D4D

Hasta La Muerte

#1 Dad

Sometimes, you see something, and your brain just goes “What?!?”  (or words to that effect, but with more swearing)  Currently, there seems to be a theme connecting that with both Father’s Day and Star Wars.

Last year, we had the card with Kylo Ren…

[Spoiler from two years ago –  Kylo Ren kills his father]

This year, I’ve seen this in Sainsbury’s…

I’m pretty damn sure they haven’t seen the same Star Wars films I have…

London (2)

Following on from last week’s post, I was in London a lot last week.

On Thursday and Friday I was at the always-excellent Lead Developer conference, at the QEII Conference Centre, near Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.  I could have chosen to stay in London overnight on the Wednesday and Thursday nights instead of travelling each day, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. So instead I ended up with longer days, travelling each day down to London and then walking (because I’m a lunatic) from Euston to Westminster, and back afterwards – roughly three miles each way, and yet still preferable to taking the tube.

It made for long days – particularly as I also chose to eat in London both nights, with a friend at Iberica on Thursday, which I’d not been to before (but will be go back to) and on my own on Friday at Monica Galetti’s Mere Restaurant, which I love. (And apparently I’m the person who’s been back the most since they opened in March – an achievement of which I’m simultaneously ridiculously proud, and somewhat ashamed)

And then on Saturday, having seen a recommendation from a friend, I had been lucky enough to get the last available ticket for the matinee performance of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, at the Donmar Warehouse. I’m going to write more about that in a separate post, which’ll be done for later this week. (Just in time for the production to finish on the 17th. Helpful, eh?)

Sunday was allegedly calmer, but still busy – and involved catching rather more sun than I perhaps should have, although not to any point of danger or ill-health.

And now, I’m back for a new week of work, which is going to require some brain-power at some point early on.  Bugger…

Parking Distances

One of the things I like about working (and travelling) in Milton Keynes is their attitude towards parking, along with a nice dose of apparent cynicism and understanding of human nature/lazyness.

Milton Keynes has been pretty much designed around the use of cars (I know, it wasn’t originally so, but the New Town concept pretty much was) and thus there’s a lot of parking available. Sure, the city gets busy, but there’s usually parking spaces available.

The great thing though – in my opinion – is that they organised (and priced) the parking according to proximity to the main areas that people use.  So the parking spaces that are the closest to the high-footfall areas are the highest-priced. If you go a bit further out – by which I mean a block, not miles – then the price is about a quarter of the highest-rate, which seems like a valid reward for being prepared to walk a bit more.

Note : I’m aware that this could also affect those with disabilities and mobility issues, but there are mobility and disabled spaces right next to the main areas, and they’re not at the high rates.

Down near the train station, there’s a great example.  The closest car-park to the station now charges £8 for the day.  But if you go to the next one – literally, the other side of the (dual-carriageway) road – then it’s £4. And if you’ve got a Milton Keynes Employee permit (which will be the subject of a separate post) then it’s even less – £2.40.  So an extra distance of maybe 20 yards can save at least 50% of the parking cost.

As a plan and concept, it understands human nature and lazyness, and take some advantage of it. I think that’s brilliant, to be honest.

On Being A Cretin

With life taking several turns over the last year, I’d given up a bit on going to the gym.  OK, I’d given up on it a lot. So I’d put my membership on hiatus, paying a small maintenance fee rather than the full monthly amount. (Because while I’m definitely an idiot, as will be shown shortly, I’m not a complete idiot)   It meant I wouldn’t have to pay a re-joining fee etc., and could reactivate things really easily once I was back to being in the mood for it.

Last month, I decided I wanted to get back to going.  Again, a number of reasons, but mainly just realising I wanted to do more, as well as some preparation for my idiot event in September – of which more later.

So I went to the PureGym website, logged in, and reactivated my membership.  Oddly, I had to pay a joining fee again, but I thought I’d just not read the terms and conditions properly, and it’s not a huge amount, so there we go. The proper payment comes out of my bank about a week later, and all good. Job done, I’m going back to the gym from June 1st.

Come June 1st, I look at my bank account, and there’s that maintenance charge again.  Weird.  Maybe it’s connected to that billing cock-up where I paid a joining fee.

So I call PureGym, to try and find what’s going on.  They tell me that the Direct Debit reference I’ve given them isn’t connecting to any of their records, so they’ll need more information from the bank, to know where that DD started, where it’s going etc.   Annoying, but indicative that a significant cock-up has occurred.

I ring the bank, and speak to someone there.  Let’s cancel that under the DD guarantee, here’s the details, it’s a Direct Debit for The Gym…   And a light goes on in my head.   I’m a cretin.

For whatever reason, I’ve got “PureGym” in my head as the one I’m going to. (And it’s one I was a member of, in two different locations)  Only that’s not the one I’m using. I’m using “The Gym”, and that’s where the maintenance payment’s come from. So I’ve re-joined a gym I don’t want, and not restarted the membership of the gym I do want.   For fuck’s sake.

The lady at the bank (having laughed) reinstated the DD for the Gym, and re-paid the money to them that’d gone out that day.  Then I went back to PureGym, explained that I’m a complete idiot, what had happened, and asked if it was possible to get my money and joining fee back from them.  No problem if not, we’d class it as an idiot tax, but if possible it’d be great.

And they did. It’s not a standard thing, but I’d not used the gym, it was still on the first full day of “membership”, and – I suspect most importantly – I’d admitted it was entirely my fault, and that I’m a moron.  (It also made them laugh, which is fine)

All told, I got lucky in many ways.  I’m lucky that (in general) my bank are pretty good on this stuff. I’m lucky that both gyms in question are month-to-month ones rather than contracts. I’m lucky that the people in both cases were nice, and obviously far more used to people shouting and swearing, and making out it’s all Their fault.

I’ve not lost anything (except some self-respect) and it’s all worked out.   But man alive, do I feel like an absolute cretin.

London

[Somewhat inspired by a friend’s post on Facebook]

I was in London on Saturday – it was a pleasant day, sunny, loads of people around, having a good time.  Note : This is NOT going to be one of those “it could’ve been me” posts – I fucking hate that shit, trying to make a drama out of one’s own life when others have been in that drama for real.

I walked over London Bridge twice, and had drinks and food in Borough Market. Again, loads of people out in the sun, sightseeing, visiting the city.

I wasn’t there when everything happened later, I was home, and had been for a while.

I have plans in London on Thursday and Friday for a conference in Westminster, then on Saturday to see a play in Soho, and the following weekend for Taste in Regent’s Park.  I have these plans, and I won’t be changing them.  I’ll go to the places I want to be, I’ll live the life I have, and want to have. I won’t let fuckwitted extremist bellends change my life.

Some of it is statistics. I know that there are, on any given day, literally millions of people in London, and only a tiny, tiny minority are bellend extremist shit-for-brains, so the risks are pretty low – but primarily it’s because it seems to me that the best, and perhaps the only response most of us can make to this kind of thing is to carry on as normal.

The odds are ridiculously low that I, or anyone I know, will ever be involved in anything similar to what happened on Saturday night. And if those odds bite me on the arse and something does happen to me or anyone I know, then I’ll deal with those events and repercussions the best I can. I still won’t let the dickheads beat me, though.

On Dealing With FitBit

This week, I was unlucky enough to have to try and deal with FitBit‘s idiotic e-commerce system.  I’ve had a Fitbit for several years now (well, two or three devices over that time, but all Fitbit devices) and the strap on the current one is getting a bit ropy, so I wanted to order a new one.

The ordering part is… OK, I suppose.  Then we get to entering addresses.  It tells me that it can’t validate my preferred delivery address at all, and won’t progress the order any further.  Not “Would you like to add this address to the system?” or “Please confirm the details, and we’ll accept your word for it that you know where the hell you work“.  Just point-blank ‘Computer says No‘ dead-end.  So far, so unhelpful.

In fairness, that should’ve been the warning sign.  But I carried on.  Rather than delivering to my office, I’ll set it to deliver to home.  That’s OK, except for the standard “Royal Mail PAF says this address should be in [nearest city], so do you want to use that, or the info you’ve entered”.  I’m used to that – it’s ridiculous, but it’s PAF, so I’m used to it, and it’s not going to change.

Enter in the card details, all well and good. Do the ‘Verified By Visa’ bag-o’-shite verification, and complete the transaction.  Get the email saying “It’s on its way”.  Happy day, job done.

Or so I thought…

Half an hour later, I get another email. “There’s a problem with this transaction”, saying that either…

  • The billing address provided doesn’t match the address on file with your financial institution  (No, it matches fine)
  • Your financial institution denied the charge for unspecified reasons (OK, maybe)
  • Your financial institution denied the charge due to insufficient funds (Nope, definitely not)
  • Your financial institution doesn’t recognise Fitbit.com as a vendor   (that sounds like cock to me)

I call the card company.  Nope, all fine, not even a declined transaction.  And “doesn’t recognise the vendor” is a bag of cock.  To quote them, “If it were for ISIS-Iraq.com, we might be blocking it, but not standard stuff”

I call FitBit, who are *massively* incompetent, unable to understand basic English, and can only “resubmit the transaction”.  Can’t change the card details, just ‘resubmit it’.
“OK sir, that’s gone through fine, so you’ll get a confirmation in a minute”
“Has it actually gone through the card company this time?”
“Yes, it’s gone through fine”
“What’s the transaction authorisation code?”
“We don’t know yet, it hasn’t gone to the bank”
“……”

So…. Fitbit, these <sarcasm>masters of eCommerce</sarcasm>, don’t do the card transactions immediately. They cache them, for some fuckforsaken reason. And no-one knows ’til then what’ll happen.

When I checked the resubmitted one, the phone cretin had also decided to change the address for billing and delivery to the PAF-recommended one (without even asking) so I ended up talking to them again, they edited the order, and ‘confirmed the transaction’ again (i.e. re-submitted it, and played wait’n’see with the cards)

That failed too, unsurprisingly.  Same email, you need to speak to us, same list of possible reasons. Card company re-confirms that absolutely nothing has touched the account – they’ve had a 1p pre-authorisation amount go through, which verifies the card details, but after that, nothing else has been received by them at all.

In the end, I’ve called Fitbit (again!) and just cancelled the order.  There’s better and quicker ways to do this. Hell, I can get a pikey knock-off strap through Amazon for a tenth of the price, and it’d be delivered tomorrow.

The really telling thing though, for me, was that when I cancelled the order, there’s not even a process for it. No questions about why I want to cancel, no attempt to keep the order, nothing. Just “OK, that’s cancelled. You’ll get an email telling you so”.  That tells you everything you need to know about whether a company gives a shit or not.

Weekend Walking

On Saturday, I went into London – primarily to see Don Juan in Soho again, as I’d booked a ticket for myself, and then my friends booked theirs for a couple of weeks earlier. If I hadn’t enjoyed it when I saw it with them, I’d have given up the ticket or whatever, but I did like it, so I was OK with seeing it twice.

This time though, I wasn’t going to be drinking beforehand. Among other things, there were some bits of the play I was hazy on, or couldn’t get to gel with the rest of it, so that was another reason to see it again.  Instead, it was a nice day, so I decided to go for a bit of a walk.

And, because I’m an idiot of world-shattering proportions, I came pretty close to breaking myself. I didn’t, but it came closer than usual to happening.

I hadn’t accounted for a couple of things – primarily, the sun and temperature. London on Saturday was bloody hot, and sunny. Me being me, I hadn’t really made any plans or preparations, I’d just got a route in mind, I’d got my boots on, and walked it. Two hours, and 7½ miles later, I was pretty knackered.

Because of the warmth, I also noticed that the plane trees along a lot of the route were chucking out something that affected the back of my throat, and made it harder to breathe – not life-threatening by any stretch, just harder work than usual – which made it all more tiring.

Having now read that Wikipedia page, I’m more sure of this – the quote

However, it has a number of problems in urban use, most notably the short, stiff hairs shed by the young leaves and the dispersing seeds; these are an irritant if breathed in, and can exacerbate breathing difficulties for people with asthma.

seems to confirm my theory somewhat.

By the time I’d got to the Albert Memorial, I was pretty much stuffed, and also thinking I’d probably been in the sun for longer than I should’ve been.  But by then, well, I was on the ‘final straight’ so I kept on going, just at a slightly slower pace.

I did OK though, and was then more sensible once I’d got to my intended destination, by opting to sit downstairs in the shade, drink lots of water, and generally take some time out. From there, it was a simple short stroll to the theatre, and once the play was done, I closed the circle of that route, and walked back up to Euston.

Once I was home, I was properly knackered, and my legs were more sore than I’d have expected as well. But happily it all recovered overnight and was fine, so I’m happy with what I did – I just could’ve been more sensible about the entire bloody thing.  I suppose that “being sensible” might actually happen one day, rather than only ever occurring to me in hindsight, but well, we’ll see.

 

Post Navigation