Apt

Maudlin

I was trudging to the shop a couple of days ago when I espied this street sign – which was odd, as I’ve walked the same way to the shop many times and the sign isn’t new. Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to live in Maudlin Court. A small pied-à-terre in Goldmine Alley would be super, but a gaff in Maudlin Court, no.

Then I thought about other places I wouldn’t desperately like to live. Depression Way in Grayling, Michigan, didn’t sound like a barrel of laughs – even though it’s just down the road from Gaylord. Depression Hollow in Smethport, Pasadena, didn’t float my boat, either….

It was lucky I had other things to do at this point in the inquiry, otherwise I’d need a good few hours with the rather apt blue light.

Ludicrous

I was up at the quack of dawn trawling the net and came across this on etsy.com. I’ve seen some odd things in my time, but this just quacked me up. Poor duck looks frightfully embarrassed.

Here: you too can get a PartyFowl Made-to-Order Diaper Harness for Pet Ducks, Chickens, & Geese, though they’re not exactly cheep. 😉

Rain, rain, rain and floods.

Rainy June.

This country is weird. Half the place is under a hosepipe ban whilst the other half is busily preparing arks – or should be if they know what’s good for them.

Meanwhile we have a seagull (called Napoleon), who has taken to wandering in through the back door. He’s been in the kitchen twice, and on Sunday  B was busy getting him out of the front room, when some woman stopped outside.

“Why’s there a seagull in your living room?” she asked, blue rinse quivering.

“Sunday Roast,” B replied, and then had to tell the woman it was a joke before she called the RSPB.

The cats don’t seem to care, either. Mind you, Napoleon is as big as they are, and his beak has to be shaper than their claws. Hopefully, one day soon, I’ll catch him on camera.

Max and Me

When I was very small, way back when, I remember being ill. I think it was flu, but it might have been measles… anyway, I wasn’t well. And I wasn’t a good patient, either.

So there I was—I can picture the room, the single bed, the smell of the pillows and the blankets, and the smell of Vick’s vapour rub—and in comes my Dad with a book. I have a feeling he’d just got back from a business trip to America, but I could be jumbled up.

Anyway, after feeling my forehead—as parents are wont to do—he sat down and read me the tale of Max and the Wild Things. And then he read it again, as did most of the decent adults who ministered to poor old me. Once was good, but twice was better! Once I was well again it became a bedtime ritual… for a bit. I haven’t read it in an age, and the last time was to my nephews.

I was very sad when I heard Maurice Sendak had died, but thinking of Max and the Wild Things, and his fantastic illustrations have stirred up some wonderful memories.

Useless.

Six neck guitar

 

Here’s something you don’t see everyday*. A totally useless six neck guitar. Why? I mean, what’s the point? As an instrument it’s impossible to play (unless you’re the size of Hagrid with six foot arms), and as bragging rights go – sorry, but your mates are going to think you’re a tosser.

I suppose, if push comes to shove, you could stick it on the wall and dust it a lot: an awful lot.

*I nabbed the photo from a friend’s blog.

A train that does …?

What it does no one knows. It trundles along, escapes by a nose.

 

Walking to the shops you have to cross a bridge at the station. This is what I saw parked up there on the Westbound platform. Now, I’m interested in many things, but trainspotting hasn’t been one of them, as yet. To be honest trainspotting (unless it’s of the Danny Boyle variety) will probably never interest me. But a train that is made up of strange looking bits, bobs, and pieces is interesting.

I was, for my sins, going to go and see what it did, but it moved off before I could get there. Fast. Perhaps it knew I was interested and gave me the proverbial finger – I don’t know if trains can be sentient, but it left just after I decided to have a gander.

It looks expensive, too. It has design, it has purpose, and it’s nothing like the cattle trucks we get to stand up in when we save up and buy a ticket. That train has a mission and I would dearly like to know what that mission is. Obviously, it’s not going to the stars, and it’s not on its way to the bottom of the Laurentian Abysmal, or up Everest. But whatever it is it does it might be momentarily interesting. Mightn’t it?

Holy Gobsmacked Hell! And other news.

 

I get excited about the strangest things, but this … this is just the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Watch it and be amazed, too!

I’ll bet you watch it more than once! 🙂

In other news:

SOPA/PIPA Blackout Day

It seems the SOPA/PIPA blackout, led by Wikipedia yesterday, was successful. Eight U.S. lawmakers – including two of the co-sponsors – have withdrawn their support. The event caused Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to make his first tweet in three years – which linked to this.

Stargazing

The BBC’s yearly Stargazing Live had an amazing success when one of its viewers discovered a planet. The program, which ran for three nights, asked viewers to join www.planethunters.org which uses data gathered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and gets people to spot anomalies that their computers missed.* And so Chris Holmes from Peterborough did! I watched the program for two of the three nights and it really was riveting viewing.

* Humans are better at pattern recognition than computers. It’s nice to know there’s something we can do that’s better than computers. 😉

Costa Concordia

Captain Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia is in deep, deep doo doo, and appears to be heading for crucifixion. Admittedly, from what I’ve read and seen on the news, crucifixion might be warranted. But I thought we worked under ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Yes, he seems to be an abject coward who fled the scene. But is he really? The recording of the ‘conversation’ between Schettino and the coastguard is pretty damning. Still, time will tell. At present Schettino is under house arrest for possible multiple manslaughter.

The captain’s supposed cowardice brought back memories of a joke that did the rounds at school: ‘did you know an Italian tank has one forward gear and five reverse?’ Boom boom! or rather Glug glug!

Dropbox apps

Finally, if you use dropbox – and who in their right minds doesn’t use this wondrous sanity saving thing – then this article is well worth perusing: The best apps for your dropbox.

Categories
Kamakura Sussex

Reverie and thought

Possibilities

I was cleaning my netbook earlier. It was making these weird noises as if it was choking, and on taking it apart I found the fan was full of dust and muck. So I cleaned it and then looked at it. Really looked at it. And I went off on a reverie.

Pretty much all I do, all I think and all I create is contained on the hard drive in the picture above. And it suddenly struck me as how remarkable that was, and how fast it’s happened. How incredibly fast.

Take music. When I first got into music there was tape. To record anything of worth you HAD to rent a recording studio, and the equipment therein cost a small fortune – literally. Tracks were laid down on damn great reels of expensive two inch tape and mastered onto reels of quarter inch tape … and there was tape hiss. Oh, if you had another small fortune you could remove most of it, but never all. Hiss was part and parcel of recording, then.

Computers took a while to infiltrate. But the incredible thing was that the programs you used were elegant and tiny. They had to be because RAM was finite, and again, cost an arm and a leg.

Now, any idiot with a laptop can record an album. Without tape hiss. Without tape. Now programs are huge and bloated because elegant code doesn’t matter anymore – RAM is cheap.

Writing.

Then: longhand delivered for someone to type out. Edit it with red pen and re-type. Rinse and repeat. To become a writer you really had to want to write!

Now: open up program of choice and off you go. A gazillion websites inflate ‘writers’ egos. Some even make it. NaNoWriMo (I’ll say no more).

Photography

Then: actual film stock. Twenty four or thirty six shots on a roll. Develop and print in a darkroom.

Now: digital. Snap as many as you want because you’re bound to find one good, usable shot. If not, photoshop it. Bing bang boom, done and dusted. Deliver the ‘product’ by email. No more messengers on motorbikes.

Film

Then: actual film and cameras and crews, etc.

Now: digital cameras and storage. Make a documentary during lunch; a feature film over the weekend. Edit at home (oh, and write the music too, if you fancy it).

Those bits and bobs stuck to the motherboard behind the hard drive in the photo above are enablers. Art is no longer precious or special. Art is everymans and everyman is an artist.

This blog wouldn’t be here without my baby netbook. Neither would my music be available all over the world, or Midnight Dude, the book I wrote a story for and typeset.

I wouldn’t know the wonderful (albeit virtual) people and friends I’ve met on-line, and I wouldn’t have websites to visit and loiter away my life on….

It was at this point my reverie ended. I looked at the cat as I put the back cover on and fumbled with its screws. Percy’s real. He’s not an avatar. Neither is he a trainable toy that follows me around the house meowling until, in a fit of pique, I remove the batteries.

I look out of the window. The garden fence I fixed this morning is still standing. Its real, not virtual. As am I, for my sins. But with the rate of change; with the rate of human invention, for how long? How long will it be until I’m just a virtual plaything? How long before the real and the virtual blur so much it becomes impossible to tell the difference?

Without a shadow of a doubt computers have changed our lives; my life. But is it really for the better, or should the Luddites rise again before it is too late?

Evocative.

Evocative.

 

I walked by this and had to take a photograph. It brought to mind ideas for all kinds of  stories. Admittedly, most are dark. 😉

  1. The nouveau-riche neighbours who feel the garden is bringing down their property value and will do anything to get it sorted out. Anything, up to and including murder.
  2. The house has been owned for generations by a warlock. He’s frightfully polite, never seems to get any older than his apparent thirty five years, but has recently — some twenty years ago — given up on gardening.
  3. The old couple suffer from dementia. She, who used to take the car out mini-cabbing, and he, who was in the SAS and has taken to wearing his jungle uniform complete with weapons, pack and machette. The postmen keep disappearing.
  4. Sometimes the house is there, sometimes it isn’t. Two boys, who are looking for their football, stumble into the garden just as the house decides to transmigrate.
  5. There are layers, and there are layers. Underneath the garden are tunnels that lead to other worlds, but passage is strictly one-way only, and anyone stumbling into the tunnels had better have a map.
  6. In the lean-to on the side of the house, an old man sits, whittling. A young boy, playing truant, befriends him. Their relationship flowers as the young boy grows up; the old man tells his story, and one of the figures he has carved finds a soul.

If I’d stumbled upon the garden walking miles from anywhere out in the woods I’d probably think it was even more strange, dark, magical and odd. As it is there are quite a few dilapidated spaces around, if you only look for them. The gardens that butt onto the back of my garden, for instance, are equally unkempt. Three doors away a swing is almost completely covered by brambles, and I wonder what happened to the kids who used to play on it.

Mankind thinks it’s tamed the planet, but beware! Plants, given half a chance, will have their day.

Ringneck Doves and the PX

The Ringneck Doves

The big fat Pidgeon wasn’t there today. Instead, a pair of Ringneck Doves occupied his branch. Maybe they put him off, or maybe they take it in turns to branch share, who knows? I say ‘Ringneck Doves’ with caution, because the dove website says they only live in captivity and the tree in my garden isn’t.

I’m writing this having just got back from the shop where I bought a packet of Oreos. I’d forgotten quite how much I dislike them and that brought back another vivid memory.

When I was a young teenager my best friend was Dan, an American whose father worked for the U.S. government. In those days we had nothing American  other than Levis and Kojak. Consequently I loved hanging out at his house where they had a weird cornucopia of fantastic comestibles. It was there I was turned on to root beer, discovered the delights of salsa and corn chips, became addicted to Reeces Pieces (and the ever sickly but moorish Reeces Peanut Butter Cups), and found out that Hersey chocolate wasn’t the be all and end all, but was actually rather foul – though not as foul as Cadbury’s chocolate was to the American palate, apparently.

And then, once I’d been thoroughly inculcated into their strange and enticing foreign ways, I was taken to the PX! OMFG! I thought it was better than sex – though at the time I hadn’t the foggiest idea what that was and I’d now like to officially retract the sentiment. The PX was amazing, though. A supermarket full of American goods not available in the U.K.. I was a pig in heaven and spent all my pocket money.

Now, of course, there’s nothing you can’t get either in your local corner shop, where I bought the Oreos, or via the net. In a way it’s sad, because you really don’t need to meet new people, or travel, to try the weirdly strange – Amazon will deliver.