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Showing posts from May, 2009

Another guest blog post...

I was invited back to the JEMSITE ... here is the link to the post

Aren’t we lucky and weekend plans

I watched a programme last night about people who suffer with Tourettes . This was the third in a long running series following a Scottish guy that started with him living with his Mum and family in the 1980s when he was a teenager. In the subsequent programmes they have followed another sufferer who is now himself 15 the same age as John was in the original programme. I’m so lucky I don’t suffer with something like this illness and neither do any of my family, although it is a running family gag that Mrs F suffers from it particularly when she goes into a rant about someone, notably weather presenters. In the programme John the older guy was in near tears as he reflected on his extremely lonely teenage years when he couldn’t forge any friendships with anyone. He hasn’t been able to find a partner and he spoke about how just getting to work which is a 10 min walk is an achievement for him. He works as a caretaker at the local community hall and clearly takes immense pride in his job

Book Review – Ben Elton Inconceivable

To be honest I was never enamoured with Ben Elton as a stand up comedian back in the 80s when we was all the rage. It was always the shouty too fast delivery for me, I didn’t get it although a lot of what he ranted about I could related to and/or agree with. The first book I read of his was “The First Casualty” which I heard him talking about on a talk show and was intrigued by the concept held within it. Now that was a very good book and thoroughly worth a read as it had a lot of deep context within it and from then on I was sold on him as a satirical author. For some reason I don’t rate Inconceivable as one of his best, as I say First Casualty or the recent Blind Faith are much better reads and intros to his work and if you want more laughs Gridlock is immensely funny. I recommended that to a Boston cab driver I had an interesting journey with once who subsequently emailed me to say only Brits can write satire like that. But this review is not about that it’s about an earlier

What we lie about

I spotted this on the Hotmail home page – I’m sometimes drawn to these things. Apparently some new TV station asked 2000 of us (Brits that is) what we are most likely to lie about. How do you rate on this then? 1. Age – when we are young we lie we are older and guess what… when older claim we are younger. I’m 46 by the way… and that isn’t a lie. 2. Alcohol consumption. LOL! I used to lie about this all the time but in mitigation of that I rarely could actually remember what I’d drunk on any particular day, it all got foggy after 8 or 9 pints I found. But saying to the doctor repeatedly that I was a “normal drinker” was a lie. Now when I truthfully tell people I don’t drink some have a bigger problem with that than when I was a drunk… go figure. 3. Sexual history – men increase it to impress, women decrease it to preserve their modesty. Honestly? Me – it’s been 3 in my lifetime. Go ahead laugh at that if you like. 4. Lying about your appearance – either lying about your weight or dying

Where we come from

I've mentioned the BBC programme The Incredible Human Journey before. Well I'm still captivated by it. Shows my ignorance I suppose that I knew so little about the colonisation by earlier humans. Last nights episode was about the colonisation of Europe starting about 40,000 years ago. I didn't know about the Nethanderals already here and in large numbers. They were pushed increasing west as humans came in and the last known enclave was at Gibraltar. One thing recent DNA sequencing shows that there was no interbreeding between the two groups. Now for me the most enlightening part and something either I had heard before or had built into my own belief structure was that art was one of the separating factors between the two groups. Nethanderals may have had tools as good or possibly better than us, been probably stronger physically and had slightly larger brains but we had art and spiritualism. Some learned people now think this is why we prospered and they failed in that w

Another Some Grey Bloke Classic

It’s life Jim but not as we know it.

Wasn’t that in the lyrics of that annoying Startreking novelty record years ago? Whatever it’s where my head is at at the moment. I had a really really crap day Tuesday. I was completely overwhelmed by the demands of the new job culminating in a meeting where someone was laying down the law about what she expected my new team to be doing and I was thinking… hang on this is one bullet point on the role description and if this is the level they are expecting that is an 80 hour a week thing just for that alone. I went into a spiral of can’t do this, can’t do that, too difficult, I’m useless, exposed as a fraud, lose my job, wish I’d just taken the redundancy, blah blah blah… I ended up with huge chest pains, headache, dizzy feeling, nose bleed… etc. I couldn’t get to sleep for ages either. Yesterday I tried to tackle the issue but doing an action the team had asked me to marshal our thoughts on the issues and we met briefly to discuss that and agree some next steps – which I’ve fu

Book Review Slash – an autobiography

I picked this book up for a fiver in HMV some time back and have now got around to reading it. My overall summary is that this reminded me very much of newly sober members of AA when they recount their story in a “chair” at a meeting (where someone starts the meeting off by talking about their experience). Essentially it’s a huge “drunkalog” in which the newly honest person needs to unburden all they can to their audience. It trundles along with references to bits out of sequence etc. and is like Slash has to get all this off his chest. It’s only in the last couple of pages that we get to his sobriety, the book was completed a couple of years back when Slash was just a year sober but the fruits of recovery are already bearing buds in those pages. For an old drunk like me (am I really that now?) I smiled ruefully at this. I think the boy has got it now and I wish him well on his sober path. Whatever the point of the book was and it’s slightly disjointed style it is a very good ins

Odd world

Somethings that have struck me as odd in the last day or so... 1. Why is this MP expenses thing still going on? MPs feather their own nests through exploitation of the fees system and with additional interests outside the Palace of Westminster... errrr No shit Sherlock! Hasn't this always been like this? Just these days we get the info and report it. Some say we should vote in a completely new set... and how would they be any different, there's a quote about wanting to be a politician should be the bar to you being one or something like that isn't there. It's a bit like the "cash for honours" scandal, I was again like... and so tell me something new. Stop beating them up over the cost of getting their country pad cleaned and get them to do something valuable like fix poverty in Africa, ensure health treatments get to the right patients, fund research into fusion energy and renewable energy... etc. etc. 2. Weather. Driving to work today I'm driving throug

"Like a dog on lino"

That was one of the best quotes yet from Charlie Cox the commentator on MotoGP when he talked about Rossi's early and disastrous change to slick tyres. He slithered off the track within a lap, returned to the pits, got a speeding penalty, change bike again and eventually came in last proving even the very best can have an off day.

BBC brilliant

There is a new brilliant programme on the BBC on a Sunday evening at the moment that has me totally captivated The Incredible Human Journey . This series is all about tracing the colonisation of the world by Humans. The first part concentrated on the migrations within Africa from Homo Sapiens birthplace in the Rift Valley. Now it talked about genetics… did you know that if you are of African descent you can be on several “branches” of the human evolutionary tree but everybody else… yes everybody else, European, Asian, American etc. can be traced back to a very very small number of humans who left Africa about 70,000 years ago. Amazing! Dr Alice Roberts presented a set of theories about how these early pioneers left Africa including some climatic modelling that showed the barrier of the Sahara and Arabian deserts may have not been a problem at one time around then due to a weather shift meaning the deserts might have had sufficient vegetation to allow migration. Some finds in Isra

Geisha girls and Red Cross Parcels

bet the title got your attention... So Daughter-of-Furtheron is nothing if not occasionally unorthodox :-) Fashion of History project, all the other girls are picking Mary Quant, Vivian Westwood, the funny looking French guy and the woman with the huge lips no doubt. Oh not my offspring. Geishas! In addition to the raised eyebrows at the library where they have ordered some books for her I went to Amazon and searched. A book about Geishas Illustrated or some such comes up - out of stock but available second hand, therefore basically a few quid. Well support the kids and all that - I order it. It arrives and I very quickly thumb though it, the language looks like it was written as a university paper with loads of eloquent words etc. and then about half the book pictures, mostly looked like Japanese art work and some old photos. Ace I thought - I've done well there. Later Mrs F says... "Did you look at that book?" "I glanced dearest why?" She opens to a particul

5th Birthday

Today is my 5th birthday. My 5th AA birthday, we cheat in AA we have a “belly button” birthday and an AA birthday, otherwise called by some their sobriety date. Mine is 14th May. In 2004 that was the day I last had a drink. I remember bits of that day well. Typical Friday really, work up feeling the effects of the previous days drinking. I’d been trying to give up for a year and just a week or so before felt so bad and stood on top of a cliff willing myself to find the courage to jump off. I failed. An old lady walking her dog walked past commenting on what a lovely day it was. I smiled and said it was but inside was screaming “Sod off you old bat I want to kill myself here.” Then I wondered briefly if I insulted her if she’d throw me off and fix the problem. Defeated I headed to the pub and drank again effective resigning myself to a life of misery as I couldn’t break this bloody cycle. So back to Friday 14th May 2004. I did the usual sod all at work in the morning focus

Nunostrat returns

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Good news - Nunostrat has come back from the menders. It now has a nice new nut properly cut rather than the God awful mess of a brass thing that I put on there years ago and has had a proper set up. The main reason it went it was it just didn't sound right, the bridge pickup sounded woolly almost like it was being played through a Wah-Wah that was held cocked open but not in a treble boost position like someone like Schenker or Satriani would do. So my friendly repairer - who is a great guy based at Music Workshop in Ramsgate if anyone reading this is close enough to consider him - had a look and found a little gremlin which was a little strand of wire that was shorting out across the tone control - so much for my neat soldering. However he was complimentary of the coil tapping etc. I'd done. Also he has subtly re positioned the pickup as well since it's really a Gibson spacing which isn't great for a Fender bridge / scale so he has moved it fractionally lower to

Peter Green documentary on the BBC

I watched a good Peter Green documentary off the BBC over the weekend. If you didn't catch it the iPlayer version is here . It was pretty good with the major focus on his time with Fleetwood Mac - which amazingly was less than 3 years in total. Peter Green is in my humble opinion the best white British blues player to come out of that whole 1960s scene. And he was so much more... Need Your Love So Bad, Black Magic Woman, Oh Well, Man of the World, Green Manalishi. The last two showed the dark side of Peter's character which was very troubled and a lot of time is spent in the documentary with other members of Fleetwood Mac about the infamous Munich incident where Peter took some drugs and the others all point to a instant worsening of his mental wellbeing from then on. He ended up very very ill over the subsequent years. Sadly his recovery whilst dealt with in terms of the start of it was far too quickly glossed over. His work in the 90s etc. with The Splinter Group and solo s

Another random catch up

So the swimathon results came out… I’m something like 1003 out of 2663 who took part… I think. My daughter was very pleased being in the top 100 who took part in her discipline. Where did the weekend go? They seem to get quicker, is this some odd time warp thing? We re-joined the library, failed to find a book that suited the project but have some coming on reserve. I should use the library more, all I do is buy books, read them once then either pass them on, exchange them at the second hand book shop or give them to charity shops. Did some gardening, I attacked… sorry… pruned the bush at the bottom of the garden again but Mrs F was approving in the end. Restrung and cleaned up three guitars, most notably my acoustic (Yamaha LL11) which after a polish, oil of the neck and new strings seemed to be beaming with pleasure and sounded and played better than ever. Surely that is just stupid thinking but honestly it was almost like the guitar was saying “Hey thanks I needed that now h

CD Review - The Devil You Know - Heaven & Hell

1980. Do you remember it? Well that was the year I got to see Black Sabbath live at the Hammersmith Odeon. My mate Aiden did his usual skip off school to take the money to queue at the box office for when it opened, his Dad drove to London every day for his job so dropped him off. This was the Heaven & Hell tour, Ozzy had moved on and Bill Ward was not well enough to stay in the band at that time. So the Dio, Iommi, Butler, Appice line up was on the road. We were in row D I think. Bugger it was loud! I remember a lot of the old lags calling for Ozzie, which was a shame as I thought it a darn good gig, I also thought that album good. Wind forward to 2007 and the lads get back together for the third time after 1991's Dehuminizer album. They record three new songs for the Dio Years complilation and decide to tour again. Then they decide to make an album... First track Atom and Evil tells you all you need to know. This is one hell of a band and they are right back. T

Random post about stuff

haven't much to say at the moment... very busy with new job so from nowhere to "Understand this years budget across this area, recast it into new coding structure and then propose new budget with 25% cut in it for next year and produce a lucid strategy to present to senior boss a week on Wednesday". Ok - what shall I do after lunch? Oh yes and pick up a major project as technical guy on that as the old one just walked out.... Well I was getting bored not being busy :-) I took my lovely old Nunostrat to the menders today, he is going to set it up better and try to figure out the wiring issue that means it just sounds wrong . We'll see next week how that has gone. Banks! Don't go there, so after closing my accounts now the local ATM that I can get to in the morning has stopped giving you envelopes to pay cheques in. Flipping thing, it's just that you expect stuff like that to just work these days don't you and when it doesn't it's a real hassle. W

CD Review - Gypsy Soul by The Sue Menhart Band

Gypsy Soul is the second release by The Sue Menhart Band; the follow up to their impressive debut full length album Torn last year. This time we get a 4 song EP format. We kick off with the title track Gypsy Soul - the intro is a Spanish style noodle by guitarist JJ that lulls you into thinking this will be some gentle laid back jazzy number. Oh no - the band kick in with a toe tapping stomper that is a solid foundation for Sue's great blues/rock chic gravely vocal delivery. This lady has an infectious voice that just guides you in. The lyrics are ideal for those of us in the "greying rocker" fraternity, i.e. those of us who didn't drop out and/or make the grade in rock school 20/30 years ago and so do the 9 to 5 thing through the day but have our hidden side in the nighttime... This is a common theme in Ms Menharts lyrics and that is no bad thing. The band are tight as hell! JJ executes a neat and effective solo, the Hammond organ wails just as it should (Procul Ha

Book Review - Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden

This is the first book in a trilogy by Conn Iggulden covering the life of Genghis Khan. As regular readers will know I read quiet a bit of historical fiction, firstly because often the subject times appeal to me and it's a good way I feel to get some appreciation of history through an entertaining format - although you have to accept the regular use of literary licence of the author. Anyway this is a reasonably good read if you like historical fiction. We're introduced to Genghis as a young boy competing with his brothers to show his worth in the tribe and to gain the affection of his father. His father is very off hand with his sons largely as a way to make them the warriors and leaders he wants them to be. His father is murdered early on (in true history there is little known about his Dad's death so some licence is employed here) and he and his family are cast out from the tribe by a new khan who takes over. Against the odds his family survive and in time he is able

Where'd the weekend go?

Three days - three whole days off! And gone in a flash - plus the usual ritual abuse from my USA colleagues about the number of public holidays we have... actually I think it's less than they get in most states but I gave up arguing a long time ago. Interesting fact I heard from someone today - if you look at GDP per head of populations USA is one of the top countries, UK bottom of top 10 ish and France further down. You then look at GDP per hour worked and France streak to the top and the USA fall beneath us. Interesting! Weekend - Saturday the girls dragged me off shopping - best day of the weekend and I'm in a climate control cathedral to consumerism! Sunday I went to see Ireland deservedly win the A1GP world cup of motorsport with two brilliant drives by Adam Carroll - it's a travesty that guy isn't in F1 in F3 he was a revelation on a limited budget in GP2 the same but sadly I think he'll be another great driver that hasn't the right connections to get int