In York

Mon, Sep. 21st, 2015 20:37
gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

A reminder: I am a Scot, who just happens to have the gold-standard RP English accent.



This one's from the Brahss Cahstle brewery, they're in Malton. Oh sorry, must pronounce it right. "Brass Cassel".

Ay. 'Appen. Brass Cassel. Oh yes, of course, I hadn't noticed. You're not from round 'ere, are ya?


I am originally from round 'ere, but I moved away.

Oh I see. Did you move to the civilized end of the country?

(Opportunities like this don't come up too often)
Why yes I did. Edinburgh.


...Well, I suppose that's south of somewhere.

Sittin in the same pub, typin this (FUCK YOU, Android phone keyboard), listenin to the same barman patiently discuss with multiple different customers: Okay, so you want the main meal but with it you don't want pie OR mash, you want... a salad?...

There's hope for 'im yet, 'appen.

(Android autocorrect keeps tryin to make me say appendix.)

gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)
  • Okay so this spider is roughly the size of my hand, and it's been sitting on this ceiling beam for the better part of a WEEK now, what gives
  • okay so if I remove the wedge attachment to widen the hoover hose aperture, it also shortens the hose as a side consequence, so now I need to stand on this chair
  • so now I have a twisted ankle as well as an indestructible spider the size of my hand occupying a, quite frankly, unacceptably large part of my living space
  • this time I'll try standing on a non-swivelly chair
  • and it's hanging on to this beam somethign fierce against the suction, I think this spider might be part gecko
  • you know what, spider? you can have the living room. this is why we have laptops
  • at least I managed to make it run onto the part of the wall that's painted (inexplicably) red, so now it's a bit less noticeable
  • I'm just going to go ahead and call that a win

I'm not good with hoovers.

On singledom

Sat, Aug. 29th, 2015 21:43
gominokouhai: (Default)

Things I've had to get used to very fast:

  1. Buying single pints of milk.
  2. A relatively tidy flat. Holy crap she had a lot of shit lying around.
  3. No longer being able to say: here are your photos, please just let me know if you'd like any of them touched up. My photoshop expert has disappeared.
  4. No more cooking. There's no point putting on an epic spread for just one person. My shrink said: why not just do it for the fun of it? and I said: there's no point if you're not showing off to someone. I mostly live on ready meals these days.
  5. That said, I am now allowed to own proper vinegar instead of that balsamic shit.
  6. And I can have the radio on now.
  7. Bookshelf space!
  8. Fridge full of beer!

I was in the shop today, buying individual-person supplies as I am now wont to do. Single pint of milk. One of those mini-cartons of four eggs. 400g loaf of bread. Cigarettes and a couple of bottles of beer to numb the pain. Scanning it all, the checkout girl said: you live alone, don't you?

Why yes, said I, how could you tell?

She said, Because you're an ugly bastard.


Sat, Aug. 22nd, 2015 17:53
gominokouhai: (Default)

Glorious sunshine. Sittin onna boat, with a beer, playin Settlers of Catan. (Seafarers expansion, natch.)

I've had worse days. I think I might be feelin better.

gominokouhai: (Default)

For those of you who don't know, Jehane and I are no longer a couple. We met on 24th April 2003, and I ended it on Thursday, 9th July, 2015. I love her to bits and I always will, but she's got stuff that she has to do that doesn't include me.

Also, twelve years of performance bickering finally took its toll, and now she thinks I'm a bit of a dick :)

I'm a bit of a mess right now, and no doubt there will be further whining under access lock. Probably quite a lot.

I miss her. It sucks.

gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

I am a fucking genius.

The downsides of living in at work are many and multifarious. For a start, I don't get a day off unless I unplug the phone and refuse to leave the flat—when I will invariably be faced by staff on the way out who have questions. Most recently I spent 42 days at work without a break, and while there were technically one or two days in there when I was not on the rota, I don't count it as a day off if I get eight phone calls within three hours. Just now I had a longish weekend that I took seriously, and today it was back into the fray.

(That worked well. Rocked up all refreshed and ready to go at 9am—okay, 09:20, but I was aiming for 09:30 so I STILL WIN—and relieved $DM so she could get her breakfast. She'd been at work since 3pm the preceding day. (When I take a weekend seriously, I take it seriously.) I'll take the phone, said I, no need to fear, daddy's back. I may or may not have said the last bit out loud. Within thirty seconds I took a phone call from guests who'd just checked in, which went thuswise: Hello, we booked a small double room online, and we've just arrived and are surprised to find that it's quite small. We were told that you had big rooms. Yes. We do. But you didn't book one of those. Welcome back to work, pajh.)

On the other hand, the benefits of living at work include, but are not limited to—actually no wait, they are pretty much limited to—that between the hours of 7am and 11pm I have a captive audience upstairs (also known as "my direct employees") for whatever I choose to rant about, or, once or twice a week, as guineapigs.

I may or may not be a good hotel manager. But I'm the kind of hotel manager who will (frequently) run up to his staff with a glass of booze in each hand, and cry: QUICK, TASTE THIS—WHICH ONE IS BETTER?

Anyway, I pulled this on $DM last week with the experimental jehane, and it must have gone pretty well, since I let her organize the staff social for this coming Friday, and she wants to bring everybody back to my bar so I can make them cocktails. We don't even serve most of this stuff in my bar, and I'm damned if I'm bringing everyone down to my kitchen.

Anyway. I invented the jehane, and I have since (not because of peer pressure or anything) perfected it. A post like this really deserves pictures, so I apologize for there not being any, but this can be remedied if there is sufficient demand. This is how you make a jehane:

Recipe, with occasional digressions )

It is marvellous and I am a genius.

I'm calling it the jehane because it's sweet, it's refreshing, it involves a little bit of fire up top, and it's never bloody available inna bar when you want one.

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Fri, May. 8th, 2015 22:29
gominokouhai: (Default)

We did what we set out to do: punish the Lib-Dems and Scottish Labour for siding with the enemy. Democratically, of course. And we got exactly the worst possible outcome as a result: trounced Labour and handed a majority to the bloody Tories.

It's a pretty slim majority, and I understand that the Tories have a long tradition of backbench rebellion, so a coalition of the Left still has a chance to keep the bastards on their toes. For that to happen, the Lib Dems and Labour need to demonstrate that they've learned their lessons from last night.

I suppose we got exactly what we deserved: more work! It's the SNP's job just now to speak truth to power, as the largest effective voting block of human beings currently in Parliament. Labour have more seats than the SNP, but they'll be a complete waste of space until they decide what the point of them is—and that's assuming they even decide to be on the left. They certainly haven't been for the last twenty years. And the Lib Dems are dead for a generation.

Also—let's be honest—some of these new SNP MPs are going to suck, at least for the next while. Nearly all of them are brand new and most of them, when they were listed as candidates, were in seats where they didn't have a hope. That all changed and now they're in charge. Nicola will sort them out; I've met her and she's awesome.


Gotta say, I am amused at the huge amount of nothing that was eventually signified by all of Ukip's sound and fury. I am willing to put good money on the fact that not a single one of those 3,881,129 Kippers voted Yes in the AV referendum. One seat they managed under FPTP: no pasaran.


Yesterday was a 33-hour workday that started at 1pm on Wednesday and continued through until 10pm on the Thursday: the ninety minutes sleep I got in the middle doesn't really count. I finally got off to sleep at 3am and then the bloody taxi driver rang the doorbell at 03:30. Got back to sleep at about fiveish and then was up again for work at six. At some point on Thursday, I got to see Jehane for a whole ten minutes and I managed to make it around the corner to vote. During that 33 hours, $CHEF had made me a bacon sandwich. It wasn't a good day.

I'm still not keen on the SNP. They're too authoritarian for my liking, too nanny-statish, and I disagree with a hell of a lot of their policies. I don't like the way they cosy up to people like Murdoch and Souter and especially—euch—Trump. (Maybe they'll stop doing that so much now.) Ideologically I appear to be a Green— but only a Scottish Green because the party in England and Wales is still stuffed full of anti-science nutjobs. Yesterday, the SNP were the only left-leaning party with a hope in hell, so my vote was obvious. Also I did it to piss off everyone in England. I'd had enough of all the hysterical pearl-clutching anti-Jock media coverage. You're welcome, England. You brought this on yourselves.

So, having cast my vote for the SNP and finally able to tear myself away from the desk at 10pm, it was off down the chippy for a haggis supper, salt an' sauce, anna boatil ay the Bru. I had no particular political motivations for my order—sometimes a man just needs salt an'sauce—but it seemed appropriate. I think I might have gone native.

Yesterday was the first time I've ever voted when the result has actually gone my way. I suspect I shouldn't get accustomed to it.

The next five years are going to be bleak. Look after your loved ones.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Damn right I looked directly at it. This happens once inna generation, I'm not passing that up. The photos are here (updated with some new ones, if you saw them go by on the Twitters earlier).

I remember the last one, in August '99. I looked directly at that one too, through the net curtain in my then-girlfriend's flat. I still remember the sight of a crescent Sun in the twilight down at the end of Gorton Road. That girlfriend was the insane Christian youth leader who wanted to break into the church at midnight and do it on the altar. I was the one who chickened out. But seeing a crescent sun... that was something special.

But back to the present. I had constructed a cardboard-box pinhole camera obscura, and it actually worked—but I left that downstairs in case any of the guests tried to blind themselves. For me, it was up to the roof. I had a brand-new variable neutral-density filter and I wasn't afraid to use it.

Maximum occultation at my location was set for 09:36. It was a glorious clear day at 09:20, bright blue skies with occasional fluffy white clouds. By 09:30 it was coming over a bit grey. This is probably for the best, since a couple of cubic kilometres of water vapour between me and it probably shielded my delicate retinae from some of the horrifying UV radiation. Also it lent the photos an eerie, atmospheric quality. Moody. Dramatic. Ethereal. Outlander-ish.

I stood and clicked and I watched as the huge black globe of the Moon rolled lazily in front of the Sun's disc, like a slow-mo snooker ball. Just exactly like a snooker ball, except a ball of 7.35×1022kg in mass, a ball a quarter the size of earth. She felt round. I sensed her bulk, her incomprehensible mass, as she slid leisurely-like inbetween us and daylight itself.

The Moon has a 7% albedo, you know. She reflects about as much light as coal. Think about that the next time she's full. Above our heads, neatly slotted inbetween the squat block of Edinburgh Castle and the airy spires of St Mary's, the eternal celestial ballet executed a perfect adagio.

It got bloody freezing up on that rooftop, but that's probably rather more to do with standing onna rooftop in Scotland for an hour onna cloudy day. By about 09:39 the cloud coverage was total. Show's over. It's time to go home.

But I won't forget spending a few minutes watching Space happen right above me.

Eclipse #5

My retinas were a wee bit itchy for the rest of the day. I consider that a totally acceptable trade-off.

The next half-decent one here isn't until 2026, and the next proper one is 23rd September, 2090. By then, I expect to know how to work this damn neutral-density filter.

More eternal celestial ballet.

Oh yes, and the vernal equinox was at 22:45 tonight. Happy Spring, everybody!

gominokouhai: (Default)
gominokouhai: (Default)

It's been a while since the last one. Since the last one, I've become upper-middle-class, become a manager, spent some time hanging around socialists, attended two Radical Independence conferences and campaigned for a Yes in the referendum. And I've also seen how far all of that got us.

For reference, here are the current UK political parties as they stand:

UK Political Parties chart 2015 including Respect, Sinn Féin, Scottish Socialist Party, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party, SDLP, Green, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, UKIP, Labour, DUP, BNP

Huh. Guess I'm a Green, then. Makes sense I suppose; I've always empathized with the underdog, that's why I voted Yes.

I'm slightly surprised at how libertarian it placed me. Maybe I'm having one of those days.

Previous compi go under the cut )

gominokouhai: (Default)
  • 16 reasons behind the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
  • The self-contradictory rule obeyed by these WW2 airmen will blow your mind!
  • This French Marquis Locked Himself In A Castle For 120 Days. You Won't Believe What Happened Next
  • POLL: RT for war, fav for peace
  • Please Laboriously Click Through All Twenty-Seven Images In This Post, Each Of Which Incomprehensibly Deserves Its Own Page, Like You Had Nothing Better To Do, Because Of The Vague Promise In The Title That One Of Them Might Be Godot

The joke is that listicle and microblogging formats do not readily lend themselves to in-depth discussion of complex concepts.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Where am I?

Tue, Nov. 4th, 2014 10:48
gominokouhai: (Default)

Funny. I don't recall being followed home by a hearse and gassed to sleep in my sitting room, but somehow I find myself in the Village.

What I do recall is an eleven-hour train journey with one (occasionally) functioning toilet and no wifi—although of course they only told me this after they'd allowed me to pay for it. Then a three-hour boat journey from Penzance during which I actually got seasick, which doesn't happen. We'd had to bolt breakfast and sprint for the ferry, and I found out later that I'd taken the wrong braindrugs the previous night, none of which can have helped... although I think the twelve-foot waves hitting the ship from random directions probably had something to do with it as well. Then there was a connecting ferry from the big island to one of the smaller ones, and now I'm on Tresco, the second-largest of the Scilly Isles.

It looks like this.

A set of photographs from ground-level of a holiday resort )

Actual photos of scenery and stuff will likely follow later on.

Back to the mainland tomorrow, weather permitting, and dependent on the performance of onmipresent surveillance and unorthodox security measures. Then, back and forth along the south coast for a few days. Lindsey Stirling has a concert in That London and with any luck we'll be getting in a pilgrimage to Maiden's Point.

gominokouhai: (Default)

So, there was a referendum. That happened. And we voted No. A trillion pounds' worth of international media descended on Scotland for a week—and the weather even stayed good while they were here!—and, as a nation, we had a chance to create a better world and we bottled it. I used to think that it would be embarrassing to be Canadian, but all the Canadians have as a national stereotype is that they are uniformly self-effacing and scrupulously polite. Since 19th September, on the world stage, Scots are craven directionless cowards. All of that William Wallace stuff that we've built up over the last eight hundred years, gone. We are lackeys.

I for one will not stand for it.

It takes time to build up a reputation like the Scots have—like the Scots had. Specifically, it takes eight hundred years. Down-to-earth pragmatists running the world with relentless efficiency in spite of their bewigged imperial masters. Hairy-arsed skirt-wearing maniacs perpetually game for a fight with ye, then a drink with ye, then another fight. The reason the claymore works as a weapon of war is that it's so damn big and heavy that, once you start running with it held out in front, you can't stop no matter how many English cavalrymen are in your way. We pissed all of that away in one night, and now, on the world stage, we are cowards.

I was there at the dawn of the third age of mankind at the vote count for the Edinburgh region. It was a long day. The day before had been full of joyous, jubilant, exuberant marches in the Meadows, of hope and excitement, of impromptu mass choruses of Flower of Scotland. The tang of change was in the air. I could taste it. And then, on the great day itself, with history hanging in the balance, I had weighty duties to which I must attend. I'd set an alarm for six a.m. but was up at 5:30. One doesn't get to create a brand new nation every day. Out at 7 a.m. to witness the ballot boxen being sealed. Touring polling stations all day—technically in my organizational capacity as a polling agent for the Scottish Socialist Party, which is something that still confuses me. I'm not part of the Scottish Socialist Party. I only know one socialist and I'm on nodding terms with two or maybe three others. I'm still not quite sure how this happened, but I had an ACCESS ALL POLLING PLACES pass and I wasn't afraid to use it. I may have spent slightly more of my day than would have been decorous waving the pass at people like Wayne and Garth at the Alice Cooper concert.

In the evening, it was off to the Highland Centre to observe the vote count. History was being made. At one stage, I was on the news. During a coffee break (I was on tea because I needed a sustained burn rather than the quick hit you get from coffee) I got to have a lovely conversation with Andrew Marr: I dislike his politics and I disapprove of his philandering but I bloody love his historical documentaries. I forgot to mention that my girlfriend's mother taught him English at Loretto.

The Yes and No campaign activists were given lounge areas on opposite sides of a big room, separated by a sort of concourse where there was a nice lady selling tea and coffee from a counter. I bought a bottle of water for £2. Bloody hell, said I, aloud, they told me the price of a pint might go up. The BBC and ITN news crews, on the other hand, were separated by fenced-off enclosures with scaffolding and big scary signage. I found this amusing: a physical paean to the civilized nature of the entire debate. Ultimately, we are all residents of these great British islands. Who needs barricades when there is a tea lady?

My role—still, apparently, on behalf of the SSP for reasons I still can't quite fathom—was to observe the count and ensure that no foul play was taking place. I can confirm that, as far as I can tell, the vote was scrupulously fair and above board. It was just that every bastard had put the cross in the wrong box for reasons that remain utterly incomprehensible to me.

It was obvious from early on that the Yes side were losing. As the postal ballots first came out, while I was still skittering around looking for a table to attend, one of my Yes colleagues turned to me and murmured: we're gettin' hammered. Surely not, I said. It's early days. We were always going to lose on the postal votes. It's the regular ballots that will vindicate us. Half an hour later, it was obvious even to me. Tally marks on the clipboard in front of me, sampling a ballot box from somewhere in the southside: 202 No to 75 Yes. You bastards. You sold us out, because some fucker lied to you about your pensions to guarantee his own. Fuck the fucking southside, man.

Later: we were always going to lose in Edinburgh. It's the rest of Scotland that will vindicate us. Then Clackmannanshire voted No. Then Shetland voted No (fucking Shetland, of all places). Then Dundee voted Yes, but only by a baw-hair, where all of our polling had indicated a good seventy or eighty per cent. At that point, we knew all was lost. Facial expressions changed. The evening became a slog. I had been up since 5:30 and it was now 4am and everything left was a foregone conclusion.

I'd got chatting to a fairly well-known professor of events management with whom I'd already done some networking for work, and plan to do more in the future. He's also a stunningly nice bloke, and a Yes voter obvs. By the point it was clear that we'd lost, self-preservation took precedence over solidarity. This is the country we live in now, the country that Scotland has chosen: every man for himself. So in the immediate short term, I opted to promote my own career and come back to making the world a better place later, and when Professor Joe offered to chum me back in his taxi at 5am, I agreed.

So I was there—just getting ready to leave—when the announcement came through that Glasgow, fairly overwhelmingly, had voted Yes. It was a brief moment of levity in the midst of a long night of otherwise unmitigated despair. A chant started up in the campaigners' lounge area: Glas-gow, Glas-gow, Glas-gow. Someone shouted: ya dancer! Someone else: Ye cannae fool a weegie!, and then it was time to go. It was a glorious moment. It was the only one. It wasn't enough.

The next couple of days were numb and bleak. I've been clinically depressed before and I know exactly what was going on in my brain. I surfaced from bed every so often to read Twitter for five minutes or so before I couldn't take any more. And then on Monday it was back to work, to catch up on the paperwork I'd missed during the last week, in time to catch a train down south on Tuesday. The last place I wanted to go. As a deeply pathetic form of revenge, I made sure to take scotch whisky with me, and Irn Bru, and lots of Scottish fivers.

We had a chance and we bottled it. But it was a good fight, and it's not over.

And now I have a branded Yes clipboard, which I'm keeping. Spoils of war.

There is an epilogue to this post, but it's going under access lock.

gominokouhai: (Khaaan!)

I was amused to learn, now that it's all over, that Our Eck is a big ol' Star Trek fan, specifically of Wrath of Khan. I wish more had been made of this earlier in the campaign. Full tax-raising power. No, sir! You have devo-nano! FULL POWERS, DAMN YOU!

Liking Eck more and more, now that it's all over. The last few days I've just wanted to give him a hug, because I think he needs one. Then there was his principled refusal of any seat in the Lords, and now I find he has impeccable taste in sci-fi. And he's right: if the promised powers are not delivered, we will chase Cameron 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before we give him up. Personally I'm particularly looking forward to the flames bit. I suspect Dishface is so greasy that he would self-ignite.

Back in the day, when I was a unionist, Star Trek featured heavily in what passed for my reasoning—although I didn't understand this about myself until significantly later, after a good deal of introspection. Obviously, went my thinking, the logical end goal of civilization is the United Federation of Planets, and we get there by heading towards global unity not away. For one thing, I later realized, adopting, as a genuine political model, a fictional utopia created by a somewhat mediocre cop-show screenwriter might be seen as impractical; and for another thing, I was goal-seeking using a naive hill-climbing algorithm. For shame, pajh.

A utopia is also an eutopia, of course, but it's telling that Roddenberry's vision is the one that took root inside my head as the default position to aim for. Naive it may be, but goddamn I wouldn't mind living there. I'm not sure if it's the proto-post-scarcity economy or the implicit communism that attracts me so much. Or the green alien babes. No, it's the skants. Definitely the skants.

I love Star Trek to bits, of course, naive as it may be, but these days my politics are much more in line with Babylon 5. I am prepared if necessary to go as far as Blake's 7, but I hope it won't come to that.

Thinking about this as I type, I should probably make a more detailed inspection of Malcolm Hulke's Doctor Who stories before I fasten my colours to any particular allegory, here.

Obviously I'm deeply disappointed with last Thursday's result, but I've decided we may have been foolish to think we could win against the combined forces of ignorance and cowardice, backed by the full might of the British state. We were not foolish to fight. And we will not be foolish to do it all again in a couple of years, with lessons learned and a new generation of engaged citizens on our side. The future is coming, whether it's got green-skinned babes in it or not. That better world we wanted to create?... independence didn't quite work out, but it's still waiting to be created. We'll do it some other way.

The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

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