June 2009 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Fliss Felt Unwell (21st June 2009)

We were going to see Terminator Salvation at the Vue cinema in Camberley. But while we were walking to the bus stop Fliss got a headache and heartburn. So we didn’t go.

I walked home, detouring through the woods around Fleet Pond and then along Basingstoke Canal.

London Interview (19th June 2009)

My visit to the big City was today. Had an interview for a full-time website front-end developer type thing.

It went really well! They are interviewing more people over the next 2–3 weeks and will send me a “test task” at some point.

Sights & Travel

Took the fastest train from Fleet to London Waterloo, which took about 40 minutes. Northern Line was adequately signposted. You can’t actually see the gaping entrance to it until you’re almost on top of it, due to all the gubbins at the end of each overground platform.

Ticket machines are an anti-pattern. Covered in buttons yet no graphical touch-screen map on which you can simply prod the station you want to go to.

So I went to the “Tickets & Assistance” kiosk and interacted with something more intelligent: a human being. “I’d like a return ticket to Tottenham Court Road, please,” is the only instruction I had to give. That’s exactly what I got, with a receipt. Simple as that.

Decided to walk from the interview down to Waterloo Station, rather than take the Tube. Got to see Trafalgar Square. It’s huge and has a pair of powerful fountains.

The air was warm but very breezy, which was blowing a light mist across the square. It just about reached the pavement, so I’ve touched the water from those fountains. The nearby bus stops have glass on the fountain side, so you stay dry whilst waiting.

On the way back I thought I needed Platform 9 at Waterloo station. It went to Basingstoke and that’s the line my hometown is on. But out of the corner of my eye I noticed a pair of display boards for platforms 12 and 13. These carried trains to Basingstoke and both listed Fleet as a stopping point. I checked Platform 9’s display again and Fleet wasn’t listed!

Was it luck? Or are these display boards placed deliberately within the peripheral vision of people who are heading to the wrong platform? Makes you wonder.

Anyway, I took the Platform 12 train and got back fine. Well, apart from I couldn’t find my ticket right away. The guard believed that I had it on me and came back afterwards, by which time I’d found it.

Calm & Collected! (Mostly)

A few times during my travel for Sight City 2008 I could feel myself freaking out a bit. Frankfurt airport, particularly when my flight was overbooked. That was when I had the steady-as-a-rock travel buddy, Steve Lee.

This trip into London was much shorter and simpler but I was alone for it. Yet, much to my delight, I didn’t freak out. Yay me!

Crime? In London?!

Pretty sure I spotted a 2-person pickpocket team operating on Tottenham Court Road. One guy was loping around with that bouncy and oh-so-obvious gait only used by petty theives and equally small-minded miscreants.

He was meandering from one side of the pavement to another, seeming to brush against people in front. Then would stride past, eyes always fixed dead-ahead.

His wingman had a small plastic bag. I noticed the meaderer was now looking at a nice-looking mobile phone. Their paths intersected and it seemed like the phone was placed in the bag. I was nearby and watching the whole thing.

I sidled nearer to them and they separated. The wingman stopped at a window and looked inside, while the meanderer strode off ahead. They never looked directly at me. They were doing that thing where you are staring forwards but concentrating on your peripheral vision.

The more I think about it, the less subtle it was. At the time I thought it may have been unjustified suspicion. Or paranoia from moving in such a bustling crowd. So I didn’t do anything.

Next time, I’ll be more alert for similarly “suspicious behaviour”.

(My backpack is designed so the zips are behind a flap of fabric which touches my back. You have to unzip it a long way before you can get a hand into the bag. Further still to access any of its internal pockets, which have noisy Velcro. So it’s well-protected from pickpockets.)

TV Shows I Watch (14th June 2009)

Since the 15th May 2009 I’ve been compiling a list of the TV shows I watch. There’s about ¾ of an A5 page, grouped by channel.

When I feel like it, I’ll type it up and put it here. Been nearly a month, which is a fairly round unit of time over which to run a collection like this.

Virgin Media channel number is in brackets. (Incidentally, don’t get your digital TV service from Virgin Media. It was bad 5 years ago and has only gotten worse, little by little.)

BBC One (102)

BBC Two (102)

BBC Three (106)

BBC News 24 (601)

BBC Four (107)

Bravo & Bravo 2 (136 & 137)

Channel 4, E4 & More 4 (104, 142 & 144)

Comedy Central (132)

Current (155)

Dave (128)

Discovery Channel (212, 213, 217 & 219)

Eden (208)

Eurosport & Eurosport 2 (521 & 525)

Extreme Sports Channel (527)

Five (105)

Fiver (152)

ITV (103 & 117)

Living (110, 111 & 112)

Sci Fi (135)

Knight Rider
It’s like Star Trek: The Next Generation. Same mission with a new cast, upgraded equipment and better production.

Sky (121, 122 & 123)

Men & Motors

Virgin 1 (119 & 120)

Visited Fliss (13th June 2009)

It was a nice day so I took the frisbee and football for us to play with, like previous Summers. Also took a beach towel and some little cakes so we could have a picnic. But Fliss was tired, so we stayed in.


We considered going to a cinema. Fliss seen the recent Star Trek movie, which I have not. I’ve seen the Terminator Salvation, which Fliss has not. Going to see either would work for me.

We weren’t sure how to get back, since neither of us drive. A taxi is all I could think of. No idea how cost-effective that would be, though.


Fliss has several days off at the end of this month, going into the start of July. She’d like to visit London together and soak up the city atmosphere.

Camden is one place Fliss wants to go, for the shopping. Apparently my style “needs to be worked on” so she’ll probably have a field day with that. Maybe I would, too.

Sue’s Garden

Lots of cultivation has been happening over the past few weeks. The paved areas are clean, plants have been neatened and lots of new ones are growing in pots and planters. There’s even some trellis!

Sue showed me a trowel with the handle mounted perpendicular to the blade. Looked like a small version of the ancient but effective tools still used by peasant farmers in the dry areas of Africa.


He’s a lovable pest! Played fetch and tug with a bone-shaped rubber rattle an his small tyre.

While sitting on a bench in the garden he came up and cuddled me. Found a sweet spot behind his ears to rub and he almost fell asleep on me.

Fliss joined us and we had a quiet moment together.


I had brought over 2 Bird’s Eye Breader Fish, 2 Tesco chicken Pies and 2 Strawberry Cornettos. I cooked the chicken pies using their microwave oven. It suffers one of the all-too-easy usability mistakes: having oodles of buttons for everything, with options in discrete steps which usually require repetitive pushes.

Our microwave has one dial for time and one dial for temperate, with one button for Start and another for Door Open. To it’s credit, their microwave oven’s door can be opened by simply opening the door, since it has a handle.

Their microwave oven has a preheat cycle which, it seems, has no thermostat. It simply runs the oven at the temperature you set for some hardcoded amount of time. You set a temperate by repeatedly pushing the Temp °C button at the top of the button panel, ignoring the up and down control marked Temp at the bottom. Naturally.

When setting the oven to run at a set temperate for a set time, it runs the preheat cycle even if it only just ran a preheat cycle. (Hence my suspicion that it is not a true, temperature-controlled preheating cycle.)

A countdown timer was never shown in its LED segment display. If you were making a microwave oven which already had an LED display, why wouldn’t you display how much time was left?! I didn’t notice a button to switch display mode but there might well be one on it, somewhere.

The electric induction hob has similar usability issues in comparison to a self-igniting gas hob. The strength of the heat is given in a digital readout going from 1–10. Do these numbers correspond to anything? The domestic Gas Mark scale stops at 9 and only makes sense inside an oven, afaik.

The energy efficiency of these devices is entirely seperate to their ease of use. This puzzles me, since I would expect more ecological devices to also be more ergonomic. Much like the way accessible websites tend to be more usable for everyone, not just for people with disabilities.

As I explained to Sue at the time, “This kitchen is like another world.”

Fliss’s New Clothes

Earlier that afternoon Fliss had gone shopping, picking up some trendy threads from the town. She ran a bath while I was in the garden and changed into one of her new outfits.

With some retro white sunglasses and a couple of shiny necklances, it was a striking look. A very different style from the eclectic tastes of her usual ensembles. (Indeed, calling them “usual” is a misnomer.)

Terminator Salvation (No Spoilers) (12th June 2009)

It’s pretty much impossible to say anything about a movie without spoiling it. So I’ll keep this brief and unrelated to the plot.

Wow. This is totally worth going to a good cinema to watch! It does the franchise proud.

Evan drove me to the Vue Cinema in Camberley, about 10 miles from where I live. Departed at around 8pm, saw the movie and were back by around 11:30pm.

Cycling Takes 40 Minutes (11th June 2009)

From deciding to go for a ride to returning and starting to cook dinner took 40 minutes. I could do this every day!


  1. Nearby woods.
  2. Roads to Crookham Village.
  3. Cut through footpath near newsagent.
  4. Rode over hill with wavy grass and views over distant villages.
  5. Winding trail through woods.
  6. Small roads past swingbridge and over humpback bridge, crossing Basingstoke Canal.
  7. Whizzed down lane and honked up the long slope to the road ended.
  8. Turned right and went back over canal at Crookham Wharf.
  9. Roads back home.
  10. Did a cooldown lap of the block with gloves off.

There are other routes fairly nearby I could use, to keep it varied.

Blogged the Backlog (9th June 2009)

(Something of a meta-entry.)

I’ve now blogged various entries which were either half a page of scribbled lines or at least enough for me to reconstruct the notable events. They are now all done:

May 2009

  1. Cycling with Ladia
  2. Reunion with Evan
  3. Graphics Card & Modem Card Fail

June 2009

  1. Haircut 6
  2. Blogged the Backlog

Add More Pictures

The photos of my PC make that entry much more interesting. I’d like more of my entries to have pictures of what they are describing.

Haircut 6 (9th June 2009)

Same as normal. Had a shampoo, condition and some kind of after-care gel.

Walked home from its needlessly windy but entirely pleasant neighbourhood, back to my own.

Blogged the Backlog (9th June 2009)

(Something of a meta-entry.)

I’ve now blogged various entries which were either half a page of scribbled lines or at least enough for me to reconstruct the notable events. They are now all done:

May 2009

  1. Cycling with Ladia
  2. Reunion with Evan
  3. Graphics Card & Modem Card Fail

June 2009

  1. Haircut 6
  2. Blogged the Backlog

Add More Pictures

The photos of my PC make that entry much more interesting. I’d like more of my entries to have pictures of what they are describing.