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November 1st 2010
The comment boxes still aren't working, so I'm temporarily using the basic html below. Hopefully the good people at Webs.com will sort out the problem before too long.
In other news, I'm taking part in Movember this month, with some folk from work. The idea is to start the month clean-shaven (check), then grow a moustache - or as much of one as you can muster - for the rest of the month. It's all in a very good cause (The Prostate Cancer Charity), and I rather expect to look like a fool, which must be worth some of your money. Please head to my Mo Space and give generously.
Of course, there is always the small possibility that, rather than looking like a fool, I'll look a bit like this:

...but without the chest hair, obviously.

On this day in 2004... Dave Jones today parted company with Wolves: I have to say it's been coming a long time, and I'm not exactly heartbroken. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.

November 2nd 2010
Ant and Rob came over last weekend, and when we we weren't playing squash, Fifa or Scrabble, we watched a couple of highly questionable films. First up was The Shining, which I was given for free, and accepted based on the theory that films that were scary 30 years ago probably aren't very scary now. Well, it wasn't especially scary most of the time, even for a wuss like me, but it was completely insane. And I mean even more insane than Harriet Harman... we're talking Christine O'Donnell levels of insanity, here. That's a reference that I fervently hope archive readers don't understand.
Anyways, The Shining. I knew that this was a film about Jack Nicholson going crazy ("Here's Johnny!" and all that) and, having watched a Simpsons spoof, I also had a basic level of understanding about what the titular shining was. What I wasn't expecting was [beware, spoilers. But I wouldn't recommend watching the film anyway, so I wouldn't worry] a naked women in a bath (who wasn't really there), a butler with a changing first name (who wasn't really there), a guy in a rabbit - or possibly walrus - costume (who wasn't really there), a magical maze model, a possessed child, the world's worst rescue mission, a door being unlocked by a hallucination... basically, this was a film that made very little sense, and would have been far better if it had been stripped back purely to Jack Nicholson's predictably excellent performance. The 'twist' at the end is possibly the worst I've ever seen (but then, I've never seen the remake of Planet of the Apes), adding nothing other than further confusion.
The other film we watched was π, and if anything it made less sense than The Shining - but, more disappointingly than that, it wasn't even mathematically accurate. If a film is called π, you at least expect them to get the maths right. The first issue was in the opening credits, where the decimal expansion of π scrolled up the screen - except that only the first 8 digits were correct. Then there was the MacGuffin, which was a 216 digit number. Except (Wikipedia tells me) that it actually had 218 digits. That's just lazy. The protagonist also claimed that there were infinitely many variations of the game Go, and - the worst mistake in the film - suggested that a group of Jews searching for the 216 digit number because they believed it was the name of God (don't ask) would already have said aloud every possibly 216 digit number. Yes, that's right, all (wait for it...)
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of them. To put that in perspective; the number of seconds since the universe began is rather less than 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. If you squared the estimated number of atoms in the universe, you still wouldn't be close. I don't wish to be anti-semetic, but I don't think that even the most conscientious of Jews would have got through all of them and still be in their mid-30s.

On this day in 2005... Why is it that Sainsbury's own sausage rolls are practically inedible, whereas Sainsbury's value sausage rolls are the best supermarket sausages ever?

November 9th 2010
And so I am 25. A quarter of a century. Five squared (and the only square age I'm likely to reach that is also the sum of two squares). I'm coping relatively well with this, though I can't help but feel that I am not in the position I thought I'd be at 25 when I was a kid - at least one of: i) married; ii) fabulously rich; iii) playing for Wolves. On the bright side, I bought the complete Mr Men book collection today, so that's at least one ambition realised. Next stop: stroking a pigeon. That geniunely was my major ambition when I was six years old, and it is unachieved to this day.
I very much enjoyed the day of my birthday itself. In the morning I rocked up to Cairns as usual, then went to Rick and Jen's (and 7 month old Abbie's) for an excellent lunch. Later I met up with Matt "The Legend" Parkes for a coffee, before heading off for a curry with Ben, Kate and Anna, all of whom then joined me to watch Three To Tango, my all-time favourite film. Kate and Anna enjoyed the film, and Ben was very restrained in his criticism... I have a sneaking suspicion he liked it too, really. Maybe. I mean, what's not to love?
Anyways, many of my readership are rather older than 25, and so I'm sure I am, to them, still in the first flush of youth. But this was my fourth birthday since I moved to Bristol, and 21 is looking very young from up here. It's unlikely I will be married or fabulously rich by the time I hit 26, but I reckon I could do a job at left back for Wolves.

On this day in 2008... I'm a man of simple tastes, but I do boast an extensive shoe collection. You may not have thought it of someone with my gender and distaste for fashion, but I own no fewer than 6 pairs of footwear.

November 12th 2010
A few things that are on my mind:
1. Doghouse Diaries - the new xkcd?
2. Why has Emma Watson gone all Carey Mulligan? And, on that topic, isn't Carey Mulligan a bit too... y'know, RADA?
3. I'm all in favour of Movember, but it can be a bit of a minefield - if I congratulate people on their fortnight-old comedy moustache, there is a risk that they don't actually know about Movember. Or are a woman.
4. One of the text message templates on my phone simply says 'I love you too'. How terrible must your relationship be if you ever use that?
5. The final episode of West Wing season 2 is one of the all-time great moments in television.
6. While I think that Emma Watson has a career ahead of her, and even Daniel Radcliffe may manage to sidestep the Harry Potter tag at some stage, there is no hope for Rupert Grint. He's Ron all over.
7. There's a possibility that Wolves winger Matt Jarvis will be named in the England squad tomorrow for the friendly against France. I might have to get an England shirt if that happens.
8. There's nothing good to watch on Friday nights any more, since HIGNFY got moved to Thursday and Jonathan Ross got cancelled. DVDs it is.
9. Efficient people scare me. They really scare me.
10. It seems that, wherever I go, I find people with the same birthday as me. Today I discovered that Lorena at work joins the ranks of Simon, Becky, Phil, Rachel and Dave.
11. These student protesters are really stupid. "We're against all cuts"? That's madness. Also, why are people so cross with Nick Clegg? They must have known that the coalition government would have some Tory policies, what with being mostly Tory and all. Sorry Powly... I hope we can put aside our differences in time for the Wolves match.
12. I used to love pear & blueberry squash from Safeway. Does anyone still make it?
13. When will people learn that wearing a tie with the top button undone is just not good enough? It's as stupid as doing up the top button when you're not wearing a tie... although I notice that that's catching on.
14. All the posturing between Haye and Harrison is downright embarrassing. Boxing is scarcely a sport in any case - it's just codified fighting - and the third rate soap opera surrounding it doesn't add any credibility.
15. Solving crosswords has made it impossible for me to hear some words without immediately thinking about what they are backwards. Naomi, stressed, decaf, deliver... all ruined for me.
16. Whenever people write about Facebook in the media, they mention 'poking'. Didn't people stop 'poking' on Facebook about two years ago? I mean, I never did it, but I'm pretty sure no one else does now, either.

On this day in 2005... Parkinson's Law suggests that stuff expands to fit the space it's in, or some such. I've found that this is true with my assignments, insofar as I delay work until I have to pack it into the same, short space of time.

November 20th 2010
There are (I may have mentioned before) two types of people in this world - people who can say "Tinchy Stryder" (or, for that matter, "Tinie Tempah") with a straight face, and people who can't. I am firmly in the latter camp. I am not a rapper man. I'm not even sure what a 'rapper man' would be. So I guess this is how some others (Simon among them) feel about people like me calling Bruce Springsteen "The Boss".
I'm not even sure why he has that nickname, but I like the fact that most people will know who you're talking about if you say that you've got a new album by The Boss. And, coincidentally, I do have a new album by The Boss - it's called The Promise, and it's basically tracks that were rejected when he recorded Darkness on the Edge of Town. Early signs are fairly good (well, I fell asleep while listening to it, but that was just because I was tired), and it wouldn't surprise me at all if this year's best album ends up being one that was recorded in the late 70s.
Anyways, The Boss got me thinking. Which other singers can be readily identified only by their nicknames? It's the question that literally no one is asking, but since I was pondering the topic as I went to sleep last night, I'm inviting you to join in the fun. Here goes: The King, The King of Pop, The Fab Four, Ol' Blue Eyes, The Man in Black, The Big O, The Thin White Duke, Macca, Madge, Satchmo, The Modfather, The Godfather of Soul... I'm out.
In other news, you may have noticed that William and Kate have got engaged. Since then, the Times has filled most of its pages with royal engagement-related news, some of it fairly understandable (how the couple met; when the proposal happened), some of it a little spurious (royal people called Catherine throughout the years; what property is for sale near where the Middletons live). There have already been at least two articles bemoaning the vast quantity of articles about the royal engagement.
Even though I am a staunch republican, I like this story. Good for William, I say. Good for Kate. Even if the attempts to portray her as a middle class girl are a little desperate ("she was always expected to tie up her own pony" the Times breathlessly informed me). She is fairly ridiculously posh, and it is only by comparison with royalty that she can be classified as a normal gal.
In other news, I had my CA3 course this week. For those of you who have been keeping tabs on my exam progress, this is the course-based version of the exam that I have had... some trouble with in the past. I think it was a bit like what Alcoholics Anonymous must be like - it was rather reassuring to be surrounded by people who have found CA3 equally troublesome. "I've failed it three times - you?" "Do you remember that immunisation paper? That was horrific." "Can you believe the pass rate from the last one?" We are not alone. Anyways, it's hard to say how the course went, but nothing terrible happened (y'know, fainting while giving my presentation; spontaneous combustion in the middle of the written exam). The results are out on February 11th... I'll keep you posted.

On this day in 2004... The DVD's a worthwhile purchase in any case. A DVD case, preferably. Sorry.

November 28th 2010
It has been a good weekend so far. Yesterday, I went with Powly to see Wolves vs Sunderland, a hard-fought match on a freezing day in which Wolves came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 with two goals in the last ten minutes. It was only our third league win of the season, and so we certainly chose a good game to go to. Allow to break into a popular Wolves chant, if I may: Na na na na na na na na Ebanks-Blake is Wolves' number 9! (How do they think these things up?). After the game we stayed overnight at Ian's flat, and played plenty of Fifa. A good time was had by all, especially given that I hadn't seen Ian for several years. I've been thinking about it, and I reckon he's the person I've known the longest (outside of family), as we first met when I was about 7. What a long and winding road we walk.
The other reason that this has been a good weekend was the Hare & Hounds, which I'm sure I've mentioned in previous years. For late-comers to this diary (and non-members of the Bristol Actuarial Society), it is a pub crawl with quizzes, challenges etc, generally performed in costume. This year had a cartoon theme, and our team was assigned Ghostbusters, so we wandered the streets in Ghostbuster apparal, accompanied by Marshmallow Man, Slimer and the secretary (female roles being somewhat limited in Ghostbusters). It was, as usual, good fun - though, as usual, I sloped off when pubbing became clubbing, which I neither enjoy nor really understand. Why do people want to go somewhere where they have to scream in someone's ear in order to be heard? Anyways, that's not the point - the point is that our team was victorious! So congratulations to Zijian, Bassaam, Rich, Vicki, Babar, Martin and (sorry for the forthcoming lack of self-deprecation) me.
By the way, if you are eager to have Bristolians shout "Who you gonna call?" at you across the street, I can certainly recommend walking around wearing Ghostbuster overalls, with a home-made Proton Pack on your back. I don't know what you've been trying, but this is more effective.
In other news, you'll notice that I've been to see the latest Harry Potter film. It has received somewhat mixed reviews, but personally I liked it - yes, there were a lot fewer bangs and whizzes than in some of the previous films, and very few "Ooh! Magic!" moments, but that meant that the film could be properly character-driven. It also meant that the film was much more true to the book than the last couple of films have been, and felt less rushed. I've previously suggested that the decision to split the book into two films owed more to monetary imperatives than creative ones, and I still think that's probably true, but it had positive side-effects.

On this day in 2005... Woo-hoo! Perrin rescued Faile at last! If you're not a devotee of the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan, then you won't understand that. [...] But I've been waiting about three years for it to happen, I reckon, so I'm well chuffed.

what was I listening to?
Sam's Town - The Killers
what was I reading?
Orlando - Virginia Woolf
what was I watching?
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