Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Breaking down the shackles

I got a nice letter this morning letting me know that I have now paid off my student loan. Admittedly I didn't run up as huge a debt as most having parted company with my university after 2 years, but I have been paying it off for what seems like forever.

I paid off my credit cards earlier in the year (thank you fat bonus) and it's a nice feeling knowing that I'm making some progress in escaping the spend-debt-work cycle.

All I need now is to do something about the mortgage. I suppose it's probably a bit strange to be wanting to get off the property ladder, but it's just not a priority for me anymore. I'd rather have the cash money.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dates

Wikipedia is a dangerous thing to a bored man. Now tell me, how many of you have wikied your birthday to see it's significance in history? I have. And I'm not best pleased.

Although on May 25th 1521 it saw the end to the diet of worms, it was pretty much downhill from there.

In 1865 - In Mobile, Alabama, 300 are killed when an ordnance depot explodes.
We lose Ireland in 1914 - The United Kingdom's passes Home Rule Act for devolution in Ireland. But they can have it for all I care. I'm really more concerned about the following:

1979 - American Airlines Flight 191: In Chicago, a DC-10 crashes during takeoff at O'Hare International Airport killing 271 on board and two people on the ground. This was the day I was born remember.
2002 - China Airlines Flight 611: A Boeing 747-200 breaks apart in mid-air and plunges into the Taiwan Strait killing 225 people.

So that's over 500 people dead, on my birthday, from flying. Now I don't particularly like flying that much, even though I partake in it quite frequently, but mostly that's not of my choosing. That's why I would advocate getting trains wherever possible - and it's also good for the environment (smugness) and much more enjoyable (just ask someone whose flown to Paris vs someone who got the Eurostar). And I know people will spit back statistics about numbers of deaths on road or rail travel but frankly that doesn't phase me. I'm happy to go when my time is up. I just don't want to know about it in advance, even by a few minutes.

So I've found my own method of dealing with flying - a couple of strong drinks beforehand - not to get paralytic or anything silly, just to forget the risk and enjoy the scenery, and it can be spectacular. I used to feel guilty about this, that somehow I was too weak for taking this easy way out, but fact is, everyone has their own ways of dealing with what they perceive as a danger or threat.

I guess I had it put into perspective by my previous managing director (really missing him these days!...) with something he said in his farewell speech. He was recalling memorable moments in the last few years as MD for International Banking, possessing as it does the frequent need to travel to far flung corners of the world. This was a strong man in all the senses of the word, in his late 50s, so he'd been doing this a while and indeed regaled the tale of how he narrowly cheated death on a helicopter in Nice (the very next flight everyone on board died) but one of his memories was of:

"Always landing in any destination I've gone to with a hangover."

So it's not just me.

You know those statistics people throw out - something like 14 million to 1 of dying in a plane crash? Yeah. They're wrong. Have a look at this put together by the US National Safety Council based on figures from 2003 (no 9/11 involvement see). It gives odds of dying from 'something' throughout your life - depressingly the ultimate result is 1/1 of dying from something. Bugger.

Chances of dieing from air & space (?) transport accidents = a little less than 1 in 5000. Although to give it some perspective, death from falling is 1 in 218. I don't know if that includes death from falling 35,000 ft....

Ray

Just finished watching it on ITV (amazingly the first time I've watched ITV in years - are they gonna start showing good films now? 'ITV becomes the new Channel 5 shocker'). But how good is Jamie Foxx in it? Innit? So good he has to have two X's after his real name, Jamie Fo. He should at least get an Oscar or sumit.

What is it with well known, but as yet not film-messiah level actors taking on biopic roles and proving their worth? I'm thinking of 'Walk the Line' here obviously. Any more for any more?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jobs

So cheesed off am I at the moment at my current job I'm going to speculatively apply for some others. I say speculative as in a) I don't know where I want to be in 6/9 months and b) chances are, if they don't pay me at least in the region of what I get today I won't bother because of a).

I saw some pretty interesting (if slightly vague) positions up for grabs at the DWP. I'm having difficulty deciding which one to go for but I'm thinking that since it's only speculative, better to apply for something I think might be slightly out of my reach, as opposed to something too similar to what I do now. I wonder if I can apply for 2 jobs with them? Maybe I'll ask when I get an application form. But anyway, current thinking is that I'll go for the Business & Strategy Architect or the Strategy Planner.

I don't have enough experience to be a Security Architect, and to be honest, it bores me too much.

PETER
I, uh, I don't like my job. I don't
think I'm gonna go anymore.

JOANNA
You're just not gonna go?

PETER
Yeah.

JOANNA
Won't you get fired?

PETER
I don't know. But I really don't like it so I'm not gonna go.

JOANNA
So you're gonna quit?

PETER
No, no, not really. I'm just gonna stop going.
From Office Space.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sage-like views from the Gamesmaster

here

Thing is, there are already plenty of channels focused at particular genders - Sci-fi Channel for the boys, UKTV Style for the girls, MTV for the boys, VH-1 for the girls. You get the picture.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Going south

Looks like I'll be able to fill in another gap on my map. Orange's customer conference is in Lisbon this year (last year was Prague). Exciting it won't be, but I might spend the weekend there and do a bit of exploring.

Now I just need to figure out how to tick off the tiny countries of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and San Marino...

Annoyance

Maybe I'm just bitter because I have no qualifications but I'm getting increasingly fed up when people put theirs into their email signature. I deal with a lot of technical people and I'd rather just assume you probably have some idea of what you're talking about, otherwise you wouldn't be in your job. I can generally sense pretty quickly if you are full of shit, but telling me which exams you've sat isn't going to sway me one way or the other.

You've got an MCSE? Big fucking deal. Now I know I can't talk to you about anything non-Microsoft.

CISSP? You've been doing the same job for too long (prereq is 4 years in the field) so I'm going to assume your mind has turned to jelly and you're not really on the ball.

BSC? Seriously, someone had this in the email signature today. Why would anyone care what you did at uni? You could have done sociology for all I know. Shall I put my a-level results on mine?

CCNA/CCNP/CCIE? Actually these are the don of network certification and my hats off to all who've got these. There's always exceptions to a rule. I know a CCIE and he blows anyone else out of the water when discussing networking. I still haven't got my CCNA because I've been very lazy arranging a resit, plus networking is now only about 15% of my job, so the drive's not there so much.

Anyway, maybe I'm also a bit peeved that there's no qualification I can do that mirrors my job. I'd need to do a CCNA, CCDA, MCSE, CISSP, CISM and probably some others, but who's got the time for all that? I think delegation's the way forward anyway...