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About this blog

Random stuff from my past

Entries in this blog

I (eventually) Got Published

For followers of my writing adventure, I have two short stories published in the anthology, Page Dancers. You can find the book for sale via bookfinder or read about it at IFWG Publishing.   The two stories are Barking Dog and Medic! both of which I first published here on Sal's story mat.   Thanks to the support and guidance of everyone who has given me feedback on my writing here at Sal's - I would never have achieved this milestone without your enthusiasm and dedication.

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

Thanks To All My Sal's Friends

As many of my good friends on Sal's will be aware, I've been unemployed for almost exactly one year. The stress of this situation has borne a heavy toll on me and on my personal life. During this time I have valued the support of my many friends here on Sal's.   Thank you everyone who has offered me kind and supportive words during the past year.   I've just started my new job and am about to undertake my first big assignment, so won't be on these forums so much for the coming days and weeks

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

I Just Got Burgled

I was just on a training course preparing me for my new job, which I'll be starting in the next couple of months when I picked up a missed call from my wife that the house had been broken into. I wrapped up what I was doing on the course and headed home. The front door had been broken in and there was quite a mess, but lots of things got passed over, so I guess the burglar didn't stay in the house more than 15 minutes. He took jewellery, my two boys' Nintendo DS's and games and a small amount of

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SlashingUK

Guest Article Winner - Desireful

A week became a month and then two and eventually three. Sorry for the long delay. Simple would have done better, but admitted to copying and pasting existing material, so I'm going with Desireful's offering. Congratulations Desireful.   I shut the car door with a bang. I tried to block out my sisters whines. I was here. King's Island. My favorite amusement park. The smell of cotton candy wafted all the way into the parking lot, giving me a feeling of excitement. My family and I approached t

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

Anti-blog Revisited

I was hoping to set up a quiz for all my readers before I went away on a week's vaction, but I've just run out of time. Instead, I'll invite the authoring of a guest entry. This was the concept behind this blog's predecessor, The Anti-Blog, but it didn't work out quite how I intended. I'll give it a try since I won't be active here for a week, and see whether there are any improvements in the standard of the offerings.   Basically, write an entry for my blog - make it "Eclectic Nostalgic Remin

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SlashingUK

Power!

Hands up if you remember the MS-Blaster virus.   The outbreak of this particular virus was the high-water mark of my career authority and responsibility (for which, read "Power").   It started as a regular day for me, but around 9:30AM I received an SMS text message instructing me to call in to an emergency conference call number immediately. I was running a department of twenty-or-so IT support technicians supporting one site in a multi-national pharmaceutical company. The message came from

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

Thanks To Sal's

I just wanted to say "Thank you" to so many of the members and staff here at Sal's. The promotion topic, PMs and responses to my other posts around the forum have been universally positive and encouraging since I joined the Moderator team. It's gratifying to see the constructive community spirit of these forums demonstrated and a great reminder of the reason I spend my time here and enjoy being among the membership.   This contrasts sharply with the feedback I received just over a year ago whe

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

Helicopter Ride To Hell

In 1997 I took a trip with my then girlfriend to New Zealand. Anywhere else I've been to in the world, the word "tourist" has been a somewhat derogatory and demeaning term, but not in New Zealand. They sure know how to treat visitors. We met up with my girlfriend's friend who was living in Hamilton on a year's sabbatical and planned a tour. She'd already been to all the preferred tourist hotspots, so while the three of us travelled together, we decided to visit the less-frequented region of the

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

I'll Fire Him

I was newly appointed to run a team of twenty IT staff. I had two junior managers helping run the team; both inexperienced but both very capable. After just a couple of weeks in the job, one of my junior managers, I'll call her S, came to me to let me know that one of her staff, I'll call him M, should be fired. He hadn't been up to the job for months and had been given plenty of opportunity to mend his ways but hadn't improved at all.   As an experienced manager I've dealt with plenty of diff

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SlashingUK

Step Aside Mr Bean

Breaking with tradition my intentions for this blog, I'm actually going to post an entry outlining some of what happened today.   The morning was fairly uneventful. I was planning to make some baguettes, which my boys have been trying to persuade me to do for some days, then we planned to go to a local park in the afternoon. I set up my bread making machine to prepare the dough for the baguettes to be ready just in time before we went to the park, except, when I opened up the machine, I realis

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SlashingUK

Testing.. Testing

On my engineering degree, the students used to joke that if you got a third class degree you could break things, if you got a lower second you were good at breaking things, if you got an upper second could make things, and if you got a first you were actually good at making things.   I got a lower second and took the advice to heart. After a couple of years as a professional programmer I switched over to software testing and seemed to be pretty good at it. Then again, I thought I was a good pr

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SlashingUK

Fluid Dynamics Answers

1) If you have a balloon full of helium so that it is lighter than air, you tie it via a string to the handbrake of your car. When you accelerate the car forwards, how does the balloon move relative to the car?   The balloon will lean forwards.   There are a couple of ways of thinking about this one. The simplistic shortcut to the correct answer is that the balloon already defies one acceleration field (gravity) by floating up - so it will defy all acceleration fields by attempting to accele

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SlashingUK

Fluid Dynamics Quiz

When I applied for my first university course in the interview I was asked two fluid dynamics questions. Unfortunately, I got both questions wrong as I tried to answer them "intuitively" rather than thinking them through properly. Still, I got accepted somehow.   1) If you have a balloon full of helium so that it is lighter than air, you tie it via a string to the handbrake of your car. When you accelerate the car forwards, how does the balloon move relative to the car?   2) A toy boat is si

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SlashingUK

Alignment

In many years as a manager I've developed a philosophy I call "alignment." This is best illustrated by a service I ran a few years ago.   I ran all the IT services for about seven hundred users. The services included printing and we outsourced this service to another company together with faxing, photocopying and scanning. They supplied an on-site engineer who would service and repair the various devices they'd supplied around site. The service was appalling. The users thought the devices were

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SlashingUK

Ouch

When I was seventeen I suffered from testicular torsion. It came on as soon as I woke up in the morning (before 8am) and was eventually fixed in an emergency operation 2pm the same day. This is a condition that will generally become irreversible after 24 hours or so and lead to certain death through gangrene setting in and poisoning the blood.   It was painful enough that I said to the Doctors and (to my eternal regret) my father, that if they couldn't fix it I wanted to be killed right there

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

Ghost Encounter

This was originally posted in response to a poll asking two questions: 1 - Do you believe in ghosts? 2 - Have you ever had an experience involving a ghost?   I'm probably the only person who answered "No" to the first question, I don't believe in ghosts, and "Yes" to the second question, having had an experience with one.   I really don't believe in ghosts and spirits (although I've written about them in a piece of fiction in the Story Mat), but....   When I bought my current house there w

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SlashingUK

Fear? What Fear?

If there's one topic that fascinates me, it's cognitive science. Neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence - anything to do with thinking. The brain is differentiated into many different sub-systems, but is also highly plastic, so that one part can take up another part's typical function if need be. In gross terms, the brain can be divided into three sections, which roughly correspond with the evolutionary development of our brains.   The first section is the most primitive and is dedi

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SlashingUK

Coriander And Coconut Chutney

This delicious and easy to make Thai-style chutney is perfect as a dip.   Blend together all the following ingredients with a little water:   1 bunch - Fresh Coriander 25g - Dessicated (or block) coconut 1cm - fresh ginger root or 1 tsp - dried ginger 1 clove - garlic Few slices - onion or leek 1/2 tsp - cumin 1/2 tsp - pepper powder 1 tblsp - sugar 1 pinch - salt 2 tblsp - lemon juice 1 - green chilli - deseeded (optional - if you don't like spicy food)   Enjoy!

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SlashingUK

Exmoor Adventure

Caption competition available in this anecdote   One time when I was living in the West Country my best friend, Andy, came to visit. We were at a loose end so asked my housemate, Dave (he of another hapless adventure recounted elsewhere in this blog) what he fancied doing. We eventually agreed on an over-night camping expedition. It was February, so pretty cold, though above freezing that particular weekend. We packed our gear (no, not drugs - a three man tent, sleeping bags, food, clothes, co

SlashingUK

SlashingUK

Canals Of Alcohol

Why does the room spin when you're drunk?   The inner ear contains the organs of balance. There are two separate organs in each ear. One organ consists of the otoliths - little stones that sit on top of a bed of hairs. The stones shift under acceleration (which includes gravity) and cause the hairs to bend, stimulating nerve endings which tell the brain which way we're moving and which way is up. The other organ consists of the semi-circular canals. These tell us which way we are rotating. The

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SlashingUK

Dirty Old Man

After graduating I was unable to find work in aeronautical engineering (and people wonder why I don't hold Margaret Thatcher in high regard). I took various odd jobs, but to keep my mind stimulated enrolled on a part-time post-graduate course in Astronomy and Astronautics at the local polytechnic (which metamorphosed into a university while I was there). About fourteen people were enrolled on the course and, to my surprise, the vast majority were retired men. There was only one woman on the cour

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SlashingUK

In Event Of Emergency

A friend of mine once related a tale of a trans-Atlantic flight he was on. Everything was fine and then over the tannoy system the Pilot's voice came on and announced, "May I have your attention. This is your Pilot speaking. We've developed a mechanical fault and the aircraft is going to have to ditch in the sea. Please familiarise yourselves with the emergency procedures and follow all instructions from your cabin staff."   The passenger cabin fell into a total silence, including the flight a

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SlashingUK

Barking Dog

This story has grown to be my most acclaimed piece of writing since I first wrote it in October 2007. Evin threw down the gauntlet in GRB, and I took it up here. "Not exactly poetry," he said. "Something that isn't sci-fi or fantasy," he said. Well, I couldn't take that. Here's the response I produced in just 45 minutes of writing with 45 minutes of research (Arabic sayings) and editing. If only I could tap into that level of creativity in all of my writing. This story's been selected (together

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SlashingUK

You Snow Management Team

I was IT manager at a Pharmaceutical research lab for five years. One day at 5 in the morning I was called at home by an Italian security guard at the site reception.   "Hello, [name omitted to protect the innocent]?"   "Yes?"   "This is security at XXXX. You snow management team."   "Pardon?"   "This security. You snow management team."   "I am [name omitted again] and I do work there. But, did you say 'Snow Management Team'?" I repeated the words very slowly and carefully.   "Yes

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SlashingUK

My 5 Year Headache

When I was ten years old, I was late to school dinner one lunch time. There were normally two or three choices for lunch, but on that day only one option was available for main course. Even at that young age I hated waste, especially when it came to food, so I accepted and ate the one meal on offer. It was a sort of suet sponge stuffed with onion and bacon pieces. I'd seen this dish plenty of times before, but avoided it because I really didn't like onions. By that afternoon I had a bad headache

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SlashingUK

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