Pastures New

Guess it’s time for a quick catchup of all that’s gone over the last few weeks. The “technical” bits of this post will be dealt with in more detail in their own posts, but I’ll reference them here regardless!

End of Work

The last few months were pretty tough in terms of approaching the known end of employment at LUNS. Lancashire County Council were taking the CLEO contract on themselves under the auspices of their new “Strategic Partnership” with BT and I was fairly adamant I didn’t want to work for them so, with LUNS scaling back to an affordable staffing level while pursuing new contracts, I decided to exercise my laughable “right” to opt-out of TUPE and treat the situation as an opportunity to set out and find something new. In this instance, that meant moving to Newcastle, picking up the gauntlet of unemployment and subjecting myself to the tedious process of job- and house-hunting. Which is where I find myself now.

The process of TUPE is an interesting one. Apparently, it’s envisaged as a “right” on my part. Something I should be proud of, thankful for. But in my case it’s anything but that. What it actually does is force me to resign, rather than be made redundant (which is perhaps a more appropriate term for my actual position) based purely on the fact that I don’t agree to a change of employer that’s out of my control. As with so many laws and rules, it strikes me as something that was implemented with lofty goals and dreams that is, in reality, a heavy-handed tool that does nothing to appreciate or attempt to differentiate along the grey lines of real world situations.
As you might be able to tell, I don’t like it.

So that was that. The last few days drifted by and the new job hunt picked up. It had been a good two and a half years at LUNS, and I genuinely hope and reckon they’ll be sorted in no time. The LCC Strategic Partnership on the other hand… let’s just say I have no love for it.

New Location

As mentioned above, along with finishing work I decided to set out and move to Newcastle to find new work. The reasoning was two-fold:

  1. I’ve spent quite a bit of time up this way over the last year and a half that I’ve been seeing Rach, so I know I like the place and know enough people to not feel completely out of my depth.
  2. I had my mind made up for a good while that when work at LUNS finally finished for me, I wouldn’t be looking for any more work in the Lancaster area. Not because I don’t like it round there – I think it’s great – but because I wanted to try something different. In my head I had it down to a choice between Newcastle or Manchester. For obvious reasons (see 1), I chose Newcastle.

So far, it’s not been going too bad. I don’t have a job yet, but I have got a number of applications in and have plenty to keep me occupied outside of it (including the “Tech Tasks” below).
Managing to get some cycling and climbing in, and hoping to get my head stuck into PHP and SQL a bit more once I can find a decent resource to help with it. The job hunting is tedious, as it ever is, and the house hunting isn’t much better but, feck it, it’s got to be done.

Generally, I’ll be much happier when I’ve got some work to pay the bills with but things are good and I reckon I could get used to it up here without too much hardship.

Tech Tasks

In moving up here, it meant I – obviously – wasn’t going top be around at home as much to keep putting-off doing work I’d planned to do, such as moving the Weather Station software away from the old, noisy, knackered re-housed box that was humming away under the stairs to running on one of them there new-fandangled SheevaPlugs that I’ve had in my possession for far too many months after managing to break the first version I had.
It’s pretty neat, and currently sits there running silently off a single SD Card under the newly released Debian Squeeze. Full details of how I got it working will follow in another post, as it included a bunch of different bits of advice dotted around the place.

On top of that, the fresh announcement that Greenpois0n RC6 now worked with the AppleTV meant that much of this weekend was spent with finally jailbreaking my AppleTV 2G so I could stick XBMC on there. Again, I’ll probably do another post on that to combine in all the bits that I’ve done to get it working how I want (for my own easy reference as much as anything else) but so far I’m pretty impressed, and had it happily streaming a plethora of films and TV Shows from my shiny new QNAP NAS, and HD iPlayer over t’interwebs without issue.

So I guess overall I can say things are good, could-be-better, but plenty to keep me occupied and keep me busy. Hopefully I’ll also get back into the swing of reading more now I’m away from other distractions.

Time will tell.

Glastonbury 2009: Anticipation

Right then.

About this time last year I wrote a similar little note shortly after the lineup had been announced of things I wanted to see and do ahead of Glastonbury, scheduling clashes notwithstanding. Looking at the lineup for this year, I started getting excited again, and figured I would do the same. Similar to last year, the nice thing about the lineup is that there are a lot of artists I know of, but none I’ve particularly thought I’d ever get the chance to see. Also as with last year, I’ll just hit the names down here,  and aim to do a full writeup after the fact.

Here goes then:

  • Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs
  • Neil Young
  • Lily Allen
  • The Specials
  • The Streets
  • Rolf Harris
  • British Sea Power
  • Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band
  • Eagles of Death Metal
  • Pendulum
  • Jarvis Cocker
  • Spinal Tap
  • Florence and the Machine
  • Newton Faulkner
  • 2ManyDJs
  • Scratch Perverts
  • Badly Drawn Boy
  • The Lancashire Hotpots
  • Blur
  • The Prodigy
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Madness
  • Tom Jones
  • Noisettes
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Manu Dibango
  • Roots Manuva
  • Mr Scruff

So, yeh, a bit of a longer list than last time, based on what I’ve seen so far. In addition, some of the stand-up options sound most appealing, as does the Free University of Glastonbury idea. May have to be spending quite a lot of time wandering about the place…

One thing that disappoints me about the lineup is the highly likely clash between Blur and Prodigy – both bands of particular note I would love to see live. If there’s one thing Jay-Z and Massive attack taught me last year it’s that I can’t succesfully mix between the two halfway. Some tough decisions may have to be made…

Obviously, it’s a long list, and many things will clash, especially as I intend to be nipping to and from ‘The Park’ fairly frquently to see what the special guests lineups end up being – I was more than a little gutted to hear I missed Last Shadow Puppets last year. Hmph.

Either way though, I think the essence I’m trying to get across here is this: I’m excited. If you’re going, I hope you are too.

Another Year

Well, I’m another year older. The ripe old age of 23.

Apparently, this isn’t the one I should be worried about, that’s 25 but, meh, I feel old just admitting that I’m 23.
Not in an entirely negative context you understand. I’m not all depressed; I’m not going out to buy myself a Porsche before suffering a nervous breakdown after discovering that my life is a huge melting pot of failed dreams and missed opportunities. Not by a long way.

I’m just genuinely apathetic about the fact it’s my birthday and I can’t, for the life of me, work out why, except to put it down to ‘age’.

Anyway, enough of that shite.

We went out last night avec la famille to celebrate the said birthday to Miyabi in Lancaster, a Japanese restaurant. It was bloody lovely and I gorged gratuitously. Myself and the father had the same thing – the Miyabi Deluxe set meal – consisting of King Prawns in batter, a lovely beef wrap jobby with mushrooms in the middle, lobster, scallops, lamb and pork. Fecking brilliant.
It was a fun night – lots of good banter, excellent food, good drink and general merriment, followed up by a cheeky pint or two in The Three Mariners around the corner.

So, yes, I can recommend it. Whilst it’s not the sort of place you could go to week in week out (it ain’t the cheapest place to go) but in terms of value for money, I’d rate it pretty high. But that could also be because I have zero experience of Japanese food besides that. *shrugs*
If there’s ever a group of us going for a group occasion any time, I’d definitely be recommending it.

After that joviality, I got back home and was encouraged to open cards etc, which included a pretty neat framed drawing of Jimi Hendrix from the parents. Have to admit, I was surprised. Not that I was expecting a shit gift, but I just didn’t expect them to have bought me something like that.

Today’s a day of work, followed by the standard Wetherspoon’s curry night.

As for celebrations of sorts, things are undecided, largely down to my earlier described apathy. There’s the chance of a few beers / food Friday night, either in Lancaster or at mine depending on what people fancy, although to be honest I’m veering away from Lancaster as it means we’ll end up somewhere unnecessarily noisy – I’d rather be able to sit around and chat shite. If anyone fancies either option, let me know and we’ll see if it can happen.

Otherwise, thanks for the birthday messages, cards and the like that people have sent. We’ll beer soon.