Quest for the Brown Sink

Today we finally succeeded in our quest to find a replacement kitchen sink. You wouldn’t think it was such a difficult thing to find but it seems that brown is no longer in fashion. None of the big D-I-Y places do them and, except for second hand ones on Ebay, I couldn’t even find anything online. 😕

The trick, it turned out, was to forget all about the word “brown” and use words like “chocolate” or “mocha” when searching. In the end it we found a “mocca” one produced by a company called Astracast.

A bit more Googling found a supplier in Morley, near Leeds, who could get hold of one for us. Strange website, very odd little shop – I’ve no idea how they manage to stay in business when they’re up against the likes of B&Q etc. $-)

So today we’ve had a trip to Yorkshire to collect it. We bought all the gubbins that goes underneath the sink too: the trap and waste thingies with spigots (top word, never used it before) for connecting the washer and dishwasher. Might as well replace everything, ready for when we rent out the house.

After my last attempt at changing taps, I’m going to save myself a lot of grief and pay a plumber to fit it. ~:>

Edit: Job finished. I bunged the college plumber a few quid to fit it. I’m glad I did, the old tap connections were non-standard guage so he had to put adapter valves on our pipes. It took him about two hours altogether so god knows how long it would’ve taken me to do it on my own.

Manchester United 1 – 0 Liverpool

Pete was ill so I ended up with a spare for the Scousers game today. I gave Steve a call seeing as he kindly took a pair of Wigan tickets off my hands before Christmas when I couldn’t make it.

I didn’t bother with a bet: I just couldn’t see how our midfield of Richardson, Giggs, O’Shea and Fletcher would cope against Gerrard, Sissoko, Alonso and Kewell. I optimistically predicted a nil-nil draw but, in truth, feared we’d get turned over. :-s

We arrived a bit later than usual which meant that we struggled to find a spot on the secret car park. There was already a full row of cars in the middle, so I couldn’t do a three point turn to come back out. I slowly drove all the way to the bottom end, carefully turned the car around and tried to come back up the other side. Unfortunately I found that some idiot had abandoned their car in the aisle and, with a couple of cars following behind me, I had no choice but to get out and leave my car in a dodgy spot too. [-x

We had to queue to get in the Bishop’s Blaize but it was worth it. The place was bursting, everyone singing anti-Scouse songs. There was even a Georgie Best lookalike. After a couple of pints we forgot all about our terrible midfield and wandered down to the ground feeling hopeful.

I can’t remember a great deal about the game, I was totally absorbed in the venomous atmosphere. Considering their own club’s history, it amazes me how the Scouse fans can be so classless. I’ll still have to watch the game on Sky tonight to see what I missed while shouting abuse at the Murderers.

I thought we defended well, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown were outstanding at times. O’Shea was poor until he was replaced by Saha, Giggs had a decent game. Rooney was up for it too.

We reluctantly decided to leave before the final whistle because we knew we had blocked other people in the car par so, with less than 60 seconds of normal time remaining on the clock, we made our way out of Old Trafford. We had barely reached the bottom of the stairs when a cheer went up. x(

The roar didn’t seem that loud, so we presumed the Scousers had bagged a late goal or one of our players had been sent off. As we walked we overheard people saying “It was Rio” but still didn’t know which end he’d scored at. :-ss

Turning on the radio as soon as we got back to the car we found that Ferdinand had scored the winner in stoppage time. Apparently Gary Neville sprinted the whole length of the field to celebrate in front of the Scousers, top man. =))

Emigration update

At last we’ve had some feedback from DIMIA, the Australian Immigration Department, regarding our visa application. :d

It looks like we’ve finally reached the front of the processing queue and they’re now asking for the final few bits of documentation before granting us Permanent Residency. All of the requested paperwork is already lodged with our agent in Sydney, so there should be no further delay now.

All being well we should get the nod in the next 2-3 weeks. b-)

Edit: Actually it might take a couple of weeks longer than this due to delays getting a Centerlink appointment in Melbourne. :-w

Suggestion: Email-Free Friday

A few weeks ago I read an article about how some large companies have adopted “Email-Free Fridays” to encourage workers to communicate face-to-face once per week and reduce the amount of unnecessary e-mail correspondence within the organisation. I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I did a bit of googling:

Here are the links: one, two, three, four.

The college had recently introduced a new Suggestions Scheme so I thought I’d chuck this idea into the hat and see whether anyone else thought it might be a good idea. I gathered some stats together, just in case I was asked to explain the suggestion in more detail, and I was staggered to find out that the college handles over 25,000 e-mails every day.

Intrigued, I wrote a quick VBScript to analyse the Exchange server tracking logs to see where all this e-mail came from, expecting most of it to be students e-mailing their friends and suchlike. I was surprised to find that:

  • We only receive about 5,000 internet e-mails every day. Very few of these are online enquiries and business correspondence with external organisations; the bulk of them are mailing list subscriptions and junk mail.
  • Around 50% of these 5,000 e-mails contain viruses, phishing, other malicious content or are obvious Spam. Our Barracuda device discards all of these before they enter the college network.
  • Although there are over 7,000 students and only 750 staff, students are responsible for less than 10% of the total e-mail volume handled every day.
  • Staff, on average, send 19,000 internal e-mails every single day. Bearing in mind that less than half of the staff use the network on a daily basis, this works out at an average of more than 20 messages per person per day. Some staff manage to send over 200 per day on a regular basis.

Yesterday I was asked to put forward my suggestion at the Managers’ Meeting, so I briefly explained the background behind it and threw in a few statistics. The response was overwhelming, virtually everyone agreed that the amount of e-mail they receive on a daily basis is becoming a real problem. A quick show of hands gave about 80% backing to the Email-Free Friday idea. Interestingly, the ones who didn’t vote in favour are some of the worst offenders, who you don’t see for weeks at a time but receive numerous e-mails from them every week. :-$

So they’re going to publicise Email-Free Friday over the next few weeks before introducing it. It will be nice to get out and about, at least one day per week, meeting people and chatting rather than wading through dozens of snotty e-mails. And I get £5 for putting forward the suggestion. :d

Manchester United 5 – 0 Burton Albion

As predicted, United breezed through the third-round replay against Burton Albion last night. Starting with virtually the same team that played in the goalless draw at the Pirelli Stadium two weeks ago, the difference in class between the two sides when playing on a decent surface was plain to see.

First half goals from Saha and Rossi made the tie safe so, once Richdardson scored a third early in the second half, Fergie decided to experiment even more than usual. At one point we had three recognised left backs on the field and a central midfield of Ferdinand and Giggs. 😮

Ole Solskjaer, playing his first home game since returning from injury, received a superb welcome and played the whole 90 minutes, doing very well on the right wing. Pique and Rossi both had excellent games too. \:d/

Giggs and Rossi scored the fourth and fifth respectively, but in truth United could have reached double figures if Saha, in particular, had taken more of his chances. #-o

Apparently Burton brought nearly 11,000 fans with them – the biggest away attendance ever at Old Trafford.

Crap Weekend including
Manchester City 3 – 1 Manchester United

The weekend started off badly when Sara crashed bumped the car whilst trying to do a three point turn. We’re not just talking about a minor bumper-to-bumper nudge either, she somehow managed managed to bash in an entire door panel by colliding with a telegraph pole. ~X(

Even though it’s a fairly big dent the paintwork itself isn’t broken, so there’s a possibility that someone like Dentmaster or Chipsaway can carry out a cheap “paintless dent repair”. [-o< So I was already in a bad mood even before watching City vs United yesterday.

Newly-signed French left back Patrice Evra made his United debut so Mikael Silvestre, who has had a few seriously dodgy games recently, was preferred over in-form Wes Brown, presumably because of his ability to speak French. Silvestre had another shocker, directly responsible for two of City’s goals. He’s got to go. Evra didn’t fare too well either, substituted at half time. #-o

As soon as I saw that our starting midfield today was Giggs, Fletcher, O’Shea and Ronaldo, I knew we were going to be in for a tough time. Playing these two together in central midfield is like having no central midfield at all. Why leave out Alan Smith who, despite his lack of talent, would at least have imposed himself on the game and got stuck in? Only Fergie knows. 😮

Giggs, playing in his 23rd Manchester derby, was completely anonymous. Ronaldo, who had been on the receiving end of some dreadful challenges all day, was sent off by anti-United referee Steve Bennett for making a rash challenge that didn’t deserve even a yellow card. [-x

Even with 10 men, United looked the better side. Van Nistelrooy scored a superb solo goal to pull one back, but poor defending allowed City to score a third in the dying minutes.

I’ve never seen such a gutless performance in a derby game, it was embarrassing. x(

Edit: The damage to the car can’t be pulled. Quote from a bodyshop is:

  • New Door Skin – £80+VAT
  • New bit of plastic trim – £30+VAT
  • Paint and materials – £120+VAT
  • Labour 11.5 hours at £26 per hour – £299+VAT

So it looks like we’re going to have to claim for this on the insurance and lose our No Claims Discount. :((

Burton Albion 0 – 0 Manchester United

Sir Alex decided to rest most of the first team squad for this afternoon’s Third Round F.A. Cup tie against non-league Burton. :-ss

Tim Howard, Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre, Keiran Richardson, John O’Shea and Louis Saha were the only “big name” players to start, giving a chance of a run out for some of the youngsters.

Although Burton were certainly the better side in the first half, I’m not going to moan about the United performance at all because the pitch was an absolute pudding, full of ruts and troughs, which made it impossible to play a proper passing game. #:-s

Pique had a decent game in central defence considering the lack of protection offered from midfield, Bardsley did well at right back. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, captain for the day, managed 60 minutes on the right wing. ^:)^

Ronaldo and Rooney made an appearance on the hour, replacing Rossi and Solskjaer, but Burton held on to a goalless draw and a lucrative replay at Old Trafford. I’m sure that they – and the Glazers – will appreciate the extra revenue. $-)

I’m confident that this same team, if selected, would do the business on a decent pitch but I’d like to see our new signings – Vidic, Evra and hopefully A.N.Other – start the game. =d>

Uneventful week

Not a lot to report this week, it’s been very quiet:

  • There were no major problems upon returning for at work on Tuesday. We usually find that at least one of the servers or hubs throws a wobbly after being left unused over the Christmas break but there was no drama this time. (Although one of Bob’s third-party web components had expired on the 1st January, which broke some important parts of the intranet including the electronic register system.) #:-s
  • We ordered a Barracuda Spam Firewall just before Christmas and took delivery of it on Tuesday morning. First impressions are very promising: as soon as we put it in place it started intercepting obvious junk mail. We’ve got it on a “sale-or-return” basis, so we’ll see how good it is over the next week before deciding whether to keep it. :-\
  • Watched the Arsenal vs United game on Sky. I feared the worst when I saw a midfield pairing of Fletcher and O’Shea but they didn’t do too badly on the night. I think United shaded it overall, but nil-nil was probably a fair result. Two points dropped, not that it matters any more since Chelsea won the league weeks ago. $-)
  • I finished updating WordPress, the blogging software that runs on. See earlier post for details.
  • Updated our WSUS server to deploy today’s Microsoft Security Patch to fix the latest Wiindows vulnerability on all college PCs. E-mailed a warning to all staff about this bug, as I sometimes do, and received half a dozen replies asking for help with home computers and various other unrelated matters which took up most of the morning. :)]
  • Figured out how to allow LDAP access through college’s firewall so that the Barracuda Spam Firewall could integrate with our Active Directory and reject any e-mail intended for people who no longer have network accounts. Found a useful tool to help test LDAP connectivity.
  • Pestered our migration agent to chase up the Australian Immigration Department to find out what’s happening with our application. Response was “Send us your DHL tracking numbers and we’ll make enquiries, but it shouldn’t be long now“. :d

Although it’s been fairly quiet this week, I’m really glad it’s weekend. It’s always hard going back to work after a couple of weeks off.

Festive Roundup

I’ve been a bit lazy in updating the blog over the past couple of weeks. There hasn’t been anything exciting to report, but here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to:

  • Sara’s family are over from Florida for Christmas, so we’ve been out with them a few times. Had another belting curry at Blue Tiffin on Shaw Road.
  • We went out on Christmas Eve with Max, Rob and Stu – the first time I’ve been out on Huddersfield Road in years. Then popped up to the King’s Arms for a few drinks with Sara’s family.
  • Christmas Day was spent at Sara’s mum’s, followed by a party afterwards at our house. \:d/
  • I went to Old Trafford to watch United vs West Brom on Boxing Day. An easy 3-0 victory with goals from Scholes, Ferdinand and Van Nistelrooy.
  • I couldn’t find a local pub showing the Birmingham vs United game on Wednesday, so ended up listening to it on the radio. %-(
  • I had a spare ticket for the Bolton game on New Year’s eve, so Sara came along. Went in the Bishop’s Blaize before the match, great atmosphere. Our 2-1 bet was looking good until Ronaldo scored the third. We left a couple of minutes early and missed the fourth goal. #-o
  • Spent New Year’s eve in the Bull’s Head and the King’s Arms, as usual. <:-p
  • Haven’t made any resolutions, although I’ll try to update this site a bit more often.

Other than that I’ve done nothing except watch TV, play computer games and stuff my face with food and drink. :@)

Back to work tomorrow.