Crook

I have been advised to keep this ‘detail light’ which, given that I am typing this on my phone, I should find very easy.

We (the doctor and I) are unable to determine if I am unwell because of a tummy bug, or if the illness has been brought on by the painkillers I was prescribed for my back.

But unwell I am.

This isn’t good…

I shall save you the details.

‘Grim’ doesn’t come close to it.

Hearing voices

‘Choir! Choir! Choir!’ is a singing collective that was started by Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman.

Based in Toronto, Canada, These two guys started a singing group just so they (and their friends) could get together now and then and… well… sing.

Largely unstructured (they don’t use terms such as Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, Basses), C! C! C! (to shorten a bit of typing) have a minimalist approach to organised singing.

Yet, with seemingly very little effort, C! C! C! produce amazing sounds.

And anyone can just rock up on the night and, after hardly any rehearsal at all, just join the choir.

Whether experienced singerist or not.

Just. Join. In.

It sounds unique.

And it is.

It sounds doomed to failure.

It really isn’t.

Here’s C! C! C! being fronted by Talking Heads’ David Byrne.

They did this performance after an hour of rehearsal (and David came to it cold).

If Choir! Choir! Choir! ever come to the UK, I’d like to go along.

To join in.

Moving on

Last month (five weeks ago, to be precise) I carried out a decision I (we) made in the late summer last year.

I resigned from my job.

I don’t have another job to go to, but that’s not the point.

I’ve been in my current job for two years and two months, and in that time we have begun to change the company.

Big changes.

Changes in tech, changes in working practices, changes in staff capacity.

Changes that I started.

A lot of things have happened over the last two years and two months.

And the time, now, is right for me to move on.

Who knows what the future will bring?

I don’t, but as I work out my notice period the only thing I’m certain about is that I’m looking forward to it!

Plusnet/BT: good customer service/awful service

I have been a loyal and faithful customer of Plusnet (aka BT), for more than 12 years.

Through four house moves, over those dozen years, I have stuck with Plusnet/BT because I liked their product and their customer service when I needed to speak to them.

I have been a happy subscriber to the Plusnet/BT Superfast Broadband, until now.

First of all, I am paying for the Superfast Broadband which, according to Plusnet and Openreach is delivering 70Mbs to the house.

Except it isn’t, as you can plainly see from BTs very own speedtest result:

Plusnet lack of speed

Plusnet lack of speed

I used to get 70Mbs, but about eight months ago the speed took a hit down to 50Mbs.

A few weeks later it dropped to 38Mbs which is where it’s been languishing ever since.

To put this in to context, I’ve lost almost half of my broadband download speed.

Plusnet said the problem is the config, but I’m using a cable into a router into an Openreach modem.

And that’s the config that Openreach gave me.

So suddenly that config’s wrong?

An Openreach engineer attended. He said I should be getting 70Mbs, and successfully tested the download to that speed.

Then he saw me run a speedtest and verified what I am actually getting.

I changed the cable from the laptop to the router. No difference in download.

I changed the router. No difference in download.

He changed my Openreach modem, but that changed also nothing.

As I’m out of contract (there’s a reason for this), Plusnet said they couldn’t help me any further so goodbye and thanks for all the money.

Speaking of money, I’m paying a couple of quid south of £40/month for this substandard Superfast broadband.

Why am I out of contract?

Because I shall be moving soon. If I take out a new contract (18 months!), I will have to pay a penalty for early termination.

None of these things is good.

Having a clear out

We (the family) are having a major clear out.

It’s not quite ‘everything must go’, but we are looking at everything and asking a ‘keep or get rid’ question of it.

I have eBayed much stuff in the last few weeks, and have raised enough money to buy a new push-bike.

But there’s a lot more to go – and we all need to contribute.

The question has just been asked if we’re going to chuck loads of stuff away, or flog it at a car boot.

You can count my ‘selling stuff at a car boot sale’ experiences on the finger of a single finger.

And what we’re looking at is a substantial family-wide collection/contribution of varied stock.

The ultimate aim of this exercise is to downsize our possessions to stuff that we use, rather than have stuff that we own that occupies 2/3rds of the house (and never/seldom) sees the light of day.

When we have accomplished this our forthcoming house moves should be easier, and we should be on the way to being able to fit a quart into a pint pot.

Or a family of four into a houseboat.

Streaming

It was brought home to me, a couple of weeks ago, just how old I am.

Why’s that? (I hear you ask).

Well I’ll tell you.

I recently had a bit of a clear-out at home, and took about 15 DVDs and CDs of licensed OEM (original equipment manufacturer) software in to the office, for my colleagues to help themselves.

How many pieces of (free) software got snapped up by my bargain-seeking colleagues?

None, my friend. Absolutely zero.

Even our software-hungry development manager declined all offers.

His reason?

‘I don’t have hardware with a CD or DVD drive any more’.

Well, that made me think.

My music library has 7,528 tracks, and over 60% of those tracks came from CDs.

Now fair enough, these days when I buy mainstream music, I buy online from Amazon.

Usually the music I buy is downloaded materiel (with exceptions when, for specific reasons, I want a physical CD).

So buying music in digital format is not unusual for me.

But what am I going to do with gig music, when I’ve joined the CD-less drive generation?

What do I do when promising unsigned bands send me a CD they have lovingly crafted in their Nan’s front room, and I have no CD drive?

I suppose they could always Dropbox me the .mp3s, but that’s not really the point of a physical album, is it?

Anyway.

In sortov related news, I’m on the cusp of hooking up with a music streaming service.

The full range of choices I’m considering are:

  • Deezer
  • Google Play Music
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music Unlimited
  • Pandora
  • Slacker
  • Groove Music and
  • Apple Music

There are pros and cons for all of these, but at this stage, nothing is ruled in, nothing is ruled out.

Early days.

Tea, a drink with jam and bread?

I’m now going to prove that the phrase ‘tea, a drink with jam and bread’ is a load of old tosh.

A great deal has been written about tea, how to grow it, how to make it, and how to drink it.

Unfortunately a great deal of that great deal is actually nothing more than a great deal of rubbish.

I can remember, as a young boy, being taught how to make the correct cup of tea:

  • The correct amount of tea to spoon in to the pot
  • The correct temperature for the water to pour
  • The correct amount of boiled water to be poured on to the correct amount of tea
  • The correct amount of time…

Well, you get the picture, right?

Well today, my friend, I’m going to break the first rule of the tea club.

I’m not going to teach you the *correct* way to make tea.

Today I’m going to share with you how to make the *perfect* cup of tea; no correctness about it.

Let’s begin by describing the perfect cup (or mug) of tea, OK?

The perfect cup of tea is strong, and unsweetened, right?

Right.

So here we go.

The perfect cup of tea starts with the time.

The time is 05.30 (that’s 5.30am), and the rest of the process goes like this:

  • Get out of bed. Fall over a cat. Go downstairs. Fall over another cat
  • Fill the kettle with water. Fall over another cat
  • Switch the kettle on. Fall over another cat
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Put a teabag in a cup (mug)
  • Put down four lots of cat biscuits. Fall over at least two cats
  • Slowly pour the boiled water over the teabag in the cup (mug), until the level is about 1/2″ below the rim
  • Take a teaspoon and a fork from the cutlery drawer
  • Gently agitate the bag (this does not mean slapping her on the arse and saying ‘two sugars please’) with the fork for five seconds
  • Fall over a cat
  • Get the skimmed milk out of the fridge (any other kind of milk is the sperm of the devil and should be discarded immediately)
  • Gently agitate the bag with the fork for another five seconds
  • Get a small bowl out. Half-fill the bowl with Shreddies.
  • Fall over a cat
  • Add a small amount of skimmed milk to the Shreddies.
  • Fall over another cat
  • Gently agitate the bag with the fork for five more seconds
  • With the teaspoon and the fork, gently compress the teabag until there is no liquid left to come out
  • Slowly stir the tea and very slowly add a very very small amount of milk
  • Put the milk back in the fridge falling, as you go, over a cat
  • Take the cup (mug) of tea, the teaspoon, and the bowl of Shreddies upstairs
  • Get in to bed
  • Eat the Shreddies
  • Drink the tea

Enjoy your start to the day.

Catlol

Catlol

Tea

Tea

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

These three photos were taken at 21.17 this evening.

The saying is that ‘It’s a dog’s life’.

I disagree.

It’s a cat’s life.

Raven

Raven

Dandy

Dandy

Ripley

Ripley

I have no idea where the fourth furry little fuc feline (Beano) is.

Asleep on a windowsill somewhere, probably.

I had been wondering what I could write about this evening, in my attempt to keep up with Young Masher on his annual pilgrimage through the February blogosphere.

I was wondering so hard that I accidentally fell asleep.

And then a cat climbed on me.

So yes, part-roused from my doze, I thought I’d give all four cats a place in this evening’s outing.

Except one of them has decided to leggit, obv.

So I’ll hold that blog post back for another night.

I had a good title for it and everything.

But this title is better, because it gives me an excuse to run out my favourite Fun Boy Three track.

It is too easy to accept the stripped-down simplicity of this song at face value, without appreciating the musical kaleidoscope that the backing harmonies present.

And then there are the lyrics.

Sad that a protest song written for a specific time of trouble should have the same message, and the same impact, in the early 1980s, as it does in 2018.

Things I learned today

Every day is a learning experience. If it isn’t we are all doing something wrong.

Sometimes the things I learn are interesting. Sometimes they’re geeky. Sometimes they’re not helpful.

Today’s lessons are:

  1. The Pink Floyd album Piper At The Gates of Dawn (which I always thought was an evocative title) was named after Chapter Seven of the book The Wind in the Willows. Fitting really, that such an accomplished writer as Kenneth Grahame should come up with a title as good as that
  2. Wind turbines are not an efficient method of electricity generation. Before I go any further with this, here’s an important word. Disclaimer: The following information comes from a conversation with an engineer who works on wind turbines, these are not my words or thoughts. So anyway. Apparently when you see a wind turbine not turning it’s because it’s broken. They break down frequently. Very frequently. The motors burn out. The brushes fry and seize up. The prop shafts also seize up. Even though they are on a programme of preventative maintenance, breakdowns occur frequently, sometimes keeping a wind turbine offline for a couple of weeks. Also, according to the same engineer:
  3. Solar power is the way to go. Solar panels are becoming more efficient every month. Battery storage is becoming better every year
  4. People are dicks. This is an old lesson, but it got reinforced a little
  5. Having two wheels is cool for cats:
Cool for cats

Cool for cats

 

Slider

A million years ago, when killer reindeer stalked the face of the planet, almost driving the native Father Christmases to the brink of extinction, there used to be a record shop in Cardiff.

Buffalo Records, as I shall call the shop (for that was its name) took a significant amount of ill-gotten gains off me.

And in return I was given hours of character-forming, taste-titillating fun.

OK, I bought my first copy of Tubular Bells from Virgin Records (opposite Cardiff Castle), but from Buffalo Records I got my early addiction to Pink Floyd (Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, and the disappointing Obscured By Clouds), my first vinyl taste of T. Rex (T. Rex, Slider), my first encounter with Mott The Hoople (All The Young Dudes, Mott), Lindisfarne (Nicely Out Of Tune), and Yes (Close To The Edge, Tales From The Topographic Oceans, Relayer).

I had built, in the comfort of my own bedroom, a record player of sorts.

The turntable was a cheap deck rescued from someone else’s unwanted items (possibly from one of my cousins, over in the next valley), but the stylus arm was an expensive and beautifully-balanced aftermarket addition that I bought from the HiFi shop in Abergavenny (Barnfields?). I had built the pre-amp from components liberated from decommissioned TVs, and the amp and a range of speakers came from several cast-off pieces of tech that I had begged, borrowed and possibly stolen from a friendly mechanic in Blaenavon who had a strong electronic interest.

I had a book, you see.

Teach Yourself Electronics.

So I did, sortov.

I can’t remember the detail of getting any of my new purchases home, but I can vividly recall the static cling as all new pieces of vinyl gradually slid out of the paper sleeve.

I would hold it up to the light and inspect it for visual fault, and finding none, place it on the turntable, and carefully place the stylus arm on the run-in to track one.

The slight ‘thud’ as the stylus landed.

The crackle and hiss as the needle sought the beginning of the track.

And while I’m sitting here, at 11pm on a Monday night, remembering – with a smile – what the occasional weekend (and sometimes a weekday, if I was bunking off school, which I did quite a lot and very often) would comprise, it is difficult to drag myself back to doing what I should be doing…

Trying to find a new content slider for a WordPress gallery, for This Reality Podcast website.

The Featured Content Gallery that I’ve used for so many years is now defunct, leaving a gap in the website landing page.

So I need a new one.

Yet every time I think of ‘slider’, my head takes me back to those ancient times when ‘The Slider’ meant…

T. Rex Slider

T. Rex: The Slider

T. Rex Slider

T. Rex: The Slider