Friday, January 30, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #322] Here we go again!

And the nerves kick in!

I actually have some thoughts on what I will do if I meet the axe that I won't be half sad to do, to be honest.  But let's hope it doesn't come to that.

On a brighter note, cool pictorial summary of 2008:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/the_year_2008_in_photographs_p.html

I'm off to drink red wine with pizza, and watch Lost, B&S and Project Catwalk - alcohol is a necessity this eve!

Have a good weekend, all,
Shaun



BUSINESS NEWS

Tops Firms Said To Be Considering More Big Layoffs

last updated: 30 January 2009

The Wall Street Journal reports that Morgan Stanley is said to be considering laying-off an additional 5% of its 47,000 employees. Any layoffs are likely to be announced in the next two weeks, and are thought likely to affect operations, IT and support staff.

The newspaper also says that Goldman Sachs is also thought to be mulling over chopping more headcount, as revenues continue to be under pressure.

CNBC is reporting that UBS is expected to soon announce that Managing Directors and above in its investment banking unit will receive no cash bonuses for their work in 2008, with all bonus allocations going into deferred equity instead. The Wall Street Journal reports that deferred payouts will also be cancelled if the bank does not make a profit in the year the stock is due to vest.

Reuters reports that Morgan Stanley is to give up around 25% of its office space in Canary Wharf, as it has exercised an option to break its lease for 345,000 square feet of space at 20 Cabot Square.

The news agency also reports that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said at the World Economic Forum at Davos that his firm 'has plenty of capital', and 'would be fine if we stopped talking about (the) damn nationalisation of banks'.

And, in Bernie Madoff land, all is not well.. The New York Post reports that Bernie, currently under house arrest, has fumed: 'I'm a prisoner in my own house. I can''t go anywhere! I'm stuck here all day!'. Be patient, Bernie, you'll be moving on soon - and then you'll be a real prisoner!

Finally, The Wall Street Journal reports that former Merrill Lynch executives Daniel Tully and David Komansky are among Bernie's victims, and The Financial Times says that The National Bank of Kuwait has fully reimbursed all of its clients who lost money in the Madoff affair. The bank is said to have shelled out $50m to around 20 investors.

Please use the 'E-Mail' button immediately under the article title to send this item to a friend.



Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://shaunism.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #321] Scenes of Middlesbrough

Having had a drink or two at the glorious Trader Jacks the night before (not to mention on the train rides up), a hearty breakfast of grease was in order. We set out like good modern tragedy tourists to find a local greasy spoon, which was delivered in spades as Grubbs. Cheeseburger, chips and Coke? £3.00. Massive egg/bean/toast ensemble? £2.60. Look of Argie's and Lottie's faces when they bit into their burgers? Priceless. Three meals were purchased, three meals were left on the table as inedible. We tried to eat locally, but were forced into the bosom of Pizza Hut by the chefs of Newport Road.

However, the locals sure seemed to think it was tasty. And apparently wholesome, too. Sat at the table next to us was a family, Mom, Dad, Grandma (I think) and Baby. The baby girl wasn't old enough to speak yet, but Mom, Dad and Grandma fed her a steady stream of sausage, bacon, fried turkey, fried mushrooms and fried bread, all washed down with generous helpings of Coke.

I myself couldn't eat the banner dish of the Northeast, the parmo, as it is made from chicken or pork. I did, however, try the cheese "sauce"/"topping" on some fries and promptly spit it out. Middlesbrough is not a culinary capital, I'm afraid; it was fated that Pizza Hut would be my best meal of the trip.

At The Oak, Middlesbrough's main gay bar, rum & Coke, vodka soda and a water: £3.10.

Tower Green used to be the cheapest street in the UK to buy a house on. No longer! But not for any upwardly mobile reason; it seems Middlesbrough was not proud of this achievement, so you can no longer buy a house on Tower Green at all. They are going to tear them all down and redevelop the area. I am glad I got to see it before it went! The street's not as god awful as you'd expect of one that had £10,000 semi-detached homes at the peak of the housing boom, but the location is unforgivable. Isolated from the city centre by a highway and a rail line, the area's only neighbours are disused factories, a nuclear plant, the transporter bridge and a small field of 10-20 cows. What is that they say about "location, location, location"?

On the way from The Oak to Mboro's only gay club, Saturgay @ Cornerhouse, we asked two local lads if we were going in the right direction. They confirmed we were and added "But you don't want to go there tonight, it's gay night." We assured them that we were comfortable with this and did indeed prefer it to the strip club they suggested instead, but I thanked them for their concern.

While inside, I saw a fight! A real bar fight, not a poofy gay bar fight. Choking, hard punching and - the masterpiece - a bar stool being smashed on a guy's head! Not unsurprisingly, he started bleeding at a decent rate at the impact site. But don't worry, his friend came to his aid very quickly, picked him up and said "Let's get you a drink, then." It's good to know who's got your back.

Can I just tell you, this town is too much. It is almost comically impossible to have such a ludicrously tragic place. I loved it thorougly. For nearly two years Lottie and I made plans to go there with various people, each of which pulled out for one reason or another until Argie, our Northern Rock, agreed, booked, paid and went. It was honestly one of my favourite weekend trips ever. My year to see Britain is off to a good start! (Especially if I include Edinburgh as a prologue.)

On Sunday, we woke up and had lunch much earlier than necessary for our train tickets, so we hopped on an earlier train. Unfortunately, National Express East Coast has not fully grasped that it is in competition with the likes of EasyJet and RyanAir and has let their concept of customer service atrophy, so we were instructed to disembark at York and wait 3.5 hours for our scheduled train or pay £80 each to change our tickets. We were aggrieved, but what a blessing in disguise! York is ancient and gorgeous, well preserved and wonderful. The contrast with Middlesbrough could not have been more iconic. We happily wandered its old streets and cathedral before settling into a centuries old pub for a closing couple pints to our trip. Two cities checked off in one weekend! Brilliant.

I hope all your weekends were as satisfying as mine. Next Great British stop? Birmingham!

Cheers,
Shaun

If you'd like to see the full set of pics from the trip, they are here:

Middlesbrough: http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=713081334&k=5YF242UYV5ZMYJ1FSD64W

York: http://www.new.facebook.com/p.php?i=713081334&k=6ZGU245YPZVMYJ1FSD64W
Some indicative samples below:

1) IMG00114 - Me and my meal at Grubbs; family in the process of causing infant heart attack behind

2) DSC00013 - Middlesbrough city centre

3) DSC00029 - Bottom of Tower Green with the Transporter Bridge (Mboro's one sight) behind

4) DSC00038 - Trader Jacks knows how to pamper its guests

5) DSC00039 - Said bar, which is pretty near the top of the list of my favourite bars ever

6) DSC00040 - Girls queueing to get into a club. Notice what Argie & Lottie are wearing. Now notice what they were wearing. Outside! It was like this everywhere, I don't know what they have against wearing their coats out in this town, but it's something egregious

7) DSC00045 - Argie @ gay Middlesbrough's hot spot

8) DSC00061 - The outside of our hotel. There used to be an old church there. They tore it down and built a Travelodge, but they kept a corner doorway as a memory. Seriously.

9) DSC00064 - Proof! I was there!

10) DSC00074, 80 & 84 - And then there was York! Could it be any more of an antithesis?

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #319] Middlesbrough 2

OK, I guess my message was a bit cryptic - I was just beside myself and didn't know what to say.

We came up to Middlesbrough because it's supposed to be a horrible, trashy, chavtastic (trailer trash is the most analagous term in American, but it's not the same) city and it did not disappoint. Surpassed any expectations, honestly. I never realised hair could be bleached quite that colour, and that so many girls would decide to do it.

I tried to take some incognito pics by framing the right sort around my friends as I took their photo. Most didn't come out. This one you can see my favourtie outfit of the night in, at least.

Cheers from the home of the parmo*,
Shaun

*Pic attached



Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #317] Off to Middlesbrough!

Middleswhere? Why Middlesbrough, of course!

I am going with two friends of mine from the MBA, Lottie and Argie. During the MBA I was watching a show on the BBC that was showing how five Northern industrial cities were trying (and failing) to recover. Lottie found an article that said that the cheapest street in the UK to buy a house on is Tower Green, in Middlesbrough. Later that year, in the annual countdown of best places to live, Middlesbrough scored dead last. This is somewhere we have to see.

So from America's prettiest city (though Seattle's a close fight for that title, IMHO) to Britain's worst in a week's time - I do get around, don't I?

Completely inapropos, for those useless knowledge junkies, I just read this in National Geographic and found it pretty incredible:

"For all of its allure, gold's human and environmental toll has never been so steep. Part of the challenge, as well as the fascination, is that there is so little of it. In all of history, only 161,000 tons of gold have been mined, barely enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools."

I don't know about you, but I always imagined Fort Knox and other such national troves to be cavernous warehouses full of the stuff. Now to know there aren't even two Olympic swimming pools' worth in the world? That really threw me for a loop, as they like to say in Illisota.

OK, off to bed with me. I can't seem to stay up much past 8:00 since getting back - I am quite enjoying this preview of my 40s!

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #316] Brrr?

I know many of us in the Northern hemisphere are crying "Cold!" just now; I am guilty myself, as London won't get much above freezing this whole week. But before we get too verbose about it, see the attached picture from this past weekend of the sign of the store I used to shop at when I lived in Fairbanks.

Now that? Is cold.

Shaun



Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Monday, January 05, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #315] Back amongst the spotty dick and toads in the hole

Just made it back to very cold London and am looking out the window to the hills of South London and tower of Crystal Palace. Good to be home - other than this pile of clothes that need washing now.

I had a graciously Ambientastic flight, not even enough conscious time for two episodes of Brothers & Sisters. Glad, too, since the parts I was up for were rather bumpy.

I had a great trip; missing everyone already. $1.44/£1 - it's a great time for you all to come visit!

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #314] I left my liver in San Francisco

OK, I do love this city - but I can honestly say I am very ready to go home tomorrow -- and actually a little surprised to feel that way...

This really is an amazing city and I've had such a fantastic holiday here and in Vegas (Wait, when was that? Seems forever ago...). It's made me appreciate, love and miss my (non-London) friends even more. And brought home, again, the fact that, despite loving my geographically-varied life, it's harder and harder as I get older to accept that no matter where I live I will never be near to more than a fraction of the people who are most important to me.

And, just a couple random things...

"Milk" - fantastic, brilliant, wonderful. And makes me so proud to have called this city home. Also, makes me shokingly ashamed that 30 years later we're still having the same debate.

For those who don't mind a little bit of a sneak peak, this segment from "Paris je taime" (last story, 14éme) is one of the most perfect things ever put on film --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvrAFHWSdA4&feature=related

And, we have so much fun together --> http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1857295&op=1&view=all&subj=713081334&id=838739898

I hope the last 14 days have been as fantastic for all of you as they have for me. Dreading the 11.5 hours in the air tomorrow, looking very forward to coming home to my flat and seeing my London friends post-holiday for catch-up and understanding.

Holidays aren't dormant, however - first weekend back is Middlesbrough - how many ways can you say classy?

Happy new year, all!

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Civic Center
San Francisco, CA

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

[The Life of Shaun #313] Happy New Year!

OK, not quite the new year here in SF, but it is in London and will be here soon.  I am looking forward to ringing 2009 in with the boys at their apartment in the Castro.

Guerneville was tragic fun as expected, but I was definitely ready to get back to the City.  This is my third new year's eve in SF since moving away, and more trips than that.  I have to say, I lived in SF and have been away long enough that the city is like Vegas for me in the sense that it is familiar but different at the same time.  It's a bit odd of a feeling for a place that was home to not be the same city you remember any more.  I am a bit anxious about New York in that sense; when I go back, will it be home like it was before?  Or am I going to be an urban orphan forever?

Ah well, no day to worry about things like that - there's far too much to look forward to in 2009.  My resolution for the year ahead?  As ever, to enjoy myself more than I did this year, of course.

May my resolution come true for you all as well!

Cheers from the City by the Bay,
Shaun

Shaun H. Coley
Civic Center
San Francsico, CA

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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