Tuesday 30 May 2006

Climbing @ Portland, Dorset

Went climbing to Portland, Dorset at the weekend with the old Nimrock crew and a few others. Stayed at the Hotel Aqua where we got a pretty good room for all of us for £14 a night. I woulddefinitelyy go back there, even if we did get odd looks from the sailors/divers!

Saturday - Was a bit misty and windy so we went to the Cuttings which is a bit more sheltered. As usual I started off on a deceptively difficult grade 4 climb, which I couldn't finish - on a top rope. Reassuringly some of the others found it pretty difficult too. Did another couple of 4s but didn't feel too great about the climbing. Had my usual 'do I actually even like climbing' thoughts.

Sunday - Started at the Cuttings then went to ... somewhere else... Once again I flunked out on a grade 4 top roped, then managed a couple of other 4s.

Monday - Weather is much nicer - really hot when the clouds clear, although there were a few spots of rain. Thumbs up to Portland's micro-climate. Had a much better day climbing. I led a mighty 3, although there could have been a typo in the book and it should be a 8. Also did a couple of nice 4s that put some confidence back into me. At the end of the day

Conclusions - I need to get back into climbing. I think I've only been once to the climbing gym since moving to Oxford in September and now I have no strength, stamina, skill or, most importantly, bottle! Might have to grit my teeth and go to Oxford Brookes climbing wall.

Cheers for the climbing weekend guys! Although I started off dubious (about the climbing) it ended up being a really good trip - even if my climbing ratio was about 2.5 routes a day! Was good to see some new faces too.

My photos here.

Wednesday 24 May 2006

Weetabix, Lordi and Perthshire.

I must draw you attention to Weetabix Week. I haven't registered yet, but I think it is full of new and exciting ways to eat Weetabix.

As the Internet's leading online authority on Weetabix eating, I thought they would have asked for my input. They must have forgotten.

I think the Lordi song for Eurovision is growing on me. The music video is on Google video and is actually pretty cool! A friend just sent me an email to say the girl on the video is quite cute. I have no opinion on this matter.

Lastly I found this website by an English guy living in Perth who seems to have a real problem with Perthshire council. It's quite an interesting read, but I've no idea if it's true. What I do find annoying is Perth council's attempts to get the website shut down and getting a 'robust' police enquiry. Give me a break! Based on that idiocy/censorship, I'll side with the ranting Englishman for now...

Tuesday 23 May 2006

The Shins gig @ Oxford Brookes Student Union

Went to see the Shins at Oxford Brookes Student Union last night. They were pretty good. I thought I would only recognise the two songs on the Garden State soundtrack, but I had forgotten that Wendy had bought one of their albums so I knew most of the songs already.

The support act, 'Triangles' were rubbish though. They 'lost' their guitars at one point, so the pretentious looking one with the weird guitar got up on stage and started reading poetry in a really annoying, nasal Californian accent. I don't have anything against Californians, but this guy was a bit of a gimp. He fair got pelters for it though! Apart from that they sounded rubbish too.

Well that's a comprehensive review...

The Shins: pretty good
Triangles: rubbish and included a gimp with poetry

Wonder if I can get a job with NME?

Saturday 20 May 2006

Poll - Which language should I learn?

At school I learnt some French and German - German to Standard Grade '1', and French to Higher grade 'B'. I didn't do anything with languages when I did my first degree, but when I was doing my PhD, I did two terms worth of German lessons at UCL.

What this reminded me is that I am really rubbish at German. It is such a frustratingly difficult language! However, I've always seen the German language as my nemesis that I must conquer. I would love to be fluent in it. At the moment I can barely remember anything, which is quite embarrassing. In terms of usefulness, German is probably most relevant to my career, as most European pharma/biotech is either British or German/Swiss.

French - I've always found French much easier and reckon I could become reasonably good at it with some effort, but in terms of business use, it is second to German (sorry froggies!). It would be easiest for me to learn, but least satisfying.

Scandinavian - When I went to Oslo for a weekend with Kev, I learnt so much Norwegian that I was able to convince some locals that I was actually Norwegian, but putting on a funny accent (and wearing a hire kilt when it was -20C, but that's another story...). I've always thought Scandinavian languages sound 'cool', but a) Scandinavians tend to speak near perfect English so there is no need to learn it, and b) there's not much point in learning it unless you will be living there.

Mandarin - Apparently there are quite a few Chinese around, and once they have conquered the USA in WWIII, we will all be required to speak Mandarin...or something like that. Seriously though, it is supposed to be becoming very popular to learn, because the importance of China is increasing as it's economy develops. I've never learnt a word of it and I'm sure it would be difficult, but I do remember being impressed by a certain Swedish friend speaking very passable Mandarin.

I quite fancy doing an MBA one day. If I wanted to do it in a European country (other than the UK), I would need to speak another European language properly, so I do intend on trying lessons or something again.

But which language should I learn? I have put up a poll with the four options - German, French, Scandinavian (Norwegian/Danish/Swedish - that would need another poll), or Mandarin.

Which do I learn? You decide!

What language should I learn?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Of course some might say I should try and learn English first!

Saturday 13 May 2006

Letter in the Dundee Courier

Following my post the other day when I mentioned how much I hate the 'mock shock' about GSK doing animal testing, I noticed the following letter in the Dundee Courier:

Can we trust this company?

Sir,—After reading your article about GSK share-holders being sent threatening letters and the comment made by GSK about continuing to use medical research company HLS, a research company that uses animals, I found it hard to believe as for the last 20 plus years I and many others have been under the belief that no animal testing was carried out on behalf of GSK.

Glaxo, as it was known in those days, have always stated that “No research was carried out on animals” to shareholders and employees and this has never been changed.

Are they a company who should be believed after this revelation? They appear to have been two-faced about this statement, just as they appear to have been to their employees over the past four years, with regard to their site at Montrose being sold, then closing. Now we hear, in our local area, that they may be still open in 2010.

What sort of message are they giving out to shareholders and the general public?
Frances Robb.
3 Antiquary Gardens,

This kind of irritated me, so I wrote back the following, not actually expecting it to be published, but it was!

Not really a ‘revelation’

Sir,—Frances Robb (May 11) says she has been ‘under the belief that no animal testing was carried out on behalf of GSK’ and says the news that GSK carries out such research is a ‘revelation’.

The only ‘revelation’ to me is that anyone would actually believe that one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies does not carry out proper trials in the development of their life-saving drugs!

Just like any company dedicated to improving human health, from the smallest university spin-out biotech company, to the largest global pharma company, GSK is obliged to ensure the safety of their drugs, prior to human trials, in carefully controlled animal testing experiments.

I would be interested to see evidence of Glaxo stating that it did not carry out animal research.

Perhaps the letter writer is referring to Glaxo’s origins as a producer of dried milk power in New Zealand in the early 1900s?

(Dr) Steven Renwick.

Not bad eh?

They did edit the letter slightly to make it less scathing. I notice the word 'ignorant' is missing. I also thought Frances was a man when I wrote. lol!

I was also pleased to notice that several UK investment funds had published their support for the pharmaceutical industry in the Financial Times. This contrasts quite sadly to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which removed Huntington Life Science's listing just before it was due to be listed, presumably due to threats. There was, however, a full page advert taken out in the New York times, which claimed that terorrists (the animal rights extremists) are controlling the NYSE. It seems these guys put the ad up.

It does seem a little strange for Americans to give in to terrorists. I wonder when the reason for the withdrawl will come out?

Pills, pills, pills

I went along to Holland and Barrett as they've got a 'better than half price' sale on at the moment.

So I've bought:

Ginkgo Biloba, to try and improve my pathetic memory...

Glucosamine, to help my aching knees...

Cod Liver Oil, also for joints and general the 'it tastes 'orrible so it must be good for me' effect

and lastly, Ginkgo Biloba, to try and improve my pathetic memory.

When I went to pay I was originally told it was £66! Apparently I'd picked up non-sale Ginkgo Biloba which was £47! The total still came to nearly £30. I'll let you know if it's worth it when I start remembering things and my knees stop hurting.

I also joined the gym at my work...

Thursday 11 May 2006

GSK in animal-testing shock!

I'm kind of confused by the animal rights extremists who recently sent letters to a few of GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) 150,000+ shareholders.

The letter tells them that GSK uses the 'animal torture' company, Huntington Life Sciences (HLS), to test their new drugs in development.

The extremists threatened to put the shareholder's addresses on the internet if they didn't sell their shares. There has been an injunction to prevent them doing this though.

I'm just a bit confused by this and I haven't seen anything in the media voice the same confusion.

Drug company uses animal testing.

Drug company... uses.... animal testing.... Hmmmmmm.....

Is there anything surprising there? Was that unexpected? It it because they particuarly hate HLS or animal testing in general, because surely most people know by now that drugs are tested on animals. Do the extremists have a 'preferred' animal testing facility? Would it be better if it was all done in-house?

I didn't notice any 'GSK in Animal Testing Shock' headlines. If there were any, they were probably buried next to the 'Butcher Admits to Slaughter' and 'Rentakill Kills Vermin' headlines.

So why pick on GSK? I suppose it is because they are the biggest pharma company in the UK?

OH NO! A company makes profits out of selling medicine and in doing so tortures animal! EVIL I TELL THEE!

You have to see the video of one of the animal rights people defending the threatening letters. He does appear to be a complete tool. He keeps going on about investing in an 'animal torture' company.

'Animal torture' company? Eh? Yeah I imagine the board of GSK sitting round their table: 'So how will we increase profits this year?... Well we are an animal torture lab, let's do more animal torture. People pay us to torture - not make life saving drugs! In fact screw the drugs - they're too expensive. Let's just torture!

Why pick on GSK? What about every other pharma and biotech company in the world. What about the Universities and cancer research charities that do basic biology... that work will eventually lead to drugs so should be stopped now!

Anyway, the bottom line is that I hate the 'mock shock' that a drug company uses animal testing.

It's impossible on the internet to convey the correct sound that this 'mock shock' makes me want to utter, but it means 'Duh', and would go something like Nyyyuuuuuuhhhhhh!

Monday 8 May 2006

Wednesday 3 May 2006


I started playing this game, In the Pink, run by the Financial Times where you act as the CEO of a company in your chosen industry.

It's only been running three days but my pharma company, MajorGrooves Pharma, is doing rubbish! My company has increased from US$1 M to approx. US$1.5 M, but there are people on the leaderboard who are on US$23.5 M. How is that possible after only three days?

If anyone has any tips for me, please leave them in the comments section below. Ta!

Tuesday 2 May 2006

Why you shouldn't guess email addresses

I received the following email in one of my email accounts earlier this evening:

Note: I've removed actual names from this post...

Hi Honey,
How was your day.As you can tell I cannot remember what the gmail address is
so I sent it to joe.bloggs and jo.bloggs.
Quick note could you send those 2 forwards to Trace as Richard is dying to
get something from you and I want her to see the one with the man's head.Did
not tell her what it was justthat she would laugh and say no when she sees
Love you poopy
ps. Our boy has gas again today and has not slept for the afternoon.Feel bad
cause i was not home for the whole afternoon.:)

My not particularly funny reply (I only had 5 minutes to type it as Lost Series 2 was about to begin!):

Hi Sexy,

Jeez you know I don't like you calling me poopy. I prefer Mr Power Pants!

Work was okay. Spent most of the day flirting with Wendy in the office again. She is hot!

Not sure which forwards you want me to sent to Trace? The one with the man's head? I'm hoping it isn't something to do with execution because that would be a bit twisted.

Too bad he's still got gas. I sometimes find giving him a quick squeeze helps. I sometimes break wind in front of him to encourage him. We have such fun passing wind together.

Love you too lovely bum!


P.S. I think you have sent this to the wrong joe.bloggs. Probably not a good idea to go guessing people's email addresses on googlemail!

P.P.S. Hope this reply has made you laugh anyway. All the best - the other Joe Bloggs

Ah, I'm so puerile!

Of course it is possible that the email was actually trawling for active email addresses in which case I have just flagged mine as live and can expect lots of junk mail in the near future.

I'll let you know what happens...