rashbre central: October 2005

Monday 31 October 2005

400th Anniversary of Treason

It may be the last day of October, but the fireworks of November the Fifth have already started. The build up is to next weekend when something peculiar happens across Britain. Everyone stands around outdoor fires as big as they can make, eating baked potatoes and looking into a sky illuminated by fireworks. On top of those fires and you'll see an effigy usually of Guy Fawkes who was accused of the plot to blow up Parliament.

At the real centre of the conspiracy was the Warwickshire gentleman Robert Catesby. He wanted to blow up the King, together with the House of Lords and the House of Commons during the ceremonial opening of Parliament. He recruited Italian explosives expert Guido Fawkes to assist and then 400 years ago, on the night of Nov. 4, 1605, Guy Fawkes and 12 fellow conspirators prepared to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the state opening by James I.
The conspirators had hoped that King James would be more tolerant of their Catholic faith than his predecessor Queen Elizabeth I and so they decided to assassinate the king by packing the basement of Parliament with 36 barrels of explosives. However, an anonymous tip-off letter foiled the plot and Guy Fawkes was found in the basement with a fuse in his pocket. He was imprisoned and tortured with his fellow conspirators before being executed on Jan. 31, 1606.

So for 400 years, Britain has celebrated the day the plot was foiled. The celebrations started in London on Nov. 5, 1605 the day after Fawkes' capture. Until 1859 they were supported by an Act of Parliament that made Nov. 5 a day of thanksgiving for "the joyful day of the king's deliverance."

But time moves on - The day is no longer a public holiday, though nearly all towns and cities still have some form of Bonfire Night celebration, as well as private events. The actual reason for Bonfire Night, though, has faded like the end of a Roman candle firework. For many years, it was a celebration of Fawkes' capture — a denunciation of popery and a rejoicing in the king's life being saved. Nowadays everyone just goes outside for a social evening and maybe to burn a few (un) popular political figures on the bonfire, just as much a Guy Fawkes.

Sunday 30 October 2005

scary post

Picture 2

Time for a scary post.

This is not as bad as the spooky French hospital from a couple of weeks ago, but is worse than the extreme pumpkins.

Click Enter at your own risk.

Saturday 29 October 2005

Routemasters of the Universe

Routemaster Bus
London's public transport has been progressively removing the most iconic of London buses - the two person double decker Routemaster and replacing it with single operative double deckers and European style bendy buses. The last Routemaster will be de-commissioned by the end of December. Another route (the 38) finished yesterday and was commented upon by diamond geezer. He has also ridden their bendy Mercedes replacement and noteworthy is that the new post also includes 38 tributes to the 38.
routemaster stairs
The Routemaster double deckers with the open rear platform, grab rails and twisty stairs are probably considered less safe than the shooshing doors of a more modern bus, but much more fun to ride.
 routemaster upper deck
The loading platform and separate conductor meant these buses could get around quite fast with passengers optimising their exits at traffic lights and when the bus was caught in traffic. Some conductors could choose a form of performance art on their routes - Duke Baysee (38 conductor) as an example. The lower deck somehow 'connects' the passengers with the street so inside and outside merge in a very different way from a closed in bus. The top deck (once the smoking deck) gives some great 'above it all' views of the bustle of London. The 73 bus project gives 73 73-word essays about the route 73. "Any more fares, please?"

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its warhol actually

Tin foil is a great way to start to recreate the Factory of Andy Warhol. Then add a Velvet Underground band in the corner of the room and film everything in black and white.
The blocking out of the action hasnt started yet, but there's enough film in the can to begin editing a trailer (watch this space). In this version everyone may only be famous for 15 seconds, but its immensely good fun.
And if you'd like to see some Warhol influenced performance art, check out Fischerspooner who emerge with some sweetness

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Friday 28 October 2005


A couple of late evenings, with Thursday being so late that Ray was texting from starting his Friday morning before we'd finished the night before's revelry. Friday was mere 2 am although I think Julie's malt whisky tasting went on until around 6am. So, not much blogging in amongst John's guitar solos, the Halloween Party, the Warhol tin foil event and the mini birthday celebration. Chilled balance is just being restored. More of the tin foil later.

Thursday 27 October 2005


20m blogs

When I started this blog a few months ago, as an experiment, there were reportedly 13 million blogs worldwide (a number I doubted at the time).

The latest Technorati count is saying there are now over 20 million blogs in existence. My link to this story is via empulse. I've tried to leave a comment on their site (it won't let me!).

My comment is that I am puzzled because Technorati seem to count blogs up to around 750,000 in their rankings and then to stop. This blog is currently ranked 104,660 on Technorati, although I find it hard to believe that in roughly six months I'd move from number 13 million to around the top 100k. Something doesn't seem to add up?

Anyone got any suggestions?

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Wednesday 26 October 2005

Thames Valley Day

Today I had to visit the Thames Valley. The river that cuts through the middle of London upstream meanders through a pretty part of the English countryside. The cottage is scene of a worrying short story from the Thames Valley writers' circle.

And this introduces National Novel Writers' Month NaNoWriMo, which runs from 1st to 30th of November. Just write 50,000 words and you have a complete novel in a month!
Picture 1
So here is another autumnal scene from the Thames Valley, painted by Thomas Richardson.

Can you use these scenes in a NaNoWriMo novel?

Tuesday 25 October 2005

any questions?

Here is a script useful as a countermeasure against telemarketers. It can be handily left next to the telephone for those awkward moments when a friendly person calls on an overseas line to ask you some 'market research questions' which may permit you to win a cruise, mountain bike or gift voucher. Here, below, is an extract from the script...
Picture 2
Developed in Amsterdam by egbg and spotted by accordian guy, there is still an important decision to make at the start of the call about whether to:

a)end it fast to let the poor impoverished student making the call move to the next prospect
b)have some fun working through the counterscript.

Obtain a downloadable pdf of the full script by clicking here.

So - do you answer the questions from a telemarketer? hang up quickly? or what?

Monday 24 October 2005

a new week, a new fad

diet breakfast
Thought I'd try this breakfast coke thing. Nah. I still prefer tea or coffee.
What about you?

Sunday 23 October 2005

i predict a pumpkin


This week will be a riot of pumpkin posts, as we head towards Halloween. The best site I've seen is Lorianne's post which features a full on pumpkin fest.
And here's Mark's Jack O'Lanterns!
If you want to be scared try the all halloween blog, which also has some pretty scary pumpkins though maybe extreme pumpkins (you'll have to find your own link for that) has some that are even worse.

Have you seen/ got a good pumpkin post?

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Crude Oils

100 Westbourne Grove is showing an exhibition of banksy's art for a few days. A lot of the art (c) banksy is spread around London, on walls and in alleyways and some occasionally pops up unannounced in famous galleries both at home and abroad...
Banksy's work often has a strong societal commentary and some of the more hard edged material is on the website. I recently posted about congestion charges and surveillance in London, here is the natural extension, in one of the works.
And the chase towards finding the work is truly on!
As the sign on the way into the exhibition says, "Please do not call environmental health, they are already fully aware of the situation". Go find.

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Saturday 22 October 2005

in the interests of science

we are scientists 2
Listening to We Are Scientists after discussing with Melanie whilst she was dj-ing Caffeine Rush at Bailrigg. The guitar/bass/drum pop rock bar band sound have properties to become a next big thing in the UK with nerdish quirkiness appealing to the British indie scene.

The scientists are quoted as really being scientists, but starting a band was good way to kill some time until the economy picked up. With song choruses like "Human Technology Will Render You Obsolete" and album "Love and Squalor" they make interesting sounds and dreadful videos.

flock on

join the flock
A really pleasant surprise is the new release of the flock social browser which integrates browsing, blogging and news rss. It links all kinds of disparate elements of my blog, my delicious, my flickr, and my favourites together.

I normally use Safari and NetNewsWire for my social web on my Mac and in PC-land I use IE and Firefox with feeddemon, so some hesitancy to flip to another environment, but flock is stable and clean looking without excess buttonage but some funkadelic features.

I only have it running on my Powerbook at the moment; next stop Windows!

By the way, there is also a parody site at flocq. Didn't take long, did it? Yes and the logo is reproduced accurately!

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Friday 21 October 2005

advanced biscuitry

My thanks to Doris for provoking me to make this post. In the words of the Hitch-Hikers Guide - the chocolate bourbon cream is the single most perfect object known to man. For the benefit of those outside the bourbon distribution area, a bourbon cream is two rectangular chocolate biscuits roughly 3cm x 6cm, and 5mm in depth, on either side of an oval of chocolate goo which never spills out from the sides of the biscuit.


Traditional Eating Method
The Traditional Method of eating these would be to gorge in the same way you would eat, say, a digestive, though some bourbers would argue this demotes the bourbon to mere 'everyday biscuit' status and labels it fit only for basic dunking purposes. Not recommended.

Scrape Method
The more advanced Scrape Method requires that first, the top biscuit is removed and eaten whole. The body thinks, 'Okay, a chocolate bourbon biscuit without goo.' The body therefore releases its own sugar rush to compensate.

Imagine a few moments later the body's surprise when the bourber scrapes the goo with his/her bottom teeth. This double rush of chocolate renders the scrape-style bourbon eater in chocolate heaven. Once this rush is achieved the scraper will never go back to the traditional way of bourbatious mastication.

The Double Whammy
An altogether more serious delivery method is the Double Whammy. The bourber extracts the top biscuit layer with their teeth and consumes it, leaving the central cream layer as intact as possible.

Now nibble off the bottom layer of biscuit that protrudes around the cream, leaving an irregular oval of cream-on-base-biscuit.

The eater carefully snaps this remainder in half. Licking one cream half gently, the bourber (or bourbonette) places this on top of other half, pressing lightly to adhere.

The bourber carefully bites off what has now become the top layer of biscuit base. Slowly consuming the remaining piece of base, topped as it is with a luxurious double layer of cream, it is time to...

Sigh deeply.

The Super Rush
This technique is so advanced, that it was not allowed to be published in the Hitch-Hiker's Guide. Anyone attempting this does so at their own risk. Take an ENTIRE Bourbon for this. The bourber must ensure a cup of tea is already to hand and is not too hot.

Bite off a very small sliver each end of the biscuit so that there are clear rough ends. Now take one end of the bourbon in the mouth (frankly teeth are best used for this manouvre).

Now dip the other end lightly into the tea. Now DEEP DUNK and SUCK. The bourbon rush explodes in the mouth, mixed with the tea. This is a way to get the maximum hit from a single biscuit, but needs some practice.

There are some further techniques involving hairdryers, but I think you'd best make your own enquiries or email me separately for that information.

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red button

Thursday 20 October 2005

Thursday Thirteen (V2.0)

13 instant things (V2.0) about rashbre

1. I'm just starting to read Neal Stephenson's System of the World
2. I have not worn shoes for two days
3. I am enjoying watching the David Blunkett scandal on Channel 4
4. I cannot drink more than half a tumbler of Cointreau without sliding under the table
5. Christina Nott is asking me to start her web site for her music
6. I am idly changing the colours in this blog (in small steps)
7. My Vista server has permanently locked me out with a Windows security error
8. I am thinking of replacing my Vista server with a small Mac
9. Since I posted about a light bulb breaking, around another 5 have expired.
10. The empty boot (trunk) of my car has required serious air freshening but I don't know why
11. is still my favourite number
12. I still can't play B very well on the guitar (which I am learning)
13. I have bought the Sin City DVD but not yet had time to watch it

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Leanne's Thirteen!
2. Utenzi’s Thirteen!
3. Crusty’s Thirteen!
4. Keb’s Thirteen!
5. MommaK’s Thirteen!
6. Sleeping Mommy’s Thirteen!
7. E’s Thirteen!
8. Interstellar Adventure's Thirteen
9. aetheria's gin soaked Thirteen
10. Allie's Thirteen
11. (leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get Leanne's Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Why not do this too? Then leave me a link as a comment or trackback and I will update my entry a link to yours, and you can continue the chain! Done it already? then send me your updated version!


Window reflections

With the imminent 20th Anniversary of Microsoft Windows, I thought it would be good to go back to the beginnings, to that first typewriter powered version known as Windows 59. Bill Gates was kinda young in those days, but it didn't stop him and his friend Paul Allen from deciding there was a vision for the future.
The next stop was Windows 1.0. This created a colourful version of the same typewriter, but with the added benefit that you could draw squiggly lines using $2500 of computer equipment instead of a pencil and paper. The original paintbrush application was supported by the equally formidible 'calculator' application, which did addition, subtraction, multiplication and even long division.
Bill knew there was still a way to go in those days, and in addition to his office using the PC, he kept an Apple Mac in the corner for other aspects of his work and play.
Later, as Bill became rich, he moved to a rather nice home on the shores of the lakes around Seattle, and some say the views from his own windows started to influence his further thoughts about his operating system.
Windows Vista
And this (minus a few release levels and security patches) brings us right up to date. The spotlight is moving to forthcoming Vista which Microsoft is building with quartz precision. The core image of the new product may still be on safari in the long grass at the moment, but we look forward to wishing it 'Bonjour' during 2006.

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sunshine of your love

It's getting near dawn
When lights close their tired eyes
I'll soon be with you my love
give you my dawn's surprise
I'll be with you darlin', soon
I'll be with you when the stars start falling
I've been waiting so long
To be where I'm goin'
In the sunshine of your love

Cream vs the Hoxtons
Click the picture above for the dance remix video at full speed
or click or here to choose lower bandwidth.

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Thanks, Tara, for this one...Type 'failure' into Google search and click "I'm feeling lucky" ...

Googlebombing, by any chance?

Wednesday 19 October 2005

aperture of opportunity?

I mainly use Photoshop for picture editing, you know - cropping the corners, changing the lighting, changing the colour balance, stripping out the backgrounds. Now Apple have announced Aperture, which seems to fill the same role. Hmm. Dilemma. I mainly use a Mac for editing and suchlike, so the idea of software that behaves the same as Final Cut Pro and the other things I use is quite appealing. But. Everyone uses Photoshop. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Tuesday 18 October 2005

congestion revolutionaries

Every vehicle driving into Central London during weekdays pays an £8 (circa $15) congestion charge. Except, it seems, US and German embassy staff who are claiming immunity under the 1961 Vienna Convention, which gives protection against paying taxes.

Mayor Ken Livingstone says it is not a tax, but a charge for a service.

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non bicycle girls go around the outside

Today I spotted qwghlm's account of this so I knew I hadn't imagined it yesterday - but couldn't find any references in the internet.

Tanned, blonde, designer clad Sally Cameron joined the ranks of Britain’s most unlikely terrorist suspects after being held for hours for walking on a Scottish cycle path in the harbour area of Dundee.

Passing cyclists and nearby dock workers had been amused at what looked initially like a spoof arrest. However the Scottish authorities have taken a dim view of this trespass and potential terrorism threat and will take rapid response action if it is repeated. Apparently cyclists can pass unimpeded, but pedestrians will be stopped. Sally has decided to drive to work in future.

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Monday 17 October 2005

la femme Nikita

Home late tonight, had a TV moment watching the 1990 Luc Besson Nikita film on Sky. Basic plot is ex punk drug addict sociopath is recruited after staging her death by French government to act as assassin. Relentless stylish noir-thriller has implausible plotting and some confusing moments, but worth the subtitles.

Divertissement et plein de la pyrotechnie visuelle.

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Happy Birthday, Melanie!


Sunday 16 October 2005

Shocking Project

A while ago, I joined the last.fm site which allows social interaction amongst people interested in music. Not an mp3 swap site, this one lists the tracks played, through the likes of iTunes, Winamp, Media Player and similar. By collecting statistics for a while it is possible to see the tracks one plays the most and also compare one's taste in music with others. It is also possible to create personalised internet radio stations.

So what is my number one artist from around 2000 tracks played at the moment?

Somewhat to my surprise, its Michelle Shocked! Not the most conventional choice, but I reckon that as she released 3 CDs around 2 months ago and I topped up my collection of her remastered CDs early this year - then there is some explanation for the positioning.

So I thought I'd join the Michelle Shocked 'Group' in last.fm. BUT there isn't one!

Cue my Project.

Why not CREATE the Michelle Shocked group to see what happens? So I've set up a Michelle Shocked group with just lonely me as a member and then emailed her contact address, her agency, her publicity contact and the online store through which she sells her Mighty Sound label CDs.

Michelle's website includes samples of her music and there's a brief biography describing this singer/songwriter's rather unique path which eschews traditional record labels and produces music ranging through folk, bluegrass, rock, swing delivered with a unique personality.

Her origins in Texas and then well travelled lifestyle (including spells living in Germany, England, Netherlands amongst others) create a breadth of songs and exploration of issues and styles.

I'm going to watch this 'group' for a week or two, to see whether we manage to create some critical mass in last.fm!

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Navigating to statutory leaves

prince-henry-navigator2London is still sunny and I find myself in Belgravia. I wanted the statutory 'leaves of autumn' picture and thought 'why not make it literally statutory?'

So here's Prince Henry the Navigator, whose statue nestles in Belgrave Square. Henry was a visionary and an early believer in the world being round when most people believed the world was flat. He knew that Africa was more than endless land, and that if his sailors could circumnavigate the continent; he would find a water route to India. A ship could carry more goods to and from India than the largest overland caravans, but Europeans could only guess that sailors could go around the tip of Africa.
Prince Henry paid for many sailing expeditions out of the Portuguese treasury and also employed cartographers who created the most sophisticated maps of their time. It was twenty-eight years after his death that Bartholomeu Dias proved that Africa could be circumnavigated when he reached the southern tip of the continent via what is now known as the "Cape of Good Hope." Then later in 1499, Vasco da Gama was the first sailor to travel from Portugal to India.

And back to the plot...Here's the leaves of London Autumn - this one enlarges nicely if you click it! Feel free to ping, email, trackback, comment your 'leaves of autumn' links and I will "Navigate" to them as a link in this entry!

01 Mark, 02 Carmi, 03 Hanna, 04 Chuck, 05 Adam, 06 Cassie
07 Joel, 08 Christian, 09 Brian, 10 Steven, 11 Daz, 12 Bronxelf, 13 Suzanne, 14 Bill, 15 Heidi, 16 Cindy, 17 Tina, 18 Leanne

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