Saturday, April 30, 2005

Slaidburn Silver BandOf course, the real reason I was so incoherently angry was I'd got bored playing Transport Tycoon Deluxe Edition, so spent ages cunningly designing a strategically flawed island which took up the whole map. Basically I built Holland. Huge swathes of land lying at sea level behind fringing dykes but I made sure the bits I wanted were on higher ground. So perfect for a catastrophe when the competitors get too good.

Only then I discover that if the land runs to the very edge, and so is surrounded by only one square of sea, no coast forms, and so when the land in lowered, no flooding occurs. There's nothing quite like Armageddon being delayed by a technical hitch.

So that'll be waste of time squared.

Other stuff.
Are poppies supposed to be out in April? I know the may [is hawthorn blossom capitalised?] is already stingingly out in some places, but poppies? But then they are growing against a dark south facing wall.

But as I've just had the annual outing of the banana plant, maybe it's not that soon (but maybe it is). And manoeuvring a plant which is now taller than I am is interesting. When it's not sweeping surfaces clear, it creaks like the warps on a dried-out clinkered boat. And why does the saucer for a pot cost two-thirds of the price of the pot? Spot the Traditional Bank-Holiday Activity.

[Ah, my half-watch Lord of the Rings in the background as I type plan has gone a bit awry. It's snowing (but it's much too warm for that; maybe it's cherry blossom snow). It's snowing on Channel 4, and both BBC channels. ITV was just about doing a wobbly strobe-lit Chris Tarrant (now there's something more scary that the old Doctor Who titles), but even he succumbed to the tumultuous dandruff. Digital is still plodding through Casualty, but it's in a different room].

Speaking of television (I know I just typed speaking, but it is like I'm talking, although I suppose you can't hear the silly voices which occasionally emphasise different parts of it), has anyone else noticed that [global audiences look away now] the music which is used in the Evian adverts is the same song as was used to advertise Renault? The moi, je joue, je jouer contre vous, je joue, ah oui, plus fort one. Does France not have enough music to go round? You'd think with their nationalist airplay rules they would have produced something different by now, but then I suppose those rules did produce Alizée, so maybe not.

But if they don't have enough music of their own, could they not use music from any other country? They could highlight the car's anti-corrosion treatment by using the Chemical Brother's Galvanise (or was it Basement Jaxx? Same thing really). Except that might be false advertising. Perhaps using autre-langues music might not be Gallic enough. Maybe we need zany music with the vowels of a donkey to mentally reinforce the key features epitomising French cars. Namely low humidity only electrics, the comforting sporadic clatter on the motorway, and the economy provided by the impossibility of using a carwash (impossibility possibly meaning inadvisability).

A quick Google suggests that the je-joue thing was sung by Brigitte Bardot, and has lyrics even I can translate. But you'd think Evian's ad exes might have noticed that the same song had been used very recently.

Moving on (once again).
Today yielded another Traditional Bank Holiday Activity: The May Day Fair. Which was about as pitiful as all the other fairs are. The weather was typical of fetes, in that it felt like it was going to rain, but didn't. So once again I donned the tradition English summer (or thereabouts) combo of a mac over a t-shirt (but no shorts yet). And then round the various stalls.

Second-hand books. Second-hand tat. First-hand tat. Second hand tat and books. Tombola. Second-hand tat tombola. First-hand tat tombola. Plants (any cheap? No? How about a walnut, variety Kent Cob? Isn't a cob a type of hazel? You're not sure, but they're round? Right...). Cakes (any cheap? Any which aren't Victoria sponges?). Homemade jam (it's a cheese because you can't see through it). Homemade honey. Homemade chutney. Homemade something in a jar, can't read the writing, got lumps in, best not. Tat for children. Lucky dip, comes in three barrels: boy, girl, baby (obviously for those Schroedingering). Jewellery. Purveyors of Sweet Tea. People who give out Sweet Tea for free, although patrons may have to faint on demand. Purveyors of Good Furmity (what, no Henchard?). The Harking Back to Olden Times Stall: It's all changed now (TM). Cards (now with added glare from the teenage daughter seconded to run the stall). Abortion (sorry, anti-abortion campaigners, not somewhere with more knitting needles than the WI [see second-hand books and jams]. Maybe that's what was in the lump-filled jar). The marginally less popular Recycle stall (complete with abandoned drinks container in front). The Kiddy Death Jump. The win an inflatable sword stall. The hit something stall. The hit something differently stall. The Human Fruit Machine (it's amazing how much a man with pants on his head, and a pencil each nostril, can do). The rope stall (only selling the idea that knots are cool). The Punch and Judy Show (as done by the man giving the announcements). The Beer Tent.

And somehow I've managed to imply that there was far more than there was. Probably because many stalls combined things like plants, books, cakes, things in jars and tat (how long can it be before we see tat in jars? Scratch that, said he thinking of the model ship in bottle). Whenever I go to anything there, it always feels like the site is too big for what there is. It's permanently sparse. Everything is pushed too the edges, and with the continually empty central arena, there's huge void, devoid (really should have seen that coming) of anything of interest, or even people. When I go, even if I get there as soon as it opens, it always feels like I'm a straggler, and everyone else has already gone home.

And apparently a fair few (ok, two at least) people were quite annoyed that there's an election on. Why? Because it means that no political party could be active there. And why does that matter? Because apparently the Conservative bottle stall, and the Liberal book stall are normally the best stalls there.

And is anyone else wondering about the implications of the choice of stalls run by those parties?

The best bit, other than wondering about the suitability of Ferry Across the Mersey for a spring fair somewhere south of the Thames, was the announcer. This year, somehow, they've managed to disconnect half the PA, so messages do not echo forever, and aren't painful to hear (well, physically painful). He kept plugging the Punch and Judy show, next to the committee tent, well, it's not a tent, it's more, it's a caravan... and it's not next to it either, before letting slip that he was the guy giving the Punch and Judy show (you mean there's a man in there? And Mr Punch is not alive? Wah, wa-wah...).

At um o'clock, the der...mawahawara... so that'll be nice... I've been told there's been a credit card handed in, so if you have a credit card, please go to the committee tent... I told you earlier about a credit card that's been handed in, it's not a credit card, so if, er... It's a Coop Dividend card. So if you have a Coop Dividend card, please go, if you have lost a Coop Dividend card, please go to the committee tent... We have the name on the Coop Dividend card, so if you have lost your card, please go to the committee tent... Would [NAME] please come to the committee tent? We have also been handed a small teddy bear, so if you have lost a small teddy bear please go to the committee tent... At [click] o'clock there will be [wha-om] in the main arena. So that'll be fun... We still have a small teddy bear which looks like a prize, so if you have won a small teddy bear, please go to the committee tent... If anyone owns a small teddy bear which they have lost, would you please go to the committee tent... We have just been handed a mobile phone, so if you have a mobile phone, could you, er, please check you have it with you... I've just been given a very nice hippotamus... We have had a large green hippotamus handed in, if you have lost your large green hippotamus...

Unfortunately he shut up when the town band started to play. And what was it they were playing? The same song they always play, regardless of the occasion. My sources suggest it might be, er, Googling what I thought was said brings up not a lot, and a "did you mean?" I'll let you know if it's the right one if I can ever get Java to install in Firefox. But it's the thing they always play. Church parades, Remembrance Sunday, carnivals; it's all one and the same as far as they're concerned.

Much chuntering later, and I can confirm the panacea music; it's Slaidburn, a march by Rimmer (not that Rimmer, or the other type). To hear it, scroll down to the "Additional Plugins are needed to display the media on the this page" section. Ok, the bar above the final paragraph. Ah yes, the joy of Scouts banned from marching (it was too militaristic, so now shambolic is preferred) as they attempt to negotiate acute turns on endless Church parades. I think one year, having realised it's mostly right hand turns (due to taking the long way round), we put the people with the longest legs on the left, only to have one of the Districts (who was always a mean idiot) overrule us on the grounds of lopsidedness. He obviously was never someone whose toes got crushed on the right, or had to break into a banned run on the left. He also famously decided one year that two troops could march side by side. Even if there hadn't been people on the pavements the buildings don't exactly help this formation. And of course neither would yield an inch to the other. Imagine the boat race coming into Hammersmith Bridge with a few less sticks but a lot more people.

The reason for the confusion over the name? I must have misheard "It's Slaidburn" to mean it is called Laidburn (I know I had it spelt out for me, but I'm dyslexic you know, and he went way too fast, and I was still struggling to work out the sounds of the name, and then suddenly I have L I D B U R flung amongst it. Spelling it out only makes it worse).

Today also gave me a stark choice: God or Labour? The ranters flanking the High Street. I went round the back of Labour.

Hmm, Mordor's still enveloped in snow; maybe I should have chosen God.

Oh, and isn't having to test opened bottles of Pimm's to see if they've gone off so damned arduous? Although the vegetation was rather meagre consisting as it did of only an apple and an orange. There should have been borage (the mint having not over-wintered), but I'm never too sure which one it is, and if it's the one I think it is, it's flowering anyway.

But at least I wasn't the person getting terribly upset when, whilst watching Doctor Who (having retreated inside) a few generous Pimm's's to the good, the Dalek was freed by a dappy animal rights protestor (oh, are we not doing analogy today? Oops) with an excessively collagened overbite. And how the heck should one spell the plural of Pimm's? Pimm'si? Pimm'ses? Or is it just like sheep?

And Our Man in Havana makes exciting slightly "relaxed" reading. It's wonderfully daft.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

CF4 600 - Slide - 07 Bosham WreckHeya one and all, well mainly just the one because it this blog after all, and there's no point greeting the misled Googlers. So hey you.

Sorry about the long time no blog, but I've been stuck on the assorted huge things which I still haven't finished. But I'm breaking off those for now to get back to my core output. Yep, I have a whole suite of rants coming up.

Grr, Photography, Grr.
For once in my life I make a good print. No blurred bits, no scuffed bits, no finger prints or eye inch wide eyelashes. I put it in the oven to dry. I go away, as the tutor is showing us other stuff. I come back. Not in oven. Where it be? Eventually I find it, not the in usual curled up at the back hole, but on the shelf I left it on. Stuck precisely underneath another print. And it's very literally stuck.

I disengage it, frown at the watermarks, put it back in to finish drying, glare at the man whose print lay on top of mine. This is the same man who spent the entirety of last week talking about his wonderful nephew who is one of the most famous photographic print makers in the world, or some such bollocks (it wouldn't be so bad if his voice wasn't so nasally dull). Yeah, yep, sure, your nephew's an arch printer, of course, from the in-laws side is it? Oh, and you might want to try turning that light off before you make the bloody great hole in the side of the enlarger. Yep, that hole you made again. Yes, say "Oh" in surprise, and laugh it off cretin, and hey, why not do it again, this paper's not going to get any more fogged.

I was actually joking when I said do it again. Bit beyond your powers to get that? Righty-ho. Calm blue sea, gentle waves crashing down on the shore, thunderous roar, liquid shattering, marauding herring gulls arcing overhead, hissing beaks stabbing, spray rising, beating like hail, and out again...

[If a body is found floating down the Thames with a lens set on f8 embedded deep in the back of the skull, be sure to say "His nephew's a famous photographic print maker"].

So I leave the print to dry once again, and hope hasn't sustained lasting damage. I go back to what I'm being taught. I return once more. I play hunt-the-print once again. The guy of the couple who smoke suggests it might be hanging up. His look suggests he thinks I was selfish for leaving it in there. Taking it down I explain that someone stuck their wet print on top of my drier one, hence not taking it out earlier.

I get it out into the light. Slight marks where the two sheets of paper stuck. And a bloody great gouge through the surface of the paper. It's not a mere scratch disrupting the emulsion, but it's engraved on one side, and embossed on the reverse. Which either means the incompetent man had returned, unless it was another incompetent, or Mr Dropping Hints is a spiteful cunt.

In which case I hope you and your good lady whore (who'd struggle to get sixpence for it) either succumb to the many health problems you bring on yourself by constantly nipping outside to smoke (oh, and sharing a stuffy darkroom with a couple of ashtrays isn't really all that fun), or you find the nearest available lamppost and wrapped both yourselves and your bike round it. They're that type you see, the type who think nothing of roaring through a cluttered town centre doing considerably more than 30, only to then slam on the brakes (when it had just rained for the first time in ages), and then screech up the very short hill to where the photography course is held. Either he hasn't quite got the hang of the controls yet, or he too is a idiot, and a petty one at that.

Breathe out the darkness, and in, see the pure white light filling your body, the heat searing your flesh, lungs crackling into a shrivelled mass, and out again.

The thing I was being taught, and so which stopped me from yelling at any of the inconsiderate sods in that darkroom, was colour developing. Well, making colour prints, which is largely, expose paper, put in machine, wait. I tried making a print of one of the images from Bosham [about this time the author notices that he has somehow managed to reverse the image when printing it. You can't tell, unless you know what Bosham looks like. Oddly none of the people who have seen the results of my colour printing pointed out that church is at the wrong end of the village, and that the sun appears to be coming from the north].

In the scan I had problems boosting the red to something reasonable. When doing colour printing we are told to set both the yellow and magenta filters on 60 (no idea what units this is, it's just what the enlargers say), and the cyan on zero, as we would be doing if we were doing variable contrast black and white prints. I do this, and make a test strip (of an entire sheet of paper, which is an inch shorter than the official minimum for test strips. There have been lots of big warnings about what happens if we block the machine).

I feed it into the machine, and four minutes later the test strip comes out. Very blue, fairly green, very dark (with finger prints where I investigated which side had the emulsion on - normally I use the reflexion from the red light, only there's no light as it's colour). I compare to the chart. I'd say it was heftily off the norm, so I lob off 40 from each of yellow and magenta.

Another test strip. Dark, fairly green. The chart says take another 40 off magenta. Er... I don't think it does minus figures. I ask the tutor. She takes one look at it and says take 40. I say I already did. She does that special smile she does when she's trying to think of a nice way of saying "It's gone wrong, and it'll probably stay wrong".

She recovers by changing the topic to the timings. She says make a print at 3.5 seconds (the minimum of the current test strip being 5). I ask if I should just take off as much magenta as possible, and leave it on zero. She says no (and skips the "why not?"). We compromise on 10, and because I've adjusted it, making a new test strip, but running in second intervals from 3 up to about 7 or 10.

I use a baseline of two and add seconds from there (Look how rebellious I'm being, I'm not following her to the letter! I'm starting with a whole second less). I make a print at two and half seconds. It's not great. The boat is really dark, the sky has lost contrast and colour, and the background wasn't that great when I took it. I think I can soon fix some of that by tweaking the contrast. Only we used to use magenta and yellow to do that on black and white, but on colour they change the colours produced. Ah...

Is this where cyan comes in? Or maybe where the white-light switch does? I don't know, but there must be a way, mustn't there?

She comes round evaluating the end results. Mine makes her pause. She asks which film it was on, and I reply the slide one. She mentions it'll be the film, it's a bit special. Apparently it'd be great for creating some really funky effects, but they don't really work with what I was printing. She mentions once again that it's special. I suggest it's because I'm a special person. Thankfully she gets the implication, and mockingly agrees.

Then it's one to doling out films, and the second money transfer of the day (after she managed to be offered £5.20 to pay £1.20, and take the five pound note, giving me £3.70 in change, and she doesn't have ten pence on her right now. Um... I thought it would probably be easier to not confuse things by giving back part of the change and the twenty piece and taking a pound coin instead). There's four films which we all have, and there's four different films for us to quibble over. Two are infra red, or thereabouts, one is fine grain black and white, and one is as yet unknown because it got grabbed early. The woman next to me is inspecting both IRs. She puts one down. I pick it up. There's a couple of lines of small print on the top half of the lid. I open it to read the side of the film. Tutor swears. I look panic stricken, and hurried seal it back in the container.

Ah, the second line of the small print I couldn't read because I've spent the evening walking in and out of darkrooms, and focusing the grain on films, says load and unload in complete darkness. I'd managed to pick out the bit in the first line about the can, but I thought they were talking about the metal canister which contains the film, not the plastic film container around that.

I sit there thinking "Oh bugger etc.". The tutor tries to reassure me. I guess I'll have to take that film now. She keeps breaking off trying to reassure me. She claims there shouldn't be too much infrared around in the room (it's a large, fairly cool room, at night, cut into the side of a hill). I vaguely agree, as fluorescent tubes don't run that hot, and they are high above us. So not much IR. Oh apart from my hot little hands, in which I was clutching it.

Remind me to ask her next week what ISO the IR film uses; I was trying to find that out when I opened it.

She could have warned us though. She'd seen us open other nearly blank film containers to read the side of the canisters inside, so it's not that far beyond belief that yet another black canister might get opened.

But having tried looking up the ISO of the film, and having to guess which film it is (the 3 lines I thought said something like Kodak Snap Crackle POP, like the others say Ektachrome or NPS, were all the warning), it turns out that I think I got the most expensive film of the selection. Which I may have promptly ruined. So that's nearly a good thing.

Admittedly reading Kodak's doom laden website it turns out I need a [text does not display properly] filter. And to do odd things with the exposure settings. And the focusing. And even more stuff I don't understand. It comes to something when the bit of the diagram I understand is the bit that says LOG.

I'm still curious though. Is less than a mill of black plastic utterly impermeable to infrared?

Anyway, so that now, along with other stuff is now sitting in a box in the fridge (and I just found myself worrying about the effects of constant exposure to the fridge light. Um...).

So annoyances piled upon one another. And then today some delightful woman decided she would join the plebs and go swimming. A. She's a dry hair swimmer. It's a swimming pool. It's a large body of water. There's usually something innately wet about it. B. She disdained to follow the requests, nay, orders of the signs and so did not shower before entering the pool. And thus she left a sick of perfume across the surface. It feels wonderful when it gets deep down into one's lungs. Trying to subdue the coughing and gag-reflex I suggest she might like to rinse off her perfume before she comes swimming next time. To which she replies:

"Well, I can't smell it".

No shit.

You've been wearing it all day, just like you have been for everyday for the past few decades by the smell of it. It's like your own none-too-expensive BO, fresh on every day.

Naturally I am far to polite to say such things. Instead I hopefully swamped her in my wake (it's amazing the power being embarrassed imparts). And why does my voice go up a few social strata when I'm nervous?

And another thing. You know I took those silly who to vote for things a while ago? And managed to not be as Lib Dem as I think I am? Well, I'm now really not sure who I'll vote for. First came the hustings I missed. Apparently the Liberal candidate was ghastly. Alan Partridge is the most common comparison (admittedly the only other is Mr Slope, which was a obsequious clergyman from one of the Barchester stories as played by Alan Rickman at his most slimy. Obviously a comparison of limited appeal). He somehow managed not to get booed when he described himself as a "leader of the community".

But then again the local Tory newboy is nearly as bad. UKIP's man was completely out of his depth. There was someone else but no-one can remember which party they were from. And finally there was Labour candidate in the staunch Conservative, lately slipping towards the Liberal Democrats, seat. He apparently was intelligent and charming, and by the sounds of it a natural born Conservative. I think he very nearly won the votes of several people, if only it didn't mean voting for Blair and both New and old Labour.

So the "pompous idiot" tag means I'll now have to feel guilty for voting for the Lib Dems. But who else is there? They at least have a chance of winning round here.

And as if hearing of my spreading doubt, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, The Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP, sent me a letter.

First things first: Unless the post is even more buggered than it usually is, that title is not true. You, Mr The Rt Hon Kennedy, are not a member of parliament, by dint of the fact there is no parliament, what with the whole dissolution of parliament (which always makes me think of the Queen pouring salt over it to protect her petunias).

The letter starts:
You probably share my belief that how our Government treats our older and younger citizens is a key test for a civilised society

Do I know? So that's the key test thing then? Is that like one of Brown's 5 tests for joining the Euro?

The letter continues exploring how it would be better to be older under the Lib Dems (helpfully every other paragraph is underlined). Only in the penultimate paragraph does he break away from the theme, and that's with this great piece of logic:
It's not a fair society if you feel unsafe in your own home. The last Conservative Government promised more police. But when Michael Howard was Home Secretary police numbers were cut by 500. The Lib Dems will put 10,000 more police on the beat.

How many police are there anyway? Is 500 a lot? Would the 10,000 be permanently on the streets or would it be a once a month thing a bit like community service? And I've just found something out being actually doing research for once. According to the Howard biog on the Tory website:
In May 1993, he became Home Secretary, a position he held for four years. During his term of office, crime fell by an unprecedented 18 per cent. When he left office, nearly a million fewer crimes a year were being committed than when he became Home Secretary four years before.

So did he cut police before or after crime fell? Would doing it afterwards be a reasonable action in the circumstances?

[Not that I'm advocating voting for Howard, but...]

I'm still not sure which is the best part of the letter. It could be the graphics on the back where Michael Howard's head floats on a blue background over a clip-on bow-tie (and I note they weren't the glasses he had on just now), and Blair and Bush are looking at each other with doey eyes. But it might be something better than the Punch and Judy imagery (Chaz is seen talking with a slightly worried and surprised looking elderly woman, who may need a better bra).

Or it could be the fact they sent a letter detailing the better deal people over 75 would get under the Liberal Democrats to someone who is over fifty years away from such schemes applying to me. Will the Liberal Demoncrats still exist as a party by then? Will Parliament as we know it still exist by then? Or have their models suggested that 2055 is the first year in which the Liberal Democrats can gain a parliamentary majority?

So unless someone in their data centre misread a 2 as a 7, they really haven't done their homework. Or am I supposed to think of my poor grandparents? Hate to break this to them, but both sets of grandparents were much older than that when they died, and they've been dead a while. And I think my parents would be a bit miffed if I thought such tax-breaks might apply to them.

Or, could it be that they sent out a letter with a cheesy PS. It's a highly edited, planned letter. The PS has probably been in there since the first draft. If they were trying to impart a level homely, oops-a-daisy folksiness then... just don't bother.

Right so a PS which isn't exactly post-script. And what does it say?
It's not fair...

I'm sorry, I can't possibly take you seriously after that. You might just as well have written I want [doesn't get] or I hate you *door slams*. It doesn't help that words based on fair have appear ten times in the letter. And it's a big print [for bears of little brain] letter.

Charles Kennedy signatureEdit 30/04/05: And for your veiwing pleasure, we present the CK signature, courtesy of that nice man over at In Actual Fact, because he just so happened to have a spare CK autograph lying about. And who is going to be even nicer and put up with me liberating his bandwidth, what with the whole not having a server of my own thing.

And now being really infuriating, I'm going to try and analyse The Dear Leader's (not that DL) handwriting. The first C looks like it's made from two lowercase e's. The l bends off early to meet the small, solid a. The r is split in two. The next l (hang on, the first l must be an h, only it's like an l) is twice the height of the previous one, and with a loop in it. The e is like an upside-down and, or an alpha with its legs in the air. The s is triangular one, so the upper curve is missing, only the apex is far to the left. The K is a reverse tick and a curving l parked next to each other, with the bend of the l running along the baseline of the script. The next e is a dash with a kink at the right hand end. Next is a shallow u followed by a squashed m and then blob c, or possibly x. Then comes another l which a different height to any other vertical, and like all, except the h, isn't vertical. But it lends further to the right than the others, and some of them lean hard to the left. Then comes a slight blip like one of these ^. Followed by a big long line higher than the middle of the m. And then down on slightly curving course on a bearing of about 150. And there's apparently a dot at the end of that line.

So what does irregular handwriting, with sudden loops, squashed sprawls, and verticals ticking like metronomes, say about the man? Oh, and by the way, the base of the main body of Kennedy is level with the top of the e and s in Charles. Hmm, you'd think the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third leg of the political pas-de-deux, would have right slanting, ever ascending writing, forever I-think-I-can-ing, wouldn't you?

Anyway I'm off to snigger at the photographs on the back of Mr Kennedy's letter. Actually I'm off to think "doesn't the policewoman on it look young?" Maybe targeting the old wasn't so wrong after.

I'd stop discussing this. Basically, Kennedy: Right On, or Rt Hon?


PS to the photo thing (and yes I can have PS, as do you seriously think this is planned or edited?). What was it I was saying about negativity begets negativity? Well, there's negativity and there's stupid and/or selfish people.

PPS. The astute amongst you (why do I keep repeating that phrase? Maybe I hope one day it will come true, and that there might me someone astute rather than just Stu [and to whoever I just panicked, don't worry I didn't know you real name, that was coincidence. I do now though]). Anyway, astute yadda, I broke off whilst writing this to watch Question Time with all 3 Dear Leaders, but they had them on sequentially (sequentially of what? Descending likeability? Rising smarminess? Ascending inability to answer the bloody question?). I may or may write up my responses to that at some point.

[Insert comparison of political leaderships and the effects of eating Mcdonald's, Supersize Me being on 4 at the same time, here].

But it was fun playing whoever's game it was (I heard about it on Saturday, then from another source midweek (since forgotten, so if there's an outraged blogger out there say so), and someone I was watching it with blithely informed me that I could not have heard it on Saturday as it was only the Guardian today. The Guardian obviously being beyond a little light plagiarism, much the Government). Anyway the game was guess party affiliations, and spot the obviously planted questions. Blair got one on something about Labour has increased spending on X, to gain Y better results, oh heck, better not look too partisan, some comment about is it a waste of money? There, now no-one will notice I came in the same car as Blair.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Caffeine spider's webWant do you want from me?

There's nothing quite like receiving fanmail to make one have a crisis of confidence (I do of course use the term fanmail somewhat loosely; it was an email from Mr InAcFa which held a smidge of a compliment). He praises me for me by ability to link obtuse topics and rarely explain the connections. I always thought that was a flaw. If there is a better way to confuse people and ensure they never come back, it's to bemuse them and make them work to receive the message.

So on one hand I am praised for a fault, and on the other is my desire to increase the popularity of this blog (why does it matter so?), which I think would involved making the thought processes more transparent (or do I mean opaque? I'll compromise with translucent and therefore fail both analogies). So I'm drawn between to opposing positions: what the audience wants, and what I think the audience wants. Very Reithian.

I suppose the crux is that I've never quite decided what this blog should be. I started it in part to find out what blogging was, and because everyone else seemed to be doing it (and why not?). But I've never had an aim [that I've stuck to]. I hoped it would be highminded scientific commentary, as exhibited by half the sidebar links (most of whom are currently a little dormant). But my inherent tendency to not bother with research, and rarely draft or edit the posts, is not really the best approach. That, and reading endless articles simply for the purposes of regurgitating seems at best tiresome.

So science as a purpose is out. I'll still react where I think it's appropriate (such responses fitting in one of the following categories: huh?, lookee ma or yeah, right) and possibly feel I have something to add.

I had hoped to become a figurehead for political thought, much like many of the major bloggers, until I realised that they know what they're talking about (mostly), and, worse still, care about it.

Technology seemed another hopeful prospect, but my daily exposure consists of sorting out problems caused by other people, and most often these aren't problems per se, being merely impatience coupled with poor application of scant knowledge (read: how hard is it to right click? Much swearing). Not really fertile ground for clever thoughts on new constructs. And when I do think of something which would be good, and would be useful, I forget to write it down, and so forget it completely (like that thing I though of earlier, but can't remember now. But there was something). Expect me to remember it in the stairwell of John Lewis's or two thirds of the way down a swimming pool, only to promptly forget it again.

I regret to say that there really isn't that much more I think about, or think I could apply in blogging. Who would read a blog on the rust patterns of aged Vauxhalls (the rear wheel arches mostly)? Or one on the growth of my banana plant (yeigh big, but needs repotting)? Or one with the theme of "my life isn't good enough" (isn't that most blogs, and the being raisin of virtually every blogger? If they didn't think it would add anything, why do it?)? How about a "I'm being ironic (but i actually really like this)" blog? Or possibly a salacious sex life blog (Day 3: need more loo paper)? Not forgetting one which would combine several of the previous categories - Last night I watched... (actually was watching a play, but on Monday, I watched Animation Nation, which was good, until I realised I'd missed Casanova, which is pap, but fun pap, and then watched ER. Fun pap also applies to Desperate Housewives. There's not much else on. Oh Doctor Who, but suddenly I have half a social life again, so miss it, and never remember the repeats). See because that would combine anal obsessiveness, oh-woe-is-my-life, a vicarious sex-life, and the token coverall of irony.

Just be glad I have neither cats nor children.

So I end up doing what I lambaste others for doing, which is to use my blog for me-too-isms, the yeah-but's of internet debate, and as a diary. And I can never tell what people respond well to, or even what they respond to at all (other than mention of their own name. But having a blog which reads like a register might not be the best thing ever, said he looking somewhere towards the Indian subcontinent).

And up to that last comment, one of the main aims of this blog was (or has been since the early days) to be inoffensive. Negativity begets negativity, and this being the internet flame wars and hate mail are spawned. Though at least it did boost the traffic.

Anyway it was his own silly fault for not reading what I wrote. Admittedly dismal punctuation, grammar, and whatever that other thing is called probably didn't help. Which brings me to the next item on the agenda (don't worry, I don't even have one - not unless it's really well hidden): superfluous loquacious verbosity. Or in other words my immanent pleonasm (yes, I have just found that second one).

As someone once said of me (ok, I lie, as no-one has ever said it of me, and I made it up instead, as none of my friends have yet to be that witty, anyway it still needs rephrasing, but the idea's good), I ought to be reported the RSPCA for donkey maiming. Well, given the number of times I've talked the hind leg off a donkey...

I refer, of course, to my inability to know when to shut up (which also brings in another aspect to blogging; I always perceive it as talking in a conversation, said he typing). My blog posts regularly come out as many pages long (if one pastes it into Word for the purposes of avoiding Blogger's spellcheck, which never knows many words even when it does work). I do it when I'm talking normally too. It's always a case of I've started so I'll finish, and I have an annoying habit of never leaving out details, often remembering something else halfway through, usually getting sidetracked, weaving in another layer of complexity, following a resultant train of thought and why's it dark outside?

I'm aware this probably irks some people (although have never had any direct comment). But either I'd post eighteen one and a half paragraph long posts in one day (which given how hard it can be to find the first line...), or I'd have to stick to one subject and my brain has never functioned like that. Give me a crossword clue and I'll be impervious to idea that the verb in it might be a noun, give me a lateral thinking test and all I'll think is that "this is stupid" (or that the answers are either silly or cheating). But give me an idea, and you'll find yourself struggling with rampant inflation, and multiple concepts twisting through one another like a fishing net made by a spider on caffeine.

And look at that as an example: four paragraphs on the art of saying too much. Basically, I know I shouldn't, but I do. Heck, if heroin addicts can use that defence, why can't I?

Reverting back to somewhere a few paragraphs ago, to using this blog as a diary. It's quite bizarre. I've never really kept a retrospective diary before, usually mine consist in large part of the word "do" and that ever-present, and ever-helpful, entry which is often found lurking on Fridays and consists solely of "5.30". Who? What? When? Where?

I'm not sure if it's a good thing to realise when asked about my whereabouts in sometime in March (not in a I'll get X to provide my alibi for me. I'll say we both watched whichever film which was on that night, but which got cancelled at the last minute because a small town in America really did get overrun with poisonous South American spiders, only we didn't know that when we looked at the pre-published television listings for the night way) that the easiest way to find out is to search my Blogger account. Unfortunately it wasn't really a suitable option at that time, so I had to rely on my enigmatic diary.

So apart from providing back-up for my life, another advantage of blogging is that I use I more. It's odd, but I suppose it's a mix of having had any notion of a people having been drummed out of me to allow optimum it was done when writing up experiments, and never quite thinking I'm important enough. When I wasn't writing of things having been decanted, everything else became verb object. Nothing could ever be subjective.

Going back to the original point, which was InAcFa's complimentary email (thoughts on first reading it: What a charming man. I wonder if he was drunk). The same email, whilst discussing the problems of communication (the Huh? factor), also mentioned the difficulties encountered when quoting Stephen Fry in a pub in Germany. There's nothing quite like discussing the similarities betwixt us, and how often we fail to communicate with others, and then promptly one bewilders the other with comments comparing Pelagians and gnostics [he reuses the material here, but he did say he was going to do that in the email].

I'm sorry, but early Catholic splits aren't really my thing (according to the Great God Google, it's all a matter of what the default state of humans is: Pelagians say good, gnostic say bad and goodness has to be learnt). As for the title given to the Saint Ignatius picture, I have no idea where 7 years fits in (and even though it doesn't matter it's annoying me).

Whilst doing this I've also just noticed he's posted something else which sends me reeling for the reference books once again. Hindi? I have to Babelfish half the German, and so how can I hope to understand something where I'm not sure which end to start at? In case you haven't noticed, I'm one of those people who's never quite sure if Aloo is potato or cauliflower. Saag is spinach, I think, but I'm hopeless beyond sticking with biriyani, if only to avoid the "does it come with rice" question. I never managed to figure out the difference between samosas and sambusas (I think it's simply that the latter is the Swahili name).

But now I'm wondering if there's anywhere which sells dried mango powder this side of Hamburg (spot whose German geography isn't quite up to par. I know Hamburg is near the coast, so it must be west of quite a lot of Germany, but I'm not sure whether it's west of InAcFa's corner, but I can never remember which is his corner anyway). And what's special about chapati flour?

Basically, this is all the long way round of saying I made the mistake of thinking about it, and now can't do it. So blogging's just like parking then?

Anyway, I'd better stop, as the first line has somehow sparked off in my head part of a song, which has been going round ever since. The bit I can remember runs: What do you want from me, it's not how it used to be, you've taken my life away, ruining everything. Not really the best thing to have stuck in one's head, unless I'm being a little Freudian about blogging.


PS. MS Word strikes again. There is no such word as Reithian (or biriyani, samosa or sambusa) although it knows Raytheon. Why are the makers of small grey boxes (which beep helplessly at me) more important than Mr BBC? Googling to check the spelling not only points out that I may have an extra i in biriyani (but that's how I pronounce it), but helpfully asks, when I enter samosa "Did you mean salsa". Well, you have to give it points for knowing it's spicy food (unless there's a samosa dance).

PPS. MS Word also apparently autocorrects chapati to chapatti. And the respective prevalence in Google? 97.2 kghits to18.7 kghits, or 5.2:1. Go fig.

PPPS. I probably should have replied to the email before writing this. Oh well. I'll do it at some point Mr InAcFa, but I'm disappearing off for the weekend at the mo.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sodding hell.

I was bored, and as bored people are want to do, I started doing one of those silly internet quizzes. And as I was really bored it was a quiz on political opinions. Apparently I should be voting for the Green Party. Which just goes to show how silly internet quizzes really are.

Who Should You Vote For?
Who should I vote for?
Your expected outcome: Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour -2
Conservative -3
Liberal Democrat 12
UK Independence Party 9
Green 16

You should vote: Green
The Green Party, which is of course strong on environmental issues, takes a strong position on welfare issues, but was firmly against the war in Iraq. Other key concerns are cannabis, where the party takes a liberal line, and foxhunting, which unsurprisingly the Greens are firmly against.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For?

Now given that other people have scored 50, and yet the most I get up to is 16, maybe next time I should try not answering "neutral" to three-quarters of the questions.

I'm a bit worried that the people I expect to default to are sandwiched between the anti-science Greens and the anti-sanity UKIP. Hmm, and where's the bit which puts the margin of error at +/-20 points?

Hmm, no matter how many times I try to rejig it, I still end up as terminally indifferent.


PS. I've just done yet another political test [via CasAv]. Left-wing internationalist, right wing economically. I'm a bit concerned by how far out I am.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Duracell BunnyIf it's possible to run up and hug someone on the internet, I just did.

London Dan has just given me a Flickr Pro account (see, vague miserliness and procrastination pays off). I've also just discovered that I have 461 photographs on Flickr (of which 3 are good). But something must have been happening recently as 4 of my photographs have been added to other people's favourites within the past week. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, all of them are of London.

Only now I realise I'll have to actually use the account. Which after I spent the weekend wishing I'd got a camera, probably won't be too hard as long as I remember to take a camera with me. Which reminds me of several things I need to do (namely train tickets, film, haircut, photographic paper, list for photography tutor on what I want out of the course - does "Be better" count?, something else, finish up the London blog post, start the Dorset one, do washing, tidy, do something with unpublished half-finished posts dotted around Blogger and my computer, use film, develop it, scan it, get enough money to buy a decent digital camera, do tax, do other forms, file paperwork, take paperwork out and rejig filing system so it actually works, repair bathroom ceiling, sort loft hatch, sort boat, sort loose change, get a life, repot banana plant, move banana plant outside, grow a bit so once again I'm taller than the banana plant, get lots of money from somewhere, do good with it, have fun, enjoy life, stop worrying, make new list).

Of course, now I notice that the sets need some serious work. Bear with me on this.

My mood has drastically improved, and rant about incompetent part-timers subsided a bit. Basically due to a non-functioning phone system and the inability to use email on the part of the person I was corresponding with, the only way I found out where I was supposed to be at 9 am on Monday morning was to stand outside an office building until someone turned up. Which they did at ten to nine, trying to slip in through the side entrance.

I'm greeted with "Who are you?" which doesn't bode well considering the amount of conversations we've been having. I get vague details, which only make sense because I already half-know the answer. I also discover that there was no one in the office on Friday afternoon (and I thought I was joking about the staff having adjourned to the pub). I ask about various bits of paperwork I need the by end of the day and am told they'll be sent out on Thursday. I copy her fake smile and leave.

At the other end the lack of communication causes choas, and mightily pissed-off receptionist. I go in, do what I do, and leave. Getting back I check my emails. There's one sent at 10:57 am confirming the details for Monday 18th April. Yep, the woman I doorstepped earlier has sent a response to Friday's frantic emails two hours after the event to which they refer happened. Which is also two hours after I saw her in person.

Sometimes I wonder just how thick she really is.

So anyway, yesterday was a fun day of listening to salespeople accentuating the positive (one of them actually said that. I didn't laugh, somehow), with their PMA'd voices gabbling about "Only a 21% false negative rate" (yes, that's one in five wrong). And remind me to loiter and spin things out. People are always so surprised when I finish things quickly, and I think begin to wonder what corner I've cut to do it in that time. I think being called the Duracell Bunny is a compliment (oddly it's not the first time it's been said of me), but there's something slightly unsettling about being compared to a demonic pink fluffy thing.

Reverting to point (now there's a novelty): Thank you Mr Dan of London.

[The hug mentioned above was originally a big, wet, embarrassingly sloppy kiss, but I thought having that in the same post as a comment comparing me to a pink, fluffy toy might give the wrong impression. Said he skipping to his ballet class. As for really wet kisses, they're great when one of one's friends of the Mwa-Mwa tribe proffers an air-kissing cheek. Although some make-up tastes vile].


PS. Having had many photographs resurface, and discover the most viewed are by and large those of the most extraordinary places, I've just found that either there really are 1,999 photographs tagged with Tanzania, or that Flickr can only cope with two thousand images per tag.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Watercress womanI'm back in the land of the watercress.

I would explain, but either it'll be too complicated, or it will simply be not worth it.

So anyway, after a couple of hours of rain, and occasional rectangular and rhomboid flashes of blue and orange, I'm here once again. And isn't it strange, that of the many placards ensconced safely behind the property line, all advertising various political parties, there was no hint of red anywhere? Admittedly there was no hint of green, or purple, or grey, or puce, or taupe, or beige, or whatever the hell other parties there are.

What does the prevalence of roadside campaigning signs suggest about the current state of politics? That the only two parties in consideration are the Tories and the Lib-Dems, with the Tories having a slightly higher frequency. So am I to take it that the population has already spoken and the Tories will win? And then I notice the way that the banners and boards only appear in one of two situations: on the edge of a field, or on the neat fences and immaculately trimmed hedges of tiresomely precise gardens. Which leads to two things.

The first is that the roads round here, and over towards there, feature a large proportion of countryside to town. So one farmer putting signs at every corner can make a very long statement, whereas eight foot between walls, trees, and for sale signs doesn't last long at 40.

The second is that it takes a certain type of person to declare their own political beliefs for public inspection. Farmers are farmers, and most others who pass won't know whose field is which. And given that the area now occupied by a hoarding was last month occupied by a trailer advertising a golf course and a country hotel, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that they sold the space to the highest bidder.

The other type to declare their preference before being asked are just that type of person. If they're not already on the council, they write letters to it. They usually make disgusted Retired Majors of Tunbridge Wells sound tolerant, and almost nice by comparison. They police the world around them, and are usually resented for it. They are the type of person one always hopes will have some subversive flaw, or huge personal drama rumbling beneath the surface, if only stop their lives being so unrelentingly dull.

Although that past comment about an unrelentingly dull life does rather suggest I ought to have something sitting a few feet from the front door, giving me something to back into before the dustbin. But I'm not sure they make a "I'm not sure. Not Blair. Not Howard. Lib-Dem maybe. Others mad. Do I have to vote?" poster. But as no-one has yet supplied me with one of those (maybe it's because I happened to not hear the canvassers' knock; I was cooking, and so didn't even get the chance to decide if I wanted to hide until they went away), I haven't got anything up.

When I was growing up, we did have a huge board backed banner for the Conservatives tied to the fence; we got back one day and found it there. Before the vandalism set in, it got taken down, placed in a corner of the garden and then donated to a good home (the town bonfire). The really stupid thing is I think both my parents voted Conservative at that election, and had they been asked probably would have had problems saying no to putting a banner on the fence (having problems saying no is a family trait). But whoever erected it didn't ask. They clambered over our garden and broke off part of the rhododendron. Therefore sod-off.

And what does it say about the country's political structure that people representing the main fulcrum of power are treated like Jehovah's Witnesses (actually that's a lie; we talk to Jehovah's Witnesses, and if you do it for too long, they never ever come back, whereas political workers just think they've nearly cracked you).

Somehow this have become longer than I expected; there is more to come, but I have to do other things now. Like try and guess where I'm supposed to be tomorrow at 9 am. Things suddenly shifted on Friday, and Monday got organised differently, so I have to be somewhere different in the morning. Unfortunately, she-who-will-remain-nameless-except-for-some-very-rude-names organised it. I may well have previously ranted about her. Anyway, she was supposed to email the details to me. She took my email address, for about the thirteenth time, even though she's used it in the past. She was supposed to email it. She uses email about as well as her colleague (who wrote the contents of her computer screen down on paper, and then posted it via the stamp-using method). Come quarter to five on Friday, and there's still no email. I ring her office. Automated message. Automated message using the word "Hellaby". I check the number. 6 digits, all right, therefore it should be pretty local. I'm not sure I know where Hellaby is, but I'm fairly sure it's not in the next valley over.

The automated message is one of those "Press five for assisted suicide" things. I press the desired option (I use the term desire loosely). I get an automated message. The same one as I got when I first rang. I try different options. All cycle back to the beginning. Oh great, their phones are buggered.

I email again, trying to raise a response. Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn. These bloody people and their team networking meetings on Friday afternoons (for those less versed in euphemistic jargon, read: the office has adjourned to the pub next door).

I go away for the weekend. I get back. I check that email account. I check all my others, just in case they have a personal address. Nothing. Nothing on either phone. My vague hope that they might have used their brains and sent stuff to my home address is woefully optimistic. Well, they have sent stuff to my home address, but it's stuff singing their praises (um, guys, you might want to find a way to make other people do that for you).

So I'm going to have a fun morning of driving vaguely in the right direction, and hoping that someone gets in early. Expect a very long rant about how sodding cold standing round on street corners is on wet April mornings tomorrow.

Oh, and I saw some dolphins. More details soon. Once again bed beckons. Well, lies prostrate in a thoroughly unflattering manner.

Oh two, go and cheer up [suddenly realises part of earlier comment which might be misinterpreted. Oh well] him of InAcFa. I'm sure he only posted it to make me feel bad about the wingmirror thing. But then as I have 3rd party, fire and theft (A. Does rust burn? B. Yeah, like they could get it started. Are thieves prepared to bump-start?) on a car where my partial no-claims discount is worth more than the car itself...

Which reminds me that the passenger door lock has developed a habit of unlocking itself. Not that it matters much, as there's nothing worth nicking, except possibly the fossilised Fruit Pastilles. They could try nicking the radio, but as it hasn't worked for since before I owned the car, it might not be worth their effort. It also doesn't do FM, let alone RDS and digital. But then the clock beside it has hands and ticks, which probably dates it a bit.

I mock my car, but I like it really (other than the condensation, dodgy electrics and the mould). It's fun to drive, and I don't have to worry too much about it. And shiny silver Mercedes tend to give it a wider berth than they give each other. It's the pre-existing dents and dangling trim that do it (if he's done it once...). But even so, I think I might be slightly annoyed if I came out one day to find my car in the same predicament as Mr InAcFa's.

Oh yes: bed.

"Twee is not enough". Have I found the new tagline?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Amendment to the previous post:

The politics post got pulled. It's politics; it's one opinion on the opinion of others on the opinions of yet more others.

If you're really interested, see InAcFa. Then become un-, or possibly disinterested.

I need to got to bed (or possibly Bedlam).


Very not good

Ok so I'm only using that as a post title because somebody picked up on my use of it. Apparently it's a highly ungrammatical thing to say. Strangely they didn't seem to like me replacing it with doubleplusungood.

Anyway, what's wrong with very not good? Not very good has a different meaning, suggesting a certain level of mediocrity. But not good is distinctly not good; the ominousness rumbles through it. So if one can have a state of not good, then so can exist very not good.

The doubleplusungood brings me to the point of this message. Having finished reading 1984 (I know it's spelt out longhand, but I can't be arsed right now; I'll do it when I do a proper review, if I ever do that), I've now moved onto The Mayor of Casterbridge. Which is my way of saying I'll be in Dorset this weekend, so no blogging for a while (it would be unhelpful to point out that I've not blogged for 3 days before and that I seem to be making a habit of it).

I'm not quite sure how, but somehow whenever I go somewhere, it usually happens when I'm reading a book connected to it, and not my conscious choice. I managed to take a copy of Moby Dick on a sailing holiday, but fortunately I wasn't far into it, so it wasn't tempting fate.

Although now I think about it, I'm not sure "reading book on A, therefore A will shortly appear in life" is true. I never found any hobbits in Exeter, or hordes of Russians in St Johns, and I missed the diabetic mango-eater in Harley Street.

Anyway, so I'm going to be unbelievably crass and take a book about Dorset South Wessex to Dorset.

And maybe I'll see an English church along the way; somehow Google has an image which appeared here as an example of an English church. Only the church is actually Swedish, masquerading poorly as English. Ay well.

Other stuff:
- I can drive, honestly. Minor wingmirror incident today. Didn't stop. Very naughty. But as it was my mirror that gave, and there was no clatter and I could see the other mirror still sticking out, there wasn't much reason. Anyway, there was nowhere for me to stop without blocking the road, due to all the nice cars parked on double yellow lines, the mirror of one of which I hit.

So annoyed about that, and then discovered that due to lazy fabulous engineering, the forward support is also the linkage for the adjustment mechanism, and rather than design a complex joint to accurately transfer movements, they used a dodgy ball and socket joint. Hence upon impact the ball comes out and the mirror folds. The plastic casing doesn't, but having vaguely reassembled the mirror I realise it's always been like that since I've owned the car. Who needs fitting seams anyway?

- Why do I always imagine people to be other than they are? Every person who I know of before I see [an image of] I invariably imagine to look like X. Where X either looks like me, but better looking, or like someone I know and think the new person is like. Even if it's only the confluence of the names London and Dan to guide me. LondonDan of course looks like neither the London Dan I already knew, or me. But at least half of that sentence is a good thing. Does this make any sense? Just to confuse you, I probably look a bit like him (although in the only full length photograph I've seen of him his seat looked fatter than mine. What? I've got to score ego points somewhere, and being able to connect thumb and forefinger round my arm a worrying distance from my wrist is not really going to do it. It's like Top Trumps; there has to be one good thing).

- Main point of post: I'm sticking a couple of posts up which have sat for the past week waiting for one thing another to get sorted out. The huge one still needs work, so that'll stay as draft. Basically don't get confused because things which weren't there are.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Blank blackWe'll just hum
[or Normal service will be resumed shortly II]

It's one of those days. Firstly scurrying off to Notacity to do something which has been booked for months. I get there, go through the usual rigmarole to get into the building, even though I could (and have) just walk round to the side and come in the lorry bay. And then once I get where I'm supposed to be, I'm greeted with "What are you doing here?"

Patiently I explain. And then I find out that I'm meant to be there at the end of the week. I wave a letter showing the date. He agrees that the people who arrange these things are amazingly wonderful. Hey, it's only petrol (and my time), it's not like it costs much. Cue the mental calculation of 2 X miles / Y mpg x (Z £pl into gallons is A £pg) = Grr.

Half-smiling civilly, half-swearing I go to my usual base during the day. And this is where the Radiohead lyrics come in. Slight power cut. Nothing doing.

So it's a sunny morning, and without a computer there's not much I can do. I nearly try blogging the event live for posterity, until I notice the slight flaw in that plan. I could slink off and go swimming, except someone's already found out that the gym's power is off too.

So how widespread is it? Thus begins the hunt for a battery operated radio. And so we come to notice just how ubiquitous mains has become. Eventually I find my Walkman buried deep in drawer together with a selection of possibly dud batteries. I really ought to clear all this out, but I'm not sure the power cut will last that long.

All of which means I'm now listening to ghastly local radio with a penchant for Geri Halliwell and other plumbers of great depths, simply to try and gain news on the scale of the blackout. So far, about half-an-hour after it started, the radio has made a fleeting mention of a power cut in some small village somewhere. Then, a couple of celebrity-news's later, they mention that they've had a report of one of traffic lights being out, buried amidst news of queues on the M25 (which isn't really news).

A brief call to one of the power companies (which one are we with again?) confirms the affected. The radio still carries on blathering about [M]Anastasia.

It's back, and the radio has just run travel news confirming that one set of traffic lights is out. But they mention it's the ones by the roundabout, only the road they name has no roundabout anywhere near it.

Ah, crap local radio is great isn't it? The dj presenter has collapsed into giggles in advance of one of his own jokes.

Drat, I've just discovered what happens to Walkmans left on desks when the person listening walks off to do something else. And still the cheesefest continues.

I supposed I better get on with something,


PS. I've just realised I could have done a Ryan, and scanned the longhand version of this, but I won't as all that would do is bewilder the remaining readers. Legibility is not my strong point, although I have been told that my writing "looks nice from a distance".

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Tube Service StatusNormal service will be resumed shortly

Welcome to the ubiquitous, slightly tentative test post. As some of you may have been aware Blogger has been varying degrees of buggered for half the week. It's apparently not now. By apparently I mean I haven't had one single "The document contains no data" error. Yet.

Blogger did try to be helpful and posted the following advice on
If you are experiencing problems loading, please try clearing the cookies in your browser.

Only they posted that on And what happened whenever I tried loading any page? I got "The document contains no data". It's nice when you can't read the answer because of the problem. I only found out about the cookies thing via Cas-Av. Having wiped out the cookies (filed under www.b...), I got the site to load, and then got in, and could even get the create post window open. One small hitch though: neither the Save as Draft nor the Publish Post buttons worked. So Blogger was only functioning on an Etch-a-Sketch basis.

So basically that was fun, and sorry about the lack of content recently. Now all I've got to do is match up the umpteen scraps of posts dotted around Blogger and a couple of computers. Sometimes being too miserly to have a proper address really isn't worth it (and drat, has gone and redirects to an under-construction Jonny Wilkinson site, with a main image that doesn't load).

So anyway, I hope you're all having fun, cos I'm not really.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Lego GRoger the rabbit

One slight problem with reading blogs: people like Mr ActualFactual exist. And comment on other people's blogs. Such as Ryan's.

Lagophilia's good, mmkay?

Well, I suppose as long as it's Harvey not Frank...

Moving (or possibly hopping) on, and we may have a new contender for the Ernst and Young Novel Sailing Technique Award (in association with Sunsail and Bramble Bank). Or possibly EY have opened a San Francisco branch.

Drat. On Strang's Blog he mentions the Retail Alphabet Game (4th Ed). Whilst I've beaten Strang's score of 9 (I'm only competitive when I think I can win), I've ground to a halt after 12 on the 4th edition. I blame the game for its blatant American bias (not that I know it is American, but, well, you know, it's just easier to blame someone else). So far I've got b,c,g,h,i,l,n,p,s,t,v and x.

I can get 4 on the 3rd edition, with two It's that, er, it's, um...'s [u and m]. 9 on the second (and I refuse to admit to knowing d. S is another I-know-it-but). 8 for the first.

Who would have thought consumerism could be this hard?

Having looked at the answers, I should have got half a dozen more on the 3rd, a couple more on both the 2nd and 1st.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Gray's AnatomyAlles ist klar.

Earlier I mentioned being bewildered by the onslaught of people searching for Grey's Anatomy theme tune; it turns out it is a soap on ABC (no, not the Australian BBC). Unsurprisingly it appears to be set in a hospital, and judging by the current episode guide, the medicine is incidental to the romantic exploits of Derek and Burke. (Burke? Snigger). The show's website has a music guide, which lists one song per episode, so either they change the title music each week, or they have one of those really dodgy Buffyesque (hmm, make that every-American-programme-ever-and-the-wannabe-American-programmes-esque) 3-minute interludes in which a band pops up to play in the local nightclub (capacity: 30 extras), the local hospital (at the bedside of the patient who will come out of the coma at the end of the song), or the local supermarket carpark (because it's rock'n'roll).

The same section mentions the music from the pilot is "A Hard Day's Night", although oddly it makes no mention of the band. The song was originally a Beatles song (but you knew that already, right?), but I've no idea whose version it was. As the second episode is yet to air, I guess the song tons of people have been searching for is A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles. But I'm not in America, so haven't seen the programme, and so can't confirm this. Anyway, it's The Beatles, it won't hurt you to listen to it (but how can you not recognise it?).

And so on with the other bizarre searches which bring people here. Firstly Google Images has gone overboard and decided that I am the root source for all those images I have extended from elsewhere (What? I link back to the source, which is usually some company, so in effect it's advertising, so keep quiet, or I might just up my rates. That's not much of a threat is it?).

Picking up the Anatomy [for Members of the Royal Family] theme: location of bile duct in corgi. About there-ish, usually. Failing that, try one of the university vetenary websites, and see whether any have useful diagrams published as part of a paper.

Almost as pleasant to mentally visualise: naked matt barbet. I'm sorry, I only do nostrils. Try emailing him. If he'll measure bits of his face on demand, God knows what else he'll do.

Fractionally lower down on the Nice Thought scale: well known spot portsmouth cottaging. Because as we all know, Portsmouth Cottaging uses a special technique where... (my imagination doesn't stretch to this, or being remotely imaginative in any way). As for the answer the searcher sought, have you tried Gosport? I'm sure a subtle come-on would go down a treat there. Admittedly the going down might involve you falling unconcious to the floor as umpteen sailors react adversely. But then Churchill did sum up the Navy (ok, its traditions) as nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash (all in the same bedroom).

Slightly puzzling search results:
- hippy song in tampax commercial. I think I missed this one somehow. And now I've got the unfortunate image in my head of a tampon made out of hemp (presumably about to be tie-dyed).
- alderney CI porn. For some reason I am the top result, and given the number of times similar searchs have popped up, I have been for some time. And I've no idea how or why I am, nor just why it is only ever Alderney. Is it the most hedonistic of the Channel Islands, or does it have a bigger red light district than Sark? Why are there no searches for prostitution on Herm, or for rent boys on Brecqhou? Do snuff movies get made on Jersey, or is that only a Geurnsey thing? And I'm still intrigued by what Alderney porn would be like. Maybe they could have bondage at Fort Clonque, gang-bangs on the train (they'd have to be quick though), and the various pill-boxes and bunkers could ring to the sounds of climax. Maybe.
- "french boat"+cornish. I can do cornish boat in French [le bateau cornouaillais] but my knowledge of Kernowese is a bit limited.

And finally, this site is now number one for opinionated people. How's that for a claim to fame? Shame it implies certain degree of schitzohphrenia on the part of the author.

And one for luck: dexter "baltimore county" "criminally insane". Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches (from the album Since I Left You) [original post].

Let that be as lesson to you.

Never think you've just pasted a copy of your blog template into Word, only to then discover, when you've gone back to scavenge part of the code, that there are only the scraps you had put there earlier.

So much fun was had trying to reconstruct the basic code from the page source of one of this blog's pages. I think I've got it mostly back to how it was, unless it's better, but tell me if every link takes you to a post from November, or something similar.

All this to make the comments do what Blogger says they are already doing. From the front page comments should now pop up in separate window Haloscan/decent blogging software stylee. The comments will still appear as part of each post on each post page.

Which reminds me: one of you lot could have told me that on every post page the blog title is swamped by a link which magically turns it invisible.

So basically, sorry for upsetting anyone who uses a feed aggregator, but I was having to use trial and end publishing: Blogger previews do not show what happens on each post page. Helpful huh?

Anyway, I'll post about stuff which happened over the weekend in a while, but I'm off to see which other bits of the blog are now defunct.


PS. Does anyone know if the new Doctor Who gets repeated anywhere? Guess who was buying reduced doughnuts at the time yesterday.

Friday, April 01, 2005

So how many people really think I'm moving to the south of France? And how many people forgot what day it was today? Said he who only thought something was wrong with the Grauniad's front page article [on the role offered to Prince Charles by the Labour party if they are re-elected] simply because it offered too much front page coverage to the royal family for such an unrelentingly republican paper (the lead article on the FP was about Charles's sotto voce press conference). Even the Guardian quoting the results of a Yo, Guv! poll didn't strike me as odd, as this is after all the Grauniad, so a mangled version of the name You Gov is not out of place [I can't find the fake story on the Guardian website].

I know I really should have repealed that fishy thing at noon, but A. only two people had the chance to see it. B. Other stuff got in the way. Like Blogger playing hide and seek, and then other stuff, and then a not-very-good Bond film (a theme tune by Aha?)

But c'mon: a generally fishy post, where things are taken with liberal doses of salt, a village with a name which roughly means little game, mention is made of San Serif (ok, so I varied [unintentionally] the spelling from the Pacific island, see #5), and somehow I manage to work in poisson - and what game do French children play on April Fool's Day?

Subtlety has never really been my forte.

On to other stuff:
...('Always in the stink of women! How I hate women!' she said parenthetically)...
Parenthetically within parentheses? Ok.
It's from 1984 by George Orwell.

So, has anyone else noticed the Pope's been looking a bit ill? It's odd, it's scarcely been mentioned anywhere. Seriously though, has anyone else wondered how long it'll be before the various news channels start showing the Pope's blood pressure tracking downwards like the FTSE as some accounting scandal erupts? Or showing his heart beat flickering live on screens in place of the clocks? He's an old man who is quite ill - how many times do we need telling?

One of the best bits (if there can be any) is the ridiculous comment that perhaps it is time for an American Pope. Apparently "How about Wolfowitz?" is not a suitable response.

Oh, the Bond is back on. It's quite odd having a film made sometime in the eighties, in which there are mujahideen who trade drugs, and they are the good guys. Obviously the Ministry of Truth are a little overwhelmed at the moment.

Hmm, the Bond girl isn't dead yet, but the titles are rolling. What is wrong with the world?


Viaduc du MillauI can't believe this is really happening.

I've just had a call. We are now the proud owners of a 17th century church (well, une église de 17ème siècle according to the blurb) and attached rectory in the village of Le Jouette in the Grands Causses National Park in the south of France.

I've just realised you'll all be clueless as to what I'm talking about. I hadn't mentioned this before because every was all still up in air. But now the sale has gone through, so it looks like it's happening, which means I probably better explain what's going on.

We've bought a church in a French village which we plan to convert into a fish restaurant and poissonerie. The rectory, which is where we will be living, until we convert into gites apartements (but that comes later), has a large garden with a river running through it. It already has one fish pond on it, and we plan to expand that and add more (see, this is where the biology background comes in).

Why that church? Why that village? The church is ideal. It's right on the square. It's got enough space in the nave for the dining area, bar, and shop counter at the front. Due to a petty squabble when it was built, the crypts are ridiculously tall, so we can get the kitchen and stores in there. But when we first saw it, we knew then that we wanted it. It's even a mosaic of fish in the hallway. It's ideal. The only problem is the name, which is something ridiculously French and unpronounceable, who we think was the patron saint of copper miners, and who seems to be on par with St Barnabus for sheer obscurity. We've nicknamed it San Serif, after the engraving on the west wall.

But why Le Jouette? Because it's in the middle of a national park which attracts large numbers of tourists. Because the new viaduc near Millau has really hauled the entire area into the consciousness of many people (and because we think we can played upon the fishbone-like design in our logo). Because in September it hosts the international boules competition from which it takes (and to which it gives) its name, which is when we plan to be open by. I think I'm about to get shot for calling it boules. Le Jouette [the game] is and offshoot of boules, but with different rules, and using a partially sloped pitch. Needless to say, I'm useless at it.

But also because the entire area is renowned for it's food, especially the bass, which they bring up from the coast, and then pack in salt. It sounds like they do it the wrong way round, but somehow it works. But then the locals are experts at packing things in salt, as every local food has selé in the name (and yes, that's with an e: regional quirk). They even have pruneaux selés, which bizarrely does work. They seem to like everything with slightly more than just a pinch of salt.

So in answer to your wondering about why I've been so worried and stressed recently, and why I have to sort out tax and national insurance thing: this is why.

And now I've started thinking about all the things I need to sort out. The number of bits of paper we need to sort out is formidable. It seems like the EU's efforts to cut down bureaucracy have only added another layer of forms in triplicate. About the only thing one doesn't need a permit for is spending money. But as that is what we'll be doing most of until September, it should give us plenty of time to sort out the rest.

But it'll be fun.

I hope.

M. Le Poisson.

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