Yomping through the Brecons

DSCF0074.JPGSome years ago my Dad decided that we really needed to go for a hike around the Brecon Beacons and I am not quite sure why, but I didn’t try and get out of it.

In fact, Dad managed to rope in my brothers to it aswell and off we jolly well went.   Not content with wandering through the natural beauty of the Brecons like any normal group of people, Dad decided that we needed to take the “road less travelled”..so to speak.

Geared up with hiking boots and all the necessary accoutrements (backpacks, waterproofs etc) we set off.   A small amount of very simple rock climbing, stone hopping across streams…a picnic at the top of a climb and everything was pretty good.   Dare I say downright enjoyable.   Sod it, I do dare :-)   It was enjoyable.

With the exception of Dad, all of us slipped and fell knee high into a stream or two and it never ceased to raise a laugh when someone did.   It was a pretty good boys day out…Kev and Paul even dove from a pretty high cliff into a lake.

We climbed up a small waterfall and when we got to the top, discovered that we would need to cross a stream to get where we were heading.   This meant navigating our way around the ledge of the waterfall…which was pretty slippery.   Dad showed us that we should get our feet set and then fall onto the main waterfall with our arms outstretched.   Then move sideways, always keeping our hands on the waterfall.

Dad went first to show us how it was done….then me, then Kev and finally it was Pauls turn.   Paul, being the youngest was also, unfortunately, the smallest.   As he stretched out his hands and fell forward, he was submerged beneath the falling water…all   I remember, through the laughing and almost falling into the water myself, was hearing *blubblubdaadblubhelpblubglugblugbglubdaad*

Dad stepped into the water properly, waded across and lifted Paul out of the water with one hand.   We got to the other side and collapsed into hysterics, with Paul alternating between angrily complaining and whining.   That’s when we noticed what appeared to be a school trip taking place and the teacher heading over towards us.   I assumed that he was going to have a go at us for setting a bad example or something equally banal.

We try and calm down in readiness for the impending telling-off, Dad is washing his face in the stream…and the rest of us are drying and eating.   When the teacher arrives, he leads with “Do you know what you are doing?”.   He doesn’t seem particularly angry, but still…he is a teacher and this is very possibly his normal anger tone.   My Dad explains that he is a quite an experienced hiker and that, while he apologises for setting a bad example to the teachers class, he does in fact know what he is doing…thanks so very much.

To which the teacher replies…”Ok, so you know that rats piss in this stream?   Just upstream from here as a matter of fact….enjoy your hike”.   With that he smiles, turns and walks away while we start immediately trying to vomit out any water we all might have swallowed, whilst simultaneously laughing at the previously aquatic Paul.

We never did go hiking with Dad again…I am not entirely sure Mum trusted him after that…and we ran out of ant-bacterial mouthwash about 4 seconds after getting home.

Good times…

Lyrically Challenged

Take That performing at the Royal Variety Show 16 Dec 2008I realise that this may seem like a relatively tame..ney bleedin’ easy target, but Take That have been responsible for more female teen incontinence than White Lightning Cider or Thunderbird Red in the UK combined.   So it is only right that I at least attempt to review/analyse their genius.   In particular a song that was inexplicably one of the best selling love songs when it was released.   I give you Back For Good by Take That:

I guess now it’s time for me to give up
I feel it’s time
Got a picture of you beside me
Got your lipstick mark still on your coffee cup
Got a fist of pure emotion
Got a head of shattered dreams
Gotta leave it, gotta leave it all behind now

The song starts off strongly, but clearly Mr Barlow is not a man of his convictions or this song would have ended after the first line, and we could have gone on with our lives.   But no…he chooses to toy with our emotions, lulling us into a false sense of hope and optimism.   That said, he feels it’s time…so who am I to argue.

Now, he has a picture of her beside him…ok, the lad has gone through a break-up, I can understand having pictures of her.   Maybe it is a dirty picture…that would certainly explain the “fist of pure emotion”, but c’mon Mr Barlow…admit that you are having a wank…it’s perfectly natural.   I can’t be sure about the shattered dreams…maybe he never got the chance to have that threesome they always talked about, if that is the case that would explain having to leave it all behind.   Maybe leaving the desire for the threesome behind will mean she might come back to him…I suppose it’s possible.

Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn’t mean it
I just want you back for good
Whenever I’m wrong just tell me the song and I’ll sing it
You’ll be right and understood

It’s a decent attempt to apologise…you have realised that you did indeed fuck something up royally.   That said, you can’t figure it out and you are playing straight into her hands.   We all know that women love to play this card…you know.. “If you don’t know what you’ve done, there is no point me telling you!”..that one.   Think man, think!   There must be something.   Maybe you left pubic hair in the soap…wiped your cock on the curtains once too often…continuously left the toilet seat up (or down, but you peed on it)?   There has to be something you are prepared to admit to, if not to us through the medium of song, at least to yourself.   Obviously with the lipstick marks left on cups from the first verse…you don’t wash up very often.   It’s often the little things.

You want her back for good, fair enough…but it sounds to me like she left you.   Maybe she left you because you like karaoke a little too much.   Why can’t you just talk to her?   Do you really need to sing it, and if so..can’t you pick a meaningful song for yourself, instead of expecting her to pick the apology song.   I have to say though, she gives you the apology and you accept it, unquestionably???   Do you even own a testicle?

Unaware but underlined I figured out this story
It wasn’t good
But in the corner of my mind I celebrated glory
But that was not to be
In the twist of separation you excelled at being free
Can’t you find a little room inside for me

You mean to tell me that it was underlined?!?…oh ffs…she left you a note explaining things?   Why didn’t you mention this before?   It doesn’t leave you an awful lot to figure out then…she frickin’ told you the reasons…with underlining (and probably a highlighter pen…I realise rhyming anything with highlighter pen could be complex though) aswell.   I must confess to a small amount of intrigue though…what glory are you celebrating exactly?   Did she dump you for loads of things, but not the one thing you expected…therefore as a man, you consider that a victory?   Don’t get me wrong, I get it…I really do – Us men have to take the wins where we can get them…it doesn’t happen too often after all.

Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn’t mean it
I just want you back for good
Whenever I’m wrong just tell me the song and I’ll sing it
You’ll be right and understood

Back to this again…even after reading her note, you still can’t work out what you did?   We get that you want her back, you told us already.   And for christ sake, enough with the Karaoke fixation…Even I want to leave you and we haven’t even met….and I am not just referring to my dislike for your music.

And we’ll be together, this time is forever
We’ll be fighting and forever we will be
So complete in our love
We will never be uncovered again

Did you ever consider the possibility that you sound like a stalker who plans on keeping her in a specially constructed love “cell”?   It’s not too likely she will be coming back of her own free will…and anyone seeing you at the local hardware store buying duct tape, rope and asking about the availability of chloroform will propably be a little suspicious….

And fighting??   Fighting??   Are you serious?   Didn’t your Mum and Dad ever teach you that fighting never solves anything?….and honestly, I realise you look like you would struggle to fight your way out of a wet paper bag, fighting a woman is a definite hallmark of the distinctly testicularly challenged.   Also, I think we have massively different definitions of love if you expect your actions to make you both complete in it….

Hang on a minute…the last line there “…never be uncovered again” – Are you saying that your love “cell” is a love bunker?   Or are you, dare I say it, planning on killing both yourself and her in some sort of “together for eternity” bollocks…   Someone should call the authorities…

Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn’t mean it
I just want you back for good
Whenever I’m wrong just tell me the song and I’ll sing it
You’ll be right and understood

Back to this again?   I am pretty sure that she wasn’t interested anyway, but by repeating the same shit 3 times…maybe she will reconsider eh?   10 out of 10 for persistence Mr Barlow…. I will give you that much

I guess now it’s time, that you came back for good

I guess it’s time for the police to be called, her to enter some form of witness protection programme, the courts to be prepared and you to be fitted for a made to measure nice white “cuddle yourself” jacket….but that’s just me…

Film LaughingWolf 09


Ok, so this isn’t going to be a real review…I am not honestly sure that I have one within me anyway.   That said, I went to watch “Watchmen” the other day with CW and frankly I was underwhelmed.

Firstly, it felt like about 4 films rolled into one with very little flow..very disjointed.   Secondly, it was fast approaching an hour too long.   Thirdly, it wasn’t anywhere near as dark as the comics and finally, if you are a being made entirely of energy (or whatever…and I am speaking to Mr Manhattan here for the uninitiated)….you would give yourself a decent sized schlong surely.   You would possibly even consider being Super Schlong, with the super power of “Sperm Tsunami(tm)”, none of this teleporting and scattering everyones newspapers around nonsense.   Ok, so he could grow himself to 200 feet tall, but that has limited benefits in a sexual situation….and let’s face it, most people want superpowers for just that reason.   I did like his ability to clone himself though, it would certainly stop all that “trying to find someone suitable for a threesome” rubbish too…although if he could clone her, that would be especially useful…

That said, some of the action scenes were really good…the trouble was that they were over in seconds and there were not enough of them…and they were generally cut with stylised nonsense that distracted from the action going on.   I can honestly say that I felt like leaving on no less than 6 occasions during the film and that has only ever happened to me once before.

As I said before, I almost walked out in the middle of Event Horizon, a piece of AliensWannabe nonsense that only kept me in the cinema because it was raining outside and I had a ticket to another film immediately afterwards.   I can pretty much sit through any shite, even if I don’t particularly enjoy the film.   Don’t get me wrong, I will try anything to avoid chick flicks and anything with Pauly Shore, but if cornered and the goggle box goes on…I will sit through it until it is over.   At home I have only ever turned off 2 films… Natural Born Killers and Signs.   Never in my life have I seen a more pointless film than Natural Born Killers…and I watched Rony and Michelles High School Reunion FFS.   The least said about Signs the better…I wanted to put some silver foil on my own head and hide from “Them”..you know the “Them” that chose to release this insufferable piece of shit.

So with all that in mind, I think I will head out and see “The Pink Panther 2” or “Confessions of a Shopoholic”…I should be safe with those at least :-)

Seen any disappointing films recently?

Big trouble in little Bielefeld

Bielefeld by night....apparentlyThere is a conspiracy in Germany that Bielefeld does not exist.   There are even Wikipedia entries about it.   So, for any Germans reading this, it may surprise you to know that I have actually been there, eaten food and drank various soft beverages there and in fact was arrested in that veritable Bermuda Triangle of Germany.

First, the conspiracy:

Apparently it started off as a Usenet joke which took on its own life.   Made much worse some years later when Google Maps misaligned their satellite hybrid view, so that the street overview was placed on a blank forest area.   Apparently the council of Bielefeld even went so far as to create an advertising campain with the slogan “Bielefeld gibt es doch!” (Bielefeld does exist!” and they still recieve calls and emails that doubt the very existence of the City.

There are 3 questions that you need to ask yourself:

Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
Do you know anyone that has ever been to Bielefeld?

If you answer yes to any of the questions, you are part of the conspiracy…

Based on this, it is my belief that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is based there and not, as people were led to believe, in Kansas.

My personal memories of Bielefeld as a city are somewhat cloudy.   I get glimpses of the place in sort of random 4 second snapshots…Almost as if my memory was wiped in an alien abduction/probe kind of way.

That said, I do clearly remember being there with around 5 other guys, at about 8 in the morning on a Sunday.   I don’t actually know why though, seeing as there a no shops open on a Sunday.   I quite like that, even though I am not religious, you get Sundays as a proper day of rest…unless you work in a Bakery.

Or a restaurant.   Or a bar.   Or cafe.   Of course the Kiosks are open obviously.   Other than that nothing is open.   Oh, mustn’t forget the people that operate public transport.   So other than bakeries, restaurants, cafes, bars, kiosks and public transport…everything is.. wait, swimming pools.   And fitness centers.   Almost forgot cinemas…oh and the souveneir shops.   As you can see, they feel really strongly about making sure that the Germans get their day of rest…you can even get in trouble for washing your car!

Anyway, back to Bielefeld…so myself and 5 others were wandering through Bielefeld playing Def Leppard at a reasonable volume (if we were deaf) when the police arrived and asked us very politely to turn it down arrested us.   It might have been OK if we had simply turned it down when they turned up and spoke to them, instead of scattering like cockroaches when you turn the light on.   Apparently, the police don’t like getting exercise that early in the morning…especially before they have had their morning doughnuts and coffee.

It took them around 20 minutes to round us up.   We were slowed down considerably by not knowing where the hell we were running to..although let’s face it, where we were running from was more important at the time.   We, of course, played the dumb English card to try and get away with it…the 2 German lads that were with us did this too, albeit somewhat less convincingly.   Unfortunately English is a little more widely spoken than we gave credit for and we were well in the shite.   Well…as in the shite as 6 kids can be when facing a noise pollution charge…it’s not like we robbed a bank or anything.   I am pretty sure they were just trying to shock us.   The problem was that we were cocky little bleeders…at least I was.   I may have even tried to tell them we had diplomatic immunity *cough*

Still…we got away with it and our parents were none the wiser.

Actually, speaking of the German lads trying to pretend they were English..   A loooong time ago, I was heading to visit my folks in my battered Morris Marina when I remembered that I needed to get some cash out of the bank.   I left work early and headed into Newark to do just this.

I was in holiday mode and not really concentrating too much…so much so that I just followed the traffic into the Market Square.   I pulled up outside the bank and nipped inside.   I left the keys in the car as it was impossible to start without knowing how.   I got to the cashiers desk and was waiting for my money when I heard the distinctive sound of my car trying to start.   A quick glance out of the door and I suddenly notice the world.   A world in which the Market Square is full of Market traders…on Market day no less.   I had followed market traders onto the market square and had parked in just the right position to stop any of them moving their vans around to pack up and leave.

Thinking quickly, I whip off my work ID badge, pickup my money, put on my sunglasses and head outside.   It is fair to say that the guy trying to start my car, along with his 10 friends…were not happy.   He immediately starts swearing at me to move my “fucking car”.   Panicked, I put on my stereotypical German accent and pretend to speak broken English.   I am left with the image of my getting into the car, starting it up and then being guided whilst reversing by a load of market traders talking loudly and in very simple English words.   Trying to explain where to head and making sure everyone was out of my way…   I got my karmic retribution though, a 3 hour journey took 9 hours thanks to an accident on the motorway…

Accents are fun…and can get you out of the odd sticky situation I guess…just try and using them for good

Server Nightmares…

More Fire…are hopefully over now.

I suppose these things are sent to try us.   Initially I thought I had been hacked like last year, but a quick sweep around the system showed me that nothing was wrong.   You see the server would run fine for a day and then die at around 19:00.   Weird.

So I backed up and bit the bullet to reformat and start again…I figured it wouldn’t take me all that long and it would give me the opportunity to upgrade all of the software at the same time.   Something I have been meaning to do for a while anyway.

That was the plan anyway.   Some of you may have noticed a distinct Wolf shaped gap in the blogosphere over the last week…so clearly the plan failed.   Not only did it fail, it failed spectacularly.   Add to the 19:00 failure and necessary restart to the fact that I couldn’t request a remote reset from my control panel and had to wait hours each time for the (undoubtedly busy) datacenter technicians to reboot the server manually.   I eventually decided to get them to reboot into recovery mode so that I could backup and start the reformat.

This is where things really started going wrong.   Firstly I decided to ask them to check the physical server for errors.     Something that took some time, but ultimately paid off when they mailed me to say that the server had been rebuilt as the hard disk had been replaced.   They, of course, waited until I began a vitriol against how “stable” linux was on twitter.   Ah well..

So I start installing the necessary packages and restoring my data.   Except I couldn’t access my sites.   Odd, thinks I…maybe I should check a few logs and see what is happening.   Turns out a piece of software that is pretty much just “Install and run” is failing to start properly.   In true style, it couldn’t be something basic and unnecessary.   Oh no dear readers, it had to be something complicated and absolutely necessary to the operation of the server.   I figured I had done something wrong, so cue reformat and install from scratch again…still not working….ok, reformat and install different linux distro…still not working.





Hmm.. I try the old version of my distro.   The troublesome software springs into life.   Yey, thinks I…until I look at the vital other software I need to install…where the first line says “If you are running the old version, upgrade first….” – Fuck!

I remembered an offer from the company I rent the server from to install the server and their software for me, so I finally give up after delving into the rather scary linux world of compiling your own software from source.. and probably starting the next world war instead of getting a successful installation.   Checking the news regularly shows me that the world is no more fucked up than usual, so I assume I have gotten away with it and ask the company to put me out of my misery.

They do this and dutifully mail me to advise that it is up, running and working.   2 minutes later I discover that they are, in fact, wrong.   I gleefully inform them of this and they decide to install manually from CD for me the next morning.

So a mere 5 days after the server went down, it was back up and running..leaving me the joyful task of restoring everything.

Then came the test and everything was working…sort of.   WordPress decided that it wouldn’t allow half of my plugins to work properly.   It was in no way and shape due to me forgetting to install a PHP Module…nosireebob.   I would never do that.

So there you have it, The Laughing Wolf is back…now I just need to write something.   I feel another server outage coming on ;-)


Job Agencies

laserWorking in IT means that in 90% of job hunting scenarios, you will be utilising the services of a job agency.   After some time, your CV will be basically everywhere.   This is a good thing and leads agencies to get in contact with you when they feel they have something that meets your requirements.

Even when you aren’t looking for work, there is a deep satisfaction and a nice ego massage when someone calls/emails to say “We want you”.   That said, I have been recently contacted to see if I would be interested in a number of positions that I don’t think I am entirely suited for..

Web Development Manager
Senior Corporate Counsel
Financial Director

It’s quite an impressive and spectacularly annoying failure on the part of their software I think.   Clearly they are just scanning the CV for any of the words…seemingly contained in the dictionary and when they find a hit, send me a frickin email.

My personal fave though has to be a recent email for the position of Thunderhead Developer.   I mean, I like Thunder and I have a head…but I certainly don’t have either of those things on my CV, not even in my decidedly boring hobbies and interests section.   Or maybe I am being recruited by a Bond villain as a henchman evil designer.   Trying to develop the latest and greatest Moon based giant laser beam and shark tank combo.   I could help with the interior design of the Volcanoe hideaway and recruit other henchmen to do my evil masters bidding.

I could even become his (or her…let’s face it, women have the greater capacity for evil anyway) right hand man, you know..taking over the duties when they are on holiday, or incarcerated in a maximum security cryogenics facility.

Anyway, back to the job agencies…I think I will amend my CV and have keywords hidden in white, 2pt text at the bottom.   So far I am thinking “Evil, Kidnap, Lair, Sharks, Laser, Moon and kittens”.     Should be interesting to see what they email me about after that lot.

In other news, I will try and get back to blogging more frequently…I just keep getting distracted and frankly the distractions are more interesting than writing anything ;-)