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Captain Blue
Name: Captain Blue
Website: Utter Tosser
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Back September 2011
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Blue's Blog
Kicking Tyres and Talking Bollocks
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Bad news: the realisation that not only am I running low on laundered shirts for work, but also that I am not going to be able to wash and iron/have ironed the ones I've already been wearing.
Good news: the realisation that Charles Tyrwhitt have an offer on their shirts.
Bad news: ordering five for next day delivery to the office and then finding out that only one is in stock.
Good news: seeing that three others are expected to be in stock today.

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Current Location: Wigan
Feeling: complacent complacent

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Another great weekend: an early-ish start for me, as I had another photoshoot planned with the fab Anita De Bauch at her home in North London. She's a great hostess as well as model: knowing I'm watching my weight and love my coffee, she'd laid on decent coffee and some very low calorie snacks to munch on during the shoot, which was on a Hollywood/Film Noir/Boudoir theme.

Some great results already despite my not really having much if any time for edits on Saturday afternoon before I headed over to Epsom for Dinner and a film: the really rather dull "Paranormal Activity 2".

Sunday morning and off we went over towards Swindon for  our second attempt at skydiving ... and our second postponement, again due to weather. Grr! Trying again in October.

Back to Epsom before heading out for an 11.5 miles bike ride over the downs and country parks accompanying GT who's doing another half marathon in a couple of weeks and hasn't really trained. Trained? Trust me, she doesn't need to: she treated it with disdain like a stroll to the shops. Awesome, as they say...

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Current Location: London
Feeling: busy busy

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Another from the photoshoot

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Current Location: United Kingdom, England,Surrey,Epsom and Ewell District, Epsom

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From yesterday's photoshoot with Anita De Bauch

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Current Location: United Kingdom, England,Surrey,Epsom and Ewell District, Epsom

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Skydiving today, weather permitting. Let's hope this isn't postponed again

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Current Location: United Kingdom, England,Surrey,Epsom and Ewell District, Epsom

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I've had a bit of a cull of my Friends list on LJ. Apologies if you've been deleted and if you really feel indignant about it, it's not my fault: it's my age. Comment and I'll add you back!

Feeling: blah blah

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Not dead yet.

Went to Washington DC.

Bought a Samsung NC10 Netbook on the way and was (and still am) very impressed.

Watched and enjoyed "Four Christmases" (not too bad), "The Hangover" (loved it, but you must watch the end credits too), "The Hurt Locker", "The Proposal" (didn't expect to enjoy this one, but did) and started watching "Watchmen" (must get the DVD so I can see the rest).

I heart Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.

Loving life at the moment.

That is all.

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Feeling: cheerful cheerful

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Not a typo.

Here's a shot of my inner thigh:




It was Jack's birthday and at his paintball party, the birthday boys have to do a "birthday run": across one arena and back ... with both teams lined up along the side to shoot at you. As Jack's under 16, they had to ask my permission for him to do the run and as Jack was looking worried I said no ... and had to run it for him!

This is the worst of 25+ paintball bruises.

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Current Location: SE16
Feeling: sore sore

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Oops

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7877339.stm

Well! No wonder he was shot if he was standing near a bloody great target!

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Current Location: SE1
Feeling: naughty naughty

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Oh and I forgot about this one: I stayed in Manchester at the City Inn before heading down to Birmingham the following day. So early, in fact, that I could not get breakfast at the hotel.

Anyway, the room was good but too bright as there is a massive neon sign opposite. And ... wait for it ... an iMac in the room! Fabby.

Less fabby was the shower which decided to stop giving me hot water half way through my shower at 5.30am.

And less fabby was the charge of £3 they tried to make. No idea why, but that was what they had earlier quoted me for having breakfast in my room I think even though I didn't actually take them up on that. Still they did write that off the bill.

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Feeling: sleepy sleepy

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I have been staying in hotels and motels a lot of late. It started when I moved out and was then staying in a Travelodge outside Norwich which was adequate before changing to the Breckland Lodge at Attleborough which is less so, but I can get breakfast included for around the same price as the room only. The Lodge's rooms vary in quality and could do with modernising, but are fine.

I have also been travelling on business a lot and always try to get value where I can, so the first stay of 2009 was in the Crowne Plaza in Birmingham at a really low room rate for a large double room - £50 ish. The only issue was breakfast at stupid money - £18, I think!

I needed to book some days the next week but the rates had increased significantly and this was where the Crowne Plaza lost my loyalty: online I could book at around £90 and they suggested I ask at the hotel itself that evening. They offered me room only in a twin room for £113! Going to another version of their website a different route, there was a B&B offer at £79. Ridiculous and no doubt caused by revenue management software...

I had to book another couple of odd visits and I knew I'd be arriving late, so no need to book anywhere with a restaurant. Premier Inns beckoned. And can I just say what a revelation these have been? Very comfortable beds, the lack of a bar of soap is a minor irritation but they do have soap and shampoo dispensers and the all you can eat breakfasts are cheap but good.

I have now stayed at three in Birmingham ... or tried to. I cocked up and booked the wrong night at one of the Broad Street ones, so when I arrived at 1.00am and was turned away, the guy checked the other Broad Street Canal Side one, saw it had five rooms left and directed me there. Wayne on reception checked me in, offered me the same room rate and also cancelled my incorrect booking for me. Excellent customer service.

Then there was this weekend. Friday I stayed at the Premier Inn at Grimsby. The same very comfortable double bed I usually get at these places. The room let me down though: a plug stuck in the sink so I had to use the bath taps to brush my teeth; and the heating was malfunctioning - instead of turning itself off at the required temperature, it kept banging it out, reaching 29 degrees in the room! Still a fab breakfast on Saturday morning.

So Premier Inns get a thumbs up despite the appallingly cringeworthy TV ads.

Saturday evening and it was the Admiral Rodney at Horncastle. Double the price almost and not too bad a room but double the value? Not really and the smell of the fresh paint from the corridor was not good. The restaurant was shut as I'd been warned as the staff were having their Christmas party ... over the road at the Chinese restaurant where I had made a booking! Another good breakfast and then I left for Birmingham.

So now I'm in the Copthorne. The room only has one spare power socket, so swapping between the lappy, kettle and phone charger is a pian in the arse. The carpet has holes in it. The pillows are limp. Having said that, the room is large. We'll see how well I sleep.

Oh and I forgot to pack a tie, so I had to nip out this afternoon and buy a new one. Oops.

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Current Location: Copthorne Hotel, Birmingham
Feeling: tired tired

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I noticed the other day that Google has a new "favicon" - the small picture that appears to the side of the URL in some browsers or finds its way into your favorites [sic].

There was nothing much wrong with the old one, I thought, and the new one is just a mess, I reckon. I actually prefer the one submitted by Lucian Marin.

But what do I know, eh? Anyway, it's all discussed here:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/googles-new-favicon.html

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Current Location: EC1
Feeling: geeky geeky

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 Finally saw the dentist on Friday. She prodded and poked and told me I had a cavity (top right). Oh and the pain all the way up to my left cheekbone that was easily demonstrated by poking one of my teeth might be serious.

She packed me off to get x-rayed and then pronounced things weren't as bad as they had initially seemed, but yes, there was an infection in my jawbone and I had three options:
  1. The course of antibiotics she wanted me to start on right now might solve it until next time and I should always travel with antibiotics just in case; or
  2. Have the tooth - which was also fractured - extracted; or
  3. Have root canal work ... and then have it extracted when it inevitably got worse.

Ah.

So I asked what I could have in its place as I don't wish to be gappy even if it shouldn't be on show much. Especially with my usual grimace.She said that they usually recommend keeping the gap. But if not, Option #1 was an implant that would cost "thousand and seven hundred". Option #2 was a bridge that was "two fifty per tooth" which would mean £500. I shall go for Option #3 - the gap at no additional cost, I think.

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Current Location: EC1
Feeling: sore sore

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Finally getting this toothache looked at in a minute. Not looking forward to what might be required though.

Then back down to London
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 Why is it so difficult to book a hotel sometimes?

OK, I don't mean physically doing the actual booking, I mean all the shit that comes with Revenue Management or Yield Management.

Someone I know is in the RM software business and through him I know that there are all sorts of mathematical algorithms that the major hotel groups use (through their preferred software solutions) to decide whether to let you have a room (whether or not they have rooms available...) and at what rate.

Take now, for instance. I am staying at the Crowne Plaza in Birmingham and have been here since Sunday night. At a room-only rate of £50 in a rather nice double room.

I needed to book for two or maybe three nights for next week. So I went to the website and it said £99 a night. Later, I went back via a different address - they have many - and there was an offer for around £79 a night. I rang their central reservations number - don't you just hate central reservations for hotel groups? - and was told I could talk to the hotel reception to see if they could match the rate I am currently on. The best central reservations could do was offer the same rate as the website.

So this evening I asked after waiting 15 minutes whilst loads of suits checked in. £113 for a twin room was the best they could do. Had I tried ringing central reservations? Aarrgh!

Back in my room, I visit therir website and it's back to £99, so I rang central reservations and got no joy at all. So I booked into the Copthorne instead at £76.

Later, I looked at my ICHotels Rewards thingy and then re-entered the Crowne Plaza website and saw their January sales promo ... £79 B&B in the double room! The rate that neither the hotel itself nor their central reservations would offer.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck are these people on? Loyalty? Gone out of the window. The only reason I've now re-booked here is that the hotel's been refurbished so the bathrooms are great and the beds are really comfortable.

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Current Location: Crowne Plaza Birmingham
Feeling: aggravated aggravated

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Well apart from Ulrika-ka-ka, it looks like Celebrity Big Brother won't be worth watching - technically, even less worth watching than previous years' shows.

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Current Location: SE16
Feeling: full full

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Here are my numbers for 2008 (2007 stats. in square brackets) broken into two parts:

First half of 2008 (up to 30 June 2008):

227659 e-mails received (plus the GMail ones).

211699 spams filtered by MailWasher Pro.

93% spam.

Second half of 2008 (up to 30 December 2008):

62,319 e-mails received (plus the GMail ones).

41,672 spams filtered by MailWasher Pro.

66% spam.

Combined

289,978 e-mails received (plus the GMail ones) [356,032 so minus 19%] .

253,371 spams filtered by MailWasher Pro [319,499 - minus 21%].

87% spam then.

Commentary

The headline figures look good, but that split is what's important. Basically in June 2008 with my spam stats. looking like heading for another record, I decided to kill my "catch-all" e-mail set-ups and painstakingly create all legitmate mailboxes and aliases. And with that, the spam stats. have come down dramatically.

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Current Location: SE16
Feeling: geeky geeky

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Well it's been a strange day. I woke up around 8.00am with toothache still and tried snoozing until 9.00am. Some texts from friends were well received and I sent mine back, including one to the soon-ish to be ex Mrs Blue. It would have been rude not to.

I didn't feel like breakfast so I tidied up a bit, set up a user on the PC for Jack and then started to cook Christmas Dinner.

Ah.

No gravy. No flour. Shit!

So at the next convenient break point in cooking the stuffed chicken joint, I went for a walk along the Thames, stopping off to see if the local store was open - it wasn't - and heading to the pub for a pint ... and that wasn't open either. Walking back along the Thames looking at the flats and apartments, I thought how life really isn't at all bad if you're happy on your own.

Back to the flat to get the potatoes in the oven and the veg on the hob, with the chestnuts ready to be nuked and added to the sprouts later. Gravy will simply have to be an Oxo cube... Wine chilling in the fridge. Stupid filums on the telly. Then I'll nuke a pud and add some custard. But no cracker, no redcurrant jelly and no company. No worries either. Friends and family will be there another day.

I'll watch some more films on the telly and then either hit the XBox games or the remaindered DVDs. And lots of wine and Baileys. And pain killers for the tooth...

Have a good 'un, you lot, and if you're with a partner give them a hug and kiss and tell them you love them. And better still, mean it...

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Current Location: SE16
Feeling: grateful grateful

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Merry ZRXmas

Current Location: SE1
Feeling: festive