Moving house Version 3.0

Yes, I’ve done this before once or twice. Thank god the Internet has become more of a useful tool in the past three years (well, two and a half, but nobody noticed when I put ‘three years 4 months’ on the reference forms. Saves me having to remember the past sixteen addresses I’ve lived at).

Went on Google, stuck in “houses for rent in <new place>”, started clicking on links. Found house on Monday, arranged viewing for Friday. Friday snowed, Amy was in Leeds on a train in the snow, I was driving from work to <new place> getting stuck in rush hour traffic. We only arrived 20 minutes late, but that’s OK I’ve never been on time to a house viewing for a house we’ve actually taken.

Also it was snowing, did I mention the snow? I got Monday off work because it was that “bad”. This worked out really well because on Monday the letting agency rang us back and had a chat.

Anyway, we went to the house. It’s a terrace, but like most houses I live in, it’s a bit weird. There’s rear access and a garage, but you drive under the house to get to it. It has a secret cellar (secret in that I didn’t know it existed until I went there and went “oh! cellar!”) and a really long corridor going to the bathroom and really high ceilings.

After politely pestering the letting agency all week using various tactics from “what’s going on?” to “oh err my phone is broken can I just check you have another number… and how’s it going anyway?” we’ve just had confirmation we can move. This is good, I gave notice to my current letting agency this afternoon.

Now to go through the pain in the arse of telling BT I want to move so that I get a phoneline and some Internet (not from BT).

The Zamboni serendipity

It appears I am accidentally learning to ice skate. I didn’t intend to, I just sort of got coerced into going along one day with some friends and my other half. I spent a fairly intense hour shuffling around the edge of the rink using all my mental abilities in an attempt at keeping my feet under me.

It’s weird learning a new physical skill. I know exactly what to do – I can see other people skating around and what they’re doing makes sense. Lean forwards, push with one of your feet slightly twisted, glide, repeat. Twist your feet in that subconscious way you do when walking to steer. And yet I can’t do it that efficiently! There’s a lot of weaving about, slipping around and intense concentration that results in me going forwards really slowly while using 10x more energy than I’d use running twice the distance. Skating appears to be the art of constantly slipping face-first into the ground without hitting it, in the same way walking is the art of constantly falling over without hitting the ground.

Meanwhile people skate backwards on one leg while texting at speeds that’d earn you a speeding ticket.

Anyway, at the end of every skating session the magic ice repairing machine comes out which is called a Zamboni (in the same way anything that sucks up dirt is called a ‘Hoover’ and how we now ‘Google’ for things).

Before Christmas I read about someone’s project where they built a Zamboni out of a ride-on-mower. Then I went skating a few weeks ago and saw one. Today is the 112th birthday of the person who invented them. Completely unrelated things that my brain has decided to link together.

I went skating again last weekend. I was marginally less crap to begin with and by the end of the session I’d managed to propel myself around the rink unaided – and was no longer the slowest person there 🙂 My style is probably horrible, my technique is probably full of badness, but on a deeply rutted icy nightclub in the middle of Bradford that was infested with teenagers, I don’t think it matters.

Learning a physical skill like skating is quite satisfying. There’s an instant feedback between you doing something and you seeing the result. I am constantly amazed at my body’s ability to keep itself upright. Keep your head above your waist, keep your waist above your feet, the rest just happens by itself.

One day I’ll be going backwards on purpose.

It’s not the end of the world, and we know it

If you’re going to make a countdown timer, at least make it stop at the end…

Unless you’ve been living in a storm drain, DIY ark or trying to get on top of some mountain, you’ve probably noticed the Internet getting a bit excited about the 12/12/2012 and how supposedly the world’s going to end.

I have to admit, it was a bit wet last night with the BBC News stating the obvious and helping make people remember to avoid living on flood plains, but that’s just the UK for you. 11:11am (why that nice neat time?) rolled around and it failed to rain fire from the sky, the ground didn’t open up and a mystery planet didn’t come and knock us out of the sky.

It was all quite boring really. So, to liven things up in this new era (according to a calendar most people didn’t know existed until some nutjobs noticed the date) go out, venture into the corners of the web where oddballs like to set up badly made websites. Roam around Facebook and find crazies, look on Youtube for videos. Find some great examples of the doomsayers going “errm… well… we didn’t actually mean the world was going to end, more that … err”.

I’ll start you off with with these crazy buggers and their facebook page.

Here’s some nice music to listen to as you go about your day.


This message is for the intended recipient only

… so if you got it, that’s actually our fault but we can’t do anything about it.

I just paid my credit card, I got this rather nice email. Email has been suitably mangled to vainly hide the place issuing my credit card (although it’s really not hard to work it out if you’re moderately intelligent)

Spot the logical inconsistency, win a prize* I really like the bit where they refer to me as an ‘it’ at the end.

* Prize not real, prize not valid in countries where breathing oxygen is permitted. Limit of zero per entrant.

Dear You (although at the end of this message we refer to you as an ‘it’),
Thank you for your payment made through Leading Brand Supermarket Credit Card.
Payment was submitted on xx/yy/zzzz aa:bb and will take 4 working days to reach your account.
Payment amount £ooo.oo.
Best wishes
Some Bloke
Marketing Director, Place that owns most of your life
Many internet users have recently been targeted through bogus e-mails by fraudsters claiming to be from their bank. These e-mails ask customers to provide their internet banking security details in order to reactivate their account or verify an e-mail address.
Please be on your guard against e-mails that request any of your security details. If you receive an e-mail like this you should not respond.
Please remember that, for security reasons, apart from when you create them at registration or when you change your Internet Pin or Password, we will only ever ask you to enter random characters from your Internet PIN and Password when you logon to this service.
We would never ask you, by e-mail, to enter (or record) these details in full and we would therefore request that you do not respond to e-mails asking for this information.
[Calls may be recorded]
Please do not reply to this e-mail as the mailbox doesn’t accept incoming messages. If you have any comments or queries, we can be contacted via our website at
Supermarket Personal Finance plc. Registered in Scotland No. 12345. Registered office: Address of a mailbox where there aren’t actually any people present.
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
This e-mail message is confidential and for use by the addressee only. If you are not the addressee, please return the message to the sender by replying to it and then delete the message from your computer.
Internet e-mails are not necessarily secure. Whoever Personal Finance plc does not accept responsibility for changes made to this message after it was sent.
Whilst all reasonable care has been taken to avoid the transmission of viruses, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure the onward transmission, opening or use of this message and any attachments will not adversely affect its systems or data. No responsibility is accepted by Whatever Personal Finance plc in this regard and the recipient should carry out such virus and other checks as it considers appropriate.

My Dad’s Total Knee Replacement

Dressings on a total knee replacement

I’ve just been to hospital to visit my dad who had a total knee replacement on Friday. Despite being an NHS patient he got a choice of hospitals and was able to choose a private one which only has 14 rooms. It’s quite a nice place for a hospital really.

Before my dad is allowed out he has to complete a series of tasks of increasing difficulty, ranging from being able to bend his fancy new knee to going up a set of stairs. We went for a limp around the corridors and his leg didn’t fall off so it seems that with constant gentle exercise it’ll start to work properly; at the moment he complains it’s very stiff and uncomfortable – but not painful, unlike the remains of the knee they removed.

Bruising and tape marks around the site of an epidural

He was telling me about the operation. At the start you get made to sit on the edge of the bed with your knees bent up while an epidural is stuck into you. The sensation of this was described as being like hot water flowing down both legs… After this they rolled him onto the bed and stuck the desired leg up into the air. The strange part is that my dad didn’t know this was going on until he saw his leg in the air – supposedly your brain remembers the position of all your limbs, so when the epidural took effect the last position of his leg was all he could sense. This might be like the phantom limb sensation felt by people with amputated limbs.

Once he’s out and has the dressing off I’ll try to get another photo, there’s a rather interesting line of staples down his knee that I’ll ask him to photograph. He did ask to keep the bits of knee joint they removed, but it seems there’s certain rules about disposing of body parts so they didn’t let him.

Where has my Egg VISA card gone?

Ages ago I signed up for an VISA card for a trip to the US. Since then I’ve used it for various random things before signing up for a Natwest VISA and pretty much ignoring the Egg one. At one point I reduced its credit limit to £300 (the lowest it would go) and put it in a box for safe keeping.

I tried to cancel it yesterday, only to discover Barclaycard now appear to have bought Egg’s VISA card system and that I now need to do all my dealings with them. Fair enough, a letter or something might have been nice, but whatever.

Tried to visit Barclaycard’s website to see what’s going on and it seems I should have received a new Barclaycard because my Egg one is now invalid. Well no, I didn’t.

Do you know how impossible it is to get anywhere with Barclaycard’s customer service system if you don’t have one of their cards? The immensely patronising automated phone system explains three times to me about typing in my “long number from the front of the card” or pressing ‘1’ to open an account.

Eventually their system gave up and put me through to a moderately helpful human who was completely unable to find me on their system. Seems I have no account with Egg and no account with Barclaycard.

… then he put me on hold and the line went dead … Oh well, I was bored anyway (have you noticed how when this happens they never call you back? And you never get given any form of ID to contact the same human you had last time?).

If I suffer mind-crushing boredom next week I’ll root around amongst my stuff to see if I can find an Egg card and see if the “long number off the front that starts with 4263” (I know what a credit card number looks like, I’m not a moron!) is magic enough to work on them.

If not, I guess an admin cockup has worked in my favour! That’d majorly suck if this was my proper VISA card I actually used though.

SMS Spam from 01133086113

I keep getting this SMS every few weeks/months from some place called ‘Hamptons’

Miss Eppie Taylor, it is important that we speak to you today. Call Hamptons on 01133086113 quoting ref 97551270

It also occasionally comes from some place called ‘Lowell’ with a phone number of 01133086108, or a place called ‘Red’ with a number of 01133086119. They all have the same message with the same ‘ref’ number.

I also once got an automated voice call to my mobile from one of these, but the message was so garbled and fuzzy I couldn’t work out what was being said.

Ripping a phonebook in two just got easier

Fear my immense strength!

Once upon a time the BT Phonebook was a great thick publication – there’s an English phrase “as thick as a phonebook” that was invented because of the weighty nature of these books.

Pages and pages of people’s names and their addresses and phone numbers.

The current one for where I live plopped through my letterbox this morning and it’s a bit of a disappointment really. Either the population of this area has suddenly succumb to some form of horrific disease… or people don’t want listing in a book any more.

The 2011 BT Phonebook for Doncaster is 272 pages long. The first 9 pages are BT internal numbers and semi useful local council numbers. Then some adverts. P13-127 are classified adverts.P128-180 are business listings. Pages 181-265 are residential numbers – the whole point of the book originally.

So the whole point of the phonebook has been reduced to 84 pages. I think they should save a few trees and not bother printing it any more, I can’t remember the last time I wanted to look up a phone number.

It reminds me of the last dying few years of my favourite ZX Spectrum and Atari ST magazines, watching them wither away to tiny pamphlets no more than 30-40 pages long. Except I don’t read the phonebook, I drop it into the paper recycling bin instead.