalds to get a burger.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

The trouble with the world of the Internet is that everybody is now a publisher. Everyone can write what they want, and publish it – so EVERYONE thinks they’re a writer, or creator of content, and there’s no quality control. Thus, what has become more important than the ability to publish is the ability to write something that someone else “likes”, in the words of Facebook.

And finally, after 15 years of being on the Internet, this has kinda happened. (Well, it happened a few times for me in my early career, but not lately).

Qype – a Europe-wide reviews site – has seen fit to name me Qyper of the Week for a review I wrote of a Brazillian grill last year. So, y’know, this is an achievement of sort…

I'm Qyper of the week!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

HyperHam's Weighted Companion Cube cake

Like many people born around Christmas or New Year, I’m rather loathe to publically celebrate my birthday. Most people are usually far too busy shopping, or being drunk, or being hungover, or being poor, to even turn up for a pint, let alone anything else – so over the years, I’ve stopped grumbling and made no public acknowledgement of my birthday. Indeed, on my various social media profiles, I’ve put in fake birthdays just to ensure nobody actually knows when my birthday is.

Aside from my lovely wife HyperHam of course. In previous years, she’d organised a surprise birthday video and even a surprise pre-birthday dinner gathering, which turned into a bit of a social faux pas disaster. But this year (2010) would be the first time we’d actually be together for my birthday.

So she baked me a cake. But not just any old cake. Nope.

A Weighted Companion Cube cake from one of my favourite games, Portal. (If you haven’t played it, play it – it’s the best physics puzzler you’ll get, with a sardonic sense of humour).

Of course, baking a cake isn’t easy – baking a cake that’s the size of a cube that requires three layers is even harder. After spending 5 hours making the cake – bearing in mind she was 8 months pregnant at the time – she literally presented me with a glorious cake, and then collapsed on the sofa and fell dead asleep. I had one slice, and the ensuing sugar rush also sent me to sleep. But it was delicious and looked gorgeous – and what more do you want from a cake?

Anyway, here’s Hyperham’s instructions on how to make a Weighted Companion Cube Cake.

Mirrored from almost witty.

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