Archive for September, 2004

Extreme Stream Machines

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Firstly, unless you have a fast connection, skip this post.

Someone posted this excellent link on a local cycling forum. The streaming videos from the US in v i d e o g a l l e r y remind me of the stunts we used to pull back in the cycle courier heydays of the 80s. Racing taxis down Park Lane pushing a big ring fixed wheel or doing a ‘thread the needle’ slalom run against the traffic was pretty much like this stuff. The fact that I am waxing nostalgic about those days and have almost forgotten the numerous trips to casualty when some twonk opened a door or pulled out on me must mean I’m having a mid-life crisis.

Where did the weekend go?

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

This weekend has shot by. Already Sunday evening is here and I’m doing anything to avoid ironing a shirt for work, as this means the fun is over and Monday morning awaits. So where did the time go?

Well, between 2200hrs on Friday evening and 2300hrs last night, I was preoccupied with catering for and serving up the wedding breakfast of my friend’s son. Having said ‘yes’ in a weak moment weeks back, I had to set to and prepare, cook and serve up 80 five course meals. Thanks to an army of helpers drawn from the groom’s family and our friends, all this was achieved with very little hassle – mainly due to a bit of planning by myself and the groom’s father, who also drove around and purchased all the ingredients. All of which has convinced me that, whilst I love to cook, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t want to run and outside catering business. Having said that, it is very gratifying to cook for so many folks and to receive the odd compliment, not to mention a bottle of port, for my troubles. Having cooked the afternoon meal and cleared the service by early evening, I then cycled home to shower and change before returning for the evening celebrations before returning home with my family to crash out.

Cycling was on my mind when I finally woke up this morning. As I have mentioned recently, I am keen to buy a Brompton folding bike to enable me to commute by train and bike rather than car and I wanted to have a test ride before ordering one, just in case I hate the thing. Rather than test a brand new Brompton, I opted to take up an offer from a Tower Hamlets Wheeler to test her 3 year old bike to get an idea of how they ride and how they stand up to 36 months usage. Not only was the 4km ride all I needed to confirm both the build quality and my decision to buy one, it helped me adjust my intended specification to match my requirements more closely. Although I have been considering a secondhand bike, I have chosen to spend the extra to get the setup, colour and additional kit I want. Hopefully, at some point next week I’ll get along to my local dealer to order and pay a deposit, with a view to collecting it next payday.

  • Brompton L6: arguably the best model for my bike-train-bike-train-bike commute and other leisure rides.
  • Touring pannier 28 litre: the test ride proved that this will swallow my laptop backpack and a load more beside.
  • Rainproof cover for the above: to keep the geek toys dry through the winter.
  • Basta/Cateye lamp set for L type: I’m not a big fan of dynamos and want to leave my other Cateye lights on my Trek 970.
  • Schwalbe Marathon tyres: User reviews rate these as tops.
  • Telescopic seat pillar – my leg length would seem to indicate that I need a longer pillar but I still want the smallest possible fold.

This afternoon, we settled down with the kids to watch the superb and compelling Rabbit Proof Fence. Made in the same year as the equally moving Whalerider, it is a drama that recounts a true story which, when considered quietly and fully, will make your heart ache.

Mr. Naga’s friend, Shamsul

Friday, September 24th, 2004

Those who can remember back as far as July may recall that I was impressed with Mr Naga’s Very Hot Chili Paste, with it’s minimalist label and maximum taste.

It seems that my enthusiastic post reached the folks who are responsible for producing MNVH because, in the process of clearing the spam from one of my lesser-used mail accounts today, I came across an email from one of Mr Naga’s team, Shamsul. It reads:
Dear Bignoseduglyguy,
I recently looked up on the internet for my product ‘Mr Naga’, and you were
the first thing which popped up. We are a fairly small firm and we appreciate the positive feedback which you have written about us, hence we would like to offer you a free jar of Mr Naga, if you could kindly email me back your address, so that i can post it off to you. Once again we thank you, and hope you will be pleased with the free jar of Mr Naga.
Yours truly


Pleased, Shamsul? I’d be overjoyed as my present one is running out. I rave about things I like because I like them and I want to share them with others but I must admit that I appreciate Shamsul’s gesture and am happy to have another reason to post about it. Good luck to all at Mr Naga’s.


Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

Is it just me or has Gmail been really slow and refusing connections (like now!) for odd periods of late? I know I shouldn’t whine because it’s free and it works almost all the time and it’s still a beta after all but, like a a junkie wanting a fix, I want it and, by Beelzebub’s breeches, I want it NOW!

The captain and his dog

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

Fellow Metroblogger Riaan has written an evocative yet homely post about the folks she sees walking by the Thames in the early mornings.

A p(o)int of principle

Monday, September 20th, 2004

I like beer. In fact, I like most beers. Common or garden lager is OK as a thirst quencher on a hot day or when it is something a little special (i.e. brewed by Belgian monks and fermented in nun’s wimples) but most of all I like what are known as ‘session’ beers or ales. These are cask ales and bitters that can be supped slowly and steadily throughout a pleasant evening’s discourse or banter without one sliding to the floor and into the arms of Morpheus. Sadly, with 70% of modern days drinkers opting to drink gas keg lagers and the like, such ales are continually under threat as the big combines that dominate brewing in Europe find them troublesome and expensive to brew. Whilst the latter day Boddingtons Draught is not a patch on the namesake of days gone by, the decision by InterBrew to transfer manufacture away from it’s home in Manchester in order to “ensure the long-term future and success of our business and protect the broader base of our 3,000 employees” seems like the thin end of the wedge to me – and Andy, who has proposed a boycott of Interbrew products such as Boddingtons, Stella Artois and Becks. This may seem like small beer but if such moves meet with no resistance, we will not only lose decent volume-produced ale, we’ll also lose valuable parts of our heritage, leaving ale drinkers reliant upon the excellent but always vulnerable small independent breweries to produce and, more crucially, distribute an affordable pint. With the big brewers maintaining what is effectively a stranglehold on beer distribution in the UK, drinkers are limited to those beers that a landlord can get delivered in a cost-effective manner, neatly sidelining most small producers in one move. Heaven help the small independent or microbrewery then, who makes a successful ale, for they will become a prime target for takeover… and so the cycle begins again.

How can you lend your weight? Here’s how:

  1. If you drink beer, don’t drink Boddingtons, Stella Artois or Becks.
  2. Regardless of what you drink, sign the ‘Save The Cream‘ petition.
  3. In the long term, think about what you drink and where you drink it – if you have only ever drunk high street/chain pub beers, try something a little different, you’ll be in for a treat. CAMRA, the CAMpaign for Real Ale, have guides to good pubs and great beer.

Bottoms up! Prost! Skol! Cheers!

I’m back…in a digest stylee

Sunday, September 19th, 2004

Bless me and forgive me, for it has been six days since my last post. Much turmoil and busy-ness (work sucks and blows) has prevented me from posting in the last few days but, as usual, Sunday morning provides a brief window during which I can try and catch up a little – so here are the edited highlights:

iPod: Like most of the world, I love the thing and like more than a few owners who use the Shuffle random play function a lot, I have noticed that my iPod seems to favour certain artists or displays ‘algorithm favouritism’. I’ll just have to buy more music to confuse it, won’t I?

Qumana/Blogjet: Haven’t really played with either much as I haven’t been posting but fully intend to as and when life quietens down a little.

Transport: For those that are new here or don’t ‘do’ archives, I’m a London-based former cycle courier, sometime bike commuter and occasional tourer, who somehow has turned into a 40 year old car driving middle manager. I have recently decided to ditch my company car in favour of a combined bike/train commute to do my 50 mile round trip between East London to Heathrow each day. I am 99% set on using a Brompton folding cycle to use at each end of the train journey.

Whilst an experienced cyclist, I have never owned a Brompton before (though I am lining up test rides), I have been reading a bunch of sites like those of The Folding Society and the Brompton Talk Yahoo group to get myself up to speed. Some colleagues, including a Brompton owner, are supportive whilst others think I have lost my marbles, especially with winter coming on. Even though I won’t be getting the tax break advantages of one of the Government’s best kept secrets, this move will hopefully diminish the stress of a daily drive through London, save me thousands in tax and congestion charges and do a bit for the environment.

Running: I have been a lazy illegitimate over the last two weeks but have got back into the groove this morning with a gentle plod around the Isle Of Dogs‘ South Dock, where the brig Stavros S Niarchos, one of the Tall Ships Youth Trust vessels, is currently moored.

Family fun: With family over from Switzerland and down from Wakefield, much food is being consumed so this afternoon we plan to walk off some of the calories with a walk along some of the East End’s canals. Amongst the gifts exchanged, I was chuffed to get a lovely small framed picture of a 1927 supercharged 2.3 litre Bugatti Grand Prix Type 35B like the one below. I had a small diecast model of this car when I was a child and the picture will now hang under a limited edition print of Graham Hill taking the Loews hairpin in his BRM on his way to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix a few months after I was born.

photo: Neve Engineering & Restoration Services

Rands = top dollar blogging

Monday, September 13th, 2004

Rands Management Glossary is written by someone who has a cynical ear for management-speak, suffers from NADD and types with his tongue firmly in his cheek.


Qumana – it’s a blog thing that does stuff

Monday, September 13th, 2004

No sooner had I picked up the trial of Blogjet after reading Ian’s post about it than I happened upon Tris’s post about QumanaQumana is a two-part application that allows users to collect, build and publish content via blog hosts such as Blogger, Blogware and TypePad. With it’s stay on top DropPad applet plus the main app’s workpad and library sections, bloggers and content managers can collect, store, alter, style and then publish content in a far more featured and configuable manner than with anything I have used before.  I’m trialling it for myself and will post again with impressions.

Singing In The Rain?

Sunday, September 12th, 2004

Ladles and jellyspoons, the iTunes upload is over.  Whilst I’m sure there are plenty out there who have a gazzilion more ripped CDs and MP3s on their iPods, I am quite happy to have finished my initial ripping session.  My iPod is now one short of eleven hundred songs which, iTunes tells me, is equivalent to a trio of days listening or more than four of your gigglingbytes.  Meanwhile, a post over at geekgrrl provided a heads up to weatherfox, a weather info extension for Firefox.

That’s your lot for now – I’m off to play with the traffic whilst we’re head for a Williams Syndrome family event on the other side of town.