Monday 26 September 2011

Using bathroom sealant as glue is a bad idea.

You'd think I would have known better as I'm usually quite good at this DIY malarkey, but the other day I stupidly decided to glue some coving in place using bathroom sealant.
Ordinarily this would have been a stroke of genius, except that emulsion paint doesn't stick to it...


Thursday 22 September 2011

Transport for London

I was under the impression that Transport for London was an organisation dedicated to an integrated transport system for London. That's what the name would suggest, but I think they should be called Traffic for London.
Why is this not the case?
Well, it was Sunday Monday Happy Days, Tuesday Wednesday not-so-happy Days.

On Sunday, I didn't really drive at all, so all was well. Monday was a regular commute to work, but lately the junction at Grove Park has been blocked. This has happened since the school holidays finished. The junction at Grove Park consists of 2 lanes, one of which is a right turn only and the other ahead only. Normally there is a bus trying to turn right and because the lanes aren't very wide, cars can squeeze by but lorries and buses can't.
Traffic for London has rescheduled the bus timetables so there are now 2 buses trying to get through the junction at the same time, one of which will have to stop and hold up the other traffic until the first one can make a right turn. The knock on effect is a 1 mile tailback as all the cars have to sit waiting patiently for the bus to go past. I queried this with Lewisham council but their response was quite dismissive. Clearly nobody who works at Lewisham council has to go through this junction to get to work.

Tuesday was weird. I was hoping it would be sunny so I could ride my motorbike in, but it rained in the morning so I drove. The journey to work was mostly fine, apart from Grove Park. The way back went exceptionally well, and I managed to get from Bromley to Shad Thames in 45 minutes or so. The problem was when I tried to get across Tower Bridge; it took me a further 50 minutes stuck in traffic. This is because some idiot decided it would be a good idea to open Tower Bridge to let a boat through at the same time as the Blackwall Tunnel and Rotherhithe tunnel had been closed.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with London, what this means is that the only ways to cross the river east of London Bridge (in the centre) are the Woolwich Ferry, which has queues all the time anyway, or the Dartford crossing, which is practically on the edge of London.
So there was traffic chaos. The whole area was gridlocked for hours. I shudder to think how much fuel was wasted.
Tomorrow as long as the weather is good, I'll be riding my motorbike! :)

Saturday 17 September 2011

Do it yourself...

I've been doing a bit of remodelling of late. The sort that would put someone off for say, 10 years or so.

Fortunately for me it's finally starting to come together! Rain today, thwarting my attempt to go for motorbike ride, has helped immensely!

In a short time from now my flat will be a far nicer place to spend time :)

But it's not there yet. Time to visit Ikea :)

Wednesday 14 September 2011

The Truman Show

There was a conspiracy against me on my commute to work this morning. Remember The Truman Show, when he decided he wanted to drive off the island and they had to try and stop him, so everyone drove their car into the street to create traffic, to hinder his progress? That's how it was for me.

The weather was lovely so I decided to ride the motorbike instead of drive the car, but it was doomed from the start. I got out of the car park and there was no room for me to filter through the cars as the person right in front of the exit had left so little room between his car and the one in front that even a bicycle couldn't get through.
Plain sailing across Tower Bridge at least, but then trapped between a lorry and a bus, with a Nissan Almera driver turning left onto Jamaica Road, the same way I wanted to go. So I had to wait for another traffic light change. On any other road I'd have been able to overtake Nissan Almera driver, but the bus lane here is only a bus and cycle lane. Motorbikes aren't allowed, and the Almera was so far to the right, it would have been suicide to pass her. And she pootled along, so the traffic light that would have been green if she was doing 30mph went red, and I had to wait.
Passed her at the lights, and hit traffic approaching the Rotherhithe tunnel. It's normally pretty clear here, but the bus lane allows motorbikes here so it wasn't too bad. I went around the roundabout and clearly signalled my intention to exit towards Surrey Quays, but the driver of the black BMW X5, despite looking straight at me, decided to wander into my path on the roundabout. Some horn beeping and eye contact occurred, and he didn't even look apologetic.
Then I got stuck behind another bus, that wanted to go 15mph. Passed it, got stuck at a traffic light. Then stuck behind another car going slowly. Bikes can't go in the bus lane again. Passed the cars, had a bit of a free run, but thwarted by a red traffic light. Cleared the light, and got stuck behind a cement mixer. The cement mixer must have been fully loaded because I swear it took about 3 minutes for it to get to 30mph. Bikes not allowed in bus lane again. Managed to pass cement mixer at the lights, then got stuck behind a chain of cars that was stuck behind a Volvo. Extra traffic at the roundabout in Lewisham - had to filter through where normally it's clear. Then stuck behind a Lexus Rx300 again. Took ages to pass due to oncoming traffic. Managed to squeeze in front of a bus and make my right turn, only for another 15mph bus to pull out from a bus stop and proceed at that speed for the rest of the lenghth of the road. Passed it at the South Circular, made the left turn towards Grove Park, only to hit traffic. Filtered past, but couldn't pass a lorry as there wasn't enough room in between the lorry and the traffic island. Had to wait for it to move (which took ages due to a combination of bus and lorry ahead), so again thwarted at traffic lights.
Lights go green, no room to pass, stuck behind another chain of cars. Finally passed them at a traffic light and had a free run from there... for the next 700 metres or so, until I reached my destination, where there were 2 cars parked in front of my straight path into the bike parking area, so had to approach at an angle and take extra care.

And despite all this my facebook status says my ride to work was awesome, because it was! It's such a nice bike to ride! :D

Monday 12 September 2011

Planes, trains and automobiles III

Part 3 - Automobiles

I've been a fan of automobiles for as long as I can remember. It all started when I was very young. I loved cars and could name every car I saw on the road before I could read or write. I've had lots of cars in my time, and I got myself a motorbike license because I didn't want to have to take the tube to get to college every day.

Fast forward about 17 years and I now have a BMW 3-series, like everyone else. It's a green 325 convertible, and along with the car I'm a prominent member of a forum for the car, where people of various ilk come together to discuss them. This ranges from genuine technical problems to what modifications to get. I swear some of them have spent too much time on eBay convincing themselves they need things that they don't. They yearn to be different from the crowd, but they all end up being the same. If they really didn't want to be the same as everyone else, they probably should have got a Volvo or Saab, or waited for the new Dacia Duster. You think I'm joking but I really like it and will probably buy one when they come out in the UK some time next year.
Anyway I digress. These people have convinced themselves that a small curved tube light in each headlamp will make them as awesome as Chuck Norris, and that they will have the fighting prowess of Bruce Lee if they fit illegal Xenon headlamp conversions.
They will become James Bond if they fit wheels so big, the only way to fit them is to use elastic bands for tyres, and because they are now so awesomely famous they need to become stealthy Knight Riders by tinting their windows and replacing all the chrome with fake carbon fibre wrapping.

I once went to a meet up for the forum, which consisted mostly of a bunch of fat blokes wearing hoodies, eating donuts and talking about what polish they used to clean their cars. Those not eating donuts stood around with their hands in their pockets.

I am not well regarded on this forum for a number of reasons. First, my car is green. Everyone thinks green is rubbish - they all want black, blue or silver. It probably goes better with their carbon. Almost everyone who sees my car loves the colour though. The guys at my BMW specialist garage reckon I should take it to shows! The second reason I am disliked is my car is a convertible. Apparently only hairdressers drive convertibles. Most hairdressers I know can't afford a car though. There was an old guy at the barber I went to as a child who had an old Volvo; He was probably too individual to get a BMW. Thirdly, my car has wood trim. Apparently this expensive factory option is considered something for old people. It has to be plastic or carbon. It must be really weird in these people's homes, walking around on a fake carbon wrapped plastic floor.
Finally I am quite opinionated. You see, I am not afraid to share my views, so I have developed a reputation amongst many members as someone rather unsavoury.

But none of that matters! One of the moderators of this forum, upon reading a post I wrote, took the time to congratulate me on my blog! Apparently he wasted 2 hours reading my rantings! I am now one step closer to world domination!!

So back to automobiles. I have something of a love-hate relationship with the car. It's nice and I really like it, but it's so demanding. I had to spend a fortune on he sound system to get iPod and Bluetooth working. No sooner do I spend money getting one thing fixed than it develops some new rattle or squeak. It's a proper money pit, and that's without insurance or petrol. It was recently in the garage though, and for a couple of weeks I had to go without it. Let's just say when I got back in the car on Saturday I was elated. I drove home smiling from ear to ear, again yesterday even in heavy traffic, and again today commuting to and from work.

Automobiles aren't just cars though. Let's not forget motorbikes. A while back I mentioned I'd part exchange my Ducati for a German bike at some point. This has now happened and I am the proud owner of a racing colours BMW S1000RR. Insurance is a rip off and the bike cost a fortune, but I love it! It's a gazillion times better than the Ducati it replaced :D


Planes, trains and automobiles II

Part 2 - Trains

As a result of the yet-to-be-written part 3 of this trilogy of posts, I was taking the train to work for some of last week. When weather permitted, I was riding my new motorbike. More on that later.

So, you may ask. What's so noteworthy about trains? Well nothing really, except how infuriating they are, especially if you travel in the other direction to most commuters. What this means for me is that I have to get the 08:19 train from Cannon Street to Orpington. If I don't catch that train, there isn't another one for an hour. This is what happened to me on Thursday, so I had to walk to London Bridge, where I had to spend about 10 minutes looking at the departures board to figure out which train I needed to get, and from which platform. Although travelling to London Bridge doesn't take very long, the net result is I end up half an hour late for work. Fortunately my boss was even later than me due to traffic congestion on his bus route. And, if I were a bit sharper, it would give me time to write blog posts from my phone. You'll note from the absence of any posts that this wasn't the first thing on my mind. I was far more interested in catching up with facebook updates :)

On Friday it was even worse. I had a meeting in Liverpool Street, and took the train to Bromley in the afternoon, with my colleague. Except that was an even bigger fail. We got the tube to Farringdon, saw we'd have to wait for the 14:45 train and at 14:45, we got on the train that rolled up. We were talking about work and motorbikes and such, when the train announcement said the train was going somewhere we didn't want to be. I looked out of the window and we were at Tulse Hill. This was the wrong place. I told my colleague, and after some to-ing and fro-ing about whether or not I was sure, we jumped off the train just in time for the doors to close. OK, well I jumped, he stepped off it like a normal person. We then studied the comprehensive map, which just showed the line we were on, before I resorted to the London Transport iPhone app. That app advised me to walk to Tulse Hill station, which would take 2 minutes. Strangely, we were actually in Tulse Hill station. Anyway, there was a 15:00 train to Beckenham Junction that would take us in the right direction, where we could change to an Orpington train that would take us to Bromley. The time was 14:59 and the train was the one on the next platform, so we bolted it and made that train just in time. We reached Beckenham Junction only to find the 15:15 Orpington train was cancelled and we'd have to get the next one at 15:30. I was ready to give up and go back home, but my colleague insisted. Out came the iPhone again, this time Google Maps was the app of the moment. I noted that we were only 2 miles from where we needed to be, so we got a minicab. The minicab was a car, which leads me nicely onto part 3 :)

Planes, trains and automobiles I

Part 1 - Planes

So yesterday was 11 September 2011. The 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. It's one of those significant moments in history where everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first found out. Here's my story:

I was working at Colt Telecom at the time, in the engineering team. We had a test lab in a basement, which looked something like the CDT workshops at school, only with a couple of rows of racks in one corner. I was chatting on IRC, and coordinating my galactic alliance in a game called Hyperiums, when a top member of my alliance, a chap called Samson who lived and worked in New York City, wrote on IRC "OH MY GOD, I JUST SAW A PLANE CRASH INTO THE OTHER TOWER!" or something along those lines.
I thought he was joking at first, but other reports started coming in on IRC, about there being a terrorist attack. A quick check on the CNN and Sky News websites confirmed the reports, and one of them (I think it was CNN) had a photo of some smoke coming out of the tower.
I said to my colleagues, one of whom was from the West Indies, one from Canada and one from Scotland, that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. I remember particularly well that Iain, the Scot, thought it was funny. He and I never saw eye to eye, not because he was about 2 feet taller than me, but because he was a linux geek and I wasn't. Anyway, I needed to find a TV.
I told my colleagues I was going to find a TV, and my boss (also Canadian) forbade me to go, so I went to the toilet instead. And carried on walking past the toilet, and up the road to Babe Ruth's Diner. This diner no longer exists. It's now a block of luxury apartments, but 10 years ago they had a huge projector TV for sports events. Only now it was showing CNN live, smoke bellowing out of the North Tower. At this point I got incredibly worried. I had an email from my sister the morning before, as she was in New York City. She said she was going to visit the World Trade Center "tomorrow morning" which meant, the morning of 11 September. I was transfixed, listening to the reports, watching the events unfold. Before my eyes I saw another plane crash into the South Tower. I immediately called my Dad to see if he was watching, and to ask if he had heard from my sister. He hadn't, but he had managed to get through to my uncle in Los Angeles.
I spent the next couple of hours watching the TV, before returning to the office. By this time my boss had realised the gravity of the situation, and when he heard my sister was supposed to be in the building, he was a little more understanding. I heard from my sister, via my Dad, later that day. She was alive and well, but naturally her return to the UK had been delayed due to the flight cancellations. I never heard from Samson again :(

Tuesday 6 September 2011


It's expensive isn't it? I've been undertaking a bit of a remodelling exercise at home, which included buying new brown goods and furniture. It's annoying too, especially the delivery. People send stuff out without consulting you on the best time for you to receive it. Some companies do Saturdays which is good but others just send stuff out overnight and you have no idea until it's too late!

So this morning I got a courtesy text from one of them saying they want to deliver this Thursday. At lunchtime. I will be at work on Thursday at this time... How annoying :(

My flat is looking pretty good though :D