Thursday, 30 December 2010


Christmas has come early!

Well actually, it came exactly when expected, but I didn't have a clue what I wanted when people asked, so I asked for amazon or itunes vouchers. Fortunately, everyone got Amazon vouchers, rather than splitting it between the two to the diminishment of both.

I'd decided I wanted a graphics tablet. Very much a luxury for me really. I don't need it for my job, although Bren might well find a decent tablet useful as a professional photographer.

The Graphics Tablet world is dominated by a company called Wacom. I could have got a small (perhaps A6 or at best A5) tablet from them. Or I could go with a budget brand, which is what I ended up doing.

It was sceduled to arrive sometime around the 6th of January 2011, but it came this morning, and I've bneen having a good old mess about with it.

First task was to remove many layers of packaging, only to find that the thing just wouldn't work. It turned out that I'd missed the final layer of packaging. The AAA battery I put into the pen was shrink wrapped in plastic.

If you like to draw, you can find some awesome art HERE at "Doodlebug", AKA "Desktop Creatures". Some incredibly talented scribblers turn the single simple black line they're given into things of sublime beauty, far beyond my talents.

I've done a couple this afternoon. I couldn't resist sharing them with the world.

And that's me done blogging for another year. I wish anyone that reads this blog a happy and prosperous 2011, although I suspect it's not going to be an easy year.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Last Post

Of 2010. Probably, unless I suddenly discover a fantastic letter R in the next few days or something.

2010 has been a mediocre year for me in many ways. Just plodded on without really going anywhere. There have been some good bits, and nothing really bad has happened. Not to me personally anyway. My Dad's prostrate cancer has probably been the worst bit, but that's responded well to treatment, and as far as I'm aware, it's in remission. I was down at my mum and dads a couple of days ago, along with lots of other extended family. Had a good old natter with my dad. He was telling us about his sadistic old cunt of a father. He hoped he hadn't been like that himself.

I told him that he'd had his moments. He told me I'd had moments too. And we laughed about it. We spent a long time at loggerheads. I'm so glad we buried the hatchet. We're so alike in so many ways.

I don't much know about New Year resolutions. When I've made any in the past, I've not really meant it. Or if I've  meant it, I've not been able to stick to it. But for what it's worth, starting on January 1st, I resolve:
  •  To be tee-total. 
  • To continue not to smoke cigarettes
  • To work hard enough to clear my debts
  • To get out on that bloody pushbike now and again. At least one decent bikeride a month.
  • To be more considerate and less isolated from those closest to me.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

more slip-sliding,

This time we went out to Bidston Moss - A former landfill site thats now been turned into public wander-space.

I walked on a lake. The ice was so thick, there wasn't even a hint that it could crack beneath my feet. And I took a load of photographs.

The best photograph is of a burned and toppled wheelie bin thing.

Friendly little chap, ain't it?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Bye bye blackbird

Work is scant at the moment, to say the least. But yesterday I got a double lesson in. We did "the Wales Run" out to Deeside and along the A55 from Flint to Queensferry.

And as we headed to the New Bridge on a fast dual carriageway, a blackbird flew across from the other side of the road. A second later, we smacked into it, and it left a smear of blood and feathers on the windscreen.

Not nice. I suppose if the oil lasted long enough, at some point, a strain of blackbirds would evolve that worked out that they need to fly high over black lines.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Music and movement.

The title of this post comes from my childhood. As young children, we would do physical education to music, and that's what the lessons were called.

Anyway, the gig the other day reminded me of something.

I once went to see some live classical music with a full orchestra at the Liverpool Philharmonic. Quite apart from the music, what struck me was the visual spectacle it presented. All these disparate and discrete individuals, each with their own action and in their own time came together to make a coherent piece of music.

You could watch individuals sawing and plucking away at stringed instruments, and brass players pressing the valves or bringing their instrument up to their lips, or watch the percussionists percuss, but taken all together, the impression was of watching an impressively complicated and fascinatingly pleasing piece of machinery going through its well oiled motions.

The same thing occurred to me the other day, watching Ian McNabb and his band, but much less so, because there were far fewer people involved in the making of the music, and because they were obscured by flashing lights and dry ice.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Now here's Google with the weather

Mostly Cloudy
Current: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: NE at 10 km/h
Humidity: 93%
-4° | -13°
Chance of Snow
-3° | -6°
Chance of Snow
1° | -2°
Mostly Sunny
3° | -2°

-13! There was ice on the inside of my eyelids this morning.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Free Ian McNabb!

It's been a slightly odd evening.

I was given two tickets to see Ian McNabb over in Liverpool by two people I've only ever met online, Landells and NeighbourOfTheDrude. They couldn't make it, and kindly offered me first refusal.

I know nothing about Ian McNabb, other than that he was in The Icicle Works. They weren't a band I ever paid a lot of attention to either. The whole Liverpool '80's "Scene" - Bunnymen, Teardrops, et al, kind of passed me by. I mean I heard stuff by these bands, but apart from the Teardrop Explodes, they didn't really do it for me. I found the Bunnymen's sound in particular quite depressing. Nothing to do with the lyrics. Everything to do with how the song "feels". I don't think I could either name or hum a single Icicle Works or Ian McNabb song.

So I had no expectations about what I was going to see.

Doors opened at half past six, and we got there very early. So we spent almost 2 hours waiting for the gig to start. I was going to have a drink, but after seeing the bloke in front of me get charged £7.20 for one and a half pints of lager, I decided to do without.

As time went by the venue gradually filled, and a buzz of conversation arose. We'd got seats around a table near to a niche through which you could see the stage, but as the band came on, a couple plonked themselves right in front of us so we couldn't see anything. Then they carried on talking to each other through the songs, as did lots of other people. Much to my wife's annoyance. They've paid £16 a head to have a natter over some overpriced drinks? Silly buggers. So we moved to the main bit and stood at the back. This was better. We couldn't see much because we were at the back, but the sound levels were better, and it drowned out the annoying and rude conversationalists.

The set consisted of some of his popular songs, and the complete "Head Like a Rock" album. And this is a bit odd. Because it's not some new material McNabb has written. It's an album from 1994. It was a jarringly unfamiliar pattern, although since I know none of his songs, it didn't matter in the slightest.

The music itself? Well guitars, keyboard, drums, backing vocals (trio of girl singers that he referred to as "The Angels") A variety of sounds, from jangly guitary stuff to proggy rock grooves to some weird thing inspired by Jack Kerouac with just Aaaahhhhs from the backing trio.

My favourite was a song called Child Inside a Father. Reminds me of Barclay James Harvest's Child of the Universe, and Camel's Lady Fantasy.

Not being a "Fan", and being right at the back meant that I wasn't concentrating just on the music. So I also watched the bloke controlling the lights. Not something I'd ever really considered before. I sort of assumed that it was all done with a computer and a sound to light program, but it isn't. It's all done by some bloke pressing buttons and sliding sliders. He interprets the music and tries to fit the lights to it. When he went for a pee, as happened at one point, the lights didn't change.

I don't think a live gig is the best way to experience new music. I wouldn't have paid to go see this, but I'm glad I went.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Friday, 17 December 2010

Forty three and a bit

George Monbiot spent a chilly winter's morning skating on a frozen lake in Wales a couple of years back. He used his column to bemoan the fact that he would probably never be able to do so again. And then the next two years see heavy snowfalls.

Of course, he's really saying that the statistical likelihood is that future winters would be warmer, but I can't help feeling his need to make a point caused him to confuse weather with climate.

Anyway, snow it has. At 4pm the clouds were grey and the ground was dry. At 7pm, the sky was black but everything else was white. We've had about 4 inches of the fluffy stuff in a very short time, and although it's eased off a bit, it looks like it will continue for most of the night.

As with last time, I went to Vale Park and made a snowman. Well, actually a snow Dita Von Teese.

Forty Three

I'm now forty three for the first time ever. I've orbitted the Sun 43 times, covering a distance of 40,506,000,000

The circumference equals the radius (150,000 Km.) doubled and multiplied by pi. Then multiply that by 43.

That's easy enough, but I want to know what it is in light years.

It takes light 8 minutes and 20 seconds to cover the radius. So it takes 16 minutes and 40 seconds if it gets a return ticket. That's a convenient 1000 seconds.

Pi = 3.1415927... So 3131.5927 seconds gives the number of light seconds for a single orbit. Multiply that by 43 and you get....

134658.4861 light seconds, or...
2244.308101666... light minutes, or...
37.40513502777... light hours, or...
Just over one and a half light days.

Fuck me, it's a long way to Proxima Centauri.

Actually, I've clocked up a few more miles than that, as Monty Python illustrates. The number above takes a simple orbit around the sun. But I'm also oscillating, as the Earth rotates, like the pen in a spirograph, and that will add a bit on.

If you take my position relative to the centre of the milky way, the rotation of the earth around the sun becomes an oscillation of it's own to add on to the 40,000 miles an hour that the Sun is travelling relative to galactic centre point. But I have to admit, the maths is beyond me on this one.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

There ain't half been some clever bastards.

More PC problems, but I sorted them with some lateral thinking!

State of play was this: I had an unformatted D drive that was failing to show up on windows.

I had XP installed on my C drive, but something was wrong. On startup an error message would pop up telling me that svchost.exe was buggered. This caused my computer not to see it's soundcard, and to replace it's XP style toolbars with flat, windows 98 style toolbars. The lack of soundcard was having knock-on effects on certain applications. But did I cry? Did I curl up into a little foetal ball and cet like a girl? Did I take the piss in a really shallow and obvious way like Frankie Boyle? No! I rolled up my mental sleeves and investigated the situation!

svchost.exe is a complicated subsystem of windows that contains all sorts of bits and pieces essential to the smooth running of my computer. But I found the event viewer, and isolated the cause as being a file called "qmgr.dll".

I looked for this file in my windows XP disk, but I couldn't find it. And then, here's the clever bit.

I formatted the D drive, and installed XP on it. Then I found the D drive installation's version of qmgr.dll, and I copied it and pasted it into my C drive installation.

And it worked. Now my proper C installation is working properly again.

Which is lucky really, because I wasn't that clever. I forgot to make a back-up copy of the original qmgr.dll file, so if it hadn't worked, I'd have been knackered.

But anyway, there you go. I'm proud of myself for this one, because it goes beyond what I thought I was capable of dealing with. I shall keep my D drive installation of windows as it is, and if I have any further problems, I have a ready made repository of uncorrupted files.

Pop up blocker

For Pete.

লাল, নীল, সবুজ মালায় সেজে গরু আসত আমাদের চট্টগ্রামের বাড়িতে। অধীর আগ্রহে বসে থাকতাম, এই বছরের গরু দেখতে কেমন হবে, কি রঙের হবে? সাদা, কালো, বাদামী নাকি অস্ট্রেলিয়ান? এই নিয়ে তর্ক চলত চাচাত ভাই, বোনদের মধ্যে। বাবারা সাত ভাই। সাত পরিবারের বসবাস একটি পাঁচতলা বাড়িতে। সেই ভোরে উঠে উনারা হাঁটে যেত গরু কেনার জন্য। পাঁচতলা ছাদে দাঁড়িয়ে আমরা অপেক্ষা করতাম। যখন দেখতে পেতাম তিনটে গরু নিয়ে আসছে, কার আগে কে নিচে নেমে আম পাতা খাওয়াবে তার প্রতিযোগিতা লাগত। প্রতিদিন গরুর মুখ খানা না দেখলে যেন দিন ভালো যাবেনা তাই ঘুম থেকে উঠে প্রথমেই গরু দেখতে যেতাম। তিন চার দিন সে কি সমাদর, ঘাস খাওয়ানো, গোসল করানো, গোবর পরিস্কার করা, রাখালের মত মাঠে নিয়ে সঙ্গ দেওয়া, বাকি গরুদের সাথে তুলনা করা আরো কত কি। একটা জিনিষ দেখে অবাক হতাম কোরবানির আগের দিন গরুর চোখে জল। ছোটবেলায় ভাবতাম আসলে কি গরু কান্না করে?


সারা বছর আলাদা রান্না হলেও ঈদ আসলে এক হয়ে যেত সাতটি পরিবার। সাত পরিবারের সদস্য এক হলে আড্ডা আর আড্ডা। পেঁয়াজ, রসুন, আদা, মসলা ইত্যাদি তৈরি করার দায়িত্ব থাকত বাবুর্চিদের। সদস্য বেশি বলে বাবুর্চি দিয়ে রান্না করানো হত। মায়েরা সকালের নাস্তার জন্য সেমাই, চুটকি এবং চটপটির ব্যবস্থা করতেন। আমাদের কাজ ছিল মা-দের সাহায্য করা, টিভি দেখা আর খাওয়া। মাংস কসাইরা কেটে দিত, তবে ছোট টুকরো করে নিত মায়েরা। বিশাল আকারের কয়েকটা পাটি বিছিয়ে অপেক্ষা করত দাদী, মা, ছয় চাচী আর সহ কর্মীরা। চোখে ছানি পড়ায় দাদী দেখতে পেতেন না। তবে নিজের কাজ সব নিজেই করতেন। মাংস কাটতেও কোন ভুল হতনা। দাদীর ইচ্ছা শক্তি দেখে অবাক হতাম। মাংস টুকরো করতে করতে নানা রকমের গল্পে আসরটা হয়ে উঠত জমজমাট। অধীর আগ্রহে নতুন জামা পড়ে অপেক্ষা করতাম সিন্নির মাংসের (প্রথম যে মাংস রান্না করা হবে তাতে হাড্ডি, মাংস, কলিজা ইত্যাদি থাকতে হবে) জন্য। সিন্নির মাংস হলে সব চাচাত ভাই, বোনেরা মিলে বাকরখানি, পরটা, চালের রুটি দিয়ে মাংস খাব। আহ! বাকরখানি খুব খেতে ইচ্ছে করে। কবে আবার খেতে পারব কোরবানির মাংস দিয়ে বাকরখানি। বাবুর্চিরা ইট পাথরের চুলায় কাঠ জ্বালীয়ে বিশাল আকারের ডেকচিতে সিন্নির মাংস রান্না করত। সেই মাংসের স্বাদ যেন এখনো মুখে লেগে আছে। সবাই মিলে মাংস বিলাতে যেতাম গরীবদের এবং পাড়া পড়শিদের। তারপর থাকত কাবাব, আমার মা খুব মজার কাবাব বানাতেন। সিন্নির মাংস খাওয়া শেষ হলে কখন কাবাব খাব তা নিয়ে আম্মাকে সবাই তাড়া দিত। অবশেষে রাতে হত বিরানীর পালা, তখন দুই ফুফির পরিবার এসে যোগ দিত। ঈদের যে কত আনন্দ, কত রঙ তা আজকাল আর টের পাইনা। পনের বছর বয়সে দেশ ছেড়েছি, মনে হয় যেন সেদিনের কথা। তবে আগের মত ঈদ কি হয়? সময়ে কেমন যেন সব কিছু পাল্টে যায়।


ফ্লোরিডায় আসার পড় মা, বাবার কাছে ছিলাম বেশ আনন্দে। আম্মু এবং আব্বু খুব চেষ্টা করত দেশের স্বাদ দিতে। সারাদিন, কলেজ করে, কাজ করে এসে বাসায় দেখতাম ঈদের আয়োজন। তখন ফুরফুরে হয়ে যেত মন। ক্লান্তি ক্ষমা করে দিত আমায়। শনি অথবা রবি বার না হলে, ঈদ শুরু হত সন্ধ্যা বেলা সবাই কাজ থেকে ফেরার পর। ফ্লোরিডায় প্রায় দু’ঘন্টা ড্রাইভ করে যেতে হয় কোরবানী করতে। লম্বা লাইন ধরতে হয় ফার্মে জবাই করা মাংস আনার জন্য। আমাদের বাড়ির পেছনের উঠোনে আব্বু খুব কৌশলে আস্ত মাংস দড়ি দিয়ে ঝুলাত। আম্মু, আমি, ভাবি বসতাম বটি নিয়ে। আমরা মাংস কাটতাম আব্বু আর ভাইয়া হাড্ডি। আর আন্টি বানাত চালের রুটি। বেশ জমজমাট হত। রাতে সিন্নির মাংস খুব মজা করে খেতাম পরোটা দিয়ে অথবা চালের রুটি। বাকরখানি ছাড়া। ঈদ সীমাবদ্ধ ছিল অনেকটা নিজ বাড়ির ভেতরেই।


বিয়ের পড় এখন আমি কানাডায়। ঈদের দিন, অফিসের কাঁচের জানালার সামনে দাঁড়িয়ে সাধা ধব ধবে তুষারের দিকে তাকিয়ে ভাবি সময়ের সাথে সাথে মানুষকে কিভাবে বদলে যেতে হয়। এখানেও ঈদ পালন করতে চেষ্টা করি তবে, বাংলাদেশী গ্রোসারীতে ওরডার দেওয়া কোরবানির মাংস দিয়ে। এখন মনে হয় যদি ফ্লোরিডার ঈদের মজাটা ফিরে পেতাম! বাংলাদেশের সেই ঈদ যেন ধূসর স্বপ্ন।

Merry Christmas.

"well stop bloody clapping then"...

Nah. This isn't about Bono. It's just what came to mind.

There's a guy on a discussion board that I frequent. A few months ago, he posted to say his father in law was very ill. The response, predictably, was prayers and sympathy.

A few days later, Father in Law died, despite the vibes. The news generated more prayers, and condolences.

A couple of weeks went by. Life went on. And then the same guy posted again. This time it was his Mum. She'd had a stroke, and was gravely ill. As you'd expect, people were sorry to hear this, especially coming so close on the heels of his previous bereavement. They sent their prayers and best wishes, but a couple of days later, it was his sad duty to report that him Mum had passed away.

Once again, the group responded with posts of prayers and sympathy.

Now, his Wife's brother has shuffled off the mortal coil. And his sister is in a coma. And... Well, you guessed it.

Forgive me for these unkind thoughts, but really, given the track record of prayers and sympathy, wouldn't people be better to not send their prayers?

I mean, it's like, you have a superstition. Every time you run onto the pitch, you wear your special socks, and you make sure you're the second to last one out of the tunnel. And you lose 5-0. Week after week. How often are you going to stick with this routine before you throw the socks in the bin?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A lifetime ago.

Google Earth now contains historical imagary going back to1930. You'd think it would be some big city that got the honour, but it appears to be rural land between Detroit and Toronto, close to a town called Kitchener. I've not found anything earlier than 1930, but there may be something somewhere.

 The picture quality is certainly as good as the satellite imagary used on Google Earth.

I was going to say I don't expect anything earlier than 1903, but of course there were gliders and balloons and things years before Orville and Wilbur left the ground (on my birthday, december 17th as it happens) Camera technology has also advanced enormously in the last century or so. Back at the beginning of the 20th Century, there were certainly cameras that could have taken images like the one above.

The most built up part of the area covered is a town called Wellesley.

The Aerial photography is a historical document in itself of course, but what I'm interested in is how things have changed since 1930.

I'd have expected the roads to have become wider and busier, the fields perhaps to have become larger, and the urban to have sprawled over a larger area now than it did then.

As you can see, it has indeed become more built up, No sign of the fields getting bigger, or of the roads being any wider (the resolution on the images is too rough to show cars) Some of the fields have been replaced by housing, and some of them by a baseball square. People have more leisure time these days.

The world was of course, black and white 80 years ago. The photos show this, but I've also seen film and television footage of this period, and that confirms that prior to around 1967, the whole damn world was greyscale.

Some areas of the UK, including near where I live, have imagery dating back to 1945 (reconnaissance pictures?) I will post about it soon.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

senzaman wazee needs...

Tonight, I have had a couple of bottles of lager. While under the influence of, I simultaneously found two things that I didn't know I had.

One was an unsmoked cigarette butt. The stub of a Lambert and Butler that I'd used most of the tobacco from in  a joint at some point. Probably months ago. I used to be a dedicated pipe-head, but recently, I've found that joints suit me better.

The other was a complete strip of 12 NRT chewing gum.

I chose the chewie. I still have the option of smoking the stub.The immediate choice was between the visceral effects of nicotine, absorbed through the digestive tract, and the visceral effects of nicotine, absorbed through the alveoli.

Working back from that point in time, I am anyway in something of a state.

Physically, I'm in a state for a couple of reasons. Most immediately, I didn't go to bed last night. I've now been awake for about 32 hours. For the last couple of days, I've been getting sensations in my abdomen (pain would be too strong a word) telling me that it's all downhill from here.

Well, I have been drinking fairly heavily up until about a week ago. Right now, escapism clashes fundamentally with the inevitable results of escapism.

One day, my past will kill me. My present doesn't like the fact, and perversely tries to ensure that my past will kill me.

We are the sum of our parts. When the weakest essential bit stops working, I do too. Forever.

Rationally, I should not be drinking tonight, or ever again. If alcohol is a depressant, not drinking should make me feel better.

It doesn't. It just makes me horribly aware of what the next few years hold. At the same time, I'd like to live until I'm 80. At the moment I eonfer if I'll make 50.

So what will kill me? My lungs? My liver? (or associated sub-systems of lungs or liver)

A minor but significant candidate is my diet (vegetarian, but high in fat and processed junk) And my lifestyle (sedentary job say in car all day, sedentary hobby, sat in red leather ikea chair when not sat in car) - So heart attack or stroke, etc.

It never goes away.

A couple of months ago, I watched a programme on the telly called "8 out of 10 cats". A panel game where celebrity guests have to try to guess the outcome of surveys. It stayed in my mind because the question asked was "What do people most fear?"

The top answer, above flying, spiders, and everything, was "growing old".

So I'm certainly not alone.

I've actually been thinking about an altogether more optimistic post about how really, I've been one of the luckiest people alive.

But enough for now. I have a bottle to finish.

Friday, 10 December 2010

"Next Blog" rhyme

Right. Here's how this works.

I shall press "Next blog" and the first line of the first post in that blog will be the first line of my poem.

Then I will press "Next blog" again, and the first line of the first post of that blog will become the second line of my poem, unless it rhymes with the first line, in which case I shall press "next blog" until I get one that doesn't.

Then I will press "Next Blog" until I find a blog who's first line, first post rhymes with the first line.

Finally, I will press "Next Blog" until I find a rhyme for the second line.

This will give me a 4 line rhyming stanza.

Repeat until can't be arsed any more.

I never knew her
Three are dead. He is Number Four
My mom and dad live in Utah County and we spent Thanksgiving with them this year
This whole visa business has been wonderful for waking me up and getting me to think about God more
Hmmm. What do you think? Pretty crap in my opinion, but the whole point about such chance arrangements is that it could be anything. The next one just may be a thing of sublime loveliness. Here goes...

Well, I've finally decided to do it
This is the story that I told at church today
giliran zoey pulak yg sakit
I have limits ok
Better. the lines being more equal in length helps it to scan, and the story I told in church today, written in a language I don't understand, is a thing of mystery. But  really, long before the infinite number of monkeys could write the complete works of Shakespeare, we'd all drown in monkeyshit.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Something going on behind the scenes?

A certain web forum that I spend time looking at has been allowing a particularly obnoxious individual to make the experience of visiting said web forum a particularly challenging experience.

That particular person either jumped or was pushed a week or so ago. But it took weeks of shit before this happened. Fair enough. I like the fact that this particular site is laissez-faire about what people choose to say, although if someone is genuinely disruptive, and doesn't respond to polite requests to change, I think at some point, the bouncers have to step in and throw the guy out on the street.

But there's another particular person, who posts abstract poetry. Has done so for years. The greatest transgression of forum rules this poet commits is to post these poems in inappropriate parts of the suite of forums. In this case, as soon as site admin become aware of the poet's latest identity, he is banned, and his posts are removed.

So I find myself intrigued at what has gone on in the past to cause poet person to become persona non grata for years upon end.

One suggestion I've heard is that the poet is actually a music journalist. Perhaps he's done a particularly negative and vitriolic review of the site owner?

By the way, this post takes me to 154 posts for the year, exactly equalling my total number of posts for the years 2008 and 2009 combined. Way too much time on my hands, obviously.

It's also 5 days since I had a cigarette. I haven't had one of those nauseating chewing gum things today either. Now the real battle starts. Since I've not had a cigarette for that long, I know that if I do have one I will get a wonderful 10 second buzz from one if I do smoke it. Doesn't seem worth it, intellectually speaking does it, but we're not really rational creatures, or not solely so anyway.


Ah, fuck. He jumped, and he had a bunjee.

Seriously, I've seen so many discussion boards utterly ruined by mentally ill people. What can you do?

Further edit:

Life's a riot, I tell thee!

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you also spend time on the discussion board I'm talking about. Maybe you even watched events unfold?

Just in case you missed it, Captain Caveman once again went into the breach with all guns blazing. And got hit by a withering broadside. And then, to really rub his nose into it, the site admin isolated the withering broadside in question, gave it a thread of it's own, and locked the thread so that Cavey couldn't carry it on.

Class! I don't know if they banned Cap'n C, but I doubt if he'll be back.



My wife sent me this. I was going to put it on my political bit, but wordpress doesn't seem to like .wmv files, so I'm trying here.


Get high

What I've seen of Jonathan Meades' work over the years has been entertaining and interesting. A unique voice for sure.

About a year ago, I bought a DVD collection. It's called "The Jonathan Meades Collection". Having bought it, I let it gather dust, but finally tonight, I've got round to watching some of it. I watched an episode of "Abroad in Britain" called "Severn Heaven", and "Get High", from "Further abroad".

The first was mainly about the folk architecture of the Severn Valley. The second was about vertigo.

You can watch get high in three parts in this post.

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:

Monday, 6 December 2010


I've not had a cigarette for about 2 days. And it's been fairly easy as usual.

Last year, I went to see a hypnotherapist. She charged me £150 for her services, and the session consisted of a long session beforehand where we had a discussion, and she gave me a big spiel, followed by about half an hour sitting on an enormous and comfortable leather chair with headphones on while she talked over a tape that played music and subliminal messages.

And it didn't work. I was conscious of what was going on throughout. I stayed off the cigarettes anyway, because I'd spent £150. I stayed off them until the money I'd saved on not smoking covered the outlay on the session. Then I slipped gratefully back into my role as a smoker.

I don't switch off easily. I'd never been hypnotised before, and I went into it with an open mind, rather than with any conscious scepticism. Indeed, I wanted it to work. But really it didn't. What was more use was the discussion beforehand. At the time it came across as a little bit tinfoil-hattish, but looking back, at least some of it makes sense.

The anti-smoking product market is huge. Just briefly looking at how huge it is, I came across the following:
(the link takes you to a https site with a questionable certificate, by the way. Do not spend £4,000 on the report!)

Cigarette smoking is the most important source of preventable and premature morbidity worldwide. Currently, the number of smokers across the globe is estimated at 1.3 billion. Political moves are leading to national bans of smoking in public places, with the long-term aim to reduce the cost to the health sector. But what will be the short-term spending on smoking cessation therapies?

The authors of this report believe the anti-smoking market to be worth $1.7 billion in 2007. This is a growth of 37% from the year before. Global Smoking Cessation Market Analysis & Forecasts - preparing for the first blockbuster, explains just how this market will experience growth over the medium term future. Also do you know what the drivers and restraints of the market are? This report not only reveals these, but also details what strategies can be used to maximize profits from the drivers and restraints.
The hypnotherapy lady's idea was that it's actually very easy to stop smoking, but we believe it to be difficult, and this idea is reinforced by advertisers who want people to buy their products. She reckoned that the NHS' anti smoking campaighns did exactly the same thing, because they are connected to the industry. See what I mean about  conspiracy stuff? Yet it rings quite true. Over the last 2 day I have had 3 pieces of NRT chewing gum. More for forms sake than anything. The only time I've had any kind of craving is when I finished a lesson today.

Habit... When I'm a smoker, I always try to squeeze one in between lessons, because otherwise I'd have to wait an hour before I got another chance. The fact that I am busy during that hour, and am unlikely to think about cigarettes carries no weight at all.

And here's something else she said.

"Before you can want something, you have to think about it."

At the time I was uncertain of this. I thought that biochemistry also comes into it. But again, this now makes a lot of sense. Just going off at a tangent for a moment, I was listening recently to a radio 4 program about mental glitches, and one of them dealt with the phenomenon of deja vu. An expert reckoned that when information moves from one part of the brain to another, it's not necessarily along any given route. It could go in a number of different ways. He reckoned the brain is used to things taking a particular route, but that sometimes, for whatever reason, the thing that comes via the usual route gets held up (we're talking miliseconds here) and the same information comes in from a different route first, so that when the brain gets the info from the expected route, it thinks, "This is old news. I've already experienced this"

All five episodes of this series, entitled, "Please do not adjust your set: human behavioural glitches" are available here:  I found them fascinating.

I know many people who believe they have a need for something. Whether alcohol, or nicotine, or whatever. At the same time, they don't like the fact that they have this need, and so they try to give up.

I will not drink today. Today, I am not going to have a drink. I haven't had a drink for 2 days and 6 hours.

Effectively, in trying hard to stop, they create their own triggers. The trick is not to think about it in the first place.

The same thing happens to people on their driving tests, by the way. They convince themselves that it will be scary, and go into it nervous. Generally the relaxed ones pass easily.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Slow Progress

"5 or 10 minutes from now I shall hopefully post to this blog from  my linux based desktop!"

This unfortunately turned out not to be true.

I now have a linux operating system, but it's extremely unstable. So generaly I have time to connect to the internet or open the folder I need in order to change something before the system buggers up. Here's a shit photo to prove that it is here.

It's sitting there now, laughing at me. Daring me to press a key or move my mouse. I did neither and it rebooted itself anyway.

So, I'm out of ideas for now. I can't be arsed banging my head agianst it, so I've reinstalled XP, and I will have another go some other time. I got enough of a look to get some idea of what it's like. It's a GUI based operating system. It reminds me a bit of the desktop environement when I had an imac, but only a bit. The need for a password every time I accessed the internet was annoying, but I can see it also has it's advantages. I do know that I'd be able to get used to it very quickly. It holds no fears for me.

More PC Stuff

The picture above is a screengrab of what's happening and where I am right now.

The pink pies near the top are my hard drives. The blue slices that have been taken from them are what's been used. The pink stuff is free space. As you can see, I have plenty of room. I could swing the biggest virtual cat around to my heart's content in there.

Of course, I now have no music, or videos or pictures on my system. They're all on DVD's, labelled but not indexed. You'd need a bloody big index card to contain a complete list of everything on many of these disks.

I also took care in the way I went about reinstalling important files. Previously, I had problems because I'd done windows updates (like service pack 2) before installing the drivers for my graphics and sound cards. This meant that the computer would hang for several minutes before giving me the option of switching off, restarting or hibernating/standing by. It also meant that firefox would crash regularly when asked to deal with wesites that contain any flash content. Sorting out the hardware before I sorted out the operating system seems to have solved this.

The other thing I wanted to do was to install a linux operating system.Having two hard drives, it seemed tidy to use XP on my C drive, and install linux on my D drive. I could then choose which environment to boot up into on startup.

This unfortunately has not yet happened. I followed all the instructions to the letter, yet when I try to install by having the ubuntu CD in the drive as I boot up, I get nowhere. The machine restarts and dumps me back at the beginning of the process. The only thing I can think of is that once again, there is some conflict caused by my sound and/or graphics cards. Whatever the cause, I cannot do an install from the boot CD.

So the other option is to boot from within windows.

This seemed more promising at first. It reckoned it would take about 10 minutes to install, but this time rapidly fell to 6, then 3, then 2 minutes, and soon enough, the process moved on to the next phase. Despite having already downloaded the ISO file, ubuntu insists that it needs to bring it in from a torrent. And that's going to take... Well it's up to around 97 hours at the moment.

Ah. As I speak, progress... Suddenly there is movement in my progress bar. Now down to 17 hours and falling rapidly. It's stabilised at 13 hours and 46 minutes. How exciting!!!

Reassembling my system also meant I had to reinstall Google Earth. The latest version initially dumped me into street view when I zoomed close to ground level. Fortunately, this is a selectable option. I turned it off, but it's there should I need it. It also doesn't flatten the view automatically as you head towards sea level. That too may be optional.

Well, I'd better wrap this post up now. My ubuntu torrent is only 8 hours and 49 minutes from completion.

Edit: Completed the torrent download. Installed ubuntu on my D drive. Rebooted. Started up in ubuntu to complete installation and....

It crashed.

Rebooted again and started ubuntu in demo mode and....

It worked! I got a ubuntu desktop!

For about 30 seconds, then it crashed.

So now I'm uninstalling the dedicated drivers for my sound and graphics cards. Then I'll uninstall the existing ubuntu installation and try again with my disk.

Why am I bothering? Well I like the idea of using an open source operating system. If I'm familiar with it, and at some point I can no longer use my windows disk, I won't have to use a dodgy copy, or give microsoft a load of money. I guess that was the whole point of spending all that time backing everything up. It gives me the freedom to experiment. If I end up reformatting both drives, and starting from scratch using ubuntu instead of XP, well that's not going to be such a big deal. Just more time. No files to lose.

Anyway, here goes nothing.

And that didn't work either. Next step was to start right from square one. I formatted both drives and booted up my PC with thelinux disk in the drive.

This time it would work! This time, with nothing to stand in it's way, it would pop straight in and I'd have a lovely ubuntu only system, onto which I could then install XP.

Well it just goes to show how wrong you can be. Here am I sitting with my laptop on my knee, looking at the screen of my desktop. the mouse, frozen. I could reboot again, but this is the third time I've tried, so I'd only get the same result. It's not a driver conflict. It's nothing to do with windows. Ubuntu just doesn't like my hardware configuration.

So having exhausted plans A-Z, I'm now onto plan %$&*. I'm wondering if I've somehow downloaded the wrong version of ubuntu. My desktop computer is reasonably well specced.

I shall put the specs below, not to boast, but in the hope that someone will say, "Ah yes. You need the 64bit version" or "You need to go into bios and change the spot settings ao that they match the grillip in the sping

So: Got 2 hard drives. My C drive is a 250Gb IDE drive. My D drive is a 200Gb IDE drive. My E drive is a DVD reader/writer.
4096Mb of DDR2 memory, in 4 1Gb sticks. Two of them came with the machine. The other two I added later.
The CPU is an athlon dual core thing. Each core runs at about 2.6Ghz. According to my BIOS, My cureent CPU clock is 2611.7Mhz. My FSB clock is 200.9Mhz and my DRAM clock is 400Mhz.
Also in the case are an Nvidia Geforce 8600gt graphics card, and a Creative Soundblaster Live Platinum soundcard.

So looking at the ubuntu page, there are options about how it's created. Previously, I used the windows option. So I will be creating yet another couple of CDs. One with the 32bit "run from ubuntu" option, and one with the 64 bit "run from ubuntu" option. And if they don't work, ubuntu can go stick it's head in a pig.

Well after all that, it turns out that I was trying to use the wrong version. The 64bit version is stable, and is just completing it's installation now. I suppose I shouldn't count my chickens, but it's just not doing the messups it was doing before. 5 or 10 minutes from now I shall hopefully post to this blog from  my linux based desktop!