Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I'm sorry I haven't blogged for nearly a month. I've been reading some really great books, so I've been spending my commute reading, instead of tapping out blog posts on my Treo, as I had been before.
The past month has been quite a lot of fun. After my earlier post about going out bowling, I did finally join a league, and I've been out three times so far, on consecutive Tuesdays at 7:45pm. My bowling has been quite crap compared to how I was doing back in Vancouver, when I was going bowling with Chris once or twice a week. I was bowling 140-160 pretty regularly, but since I've been here in the league, my average for the first two weeks was 110, with my actual scores ranging only from 108 to 113. Last week, I finally got my groove on for one game, and bowled a 156, so I'm hopeful I can pull my average up to something I'm happy with shortly. There's only one 11lb ball, my preferred weight, in the whole bowling alley, and I managed to find it last week. I don't know how much of a difference 1lb really makes, or if it's purely a psychological effect, but it certainly improved my score, one way or another. I was planning on buying a bowling ball, as I happened to find there's a pro shop near Richard and Elizabeth's place. My trip up to visit them was postponed though, due to a family emergency on their part, and I don't feel like treking out there for only the purpose of getting a bowling ball.
I've also been out to a lot of movies this month. Well, three movies, which is a lot for me, in addition to one more watched at home. My friend Alice quite enjoys going to the cinema, so the three movies I've been to were with her. The first one we saw, this month, was Iron Man. I really enjoyed it, the effects were great, and it was just all around a lot of fun. It didn't seem to take itself too seriously, which was nice. Plenty of good chuckles. The second movie was The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the second of the series, even though I hadn't seen the first. I missed a few details due to not knowing the history, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. On the way back to the tube station, I bemoaned the fact that I had been thinking about renting/downloading the first movie for a week or so, before Alice suggested we go see the second one. Alice didn't say much, just kind of "mm hmm"'d me, but then when we were about to go our seperate ways at the tube station, she surprised me by pulling out her Narnia DVD to lend to me. I watched it the following Saturday evening, and loved ever minute of it. As good as the second movie was, I think the first one was far better. I enjoyed it so much that I've since then read all seven of the novels. I think the first movie was truer to the book than the second movie as well. The second movie hardly follows the timeline of the book at all, and there's many large events in it that are completely made up, not in the book at all. I was rather disappointed to see that. The third movie this month was Wanted, something Alice and I had both been saying we wanted to go see, since before it even came out. I had been seeing huge posters for it all over the tube stations, and it stars Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, which was enough to perk my interest. It was bloody, gritty, and jolly good fun. Not quite what I had expected, it reminded me a bit of Kill Bill, with it's gratuitous gore, but it was a good summer action flick.
I've also been spending at least one night each weekend out at a pub somewhere with a group of people I've met through Iris, someone that joined Flirtomatic not long after myself. On my last day at Flirtomatic, we all went out to the pub after work, including Iris, who usually hadn't come out. Throughout the course of the (long) night, I had some good chats with Iris, so I emailed her on the weekend, and she invited me to join herself and some friends out at the pub the following weekend. I did just that, had an absolutely wonderful time out with a really fun, and very friendly group of people, stumbling bleary eyed through my door at home at 4:30am, just as the birds were starting to warm up their voices. That didn't stop me from sleeping. I've been out with them once more since, and hopefully many more times, as I've really enjoyed hanging out with them all. It's nice to have met a group of people like them.
If you don't know already, you may have noticed I mentioned my "last day" at Flirtomatic a moment ago. While the people there were great, I didn't feel like I was going to learn the things I need to learn to further my career, so I made the decision to move on to somewhere that I would learn the right things. July 4th was my last day there, and nearly everyone came out to the pub after work. I took the following Monday and Tuesday off work, to have a nice long weekend to unwind before starting the new job. On Sunday, I finally did something I've been waiting to do since I was here in 1993, going to the Imperial War Museum. I was only there for a couple hours, because the batteries in both my cameras died, as I hadn't though to charge them the night before. I went back the next day, with fully charged batteries, and was there from about 11am through until 6pm, closing time, and still haven't seen everything there. It was absolutely incredible. That Sunday night, I also went bowling at a bowling alley that I had found online as having league bowling. I liked the alley, it's nice and old fashioned, without any of the flash and bling of the cosmic bowling party alleys. That Tuesday, the last day of my weekend, was my first time at the league bowling, and I've been every week since.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Oh for crying out loud

Do the French have nothing better to complain about? Sorry.... the Quebecois.
That does remind me of something though. Anyone who's had proper poutine knows it's made with cheese curd, not anything so plain as grated cheese. At the big Canada day celebration down at Trafalgar square on Tuesday, the DJ there was going on and on at every opportunity about how the cheese that had been flown over here for the poutine was held up in customs at Heathrow. The said someone from the embassy had gone to Tesco and bought some "Canadian cheddar", and that they were furiously grating it for the poutine. For one thing, how hard can it possibly be to get cheese curd here in the UK, that they have to fly the stuff over specially? And for another, grated cheddar cheese is hardly an substitute. He never once mentioned the word "curd", so I have a feeling he doesn't actually know a damn thing about poutine.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Excellent Evenings

I've had a week full of particularly nice evenings.

On Monday, I really didn't feel like doing much, so I just lazed around at home, and watched The Big Lebowski, because I'd been thinking a bit about bowling. I enjoyed the movie, as always, and decided then and there that I was going to go bowling soon.
Tuesday night, Canada day, I went to Trafalgar square for the celebrations after work. Alice was meeting some friends to see a film, My Winnipeg Live, so I joined them. It was definitely interesting, though I know very little about Winnipeg.

Wednesday, I met up with Alice again to go see some classical music at the Wigmore Hall. It was all in French, so I couldn't understand a word, but I enjoyed the music and the singing, so that's all that really matters.

Then tonight, Thursday, I finally went bowling. I went to Tenpin Acton, and was dismayed when I arrived to see that it was cosmic bowling. The darkness, and all the flashing lights all over make it hard to see the markers on the lane, which makes it harder to bowl well. I did my best anyway, and ended up with a 167 first game, which , while not my best, I considered acceptable, considering I haven't bowled in three months. At one point in the night, a DJ came on, and started spinning some pretty good tunes. He also announced that if you end up with a red pin as your head pin, come let them know, and if you get a strike on it, you win a prize. I figured that the chances of getting it to come up as the head pin was slim enough, and getting a strike with someone watching, even slimmer. Sure enough though, it came up as my head pin on my first frame of my last (fifth) game, and when I called someone over to watch, I actually ended up with a strike! I won a bottle of sparkling perry as a result, which I gather is something like cheap Champagne. Only two frames later, I had another red pin at the head, and actually managed to throw another strike! Shortly later I was off to the tube to come home, with a bottle of booze in each hand.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I realized yesterday that this work I've been doing lately is the third time I've been involved in making an English language website support multiple languages, and/or timezones, in one way or another.

The first was at Credit Union Central of British Columbia (now named Central 1, I gather), where we merged the online banking software with the content-managed website software, and made them support French, so the entire site could be translated to support credit unions in eastern Canada, where French is much more prominent. This was the first time I had ever had to deal with character encodings, character sets, and all that fun stuff. Anyone who's done this before will understand the very heavy sarcasm around the word "fun". We also had to make the site handle multiple timezones properly, so that when someone in Toronto wants a page to appear at 9am on some day, that it shows up at 9am Toronto time, not 9am Vancouver time, where the servers were. That was my first taste of how painful dealing with timezones in programming could be.

The second time was at Riptown Media (now known as Fiver Media. Don't ask.), where we made the bodog.com site (now bodoglife.com. sigh.) support proper character sets so that we could display the Euro currency symbol, though we didn't actually do any multilingual stuff before I left. Also while I was there, I was put in charge of making sure that our site could handle daylight savings transitions without any hiccups. Later, we had to handle timezones in the application for our European launch. We had a phrase there that holds a lot of truth: Time kicks all our asses.

Now, here I am doing multilingual again, dealing with character sets and encodings, fighting with timezones, getting text translated, and finding out that labels we share between different parts of the code can't be shared for some languages. All so much fun.

In other news, I start my new job on July 9th, after taking two much needed days off, to make a 4 day weekend.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

3 Months

Happy Canada Day everyone. Today also marks 3 months in the UK for me. I'm heading out to Trafalgar after work today to party it up at the big Canada Day London gathering.