Monday, July 31, 2006

Never Rains But It Sure Pours!

I got my letter telling me my revised pay. I made out reasonably well compared to some other 9% of the people in the university whose morale I suspect is quite low at the moment. Life seemed good for about 5 minutes as this particular worry was over.

Then this afternoon there came a phone call from Barkers, a letting and estates agents on the Queens Road. They wanted to know if I would authorise them to be allowed in my flat to measure it, as apparently the landlord has decided to sell the entire building.

This is, I believe, a standard practice in renting, where your property changes owners but the agency continues working on their behalf and it's unlikely they'll be moving people out given the letting agency has not even filled all the flats in the building. The estate agent guy told me everything was okay, worst case I would be able to stay until the end of my tenancy. Which I pointed out is in 3 months, and to be honest if I'm still in Leicester in 3 months I won't want to move. For the sixth time in 18 months. Call me sad if you will but Stuart Kerrigan: Urban Nomad III Living under Thunderdome is not what I want as the title of my biographical movie.

I'm sure this "worst case" was an attempt to relieve my anxiety, but much like the payscale talk it made me more anxious. I'm sure at the end of the day I won't be kicked out, and I suspect it's going to be on the market for some time, but argh!

What is ironic is my dad is coming to down to help me fix up the flat a little bit and help me out with some odd jobs I've been meaning to do for months. Upon telling him this and how it was another case of not worrying but the vague possibility of badness happening again I received not one but two phonecalls from my mother at work who was convinced the Barkers fellow was some con man and that I was in fact handing over the keys to my flat to a perfect stranger, when it truth I told him to go through the letting agency if he wanted in Casa Stu.

This call was on the office landline on the number she's only supposed to use for emergencies. Where you can't walk outside, find an empty corridor and proceed to be shouted at by a panicky woman whose voice can be heard two desks away.

Argh - what a day!

Mothers, landlords and employers. They all bring you poor mental health. Unlike Mister Flibble.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Merchant of Venice

Just watched the Al Pacino/Jeremy Irons version of Merchant of Venice. Very good stuff, though it was clear Hollywood is owned by Jews - Shylock was clearly portrayed in an excessively sympathetic light. Note I said excessively there.

The original comedy/romance A plot was less emphasised than the whole caffuffle with Portia, the rings and the whole romance.

They went out of their way to make Shylock more sympathetic - showing him spat upon by Antonio in the beginning (and spat on in most of his other scenes by the supporting cast) and generally reviled by the populace of Venice. Personally I didn't see the need to do this - it's not in the play written by Shakespeare (though there are references to this sort of thing, and yes it did happen) and the play is already very morally ambigious at the outset anyway. As a boy reading the play in school I felt Shylock was royally shafted in the conclusion of the play.

He's already a sympathetic character to me because:-

  1. His daughter runs off with one of Antonio's cronies, taking a lot of his cash and even pawning the family heirlooms. This suggests to me his initial proposal of taking Antonio's pound of flesh was more a whimsy - perhaps he was building bridges with an interest free loan, but after this violation of his trust (and daughter) he decides an Antonio steak would make a fine cold dish of vengeance.

  2. The crowd at the court pretty much assumes Shylock will dismiss the debt.

  3. The legal grounds for the debt being made illegal is that the contract does not mention any loss of blood. Umm... how else was he supposed to get it? Scraping off Antonio's feet for the next 10 years? Talk about setting a bad legal precedent - I expect a few people present at the court ran off and got some of these "no pay, no problem" pound of flesh loans. That's the kind of judicial logic I'd expect in the USA these days.

  4. Once it is made clear Shylock cannot have his lb of flesh he is not allowed to choose the 6,000 ducats. Errr... what? Where was it mentioned this was the limited time offer.

  5. And of course there's his forced conversion to Christianity, which plain sucks even if it was "good" in Shakespeare's day.

  6. Antonio, the debtor, is rewarded for his failed high risk trading by taking half of his creditor's estate. Is that any way to reward poor financial acumen? This point is most disturbing because of the arbiter's credentials...

  7. Anyone catch Bassanio and Antonio bribing the lawyers after the trial? They offered them the 6,000 ducats as a token of their gratitude. Fixed trial anyone?

  8. These lawyers turned out to be women (which I'm guessing meant you couldn't be a judge in those days) so surely their rulings should be overturned?

  9. Worse than that Bassanio is married to the judge, and it was Shylock's loan that allowed him the means to marry her. Can anyone smell a rat or is it just me?

Yours in a thoughtful mood, nit-picking Shakespare.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shame 60 Degrees North

Thanks for making me laugh dude. I resemble those remarks.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

There Can Be Another One!

Someone's posted a ton of pictures from Highlander 5 which look really cool. This is good as the official site has no content.


Today's post is date February 2005, as I never completed the post properly the first time. Read it here if you are curious.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Return of the Rant

I was remarking to myself how I'd had so little problems with the flat this month. I called my landlord to see about being able to open the window to the flat, as it's been padlocked and the only likely key in the building doesn't even fit it.

After I made the call I discovered last evening that my ELECTRIC heater in the bathroom now dislocates from the wall as it was improperly screwed into the wall. As the ELECTRIC copper wires are exposed this is not a good thing. Thankfully it's off, as I'd be one crispy wet critter by now, not to mention a weirdo as it's incredibly hot.

To cap things off a fuse blew this morning when I left the washing machine on to go to work. This has resulted in my fridge defrosting on this over 30 degree day. Anyone for liquid ice cream?

The landlord was frantically trying to ring me today to get permission to let the workers in to fix the heater and the window. Alas my phone was on silent while I was attending a briefing on how the University plans on "altering" it's pay and conditions for employees. This was a definite brown trouser meeting, and is best summed up by the following exchange that happened before the meeting:-

R: "Do you want to go for lunch before the meeting?"
S: "No, I better go to the meeting first and see if I can actually afford to keep eating lunch."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I'm Bald

Your results:
You are Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Deanna Troi
Mr. Sulu
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Geordi LaForge
Beverly Crusher
Will Riker
Mr. Scott
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
A lover of Shakespeare and other
fine literature. You have a decisive mind
and a firm hand in dealing with others.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz

Friday, July 21, 2006

Latest Heatwave

It's been HOT around here for the past two weeks. As in 38 degrees warm, people collapsing in the city centre and being stretchered out, as in Stuart's pasty white skin turning near lobster red just from routine exposure to the sun.

With the midday sun hanging over the office and making things unbearable A. has retreated to the student labs since they have air conditioning in them (unlike our office). At least the uni has finally shut off the heating - in July when there was a heatwave they kept it on in case there was a cold spell. (Our wonderful 1970s heating system takes an extended period of time to switch on or off).

I plan on surrendering the office when B. comes back on, as the unholy alliance of both the heat and his holiday snaps (think Arnold Rimmer's slideshows in the Red Dwarf episode Justice) might just finish me off!

I've taken to bringing in two bottles and placing one in the staff fridge three buildings away from my office as by lunch time any exposed water in the office is quite warm. I am convinced you could boil water by leaving it on the window ledge. This makes me aware how poor the provisioning is for our office. We have no watercooler, no fridge and apparently the water for our coffee used to come from the gent's loo on Floor 1. Makes me glad I don't drink coffee.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chad Vader Episode 1

Because I've not had a YouTube movie in nearly 2 posts... Chad Vader, Day-Shift Manager, episode 1.

Monday, July 17, 2006

You Shall Go To The Ball

I went to the Grad Summer Ball in Leicester. Actually I was pretty much told to go or else, so I had little choice. So I am the male version of Cinderella. Except for the wicked step-mother, evil sisters, slipper, carriage, mice, bippety-boppety-boo and long list of menial tasks.

Actually strike that last one...

The local SU wouldn't sell me one as I was staff and didn't have an NUS card. However one of my TAs was more than helpful in allowing me to use his NUS card, so I once more persuaded a hapless vendor to take my cash. Honestly, you'd think I use Scottish notes all the time with the difficulty I have giving the stuff away to anyone not on the city council.

A good time was had by all and I was introduced to nearly half the university, drank enough Red Bull to keep me up 'til 7am and went to my first rave. Some of my students were a little surprised to see me there but were mollified when I explained I'd only just graduated myself. There is apparently video footage and a heck of a lot of digital photos out there. However I was never drunk, simply as the alcohol was not in abundance - bar queues were immense.

There was a chocolate fountain. Nay, two such things, in light and dark chocolate flavours. There was a Glen Miller-esque band, but sadly their amazing act ended before it occurred to me to actually dance. Chaz and Dave were there in true cheesy form, as was Rachel Stevens, though I don't think I saw her.

I've never been to a rave before. So that was new. Though it turned into a disco shortly thereafter. By the end of the night, or rather the beginning of the morning, the campus looked like a bomb site.

The walk home at 7am was a little surreal and went past my boss's house. Thankfully he didn't choose that moment to pop out and pick up the morning paper. By about 7:30am I finally got to sleep and miraculously woke up at 1pm feeling only a little groggy. However Saturday was completely wasted (sorry dude - I'll get your parcel off later this week when I use the car) except for a trip to Stoneygate shops to buy some caffeinated beverages (clearly a diet of red bull only marred with red bull and champagne (classy eh?) is not enough).

Sunday was good however. Some friends are now my new neighbours invited me over to enjoy a very fine Sunday lunch and then a sojourn to the park to raid the ice cream van.

Overall, this weekend was relaxing but not very productive. Which is good as I like relaxing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dr. Stu on the Dr. Who Finale

Lots of daleks, lots of cybermen, some Time Lord technology and yet no real build on the Time War metaplot after two seasons. And the epic clash never really seemed epic enough to me - I was hoping for some devastation of Earth as the two races clashed. As a minor nit, what happened to all the cybermen converted on Earth who had not been exposed to the void?

Other than that it was pretty good.

Well, bye bye Rose. Can't say I'll miss her, though she was relatively heroic. After spending most of this season acting like Sebastian Love from Little Britain she was stranded on a parallel Earth with a better job working for alt-Torchwood, resurrected parallel earth father, preggers and happy mother, butch Mickey and yet somehow this wasn't enough for her. Both she and I would prefer this...

Personally I think the Doctor and Rose's relationship has become obsessive, like they ultimately don't give a damn about anyone else in the grand scheme. I really hope the new companion is suitably level-headed and they don't try to pair the Doctor off with her as well.

The goodbye was suitably teary but I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up causing some sort of catastrophe trying to get back to the Doctor. The cliffhanger was a bit tacked on though if the Doctor is going it solo for the special it should be interesting.

Quiet on the southern front

I've also been watching the original Star Trek on Sci-Fi and forgot how utterly brilliant it was compared to the Next Gen. Scarcely an episode goes by without Kirk getting into a fist fight. Comparing this with an episode where Wesley has to sit starfleet exams or Data gets a date the Original series has a fast pace and looks no less dated than the Next Gen in my eyes now. And with class bits like these, who can blame me?

In particular my favourite episode is the original 2nd pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, with the silver eyed old buddy of Kirk that slowly gets evolved into a shirt-ripping-paper-mache-rock-proof-god-monster. I've been told I focus too much on shirt ripping but it's not an episode of Star Trek without one of the following:-

  1. Kirk getting his shirt ripped

  2. Kirk fighting in the sand

  3. A Vulcan nervepinch disabling an individual only as long as the plot dictates

  4. An Enterprise security guard/transporter chief being overpowered (usually when guarding a prisoner by turning their back to them)

  5. The crew being entertained by Uhura singing and having the most low-tech recreational activities

I've had a house guest the past week. We've watched the 70% of my Sky box taken up with original Trek, as well as a few of the new episodes appearing on the New Voyages website. Other than that, it's been quiet. His nibs is on three weeks holiday so there is peace and sense in the office for that time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Magic Table

At work today a table appeared outside our door magically containing biscuits and coffee. A crowd of folk in the labs came out and ate some food but left about 4 biscuits and a plunger full of coffee. It was quite heartless to do so right outside our door so justice demanded I make off with all the remaining biscuits and donate the herbal tea to Andy.

However, imagine our surprise when the plundered table magically reset itself to contain a buffet lunch. I can only surmise what other goodies said table will bring.

This Week I 'Av Been Mostly Watching...

Watched the pilot of Star Trek The New Voyages last night. For a fan-made internet show it is brilliant and captures the spirit of the original series perfectly.