Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

And now for something macabre

Want to be a hit man in the United States? Apparently there's an introductory guide to the profession that's not being published anymore. Or for a more European outlook, the French documentary Man Bites Dog follows a serial killer as he goes about his business.

(Links courtesy of some sadly underwhelming posts on Kuro5hin.)

Ever wonder what it was like on the other side?

Grow. What an amusing little Flash game. I've not seen anything quite like this—if you've ever played one of the many Japanese console role-playing games where the hero has to defeat monsters and collect treasure to save the kingdom, you'll appreciate the humour.

Thanks to Tycho at Penny Arcade for the link.

Deja voodoo food

In more human news, I've had a dinner-ific week. My friend Carly from the old Auckland pub quiz crew asked me over for a delicious vege lasagne on Tuesday. I had an extra bonus suprise of meeting her flatmate, the lovely Jo. Yes, that Jo. We jumped on a trampoline—I don't think I've done that since the infamous Rum & Imitation Fanta Incident of 1998. Speaking of firsts, I'm pretty sure that Jo is the first Māori person I've seen in London. I guess those native to the Pacific don't feel the same instinctive pull to Mother Britain that seems common enough amongst the Kiwis I've met over here.

Friday was meant to be an exploration into the famous Gourmet Burger Kitchen to celebrate Alex returning from Sweden. Alex is notoriously unreliable though, and so I wasn't too suprised when he disappeared on the way to his hostel. Instead, I wound up having an entertaining evening of fush and chups and limbo dancing with two of the girls from next door. It was wucked!

Update: fiddled with punctuation etc.

Tricksy Plotkinses

I've been interested in what they call interactive fiction for as long as I can remember. Many of the books I read in my youth were non-linear: Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, Fighting Fantasy, as well as the lesser-known Lone Wolf and Time Machine series. However, it was on my Commodore 64 microcomputer that I discovered the joys of the text-based adventure game.

It seems that the youthful past-time of reading has given way to clicking on pretty 3D pictures with celebrity voice-overs, and interactive fiction has long since ceased to be commercially viable. Thankfully, there are still talented people who work their magic without financial incentive. People who still create wonderful artworks for us to explore -- people like Andrew Plotkin and Andrew Cadre.

I've been using Baf's Guide to the Interactive Fiction Archive to trawl through the fantastic repository of these games, the IF Archive. If the thought of just reading and typing for over an hour doesn't scare you, then you might have some fun looking through the Guide yourself.

Recently, I've played Photopia, Narcolepsy, and Shrapnel by Adam Cadre, as well as Dreamhold and Spider and Web by Andrew Plotkin.

Apparently Andrew Plotkin's game Hunter, in Darkness is a dark adaptation of the old BASIC game, Hunt the Wumpus. I must take a look at that one.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

No such thing as bad publicity

Remember that film that we made (I blogged about it) just prior to me leaving the country?

Apparently our entry, a romance called Puppy Love, won some kind of award and was invited to show at local short film festival in Christchurch.

I still think that the script's crude and deliberately awkward humour didn't quite survive into the final product, but good on y'all anyway. At least the lighting and costumes are pretty nice.

Camels, flowers, bees and flapping willies

Do you like web comics? Do you have an hour or so to kill? Swiss artist Demian 5 might interest you with his five-chapter, wordless sex comedy called When I Am King.

I haven't looked at his subscription-based work, but I think I might buy a shirt from this guy.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Air guitar power chords

Ninjam is a new program that allows musicians to jam with each other over the internet. I think that's pretty neat. Plus, the title contains the word ninja.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I think that the Optimus is the fanciest computer keyboard that remains practical. If someone bought one of these for me, I would not complain.

Post-interview rundown

I'm still alive, which is exactly what I wanted. The job is more of a general IT guy role than specifically a programming job, but the company is one of those nice little outfits in its first growth spurt. It would probably be fun to work there.

Will I take it? Good question. If they offer me the job, and there's nothing else I'm considering, I'll probably take it. I'd rather try my hand at full-time programming, but this isn't bad and I need to take a job sooner or later. I've still got a fair amount of savings tucked away from New Zealand, but I'd like to earning pounds in the near future.

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Oh shirt

Oh, and I managed to ruin the shirt I was going to wear to the interview. The iron was covered in icky blue burning stuff—and now so is my shirt.

I guess I'll need to buy some new business clothes anyway, but it's a pity about the timing. No tie, either.

Terrorism can be so inconvenient

More explosions in London. I'm fine—I'm still at home. Once more, DJ heard about the events before I did. Reports at this stage say that nobody was hurt, which is great news. I'm taking a Number 8 bus to a job interview this afternoon, so I will be taking a bit more of a risk than usual.

I'm sure everything will be fine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So I caved

I bought my first laptop computer today. It's a Fujitsu-Siemens AmiloL 7300, and it cost me £499 at Micro Anvika.

I probably could have afforded the extra hundred pounds or so and bought something much better, but I'm still unemployed. I'm also spending my New Zealand dollars, so I think I have to be at least a little realistic.

I've never really followed the whole wireless hoo-ha, but wireless networking is pretty nifty. Unfortunately, the signal isn't too flash in my room. I wonder where the actual transmitter thingamy-jig is? I've never seen any equipment around the house. My guess is that it's in some other dude's flat, across the road or something. I hope he doesn't get billed for all these freeloaders.

Update 24 Aug: The wireless internet does come from Just Some Guy. The credit card bill shows my laptop being charged at $1314.29 in New Zealand money.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It cost me 41p

The first morning with my newly-arranged bedroom. It feels much more spacious, as far as sleeping goes, and I can turn off the light when I'm finished reading. I fear, however, that the layout may be a poor choice from a Feng Shui point of view.

I raised the issue of the gas un-bill with my flatmates, and as a side-effect I managed to speak with Corine for the second or third time since we've been living together. We didn't find a resolution to the credit on the bill, though — nearly £200 is staying out of my flatmates' hands (for now).

I sent a postcard to New Zealand, too, at DJ's special request. I was going to write Here's your postcard. Enjoy. and leave it mostly blank but I just couldn't do it. Instead, I wound up mumbling some nonsense about Burger King and pie. Sadly, it would have been better blank. I hope she understands.

I found the PC World store that Zack suggested I look in for a laptop, and discovered the previously-unknown districts of Stepney and Mile End (I think). They seem to have a similar assortment of takeaway joints, newsagents and money-lending shops that everyone else has.

I introduced myself to the Friends In London mailing list. Oh, and I have that interview with the media agency scheduled for Thursday.

Monday, July 18, 2005

It's like Jenga, but with a hallway

What better way to spend a Sunday than re-arranging one's own bedroom?

Admittedly, there are only so many ways to arrange four major furniture items in an area the size of a modest bathroom; now I've proved that there are at least two.

I'm moving out in a few weeks, so you might ask: why bother? Well; I didn't like waking up and feeling hemmed in by the three walls that surrounded my bed so tightly, nor did I like having to contort myself to fit in said space. In addition, I like being able to reach the light switch from bed instead of being on the opposite side of the room.

Up to there, I think it's all fairly reasonable and easy to explain, but here's the odd one. It felt weird sleeping in the same place each night. For a long time—and through a combination of circumstances—I've had variety in my resting places. From regular sleep-overs in high school to having two separate beds (plus a couch) in my room at 785, from dossing with friends to travelling around Europe on a whirlwind Contiki tour. I guess I just got used to it—Europe was so fast that I was lucky if we stayed two nights in the same city, let alone the same bed!

I found a few knick-knacks that Sabrina, the former occupant of this room, must have left behind. Most were obvious candidates for a swift toss, but I don't know if it's OK to throw out love letters that aren't mine. If I don't hear from her again before I leave the flat, I don't think I'll have much choice.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The biting words of the French

So, it takes three girls for you to get up?

The neighbours invited me lovely picnic in Hyde Park where I spent a perfect summer's day with good company and plenty of food. What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday! Special thanks to well-known rock band REM for playing for us—and at such short notice, too.

There were lots of teachers there, and lots of Kiwi ex-pats as well. One told me how he managed to study for a double degree at the University of Auckland and still work full-time at nights. That's absolutely ludicrous.


  • The Incredible Fold-Up Bike
  • The Krypton Factor challenge to fold up the fold-up bike
  • The flourescent poi used for beacons
  • The flying disc that made everyone feel like a professional Frisbee player
  • The birthday cheesecake (complete with candle!) that my inner foodie would describe as divine

I also learnt that my knowledge of musical stage shows (in particular, their songs) leaves much to be desired. By the way, the quote at the top is from my French flatmate, Aude, when she found I was up and awake at mid-day for this.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The bouncer said no

With its thousands of pubs, clubs, and entertainment venues, you might think that going out in London should be easy. Well, it probably is easy—but I somehow managed to fail.

Even after spending several hours in town and coming home at around 2am, I still had not been into a single pub or club. Just walking, waiting, and taking trains. Go figure.


  • Harry Potter shenanigans on Oxford St, with dragons and witches and burning torches
  • A copy of The Sun that somebody left on the tube
  • Walking by the London Transport Bombing memorials at St Pancras near Tavistock Square — twice.
  • Discovering the delights of hot chips being served open — and stuffing my Oyster card into the paper so I could scan in to the bus using my chips.
  • The scary androgynous German who insisted that the reason I was going home alone was my poor fashion sense.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Those crafty seniors

Mystery faces Ben and Kevin arrived unexpectedly. We played a spot of Frisbee where I nearly managed to cripple myself further (on the other leg, this time). Zack was confused as to why his friends came around and took his Frisbee and his flatmate out to the park without letting him know that they were there.

Afterwards, we arranged something of a raid on the Carlton, the local pub for old people. It's the only way we'd get in there, but they held us young folk off by cunningly insisting the place was closed. Fiendish.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Early July tidbits

Time's running out on the Intertron, so here's just a quick update:

  • I have a job interview with a London media agency
  • My grandmother in Gisborne has plugged into the scary world of cybernets and sent me electronic mail
  • I actually walked into a McDonalds restaurant of my own accord (Their Lion McFlurry poster seduced my mind but I reeled in shock and skedaddled before I got to the counter)
  • I finally cancelled my Telecom New Zealand account (thanks Kim!)
  • My old sort-of girlfriend Nic is coming to this hemisphere in August
  • I should really buy a laptop or something instead of coming to Internet cafés all the time
  • It's not fair for one retailer to have three separate stores on the one part of a single street

That's all for now!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Attacks on London

I guess yesterday was one of those times I can be truly glad I'm unemployed. I was still in bed when I started getting text messages from New Zealand asking if I was OK. I was just fine, thankfully—the first explosion was in walking distance of my flat. The other night, I was standing on the footpath next to where the bus exploded.

Many internet cafés seem to be closed today, so I had to take a bus until I saw somewhere that looked open.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Everybody needs good Neighbours

The people from a couple of flats down from us were having a party on Saturday to celebrate Live 8 and a birthday, and invited the whole apartment complex. A bit risky, I guess, but better than having noise complaints lodged against you!

I'm glad I went. I made some new friends (most of them from New Zealand!) and we've been asked to come around for dinner in the near future. I didn't get home until about 5.30am, but at least it was a short walk. Justin Timberlake gave me a knee injury, sadly, and what's worse is that it still hasn't healed properly. I am currently forced to descend stairs like a crippled old man.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Living like a local

I'm feeling a little more London these days. I can venture out into the city without bringing my London A-Z map book. I have bought actual sheets for my bed, and a pillow! I get my liquor from the offie, and I think I've found the local equivalent of Burger Fuel.

Update 2 Nov 2005: It's not exactly Burgerfuel. It's not bad, though.