Month: <span>August 2010</span>

Quick house sale update: We had a viewer and they liked the house. They are waiting on receiving offers on their place though, but still, progress! Exciting! And other exclamation mark worthy statements!!

One thing I’ve been starting to do over the past few months is get out more. Meet up with people, even just for a coffee or a drink, or just spending time wandering about Glasgow meeting random people. People like Svetlana.

But I’m not going to talk about Svetlana (don’t worry I’ll introduce her to you all soon*).

I’m a pretty confident guy and share the ability to talk to anyone with my sister, although admittedly I can’t quite match her words-a-second ratio (I can only presume she’s mastered circular breathing as she can talk for minutes WITHOUT ONCE DRAWING BREATH!), so I’m quite happy sitting in a bar on my own or chatting to shop keepers and the like.

It feels good to be out and about in the city, and I can’t wait to move into it (or at least to the edges of it) and whilst I know there are drawbacks, it’ll be good to at least feel a part of something.

Clubs will be next, as in joining some, not battering baby seals to death. I’ve a couple in mind which should keep me out of trouble, add in joining a local gym and I’ll need to remember to leave sometime for just chilling out and reading books.

Speaking of which, have you ordered a copy of Dance Your Way To Psychic Sex yet? It’s avery limited print run of an excellent book, well worth the money! I’d also happily recommend Sex and Bowls and Rock and Roll which WILL make you laugh, guaranteed!** I’m reading it at the moment and have been asked to stop laughing so much!

And yes, it is a COMPLETE COINCIDENCE that both books have the word SEX in the title (Hello Google!).

* she’s not a person

** not really but it really will make you chuckle!

Life

56

I’ve been gamed.

Or rather, I’m gaming myself.

I’m fully aware this is happening, and yet I’m actually enjoying letting my behaviour be dictated by the simplest of mechanisms, a number displayed on a screen.

The premise is simple enough, the higher the number the better.

I started at about 44 and slowly rose, week after week until it hit 55.3. It peaked there for a while and then crept up further, plateauing at 55.5.

I thought that would be it, and if I’m honest I almost accepted it for a while. 55.5 would be the highest it would go and there wasn’t much else I could do if I wanted to influence it.

Except that’s not true.

With such systems it’s always possible to eek a little more from the working set of parameters, adapting in finer and finer increments until you get a perceptible gain.

It’s been a long time but in the past couple of weeks 55.7 was reached, then 55.9 was touched, all too briefly. The last week saw the number fluctuate, 55.8, 55.9, 55.8, 55.9.

Such torment!

And then, finally, on Sunday the display read 56!

I know I’ve been gaming myself, using the number to adjust things, changing this and that to keep it rising higher and higher. I could probably keep going but at some point there must come a balance and I’m happy enough with things as they are.

Yes, 56 is a good number. I’m happy with 56.

Car Personal Musings

Have I mentioned the tour of the brewery from last weekend? I don’t think I have.

Was a company thing, a tour of the WEST brewery in Glasgow, which follows strict German brewing guidelines, followed by a BBQ of German meat products (and some salad stuff) and lots of free drinks.

LOTS and LOTS of free drinks. So many that, to our eternal Scottish shame we didn’t even use all of our free beer tokens! (I’m expecting to be excommunicated soon).

It’s safe to say I was quite merry. Quite merry indeed.

In fact, it was only on Tuesday that someone reminded me that, in amongst several pints of a delicious amber nectar called Munich Red, a couple of rounds of shots, we’d also quaffed a few jugs of cocktails. THAT’S how merry I was.

It was a bit silly of me, considering I had a surprise afternoon tea party the very next day, but you know how these things go. Best intentions soon go out of the window when the beer starts to flow and the laughs certainly help distract you from both the amount you are drinking, and just how fast the clock is moving. Ohhh the stories I could tell, but I won’t.

I mean it wouldn’t be fair to point out that someone got so drunk they fell over (not big, not clever but double-trouble funny as he took out another guy on his way down). And I certainly wouldn’t mention who it was that happily accepted £1.71 to eat a slice of sausage that had been on the floor, dunked in dregs of beer and other such ‘garnishes’. And there is no way I’ll bring up THAT conversation with THAT guy which really only confirmed some suspicions and left me pondering some aspects of myself.

It was a good afternoon/night.

And the best bit? The best bit was probably Sunday morning. Wakening up slowly, waiting for the pounding headache to kick in. AND NOTHING HAPPENED!!

It was a miracle! A MIRACLE, I TELLS YA!!

Normally, even though it was spread out over a many hours, and there was some hearty eating in there too, I’d still have woken up with a bit of a ‘head’. I think it’s down to the beer I was drinking being brewed fresh in the building, with no additives or chemicals.  A very pleasant surprise indeed.

It’s almost enough to make me join CAMRA.

Life

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This is an update to a previously published post.

Not all of the sessions are scheduled yet, so I’ll update this as and when but, if you are wanting a quick print out of the session to, for example, convince your boss to splash some cash, then hopefully this PDF will do the trick:
Technical Communications Conference 2010.

(Note: a similar PDF is also available from the conference website but I think mine is prettier :p)

Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex by Alice Turing

Every now and then I end up reading a book that takes me by surprise. It’s not always a huge surprise, sometimes that surprise sneaks up on me part way through the book with the realisation that I’m really enjoying it, and sometimes that surprise waits until the end to reveal itself as I realise I’m disappointed that the book has ended.

Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex is one of those books.

I’m lucky enough to know the author who very kindly sent me a copy of this, her second book. She’s had no joy in finding a publisher for it in the UK (it’s been published in Germany already) and has taken on the not inconsiderable task of self-publishing it. But enough of that, the question is, is it worth buying?

Well, that depends.

If you want a book that delights in simple narrative, which has a well paced story to keep you intrigued and turning the pages, a book that dabbles in drugs and sex and sexuality, and above all if you want a book that presumes you are able to follow along without signposts at every turn, then you should buy this book.

If you want a book that doles our the same descriptive prose and spells out each and every plot twist to make sure you are following along (you know, because you are an idiot), then you probably shouldn’t.

It is a book about magic and trickery, emotions and desires, and the kind of everyday people we all know. A single mother and her son, a failing magician and his frustrated wife, all of whom end up tangled together in a day to day existence which hints at whimsy from the off. The story taps into our basic human needs of connection and hope, and that an underlying need to have something to believe in, no matter what it, or how ridiculous, it is.

It’s loaded with sharp dialogue, some gorgeous imagery, and is punctuated with a down to earth wit which has you laughing and smiling, before yanking you back to the story which invariably manages to keep you guessing as the quirks of main characters are explored. It would be wrong to say that this is a lightweight book, as the plot cleverly weaves events together, each mirroring the last as you tumble to the conclusion.

I think it’s telling the story closes with two of the characters having books published, a bittersweet reminder that so many talented writers, such as Alice, remain unpublished, which is a shame because this is easily one of the more original stories I’ve read all year.

Enough from me though, go get your own copy: http://www.danceyourway.co.uk/

I was doing some research last night, aimed at providing some real life examples of social media being used by a technical communications team. I’ve found a couple of places so far (Atlassian, I’m looking at you) but I need more.

It’s easy enough to find companies which have a “presence” on Twitter, or a company blog or suchlike, but they are mostly fairly static and little used. My fear is that, despite all the talk, and I include the team I’m part of in the following statement, we just aren’t using social media all that effectively yet.

Prove me wrong please!

If you, or your team have a blog, run a forum, push information updates to Twitter, host your documentation on a Wiki, or anything else along those lines, please let me know.

Work

Weeks and weeks of lies and devious activity are over! (well, for now).

My soul feels much cleaner now, and my poor simple brain is much happier as it’s not having to filter every single conversation for THINGS I MUSTN’T MENTION. Such is the burden of organising a surprise party, which is what my sister and I managed to do yesterday to help my Mum and Dad celebrate their 40th Wedding Anniversary.

It all started several weeks ago… a crafty plan was drawn up, invites were designed, with an accompanying set of instructions – DO NOT PARK IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE – Aunties were pressganged into action, helping bake cakes, and setting out a veritable feast of diabetic inducing deliciousness. Decorations were delivered elsewhere, requests for additional chairs were sent out by carrier pigeon and, whilst Jennie and I whisked my parents off for a nice lunch (both as part of the celebration, and to give the 30-odd people a chance to sneak into the back garden whilst we were gone) the Aunties and Uncles leapt into action, setting up chairs, laying out food, decorating the house and generally doing most of the hard work for us.

And my parents didn’t have a clue!

The rest of the day was a bit of blur, fizzy stuff was popped, wine was quaffed, tea and coffee runs were made and no matter how hard we all tried we just couldn’t eat all the cakes and nibbles that were laid out. Suffice to say the day was a huge success.

And I’m not organising another one for at least 10 years.

Life