Heart Attack Diary: #8

It’s not just the heat. It’s the drums. The drums and the heat. Make the drums stop, Caruthers. Make the blessed drums stop!


I now have three appointments at the cardiology clinic.

They add up to two consecutive afternoons of back-to-back appointment fun.

I’m reading up on all my best jokes to keep the nurses entertained.

They love that.


Yesterday, in the company of a work colleague, his partner and her 7yo son (and their mentile as anything dog), I walked five miles along the bank of the River Trent.

We walked around the National Watersports (no, not that kind) Centre for a bit, and then headed along the Trent in towards the Lady Bay Bridge.

I really enjoyed the walk, but we covered the ground much slower than if I’d been flying solo.

I might have a proper crack at that walk tomorrow.

My colleague had (probably) been briefed not to talk about work, so we didn’t. At least we didn’t in any great detail, just one or two generalities.

But we had a little tech chat or two (about non-work things), which was nice.

I have spent some time, over the last week, debugging a hacked website.

Mostly that involved just reading code, and googling some pretty esoteric .php and SQL.

The hacked website (one of mine that I left languishing for the last two years on a shared-by-many GoDaddy server) is now back online.

It’s not only been debugged, but I’ve gone to great pains to harden the security: validate all file permissions, remove the legacy users, put a new user in place with upgraded access requirements, delete the FTP user, migrate the MySQL database to a new MySQL database with a new root user and updated root access.

Then I updated the design, and modernised some of the functionality.

So it might be that the podcast could be making a return appearance.

There are some logistical problems that need to be solved, in order to make a return truly viable, but these are being worked on.

There are a couple of very good security plugins for WordPress now.

I’ve tried the iSecurity plugin, which is quite good, but Wordfence is very much my favourite.


Today I didn’t undertake any significant walking.

But I did take the ZX10R out for the first time since the ‘event’.

I was not reckless.

And was very careful.

My pulse may have quickened slightly when the garage door rolled up and I saw the pristine ZX10 waiting for me in all her Ninja blackness.

And my pulse may have continued to beat slightly quicker as I wheeled the ZX10R out and started her up.

But actually I felt fine.

And I took my pulse rate, just to be sure.

The good news is I haven’t forgotten how to ride a 1,000cc Super Sports Bike.

There is no bad news 😀

I grinned the whole time I was out, though I was only in the saddle for 90 minutes in total (two stops en-route).

And when I came back my pulse rate was unsurprisingly in the 72-74/BPM range, which is my ‘normal’.

So that’s alright then.


Keeping busy

Things are work are mentile. So, to balance my life out, I’m keeping very busy at home too. I suppose the ‘things at home’ divide up in to subheadings:

The car hasn’t had much use since I got it. It’s been in to the centre of Rugby for wheel-balancing and tracking alignment. And that’s about the sum of its journeys.

Yesterday I took it in to Kwikfit to have the brakes checked. They said the pads were fine but the disks needed replacing. And then they quoted me £500 for doing the job. FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS? I told them not to bother.

A little investigation reveals that I can get four new disks and four new sets of pads for £100, so what the hell is the hourly rate Kwikfit charge? And their mechanics must all be as rich as fuck. Except they’re not, obv.

I’d like to do the job myself – fitting new disks and pads – but I’ve never done it before. And mucking about with the braking system of a car doesn’t seem to be the smartest place to start learning car mechanics.

So I’m going to call a couple of local garages, to see how much they’d charge for the job, if I supplied the parts.

The VFR continues to be my daily commuter, as well as my weekend runabout. It is, obviously, much cheaper per mile than the car, but whereas the car drips comfort and luxury, the bike drips fun, smiles, and racy excitement.

I am keeping the bike scrupulously clean. I tend to wash the VFR down every evening when I get home. At weekends I take the seat off and give the frame a very thorough clean, and then lube the chain.

I took a gentle trip down to Daventry today to buy a pair of winter gloves. Ended up travelling 150 miles, familiarising myself with the environment.

I have a hankering for a Triumph Daytona 955i. In bright yellow. I’d keep the VFR, as the every-day form of transport, have the 955i as the scary-but-fun weekend bike, and the car would be my bad weather transport.

Don’t look at me like that, it’s perfectly logical!

I’m almost unpacked. Erm. Almost. Except for the bits that aren’t unpacked. Ahem.

I have received an estimated electricity bill from nPower. £80. I can’t help wondering what the former occupants of this house did with their electricity, if their typical monthly bill was eighty-fucking-quid!

Oh yes, and I’ve been broadband-upgraded. But the speeds are mediocre at best, and unimpressive at worse.

I am still struggling on with The World’s Dodgiest Freeview Signal. And when I say ‘struggling on’, I mean ‘largely not watching’. The bad quality comes and goes. Some days every channel is unwatchable. Some days only the majority of channels are unwatchable.

To compensate for this I’m watching The West Wing on DVD, broken up by occasional episodes of Breaking Bad on DVD. The jury is still out on Breaking Bad, but I’m only on episode five of the first series.

I might open up the boxed set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer sometime.

I may also go out and buy a Freesat box, as we’ve discussed here before.

The great geekage continues too.

So yeah, all in all I’m keeping pretty busy at home and at work.

My next project, now that I’m (almost) unpacked, is to build the studio, and get the podcast back on track.

I have music for the next ten shows playlisted, and there are also many tracks that I have been sent, by bands, artists, and labels, that I haven’t yet been able to listen to.

Oh, and I took a ‘which side of the brain do you use most’ test on FB. It’s completely accurate and designed by brain scientists and that.

Anyway, I’m a balanced genius.




Two wheels good, music good too

Happy New Year!!!

It didn’t rain today. In fact the sun shone. So I got the Bandit out, gave it a little polish, checked the levels (ordered a refill for the chain oiler), checked the tyre pressures and had a little two-wheeled ‘just for fun’ run, around the immediate area.

There is still a lot of surface water out in the sticks, after the horrendous flooding we’ve had lately, so I kept to the vicinity of Witney, made a few stops (Costa, etc), but just enjoyed being on two wheels in bright sunshine, and also enjoyed riding at the speed limit, but not being in much of a hurry to be anywhere.

It was lovely.

It’s now 9pm so I’m about to head off upstairs to bed with a hot chocolate, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and a couple of Jaffa Cakes.

4.45am alarm tomorrow.

So that was my New Year’s Day. How was yours?

Oh yes, and the first show of 2013 for the music podcast This Reality Podcast ‘hit the air’ today.

Nice to know I can still remember how to operate the sliders and faders. Mind you, I’m not saying anything about the quality of the show. Just that it’s out there.

Not much mentile here!

It is perfectly acceptable to be vacuuming the upstairs of the house at 1am, isn’t it?

And equally normal that, once the vacuuming has been finished, the layout of the studio should be modified? And then recable it, too?

Yes, I thought so too. Thanks for that.

I plan on hitting the nice, new, shiny (and very clean) studio with a vengeance today.

This weekend’s show has to be recorded and produced, as a matter of urgency.

As well as making the physical alterations and improvements to the studio, I have made a config change to the audio software. It will be interesting (for geeky little me, at least) to check for differences. There shouldn’t actually be any audio difference, but the config change will enable me to monitor elapsed time much more accurately.

After the show has been produced, I’m going to crack on with guitar practice in there. I’ve been a bit lax, in recent weeks, at keeping up with this and although I am improving at a moderate pace, I need to get much better, much quicker.

I am also going to use the newly-shifted-about studio as a place to write. This change has been in my head for *ages*, but I couldn’t figure out how to come up with a layout, in what is quite a small space, that would suit show production, rehearsal room and writing place, all in one package.

I  think I’ve finally come up with the right layout; I’m keen to put that to the test today.

Outside of the studio, I need to buy an ironing board and crack on with some ironing.

Maybe I’ll save that for 1am tomorrow morning?

Clearing up the left-overs

We’ve been busy, the last couple of days, cleaning up the debris from Friday night’s inaugural ‘Witney Music Festival’.

WitFest, for short.

It was a cracking night.

Four brilliant sets from live bands – one of whom had travelled from the USA just to be with us.

And, of course, a live interview with our very special guest…

Bill Nighy

It wasn’t easy, putting together an illicit music festival.

We didn’t have planning permission.

Or security.

Or a fee.

The whole evening was free of charge.

Just for the music.

We’ve cleared up the left-overs and tidied the field.

But you can still experience the evening of live music, by downloading our special, 40-minute podcast.

There are a range of options, if you’d like to listen to the show:

  1. Listen at our website: just click here! Or,
  2. Right click here and use the ‘save’ or ‘save as’ option in your browser to save it to your computer. Or,
  3. If you’ve got iTunes, just click here to listen to it on your iPod, iPhone, iPad, or other iTunes-compatible music player. Better than radio! Or,
  4. You can now get the show on your mobile phone via Stitcher.com!

Just like this young lady did.

One of our cutting-edge listeners

(part or all of this article may be contaminated with traces of lie. Except for the quality of the music, obv. But you wouldn’t really know it from listening to the show. Except maybe for the Bill Nighy interview, obv)

Lip up fatty

On 14th July it’ll be the next Oxford Band Practice.

This month we’ll be working on ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol, ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ by Bob Dylan and ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd.

Just one of those pieces would be pretty adventurous for me, but not for everyone else.

All three of them?

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out.


I made a video nasty today:

It’s weird, isn’t it?

That’s the thing with unscripted improv; wheel out a few props and just see what happens.


While I was editing that I accidentally saw an episode of ‘Made in Chelsea’.

Have you ever seen that TV Show?

If not, skip the next question.

Aren’t the people who feature in ‘Made in Chelsea’ some of the most self-obsessed, repulsive, vapid, empty-headed, odious, reprehensible, abhorrent, loathsome, revolting, detestable, repugnant, vile, nauseating, repulsive creatures ever to walk the face of this planet?

Jesus, what a complete waste of oxygen they are.

But ‘Made in Chelsea’ is car-crash television.

What it is doing is making these horrid people famous for being horrid.

I hope they enjoy their new-found fame.

Just not on my planet.

Speaking of people not on my planet, Germaine Greer, who I have long admired, has proved that even world-class academics can, on occasion, be complete and utter idiots.

Here’s why.

What a twunt she is.

One would have thought that Dr Greer would know the difference between a professional, disciplined army and a group of rag-tag scruffs from a second- or third-world country.

Obviously not.

And while I’m in the ‘obviously’ zone.

I can’t help reading the information that the BBC has 8,000 News staff, and then wondering how many news staff Sky International has.

I have read one source that says Sky has more than 20,000 news staff.

Which is interesting, if true, when one reads articles that say the BBC news are to try and reduce their staff-count by 1,500, in order to save money.

I’m not saying that either the BBC or BBC News are sacred cows, in fact I’d love the organisations to be given a spot of my scrutineering style of Business and Functional Analysis.

But the practice of sending a television OB crew and an over-salaried presenter to stand outside 10 Downing Street every time our Prime Minister farts, has to be questioned.

Mind you, over in the News International corner things aren’t going very well for the Australian American media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

And the news that News International is sending in to the London operation a team of American lawyers to *cough* investigate the goings on at News International must be filling everyone with confidence.

I’m sure the brief given to these lawyers is to thoroughly investigate everything and turn all of the evidence over to the Metropolitan Police.

No, really. I’m sure of it.

*withering stare to camera*

Spielberg. Colin, not Steven. Again

I’ve been playing with the video clips we shot yesterday; rearranging the timeline, inserting a couple of bits, removing some bobs.

When I was done with that I went off and found a few top musical intros which I edited in to one piece of audio.

Then I combined the newly edited audio in to the new video segment, and spent some time faffing about; trimming this, expanding that, rearranging the other.

And then I uploaded This Reality Podcast video prototype #1 to the show’s YouTube channel, but it’s also embedded below.

I need to say that there was no script or direction.

We just set up the camera in front of a rock that was put on its end by a bunch of Ancient Britons, 4,500-years ago, and then we looned about, much to the amusement of many curious onlookers.

We have no shame, obv.

I have learnt that before we make video prototype #2, we need to have a script, or at least a list of activities.

Also, after we have filmed prototype #2, I will match the edited audio to the edited video, something which I haven’t done with prototype #1.

But I am having loads of fun with this project!

Turn on, tune in, crack up

We were in the studio this evening mucking about with music and video stuff. So while we were in there feeling frisky, we recorded tonight’s podcast.

That was a handy coincidence.

One of the topics we talk about in tonight’s show is the musical legend that is John Otway. We we were fortunate to see him ‘live’ last weekend.

After the show, back on the couch, while I typed up the shownotes, Sophie started playing about with YouTube.

Watching Weetabix adverts off of the 1980s.

Connoisseurs of ’80s Weetabix adverts will understand that we inevitably segued in to ‘Delilah’ by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

We couldn’t keep it to ourselves.

The antics the guitarists get up to behind Alex Harvey cracks me up every time.


Miles to go, before I sleep

Man, I have done serious travelling in the last few days. Many a kilometre has passed beneath the wheels of my car.

This has been fun because I’ve been out and about seeing places and people.

This has been a really massive amount of not fun because I’ve been seeing other people drive.

I’ve got the video-camera settings and the placing/tripod adjustments just about perfect.

I wish I had the camera installed in the car today, it was a day of classic car-based comedy.

I followed a £50,000 Mercedes down the M4 for 19-1/2 miles. Not once did it switch out of the middle lane.

You can build your own stereotype about the driver in the following space:





Meanwhile, in other news…

Contraband will launch their debut single ‘Heroes’ tomorrow. We will have a world exclusive on the show, minutes afterwards the single will be released via iTunes, Amazon and all the usual download outlets.

And breathe…

Life’s rich tapestry just keeps on happening, viz:

  • got up at 3am
  • wrote stuff
  • did work-related stuff
  • made breakfast and tea
  • took it upstairs
  • gave Soph hers
  • got back in to bed
  • ate mine
  • fell asleep
  • woke up
  • came downstairs
  • edited, edited and edited again
  • wrote more stuff
  • edited
  • emailed an over optimistic screenplay to C4
  • did work-related stuff again
  • received a skype IM from someone who said they’d be arriving in 30 minutes
  • panicked
  • showered, shaved, dressed (she was late anyway)
  • received the guest
  • received 1x skype call
  • received 1x phone call
  • made coffee
  • chatted
  • showed the guest around
  • chatted some more
  • ate a couple of sandwiches
  • chatted again
  • noticed that the piece I wrote for Shouting At Cows had gone live (you should go there and read it, otherwise Mr SAC is going to drown kittens)
  • recorded the second hour of tomorrow’s radio show
  • started to think about how I’m going to shoot the performance video for the band
  • built a playlist for tonight’s podcast

So yeah, busy.