Long ago a co-worker and I suffering thru cold/flu seasons did a comparison test of a range of anti-histamines. We normally rarely agreed on things, but both decided chlorpheniramine maleate was the champion. Its an old school variety that also makes you drowsy, and I recently started taking some slow release versions to avoid waking up from (I think) irritating construction dust creating breathing problems. It had the strange side effect of trying to extend sleep for the full 12 hours that the dose is supposed to last.
Well, thats a drag... but oddly I recently got the opposite effect when by chance combining that pill with aspirin. Very strange, and I haven't discussed it with anyone before now. What does this mean to wake refreshed with only about 4 hours of sleep, and is it a real, healthy sleep? I guess the cycles of sleep put the important part in the first few hours, and high achievement folks like Napoleon lived on short sleeps naturally.
I hate to live with some artificial additive, although aspirin is about as natural as you can get. The ancient Greeks used it from willow bark, as did the Cherokee. It is in fruits and vegetables, and according to wikipedia the body even synthesizes it. The active ingredient is salicylic acid which wiki sez has been proposed as vitamin S! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylic_acid Weirdly it's the same stuff that is sold to paint on warts to make them drop off.
There is also an anti coagulant effect, which is why I experimented with it in the first place. With even athletes getting heart attacks from modern artery clogging diets, I dabbled a bit with the baby aspirin regime to thin the blood. But it bugged me that baby aspirin cost more than the normal adult size pills. The big pills CAN overdo anticoagulance, for instance making a shaving cut (or an ulcer) bleed way too long. So I decided to simply take big aspirin only on days of some slight muscle ache (such as overexercise) anyway.
Now I find this dramatic effect, and wonder to milk it or leave it alone. Does it just work for me... does my system yearn for these combined additives due to some imbalance? Not sure, but you have been informed of the potential anyway.
Hallowe'en. Love me that awesome holiday.
First, EVERY person turns into a kid. Even if you're not quite a costume-wearing person, it's the fun of dressing a bit different, of getting into the mood of candy, celebration, and letting loose for a bit. I mean, really, if you can't get into the holiday, I feel sorry for you. And I feel particularly lucky to have spent most of my life in 2 cities where people are truly into the f
My hometown in southern austria sucks in any sport except in hockey, thats the only thing we are good at, the only thing that attract crowds... (6 times austrian champion) and we have of course an arch enemy the capital Klagenfurt which is just 40 km to the east... yesterday for the 295th time we played against each other, thanks to the NHL lock out even with three players from the NHL Sam Gagner (Edmonton Oilers) and Tyler Myers (Buffalo Sabres) for the Reds and Michael Grabner (NY Islanders) for my team.
Michael Grabner is a native Villach guy, so it was a question of honor for him to play here. (btw. just a few miles to the south comes a Stanley Cup winner Anze Kopitar [slovenia] from the LA Kings)
...in any case, 1:3 and 2:4 behind and we turned the game in the last 10 minutes to a 5:4 win!
fantastic crowd, full house and very very loud!
Blue and White forever!
here a highlight video of the game
This is it...pep talk ready...I can do this!
We're at the end of the month, folks, which means that I made it through my Month of Hell. The Accreditation work that I've been doing is mostly done for now (and will require a lot of attention in January). The ePortfolios project is almost done, and will be ready for 3 November's presentation. The move is 90% complete, and will be done on Sunday.
And I'm still alive! And well! Hurrah!
Just one more weekend to get through...a big event on Saturday for work, that I'm organizing the catering and such, and then the move on Sunday. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a head lamp
So, to start off a mini-celebration, a blast from the past...to put you in a good mood on this Friday before All Hallow's Eve...
That's a common phrase among many, who in a bleary-eyed moment are trying to sum up their feelings as they shuffle toward their keyboards in the morning. It's a general feeling of fatigue, or grogginess even.
This is my first, second, and perhaps even third thought this morning.
I'm half-way through my Month of Hell, and for the most part I'm holding up well. I'm only slightly behind my grading, which is an awesome feat considering how many students I have this semester. Three of my projects are running smoothly, and people are pulling up their end of the bargain. The majority of the big weekends is over, and projects are getting their final run-throughs.
The one huge project, however, is a mixed bag.
To put it one way, I've been working until midnight twice this week. Both nights, I had a 12-hour teaching and meeting day, so it's not like I got to take a nap some time in the afternoon. And when I come home from said 12-hour days, I'm only mildly coherent in general. But both days I had to resort of a caffeinated beverage at around 4pm (Dr. Pepper, if you please), just to make sure I stayed awake. How odd is this, you ask? I don't drink caffeine...I had to give it up about 5 years ago, due to my constant drinking of black tea all day long. (The weird part was that I wasn't drinking the tea for the caffeine...I was drinking it because I love it, and it kept me from grazing all day long while working on the dissertation. Oh what I would give for a cup or two of assam tea right now...*sigh*)
So, as I get moving this morning, and prepare for an 8:45am meeting, I'm a little rough. I could use a nap, and indeed one will be mandatory this afternoon, after my other big meeting today. I'm turning into the Little Engine That Could, constantly telling myself, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
Hopefully soon the mantra will be: "I knew I could! Whew! Now, time to relax!"
(PS--I hate the Eagles...but this is truly the first song title that came to mind. Stupid classic rock station....why do I always wake up to the worst songs???)
*Shuffle into the room*
*Notice tons of dust on the blog*
*Pull out cleaning rag and wipe away dust*
So, uh, yeah, been a bit busy this year. Not that I have a ton of time to maintain this blog currently...and probably won't for another month. But at least I should make an effort, right?
Yeah, I hope so, too.
So, what and/or who has been taking up my time, you ask? Funny, that. In no particular order...
Boyfriend: Ok, that one is in a particular order...yes, the same one since January. Life is truly wonderful--especially since he respects my busy schedule (a first for me). At the end of October we're moving in together, even.
Accreditation: Lemme 'splain dis one, Lucy. Every academic institution, from K-12 to college, applies for accreditation. By receiving accreditation, said institution is eligible for state and federal financial aid, the degrees and learning are 'to minimum code,' to borrow a term from the building industry, and therefore will be accepted at any other academic institution. Accreditation is done by regional bodies, each of which have separate sub-bodies for various levels of education (K-12, Junior/Community Colleges, 4-year Universities). The one that my main campus falls under is known for being the most critical, and for giving out a ton of sanctions every year. So, what does this have to do with me? I'm the head writer for the campus' Self-Evaluation. Thankfully, most of the writing is done by sub-committees, and I just have to make it all one, cohesive unit. Seeing as how I was chosen because of my work on one of the sub-committees, I also have to help that group with their work. No small task.
ePortfolios: On top of that, a colleague in the ESL department pulled me in to work with her on student ePortfolios. Higher ed campuses are moving to this system of keeping track of certain student work, so that the Accreditation Powers That Be will be satisfied with the sacrificial offering. (Ooops, I probably shouldn't use so much snark there...oh well, it's out there.) Anyway, I'm new to that world, too, so I'm learning what I can, trying things out, and creating the workshops for that with my colleague.
Bay Honors Consortium: I got pulled into a group of Honors professors at the various community colleges in the Bay Area last academic year, and I love working with these people. We have 2 events every year: the Round Table in October (for faculty and administrators who want to pow-wow with their colleagues elsewhere in Northern California) and the Bay Honors Research Symposium in late April/early May (for students to present their research in a true academic conference). So, yeah, just a bit of work to do there.
Teaching: So, on top of working a full schedule at 2 different campuses (that are 35 miles apart), my spring schedule featured 3 private groups, and a private tutoring session that I did with a businessman. Thankfully, the full schedule at 2 campuses is still in play, and should be for some time. The private stuff is down to one group, the people I started out with, and who I want to finish up in their series. I doubt I'll be taking on any more work, because of the previously-mentioned stuff.
So, just a wee bit busy
Crap, it's nearing 8:30am. I still need to eat breakfast and get household chores done before I start prepping for this week's mountain.
(Yes, that's new Mumford & Sons...I'm kinda listening to that CD non-stop right now. Hey, it beats the drivel they're playing on the radio!)
Heard of Movember? Here�s a quick explanation, but if you�d like more detail, have a look at www.movember.com. Movember is a charitable organisation that hopes to encourage as many men as possible to grow a moustache (or Mo, for short) during the month of November. Mo-vember, geddit? The idea is so that funds can be raised, and awareness made for Men�s Health Issues (or, as a less reputable colleague referred to them, "Bloke cancer, rather than chick cancer"). His misogynism is factually, if not politically- correct. Now, I wholeheartedly support this cause, though I have to admit, I�m not sure what the exact mechanism by which me growing a big, bushy tash fills the coffers. To mitigate this, I bunged them a fiver. Feel free to do the same, if you�d like. Awareness, however is a whole different matter. I�m a successful and prolific blogger with a multitude of signed up followers, so surely I can use this very medium to spread the good word about Men�s Health Issues.
I�m not a medical man, so the technical detail eludes me, but my advice to all you blokes out there is two-fold:
Step 1 �
Grow a Mo during November, and tell everyone why you�re doing it.
Step 2 �
(a) Have a good feel around in your 'Gentleman�s Area' on a regular basis, and
( tell your doctor if anything changes.
Step 2(a) really isn�t an issue for men, in fact there would be a significant problem if it were something men were being encouraged to stop doing. 2( , however, is something we�re notoriously bad at, most especially when it involves showing your privates to another man. Throw in the (quite real) possibility that the same man will end up handling our precious trouser-cargo, and it�s a wonder anyone with a 'Y' chromosome ever goes near their local surgery. My advice? Man up! Be bold. Hold your head high, march into that office and, (having first told the Doctor confidently about your concerns � that bit�s important), get it all out, and slap it down in front of him with a hearty "There�s the lunch-box, Doc. Whadaya think?"
Right, with both fundraising and awareness behind us, we can move on with the story. I decided at the end of the 2012 tourist season (late September for me) to grow a Mo for Movember, however I had a nagging concern. Whiskers have never graced the OfClayton cheeks for longer than a couple of days, say when travelling, and shaving is inconvenient, or some such. Other than that, I�ve been clean shaven since I first looked in the mirror and saw Shaggy from Scooby Doo looking back at me. So, growing a Mo was a worry. How fast would it grow? If I started in November (like you�re supposed to), I may not have anything you could call a Mo until February. I have a friend who has been moustachioed for many years, but no-one has noticed. What if mine was like his. If I was going to do it, I wanted something akin to those sported by the Thompson Twins in Tin-Tin. So I admit, I cheated. You�re supposed to start 1st November clean shaven, but I stopped shaving at the beginning of October (much to the chagrin of Mrs ofClayton).
I admit, that after 14 days, it still looked like something that would disappear if I washed my face, but I needn�t have worried. Here I am, 28 days later, and I am now the proud owner of a moustache. Would you like to see it? here it is.
The little thing below my bottom lip is supposed to be there. For those taking notes, according to that standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, Wikipedia, it's either called a 'Smig' (Irish word for a chin), 'Mouche' (French word for a fly), or a Soul Patch. I'd like to refer to mine as a Soul Patch, but to be honest, it feels more like a Smig.
There you go, I've both educated you, and reduced your chances of dying from bloke cancer. Surely that's enough for this week?
Welcome One and All to the GhostOfClayton extremely occasional blog. Are you all sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.
I know that, looking at me, you wouldn�t think it, but I�m not a drinker. Not absolutely tee total, but only drink socially and very occasionally. So, on Saturday night, after a very small amount of beer, I found myself quite tipsy. Myself and Mrs OfClayton had been invited round by the brother and sister out-law to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Did you see it, dear reader? I�m sorry, but I can�t really describe it in detail in these pages, so I shall write as if you did.
I saw the sheep on Glastonbury Tor, and got as far as recognising the man in the stovepipe hat as Isembard Kingdom Brunnel, before a combination of the alcohol in my bloodstream and the fact that I�m a ham-fisted, clumsy oaf, caused me to spill my beer all over their settee, blinds, carpet, furniture, many children, etc. There was a sort of time-stood-still moment whilst I tried desperately to stop myself shouting �Ger-Granville . . .Fer-fetch a cloth�, before the panicked reaction of all present moving stuff that had yet to be dripped on, away from beneath things that had already been dripped on, fer-fetching cloths and kitchen rolls, (and indeed anything deemed absorbent and washable/disposable) and generally trying to help. It�s amazing how far you can spread half a pint of Old Peculiar, and bewildering how many tiny nooks and crannies are owned by the OfClayton Out-Laws. And just how cubic centimetres of beer can settle into a nook/crannie that is physically too small to accept the edge of a sheet of kitchen roll.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, by the time normality had been restored, the industrial revolution had been and gone, and Bevan was just about to launch the National Health Service. So. What did you all think to the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony? I can see that much of it would go over the heads of non-Brits. Why on earth would a significant portion of the ceremony be devoted our National Health Service? Did the Nation�s Sovereign really appear in a comedy sketch? The answer to the second is simply �Yes� (surely we�ve seen it all, now!). The answer to the first is more complex, and highlights the strange relationship we have with our primary care provider. Most see it as a sort of errant sibling. We argue amongst ourselves about its shortcomings, belittle it, tell each other how hopeless it is, etc., etc. But woe betide any outsider who tries to do the same. It�s our NHS, and as far as Johnny Foreigner is concerned, it�s the best in the world, and we�re justifiably proud to have it. Either that, or it was because Danny Boyle�s a bit of a leftie.
But for most Brits I�ve talked to, it was a triumph. True, although it had spectacle aplenty, it didn�t have as much as Beijing. Mr Boyle would have been mad to pit himself against the weight of the People�s Republic in that respect, and Mr Cameron would have been mad (and extremely unlikely) to fund the attempt. It was never going to happen. But what it lacked in spectacle (not much in my, and many others�, humble opinion), it more than made up for in sheer exuberance and bare-faced quirkiness. Not only with the acting debut of our dear Queen, whose popularity rating must surely have sky-rocketed as a result, but Rowan Atkinson re-imagining the beach race scene from Chariots of Fire. And did Mr Boyle hand the ultimate accolade of the evening to one of our national sporting heroes? No, he made you think it would be Sir Steve Redgrave lighting the Olympic flame, but the honour went jointly to seven young, and hitherto unknown athletes on whose shoulders our country is pinning its future medal hopes. What a coup.
Anyway, I'm off to the Netherlands for a while now, by way of escaping the olympic blanket coverage.
Ciao for now.
They say that in Britain you're never more than six feet from a rat. Experts of course brush that aside as old wives tales, but clearly they haven't discovered Swindon. I often come across one straying into sight along footpaths and although they prefer to shy away from me, shy they aren't. One or twice I've nearly trodden on the little monster.
I say this because I'm seriously starting to wonder if I'm sharing my home with a furry squatter. So far there's no confirmed sighting of a rodent inside the house but it's becoming hard to accept that I'm not just buying food for myself. The evidence points to a mouse rather than a rat as I don't seem to have contracted the Black Death just yet. Or is my visitor getting impatient for me to die horribly? I woke the other morning to find yet another impressive scratch on my person. Not a pleasant thought.
Finally my bladder won the competition with the feature film on television last night. Time then to relieve the increasing physical and mental stress and so it's off to the loo. As I walked in and switched on the light a flash of brown fur sped away from view the other side of the glass.
What the...? A fox? I had no idea a fox could get up to that window. That was a serious shock to the system. Had the window been open the crafty little critter would have been inside and chances are I would only have known after the contents of my kitchen had been spread across the floor in search for food. With newspaper stories of foxes losing fear of human beings and seeing if they can eat one very much in mind, it was a sobering thought. That's one window I'm keeping shut this summer.
I saw him later on stalking around the yard, pausing to investigate the possibilities of a dumpster, then vanishing into the shadows as it sought something to eat. Now there's a thought... Was the fox at my window merely to chance his luck, or was it trying to get hold of something in particular?
Even Bigger Critters
Never mind being eaten by small furry mammals. It seems a few nights ago I disturbed an attempted burglary. Didn't see anything but there were two of them as one warned the other I was coming. Maybe I should be public spirited and warn them of the risks of carnivore attacks? Hmmm... On balance, I'll let them die horribly. Serves them right. With a bit of luck it'll catch those two graffiti artists I saw at work in the alley last night as well.
Luckily we humans come equipped with superior intelligence, communication skills, and plenty of experience in eradicating anything we regard as pests. Welcome to the food chain.
I rarely google myself, but tried it after recent news about false personal info spreading online. I was amazed to find Amazon and books.google sold publications authored by me. Actually out-of-stock, nondigitized bookLETS, but I never submitted these. Wow, does this mean fame ormoney, and how or why? Google yourself for lies, and they may even be charitable ones!
In one case, they had pruned off the name of my coauthor in an internal company publication. He had far superior credentials and apparently greater ambition to submit it commercially (requiring legal reviews too intimidating for me). I remember we had little meeting of minds, but worked on it in opposite time zones. Got his draft by email at dawn and I would spend next couple hours frozen with my head in my hands about how he botched most stuff I knew about. Rewrote it and email by sunset, where probably he held his head in his hands, facing the redo of my botch-alisms in his area of expertise. Round the clock activity, but doubtful progress.
There's another case where a respected researcher included me authoring a conference report where I only understood a smidgen. I only dared to correct his english, because if I got seriously involved it would be delayed by legal reviews. It turned out to be widely cited for a couple decades, and only seemed to drop off google in the last few days. Again I never received or deserved tangible credit, but got to enjoy virtual celebrity via search engine. Any actual accomplishments being more under the radar.
I have more genuine pride about a European magazine article depicting, but not naming, me at play. While reading about an extreme sport attempt on the worlds "highest" mountain (only if measured in a gimmicky way) it appeared to be me in their picture, based on helmet and equipment color. I contacted the author, who had been our guide on that expedition but who wrote it up as his solo accomplishment. I had no complaint, and now treasure his written confirmation that I was the pictured person who defied timidity in such an out-of-character folly. Something unknown, but at least real.
Funny how sometimes we get reminded of things we did long ago. Watching a progam talking about the private lives of those vivacious and intense Roman citizens I couldn't help but smile.
A little while ago I was contacted by an old friend who wanted to know if I was interested in a get-together over a pint. It meant a night in the company of a former girlfriend, P, but to be honest I was only too happy to meet up and swap stories. P and I had been in a casual relationship for years. Although it did fall apart somewhat, we're stil friends. Game on.
So we got busy laughing and joking. Only one of the old crowd wasn't there. P's friend S, a quiet, quirky lady whose company we accepted as the normal course of things. She'd been... simply... there. Where was she, I asked? The world was not at one with itself without S in the background.
P looked at me with that sort of face that concealed secrets, guilt, and things I was not meant to know. Oh no. There are no secrets between P and me. The gentle interrogation began and finally she sighed and asked "You remember that day we went to Savernake?"
I did indeed. On that particular day I wanted to go hiking in Savernake forest. P was never a woman keen on walking further than she had to but I guess she wanted some excuse to escape her daily routine and opted to come with me, at least as far as the car park. Her friend S came with her for company. I got a day in the forest, they got a picnic in the woods.
Finally I returned to the car, weary, footsore, but as always refreshed by my wanderings around what passes for wilderness in England. Immediately I noticed an odd atmosphere in the car. Were those two enjoying a joke at my expense? The more I probed for an answer, the more they shared a glance and giggled. Women... I dunno... But that was a long time ago.
P rolled her eyes and in one breath admitted that S had made a pass at her. S? S made a lesbian pass at P? I was utterly fascinated. Back when I first met S, she was always looking at me and until I got used to her I always wondered if she fancied me. One night I decided to find out. No, said S with a firm gesture, no. But it made no difference to the dynamics of our social group. No hard feelings.
Nonetheless I had nagging doubts. On one night in a pub I was sat with both P and S together and some bloke sauntered past enquiring which of the girls I was with. For some reason that annoyed me and I quickly answered "Both of them". Neither of my lady friends made any denial. Both were happy with my declaration. Does that sound a bit odd? It somehow felt that way.
I looked at P with new found respect. My former girl was a lesbian? Did you, I asked with an amused stare? "Nooo!" P answered quickly. There it was again. That look on her face.
Well, not to worry. It's a funny thing about human relationships that we can sometimes be very tolerant and open about them. P bit her tongue as I made fun of her. I know her too well to be fooled by that innocent playfulness with a wine glass. She probably doesn't know this but it was all too obvious that things had gone further than an awkward enquiry between friends. Not that I minded at all, because as it turned out I was having as much fun as she was.
Local Crime Of The Week
Just the other day I discovered that police are looking for a man who robbed some teenagers at gunpoint round the corner from where I live. That sort of thing doesn't usually go on in England and never outside a big city. Makes me wonder if the death threat I got last weekend wasn't entirely paranoia. Or maybe it is. Kinda hard to tell by now...
"Hey mate!" Hissed a builder as I strolled by the old college car park that is now being fenced off in preparation for Demolition Day. "Can I borrow yer barbells?"
Pardon me? Either that young man has discovered that erecting the ramparts around the site is physicaslly demanding and urgently requires a body building regime, or I've just been propositioned by a gay builder. Walk on, Caldrail, walk on...
I mean, what on earth was that youngster thinking? Does he really believe I carry large weights around in my pockets? No... Don't answer that.
On The Home Front
Saturday 21:30 hrs.
A voice outside my home is heard to say "We'll come back when he's in."
I did suspect that might be the local burglars and as a precaurtion stayed up late. Nothing happened.
Tuesday 23:45 hrs.
There was an odd crinckly noise. "Yeah... He's in there."
I checked the entrance to my home but no sign of entry was observed.
Wednesday 03:30 hrs
I was woken abruptly by a loud doorbell noise. Not my own, it must be said, but my neighbours did not respond either. I'd been dimly aware of noises before that in my slumborous condition. No sign of entry.
In the light of that recent death threat you'll have to excuse me for being a tad suspicious of bumps in the night. Was I overhearing those pesky local thieves, or was this a more sinister threat, or merely just somebodies idea of a sick wind-up?
I hadn't really thought of it before but DW, our local intrepid online jopurnalist, has been subject to some pretty nasty attitudes from certain members of the public and I have been associated with some of his journalistic projects. Have I been targeted by bully boys intent on seeing off DW's allies?
So far the Police haven't been taking DW too seriously about the masses of insults and threats directed at him. The internet is full of talk, as it were, but is this a sign of a war leaking into the real world?
I'll have to stop feeding my rottweiller.
Not so long ago an office manager held up my CV during an interview and demanded to know why I thought I was famous. He had in fact completely missed the point. Firstly, I never used or even suggested the word at all. Sencondly, did he really expect me to be modest during a job interview? Too late. He was outraged by what he thought was pomposity. He was after all a small time office manager and meeting people with something to say for themselves, however modest, was beyond his experience and threatened his self worth.
As it happens that sort of thing isn't unusual. The problem with being a has-been is that you struggle for credibility whether you're modest or not. Famous people live in some far off fantasy world you see. Certainly not the one inhabited by ordinary Swindoners. Back in the days when I worked in a warehouse my former adventures in the music business provoked outrage as well. Only on the one occaision when I got up on stage and performed behind a drum kit did the scorn fall quiet. It turned out I could play after all.
Anyway, as I always say, if they're talking about you, you're famous. It's all a matter of scale. So although I grind my teeth sometimes at the comments, opinions, ridicule, taunts, and insults offered by members of the public who have no concept of fame beyond their popularity with friends and Facebook, I have to say that they are talking about me, not themselves. So who's more interesting?
Sadly there's a flip side to fame. The glamour quickly subsides in the face of stalkers and loonies. For two years one young man has made persistent claims I own property of his. I don't, of course, but I guess it makes a good alibi for burglary in his maind. More to the point, yesterday evening, for the very first time, I received a death threat.
Not, I have to say, a life experience I really wanted.
Demolition men were spotted this morning in the old college car park this morning. That's the first I've seen any activity there. Okay, they were standing around chatting rather than blowing things up, but hey, at least they found the place.
Getting on the internet has been very problematic recently, but hopefully I�ll manage to get this blog up posted, just to prove to you all that I�m still alive.�
I rushed home last Thursday to attend the funeral of the man who lives at the end of our garden (he wasn�t a hermit who�d moved in near my blackberry bush � it�s more accurate to say his garden can be accessed via the end of my garden.)� Anyway, I know that no-one who reads this blog knew him, but I felt I couldn�t let his passing go without marking it in some way, and this is the only outlet I have, so I�m afraid this is where I shall be doing it.
I first heard about The-Man-Who-Lived-At-The-End-Of-My-Garden from a neighbour a couple of days after moving to the sleepy little village of Aquis-of-the-Romans.� They told me a large bird had found its way down their chimney, and had sadly broken its wing in the process.� It was obviously in some distress, and they had felt that merely releasing it back into the wild would leave it vulnerable to a horrific death at the hands (claws?) of a local cat, or other unsavoury predator.� The kindest thing to do, they decided, was to despatch it quickly and humanely.� However, neither of them felt they had it in them, so they called for The-Man-Who-Lived-At-The-End-Of-My-Garden.� Like many generations before him, The-Man-Who had been born in the sleepy little village of Aquis-of-the-Romans, and had been brought up working on the local farms.� He lived and breathed the countryside, and the local flora and fauna were very much woven into the fabric of his life.� He therefore was happy to perform this kindest of acts on the poor bird, with neither a flinch nor hesitation.
I met him in person a few days later, and we hit it off immediately.� His knowledge of The Great Outdoors was, frankly, gob-smacking, and I lapped it up.� Many�s the hour we spent silhouetted against the dying twilight, with him imparting to me the ways of the countryside, telling me all about his love for the Animal Kingdom (and, more specifically, how to shoot at, kill and cook bits of it.)� I�ll miss those chats very much.� A big hole has been left behind him � RIP The-Man-Who.
It�s said that it�s every nerd�s dream to own an iPhone without giving any money to the Apple Corporation.� Thanks to an unfortunate event in a French Hotel, I�m now halfway to that dream.
I had been listening to the truly excellent �A History of Rome� podcast on my trusty (and much beloved) old iPod Touch, when the time came to brush my teeth.� Unable to drag myself away from this gripping retelling of the story of Rome�s long history, I plugged in the headphones, placed the iPod on the side of the washbasin, and commenced my ablutions.� However, during the rinsing process, my hand caught in the headphone cable, and the poor iPod was knocked towards the adjacent toilet.� As it reached the length of the cord, there was a millisecond of hope that I�d saved the thing, but it only paused slightly in its descent, before the plug and socket parted company, and the iPod was left to its inevitable fate.� Splash!� Despite several nights on the radiator, it never recovered.� A big hole has been left behind it � RIP My iPod.
RIP A Big Pile of Cash
Moving the story on, the above event coincided with my old mobile phone starting to play up.� Nothing too much to worry about (it only cost me about a tenner when it was new), but now I needed both a new iPod, and a new phone.� The solution was simple � combine the two devices, and buy an iPhone.� Which I did.� And I love it.� A lot!� And the device itself was around the same price as an iPod Touch (much of that the money went to the Apple Corporation, so only half of the dream was realised).� Yes, I�m having to pay twice the amount in a month that I used to pay in a quarter, but I�ll just have to tighten my belt elsewhere, I suppose.� I should have listened more carefully to The-Man-Who, when he told me how to pluck, skin and gut a pheasant.
I contaced (via email) every political party that is represented in austrian parliament! I had one question regarding a specific issue and what there stand is on it, and also if there are any person i could talk about it in my town and maybe (if i am happy with it) join their political party....
8 weeks later i must say it was rather interesting....
2 parties have not responded till today
2 parties have responded with a canned automatic response, not going into the fact that i want to speak with someone in my town
1 party did all i asked, (relatively quick reply, gave me contact person in my town and send me information how to become a member)
1 party i contacted even though they are not in the parliament, but getting lot of press lately here; the pirate party (but it is so chaotic there i couldnt work with them, i guess when you beyond a certain age, you need some sort of structure)
I had a constructive talk with representative of party Nr.5 and after i am back from Rio de Janeiro, i might join them. I am not going to be the next president,but i might change some local stuff that i always wanted to be fixed. What better way to actually try and do something about it than just complain, right?
My oh my what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine heading my way.
That's what I like to tell myself. In reality it's now four years since I had a full time job. Somebody else seems to have noticed that as well because I got a terse text message from the programme centre the other day telling me to turn up to a mandatory activity session. The next morning a letter arrived telling me to turn up or else.
"Does everyone know why you're here?" Asked the lady presenting the session. No-one answered. It turns out the government has decided that we're all going to be assigned jobs where-ever they can be found. No interviews required. The staff at the programme centre seemed a little baffled by the lack of response from us jobseekers. It wasn't that we all wanted to sit on our backsides at public expense - those that did soon revealed themselves with a desperate excuse as the truth dawned on them - but rather that here was a job given to us on a plate. Almost all of us were long term claimants. For years we've been bombarded with pep talks, warnings, advice, and training to turn us into succesful jobseekers. so where was the achievement? I wonder if the programme centre staff have realised that?
Out of the Box
Every so often someone pops into the museum with bags and boxes of stuff that's been lying around the house in some forgotten corner for long enough. Usually it's nothing but rubbish so when this very scenario occured today I groaned inwardly.
Customer service... Smile for the customer... Listen politely to the tale of how this stuff has to find a new home or get thrown out.... As it happens this time the customer rhad brought in a box full of old vacuum tubes, some dating back to the Second World War. I looked through the collection, discovering that the black ones marked 'RCA' were american, those marked 'VR' were british military surplus, and... hallo.... What's this? German?
It was. An old tube in good condition from a Luftwaffe radio set. I asked him about it and he confirmed he'd been billetted at former german airfields after the war. Young L couldn't understand why I was making a fuss. "What's the big deal?" He asked me. History, lad, history. We're so used to regarding these contributions as nothing more than other peoples unwanted rubbish that we forget some of this stuff really is a piece of the past you can reach out and touch.
My oh my... What a wonderful day...
As I draw ever closer to the day when recording my new album becomes a necessity, so the desire to be ready for it drives me on. I learned to play guitar in my early twenties though I have to confess I was never particularly talented or technically proficient - just good enough to embarass specialist players at my level - especially since I was a drummer by trade. Mostly I just embarassed myself.
Nonetheless it's been twenty years since I played guitar anything like seriously, so in order to save myself from further embarrasement, I must practice. Practice makes perfect you see. They say you never really forget a skill once you've learned it. Clearly they've never played guitar. I'm discovering that re-learning the fingering you used to do as a matter of course in your younger days takes a lot of hard work when you're not so young any more. Just ask my neighbours.
What makes a comparison between then and now imore difficult is that the emphasis of my guitaring has changed. That definitely is the result of my age. I'll listen to stuff now that I would have ignored back then.
There was a pub called the Cornflower which regularly hosted live music. It's still there even if the music isn't, and me and my drinking buddy GS used to pop down on the off chance they were any good. If we saw a tambourine, we left immediately. It was the done thing to do. A local promoter by the name of RK once spoke to us and said that the band on that night were brilliant. He learned something from them every gig. Yeah? Really?
GS and I left the premises. The band were okay, sort of, but mostly it was the two extrovert frontmen that kept any real interest while they swung off chandeliers, sat on rafters, and other shenanigans on stage. RK heard my comments on learning nothing from them as I left and that propbably sankl my chances of local success. C'est la vie.
On one occaision I got to play the Cornflower myself. This was a semi-pro band called Bardiche which I functioned in as drummer-manager. The gig was the first outing of our new vocalist. It was an important local gig. We needed to impress. So I ordered a light show, PA, and just about anything I could think of to make that vital impression on what I knew was going to be a fickle audience.
RK had done the dirty. My PA and light show was cancelled. The night before I managed to secure another PA system but we still had the smoke machine from the council arts department. I instructed JS, our roadie, to switch on and off at my command. He nodded that he understood. That was a mistake. Roadies do not understand. If they did, they would be playing out on stage, not running errands for band members. But I didn't know that then.
The gig went underway and we were doing fine. When the moody guitar solo started, I signalled for smoke. JS obligingly thumbed up and thick grey fog exuded from the funnel like the exhalation of some giant fire breathing monster. Realising we were going to set off fire alarms, I signalled JS to stop. He grinned and thumbed up. NO! Stop it you foo;!
We got told off. by the pub staff. At least we got paid, even if the audience couldn't see their pints in front of them. I don't ever want to have to rely on stage sets and effects again. Unfortunately that means I have to become proficient at my guitar all over again.
Bryan Adams - you have absolutely no idea mate.
Sun And Fun of the Week
Good grief. It's getting seriously warm out there. We Swindoners aren't adapted for this level of sunshine. There are things I need to do, like searching for gainful employment, or shopping, or practising guitar... But it's sunny out there. Nnnnnnnnn gah! I'm sorry. Temptation is too much. Stop the world, I want to get tanned.
War seems to loomed large on the television screens of late. Not just the tragic deaths of six british servicemen in Afghanistan, or the equally tragic killing spree of an american NCO, or even the revelations of terrible things that happened in the Libyan Revolt or are happening now in the Syrian troubles. It was also wars of times past.
The usual war films are playing regularly in the afternoons. Brave british chaps stiffening their upper lips in the north african desert, or americans freezing theirs off in the Ardennes winter. But I've seen all those before. I did see one interesting film, a drama based on a jewish breakout from a death camp based on real events. It looked very realistic as opposed to the often pantomime appearance that production costs often dictate in other films.
Then last night I saw the meeting of a british and argentine veteran who were both involved in the same action during the Falklands War. I just knew it was going to get emotional - let's be honest, the programme makers ensured it would be - but there was something very admirable about two men who had tried to kill each other in their youth finally lay their ghosts to rest, if not their political viewpoints, and walk away good friends.
It did leave me with a number iof emotions. Sadness for those who died so needlessly and sympathy for those they left behind. Envy for those who can cast aside their past for a better future. But then... back in 1982, neither side actually hated the other. A war of necessity perhaps. A part of me will always believe that hatred is the common enemy.
Another Sunny Day
Yet another sunny morning to enjoy. Yesterday I wandered around the local park, astonished at the bare earth policy of the grounds keepers who seem determined to reduce the recently opened path around the lake to a representation of a world war one shellshocked landscape.
Pigeons, as usual, gathered around any hint of breadcrumbs. Seabirds whirled noisily around the lake waiting to pounce on hint of a pigeon fleeing with more than his fair share. Swans gently floating by here and there, waiting for any hint of that goose they don't like to turn up.
Then my attention was drawn to a solitary bumblebee. Quite a rare sight as it happens, bit there it was, silently buzzing from blossom to blossom on the nearby tree. I dunno, sometimes something so insignificant grabs your attention for no apparent reason. It just seeemed to suit the mood. Relaxed, everyone minding their own business, just enjoying another spring day.
Chorus Of The Week
It appears that my whinging about late night football songs has taken root. I've been informed that on the weekend a bunch of slightly happy inebriated football-philes passed my house with a loud and cheery rendtion of New York, New York, It's a wondeful town....
great to see that some of the locals are trying to raise the cultural level of Swindon to new heights, even if it does require a large slice of Broadway. Sorry I missed the performance guys, but I can't be everywhere at once. Hey - that's show business.
Without wishing to sound like a tired old blues singer, I woke up this morning. After almost four years of unemployment I consider that a demonstration of my self discipline and work ethic. Hmmm... Let's see... What shall I do today?
As it happens I woke up this morning to a bright sunny day. There's a very lazy feel about the town as I stroll down to the library, quite unlike a typical monday morning, and the streets are much less busy than usual. Knowing the british as I do, I wouldn't be suprised if half the residents of this area have looked out of the window and decided to phone in sick.
My speculation was cruelly dashed when I discovered half the residents of this area were sat upstairs in the library before I got there. Come on people, have you not got things to do? It's a bright sunny day out there. Oh well. Since I can't nip onto a computer immediately I'll just book one for later - it's not as if I've got anything to do today...
Huh? What the?...Suspended.?
Oh brilliant. Time then to go to the helpdesk and ask the librarian for assistance. This particular one doesn't like my title and not suprisingly she asked me to wait while she dealt with the other customer first. The pair of them then tried to achieve the impossible by getting the photocopier to do something other than it's makers programmed it to understand. They were having a great time.
Having defeated the evil photocopier and with the world made safe once more, she turned her attention t my small problem. It turns out I wasn't guilty of any crime or misdemeanour, but rather that the computer administrators don't seem to understand that some people don't move house every year or so. Having confirmed my address and my account reactivated, I booked my slot and that left me with two hours to kill. Hmmm... Let's see.... What shall I do this morning?
Idea Of The Week
Young L was talking about public transport, a rare diversion from reciting the script of every Top Gear episode from the last decade, and finaly, having thought about it, he said "Sometimes I think I'd like to get on a bus and see where it takes me."
His thirst for adventure is admirable but I as far as I'm aware, bus drivers have to follow a set route and usually end up back where they started. Come on L, get a life, it's a great day. Now if you'll excuse me I booked a couple of hours on a library computor.
When I was very young I used to come across the vast seies of books published by Ladybird. Little handooks, lavishly illustrated with paintings, covering just about every subject you possibly teach a child. One has stuck in the mind for some strange reason. That scene where a dishevelled beggar by the name of Marco Polo claimed he had just returned from the orient to jeers and laughter, then bringing a stunned silence to the crowd as he ripped open his clothes and revealed the treasure in gemstones he'd hidden there.
Appearances can be deceiving can't they? There was an old chap I used to work with. He always had time for other people and I used to chat to him regularly. One he made a playful punch in my direction that left me stunned at his speed and accuracy. I was curious about that but the penny didn't drop. Only when he retired did I learn that he'd been a professional boxer in his younger days and once fought at Madison Square Gardens.
I can't say I ever wanted to be a boxer but there were plenty of things I did want. Some I achieved, some I chased as best I could. Isn't that what life is for? Another work colleague once told me that "You can always dream" when I discussed my passion for very expensive italian supercars. What? Am I supposed to sit there wishing it would happen? Wouldn't it make more sense to work toward that objective? Without possibility, dreams have no value.
"In his dreams!" Said the voice outside in the street a couple of nights ago. Loud enough to be heard, and deliberately so. I wonder who that was aimed at? Probably me. It wouldn't be the first time someone has poured scorn on things I've said about myself or the stories others have told. What I have noticed is that the loudest critics are invariably youngsters who've learned how to shout people down on the school playgrounds. As I always say, he who shouts loudest knows least.
Well young man, there's plenty of things in my dreams, and as long I can dream, there's always a possibility. Simply a matter of geting there. But you wouldn't know about that.
Car Choice Of The Week
Congratulations to James May for his enlightened and inspired choice of car in the Top Gear attempt to do rallycross. I've owned two MkII Toyota MR2's in my time, one red, one blue, by extraordinary coincidence both were K reg as well as Mr May's (except I paid somewhat more than
Another day, another shopping trip. Once agai I trudge down to my local supermarket in a fruitless quest for bargains and cheap two for one deals. Yesterday the weather wasn't bad. Not like today with blustery rainfall, so I guess I chose the right day to go shopping.
Let's see... What can I buy?.... Most of the goods are the upmarket brands for people who follow the teachings of the prophet Jamie Oliver. Can't afford those. I don't care how many television adverts he makes. Five pounds doesn't feed me for four days unless I go on survival rations.
Even the cheap brands are rising in price inexorably. Eight years ago a packet of mince costing fifty pence now retails for one pound twenty five - and the packaging is smaller. Of course if you're a well paid professional that difference in price probaly wouldn't appear on the radar. For me, it's a coloosal drop in affordable resources.
Eventually I chose the cheapest and least ghastly items I could find. Time then to stand in the queue and await my chance to pay for them. For some reason I seem to have developed a talent for finding the the exact time when coachloads of Swindon residents have decided to do their shopping as well. Nothing I can do about it. Join the queue and wait...
Movement. Something caught my eye. With almost static lines of people a sudden movement among them was not going to go unnoticed. A mobility buggy went into fast reverse, scattering shoppers as they tried to save themselves from injury.
Funnily enough it wasn't the fault of the old lady on board, although she didn't react to the situation very quickly. Her granddaughter, a very young child sat on her knee, had accidentially tripped the reversing switch with her coat. Doesn't the law say something about kids being at the wheel of motorised vehicles?
It was all over in seconds. The buggy was brought to a halt, the old woman left the premises red-faced with embarrasement, and the herd of shoppers went back to grazing at the till, content that all was calm and safe once again.
Oh No... Not Again...
A car horn should be used to warn other road users of your presence. Usually it's used to tell them to effing well look where they're going. I can't really criticise because I've done the exact same thing when some idiot cut me up on a road junction.
Anyway I was heading for home and the horn alerted me to the presence of a vehicle. As it happens I wasn't in any way obstructing the passage of the road vehicle, nor did I recognise the irate driver of the car, nor for that matter do I believe my fashion sense is quite that outrageous to warrant a loud blast.
I wonder what his problem was? Ohhhh... So that's where the horn control is.