Thursday, 29 January 2009

You are not alone


Been totally self-absorbed and sad, in an unappealing way, recently. This may have leaked into the Journal.

I should point out, of course, that while buying a house is a difficult and stressful thing, it is not as if I am doing it alone. Kate still exists, and we are very much doing this together. Which is fun. Planning the wedding was fun. It's nice to do things together, and see great results.

No house so far, but it is early days.

Monday, 26 January 2009


Am I alone in thinking that the Israeli military action in Gaza was a bad thing, but that the decision by the BBC not to show the DEC appeal is the right one?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


House-hunting is possibly the most complex 'real life' task I have ever tried to do, and as such I am far to confused to write anything of import or interest here.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Albums you don't own : Episode One, Stereolab "Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements"

Stereolab at perhaps their most uncompromising. Or raw. Perhaps I mean raw. Packed, of course, with the usual, gorgous Laetitia Sadier driven vocal harmonies but here they compete against massive layers of sound. Crunchy guitars. Thumpy base. Weird feedback shit and distorted comptuters. And, of course, this being Stereolab, lots of moog.

At 18:08 Jenny Ondioline comes in as comfortably the longest Stereolab track I own but at 49 characters the title of the album itself is only the second longest, the record held by "Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night". But whereas in there, and in other S. albums, the mometum is driven by synths and inventive percusion, Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements it's the guitar that takes the lead, with the moog playing catch up. This is the character that gives the album a more abrasive edge than subsequent, more stylistic, S. efforts. and just as Lock-Groove Lullaby, the final track, is about to lull you off to sleep, it takes a left turn and you wake up with a bang.

Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements brash, bold and agressive, where even the more melodic moments such as "Pack Yr Romatic Mind" have sudden, unexpected Grungy guitar riffs. This was 1993, after all. But this is record wasn't thrown together by 3 kids in garage. Not even a double garage. There are layers here. Wall of sound? This is a Berlin Wall of sound. Try listening to it with sub-standard headphones. Make's you're brain's leek out of you're ear's.

I may have "The following signal is recorded equally on both channels but is out-of-phase" on my gravestone, just for the pub quiz question.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Kissinger to lead climate negotiations

I didn't sleep particularly well last night. I've got the world's snottiest, most persistent, cold (it's been going for a week and a half and shows no sign of abating) and just as I dropped off someone in the room above started taking a bath. The plumbing in the Bedford Hotel is loud. I woke with a start and grumpily spent the the next 3 hours listening to toilets flushing and showers being taken.

It's not all trips to Bali you know.

So I'm now stuck on a homeward bound Eurostar with Belgium's most boring man. And he's sitting with North London's most boring man. And the two are talking transport.

There's something particularly wretched about talking transport. It's somehow duller and even featureless than the weather. We've run the full gammut too. There's fog at Brussels airport (if there wasn't I'd be spared the conversation). The two have swapped the numbers of reliable taxi drivers from their respective localities. The Brit has patiently explained the role of the Thameslink in the London transport signal and its relationship to the Oyster card. Now we are on to motorway juctions in Belgium. The factory is at junction 25a, you see, but the Belgian is explaining that there are major roadworks at the next interchange and that may effect travel times, though of course that will depend on the time of day. Hmmmm.

This boring conversation makes me want to go to sleep, but perversely keeps me awake. Argh!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

We got married!

OK, so if you've been paying attention then we got married on May 4th 2008. Which was some time ago.

Kate has downloaded a rather wonderful piece of software called Picasa, which is basically an extension of Google's efforts at world domination, but it is so convenient and quick to use. So we have (through no effort of mine) a set of photos of the wedding online to look at, if you like the kind of thing.

- There are many of these. It may bore you to tears, or crash your PC.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Commuter love / Pipe dreams

Taking the train to work has never really appealed. Adding two hours of traveling to the day seems like madness to me. At Clapham Junction I occasionally catch the last leg of a morning commuter train and its a more miserable experience than an afternoon in an Atlantic City Casino, and more crowded than a tube train.

Brighton, where Kate and I spent New Year, has lovely shops, a good vibe, 2 piers (or rather, one pier and one skeleton of Britain's only Grade I listed pier) and s.e.a. but none of these things, or the combination of them all, make it worth commuting to work for. What does tempt the two of us (buying a house and opting to commute is a joint venture, after all) is the fact that for considerably less € than we were planning to spend on a 2 bedroom flat nearish but not-that-nearish to Central London, we could buy our own h.o.u.s.e. with a g.a.r.d.e.n. Considerably closer to Central Brighton, too.

Sadly, when we got home, we found that the current commuting time to our places of work is more like 1.5 hours each way, not including whatever time it took to get to Brighton station. I think three to four hours of commuting each day is more than either of us can stomach. Better find that ideal London flat in Zone 1. Somehow.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

The story of the Brass Shark

In the mid-1500s Vienna was plagued by regular summer infestations of lobsters which caused significant damage to local buildings and livestock. In '57 the Mayor, Hans √úbermann, commissioned Lazansky von Bukowa (Great^5 grandfather of Joseph Haydn) to come up with a solution and the famous Viennese polymath did not disappoint, designing and building a 15 foot long coal powered shark made entirely of brass.

Sadly, 15th century control systems were not of a sophisticated type, and shortly after launch the shark went haywire, attacking shipping in the Danube and causing severe losses to the merchant fleet. The shark could not be caught using conventional nets, which it bit through, and a harpoon squadron bought in by the mayor failed the make any impression on its brass hide. von Bukowa had fled to a monastery in disgrace, but returned to the city in the autumn when the mayor begged him to find a way to capture or destroy his creation.

By coating a large fishing net with a viscous mixture of honey and candle-wax, von Bukowa was able to produce a trap sticky enough to trap his mechanical
selachimorpha and was able to dismantle it on the deck of the vessel Pride of Urbino. He received 12 shillings for his efforts, though never the freedom of the city (which many believe was denied to him by a furious Guildhall, many of the Members of which has suffered damages from attack by the shark)

Curiously enough, the lobsters never again threatened Vienna, probably because the mechanical fish had caused them to flee for safer waters.