December 2003 Archives

Mesa back

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Apologies for my extended absence. Especially to my blog. I really hadn't intended to be out of touch for so long, but I planned my time really rather badly. Still, no hard feelings, blog?


Oh don't be like that. I really am sorry. We can still be friends can't we?


Sigh. I'm afraid blog is rightly a little upset with me just now. I'll do my best to put things right though. I can't imagine blog will be upset with me for too long - we know each other too well for that.

Anyway, Christmas was its usual mixture of fun and stress all rolled up into one neat little package. Everyone managed to survive the annual Christmas Board Game without to many visible scars. This year we had a truely terrifying game of Trivial Pursuit to contend with. My dear Mum decided that everyone was going to play and enjoy it. Or Else. It was one of those rare times when I got to utter the immortal line "It's too late for me, save yourselves" and mean it.

Oh, and I bought a sofa. It's blue.

Anyway, I'm afraid it's getting a little late and once more I have to work tomorrow. To everyone that I didn't see over the holiday I again wish you a Merry Christmas, and I'll add a Happy New Year too.

It's gone all quiet

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This morning I was worried about getting to Heathrow in time to catch my flight. I needn't have been. Our MD kindly told everyone they could go home early - a decent gesture, but alas, my flight is at 6 and cannot be changed. Consequently I'm sitting here on Christmas Eve in a very empty office. It's not as bad as it sounds, since it gives me a moment to savour the peace - something I'm really quite glad off.

Now be vewwy, vewwy quiet everyone. We're hunting Santa Cwaus.

I can see the carpet again

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Well, that's that then. Presents have been wrapped and packed, my luggage is sitting by the door and I can rest a little now before making a scramble northwards tomorrow. Strangely the volume of the presents I bought seems to have reduced vastly now that they've been placed in a vaguely coherent order, even to the extent that my room suddenly seems a lot larger and has developed surfaces that I don't recall being there before (like a floor). I don't exactly thrive on chaos, but we're definitely on speaking terms.

Tomorrow will be a leisurely day at work followed by an early escape to catch a flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh. I'm not a huge fan of the area in which I work, but it's proximity to the airport is a big plus. Then it's only a short hop, skip and a jump home before I finally get the pleasure of spending Christmas Eve with my family. I'm very much looking forward to escaping the tumult I've had to put up with over the last few years...erm weeks, but going to visit my family does bring to mind old metaphors about frying pans and fires. Still got to love them :)

There's a familiar ring to Christmas at the family home these days that had been missing for a good while now and I think it can be primarily attributed to my three and a half year old niece, Brianna. I've always enjoyed Christmas, and whilst I still like to think that I approach the holidays with a considerable amount of enthusiasm, I'm never the less humbled by the energy and excitement that a three year old can muster. Brianna has a not inconsiderable number of aunts, uncles, assorted relatives and friends of parents and to say that she's a little spoiled at Christmas time is probably a little of an understatement. Still, she's immensely good natured about it all, even if she does tend to make the assumption that anything in gift wrapping is intended for her (this is more understandable when you realise that virtually all the presents in the house are for her). It's actually almost heartbreaking when you're holding a present intended for you and a small cherubic face appears in front of you, points at the gift and asks in a small sweet voice "mine?". Then you shake your head and say "no, this is for me" and she'll mimic your movements and sadly say in childish scottish brogue "oh no, no, no." Fortunately she recovers quickly :)

I'll be taking my laptop home with me, so there's a good chance that I won't be separated from my blog for long (good). However, in case I don't get the chance to check in immediately, I would like to wish you all, kith and kin, a very merry Christmas indeed.

Have fun everyone!

He's a very funny man

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Apologies for my non-appearance last night. I got back rather late (about one:30 in the morning) after seeing Eddie Izzard performing. His show only ran until about 11 or so, but the journey back home from Wembley proved to be an arduous trek, fraught with peril, danger and... well ok, no peril or danger, but it was a bit chilly and involved three different tube trips followed by a bus ride. I was consequently absolutely exhausted this morning and spent most of the day at work looking rather tired. Fortunately I happened to be surrounded by other people who also looked rather tired so no-one really noticed. I didn't ask what their excuse was.

I'd never been to Wembley Arena before, so I didn't realise quite on what scale the venue was. I'd imagined something along the lines of a theatre, perhaps a little larger. It turned out to be a lot larger. A lot larger. I should probably have been a little suspicious when I saw the sign advertising binoculars for hire. As it was I found myself far back enough from the stage to be looking at a very small man standing on a very large stage. Fortunately he was wearing high heels which helped (oh, as did the extremely tall video screen behind him. Probably more so than the heels in fact).

I wish I had more to say Eddie Izzard, other than that he's a very funny man indeed. But I really can't come up with anything more amusing than the man himself. If you get the chance to see him I recommend it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to writing some more Christmas cards. I've only managed to send out one card so far, which I really ought to be quite embarrassed about. Come to think of it I am embarrassed about it....


I finished my Christmas shopping completely today. I only had a couple of items left to pick up so it wasn't too stressful. In fact, on the whole I'd rate this years round of present buying as probably the most stress free so far. There may be something to be said the organisation malarkey after all.

The day was only marred a little when I discovered I'd lost some money. It wasn't a huge amount, only thirty pounds or so, but it's still money I'd prefer to have in my pocket than lying on the streets of London. I retraced my steps back to the shop where it was most likely to have fallen from my pocket and a helpful sales assistant recalled that she had indeed spotted the money just after I'd left, but before she'd been able to pick it up an old woman had swooped down on it, claiming as her own. Even when Helpful Sales Assistant pointed out that the money had been dropped by someone else, the old woman apparently stamped her feet, declared the money to be hers, turned around and left. The only description HSA gave me was that she was "a little old woman in strange boots".

Oh well, it's the season of goodwill to all, including little old women in strange boots, so where ever you may be, old woman, know that I bear you no grudge and hope the money brings you a little happiness this Christmas time.

Deus Axe Machina

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The last episode of Buffy was on tv yesterday. Don't worry, I'm not about to wax lyrical about the joys of Buffy (even though it was easily one of the finest shows on tv - but I'll save the rest of that for another time), rather I want to have a brief rant instead. The rant goes like this: "It's an axe!"

I told you it was brief.

The rant was prompted by the short tv guide description I read about the episode. It included the line "Buffy wields her magic scythe for the last time". The scythe in question is a mystical object obtained under slightly suspiciously plotted circumstances and which turns out to have quite a large role in the series grand denouement. There's only one problem with the scythe: It's an axe!

Buffy (the show rather than the character) is usually very good about treating the audience with a surprising amount of respect (compared to a lot of television at least), which is why I found the axe/scythe dichotomy a little odd. As soon as Buffy comes across the object she calls as a scythe. I thought at the time it was a strange way to refer to something that clearly looked like an axe, but I was prepared to go along with it, until everybody started referring to it as a scythe. Characters who looked on the thing for the first time uttered lines like "Hey, nice scythe". I'm sorry, but no one, no one gazing upon the axe/thing/object would call it a scythe - in case I haven't made it perfectly clear yet, it looked like an axe, worked like an axe and, was in fact, an axe! Call an axe an axe please!

It's a minor point admittedly, but it's one of those annoying things that brings me crashing out of my finely honed suspension of belief, when I'd much rather be getting on with the simple act of enjoying a well crafted television show. Which Buffy is/was.

It's a shame Firefly was sent to an early grave. I haven't seen it yet, but it sounded as though it had a lot of potential. Hmm, I may need to fork out for the dvd's of that one...

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

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I just got back a little while ago from seeing Return of the King. It's gotten a little late now, so I'll reserve my thoughts about it until tomorrow and wish you all a very good evening in the meantime.

Nighty night.

Booo, hisss!

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I went to a pantomime tonight (oh no you didn't!). No, I did really (oh no you didn't!). Oh yes I... wait a minute, you're not going to be doing this all night are you? (Oh yes I am!). Please forgive my blog, I think it's still a little excitable (oh no I'm not). Sigh.

I don't go to pantomimes very often (oh yes you do!)... look, enough already please? Just let me get through this (he's behind you?)... please? (ok, sorry). Thank you. Where was I? Ah, yes, including tonight I'm roughly averaging a pantomime ever decade or so. The first I saw was Jack And The Beanstalk. I can't say I remember too many details about it, other than that I was quite impressed with the Giant, whose costume was particularly well done. That was later followed up by Cinderella, a production which, to put it kindly, strayed somewhat from the traditional formula, featuring as it did a Cinderella who attended the rave in her ruby Doc Martins. Got to love the nineties.

Tonights production was of Snow White and was back on somewhat more familiar territory, replete with an Evil Queen, a dame, a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, the requisite number of dwarves and a gorilla. Ok, I'll allow them a little leeway with the gorilla, since it gave the audience an excuse to yell you-know-what. And yell they did. Without realising it, we'd chosen to attend on the last day of school and there were several classes from different schools in attendance (a fact that was pointed out to them at the end of the show, giving them the opportunity to boo and hiss one another) - as a result there were an even greater number of kids in the audience than there might otherwise have been. We noticed this when we sat down and realised we were a small island of adults surround by a sea of children on all sides. Most of the kids took the show in the proper sort of spirits and joined in with some fervor, but there were a few who looked as though it were all a bit beneath them (they'd reached that age), and who had the audacity to turn around and glare at us when we booed and hissed perhaps a little overenthusiastically. Tough luck kids, grown ups get to boo and hiss as loud as they want - now shush and enjoy the rest of your teens.

I do wish I'd picked up a programme because one of the dwarves looked a little familiar and I can't seem to find a list of the cast online. The dwarf in question was basically the Doc character (or Exposition Dwarf, since he seemed to be the only one with much acting experience was thus had most of the lines). I think he may have been an Oompa Loompa once but I can't be certain.

Anyway, 'twas all rather good fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself (can I?). Oh go on then - just this once.

(Oh no you didn't!)

Happy now?

(yes, very)

The only trend is down

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Goodness knows that there are more important things going on in the world just now, but rather than talk about George W. Bush's new election partner, erm, I mean prisoner of war, I thought I'd instead bring this article to your attention. It's a short but fascinating article about some of the trends being predicted for the next year. I should probably point out that it's not necessarily the trends themselves that are interesting so much the insight it gives into the people driving them. For example:

"Food needs to be accessorised," said Edouard Malbois of Enivrance, which describes itself as the world's first designer of foods and drinks. "There must be happiness in snacks, small bright foods people can carry around (like nomads)."
Obviously I'm in no position to comment about the significance of anyone elses job, but the fact that there's a rising profession of "food designers" makes me worry for the future of humanity.

I'll take my food without accessories thank you very much.

Not wrapping, drowning

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I'm late, I'm late. I'm way behind getting presents and cards and whoosits and whatknots sent off, especially to those of you overseas. I promise that an assortment of cards/stuff will reach you later rather than sooner. I'm trying to get cards written, presents wrapped, envelopes addressed etc just now, but I had to take what I consider to be a well earned break, surrounded as I am by reams of wrapping paper and boxes and tape and brown paper packages (tied up with string!), and that never ending sea of stuff. It's everywhere I tell you! I fear to stand up less I inadvertantly crush a gift. And my mouth tastes of sticky tape. Ick. (I know you're thinking I should probably get a decent tape dispenser - well too late! I do have one, it's just buried somewhere under swathes of packing material).

You'll need to excuse me now. Somewhere there's a gift with your name on it...

When demonstrations collide

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Everything really is a matter of perspective isn't it? Today, for instance, I witnessed two demonstrations centered around Piccadilly Circus. The first group demonstrating was demanding justice in Ethiopia. The second, and far smaller, group was demanding justice for Michael Jackson. One of these groups had a cause for which I could feel some sympathy. And the other was supporting Michael Jackson. I should probably make it clear that I'm fairly neutral when it comes to most trials that hit the media - I really do hold fast to the old line about innocent until proven guilty and that also applies in this case. It's just that to me it seems an awfully trivial matter to be protesting about on the streets of London, half a world away from anyone with any power to actual affect the outcome of the case.

Obviously, that's just my perspective, and I'm sure the thoughts of those people actually out on the streets were quite different. I was just curious as to what would eventually happen when the two groups encountered one another. Would the Michael Jackson demonstrators be struck as to the futility of their cause and instead begin to appeal for equality on the African continent? Or would they simply pass each other in the streets, never quite understanding what each group needed? I suppose I'm ignoring a couple of other outcomes, such as the Ethiopians switching to the cause of Michael Jackson, or a merger forming between the two factions to form a single coalition to demand fair treatment for Michael Jackson in Ethiopia, but I suspect these are unlikely enough to disregard.

Alas I didn't stay to find out what the outcome was. But I think I know what I would have liked it to be...

It's a thing

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I found a strange link in my bookmarks a little while ago. I'm not quite certain how it got there, or where it came from (although I think Kevin is a likely candidate). The site hosting it appears to be nothing more than an advertistment for shampoo which is a little odd, given that the thing itself has nothing to do with shampoo in this or any other reality. As to what the thing actually is - I think the best description I can come up with for it is a delightful waste of time. Take a look here.

The pace of passing time

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I had the sudden realisation that it's December today. Ok, I knew it was December already, but I didn't know it, in so far as I didn't appreciate it's implications - Christmas shopping aside, I haven't really given much thought to the season so far, or the fact that the year is nearing it's end. One of the strange things about my keeping any form of diary (which I've decided this is kind of) is that when I read over what I've written about events that happened even a week or two back, I seem to remember them happening much longer ago than they actually did. Similarly the last few months seem far more distant than they probably should. Not that it means much other than I've been spending too much time looking backwards and forwards (and upwards and downwards and sideways and slantwards) and consequently ignoring my more immediate morrows.

Quite possibly I simply need to spend some time to take stock and reflect on matters nearer at hand. A few days off work at Christmas will hopefully provide that, assuming I can escape the general chaos that still erupts once every year at home when there are presents to be opened. Actually, that's quite a big assumption, but I'm sure I'll be able to squeeze some quality me time in there somewhere.

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

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Quoth Michelle from a comment:

As for you, how quiet is it at work now? Are there tumbleweeds blowing past your desk?
Well, first off I should say that I am fine. My voluminous complaints about work recently were largely an exercise in venting and I can promise you that my state of mind is far more at peace and content than you have otherwise discerned. Besides, Christmas is just around the corner and I do like a good Christmas (although I also think it's a bit of a shame that Christmas stole all the attention away from the Winter Solstice, which is a much better reason for a celebration in my calendar, but that's a rant for another time).

Secondly, it's funny that you should mention the tumbleweeds. This came up in discussion with a friend at work when the redundancies were announced and after the conversation I had a hunt around online and found some shops that sell... tumbleweeds (And no, I'm not kidding). Don't you just love the internet? I bought a couple of small fans a summer or two ago to prevent people around me from expiring due to heatstroke when the air conditioning failed. My current plan is to order some tumbleweeds (small or medium should do the trick I think) and carefully position the fans to blow them down the length of our (admittedly now rather small) office. I haven't put my order in just yet, since we're still at a stage where the wounds are fresh and I've learned in the past (to my cost) that not everyone shares my sense of humour. Of course there are some people that I've yet to witness sharing anyone's sense of humour.

But it's definitely on my agenda. Remind me to take photos...

Praise and be damned

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Sorry to keep harping on about events at work, but they are a rather prominent feature of my life just now. And besides, this is quite good.

We had a meeting with our MD yesterday, during which he attempted to give an overview of why the recent cuts were made and an indication of where the company would be heading in the future (other than downhill). In a pinocchioesque fashion, I'm sure I witnessed his hair getting pointier and pointier as each word fell from his mouth.

Perhaps his most astonishing revelation came when he dared offer congratulations to the (remnants) of the development team for providing a stable and flexible technical platform which he believes will meet the company's requirements for the forseeable future. In practically the same breadth he also intimated that this was the reason so many developers in proportion to the rest of the business were made redundant. That's right - he basically told us that we'd done such a good job he didn't need so many of us any more.

We (remaining) developers were pretty much all aghast at this and our manager this morning did an admirable job of back peddling on our MD's behalf, telling us that he'd make sure our reward for good work would be something other than redundancy. I lightened the mood a little by suggesting we should get bonuses for good work - we all chuckled merrily at that.

Needless to say we're not a particularly motivated team at the moment. You know things are bad at work when Dilbert seems more like a documentary than a sounce of amusement...

There's a scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark that I've always found particularly disturbing (and no it's not the melting faces - I used to be oddly amused by that as a kid). It's probably about three quarters of the way through the film, after the ark has been captured by the Nazis and is being transported to the secret island hideaway on a submarine. The ark is inside a wooden box, emblazoned with a swastika somewhere in a hold. As the camera draws into towards the box, the swastika begins to burn and several rats around it begin to look distinctly alarmed. And all the while there's a strange noise pulsing away in the background, underscoring the strangeness of the event, rising to a crescendo before the abruptly cutting to the next scene. It's a sound effect that seems especially beloved by science fiction and horror films, and short of a rising chorus of violins, it's a particularly effective way of raising tension in a scene.

The radiator in my bedroom makes near exactly the same noise.

It started a month or so back, probably after the central heating was turned on, waking me up in the middle of the night. It's a very peculiar way to be woken up - I had to look around to reassure myself that there were no strange flashing lights outside. Nothing untoward happened that evening though, and the noise subsided as suddenly as it started. Since then it's reoccurred at seemingly random intervals. I'm sure there's a perfectly natural explanation why this happens, involving turbulence, heated water, air bubbles, and a decided lack of a charred swastikas, but I think life would be more interesting if I discovered the ark of the covenant hidden under the floorboards. Obviously what I really need is to keep a rat handy so I can see how alarmed it appears when the noise starts again.

Hmm, there's a pet shop only a short way aways...

And call off Christmas!

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It seems like the final indignity really. In all honesty I wasn't really looking forward to the Christmas party - I tend to find them simultaneously intimidating and tedious events. But in general people seemed quite glad to have something to look forward to after the downward plummet morale has taken over the last week.

And then it was cancelled.

It wasn't even cancelled with the glorious campery of Alan Rickman's dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham (not that that would have made the news any better, but at least the delivery would have provided some amusement). Instead the message was announced through a rather uncontrite email. You could hear the morale in the room collectively dip a little further. The room, incidentally is the smaller side office we moved into today. Once upon a time, we took up two reasonably sized floors and the smaller side office. Oh how the mighty have fallen...

I'd love to say that the whole affair hasn't really touched me, but in truth I feel at something of a low ebb just now. That Christmas is coming brings me some cheer, since I do love offloading presents on people and I have a couple of particularly good ones this year that will hopefully bring some comfort and joy. The fact that it also involves near a week off work is also cause for some celebration. And with the arrival of the new year I'll have some holiday time to make use of again. Huzzah! I don't think I appreciated quite how precious vacation days are until I ran out of them earlier than I would have liked this year. I shall take the time to savour them properly in 2004.

Anyway, I think I've filled my blog with quite enough dismal introspection to last for a while now. I realise I strayed from my charter of thinking generally upbeat thoughts over the last week, but the threat of redundancy will do that. Still, time to get over it and move onto topics of happier note instead.

Starting tomorrow...

Moonlight, moonbright

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There's a bright and beautiful full moon out there tonight. With nary a cloud in evening sky I was treated to a fine view of it on the way home after a days Christmas shopping that proved to be far less torturous than I'd predicted. The way home involves crossing small bridge over a Thames canal lock. Looking out moonwards from the bridge, the moon was hanging high over the waters in a deep blue sky, its reflection rippling in the Thames. It was rather pretty.

Speaking of moons, I read a curious bit of commentary on Bush's proposal to launch a new moon mission. The gist of the article was that this was obviously a bit of political grandstanding to curry some favour with voters after the Iraq debacle. What was strange was that the article seemed to insist that with only one superpower we'd never see another space race. This coming only a short time after China put a man in space for the first time. I remember being quite worried by the somewhat aggressive stance the US and China took towards one another during the early part of Bush's term (the spy plane incident being a classic example). This was largely forgotten about in the wake of 9/11, but I won't be surprised if their rivalries start making headlines again soon. I read also that if China sustains it's current rate of growth it's on track to overtake the UK as worlds 4th largest economy within the next couple of years. I wonder how long it will be before it reaches superpower status? We may see a proper space race yet.

What I find a bit sad is that whilst I'm still excited by the idea of man exploring space I can't help but look at what's going on and see the political machinations behind it all. I realise that such machinations are nothing new, but I think I'd like to see a little more altruism in my politics. One for all and all that.

Good job I never gave any thought about working in politics really...

State of the blog

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It's now month three for my blog and I think we're setting down quite nicely after the terrible twos. Blog is still a little needy (no I'm not), but not quite as fearful or neurotic as before (thank you, I think). Having said that I'm still not sure how it will cope will with my absence over Christmas (absence? You never mentioned anything about another absence!).

Anyway, more important than that (more important than me you mean), is that today marks my 6th anniversary in London. Lest I start off with a lie, I should point out that that's technically incorrect, since a little over a year of that time was spent in Watford - but even though Watford is bordering the outskirts of London, it's still close enough for all intents and purposes.

I'm not about to launch into a retrospective into my time in this place - at least not here. I don't think I can escape pondering events myself, but I'll do so in quiet contemplation rather than bore you all with the details. Suffice it to say that whilst I don't think I've escaped the experience completely unscathed I nevertheless hope I've learned enough to make it worthwhile. Failing that, I hope I've earned enough to make it worthwhile. Certainly, I got a flat out of my devils bargain (albeit with associated mortgage/debt), which isn't bad going (oh, I spotted it again on tv a few days ago. It helped form the backdrop of a interview on Location, Location, Location on Channel 4). And there have been more perks than crises on the whole.

Still, as the events of the last week have most surely proven, it's near time to move on...

One of three

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I've got more Christmas shopping to do this weekend, which means braving the streets of London again. It's not something I'm particularly fond of in general, but it's elevated to a higher form of torture come December time. But I'm not going to let it get me down. Rather I plan on getting it out of the way early tomorrow and then coming home to vegetate. I'll turn on the tv, sit myself in my ever so comfortable papasan, drape myself in a duvet and then watch a good film, the choice of which is simple.

It may not hold much of a surprise for anyone to discover that my dvd collection, such as it is, is filled with a high proportion of feel good films. Movies in which lessons are learned, obstacles are overcome, love is lost and found again, and the afters are ever happy. There are admittedly many different choices, but for this sort of occassion there are three films that I come back to time and time again. They were each released in nineteen ninety 3 and I saw each of them then. Perhaps it's just that they are good films or it may be because my memories of that year are especially precious that I treasure them so.

The first is in the extended entry. I'll post the others up as and when I feel like doing so. You're free to speculate as to what the remaining films may be

Waiting on the week to end

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I've had better weeks.

Aside from the obvious, the past few days haven't been too bad, and in the grand scheme of things everything is more or less ok. But it's not been much fun. This was the week when my project at work, the one I affectionately nicknamed "The Never Ending Project Of Doom" and that I've been sporadically working on for around the past 20 months, ended. It should have made me happy that it all went rather well at the last. But it hasn't. Even without the recent hubbub I'm not sure how I would have felt about it. A little deflated I suspect. As opposed to the lot deflated that I'm feeling now.

I just don't see much of a future for the company right now. I know that shouldn't really bother me, since I only seen myself remaining there for a little while longer. But it does. Whilst before I could imagine the company somehow surviving and mayhap even thriving, now I just see it sailing ever closer to the end of the world, soon to drop off the edge into nothingness. I don't find it an especially happy thought.

I'm not certain how I feel about the fruit of my last three years labours vanishing before me. Much of what appears on the internet is transient, so it shouldn't surprise me that anything I've worked on will eventually fade away or be replaced - much of my work has been to make the work of others before me redundant after all. And whilst I may not see the result of my efforts survive, I can still take pride in what I've managed to achieve and the experience I've gained that brought it to bear.

Experience that I trust to fate will be made use of again.

Survivor guilt

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What do you say when you're trying to comfort someone who is in tears before you after being made redundant when she looks up and asks "Why do you still have a job and I don't? What do you have that I don't?"

Words failed me.

Much as I love surprises (both receiving and giving them) I think I'd better put you out of your misery by telling you that after the trials and turmoils of yesterday I still manage to find myself gainfully employed. Yay me.

I could have taken redundancy if I'd wanted it and I can't deny that it held a lot (a lot) of attraction for me - after all, I've been patiently waiting to escape this city for a goodly while now. But I didn't. Much as I wanted to, much as I considered it, I decided against it, and shame of shames, my reason for doing so was primarily financial. I want to have enough money in the bank so that when I leave my job I can do fun things. Things to make the last 6 years here seem more worthwhile than I oftentimes suspect they really have been.

Nothing desperately exciting, probably. A little travelling, hopefully fulfilling a dream I came up with last year to circumnavigate the globe. Shopping for a few trinkets and furnishings for my flat - moulding it into what will hopefully be and feel like my home. Buying a gift or two that I won't go into now because it would spoil a surprise. And last but not least, some simple peace of mind - the knowledge that I can return home and take my time finding a new job without worrying about how I'm going to survive in the short term.

But I'm not quite there yet. I'm annoyingly close though. If the events of the last two days had happened even a few short months from now I would likely have jumped at the chance. Just not today.

So near and yet so far...

...must come to an end

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I like surprises.

For an English assignment in high school the teacher asked the class I was in was to write an essay about our greatest fears. I still remember the expression on my teachers face as she handed mine back to me. The one comment she made on it was that I had been very honest. I only recall a little of what I wrote in that essay, but I do remember the gist of it - rather than focus on every possible phobia I'd opted to write about one particular anxiety that was gnawing at the back of my mind even then. Once I would have summed it up as boredom, but today I would say that rather I fear being... jaded - regardless of what I call it, in the end what I fear now is little different from what I feared then.

By jaded what I mean to say is that I don't want to turn in to one of those people who have lost the ability to take any joy from living in the world. To my mind it's a horrible thing to accuse anyone of (being joyless), but I know such people exist. I've met them - people who have seen it all before and done it all before and wonder if it was even worth it the first time around. People who gaze past wonders and miracles seeing nothing but the dreary monotony of their lives.

Still, I don't believe they start out that way. I don't believe anyone can start out that way. Children have such immense capacity for happiness after all (I realise also that children have immense capacity for a great many traits both good and bad, but please forgive me if I don my rose-tinted spectacles for the moment). However, with the passing of time their(/our?) ability to experience pleasure and happiness in the world is gradually, imperceptibly chiseled away. I don't want be a person who sees more misery in life than mirth. But I know I've done the same things I accuse the joyless of. That whilst I'd like to believe there's a vast gulf of difference between them and me, it's probably only a small crevice - just a step or two from here to there.

And that's why I like surprises. Surprises remind me that I haven't seen it all or done it all. That the world is still full of wonder and beauty and things I've yet to experience - things that are worth experiencing. And that I can still take joy from them. It shouldn't be an easy thing to forget, but sometimes the things you most need to remember and the hardest to cling to. This weekend past was filled with small surprises and pleasures and things to remind me that I'm really a better person than I sometimes imagine myself to be (another lesson I sometimes struggle with). I felt immensely happy and satisfied at the end of it.

From this viewpoint, from my viewpoint even the bad surprises have some merit. Which may be one of the saving graces of today.

I made a few flippant comments to friends recently about the company I work for and the state it is in. Over the last couple of years there's been a fair degree of tumult including several rounds of redundancies which has witnessed the development team I'm part of shrink from approximately 30 down to 8. Things have lately stabilised somewhat and a few announcements recently actually brought some good news for a change, including sources of much needed monies. For my part I bemoaned this upturn in our fortunes, if only in jest, commenting that I had been secretly hoping for another round of redundancies so I could cash in and head home at last. It was a cynical thing to say then and I regret it a little, although I can't deny that there was some truth in it and in my defence I work in increasingly cynical environs. Still I wouldn't wish the company any ill, especially since it would negatively affect my colleagues, several of them quite badly.

Unfortunately there's many a true word spoken in jest indeed. Today the fourth round of redundancies was announced. It was pretty much a bolt from the blue, since as I alluded above, the news that had been filtering down from on high had generally been rather positive. Alas it seems they were just doing their best to shield us from what was going on. The development team has been hit particularly hard. Whereas roughly 25% of staff total are being laid off, the development team is being halved. I find out tomorrow which half I'm in, although I'm as cautiously optimistic as ever (I'm also the longest serving developer which may or may not count for something). It's all a little sad really, since losing so many developers really does seem to indicate that the company is all but doomed. After all, we're an internet company. Development should be it's lifeblood, not the afterthought it seems to be treated as.

Oh well, there's always the Christmas party next week. I'm sure that will help cheer everyone up tremendously :)

I'll give a further update tomorrow. Stay tuned.