Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Just think how many kitchen worktops someone could have made out of that. It's just selfish to use stone like that...Right well, it's Saturday, it's raining, and I have nothing better to do. So being outright bemused by search engine hits it is then.

famous biologists Micheal Angelo. Well I suppose if you count David as an anatomical model...

Schroedinger cat furniture life stage. Anyone care to own up to this one? If so, what were you looking for?

"tree of death"+v&a. Once again confusing. V&A I can understand, which suggests the Tree of Death is some artwork. But which? The quote it found on my page was about a work by the Chapman Brothers, which as far as I know, has never been connected to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

halo tube former in jewellery. Are we talking glow-sticks here?

Robert Kilroy-silk freemason. Is he? Well at least this one makes sense, whether or not it's true. From Aol: Find Kids Only sites about "Robert Kilroy-silk freemason" Mind aboggling.

MOST TRENDY DEPARTEMENTS STORE IN sEATTLE. Good old caps lock. But I'm sorry I haven't clue about shops in Seattle. Try taking the second "e" out (unless you wish to search regions of France).

brian molko tuning interview. The guy [ish] from Placebo, right?

Trying not to mention this sequence of words here, so Click here to find out what it is. Now this is just taking the piss isn't it? There's mishearing, and there's making it up as you go along [Ok, so it was from Danish Google, but still...]. For the original reference see the January 10th posting.

grockles emmet. Oh not this debate again. Emmet is Cornish for "ant", Grockle is Devon's version [and God knows what it originally meant]. Both are derisive terms for tourists [usually applied in the middle of rants about the trouble with tourists, whilst neglecting to remember the local economy is tourism driven...].

This is a quite poor post, isn't it? Sorry about that, it's just I can't really think of anything better to right now.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

What is so up with that? </taking the mick out of a Scandinavian ex-flatmate> [she also used to ask "how much is it?" when she wished to know the time. Maybe that slash was premature].

Anyway, thing that made me think of this was spotting that the two latest non-anglophone artists featuring in the "now playing" tagline on GfB [Farin Urlaub and Alizée], are actually people I've heard of, and whose work I've heard. Ok, so it's largely because I was too miserly to pay for Sky, so we had to make do with the free satellite channels, which included German MTV "...Michael Jackson gefragt...die neu punker, Justin Timberlake mit Marilyn Manson hast gerockt...aber hey, das ist sehr cool!...vay, vay, vay, punkt...Tschuess!".

Which probably means his musical taste is as dodgy as mine [have you tried translating the lyrics to Moi Lotila? It is just pap isn't it? Pap with odd bits about giving cats her "something" whilst she watches others]. As I currently have that ghastly it's summer, it's Europop gibberish, it's going to be number one for months on end Mai ia hii[1] song dans ma tête, this doesn't bode well for him.

[1] The one that appears to have an advert for the Citroën Xsara Picasso in the middle of it.

Anyway, reverting back to his original point, what is FIFA rule 37, paragraph 19b/III? What is rule 37 come to that? [being anal, FIFA claims there's only 17]. My argument was that whenever I watch even part of a football match, it ends in a penalty shoot-out. And the laws of me-dom dictate that the winner shall be whoever I'm not supporting.

As for the prediction prowess [or not], my gut says Portugal and Greece to win. So now Malta probably will.


Fuck the Cyclops!

Well it was either here or some nasty thing from the Greek myths (or something dull from UniS). By the way, for all those considering the suggestion of MP, she's not real. Click for the site from which the image is liberated.Are we talking Leela from Futurama here? Oh no, Mr Phillipousis is referring to a machine. It's always quite fun waiting for someone at the BBC to realise they're broadcasting live pre-watershed swearing. Took a while in the end, but they got there eventually (after he'd stopped shouting).

Having watched the end of the Roddick-Popp match by accident [1], I turned over to watch the Henman-Phillipousis match. Which was actually much less enjoyable tennis. Especially the third set where Henman appeared to be getting progressively worse. Working on the theory that I seem to able to jinx sports by watching them, I went off elsewhere during the fourth [and apparently final] set, as I wasn't sure Henman could win. This jinxing effect is responsible for my utter lack of interest in football. I've never been that keen, but decided to watch one full game, just to see what it was like. It was England-Germany, in, I think, Euro 1996. It ended in penalties [England lost], which suggests it was pretty pointless watching and hour and a half of it.

A couple of years later, I repeated the experiment. The game ended with England losing in the shoot-out at the end. This year, I don't bother watching most of any of the games. England-France I flick over about 80 minutes into it, we're winning, so I turn back. We lose, via a penalty shoot-out at the end. Ditto the Portugal game.

Even not really watching the football that's on in a pub I'm in, causes the same effect. Despite being flanked by tables supporting Sweden and Holland, I didn't really care who won [well, the swedes were smoking upwind of me, so preferably the Dutch team]. That game also ended in the bizarre shoot-out situation. Though apparently I'm not the only person to cause this effect: the comments at GfB [so what would happen if I supported one team, and the other jinxer the other? A shoot-out undoubtably, but with all sorts of Schroedinger's cat duality kinkiness, either that or some brane trickery would spell the ultimate in destruction for every notion of the universe. So that's another good reason for not watching football: persevering the existence of everything]

[1] Having heard in passing that there was a match on in which very good tennis was being played. When I could I turned on the Wimbledon coverage, and lo and behold, there was in fact decent rally laden tennis on. Except apparently the person who told was apparently talking about a different match. Oh the fickleness of digital [and analogue] television.

And can you spot the misplaced footnote? Oh well.

And that'll have to do for now, as I'm tired and Radio 1's stopped playing their Glastonbury highlights, so I'll cover how exactly I came to miss all coverage of Glastonbury some other time.

The Guardian has assorted stuff on the quagfest, including this piece.


Pointless, slightly scary, image of the day. Click to see the connection. Image from's Tuesday morning and I'm putting off doing work, so let's have a look at the curious ways people find this site, shall we?

"scissor sisters" derivation. Think lesbians. Think legs. Think blades of scissors. Think interlocking. Think mutually beneficial. No, I'm not drawing a diagram. And if you still haven't figured it out, well, um, imagine the two people lying away from each other so their feet touch. Rotate one of the bodies 90o lengthways. Slide the inside legs of one, up the inside legs of the other. Figure out the rest for yourself.

Apparently. I have no idea why [or how] I know that. Which considering I had to have "rimming" explained to me [whilst taking an internet purity test. My debauchery score wasn't high], this is a little surprising. As for what rimming is, it's Tuesday morning.

singing hamsters flash medias. Sounds like you're searching for the Hamspter Dance [or Hamster Dance, depending which argument you believe, but they appear to have merged]. Except that's not Macromedia Flash, but flash in a not really .gif way.

guitar tab for secret agent man by The Ventures. No idea mate [and I'm guessing neither is anyone else, as the searcher reached result 110]. But the Ventures doesn't sound the like the best band name ever. Because either it sounds like a reference to Venture Scouts [the ones too old for Scouts], or some boardroom business deal.

Best search of the week: "wheRE is" "land rover" "reversing" switch. You might have wanted to ask that before you bought the car [and before you drove forwards into that parking space]. As for giving a useful answer, I'm guessing that from the mention of a switch, that it's not a normal manual we're talking about here, so I have no idea. Next time, by a manual, it's more fun anyway. Try taking the handbrake off and pushing [this is not advice, so please don't sue].

That'll do for now.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Is it me?

Normally the guy who writes at Casino Avenue is fairly amusing and quite nice [why else would I bother to read it?]. But now he's become this puritanical figure, with more than a hint of prolier than thou. A couple of days ago it was Chavscum and it's users that displeased him, now it's anyone daring to speak the name that isn't Rusedski.

Chavscum, I have to admit, I've never quite got. Presumably it's a joke, but taken to such an extent that it's long since ceased to be one.

Henmania. Once again I've never quite got. He's pretty good on occasion but has too many instances of not thinking. He gets stuck in the same pattern, that stops working [Before someone responds with the inevitable: No, I couldn't do any better, and I have no particular wish to try]. Despite my personal feelings, what is so truly horrendous about people who aren't usually fanatical about sports being so? Perhaps it might seem a bit unthinking to continually opt for the same person without necessary knowing much about his ability. But that happens with any activity. Why else would anyone support [insert whichever football team is doing worst, or the one which you most despise]?

Maybe the sudden occurrence of legions of fans is a little off-putting. They aren't visible at any time other than the wettest fortnight of the summer. They must be Johnny-come-latelys, the worst form of supporter, the fair-weather sailors. A. What is wrong with being that? Being a fan isn't necessarily an endurance event. B. Tennis only gets persistently into the news in this fortnight. The media need to have their humanising angle, so we get the vox-pop sound-bites. People who've spent the past few hours sitting tiredly on wet concrete aren't going to seem the sanest people, regardless of whether they come out with anything coherent [well, would you? I think most of people, including me, would struggle to get past "Er?", though some might get up to giddy heights of "What?"].

Do people spontaneously burst into cries of "Tim! Woo! [Flag wave]" in unison, whenever they see a camera? Only when the television crew just told them to. If it wasn't for tennis, then they'd have clips of people being asked "How do you feel about the draft EU constitution / the threat of Terrorism / the Pope's prescription for viagra / the Blue Peter dog [Katy Hill or Goldie?] / being mute / the number 42 / the number 42 bus / Bush wanting to bring on the Rapture / milk?" followed by a quick plug for BBC le Dun [how else should one pronounce LDN?] 94.9's John Gaunt [Outraged by thick people? Call us now] / Panorama / Match of the Day / This world / [or the slow news day option] This life.

To judge by BBC LDN's television output, their camera crews must be worse than squegee guys at pouncing on drivers at red lights. They've gone amber...white van middle lane, he's got his window down, quick!. They must be like a Formula 1 pit crew [and they probably run out and wrench the wheels off to stop the poor fool driving away without saying anything].

Hmm, considering I was getting annoyed by other people being judgmental, this probably isn't a theme I should be exploring now.

Anyway, getting back on my shaky soapbox. Why is being a fly-by-night [or pavement camp by night] fan bad? Some of them might actually be proper know-far-too-much-about-Mr-Henman's-life-and-have-memorised-years-of-statistics fans. It's just that tennis doesn't get much media coverage, apart from this brief spurt, and so their obsessiveness appears fleeting, because we're only exposed to it now. And the fact they'd try to spend a large chunk of their lives in France, Australia and America.

And which sport is so demographically unbiased that it represents a cross section of the nation? I think none possibly.

Perhaps it's not so much Cas-Av as the Independent writer's tone that irritates me (though Cav-Av aping it doesn't help).
From the section included on Cas-Av's page:
...Middle England, that place of well-tended lawns and solid Home Counties values. This is bad why exactly?
...the squealing supporters... Because Neanderthal roars are a better. Oh hang on, that would be equally as judgmental.
...with their Union flag hats and little flags... Flags being an invention of tennis fans, and never used by the supporters of any other sport. He forgot to mention the facepaint.
...who seem to have a polite orgasm... Unconstrained, messy, damp ones are much better in public. Saves a fortune on cream for the strawberries as well.
No one, in all honesty, could say that they are a cross-section of the nation. Your point being?
What they are cheering is more than just an unusually successful British sportsman; it is a version of Englishness. Their suburban form of patriotism, also on show at the last night of the Proms, is trim, well-spoken and profoundly conventional, in the manner treasured and nurtured by minor public schools. I really don't get what's so objectionable here. Being suburban is bad? [it's a newspaper, therefore it's London, so from their perspective yes. Just don't call Clapham, Hammersmith or Muswell Hill a suburb (it's not like they're actually in the City is it?)]. Patriotism is bad? Well a bit anachronistic perhaps, and slightly unsettling. But I can think of worse forms [See the land of free and home of the brave, and given England's just lost on penalties and dubious refereeing possibly Portugal tonight]. Last night of the Proms in bad? Well, at least one knows more of the tunes than on any other night of the Proms [and so of them are quite catchy]. Trim [whatever that may be] is bad? Well-spoken is bad? And what stunning bit of grammar that is [and this too], init? Conventional is bad? Well if we were all unconventional, then that would be conventional, wouldn't it? I suppose believing in basic human rights is a bit conventional too. Oh well. Minor public schools are bad? I thought this was from the sports section? Not really the place to launch into the ethics of private schools or the reasoning behind retaining the minor ones. Or am I just being a little too conventional in my thinking?

Insp. Sands is always ready to lambaste the media for printing naive and judgmental work [see his post on the Guardian's Lads' Mags article]. Provided of course it is naive and judgmental in the right [or wrong] way. Which means it has to come from the Guardian or Evening Standard to count as such [the Telegraph need not apply].

Simply because it is not something he connects with, Insp. Sands appears to think it cannot matter. In case you hadn't yet noticed, I don't entirely agree with this viewpoint.

[The article in question comes out much milder overall than the excerpt quoted by Cas-Av].

And just to demonstrate my utter inability to be judgmental: This Classic Gold hoo-ha, Blackburn plays Cliff [see Cas-Av though I heard it from elsewhere]. Cliff: does anyone care? Blackburn: Ditto. Classic Gold: I'd always assumed that it was like Classic FM, only more, um, classic. Classic Classical. Except Classic FM plays only the recognisable Classics, so they're Classic Classical already. So I never really figured out what they played, but thought it was probably a looped tape of just one Season by Vivaldi [Spring], that "ba-ba-ba-boom" Beethoven thing, and whichever Mozart tune it is that was used as the soundtrack to Frogger [Very early computer game].

So hearing the DJ had been suspended for playing [relatively] "modern" music didn't seem terribly surprising or interesting. And as for the theory that this was all just a ploy to boost awareness of the station and so hopefully the audience, well, sorry to disappoint, but if I want a digital radio station to play music that bewilders me, I'll listen to Kerrang!


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Only slightly belated [by a mere week].

I've reached the [not so] big 1750th visitor. And it was someone using Unitel in Staten Island, New York. How did they get here? They were looking for search for advertising slogans and taglines that have already been used, on the Korean version of Google, using MSIE on a Mac.

Other unusual stuff from the tracker:
- Pellet mills Italia gets to me (even if I do have to be translated. I wonder what the Babelfishes of this world would make of the text produced here? It's probably better not to know).
- ITCHEN ABBAS ARCHITECTURE. Except I've never actually been there.
- What is gmail? It's a funky new email service from Google that gives you a gig of storage. Which spectacularly out competes Hotmail, and is still a fair way beyond Yahoo's new limit. It supposedly scans one's emails to provide clues as to what is the most suitable advertising to display. But as the ads are normal banner ads it doesn't impinge on the usability [and other email providers are rumoured to scan emails anyway]. For more see the 22nd of April posting.
- Scissor Sisters Song lyrics. Which of course takes people to a posting bemoaning the omnipresence of the SS [it's for your own good]. Oh stop looking at me with those pathetic expectant eyes. Oh alright, click here [really annoying pop-ups, but it serves you right].
- foxtons hologram. What hologram?
- "sara cox" pvc. Let's not.
- Buying Rasmus jumpers. Ideal for those awkward smart-casual events. On second thoughts, it's just not right, is it?
- "pachyderm construction". There's another link for that term? Wow. There's a real company in America with that name. Whatever next? The Platypus Dental Surgery? Narwhal Plumbing? [The latter is apparently quite common in Canada].
- stores in luton that sell ufo clothing. Er...?
- "fishy in the water" kids songs. See the UFO clothing response.
- The ever popular Rootjoose or the mighty Joose. You'll be wanting the posting from the 15th of June [mainly the latter one, although the earlier one has a mention, so does a posting from the second of December, as does one from the eighth of October].

And there was someone else searching for the lyrics to Ryan Adams's song "wonderwall". Er, mate, you might have more luck if you searched the original [you did know there was an original didn't you?]. Oasis version lyrics, and guitar tab.

And Hurrah! Coherence Engine is back. No idea what he's talking about mind.

And boo-hiss. Why do the BBC stick things worth watching in the "too tired to be playing attention to anything worth watching" post Newsnight slot? By accident I discovered last night BBC2 showing one of the Holidays in the Danger Zone series. This time in Ben Anderson [your mother would like him] is off exploring Sierra Leone. BBC News site, BBC4 site.

And another man who uses "quite" is Mr William Jefferson Clinton. Used in the Panorama interview broadcast last night. Used in the context of "I support John Kerry...I believe he’d be quite a good President". Strangely he later corrected himself saying " excellent president". But as the man started the interview berating all and sundry for their bias and savagery, the entire thing had a very odd dynamic.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I must stop being curious.

Clicking on the recently published section on Blogger's FP, I found this blog. Other than linking this unusual story about Mugabe's ongoing problems [which can only be a good thing, more here], his site is a little odd.

The owner describes himself as a ducker and diver, and hopes for more terrorist acts in the middle east [because he's holding oil bought for more than the current price]. He also appears to run part of a porn website, and has his profile image hosted on a small website dedicated to telecommunications. The latter site is nameless on the its own pages, by a quick Whois shows it being registered to an individual calling themselves "Greatscot" somewhere in the Midlands [when the blog's owner has Glasgow on his profile].

If you hurry you might be the 6th visitor to his site [so it's no surprise Technorati has him down as a null pointser]. But that is since Sunday.

So who is this guy? So far he sounds like he ought to be mafia don in training [there's definitely a tinge of Universal Export to it all]. Or perhaps it's just bloke in a bedroom.


Sunday, June 20, 2004

[Warning: this post is much longer that I intended].

Thank you Neil of GfB [see the comments on the last post]. It's quite nice when you get back from driving much too fast for quite a long time, and the first real email I see is a copy his comment, and it makes me laugh.

Except now of course, it will happen.

So anyway, the weekend was fun, in an odd way. Drove down to the coast [well, across and down, and across a bit more] because I was semi on duty [along with my parents] for doing race control stuff for the sailing club [why am I a member of a sailing club 2 hours from home? Because I have been since I was six. Still not very good at actually sailing, but never mind].

So went down late Friday, because of the magical ability of lovely forms and deadlines to simultaneously appear whenever one's got something else planned. Meet double-decker bus at the bottom of a very steep hill - though fortunately it was coming down the side of the valley with the bizarrely cambered hairpins on it, and I'd seen it wallowing it's way down, so found a convenient bit of verge to bury myself in. I've never even seen a bus on that road before [it's the scenic route, not the main road, but I like the view and the rally-style corners - which I learnt to drive on], let alone a double-decker. Park at sailing club, ring parents to find out where they are, and where the B&B we're going to be staying at is. Parents are in sight along the seafront, and still my father wants to try and have a rambling conversation on the phone.

Considering the rest of Friday, not that much had gone wrong with the journey [other than attempting it at half-past seven on a Friday night] - managed to take my usual detour along a road that's crammed with roundabouts, because I always forget to turn right by the bike shop [though we used to go along this route]. I hate that road, but never remember in time [and also the signs to the suggest I want to go straight on]. I ache for power steering [literally].

Parents appear, and we decide it'll be easier if my mother drives up the B&B [due to actually knowing where it is for starters, and because she used to live in the town]. She attempts to turn my car [her old car] round. At first she can't change gear, because the clutch is so stiff, and the slots in the gearbox aren't as defined as they once were [that may have been me, though my brother also learnt to drive in it, and he's the one who drove off the road whilst giving me a lesson]. She then puts on about a quarter turn on the steering wheel, and wonders why she's going in a nearly straight line towards a wall. Eventually she remembers that in this car you pretty much have to to hoist the car round, and we drive off. Potter through the town, but in this place that's usually the best approach, as no-one ever looks whether they're in a car or not. Turn up in a side street, turn right, then sharp left between two 4x4s flanking the drive. The drive is steep, and narrow, and bounded by high stone walls.

My mother stalls. She stalls it on the steepest part. She pulls the handbrake, but being her, doesn't pull it on harder enough. The car "eeks", makes a weird brake cable stretching noise "gra-ong" [but it's made that noise for decades when parked on the slightest slope. But then again there have been several incidents of people driving that car many miles with the handbrake still on], and starts rolling backwards. My mother restarts the car, juggles the clutch and accelerator, and holds the car steady. She then accelerates slowly, and the car inches forward. We continue and park. The last time I heard a vehicle making similar noises was on hill in Wales, and our coach had embedded itself in the tarmac, and eventually attempts to free it caused an amazing amount of black, then brown, then white smoke, followed by a loud bang, and the engine stuttering to a halt.

So go, up to room, bang head on ceiling. Why is people who plaster the rooms in the eaves of a building always use Artex [which is as near as plastering can get to a grater] on the sloping sections?

Go to bed. Discover that sharing a room with one's parents means putting up with an insomniac mother who loves nothing more than reading. This of course means her bedside light illuminates the whole room. I later check the bulbs and find the two main, heavily shaded room lights are [a misery seaside B&B traditional] 40 Watts each, and the bulbs are "warm-colour" tinted. Her beside light has a shade shorter than the bulb, and is 60W.

Wake to one their alarms, which both seem to be ignoring. It gets turned off, I try to go back to sleep. Fail. One of the advantages of having the room next to the shared bathroom is one can hear what's happening in it [possibly this is also a disadvantage], and miraculously go and enter it as someone else is coming out.

The bathroom is what one might term innovative. Open the door, and there's a shower cubicle directly ahead, and chair behind the door. Go back into the hallway to find the loo. The other doors on this level have numbers on. I ask my parents. Am told it's behind the shower. Go back into bathroom. Not convinced. There's a small gap to one side of the cubicle. There's daylight coming down there from somewhere. Turn sideways on and go through. The loo's beneath the window, penned in by the shower cubicle. The gap at it's widest is the length of my forearm from elbow to the end of my palm. Where there's a diagonal joist [which runs to the floor under the window], it's just under the length of my forearm from elbow to wrist. It's not the best use of space, or bit of design I've ever seen, and I wonder if the people who inspect hotels and such places actually realise it's here. I'm guessing it wouldn't pass new-build safety and accessibility standards.

Get washed - shower not abysmal, but the thing holding it onto the wall is [literally square peg, round hole]. There are assorted things that could do with more thought [like the shower control being a couple of foot beyond the cubicle, and quite high up. I had to reach to use it, and I'm over 6ft].

Go down to have breakfast. Cornflakes or Weetabix? Ooh, decisions. Eat, try to ignore Radio 2 in the background [Why?]. Whilst studiously studying distracting things around the room [you know those completely random things that always turn up at jumble sales? Well, I think I found someone who likes them. She probably even knows what some of them are], I glance at the salt and pepper containers. They look like mini bottles, but are made of ceramic. On the labels it says Liebfraumilch. I never even knew what the bottles look like, merely that it was something to be avoided at all costs. How did Liebfraumilch end up making condiment versions of their bottles, and how did these end up in an eccentric bred and breakfast place? And what does Liebfraumilch mean anyway? My single year of German suggests it's free-woman-milk or love-woman-milk. Which isn't really conjuring up images of wine.

Then onto the very fatty and salty fried breakfast. I've never really understood the appeal. Fried bread's only nice if the fat's really hot when it gets put in [I learnt to do it on a campfire in Scouts, and vegetable oil usually doesn't get hot enough], and the bread doesn't taste like Sainsbury's Economy White - "Made with the finest chalk". Fried egg - I don't know how to make it not slime with tendrils, but neither do the hosts. The sausages are the reason the EU want's to restrict what word sausage can mean. The bacon was pretty much stewed in oil. And then there's the confusing notion having both baked beans and half a tomato [though in fairness the baked beans tasted the more tomatoey]. I don't know, it's just so dehydrating and cloying. I know it's all oily, and slightly undercooked so it can be mostly prepared earlier and kept warm, but sometimes efficiency goes to far.

Get interrupted midway through, as the car's in someone's way - though at least the people running the place are happy to move the cars themselves [not sure how legal it is, but in that town legality's never really mattered. And of course there's the dubious act of backing the wrong way down a one-way street].

Finish breakfast, go down to sailing club. Mill for ages, as is traditional [parents find a great many people to talk to (most of whom they dislike), and a great many things to do, which usually require needing things from the car and assorted people, and there's always at least one instance of two people looking for each other and both walking round the same circuit of the club for ages]. Go into town. Wince as a car grinds it's tyres against the curb dropping off two teenage girls. Car drives off, and I realise I know the driver, and the girls must be her baby daughters. Think "god they've grown", closely followed by "oh god I must be old", and "did I just think that dreaded line about growing? The one I hated as child and could never understand why people said it? The one I was going to make sure I was never going to say? Oh god".

Go back to the club, have lunch, get changed into wetsuit - why are they always so unflattering [on me]? Realise I forgot to pack my buoyancy aid so have to scrounge one. My father's old one is in the bottom of the locker. Put it on. Try to tighten the belt. Haul solidly for a long time. Try to work out what to do with the foot and a half of spare belt [I know he's fat, but am I really that thin?]. Clamber into a RIB. Clamber from RIB into committee boat. Discover there's 5 of us in it [there's usually 3], even though I'd checked I'd be needed.

Chunter off across the bay. Drop the end of the gate, and anchor near it, watch the safety boats dropping the other marks. Sit and wait, discussing who's in which boat. This breaks down into the life histories of every person in the assorted boats [my mother trying explain to the rest of us who these people are] - this takes the form "who's that in the Albacore? Is it Neil? I think it's Neil. You know, it Jamieson? Johnston? Jeffries? Jones? Johns. I knew it was Johns. Neil Johns. You know him. Used to sail with thingy - the doctor. The doctor from...somewhere. Um, near Nottingham. I think. Unless that's the other one who isn't a doctor. No, Neil's not a doctor, he used to sail with one. Anyway, Neil, you must know, Neil. The dogs remember? You do. The big dogs. Nice wife. They've got children. Wife's a bit odd, but so's Neil. He's...he's not vicar from Bristol, is he? No he's not. He's engineering isn't he? Highways I think. Used to come from somewhere in the Peak District. I think he lived in London. Oh yes, there was something to do with IBM. Friends with the UN man you talked to. The one with the chatty wife. Dangly earrings. Yes, him. Well, Neil's friends with him. I think. Unless that's a different Neil. He might be one from the Foreign Office. Lives with that BBC producer. You know, the one who used to be with that manager at Marconi, who lost his job. No, that's not him, but he's the one who had the Porsche. Neil the accountant. No, this Neil. His sister was involved with that defrocked bishop. Oh you know, the one in the summer when...oh, you weren't born. Neil of the dogs, likes fish. Here he comes now, in the Albacore, what's it's sail number? The one with the red top...oh that's not him. I don't know who that is".
Which I think can all be summed up with "HRT: Just say no". Ok I'm being cruel, but you haven't had to live with it [yes, there have been occasions when I've put the phone down on the desk, and gone off to do something else, returned and she's still talking].

So I'm now going to carry on whether you're listening or not. Much writing down of sail numbers, and correcting various sheets. Cue: person on one end of the boat sticking up flags [well, poles with painted bits of hardboard on the end], as I press a button. Really important huh? Oh the joys to be had from an air-horn. Other than discovering it gets very cold when it's used.

So more stuff with flags, more horning [sounds dodgy]. Suggesting politely to the person who sailed across the line before the start that they really ought to go back through the gate again (and be thankful we haven't disqualified them). Watch people potter, or scream round the course. Listen to expert tips on rowing being broadcast on the radio. Unfortunately, it was on the channel we were working on. And as we later discovered channel 16. Which is supposed to be for emergency use only. We realise it's the people coaching the local gig team.

So we order one of the safety boats over to get them to sort it out. The guy in charge decides using the least diplomatic person available would be a good idea. But the least diplomatic person doesn't remember his call sign and so doesn't respond. So another team is dispatched instead, who were fairly polite - as we heard the conversation transmitted back via the jammed radio. But at least the rowing coach has the grace to say "over" at the end [ok, so it should have been "out" but at least it's better that chatter about when the next maintenance needs to be done to their oars].

By the way, tip for all aspiring racers: Make full use of the rules, especially recent rules changes about boats no longer having to give water to an inside boat at a mark. But bear in mind the inside boat might not know about the rule change, and might continue as normal yelling "water!" at the boat cutting them off. This situation may result in the inside boat ramming the technically correct boat amidships, and leaving a big hole in her. And as for the person who jumped the start and didn't do any penalties, well, it didn't matter as his mast fell down and he didn't finish.

Eventually we start finishing the boats [not that eventually for some as it was a fixed length race and the wind rose so it was much faster than intended]. I was told to delay the finishing hoot for each boat until the time had been read out - but apparently the racers think we were using their sterns crossing to time them because the hoots were slightly late [and thus have been saying some pretty rude things about the people running the race]. Next time we ought to hoot at the moment their bows cross the between the mark and the committee boat mast, and round the times up to the nearest minute.

The finishing wasn't helped by various safety boats deciding the race was finished and pulling up the marks. Fortunately father of boy in the straggling boat was in a safety boat, and told him we were going to do his results on average lap [not technically legit, but who'd know?], rather than wait for him to go round again. He also nearly got told this by the least diplomatic guy, as the LDG responded to the wrong call sign [again].

LDG also charged into the side of the committee boat and swung us round. Which is very helpful when there's still people we're trying to finish, and we're supposedly a fixed point on the course. Unfortunately no-one crossed the line whilst LDG's head was directly in front of the air-horn.

Then of course were the other safety teams going in and off-loading stuff to us. Which I was trying to time in between hooting people across the line. Pack everything up, and return to mooring. Tip for divers: short beach, flanked by pier and rocks, with many moored boats, and sailing club finishing race and returning to the beach: not best place for diving, as there's not very much room to avoid divers, and the warning buoys are usually hidden behind moored boats.

Go back in. Mill round for a bit. Get sign-off sheet, and my mother goes round finding people who haven't yet. Some of the them hadn't bothered, some of them had, but hadn't realised that most of the signatures were signing on, not off, and therefore there needed to be two. My take on all this is; if they haven't signed on, then they haven't raced or competed [regardless of whether they went round the course or not], and if they haven't signed off then they're disqualified. Strangely no-one has yet dared to put this into action [possibly because of a fleet of 30, there'd be about 4 people in the race]. Though quite frankly so many of them do shout rules at the people running the race, and treated them with utter contempt, then it's about time the organisers started doing everything by the book. And thus demanding people take penalties when they should [rather than pretending they didn't hit that boat or that mark]. This would also probably highlight the fact the half the rules quoted in the face of the race-officers don't actually apply in that context. But once again, this might lead to the majority of competitors being disqualified.

Get computer [after my mother came close to hitting someone who gave a very dismissive reply] to calculate results, having already been asked what the results are [I'd just stepped off a boat, and there's still competitors coming in, including by the man who later gave the dismissive reply about the computer]. Sit typing in competitors and results. Discover that light-based mice don't work well on streaky marble surfaces. Follow instructions to the letter including putting "OOD" as a result for the race officials. Then get told it's a cup, so we don't have to. But you can't delete the result, or rather you can, but radio-button or whatever it's called [the select one hole which turns to a black dot thing], can't be unselected, so one of the options has to be chosen, so it defaults to "DNF" if you leave it blank. Helpful huh? At this point I had to go and do the charming nephew thing with my aunt who had just turned up [I didn't say I did it well], so I don't know how my mother got round it [check out the Sailwave programme here, and tell me if you find an answer].

Hung round a bit more, Aunt dropping hints about food, and then deciding she'd rather go home. Wander round the town, and end up in pub, in the abandoned restaurant area, whilst trying to guess who's playing football from the small section of the big screen we can see. Orange is probably Holland right? Don't know about the other [apparently is was the Czech Repulic]. Have food - tomato soup nice, steak pie not really. Nearly get asked what the random farming implements attached to the wall behind me are by some small boy. The mother quickly fields him away with "they're for farming". I can explain what a scythe is, but might have difficulty with the thing that looks like a primitive nut-cracker. Which is exactly what it is, just a different type of nut.

Finish, consider desserts but take one look at the mass-produced menu (the type that features photographs bigger than the real thing, each pudding having been made in a factory somewhere and shipped in individual portions, by "Whoever Food Services, Milton Keynes") and decide not to bother.

Go back to the sailing club in preference to sitting in the B&B. Usually the bar's open on Saturdays, but the football seems to have distracted everyone, so it's just us. Sit and chat, discussing mostly whether or not it's misty on the Isle of Wight. The flickering light I could just about see in the daylight (and which was bemusing me as it was much too high to be a light house) turns out to be the red light on top of the mast at Ventnor. Decide it must be misty as the Needles lighthouse disappears for periods longer than it's cycle, and we can see car headlights on the hill above it.

[I have just discovered that Windsor is on the Isle of Wight. Isle of Wight County, Virginia that is. Which isn't even an island. They also claim that the IOW proper is called Isle of Wight County. Thought it was in Hampshire. But at least they don't purport that the neighbouring counties are "Hampshire and Kent". For a start Hampshire stretches from just east of Christchurch [Dorset] to Hayling Island, which is further than the IOW does. The next county along eastwards is [West] Sussex. But as that encyclopaedia also features under the heading "Related Stats" stuff on the geography of Belize, and Southern Ocean currencies, it might not be the most reliable source. Reverting back to the Virginia version, I found this line on part of the their website: "Infrastructure is under construction to the rear of the park (former Sustainable Forests Site)". That does say what I think that says, doesn’t it?].

I discover that despite being able to see the tower at Fawley [oil refinery] in broad daylight (but only on a good day), at night I need binoculars to pick it up. Though the light at Hurst Castle is in front of it and much brighter, so that might be why. We stand watching what must be huge fireworks somewhere further around the coast, unable to discern exactly where they are.

And then back to the B&B, and to bed (after failing to finish the quick crossword in Friday's Guardian).

Sunday: Get up begrudgingly. Have breakfast, complete with utter brats demanding stuff and then screaming behind me. Consider the potential for fried bread to be used a lethal weapon. When did I get old enough to think their parents need to use "no" more and mean it? Ok, so I think I was about 4 when I first thought that, but you know what I mean.

Go upstairs, and pack. Mill for a bit. Take stuff to the car. There's another car parked behind it, blocking me in. The owners of the car are leaving today, but want to leave the car in drive until the go at lunch time. They've handed their car keys in, should anyone which to move their car. But then they realised they wanted something from the car, and got the keys back. The keys can't be found and are assumed to be still with the owners. The owners can't be found, and are assumed to have gone somewhere in the town. Just as well I was planning on leaving at lunch time as well.

Go down the sailing club. Father preps the larger boat. This includes us taking the cover off. I persuade him to fold it rather than haul it off and dump it in a heap. He's annoyed by this, and before I can finish tidying up all the loose ends, he yanks it away over the boat. I protest. He snaps "not now". I walk round in front of the bow, ready to sort out the mess when he inevitably dumps it. He flings it down, and turns back to the boat. As he does his feet get caught in the trailing straps, and he falls over. He somehow manages to roll, and comes to rest against my shins. I say nothing, but exude an air of remarkably little sympathy. He complains a little, but less than usual [my father is a connoisseur of falling over. Even in the most myxomatosis ravaged landscape he'll still find the merest rabbit scrape to topple him]. I start tidying up the cover.

I help sort out the boat, and then go back up the balcony where my mother is still chatting to the woman acting as beachmaster for the current race. After a while a man comes up to beg assistance in launching his boat. Both my mother and the beachmaster suggest to the nearest available men that they should go [strange that my mother doesn't consider that a request like that could apply directly to her]. The guy at the other end of the balcony beats me to it. I remain on the balcony, watching.

The guy who requested help doesn't seem to know what he's doing (which in this sailing club is pretty standard). He doesn't have a painter on his boat [a painter being a rope attached to the bow/front of the boat] despite it being a normal fitting, and his boat having the hole through which it should run. The guy helping isn't dressed for getting wet and so quite rightly stands beyond the range of the small waves. Eventually he snatches the trailer from the sea, carefully timed with the trough of the wave. The boat's owner looks bemused, and then sets about trying to put his boat together, whilst not thinking that things might drift away. He keeps having to dart after one errant bit of kit, and then dart back after the boat which he let go. And this is on a day not very much swell.

I think the guy on the shore, who hauled the trailer up, tries suggesting better ways of doing things, but only seems to make the boat's owner more insular. Perhaps he'll learn on his own to prepare as much as you can when the boat's on land. Eventually the owner seems to get things sorted and sails off, not quite under control. He hits a mooring buoy because he's not looking, and does panicked gybe to avoid sailing into the old pier. He's also timed it so that he's going out as the first finishers in the race are coming in. He sails quite close in to the shore at the beginning, skirting through amongst the moored boats, narrowing missing rocks that he doesn't seem to notice. Then he decides to head straight downwind, which is straight out to sea. Going further out, and nearer the end of the headland and the tidal race, he loses it, and nearly capsizes.
He recovers, and then capsizes. The boat rapidly turns turtle. He flails for a while, and then clambers up the leeward side of the hull.

The beachmaster is so busy talking she hasn't noticed, so I point him out. He's hanging from the daggerboard, fortunate that it hasn't slipped out when the boat was upside down. He leans back and hauls, the boat rights itself. But because he brought the sail up into the wind, the wind catches it and flips it straight back other onto the other side, and down on top of him.

He re-emerges from underneath. He tries righting it again, this time fortunately the wind has blown the hull round so the sail is nearer to parallel to the wind. He gets back in, and tries to sail into the beach. He pinches, loses power, and stops in irons. He paddles with his hand to turn the boat, and tries again. Again he tries to sail too close to the direction the wind, and the sail just flogs. He repeats this cycle for awhile, adrift amongst moored fishing boats, and the returning racers coming in fast. Eventually he realised that the boat won't sail directly into the wind, so he starts tacking his way in. Unfortunately he overcompensates, and sails a beam-reach up and down the same bit of water repeatedly. After a while of looking pensively at the beach he's trying to get to, he attempts to head slightly further into the wind. He comes in slowly, making a lot of tacks, as on each one he makes very little headway. Meanwhile the racers are coming in about 40o closer to the wind. Eventually he gets near the beach, and jumps out into water that's just about shallow enough to stand in. He walks the boat in a bit more, then clambers back on to take the daggerboard up, as it's now hitting the bottom. He paddles in with his hand the rest of the way.

He's standing in the surf, holding the boat. He's left the rudder down, so every time the waves go back out, the boat drops and is left standing precariously on the rudder and the bow. The boat swings round as it falls from this point, the incoming wave catching it further. The offshore wind catches the sail on which the main sheet appears to be cleated, and the boat capsizes across the shore. And of course this happens as another, larger boat is just coming in. The second boat had just pulled up its centreboard, expecting to come in alongside and come to a stop just before it hit the beach. Now there's a boat lying on it's side where they were intending to go, and without the centreboard, the boat cannot turn quickly enough to overcome the momentum. So the larger boat sail straight into the stern of the smaller one, and goes across what would be up the boat, with the crew leaning over and fending off the rig.

The larger boat turns back out to sea, to get herself sorted out, and the man on the beach hauls his boat back upright. It once again tries blowing over, and I think someone else came over and uncleated the mainsheet. At this time I had to go and sort out other stuff, so I didn't see if anything else went wrong. I overheard the man who had been having so many problems say later "I had a brief sail on her, and everything was fine. There's a bit of a different to set-up here to Sunsail though".

Explains a lot. Sunsail being a sailing holiday where the staff do all the preparation, and hand people fully rigged boats, which they then sail straight out, and straight back in again, all the time under masses of safety cover. They even catch the boats as they come back in. Might explain why he seemed baffled by what to do with trailer. I only hope enough people have discreet words that he realises quite how much trouble he was nearly in, and how to avoid most of it.

But then pretty much the first I was taught to do with boats was how to stop it. Admittedly this led to me sailing in incredibly small circles in an Oppy in Poole Harbour. I was told if I was in trouble or wanted to stop, then I should let everything go. This apparently isn't supposed to include the tiller. I let it go, and it went as far over as it could, so the boat would turn as tightly as it could. I'd also let the sheet go, so there shouldn't have been any power in the sail. This assumes the sheet isn't so salt-laden that it doesn't run smoothly, and that one's not learning in a force 6. But then an Optimist has such high windage on the hull alone [due to being a shaped like a large bathtub], that if you try putting her in irons [head to wind], she'll start moving backwards quite fast.

I think that was also they day we gave and went back in because there was a blizzard. There's a reason sailing courses are cheaper at Easter.

I think he just needs a bit more practice, preferably when there's not a racing fleet about cluttering up the place. A few years of sailing round following fish, trying to ram one's brother [he started it, and his was the faster boat] and rowing under the pier to get cornish pasties should improve his boat handling skills. Hmm, I've just realised that a few years is actually over a decade and a half. But I still don't race though (and don't actually like it when the boat starts tipping too much. Might explain why I've never yet capsized unintentionally).

Anyway, back to Sunday [or today if I'd finished writing this when I started it]. Decide it's getting too windy to go out easily before lunch [Yes, we do use that duffers excuse too much. Though we'ld never get past the racing fleet coming up the beach]. Have lunch, and my mother and I go back to the B&B to collect the car, having arranged to do a car swap if I can't get out [I had to be back here to get something done]. Fortunately mine is the only car left in the drive. Unfortunately I now have to back the thing out of the drive. The very steep drive. With big stone walls, and curious ledges.

Much stalling, steering, kangeroo-hopping braking, worrying about wing mirrors, and avoiding walls by fractions of an inch later, and I'm sitting at the top of one way street facing the wrong way. Wave to mother, pass stuff through the window and drive off.

Go out via the pretty way. Pull over to get things sorted. Realise I shouldn't have done that as there's a tractor coming past me as I want to pull out again. Turn the engine off and wait a while. There's still traffic coming up. I wait for a gap, and it's behind two Volvos both with surfboards [probably windsurfers] strapped to the top. And they don't move. Well they do, just not at speed which makes the road anything other than "oh, look at the view".

They continue at the same speed through the 30 limit of the village. I drop back due to driving within the speed limit, and usually much slower, knowing the tight corners often have people not realising how tight they are, and other people back out of their drives round them. Then down the hill, and annoying the car behind me as I enter the hairpin bends, but strangely leaving him behind as I go around them and out of them. The moment the road straightens out he overtakes going up towards the blind brow of a hill. He zooms off figuring the road is straight, therefore not even the national speed limit applies.

I go over the hill and can see the junction at the end of the road. Guess who's there. Brown zoomy boy, behind the Volvos, behind the car that was behind the tractor. There's a car that's come into the road, and is level with the first of the Volvos, and signalling right, trying to get access to the lane beyond. There's another car behind that one which turned left into the road, and is still partly sticking out into the main road, forcing traffic coming from my right to squeeze past. The cars queuing at the junction close up. I come down the hill slowly. As the cars in front of me see a space and pull away, I wait from car blocking entering traffic to cross ahead of me.

She does, and I continue down the road, and pull out onto the main road behind the brown car. They all gained so much by pushing and ignoring everyone else didn't they?

I follow this stream through the village, but stop to wait the cars coming the other way to clear the pinch points, instead of pushing through behind the others as the cars ahead have done. Each time I catch up with them again. The brown car is driving much further out than the car ahead of him, and is acting like he's trying to overtake. In a 30 limit, in busy narrow village street where people do the most ridiculous things [such as stepping straight out into the traffic to get the furniture someone was carrying through a narrow front door]. I think he's lucky he didn't met one of the quarry lorries coming the other way on one of the bends [I now it's a Sunday, but they're around at the strangest times]. The two Volvos turn off at the square, so the brown car accelerates hard, then brakes hard to get round the bend down the hill. A very small Triumph pulls out in its place.

I continue down and round, past the pretty tourist bits. Driving in this part of the country must make more use of second gear than virtually any other part. By the National Trust car park there are people waiting in the middle of the road to cross, so as I'm going slowly, I wait for them. The front of the large traffic jam waiting to get out grabs to opportunity to accelerate away in both directions. I drive on, waiting for the motorbikes that have appeared behind me to pass. They don't, even on the fastest bits.

Then comes the choice of town or bypass, I choose town, because it's the view I prefer, and you get right of way over the bypass at the end. Which is very handy as the bypass usually goes solid at the end of weekends. Except of course this assumes there isn't local land rover full of people ahead. It neither brakes nor accelerates, and does 35 mph in every speed limit.

I get through the town, and back onto the main road. Normal fairly busy driving from here onwards, until I get the junction which I hate. This is because it's one of the most nonsensical ones going [even better than the M27's fork left to go right/west and vice versa, or that bit of the M25 in Kent where you have to turn off the motorway to continue round the M25]. To get to one road either you turn off at the junction before, and make you're own way there [ignoring what the signs tell you to do. They lie], or you fork right, go into a roundabout, turn right, then left at the next one, which should take you back on yourself, continue onwards and take the second right [not the first one as I did, which takes you to a roundabout the previous junction option would take you to, and which the first road I was on goes straight over. The signs at the roundabout tell you to take the exit which joins the road you've just left], once again going back yourself, and at the main road turn left. This should take you the way with much fewer roundabouts, but I never seem able to find it.

Checking the route on the AA, and going the northern route with fewer roundabouts, is actually the shorter and quicker route, but the routefinder still recommends the other wrist-spraining way.

Carry on driving home, the laborious way. Get to the bits of dual carriageway and motorway, and repeatedly find myself doing 85 mph. It's car's fault. It doesn't imply you're going quite that fast. Get annoyed with other people's driving going over the New Forest, and realise I sound like my brother when I swear at stupid drivers [Volvo with bikes on back, luggage, and several adults. Same Volvo not realising that it can't go up hill at the same speed it expects to, but will damn well try anyway, and then be too stubborn to admit it misjudged the situation. So it sits in the outside lane, as people try hard not to undertake it]. I've also started driving like mother does during rush hour on the A3. This might just mean I'm not still turned into a shrieking nervous wreck by the very concept of changing lanes. And it is nice to accelerate away from roundabouts, overtaking people, and still have another gear left when they run out [I'm not aggressive or boy-racery, merely it's just quite fun to go up through the gears quickly. And only very rarely do I make little boy playing with car noises (neerrrrya,neerrrya...). And this is on dual carriageways by the way, before you worry].

Though it was quite worrying when I found that not only was I doing nearly ninety, I was doing it in the inside lane, it had been trying to rain for ages, there's tons of traffic on the roads, and I'm keeping station with the people in the outside lanes. It's quite eery to have one solid block of cars all doing the same speed.

I'm still trying to work out when driving stopped being a feat to worry about. There's still things I should have done better, such as seeing a sign saying "slippery surface", and so easing off. Then I notice there's no road markings, and ten metres before the end of the change in road surface there's a sign saying "loose chippings, max. speed 20 mph". I was only doing treble that [and being overtaken. It's not like there were very many loose bits left anyway. And if they really wanted people to be doing that speed, they might need to put up signs before the surface changes].

Anyway, so drove home, a bit too fast on occasion. Which gets me back to now - Except by the time I finish writing this it's then, and the reason I had to come back early is already over.


Friday, June 18, 2004

It's one of those days.
In chronological order [if only because I've just had to fill in something "in chronological order", which I did, as it said at the top lots of stuff about reading the instructions carefully. Only I suspect they meant reverse chronological order, as that's the usual form, and they'll probably be annoyed it's the wrong way round]:

-Slept erratically, waking up to panic about something I don't need to panic about.
-Tried having breakfast. Milk, that was fine yesterday, has turned to cheese. I only noticed this when I tried pouring it out and lumps fell out. I can't abandon the concept of cereal altogether, as there are only a couple of crusts of bread left, and they're lunch. Fortunately the milk is solid enough to be scooped out with bits of cereal adhering. Have the rest of the bowl of cereal using orange juice instead of milk. It's not bad, but it's not right.
-Electric razor dies half way through shaving.
-Get shampoo in eyes.
-Run out of deodorant. Can't find spares I bought anywhere. Have to resort to using a roll-on that's about a decade old. Very pungent, stingingly alcoholic, smells slightly vinegary, and won't dry. And it never used to work anyway, and still doesn't.
-Managed to go out without my keys when I'm the only one home and the next set aren't going to be anywhere near for a while. But fortunately the front lock is very knackered, so didn't actually work on this occasion. Yay for postponed maintenance
-Car wouldn't start [but that's usual, and it did eventually].
-Computer gets confused and starts playing Aqualung's "Brighter than Sunshine" stuck on a loop. I was only listening to it to avoid the increasingly dancy music on Triple J. Which I was only listening to in order to avoid annoying voices constantly discussing football [I don't care!]. That and it's yet to play the omnipresent, and by now rather irritating, Laura by the Scissor Sisters [even the pure Rawk! stations have succumbed]. I moaned about this yesterday, didn't I? Oh well.

Sorry, I'm just annoyed by having to do forms which want 300 words for each answer, when the questions are about how one builds one's networks in new situations.

But in other news I've discovered that is one saves .asx files from certain websites, and the queues them up in Windows Media Player [doesn't work in Winamp], then the music plays on demand. So it's like having the cd, except all you do is download it repeatedly. This of course assumes a modicum of broadband, and that you're not actually trying to use the connection for anything else. Basically I got annoyed at having to click on each song individually [but it's very nice of them to let me hear the songs anyway], which coupled with Xfm's dubious set-up means that completely random things happen (or don't happen).

A large selection of tracks can be found at Xfm's Online Listening Post and Sessions Vault. You may have to fill in a form to get it to work - but it doesn't seem to pick up on gibberish entries.
The site I was recreating the CD from was Except having found this cunning feature, my computer is deciding it's had enough, and has just told me I don't have enough memory to shut a window. It's just attention seeking, ignore it.

Hmm, now Blogger is putting "return"s [new line/paragraph] in completely at random. Maybe I ought to stop now.


[Edit: it gets better. The printer has managed to have a paper-jam. Only when you flip the back down, there's nothing there. Pull the tray out: still can't see anything. Turn it on it's side, and there's noting apparently wrong: no scrunched up paper in sight. Open the top flap, and everything seems fine. Try shutting everything and resetting it. There's still an orange LED blinking. Hmm. Repeat dismantling. Take out cartridge. Find a very small tube of tightly rolled paper. How? I don't know.

Try to reassemble. Cartridge won't go back in. Prod, bend and pull clips. No go. Push hard. No go. Try to decode the black on black diagrams on top. No idea. Put back in the same way it was when I put it in the first time. The clips still have nothing to clip onto, but this time aren't blocking the catch for the lid. Shut lid. Printer resets itself, but doesn't seem to know nor care that cartridge can't be in the right place. Starts printing, and it works. Very odd. I just need to remember not to look at it oddly or expose it to any drafts and it might carry on working.

I have black fingers. So what's going to go wrong next? (not A., B. or C. touch wood)].

Thursday, June 17, 2004

From today's G2:
Artfully folded so that only the red shows, the flag can be tucked jauntily into either the left or right back pocket of your trousers, in order to signify that you're either a ... oh, look it up on the internet.

Someone clue me in, what is the man talking about? Being bored [um procrastinating, but isn't everyone?], I tried looking it up. The great god Google comes up with only pages on magic and really poor nostalgic fiction [Publishers rejecting you, losing confidence? Validate your life: post your story to our "too awful to get advertisers, so we just have the blank space" site. Scores of people will read it. Literally, about 3 score according to the counter. And most of those are going to be people looking for something unrelated (well, not that many people are going to get there by searching "piss-poor fiction, which the reader usually feels they could do better, and appears to be written by someone who doesn't what they are writing about, and really could do with discovering the concept of research", especially as that exceeds Google's ten word limit].

Anyway so what is symbolism of having red protruding from one's rear trousers pocket (whether left or right)? I'm guessing it's one of to things; something to do with sex, or possibly being a freemason [or maybe both].

And what is it about the Scissor Sisters? (maybe it's their natty red handkerchiefs). Or more precisely their song "Laura". Which has forced me to listen to radio stations from the other side of the world to escape it's incessant airplay. The song itself isn't that irritating, merely it being on 3 radio stations sequentially [do you think they realised they'd gained listeners avoiding Laura on another station and thought "can't be having that, gotta shift them along", and so play the same thing?].

Oh great, and now said Australian station is playing that "Danger, danger, high voltage" thing by the people who brought you the wonder that is "Gay bar! Gay bar! Gay bar!". Both of which rank as annoying without the added incentive of overplaying.

But fortunately it's moved that Garbage? I've probably got this on CD then. I really must start listening to things beyond the core 5 CDs.

Continuing the Antipodean theme, what do you make of this article in SMH, by none other than John Howard [the relevant PM]. I'm surprised any politician's office would put out something that reeks so much of what it's not saying. What it is saying isn't exactly great, but even that is poorly handled. But you have to love the bit for not ratifying Kyoto [paraphrased, but not by much]: well China's not doing it, so why should we? Great argument that. By the way, did you know China's also not doing democracy, most definitions of freedom, human rights or equality?

Hurrah, the thunderstorm song - Teardrop by Massive Attack [love, love is a verb, love is doing word].

Anyhoo, I think I smell burning (and I don't mean the lingering smell of a common upwind somewhere going up in flames).

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Just in case you missed the hoo-ha over the European Election results, and the sudden increase in support for the UKIP, here's the Indy's take on the party. Comforting, huh? Well at least their gains gave us the sight of Michael Ancram desperately trying to claim UKIP votes were in fact Conservative votes. Ah bless.

More Europolitics stuff. See who you should have voted for with this website. According to them I should have voted for the ELDR [which is nothing to do with those driverless trains that go round Canary wharf]. In this country it is the Lib Dems. Except of course there are few points on which I am diametrically opposed to them, it's just on fewer points than the others. But as many of my answers to Votematch's questions consisted of either "neutral" or "don't know", it probably didn't have much to work with. My interpretation of the full results is below.
Europarl GroupLikeness to meAllied UK party

ELDR++++Lib DemSorry for the poor table, but Votematch gives Javascript results, so there was no convenient graphic to nick. Hence having to make it up as I go along [and half the commands don't seem to function in Blogger].
PES ++[Old] Labour

And it's just as well I don't know who or what the grey parties are, as I'm running out of colours [well the Lib-Dems have got yellow and orange, the Tories and Labour between them have the entire continuum from blue to red, with UKIP muscling in with purple, and the Greens being very uncreative and using green. But there's still pink and brown, though I think the Monster Raving Loony Party was pink at one point. Which leaves brown. No wonder people say having too many parties is a bad idea, there simply aren't enough colours to go round. The only decent one left is turquoise/cyan/aquamarine, and then you're down to puce, ecru and eau-de-nile].

Courtesy of the Guardian: You know how I commented on a Jet song ["Look what you've done" sounding like various other songs, well it turns out the Beatles wrote a song whose lyrics open with a remarkably familiar refrain. Sexy Sadie what have you done, You made a fool of everyone. But I've no idea what the Beatle's song sounds like, and there's a huge difference between singing "you made a fool of everyone" and "you've made a fool of everyone". A whole tense in fact.

Whilst I was finding the lyrics for the song, I opened up the sing365 page, only to be confronted with a Javascript advert scrolling across the screen, consisting of a windows-esque box with the following inside. "var dum=0;". Oops. Methinks you might want to tweak your code. Unless of course that was the proper advert, for Vardum, purveyors of the finest putty.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Speaking of whatever happened to Rootjoose - apparently part of them went off to become the much dancer Rairbirds [sample first on list], and one of them is being a youth worker in Saltash [from a Dodgy website - presumably as in the Free Peace Sweet band]. The Rairbirds appear to have been featured on a variety of record labels, such as Nuke and One Little Indian, although they are currently only in OLI's shop.

It would also appear that part of the Rairbirds went off to form a band which includes ex-members of Reef called Kubb [who share their name with a country music radio station and some game]. Kubb are playing in Kentish town on the 24th of June - I hope Visitlondon means this year [and the band are apparently playing in Bath today]. Though at least they are more indie being a mix of early U2 mixed with Coldplay[the press release's words]. And I thought the Ruth, The 45s and Aqualung [there was another one along the way wasn't there?] contortions were bad enough.

Suggestion for the members of Rootjoose: when you next rename yourselves, don't pick the name of a game. Though I've come to discover just quite how many websites there are that are computer generated using text from other websites [usually as a way of boosting Google ratings].

I happened to catch the titles for the BBC's coverage of Royal Ascot [think horses and hats], which is mostly horses thundering, over the top of a looped bit of quite staccato strings playing. Trying to place which bit of music it came from really bugged me all afternoon. The then it occurred to me. The Streets. But I can't remember which one, Amazon doesn't do samples of his stuff, the radio stations don't seem to either, and his website is just poor. Only NME appear to have a selection. And the track that the BBC's sample was taken from is Turn the page, from Original Pirate Material [lyrics, though I think the bit about "the hazy fog over the Boring" should read "...Bullring"].

So now I know why my brother always seems to be playing this album whenever I'm around. It's so I'd know that the BBC's racing team are trying imply about the Queen or other associated royals. Though with lyrics like the following, I'm not quite sure what it is exactly.
The sea of black, the beaming heat on their faces
Their figure emerges from the wasteage
Eyes transfixed with a piercing gaze
One hand clutching a sword raised to the sky

Is it me:

I don't know what it is, nor what it does, but it's big and shiny, and came up when I searched for images of 'Jet'. Click to be taken to the Queen Mary Uni page it was liberated from. [Scanning the page suggests it's an attempt at a nuclear fusion reactor. See, I knew it had to be something cool. And that's better than a plane, an air current, some stone or a heck of a lot of dogs and horses - which are mostly brown]- Or does that "oh look what you've done, you've made fool of everyone" song by Jet, sound remarkably like a blend of Embrace, Oasis, and with a bit of John Lennon's Imagine thrown in for good measure? Strange that an Aussie group sounds so northern. [lyrics, guitar tab, band's UK website]

- Or is it actually impossible to hear one piece of music when there's another one playing? I think this extends to other senses as well. Think of coffee, think of the smell - you can smell it right? Trying imagining the smell of coffee when sniffing something else, lavender for example. Can you? I think I even do this shutting down in reverse when I'm imagining seeing things, for example when giving directions. My eyes start to shut, and they fixate on something blank and in the middle-distance. Does this incompatibility extend across the senses? Can one imagine a smell and sound at the same time as seeing and touching something?

- Or have the previous posts not been showing up? Oops, my bad, should be fixed now.

- Or in said previous posts was I losing it a bit? Oh well.

- Or are vines fiendishly hard to disentangle once they've fallen away from the wall?

- Or is it very hard to simultaneously cook [and remember one is cooking] and wire back up the errant bits of vine. Much cries of "Oh!" and running to and fro.

- Or do banana plants use up so much water I can never keep pace?

- Or is the phrase "prolier than thou" [ta muchly commentator in Cas Av] much too apt for some people I know.

- Or are remixed versions of songs by Rootjoose just plain confusing [but quite good]. The band apparently are still doing stuff in Australia and New Zealand, according to the recent flurry of search engine hits, even though I thought they split up years ago. Unfortunately the only reference to "she sells taxman" or "she sells tax, man" which was given as the title to the track, by Go Home Productions, is on the listings from Xfm [which is were I heard it].

- Or can Somerfield not understand the concept of a doughnut. They come coated in slime [they use icing sugar to dust them, this does not last well], have magenta sludge in one corner, are equal mix of dry and cloying, and taste disappointing. The magenta sludge is the same colour as the printing on the label that says "raspberry flavour jam filling" or possibly "raspberry jam flavour filling". How anything with that many calories can taste like it doesn't have enough sugar in it, and could do with being made with something other than vegetable oil, I don't understand. It's a doughnut, it's meant to be bad food that makes you feel good [briefly, then your blood sugar slumps and you feel miserable and guilty]. Somehow they've made to skip the feel good bit.

But still conceptually it's better than those new buns Sainsbury's have been selling. They're hot cross buns, based on the traditional Easter model, but with red crosses. No, it's not because some poor minion fell in the machinery, or raspberry-effect-jam-based sabotage by the jealous bakers at Somerfield. But because some clever person thought it would be a good idea to produce baked items representing the St George's cross [see what those bloody Mastercard ads have done now, other than be nicked for use on the BNP's webshite]. Fortunately they haven't been undercooked enough to remain white, so the cross is now red on a golden-brown field [where's that the flag of?]. Admittedly they're still a bit doughy [they were reduced, natch], so might be better toasted. This of course assumes one remembers to turn the toaster down. I didn't, so it came out looking like the Kernow flag. Maybe all England turns into Cornwall if exposed to enough heat.

Though, just a quick thought - are Sainsbury's selling them in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland? What about their shop in Calais?


Friday, June 11, 2004

Insp. Sands at Casino Avenue is not a happy bunny - go and see if you can cheer him up [edit: helps if I publish at the time rather than wait for his posting to slink it's ways down the page].

Bloody universal suffrage and the right to free speech (it at least ought to be the right sort of free speech). Southern Cross makes me cross. Why? This post in which Andrew Black announces why he's voting for the anti-EU UKIP. It's partly as a protest vote, but also because he believes Britain should leave the EU.

The thing that worries me is that he's not apparently voting necessarily for what he wants, but for what he thinks other people want. He believes that Britons don't want to be in Europe and it's only the people we elect keeping us there.

Whilst he might have a point when it comes to the pro-EU leanings of some members of the left and the right, I feel he is being over-simplistic. For example, he argues that left-wingers see the EU as a shortcut to socialism, even though they know that being socialist is a shortcut to being unelectable. His explanation requires an equal mix of cunning and naivety to present in the same people. To me, this seems unlikely.

The right-wingers apparently see the EU as a new empire, to be dominated by Britain, which in turn can dominate the world. As Andrew Black points out, the EU cannot succeed in outgunning the United States. Trying to beat the Americans at their own game is not practical, that way lies blocks at loggerheads [though one side has a much bigger head]. So what should the EU do? Use different rules. European states have always leant on other countries to get their own way. Diplomacy is about creating carrots [or mirages thereof] to alleviate the need for the military stick. Yes, this is sometimes both odious and tedious, and yes, it requires greyscale thinking, but it does work [eventually]. Would creating favourable coups and juntas be a better way? [Look up: School of the Americas. Apparently the US Gov have renamed it the much funkier WHINSEC. Can't think why they'd want to ditch the SOTA name and its associations. ...Co-operation: can't think what that would mean].

Whether or not external manipulation of countries and governments is ethical or necessary is not currently the point. It happens, it is seen as being required, and so tolerated. Therefore, in the current climate, one needs to find the best process for achievement.

As for Britain dominating the EU, well someone's always going to [and going to want to]. Is a French led empire any better? We've seen what France thinks of the newer members states [something about missing a good chance to keep quiet, and knowing their place wasn't it? At least we now know Chirac is a John Cleese fan]. What would happen if the UK left the EU? Or what would happen if England left the EU? The UK's presence in the EU is not currently vital. It helps certainly, but the EU would survive without us.

Which would leave us where exactly? Penned in by a bureaucratic behemoth, and with no influence over the EU. Which leaves us with interests in America and the Commonwealth.

America: I'm fairly sure there's a large proportion of the population who do not wish for further Americanisation, for assorted reasons [I'm sure I could find a poll somewhere to suggest this, but polls can, and do, suggest anything the makers want]. And of course America is a continent [or two], not how much some may argue otherwise. It's insular, it's distrustful and bemused by those beyond its borders [heck, in some cases beyond the state line]. If the UK's lucky it might become a pet project. If it's not, then we're just another country.

The Commonwealth: The more successful ones are learning to make the most of the environment around them. They are independent, with no reason, other than sheer waning momentum, to have anything to do with this country. Trade reflects demands. Demands shift. So the more prosperous Commonwealth members will drift off to new markets, and the less-developed ones will still struggle on, although if they ever prosper, they'll do it far away from us.

I think people who wish the UK to stand alone probably imagine the country is stronger and more independent than reality suggests. If they are successful in triggering the UK's exit from the EU, I think both the country and economy will enter a period of shock. This could be very damaging. Would staying in the EU have been less damaging? Would further integration with the EU have caused less damage? One could not know, but you can bet it's what the cannier tabloids would be printing.

Can the country resist the lure and threat of what might have been? Hopefully, in both cases.

Though through some curious quirk of fate, the new EU constitution defines the processes required for exiting the EU. This constitution being the one that the major parties hope will fail, either before it gets here or at referendum. It's odd that UKIP are so ardently opposed to the very thing that could enable an easy exit from the EU.

As for the economics of joining a single currency: I don't really know enough about it. Part of me thinks it should be possible, and it is probably a good idea. Part of me says why bother to change. As long as it's run like the Bank of England currently runs the pound, which is to say, apolitically, and pretty predictably, then it should be all right. As for how and when to join - I don't really know this either [but I've never paid that much to attention to economic theory after discovering it's largely "it'll be what you think it'll be"]. It's like crazy golf - one just needs to get the timing right [though I'm not sure what bouncing of the sail of a windmill does for an economy. Perhaps the crazy golf analogy isn't the best, as they only time I've ever played it I was told to hit the ball hard, which was closely followed by "not that hard". It's quite embarrassing having to retrieve a ball from the garden of the pub next door. But at least it went through the windmill].

And then really annoying thing is realising he's voting against me - due to the wonderful size of the constituencies. But still the one I'm in only runs from Oxon down to the Isle of Wight and over to Kent, whereas the neighbouring one runs from Gloucestershire to Gibraltar.

Ok, so this is not a stunning rebuttal [a], but that's in part because I partly agree with some of what was said. I think what irks me most this that AB is openly voting for the UKIP as a protest vote. This coupled with the two faces of the UKIP being Robert Kilroy Silk and Joan Collins.

RKS: apparently he used to be a Labour MP, when he's thorough Tory. There was also that incident that got him removed from presenting, which according to him, was not his fault, as although he had written that article, and previously had it published, it was his PA's fault for sending out the wrong text [the article in question related to his views of all Arabs. They weren't particularly complimentary. The newspaper involved does not run to an online archive. I also can’t find a serious RKS site].

Joan Collins: An actress of indeterminate age, who was last in...80s television series Dallas [or was it Dynasty?]. Given that I thought she lived in America, but have been informed that she lives in France, I'm not terribly sure why what she says is so important. Does anyone know the rules on ex-pat's eligibility to vote? And if she does live in the Eurozone, it's strange that she wants another country to leave the EU completely.

[a] I only did debating for a very brief period in school, and my main skill there was being able to see the holes in every argument [including ours].

But what would I know, I only voted Lib-dem: because it's neither Tory nor New or old Labour, and the Greens are too rabidly anti-science [and had a candidate called Xanthe. Which is similar to Greek root for yellow. Hence there's lots of nice sulphurous chemicals related to urea with similar names. And it is a bit pretentious, although I am aware that describing it as that is being judging the woman (presumably) by her parents, which isn't a very nice thing to do. Ok, so the Green's blatant aiming for the other-50s vote, by saying more pensions for all, regardless, had more to do with my decision].

Basically, the EU is not great, but it might be. Not being in the EU is probably worse, and being outside the surviving EU could be very damaging. The only way to restrain this being is to be part of it. For a start that means getting the newer states to gang up against France. Which as the Iraq saga has demonstrated, there is will to do so. Make France (and certain others, but mainly France) see that the common agricultural policy is not viable spread across the block, and if it’s not across the block then that’s flouting the EU’s written desire for fairness and equality. Also it’s not very kind to anyone beyond the block, so there are ethical considerations [beyond “but America does, so why shouldn’t we?”]. Most other countries were forced by the EU to modernise their agriculture. France evaded this, and continues to do so.

I think the EU needs a counterweight to the Franco-German axis, and until Turkey comes on the scene, this probably needs to be the UK. And with luck, the Franco-German axis is still as tenuous as it has always been. I’d hope the UK could be in position to help clarify the role and structures of the EU, and thus hopefully improve it.

If we ignore it, it’ll only get worse, and take us down with it. If we work with it, both sides can improve. And in terms of current sheer awkwardness, perhaps France ought to be the one considering leaving the EU.

Moving on...

This week's observations and oddities.
- It's very odd having an election and then not knowing the results.
- During this week I have, at various times been stuck in an office in which the heating is on, and the openable windows can't be opened, as then the clients might notice it's right next to a railway [because the building shaking 6 times an hour is pure coincidence]; been hauling around railway sleeper-sized pieces of wood; peering down a centreboard case, and discovering the extracted centreboard is nearly as tall as I am; found that the pretty red beetles I keep seeing around annihilate anything vaguely related to a lily; melted part of a plastic basket containing clothes pegs; been trying to watch the transit of Venus at the time ("it doesn't do much, does it?"); kept meaning to write stuff in this blog, but somehow not having the time, and yet persistently be late doing other things because I'm on the computer; felt guilty for not going swimming, and still not going; find I'm now the proud owner of an avocado plant - I only did it as an experiment to see if it would sprout, I didn't think of whether I wanted a tropical tree or not; make snide comments about an article on the BBC News website entitled Warning about forged £20 conman. What, it's just a £1.99 conman that's been dipped in gold paint? Shocking.
£6? For just that? Remind me not to have children anytime soon. My set were nicer anyway, even if they did lack anti-suffocation holes. Actually mine are probably squirreled away somewhere by my mother in preparation for grandchildren. Hope springs eternal. Picture liberated from the ELC [purveyors of fine quality, if over-priced, fridge magnet letters, as seen in all the best houses, and student kitchens], click for access. But apparently they've changed the shape of the letters so it's harder to use a p as d, q as b, etc. Though t as f, and y as h were always a bit dubious.- Plant pots come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes. Trying to stack them neatly requires sorting them. This requires sorting them by size, shape, make and drainage hole pattern [1]. This makes quite a lot of categories. Yes, I was running out of lawn. I think this household must have bought a lot of different plants from different sources (and I'm being to wonder if some got inherited). And that's not counting the packs of pots people have decided we needed. Having done this, I then tried stacking them: half magician hiding the ball that he's palmed, half Fisher-Price toy[2]. I'm not sure that I wish to know the implications about my personality that grading pots and sorting information in hex[3] in the same day suggests.

[1] You wouldn't think it matters would you? Well it doesn't, until you try stacking them.

[2] Good god, they do a "Pooh-Stack 'N Hide Honey Pot". Only from the people who brought you Eeyore in purple (grey's such a dull, depressing Eeyore-ish colour you know). This means that somewhere out there (probably in Hammersmith), there's bound to be someone selling genuine plastic Pooh-sticks [bet they don't float. Not that it matters; the player either takes so long to cross the road over the bridge that the twig is long gone when they reach the other parapet, or they get run over in their eagerness. And of course the game, if played frequently enough, always descends into arguments over whose twig it is].

[3] Numbers come first right? Please say the numbers come first.


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