rashbre central: August 2008

Sunday 31 August 2008

red tee shirt with a very long number

Human Race 10k Wembley
We all had to wear red tee shirts for this one.

A bit of a race around the streets of London. Part of the Human Race 10k with allegedly a million runners around the world. I'd crossed London to Wembley, despite the closed Victoria line and to others' amusement wore the red tee-shirt inside out on the way having remembered to cut out the two 15 cm long care labels.

The inside outness was supposed to help me keep a lower profile on the tube but I suppose bright red is bright, however you look at it, plus compulsory telemetry gleaming from one running shoe.

Jeans dropped at the 'baggage' area at Wembley Arena and then into the shiny main stadium for the warmup by the fashionable Pendulum (who played a jarring industrial metal version of drum n bass) and then Moby with a band doing O Lordy greatest hits, whilst the 'waves' of runners were instructed about how to turn sharp right when leaving the stadium.

I'd wondered if anyone would turn up for this actually, because (eg) John had been offered loads of spectator tickets late last week.
Human Race 10k Wembley
In fact, it was mainly runners present in very large quantities 20,000? 30,000? very hard to guess. We listened to the music, listened to the warm ups and then it was time to hit the dusky streets to the car-wash proportions of rain that started to fall. I'd brought a baseball cap which did a surprisingly good deflection job and the red layer with the blue layer underneath seemed to keep me moderately cosy as I joined the runners many of whom were going about the whole run as if it was a sprint.

My tactics were somewhat different, with a view to be both visible at the start and the end. It seemed to pay off, even if my time is pretty unremarkable.
Human Race 10k Wembley

no sun day

misty sunday
Sound deadening mist draping the morning after yesterday's barbecue friendly heat.

I'm alone in the silence until loud rods of rain descend suddenly, drilling holes through the mist.

Distant cracks of thunder.

Another ten minutes and the blackbird attempts a short flight in the secondary stillness.
rainy sunday

Saturday 30 August 2008


A shameless plug for Naomi's site today. Naomi is sittin' out in the Hollywood Hills and writes a fine blog on all manner of topics. The post I'm linking to is about her time in the clubland of New York's Staten Island, with its rather different approach to clubbing, 1954 style. Fascinating reading, worthy of a novel or a movie!

But also as I've been reading a few posts today, the soon to be in Greece Lady banana caught my eye with this little Britney moment.

Sims do Toxic. I'll have to reload the rashbre/britney collaborations...

Oh OK. here's the old britney/rashbre/MTV version...

...and interestingly enough, the lyrics of 'you want a piece of me' are very similar to the sentiments of Naomi's 1954 clubland story, where one option for a singer was to sign everything away and effectively work for the mob. Some parallels with more recent stories.

Friday 29 August 2008

polaroid morning

It was still dark when I started to get ready for work today.

That's probably the first time since the summer. Admittedly a few days ago I was in darkness watching the hedgehog running around in the garden in the small hours and a different early I was looking at what seemed to be a particularly low flying moon.

But now there's that time when the sky starts to get lazy in the morning and it won't be long before I'm also making the first cup of tea with a light switched on. The day starts to need to be unpeeled before use instead of ready prepared.

Same thing now as I blog this against dusk, with a few birds chirruping to one another about the best branches.

Thursday 28 August 2008

thought less

elementalYesterday I was whizzing around London, to different areas, making extensive use of my Oyster card - people to see, places to go, things to do.

Today I've been sort of chained to the desk and engrossed in pretty much one topic all day, apart from a few breaks for cups of tea. What I noticed today was that the assignment has filled every nook and cranny of my head, so that I've not really thought about or done anything else.

I think tomorrow I will need to go out for a while, interact with a few others face to face and maybe walk around in order to let some fresh thinking blow though my head.

I don't know how it works, but sometimes 'not thinking' about something can actually stimulate a better way to resolve it.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

standard anytime day return

I see that the railways have decided to rename all of the tickets again to make life simpler.

The old 'Cheap Day Return' becomes the new, simplified, 'Standard Off-Peak Day Return' and a normal day return becomes the 'Standard Anytime Day Return' which should not be confused with the 'Standard Anytime Return'.

Flow charts will be provided.

Tuesday 26 August 2008


Comparing notes about George Orwell with fellow blogger Pat the other day and then Philobiblon provided the link to the orwell diaries. It's George Orwell's daily diaries being published as a real-time daily blog. Blogroll it now.

Monday 25 August 2008

tera raid

rescuing a terabyte
I rescued a bricked disk drive a few days ago by bypassing its controller and slurping all of its data onto another disk. The disk was a terabyte and made of two platters in such a way that if either failed then the whole thing was effectively dead. Not a good idea.

I've moved to Raid 1 now, where the disk is effectively made of two separate drives, and everything is written to both. That way, if one disk fails, the other one can be used to rebuild a new safety copy. Maybe it sounds paranoid, but its a lot better than losing mad quantities of data. I can remember back two or three years ago when a Terabyte seemed like a lot of data.

Sunday 24 August 2008


qlympic party
Rainy start created receding barbecue options, but then Sunday's early afternoon turned sunny and the tenty thing looked less necessary.

As Beijinged Leona Lewis rose bus-top slowly, in a bacofoil dress resembling an aunt's spare toilet roll cover, from within a badly cropped topiary, Jimmy's strains of 'The Lemon Song' (squeeze me baby) indicated that Boris had waved the flag of the Olympics fresh from China.
We looked skyward from our sandwiches and wraps for the red arrows (apparently banned from the actual 2012 show) and indeed, our roving reporter Julie managed a picture of the planes from her iPhone as well as a reasonable quantity of inadvertent voicemail calls to friends in the quickdial list.

I'm sure British ingenuity will ensure suitable profile for London and Great Britain and meantime the barbecue at number 100 was great!

Saturday 23 August 2008

facebook homesick blues - or - rats live on no evil star

Yes, I am on facebook.

No, I don't update it except via some feeds from other sites. So now I have wall to wall walls with flowers growing and sheep being thrown at me in between zombie and vampire attacks.

Look out kid. They keep it all hid. Better jump down a manhole. Light yourself a candle. Don't wear sandals. Try to avoid the scandals.

never odd or even...If I had a Hi-Fi - Madam, I'm Adam - too hot to hoot...


Friday 22 August 2008

London Olympics Handover Stage

London Olympics Handover Party Stage Preparations
Cutting through from Pimlico towards the West End, I spotted the Olympics Stage being assembled for the handover ceremony on Sunday. Actually we were running for a taxi when I took this.

I'll be at a barbecue whilst the ceremony is happening, but there's been various London rehearsals and soundchecks throughout Friday to get things ready.

I'm amused to see that one of the songs in the handover will be "I can see clearly now".

The stage is at an angle right outside Buckingham Palace and I'm sure the positioining is partly for televisual convenience. The Mall was already closed to traffic from Thursday. I assume there will be repeater screens for the crowds on the Mall to watch what is happening, because I don't think too many will be able to get close to the stage area for this one.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Avenue Q

avenue Q
Starting the day with Eggs Benedict for a breakfast meeting at the Wolseley in Piccadilly, then across to Canary Wharf, back to Chelsea and onward to -er- Avenue Q for some smutty puppetry.

Avenue Q has been running in London for about two or three years and has been 'on the list' to see all the while. With muppets now in their twenties, it opens with a song about being 22, unemployed with a degree in English Lit. and moves through the trials and tribulations of living in apartments. The material is presented in a Sesame Street style linked with adult themes. Great, well paced show, slick acting and plenty of laughs. Checkout the third option below for a taste...

to control playback use right click

Wednesday 20 August 2008

brown box

This could have been a wordless Wednesday. I was certainly speechless.

I arrived at tonight's hotel and was booked into a tiny can't swing cat room with an aircon stood with its hose sticking out of the window. The tired array of furniture along the edge of the bed was such that the only way to the desk was by climbing over things. I decided to tell them that I was unhappy, but it was then that I noticed there was no phone in the room.

So I called reception on my cellphone. They were suitably apologetic about everything and offered me a range of people to come to fix everything or a change of room. At 23:00, I really didn't want lots of interruptions and changes because it was already late and I had a 05:45 start the next morning. They must rely on weary business travellers to get any custom at this well known hotel and i can't imagine how they can claim a 'four star deluxe' rating.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

packing density

Back to Norway for a couple of days. Car at Heathrow with clothes ready for my next trip, allowing me to operate at the hand luggage level for the rest of the week. For some reason Stavanger downtown is full, so I'm staying at an airport hotel. I call it white-boxing when I go from hotels to meeting rooms to hotels. That's me for the next few days.

Monday 18 August 2008


Ag13A short time ago, my day to day watch battery ran down, so I put it in the pile with all of the other watches with flat batteries. "I really must get it fixed", I was thinking as I wound a trusty analogue watch as a replacement.

The previous time, I ended up buying an inexpensive watch because I was stranded somewhere 'in transit' and when I did eventually get it fixed, the jewellers wanted to charge me a large number of guineas.

So this time I spotted the rack in a store with the tiny batteries. "Easy", I thought, as I looked at all the bubble packs with little pictures of watches on them. But at £1.29, I decided to take a few different sizes of Golden Power Super Silver Oxide, thinking I'd get one to fix my watch and if I was really lucky I'd also be able use the surplus in other defunct watches.

sl500One Swiss Army knife later I'd opened the silent watch and did manage to locate a battery half the thickness of the dead one, which has made the watch go again. But none of the other four will actually fit any of the other broken watches. I'm still 'quids in' compared with the cufflinkeried jewellers, but also slightly annoyed that there's so many different sizes. And that's before I noticed that Amazon sell ten watch batteries for £1.99.

Sunday 17 August 2008

sawdust haze is all around, don't know if I am up or down

paint can in sawdust haze
Arty shot today by breathing on the glass before I took the picture. I'm trying to recreate the sawdust and paint haze which is still permeating the area where the wardrobe is under construction.

By the time its finished, most of the interior will be hidden by clothes and hopefully by new sliding doors.

Don't breathe in.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Nikon D90 and D3x preview

Nikon D90
From time to time rashbre central has spun off other sites; the short term 'rashbre unhinged' which is still around but most of the content has been hidden under a lumpy rug. Then there was 'Dylan Moran for Doctor Who', the collaboration with Christina (temporarily stalled) and even the rather dubious rashbre1.
But now...just when you thought it was safe to get back onto the internet...rashbre snapped. Naturally this is a photographic site self-evident from the title and I'll hope to use it to muse - occasionally- on things photographic.

This site - rashbre central - will continue to be my ten minutes a day blog and the other one will be more like a journal around my fledgling attempts to take snaps whilst holding the camera the right way around.

I'm respectful of the chymical ways of photography, but really want to think about what works well now, in the world of digital, alongside the works of master photographers from the past and the great work of blogging companions who today turn in some fine results.

At this stage it feels like I've just sprocketed up a spool of blank film over on the other site. It will be interesting to see how it eventually develops!
rashbre snapped
p.s. proper nikon rumours here

Friday 15 August 2008


Television this evening, as I've been busy till late all week and the sawdust from the recent wardrobe reconstruction has somehow tripped my hay fever symptoms suggesting a quiet evening with antihistamines.

Anyway, I was filtering advertisements whilst waiting for the excellent Scottish vignette 'Emo' play about a Uni burnout turned furniture store salesman, complete with Clare Grogan and dues paid to Gregory's Girl.

And spotted the SEAT car ad with its rip of 'this boy needs therapy'. Nowadays I wonder if the real originators of these ideas (in this case, the Avalanches) get any reward whilst the often Dutch reproduction houses can legally copy anything for a fee? Yet perhaps this is even more of a conundrum because the Avalanches sampled widely to make their original recording.

But the other advertisement I noticed was for a supermarket chain and fronted by the short car crash one from Top Gear. Well scripted storyline, but if I hadn't concentrated at the end, I don't think I would have known which chain it was promoting.

Whereas the NTSC redubbed Chevrolet 'unicorn' SUV fantasy ad works well and even helps me remember the brand, but doesn't move me any closer to wanting to buy one.

Have it all.

this boy needs therapy here - please admire 'Frontier Psychiatrist'

Thursday 14 August 2008

getting a buzz

I finished around 2 am last night instead of three and have been slaving away today as well. The only 'non phone' company I've had today was when a couple of inquisitive wasps showed up to smell the coffee. I've noticed before that they seem particularly partial to freshly ground columbian and first they were buzzing around outside the opened window and then snuck in for a look. A third one was hovering around outside doing that fast 'U' shaped flight pattern.

Somebody will know why wasps like the smell of 'real' coffee; I know its something that seems to attract them (or at least the ones around here). After they had a good walk around the mug, I eventually tipped the last of the coffee away and within a couple of minutes they'd both headed back to the window and off into the sky.
Another NY Mugshot
(reconstruction): you'll have to imagine the wasp inside the mug

Tuesday 12 August 2008


future wardrobe
Some noise today whilst the above space begins its transformation into a wardrobe.

After the lounge sofa adventure last year, when the brown sofa from Italy arrived but was giallo (yellow), and 10 weeks later the replacement arrived but was the wrong shape, then perhaps this episode would all run smoothly.

Indeed, the first part proceeded well until the measuring for the doors took place.


bye bye yellow sofaThey are the wrong size.
Van trip required.

Short term airy space until the adjusted doors are ready.

Its almost exactly a year since the yellow sofa was finally replaced.

About time for another domestic furnishings drama.

Monday 11 August 2008


Sometimes life is a bowl of cherries and at other times it has to be a single strawberry wrapped in milk and white chocolate decorated to look like a tuxedo.

At the moment I'm imagining the latter as an offset to various worldly complexities.

Sunday 10 August 2008

rapid eye

Sleepy silken dreamstate moments
gate waving to another world.
Soft grass, brilliance and mesmerising skies
or dark spikes punched from a cloudy tower.
Its never easy to predict a dream
sometimes tiptoed by the bed's edge
with gentle feathers and warm breeze.
Or boot-ready scraping full on
shattered roofs and lightning spirals.
But better any of these
than a blank space in the night.

dream analysis

Saturday 9 August 2008


Today's press claims 4 billion people watched the 2-3 hour Beijing opening ceremony yesterday.

That's 66% of the world's total population. After removing 10% for, say, 0-4 year old children and making an allowance for TV coverage only being to 89% of the world, then we're at circa 5.3bn 'available viewers'. So now we are at 75% of the available population.

I missed it yesterday, because it was screened around midday in my working UK day and then I was out in the evening. So did the people I was with, for similar reasons.
on the way to beijing
And these folks in Beijing didn't make it either, because the road was blocked off.
beijing start
Judging from today's pictures in the UK press, it was quite a spectacle.
Bush volleyball
There seems to be no end of great photo opportunities from the ceremonies as well as the inevitable photography of the passing politicians such as Mr Bush, who stopped by at the womens' beach volleyball.

Naturally there was some offbeat BBC coverage of smog from their hotel window.

And we mustn't forget the sports photography, which also seemed attracted to early coverage of the same sport as some of the politicians. The Norwegian volleyball team has never been so popular.
beach volleyball screengrab
Of course, some of the early events were on the beach because of the opening ceremony in the stadium. The Bird's Nest Stadium cost $250m and the $40m opening ceremony was 13 months in preparation. China is reported to have spent $40bn on staging the event in total.

Our UK budget is reputedly $18.5bn for construction and around $4bn to run the Games using 'temporary' stadiums in an East London 'dust bowl' according to Tessa Jowell. I'm not sure that she should be using those words actually. She did say that Beijing would be the last iconic stadium, although the one we are building is predicted to cost twice as much. Admittedly these are also the 2007 estimates, so things might have changed.

At least Great Britain's 313 athletes for the Beijing games will be safe in the knowledge that we've reportedly sent 639 public servants to keep them company and to find out how its all done in time for our turn. Gordon Brown only needs 20 aides and Boris is making do with 13.

In fairness, around half of the £6.8m budget travel budget is for the 437 BBC staff providing Beijing television coverage. So the taxpayers' governmental and police based coverage is only 202 people. But you can get your virtual Beijing rashbre central ticket here.
beijing ticket to opening ceremony

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Friday 8 August 2008


Last week I may have been in the mountains, but this week back at work it has felt as if I was still climbing a few.

Monday was the inevitable email mountain, which took a few hours to clear down to the vital few. I also had the peak of a specific activity to scale, which I'd budgeted to take me most of the week. Inevitably another 'peak' appeared almost the moment I arrived in the office, and I'm only expecting to finish it by late Friday.

Then on Wednesday, another unexpected and urgent one appeared on the scene, so by Wednesday evening I had several work mountains ahead of me in the current range. Like in hill walking, you sometimes can't see the next hill ahead because the current one hides it.

Fortunately by today, Friday, I've managed to put down a couple of summit flags and have only one principle one left before I reach a level area.

So below is an 888 picture (8th August 08) reflective of my home working day.
080808 Home Working
888 flickr

Thursday 7 August 2008


screenshot_01Yesterday evening in a fish restaurant with friends catching up on news.

We'd picked a location which seemed highly logical at first and close to where we all used to hang out, because we all expected to be in the area.

In the end, all of us made lengthy special journeys because we'd all had changes to our agendas.

As a once closely knit group, we'd all spun off in different directions, so this was a good chance to bring our gossip up to date and compare notes. A sign of a good evening, the time whizzed past and I found myself getting home rather late.

Wednesday 6 August 2008


When we stayed in the lodge at the far end of the 100 kilometer dirt track, it was another twenty minute drive to the nearest gas station. I was advised to call ahead if I was making a trip, because they were not always open. So when I arrived alone in the population 43 town, I noticed the only gas station looking deserted. I drove to the pumps, which were chained and saw the note saying that the owner had needed to go out for a a couple of hours.

I checked the map, and the next town was only over the next mountain range and it also had a little 'S' on the map for services which in this case included fuel. So I headed off along another single track, which was also being repaired from the last rock slide.

Another twenty minutes and as I drove in, I was greeted by a large black and white sign saying "Thursday to Saturday". It was right by the second gas station. And it was Monday. This town looked even smaller than the last one and didn't seem to have any people in it at all. The map showed that this road didn't go any further. I wondered if the sign referred to the whole town.

I looked at the fuel gauge. "85 km to E" said the readout. I worked out the next big town with fuel was now around 120 kilometres away. Not enough fuel to make it. I'd have to go back to the last place and wait for the owner to return.

Somewhere along the journey I stuck my cellphone to the sun visor with Scotch tape to make the 90 second video above.
Sloan View Service

Tuesday 5 August 2008

broken china?

A few days before the Olympics kick off and the UK press are now all in place around Beijing and we are beginning to see other stories reported.

The thought that Chinese people would seize the opportunity for peaceful protests to advance other freedom agendas seems to have been mainly quashed. The added special agents and special representatives are supposed to be already monitoring local people for any signs of political actions. If previous times are anything to go by, then suppressive action can be swift and violent.

It will be interesting to see how other world leaders really treat this. Some parts of China are now so intrinsic to the way that global economics operate (eg manufacture of electronics) that there is a delicate balance which could mean that some leaders choose to look the other way.

Sports bodies claim to make the events apolitical, but there's much to question in a society with such a poor human rights history and use of military pressure to quell dissidents. The Chinese version of the military intervention in Tianamen Square seems to have pretty much erased the whole event.

Quite some time ago I set up an experimental web cam feed from a Beijing hotel to rashbre central. It was supposed to be an inquisitive window into the city but then as a side effect exposed the fog levels. A few weeks ago it mysteriously stopped working and then a week or two later was replaced 'their end' with a link to a Chinese newspaper in English which extolls the positive virtues of the Games.

I still have the link working from an obscure page inside this blog and have noticed increased traffic to it over the last 3-4 weeks as increasing numbers of people are trying to get a glimpse of Beijing. For the whole of China I could only locate about a dozen webcams, so its probably not surprising that traffic levels increased. In its own small way it also illustrates the lock down of news flow from China.

Amnesty International has recently updated its assessment on China and still features key areas around the continuing use of the death penalty; abusive forms of administrative detention; the arbitrary detention, imprisonment, ill-treatment and harassment of human rights defenders, including journalists and lawyers; and the censorship of the internet. Needless to say, Amnesty's site is one of those that has been blocked despite the IOC saying originally that they would not accept Internet blocking during the Games.

Part of the point, I seem to remember, when China was awarded the Games, was to use the prestige and world focus to show positive progress in the way that China operates. Current signs are not very convincing.

no pressure

Steam Clock
I managed to start Monday at a regular commuting time and this, coupled with sensible meal-times, seems to have reset my internal clock so I'm now back on London hours.

Monday's 45Mb of new messages comprised maybe 750 non junk-filtered messages with perhaps 10% requiring some form of action, often contained in 2 or 3 sentences. So overall the return to work has run fairly smoothly, without too much pressure.

Unlike the steam clock I spotted a few days ago.

Monday 4 August 2008

waiting for the soul to catch up

Big Business
Back to the commercial world later this morning.

Normally I'm good on de-jet-lagging, but this time I've returned but continued to have late nights sliding towards dawn, so I've probably stayed on Pacific time more than I intended.

Tonight's late 'spresso hasn't helped me regain a London state.

Its nearly one a.m. and feels like mid afternoon but I'd better get into the sleep zone or today will be really tough. I downloaded 45Mb of work emails earlier and assume I'll need a machete to hack through them.

Perhaps I should go for a bike ride.


I should go to bed. Sweet dreams.

Sunday 3 August 2008

la poule au pot

la poule au potBy the time we'd finished waving to the pedalo and walking though Battersea Park, it was heading towards seven pm and we decided to move on towards a bite to eat. 'Lets go to somewhere in Pimlico' came the inspired suggestion - 'near to the Orange'.

So we zig-zagged our way from Battersea Bridge to the little square in Pimlico by Mozart's House and targeted the lovely French restaurant that sits on the corner with all the pretty pavement tables.

The signs, even at seven, were not good as there seemed to be large and small groups arriving with reservations from all directions. "Give me a minute", winked the maitre d', "Do you mind an outside table?". We smiled and a few minutes later were sitting in a prime spot outside watching the world go by. Then four hours of chatter blissed past us and as darkness descended the candle on our table started to have a purpose in the balmy evening. A lovely supper, great food, wine and company and then we all headed back towards a midnight Chelsea.

Saturday 2 August 2008

Rupert's Pedalo creates great mood in Pimlico

Time by the Thames today, supporting Rupert's pedalo marathon from Lechlade to London.

Rupert Young has been raising money for the Mood Foundation which he created as a charity reated to support for people with depressive conditions. Whilst the conditions do not discriminate, the recovery process can with treatments inaccessible and often only affordable to a few. Rupert admits there is no magic wand but wants Mood Foundation to help support people gaining access the appropriate services.
So why the pedalo? To raise profile via the 133 mile journey along the Thames, supported by Radio Stations, particularly Magic fm and various celebrity supporters such as Bear Grylls, Sebastian Faulks, Rachel Stevens, Amanda Lamb, Dermot O'Leary, Neil Fox and finally with Rupert's brother Will along with Karen Poole as they cross the finishing line at Chelsea/Grosvenor Bridge in Central London.
A bunch of us turned up to wave and cheer them across the finishing line on what was a sunny and hot afternoon, with the wind and tide generally operating in Rupert's favour. Let's hope the foundation can turn the tide for the people it intends to support.

Donation links are: rupert, sebastian faulks, will, devoted.

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Friday 1 August 2008


Just as an illustration of the interesting road conditions in some parts of Canada, I noticed this headline just before returning to the UK.
The avalanche is on a major route between Vancouver and Whistler and was one we'd travelled a few days earlier. Compared with the smaller roads where we'd seen minor rocks tumbling from the slopes onto the roads, this was a somewhat more spectacular incident taking out the main road and also the railway track.
Luckily we'd chosen the other rail direction from Vancouver and therefore missed this. The report estimates five days to restore the road and rail link. We've cut out the article and included it in our rather large amount of hand luggage along with the maple syrup.