rashbre central: October 2010

Sunday 31 October 2010

harbouring intent

Fowey FY545
Back from idyllic harbours and tang of salt water, to a door that wouldn't open properly because of the accumulation of weekend mail and papers. That's in addition to the complementary hotel newspapers brought back theoretically to read.

At one point during the weekend we were chatting about Generation Zero, which has a premise to operate with a very low consumables footprint.

Minimalist possessions, tread the earth lightly and so on.

I don't think I'd pass the entrance qualifications. As I type this I'm looking at probably two kilos of papers that I might read, and earlier I wheeled the completely full blue bin of recyclables and a separate green crate of glass to be collected tomorrow.

Maybe the upcoming novel writing month will drive "create" over "consume"?

Saturday 30 October 2010

allentide's dark gathering

Maybe today we'll head along the coast to a couple of sleepy fishing villages.

Our current base camp has offers of spas and saunas as well as mysterious references to a dark gathering by scary little girls.

I shall be paying attention to owls, bats and broomsticks later today.

Friday 29 October 2010

cornwall unplugged

astute cutaway
Cornwall today, now that my stint at the London event has concluded.

It gave me a chance to try out the new car, although taking it straight to an area with lots of winding roads with narrow clearances and hidden stone walls wasn't necessarily part of the plan.

This car makes beepy sounds if it gets too close to things and various levels of flashing lights appear to encourage suitable caution.

I'm thinking that if that stealth submarine that ran aground had included some of the radar technology from my car then we still wouldn't know what it looked like. Instead, we can draw cutaway sketches of the latest British secret technology.

I don't have my usual computer with me at the moment, and am posting this by a typewriter which I've connected to the internet with clothes pegs and string. There may not be many pictures, until I return from being a friendly pirate.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

a blurry week

Sometimes I take pictures that are sharp and in focus. Other times they are all over the place. I know how to take the sharp ones and my camera even has that point and shoot setting to make it easy.

But other times the blurry ones seem just right. This was one of those moments when the sun was breaking though in an early morning and I was stood watching the steam rising and still able to see my breath waiting for the air to warm up.

It seems too early for frost with the green leaves still dominating the scenery, but in another couple of weeks it will all have changed.

I took the blurry picture on Sunday. The rest of this week (like today) I will be up before the sunrise and on my way to meetings in subterranean rooms.

Monday 25 October 2010

early bicycle winterisation

winterising the bike
I know its early to be thinking of such things but with holly in the shops and Santa sighted on television, it's time to adapt the hybrid bike for the less clement seasons.

It is easier to do things with screwdrivers when it is still light and not horribly cold and wet (although I did manage to jag a hole in my hand which I didn't notice until I wondered what was sticky).

The bike has now got a front mudguard and a rear rack added (which also acts as a rear mudguard).

I also changed the handlebar grips to ones which are a bit more tactile. The bag has enough space for clothes and gloves and could even flip into pannier mode if needed. I'm thinking I should also add a rear mudguard, but I'm trying to use up spare parts and haven't found anything suitable yet.

The lights need sorting out, but that's the next stage.

Sunday 24 October 2010

mince pies 2010 calorie counts

mince pies
The pub on Wednesday already had "New Year 2011" streamers and those little poppers strewn around and I asked the barman whether he thought it was a little unusual.

"It is really," he replied, "..and the owners will change it two or three more times before the new year in any case."

This year we have Christmas merchandise jostling next to a surprisingly green-themed Halloween (what happened to orange?) and security cabinets full of explosives ready for November 5th. There's also a few hot crossed buns around so I guess anything goes.

I decided to test reactions by buying some mince pies (99p standard version) but no-one is at all phased and I've been reliably informed that another store is selling star shaped Christmas cakes as fast as they can stock them.

Instead, I'll be preoccupied with the individual payload of a single 'shop' mince pie.

My first selection are an already respectable 245 kcalories and as they are the ''basic edition" I'm sure there will be others with higher counts. A single pack of these would blow out almost a whole day's worth of recommended daily allowances, according to the packaging.

The quest continues. Tip-offs welcome.

Saturday 23 October 2010

more fitting for cyclemeter daily

I seem to have had a recent blog post featured in the new "Cyclemeter Daily" which appears to be an aggregator based blog using paper.li.

As the Cyclemeter blog is (mainly) about cycling and my posted entry seems to be about music, I thought I'd post a gratuitous cycling entry today as a sort of means of support for Steven Healey's endeavour.

So the bike in the picture is a 'before' shot of a bike which I use but will shortly adapt for some of the harder weather. The main differences will be mudguards and a rear rack and maybe a clip on pannier. And then perhaps I'll put some shorter and more comfortable sticky-out bars on the front. Oh, and better lights.

Not the most earth-shattering items, but I'm sure there's plenty of people with similar ideas at this time of year.

I'll post another picture when its been converted into something more - er - practical for the upcoming season.
iphone bike

Friday 22 October 2010

iTunes tidying with TuneUp

A pub interlude during the evening, time to catch up on some musical endeavours, and when I get a chance I'll cross post a link to another ambient tone creator.

Meantime, I set my iTunes to do one of those big tidy ups of all the tracks and although its been burbling away for about 24 hours tidying up album cover art and correcting spellings, the end result seems to be generally good, with a few of those unexpected errors built in that make it interesting.

Along the way a few 'Track 1' type entries have been rediscovered, such as a few missing PJ Harvey tracks that I must have accidentally renamed at some point in the past. Its all good though, and I've only accidentally posted one '#listeningto' across to twitter.

Thursday 21 October 2010

discarded plotlines

With Nanowrimo approaching, as in previous years, here's a few quick plotlines I won't be using...

Johnny uncovers a dystopian parallel universe on his way to the dry cleaners. His partner Sue doesn't believe him and considers that Johnny is progressively going mad. Then a couple of characters from the otherworld seep back into Johnny and Sue's world and realise that it's actually a lot better then the place they've come from.

One of them eventually seduces Sue as a ploy to stay on her side of the universe. To begin with Johnny is unaware but later discovers the affair via the second person who has has moved across. Johnny becomes so angry that he mistakenly chases the manipulator back to the other side. Sue realises that she has been led along and follows Johnny, finally conceding that the otherworld exists. The twist is that the manipulators know the only way they can move across is to find substitutes - who of course are Johnny and Sue.

This one goes straight to video.

A hard-boiled ex-policeman has lost his nerve after a shootout in an abattoir, where his buddy met his end. He now lives alone by a lake outside of Chicago. One day a black helicopter arrives to ask him to come back for a special mission. They have found the Russian mafia gang that he was chasing and want to use him as part of a set-up to catch them and end their weapon traffic-ing.

The cop refuses but is then lured into the plot anyway by a stylish female detective who arrives at his doorstep one wet and windy night, ostensibly because her car has run out of gas.

Of course, this is the generic build up to the madcap actions of the hero and heroine as they get caught in ever more improbable situations culminating in a shipyard filled with oil tankers that needs to be attacked by the US Air Force.

Isabel lives in Paris, where she make a living as a waitress and occasional painter. One day, an American tourist is lost in the city and come into the cafe to ask for directions. He asks the maitre'd for help but can't understand anything until Isabella intervenes. Too embarrassed to do more than say thank you, he then leaves the cafe to find his destination.

Two days later, Isabella is in another cafe with a couple of friends. They are laughing artistically when she spots the same tourist across the street. This time he is walking erratically and appears to be holding his side. She notices a red stain on his coat. Could it be blood?

Wednesday 20 October 2010


trianglemirrorThe room squeaked like that scene close to the end of Kubrick's 2001 movie.

I was here to hand over the keys from The Car That had Gone Too Far.

Still only 123,000 miles and looking good, but a tad expensive over the last year with various springs, computers, exhausts and other incomprehensible pieces creating the situation for substitution.

I signed paperwork and was shown a set of manuals weighing a kilo before being offered a run through of how the replacement worked. I decided it might be easiest to drive it and figure out the buttonage later.

One of my first passengers noticed the occasional little orange triangles in the mirrors. Could it be a reference to a novel?

Sunday 17 October 2010

woodpecker - I know where you live

greenwoodpecker adult femaleJack Frost had done the rounds this morning and I decided that long fingered gloves would be best for cycling. There was a sharpness in the air and I could see the steam from my breath even before I'd started any pedalling.

A combination of sunshine and the icing sugar frost sprinkled across the landscape will probably guarantee the hasty departure of leaves now, although my route was still through more green than orange, rust or yellow.

Part way along, I spotted the swooping flight of a woodpecker and for the next kilometre or so it darted along the trees by the side of me flashing a red head and green body as it clung high up to the sides of trees.

I'm back indoors now, with its noticeable temperature change from outside. Next on the list is some report writing before I get myself organised for my flying visit to Dublin.

Saturday 16 October 2010

maybe not

We were chatting today about a possible car trip to Paris, in the near future.

I was a little reluctant on the idea because of the recent troubles, what with the petrol supplies being cut off and the various protests in major cities about the latest actions from the Sarkozy government.

I'm probably just unlucky in that the last two trips have both been at times when there's been some sort of major industrial protest and the tunnel and/or sea ports have been blockaded, so I've had to weave around 'Operation Stack' on the M2, just to get into France in the first place.

Come to think of it, one of the trips was also the day after my own car's front springs decided to snap, so we had to make a last minute swapover.

If we go ahead it will either be the 'rule of three' where I'm due another anxiety based visit or else everything will go completely fine.

Maybe I'll tune into TV5monde or koreus.com for a check on what they are saying about it all.
traffic ?

Friday 15 October 2010

glow in my eyes

hookahOutside, the hookahs were being passed around as we headed into this evening's venue to enjoy meze and hummus.

Inside, the dance tracks pulsated with arabic influence as the room quickly filled as more people were sucked in from the busy street.

I've spent the most time in Saudi Arabia where there's no alcohol in such places and segregated eating, so the wine list displayed prominently and the western attired Lebanese at the next table ordering champagne aperitif took a moment to register.

Otherwise the spices and flavours were a familiar flashback, as, later, was the cardamon spiced murrah coffee in the tiny cup, whisking me to middle eastern memories of clattering trains, desert picnics and mysterious meetings.

Wednesday 13 October 2010


car service
The car service department is becoming a little too familiar over the last few months.

It has pleasant seating, coffee, Wi-Fi, television, lifestyle magazines and various exhibits around the edges to view.

I've reviewed whole documents whilst sitting at the little round tables and had telephone conference calls with different parts of Europe.

They've loaned me cars whilst mine is under repair and in idle moments I've even looked at their shiny shiny cars on display in the adjacent showroom.

I suppose that's the subtle ploy to get me to realise that my current vehicle has reached the end of its fully dependable life-span. It's in until Saturday this time, to have the pipey bits re-twoggulated or something.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

a late lunch and an old friend

orwellBack on the road this week, although on Sunday we were on the way to a Jamie Oliver late lunch via an unexpected cushion shop.

The latter gave me the opportunity to slip away to an adjacent bookstore. I

t was only a few minutes before my disappearance was registered, but enough time for me to spot the little George Orwell title which I've had with me this week.

It was quite a surprise, because I thought I'd read all the readily available Orwell titles, so this was similar at a personal level to those discoveries that we read about where a new Ted Hughes manuscript or Vaughan Williams choral work is discovered.

To me, the essays in this Orwell selection come across a bit like a letter or conversation with a comfortable friend after quite a long gap. You don't have to agree with everything, but its great to hear from a strong point of view.

Actually, as I was handing over the cash, the shop assistant was equally animated about it - "Ooh - you've found that - I just read it a few days ago - its really fascinating..." etc. I'm also sure it wasn't mere salescraft but that she had already found it to be an interesting extension.

So I'm rationing my reads of it, in amongst the commercial stuff that I'm working on this week.

Sunday 10 October 2010

10/10/10 10:10:10 - cycling moment

10/10/10 10:10
Its one of those odd moments where I realised today was 10/10/10 and also by co-incidence I happened to take a photo at around 10:10.

I'd been out cycling and a few minutes earlier had been overtaken by a modest peloton of other and somewhat faster cyclists, led by someone who was explaining a route nearby that could be used for races.

I then turned onto the New Short-Cut which leads to the Very Steep Hill which I'd have to climb a few minutes later. The short cut is a way of missing out a big main road and substituting a leafy lane with squirrels, so pretty good news really.

Thats where the hastily grabbed photo was taken, just before The Climb Where Others Walk (they know who they are).

There's a later picture of my quick pineapple and ginger Torq Bar stop, in a small village, just before starting the homeward leg of the journey. I think I'd already taken a bite, judging by the picture.
energy bar effect

Saturday 9 October 2010

it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good

bike show fix
I popped briefly into the bike show in Earl's Court today for which they'd set up a big bicycle park outside.

Inside there was a strikingly blue carpet (more or less the main colour of the rashbre central background) and large numbers of people roaming around looking at the various equipment on display. It's ages since I've been to an Earl's Court exhibition, and I suspect the last time was for something to do with information technology.

The format seemed identical, though, with the stands, a few larger areas and some exhibits - in this case of mountain bike trails and a commuter circuit where the latest folding and fixie bikes were being pedalled around. The edges contained snack bars which I'd place in the 'absolute emergency use only' category.

There were plenty of exotic bikes on show, and lots of high tech gears and gizmos.

I'd wondered if it was going to be a small affair, but there seemed to be a largish part of the Hall set aside and in some places the crowds completely blocked the walkways.

Perhaps the combination of improving cycleways, green agenda, London Hire Scheme and similar is moving more people back onto two wheels?

Friday 8 October 2010

five times around the earth leads me to a green teapot

i can see far miles and miles and miles
So much for my big mouth.

The car's annual inspection took place today and confirms my suspicion that an ostensibly still lovely car can reach a financial break even point. I've spent quite a lot on its recent services not to mention the £1000 brake thingy that they threw in for 'free' as part of the last service.

Today's little encounter with the testing department could have cost about £50, but instead I fear it will be some higher order of magnitude.

I suppose in fairness the car has done around 120,000 miles now (thats about five times around the earth at the equator) so I guess it may need a little extra TLC (tender loving care).

Unfortunately, I don't have time for that so I suppose once it's repaired it will have to go.

I shall be driving the rashbre central green tea-pot now, until I can get a wiggle on and the other one fixed.

Thursday 7 October 2010


A pleasant and surprisingly traffic free round trip to the North West of England.

It was one of those occasions where I achieved mastery of the jam. I usually switch my sat-nav on for long journeys, but often choose my own route sections and let it's eternal patience reselect the route.

This journey worked well in both directions with a total of about 440 miles of UK roads without jammage.

There, I've said it, which pretty much confirms that my next journey will be a difficult one.

Tuesday 5 October 2010


The water taxi was the only real time I touched the surface of the town.

It was very fast in the way that an old style Mini coupe seems fast because of the closeness to the road. In this case the speed was both spatial and temporal, because I don't think we'd have got from the harbour to the restaurant in even four times as long by road.

It turns out I wasn't the only one that hadn't been here before. Other than the local folk, it was a first for almost all of us, except my travelling colleague who'd approached the place from the sea, and carrying armaments.

The grey mists didn't help to get a sense of the geography. I could see a few cranes and tall buildings in the medium distance, and was aware that the area near where I was staying had been modernised. But apart from the evening restaurant, I didn't get a sense of the location before I bundled back into a taxi and out via a distant airport.

Monday 4 October 2010

Fuji X100 form factor - analogue digital?

fuji x100
I noticed this camera a few days ago.

Its a brand new digital design, but looks like an old Trip 35 or rangefinder. It has a fixed wide-ish angle lens and has the analogue style aperture and shutter controls.

I've been musing about this form factor for a while because the latest generation digital cameras have moved the most basic parts of photography to somewhat less intuitive control surfaces. Thats reasonable for a phone where the photography is a secondary component, but I'm less convinced for proper cameras.

By comparison, this high specification camera is very traditional in the way it uses the main controls (it looks like a repackaging of the considerably more expensive Leica X1), and I suspect it will be easy to use.

But the camera seems to have divided opinion between those that like the idea of simple controls and those who think this looks like a throwback to the 1970s.

I like the idea of the simpler interface and can't help wondering if someone needs to take the old Olympus OM2 or an equivalent as a new design point for a modern SLR. But I suppose that would be contrary to the modern direction towards digital mirrors and even more ways to insulate the photographer from the photographic process.
Olympus OM2
Actually, I realised I'd better put a picture of this type of SLR camera next to a modern one, to help get an idea of the difference in relative size. I've put a zoom lens on the Olympus to make it bigger.
D300 and OM1
Update: I spotted the DigitalRev tabular comparison of the X100 vs a couple of the digital Leicas and thought it's worth a link: Click the picture below for the jump.
from digitalrev article

Sunday 3 October 2010

wired again

I've been playing around with some of that personal area network software over the last few days. The kind that runs at a very local (body) level. Its really an extension of the cycle iPhone applications and I've been interested to see what is available for a few quid that boosts insight and maybe works with stuff I already own.

My old Polar Heart Rate Monitor is an example, as is the cadence detector and wireless speedometer on my hybrid bike. Add the GPS detectors from the iPhone, plus maybe a digital blood pressure reading and there's a lot of data available which can be fed through into the SportsTrackLive type of applications.

Maybe the embedded skinplex system and 6LowPAN options need to be ruled out at the moment; suitable for arctic predator monitoring but it involves physically implanting chips - I'll only do that in combination with a fish supper.

Wireless Body Area Networks(WBAN) running at 10 to 20 Mb per second are already faster than the design of early 2000 office networks. Thoughtfully, FCC Part15.209 has drafted radiated emission limits to stop us all from overheating with this stuff.

However, I suspect this technology will diffuse into the next generation of iPhones and similar. The ant + technology is -er- small and embeddable into the various monitors to then commune with items like gym equipment to track personal readouts.

Plus the emerging generation of applications like iBike Dash and iBiker , which will look so much neater with the receivers embedded like Bluetooth.

I shall be "monitoring" this body of work.

Saturday 2 October 2010

we are the space invaders

we are the space invaders
There was a definitive autumnal edge to the air this morning. Sharp, smokey and damp leaves aroma.

It was still early enough for me to be relatively alone, although I could see the tyre tracks from other cyclists that had been dodging the same puddles as me. Its a transitional time too, as I need to think about extra clothes and bicycle ironmongery related to the elements and the amount of light.

The cycle means its easier to look over hedgerows and so today's damp fields combined with sunshine created the kind of steam effects more associated with April than October.

Inevitably I paused and snapped a quick scene, which, upon reflection is that of a space bubble landing in the corner of a field. The people inside have disguised themselves as rabbits whilst they take earth samples before beaming back to the planet of Epsilon Eridani.
force field

Friday 1 October 2010

reflective moment

upon reflection
Friday I've had to lock myself away to get some work done.

It's an all day task and has caused me to cancel a trip to Amsterdam, which would have meant a 04:30 start in any case. Instead, I've been diving into my computer for most of the day, interspersed with an occasional phone call.

I've also decanted the main work I'm doing to a nearby table for an hour or two, spread it out and worked with pen and paper before returning to the computerised version.

This task will run into the weekend too, particularly as I've taken a break at 6pm and have a feeling my frazzled mind won't be able to start again this evening.