Murdered And Left To Die

Every so often, it’s my misfortune to go onto a local news site – in this case the MK Citizen – to find out about something that’s going on.

However, sometimes the ‘other news’ section produces gems of the lost art of sub-editing, like this…

Now OK, it’s a terrible story and so on. But really, “murdered and left to die”?!? Fuck sake. That one’s not even difficult to parse and go “Hang on, if he was murdered, he was already dead, and couldn’t have been left to die.“. Or is that just me?


New Boots

As I’ve mentioned before, at the end of September I’ll be doing the Shine Nightwalk marathon in London. I’m mainly looking forward to it, although I can’t deny that there’s a dose of trepidation to balance things out a bit.

Anyway, following a particularly ill-fated walk last week, I discovered that my boots – the ones I was planning to do the marathon in – are pretty much destroyed inside, to the extent that they’d caused me some really unpleasant blisters during that walk.

So of course that’s meant I’ve had to buy new boots for walking, and now have to break them in over the next couple of weeks in order to be ready for the end of the month. Thankfully, the ones I prefer are more like trainers inside, rather than being hard-core ‘proper’ walking boots, so the process shouldn’t be too complex/painful. (Crossing my fingers like no-one’s business there)

In fairness, it’s not the first time this has happened when I’m doing one of my bigger walks – I should know better by now.  Indeed, the first 10km walk I did, the boots I was planning to use fell apart on the morning of the walk, so I ended up doing it in my normal everyday Cat boots instead, and came to no harm.  But still, a marathon is four-and-a-half times that distance, so I’m trying to be a bit more prepared. (Not massively so, but enough that I don’t make a complete twadge of it all)

Anyway, the new boots arrived yesterday – fairly impressed, ordered them on Saturday through Cotswold – they were even on a better online price than expected – for supply to the local Cotswold store, and they arrived as expected, even over a Bank Holiday weekend. And the wearing-in process starts today.

The proper test will be on the weekend, when I’ll be using them to walk from Euston Station to Tobacco Dock (four miles, give or take, depending on which route I aim for) for Meatopia, then five-ish back to Camden for a concert – and then a similar Euston -> Tobacco Dock and back on Sunday for the same thing.  If they’re not broken in by then, I’m going to have problems.

There are a couple of other walks between now and the end of the month (I changed some plans around to give me time to do so) and all should be fine by then.  But we’ll know more when it happens…


Lightly Battered

On Thursday, I walked with friends to the National Burger Day event, and slightly broke myself along the way.

The walk (from Euston to Canada Square) should be about 5 miles. However, it’s not a location I’ve walked to before, and I hadn’t prepared properly for doing so, so I made a couple of mistakes.  We were going in generally the correct direction, just by a less-direct route than it could/should have been.

Additionally, it was a bloody warm day, I hadn’t got any water with me, and (as it turned out) my walking boots were pretty much dead, so I ended up knackered, hot, sore, and (by the end) pretty dehydrated. Which also added to the mistakes in the route-finding and map-reading.  All told, that walk ended up being just under 8 miles. So yes, definitely not my finest day, by a long chalk.

When we eventually got to the pub we’d planned to stop at, I was – not to put too fine a point on it – fucked.  I drank two and a half litres of water just while we sat there. That’s never a good sign.  (Also, it turns out that my hands swell when I’m dehydrated, which is kind of odd, but good to know for future reference)

We still did the event, and it was OK – but there wasn’t anything that massively stood out for me, to be honest.  As a result, I think there’s going to be some changes for me going forwards, but that’s going to be a post for another day, when I’ve thought about it some more. Change is afoot, to be sure.

When we were done, we decided to get the Tube back to Euston, and home. Much more sensible. And once I got home, taking off the boots and finding just how twatted my feet were was… interesting, and not entirely pleasant.

I’d say I’ll use it as a learning experience, and never do the same thing again, but we all know that’s not true, and that at some point in the future I’ll do something equally stupid. Or more so.


“Quiet” August

When this month started, I said it was going to be a quiet one, before the storm that is my September.  And of course, me being me, it hasn’t really worked out that way at all.

Instead there’s been several visits to the cinema, a bundle of social evenings with food and the like, catching up with people, three or four London days, and all of that jazz. In some ways I’ve been busier in August that I am in usual months – the difference has been that I’ve been based from home, rather than weekends away.

Looking back, it seems like this is actually pretty much standard – last year was the same, and so was 2015. (although there’s no ‘busy’ post as such, I was still doing a lot of stuff)  So that idea of a ‘quiet’ month is… pretty much bollocks, really.

And then yesterday was a late afternoon / early evening visit to the National Burger Day event down in London (which will be a post all of its own, I’m sure). Still to come this month I’ve got another big walk over the weekend, a cinema visit, and a social thingy, and then the idiocy of September, which currently includes (but is not limited to)…

  • Meatopia on the Saturday and Sunday  (although the Sunday is somewhat based on what’s going to be on, but I haven’t bailed on one yet)
  • as well as seeing the Sisters of Mercy on the same Saturday evening. (Yes, I’m a lunatic)
  • possibly a pub-crawl of sorts
  • Seeing Coriolanus in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Walking a full marathon overnight in London at the end of the month
  • Two other concerts as well as the Sisters of Mercy.

So yeah, daftness abounds. As ever.


Updates

Yesterday, I was a bit stumped about what to write for today – but luckily, AVG came to my rescue.

It put up a notice yesterday on my screen telling me that six of my installed programs were out of date – which is kind of a surprise, as I’m normally pretty good at that kind of thing.

Then I read the message properly…

You’ll need to click on it to embiggenify and make it properly readable – but basically, all six programs it was telling me were out of date were actually *more* up to date than the ones it wanted me to install.

So no, I don’t think I will ‘update’ them to keep my machine safe.  For fuck’s sake.


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.


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.