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)

TV Intelliplug

A TV Intelliplug

Being environmentally minded (and trying to save money), I recently bought a TV Intelliplug to cut down on energy costs. The idea of the gadget is that when you switch the TV off into stand-by, the unit will then cut off all electricity supplies to your TV and associated gadgets, saving energy and a little bit of cash.

Unfortunately, when I applied it to my TV, it didn’t quite work. And ever since then (even with the unit removed), the TV has been slow to react from standby. It’ll try to flicker to life, but then give up – like a baby trying to sit himself up. It’ll try and try again, and finally manage to flicker to life properly a few minutes later. We’ve had to call a TV Repair man in.

Is it possible that such a unit could have done some damage to my LCD TV?

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)

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.

almostwitty: (Default)

XKCD

Ever since Hyperham moved in, life has pretty much been a non-stop whirlwind of relaxing on the sofa watching Dave, running around London, trash-talking each other and endlessly re-arranging stuff in the flat without actually deciding on anything. And tripping over socks and cables. It hasn’t helped that we’re also in the midst of some redesign projects at work, and I’ve volunteered for more late nights elsewhere (exciting details to come later!)

and I am *exhausted*. Sleep has never come so easily in my life before – hell, some nights, we’re in bed snoring away by 10pm. Especially at weekends. Which has severely cut into my social media time… Yet, people keep commenting that I look healthy and happy. Which sounds rather bizarre to me, because I’m usually looking at them with weary lidded eyes.

This week alone, we’ve got two guests from overseas to entertain, a cinema screening with free whisky, a leaving do and a long night ahead for this week. Oy vey.

And yet, I must also show Hyperham the glory that is the United Kingdom, especially now that Spring has arrived.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Me and HyperHambecause the increasingly accurately-named [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job has finally gotten permission from the glorious British government to move over and live with me in my West London palace for a very very long time.

After all the stressing of getting documents together for proof and all that, it did seem like a relatively easy process. Just the nail-biting wait – and we paid an extra $100 for an expediter to get an express service too.

Still, now I have three or so weeks to turn my bachelor West London pad into a place permanently fit for a Queen. so that means out with the old rotting food and the decade-old mattress, and in with a new one. Although she likes it soft and I like it hard (fnarr fnarr) so I guess this means we’ll have to compromise!

What else do I need, besides lots of new coathangers and Lush soaps?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Me and HyperHambecause HyperHam has finally gotten permission from the glorious British government to pop over and live with me in my West London palace for a very very long time.

After all the stressing of getting documents together for proof and all that, it did seem like a relatively easy process. Just the nail-biting wait – and we paid an extra $100 for an expediter to get an express service too.

Still, now I have three or so weeks to turn my bachelor West London pad into a place permanently fit for a Queen. so that means out with the old rotting food and the decade-old mattress, and in with a new one. Although she likes it soft and I like it hard (fnarr fnarr) so I guess this means we’ll have to compromise!

What else do I need, besides lots of new coathangers and Lush soaps?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (blank)

Geoff Marshall with some dude

Geoff Marshall with some dude

It was all Geoff’s idea, Yer Honour…

Y’see, he’d recently come back to the BBC after two years in America fraternising with our American cousins – and even worse, American ACTORS. And it had all rubbed off a bit on him. The endless video posts, the sheer confidence in walking up to strangers – and yet still enthusing about Doctor Who, music and the Pet Shop Boys.

He then told me that he knew that David Tennant was going to be on BBC Breakfast on 31 December, and he was determined to get an autograph with him – by essentially lurking down the labyrinthe corridors of BBC Television Centre until he bumped into him. But he needed some help. A wingman, to help pass the time. Did I want to do it?

Strange as it may seem, I didn’t jump at the chance. Ever since I started working professionally within the media industry I’ve never asked for an autograph – mostly because you can’t interrupt an interview with Ben Elton, Alicia Silverstone or Glenn Close to ask for an autograph. That just wouldn’t do. Plus, I’m usually hyperaware that in the highly unlikely event of any problems, my face will be the ones that the security guards remember for reasons I’ll go into in another post … Although when I was younger, I’d hang around stage doors (well, it was double Physical Education on Wednesdays) and I managed to co-opt Stephen Fry into saving my University projects. Twice.

This time, I reasoned, I wouldn’t be there for work, and besides, it’s David Tennant. The night before he hands over the TARDIS keys. So I brushed up on the do’s and don’t of approaching a celebrity and waited…

The next morning, I arrived at the ye early time of 8am, and joined Geoff thereafter as we kept moving from point to point on the hear-out for a Scottish accent, while trying to avoid the cleaners who kept asking if we knew where we were going.

And then we went back into main reception – where usually only taxi drivers and runners are – and there he was. Already patiently signing autographs for a few kids, while a harassed BBC runner hovered behind him, eager to move him into his warm dressing room. But oh no, we were between him and the main doors. Geoff asked him whether he could stop now or on the way back, and David, being the understanding man he is, said he’d be a while in the studio and best to do it now.

Geoff managed to persuade him for a photograph. Unfortunately, it was an iPhone – and have you ever tried taking a pic on an iPhone in a hurry when you’ve never used one before? Your fingers are everywhere except where they need to be! So after three blurred shots of Geoff with David Tennant, he made his apologies and ran into the studio.

Throughout it all, David seemed slightly stressed – well, you would be if you’re dashing into a TV studio to address the nation – but a thoroughly decent chap nice enough to stop for autographs on a cold Thursday morning when he didn’t have to.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. Watch Geoff’s video of this momentous occasion (via Facebook alas!)…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Geoff Marshall with some dude

Geoff Marshall with some dude

It was all Geoff’s idea, Yer Honour…

Y’see, he’d recently come back to the BBC after two years in America fraternising with our American cousins – and even worse, American ACTORS. And it had all rubbed off a bit on him. The endless video posts, the sheer confidence in walking up to strangers – and yet still enthusing about Doctor Who, music and the Pet Shop Boys.

He then told me that he knew that David Tennant was going to be on BBC Breakfast on 31 December, and he was determined to get an autograph with him – by essentially lurking down the labyrinthe corridors of BBC Television Centre until he bumped into him. But he needed some help. A wingman, to help pass the time. Did I want to do it?

Strange as it may seem, I didn’t jump at the chance. Ever since I started working professionally within the media industry I’ve never asked for an autograph – mostly because you can’t interrupt an interview with Ben Elton, Alicia Silverstone or Glenn Close to ask for an autograph. That just wouldn’t do. Plus, I’m usually hyperaware that in the highly unlikely event of any problems, my face will be the ones that the security guards remember for reasons I’ll go into in another post … Although when I was younger, I’d hang around stage doors (well, it was double Physical Education on Wednesdays) and I managed to co-opt Stephen Fry into saving my University projects. Twice.

This time, I reasoned, I wouldn’t be there for work, and besides, it’s David Tennant. The night before he hands over the TARDIS keys. So I brushed up on the do’s and don’t of approaching a celebrity and waited…

The next morning, I arrived at the ye early time of 8am, and joined Geoff thereafter as we kept moving from point to point on the hear-out for a Scottish accent, while trying to avoid the cleaners who kept asking if we knew where we were going.

And then we went back into main reception – where usually only taxi drivers and runners are – and there he was. Already patiently signing autographs for a few kids, while a harassed BBC runner hovered behind him, eager to move him into his warm dressing room. But oh no, we were between him and the main doors. Geoff asked him whether he could stop now or on the way back, and David, being the understanding man he is, said he’d be a while in the studio and best to do it now.

Geoff managed to persuade him for a photograph. Unfortunately, it was an iPhone – and have you ever tried taking a pic on an iPhone in a hurry when you’ve never used one before? Your fingers are everywhere except where they need to be! So after three blurred shots of Geoff with David Tennant, he made his apologies and ran into the studio.

Throughout it all, David seemed slightly stressed – well, you would be if you’re dashing into a TV studio to address the nation – but a thoroughly decent chap nice enough to stop for autographs on a cold Thursday morning when he didn’t have to.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. Watch Geoff’s video of this momentous occasion (via Facebook alas!)…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)



lust money

Originally uploaded by catsfather

The ongoing saga of MP expenses has opened up a veritable kettle of worms in terms of what people earn, what they expect to earn - and crucially, how that compares to the rest of the population.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] actionreplay, I spotted a link to the Institute of Fiscal Studies has a handy calculator that compares your income against the British national average (£390 for a two-adult household, after taxes and benefits).

My details against the IFS calculator show that I have a higher income than around 85% of the population. Then again, I’m in a single household with no dependents.

I’m reasonably happy with my salary - I don’t feel rich, but I don’t feel poor either. I’m not buying Tesco Value baked beans, but neither am I buying organically grown gourmet beans flown in from Fiji. But then once I discovered that some people earned far more than I did, I was slightly peeved for a while - for no good reason. My income hadn’t changed at all, but the knowledge that other people were doing far better than I did suddenly started to rankle slightly. For no good reason.

There’s a fascinating - if somewhat biased article - in The Guardian about the *emotional* gap between those working in the City and their reality. How everyone in the City assumes they’re working for a slave’s wage, yet can’t grasp the reality that they are far better off than most people. Because, alas, most people aren’t around them - they only see their peers.

Which is probably why MPs had no clue that the rest of the country would see what they were doing as thieving.

I’m fairly sure most of my friends would consider themselves to be average wage-earners, not earning that much more or less. But then the reality is, in fact, that they’re probably all earning far more than say 75% of the population.

Originally published at almost witty. You can comment here or there.

almostwitty: (Default)

Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan. Not quite to the point of putting up posters but I definitely bought the magazines and recorded the programmes on VHS.

It did get to the point when I was notoriously knowledgable about it in my hometown, and when I accidentally recorded over my prized recording of Remembrance of the Daleks, even my TV-phobic parents knew how important it was to my 14-year-old self.

However, it became time to grow up, go to university and put away childish things. Although of course, the knowledge would always emerge somehow sooner or later - and it’s not as if pretending to like The Sundays hid my geekiness. But I consciously shied away from being too close to what counted for Doctor Who fandom at the time. Even if I did run the Cult TV society at University…

Fast-forward ten years, and Doctor Who geeks and fans are everywhere. And I mean, EVERYWHERE. In all shapes, sizes and ages.

Doctor Who almost always comes up at some point in work. But while I concentrated on trying to be cool at university (and failing), they unabashedly carried on with the love that dare not vworp its name, and started running conventions and the like. Now, they go on holidays with the production team and things like that.

I recently had a work meeting with a young mid-20s lady with a glamorous name, and was amazed when unbidden, she started talking about her love of Doctor Who, and namechecking Troughton and the like. Never mind the fact she knows what happens at Christmas…

Of course, working at BBC Wales for five years, three of which were spent looking enviously while other colleagues ran off taking pics on location and in studio didn’t exactly help. But ah well, not even the Doctor can change his own past (Eighth Doctor excepted, of course)

Originally published at almost witty. You can comment here or there.

almostwitty: (Default)

I’ve been in Ohio for ten days now, give or take, and aside from the aforementioned so-called Asian doughnuts, I have been introduced to such culinary delights as:

- country fried steak for breakfast. This would be a pork steak covered in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried - for breakfast. Even the Scottish with their deep-fried Mars bars wouldn’t cover it in breadcrumbs first. In the interests of research, I had to try this as part of a three-plate breakfast buffet.

Of course, if only I hadn’t then had to go on a Easter egg hunt looking for candy-filled Easter eggs for kids (with a side-trip to Arbys for a roast beef sandwich and a malted milkshake), and then onto a sumptuous evening dinner with [livejournal.com profile] anivair and [livejournal.com profile] ravenna_blue with some wonderful potato concoction that turned out to be twice-baked potato or something…

- In the UK, it’s called a Welsh rarebit and often the butt of national jokes about Welsh cuisine. But in Ohio, melted cheese sandwiches are revered at Melts, a rather cool bar’n'grill where the menu comes on the back of old vinyl covers. Shame that a melted cheese sandwich apparently takes an hour from ordering to arrival.

- After that came a dessert course of hot fudge ice cream at Malleys. The Americans, they like their ice cream. Even at 1pm on a wet Wednesday afternoon.

However, there are side-effects that come from eating out in America.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at almost witty. You can comment here or there.

almostwitty: (Default)

So, via eBookers, I booked a flight to take my parents to the United States. But when I checked the booking details later, the middle names of my parents hadn’t been transferred over. Although the middle names of my sisters *had* been transferred over.

So I called the eBookers call centre (which turns out to be in Manila) to query this, and after speaking to a curiously disembodied woman on the other end who was either Dutch or Irish, but was definitely in the middle of a sandstorm in the Sahara desert, I was told that:
- their GDS system didn’t allow for the insertion of a middle name
- (eventually) that it didn’t matter anyway, since the names on a ticket don’t need to match the passport.

Then I called Air France to check on this, and was told that yes, the names on a flight ticket DO need to match the passport if you’re visiting the United States.

So, back to eBookers. They end up putting me on a conference call with Air France, and asking to speak to an Air France supervisor.

After 30 minutes of being on hold, I’m eventually told that:
- it’s recommended (but not *essential*) for the names on the ticket to match that on the passport
- because it’s recommended - but not essential - then I’d essentially have to cancel the ticket and buy a new set of tickets, according to Air France
- eBookers aren’t willing to make the name change, because it’s not essential

and then I get cut off. After 50 minutes on the phone. I then try to call eBookers back, only to find that I’ve been put through to a different call centre in Bombay. (!)

The upshot of it all is that Air France would probably allow my parents onto the plane, but not necessarily. Especially if US immigration insists that the name on the plane ticket matches the name on the passport.

Does nobody know anything any more?

Originally published at almost witty. You can comment here or there.

almostwitty: (Default)

It’d be fair to say that I am no Adonis. I’m not a handsome man. So I’m not sure why the last two times I’ve seen a specialist doctor in a hospital, they’ve always wanted me to strip off.

The first time was to see a sleeping specialist. When I went in, he asked me to strip off to my pants, and lie on the bed. A bit of an odd request, I’d have thought, but I complied anyway. He made some basic pulse measurements, asked if I’d been hallucinating anything – then grandly concluded that there was nothing wrong with me and that I’d been wasting his time. Charming fellow.

This time around, it was to do with high blood pressure and my nose’s ability to erupt like a geyser spewing out lavafuls of blood at the most inopportune moments. Before I met the specialist, I’d spent 20 minutes with the nurse having my blood pressure measured in a variety of positions (”could you please stand on one leg and try to reach for that coffee cup on the shelf while I take your blood pressure, please?”) and being weighed. A somewhat pleasant surprise to find that I haven’t gained weight this year. Not so surprisingly, I haven’t lost any either.

So I walked into the specialist’s office, and was surprised to see a man and a woman there. The man asked me if I minded if the junior doctor observed, and I took this to mean the woman. I nodded my assent, which was possibly a fatal move since he then asked me to strip off. A tad confused, I asked him where I should strip off, to which I was told that I could do it behind the curtain.

So I stood there in my socks and pants behind the plastic curtain, before I plaintively asked the doctor what to do now. He asked me to come out from behind the curtain, and to take a seat. So I did – and was sat there for 15 minutes on a leather chair in my smalls while I tried to answer various questions about my lifestyle and avoid making eye contact with the junior doctor. I think it was when I confessed to my years of heroin abuse that the doctor twigged that I was a tad uncomfortable in this situation, and actually decided to make use of my nakedness.

By prodding my ankles. Which is apparently a sure sign of high blood pressure – but why I needed to be stripped naked for this for twenty minutes, heaven knows. He also took more heart measurements, although why I needed to be virtually naked for this I don’t know. He then decided to do some rather vigorous prodding in my groinal area, but this could easily have been done behind the plastic curtain, surely?

Blissfully, he told me to put my clothes on. And then sent me off for a battery of blood and heart tests, and a chest X-Ray. Which involved (again!) more stripping off with only a flimsy Homer-esque plastic gown and a lead panel pressed against my buttocks to save me from a radiation dose. Sometime in the next few weeks, I shall have to spend 24 hours peeing into a plastic bottle which contains some kind of acid, and take that to my doctor.

I bet at the end of all this, they’ll tell me that I just need to lose some weight to bring down my blood pressure. Strange, I’d suggest not being stripped in a doctors’ office and told to pee into a plastic bottle which stinks of vinegar.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

As you’d expect from spending two nights in the biggest non-capital city in the European Union, traipsing up and down the area where the Beatles honed their gig-playing craft while the city celebrates its’ Harbour birthday, there were one or two interesting moments and observations to be had. To wit:

- The unforgettable sight of a woman. In a wheelchair. Vomiting. If she wasn’t sitting on her arse, I’d say she was drunk off it. At least before dodging the projectile vomit she emitted on the side of the road while slumped over.

- Having a gorgeous two-course Portuguese seafood lunch for just six euros. This is before the drinking started in earnest and I couldn’t taste anything.

- The smell of German sausages. Love it.

- Watching football team St. Pauli playing a key match, and observing that sitting on a wooden bench in the outdoors watching a team you’ve never heard or seen of before, is somehow more atmospheric than sitting with 70,000 Welsh football fans at the Millennium Stadium watching Wales beat Italy. Although both times I missed the instant replay that you at least get on television.

- At one moment, there was a adapted Mexican crowd wave involving some kind of hand gesture. In trying to mimic said hand gesture for practise reasons, I got rather odd looks from the crowd around me before my compatriots told me to sit down. Quite possibly because my hand gesture was somehow being mistaken for a Hitler salute - or maybe they were being all “Don’t Mention the War!” at me.

- Watching The Noisettes playing in a crowded, hot, steamy basement rock club. While I’m sitting on a comfortable bar stool sweating away and wishing I was fifteen years younger and my legs weren’t hurting so much. At this point in the evening, I am well off the taste of beer.

- Ending up in a Filipino karaoke bar at 5am, where the resident German singer knows enough tagalog to sing a few songs. Watching the stag murder a song or two. Video footage on request!

- Walking home with some old school friends, and standing at 5.30am on a street corner having a good-humoured argument on what constitutes a blog, and whether any old diary content could be repurposed into a blog. I say it can.

- The final day, and my body has just given up on me. My entire lower body is screaming. My upper body and head is fine, oddly. At least until we wonder down to the harbour and watch people hanging upside down on a fairground ride.

And yes, Eddie Izzard fans, people from Hamburg are apparently called Hamburgers. And a doughnut does seem to be called a Berliner.

Originally published at almost witty. You can comment here or there.

almostwitty: (Default)

All week, I’ve been hearing about how we’ll all be drowning in snow come Wednesday. Given the two weeks of emotional trauma my friends have been through, snow is just what we all needed. It brings out the child in you, and anything that can make the urban landscape look clean and pristine has got to be a good thing.

However, it’s 11am in Cardiff, the sun is shining and I can’t see any snow anywhere. This only perpetuates my perception that Cardiff somehow lives in its own parallel universe, where the normal rules of what happens in the rest of the UK and the world, just doesn’t apply. It’s as if I’m trapped in a Twilight Cardiff Zone (cue theme tune). Grrr.

Originally published at almost witty. You can comment here or there.

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