rashbre central

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Lambo madness?

Lamborghini build a new car made of carbon fibre for lightness and then adds three electric motors. 

Sounds good so far? 

Then they add a huge V12 engine as well and all the ancillary pipes for cooling, exhausts and so on. And a dual clutch 8-gang gearbox to handle the 6.5-litre L545 V12's 814 horsepower. Yawn. I suppose it is something for petrol heads to talk about at the pub.



Monday, 13 March 2023

everything everywhere all at once

After svp, I see another American bank heading south. And the Donald clown facing more criminal charges. Allegedly paying hush money. Lest we forget his self declared immunity from taxes. Or the smacking down with innuendo of his own party members.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

From Artificial - a character gets stolen from another story.

I'd been invited to a block party at the Rue de la Confédération, where many of the other residents would be attending, yet I felt too drained to go along. It was some kind of special day in Geneva, when they all eat plum tart. Not my scene. A party with French speakers eating plum tart. I'd already politely declined despite Aude Darmshausen and Bérénice Charbonnier's strongest protestations that I should attend. 

Instead, I spend Saturday being a Geneva tourist to hopefully blow away the cobwebs which have formed in my head during the week. I join a tour which takes me into the Old Town, around by the big fountain, a visit to the flower clock, down to the Lake, hop a boat for a Lake Leman cruise. And there was a tram included too, all with a courteous guide named Mr Gabriel. 

On the coach and then on the tram, I am sitting next to Melody, who is from Holland and travelling across Europe by train. Melody is pretty with wild, highlighted hair and wears a black outfit and carries a small rucksack. She explains her outfit was so she would not get noticed. She has a slightly edgy accent, but very strong English. I think it is how she pronounces TH as a kind of D sound which is how I had picked up on her accent. She tells me she had lived in nort London for tree years. We chat so much our guide, Mr Gabriel, thinks we are lovers and even makes a joke about us in his commentary.

I joke to Melody that we are meeting like in 'Before Sunrise', the Richard Linklater film and she says it was one of her favourites. We agree to sightsee around Geneva together but not to fall in love like they did in the movie. Melody knew the whole movie plot - which I could hardly remember - and wanted to take me to a cafe where we could drink milkshake, so we could do 'the part about the poem'. When we are at the flower clock she says it is good how the flowers could face either way, following the sun. I don't fully understand but approve of her remark anyway. She says she followed Annie Clark's advice about when in an unfamiliar city to do something real and strange. So here we are on the boat touring the lake at sunset, which is when she said she wanted to kiss me. I'm not sure whether I was part of the real or the strange. I'm sure I was another part of her movie plot.

Melody explains to me - and it wasn't just a brush off - that she has placed herself in what she calls 'deep nun mode'. Single. Focused. 'Completely monastic. Sober, celibate – full nun.' I’m pretty sure she’s joking when she adds, in a slow, funny, unpredictable way, “I mean there are always sex plans. But none for, like, a month.”

We split up late Saturday evening, and agree not to swap any further information. Well, except she admits she told me a false name. She says her real name is Cara. She used Melody from a time when she was in a band. Cara says she'll meet me where we first met on the Quai in another six months - like Céline and Jesse did in that movie.

When I return to Rue de la Confédération, I could hear that the party was still running, but I crept quietly to my room. The cobwebs were gone. 

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Caught QNAPping

I mainly use Synology for servers and run them RAID 5, with a spare drive in the array to pickup if things go wrong.

I happen to have a small QNAP box as well, on which I keep a small RAID array, but it recently went wrong. HDD1 failed and went red. Never mind, I thought, the show can continue until I put in a replacement. I usually use the drive for directly connected photo editing, although I'm not convinced it is any faster than my LAN attached Synology drives. After the failure the QNAP decided to play it very safe and went into read-only mode, insisting I put a new disk in before normal service could be restored. 

Because there was no spare spinning in the cabinet, I had to wait for another one to arrive, which is now installed - and I'm now using RAID 5 on this little box as well. I've decided it is better to run a full rebuild, which is quite lengthy.

Fortunately I use the 3-2-1 backup rule: At least three copies of the data; two of the backups should be stored on different types of media, and at least one backup should be stored offsite or in the cloud.


Saturday, 4 March 2023

Daisy Jones and The Six

I read Daisy Jones and The Six a few years ago, when it first came out and quite enjoyed it. I expect I even blogged about it.

Now they've made a TV series from the novel, which was already framed as a rockumentary and so the Amazon Prime series emerges as the mockumentary. Many say it is a loose reflection upon Fleetwood Mac. I understand that but see it as a much wider piece.

For me it is a guilty pleasure. Let's list a few of the things that happen in the first episode. I know I say Girl in the description, but we are talking about the 1970s.

  • Band forms on athletics track with big brother emerging as the leader.
  • They work in the steel mill.
  • Drummer plays too loud.
  • Bass guitarist who loans the practice garage quits to study to become a dentist.
  • A substitute bass player is allocated.
  • They have a really bad name which they change when inspired in a diner.
  • Fabulous LA waitress can sing and has great friends.
  • Acoustic numbers are played with squeaky buzzing frets.
  • They drive from Philadelphia to L.A and get a place in Laurel Canyon (they got a really good deal etc)
  • Girlfriend of band's leader writes cool songs (non Bechdel).
  • Girlfriend wants empowerment and refutes idea she is a just a muse (strong willed speech in car park).
  • They don't get paid but somehow make ends meet.
  • The band bus looks terrible
  • After a meet-cute moment, The Six are helped out by Teddy Price, a black rock impresario.
  • They acquire a strong-willed English female keyboard player named Karen.
  • They play Cavern-quantity standards on Sunset Strip to get to fighting weight.
  • There are many smoke-filled rooms with Byrd-esque and CSNY-esque bands playing (always slightly obscured by the smoke).
  • There is a Neutral Milk Hotel moment (anoraks only).
  • Background soundtrack is filled with hub capped diamond star haloes.
  • Girl composes accompanied by a bottle of Jack Daniels.
  • You can tell its for TV when Timothy Oliphant shows up in deep disguise.
  • A once-gifted guitar gets returned.
I expect they will break into Tiny Dancer, seamstress for the band soon.

I'm fully troped-up and loving it.

And yes, Amazon decided to release an album of the band, called Aurora. Wayne's World hooked moment.

Friday, 3 March 2023

Death and the Penguin - Andrey Kurkov

I've been reading a Ukrainian novel recently. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. It is set in the 1990s, when Ukraine was still a fledgling country away from direct Russian influence although the set-up is dark with some ominous and recognisable repeating patterns.

Viktor Zolotaryov is a frustrated writer, whose short stories are too short and uneventful to be published. Then a newspaper editor unexpectedly offers Viktor a job as an obituarist, with reasonable pay, and working from home. He has to select (and later is given list of) powerful figures from the Ukrainian elite and prepare their obituaries ready for their death and, as the volume of obituaries increases, Viktor realises that his obituaries seem to foreshadow the subject's death. 

It's a mafia style situation where individuals from the Ukrainian elite are systematically bumped off and Viktor's editor has a timeline of when this is to occur. 

Everything is corrupt and in a state of collapse. The Kyiv zoo has to give away its animals to members of the public because it can no longer care for them. That's how Viktor acquires Misha, a King penguin, and just one of the increasing cast of people who he houses in his shabby apartment.
I've found it to be a readable novel and although I haven't quite finished it yet, I can see where its bleakness is going.

Misha the penguin, is a proxy symbolising the confusion and loss of community that characterises post-Soviet Ukraine. Just as Misha the penguin is cut off from his natural, collective and co-operative penguin-world so Viktor is struggling to survive in a city that is confusing and unwelcoming to its human population. The gang warfare is frequently off-page and implied, but the all-too-real obituaries (obelisks) are never in short supply and always have the right key phrases highlighted. To be a disliked politician, a protesting artist or a mob boss was bad news if you were in Viktor's unquestioning file, consider your days were numbered.

It is said to be Ukrainian Absurdism, but nowadays, I wonder.

Thursday, 2 March 2023

Fire the stain

The stain on the British government is making another attempt to slither back into our consciousness. A few new developments can't erase the lying and elitist spasms created when in office. Fire him (it?) before there is more damage.

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Big Green Egg testing for 2023 season

This is the third test of the big green egg for the 2023 season. They even sent me a reminder to fire it up and a few helpful recommissioning tips. 

 I prefer the real fire approach and the industrial heat gauge to tell the temperature inside the ceramics. 

NASA technology, but still Elemental. 

Today I've moved onto sourdough pizza, cooked over stone and drizzled with honey. I can safely say its delicious.

Friday, 24 February 2023

The Obald

I've just seen that The Obald is to be made into a podcast and remarketed. I'll have to experience the latest version. 

I can remember reading an earlier version, which was what gave me some of the inspiration to write Coin, blending in some of my workaday experiences. The Obald's hint of Clockwork Orange cover art evokes the 1980s when far more was cogs and analogue. It's got an 'early job with plenty of characters' feel which reminds me of my early days in Scientific Computing, riding the new digital wave. When I started we even had a valve-based computer in the 'machine room'. Elliott 803. Everyone smoked and the main technician for the big computers used to field a pipe. Lunch was at Machine Room 3 - The Pub. 'Down the hall' (at Heathrow) we were installing the biggest IBM mainframe in the UK. One of my early projects was about satellite orbit coverage - albeit we had Official Secrets Act conditions around us.

The Obald, by way of a slight comparison, is based in a newly forming information society (CCTV, government files and so on) and drops NATO, submarine collisions and early warning systems into the first few pages, so you know it will be good with its strange parallels with my early days with a 'proper job'.

And Theobald (sewing machines), from which the title is taken, reminds me that I used to do work for a sewing machine company. It was an opportunistic 'bit on the side' when I returned from Germany and was, by then, freelance. I created a sewing machine rental program for a sewing machine rental company in Morning Lane in the East End. 

It was based loosely on an existing BASIC program and ran on a TRS-80 computer, using dual diskette drives. 

Come to think of it, I later supplied another copy to my friend Colin, who used it for television rentals.

In my case, Coin opens with a bomb situation based upon my early and real experiences working in London. I was alone, working in a strange room with a special kind of computer terminal. In walks the security man from the front booth and tells me to search the room in case there was a bomb. They were simpler times. History reveals that the actual bomb was at The Old Bailey along the road from my office.


The Obald oddly catches me again later (or should it be sooner?) when it talks about the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. I also worked in Geneva, and feature the Large Hadron Collider in An Unstable System and Jump. I'm thinking I'll need to bring an enigmatic character called Melody into my current WIP novel (Artificial) at this rate. The rough-cut cover picture is of Luka the augnmented reality AI which I created using a toolkit and which hasn't even turned up in the story so far.

or maybe?

Thursday, 23 February 2023

The Gold - A rich TV seam

I used to work near to the Heathrow Trading Estate where the Brinks Mat robbery took place, and although I was there a few years before it all happened, I'd say that the clothing and general appearance was just about right. I worked with someone who had the very line in Emun Eliott's clothing, right down to the early '80s moustache.

The Gold take the era and plays with smoke-filled rooms and cars, swirly sticky carpet pubs and those kind of offices which set up thin partitions and groups of desks, well before computer terminals became the thing.

The robbers accidentally stole £26 million of Gold Bars, weighing 3.5 tons and proceeded to smelt it down, repackage it and then re-insert it into the market, using offshore accounts, then spending the money on apartments to break up the trail. 

Come to think about it, it reminds me of The London Laundromat, which is purportedly still running.

Excellent casting and a lightheartedness which suggests everyone enjoyed their part in the proceedings. Checkout Hugh Bonneville doing his best to look like a heavily promoted Dixon of Dock Green. We had our share or writerly interludes within the piece too, where a particular soap box was stood upon by means of a discussion between the characters. I found this interesting at the beginning, but it slightly dipped later in the series.

But how that gold shone, at least before the mangled comedy melted bars were introduced. And the device of a diagram which comprised 'move A to B', explained dutifully by the seconded HMRC expert.

I still found it a fun piece of television and it looks as if they left it open for a second series to see what happened to the rest of the loot, or at least a spinoff.

Saturday, 18 February 2023

Suzanne Vega - Sage

We paused outside the spaceship of the Sage Gatehead. Across the River Tyne, we could hear the crowd in the stadium for the Liverpool vs Newcastle game. So much so that I took a brief recording of the singing. Those that know the HWKR market, with its street food and shipping containers, will know how much this area appears like Manhattan around Front Street albeit with a different bridge in the background.

Then into the vast capsule, where Suzanne Vega would play a set. I guessed that she would open with Marlene on the Wall and as she walked on with a top hat, I felt my bet was safe.

Then, ninety minutes of bliss as she sang many from er extensive back catalogue, with the merest hint of new tracks which I'd not heard before. I decided I must be a full-on fan because I knew more or less every word of every song and find, even days later, that they are still following me around as my inner head soundtrack.

Suzanne explained that the first part of the show contained older tracks because she knew that is what the people would want and this would make everyone less anxious than if she had started with new material. 

She was accompanied by a guitar maestro Gerry Leonard - he of Bowie bands in the past and he played a single guitar with effects pedals and loops which was easily enough accompaniment for Suzanne and her six-string acoustic guitar.

This was a set from a performer still at the top of her game. Her first tunes were written at 18 years old and from the 1980s, but to these ears they still sounded fresh and with great vocals.

Maybe we were not in Greenwich Village, but we could have been.

I seldom say a gig is perfect, but I will for this one. 

Setlist (approximately):
Marlene on the Wall
Small Blue Thing
In Liverpool
The Queen and the Soldier
When Heroes Go Down
Last Train from Mariupol
Rock in This Pocket (Song of David)
Solitude Standing
Left of Center
I Never Wear White
Some Journey
Tom’s Diner
Walk on the Wild Side