28 July 2009

This madman was interrupting

The breakaway had 2'30" on the bunch, with just 15km to go.

picture by fras1977

You can normally count on an organised peleton to make up only about a minute every 10km, and so with the slight downhill, if the leaders could work together they still had a chance.

At the front of the bunch Columbia were the only team riding and I could sense their resentment that no other teams were prepared to do any work..

And then someone knocked and came into my office.

 "Good afternoon, I have come to check whether you are having any mouse problems"

I looked at him blankly. And I looked around my neat and hermetically sealed office with bemusement. "Well", I said slowly "No, I don't think so, but ...  are there mice on this floor?"

It was his turn to look confused "Well, yes, everyone has one. Don't they"

A stand off.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Astana coming to front of the bunch. This madman was interrupting the tour my work, I had to get rid of him before the leaders reached the flamme rouge.

"Well", I said very slowly and carefully, ''I haven't seen any mice"

"OK", he said, undeterred, "well, if yours is working that's OK then. But with all the sticky mice, well I'll be collecting them all up this evening - they'll be replaced with optical ones"

The penny dropped at last. "Ah", I said, "you're from the IT department. You're a ... You're a.."

"I'm a mouseherd" he said, flatly.

27 July 2009

At least you'll know

Secrets by Avery Edison
So here's a difficult decision for a rationalist, philanthropic, scientifically-minded cycnic: I have been invited to share all my medical records with strangers, at the BIOBANK.

To help science.

On the one hand: the scientist in me whole-heartedly approves of long-term longitudinal studies, and applauds the sheer scale and ambition of this one.

But on the other hand I am of a school that says: be wary of divulging to the government any information you are not absolutely required to.

I wondered what was in it for me. "Well", said Mrs Botogol, "think about it: if they do notice something wrong with you - something else I mean - then they'll tell you, and then at least you'll know"

Oddly enough, when I found out that actually they wouldn't tell me,  I was reassured.

23 July 2009

The round, pistachio ones

Tuesday was my birthday, and it was quite a milestone:

Passage of Time by ToniVC
I have reached the age that Reggie was in the original David Nobbs novel : The Death of Reginald Perrin.

Appropriately enough I was an eleven minutes late that day: delays on the Jubilee line following earlier signal failure near Stanmore

I don't normally let on at work that it's my birthday but this year, perhaps in honour of Reggie, I impulsively ventured out to the claustrophobic, low-ceiling shopping centre in the wharf, and spent £37.50 on a small tray of delicate cakes for my co-workers.

The cakes turned out to be still frozen: the baker had done me.

One of Reggie's biggest problems (which actually was brought out rather well in the much maligned recent BBC adaptation of the book) was his growing sense of the pointlessness of the activities carried out at work.

I am lucky that my job is much more interesting than either Sunshine Desserts, or Groomtech. For instance: just on Tuesday we had a conference call with the Cambodia office, who want to temporarily use a non-standard solution for their storage needs. They have cleared this with IT, chiefly because enhancing the standard solution to meet their requirements is non-budgeted and not in the book of work, but they are not sure that IT have the authority to give them the authority to disregard policy and at the same time Compliance are worried that the solution adopted, while in use in many banks,  might not be in the spirit of an obscure, ambiguous and implied commitment that we made to the Japanese regulators back in 2003, when the Cambodian subsidiary was partly owned by our Japanese firm .  The relevant subject matter experts have left the bank and, Alibert, what do you think we should do?

"I'm sorry... I was looking at the dust in the sunlight which is really ... quite beautiful... Hey, do you think those round pistachio ones have thawed yet?"

12 July 2009

You could set it as a problem

Last week I have been mostly listening to Paolo Nutini.

No, I'd never heard of him either, until I watched Glasto on BBC2 where he was the highlight of the highlights singing the wonderful Pencil Full of Lead.

His new album - Sunny Side Up was released last month. It's a cracker and with its eclectic and eccentric mixture of references and genres it's also a curious thing. You could set it as a problem for a musical Ingénue:
Popular Music 101: Listen to these ten tracks and identify the genres.
Bonus marks are awarded for detecting influences and musical references.
Pencil Full of Lead?  It reminds me of no one more than Louis Prima 1, and with the reinforcing reference to Reet Petite,  I'd identify it as swing.

Here's my other favourite - 10/10

I'd say that was is Ska. Other songs are variously country, pop, folk and is that even a Calypso tune? Anyway it's all great stuff, here's a playlist of my favourites: sharpen your exam pencil and post your analysis in a comment.


(1) it's no surprise, therefore that you can also find Nutini covering I Wanna Be Like You on YouTube.

05 July 2009

The dockland breeze blew chill

I was sitting in the sunlight, the early morning sunlight - the pearl grey sunlight that settles over Cabot Square, sipping a rich and hot, bitter and dark, Cafe Brera macchiato.

I was cooling down after a long and weary, fast and furious, almost record-breaking two wheeled commute.

Hunched over my blackberry I quickly sent enough emails to give the impression that I was in the office, (that is worth something when you think about it, that is worth some money) and then I stretched out my legs sipped my coffee, and turned to the Guardian crossword

"Excuse me?"
It was a kid, early 20s, besuited, betied, hot-looking. I tried my hardest to glower
"Can tell me... I mean sorry to disturb you... but do you know.... I mean I thought that you would know:  Which one is Morgan Stanley?"

I looked him up and down for a moment or two not, I hope, unkindly:

"Interview, eh?"

And the early morning sunshine darkened as the ghost of my interviews past returned to earth.

The interview where they kept me waiting... and waiting.... until I finally up-sticked and left. The interview-while-walking-around, the 'How do you value a knockout option?' interview, the 'What's so bad about inflation anyway?' interview, the time I was assaulted on the tube on my way to an interview, the flying back from New York overnight on Friday for a Saturday morning interview, and the 'I've read your CV carefully and I have to say I have absolutely no idea why you applied for this job" interview.

The dockland breeze blew chill, and around the edge of the square swayed the bourganvillea and roses of Jericho.

"Um, yes actually, it is an interview", he said, "how did you know?"

I smiled, I hoped enigmatically, "Never mind, hey well, best of luck with that, anyway! Morgan Stanley? Sure, of course I do:  it's that one over there" and I pointed carefully at Barclays Capital.

For I have a dark side.

And one day he might write a blog and then he'll thank me for it.

01 July 2009

Can you tell what it is yet?

On a street corner in Richmond a modern revolving advertising hoarding has been removed to reveal an intriguing ad painted on the bricks beneath:

Choose your house AND THE TEMPERANCE

What could it mean? Is 'choose your house' to be taken literally?  The sentence is still hard to parse, the stumbling block being that definite article: what was the Temperance? a place? a club? a newspaper?

It took me a week to work it out - can you do better? 
(when you have it a quick google will suffice to confirm)