Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New at Natural History Museum

One seriously big, one could even say 'giant', squid has gone on display today at the Natural History Museum in London. This is not one to miss!

The 8.6 metre-long squid has been named 'Archie' (presumably after someones 1920s Cthulhu character) and is thought be female (though squid boffins have to do some more tests before they can be absolutly sure).

It was caught live (imagine that for shits and giggles) in March 2004 off the Falkland Islands, 300 miles from South America, 120 miles from R'lyeh. It's virtually complete (appart from the large area of burnt flesh were tha Elder Sign was branded into into its beaky little skull), making it a very important and unique specimen of 'Architeuthis dux'.

On the whole, mortal man knows SFA about these creatures and much of what we do know comes from dead or dying specimens, most found rotting in the stomachs of sperm whales or haunting the nightmares of old Pirates.

Here's a nice video of them cutting it up and the full news from the site.
Well worth a visit, and only minimal SAN loss in this preserved state.

Delays Possible

Better Than Google Earth?

WorldWind - I have 'arrived' in my troos...

The NASA version of Google Earth - "WorldWind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there. Virtually visit any place in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African Sahara."

Simply beautiful.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Atomic Batteries to Power. Turbines to Speed.

The energy company E On UK wanted to build seven 350ft turbines on Saddleworth Moor, above the village of Denshaw. I did a film on Saddleworth Moor once. We stayed in Denshaw. It rained for 10 days out of 14.

E On reckon the farm would have provided the grid with enough electricity for 8,500 homes, but environmentalists claimed it would ruin the landscape so the application was rejected by Oldham Council on Thursday night. This was, probably, the wrong spot for this, a Greater Manchester beauty spot (wet though it is) an’ all, but talk about alternative energy sources is only talk if none actually go ahead. Lets hope this rejection doesn’t set a president.

It’s argued that the only people to benefit from these turbines are the manufacturers, the installers and land owners and that for this technology to be anything more than a gimmick, the whole country would be covered in them. Bollocks.
We need to change our habbits now, for the future, and if we believe Greenpeace then 80 square miles of offshore space would be enough to supply the entire UK's electricity needs. Expensive, yes, but what could be simpler?

Anyway, is money and nostalgia for the ye olde English countryside a reason to allow global warming? Would the Lake District still look as charming with tumbleweed blowing across its salt flats? I digress.

So what's being done? According to Labour '10% of energy must come from renewable resources by 2010'. The new Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) report actually recommends this rises to 20% by 2020. Friends of the Earth says a conservative estimate is that by 2050, wind power could meet about 20% of current energy demand. Eighteen new offshore wind farms were given the green light in April 2001 - when they are built, they should generate enough energy to supply more than one million homes. Other onshore projects - like a 140-turbine wind farm south of Glasgow, which could power 150,000 homes - are currently under way. Wavegen is also planning an offshore wave farm on the Orkney islands (comin' at ya Meddler) on the north coast of Scotland, which should generate enough electricity for 1,400 homes.

We need to do this, or the only practical alternative is nuclear. The yanks are doing nowt (but that's another rant). Personally, I'd much rather we harness natural resources than crack atoms and burn fossil fuels...

DVD Review - The Legend of Zorro

Has it really been 7 years since The Mask of Zorro?

The new film, though undeniably packed with action, lacks some of the pace and charm of its prequel. The simmering romance is replaced with snappy banter and an air of slapstick. Zorro, now the family man, just doesn’t seem to butcher his way through those gringos like he used to.

The irrepressible Zorro, masquerading as landed gentry Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas), is now married to his Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) and they have been living peacefully for the last 10 years with nobody any the wiser. The couple’s son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), is oblivious that his father is the timeless peoples hero, Zorro.

Not yet a State, California is on the brink of joining the US of A, seemingly the end of the fight for our hero. Not everyone, however, is prepared to let the family settle down and enjoy the quiet of peacetime. Enter suave, well dressed, Frenchman Armand (the marvellous Rufus Sewell), and his twisted wooden-toothed lackey, Jacob McGivens (Nick Chinlund).

Since Zorro must protect the people, family must take second place. This leads the couple into marital strife (which provides some excellent dialogue between Zeta Jones and Banderas) and Elena leaves our hero for the Frenchman (boooo-hisssss). Now bitter, drunk and lovelorn, Zorro discovers that the seemingly charming Armand is part of a global conspiracy plotting against California, and discovers a scheme involving stealing land from the poor defeceless masses. It’s all very ‘meat and two veg’, and unfortunately lacks the sparkle of it’s predecessor, but this is far more of a family move than the original and if that’s what you’re looking for look no further.

Catherine Zeta Jones plays her character with grace. She is voluptuous, can fence like a demon, she has whip-crack delivery and she smoulders along as Banderas’s equal under an array of frumpy frocks. Banderas is as dashing as usual (the housewives favourite) with his wink, his wry grin, his smooth banter and buckets of latino poise. Even their young Mexican son, Joaquin, is a talented little heart stealer that raises a smile when on screen. All excellent, but the finest performance and a special note goes to Toronado the horse, who entirely steels the show.

Bond director Martin Campbell, renowned for creating great action flicks, has another money-spinner on his hands. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.

Movie: 3 out of 5
Extras:
3.5 out of 5

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brace Yourselves Lerwick

Went over to Captain Deppers this evening to say TTFN to The Medder and Stevie.

It was a surprise get-together and folks turned up from all over the country. They're going to live in the The Shetlands, between the Orkneys and the Faroe Islands. As far as the UK goes, that's as remote and northern as you can get. It's a bold move, but The Meddler has a new job up there so they're off. You need Kong sized kahoonas for this one. Even English people marvel at the weather in the Shetlands. A very, very cool move. I envy them the challenge.


Stevie (left) is gonna look for work when they get there. He's a retail game and comic genius and, obviously, there's not much in that line at the top of the world.

The East Shetland Basin is now one of Europe's largest oil fields. Oil produced there is landed at the Sullom Voe terminal, plus there’s loads of fishing and, er, knitting etc. so I'm sure he'll find something easy enough.

Back-in-the-day,
Stevie and I made a few films together and I've a lot of respect for the fella as a camera op. Meddler has bought him a new Mini-DV, so hopefully we'll see some sweet results. Mainly, I would imagine, involving puffins.

We'll no doubt see them at the odd LRP do and for the Nordic insanity of next years Up Helly Aa. It's an amazing place, the archaeology alone is well worth a visit when we stick our noses in to catch up on some quality Merde de Tete.

Good luck guys. SKYPE ya later.

To follow their blog on the move and to keep dosed up on Meddlerisums, click on over to The Medder and Steve.

A Few Last Things

I'm actually not the best at the whole "Spring cleaning" thing to begin with. Short attention span and all that. But I'm double sick of dusting, polishing, hoovering and every other soddin' household chore.

We nipped back over to grab a few bits and pieces and to give the inside of
Andromeda a lick and a promise. She's really bloody big with nothing in her. Cavernous, I'd say.

Hopefully she'll seem this way too a prospective buyer too. Sad, but we really need the money ASAP so we can get some furniture for ‘
Pemberley’.

With nothing in her, and with not moving or rocking cos she's in dry dock, I can satisfy myself that she only really looks and feels like Andromeda from the outside. Without our stuff, a bit like Redhill without Andromeda, it all feels strangly different.

Steve is going to "maybe flood the dock again on either Tuesday or Wednesday", and we'll take her to the brokers then.

One last trip up to
Sawley.

Jema has had 4 baths in the last 40 hours.

DVD Review - The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

This Golden Globe winning classic is probably the first of the infamous ‘anti-atomic’ classics. It also has an unsettlingly predictive anti-American undertone. The Day the Earth Stood Still is the story of an intergalactic ambassador (played by Michael Rennie), Klaatu, here on Earth to warn us about ourselves and that our growing stock pile of Cold War weaponry could destroy the universe, as well as our humble little planet.

The story is simple, but the message is timeless. When this film was made, World War II had ended only six years ago and American paranoia was focused on Communism. The US was in the grip of ‘flying saucer hysteria’. While The Day the Earth Stood Still is seen as a quintisential science fiction movie, with a title designed for the drive-in audience, but it’s a film that has political undertones as cutting as the likes of Dr Strangelove.

As America lives in fear of the iconic Gort (played by the ‘giant’, Lock Martin), the ten foot robot who will blow up the city if his emissary is harmed, Carpenter (Klaatus alter ego)lives among the humans, observing their pettiness and fear of each other. Rennie is superb as the slightly 'off-kilter' Carpenter, with his almost constipated alien demeanour and his refusal to judge too harshly the humans and their simple ape-like ways. Sam Jaffe plays Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Fitting the Einstein or Von Braun archetype, he sympathizes with Carpenter’s message and takes up the visitor’s cause.

The recent ‘Fox Home Video's Studio Classics’ of The Day The Earth Stood has the slick video restoration and crystal sound quality of their earlier titles, especially when it comes to using image enhancement and cleanup technology without destroying the texture of the old B&W image. The special effects are excellent, especially for a film of its age, and this is a must for any serious DVD collection.

This made for the keystone of an excellent theme evening. We had burgers, milkshakes, popcorn, and an outstanding motion picture. This film has held up beautifully through the years, and its message is just as true today as it was then. If you don’t have a copy already, treat yourself.

Movie: 4.5 out of 5
Extras: 4 out of 5

Friday, February 24, 2006

No Rest For The Wicked

I’m guessing I must have been a Roman Legionary in Jerusalem around 32 AD. A bit over keen with my spear perhaps. A bit too “proddy” for my own good. I am being punished for previous biblical scale crimes too heinous to mention.

I am destroyed today. Knackered beyond the bounds of reason.

I couldn't find clean trousers, shampoo, a hair brush, a tooth brush or my ass with both hands and a stick attached to butt seeking radar.

And yet, I am stupid enough to be sat here editing Aberdeen podcasts when I am so damn tired and weary that I'm incapable of even the most rudimentary conversation. I’m just sat here with my headphones on looking like shit (sorry
Andy (the poor beggar I sit opposite) and Paul (who's trying to coordinate the Scottish and the guys at Stoke).

I shouldn't have come in today. No amount of coffee will save me.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Move

It's a lot easier to move when you just undo 2 ropes and an internet connection.

God bless Pig. I might have helped him move a few times in the past but today was above and beyond the call of duty. Poor bloke invented a song, to the tune of Pythons "Never Be Rude To An Arab" entitled "Never Move Home for a Larper". I kinda get his point.

Steve (and his oppo) carried on welding around us (in the rain) as we manhandled everything (across the tooth chipping gap) into a long wheel based tranny. Last night, Pig picked up a futon base from my folks and the van was rammed with stuff I left at his when we left dry land. 80% of this seemed to have a Star Wars logo on it.

Jema packed, and passed and we shifted. It took 3 loads. We had to nip to Redhill one last time to grab the rowboat (very handy, come "The Great Wave") and grab all the bike bits and pot plants. That was kinda nostalgic. I will miss the view but it doesn't seem as big a deal as I thought it'd be. I suppose Andromeda was more "home" than Redhill was. Shook a few hands and said goodbye to some quality folk. Had 1 last wee in a bush.

The only real piece of furniture, a desk that we went all the way to Jems offices to collect, wouldn't fit through the damn door. It seems they had no concept of standard sized doors in 1790, and the walls are so damn thick you can't turn the legs of anything when you get it upright. We got it as far as the kitchen and I've got my eye on it for firewood.

Obligatory "house moving" fish and chip for tea. Nice bit of haddock from a place in Belper. Jem had her first bath in the new gaff. Oh, and cheers for the big basket of quality munchies and "moving in necessities" to Pig and Ellen.

So, that's it, we live in a house. I guess I'll have to rename the blog now. It can't be "Fear and Loathing on the River Soar" anymore, not really. I'll have a think on it and come up with something.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Great Weld 3

The bulkhead is now cut out and the new floor is ready to go in the gas locker. Steve and his mate were "at it all day". The forward deck looks massive now. Another tell-tale sign of her days as a hotel boat.

We've started packing. We keep finding stuff hidden away that we've forgotten about. Boxes and boxes of action figures and ray guns that have been ineffectual ballast for the past 5 years.

And books. Mother of god, I'll never want for literature again. Why we thought we'd need "A Treasury of Ballet" during our life aboard Andromeda, Jema has failed to explain. Under the bed was all manner of comics and missing socks but was, at least, mould free.

The office only took an hour and I packed my laptop without really thinking that I'd be the last time I wrote
my blog or surfed for porn in that back cabin. It'll be nice to have some elbow room.

There's no reasonable way we could have done this out of dry dock as the ballast would have been all over the place. It should be "interesting" heading up the Trent to
Sawley with her empty.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pigs Stag Do - The Plan

Check your email gents. The plan for Pigs Stag Do is:
  • Beers and smokes and cards (please have a go at learnin' these rules) on Friday night at Pigs gaff in Antrobus (Cheshire).
  • Quad trekkingand shooting at this place (I need to know numbers) at around £95 per person, near Pigs on the Saturday daytime.
  • 'Rock World' in Manchester on the Saturday evening, and probably a mini bus back to Pigs for a repeat of the Friday night (unless we can sort 'lifts').
  • Sunday, big social breakfast and disperse back from whence we came.
Come for all of it, come for just the Saturday, whatever. Just, please, let me know.

Also
- Do any of you fellas have email addresses for Ian and Bob Harrison, Adam Butler, Matt Senior or Higgy?

What are you interested in? Shooting? Quadding? Beers? Clubbin'? Let me know! ASAP please chaps.

Things are messed up email wise with me moving so please mail me at work.
Ta.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cheapest Environmentally Sound Power

I sorted the amenities this afternoon.

With gas and electricity soaring due to the ongoing oil situation, it was important to find green electricity and gas at a reasonable rate.


I had a good root through
The Green Energy Marketplace and Npower Juice came up the best (well, cheapest, it's probably not actually the greenest) in the Amber Valley, and with the addition of gas it cuts the bill by £60 pa on top of the general saving.

With Juice you don't pay any premium and for every customer who signs up they donate £10 a year (up to a maximum of £500,000) to a renewable fund that is used to support new and emerging renewable technology projects.

Juice was developed through a partnership between npower and Greenpeace.

All the electricity supplied to Juice customters comes from North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm. Basically, npower matches each unit of electricity used, and feeds the same amount into the network from North Hoyle.

Greenpeace is big on this. It hopes that by people signing up to Juice they will demonstrate the public’s ongoing support for off-shore wind power. Support indeed, when costs, including VAT, based on a medium user (an average house using 3300kWh per year) should only be around £66 (thought gas etc. is rocketing up by the day) per quarter.

It's paranoid, maybe, but Andromeda has taught me a bit about alternative power, and (come the great wave) I want to have alternatives in place. The oil is on it's last legs, gas is too expensive (and will be coming in from Norway in a couple of years so god knows what supply will be like and which nutters will be trying to blow up the pipelines and stuff) and gas is always linked to the oil price (as is electricity).

In an ideal world it’s an
Aga-Rayburn, or equivalent, but that’s out of our price range for the next few years so I’ll just have to settle with replacing the gas fire in the lounge for solid fuel. I’ll pick their brains next time we’re up at CAT to see if there’s much else we can do immediately for zero gil. Being a listed building, it's not like we can just whack a load of photovoltaic stuff all over the roof like we started on Andromeda.

Obvious general stuff like 'energy saver bulbs' (should be a laugh with the dimmers in every room) and shed loads of insulation (the loft is a priority) have got to be a good start once we’re in.

It's a whole different kettle of fish to the boat.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Over to Leeds

Nipped over to Leeds in the afternoon to catch up with ‘Smokey’ Hill and the chaps, in aid of congratulating him on his forthcoming marriage to the charming Miss Angel. The wedding is the 25th of March (the weekend after Pigs stag do and the weekend before Pig and Ellen’s wedding (on April the 1st)).

Leeds has channged so much in the last 6 years. It was a dive when I lived there (or maybe that was just the pants places I could afford to live at the time).

The cinemas have gone. Apparently, there was a new one 'in the light' but they are pulling the ABC down (which was, admittedly, rubbish anyway) and the Odeon is now a department store. That's gutting. I've had some of my films shown there, and now it's selling Muji-style clothing and pointless kitchenware.

Leeds has gone, on the surface at least, all trendy bars, Harvey Nicks, weird bus stops that don't have the bus numbers on them (what does 'heading towards' mean if you don't know the buses final destination (duhhh!)) and shed loads of banking and financial money.

I'm sure deep down underneath it still has a massive drug problem (that's spelt with 2 E's, and an LSD), a shortage of decent schools, and it’s probably the same old camode I used to know and love, but it sure doesn’t show to the passing traveler.

It was good to see the fellas; Booster, Chris, Mesh, Wren, Mr Morris, Mr Hill, the full Hong etc.

We had dinner at Red Chilli, in George Street, and I had an excellent stir-fried ‘Beijing style’ chilli eel. Then we went back to Boosters for Xbox 360, his patent killer fruit punch, Mr Hills ‘home made cakes’, plenty of observation on how damn old we all look and feel, and RPG based (D & D) board games ‘till the wee small hours (alas poor Cleric). A real blast-from-the-past.

Very pleasant.

Quick House Visit

Keys in hand, we went for a prowl around the new house this morning.

Pemberley Cottage’ (the new gaff) is a small, grade 2 listed cottage that needs a bit of TLC. It’s great, way bigger than the boat, with a lot more light than we originally thought. Walking around and planning the future was cool.

I took great pleasure in flushing the loo and knowing I wouldn’t be seeing it again in a weeks time (comment just for Barnze, as he, like many others, seems obsessed by my bog).

Jema got all over excited about the bath again, and justifiably so, even if it is 'advocado'. We spent an hour rooting around the garden, finding what bulbs are coming up and doing a bit of improptu weeding, then realised we didn’t have a kettle so went in search of tiffin.

We had a look around Belper and took in the local shopping possibilities. There's a nice looking bakery, and Dexter has loads of links to organic stuff on his blog that I'll be checking out in the coming weeks.

There’s a cleaner coming in Tuesday, Jema and I are so lacking time right now, to do a quick once-round. We're moving in Thursday, which gives me a day of hurried packing on Wednesday. Pig is turning up with a van and picking emergency furniture up from my folks. We need to do a bit of rabbit proofing, then we’re going to need to get onto the repairs as soon as we’re in. The flat roof, the damp course, the tiny bit of wood worm etc. but it all looks pretty painless compared to condensation and topping up the batteries every week. I can't wait to get shut of that naff gas fire and batter some 70's out of the place and stick some 'regency' back in.

We snapped a load of photos as a ‘before’, so we’ve always got a record of what it was like.

Guess I need to start transfering gas and phones and electric and all that now.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm, bike shed and ADSL...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Keys

We have house keys. I am a home owner.

I'll be in debt until I'm 65, and I'm pleasently positive about this.

It doesn't float. It's all a bit weird.

Digg It Yet?

Digg, is a really nice approach to online journalism.

With Digg, members find stories of interest - so far, mostly about tech/IT - they recommend the articles to others at the site or members go "digging" for news. The members get credit for being the first to find stories, which means that you have 150,000 editors fighting to find the good stuff fast, and that makes Digg a great source for timely tech info.

Once the articles appear on Digg, if the articles pass muster, members vote them onto the front page - they "digg" the stories, get it? And so the community creates the front page. We're the editors. They'd love this at work, I can smell the journalistic fear as I write.

Imagine if a you add meta-dat relations similar to del.icio.us, with all multi departmental content edited by the reader and the online community.

Now that's a tasty burger...


Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Great Weld 2.1

Okay, so were in dock.

Nowt else has happened (except the evil chemical toilet is now full) but we are in dock.

It's a start I guess.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Only in Nottingham

Another shooting in the 'Hood'. This time a WPC!
People do shit things to each other. What the hell is going on?
It's incredible this kinda thing is happening in the UK.


Thanks to local chap Barnze (who credits ManWithPantsOnHisHead) for the pic.

The Great Weld 2

I had the day off today to get some stuff done.

I took the front awning and A frame and cupboard off (minus a couple of screws) with the canopy and everything.

Here, I discovered the unofficial 'gigantic hybernating spider capital of Europe'. Araneus diadematus, I was so impressed I looked the buggers up.


I also pulled up the floor and the decking so we can get to the bow bilges and clean it out. Most of this is still welded up and will need cutting away so we can get at it.

I’d not seen the water tanks before. There are two, and they’re enormous. I suppose they would be with her once being a hotel boat and all.

We didn’t make it into dry dock today (shock/horror) but “things are looking good for tomorrow”, apparently.

We ‘exchanged’ today. This has something to do with the new house, and no doubt involves giving people more money, but I’ve no idea what.

Monday, February 13, 2006

No Going Back

Well, we signed all the paperwork on the house last night and I just got a text off Jema saying she transferred the cash to the solicitor about 10 minutes ago.

That's it. It's all change from here on in...


The Great Weld 1.1

A decent cooked breakfast then off to Sawley to speak to the brokerage people.

Apparently, they want 6% for selling Andromeda. That’s a bit crazy I think. 6% of 40k is £2,220, so we’ll have to ask a minimum of £42,500 if we do it though them. Ever penny equates to new furniture.

Apparently though, you just turn up with a boat for sale when you’re ready and they sort it there and then, no queuing or waiting or being on a list for ages. Sweet.


Jem was away doing a Mantis Kung-Fu (Tang Lang) thing today. The ‘master’ is coming over from Italy and they’re all-a-tizzy. It’s ironic that this man is apparently called ‘Mario’, and that they hope to go up a level when he appears. She’s probably standing under a freezing waterfall all afternoon, while padawans beat her with sticks.

I had a go at removing the wooden A frame and the canopy etc., but it was still raining all day so I didn’t get a lot done. I can’t even see a single screw hole. I did manage to clear out the bow cupboard, with my zombie hand and all, and stash everything in Steves paint store. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon fixing things that needed fixing and putting new lights up and stuff.

Tried mumbling ‘brains’ and chasing the cat with the hand, but she’s not impressed.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

iBuzz

I've got all the periferals for my iPod I could ever want.

I haven't got one of these though.

There again, I'm not obsessed with either chocolate or shoes, so I probably don't need one...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Great Weld 1

Dutifully, we cancelled all appointments and took Andromeda over to Mills Dock Yard on the Long Eaton branch this morning.

It’s a nice run, but a short one. For a few minutes as you come off the Soar, you’re in the flow of the Trent and the pull of Thrumpton Wier. You can feel the push of the side wind here, coming from Sawley. There’s a great view of the open river, the cabins all along the back moorings, and of our ever present power station.


As I’m forever quoting, Andromeda is 70’ and has no bow-thrusters. She can be a heavy bugga when you’re trying to squeeze her under a narrow bridge with a strong side current.


While Jem wasn’t there, like and idiot, I jumped off with the rope to take a turn and bring her in. As I’m in mid air I caught the Morse control with my jacket. Andromeda is suddenly gunning full pelt for the bottom of the gates. This puts me on the bank, trying to stop her smashing into a lock with just a rope to hold onto. There’s water churning everywhere, tourists watching, and 25 tons of steel, pets and furniture heading for a pathetically flimsy wooden barrier that’s holding back a couple of hundred thousand gallons of H2O.


I did stop her, with an adrenalin boosted panic worthy of the pages of Marvel, but I’ve taken great chunks out of my left hand from rope burn. This hurts like a sod, but it’s all ‘seepy’ now and looks fascinatingly like flayed zombie flesh.


Jem rarely joins me for the short runs, which is a real shame, as she has to play ferrying cars around. I met her at Trent Lock tea rooms outside the Steamboat.


Jema captured a rare moment of me getting some proud windlass action. Jem normally does the locks and swing bridges and all that malarkey and, in the last 6 years, this is only the 4th time she let me touch a lock gate. I’m sure she hides the windlass to stop me meddling.


“We’ll expect you Saturday, bright and early” Steve said on Thursday. You forget sometimes how the pace of life works on the river. “We’ll, probably get you in the dock Wednesday” he says on arrival, “…or Thursday, but we’ll try for Wednesday, eh?”


This’ll give me time to take the awning and A frame cupboard off ready to get in there and open up the floor. I’ve no idea how that thing comes apart, but I’m pretty sure that an hour or two with a Leatherman and a paint scraper and I’ll get it off a treat. Steve can put it back on though, so Jemas pretty blue awning fits cool afterwards. Anyway, it started raining this afternoon so that skuppered that for a plan.


It’s odd actually; I keep looking at the rain like we’re still on the river and worrying about flooding and stuff, but it really doesn’t matter on the canal.


So now we’re perched in the dock mouth, ready and waiting to go. There’s a list of jobs as long as my arm that need doing, but we need to be all sorted and moved into the new gaff within the next 2 weeks. I’ll probably have to take a couple of days off at short notice (Wednesday at least please Debs, if you’re reading this) to get stuff done.


It all seems very final. I’m sure the house will be really cool, and a whole new adventure, but I’m really gonna miss the boat and the river.


We managed to make it over to Shining Cliff, for a social in the evening (of Helen and Terrys making). A couple of hours of caching up with good mates, Star Wars related board games (Epic Duels, with Captain Depper, Terry, Mr. Lees, Lorrie etc.) and a bottle of red, put a pleasant cap on the day.

Friday, February 10, 2006

DVD Review - The Bicycle Thief (1948)

Back in the days when I was a film student, this was a film that I was ‘forced to watch’ where I came away feeling as thought the director had taught me a valuable lesson.

Shot in the streets and alleys of post-World War II Rome, Vittorio De Sica's groundbreaking 1947 drama uses the real-life contemporary life to frame the heart tugging drama of a desperate father whose new job is put in jeopardy when a street thief steals his bicycle.

Here we follow the fortune of Antonio, a family man whose wife hocks their household linens so that they can reclaim (from the same pawnshop) a bicycle that is required for the new job, delivering cinema posters, he’s been offered. Honest employment is scarce, the family is poor; and so much depends on retrieving the bike.

This is a film you’ll not forget. This remarkable 1947 drama of desperation and survival in Italy's devastating post-war depression earned De Sica a well-deserved Oscar for its lasting presence and undeniable sense of humanity.

De Sica pioneered a lean, stark and honest delivery by using non-professional performers and the style, with its subject so steeped in the hard post-war life, epitomizes the Italian neorealist approach (with its mix of real life details, poetic imagery, and genuinely warm and heartfelt sentimentality).

There are no subplots and just a few key characters. The dialogue is the day-to-day talk of poor people struggling to live through the reality of the depression. This film has an undeniable air of honesty and stylised documentary that has earned it a well deserved place on the bookshelves of every film theorist, eager film student, world cinema aficionado, and practiced movie critic for the last 20 years.

Movie: 4 out of 5
Extras: 2 out of 5

Legislative and Regulatory Refrom Bill

We currently have before Parliament, a new bill - the Legislative and Regulatory Refrom Bill - which will allow Ministers to 'amend, repeal or replace legislation in any way that an Act of Parliament may do' by Ministerial Order - without the time and trouble of taking a bill through Parliament.

Er. Okay. So, Ministers will be able to create new minor criminal offences with sentences of up to two years more or less at will than? This Bill allows for any Act of Parliament or Statutory Instrument or Regulation or the Common Law to be repealed, amended or replaced. It's only cos I work for Northcliffe that this has even come to my attention. There's nowt in the media or anything.

His smells like a Thatcher trick or something. We live in Britain don't we?

Would the last one out of the country please turn off the lights.

The Only Good Thing About France

French Maid TV deserves a million click-throughs.

This truely insipired piece of video podcasting offers a selection of boisterous 'how tos', starting with 'How to Video Podcast' and 'How to give CPR'.

All in the aid of floggin' some Adwords through the unstopable power of cleavage.
Congratulations. Now Celebrate!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Send More Paramedics!

While the acting is a bag of nads, ya gotta love the cheese of the production values.

Someone is unemployed. Someone ate Steve, the rent payer. Embrace the banality of life, as
Ninja and Zombie look for jobs and a new flatmate.

Oh, and if you wanna know what it's like to live with the undead, why not Ask a Ninja.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

RIP The Marin

It's been a long time since all my bikes were crippled at once, but alas the Marin is dead.

According to Samways (with a lot of head shaking and sucking of air through teeth) I've cracked the frame. Very probably when that idiot hit me last month. She was a good bike, may she rest in peace.

I could do without having to find a new bike while we're in the middle of paying to get Andromeda sorted and buying a new house. This is annoyingly bad timing.

The shame of it.

My name is Lactose, and I am a pedestrian...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Daisy Ashford - AKA Andromeda

As promised, here are a few collated bits and pieces we’ve found out about the boat.

Andromeda was once called Daisy Ashford and was renamed, by Tony and Jenny Conway (the previous owners), as all their boats had been called Andromeda and they wanted to keep up the tradition.

She was built in 1974, by Rugby boat builders, for Desmond and Katie Fforde, as a hotel boat (hence the 8mm hull) to work as part of a pair with a Ricky butty called Litchfield. Back then she had a wooden cabin top, a large dining room, galley and crew quarters, a long open well deck (with, as a later addition, an A frame cover) and they took up to 8 passenger around the ‘Avon Ring’ and north in the dry weather.

Katie wrote the first of her a best selling books based on her life aboard Daisy Ashford, called ‘Life Skills(which has, I like to think, her on the cover) and, though a book called Precious Cargo, Jema managed to track her down on the net and say hi. It’s crazy to think that, indirectly, our Andromeda has been the inspiration of literature.

Desmond and Katie came to visit us this afternoon, before we begin the process of putting Andromeda on the market and to tell us more about her history. This was the first time they had seen her for 27 years and it was great to find out that the engine was original (a stalwart Lister HR2) and why things are as they are. They were lovely folks and it was great for us to share memories and to find out more about her. Desmond was also a boat safety inspector and it was brilliant for him to cast an eye over the current survey with the knowledge of the man who had her built in the first place.

A lot has changed. Daisy Ashford was bought by ‘Schools Abroad’ for educational cruises between Warwick and Stratford and was rebuilt (and the steel top added) by Tim Higton after a fire in 1982. She then lived on the Grand Union until she fell into the hands of Jenny and Tony Conway (who fitted her out as a comfortable live-aboard and raised 2 children aboard her) and then, finally, ourselves. Worthy of a ‘Daisy Ashford Owners Club’ almost.

Since we’ve had her we’ve done a bit of work too. We converted the single cabin into a web-ready study, rewired all the electrics, fitted new appliances (be gone, evil gas fridge), repainted her, had the engine serviced a few times, revapped the Borg-Warner gearbox, generally decorated and we've had her out and pitched her on a regular basis.

Andromeda is now a ‘classic boat’, but to them it seemed like it was just like yesterday (Jema was 3 when Daisy Ashford was built). Katie spoke fondly of the galley and can still remember where everything was. I’ll swear Desmond may have just got the beginnings of a light tear in his eye when he saw the engine (which, for the first time ever, refused to start cos the battery was so low, typical).

I’m quite sure we’ll see them again, as Katie was curious about corsetry and jewellery and she and Jem seemed to get on famously.

Damn nice way to spend a day off work, and it was a good excuse to have a tidy up.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dell-boy Google

In ya face MSN!

The rumour mill keeps turning; and in chat the other night I heard from pals at 'the plex' (that clearly have nothing better to do; you know who you are) that computer-maker Dell have been running tests with Auntie Google to see if they will install their software on it's machines. Dell says it's "evaluating Google's search tools, both for the web and for stored documents". Smooth move Google.

This would make Google the default search on millions of new home computers and, as most punters don't actually bother to or know how to change their homepage, outstanding branding.

Google already has deals in place with software-folks like the Mozilla people, being 'pre-installed' as the homepage on the irripressable Firefox. It's been quoted that "revenues from such deals have proved significant money spinners for Google's partners". I bet they have, and it can't hurt your rankings either.

I dabble in a bit of stock as some of you will know, and Google shares are lookin' for a further fall (which could well be a sweet time to buy).

The stock, which recently tested $460, dropped like a brides nightie last week after the company missed Wall Street's (somewhat ambitious) fourth-quarter profits targets. Not surprising, if you look at the amount of gill they've spending on R&D and on the ground-breaking new stuff they've been releasing over the past 12 months. Alas things could well get worse,
as (on paper) signing major deals with PC manufacturers would mean that Google's cost of acquiring new users would go up and, therefore, get the investors nervous. Investors don't necessarily see the wood for the trees and their decisions are usually based on just the figures and not on the real world.

I might speculativly blow £100 or so, in a week or two when they're as low as they are gonna shift. Keeping them for 12 months is a guarenteed profit, in my humble opinion, especially if the
Dell deal goes ahead.

Microsoft are forever moaning about Google stealing the best of everything and marchin' across their market with their Blakeyed size 12s, but they used the pre-installation of stuff to promote the use of Internet Explorer back in the 1990s. Sod 'em anyway, I've no sympathy, they bundled their web browser with Windows for free to crowbar Netscape out of the market. Bums on seats ladies and gentlement, and search under your nose. More resons to pay for Adwords and nice expedential cash growth says I.

No news on a
Google browser though. It'd still like them to develop a full interface, based on Mozilla, with all the GMAIL tools etc. Hurry up chaps.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Never Tell Me The Odds

Tonight is the record breaking £125,000,000 EuroMillions jackpot draw (though, announced this week, the profits of Shell Oil are actually 104 times higher). This is the largest single lottery payout ever.

Dex, at work, has sorted out a syndicate thing (you've got to be in it not to be royally miffed-off if they win it) and for £1.50 a ticket I'd be mental not to.

I did some maths. At £1.50 a ticket, you'd need £115,000,000 to cover all numeric ticket combinations (and too much time on your hands) and your potential winnings would be £85,000,000 for your investment (should you be the only winner). Even at today's monkey rates of interest, that £125,000,000 top prize would bring you in a relatively comfortable £31,000 a month.

Putting this in context, a single Euromillions winner would become the 440th richest person in Britain and the chances of scooping this jackpot is an impressive 76,275,360 to 1 (the normal bog standard Lotto is a measly 13,984,816 to 1 by comparison).

These are the same chances as of a complete stranger walking up to you in the street and telling you your phone number (unless, of course, that stranger happens to be Darren Brown). It's like pulling a single unique card out of a stack of playing cards some 15 miles high (unless, of course, you’re Sam Emmott).

Bear in mind, that the chances of anything coming from Mars, are 1,000,000 to 1 (they said) and the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is (approximately) 3,720 to 1.

I normally just consider this some kind of idiot/poor tax. Muse, if you will, upon the average Lotto lottery. Consider the notion that this whole thing was reversed, and that you were guaranteed to win this £10,000,000 so long as all six of your numbers did not come up. If, however, your six numbers did come up then you'd be chemically castrated and rodgered by lunatics for the rest of your natural days. Would you still buy a ticket? Yeah, of course you would, because the chance of ending up Joeys neutered bitch is so mind-bogglingly remote that it'd be well worth the risk. This, to me, explains why you shouldn't be playing the lottery in the first place. I know, my logic is not necessarily like your earth logic, but do you see what I'm saying?

There’s also the little voice that says “Think what that kinda money could do for the less-well-off of this world”. A ‘little’ voice, I hasten to add. Not too load, and softly stifled by comfy pillows.

I suppose you can dream though, and these are the kind of odds and money that make you wonder. If I win, I will go to a health farm for a month, with the Mrs, and we can calmly decide what to do for the rest of our lives. I would imagine it would involve travel, being nice to mates, an army of simian ice cream thieves, and making fun movies.

Oh, and there may also be an investment involving lesbian triplets in bob wigs…

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Early Arrival

The first 3 disks of Lost arrived from ScreenSelect.com this morning.

A popular title right now, so a good start.