Monday, 16 April 2007

London Nights

Again, I've left it a couple of weeks since I last blogged.

First of all, I must congratulate myself on catching up with loads of admin stuff over Easter - in particular all the numbers are now with the accountant who is presumably busy preparing the annual accounts. The company year ended last October and I must admit I have been wilfully putting it off simply because it is so much hassle collating all the spending.

Still, it is done now. Not only that, but I've actually sorted the numbers to date, so when it comes to later this year my task should be that much easier.

Also, I've talked about my document imaging setup before - the basic theory is that any letter that arrives gets scanned, indexed, then promptly shredded. My way of helping the environment (all our paper and cardboard gets recycled). Well, I found that one of the "indexy" things I could do was to perform an OCR scan (optical character recognition) on the documents. Seems to be pretty good, too, although since all the stuff I receive is printed that shouldn't be surprising. So everything should be more "searchable" now.

Having got everyting sorted over Easter, then (up before 7:30 every day), I spent last week up in London and spent four days at the clients. The trains were suspended through Basingstoke, so rather than bear the hassle of a replacement bus service I took a hotel for the week. Whilst nothing in central London could be described as cheap, I thought I did quite well getting a studio apartment for just £90 per night, and this right by Trafalgar Square. I couldn't have handled having to eat every meal out, so having a little kitchen area to prepare small meals was good.

Having some time on my hands, I had an excellent meal out with my friend Henry, where we ate at a place called Bodeans, whilst watching the Valencia - Chelsea game. Superb game, and not a bad steak either!

Thursday, too, I went football mad, having managed to get a ticket for the Spurs - Sevilla UEFA cup quarter final. Poor old Spurs, conceded two goals in the first seven minutes and very poor for the rest of the first half. Not a bad game, though, for a neutral such as myself, and Sevilla looked to be a cracking team. Maybe next year, Tottenham. Note to self - ticket price / booking fee of £74 is more than twice what I used to pay to watch Everton for the full season!

Quite a lazy weekend just gone, really there is lots of tidying to do in the garage/garden and I really should have done more. One thing we have done, however, is to arrange some private tutoring for sprog features. How she'll take to extra maths lessons on a Saturday morning is anyone's guess!

New dishwasher arrived today so I've got some work to do when I get home.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Taking it easy over Easter

Hey, hey, hey, its Easter and I feel bright and breezy having just had four days away from clients.

My totally restful long weekend included doing the company accounts (or at least, collating the data so that my accountant can prepare them) - and don't underestimate this, I've been putting it off for six months - plus, re-vamping my document image system (so as to allow searching within the letters I receive), clearing out half of the garage, and fixing Alice's bike.

On the plus side, we did get to treat ourselves at MacDonalds on Friday, something we never really do these days. Of course its bad for you, but once in a while? Also, we headed over to the Parish Lantern in Whiteparish yesterday for a decent-enough pub lunch, and stumbled upon their Easter Egg hunt in which Alice found two big Easter Eggs.

There we are in a nutshell. I think I was up before 7:30am every day, very sad even for me. Add to that I've been feeling under the weather for the last few days, just a cold but obviously now that the weather is warming up... Still, I now have no paperwork backlog and have sent off all necessary cheques, renewed all necessary subscriptions etc. etc.

Back to London today, although those wonderful Train people have ripped up all the old track in the Basingstoke area, and for something like 10 days over Easter absolutely everything that would normally run through Basingstoke (including me!) has been diverted onto buses. I braved the trip this morning - an extra three-quarters of an hour on my journey into London - but have decided to shell out some cash and to stay up in central London for the rest of the week, and not go home until Friday night. Ahhhh, the *real* Easter break!

I've arranged to meet up with a friend from the client's to watch Chelsea play tonight, and even managed to get a ticket (at the extortionate price of £71) to watch Spurs play Sevilla on Thursday. I think Wednesday will end up being a quiet night in, to save some money if nothing else!

Back home on Friday, to look forward to a weekend of progressing further on both the document image system and the garage clear out!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

What a crock

We've got a four-day weekend coming up, and I must admit I was thinking about getting a DVD to watch at my leisure (once the company accounts, and all the gardening are done, that is!)

I thought of getting the box set of the first series of Boston Legal. I have to admit that whilst I don't get too hung up on television in general, I do like Boston Legal. For all the storyline can be a bit "samey", there is definitely something about watching this modern-day crusader (Alan Shore) dealing with contemporaneous issues such as the war in Iraq, and arguing powerfully for the case of "good" (where, in general, the US government represent "evil").

Couple that with William Shatner (whom I'd never rated until I saw him in this) - hilarious and definitely not politically correct. Again, there it the political slant - he is a rabid Republican whom nobody can (should) take seriously.

It does, to some extent, partially restore one's faith in the USA - the success of the show no doubt reflects the audience's empathy with Shore's liberal tendencies. Of course this is in stark contrast to the positively hawkish stance which the USA projects to those of us who live outside of its borders. Although let's not get too excited - remember over 62 million Americans voted for Bush in 2004 - it wouldn't surprise me if the show's success was limited very much to the coasts.

Anyway, back to real life. The problem was, by the time I'd thought on to buy the thing, I'd never have got it delivered in time (my "preferred suppliers" are generally play.com or Amazon).

However I thought I'd had a brainwave this morning - given that I'm at my client's office today and their office is only ten minutes walk from an enormous HMV at Picadilly Circus. I looked on HMV's web site and lo, they had the dvd in stock, and at pretty much the same price (about £18) as other online vendors.

So, on a bright, sunny lunchtime in central London, I headed up to HMV to make my purchase. Except that when I did find it in the shop, it had a £40 price label on it! What a crock! I mean, I know companies sometimes offer lower prices on the internet, but to charge twice the price in the shop????

Shame on you, HMV, I'll wait until next week to watch my DVD.