I’m sitting here watching a broadcast of the concert I missed earlier. Not only the Scissor Sisters, but introduced by Kylie.
I could have been there.
There’s no point in going any further, my command of the English language isn’t sufficient to prevent it dropping into obscenities.
One of the parts of my job is that about one week in every five I am on-call. This isn’t usually too onerous and more often than not it just means taking it easy and ensuring I’m near a computer and somewhere with mobile phone reception. If there are events that make it awkward to be on-call, I can swap with my colleagues.
So earlier this week I sent a message out asking for someone to help cover this evening, Saturday, as a friend had won tickets to tonight’s Scissor Sisters concert in Trafalgar Square. Nobody replied, but the guy I’m on-call with said not to worry, as long as nothing major happened he’d be able to cope.
8am I start getting pages indicating a major network fault. Guess what? I’ve had to let down my friend and spend all day, and now this evening, in front of a computer instead of being at a one-off gig. I get paid a reasonable amount for being on-call, but is it worth it? I’m starting to think not. I’m not feeling very charitable towards the company that let us down today and caused the problems.
I wish more politicians would watch “The West Wing.” The recent election portrayed there showed the candidates, both of them relatively upstanding men (as politicians go) making every attempt to refrain from using negative campaigning. Of course, that eventually broke down, but the sentiment was there.
This evening I saw the Labour Party’s first Party Political Broadcast for the upcoming council elections. You might think that in these enlightened times it would have let us know how good Labour councils are in providing local services (regardless of whether they truly are or not — this is an election broadcast after all). No such luck. Instead the entire time was spent talking about a chameleon called “Dave.” For those of you outside the UK, this refers to the leader of the opposition, David Cameron. They even have a website, Dave the Chameleon.
Does this encourage me to vote Labour? No, if anything it turns me off them. Why should I vote for them? Because they can call somebody else names? There were plenty of kids in the schoolyard that could do that. I’m having difficulty seeing who the broadcast was aimed at. Conservatives? I can’t see them taking it seriously. Floating voters? Would anybody fall for such a cheap trick? Nope, the only people I can see it amusing are the insiders, and their mind is already make up. What a waste of time and money. I’m all for a bit of sarcasm (I’ve even been known to use it myself on occasion), but please, make it worthwhile.
To top it off, one of the links opens a Microsoft Word document. Not HTML, not even PDF, but good old MS Word. XP helpfully reminds me, “If you do not trust the source, do not open or save this file.” Well, do I trust the website of any political party? What do you think?
Last September, two days before I went to Tibet, I had a puncture on my bike. Unfortunately the timing meant that it had to wait until I came back from holiday (three weeks later) before it was repaired.
Saturday, after coming back from a ride, I’m looking at the rear tyre and see a bit of wire in it. I go to pull it out, but as soon as I move it I hear a hissing so I leave it in until I could make my way to my usual tyre place yesterday morning for them to fix it.
This morning, I check my tyre again before I leave, and all is well. However, when I get to work I see something glinting and get a sinking feeling. Yup, there’s a nice shiny philips-head screw driven all the way into the tyre. Less than 24 hours since I had it repaired. It is very close to the first repair, so that means I’ll need to replace it.
And maybe find a cleaner route home.
A couple of weekends ago, I was shopping in Stanfords and bought a ticket for a talk at the Royal Geographical Society by John Simpson that was being advertised to raise funds for Prisoners of Conscience.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, after all, you’d hope a reporter as experienced as he is would be an entertaining public speaker, but there’s always the danger that someone with so many stories to tell becomes, well, just a little bit boorish. Fortunately it was nothing of the sort. He spoke of “heros” for the first half of the talk, and for the other half answered questions from the audience. The heros in question were a school teacher in the Peruvian part of the Amazonas that had stood up to local drug lords (together of course, with some anecdotes about reporting the story — including a surruptitious attempt to leave a video camera recording during an interview when the Commandante had requested it be turned off; unfortunately the camera then decided to noisily chew the tape halfway during the interview), an American diplomat stationed in Argentina during the time of the military junta’s oppression, and a very brief anecdote about Nelson Mandela. In answering questions he also covered the current situation in the former Yugoslavia, following Milosevic’s death in the Hague and the impending deadline for the handover of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (one of whom he described with something along the lines of of being a poisonous, evil dwarf built like a brick s**t-house), some of the stories that aren’t being reported at the moment (the political and humanitarian situation in Uzbekistan), and the fallout of the Hutton report on the BBC (some of his choicest words were reserved for Hutton).
By his own admission, he is too old to care about offending people any more, and I imagine the fact that he’s still alive and kicking after reporting unfavourably on many less than savoury characters goes some way to fortify that position.
Today’s news is reporting the protests that have been happening to mark three years since the war in Iraq began. This means it is also three years since I was in San Francisco and faced one of the more surreal moments of my life when I turned a corner to be confronted with a wall of people on a similar protest walking straight towards me. It also means than in about a month’s time, it will be three years since I left for my year of travelling. Seems like a very long time ago.
Oops. Looks like I messed up. One of our partner organisations, with whom I’ve always thought I got on quite well, runs a network called XXX (name changed to protect the party involved). They are currently migrating to XXX2, and last October I noticed that the “xxx3.net” domain was free. For a bit of a laugh, I registered it and pointed it to a web page about technology used in parts of the network. This was always intended just to be a joke. When the organisation realised, I expected them to send an email to the effect of “ha, ha, now can we have our domain please?” At that point, I’d hand it over to them. The domain was registered in my name, with my home address and personal email and phone numbers — i.e. nothing to do with my employer.
Yesterday I get a phone call from my boss. Apparently the boss from this partner organisation has been on the phone to my boss’s boss about the issue, mentioning lawyers and legal fees.
Now, perhaps in today’s paranoid business climate the humour was misplaced, but surely a friendly email would have been a better first resort? It would have solved the issue just as quickly and with much less bad feeling.
Mea culpa, of course, and I’m not claiming it isn’t all my own fault, but the lesson is not to play pranks with domain names. Even for things that don’t exist yet, people take them very seriously.
Just what the world needs, right? Another “blog.”