Monthly Archives: October 2007

NO RLY

no, reallyFinally got round to downloading Radiohead’s new album today. Been out of the loop for the last wee while, completely missed the fanfare.

Decided it should cost me a fiver. Drop me bacon sandwich, as they used to say in loaded in the early days before it became illiterate pr0n.

Great concept for distribution though. Seems Rent Treznor and Saul Williams are taking similar routes with the delightfully-named The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of Niggy Tardust.

Just found a ton of great stuff on the Radiohead blog DEAD AIR SPACE. But there is no link to feed Google Reader. TWATMONGERS.

a day in the life redux

Here’s my current working life. This is an update to the Edinburgh-Glasgow epic a day in the life which was itself a response to the team-effort thread over to you.
Butler’s Wharf

  • 0730 – Lugs are spanked into wakefulness by the banter-free Virgin Xtreme.
  • 0740 – Cease groaning and lever frame upright into the bathroom to rattle toothbrush in puss. Someone once mentioned I brush my teeth “very precisely”. Much as I suspect PATRICK BATEMAN does.
  • 0810 – Quick check of Gmail and possibly Facebook as they are blocked at work *nnrgh*
  • 0815 – Load up the work bag: phone, laptop, sheets of A4 that I need to ‘action’. Note cheerful badges pinned to otherwise sombre item: 1. yellow lightning bolt on black circle, 2. small rubber ‘Aaron’ pendant with speccy, football-playing boy on it (thanks Dad).
  • 0820 – Amble along the river Thames via Butler’s Wharf, which is like a charming lamplit version of the Death Star Trench (pictured, right). Try to catch a few pages of the current book while walking.

tower bridge

  • 0825 – The view of Tower Bridge from the end of my street is as pictured, right. Stroll up and over the outsized pinball flippers, dodging early-morning tourists. Admire sunrise on the river. Hear Eastenders theme tune in head.
  • 0830 – Into the Tube at Tower Hill. Dodge remaining bewildered tourists into the standing platform crowd. Wedge into train by the door and hold book over people’s heads at comically high angle.
  • 0840 – Arrive at Blackfriars. At the Tube exit, refuse weight-loss flyers proffered by randoms. Emerge into the City bustle.
  • 0845 – Arrange belongings artfully on desk, boot laptop. Fetch water and coffee.
  • 1000 – Defeat the red list of unread emails.
  • 1130 – Complete first investigation of whatever bug is killing us this week. After poring over log files, begin to see nothing but falling green code a la The Matrix.
  • 1230 – Harangue a colleague into heading for lunch. Three floors down to cafeteria for a take-away box full of something like a proper meal.
  • 1400 – Get some research done in proper architect fashion. EAI, ESB, Grid, SOA, etc. Draw meaningless box-and-line doodles.
  • 1500 – Up to the cafe for a latte and perhaps a gingery biscuit.
  • 1800 – Call it a day. Reverse Tube journey, this time with more tourists with cameras plinking away in the failing light.
  • 1830 – Pick up something nice to eat from Pont de la Tour. Manage not to attempt any French with staff.
  • 1900 – Assuming nothing is on in town, home for scran and time wasting online (Team Fortress 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Battlefield 2142, etc.).
  • 2100 – Whatever lovefilm came through the door goes in the machine. Last watched: Deadwood, before
  • 2300 – calling it a night.

messing about in boats

boatThis week I took to the water with my Dad and Caroline for a spot of canal boating. The timing of this holiday may be regarded as appalling (one week before cross-Atlantic move) or ideal (four days of tranquility before mayhem).

Canal boating involves chugging around waterways at walking pace in a gaily painted coffin that stretches for seventy feet (i.e. massive). Inside it’s like a very posh caravan. Steering it is exactly like driving a 3-bedroom flat.

When you’re out in the quiet and mist and overhanging foliage it’s very Apocalypse Now. Trees low over the water, ducks lurking under the roots. Or strongly reminiscent of The Fabulous Riverboat from the fantastic To Your Scattered Bodies Go. Not knowing what will emerge around leafy corners. Rolling green and quiet on either side.

Then crossing the Avon on an aqueduct, gliding high over the valley below like an epic level of Half Life 2.
Unfortunately I’m currently ‘between cameras’ so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Wildlife, ducks, geese, swans, herons, fish, hawks. Progress is hypnotisingly glacial. Steering requires constant attention. A Zen trance state.

We were down at Caen Hill in the deep south. If you zoom into the map below there are a bunch of reservoirs in a row. These feed an arm-shredding 28 canal locks for hefting your boat 200ft up in the air.


View Larger Map

Overall recommended. Now off to Edinburgh and Arbroath again…

apartment hunted

phewSo the decision was made, though at the cost of savaged nerves and fingernails. The hard parts are

  1. getting the landlord to trust a random alien without a credit history, and
  2. getting large bundles of cash into the States in a usable form.

I had to make crazy transfers via Caitlin’s account to produce trustworthy banker’s cheques. Each transfer takes an uncertain 3-5 days during which time the landlord become foot-tappingly impatient and generally loses faith in you.

My broker was a hoot though, a would-be Broadway actor/writer.

Once I send the lease back tomorrow my new residence will be secured: on West 22nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. You can check out an actual view of my building – and have a look around the neighbourhood – using the wonder of StreetView on Google Maps.

apartment hunting

crosshairsThere are two ways to find an apartment in New York. You either use a broker, or you don’t.

Brokers are knowledgeable, expensive and widely regarded as totally evil. They are typically pushy, no-nonsense individuals for whom Time Is Money. They live a frantic day-to-day life scampering up and down Manhattan finagling their way into apartments. I have witnessed brokers lying outrageously to jaded block caretakers/doormen (the “supers”) and in one case actually credit-carding the lock in order to show me the property. For the flat-hunting period you are drawn into this pattern of behaviour.

The evil is necessary because competition for apartments is fierce. Same-day applications are needed for the good apartments.

The real evil is in the cost: a broker calculates your yearly rental and demands 15% of it. This generally works out at 1500-2000 pounds which you simply have to hand over.

The alternative – to dodge the broker fee – is to sit in a web cafe endlessly refreshing craigslist and phoning randoms to arrange viewings. Amusingly 75% of the randoms will turn out to be brokers in disguise. This approach is definitely cheaper but requires economy-size portions of (i) time and (ii) patience.

The following map-o-tron shows the three apartments I am currently choosing between (on Manhattan) and also Caitlin’s place in Brooklyn. You can drag and zoom and stuff, wowzers!

The northmost two apartments are in Chelsea (and are really nice). The lower one is in super-cool SoHo but the street looks noisy as hell.

[map removed]