Blog : Posts from March 2006 : Page 1

*

End of the week

In which we dislike all politicians, and wonder what to give The Mother for her birthday


The week in summary: behind on blog posts, behind on reading, slightly up on real work.

When I came up with the post categories for this site, “Political” was in there from the start. From the start, I knew the position I’d be writing from: my political stance is that you can’t trust any of them.* It’s good to see that the latest political funding row bears that stance out. Or, it would be good, if none of these people had any power.** It’s slightly scary to think that some of them run the country.

Now that the sun’s out, it’s about time I started planning more holidays. Renewing my passport would probably be a good plan, too – but can anyone suggest places to go? Something else I could do with suggestions on: birthday presents for The Mother. Her birthday’s coming very soon, and I really have no idea what to get.

* Well, it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the most important part.

** The Tories don’t have much, of course, but you never know what might happen in the future.

3 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Things I Just Don’t Get (part 94)

In which we wonder why people set themselves up to suffer


There are many things I just don’t understand about people, but this is one I’ve been thinking about lately.

A month or more ago now, I wrote about Big Dave’s Dating Life. In particular, about one particular girl from his darts team, who was constantly tempted to go back to her ex-boyfriend even though he tended to beat her up whenever she visited him. Big Dave’s romantic contribution: a few vigilante-style threats to help persuade him to stop.

Anyway, Big Dave’s wooing proceeded according to plan, with a few dates which got more and more serious as time went on. Until last week, when he was cruelly dumped,* because she’d decided to go back to the abusive ex, with still no sign that he really was going to stop the beatings.

No sooner had this happened, then one of the worse gossip-mongers at our branch in Another Part Of The Forest starts telling us that one of her underlings – a woman who I’ll call Antivirus – is on a diet, because she wants to look good for her wedding. Which is, well, news.

I don’t know Antivirus very well, but we do chat to each other on the phone every week or so, and the last I’d heard about her relationship really didn’t sound promising. To put it bluntly, a few months ago it had broken down. Not only was she moving out, but she was moving out secretly. She’d planned to wait until she knew the boyfriend was securely at work, then she rushed in with some friends in a van, so that he’d come home to find her, her kids,** all her possessions gone. Because she was terrified of how he’d react if she told him she was leaving.

If you ask me, that’s not a good relationship to be in. It’s not the sort of relationship you’re going to want to go back to. But, for some reason, she has. Not only that, but she’s agreed to marry him.

Obviously, I don’t know the details of either of these cases. Maybe there’s a good reason for everything here. Maybe both of these men have turned over a completely new leaf, and are going to be perfect partners from now on. That’s what they’ve probably promised, at any rate. If it was me, though, I wouldn’t be convinced. There are lots of aspects of relationships I don’t understand, but there are some people who really baffle me.

* “cruelly”, because she did it by text message.

** not his, in case you were wondering.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , ,

*

Pressurised

In which FP is quicker than the internet


On top of the timezone confusion, work is getting a little pressured this week. I’ve been driving about between branches carrying equipment backwards and forwards, because if you’ve got a large amount of data in the wrong place, the quickest way to sort things out is still to put your computer in the boot of your car and drive it down to Another Part Of The Forest’s branch office. Squeezing it down an internet pipeline takes all day; driving to the other side of the county only takes an hour.*

The best part of that, of course, is that an hour of driving down the motorway is an hour of not having to answer the phone to be given more work.

* Well, the other middle of the county, at any rate.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , ,

*

This aye night

In which we want to snuggle up by the fire


The changing of the clocks has left me feeling a little tired and disorientated. It’s not surprising that there are more car accidents in this week, as people adjust to the shift.

Driving home just now,* in the dark and heavy blattering rain, I wanted to be warm and cosied up in bed. Driving in the rain at night always makes me wonder what it must have been like to live before electric heating and lights. It also makes me think of the Lyke Wake Dirge – for no apparent reason, because there’s nothing to connect the Dirge with bad weather. It’s a very evocative text, though.

This aye night, this aye night,
Every night and all,
Fire and fleet and candle-light
And Christ take up thy soul

* Not from work – it’s gone 10pm. I don’t work that late.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , ,

*

Gratitude

In which we ponder religious motives


As it’s Sunday, let’s think about religion for a moment. More specifically, let’s think about Norman Kember, the peace activist rescued last week after spending several months as a hostage in Iraq.

The big news story since his release, of course, is that he didn’t seem particularly happy to be freed. His gratitude to the SAS seemed rather forced, and he repeated his anti-war position. And that, in itself, is an admirable thing – I’d respect him much less if he had switched to say: “actually, now, I think the SAS are doing a damn fine job out there.”

Whether he was right or wrong to go out there is something that can be debated for hours, but it isn’t what I want to talk about. I’m more interested in whether he wanted to be rescued or not, and how that might be down to his religion.

There’s no doubt that Kember was deeply religious.* His behaviour, it seems, is classic for deeply religious people – it’s a case of self-martyrdom. Since the earliest days of Christianity – well, since the days of St Anthony, at least – the devout have flocked to non-deadly varients of martyrdom. St Anthony himself favoured hermeticism, but not all of us, particularly today, could cope with living on our own in the depths of the desert. So, people have found other ways to suffer in the name of Christ,** particularly by self-denial and “mortification”. Kember accidentally found an excellent modern way to suffer and mortify himself, and serve his favourite political cause along the way: be a hostage. No wonder he didn’t particularly want to be rescued.

* And the two Canadians who were captives along with Kember look, in the pictures shown on the BBC site, to have a bit of a fanatical gleam in their eyes.

** The best-known being the Stylites, probably because they sound rather silly.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Changing seasons

In which it feels like summer


Today must have been the first day of summer.

I’m not saying that because the clocks change tonight,* or because the parents have gone on holiday, or for some other obscure astronomical reason. Today was the first day that really felt like summer. It’s not just about being warm, or sunny, but there’s something in the air. I wanted to go out into the garden and lie back in a deckchair sipping a gin and tonic. Of course, as I don’t have a deckchair, and couldn’t be bothered to nip down to the local branch of Deckchair World,** I didn’t. And now it’s pouring down again. That’s this year’s summer gone, then.

* they do, don’t they?

** “Do you need more deckchairs in your life? Come straight down to Deckchair World – we’ve got the deckchair to suit you! Green stripes! Red stripes! Blue stripes! Special offers galore – buy two deckchairs, get one free! Come down and see us – branches in Scunthorpe, Withernsea, Beverley, Barrow and Goole.” I’ve started listening to local radio a lot more recently, and it probably shows.

One comment. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Predictive

In which we thank people and skim over a few other things


Well, I was glad Gordon Brown did take my hints on a couple of things.* I’m just disappointed that he didn’t single out blue cars for rebates.

Thanks to everyone who commented on Tuesday’s whining post, both on the site and privately. I’m still doomed, though. More on this to come soon, I’m sure, along with musings on those people who leave their abusive partners, only to go back to them a few months later. When they could easily find some much nicer people who aren’t abusive,** if they wanted.

Current small reasons to feel pleased with myself: I’ve managed to completely avoid watching anything at all to do with the Commonwealth Games, even though one of the medal-winners is a teacher at my old school. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep avoiding it until all the fuss is over again.

Current small reasons to get pissed off: the computer keeps crashing, usually at the most inappropriate moments. I know what the problem is: a very obscure bug in the disk controller driver which very few people have come across, and nobody seems to know the cause of.*** Bah.

On the other hand, I do have a large box of biscuits on my desk at the moment. But not for long, I suspect. Hurrah!

* although, to be fair, everyone else in the country had already vaguely guessed the road tax changes.

** ie, me, or Big Dave

*** it only comes up if you have a Promise SATA disk controller, a Maxtor SATA disk, and are running one of some Linux 2.6 subversions. But not all – the problem apparently disappeared in one revision of the driver, only to come back in the next.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Monetary

In which FP sorts out the nation’s budget


As that nice Mr Brown of Ferryhills Road is going to deliver his budget this afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to give him a few tips. So, in nice easily-digested bullet-point form, here’s the Symbolic Forest Budget 2006 – quick, clear the BBC1 schedule and get Evan Davies on standby!*

  • Higher taxes for married people.
  • and anyone else who can get a date at the drop of a hat (sorry, Big Dave)
  • Lower taxes for single people
  • especially ones who are doomed to stay single for all eternity (it’s only fair).
  • Higher taxes for big cars. You only need a 4×4 to take the kids to school if you live in, say, the tiny Welsh hill village of Llwybr Cyhoeddus.
  • Smaller taxes for little cars. Especially blue ones.
  • Lower taxes on beer produced by small independant breweries.**
  • Higher taxes for carbonated urine beer produced by big industrial ones
  • No tax at all on gin
  • Or tonic.
  • No taxes on any expensive cameras or other gadgets I might want to buy in the next year.
  • More cake

That should get the economy nice and stimulated. There you go, Gordon; hope this helps.

* But don’t mention the rumour about his body piercings.

** Especially ones named after large, brightly-coloured animals.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , ,

*

Singledom

In which FP starts to get lonely


On my own in the office for most of the day, and it left me feeling somewhat down.

There are lots of things I hate about being single, but one of the worst is that it leaves me feeling there isn’t much point to anything I do. There’s no reason to do anything without somebody to confide in later. There’s no reason to come home if there’s noone to hug when I get there.

The minority of you who don’t go bounding straight from relationship to relationship and never have to worry about being single:* how do you cope with this? I’ve been on my own for years, now, and I still haven’t found a way.

* Big Dave, for example, only has to decide he wants to start seeing people, and he’s struggling to avoid women. He keeps complaining that they’re tiring him out, and if it goes on much longer he’s going to have to cut down to only seeing one at once.

10 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , ,

*

Security (part two)

In which a contractor doesn’t do the job properly


So, as I explained yesterday, the security contractor at the office has saddled us with three “incompatible” security systems, two of which probably are compatible after all, it’s just that he doesn’t know how to get them to work together. We complained to the office manager about it. “Well, if that’s what the contractor said, that’s what’s going to happen.”

The next day, our boss comes through to visit. “What’s this about us needing three different tags for the alarms?”

We told him what we’d been told.

“It’s a bloody stupid idea. I thought they were all going to work together.” Yes, so did we. “I don’t want to have to carry three tags on my keyring.” And he wanders off, grumbling about it.

The following day, we notice the Managing Director stalking about in our part of the building, looking at the security gadgets and making “hmmm…” noises. The office manager is following him around, trying to explain how wonderful these expensive systems we’ve commissioned are.

“…you’ll have one tag for these doors, one tag for the outside doors and gates, one tag for…”

“Why do we need three different tags for everything? Why can’t we just have one?”

“The contractor says that they won’t…”

“Well, I thought we were just going to have one tag that would do everything. I don’t want…”

I tuned out, but it was clear the way the conversation was going. What makes me sigh isn’t that we always prefer contractors who have worked for us before, even when their track record is hardly promising.* It’s that the management should have spotted this coming. The contractor did give the office manager a nice thick specifications document – did the manager bother to read it at all? Didn’t he bother to ask questions about the vague parts?

* This isn’t the first time the security contractor has fitted something and then not set it up properly, because although he’s agreed to fit the system we wanted he’s not willing to learn how to configure it.

One comment. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Search this site

*

Contact

E: feedback [at] symbolicforest [dot] com

IM: Ask me if you'd like to know

*

Post Categories

Artistic (118)
Dear Diary (349)
Feeling Meh (48)
Geekery (109)
In With The Old (34)
Linkery (37)
Media Addict (164)
Meta (79)
Photobloggery (94)
Political (113)
Polling (7)
Sub category (19)
The Family (31)
The Office (70)
Unbelievable (53)