Wednesday, November 30, 2005

3 days to departure for Thailand!! Yupiee! In preparation for the flight, I watched yesterday on National Geographic (I have video on demand - sic!) for 3 hours "Air crash investigations"! It's amazing though how safe an airplane is. But it's also amazing how a simple maintenance oversight or the smallest of pilot errors can cause an airplane to crash. Indeed, flying is one of the safest way of transport. And that is because it is the most dangerous way of travelling and the industry has invested a lot in safety. Remember, if a plane crashes, you have better chances to win the lottery than to stay alive.
But hey, I'm flying with Gulf Air, they only crashed twice so far (brrrr) and arabs are very experienced pilots, right? Quick learners. Self teaching themselves probably. Bygone!

But until tomorrow, there's always today! And today we're getting wasted and the company is footing the bill. Yeap, we're celebrating a new release and we're going out for a drink and for dinner at a thai restaurant. If we find the way...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Only frustration today, it seems, and my advice to you ... avoid, avoid and avoid Etihad airlines. After 3 months I still didn't get my refund. They're saying they have to get the money from the airline in order to give me back my money. It's appalling, because as a customer, I am entitled to a full refund if they change the details of a flight. And they did just that. Money back, in full, no quibbles. Those are my rights, but quibbling is what they do. So avoid them!
Unfortunately it's too late for me now, so I have to go through the credit card company to get my money back and to complain to the Trading Standards. I hope they will fine the bastards.

Monday, November 28, 2005

pics from the saturday party

Me, myself and EYE ... the pink headphones are Ivika's (NOT MINE!!!)

Me, myself and Eye reloaded (in a Uh-Uh familiar posture!)

Ivika and moi

Me and Alireza, trying to shock the audience

Alireza, and a defiant me

Roberto and me, trying to kiss the camera ... and getting ready for Thailand

Ivika and me, in a maternal scene

Using Alireza's glasses

Alireza, moi and my gal, Christina

Mihai and Angel

weekend and busy times ahead

Ancient Persia at the British Museum on friday was a bit disappointing. I don't know why, I tend to believe it wasn't the exhibition itself, but me. It was a friday night, after work, I was with friends, my mind was somewhere else. I didn't have the patience required for an exhibition. I believe exhibitions fit well on sunday mornings, when your brain allegedly fresh after a good night of sleep, can focus on the intellectual challenge laid ahead. But the pizza and the drinks in All Bar One afterwards were very good. Motto for the day: Superficiality at its peak!

On Saturday, big meeting at the Legion in Old Street, a lot of people turned up, despite the cold. It was a night of fun, chatting, drinking, making fun, meeting some new people, taking pics while drunk ... I might post some here when I get them :-)
At this point, although I hate doing this, I have to name and shame someone for the unbelievable rudeness that evening ... it's David the german guy. I was talking to him, being friendly and asking if he found a job, I knew he was looking for a job for quite a while and I was curious if he found some. And he rudely replied that he had a job all this time, with his books, but now, he's also an employee! ?!? So, you have a job, I said, a bit confused! To my surprise he shouted at me: "Are you stupid? I told you I had a job all this time, but now in addition, I'm also an employee". Clear as mud.
I left him to his anger and it's surely not someone I will speak with very soon. I can't believe how arseholes some people can be.

On saturday I also did some shopping, buying a backpack, not a very big one, so I really need to carefully plan the available space. I'll be definitely travelling light ... I might buy a backpack from Thailand if I have tons of souvenirs to smuggle back.

Sunday was mainly for chilling, a quiet lunch with Christina and Lilian and then watching a film at home.

I'm contemplating the busy week ahead, it's amazing how my week before departure is going to be absolutely packed (No rest for the wicked, eh?!) ... meeting one of my father's friends, meeting friends, going out with work colleagues to celebrate the latest release, helping Marco move, going to M's birthday party on friday, flying to Thailand on saturday morning. Stress, stress, stress!

Friday, November 25, 2005

A priest, a rabi and an imam walk into a pub.
The bartender exasperated:
- What is this, some kind of joke?

Yeah, british humour. Dry as a Chardonnay 1974, for connoisseurs only!

Under the slogan "Know other cultures so you can make fun of them", we're going today to the British Museum as they have an exhibition about ancient Persia. I'm kidding of course. About the "making fun" part. Persia is a land, a history and a mythology I don't know much about, very much infused with a romano-greek vision of the world. "Cogito ergo sum" - I think therefore I am ... the essence of the greek philosophy. Phew, I know it was Descartes who said that, but it reflects well the spirit of the greek philosophy. Very logical, constructed on carefully crafted inferences.
But enough with this philosophical hocus-pocus jiggery-pokery...

In a recent divine revelation, a new bright idea downed upon me ... I'm thinking of making this blog a paid service. For the mere amount of 3.50 pounds a month, you can read about me and my beautiful mind, world, etc. Lovely innit?
But enough about you ... let's talk about me!

I need to shop for a backpack for thailand this weekend. Don't know where to start ... hmm ... any suggestions anyone? It's gotta be a medium backpack as I hate to carry too many things. If it impedes motion or makes you gasp after 5 minutes, it's too big. No, I don't need a purse, thank you! Backpack, BACKPACK!

Just 8 days to departure! Itchy feet!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

harry potter and the goblet of plonk

We went to see the new Harry Potter film featuring a goblet of fire. Fire that changed colour, depending if you feed it methane for instance, that should make the flame blue. In stark contrast with a dragon's breath which would be redish. And there were some dragons in there, oh boy there were, allegedly imported from Romania.

Oh dear, oh dear...

It was funny, when they mentioned the romanian dragons, 4 pairs of eyes (that would be: Mariana's, Lilian's, Christina's, Alireza's) turned to me, glitters of amusement in each pair. I waved to them as saying: it's all true, we rear dragons in our back gardens. And they do spit fire too.

To be honest, I'm tired of the Harry Potter series, it's an episode a year, same thing, same decor, the novelty worn off. And, I caught myself thinking during the film, this is something writers do these days, they get a cash cow and they milk it dry. It's a sign that it's all about money. It's so easy to stick with something that did the trick before rather than reinventing the plot every time.
Or maybe it's a sign of the modern neurosis we're all suffering from, being obsessed with the same repetitive imagery flooding our brain unconsciously, clearly a sign of the uncurable trauma of being alive. Take that!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


If you want to learn more about Transylvania, here you have some links:
Transylvania on wikipedia:
Maramures, my region:
Baia Mare, my town:
Cluj-Napoca, the town where I've studied:
A virtual photo tour of Transylvania:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Interactive shows involve getting the public to participate in, either by clapping, singing along, cheering or other forms of non-violent energetic expression. But sometimes it involves singling someone out, bringing him or her on the stage and use that person to make the rest of the crowd happy. Although you shudder at the idea of how embarrassing it must be, you think it could never happen to you. Until one day it does. For me, yesterday was almost that day. Boy was it close!

Yesterday, we went to the Blue Man Group show at the New London Theatre, Chris managing to get two tickets on her student card (before you start with the epithets, it wasn’t anything dodgy, every student could buy 2 tickets on their student card). The price of 40 pounds a ticket was quite steep I thought, but with a student card, it was only 20 pounds, quite a nice discount. It was a good opportunity to see something new, a show recommended by most people that heard of BMG. And that's because Blue Man Group, although big in the States, they're not that known in the UK. I think they've featured in an Intel tv advertisement, but that was about it, this tour being their first exit from their traditional turf - the States.
Unfortunately there was a small catch for students ... we had to sit in the first 3 rows and, to our surprise, we had to wear some blue waterproof plastic covers. Phew, later on, we found out why and it was yucky!

The show is quite interesting, although very much in the american tradition of working up your audience until they scream your name out loud. There were many americans in the audience too, most of them expats probably. The show is a combination of music (mainly percussion), colour, light, comedy, pantomime and unexpected little amusing events. It was funny, although in the first row, sometimes our vision was impeded slightly. And sometimes our heart was in our mouth, as they started to pick random people in the rows next to us, to do tricks with. It was the closest I could get to the stage, being in the first row and having people next to me being selected and made fun of. Sort of :-)

The plastic covers proved very useful when they started to spray banana mash into the crowds. We could feel the smell of banana even when we departed. But having a plastic cover was mostly an anxious experience, because we didn't know when they're gonna spray something towards us, so we were ducking and covering all the time. In the end in wasn't too bad, although the thrill looked like a punishment for using your student card and getting a discount. Bad bad students!!

In the end, it was an interesting experience, definitely something new and original, although I don't think it was worth 40 pounds. Well, maybe just once, so you can tick BMG on your list of "done that, got the t-shirt". We didn't get the t-shirts though. Cheapo students!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Granada - pics

Alhambra is really the pearl of Granada, a pearl of Moorish architecture. Here's one picture I took this weekend. Some more pics from the same trip you can find in here.

If you're planning to go to Alhambra, it's easier to book the tickets online, as the queue for tickets collection is far shorter than the other one. We stayed in the queue for about 20-30 minutes.

Unfortunately the light wasn't too good for taking photographs, as you can see.


Granada lies in the heart of Andalucia, the southern part of Spain, being the capital of the province with the same name. The name comes from the fruit pomegranate, in Spanish called "granada". It's a lovely town, at the foot of Sierra Nevada mountains, which we could see covered in snow at the top on saturday as we were making our way from the airport to the town centre, the coach fare a mere 3 euros. The airport is quite close to the town, which is quite a blessing, especially if you're trying to fit as much as you can in a weekend trip starting on saturday morning and finishing, to your regrets, on sunday evening.

It's a relaxing destination, nothing too adventurous, a place to chill more than anything else. Unless you're going for skiing into the Sierra Nevada. But the town is lovely and the pace is much more into the lower ranges of the spectre. Comparing it with Barcelona, this would be more of a place to retire and enjoy the quietness of Sierra Nevada's casting shadow. But maybe that's very subjective, as Granada is a top university town, the 3rd in Spain, or so I read online about it. Or maybe it was the impression because I didn't bump into many english speaking tourists, most of the people wandering around there were spanish, either locals or tourists from around Spain. Part of it could have been the mid-November cold, with 11-15 degrees Celsius, which still doesn't compare with the bone chilling 0 degrees that greeted us in London.

The main attraction in Granada is without a shadow of a doubt the Alhambra. It's a lovely Moorish complex of buildings, with lovely architecture that leaves the european traveller surprised and enchanted. We're expecting to see the majestic Renaissance style buildings, an architecture made to impress by its sheer proportions instead of its refine detail. The arabesque architecture impress by its peaceful layout and the impression is one of philosophical and artistical retreat rather than suggesting a fortress carved to keep enemies at the gate. The only dissonant thought, at least for the modern mind, is thinking that it was all built by christian slaves living in appalling conditions. Ah well, history has darker corners than that, for sure.

We had nice meals, outside, on terraces, which in the end proved too much and too cold as we were frozen by the time we were not hungry anymore. The prices were quite high I thought, charging full dish price for what it proved to be tapas in our humble opinions. But hey, the food was good, the desserts were nice, although I didn't like the pastry too much. It looked much better than it tasted.
Another thing which I didn't like too much about Granada ... I thought it was quite polluted, I could feel the smell of exhaust everywhere, it wasn't that nice.

All in all, Granada was a lovely destination, it comes highly recommended, although I think the best time to visit would be in the summer, when the terraces are warm until late at night. Or perhaps in dead winter, for winter sports lovers, as Sierra Nevada is so close. It's a destination we wished we had had more time to explore. I'm sure it'll end up on my travel plan again in the future.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Brief update of today:

1. My alarm didn't go off (forgot to set it, duh), so I was 20 minutes late at work. No harm done!

2. I was wrestling all day with a very erratic problem that lies either in our code, ATL, MDAC, SQL Server or anywhere else. It drives me crazy and I didn't make any progress despite trying everything I could think of. Sigh!

3. I had a big Pizza Picante for lunch, since our boss is in the States, we can afford to go to places where it takes longer to have lunch :-) Boy it was good on an empty stomach!

4. Had tea, coffee, diet coke, fanta, snapples, mr. Tom, but still no glimmer of hope for item no. 2

5. I'm going to gym with Marco today and then somewhere to eat and drink ... just to make sure we don't deplete our resources of body fat all of the sudden

6. I'm reading The DaVinci Code at the moment, the writer clearly masters the art of suspense, however some of the arguments in the book are childish and inaccurate.

7. I have a problem on my computer at work, I run out of virtual memory ... yeah, too many windows open. It's very annoying, and most of the times it takes out the network adapter, so I have to disable it and enable it again (after I close some windows). That's the most annoying part, as I can't browse or read emails.

PS: War without France would be like ... uh ... World War II

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I think I'll love it in Thailand and that's simply because I love smiling people. It relaxes me to see people smiling instead of the usual londoners' frown or impassible faces not deeming yourself worthy of a single glance. I went today at the Thai embassy and got a little preview from the lady that returned my passport, now embellished with a colourful visa for the Thai Kingdom. The smile made it a pleasant experience, although beforehand I thought it was slightly chaotic. We were supposed to hold on to our numbers and get service nicely, in order. Until a lady mumbled something in Thai and everyone who could understand Thai suddenly made a dash for the desk and formed what you could call a queue, if you were generous. I said to myself ... I know this situation, I'm eastern european, all bets are off. And I dashed for the desk myself. It was a separate desk for passport collection and I got it in 2 minutes, a sigh of relief as I left the embassy. So long smiling lil people!

18 days to go to the departure for Thailand ... but hey, who's counting! Right!

To share some of my concerns with you ... my job is on the line here, because of this blog. I'm sharing too much with you all. You're witnesses to my procrastination and to my little tricks.
So here's another one: I am supposed to go to work on the 23rd of December, for half a day. I only have 14.5 holidays left for this year. 23rd of December is on a friday. Now imagine that, going to work for half a day, right after lunch, on a friday. It has "Madness" written all over it.
So I've deliberately ignored it, and I over-booked my holiday. I'm coming back on the 28th, as 26th and 27th are Bank Holidays in the UK.
So the Chrismas will be in Thailand. Making snowmen and having snowball fights. Yeah, right! Probably sweating my arse off... literally sweating! In case you didn't know, Bangkok is the hottest city on earth!!! You heard me!
So touchdown is on 28th at 5 in the morning. Yawn! And I'm supposed to go to work on the 28th at 9.30. Am I mad or what? Don't answer that, it was rhetorical...
But the beauty of it all ... I'll be the only one working between Christmas and New Year Eve. Working! Got it?!
That's unless my boss discovers this blog and fires my arse as he should!
Now you see how my job is on the line because of this blog? Somehow this makes it more exciting ... yawn!

Monday, November 14, 2005

I hate to deliver bad news, but another weekend had passed by and we're one step closer to the big system shutdown, one of the most important phases in our lives, which we all try to avoid thinking about and pretend it's not coming towards us with the same speed we're approaching it too.

However, in the meantime, we indulged in the pleasure of the senses with an iranian dinner on thursday, kebabs being the only pronounceable things on the menu. But it was good and it was all sprinkled with some of my delicious jokes which made everyone but Charles laugh. He winced, he sighed, he rolled his eyes and then covered them with his hands in disbelief. My sense of humour is a bit twisted and sometimes people are so embarrassed that I find myself laughing out loud. It's subtle sadism, "killing me softly with a ... joke".

Friday would have been such a quiet day, if it hadn't been for me accidentally flooding the people below me when I forgot about the water in the bath tub. Two big black mamas (Can I say black? Are we live?) knocked at my door 10 minutes later complaining. Instantly my brain switched into deceiving mode and I told them that in fact it wasn't the bath tub overflowing, but a pipe leading to the bath tub had burst and a plumber was on his way. When they told me they had called the Council, I knew I was safe. I would probably hear from them in two years, asking me if the pipe was still leaking. I'd be in Bahamas by then, sipping my ice vodka with lemon. That's if I win the lottery. I'm counting on that. Fingers crossed!

Saturday it was a day to party and we started in Porterhouse by partying in English style: with pints in our hands. We left for El Barco Latino, anchored on the Thames, near Temple tube station. El Barco Latino is still there but nothing happens on it, the boat was actually called Katharina or something like that. And there was a black private party (Can I say black?). However, one woman at the door let us in for free. I think they were afraid they wouldn't get too many people that night and they still wanted to have some sales at the bar. So that's how we ended the only white people in a sea of black people enjoying hip-hop and RnB. It wasn't our choice of music, but after some more alcohol, we started undulating shamelessly on the dance floor. We left early as we didn't like it that much.

On Sunday I had a nice coffee with Roberto in our regular meeting place in Leicester square. Well, it used to be regular. We chatted about Thailand as we're both going and we both can't wait. We took a photographic tour starting at Photographers' Gallery - we always use to go there after coffee. They missed us, we joked. Then we went to the National Portrait Gallery where they had the Schweppes' Portrait Awards for 2005. Very nice, don't miss it if you like photography.

And finally, this morning, I endured the blistering cold in front of the Thai embassy to get my visa for december. I applied, left my passport and a ridiculous amount of 25 pounds and I'm supposed to collect it in 2 days on wednesday. Ah, the perks of being a romanian citizen! And there are more perks like these, I can assure you!

Friday, November 11, 2005

fiesta havana in photos

Thanks Kaisa for sending me the photos and thanks for having the camera there to witness to my daily insanity! Sorry folks, I am insane, but I'm too old to change now!
This must be the funniest photo in the history of mankind (womankind is not present, have a look for yourself!!). Me and Bjorn simulating a french kiss with a shocked Andrew in the background ... I think he thought we'd go through with it :-)

Oh Bjorn, get a life mate! And Kaisa, let me kiss that camera...

Me and Roberto. I was obviously dehydrated from so much alcohol...

DISCLAIMER: Contrary to popular belief, I'm not gay, so please don't ask me out!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

repetitive stuff ... repetitive stuff ... repetitive stuff ...

Life is repetitive, repetitive I tell you, repetitive life it is, oh how repetitive life can be ... did I mention how repetitive life it is?
That being said, there's no surprise I'm at work again, just after sipping some coffee which I try to convince myself every morning that it's not good for me, waiting for lunch like a coyote for a dying ... hmm ... for a dying anything (it's surprising how open minded coyotes are about their diet) and remembering how yesterday evening we did the same thing like a week ago. Is that repetitive or what? I went to the gym with Marco and then we met Christina and went for a dinner and a pint. To be absolutely correct to actual facts, I had two pints: Guiness and Hoefgarden (or something ... german/dutch spelling is not my strong point ... my strong point is, as we all know it, my intelligence, only surpassed by my christianic modesty and humility).
Marco said he has a surprise in store for us and he didn't want to reveal the place we're going to. I thought, my, I love surprises, and when he took us to a Fish & Chips shop, it was a surprise alright! But hey, after coming from the gym, you can be generous with your intake of fatty foods. To be fair to him, it was a shop that we wanted to visit a while ago and it was supposed to be one of the best fish and chips shops in London. Boo hoo! It wasn't too bad actually, but it's not something to do every day, unless you're training to become a Sumo wrestler.

So here I am, sitting at my desk, thinking how repetitive life is, coming to the same office every day, being a little piece in this well oiled mechanism called society. Phew, I need to pull a sickie soon! :-) I'm so relieved Marco's not my boss, every day would be a sickie then! ;-) No pulling needed! Yeah, we're sick when we get together, but hey, it's just for you sane people to look at us and appreciate life more by saying to yourself "Geez, thank god I'm not like them". So, long live the sick people! Even the terminally ill ... well, for a while! Actually we're good at heart ... but you don't wanna hear that sloppy story!

What's the plan for tonight? Ah well ... thanks for asking! We're going to a persian/iranian restaurant in West London. We'll probably be about 10-15 people. The ridiculous thing is they don't sell alcohol on the site, so we have to take our own bottles. So let's stay in the letter, not the spirit of the law, ok? The iranian cuisine is abundant in meat, very very heavy stuff, it needs to be diluted with a red wine ... now if I knew enough about wines I would say ... a Cabernet Sauvignon 1976 ... but I don't, so any red would do. Blasphemy! as my french colleague would put it... We zon't zrink vine to get zdrunk like in zis country. Yeah yeah, french are so much more virtuous than everyone else. Wha'eva!

Q: Why do the French smell?
A: So blind people can hate them too!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the French, but it’s so funny to make fun of them :-) (my try to save the political correctness of this blog)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Of travelling...

Travelling is good for you; it expands your horizons ... literally! And it's a nice way to get out of the daily cycles and the daily habitat where it’s so easy to feel bogged down and claustrophobic. When you get out of your turf, there's a feeling of liberation, there's a feeling of getting out of your own skin and there's a feeling you're a free man, wind in your face and world being your playground. Travelling seems like a universal panacea for the office dweller, bored out of his wits, counting the slow decay of monday into tuesday, tuesday into wednesday, you know the drill...
In actual fact it's all in your head, psychological stuff to keep busy psychology students for a long time and be awarded life long contributions to the field of psychology when they manage to figure it all out.

My immediate travel plans include Granada in 2 weeks, a weekend trip ... I quite fancy weekend trips as it doesn't eat up into your holidays and it's still a nice way to have an initial feel about a place. And then you can go back and explore more passionately if you like it. Then it's Thailand in december, 3 weeks, including the Christmas. This is planned and almost written off already, cost-wise, I mean. I have some other plans for the next year, but they all float in the fluid abstract ideas-land, we'll see how many actually materialise.

But I have one plan which is more ambitious than all the others and dwarfs them all by far, one that needs careful thinking and planning, one that has the potential of changing the course of your life for the better, but at the same time, it has the potential of getting your knickers in a twist – if you’re wearing any. I'm thinking of taking a year off work at some point and travel around the world. It's easier said than done and we all know that, but for me it's even more difficult.
I've always been quite focused on my career and always absorbed in my little ambition of career progression, and always used to it going upwards and even more upward. It didn't go down so far, although there were some glitches along the way. Nothing too serious, just a company or two going bust, like they always do when the faintest smell of recession is in the air. Taking a year off might sound like a serious downfall in my glorious path to Rome, or the Rome of my ambitions.
It's also about money, I'm usually a saver, saving money and used to have a constant flow of money into my account. Absolutely hating having to dip my hand into my savings. A year off travelling would be a serious dip, up to your elbow perhaps?

But then you have to look at it all from a different perspective. Think about being old and looking back at your life and thinking ... there were so many things I could have done when I actually was able to, and still I didn't do them. And now I have an extra pile of cash, what's the use?! You have to find the right balance between saving money and spending it, between living your life to the fullest here and now and catering for future needs.

There's one zen story about a prince looking for the secret of life. So he goes to this very wise king, living somewhere very remotely, as in every story. And the king tells him ... take this tea spoon, pour some tea in it and wander around the castle to see the beauties that I have accumulated in my life. But be very careful not to spill a single drop, otherwise you'll miss the whole point. The prince goes round the castle, always looking at the teaspoon, so scared not to spill it. When he returns the kings asks him if he saw any of the beauties of the castle. But of course not, he was too focused on the teaspoon. Do it again, but this time look at the beauties, for Buddha's sake! The price goes around, gawking, fascinated by the castle. And when he returns, there was not a single drop in the teaspoon, he spilled it all.
The moral of the zen story is a simple one ... keep a balance between enjoying life and being focused on what you really want to achieve long term in life.

Travelling for a year has the potential of changing your take on life altogether, but it also depends on how you travel ... if you're too focused on the teaspoon you'll end up ticking countries and places on your TODO list and retain nothing long term, the only result being an unjustified injection of pride into your ego.

All in all, it's the sort of journey you can look back from the end of the tunnel and say ... yes, I'm proud I've done it, it's such a good memory and I would be someone and somewhere else if I hadn't done it. Of course, you'd say that from a tropical island, surrounded by babes in bikinis, sipping your Bacardi Breezer 2040 edition and enjoying your first years of senility.

Now, waky waky, back to work!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

drinking regulations in the UK

WARNING: Boring topic ahead.
FACT: The drinking licensing laws change this month, with effect of 24th of November. It will mean that pubs will be open 24 hours. Of course, the pubs that have applied for the license.

I feel obliged to tackle this subject, I don't know why ... it's not about me, I do binge drink sometimes, but just because the threshold for binge drinking is set too low. I've never lost conscience after drinking, I've never forgot what I've done the night before, I've never had problems getting home. And I don't drink like there's no tomorrow.

I like the liberalisation of drinking hours because I believe in free choice, and this country is already a nanny state. The only positive things come from Brussels, a bit of arm twisting of course. The answer to problems is education.

The problem of drinking and laxation of drinking laws is turning into a big national fuss. The main problem is a problem of getting used to. People are used to drinking fast and fitting as many drinks as possible in the shortest amount of time. Everyone fears the new drinking license regulations because people will still do the same, out of habit, drink very quickly but not just for 4-5 hours but for the whole night, and day, and night...
But it's physically impossible to do that, there's only a limited amount of alcohol you can drink before you get in a coma and you DIE! Surely there will be problems during the transition period, because it's not easy to change years of getting used to, overnight. These are laws that will pay off in time. And how?

If people pace their drinks ... their kidneys actually have a chance to do some work of flushing the alcohol. But they can still drink all night, right? Well, yes, but at some point money runs out, as England is not the cheapest place to have a pint. It's a bit cynical, but yes, for some people it's the only stop ... money running out!

One important thing with 24 hours drinking laws is however that people will leave pubs at different times, not all together. Because at 11.30 everyone is on the streets, drunk, making their way home or to the next club, a colourful mix of people, it's just a recipe for disaster. And everyone who's been on the streets of London or any other city in England at 12am knows this very well. It's quite a chaotic view. With the new laws, decent people can still drink decently and leave home more safely, because they don't have to mix with the bad elements.
But what if people stay there all night and same thing happens? Well, some people will still leave early, as they have to catch the last tube, the last train, the last something ... so there will still be that mixture of drunken people on the streets at that time. But now you have the option of staying a bit longer in the pub until the mass of commuters flushes out the streets of London and then walk casually to the night bus.

Another good thing is that in time, some other places might stay open late, like restaurants, cinemas, etc. offering a choice to the free-choice-lovers or to the poor insomniacs. And in time people's mentality will change for the better, the alcohol might stop being the forbidden fruit ... which might actually prove excellent news for the british sex life. And also will help Britain lose the first position in the top of the rates of teenagers' pregnancy in Europe.

It's all good mid-long term news for John Doe!

Monday, November 07, 2005

that time of the month

If I had a "that time of the month", then this would be it!

We bid farewell to Sebastian in Bella Italia, with nice italian pasta and unidentified (probably italian too, who cares?!) red wine, the biggest gathering of friends and people I know in a long time. A part of my brain was singing "Another one bites the dust", Sebastian returning home to Germany (uber alles?!) ... another part of my brain singing "How many roads must a man walk down / Before you can make some friends that don't leave every couple of months and leave you to your misery"... phew, that's my weird part of the brain! Like I have any other!

Sunday brought aching problems, the least of which was watching, in a smoky pub, Chelsea lose to The Wankers (sounds like the name of an american football team, innit?) and then Sir Alex saying "Bollocks" on live TV (I knight thee not!). Knights do it, even the bees do it...

Monday was a day to bury bad news, as I had even more bad news from Maracana, bad news from work - problems and stuff you don't want to bog your brain down with - the travel agents telling me they haven't shipped my tickets yet (how about shipping them to Thailand and I'll collect them there?!).
In the evening I went to the gym ... and it was good, I thought ... what a nice change! It's good to release all that frustration in a very constructive and healthy way (thank god we can't buy guns in this country, he said under his breath). And then he had to ruin it all. Yes, my good old buddy, in case you need a refresh of memory, point your browser to this.

He was there and the irony of life struck me like a jilted lover, as he caught me naked in the changing rooms, just before jumping in the shower. He probably saw my buttocks in all their splendour, and I was clenching my fists ready for a fight as he passed me. I was shivering expecting a slap on my derriere, but to my sigh of relief, it never came. And then I noticed again he was sneaking glances at me in the shower everytime he was passing by. Luckily for his future DNA, he didn't say anything and my forgiveness knew no boundaries. I must have been a king in a previous life ... or maybe a royal jester ... although I don't think you get to be the same thing twice. And I'm a jester now!

Why do all these things happen to me? Why do all these things happen to me NOW?

The answer my readers / Is a blow job in the wind / The answer is blowing in the breeze.

Somewhere on a beach preferably ... out of sight ... know what I mean?

Good night wackos!

Friday, November 04, 2005

sunny friday

It's a beautiful day in London, sunny although cold, but most importantly ... IT'S FRIDAYYYYYY!!!! I don't have much work to do today, just draw some diagrams and check an installer. My boss promised that next week we start the development cycle for the next release... sheesh ... no more idling, or so you think!

Yesterday it was gym day with Marco. I discovered that once a week is not enough for going to the gym. That's because I was feeling so lazy, and if I don't do some sports or some physical intensive stuff for a while, I end up in a state where I lack energy entirely, I'm a vegetable. And it's so easy to be lazy in that state and it's so difficult and painful to get out of it. When I do something energetic, gym or other stuff, I feel I am a bit tired, but still full of energy. The vegetable state is disgusting, I don't want to end up there again.
I also discovered I have a bit of residues from my allergic asthma, as it was harder to breathe under effort, although I didn't feel it when I breathed normally. It's a bit frustrating as it means my pulmonary tract is still clogged.

Afterwards we went to a turkish place in New Cross where Christina was already waiting for us, for about 25 minutes. She's a sweetie, she didn't say anything bad to us. It was a long way and I underestimated how long it takes from E&C to New Cross by bus and then walking.
But the restaurant was very nice, food excellent, so it wasn't surprising that the place was absolutely packed. This is my second turkish restaurant (proper restaurant, not kebab shops) after Gallipoli in Islington and I start to think very highly of the tuskish restaurants and cuisine. I'm waiting for Marco to write a proper review in his food blog which you can find in the links section on the right hand side.

Ok, that's it for now ... we're going to the pizza place today for lunch, yummy ... that doesn't happen too often because it takes longer to be served, but it's very nice. Italian cuisine is so so so good ... hmm ... actually since I'm starving like I am at the moment ... let me rephrase ... any cuisine is so so so good! Hmm ... let's leave out McDonalds' and other fatty food places though! Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Of work and people

I have a mild hangover from yesterday's pub quiz with free drinks and food provided by the company. Unexpectedly, we weren't the bottom of the list either, although not far from it. That's not to say we're stupid, let's use a more diplomatic term here ... mentally challenged!
Nah, that's not it ... we had some organisatorial problems in our team, with 2 of us, me and the frenchie, arriving late, after the quiz started, another guy arriving even later and our boss arriving when they were footing up the score. It was also frustrating that they were general English knowledge questions, most of them ... eg. What's the name of the actor in the ‘70 series Name-That-Rings-No-Bells. I still managed to impress everyone by being the only one to answer correctly:

1. What's the capital of Slovakia - no pressure Ciprian, you're the only eastern european here, all eyes on me. It's Bratislava, duh!

2. What's the name of the element with the symbol Co in the periodic table - Cobalt!

At this point I should introduce you to my colleagues here; it's a small team, bear with me. I'll only use initials, just in case some of my readers happen to be part of this wizz-team.

B. - he's the boss, handling some management and also being lead developer. He's a nice chap; sometimes when the deadlines are tight he snaps, but he's cool. He likes to keep the distance a bit, maybe to be able to fire my arse when he discovers this blog! He's also a Liverpool fan and a coffee drinker trying religiously to convince everyone else to drink coffee!

moi - I'm the second developer, a bit of a sarcastic joker, thinking that every crisis can be solved with the right joke. Being a Chelsea supporter is a guaranteed source of banter with B. and C. below. Usually I have the upper hand as Chelsea tops the premier league at the mo. Tea drinker by default, flirting with coffee lately...

C. - head of QA, the only one born and bred in England out of the four of us (he's of indian descent). In the last couple of weeks, the other boys have added Lina after his name, to suggest he's too effeminate. Their arguments being he moans about everything, he drinks alcopops, he still lives with mom, maybe some others, I don't enjoy this bullying. I talked with him, he doesn't enjoy it either that much, although he puts his smiley face every time and tries to be brave. He's a Liverpool supporter too (for reasons that escape my understanding really) and a tea drinker. He's a talkative guy and he's my favourite character in the bunch.

F. - QA boy, french, so not surprisingly I've added a lot of jokes about the french to my portfolio recently. He "speakz like zis" too! He doesn't know or care about football and he's always left out of our banter about football. He's easily freaked out under pressure and the first one to pull his hair out when the shit hits the fan. I don't understand that, I thought the french were cold blooded! He has a thai girlfriend and he's a coffee drinker, the most prolific of all coffee drinkers out there, probably.

This is our main team. Now couple of random facts about it, in random order:

1. The QA boys do some development too, although they seem to suffer from an inferiority complex.

2. I'm the youngest of the team, at 28, the others being 31-32. But age is irrelevant.

3. We always have lunch together, a chance to catch up and most of the time it’s C. that starts up an endless topic … the latest being on how the drug companies do not act in the best interest of the sick people, just try to make profits and they all collude together to that end

4. I'm based on the 2nd floor with Operations people, the rest of them based in the basement, at least in the QA cycle. C. can't wait for the QA cycle to end and join me on the 2nd floor, he doesn't like the basement.

The extended team includes Ch., a south african like B., he's a support guy, technical though ... very funny guy and politically incorrect, which makes it even funnier. He was involuntarily funny yesterday when he couldn't answer correctly the question "How many colours are there on the South African flag?". It was almost as funny as F's reaction to "Who was the maid of Orleans?" ... I turned to him instantly "Joan D'Arc" and he goes "No no no, she wasn't a maid, all she's referred by is -virgin-". Guess what ... the answer was "Joan D'Arc".
P. was also part of the team, as product manager, but then she left for another department when the company decided that the product manager should be someone in the States. She lived for a while in the States but didn't like it that much, so she came back. English, she was the one to answer most questions.

We used to have a sales guy too, but he was sacked for not meeting his sales quota or being too lazy, or whatever. He had a romanian gf and he could say "Ce mai faci" to me every time, with an accent so horrible that I was "Excuse me?!" for 5 seconds before realising it must have been something in romanian. (Ce mai faci? means How're you?)

That's it, lunch in 10 minutes, how time flies when you do something that you like. I love my job!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Just to soften the melodramatic effect created by the previous 2 postings...

Yeap folks, just another fabulous day at work, counting the minutes to the end ... a phone conference call with the Big Boss from the States in 10 minutes, a non-interactive channel where you have to listen and applaud. At least we'll all be in the basement, mute the mike and indulge in sarcastic comments about the CEO, company, americans and, why not, the french... The only upsetting thing ... the conference is supposed to be 2 hours ... how the heck can someone boast about a company for 2 hours. I thought it's something only Fidel Castro can still pull off...

Anyway, by the end of it, it'll be 6pm already, we have a pub quiz with free drinks and free nibbles at 6:30pm. My only ambition in the quiz is to have more free beer than the average employee ... screw the quiz ... our team can lose for all I care. I did mention I'm a team player, right? :-)

How many times did you live in the present, in the "here and now" how some mystics might put it? Can we live in the present really, or do we have to come up with compensative mechanisms to keep ourselves sane and sound?
We tend to do that, always knitting the present in exciting new shapes, always on the lookout for eye pleasing greener pastures. We remould the reality to make it more appealing. It's not just a job for poets, it's a defensive mechanism to allow us to put up with stress and boredom and we do it every day. We're a pack of defensive mechanisms that we constantly improve upon and perfect all our life.

Whatever kills you not, maketh thou stronger...

And our brain gradually becomes a stack of ever growing filtering layers and, in turn, we become ever number and number. Suddenly we discover that we've lost our joie de vivre and we don't even know at which turn in our life it's happened. Childhood becomes a distant memory, we vaguely remember once we could laugh and cry from the heart, now we can think about it and try to emulate in thinking, but we soon discover it's too strenuous an effort and we risk to shortcircuit our brain alltogether and end up in the sanitarium. So we stop thinking about it ... que sera, sera! It's all part of the maturing process, but no one asked me if I wanted to mature ... I don't! Please turn back the time!

self portrait - the dark side of the moon

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

the sound of blue(s)

The tables are empty
The dance floor's deserted
You play the same love song
It's the tenth time you've heard it
That's the beginning
Just one of the clues
You've had your first lesson
In learnin' the blues
When you're at home alone
The blues will taunt you constantly
When you're out in a crowd
The blues will haunt your memory
My mamma done told me
When i was in pig tails
My mamma done told me, "hon
A man is a two-face
He'll give you the big eye
And when the sweet talking's done
A man is a two-face
A worrisome thing
Who'll leave you to sing
The blues in the night