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Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Bourdain

Last week, I was as surprised as everyone else to hear that the chef Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.

Bourdain was a huge influence on the catering world – you only have to read the many obituaries (including this one) to see the influence he had, and the respect in which he was held.

Depression and suicide are bastards. They make you think you’re not worth anything, make you think the world won’t miss you, make you insignificant. They’re lying bastards.

Twitter and Facebook have been full of people expressing shock, and making depression and mental health a subject to speak about, to help remove the stigma around it all, and make more people aware of how prevalent these things really are.

If nothing else good comes out of the deaths of celebrities, then at least it’s making people talk, making mental health normalised and spoken about.  And that can’t be a bad legacy really, can it?

Busy Busy

I slacked off from writing posts last week – primarily just because I was ridiculously busy, and didn’t get round to it.

The week before had already been daftly busy, including travel to Newcastle for a couple of days, and then social and busy bits on both weekend days.

I can’t even remember now what I did on the Monday – I know I was out, I just can’t recall where/why. That can’t be a good sign.

Then Tuesday evening I was seeing The The at the Royal Albert Hall, and on Wednesday evening seeing them at Brixton Academy, as I may have mentioned before (on more than one occasion)  Both nights were great, but on neither occasion was I home before 1am, nor in bed before 3am. And also working during the day.

Thursday was no better, although at least it was more local, by going to the local Geek Night for a bundle of presentations and connections.

And then Friday was supposed to be quieter, “just popping out” for food at a local event, that then meeting friends and chatting, meaning I didn’t actually leave ’til gone 11pm.

Saturday was a day in London, starting with cocktails and lunch at one of my favourite places, The Alchemist in Bevis Marks (near the base of the Gherkin) followed by a play called “Sancho – An Act of Remembrance” at Wilton’s Theatre.

And today was another food event in Milton Keynes, and this evening I’ve finally stopped and been able to relax a bit.

So. That’s my reasons for not updating over the last week.   I think it’s a pretty good list, but other opinions may differ. 🙂

 

Lag-Free

Having come back from Toronto on Saturday into Sunday, I’ve managed to stay remarkably free of jet-lag.  Most people have pointed out that this is probably because my body-clock and sleep-patterns are so utterly screwed anyway, but I’m still surprised by how I’ve got through it so far. (And yes, I’m aware it could still ruse up and bite me in the arse, but it’s looking less and less likely)

Basically, I just beasted my way through it.  I was awake by 6am Toronto time on the Saturday, we spent most of the day walking the final bits of Toronto that we hadn’t seen, got to the airport, and took the 18:30 flight out.  We got in to Heathrow at 6:30am UK Time  (so about 01:30 Toronto time), and I then drove home.

Being aware of having been up 24-ish hours already, I didn’t do much for the rest of the day – sorted out all the domestic stuff, laundry and so on – but got through the day, and finally went to bed at about midnight, after being awake for about 36 hours straight.  Then was up again by my usual time, and it’s been an easy switch back to the usual timetable.

It kind of worries me that I’ve been able to deal with that kind of jet-lag and time change with no ill-effects. It makes me wonder how far I’d have to travel in order to get hit by it – not that I want to, particularly, but it’s sort of interesting, I suppose.

Old Gigs

This year seems to be another one with a lot of band revivals – and I’m happy about it.

First of all, the band “The The” announced that they were going to do their first tour in twenty-odd years.  Having been a fan for a long time, I got tickets.

The first-announced one, back at the Royal Albert Hall (where I saw them *cough* years ago) is the single most expensive gig ticket I’ve ever bought – the gig sold out in minutes, and I was in the queue, so the only ones that remained by the time I got there were ridiculously costly (but also have hospitality included, so I’ll make it pretty much work out, somehow) but fuck it, got one anyway.

Then they announced a second gig, this time at Brixton Academy on the following night. Much much cheaper. So I got one for that too.

Later, they also announced a smaller warm-up gig, in Nottingham. Yup, got that too.   (It’s ridiculous, and I just hope it’s worth it)

There are a couple of others this year as well, including Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, both of whom I’m going to see.

And then yesterday, the Cowboy Junkies announced they were coming to the UK for three concerts – in Glasgow, Manchester, and London. I think the last time I saw them was on their last visit here, although for some reason I appear to have missed one a couple of years ago – had tickets, didn’t go. I’ve been a fan of them even longer than I have of The The, so it was a no-brainer.

Glasgow and Manchester went on sale today, and I’ve got one for Manchester. The London ones don’t go on sale ’til the end of the month, but I’m already seriously considering getting one for that too. It’ll depend on the price, but it’s pretty likely, if I’m not going to see them again for another decade…

Gone Phishing

One of the things about being a techie is that I own a fair number of web domains. Some I’ve got for things like ongoing projects, business names I like, and a bundle of other stupid shit.  A lot are in the “when I get a chance” state of being – the ideas remain, and haven’t been done by anyone else, but for now they’re kind of drifting.

However, one of the other things I do is have a couple of domains that are purely for use when buying stuff.  They’re set to forward everything to my home email account, so it means I can set up anything @ the domain and it’ll do what I want. While it sounds a little bit mental, there’s a very good reason for all this.

For the purposes of explanation, let’s say I own a stupid domain, like myemail.com

So – when I buy something from a new company, I register with them using [company_name]@myemail.com . Any mail there will come to me – it’s a legitimate email address, just not one I’ll ever send an email from. (I can if I need to, but that’s a different point)  Everyone’s happy.

The key, though, is that if [company] starts spamming me, I can block that specific address, rather than having to do any kind of weird and fragile message rules etc.  It’s easy – I just add [company_name]@myemail.com to the ‘bin everything’ list, and there we go, it’s gone.

What I’ve found recently though is another interesting one – I can easily tell when [company] has been hacked, or lost its mailing list somewhere.

This week, I’ve been getting some *very* clever phishing emails (the ones about ‘just log in, give us your details, and we’ll sort this out’) to one particular address. They’re good enough that if they had come direct to my home email, I might’ve clicked on one by mistake. (I haven’t, but I could have)  They’re *that* good.  But I can see that they’ve come to [company]@myemail.com , so a) I know they’re shit mails, and b) I know that [company]’s mailing list is being used.

I’ve let [company] know, although there’s not much they can do about it now. But at least maybe they can notify their customers that their details have been leaked/stolen.

All told though, it’s another interesting reason to have that particular domain, and to use it in this way to keep my own information as safe as possible.

You Had One Job

[This follows on from a conversation I was having over the weekend, so I thought I’d write a bit more about it here. You lucky people]

This year so far has in many ways been an exercise in frustration.  I’ve felt like I’m keeping on having to fight things all the way, just to get people to do their sodding jobs.  It’s incredibly annoying, frustrating, and just leaves me tired and pissed off.

I know I’ve written about this kind of thing before – it seems to be a bit of a theme round here. And it’s not even like I expect miracles – all I want is for people to do their fucking jobs right. That’s not too much to ask, surely?

For example, one of the current bugbears has been a particular travel agent, who is supposed to be organising a break.  It’s been in the process now for about six months, with the travel happening next month.  I’ve given them a decent length of time and space, and absolutely nothing happened. Indeed, the only time anything started happening was once I got in touch with them about six weeks ago, to find out what was going on.  All of a sudden the tickets and so on appeared, along with acknowledgement that they’d dropped the ball, that the initial contact had left the company and there’d been no handover or successor assigned to deal with me.

The problem was that the names on all the bookings – flights, hotel and so on – *all* had spelling mistakes. I’ve raised it with them, and they’re “going to deal with it”.  But man alive, this is the job they’re supposed to be good at, that they do all day every day, and they still make mistakes like these?  I’m honestly not reassured, and won’t be until I’ve arrived at the destination and know that everything has worked out.  Which is hardly a relaxing start to a break, it’s fair to say.

The stuff with the bank, the car insurance people, and the windscreen people have also been fine examples. Along with several others I’m not in the mood to add just yet to the list here.

All I want is for people to do their jobs. Why is that so bloody difficult?

More Sorted

Following on from last week’s “One of Those weeks” post, things did end up working out OK, I’m pleased to say.

The car windscreen got replaced first thing yesterday morning, and the whole process was pretty painless (once I’d got the appointment organised and so on).  The crack itself had definitely grown during the week, so leaving it another two weeks would’ve almost certainly ended up with it being a lot more serious. Considering that I was doing a fair amount of driving through the rest of yesterday, I was much happier to have had it sorted.

The bank issues also got sorted pretty efficiently, once I’d escalated the problem a couple of times. They still can’t explain why the auto-systems didn’t trigger for this – although I’ve heard some interesting bullshit along the way – but at least it’s all sorted, I’ve had the card cancelled and replaced, had some compensation for the hassle and lack of information, and the money was refunded immediately. So I can’t complain too much.  I’d rather none of it had happened in the first place, obviously, but at least it’s all handled now.  And as a happy side-effect it’s also shown the bank that I’m more on top of things than they are, and that’s now on-the-record.

So all things considered, the week has ended up in a much better place than the one it started in.  Yes, it would’ve made life a lot easier if none of it had happened in the first place, but as it had happened, at least it’s done and dusted.

 

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