come in number four your time is up

So after working for the same company for almost 30 years – that is literally since I left school – finally the time has come to move on.

This is not entirely my decision, though there were options. Sometimes when a team gets restructured there are less jobs afterwards than there were before. that is business. Sometimes the people affected by this change from needed to not needed see this as a very personal judgement, and maybe sometimes it is, but my inclination is to view this as a business decision and nothing more.

I could see an imbalance in the staffing of the team, someone with the power to do something has come along and chosen to correct the imbalance by cutting back in the overgrown area rather than cultivating in the underdeveloped one. This is not the wrong strategy, it is just one that leaves fewer posts, and in these straightened financial times that is not a surprising development either.

For many reasons this is a good development for me personally. I had intended to change jobs over ten years ago when I moved out of London to a more rural area where there was a different quality of life. The problem with a good job in an interesting organisation is that it is hard to leave, I sometimes saw interesting posts but then worried that I would regret leaving my current position. Well now that gamble has been taken out of my hands.

So that’s one positive, freedom to move on with no regrets.

And for those ten or more years when I should have found that job closer to home I have been commuting every day into London and home again. this not only takes hours (about 20 each week) out of my life, it costs a fortune, and rail fares go up every year, unlike salaries.

So that’s another positive, a job closer to home means less travelling time and cheaper fares.

The next challenge will be finding that new job. but even here there is opportunity, the chance to learn new skills, meet new people and try new things, and certainly to discover how another organisation works!

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Hold tight, mind the gap

Just having a fiddle around with the themes (again). I really loved the Hemingway theme I’ve been using for a while, but I’m afraid I don’t think it was very user friendly and I suspect most people couldn’t find anything except the two latest posts.

So I decided I should change. I am trying ChaosTheory by Automattic. UPDATE I am now trying Black-LetterHead by Ulysses Ronquillo

I will see how it feels to me, I have a few possible alternatives if I don’t get on with it (Duster, Motion, The Morning After, INove, Greyzed are on my shortlist)

If I change it further you’ll see it hear first 😉

Aliases, pseudonyms and the Culture

So who or what is Sleeper Service, and what is the connection with Furious Purpose and Heavy Messing?

With apologies to Mr Iain M. Banks I have for a number of years been appropriating names from his Culture series of Science Fiction novels. These names are all those of ‘Minds’, giant supercomputer-spaceships, kilometers long and uber-powerful with massive intellects. I feel it is also necessary to say that I do not think of myself as having any of these ‘properties’, however they are also somewhat whimsical (or even sarcastic) particularly in their choice of what they call themselves, and I can relate to that.

The best example I can think of to demonstrate this humour is: ‘Ultimate Ship The Second’.

In fact ‘Wisdom Like Silence’, the title of this blog is also the name of a Mind, as are, variously used by me in other places and other lives: Yawning Angel, Grey Area, Halation Effect, Misophist, Heresiarch, Recent Convert,  A Series Of Unlikely Explanations, & Death and Gravity.

For more on The Culture, Minds (& ship names) try Wikipedia here.

So why commute 100* miles?

On a night like tonight this is a question I ask myself with some degree of seriousness.

We find ourselves making a series of short, slow and uncomfortable jumps between London and the Cotswolds, thanks primarily to some scallywags who stole a load of cable from the signalling system in the West Drayton area, presumably to sell for scrap….

As a consequence a long daily journey which I have adapted to over the past 9 years of back and forth travelling is transformed into a mini-nightmare.

So far today’s adventure is nowhere near the worst. We’ve had 5 hour marathons ending up on coaches with the passengers directing the driver who is clueless about where he is or where we’re all going. We’ve had trains which hit unfortunate people leaving us stranded in places we normally fly through at 90mph. And we’ve had a train stuck for 45 minutes about 2 minutes outside our destination. There have been many similar incidents, but spread over such a long period they’ve not yet reached the tipping point which makes me stop this silliness and get a job nearer home.

Tonight, on our first leg to Reading we travelled on a Penzance train, and yes we were speculating how nice it would be to sail through Reading and go the distance to Cornwall. That temptation resisted now, in order to make the next jump to Oxford, we have boarded a cross country service for York, again how tempting to end up in that Cathedral city as a break from the norm.

So why do it. Honestly I can’t even answer that well enough to convince myself. But mostly because I don’t want to change the things at either end of it. And, on days when it goes smoothly, I get time on the train to listen to music and read, or tweet and, even though you’d never believe it given the dust and cobwebs on this blog, I even get time to write.

*note for pedants: I can’t exactly work out the accurate distance, and depending on how you measure, by road, rail or wing of crow the amount varies. but 100 miles is close and it makes for a more interesting title than whatever the ‘real’ distance is, 98.42 miles maybe?

2 films

I am on my sickbed. I have been here for 3 days, and although some may call it man-flu, I am only a man and it feels pretty crap to me. And, if for no other reason than I don’t want to pass this on to someone else I’m opting to stay in bed/on the sofa until I’m properly recovered.

As a consequence I’ve seen too much telly. I’ve also watched a load of  things I’d probably not have bothered with, and luckily I’ve seen some good things too. In particular I have seen four films. I have finally seen “Up”. I enjoyed it, I even enjoyed the cynical manipulation of my emotions which is the opening 10 minutes. I’m not of the opinion that it’s the greatest animated movie made, to be honest I’m not sure it’s even the best animated movie of the year, but I have no doubt it will win the Oscar for best animated feature.

Unfortunately I also saw possibly the worst film ever made. Certainly the worst film I have ever seen. This film should be destroyed, deleted, redacted. No trace of it or any record of it should ever be found. This film is the execrable “The Whole Ten Yards”. I only watched this because I have a vague recollection that I was passably amused by the original ‘The Whole Nine Yards”. Why anyone thought a sequel was a good idea is the first question, surely the original couldn’t have been a big enough box office success to warrant a sequel? But once that mistake was made, why did any studio, any producer, anyone(!), think that the plot and script for the sequel was worth doing anything with other than shredding? The plot is nonsensical garbage. The script is absolute crap. But so much bigger than that, there are two truly hideous performances in this film. Bruce Willis shares top billing with Matthew Perry. Perry should be embarrassed by this movie, and he should purge it from his resume, but in comparison to Bruce Willis and Kevin Pollak he has nothing to be ashamed about. Pollak is landed with a pantomime character, very poor make-up and his performance is as ridiculous as the role he is landed with. Willis can only try to hide behind the script, in every other way his performance is appalling, most of the time he is over the top, sometimes just hamming it up. Even when there is a possibility within the terrible script Willis is given to play a little more sensitive he fluffs it, the worst performance he has ever given, but then, why bother, even if he’d given his greatest performance ever, the script, the direction and the editing would have left him mired in a dung-heap. A film to avoid at all cost.

2010, so far, so good

another year another embarrassing gap between posts. why do I bother I ask myself, indeed why do you bother asks my reader, all one of him/her. NB I am ignorant of their gender, it is not they who are undecided, at least as far as I know, which is plainly not very far at all.

There are like a million things I could catch you up on, except, that would be 1. boring (I mean srsly even more boring than this) and 2. it would take far too long.

So instead I’ll ramble about some random things, like:

A. a fabulous new iPhone photography App that I downloaded this very day, called Hipstamatic, and priced at an incredibly reasonable £1.19 which is like $1.99 of your American dollars. plus when you realise just how fantabulous it is for yourself, you will be pleased to discover that there are additional upgrade packs for a paltry 59p (99c) each, an amount you’ll be only to happy to pay to have even more fun with this App.
Oh, but why? I hear you ask, [listens briefly, and almost deafened by the silence, continues] why does this fool think I want another camera app for my iPhone which has a pretty poor camera already, for no extra money.
Well here’s why, because it will make your photos even poorer quality, but also indescribably sooo much better and more fun.
Hipstamatic is a beautiful re-creation of the plasticy-goodness of the original early 80’s camera with a ton of options for customising, lenses, film type and flash. to quote their app store entry “Digital photography never looked so analog”.
[note to self upload at least one convincing example here]

B. i saw The Wolfman movie this weekend, and what a jolly good romp it was too. the caveat with this film is, it’s not a modern horror movie, the film-makers ignore even the retro make-up effects of 80’s classics like The Howling or American Werewolf in London, to go proper ‘back-in-time’ to the 1940’s B&W horror days of Lon Chaney Jr.’s The Wolf Man. Wonderfully recreating the make-up style that made Chaney into a monster whilst clearly keeping him a man. Yes the script in this version is patchyin places, and Anthony Hopkins goes a little over the top, but, if for no other reason than to see a bunch of annoying local villager types get their comeuppance, this is a popcorn movie to sit back and enjoy.

C. Just finished the first of Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I know, I must be like the last person on the planet to have read it, but, just in case dear reader you are in fact yet to have picked this up yourself, let me urge you to do so. Here is why – fistly this is a difficult book to get in to. There must be 90 pages or so of pretty uninvolving stuff before I found the narrative became truly gripping. But once you’re in to the core of the story it’s worth the wait. That said there is nothing here which is completely unique, but enough elements are refreshingly combined to make this a very enjoyable read even for one such as myself who has been all over this genre for 30-odd years. Also, I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, that is always a promising sign…

Which leads me to an apology to my book club colleagues, I’ve been reading this instead of the book I was meant to be reading. That’s about the second month in a row I’ve done that, perhaps I’m not the clubby type, I like to read what I’m in the mood for and as soon as something is prescribed I have a tendency to rebel against it. sorry 😉

All change again

There were loads of things I liked about using LiveJournal, particularly the widgets that let me select a ‘mood’ icon for every post, and a place-holder for the music I was listening too at the time I was posting. I also loved the Piximix designed Kaboom Bros Graffiti theme.
But.
There were problems, the biggest one of which was the ridiculous limit on how many links the blog would support. 10 links. What’s that about? The only way I could find to extend the number of links was to pay.
And the back-end had a pretty amateurish feel and felt overly concerned with the whole ‘community’ nature of LJ, an area I can’t say I was interested in. Some may have issues with the WordPress Dashboard, but I love it’s professionalism, it is well laid out and the tools are all at hand. There are more options than I can yet imagine needing. This is the third incarnation of WordPress I have tried and I am happier with it than ever.
So I have moved here, again. And this time I have opted for a very plain theme, but with the twist of a very unusual layout. I like this for now, let’s see if I can live with it.

Peer Recognition

I don’t often let work cross over into non-work stuff.

But.

I am so chuffed to get a rave review for the World Beach Project which I have had the opportunity to develop with artist Sue Lawty, that I am proud to make an exception – Massive thanks to Nina Simon at Museum 2.0 for this considered, detailed and complimentary blog post about the project.

None of this would have been possible without Sue’s idea, creativity, or enthusiasm, the incredible team at the V&A and of course the 700 or so people who have participated so far. But it still feels like my project and it’s rare to have something that feels like your own achievement.

Sue and I are so pleased. And my stock has shot up in the office.  Nice 😉