Down the Docks

December 31, 2005

Binge Drinking – How Do They Do It?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ealing @ 5:36 am

In a really bad way, I’m kind of impressed by this BBC story on binge drinking. A journalist investigated the issue by engaging in it for a month. Over the course of that month, she consumed 516 units of alcohol.



The Last Salsa of 2005

Filed under: Salsa — ealing @ 5:09 am

It never ceases to amaze me that I can be channeling Changó for one track, and then be completely bored by my dancing for the rest of the night. Wednesday 21st at Bar Salsa was like that. I had one fantastic dance to Spanish Harlem’s Cuando te Vea, and the rest of the night was spent vainly trying to recreate that one moment. The combination of a track I know inside out and love, and a partner who’s very easy to dance with, tends to bring out the best of my dancing. Hardly surprising.


December 30, 2005

Family Growth

Filed under: Uncategorized — ealing @ 5:35 am

I learned a couple of weeks ago that my sister is pregnant. In a little over seven months I will be an uncle for the first time.

A few days later I dreamed about an egg. My subconscious is transparent.

December 22, 2005

Reading Stamina

Filed under: Books — ealing @ 1:15 pm

BBC News reports that teenagers can’t finish books these days. This brings to mind the terrible truth about my reading stamina – it was highest when I was eighteen. The huge drop-off to its present low level is largely due to tertiary education.

Back at school I had a little bit of intellectual curiosity. In the summer before going to university I read Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, all eight hundred pages of it, even the mind-numbing middle section of Catholic philosophy. I wouldn’t even try it now.

These days I struggle with anything that isn’t immediately and continuously gratifying, and this is because, at university, I stopped reading and took up beer instead. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Encuentro Latino and the Brit SalsaFest

Filed under: Salsa — ealing @ 1:01 pm

For anybody who ever thought that that salsa ended at the North Circular (ignoring the great salsa to be found in Birmingham and Manchester), here’s another reason why you’re wrong: Encuentro Latino. Being Brit SalsaFest types, they are interviewed on the London Salsa website.

Encuentro were my first serious teachers, and what I particularly like about them is that they always explained things in a way I could understand. Naturally, they’re great dancers too. I trust that one day they’ll be much more famous than they are now.

Public Notice: Stop asking me if I’m going to the Brit SalsaFest. Of course I’m going to the Brit SalsaFest. I was booked up for that when you were still in nappies.

December 19, 2005

Salsa in Birmingham

Filed under: Salsa — ealing @ 8:42 pm

A one night trip to a Latin Motion event on Saturday night was extended at the weekend to get to Gary Thomas’ social on Sunday. (more…)

December 13, 2005

Virgin Trains’ Automated Call Handler

Filed under: Misused, Rubbish Technology — ealing @ 6:09 pm

I called up their ticket line, and was answered by an automated call handler. The voice recognition is super-sensitive, and it frequently asked me to repeat myself when someone walked past in the corridor.

I was asked for my journey details, plus the number of people travelling and details of any railcards held. The whole process is reasonable for an automated handler, but slow for a person. Apparently all of this would help the representative to find the right ticket for me. Hmmph, when I were a lad, and worked in GNER’s call centre, we found and entered our caller journey details ourselves, and paid GNER for the privilege*.

When the automated handler finished, I assumed I’d be put on to a real actual person, but no, I still had to wait in a queue. After a minute or so in the queue, I was greeted by a real person, who asked me for my journey details. I queried if they didn’t have the details in front of them. No, I was told, it doesn’t work at the moment.

They hadn’t switched the automated handler off, either because they didn’t know how or couldn’t be bothered. They wasted my time and theirs.

* Slight exaggeration.

The Youth of Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — ealing @ 3:54 am

My new, 80s-born flatmate revealed that he doesn’t like Frank Sinatra. He feels that the material is “nothingness” and lacks any real emotion. My counter-argument is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, his collaboration with Jobim. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Further, Frank’s hanging with the Kennedys and the Mafia, sleeping with an astonishing number of women, being the leader of the Rat Pack, and owing a casino, is not enough to make him cool. Goodness knows what would be.

And if you haven’t read it, Rat Pack Confidential is pretty good.

Salsa last week

Filed under: Salsa — ealing @ 3:33 am

Funny how it goes. This time, Mambocity in Ealing was great, SOS was rubbish, and Bar Salsa on Monday was great.


December 12, 2005

Meanwhile, in Another Reality

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 8:57 am

BBC News quotes an American at the Montreal climate conference:

“If you want to talk about global consciousness, I’d say there’s one country that is focused on action… dialogue… co-operation and… helping the developing world, and that’s the United States,” said state department spokesman Adam Ereli in Washington.

Just what relationship does this bear to reality?

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