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.

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's not easy having a good time

Throughout the week I've been fretting over what to wear to the Rocky Horror show this weekend—Her Royal Monkeyness has offered stockings and a corset, but they're not much good without some boots and some kind of matching crotch-wear. Even Rockies expect a bare minimum of clothing.

As it happens, I needn't worry. The show was last weekend. Gutted.

Update 28 Oct: As a consolation prize, it seems that the Hard Rock Café are holding a Rocky Horror night for Hallowe'en.

No seriously, hooray for hats

Oh, and the hat party? It was brilliant. Interesting people, comfortably partitioned venue, crazy costumes... this place had it all. The creepy cellar was the best serial killer lair I've seen in living memory. It had bare brick walls with chunks missing, a musty wooden staircase, and a collage of newspaper and magazine cut-outs from the Seventies.

The dark, balloon-covered floor was beautifully illuminated by plates of little stubby candles. Très bien.

Hooray for hats

I've been a busy beaver on the job front. Last week I had two interviews with a web development company and one with an ISP, plus I've been talking to a couple of recruiters who seem excited to put me forward for other roles. Sadly, I'm still unemployed.

Both of my grandmothers have called me from New Zealand at inappropriate times. They're worried about me, and wonder about things like whether I'm eating and if I want to come home. Pah. I might be eating meals out of a can, but I am staying here. I can't imagine how quiet and empty and disconnected New Zealand would feel if I was to go back, but I have barely begun my adventure in the Big Wild World. I haven't taken a £1 flight to Europe, I haven't set foot in Scandinavia, and I haven't contracted Bird 'Flu or even SAD.

Two of my flatmates are on their way back to the Southern Hemisphere after being thoroughly sick of London, so maybe I'll feel like that once I've been here a couple of years. Which reminds me of something I learnt from a recent job interview experience: if I had not mentioned my plan for moving to a new city every two years or so, I would probably have an awesome job right now. Instead, all I have is a glowing character reference and a big chunk of No Job.

PS: Silkworm pupae. Fourteen-year old cereal. Infected corn. Steve, don't eat it!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

This is not the post you are looking for

As the album interlude says:

Blindspott are in decisions,
so please bear with us. That's what we're gonna do.
Thank you.

Also, where can I get an affordable hat in London?

Also also, if you are near Trafalgar Square at night: the noises are from an enormous speaker setup for the outdoor cinema. It's showing local short films. Go sit on the steps and watch a couple. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A household name

Pulling a Lynndie
Originally uploaded by Squirk.

Spanish-but-not-really Jack is having a head-warming house-warming affair this weekend, where we wear hats. And ties.

Jack (the father of a holy packet of ketchup whom I met on a binge of excitement) told us all about pointing at men's boy-parts with a cigarette hanging out of one's mouth. He told us that this practice has a name, and it's called doing a Lynndie.

You might be suprised that there are a lot of people pulling Lynndies, all over the world. Many people (like myself) are taking photos of such behaviour and showing the world. Just look at all the Lynndie photos on flickr, like the one included in this post.

Wouldn't you be proud to be Lynndie England's mother?

Dreams of power

I have been enjoying much more action-packed thrill-ride dreams lately. That means it's all back to normal and this house probably isn't inhabited by malicious, dream-eating spirits.

On the other hand, I wrote notes on some of my dreams from the interim period and boy, do they make disturbing reading. It's not so much that the contents are horrific or otherwise particularly disturbing images; I think it's more the writing style. It reminds me ofDiary of a Mad Man, the hand-written storybook included with the moody 1992 computer game DreamWeb. Especially the inky scrawl.

Let me quote a passage, verbatim:

I was younger, still living at home then the house was dark and the family had disappeared. I reflexively sat on a scuttling object in the dark but it seemed to be bigger than the mouse I thought it was and complained like a cat being sat on. I picked up the cat and held it to my chest facing outward, trying to combine our vision. The bad guys were in the (fully lit) kitchen, along with a black potion.
In my defence, I imagine that racing to commit the ideas to paper before they vanished from my consciousness probably has a lot to do with the narrative structure (or lack thereof).

Having just written about the odd and disconnected nature of dreams, this Flash animation struck a dreamy chord.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fun with photos

Originally uploaded by Squirk.

I've been dicking around with photos a little, and uploaded a few to flickr.

Some photos are marked as friends only because I know some people are sensitive about photos of themselves. Heck, even I start to feel a bit that way when it's a particularly grotty one -- I'm sitll a bit hesitant to show y'all the Missing Teeth photos.

Oh, and I've updated the picture on my user profile as well.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A guaranteed sell-out show

What I was actually going to write about was my choice of Friday night entertainment. Thanks to the super-great Prince Charles Cinema continuing their fantastic Feel-Good Fridays promotion, I can enjoy a movie or two on the cheap. British horror The Descent and movie-that-I've-never-heard-of The Cave are showing this evening, and I'm happy to see both of 'em.

Alternatively, I could go with my original plan from earlier in the week: go clubbing somewhere new. I've decided that I need to work on my meeting people technique if I'm going to hang about in the indie rock venues that have been my haunts thus far in Blighty. Since I don't have a tutor for that, I plan on going places where I can just have fun dancing.

For me, dancing requires happiness, and happiness comes from familiarity*. Not being able to find anything that suits my tastes properly, I thought this might be worth a shot:

POPTIMISM Shiny new hits, dusty singles you'll greet like old friends, R&B, teen pop, eurodisco, electro, bubblegum novelties, sellout hip-hop and maybe a hint of indie too.

I can feel Jon choking me from his chair, but hear me out: I found Cathy Odger's assertation that only beatiful people should be in music and the rest of her capitalist values of sales over artistic merit just as appalling as the next counterculturalist.

I still enjoy dancing to music I've heard lots, even when I agree that it's musically and socially valueless.

Reflection on Westminster

Wandering through the streets of the West End last night reminded me just how wonderful it is to be in London. I already miss aimless meandering that was so accessible to me just a few short months ago. Bright, sunny days were easily and affordably spend reading books under a monument or in a park; perhaps with a sandwich or an delicious Italian-style ice-cream from a street vendor. It really made me feel I was doing the right thing.

These days, of course, the weather's not so inviting.

Of course, it's not just the weather; last night's chill air proved no barrier to my explorations. In fact, wearing my sheepskin-lined denim jacket out into the nippy darkness seemed to be a great way to feel I was in the real London. No, what's really stopping me from enjoying it all is money. It might cost nothing to walk around, but it certainly costs a few quid getting there and back -- and that's without books or ice-cream.

With the end of my savings now in sight, and no firm assurance of additional income, I feel like I need to take particular care with each pound that I spend. This means a lot of cheap supermarket meals and travelling by bus or train special occasions only. Being such a tightwad makes the whole experience of living in what might be the most awesome city in the world somewhat less awesome.

Update 14 Oct: Touched up some HTML.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Lessons from the London by London newsletter

The National Gallery has open night Wednesdays where there are free tours and lectures for poor philistines like moi.

Also, London has a naked night club. Seriously.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Daily planner

Wondering what you should do today? There is a web site that will tell you what to do.

As for me, I'm going to meet Tim O'Reilly. Maybe.

Update 13/10: Corrected the spelling for the guest of honour.

Also with pictures

Today instead of writing about my job interview, I drew a comic about it. I am thinking about doing this on a regular basis, but I'm not sure how well it will work. I figure that once I start working, there will be more geek humour than anything else floating around. Also I cannot draw comics real good, and I don't have a scanner or anything to get them on the computer so I can show you.

Yes, it can work if your name is Jeffrey Rowland and you run a site called Overcompensating that is a blog that is also a comic strip. Or a comic strip that is also a blog. It doesn't make much sense unless you read it all the time.

Blog Century: One Hundred Posts

According to the Blogger Posting Dashboard Thingumajig™, this is Post #100. Yay me. It's not an anniversary, though, so that means no celebrating. (Onya, Jon)

Looking back on the archives, you can tell that my writing has changed. It was a lot more personal when it was just me and whoever stumbled across it but now I've got an audience, and I've found there are more and more topics I choose not to post about. Some things are specialist technology bits that make people yawn. Some things are just feelings and that sort of thing that might interest the more girly-minded of you but cause a Too Much Information alert for other readers. Sometimes I would like to post about the way someone acts, looks (or smells) -- but it can be impolite when that person is also a reader!(As a side note, it seems that my proof-reading and editing has slipped since I started posting...)

What do you want to see? Probably more importantly, what do you not want to see? I'm thinking about splitting up my writing into sections or something, but sadly the blogging service I use (Blogger) doesn't really support sections. Perhaps I should just have a couple of different blogs:

This blog

For regular people who know me and want to keep tabs on my general activities.
  • Light-hearted commentary on day-to-day happenings in my life.
  • Amusing internet links for when you're bored.
  • Book/movie/play/food reviews.
  • A call to arms for nights out, road trips, or what-have-you.

A technical blog

For programmers and other tech geeks, whether they know me or just searching for information.
  • Projects at work
  • Write-ups or papers
  • Rants about code, usability, and standards-compliance

A very personal blog

Super secret, only I and random internet people will have the address for this one. It's where I'll be free to gush all sorts of soppy crap that most of you don't want to know about.

That's an idea, anyway. Any thoughts? Better ideas?

Update 15 Oct: Tidied some HTML.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Does the tooth fairy have an age limit?

Well, that was a suprise.

I was just munching on Doritos (Cool Original flavour) and enjoying the Nature's Best DVD when I felt an unfamiliar sensation in my mouth.

It felt like I'd been twisting a tooth around in its socket and had inadvertantly started chewing on it. I hadn't done so, but I definitely had a loose tooth. I can't remember the last time I wriggled a baby tooth free but I am 24 years old. I've had a set of adult teeth for more than a few years now. Something that few people notice, though, is that I still have a (right canine) baby tooth in addition to my (right canine) adult tooth.

That baby tooth is now in a cup of water on my desk.

Update 15 Oct: Cleaned up some HTML. Smacked myself in the the head for such terrible writing.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Drunken posting again?

Yes I'm drunk, and yes I'm posting—but all my inappropriate comments already went in an e-mail reply to someone asking for my details.

I think I need more practice to get up to a higher level of drunken posting.

Update 9 Oct: Fixed broken link. (And I thought I was all that, writing valid HTML while drunk... shot down!)

Responsible drinkers don't exceed

According to the side of my Kronenbourg Blanc white beer, I've had less than 1.5 UK alcohol units (one bottle). Responsible drinkers don't exceed 4 daily units (men). I was away eating the first decent meal I've had for nearly 24 hours, so I'm already past tipsy and up to drunk. Thanks to my body's love of sobriety, however, the time it has taken me to come upstairs and write this has seen my intoxication level fall back down to tipsy again, on my way to sober.

I had best get going to that housewarming!

Don't dream it; be it

A Rocky Horror Picture Show with a cast, props, audience parti...pation and dress-up is finally within my grasp.

Ironically, of course, it's just around the corner from my old flat, but that's just an hour's train ride from here. Besides, I really should drop back there and say hello to the neighbours, give the American his suitcase, and maybe collect my toothbrush. It's only been a couple of months!