Officially I have been on holiday since last Thursday evening. Since then I've worked three full days and a half day ...

I'm so looking forward to Friday when I'll be in Paris and thus uncontactable by work ..
Well, Dragonmeet is over for another year. It seemed to go reasonably well on the day - the few hiccups that occurred were resolved swiftly and none were significant - and generally both the traders and attendees seemed happy.

For me, it was a case of hurry-up and stop all day: after arriving at the hall somewhat latter than planned due to engineering works and then spending 90 minutes in a rush of setup, dealing with some floor plan and layout issues. It was then a matter of manning the game desk from 10am to 3pm, looking after the sign-up sheets and directing people to the relevant tables (or telling people what was running as they seemed reluctant to look at the convention booklet and the schedule it contained ...) There were some hiccups over locations and table usage, but nothing out of the ordinary. For the most part all the GMs turned up - there was one no-show to my knowledge - but more problematic was the number of people who signed up for games and didn't show. The GM's tried to work round this, but in a couple of cases it lead to game cancellations, though such matters are inevitable. The latter part of the afternoon was a dead time for me - nothing to organize and do, so I wandered the hall to see how things were going and to get some lunch and beer! 6-8pm was another rush period as the trade hall closed, the auction started and the game schedule wound down (save for one of the LARPS). I spent most of the time tidying up - it's amazing how much rubbish collects during the day around game tables, despite the presence of litter bins - and by 8pm there there was pretty much just the LARP running, with most everyone else heading to the pub. We usually have the venue until 10 or 11pm, but this year they seemed to want to shut up shop around 9, so the last event was somewhat abbreviated. Twenty minutes of wandering round in circles saw me at the pub with everyone else, but I was so tired I managed only a single beer before deciding to head home after forty minutes (just as well, given that the engineering works meant it took almost two hours, arriving home just before midnight, and given that most people on the buses were returning from a night on the town, me and my show purchases, a rather large boardgame, were rather odd-looking). All in all a good, if very tiring, day.

However, as some as you know I decided a month or two back that this would be my last Dragonmeet. I feel a little bad ending my association with the show - I'm the only person to have worked on every Dragonmeet - but this year saw a number of problems that I'd rather not go through again. Nonetheless I hope the show will go ahead next year, and this time I'll actually be able to play in games rather than organizing them!

Addendum: It seems one of the companys who demonstrated games at the show is annoyed; they didn't say anything on the day, as far as I'm aware so this is "out of the blue." I had one email from their staff saying they were unhappy and a phone call to the main person didn't get any more info, save that he is "gathering his thoughts." Ho hum, that's put something of a downer on things.
I go to take a days holiday to try and use up some of my allowance and what happens: a cold. Well, it's a good excuse to start working through the abundance of new and forthcoming hardback releases from September and October, to whit:

Thud! by Terry Pratchet
Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond Fiest
Judas Unchained by Peter Hamilton
The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
In the Ruins (ACOS#6) by Kate Elliot

and due in the next few days:

Knife of Dreams (WOT#11) (11 Oct) by Robert Jordan
A Feast for Crows (ASOIAF#4) (17 Oct) by George Martin

There are times I hate publishers' schedules - or at least my bank-balance does.
Stolen from [ profile] brannonb

Okay, so I'm not American so there's a little bias here:

Read more... )
I picked up a PSP for my birthday the other week and so far it's been great, though I've only really played Ridge Racer. Last week, however, I decided to pick up the Donnie Darko UMD - it's one of those films I've never seen and hey, it was cheap. I put the disk into my holder, and carried it back and forth for several days before deciding to watch it. Then coming into work one morning I thought I may as well get started on it and, looking forward to the Gylennhal duo, popped the cartridge into the machine.

Whirr, whirr, whirr.

Up pops image of Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.

Donnie BRASCO.


Presses eject and checks the disk to make sure it's correct. Donnie Darko printed label (and yes it was a sealed pack).

Pushes disk back in reboots.

Donnie Brasco.

Okay .... I fast-forward to make sure it's not some odd joke. Nope. Definitely Donnie Brasco.

Time to go back to the store.

I wonder how many Donnie Darko disks have Donnie Brasco on them (and vice versa). The mind boggles!.

Woo hoo!

Aug. 18th, 2005 11:15 pm
And the shiney new NG834G is up and running so I have wired and (notionally at least as I've yet to test the iBook with the new setup) wireless net access!

Not without some minor hiccups (to some extent self-inflicted, I worked out), and the classic of the evening was the technical support response when I told them I couldn't connect "oh, just go online and go to page [address] and you'll get all the info you need." Err, scuse me. I can't connect. I wouldn't be ringing you if I could connect. I'm glad to see my low regard for Tech Support lines has been vindicated - in the end I solved the hiccup off my own back, no thanks to them ...

I tell you what though: the NG834G feels a lot faster than the ufo - I'm sure one of the more technical people out there can explain why, but I'm guessing its because it's ethernet rather than USB?
And the result of my french exam ... B (broken down it's an A for reading and two high-end Cs for writing and speaking, but my average was B)

About what I expected - I thought I might slip to a C - and who knows, had I put a decent effort in I might've gotten an A.

It was slightly odd waiting for the results along with dozens of teenagers. In fact, one of the security guards sidled over and asked if I was waiting for someone and looked somewhat taken aback when I said no, I was waiting for *my* results and flashed my student ID. He apologised profusely and went back to his post. Then again, at 36 I am twice the age of most of the candidates ...
Okay, so no Worldcon review. I've been a little distracted this week, working on a book outline. It's still not 100-percent set in stone but after a meeting with the publisher at the show (and a mass of e-mails and IMs this week) it looks like things are finally moving forward and I'll have a novel to add to my credits list ...


Aug. 8th, 2005 01:05 am
Just got back from Worldcon (after 7 hours of travelling).

Interesting ... not 100% sure how much is "good interesting" and how much "bad interesting" yet though.

More once I've had chance to recover and cogitate.
Four weeks after the bombs, and two weeks after the failed attacks, there's a massive police presence in London at the moment. In addition to the Community Support police who hitched a lift on the bus, there was a substantial presence of very visible police at Angel Station this morning, at least eight that I could see, all dressed in luminous yellow jackets.

To be honest, the substantial police presence is nothing new. Most stations have had a visible police presence for the last month, many of the officers armed (pistol-armed officers at TCR and Warren street last week, and a pair with MP5s at Camden both last week and when I was down there on Monday). Still, seeing armed police on the streets is a bit of a shock when you're used to police having nothing more than a truncheon and a stiff upper lip.

Here's hoping today passes of without incident.
Although I'm not heading to Glasgow until Friday, I've spent the last couple of evenings trying to get materials ready for Worldcon. In addition to my own working documents and travel/accomodation details, I've been trying to sort some sort of promotional materials for Battlecorps, the Classic BattleTech online fiction site, such as business cards and some posters.

To be honest, as I've never been to a Worldcon before I really don't know what to expect there - how easy it will be do do any promotions, what to expect from the attendees and events. There are some people I hope to meet up with - friends, writing colleagues and authors I enjoy - but I'm not sure how practical that will be - events start today, but I'm only there for the weekend so I'll have to see if all can be squeezed in. Most will be played "by ear" - the only fixed element of the weekend is the Hugo awards that I'm hoping to attend on Saturday night (in the Clyde Auditorium I believe).

I have the joys of two long train journeys too - 5 hours on Friday and 6 on Sunday (and to put things in context, it's less than 3 hours to Paris from here ...) so I guess there'll be time for writing and some games playing on the iBook.


Jul. 26th, 2005 02:16 pm
A selection (11 out of 300) pictures from my latest trip to France can be found here
There's something disconcerting about French weddings where you sit down to dinner at 8pm and the coffee and sweets don't arrive until 1:30am.
It was a wonderful experience - two different ceremonies, civil and religious, a cocktail reception, fireworks, the magical setting of a French chateau, you name it - but I guess I'm not as determined as I used to be and by 2am I'd sloped off to bed. The younger and more resilient members of the party were up until 5am! Okay, so I had an ulterior motive not to be up to late, namely plans to spend drive into the city center on Sunday for an afternoon with une amie francaise, but I still felt a like I had let the side down a little.
Today more than made up for it though, with a mass of sight-seeing as I spend the day meandering back across Northern France. First a visit to the Abbaye de Chaalis to see the ruins and the wonderful museum there, then into the Somme Valley to visit various sites there such as the town of Albert and the Thiepval memorial, and finishing with trips to Crecy and Azincourt (to give it its French spelling). It's scary to think that the total number of combatants in the latter two battles are less than the number of dead on the first day of the 1916 Somme campaign - hell, in the area between Albert and Baupame, the main Somme battlefield, there appears to be a WWI cemetery every kilometer or so, 800 buried here, 1000 there, and the Thiepval memorial records the names of 72,000 soldiers whose bodies were never found and at sites like the "Grand Mine" at La Boisselle bodies have been uncovered in the last few years! Add on top of that, those (like my great-grandfather) who survived being bombed and gassed on the Somme only to die of their wounds back home and you have truly scary casualty figures ...
Anyway, expect pictures on Flikr once I've had chance to recover a little.
The media, including the BBC are unsure as to the details but it sounds like three devices on tube trains - they're saying detonators - and an incident on a bus in Hackney that blew out its windows.

Looks like a fun journey home again tonight.
Sorry, memeage ...

i'm in gryffindor!

be sorted @
The REM concert was fun - sitting outside in Hyde Park in, at first at least, bright sunshine. The atmosphere was great and the sound-system was excelent, though the view was dreadful, the reverse of the U2 gig where the sound system was poor but the view great. The tracks were a good mix of good and old, including a duet with Patti Smith (though mike issues prevented that from being as good as it could've been). The London gig was supposed to be the penultimate night of the tour but the week-long delay imposed in the wake of the bombs transformed it into the final night and as people were heading out of the park Michael Stipe broke into an impromptui rendition of "Its the End of the Tour as we know it."

Of course, with 85,000 people in the Park getting home was slightly challenging (particularly given my usual choice from that part of town, the Picadilly Line, was out of action) but the police had closed Park lane and we were able to casually stroll across though I ended up walking all the way to Tottenham Court Road to get a bus.

In other news, my PC has thrown a couple of wobblies today, bleeping away (the heat sensor I presume since it was over 30C in the flat). It's not done this in previous hot weather so I can only presume the various new cards added last summer are to blame. Here's hoping for cooler weather.
Having had an early night last night I was up bright and early for the postman this morning, who must've been weighed down by all the copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince" shipped from Amazon. Weighting in at 607 pages, it's more the size of Goblet of Fire than the behemoth Order of the Phoenix but it's still a hefty (for a children's book) tome. That being said, I've finished my just finished my first read through. No spoilers for you, but I will say that it has its moments though Azkaban remains my favourite of the books to date (these last three have almost been too big for their own good).

I wonder how long it'll be until HP7 ...

Anyway, off out to see REM in Hyde Park (postponed from last weekend because of the bombs) and I'm glad to say the weather looks gorgeous!
Back in the office ... not much work done yet, and not that many staff in but the plan is "business as usual" today.

The transport system is up and running again, though some stations remain closed. A lot of people seem to be working from home - a fairly sensible option, I guess - and Islington was quite quiet compared to normal.

As most days, I took the bus most of the way to work and will admit to some trepidation as I got on, and also as the 30 glided past me on Pentonville Road, but hey. There's no way in hell I'm going to let the murderers responsible for yesterday's outrage - whoever they may be - to ruin my life. Allowing them to do that is just what they want, to distrupt people's lives and instil a sense of fear.
My boss and I decided to leave work early in an effort to get home at a decent time and I ended up walking all the way home. For the first 1 1/2 hours it was just people walking and lots of cars - pretty much no public transport - and there were massive queues at the first overland train station that was open, Finsbury Park, that we reached after about an hours walking.

The boss waited for a train there but I continued on home (another hour or so of walking, iPod on and ) and it wasn't until I was on the last hike up to Muswell Hill, about 20 minutes from home, that a bus came back. By that point, I didn't see the point in hitching a ride and so ambled the rest of the way: 2 hours and 6-odd miles.

One thing leapt out at me on the walk - the absence of any planes in the sky, which is something I've not seen in London since 9/11. I presume the emergency plan has put in place some sort of exclusion zone. Somewhat spooky.

UPDATE: The police just announced the casualty figures as they stand at 6pm: 37 dead and 700+ injured.
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