April 4th, 2003


Warning, not funny unless you know about databases...

Just gave myself a shock - I went to use a table I haven't looked at for a while and did a simple "select *" to test I had the setting right. It returned 6 errors and I panicked for a moment wondering what the hell was wrong with the table to give me a whole bunch of disparate errors. And then I remembered that I was looking at the "error message" table. D'oh!

My flexible friend

I love the fact that Standard Life has flex-time.

Let me restate that: I adore the fact that Standard Life has flex-time.

My core hours are 9:30-11:45 and 2:30-4:00 (3:45 on Fridays). I have to be in during those hours. Other than that, I'm free to do my work at any point during working hours (8:00-5:30) so long as I get my 35 hours a week done. I have to take a half hour lunch (it's a legal requirement) and the system knocks off 30 minutes if I don't remember to sign out, so there's no point working then anyway.

Standardly I work 9:00-5:00 with a half hour lunch. This means that I build up half an hour of flex a day, 2 and a half hours a week, a (working)day every three weeks. I'm allowed to take 3 flex days every 2 months, so every time my flex hits 7 hours, I can take a day off.

I like this, but it's not really something I can get that excited about. What I find makes my life that little bit smoother is the fact that if I'm ten minutes late for work, it doesn't matter - clocking in at 9:10 just means I have to pick up 10 minutes elswhere. Similarly, arriving 10 minutes early, I don't feel like I'm working for free - it just means I have an extra 10 minutes in hand for use elsewhere.

The last few weeks Erin's been working as an audio-typist on Wednesday afternoons, Thursdays and Fridays. She needs to get to the Meadows by 9am, which means leaving the house at 8:00 rather than the 8:30 I'm used to. I've been leaving with her (because trying to go back to sleep at 7:30 is pointless for me), giving me an extra half hour of flex for each of thse days. If it wasn't for the flex-system I'd be stuck with half an hour I didn't know what to do with.

It's the little things that make life seem smoother here - it feels like being I'm being treated as an adult, able to set my hours and get the work done, rather than having every moment analysed and tutted over.

Two Towers

Some months later, I got involved in a discussion of the Two Towers that highlightes what I didn't like about The Two Towers.


Rohan's not mentioned in the first film (except in passing while discussing possible routes they can take rather than be killed in an avalanche) and it basically seems in the second film as if Aragorn stumbles across it looking for Hobbits and gets sucked into defending it. Which is all fine and good, but it doesn't really give me much reason to care about them.

What I think I needed was more of a guide to what was where in the geography of Middle Earth. I know I could have gone and read up on this before going to see the film, but I've been deliberately avoiding this as I wanted to see the film without spending all of my time comparing it to the book.

So it would have been nice occasionally to have a reminder that "Rohan is the large plain between Saruman and Gondor. It's vitally important that he conquer it before he move on to help Sauron destroy Gondor", which just took me 10 minutes to work out from studying a very cool map here and a great guide to Middle Earth placenames here.

Amazingly huge battle scenes are all well and good, but I really do need to care about the people under threat a little more than "These are the Rohirrim, they ride horses."

The same is partially true of Faramir's lot. "Off to Osgiliath" they say, leaving me wondering how far out of the way that is for Sam and Frodo.

You know, what I really needed was one of those big maps with a little red line on it, telling me where everyone was and what direction they were going in.

Speaking of Rings

For Fellowship and Towers, Standard Life SF Society hired out The Dominion Cinema for the night before it came out and started a showing at midnight (or a few minutes before).

This year, I intend to take that day and the day after off. From 2pm until 5:30 I shall watch The Fellowship of the Rings (extended edition). From 6:30 until 10pm I shall watch The Two Towers (extended edition). I shall then make my way to the cinema and watch The Return of the King.

The following day will be spent recovering and giggling to myself.

Anyone who wishes to join me is welcome to - SF club is happy to sell tickets to absolutely anyone (I believe they charged £10 last time, with a free drink).

Cinq de la maison

The Friday Five

1. How many houses/apartments have you lived in throughout your life?


2. Which was your favorite and why?

Probably this one, which has the largest space I've had for my stuff. The happiest times were probably either in the Broad Street flat (aah, the weeks spent playing Soul Calibur) or Bannockburn (aah, the weeks spent on acid)

3. Do you find moving house more exciting or stressful? Why?

Stressful. Generally I've liked the places I've lived. All the hard work to get things into a livable condition again are just a pain.

4. What's more important, location or price?

Location - I've always bought at the upper limit of what I could spend.

5. What features does your dream house have (pool, spa bath, big yard, etc.)?

5 wings, to hold all of my friends in comfortable spleandour without being too cramped.