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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005

birthday parties and country walks

Peacock at Pendley ManorIt's not often I get to attend an 18th birthday party (these days, anyway!) and even less often that we find ourselves in the grounds of an old Manor house, being watched with bemusement by peacocks as we enjoyed the inflatable entertainments laid on for the celebration on Friday afternoon and evening.

Hopefully Rebecca (the niece of one of Beth's close friends) enjoyed the party as much as we did; it was split into two parts, so the children could have a run about outside, and we dropped them off at Beth's folks' for an overnight stay, while we returned for the evening's entertainment. It was a wonderful event - so touching when the family spoke tributes to the (official) passing of a genuinely lovely young lady into adulthood. Her sister had a great idea - with every invitation came a sticker, onto which each guest had been asked to write one word that described the birthday girl. All of these stickers were put onto a decorated card, framed and presented as a souvenir of the party.

Butterfly on our Arlesey walkBeth and I stayed in the hotel that night, and were awoken by the unsettling sound of the peacocks crowing (I discovered that an unusual white one was lurking outside our window!). In fact, we had Saturday morning to ourselves (to recover from the party!) so Beth discovered a rather pleasant walk around Arlesey that we could do, regardless of whether the rain stayed away. We definitely don't do this often enough - to be able to amble through the countryside, without having a particular destination in mind, enjoying the sounds, smells and sights of nature is definitely something I've missed since the days I used to wander along the seafront as a teenager. I saw a wonderful butterfly that settled just long enough for me to take a photo of it, then fluttered off to join the others skimming around the reeds beside the river.

Today has been quite a low-key day, since I've been attempting to prepare myself for four night shifts; I have plenty of food to nibble, and a list of tasks that I'm keen to complete in the (hopefully) quiet times, but it's not going to be easy to sustain a constant level of consciousness, especially since I'll be on my own until about 8am tomorrow...

I'm attempting a couple of little tweaks to my blog at the moment - it would be great if I could be a bit more ambitious with the colour scheme and layout, but soon you'll see a couple of new features:

  • Subscription : as long as I remember to press the right buttons when I've completed an entry, it'll soon be possible to get my latest blog entry as an email.
  • Radio Blog : Choose a soundtrack while you read (from www.radioblogclub.com).
If you like, detest or regard these features with a healthy ambivalence, please let me know!

Links of the day

  • internetgames.about.com/library/blpinball.htm : A collection of on-line pinball games. That this link should appear at the start of my nightshift is co-incidental, honest!
  • www.vpforums.com/vptables/tables.php : I've always had a bit of a penchant for pinball, having spent a fair amount of time in the arcades in my youth. Here is a frankly staggering collection of emulated classic pinball machines, including The Addams Family - possibly my favourite game ever. It's a bit tortuous to install, but definitely worth it!

Posted by james at 7:52 PM

Friday, 29 July 2005

sunshine, showers and popcorn

We've never let a bit of rain stop us from getting out and about, and the past few days have been no exception.

Christopher and Ella on a tractorOn Wednesday, for example, we practically had the whole of Woodside (or the "Calm your llama right down shop" as Ella calls it!) to ourselves - it's only a shame the trampolines were a bit damp, although the children had fun playing 'make believe' on the tractors - and yesterday we went to Letchworth with Beth's Mum for a bit of shopping.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but if I were to give up my career in engineering, I think I'd probably want to work in an independent record shop, much like the dysfunctional characters in Hi Fidelity (is it me or are there quite a few parallels with Black Books?)

David's Music is just one sort of shop; I popped in there to see if they had the new single by Kid Carpet. I was most impressed that they knew who he was (can you imagine going into HMV and asking for a CD by a recently signed artist? I've been there, and endured the blank stares); they also had the two versions of the Shiny Shiny New single (grrr...) and his CD, too. How could I resist buying them all?

Brief review of Ideas and Oh Dears by Kid Carpet.
An eclectic CD, far from hi-fi, but containing some immediately engaging tracks, such as There's a Shoe, some utter weirdness (his interpretation of If I Had a Hammer is scary) and an answering machine message from his Granny. You can be assured I'll be playing some of it on my next Image FM show. Overall: 9/10. (Oh, and if you buy it at an independent record shop, you get a free mix CD. Hooray!)

Spontaneous recipe section

popcorn!To finish today, I would like to pass on my recipe for 'perfect' simple popcorn - a quick, tasty and surprisingly healthy snack. Over the years that have gone by since as a teenager I practically destroyed a pan belonging to my best mate's Mum, I've refined the process a bit; OK, so it's not rocket science, but I've looked all over the internet for the 'right' way to pan-cook popcorn, but it seems they skip that bit. Presumably because it is actually quite simple... Here goes, then.

  • Go and get some popcorn kernels from your local healthfood shop.
  • Find the largest non-stick saucepan you can (with a lid), and pour enough corn in to just cover the bottom.
  • Pour just enough (extra virgin if you're feeling classy) olive oil into the pan to cover the corn.
  • Turn on the heat nice and high. The contents of the pan will start to fizzle cheerfully. You can play "popcorn chicken" at this point (not the KFC product) where you leave the lid off the pan, so the first person to bottle out and put it on, loses.
  • As the oil gets less viscous, you should be able to swish the pan around a little, occasionally taking it off the heat. This ensures the corn gets a good even heating
  • The corn will start to pop. Keep removing the pan from the heat and swishing it around about once every thirty seconds, to encourage the unpopped kernels to return to the bottom
  • Once the corn's popping has reduced to about once every couple of seconds, remove it from the heat entirely
  • When you're fairly confident you won't get a face full of popcorn if you open the lid and a stray kernel decides to pop, pour the popcorn into a big bowl, sugar/salt as appropriate and then eat it. Or share it. It's up to you.
  • Clean up - not forgetting that the pan will be extremely hot.

The next recipe will (with permission) be Mother's Legendary Potato Cakes... when I finally get round to successfully making them and writing down what I do.

Less than five saucepans were destroyed in the creation of this blog entry.

Posted by james at 10:02 AM

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

launch break...

NASA logoAnother busy day at work, this time without much chance of a rest for one reason or another, although I was able to watch the successful launch of Space Shuttle Discovery this afternoon on BBC News 24.

Now that is something I would love to witness (as close as is practicable to) first hand sometime in my life. It's on the listy, as well as Princess Juliana Airport on St Maarten and The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Google Earth... it certainly inspires wanderlust!

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 9:40 PM

Monday, 25 July 2005

phone, plant and pickle

Bit of a 'stream of consciousness' blog, this one - it's been a busy day, but with enough small gaps in to fit some internet ramblings...

Earlier, for example, my phone rang briefly, stopping just before I could reach it. The number on the display was 08700 426655; who was it? According to various internet sources, it was a scam/spam phone call - apparently you're meant to call them back (at national rate) and they will try and sell something expensive to you. Odious. 0870 0426655

With so many unscrupulous sales systems out there - those ring tone 'clubs' are amongst the worst of all; the way premium rate texts are charged is counter-intuitive, since you are charged every time they send you a text, until you 'unsubscribe' by which time, they've taken pounds off you - it's good to see there is some help on-line. Registered Call is a service that 'documents' a call by recording it (for quality assurance purposes), so that anything undertaken on the phone can be backed up with evidence that's available at the click of a mouse.

Barry & family (and Gordon Brown)Back to office reality, I'm pleased to say that my family of plants has grown a little - and it's perfect timing, too. Daventry and Helen are almost growing too big for their pot, so I'll be looking for some larger accommodation for them later in the week. As a result, Gordon Brown, a money plant cutting that was kindly donated by my boss's boss today, is moving in. He's languishing in a cardboard coffee cup at the moment, but I'll make sure I'm equipped with compost to carry out some small-scale horticulture during quiet periods of my nightshifts (which start on Sunday ... ooer!)

Branston Pickle!I finally got to the bottom of another matter that has bothered me, today. For years, I didn't buy Branston Pickle (or any other Crosse & Blackwell product for that matter, because they were a Nestlé brand. It seems that they (and Rowntrees Jelly - yum!) were sold to Premier Foods a few years ago, so we can buy them again now!

Now, if I could only persuade Premier Foods to buy Polos... I haven't had one of them in years!

Link of the day:

Posted by james at 10:06 PM

Sunday, 24 July 2005

in the most delightful way...

The weekend has, as always, disappeared far too quickly. Fortunately, though, it was spent with Beth and the children. Yesterday we went to the lovely talented Tamara's barbecue where we met up with some old pals, and today we generally hung around the house, keeping out of the rain and watching Mary Poppins on video.

Oh, and my phone is no longer broken (hooray!) - Nokia phones have repair centres dotted around the place, and I took my sickly 5140 to the MPC in Stevenage, where the affable chap told me that it had all gone a bit wrong, and needed a full software re-install. Half an hour later, it was like new again, and I was most relieved and pleased, except that it had (as I'd expected) lost the REM concert photos.

I finally watched the first episode of Extras this evening. It's amusing, but still hard-going to watch; I'll admit that the Maggie Jacobs character was wonderful (some of her expressions were gorgeous) but otherwise it had that kind of 'cringeworthy' quality that was only to be expected from Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant. Maybe it'll be a 'grower'...

Back to work tomorrow; who knows what this week will hold? I'm hoping and praying for no more London unpleasantness - it's all getting a bit much. I'm on 'nights' at the end of the week, so I'm gearing myself up for being quite addled (not like I'm any different normally!)

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 10:30 PM

Thursday, 21 July 2005


It looks like the autumn TV season has started a bit early; there aren't many programmes I'll make a point of watching but the return of Absolute Power was something I didn't want to miss. The writing is on a par with Yes Minister, although it was a bit of a surprise to see Nick Burns*, who I'd forgotten was in it (and appeared earlier this year as the remarkable Nathan Barley).

Also on tonight was Ricky Gervais's new (and frankly a little hyped for my tastes) Extras - I've not seen it yet, so I shall with-hold my judgement on whether it was any good.

Isn't it always the way that something will occur to you to look up when you're away from the internet, and by the time you get on-line, it's fallen off the back of your memory? It's probably just me, then. A few weeks ago, for example, Channel 4 saw fit to play the video exclusive of Oasis's next song The Importance of Being Idle. It was remarkably catchy (in a very "Kinks" way), and I really enjoyed the video. Today I finally remembered to find it it online - you can see it here (broadband WMV) (or here [dial-up Real Media]))

In fact, as well as Yahoo!'s extensive collection, there are plenty of places to get music videos on-line; even Channel 4 are doing 'em. I'm sure there are many more pop video sites out there - when I get the time I'll do the research.

Link of the day:

*(not the "Nick Burns - your company computer guy" (1MB Windows Media video) character from Saturday Night Live, I might add - he gives us IT engineers a bad name!)

Posted by james at 10:54 PM

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

not enough hours...

Wow.. I can't believe how quickly the last four days have gone - we've had a few days out and in with friends, and yesterday was spent 'catching up' with all the laundry, shopping and I even washed the car... I'm back at work today, with an inbox full of email.

As a result, I've not spent much time on-line - except to listen to Radio 4 and BBC7 comedy on my iPAQ as I pottered around doing housework; I haven't even seen the first episode of The Mighty Boosh (although maybe that's what lunch hours are for!)

I had my appraisal this morning. It was moderately uninspiring, not least because I now have to type up all the vaguely scribbled stuff I managed to jot down during the freeform conversation and make some objectives out of it. Nice.

Link of the day: (Warning - incorrect music)

Posted by james at 4:41 PM

Sunday, 17 July 2005

REM in the great beyond

Last night, in a word: stunning. I had heard reviews of some of REM's other gigs, and was a little disappointed that The Zutons weren't going to be appearing, so I went with a slight sense of uncertainty with Beth to a hot, sunny Hyde Park yesterday.

We found some shade under about the only two trees in the place (!) near a convenient ice cream van, and sat chatting until shortly before Johnathan Rice ambled onto the stage.

The venue was huge - "gold" ticket holders occupied the area in front of the stage, leaving us standard class concertgoers sixty or so metres away, although we managed to find a space quite close to the front barrier, where we had a moderately good view of the stage (though the occupants looked tiny!) but could see the tall screens either side. There was also a large speaker stack nearby, so we could definitely hear everything, too (and not much else with any clarity for the remainder of the day!)

His performance was almost entirely acoustic; Beth seemed to like him, but although I enjoy folk music, his songs didn't really strike home to me.

Next came the marvellous Idlewild who played all their hits and some more stuff, with a rather REM flavour (you can definitely see why they were picked!) For an excerpt of El Capitan (their most recent single) click here (270kB MP3).

They were followed by Feeder, who also played through their hits, and seemed to be enjoying the gig. Some of the tracks - including Just The Way I'm Feeling (291kB MP3) - were excellent, but I found the rest to be quite samey (quiet bit... rocky chorus... repeat until you sound a bit like a heavier version of Embrace).

Then REM came on, and succeeded in blowing away any apprehension I might have had about the concert... wow.

They sang my favourites, kicking off with Bad Day (313kB MP3) and setting the crowd on a rollercoaster of emotions, from Losing My Religion (330kB MP3) to Everybody Hurts (brought a tear to the eye). They also played their anti-war song, The Final Straw (345kB MP3), displaying the lyrics for everyone to follow.

As the evening gave way to night, and the light show became ever more impressive, they performed more of their hits (saving some for the encore, naturally); it was a shame that my camera phone chose that evening to stop working, so I have no photos of the event (unless one of the friendly folk who was also at the gig were to email me some pictures!)

When it was all over, though, and we stepped over acres of discarded plastic bottles, we realised that Park Lane had been closed (to allow the concert-goers to leave) so the coaches couldn't reach the stop! We walked to my office, hoping that the night-shift engineer would be there to let us in and wait for everything to calm down.

We made it home by 2am, thirsty, tired, having been diverted from the M1 by a woodyard fire (which, after eleven hours, was still burning!) and ready for bed.

Fortunately, we can relive the experience next weekend, as Radio 2 are broadcasting a recording of the concert on Saturday 23rd at 9.30pm. Hooray!

Posted by james at 9:44 PM

Thursday, 14 July 2005

world travel...

OK, I'll be honest - apart from a management meeting at work which took up much of the day (involving a fair amount of table thumping, and I'm going to have to write up the minutes... how did I land that?) - I have been completely preposessed by the newest, most addictive internet toy: earth.google.com.

It needs a fairly modern PC and a broadband connection, but the results? Breathtaking. Last time I flew back from Germany, the skies were clear, and I could see the ships on the North Sea, and the Suffolk and Essex towns we flew over as we approached the airport, but still didn't know where we were... this takes it to a breathtaking new level.

Today, for example, my colleagues and I found Alcatraz and "Area 51" (Google Earth files - jpgs here and here), and there's plenty of other places to see... In spite of having spent at least half-an-hour looking, though, I still couldn't find the Great Wall Of China (which can't, incidentally, be seen from space).

Links of the day:

  • pool.dylantree.com/phorum5/read.php?1,293811 : A pictorial collection of some of the most hilarious album covers I've ever seen. A fine addition to one of the most extensive Bob Dylan discussion sites on the interweb. (Thank you for the link, Mary!)
  • www.zonicweb.net/badalbmcvrs : Even more bad album covers - this time classified by genre. Remind me not to put my face on a piece of 12" square glossy card... (ThanTs)
  • earth.google.com : Two links in one blog entry? It's worth it (if you can!) - I promise!

Posted by james at 10:26 PM

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Indoors on a day like this?

I'm a little ashamed to admit that the only occasions I have been outside today have been travelling to and from the office; normally I would take at least a brief walk, perhaps to find a shady spot in Regents Park, but on these hot days, I'd need a very good reason to leave the (now working... yay!) air-conditioned office in the middle of the day.

One more day, then I'm off with Beth to see REM play in Hyde Park; there's a management meeting inbetween, but that's not insurmountable (save for the discussions of nightshifts and other trivia - this rota won't leave me alone). I hope it's not too hot on Saturday - the gates open at 3pm, and we'll be there until 10pm; that's a lot of bottled water I'll need. And a hat.

I'd like to recommend Hudson And Pepperdine for radio entertainment, today.

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 7:47 PM

goings-on (and goings-off)

We were intending to go into town yesterday afternoon to get Ella's hair cut and generally browse around. We changed our minds when we heard the news that Luton station had been cordoned off for some controlled explosisions, though.

We'll definitely be going out today, though - into town, and then hopefully swimming this afternoon. Who'd want to be indoors on a day like this regardless of what's happening?

Links of the day:

  • www.werenotafraid.com : In response to the bad happenings in London, here's a website to which people submit images to show they're not afraid. Expect one from me soon enough... (thanks, Beth!)
  • www.flash-gear.com : Want to add some entertainment to your website? I particularly like the scribble pad that everyone can contribute to.
  • www.namemytune.com : A kind-of internet equivalent of the Shazam service, being a cross between the Never Mind The Buzzcocks "intros" round and Vic Reeves's Club Singer - great fun! (Tthank you)

Posted by james at 9:20 AM

Monday, 11 July 2005

sunny sunny

Ella and chicken mimicryIt's definitely summer again; we popped to Woodside earlier (see right for a picture of Ella confusing a chicken with her mimicry) and have had all the windows and doors open, to keep the air flowing through the house.

It's going to be warm for the rest of the week, too - hopefully not unbearably hot, though... especially since the latest health worries about excessive showering!

Link of the day:

  • www.spamusement.com : I'll be honest, I don't take much notice of spam any more (although I have noticed that they're currently trying to sell me "ministox" - whatever they might be. Fun if you're into pelting rotten tomatoes at youths... certainly more effective than ASBOs) and I could certainly never make artwork out of them! (thanks, Percy!)

Posted by james at 8:57 PM

Cover versions and remixes...

They just keep on coming.

My next Image FM show is going to have to be another 'covers' spectacular, I think, and may feature a, er, modern interpretation of "Sweet Child O' Mine" (430kB MP3) - remixed by the now quite famous Mylo. It's clearly not a patch on the Moped (2MB MP3) interpretation, mind.

I daresay that if it gets released, Dirty Funker's remix of "Welcome To The Machine" will end up charting, too, especially since Pink Floyd were reunited at Live 8.

Posted by james at 9:34 AM

Sunday, 10 July 2005

Long weekend... short blog entry!

Another short blog entry from me - the weekend's pretty much done and dusted, and I'm sitting on a hot, muggy coach with someone behind me bellowing into his mobile (OK, so I've probably moaned about it before, but when I'm on a coach, I would certainly keep my voice down on the phone!) so my concentration isn't at its best.

Because I was home so late on Friday night (well, practically Saturday morning) I did as much as I could at home yesterday - including putting the final touches to The Rota Of Doom (in 18 weeks time I'll have to do another one!). Rob & Claire - Beth's brother and sister-in-law - came over for dinner last night, which is a rare treat. In spite of living about quarter of a mile away, we don't often get together, so they only really see Christopher and Ella at family get-togethers. When the children went to bed, we drank beer and chatted about office life (it really is the same wherever you work - I guess that's why Dilbert is so popular).

My uncle Jim popped his head round the front door yesterday, too (he was picking up his car which he'd left by our house while he took a trip to France) although it was a shame he couldn't pop in.

It's been a bit of a family few days, actually - I bumped into Dad on Thursday, and Pete called the day before yesterday. Perhaps it's the circumstances - even in the most subtle of ways events can have an effect on the way one looks at life.

Links of the day:

  • : One of my favourite internet webcams, all controllable and everything - the zoom on it is stunning, too. Apparently it's in the city of Darmstadt in Germany. I found a good one of Stuttgart Airport, too (and there are lots more here). Would I like one? Of course! (Yeah, I know - the studiocam hasn't worked for weeks!)
  • www.visit4info.com/... : Another Honda advert - this time showing their environmental achievements. www.visit4info.com is a fairly good place to find the latest TV adverts, in fact.

Posted by james at 10:15 PM

Friday, 8 July 2005

late finish...

Woo.. it's been a long day. You can always rely on things breaking down an hour before a shift ends - unfortunately, I'm still one of the 'experts' on some of the systems, so it was up to me and my old colleague to see what we could do to get it back up and running again. Suffice it to say, after three and a half hours of cajoling, rebooting, doing some rather heavy handed fibre-optic plug pulling (oops) and waiting for the server to display exactly the same messages as before, I thought it would probably be wise to cut my losses and go home. We're probably not going to be able to replace the bit we think is broken until Monday anyhow, and it's kind-of working at the moment.

It's been eerily quiet in London today, although still generally positive; I suppose it doesn't help that the papers are plastered with full colour photos of the devastation of yesterday (does it warrant such publicity? Is it an appropriate tribute to those who lost their lives? Discuss...) but the conversations in the office soon turned to more mundane matters, such as dance mats and buying cars off eBay.

Enough of my yabbering - to the links:

  • themightyboosh.blogspot.com : An exciting new development in the world of telly - the BBC are trying out their first broadband TV broadcast, and what better to do it with than the second series of The Mighty Boosh? See it on-line before it goes on TV ... it's the way ahead! (Or has been, ever since the days of UK Nova!)

  • www.eastanglianambulance.com : This seems like a fine piece of common sense - adding an "in case of emergency" number to my mobile phone contacts list. (thanks, Tamara!)

Posted by james at 10:50 PM

Thursday, 7 July 2005

uncertain state

Wow. What a day.

From the first mention of the underground incident this morning until now, as I scan the news pages for the clear details and see that some kind of normality is starting to return, I have been finding it difficult to take in the gravity of the day's events.

Take the rolling TV news coverage, for example. In this digital age, it's probably the first thing one turns to for the emerging details of what's gone on. But what exactly is it, and how does it help? I'm sure I could write a long essay on the addictiveness and value of "car crash television", especially comparing the 'tell the viewer first, then check the facts afterwards' approach of most of the stations. Having been stung before (the Beslan siege was one of the main catalysts) it's reassuring to see that the BBC have instigated a delay in reporting serious events, effectively pulling out of the "race" to see who can break a story first.

While we were at Beth's folks', I took the opportunity to pop to the blood donor centre, during which time I received quite a few texts and phone calls to check I was OK. Thank you to everyone who contacted me - it was really heartening, although certainly put in perspective how much worry and concern there was about all those who work in town.

We had a bit of bad news this afternoon, too, though; Cath has recently had her tonsils out, but something's gone a bit wrong and she was taken back into hospital today to have more surgery. A worrying time - especially since both Martin and Cath are frazzled from Luke's erratic sleeping habits.

Fortunately, she's in hospital in Luton, so we're able to mobilize if there's any babysitting or transportation needed.

Back to work tomorrow - having heard that the tubes will be operating a limited service in the morning, I daresay I'll be going in. There's no way I intend to change my behaviour as a result; more vigilant, yes, but I'm not going to pander to terrorism. Beth and I were intending to see REM on Saturday, but it's been postponed to next weekend (which means it clashes with a family event .. arrgh!), but I'm hoping I'll be able to get the rota of doom finished in the strange calm that's followed today's chaos.

Before I close, I have to show my appreciation for the emergency services, and the co-ordinators of the process for dealing with the horrible incidents today - in spite of the dreadful circumstances, they did this country proud.

Plenty to be praying for tonight, though...

Posted by james at 7:45 PM

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

hate something.. change something..

Just a quicky from me - it's been a delightful family day today, with a trip to the library in the morning, and a visit from Cath, Martin and Luke this afternoon.

I waxed moderately lyrical about the current Honda diesel advert on the telly back in October last year; it's obviously a successful campaign, since eight months later it's still on the telly, and I still love to see it.

You can see the full thing here (5MB Macromedia Flash - but worth it, honest!) and the story of the advert in an article by www.greencarcongress.com.

Interestingly enough, the gravel-voiced American chap who sings on the track is one of the mainstays of BBC7's Saturday evening programmes - Garrison Keillor's Radio Show, a well-known piece of live entertainment that I'd recommend listening to, if not for the gentle humour, then the excellent music.

Enough from me for today - it's been a lovely day, with an opportunity to introduce the children to the biggest book collection they could ever want (in spite of the fact that library membership is sadly declining) and one of those rather rewarding "four solid hours of housework" times as well (although I still haven't worked out a way to empty the vacuum cleaner without getting myself covered in dust!)

Tomorrow? Who knows...

Posted by james at 10:02 PM

Monday, 4 July 2005

sound and music..

I've been in my element today, having spent most of it attending a two day audio editor operational course. This was laid on so that when the punters have difficulties we engineers can at least have some idea of what they should be doing - after suggesting they turn it off and turn it on again*), obviously.

Most of my time was spent applying the skills I was learning to completely remove all sense from the audio pieces we were given to play with, in a feeble attempt to emulate the great Armando Iannucci's work. I have a lot to learn (about comedy, mainly) - the last time I set about making some nonsense during a course (a 'jingle' during my first VCS training - I was young and foolish then; I'm old and foolish now) I didn't delete it and my colleagues discovered it and have mocked me ever since. Quite embarassing.

Over the past week, I had intended to read all the way through my Logic Audio audio sequencing software manual, so that I could hone my skills and make another piece of tuneage. In the end, I read Q Magazine, which made me want to form a band and to go to festivals, mainly.

My next project, I have decided, will be completely electronic, though - I'd like to get my synths working - which might come as quite a disappointment of those of us who like to rock. I'll probably end up doing something like a jingle mash-up (although I'll think twice before submitting it to XFM, even The Remix - I don't know if I can handle the rejection again!) and get it out of my system, before returning to my guitars before my fingertips have gone all soft, though. Who knows.. maybe I'll find my niche.

Oh... while I remember - a couple of BBC-related bits. First off, yet again I consider myself extremely fortunate to have avoided privatisation - BBC Broadcast - the division I joined when BBC Technology were sold off to Siemens - have also been dispensed with, this time to a banking consortium (scary!) This means I'm the only ex-Chiltern chap who's still working for the BBC - more by luck than judgement, though!

Secondly, I ought to mention Eugene. OK, so he has as much chance of winning Big Brother 6 as I have of having a number one single, but he's a BBC Engineer (at the research division), so I ought to support him - with the assertion that we're not all as odd as Eugene!

Links of the day:

  • www.santoalt.com/videos.php : My colleagues were most amused by this site - similar to the famous stupidvideos.com - especially the amazing airport by the beach (which I'm sure I've waxed lyrical about before) and idiots doing foolish things so we don't have to.
  • www.bobthompsonmusic.com : a site created by the son of a remarkable composer, to higlight the music he made, most notably that inspired by transport noises. (thanks, Amy, for the link)

*I am well aware that I may consider myself excommunicated from the IT Inner Circle for giving away trade secrets, but come on - you already knew that one, right?

Posted by james at 9:58 PM

Saturday, 2 July 2005

future hopes and family time...

Aside from the contribution that Live 8 - and hopefully as a result, the G8 - will make to the world as a whole, I was heartened by two news stories this week.

The first is that there is to be investment into an experimental nuclear fusion power plant - within the next few decades, we could be liberated from the oil's stranglehold. It was quoted that a bath of water and the amount of lithium in a laptop battery could provide a lifetime's worth of power for one person.

Secondly, a hydrogen fuel cell plane has finally been built - a pioneer in green aircraft technology. It's interesting to note that water could be considered a 'greenhouse gas', though.

There appears, however, to be a little more hope for our children's future - I guess things can only get better from here.

Christopher - king of the castleElla versus the seaWe've had a wonderful "back to basics" week together as a family, including a couple of trips to the seaside, several visits to the swimming pool, and a good deal of sunshine, too. I do sometimes wonder what life without the lure of the internet would be like - I guess it's something that, once you have it, you can't really do without it. But we all managed for the past week (including Christopher, who's really into the Transformers site at the moment), preferring to play "Uno" - an extremely addictive game, with a variety of variations to the rules - and spend time reading.

Back to reality now, though - I've not dare check how many work emails I have awaiting me!

Posted by james at 11:11 PM

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