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Wednesday, 31 August 2005

'orchidding!

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We sent this orchid to Elizabeth eighteen months ago. This is the second time it has flowered!

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

M25 lorry explosion

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I received an email first about a lorry containing hydrogen peroxide which had accidentally exploded on the M25, right by the junction I would use later in the day. Luckily the lorry driver only had minor injuries and no-one else has been hurt. Both directions of the motorway were closed around the area of the explosion.
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The lorry exploded around mid day and as I drove along the route tonight at around seven pm, the remains of the lorry (no tyres, no top) was just being lifted on to the back of a flatbed trailer. There were a lot of oil drums around the road, so maybe the contents was in individual containers before the explosion.

Monday, 29 August 2005

Bank Holiday guitar break

UK Bank Holiday and a chance to recharge the batteries after a few days of intense driving, lifting, shifting and similar. Time to get to know the new guitar and to start to learn a few chords. The easy ones first, E, Em, A, C, F, G, D and then the more difficult B.
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So Jimi Hendrix had "Hey Joe" as A G D E C. Strange that mine doesn't sound anything like the original. The G-DEC amp is great for doing some practice, using the rhythm tracks as backing. It makes for a much better sense of accomplishment than simply playing chord changes.

Created a 'Clean' User preset also, so that I can play the guitar 'straight through' without echo, amplifier simulations, fuzz etc. I see there is also a new preset editor from Fender; I will need to check it out.
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Sunday, 28 August 2005

Carpe Vaxium

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There was an uncertain amount of grime to remove from the carpets in Bulk Road. Enter the Vax and an immense amount of cleaning fluid. It took two complete sweeps to tame the lounge carpet!

Saturday, 27 August 2005

Miyabi Lancaster

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The teppenyaki cooking in Miyabi is excellent. We had chef specials for six of us comprising Miso Soup, salad, Sushi and then some impressive fried rice laced with garlic and sesame oil and a combination of king prawns, chicken and steak. All of this was rounded out with a rather interesting Chinese Tsing Tao Chardonney!
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We watched in delight as the chef showed us flamboyant Japanese ways to cook mixed with the humour of egg catching and some dangerous knife based stunts.
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Of course, like John, we all had to try to flip the eggs, whilst wearing a chef's hat, of course
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An entertaining and memorable evening!
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Warrington IKEA

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When I was with Magnus on Monday evening, he was tellling me all sorts of facts about IKEA. In Sweden, everyone shops there and the company has a very strong reputation. The founder Ingvar Kamrad started as a boy living on a farm in Smaland, Sweden, buying matches in large quantities in Stockholm and selling them to his neighbours afterwards. This evolved towards the firm we know as IKEA: I and K as the initials of his name, E stood for his parental home Elmtaryd and finally the A for Agunnaryd, the village where he grew up. Originally, back in the late 1940s, Kamprad sold pens, jewellery and nylon stockings. Then, using a simple catalogue he started a mail order system with deliveries via the county milk van.

By 1951 the Ikea founder published his first furniture catalogue as the forerunner of the 110 million copies now published in 34 different language versions.

And the origins of the flat pack? More or less by accident. To transport a table more easily in a car an employee just took off the legs. A simple idea which has become the basis of the company philosophy.

Well - the morning shopping was an immense collection of items including a bed, two wardrobes, a sofa, a sideboard, a table and four chairs, plus other items which will be delivered on Tuesday.

And then a lunchtime pause for Swedish meatballs!

And then more shopping for incidentals, which we carried in the cars.

Thank you, Julie, for bringing structure to this shopping frenzy.

Bulk Challenge

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None of us baulked at the sheer bulk of items to transfer to Lancaster. The bulkiest items were put into the cars with the most room and then we shipped everything in bulk to the new residence. I arrived part way through this and the bulk of the load had already been moved indoors.

Bulk On!

Thursday, 25 August 2005

barcamp

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Barcamp was organised in San Francisco to provide a forum for a self organised group to talk about latest internetty and tekky things. This is part of the social phenomenon of a global community which likes to network person to person as well as via electrons.

Now Chocolate and Vodka's Suw Charman is starting to organise a UK equivalent known as BarcampUK. At the moment it needs a venue and a date. There is already a wiki to catalyse the event.

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Blogday approaches - 3108

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Blogday is coming up on August 31 - 3108 almost spells "blog"!. Created by Nir Ofir, it's a day when we should all recommend 5 blogs (maybe not just from the top 100) and to bridge outside of our sometimes closed networks.

The premise is that we all have blogs we enjoy reading that perhaps others don't know about - this is simply a way to expand that network.

Reading a well-written blog which today has just a few subscribers can be immensely interesting. There is always the challenge to remember to update sidebars to add the link. Try blogroll for this. Have fun on the 31st. Participate.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2005

As you like it

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We met outside the Wyndham on the way to see Shakespear's comedy, "As you like it". In fear of their lives, Rosalind and Celia flee to a forest. Escaping what they most fear, they both discover what they both love. Sparkling with wit, this joyous tale of a girl disguised as a boy - who tempts the man she loves to fall for the boy she isn't.
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The cast includes multi-award winning Helen McCrory as Rosalind and Sienna Miller as Celia. Sean Hughes from TV's Buzzcocks plays the comic. Great how the plot diverges and then neatly ties all of the ends. All the world's a stage.

Monday, 22 August 2005

Tenth floor talks

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A whole day in a glass box on the roof.

And then a delightful evening overlooking the sea, from Per Ander's wooden deck.

Sunday, 21 August 2005

Operakallaran, Stockholm

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Herman and I met at the Radisson in the evening and decided to visit the town. Herman kept his taxi whilst he checked in and then we headed for the Operakallaran, which was lively but waiting for the main evening to get under way. It was around 11pm by this time and we dined at a table in the roped off outdoor area. At around midnight we headed for the main bar, and a circular table which we shared with some dancers from Goteberg. Eventually the crowd from MTV arrived and we had to give up our reserved area.

Amplified Heat

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The Pressed Rat and Warthog closed up their shop;
They didn't want to, twas all they had got.
Selling atonal apples and amplified heat
and the Pressed Rat's collection
of dog legs and feet.

This little Fender practice amp plays rhythms and effects and makes learning guitar into a proper rock 'n blues experience. My fingers are raw.

My G-DEC Midi Page

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Saturday, 20 August 2005

Beautiful boys with bright red guitars

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"Beautiful boys with bright red guitars
In the spaces between the stars"


Early start to take Julie and Andrea to St. Pancras, for their expedition to Sheffield, where they are partying tonight. I drove back to New Cavendish Street, parked on a meter, and taxied to Charing Cross Road to check out a guitar. Melanie is taking her Yamaha to Lancaster and John has been telling me I should play more. OK. I didn't need much persuading and got this really cool Line6 Variax 500. Astounding. I sat in the shop trialling a couple, "Thats OK Mr Shop Assistant; leave me to try the guitars" (a.k.a "Please don't listen to me playing just two chords"). The guitar is great and I know will give a whole lotta fun.

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Friday, 19 August 2005

Intense Day

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All day session locked in a room, followed by a nice private dinner which finished very late.

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Thursday, 18 August 2005

Welsh post

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Now I am in Wales after the drive from the M25. Most of the way to the hotel I was in phone calls, so the journey passed quickly. In the hotel I followed the sound to a busy table where around a dozen of us were sitting and did a fly-by as a quick form of greeting before being proffered some highly drinkable rioja.
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We all broke up at around 11:30, so I thought I would experiment with this moblog sent from my treo phone.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2005

West to Wales

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Maura called from her car to tell me the road system has many problems this evening. I am travelling to Wales and so have just checked out the traffic-cams on the route from the M25 to the M4.
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Click the map to take a look at the area around M4 Reading to M4/M25.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2005

UK Pattern Recognition

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Five hours of New York jet lag should have disappeared by Tuesday. The ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm have tricked me longer than usual.

Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: the mortal soul stays leagues behind, being reeled in on some ghostly cord along the vanished wake of the plane that brought me here. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

Return from Mirror-world. The plugs on appliances are again reassuringly large, steadfast and triple-pronged, instead of for a species of current than can barely make it through the wiring without a brown out.

Cars are no longer reversed, left to right, inside; telephone handsets again have a sensible weight and balance and don't look as it they were designed in 1963.

Click Powerbook. Delete spam. Sip the tea made from filtered water. Watch the madly early gray light become more like day.

Monday, 15 August 2005

sigur ros

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I have been listening to the spacey music from Sigur Ros's album with no title and on which the tracks are also untitled.
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It is usually referred to as the ( ) album, because of the shape cut into the sleeve. Over a period of time, the listeners have progressively named the tracks;

1 vaka (the name of orri's daughter)
2 fyrsta (the first song)
3 samskeyti (attachment)
4 njosnavelin (the spy machine)
5 alafoss (the location of the band's studio)
6 e-bow [georg uses an e-bow on his bass in this song]
7 dauoalagio (the death song)
8 popplagio (the pop song)

No surprise really; Sigur Ros come from Iceland, also home of Bjork and her evocative music. Today is the day that sigur-ros launch their new icelandic website and also their new single glosol (afficianados excuse the anglicised spellings of the icelandic)

Sunday, 14 August 2005

Sooty Sparrow

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We heard a rustling in the chimney and speculated whether we could hear a bird in the roof. Ten minutes later, from the fireplace came a blur of feathers. A somewhat startled baby sparrow emerged and started to make its way across the room making an occasional chirp.

Julie ran out calling for us to remove the bird. Undaunted, the sparrow hopped around, eventually flying to a window, and trying to get out, in much the same way as a trapped wasp or bumble bee will be confounded.

We gently opened the window and after a short pause the baby aviator flew in an ungainly way through the window and onwards to freedom and no doubt to rediscover its noisy brothers and sisters.

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Drive By Shooting

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Wandering about in the side streets of Manhattan, taking a few photographs, I decided to hail a cab. "Nice camera", said the driver, "is it a Leica? - I'm a photographer too". It was David Bradford - the New York cab driver famous for his photographic book of New York scenes, "Drive by Shootings", taken from his cab as he traverses Manhattan.
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We chatted and I took his photo, and the result is above. Note his book in the cab! I asked where I could buy a copy - he suggested Strand, but I was unable to get there during my time in New York. The book is now on my shopping list for UK. David also gave me a card from his collection, a New York bridge shrouded in mist.

I like the photo I took; the rear view mirror shows David's iconic glasses and strong gaze to good effect; I also like this to be the 'interior' shot of the cab- instead of his shots to the outside of passing New York.

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David had a photo of a view through his glasses taped to the perspex partition; I consider mine to make a reference to his photograph.

My single drive-in shot.

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girl props

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A West Broadway shop, decked out with a matching zebra striped van parked across the road. West Broadway, in Soho and parts of Tribeca, is extremely trendy.

Friday, 12 August 2005

Johnny's in the basement, mixin' up the medicine

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Greenwich village and the surrounding areas of Chelsea and SoHo are a great area to wander, with a still hip range of shops and cafes, the location of the Friends TV series and the haunts of Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac amongst others. One of my favourite New York reads, the Village Voice, is published here.

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Arriving anywhere in the area there is an immediate feeling of the bohemian past. However, in many areas the storefronts are changing as the money has arrived. Adjacent to a long term bookstore . . . is that a fashionable Marc Jacobs shop? Yes, yes it is - one of three on Bleecker - and the existence of such high end boutiques among the cobblestones and wrought iron-trimmed brownstones exemplifies a new reality: One must be rich to live in much of this area.

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The area is mostly void of skyscrapers and chain stores and the environment is hip and laid back. Tours such as 'Sex and the City' stop at multiple points around Perry and Bank streets in the West Village so that groups of tourists can sit on Carrie's stairs, buy Magnolia cupcakes, and gape at Fantasy World toys. The times they are a changin'.

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Broadway - The Great White Way

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I love walking in New York, every turn and street has vibrancy and interest. Today I chose a simple route to get a quick flavour of several areas, using one of the main arteries as my slightly diagonal guide.
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Although Broadway is the street in New York that has come to symbolize live theater entertainment throughout the world, there is much more to look at.
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Today the theatre area, known to tourists, stretches from W.41st Street, where the Nederlander Theater is located, up to W. 53rd Street's Broadway Theater.
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SoHo and West Broadway

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I'm staying in the SoHo Grand, which is on West Broadway and Grand Street, and has easy access to downtown and uptown.
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This morning I left SoHo to meet Terry and Art for breakfast. We stopped at a coffee shop before meeting the others. The temperatures were soaring into the upper 30s (or 90s in American-speak).
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Around the corner from the hotel is Canal Street, with its continuous Chinese bustle and an amazing array of trinkets for sale. I cut through to Broadway and started my project to walk back to Times Square.
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There's plenty to look at along the way and the YRBs are looking for models.
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Thursday, 11 August 2005

SoHo sojourn

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The room in the West Village has a view across SoHo. The hotel is one where its best if you wear black, if you want to blend with the trend. I'd driven stress-free from Connecticut into Central Manhattan and found the parking lot to return the car without getting lost(not even using a map), but the yellow cab from 55th to Grand and West Broadway had a manic driver who loved smoking tyre stops, so it was great to see the inventive mini-bar contents in the room.
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Firefly Chill-Out de-stress drink, with herbal extracts.
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After sifting a gazzilion emails, it was time to venture into the now darkened streets, past the bustling lobby and out into the warm air past rows of full and animated restaurants.
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New York, New York, its a helluva town.
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Wednesday, 10 August 2005

South Norwalk by Sunseeker

At around six o'clock, David invited us to take his boat for a spin across the sound to Norwalk.
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We met at the Crab Shell, on the waterfront and David's Sunseeker Sun-Ray arrived.
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We eased out of the channel and then opened up to 35 knots as we made the crossing to Norwalk, with the silhouette of Manhattan some 40 miles distant, set against the backdrop of the setting sun.

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Having moored in South Norwalk, we made our way to the historic Sono district and then selected the restaurant Ocean Drive.
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Ocean Drive serves fish, seafood and steak served in a soaring warehouse space. The 30 seat oyster bar serves icy shellfish platters, fresh sushi and an array of tropically infused cocktails. We sat in a private dining Cabana enjoying the food and one anothers' conversations.