All entries for August 2006

August 20, 2006

Not to be taken ssssseriousssly

Snakes on a Plane
4 out of 5 stars

Excuse the awful title of this review. At 9.30 on a Sunday evening I don't feel inspired enough to come up with anything more original!

This is a fab movie so long as, as my title suggests, you go into the cinema and don't have any intention of taking the movie too seriously. Leave the intellectualism at the door please! The closest this film comes to socio–political commentary is in the one brief moment when it is mentionned that one of the snakes is native to the Middle East. Humph. It's an easy enough comment to ignor, and is probably completely meaningless.

Really enjoyed this. Laughed a lot, jumped a lot, squirmed a bit. It wasn't so scary that I found myself checking under the bed before going to sleep last night either … it's not believable enough to be that scary … it's just good pure fun. And it doesn't pretend to be anything other than that.


Just got myself set up today with a Skype account and USB internet phone. I am so impressed! So far I've managed to convince my dad to set himself up too, and am also working on my sister who is moving to India next year, then on to Australia following that. Free phone calls to her in India and Oz would be fantastic.

I opted to buy credit too so that for now I can also use it to dial landlines and mobiles, and I can send text messages from it too (to the recipient, it appears as though the text has come from my mobile phone). This also includes voicemail, so if I'm not online then my contacts can leave me a message. Likewise, I've also set up a SkypeIn number, so people that don't have Skype accounts can still call my Skype line from their landlines and mobiles.

I got a Doro 212 phone from Staples – it's all very simple. Just plugs into the USB port. You can use it as a normal phone. I've even just ordered a Chinese takeaway on it. It is a bit sad though that my local Chinese takeaway is one of the first contacts I've added to my account!!!

Now I just need everybody else to get themselves set up!!! This is brilliant.

August 11, 2006

That couple with the Greens

It seems that Nath' and I have developed a reputation in Canley Sainsburys amongst the staff as the couple that always comes in and buys piles of veg for their rabbits! I didn't think that popping in such a large store every few days and buying a pile of spring greens would get you noticed quite as much as it seems to have done …

Earlier this week Nathan's mother went into Sainsburys and was buying some items for their house rabbit, Harvey. She got chatting to the check–out girl about Harvey. She turned to Gaye and said "There's this young couple who are always coming in here and buying bags and bags of greens and other veg. All the staff have been talking about them. Turns out they buy it for their house rabbits." Nathan's mum replied that that would be her son they were thinking of!!!

I think we might have to change our spring green supplier and save our reputation. What really perplexes me though is the volume in which the supermarkets buy in spring greens. Does that mean that there are really people out there that buy them for anything other than rabbits!!! Surely people don't actually eat them?!

August 09, 2006

The Ageing Techy

During my trip to Essex today I decided to make a suprise stop off at my grandparent's house in Harlow. I haven't seen them in about 1–2 years (bad, bad grandchild!!!), so they were pretty suprised to see me. Grandad said I made his week.

Grandad is partially sighted these days. Well, he is 81 and did have corneal grafts in the 1950s or 60s or something (one is Swiss, the other is French, in case you really wanted to know) – he also has a set of very early contact lenses – they fit over the whole front of the eye and had to be removed with a small plunger – no kidding – he has them still in a little box in his house – but I digress! Anyway, because of his deteriorating sight he has decided to invest his savings in a 46" HD TV. It's a whopper and must have cost him a fortune. It does give him a little quality of life though – because he can hardly see, he can't read and he can barely walk these days too, so at least he can get some entertainment in his house. I think it's pretty cool having an 81 year old Grandad who owns a mobile phone, a digital camera, a 46" flat screen TV, a sky digital box, and a DVD player. Futhermore, he knows how to work everything too (better than I would)!!! Yay for technologically advanced old people!!! Perhaps I'll get him an i–pod for Christmas.

Motorway Rage

Had to drive back up to campus today from Essex. I'm fed up with my usual M11 – A14 – M6 route, so decided to take the equally fast M11 – M25 – M1 route. However, when I got on to the M25 there were signs saying that junction 21 exit was closed. I knew the M1 junction was somewhere around there, but figured that if they had closed off such a major junction, they would have said somthing like "M1 North junction closed" instead! But no, that would have been all too easy. As would have putting a clearly signposted diversion in place. Instead I twice drove back and forth on the neighbouring junctions of the M25 trying to figure out how to get North.

Don't these people realise that there are some of us out there that do actually want to go North of the M25?! Then again, the people controlling those signs probably don't realise that there's civilisation outside of the M25. Grrrrrrrrr!!!!

August 04, 2006

Answers – not enquiries

Whereas most organisations tend to have their general enquiries email addresses, or even general department email addresses as something like, or, I noticed this morning that Anglia Ruskin University (formerly APU) have set their general enquiries address as "". A nice touch to suggest proactive communications and to imply that your email to them will be answered and not just lost or passed around the houses.

August 03, 2006

Presentation Nerves

A friend recently asked a group of us for some tips on overcoming presentation nerves. Improving my own presentation skills was something that I had set myself as a CPD target for this year, and something that I have put some degree of effort into, although I guess really there’s nothing that quite compares to practice and experience. She received the usual suggestions, including imagining the audience naked and having a stiff drink beforehand. While presenting to an audience of 100 Swedes earlier this year, I also learned the value of having an audience that doesn’t speak your language as their mother tongue, thus forcing you to slow the pace down and be more concise, when the nerves are naturally trying to make you rush through the whole thing.

So, seeing as Warwick University is a community full of experienced presenters, I thought I’d throw the question open here and see what other tips I could gather, for the benefit of my friend and myself!

Crackling Etiquette

Just on the train now on my way back to Coventry after working in London all day. Had lunch with one of our producers in a rather nice restaurant called Moro – about 5 mins walk from Angel tube station. I had the pork, which was particularly delicious. However, while ravenously enjoying the pork, I had the dilemma of whether it is polite and correct to eat the crackling or not whilst at lunch with colleagues! On the one hand, the pork was excellently cooked and surely it would be rude and insulting to the chef not to eat what is typically accepted as the best bit of roast pork. On the other hand, is it rude to my colleagues and fellow diners to seat there crunching away, unable to participate in the flow of conversation as I gorge on hardened pig? Then, of course, there is also the risk of trying to cut into a piece of crackling and having it scoot off of the plate onto someone else’s lap. Given my track record, there was a high probability of this happening!

I decided to compromise and take a polite and discreet nibble (as discreet as one nibbling crackling can be!!) and left the rest, much to my dismay. I wish I didn’t feel the need to think of these things and had just tucked into it anyway.

August 02, 2006

DC Confidential

4 out of 5 stars

I'm not one for reading about politics, or even for reading autobiographies. However, when someone bought Christopher Meyer's DC Confidential for my partner as a gift, I snapped at the chance to read it first!

It's been a few months in the reading, and I found it a little slow to get going with, but Meyer's easy–style and comic anecdotes make it a worthwhile read. It's pitched as being controversial, but I can't say that he reveals a great deal that we either wouldn't have already known or suspected. Likewise, the chaper on 9/11 doesn't tell us a great deal – but then I guess that's to be expected given the global media coverage of it nevertheless. The chapters to follow this, however, are an entirely different matter giving a unique and, I would say, well–balanced insight into UK–US relations.

His background in PR and speechwriting shows through – Meyer is an excellent story–teller, and it's really the style and tone that make this book as opposed to any controversial revelations.

August 2006

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