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Showing posts from June, 2009

Book Review – Buccaneer by Tim Severin

This is the second part in the trilogy of the life of Hector Lynch. In the first book Hector was captured by some pirates whilst visiting a coastal village in Ireland. He is half Irish and half Spanish on his mothers side. He ended up in the first book escaping from the slave camps on Western Africa and setting out on a voyage across the Atlantic and this the second instalment starts with Hector and his friends approaching the West Indies at the end of that voyage. Sadly pirates intervene again and Hector finds himself using his wits to try to keep one step ahead of his enemies and keep his friends safe. In the end the friends all end up joining an infamous pirate army that land in Panama and attack the Spanish strongholds their on foot, before ending up taking over a Spanish ship and sailing the Southern Sea (the Pacific) and being the scourge of that part of the world for a brief time. The attacks aren’t as successful as they’d all hoped and the band end up bartering safe passa

Rich, Famous and Homeless

Did any others watch this BBC documentary last week? I found it very interesting on a bunch of levels. I’m very lucky that I’ve never been homeless, so whatever I say is always from a very ignorant point of view but this programme did teach me some things. Basically trying to fix stuff for those on the street isn’t the easy solution. There was a fantastic bust up between John Bird (inventor of the Big Issue, who was himself homeless for some time) and a couple of the rich and famous when he was unhappy that they had “wasted” effort trying to help them rather than learning from the homeless buddy they had been assigned. I have to say really John had blown it by not laying down strong guidelines and also it was almost bound to happen that these people faced with a real person 24 hours a day that they would suddenly think that the best thing they could do would be to solve that persons problem there and then and take it on as their own personal battle. But really the thing I think

Having a body to die for.

I had a couple of days off at the end of last week. Good! Sadly the email and meeting maelstrom I’ve returned to at work however makes me wonder if it was worth it. Yes it was. Firstly Mrs F and I had a day out together – just us. Which to be honest is a rare event in itself. So given the lovely weather and this moment of freedom what did we do? Go for a romantic hand in hand walk by a river? Have a picnic in the sun in the woods? No. We went to the O2 to see the BodyWorlds exhibition . I know – we’re mad! However I recommend the exhibit whole heartedly. Mrs F had taken my son and a friend last year and on her recommendation we’d planned a return for her for me to see it as well. I’m not great with bodies and all that frankly so had expected to be a bit put off but as Mrs F had told me it was fascinating on many levels. Firstly the process itself to plasticise the donated bodies is something to marvel at. Then to actually see real bodies exposed like that is another.

A tragic death

In the Furtheron house we’ve all been touched by the tragic death of Daugher-of-Furtheron’s guinea pig. On Saturday morning she was running around her hutch like normal then Mrs F looked in on her later in the afternoon and she’d passed on. We’d had no hint of her being unwell. We've buried her behind one of the big bushes in the garden.

Maths, fences and science

Daughter-of-Furtheron was chuffed with her result in her Maths exam. She isn't bad at Maths but has a phobia about it really, at times she just freaks says she can't do it and just gets a block and won't try. Slowly over the years we've been trying to help her get better at that, some times she has come home and says she can't understand the homework at all. My general policy on this is that if she is clearly that stumped to encourage her to seek out the teacher for help, firstly that is what they are paid to do, secondly no doubt my old, half forgotten and no doubt bad practices won't help her in the world of "New Maths". Often she finds herself with a collection of her friends all seeking out the teacher as none of them understood it as well. She is soooo like me at times it can be frightening! Anyway she has hit a Level 7 which is where they expected her to be at the end of this year and she was so chuffed she sent me a text about it straight

Father's Day

Yesterday morning I got some great presents... a couple of new shirts - actually make me look almost young and trendy... :-) My son had got me some guitar strings that I knew about and my daughter got me a huge new tea mug - brilliant! It takes about half our teapot to fill it up! Also a lovely lunch including Dutch Apple Cake that my daughter had made - which was lovely. I've hidden a piece for me to have tonight when I get home... :-)

Lick Library impressions… is learning too much a mistake?

Whilst at the LIMS last week I bought a bargain… well it said it was :-) Half price the Lick Library DVD for learning a bunch of classic UFO… remember folks I’ve just rediscovered that great live album of my teenage years Strangers in the Night . Saturday afternoon I got the DVD out and had a go at Doctor Doctor. This is first time really I’ve used a DVD to learn like this and maybe I’ve been missing out as I made I think fast progress. My learning is that for me at least a visual reference of the tab or music is useful – I should transcribe the info in some way as I learn so that I can then nail it without needing the DVD. I want to finish off Doctor Doctor then head for Natural Thing next. Given I got it for £12.00 I think it was very good, Son-of-Furtheron bought two Metallica ones and is learning Sad But True off them at the moment. As my son pointed out though for the younger generation “I’d easily pay £50 for a game and another £10 for the book to help play the game so

Simplistic thinking

I'm reading M. Scott Pecks - The Road Less Travelled and Beyond. Long term readers of this and my previous blog which was named Further on up the road in part in tribute to Mr Pecks biggest selling The Road Less Travelled will know that I have a bit of respect for Mr Peck. I'm early on in this the third in the "road" series. The subtitle is Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety. I've had it around a while just not read it. Anyway the first bit is all about thinking. In particular Peck points out that many many people suffer from far too simplistic thinking and don't use anywhere near the full potential of their brains to think widely enough. I have to say so far I'm right on board with much of what is being said. You see the evidence around you with people making snap judgements based on very little processing, either as they led to conclusions by overly relying on the media to spoonfeed them their opinions or simply make overly simple decisions as

Sensory memories

Two things independently this morning have caused me to bring to mind memories of old events. Funny that both were primarily led by the sensory memory - the taste of my Nan's roast dinner, the smell and sound of toasting crumpets on her open fire... The other day on Spotify I found Supertramp - one of my favourite bands when I was in my early teenage years. I had Crisis! What Crisis? blaring out and then their first ever album Supertramp which had some very different stuff on it. That music again took me back to my old house, teenage bedroom etc. I feel that my sensory memories are getting stronger as I get older, maybe they are I don't know. Whenever I think of these things though one awful one comes back - in my days in New York during and just after September 11 2001... When the wind blew from down town to the mid town area I was staying in it blew the dust from ground zero over the island. I'll never forget the horrible acrid taste and smell that dust had. I c

More proud parent moments

See a positive post after the last one... prompted by reading this , don't you love blogs that hit the spot instantly telling you what you've been missing or whatever... Saturday night - Daughter-of-Furtheron was picked for the gala team for a swimming gala. She was in loads of races which was good but a bit "knackering" to use her phrase. Highlight was the Ladies 4x1 relay handicap. Handicaps are fun, the swimmers set off a different times, slowest swimmer (or team in this case) first up to the fastest based on the time entered. So as the race unfolds they all end up finishing really closely and of course the fastest doesn't necessarily win so all are in with a chance. You can swim up to a set number of seconds under your entered time, any faster and you are disqualified. So the other exciting thing is awaiting the result as you don't know who might be removed from the results. D-o-Fs team got into the final and it was really close finish with her tea

Angry

I’m angry at myself at the moment. I’m letting work stuff in particular dominate my life and I’m also not dealing with it very graciously. The context is that I’m in this new role, I’m not moved companies I’m still working where I’ve worked for the last 18 years but my old role was eliminated back in Feb and after some weeks of insecurity and also me going back and forth about whether I wanted to stay I apply for one job that was available and I got it. I blogged about some of this stuff already – particularly in “I should be happy” . So the new role is complicated, there is a load to do, many colleagues have said things like “I don’t envy you that job”, “Why anyone would take that on is beyond me”, “Jesus you have a hell of a task there” etc. So it’s a recognised challenge, it’s new, I’m 3000 miles from my boss and the rest of the team of people also trying to take on this role. I’m just over 6 weeks officially in the role, the boss of the team only started in his role at the

London International Music Show

Son-of-Furtheron and I made a trip to the Docklands on Saturday to attend the LIMS. So good points were … some retail area back like the old Wembley shows, very small but at least there. Lot’s of smaller stalls highlighting the smaller manufactures etc. Seemed less crowded than I’ve known it before. Bad points were… not as many stalls overall as last year. Marshall demo booth too small. Noise levels were bad again, last year that seemed better, probably having drum stuff in the same hall didn’t help on that front. Some big players not there as before, i.e. Line6, Fender. Overall it was an enjoyable day. Son-of-Futheron made a b-line for the Vox stand as he’d decided the 50w Marshall is not ideal for his shared accommodation and wanted a small modelling practice amp. Having seen the Valvetronix 15 we headed to Guitar Village and snapped one up at a bargain price. Marshall was a point we returned to more than once in the day. The new Haze range interested me. I’m seriously c

Angels and Demons, Cats and Frogs

So having slagged off poor old Dan Brown for Digital Fortress not too long ago I have to say time for a bit of humble pie eating... quick aside, I think one of the problems was Digital Fortress had been on my must read list for ages and when it followed a too predictable route I probably felt let down more than if it had been picked up at a station and read on the train there and then... So I went to see the film Angels and Demons last night. What a great load of preposterous nonsense, Dan should cut out writing the books and go straight to cinema release. Robert Langden running around Rome whilst an anti-matter "bomb" ticks down under the Vatican actually worked really well as a relaxing couple of hours away from the mayhem. Best line... "I could use a map with all the churches in Rome on it.... I could use it now ". Rivals the "I need to get to a library fast!" from DeVinchi Code. So passable nonsense to numb the brain with... Cats and frogs! O

The recession is over

So says the lead story in The Independent today. Is it? Doesn’t look or feel like it to me. To be fair this story is analyst stuff looking at trends etc. so maybe we are at the bottom or just beginning to climb out the other side. Long way to go though I think. Time to reflect on what has this recession taught me so far? Well it’s taught me the following. Money in the bank isn’t necessarily the smartest thing. My wife has some put away and I have a little, we used to watch it grow reasonably via the interest each month which were a significant percentage of my wife’s personal income – now it’s bugger all. My investment strategies and knowledge are crap. I hold few shares, most in my company through various incentive schemes – not just because of the recession but also due to my industry and my company’s particular position I’ve lost my coat on many of them. The “wisdom” I had was that I’d be quids in due to the tax benefit… that assumes the shares don’t fall by 70%. DOH! O

CD Review - Chickenfoot Ltd

Well stone me – you just get over one great super band of more mature musicians turning up with a fantastic album (I refer to Heaven and Hell and Better the Devil You Know) when along comes another one! Chickenfoot are a true supergroup in the old sense of the word. Sammy Hagar takes up vocal duties, Sammy shouldn’t look as God damn healthy and good looking as he does – I remember listening to Montrose albums of his before I started shaving daily!! Mike Anthony hits the bass having been sadly ousted from his position stage right in VanHalen – so 50% of what I always personally consider the best Van Halen line up, Balance and OU812 I think were VH’s high points for me. Chad Smith – the sticks man from RHCP gets a chance to let rip as a very straight ahead rock drummer – not that he isn’t great in RHCP but this is a slightly different style and he excels. Finally Joe Satriani the great guitar genius holds down the guitar duties and frankly is if anything sounding better in a band/vo

More Free music

Head on over to another of Toby's excellent Rock-Til-You-Drop ventures at Rock-Til-You-Drop Records . Sign up and once in you'll find music from Pocket Rocket, The Zone and MagicShip. You have to pay a nominal amount for some of the downloads but a lot are free. Where can you go wrong? PocketRocket's stuff is toe-tapping, sing-a-long indypop type stuff, reminds me of The Smiths, Squeeze, Divine Comedy, Jarvis Cocker, even hints of Supertramp to my ears... Loads of jangly guitars some great sax playing and one the whole a solid type professional sound that deserves you checking them out. The Zone are slightly heavier more rock orientated. Long term follows of my blogs my remember a band I reviewed a year or so back called The Reflective who are a local Kent bluesy rock post punk thing. The Zone and them should tour together as the audience would definitely be the same. Try if you like Green Day, Pixies, Metallica, etc. MagicShip you should know by now - they are t

Book Review – Dan Brown, Digital Fortress

Ever wondered why you read a book? Digital Fortress was exactly one of those for me, the plot was pretty predictable a lot of the technical mumbo jumbo simply laughable for anyone with even a modicum of computer knowledge and an underlying theory running through it which again was laughable – i.e. that the US government had built a computer so supremely powerful it was lightyears ahead of anything else out there… oh and nobody knew. Yeah right! And they used this supercomputer to break into every encrypted message sent on the internet every day in a matter of minutes, I’ll not go into this but 64bit encryption is a bugger to break and 128 needs years of processing to get close, there was some reference to quantum computing but then Dan goes on about the silicon chips in this computer… er that don’t add up binary vs quantum… is a quantum leap (pun intended). Still I battled on in a desperate hope it’d get better and that there might be a stunning un-foreseen twist at the end… there w

It rains in Wales

Apparently there was an earthquake in Wales on Friday night but we weren’t there by then so I can safely say it was nothing to do with us. We went to Wales on Saturday to collect Son-of-Furtherons belongings, he is coming back this week after sorting out his new accommodation today. There was a point somewhere in the Brecon’s on Saturday when if Noah had sailed past in his Ark I’d not have been surprised. Boy when it rains there it doesn’t muck about! I was concerned we get everything in the car – which was daft as we have a large estate car and with the seats down we really didn’t have too much of a problem, the bigger problem now is that it is all dumped at home mostly in my sons bedroom and he really has some sorting out to do! Mrs F couldn’t stop herself and started last night emptying his clothes back into his cupboards etc. and filling up a charity bag with stuff she decided he no longer needs. Coming home on Sunday the weather was nearly as bad as Saturday it was 8°C a

Swimming success

Last night was a swimming club gala. Daughter-of-Furtheron did brilliantly getting into the final of the ladies 50m freestyle handicap, third in the juniors 200m breastroke and fourth overall and third in her age group in the Individual Medley. Brilliant night - although she was pretty worn out by the end as she has almost back to back events in the last few events. We're off to Wales now to see Son-of-Furtheron and bring his stuff back from uni, he is staying on a few days to get the keys to the house he and his friends are renting for the next year and he'll come back later in the week on the train.

Free music!

Spotify - have you tried it? I've been dredging my memory banks for old teenage albums. The first Supertramp one, now Babe Ruth! Anybody remember them? It's all there! Free - well with odd adverts but between tracks... Go Try. Also free music to learn. I was looking about for some classical guitar music and stumbled across some sites I'd recommend if you want to learn some classical stuff. http://www.oreshko.co.uk/classical.htm http://dirk.meineke.free.fr/classical2.html http://8notes.com/guitar_sheet_music.asp Amazing this internet thingy isn't it... :-)

Who's out there

I recently stuck one of those who-has-been-on-your-blog gadget things. Someone else have one on their blog and I just thought it interesting. More than I expected. I get many more "hits" than "comments" which is I believe the normal trend. However one of the interesting things is the kinds of things people search on that means they find this here little blog in the backwaters of cyberspace. Often it is people searching for book reviews or often about music artists I've featured in posts - notably recently the late great John Martyn and the recent Peter Green BBC documentary. The Beeb should pay me commission you know... :-) The book review thing is what took me by surprise. A while back blogger offered this now "monetise" your blog thing. I'll not change from my principle that I set out then, this blog mentions AA a lot and I'd hate for any association between AA and anything else be misconstrued. However made me think about book revi

A funny thing happened...

... on the way to the forum. Well no actually it was last night. Wednesday evening. Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron always visit the mother-in-law on a Wed. So I get home make a sandwich and sit down to watch whatever late night motorsport I've recorded. Aside note - why is it the only ads on Five at 3 in the morning about text chat lines? Anyway I watched the rest of the Indy 500 since last week for some reason Five only showed the last 36 laps I think it was. I'm sat there munching my cheese, ham and pickle sarni and think... "Bugger I didn't have lunch because Mrs F had left that spag bol for me". So as not to displease her I warmed it up and ate that too. I then felt completely bloated and she arrived back and said "You could have just frozen it". I could couldn't I... I'm going nuts. Also the internet has been playing up - well our connection to it has been. Last night was infuriating as we were watching the dramatic climax to

Sorry to disturb you

Today is polling day in England... for some local councils, not us ever since we stopped being part of Kent and became our own little county we've been out of sync with the rest of the country on that one but for all European parliament elections. I had a couple of errands before going to work today - post all the AA letters I needed to, go to the polling station and go pick up a parcel from the sorting office. So I left a bit later than normal and headed first to post the letters then into the polling station now at about 7:02 - i.e. just as they opened. I thought I was early there was no one there. I walked in and the three ladies who were the polling clerks all quickly shuffled over and sat at the table. I passed over my polling card for them to tick me off the register and one of them said. "Congratulations you are the first". I voted - a difficult decision as frankly I half wanted to spoil my paper with some protest about the current crop of politicians but then th

How Sad

I was very sad to hear the tragic story of the deaths of the Puttick family at Beachy Head. When I first heard the story it was reported that three bodies were all found together - that was tragic enough but then to head the full story behind it is so sad. Read about it here. In summary - Sam was 5 and had been paralyzed from the neck down since a car crash in 2005. He died following a meningitis infection late last week. His devastated parents who somehow had coped through all his life with his disability then appear to have driven with Sams body to Beachy Head and then followed through with a suicide pact. Bloody hell - stop you in your tracks stuff or what. This week has been a bit like that for me, the Susan Boyle thing I blogged about already, I was about to go on about MPs expenses today but frankly who gives a shit. Those parents were fantastic people - can I honestly say I would be able to cope with a child that was disabled like that? Honestly.. no I can't I'

Getting Stressy

I’ve had a day or so of feeling really stressed out. I often write my blog entry whilst supping my morning coffee… today is no different but I’m reflecting as I often do at this period in the day over the last 24/48 hours. Hmm…not my best. Work is work isn’t it. Why do we work? To earn money put simply, I need to pay for the things I want therefore I do a job to do that. After that though it gets very complicated because for many of us the job is a part of us that is important, there is a status associated with it. You want to do well for your own self-esteem and value, you want to do something that you feel adds something. To be honest it’s all a bit tricky that especially in the modern cut and thrust of the world we live in. So I’m letting work get too important in my life and affect me too much. I had some interactions with the family last night that on reflection I’m not proud of and reacted to some little things in a stupid way. Why? Because I feel under pressure and s

Living the dream

I’m glad to say I never watched one second of the latest series of Britain’s Got Talent. I really hate these kind of shows I have to say, I know that they give some people a break they might never get and give others hope etc. etc. but I just find them awful. I did watch Susan on YouTube as everyone was on about it and thought I need to find out about that and it confirmed my worst fears of the show, the panel dismissing her due to her dress sense and look etc. Then the surprised faces all round when she sang… sorry being someone who doesn’t look like a swimsuit model doesn’t mean you lack artistic talent… What is the real tragedy of the show now is of course the news that she sadly is in a clinic. I wish her well and hope she has a speedy recovery and gets the very best help for her problems. To me this really ought to be the story of the whole thing. Think and look very carefully at what you believe you want especially if that desire is driven but the unrealistic expectations