Monthly Archives: October 2008

Recent Links, 20081028

» The Spectator – Melanie Phillips says economic meltdown is due to “militant atheism” Theism does not equal morality. Melanie Phillips does not equal anyone I want to spend time with. Why do I read this stuff?

» Blender Defender Want to scare your cat into not jumping up on the counter? Set up your blender and a strobe with motion-detectors. Videos!

» Upside Down Dogs Photos of dogs faces upside down, and all that entails.

» BBC gets quack to speculate on mental health of Prime Minister during time of financial crisis *updated* « gimpy’s blog Oh dear, seems like the BBC should really think about the qualifications of the people they ask. Psychotherapy /= psychology. One is a science.

MIDI Files I Have Known And Loved

While clearing out my server during the Great Shift to WordPress, I found a folder containing a load of MIDI files. I present them here.

They’re divided up into various groups and themes. I gathered them over the years from various places for various purposes. If anyone has a problem with any of these being here, please let me know and I’ll take them down.

If you click on one of these files, your computer will probably open it in a music player of some kind, and you will be serenaded with a cheesy plinky-plonky version of the song, depending on your computer setup.

Various Pop Tunes

Beach Boys


  • chime.mid – ding ding di-ding ding ding di-di-di-ding!
  • lush.mid – pl-pl-plink pl-pl-pl-plink pl-pl-pl-pl-plink!
  • forever.mid – “We waste! We destroy! And we cling like savages to our superstitions!”

Xmas Tunes

Elvis Costello

TV & Movie Themes

Another pointless blog post, entered in a ledger that covers all the transactions of the universe, a bill stamped ‘paid in full,’ and to be found, on file, behind a green door in the last house on the left… in the Twilight Zone.

The Weeks After

This entry was a draft I never got round to finishing. It was started on August 11 2005, and then sat in the folder on my server, forgotten. I found it just now, while transferring files to WordPress.


So here I am again. The week after Dad died, I had compassionate leave from work, which I spent sitting around at home, and popping up to Bedford to help sort stuff out, including the funeral. I had a weeks holiday booked in Dorset, with Mairi, her parents and her nephews Leo and Max. We drove down to Dorset, then drove back for the funeral the night before, then back to Dorset straight after the funeral.

The service itself was fine. General welling-up throughout. My brother read a tribute, which we’d all contributed to. Then we all went back to my Dad’s house where the ladies had made gallons of tea, and there was sandwiches and cakes and it was all very nice.

Things are weird. It’s manifesting itself in a kind of numbness, and general fragility, rather than complete sadness. Maybe this is a stage. I’m told it is.

I’m having a frenzy of ‘getting stuff done’ – little DIY jobs, filing that paperwork, sending that letter, (sending that CD! It’s burnt, scribbled on in marker, in an addressed padded envelope – all that remains is to mail it. Lunchtime!). I guess it’s a precursor to doing the same for my Dad – going through his stuff, picking out photos, papers, consolidating the family tree that he started (goes back to Thomas Petty b.1607 so far!).

It’s these little victories over procrastination that are making me feel better.


Not much to say about that really. It’s as I remember it. It was a stage.

Recent Links, 20081015

» Electoral Projections Done Right Very detailed statistical analysis of the US Presidential Election. Lots of charts and graphs. It’ll be interesting to see how accurate they are…

» Mozilla Bug 2212 – character alignment not implemented (align=char, charoff=, text-align:<string>) Come on, get on with it. These lazy Open Source programmers, giving us their spare time, I don’t know. This feature would have been very useful all these years.

» the blogger code Mine is: B9 d t+ k s u- f i+ o++ x- e++ l c. But what does it mean? Difficult to see the point of this. Also, it would change every year. OK idea, poorly implemented.

» YouTube – Fry and Laurie – Young Tory of the Year This reminds me of the “word salad” that Sarah Palin is guilty of. Script here.

» – Man Shot 3 Times Claims He Was Gunned Down Over Pro-Obama Shirt – International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News Yes, a link to a Fox News article citing a Daily Mail article about a shaven-headed man with a vicious dog and a BB gun who shot, wounded and racially abused a man for wearing an Obama tshirt in South Norwood, London. I’m confused.

Wind-up Ubik

~ About bloomin time I posted this ~

I’ve just finished reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It’s the second book by this author that I have read, after Cassie gave me her copy of Dance Dance Dance, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Chronicle is very similar in that it involves a normal suburban Japanese man, with a gentle taste in music, whom I assume is based closely on the author, experiencing a series of strange encounters, dreams and confusing occurences. The cover reviews of Chronicle list Dick as a possible influence or contemporary, and I can see it.

Philip K Dick is one of my favourite writers, with his very matter-of-fact dialogue acting as a steady platform upon which the feelings and motives of the characters are worked out while around them reality blurs, melts, fades and sometimes shatters. Murakami has less of the thinking out loud, but both of his books that I’ve read involve a dream or hallucination where the main character goes deeper each visit, and solves the book’s, or his own, mystery. Dick does this in Ubik, and Flow My Tears, but the change to a new environment (or reality) takes place piecemeal, an object here or a person there changing, or more often than not decaying or dying.

I’ve read two books by another Japanese author, Natsuo Kirino. Out is about a group of women who work in a factory, struggle to get by, and get involved with the underworld. They end up providing a service to gangsters who need bodies disposed of. Grotesque was a more complex story, based in an exclusive school with rigid rules and horrible cliques and bitchiness. It starts out being narrated by one character, then you read the diary of another, and letters from another. Then you hear the testimony of the accused murderer, and how it relates to the other characters. Of course they all have different points of view, motives and reasons for what they’ve done. Kirino gets classed as a thriller writer, so if you like crime, a bit of brutality, some blood and damaged people struggling through a constrained life, you could do worse.

Stay Hungry

I nearly called this post Pumping Irony, but that would have been shite. Instead, I’m making a reference to an early film starring the Governor of the united state I live in.

When I told Friend M that I was going to a gym, she responded

Gym??? Gym??????????? What ever next – nail bar?

Exactly how I felt about them. But as a result of certain photographs being published on the Web, I’ve joined a gym, and forked out for some sessions with a personal trainer. This is worrying. I don’t see myself as the sort of person who goes to the gym. Yes, I know that lots of people go, and it’s a pretty normal thing to do, but it’s never been a consideration before. But I’m not getting any younger, and now that I’ve taken the plunge, it’s easy-ish to carry on.

My trainer, Andre, was very nice and understanding of my goals (goals?????? you see?), and helped me to figure out a routine to do each time, so now I go to the gym with a tatty bit of paper listing some medieval-sounding grips and tortures.

One of the reasons I didn’t feel comfortable about going to the gym was because of the people who are already there – I didn’t want a load of sporty types judging me. And it’s true that sport is the main vibe around there – the TVs in the locker room are usually tuned to the baseball. Either than or Fox News which is even worse.

The people in the gym are of lots of different types. I’m pleased to see that many of them look like me – or at least are there for the same reasons as me. But there are many men who I think go to the gym a bit too much, that as a result have a rather strange body shape – little skinny legs, low waistline, huge wide shoulders and arms. It don’t look natural.

Dylan Moran said in Monster that people go to the gym to attain their “ideal body”, but that they were very unimaginative. He said that his ideal body would have (paraquote)

… one eye – you probably only need one. Some kind of sucker instead of teeth because they just give you grief in the end. And a long long tube with my arse way over there so I don’t have to deal with it.

The main reason I joined a gym was the food. Not the gym food, obviously, that’s all protein bars and protein shakes and “that yellow stuff in tins“. No, American food. And not junk food either. The regular food, sandwiches, salads. The quality is higher, the quantity is higher, therefore the consumption is greater. I must watch that. Plus I’ve been going to many restaurants recently, good and bad. I own a Zagats guide for San Diego, and I use the little sticky markers. Is this some form of Becoming that I am experiencing? What ever next, indeed?

Alternative Schedule

I’ve signed up on the Alternative Work Schedule here in the office. It means I work 9 hours a day Monday to Thursday, 8 hours on Friday and every other Friday I get off. It was offered to me when I first arrived, and having thought about it and seen people doing it, I’ve taken the plunge. Tomorrow I have the day off!

It does mean that I have to get up earlier and start earlier if I want to get home in the evening at a reasonable time. This is not easy for me. I seem to be managing so far, by being orgainsed and laying stuff out the previous day. I’m barely human when I wake anyway. I’m reminded of an old Cornflakes ad, which showed “early man” (i.e. before his cereal) as being like a caveman. Thinking about it, it was probably the shower and cup of tea that got him going, rather than the milky flakes. Another illusion shattered.

This week I’m using my extra time to go to LA this evening. We have a busy plan laid out, things to see, people to do. Other times, we’ll see, maybe I’ll sip mimosas on the veranda. Or clean, run errands and buy groceries.

Recent Links, 20081009

» Daily Kos: McCain’s Non-Support for Troops and Veterans: The Master List Pretty comprehensive list of why McCain does not support US troops and veterans like he says he does. There should be more “cheat sheets” like this, for all candidates. Instant fact checking and calling out on lies.

» garfield minus garfield Funnily enough, this is exactly how I felt on January 2nd 1986.

» The Red Menace: What We Were Told to Fear Before Islam “Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks?” – or indeed Mr Bean impersonators? Great gallery of anti-communist posters and flyers.

» ‘Canned laughter”, my least favourite urban myth « Why, That’s Delightful! Graham Linehan takes a swipe at the wrongness of some Guardian writer perpetuating the “canned laughter” myth.

» L.A. under visual assault by digital billboards – Los Angeles Times Cassie’s area has these new electronic billboards. They need to be stopped before “quaint” Silver Lake, with it’s organic feel, ends up looking like Piccadilly Circus.

» Debate on Flickr Gordon doesn’t seem to be too impressed with the debate

Agents Of Frustration

Rant time, generalisations ahoy.

Why is it that anyone with the word “agent” in their job title ends up being more of an obstacle than an enabler? The word “agent” is defined (amongst other things) as “a representative who acts on behalf of other persons or organizations“. They act on your behalf. They enable, they are the go-to, the go-between.

So why is it that once again my dealings with an agent leave me feeling like I am doing all the work, all the chasing, taking all the time? For the fourth month in a four-month career, my letting agent has not paid me the rent on my old London flat. In the meantime, my mortgage payment has gone out of my account, leaving me with a hair’s width of overdraft limit left.

I hate saying this but I pay them to do their job, to allow me to sit back and relax and not have to worry. Instead, I can’t relax, I have to worry every month and send emails around the world and worry about being charged fees by my bank.

When I was getting ready to move to the US, I spoke to some friends who were letting out a property in London, and they recommended avoiding letting agents and doing the work themselves. What they said made perfect sense, except I can’t be doing all that from California. That’s what agents are for. Yes, it costs more, but you pay so that you don’t have to do it yourself (I’ve taken to having my work shirts laundered for the same reason – ironing would otherwise take an entire evening, and I hate ironing).

And so we come to the current situation, where I pay an agent to do something, but they don’t and I end up having to chase and remind them every time. It really f**king pisses me off.

There you go. A nice, simple rant about a specific thing. Estate agents are the same in my experience.


I dreamt a new entry for The Meaning Of Liff. When I woke I wrote it down.

Bremen (n.)
The animation used in tennis video games where the losing player falls down on their knees.