Saturday, December 03, 2005

Amy present ideas two

Washbag
stripey socks
nice cards
book - alice through the looking glass; jeeves and worcester
chocolate
Ashtanga book
--
Michael rowed the boat assure

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Amy christmas present ideas.

Brain dump. Part one.

Hair brush from bodyshop
peepshow dvds
Azendi underwear
Rowan knitware stuff
tape/record player
hair straighteners

Monday, November 21, 2005

Leeds Film Festival

Ok, not blogged for a while, and I've been meaning to, especially to write up the (mostly) excellent films I saw at the 2005 Leeds Film Festival. What I managed to see represented a varied selection of incredible films, and despite the odd cock-up (like Francesco Rosi's Illustrious Corpses without subtitles!), it was a really fun, if tiring week.

TABOUS (Zohre & Manouchehr)
http://www.tabous-lefilm.com/
An interesting look at sex in Iran, intermingled with some arty poemy thing. The poemy thing was a bit wishy-washy, but the documentary part was really interesting. Things like a surgeon's repeated hymen restorative surgery on a woman, as it is difficult for women to get married without being a virgin. Hence, there was the prostitute who only had anal sex with her clients. It is, in fact, illegal to have sex outside of marriage, and couples found out (or reported) will be publically beaten. However, there is Sigheh, or temporary marriage, but that was unfortunately not really explained in the film. I thought it was an interesting documentary, and certainly should more through it's investigation about sex than just attitudes towards sex in Iran. For me, it showed the conflict between modernisation (and liberalisation, including increased rights for women) and tradditionalist Islamic views. Sorry the site's in french.

The Children Of Leningradsky
http://www.childrenofleningradsky.com/
This was a fantastically moving film about a community (for want of a better word) of homeless children who live in and around Leningradsky Station in Moscow. Most of the kids on the film were below 15years old. It honestly made me cry. Watch it, and tell your friends about it, but more importantly DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Seeing little kids drinking Vodka, sniffing glue, sleeping on hot-water pipes, being abused by the public and the police, was very upsetting, but it also says something about our world: how we can spend millions upon millions of pounds killing each other, and yet cannot find the money to give every child somewhere safe and secure to grow up?

This film was shown with the next one.

Russia/Chechnya - Voices of Dissent
http://www.taskovskifilms.com/films.htm [scroll to the bottom]
An interesting, if, in someplaces brief, overview of the situation in Chechnya. Not knowing anything about Chechnya, or the Russian's role/intentions there, it was very revealing. Frankly, it looks likes Russia's own little Palestine, but far bloodier, and kept a lot quieter. It did try to offer a range of views; those from Chechnyan's in exile, those from former Russian Government, and those of the mothers of soldiers who had fought in Chechnya. A very interesting piece in deed, and I think I'd like to see it again, without having seen the Leningrdsky film first.

White Ravens: Nightmares in Chechnya
An exploration of two soldiers who came back from Chechnya in very different states: one less an arm and a leg, and the other one deeply traumatised. We're left partially in the dark about what happened to them, but the effects are clear. Again, very interesting film, especially tied in with the Voices of Dissent film. I suppose I was a bit bored by this point, but the film was a bit slack in places, and could have done with a but of editing. The idea of getting different people to try and guess what had happened to some Chechnya prisoners was interesting, but seemed to be peripheral to the main subject of the film. I suppose it needed something strong to bring it all together.

...And that was just satuday 5th November.

On sunday I saw:

Being Caribou
http://www.beingcaribou.com/
Wow. Some amazing scenery, some tense moments, some funny bits, and some touching footage of the slendid Caribous. Inspired by the fact that 'they' (Dubya, of course) want to drill for Oil in the Caribou's calving grounds, this couple follow the Caribou's migration, both to and from their calving ground. It was interesting, and worked best when it showed the couple struggling to keep up with the caribou, hiding in their tent not wanting to disturb the caribou, or frenetic with adrenalin after a close call with a grizzly. There was some amazing footage, and some amazing scenary, but there were just a few moments that were a bit too much like holiday footage for me. I think I enjoyed it more as it went along.

Then, as previously mentioned, I was meant to see Francesco Rosi's Illustrious Corpses. However, after ten minutes of the film, it became apparent the copy of the film didn't have subtitles on it. So I went to see a collection of UK Short Films. A mixed bag. Some I liked, some I could have gone without. David Shrigley's "Who I am and What I want" [FGI!] was both amusing and slightly disturbing. Excellent.

Mardi Gras: Made In China
This is a fantastic film. What it shows is how a product is made, and how it is used. During the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, floats (and people) give women beads (cheat, plastic beaded necklaces) in exchange for a flash of their tits. Simple really. However, what this film shows is the, predominantly, girls who work long hours for low pay to make the necklaces, the factory owner who makes a fair bit, and the party goers who don't want to think about it. One of the latter group, when questioned on where he thinks the beads come from, gives a reasonably accurate answer, then says something along the lines of "don't bog me down with that shit, I'm here to have a good time and I don't care if people have suffered so that I can enjoy myself." Was really good, showing the link between China and America. A marvellous idea, well executed.

More to follow - I saw a whole load more films, including: Refusniks; Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land; Favela Rising; Battleground: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge; Kim Ki-duk's The Bow; North Korea: A Day In the Life; And Thereafter; and Abel Raises Cain. I'll try and write these up before I forget them!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Trains are ruining my life...

wednesday - train from huddersfield to home delayed. it said by ten minutes, but it was more like twenty by the time i got home.
thursday - train from huddersfield to leeds, delayed by 15 minutes. trains home: laugh. I nearly shat. Trains from leeds - huddersfield were just crazy. got the 1740 train at 1757, and managed to get home by seven pm. A took nearly two hours to get home from dewsbury - she was delayed getting from dewsbury to huddersfield, so she missed one train, then the next train was so late, it went straight through to manchester, and so was waiting on huddersfield station for nearly an hour.
Saw Mr Scruff at Leeds Met last night. So good. I don't dance much, but you can't help it when you're in his presence, and when the whole room was dancing, and this was no small room. Good work, Mr Scruff, keep it up!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On the train...i wish i was

Last night's journey was only five minutes delayed.
however, A, who works until 7pm on tuesday, had her train delayed by about 20mins. This meant she missed the connection in huddersfield, and i had to go and pick her up.
Had a strange dream, wheRe i was on the train and my boss was on a high-spec mountain bike, free wheeling beside the train, and keeping up. There was also a child on a much older bike, and she was ahead of my boss.
This morning's huddersfield to leeds train is 15mins late.
Still feeling ok, just quite tired today.
I'm impressed by George Galloways' Gall, and disappointed that, in the face of massive evidence that it's a huge health risk, the government still won't ban smoking in public places. A made the observation that it's probably due to the tabacco industry lobby, and, after listening to This Morning, i can't help thinking that the big drinks companies are in on the lobbying act too.
As mark thomas repeatly said, we're all [truly] fucked.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tuesday am

Tuesday am
Tuesday am,
originally uploaded by b3ardman.

I didn't get home until 7.10pm last night. All in, i spent about three and a half hours travelling to work and back.
Spoke to a about feeling how i do, and it's made it seem a bit better. See how today goes...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ups and downs

Everything constantly changes, even if it's only by minute amounts. It's the minute amounts that are the worrying changes. When things change rapidly, it's easy to notice and take action. The minute changes aren't noticable until you compare them with the way they used to be.
I think i'm slowly sliding into a deep depression. I can't be entirely sure, but I've not felt excited about anything for a long time. Even getting inspiration has been an effort. Whilst I've generally been feeling apethetic, life has seemed particularly dull lately. Even seeing mark thomas was, to be truthful, disappointing. I have no appetite for work, or reading, and whilst i'll still tinker with things, i don't think I've had the same "stay up all night" enthusiasm.
I don't know What's causing this, whether it's the lack of sleep, or whether that's because of the depression. I feel the need to batten down the hatches and set in for what will be a very dull, but still unbearably difficult, time ahead. Not crisis point yet, but it feels like the brink of something. I just wish it wasn't happening.

More trains

My train from huddersfield to leeds is 30mins late this morning, and the next one is delayed by 25mins. [Apparently this is due to a train failure.]
Had a quiet weekend. Took garden waste to the dump, and a's sister, s, came over on sunday.
We went over to tia greyhound rescue, near stalybridge, last night, and walked some of their dogs. the one's we walked were all so timid, and all very well behaved. None of them needed much of a walk. Nice to take then out though, must try and go over there again soon.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bah!

This is ridiculous. If the trains were always late, like the three hour late one i caught in India, then i could allow for that; factor it into the journey.
With them being late or cancelled (and this is the train companies stats) 10% of the time, you never know if you're going to be left in the lurch, yet they're still on time regularly enough to prevent most people from making a formal complaint.
Is this part of a larger trend? Has the current society found exactly the lowest level of comfort that humans need to be at to prevent them from "taking matters into their own hands"? Are we, as a whole, better off than any other time in history, or are we still stuck under the same repression that's inherent in any hierarchical system, just kept distracted better? there's a lot of evidence both ways, but what if better living, health and educational conditions are just more effective ways of making us more productive?
Ikea's latest slogan, "if your kitchen costs less, you have to work less", is systematic of this point of view. It suggests that if you work hard, you'll get a reward, and completely ignores the fact that, probably, most people have to take a loan out to afford a new kitchen, which means they'll actually end up paying more. And don't think that Ikea doesn't know this. They're more than happy to lend you some of their profit, they've made out of you, so that they can get their greedy claws on even more of your hard come by cash. (It's not just Ikea, look at how many other stores have credit schemes.)
why do we stand for this? why do i put up with spending most of my waking hours, during the most productive years of my life, stuck behind a desk, dealing with people who take it all too seriously?
at the moment, it's so i can pay the mortgage, which will keep me tied down for the next 25 years. Is that enough reward? Evidently, yes.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday

I'm waiting for the train, which so far this week has been late twice and cancelled once. not being one to complain, i haven't, but it's a disgrace that this service, that i subsidise and pay for, and rely on to get me to work, is so poorly run.
That's just the first leg of my journey too!
The main part (huddersfield to/from leeds), the service is so full that they've had to start getting station staff to move standing passengers into the center of the carriages. Not only does this suck, but it's clearly a hazard to those passengers without a seat. Sure, they've not started with passengers on the roof yet, but it won't be long.

to be fair, the train arrived on time, and i got a seat on the second train too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Boss is so sad

My Boss is so sad
My Boss is so sad,
originally uploaded by b3ardman.
As you can see from this picture, the whole getting things done thing has completely gone to his head.
I mean, GTD is a nice idea, but what it boils done to is this:
  1. Write a list of things to do (this can be added to as you go along!)
  2. Do them
  3. go look at 43folders.com
I mean, what's so revolutionary about that? And really a website that extols the virtues of being able to write upside down?

[Not all of this post is entirely serious]

Friday, July 01, 2005

I am useless at this whole blogging thing

Yawn, tired. It's amazing how much an hour each way on your journey to work can wear you down. Still, gotten to read absolutely loads and loads. Well, a bit, and certainly more than I was doing.
I've been reading Engdahl's A Century Of War, which is an amazing book, and I'm saying this after only five chapters. It's a bit much for first thing on the train in the morning, but it does get the old grey stuff going, challenging the very hegemonic view of history I was taught at school (Irish Potato famine was precipitated, and worstened, by the falling rates of grain that repeal of the Corn Laws ensured, rather than being all about potato blight. Thanks Mr Walker).
So far, it's been a history of British maneuvering from the demolition of the Corn Laws, through the absolute atrocious behavior of the First World War, and now American and British interests, after having financed Mussolini rise to prominence, are looking at installing Hilter, with the express intent of sparking off a serious, and draining, struggle between Germany and Russia.
It's got me thinking though, more about how much different things would be if Britain hadn't been ruled by a bunch of selfish bastards, and had, instead, been more concerned with co-operation. If, instead of wanting to control the world's oil supplies (that's what sparked of WW I), they'd happily co-operated with Germany, amongst others, in developing trade and industry, you could well imagine that the Middle East could be a happier place (Israel wouldn't exist, that's for sure) and Turkey (well, the ottoman empire as it was then) would be a powerful, or at least rich, nation. Basically, as far as I can see, Britain's, and subsequently America's, aggressive foreign policy has kept Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Eastern Europe, South America, and probably the whole of the rest of the world, in political, and economic turmoil. Just thing how far advanced the world could be if people were allowed to get along.
I'd recommend reading the book (although you will probably need to take notes to keep track of it all!)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I've not blogged for ages

I guess getting a new house has taken its toll. I mean, you can only spend so much time filling massive holes in the ceiling before you need to sleep.

I guess the house is progressing. We got the walls in the lounge plastered, and, although we're going to need to redo the ceiling, we're going to leave that for now, so we've got more space than just the kitchen to live in. Being able to listen to music and watch dvds again, and having people round without them having to sit in the kitchen... only small things, but I'm sure they'll make a difference.

I'm going to see Smog on friday! Never, ever thought I'd get the chance to see Smog, but the chance has come, and I'm going. And then Rob Newman on saturday (hush hush, apparently), and then, next friday, John Shuttleworth. Woo. Should provide some relief, albeit challenging and engaging, from sanding, painting, stripping (wallpaper), and such-like.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sickness

The BBC coverage on announcement that public sector should 'get to grips' with sick leave.
Being a public sector worker, it caught my eye. I do reaslise that there is a problem with this - a quote from Sean Lock's excellent from 15 storeys high rings more than true -"[what's the point in phoning the council? they'll] write your name on a piece of paper, put a cup of coffee on top of it, and then go on maternity leave for six months" (apologies for my poor quote memory).
My own experience is a lot more positive; since leaving the private sector and coming to work for a public owned, "arm's length" company (it's 100% owned by the local council), my illness levels have dropped dramatically. At the last place, I reckon I had about 15 to 20 days off a year due to sickness. In this job, last year I think I had two sick days.
Why? Well, for a start, I now work flexi-time, which helps a whole lot. Rather than having to plan my life around work, I plan work around my life (to a degree, at least).
Also, I don't have as much pressure to get things done quickly; meaning I can concentrate on doing things right. This has the effect that I'm a lot more stressed at work.
My Boss is someone I get on with, and who I socialise with. He's a great bloke, who understands the work I do (he does the same work), and is willing to defend the decisions I make, and stand up for me too.
Generally, I've found working in public sector much less stressful, which has resulted in me needing more time off work..

Friday, May 06, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

C# or VB.Net - Does it really matter?

Brad McCabe's discussed why he uses Visual Basic.Net.
As I commented there, I couldn't give a fig what language you use, if you understand it and can use it effectively, it doesn't really matter. Sure, things like C-Omega, might have some unique language features, but they're just language support for things you can already do...
I've programmed in C, C++, C#, IDL, Java, JavaScript, Delphi, ML, Pascal, PHP, SQL, Visual Basic, Visual Basic.Net, and, at the moment, I'm using C#. This because my boss tells me to use it, and because, after 3.5yrs of C++, it's what I feel most at home with. It also makes the switch to JavaScript, for DHTML, easiest (but still not seamless). Also, for the web based stuff that I do, I prefer it to PHP. I've never really got into Java.
The fact is, they're all just different ways of describing how to do something. Far more interesting are the patterns and practices, rather than the syntax.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Alternative Energy Sources

I've been talking a lot with people about alternative energy sources (i.e. not oil), and then I heard something on the Today Programme this morning about Whisper Generators - they also mentioned domestic wind turbines. The other day, You And Yours reported on Hydrogen Fuel cells.
Somebody else suggested that, if they gets a next term, New Labour will have to invest heavily in Nuclear Power in order to meet the demands of an increasinly energy hungry population.

What nobody seems too keen on is bio fuel. I think these are my favourite of all the renewable/alternative energy sources, as they are truely renewable, and, even better, could easily be the product of organic farming!

How cool would that be? A organic farm, producing vegetables, grains, and perhaps keeping some free range livestock, running all the farm machinery on a combination of methane and oil. I could even have a managed woodland to provide building materials and any emergency fuel.

Bill also mentioned Prarie Dogs:

"Prairie dogs construct crater- and dome-shaped mounds up to 2 feet (0.6 m) high and 10 feet (3 m) in diameter ... [which] enhance ventilation of the tunnels."
(http://wildlifedamage.unl.edu/handbook/handbook/allPDF/ro_b85.pdf)
If similar tunnels could be used to construct underground wind turbines, we could erradicate the argument about them being ugly.

Random thoughts, but perhaps something to think about.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Who says lentils have to be boring?


ok, they were a mushy brown mess when cooked, but they were pretty before then.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Nothing to see here

Photoshop Filters, the complete freeware and commercial source.

Interesting load of filters for Photoshop.

Fwd: This feels strange

I realise this is nothing new, but really, posting an email to one's blog? very odd.
House things are moving along, which is kind of exciting and scary too.
I got my car fixed (only took 3hrs), but at least the headlights are both there. Still not 100%, but I think that it's fiddling for another day.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Talking at shows

I went to see Joanna Newsome at the Trinity Center in Bristol. A bit of a strange venue (looks like a church on the outside, but a club on the inside, and doesn't have a proper bar), but Joanna's performance was spectacular: to get up on stage, play harp and sing, on the first night of a tour seems terrifying to me, but she pulled it off without a hitch. (I'd like to point out that, being human, she probably made some mistakes, but they weren't noticable).


Supporting her were White Magic (arrived to late to see them, unfortunately), and Six Organs of Admittance. Six Organs sounded familiar, however, I couldn't really hear them. This was, partially, the fault of the PA being about a third of the required size, but mostly due to the fact that everybody was talking.


As you can probably guess (look at the title of this post!), this really pissed me off. Not only was I annoyed that I couldn't hear this band (fair enough, I'd not gone to see them), but I was mostly annoyed that people didn't have the respect to listen to this band. I might have been a bit less pissed if there had been a breaking in the roar of the audience when the band came on, but I could see that the band weren't getting any interest from the audience, who'd clearly just come to see the headline act, and weren't even interested in seeing if the support act was any good.


Please, if you don't want to see the support acts, stay away! Phone the venue, ask them what time the headline act is going to come on (and they'll always be about the same time at the same venues), and don't arrive until then. Go to a bar if you feel the need to drink, stay home and smoke pot if you need to get high, but please don't turn up at the venue, and ruin any chance of anyone enjoying the support act by talking, loudly, to your friends. Let people who want to hear the support acts listen, and perhaps find something new and interesting to listen to.

Amy



this is just a test post to see how posting from picasa works (answer = in a bit of a roundabout way!)

Hello

Why blog? Do I have anything interesting or original to contribute? Probably not.

Still, I'll probably just shoot my mouth off like everyone else. At least I can say I have a blog now.