rashbre central: June 2009

Tuesday 30 June 2009

today's meeting: cold latte better than hot late

Chilling in an early, sunny cafe this morning.

The default latte has given way to iced coffee, which is served in industrial portions. Unlike the continent, there is no side glass of iced water.

My tactic to arrive early paid off. I could plough through some emails and make a call or two. My colleague was completely melted after running from the tube perspiring a little when he arrived a trifle late.

Judging by the craned necks from others, I think I also made someone's day by leaving my (paid for) newspaper on the table. There was huge shoulder grazing interest throughout my journey for the Sport section, with its big picture of Andy Murray and a similar sized one of the defeated England soccer team.

Like many, I watched the surprisingly close tennis yesterday and wish Murray well for the next rounds. From this morning's display of close humidity, its no wonder they reached for the Wimbledon towels after every rally.

Sunday 28 June 2009

festival survival tips

don't bimble with the cups
Reading Maximum Bob's review of Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury got me thinking about festival behavior.

The rashbre central tee shirts usually make it to a festival and yurt or two across the summer and this year it was Isle of Wight a couple of weeks ago but then Glastonbury simply viewed on television. I expect we'll hit Bestival or something else before the end of the season.

For overnighters, though, Glastonbury still can't really be beaten. Its the scale and the consequent variety. For some acts its easy enough to get proper front row. When we take a camera along, the artists (like Sharon Corr, here at IoW) will even respond with a pose or two along the lens.
sharon corr
We've also been only a few rows back for some of the guitar bands but the barrier isn't always sensible when there's muchos pogos.
Even from this slightly more distant point, it is possible to get interesting pictures to go along with the music. However, when I see people attempting to make recordings from near the front the power of the bass speakers destroy any fidelity.
I regard these festivals it as 'topping up' with some live music rather than dedicated listening though. The main bands normally get television coverage whilst the interesting side bands are nearly always edited out. This year I could make a completely different non headliners track through Glastonbury and enjoy it just as much. Fortunately some of the recordings have made it to the BBC's online set coverage although I don't know how long the sessions will be available.

One of the tricks is to remember at these events is that the fan base changes for each band, so with the exception of a few die-hards, there is a consequent opportunity to be sited where one prefers. No great problem to spot the demographic for the Maccabees at IoW. Or to notice that the obvious way into this particular stage area is not the best way to get to the front.
maccabees fans at the barrier
In any case, it sometimes its fun to stand further back and get the effects of the weather. Here's The Long Blondes at Glasto a couple of years ago, handheld phonecam in the rain.

My main point is simply to go with the flow. Glastonbury is a huge venue with plenty of stages, so part of the fun is to not be in the middle of 40,000 muddy and steaming people listening to Pendulum unless you really want to.
old glasto.

So beyond the festivals, the rashbre central advanced listening model works quite well. Its surprising, particularly around London, how often there will be good bands playing in small venues on their hopeful way up.
old glasto
Nothing wrong with an occasional stadium or park venue, if you know what to expect, but there's fun in being able to sit a few feet from the band in relative comfort with tickets than can be as low as £8. We saw the excellent Low Anthem a couple of days ago sitting in row 7. We've already got similar tix for Amanda Palmer later in the year. This Friday we're planning to become outlaws.
Old Glasto

Saturday 27 June 2009

more suboptimally placed phone boxes

misplaced phone boxes
Sometimes people comment about how quickly time passes and whether they are managing to get everything done. I can understand why when I think of a few recent conversations.

There was the one at the secret location near Edinburgh a few days ago. We decided to drive to a remote Scottish coffee house in the black Nissan Patrol after the meeting. The cows we'd seen a week before had already been abducted and our route was uneventful. But then, in our tranquil location, as we got deeper into our trigonometric conversation we realised that rather too much time had passed.

We could miss our plane.

Its a while since that has happened to me. Only twice. Ever. Both times with the same person.

Once when we were in Atlanta. It hadn't been good. Steve had (a) over slept (b) then locked himself out of his room. We then got lost driving our way to our business destination. The company we met thought we were from another organization. They presented the wrong and entirely inappropriate information. We left early and headed for the airport. We could turn this around, catch the earlier flight and be sitting by a pool drinking cocktails. It was then my fault that we missed the flight. I read the flight number as the departure time. We missed it. We both put it down to fatigue.

Second time. We were waiting in the lounge at Heathrow for a quick trip to Amsterdam. Ages since we'd seen one another. Chatter. You can work out the rest.

Best. Roadsign. Ever.Would this be the Third Time?

So here, near Edinburgh, we jumped back into the quite muddy truck and headed for the airport. I noticed we arrived at the departure drop off at the exact time stipulated by 'Gate Closes' on my boarding pass.

Security. No fast lanes. Slow people with metal shoes and body piercings to make all the machines go bong. People sloshing with far too much liquid in their hand luggage. People with Ninja paper openers and cutting edge power saws. People who looked surprised to have to take off their jackets.

Beltless dishevelled we arrived airside. Gate 18 grinned remotely. It doesn't sound a long way away, but its actually the far far end of the terminal. The little boarding sign is already red "Final Call". Briskness through the airport. Lines of slow moving shoppers to traverse. Two travellators. A stunt team of randomly moving Japanese tourists.

The distant red speck glowing with 18.

I wave at the dots. People. Staff. They see us. I see them talking into a phone. Show tickets. Down more stairs. Outdoors. Walk across tarmac. Up the steps. Time to reduce the BPM.

So back to our conversation: The phone boxes do block the view of the entrance to Union Chapel. It is impossible to sit drinking a pint and spot when people start going in.

ordering online frying pan from Nederland

Thanks to three leggged cat for today's little amusement.

Simply click through any of the above catalogue selections from the Dutch store HEMA.

Just silly.

Friday 26 June 2009

enjoying a mud free glasto experience

In 2008, for Glasto we were camped near the hill by the tepees.

This year it'll be Glasto on the telly, although we did manage the Isle of Wight festival a couple of weeks ago.
I've watched a small slice already including Regina Spektor, the Ting Tings, Lily Allen and Fleet Foxes. All good, although you really need to use the red button ;-) to get the set coverage rather than an odd track followed by random filler.

But I can't help thinking of 2007.
2006 didn't happen. But there was always 2005.
and remember : Ketamine - Just say Neigh.

Thursday 25 June 2009


Julie told me about the twitterstorm although when I looked, it was all speculation.

Later, when I heard it confirmed, like many, my mind flipped back to a different era and experience.

My personal memory was of being momentarily frightened the first time I heard Thriller. I can still remember where I was at that distant time.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Southwark breakfast, Edinburgh lunch, Hampshire supper

Walking alongside the Thames in Southwark this morning at six a.m. Sunshine blended with mainly quiet streets. Another 30 minutes before most people stirred, but I would already be on my way to my meeting.

In Edinburgh.

Nine fifteen and I'm in fog waiting for a black Nissan Patrol to meet me. Then off to a hideaway house with two buzzards circling over a nearby field.

And by the evening I'm on the M3 amongst other traffic which has the decidedly Glastonbury look with bags packed untidily in the back and passengers with unusual hats and sunglasses.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

library, chapel, low

The Low Anthem, Union Chapel
Back to the Library in Islington for a Belgian beer rendezvous before heading to Union Chapel for the second sighting of The Low Anthem in around a month.

Confusingly, it was the launch of their new CD "Oh my God, Charlie Darwin", which rashbre central reviewed in around March and has been on the car playlist ever since.

Tom the bass managed to get one of the shiny new ones, but I shall cherish my hand painted sleeve original.

Once again, an excellent gig from a talented band who can more or less interchange their instruments as they weave their musical spells. They are playing Glastonbury at the weekend, in "the pub".

Monday 22 June 2009

shadow sleeping

A bit of a mad few days now creating a need for sleep and an opportunity to try out my secret project. The last few days may have involved pop concerts, beaches, the tang of salt and too much sun creating the perfect storm for my idea.

Its rather simple and a little childish really. The rashbre central grounds frequently burn the midnight oil and days and nights drift together.

Not Monday though.

This is the time to try the 'recreate childhood by going to bed in daylight'. We are around Solstice so it doesn't need to be onerously early, but there's a certain luxury and childhood blended feeling about snuggling into a daylight bed.

Saturday 20 June 2009

UK government's weird spelling conceit perceived counterfeit

Long ago, my neighbour Sheila perceived the 'i before e' spelling rule to be counterfeit.

We were in a field near the weir and I perceived her relief in sharing her weird thought which then also weighed upon my mind.

But now, conveniently, Government chiefs achieve deflection by claiming to uncover spelling deceit with this latest conceit.

Thursday 18 June 2009

black ink shortage hits UK government

blanked again
It's also worth having a play with the crowdsourcing experiment currently run by the Guardian.

I sifted through about 20 claims out of idle nosiness and found some 'petty cash' claims for over £200 (eg £240.09) but less than the £250 point at which things must be declared explicitly with documentation. Similarly there was one set of claims that repeated month by month with exactly the same amounts each time.

Not forgetting some tasty food bills amidst the varied claims for soft furnishings for indeterminate blacked-out residences.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

scrolling through websites like album covers with Safari 4

safari 4
The new version of the Apple web browser Safari has quietly installed itself on this machine. It has some fun features like the ability to scroll through web sites in much the same way as iTunes album covers.

It's quite a useful visual way to go back through history to an old web page when the name isn't too obvious. There's also a star trek multi display mode which provides around 12 top sites which can be easily selected.

My partial screenshot captures a few examples.
safari 4 top sites mode

Tuesday 16 June 2009

been working texas time today

By co-incidence I've been working with different people based in Texas the last few days.

Unrelated reasons, but it means the day slides west a few hours, so it's almost midnight and I've only just finished working. I also noticed a continued dribble of work related emails appearing in my inbox as I stepped away from the computer.

Some will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the morning I'm back on planes, although I'll leave it until tomorrow before I put my stuff into a bag. I usually pack the previous evening, preferring to sleep in the knowledge that everything is ready for action. But I'm already checked in, so that should save some time at the airport.

Monday 15 June 2009

supersaturated colour before the thunderstorms

A slight oops today because I should really have taken my own advice at the weekend.

If I'd remembered to wear the strange headgear that I'd packed, then perhaps I wouldn't look quite such an interesting colour this morning.

Its all very well having stage artists throwing water around to help us stay cool, but two or three days in a field in the sun, even with SPF30, has left a few marks on the complexion.

Today I was in various client meetings in a spiffy high-rise hotel and despite everyone's studied politeness, I could tell by those short flickering looks that people were assessing my general brightness.

I even hesitated at one point mid afternoon when I had a brief escape to the great outdoors. Suddenly the sun came out and I looked for shelter fearing I may get a further top up of supersaturation.

Saturday 13 June 2009

festival conditions creating alternate reality

Festival conditions make blogging rather difficult.
Seem to be getting some good views of the bands.
More later.

Friday 12 June 2009

piper playing at the gates of dawn #iowfest

The Isle of Wight ferry was suitably hippified with plenty of tents and backpackers amongst an occasional yachting blazer, although we were a little ahead of the curve, judging by the amount of metal crash barriers which didn't seem to be serving a useful purpose.

And by the time we found Newport we decided that a special signal had been sent out the all of the traffic cones in the UK, causing them to congregate in this one spot. "the cone machine is coming down and we're gonna have a party"

With our local knowledge, we're currently looking out to sea away from the still gently simmering crowds. An Indian take-away and wine yesterday evening and we are set up well for the day.

Impressed that I've found a wifi hotspot, but things may start to go erratic after this as we enter the Gates of Dawn.

Proper site pictures later, after I've charged various devices and found the little connectybit.

all of your cones are belong to us.


Thursday 11 June 2009

grooving in a field

Sun. Sea.

You get the picture.

Dusting off the strange headgear for a long weekend in a field with music.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

walking around a slightly wet London

Instead of today's tube strike slowing us down, we all seemed to get to our various destinations early.

I had a pre-meeting rendezvous at a coffee shop and was around an hour early.

My colleague arrived about 3cms of latte later.

We were so early that we took a phone conference prior to our main meeting from within the coffee shop(different tables for this part because of the unfortunate echos and and delays delays delays when using multiple cellphones in one l-l-location-n-n).

Then on to our meeting.

Would our host be there?

We'd been checking our phones for last minute emails. Nothing to worry about. She was also early, although wanted to pop outside for a cigarette before the session started.

We waited and looked out to the streets. Solid masses of people wearing trainers and carrying backpacks.

London was walking.

backpackandtrainers cam

Tuesday 9 June 2009

london tube strike walking and cycle routes

barbican, city of london
Tomorrow evening threatens the start of a London Tube strike, so I've been idly looking at some cross town pedestrian routes. These involve the somewhat inscrutable overhead walkways around the Barbican on the way to a couple of meetings sprinkled around the northern side of town.

I think both venues are quite walkable without too much trouble, so I may just start out a little earlier than usual with some string and breadcrumbs.

There's also some handy walking and bus guides from many main line stations here
bike the strike
Additionally, there's going to be a several BikeTubes which are processions of cyclists commuting along the tube routes.

And I've had them for a long time, but don't forget the rather useful free TfL maps of bicycle routes through London.

Mind the Gap.
cyril e power: the tube station

Monday 8 June 2009

that razor sadness that only gets worse

9th and hennepin
9th and Hennepin
Pat and I have been in brief dialogue about how you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept there.

I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway and I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat...
...and no one brings anything small into a bar around here.
9th and hennepin - tom waits

Sunday 7 June 2009

moon in the window and a bird on the pole

bar soho
Lazy weekend interspersed with wild talk of future projects for bubbleandsqueek and keyhole surgery. Ideas away from day jobs whilst wrestling with time.

We piled a collection of music, verse, theatre, writing, photography and video onto a metaphorical creaking table covered in wine and whiskey spillages which became more exuberant as the day progressed into evening.

My example is to get 'The Triangle' published - I'm still waiting for the proof copy- and now that Debra's excellent photo book "52 weeks" is in the public domain, I feel its the right time to also get my contribution out there.
debra's book
Debra's book is suitably luscious to hold and look at. It also has an unfolding story through the year 2008 and there's a subtext of moving from another country back to the UK and of the surrounding thoughts.

John has a stack of projects including the redraft of his spooky hotel scenes which he took to the Royal Court. Mel is thinking dystopian but back on planes next week. Julie is trying to ensure I spend next weekend under canvas in a muddy field.

But it also goes to show that some determination can make things happen, even around the usual hurly burly of work and the rest of living.

So the few of us sat chatting together throughout yesterday were ready for anything.

Except Monday, of course.

Clap Hands.

Saturday 6 June 2009

wagon wheels on the corner cabinet

Arnott's Tim Tam Original in the UK
With a new UK government corner cabinet attempting to get its show on the road, I found my my mind turning to thoughts of wagon wheels. It was probably an effect of the surfeit of wine that John and I drank before meeting Georgina.

The overhead televisions were running stories of the latest resignations from Gordon's flailing party. Geoff Hoon, John Hutton and Caroline Flint amidst her accusations of elitist inner circles and window dressing.

If not the wine bar, it was probably the later extended Shiraz experimentation whilst we enjoyed Georgina's paella in the mysteriously shortening evening.

So in my tired and slightly confused state I'm not sure whether Wagon Wheels fall into the category of biscuit or that of the alarmingly generic 'snack food'.

I'll assume that the 74mm chocolate covered marshmallows are biscuits and add them to the hall of fame started with in the advanced biscuitry briefings of 2005 with the bourbon and the later, though stealthier post about that marine amongst biscuits, the hobnob.

Eagle eyed will glimpse the illicit Tim Tam by the keyboard, although I've skillfully hidden the DDS sign of a mug of tea.

Which brings me to the enduring biscuitry advice for Gordon as he tries to apply his particular wheels. He is not dealing with Penguins here and his apparent use of DEEP DUNK and SUCK may be singulalry inappropriate.

Friday 5 June 2009

a pot boiler plot line

macbeth3-1 (1)
There was this Scotsman, who got advice about his ascendant future from a selection of cauldron stirrers. Along the way someone decided to have a pop at him, but he somehow got the upper hand and covered his tracks in the ensuing aftermath.

So his advisor comes up with another scheme. Amidst further carnage, the advisor also finally gives up the ghost but a few days later retribution is served.

Thursday 4 June 2009

I agree that the signonnow email plot has some holes

is this for real
I'm intrigued that the plan to write the letter about Labour leadership seems to revolve around an email account. Using an example account such as signonnow@hotmail.co.uk would be a way to anonymise the letter ownership, but raises all kinds of other questions.

If the email address were to escape into the public domain {ahem}, it may need to be changed to prevent all manner of people sending things to it and perhaps getting back messages like this:

SMTP error from remote server after RCPT command:
host mx4.hotmail.xx.xx(xx.55.37.xxx]:
550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable

ESMTP (Nemesis) id 0Mxx-1MC5rZ3rxP-111dLY;
Thu, 04 Jun 2009 06:02:54 +01:00

Of course, a more determined person might try other approaches, but just as likely are the people with technology to 'mute' or 'spam' the account.

So my guess is that there would be at least a couple of dummy accounts to attract all the unwanted attention, so that the real account or other record where people could write 'I agree' or send in copies of the pre-written letter was somehow unmolested.

This also assumes capabilities of MPs to send from a suitable recognisable email account to avoid ambiguity. Otherwise anyone with technical knowledge could send in mail header revised emails purporting to be from the relevant people.

I'll be interested to see the side commentary about Denial of Service attacks, Password Reset attempts and log searches for the chosen account over the next day or two, plus any thoughts of e-monitoring (by anyone from the State to the simply curious) or simply running google searches to see what turns up.

And come to think of it, "I agree" as a header is a fairly easy thing to filter.

In other news, Labour supporter Sir Alan Sugar visits 10 Downing Street today, amongst speculation that Gordon is seeking extra advisors to support the Cabinet...what is that Apprentice catchphrase?
sir alan 2

Wednesday 3 June 2009

brown election latest rumours

I should really be writing about something else today, but I can't help noticing that even the Scottish singing lady has been overshadowed by the Scottish talking man.

I see his current line is that we need to avoid chaos and keep the show on the road.

I may have a different view of chaos, so I suppose the small number of items I list below (last few weeks only), next to our illustrious leader (old photo, I'm afraid) officially do not constitute chaos.

Oh no.
gordon brown the younger
economy deep in recession
factory closures
banking crisis
lawmakers' expense claims
tax money to pay MP accountants
snap resignations
individual Lords suspended
Royalty not invited to D-Day event
Cabinet resignations (Blears, Smith) before euro elections
Lords dosh for law change
bumper pensions for errant bankers
full salary and pension rights for ‘mistaken’ MPs
flipping houses to maximise expense claims
Speaker busted
lowest trust index ever for MPs
secret signonnow@hotmail.com plot to oust
meltdown(Telegraph), disarray(Independent), carnage(FT)

Feel free to reshuffle the deckchairs at will.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

ejector seat parliament - who will be left?

Artwork time - rashbre 2009.
CAPTION: Parliament stretches and stresses against a June summer's day. Externally recognisable, but inner tension as a self-appointed leader fails to make appropriate decisions. Coverups continue but the pressure must release.

The ejector beckons escape and some salvage courage with the red button.

His strange smile feigns control but we are left to decide between substance or nothingness.

Monday 1 June 2009

flipping chancellors? new balls, please...

News story generator. Use these words to make a political story. No special skill required.
good evening, london
flipping chancellor expenses
livid electorate buys political mascara
gordon's desperate measures
ed balls replaces darling
although unpopular
mandy goes foreign
after waiting 25 years
brown slurry
queen intervenes