27 December 2008

Crimbo in Oakville

Well we made it to Oakville and magically had a white Christmas. It was a bit touch and go as Christmas eve was warming up and we weren't sure if the snow would stick around. As it was we had nothing to worry about.

We opened some pressies, had some brekkie and went for a Crimbo walk. We meant to walk down the ravine behind mum and dad's house, but as the sled we had Emily on wasn't all that stable we amended our course to mimimise crying.

Dan and Tiff - who were absent for brekkie and walk - eventually got back and we finished opening the rest of the pressies. Now there's even more people - Emily, Sue, Jay and Tiff - the present opening takes even longer, which is cool as that's the main crux of the day.

It's been really nice being back in Oakville. Everything here seems to be so much easier - life in general. I think as we've had a tough time of it recently at home - no space now Emily's here, me losing my job - being reminded of a better way is sort of bittersweet for me. It's something I could easily return to and it would give Emily a better life. However, getting Sue to agree to move to Canada would happen the same time pigs started flying... when did life get so complicated???

03 December 2008

Record company rip offs

I mosied down to Fopp today at lunch to have a gander at all and sundry in the way of books, DVDs and CDs.

I was dismayed and a little horrified to discover a few things. For some reason Warner haven't been content to issue yet ANOTHER Smiths best of in two formats. They've now reissued the original singles on 7" format at £4 each!! For that price, you can pretty much buy the actual albums. Most of the b-side material is on one of the many many compilations (think "The World Won't Listen" or "Louder Than Bombs"). You need to either be stupid, a diehard Smithie or someone who can't handle listening to more than 3 minutes of music at one time to wanna buy these.

The other shocker I saw was yet ANOTHER reissue of Echo & The Bunnymen's "Ocean Rain". I bought the last reissue with four or five bonus tracks. Now they've tacked on a CD recorded live somewhere or other and jacked the price up from around a fiver to £18. That's around £13 for a throw-away live disc people - much like the Joy Division reissues.

The last disc I saw was "iSelect" by David Bowie. This was the CD that was free with the Times in the summer. The price on this throw away collection of tracks EVERYONE has? £19. That's right - £19. It's 12 tracks. You could buy "Best of Bowie" and a couple other albums and still have change from £19.

I had to leave the shop at this point. Why oh why does the music industry STILL think they can get away with these types of practices?

26 November 2008

Expensive France

I'm so used to having it drummed into my head that the UK is so uber expensive, only a dolt would live there that I actually thought our trip to France would be a pretty cheap affair.

Where do I get my info? This place is stupid expensive. As the Euro is currently hovering around £1 = €.90 (when you actually get money converted, not the crazy quoted official conversion rate that NO ONE ever gets), you start to see how expensive things are.... like beer at €6 a pint (x .9 = £5.40), or Fallout 3 at Game is €70 (x .9 = £63!!!). I paid £29.99 and I thought that was too much.

Petrol's even pricier here at around €1.16 per litre (x .9 = £1.04) when it's hover in the low 90p in the UK. There's other things are are expensive, but not in a direct comparison. Suffice it to say, blowing €50 a night on dinner for Sue and I is a one way ticket to the poor house. I'm having fun, but for my wallet's sake, I'm glad we're only here a week.

25 November 2008

In Toulouse

I've been blogging about it on my Emily blog, so I thought I'd mention it here that I've managed to break away for a bit of a break with Sue and Emily to the south of France. We're in Toulouse, as Sue is doing several days of lectures for school and I'm here as the manny, or Mr Mum as the case may be.

We arrived Sunday evening, and promptly went out for dinner, having checked into our hotel (pictured) and de-bagged.

Monday, the weather was rather unsightly, so Em and I waited until it cleared up in the apres midi and went for a wander, taking in a number of sights along the way.

Today, Sue has the afternoon off, so we're going to go for a mooch. The last couple of days, Sue's really only been able to leave the hotel to go for dinner, so the sightseeing has been quite minimal.

It's been nice to get away, but yesterday walking around town, I felt quite lost and dispondent. I'm not sure if it was because I was exhausted or if the thrill of seeing new cities has really left me. I couldn't even go shopping for comics or videogames because they're all in French, and I've pretty much given up buying CDs. It was just Em and I, walking aimlessly around town, stopping occasionally to take photos and to make sure Em was OK ("au quay").

Hope my "inner turmoil" bucks up by Christmas. I don't enjoy feeling down, and thought a nice holiday would do me the world of good. Maybe a nap would be a better idea?
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07 November 2008

Rudderless or just growing up?

A lot of the things in my life I took for granted or kept me grounded, seem to have evaporated in the last couple of years. It's almost like I've had to redefine who I am. I realise when you become a husband or a father you get redefined anyway, but I'm talking more from a physcological point of view.

One of the many reasons I moved back to the UK all those years ago was to do with music - music was always a massive part of my life - from cataloguing, playing, collecting, etc. The UK was the hub of all things from wonderful used record shops, a vibrant CD singles industry, a close knit collection of amazing venues and all the music I loved was UK based.

Move on 8 years later and I no longer drop £100 every Saturday down Berwick Street on CDs.

It may seem lame and materialistic, but I don't really feel I'm the same person I was, and I guess as you lose one tether or hobby you should replace it with another. I guess it would have been a good time to do something outdoors, like take up cycling, etc. Instead, I seem to have rediscovered my love of videogaming.

Oh well. That, coupled with being a father and a husband means I don't really have much time for hobbies at the moment anyway, so losing one is probably not a bad thing.

Now playing: Simple Minds - Speed Your Love to Me
via FoxyTunes

01 September 2008

What's going on?

Sometimes I wake up with the feeling that I will be doing the same routine - Groundhog Day - style for the rest of my life. The dread that instills is quite strong, I wonder how I get out of bed sometimes.

Part of it is stress I guess, brought on societal norms, job issues, family issues, etc. I can't really point the finger at what the rest is. Depression perhaps?

When did it all change? I remember waking up when I was younger hoping I'd live forever with the world at my fingers and a world of possibilities to explore. Now I get up, shower, leave the house, listen to the radio and fight back the tears.

Is there a definite moment in time where that last door closed behind me I wonder, never to be reopened.

Maybe I just need a complete 180 to my life, and pursue something else somewhere else.

When you open up those types of possibilities, it becomes even more depressing realising that if you could do ANYTHING, you don't know what you'd do. Be a rock star? A movie star? run a pub?

Maybe it is better the devil you know, put up with the misery of life and wait to die.

Oh cheery days.
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13 August 2008

Yet another problem

As if life right now doesn't give us enough to worry about - falling housing prices, escalating food and petrol prices, the environment, Russia invading Georgia and the fallout from that, etc.

Now we have to contend with the death of bees!

Sometimes I wonder how I get the mental energy to get out of bed. For everything that's good there seems to be at least two or three bad things happening around the world.

11 August 2008

The meaning of life

Sitting on the train this morning, I was mulling over the meaning of life. I know loads of people have attempted this (including Monty Python) but far too often I can't get past the futility of it all.

I mean why are we here?

I can only surmise that we are here to leave the world a better place than the one we came into. Of course, this could be done on a personal micro level as well as a global macro level, depending on your sphere of influence.

Bill Gates (love him or loathe him) has given loads back to the community and made quite a positive impact on quite a macro level. I try, on a micro level, to be the best person I can be. This can be a full time job however, whether it's trying to be environmentally aware or turning the other cheek in conflicts.

In my personal circumstance, I question the futility of sitting on a train every morning to go to a job that I could take or leave to earn a crust that just about supports myself and my family.

Is this living? Is there something more?

With Emily here with us now, I wonder if she'll look back over her years when she's 70 and have no regrets, no wonder at what it was all for. As a father, I hope so. As I realist, I doubt it.

28 July 2008

Need to up my game

Having had yet another contact let me know they're now on LinkedIn, I thought I'd do a snoop on my ex-colleagues to see where they are now.

I know the name of AOL carries a lot of weight, it's how you handle yourself when you get in the door that separates the boys from the... well unemployed.

It was with a heavy and depressing heart that I realised that everyone I've worked with seems to be flourishing since having left AOL, whereas I seem to be almost floating backwards in this great river of life.

It's spurred me on to begin anew to up my game, get a new job with a decent title and actually do some work that has a progressive feel to it, instead of filling in boxes and basically feeling underused.
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02 July 2008


Film poster for Office Space - Copyright 1999,...Image via WikipediaI guess some people call it mid-life crisis.

You get to a point and realise you'll never be a rock star or an astronaut and everyday forks in the road are taken and doors of options close until you either get to where you want to be or live a life of regret wishing roads untaken were taken.

I've been feeling more and more unsettled lately with just about every aspect of my life - from the pokey flat I live in, to the dead end job I really don't enjoy.

Having worked in this job for over a year, not only have I realised I don't really enjoy it or want to continue, I've also realised I really have no clue what I actually want to do. I'm not sure what is more depressing.

I've had the odd couple of jobs that I've really enjoyed, and I really went above and beyond whilst doing those, but the last few years it's really been a case of clock watching and putting in the effort you need just to survive (echoes of Office Space anyone?)

Sue keeps trying to get me inspired to move to Australia, and maybe I need a complete shock to the system like that to find my inspiration.

I really don't know, but I do know that I walk around in a haze and it just gets more and more depressing with each day.

Now playing: Underworld - Trim
via FoxyTunes
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23 June 2008

Random sightings in London

In a city like London, stumbling across a celebrity while out and about isn't all that difficult - Rupert Penry Henry here, Krishan Guru-Murthy there.

This says not only a lot about the city, but also a lot about what constitutes celebrity these days.

The much harder game to play is stumbling across people you actually know - friends, acquaintances, etc. Meeting up with most people you know can be a logistical nightmare at the best of times, involving calendars, emails, mobile phones and random meet up points, so to stumble across one by accident can be quite refreshing.

This random sighting has happened to me now three times in the last few months. Arguably, they've all been my wife's friends, but they're people I know and can hold a conversation with.

If only all get togethers could be through the medium of happenstance, life would be one wonderful accident.

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16 May 2008

Working that Long Tail

Having perused the blogosphere yesterday I came upon the fact that an album I loved from the late 80s was reissued recently with a load of bonus tracks, taking the original 10 song track listing up to a value-at-twice-the-price 21 tracks.

So, today and yesterday, I decided to trawl my local record shops in search of "Pop Said" by those Welsh troubadours, The Darling Buds. Shock of shock, as they're not gansgta rap or in the immediate top 10, the CD was nowhere to be seen IN A RECORD SHOP.

I had no option, but to high-tail it from the Zavvi Megastore on Oxford Street and log on the web where myself and other lovers of the long tail can purchase whatever we want whenever we want.

I have to say, if I did find it in a bricks and mortar Video Game / DVD shop (let's face it, that's all HMV or Zavvi are now), I would have probably been forced to shell out around £12. A handy search of the web not only got it for me from Play.com for £7.99 but I also managed to find a number of discount codes dropping the final assault on my wallet closer to £7.00

Target acquired and next week I'll be bopping along to the grooves of The Darling Buds d├ębut effort... no thanks to the local record shops.

14 April 2008

Depressing as...

Everywhere I look in the news and on people's faces, there's tales of gloom. Inflation here, drain on that, it's enough to make you give up.

Having read the paper today, there was a tale that blended the sky-high price of petrol with the sky-high price of food materials, with the conclusion that nothing is coming down in price any time soon. Farmers' costs are up, not enough food is being grown for food (thank you bio-fuel) and the end supermarket price is enough to make you cry.

£1.10 per litre of petrol, a loaf of bread is now over £1. It's just purely depressing, especially at a time of property depression and uncertainty in the market in general.

If this were a video game, I would have given up months ago and hit reset. Maybe the outcome would have been different.

05 February 2008

Deal or no deal?

Sometimes you come across something so shocking, it takes your breath away.

Recently, I bought some Sainsbury's basic coffee. It was a whopping 79p for a 227g packet. How bad can it be I asked myself. It's not instant, it's the brewable stuff.

Well, I've answered that question today. It can be really really really bad. I'm not sure there's any phrase I can use to describe it, like a wine lover would describe wine, but I can bandy about terms like burned ash or disgustamundo, and that seems to aptly sum up the taste of this vile creation.

I have to say that although it was only 79p, it was 79p badly spent. I will be ditching this vile excuse for a morning ritual, and sticking to stuff that costs, looks, smells and tastes more expensive.