Friday, September 16, 2005

O Desdemon! Dead Desdemon! Dead! O!

I wanted to start with a quote from Othello, so it was that or "Here is my butt."

Anyway, Sam in his much-more-interesting-than-mine blog today commented that he's not sure exactly what Othello (the game, not the Moor) is, and wonders what the difference between Othello and Reversi might be, so for the education and entertainment of my readership, I thought I'd replace my promised essay about the nationals with a brief guide to what Othello basically is.

It's Reversi. More or less. The long story behind it can be summarised as follows: The game of Reversi was invented in the late 19th century in England, it was played for a while by fashionable Victorians before they found better things to do with their time (opium, probably) and then faded into obscurity. In the early 1970s, Japanese board game creator Goro Hasegawa was looking around for new games to "invent", and discovered Reversi. He made a couple of very minor rule changes, renamed it Othello so that he could make money from the trademark and launched it on an unsuspecting world.

It was extremely popular for a while in the seventies and remains fairly popular today. Obviously, the internet people wanted to include it with chess, draughts and other public-domain games, so they sidestepped the trademark issues by calling it 'Reversi', although if you want to be pedantic the 'Reversi' you'll find anywhere on the internet incorporates the new 'Othello' rules. So basically, the two games are one and the same. Being old-fashioned in the British Othello Federation, we haven't yet considered renaming ourselves to appeal to the internet generation like Sam, who only know the game as Reversi. Maybe I'll bring it up at the AGM tomorrow.

Incidentally, I had no idea that there were TV adverts for Othello. The new licencees, Character Games, must be trying to give it a publicity boost.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I'm the treasurer of the BOF in my spare time, and a poor-to-moderate player of the game too. There are five or six little tournaments in Britain every year, plus two big ones, and the British Championship falls into the latter category, at least in principle. We've got 18 people signed up for it this year, five of whom are non-British people who just live here at the moment, so it's probably unfair to say it's a really big event. But 18 is 50% better than the turnout last year, so we can't complain.

In other news, I've got the job with Nord Anglia, if I want it. Whether or not I want it is a complex question that I've got to find out an answer to this weekend. I might write more about this on Sunday, depending whether the Othello excited me enough to write at length about it, but my reservations about the job basically revolve around three things: a) It's in Burton-on-Trent, which means I have to either commute (15 minutes train then 15 minutes cycling) or move there; b) I'm still not convinced that the job's going to be a permanent thing; and c) I don't know if I'll be any good at it. That last one's a pretty big deal - I might find that I hate the job, I don't know what I'm doing and I'll make a mess of everything. I have a reputation for being extremely competent, but that only applies when I'm doing a job that falls within the narrow band of things that I'm capable of doing. Anything outside that, I'm rubbish, and not being naturally disposed to asking anyone for help, I make mistakes of vast proportions before anyone notices.

On the other hand, the job has good points: a) It pays £4,000 more than my current job, plus benefits. They've offered me the upper limit of the pay scale they advertised for the position, which suggests they think I'm some good; b) They're happy for me to start after my contract with Parkhouse finishes, meaning I still get a big chunk of redundancy money with no break in my regular earnings; and c) It's a job, and if I take it I don't have to go to any more interviews or revise my CV for the SF Group.

There's a d) too - the guy from Michael Page is going to phone me on Monday morning for my answer, so unless I can contrive to be out of the office and have someone take a message, I'll be saying yes.

I'm pretty sure I'll take it. Everything happens for a reason, and if the universe wants me to have this job, I'm not going to complain. What to do with the aforementioned redundancy money is an interesting question, though. There are plenty of worthy causes who could do with it, but this scare has convinced me of the benefits of actually keeping some money in my savings account in case I find myself jobless in the future. Or if I move to Burton, I might splash out on a bigger flat, buy some decent furniture, make it a place fit for human habitation for a change. I might even find a place in time for my birthday, and combine the party with a housewarming! Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Go ask Alice, I think she'll know

Virgin Radio Classic Rock used to be worth listening to. Unfortunately, though, they've now handed it over to Alice Cooper, who is probably the world's worst DJ. I have nothing against his music, he's done some good stuff over the years, but when it comes to hosting a radio show, the poor guy really hasn't got a clue. It's a shame, because I used to have Classic Rock on a lot in the evenings, when they used to just play music without any talk and only occasional adverts. Now the playlist consists of songs that actually fit the definition of 'classic rock', interspersed with Alice's mumblings and confused anecdotes about his musical career.

Still, to cheer me up, I've decorated my flat with this amazing little dragon! His eyes follow you around the room as you walk around, as long as you're walking around with one eye closed.

Oh, and if you were wondering, the interview was quite fun. I don't think they'll offer me the job, but I might possibly consider it now if they did. If nothing else comes along, anyway. I still think I might be on the job market again after six months, but I can always cross that bridge when I come to it. Getting there wasn't much fun - it's been raining all day without a break, and I got soaked cycling there from Burton train station (including a lot of getting lost along the way, which fortunately I allowed plenty of time for). I got even wetter getting back, when the heavy drizzle had upgraded itself to a real downpour. But I was home by 4:30, had a hot shower to ward off pneumonia and had an extra hour or so with the cartoon channels, so I can't complain.

Interestingly, they've removed the bins from Burton-on-Trent train station and put up a sign explaining that this is because of the terrorist attacks in London. I suspect that someone has overestimated the importance of Burton-on-Trent to the country's rail networks. Although the town's main industry is brewing beer, so a well-placed bomb or two could seriously undermine British morale and bring the country to a crashing halt.

Booked my hotel for the weekend, a posh place for a change, because the horrible but cheap hotel I usually stay in is fully booked. So I've splashed out (£69) on the Thistle Victoria. I might write tomorrow about the British Othello Championships like I've been meaning to do for ages. Or then again, I might not. Who knows? I don't plan for the future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I can't get a life if my heart's not in it

I read an article on the internet today about ten things not to do at your job interview, and I was planning on doing all of them. Except the one about wearing too much makeup.

In all seriousness, though, I don't want this job I'm being interviewed for tomorrow. I've looked the company up, and they're in the process of rationalising their operations in order to improve profitability, closing down offices, basically saying exactly the same things Parkhouse have been saying for the last year. And we all know how that ended up. Actually, the Burton office is the place where they're centralising their head office function, it's the poor people based in Cheadle who are the equivalents of us at Derby, but I'd rather not leave one sinking ship for another.

Besides, who wants to live in Burton-on-Trent?

Still, the interview on Ram FM this morning was surprisingly fun. Pete and Deano were both genuinely fascinated by everything I said - the only trouble was that I said most of it off-air. Poor guys, they really want to be on talk radio, but they're obliged to run constant ads and music all morning. Still, we had a good chat in between 30-second bursts of 'officially' talking about memory things.

I'm currently in the middle of an othello tournament on VOG. I generally have a rule of not playing online for a week before an OTB competition, but I decided to break this rule just for the heck of it tonight. I'm a rebel. This will probably have an adverse effect on my play at the weekend (online games are much quicker, less thinking, and it gets my brain into that habit), but my expectations are somewhere close to zero anyway, after that thing in Paris.

I haven't booked a hotel yet - I tried last night, but the website crashed half way through. There's plenty of time yet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ram FM

As I've mentioned before, I can't say no to people over the phone. This is why my alarm is now set for 6am tomorrow morning. At five past eight today while I was scoffing my usual bacon buttie for breakfast while getting dressed, I got a phone call from Ram FM, the radio station in Derby that everyone actually listens to. They'd heard me on Steve Wright, apparently, and been trying to contact me ever since.

They can't have been trying all that hard - I'm a bit of a hermit, but most people manage to find my email address through an internet search and drop me a line. Anyway, the guy asked for a number he could call me on in office hours, and I gave it to him (that can't-say-no thing in action again). He called back at ten, and in a conversation lasting about fifteen seconds got me to agree to an interview at seven o'clock in the flaming morning tomorrow, at the studio in the city centre somewhere (I've printed out a map, so it shouldn't be too hard to find). He also gave me a mobile number to call when I get there so they can let me in, which should be fun. If he'd hung around on the phone a bit longer, I might have been able to mention that I haven't got a mobile. Heck, I might even have got round to saying "No, I don't want to be on the radio at the crack of dawn tomorrow," although I doubt it somehow.

Still, maybe I can use my great powers for good rather than evil, and advertise the British Othello Championships on the air. I've been meaning to write about it for a couple of days now, but interviews of both kinds and broken saucepans and things keep coming up. It's this weekend, and I might even write about it tomorrow, if you're lucky.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Okay, I love you, b'bye!

Repeats of Animaniacs on Cartoon Network, if you were wondering.

I've got an interview with Nord Anglia on Thursday, which poses the important question: Which tie should I wear? I'm never sure whether to do the sensible, correct thing and wear one of my more boring ties, or to wear my favourite playing-cards one and hope the interviewer's mind works on the same kind of wavelength as mine.

It's not like I've got any completely boring ties, so if the interviewer is super-strict about that kind of thing, I'm scuppered anyway. Besides, I'd like to think that any prospective employer who'd judge me for wearing a strange tie isn't the kind of person I'd want to work for. But on the other hand, I do need a job.

And which shirt do I wear? I own five shirts, and they're all getting on in years now. I wore my decent cream one today, so if I want to wear that on Thursday I'll have to wash it, and I'm not sure I can be bothered. That leaves a grey one, a black one that's slightly too big for me, a black one with no buttons on the cuffs requiring me to hold them together with paperclips, and a white one with one button missing from each cuff, meaning that one is looser than the other. An interviewer who'd notice that really isn't the kind of person I'd want to work for, but it makes me nervous. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the grey one, so I'll probably wear that.

Also, my suit jacket is a noticeably different shade to the trousers, but there's nothing I can do about that, apart from buying some decent clothes, which isn't going to happen. I have a deep-seated psychological resistance to dressing according to other people's standards of smartness.

In other news, the handle's fallen off my good saucepan (ie my saucepan that still had a handle attached. I might have to rename it now). Perhaps I need to buy some new kitchen utensils too.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Birthday blues

According to the letter I got from Parkhouse about redundancy, my date of birth is September 14th, 1976, which means it's my birthday on Wednesday. It's actually in October, but maybe I can use this as an excuse to have two celebrations.

Or maybe not. Turning 29 once is depressing enough, I'd rather not do it twice. Of course, next year is the real killer, but let's not think about that now. What I'm thinking is that I should have a party of some kind. I don't normally, so I probably ought to if only to repay the people who invite me to theirs. This flat isn't much of a party kind of place, though, being roughly the size of a smallish cupboard. Perhaps I could hire a place, but then maybe nobody would turn up and I'd look like some kind of Zoomy-No-Mates.

Oh, what the heck, I'll take the risk. I'll organise something tomorrow and invite even my most distant acquaintances, to avoid embarrassment.