Friday, February 27, 2009

Newcastle again

At work
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
A few hours on the train today with a trip to Newcastle doing computer support things. Added to it with a half pint in a local pub with Mad Priest, a local blogger who it was good to meet - yes he does exist and has - to me - an alarming resemblance to Stanley Baxter (no that Stanley Baxter, the other S B!).
This is a picture of the wonderful historic inside of our Newcastle offices. I linked to other (not taken by me) pictures on our last trip.

Full liturgical gear

From the local press
That’s because the petrolhead pastor, 40, of Macclesfield’s Elim Christian Life Centre, will see her work and hobby harmonise as she delivers a sermon to more than a dozen motorcyclists – in full leather gear.
Unfortunately I shall be out of town. Unfortunately the picture has her without headgear in defiance both of St Paul and the Highway Code!

Not funny but...

admirable control from the newsreader.
Hat tip to Non Working Monkey

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crane and trees

Crane and trees
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
I've been very taken by the crane at work on the old Clewes building. I liked this combination of the old and the new, of the natural and the man-made.

Club Franco Britannique de Macclesfield Annual Dinner - ii

A pleasant evening out at the Franco Britannique dinner, I'm not sure I'd even noticed the Sylk restaurant before, but it was really rather nice!

Now I are one!

Back when I was young, the student joke used to be
Last year I couldn't even spell engineer, now I are one."
Well from this screen shot you can now do both:

Someone has been spamming newsgroups with these adverts, I doubt if the address or the names are genuine!
I just hope they spell it like that on the 'certificate'!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 24 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
This feels a bit different:
It is good to put figures in drawings like these, he has learnt this, his tutor said the presence of people lends a sense of perspective, so he sketches her in and later he will include also adults. And the dog he promised her.
Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things - strangely poetic!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cats in winter

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals
Don't seem to have had a cat picture for some time....

Mutterings - 22 Feb

And this week's Unconscious mutterings:
  1. Carpet :: chew
  2. William :: Just
  3. Oh! :: La La
  4. Board game :: Scrabble
  5. Sunlight :: shadow
  6. Delay :: queue
  7. Winner :: lottery
  8. Concubine :: Solomon
  9. Comatose :: Bauby
  10. Satisfy :: Sex

Ca c'est moi

Here's that sequence from Le Scaphandre et le papillon

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

Wednesday was marked with a second trip to see Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) - I originally saw it back in early 2008 having read the book in 2006- this week it was a trip to the Macclesfield Silk Screen. Here's the French trailer
in my opinion this is better than the English trailer which is more concerned with surface and effect rather than content!
A wonderful film which will challenge, as quotes:
My diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court.
You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realize your childhood dreams and adult ambitions.
.. you can be whereever and whoever you want.
Though the English trailer does have that skiing sequence. I've also had Charles Trenet La Mer echoing in my mind ever since:

wychfield 2

wychfield 2
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Brian and Richard doing a little croquet - way back in 1975. I've found 3 more which I shall scan later today and put on flickr also with the wychfield tag

Saturday, February 21, 2009

State sponsored vigilantes

.. in Italy, and guess what their principal target appears to be non-Italians!
In today's Guardian:

Silvio Berlusconi's cabinet yesterday issued an emergency decree allowing mayors to enrol citizen patrols to combat crime following an outcry over a number of rapes blamed on immigrants.
The measure was already contained in a security bill working its way through the Italian parliament, but the prime minister said the decree would allow the government to quickly respond to "the huge clamour raised by recent episodes".
Local officials will oversee unarmed volunteer citizen patrols tasked with alerting police to criminal behaviour.
Six police unions warned in a statement that the decree could encourage vigilante behaviour. But the interior minister, Roberto Maroni, argued that it was designed to cut back on such vigilante behaviour, not encourage it.
Assailants beat up Romanians in Rome after a girl aged 14 was raped on February 14, and immigrants were also attacked after four men raped a woman in Guidonia, south of Rome.
It could be just a means of boosting the police force but the examples and
the huge clamour raised by recent episodes
give the lie to that

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A shilling for the meter?

Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Not turning off the power seems to be endemic in Macclesfield branches of companies which go under. here was Music Zone last year and now Woolworth's is all lit up around a hollow shell.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 17 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
There can be places in this world, and in human hearts too, that are opposite to war. There is a kind of life that is opposite to war, so far as this world allows it to be.
From 'Hannah Coulter' by Wendell Berry (our current Book Group book)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I see that John MacKay of the Australian Creation Research is speaking locally on Tuesday. Unfortunately I've got another meeting that night, otherwise I'd go and ask pointed questions. Lots of useful information on him on the web - if this inspires anyone else to go and expose the charade. Bringing the Christian faith into disrepute ...<grumbles>

Mutterings - 15 Feb

Unconscious Mutterings has this week:
  1. Be mine :: Valentine
  2. Ecstatic :: Strings
  3. Orderly :: Batman
  4. Sebastian :: arrows
  5. Sore :: saddle
  6. Don’t need :: no educashun
  7. Rockstar :: guitar
  8. Tinfoil :: hat
  9. Addiction :: internet
  10. Where? :: There!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In case you weren't awake

.. at 11:31:30 last night, the Unix Epoch time reached 1234567890 seconds. There you missed an exciting moment!

I was awake, but you can relive the moment at
I'll leave those other tabs and references in my firefox session unfuzzed...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Get your snow here!

.. it's lovely and cold

Currently on the Guardian front page

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
I think I lived in the room with the slightly open window on the first floor.
Wychfield was owned by Francis Darwin - probably the wrong Darwin to be commemorating today but he did do a lot to make his father better known.
Note the croquet lawn!

That bicentenany

Create 'devolved' pictures of yourself for the Darwin 200th anniversary at the OU commemoration webpage.

When I was in Cambridge I lived for a year at the house (Wychfield) which Francis (Charles' son) had owned. I have a picture somewhere and I'll try to find it this evening...idyllic summer evenings on the croquet lawn are good memories for this cold February day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

That's how it is

and may it remain so - uncomfortable as it is!
Firstly, the Church of England is perhaps the only church witnessing to the pain of holding together instead of taking the easy option and simply splitting and going where your mates are. It costs nothing to form yourself into a community of like-minded people among whom you won’t have to struggle with challenge or difference. But that is not the Church. Just like the first disciples of Jesus, our vocation is to follow Jesus together. Jesus did not give any of his disciples a veto over who else should or should not be called into the company of disciples.
Nick Baines bishop and Scouser - he must be ok, from my privileged position at the posh end of that bit of the Lancashire coast!

I like minimal, but...

For the past 5+ years I've used blackbox as my Linux window manager/desktop, it's very clean, fast, wonderful as far as not hogging memory is concerned but you have to do the application integration yourself - for gnome applications you may need to make sure dbus is running, for amarok you need to start the sound backend yourself, you need to check periodically for security updates manually, rather having them presented to you.
So yesterday while not wanting too much pressure and recovering from a bout of asthma, I took the easy path and tried KDE4 and was fairly impressed, you could forget about the nuts and bolts and just run the application. There was though a feeling of being constrained - it knew what you wanted and you had to fit things around it. When I found it had stolen the Ctrl w key - not idea what for - and no doubt there's a way of grabbing it back for emacs where - for me - it is incredibly useful - I decided I wanted something else.
I'm currently trying the Mandriva integration of fluxbox - slightly different to how it appears in Ubuntu but the integration seems good, rather than having to - in blackbox - do it all yourself. I'll see how it goes! It still seems to come with the kde sounds - click on a tab in firefox or pan and I get blasted with a 'cute' noise, no doubt I shall eventually find the off switch!
Here's a screenshot:

pretty similar to blackbox, minimal just the background a term window and the toolbar, really except that I'm trying it with hiding the slit:
this is a sort of dock which contains applications useful in many contexts - so there's mainly gkrellm giving a snapshot of machine activity, facilities for taking screenshots and email notification. I'm also running wmbiff to tell me how full are my various (mostly) spam bins.
The toolbar gives me current state of the music player and will show when when there are security updates/application upgrades available.

Afghanistan and Iran follow ups!

Last week I quoted from Rory Stewart's The Places in Between - a walk through the wilds of Afghanistan, one of the commenters, gautami tripathy, referred me to her review which I've just - now! - got around to reading, well worthwhile a visit and here's the link.
The Places in Between uncovers and revels in the diversity, strains and struggles of the people, their land and culture. It is a fascinating journey into a place as diverse as Afghanistan. A man’s walk brings all of it alive for us. We get a very good glimpse into a world wholly unknown to us.

In Iran, following the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Shah Pliable writes a piece about the changes and non-changes especially viewed though the eyes of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. He also covers the present state of Iranian music:
He quotes wikipedia:
'In 2007, Keyvan Yahya, young mathematician and musician that has done many works on mathematical foundations of music theory and his special field image processing, established a symphony orchestra named Satrap Philharmonic Orchestra,this orchestra performs some classical and modern music by western composer and also concerns Persian symphonic pieces in its repertoire.
It is excellent news that contemporary music is now being programed in Iran. However, 30 years after the revolution, the cultural climate in the country remains fragile.
We went to see Persepolis back at the end of 2007.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Blast from the (Linux) past

TuxRadar has a reprint of an article from the first Linux Format magazine with a survey of (then) current Linux Distros. I had that magazine (I think assuming it was the first under that name, I think an early issue appeared under a different name) and installed the cover cd of Definite Linux - now long gone! I then had a brief dalliance with Red Hat before moving to Mandrake/Mandriva where I seem to have stuck - apart from various Ubuntu installations on household and work machine!
And now blasts from the Linux case anyone wants to offer suggestions!
I upgraded to Mandriva 2009 a few weeks ago but still have a couple of issues:
  • Brasero won't run at all:
    [robert@faure emacs]$ brasero
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
    K3b will work, so I can burn cds but I'm used to brasero...
  • amarok 2 really dislikes music with non-English characters in the file name (or is it the tags), i.e. French accents, umlauts etc.. it either stops for a break before that item on the playlist or won't play the track at all! I've upgraded a fixed pulseaudio which claimed to fix this issue but I see no improvement with amarok
  • On my work laptop I'm using the amarok nightly builds which seem to be a lot better, no stopping for a rest and it also has the 'stop playing after this track' (use it all the time) but I've - so far - not found a source of rpm's for this and am resisting building from source on a daily basis!

Get the notes right - otherwise...

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Especially for a Sunday morning!

Mutterings - 8 Feb

Unconscious Mutterings has this week
  1. Cups :: http://localhost:631/
  2. Brilliant :: Brillant (see the daily WTF)
  3. Disobey :: defy
  4. Abstain :: alcohol
  5. Daily :: bread
  6. You make me :: mad!
  7. Hurl :: Urrrrrrgh!
  8. Intensify :: Burn
  9. Fuck! :: Sex
  10. Race :: Nation

E Lucevan Le Stelle

And whilst on the theme of bite sized Italian opera -

- Tosca!


Whilst on the Russian theme -

Good enough to eat - hat tip to vrovke. No I still can't read Russian! As the still frame says, it is Verdi's La Traviata.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


đ»olcats are here, unfortunately you can't embed the pictures in a blog post (well you can but it is not encouraged like at LOLcats - you want the salt-mines? we can arrange a trip to Northwich!) so you'll just have to go and look at it yourself. Fluency in Russian helps apparently! (link thanks to B3TA)
I think - so far I prefer the current latest one:
Have strength, my little cabbage. By the mercy of NKVD Order No. 00447, we have been chosen for Resettlement.
We will show the tin mines of Kolyma the true power of the proletariat.

Pete Mathews

Pete Mathews
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
After last night's climbing trip, it is appropriate to remember Pete Mathews who was one of the teachers led my school 's climbing group who died a few weeks back. This picture was taken on a week's climbing holiday in the summer of 1970 in the Lake District. The other teacher, Ron Bailey, who was in charge of the group, died long ago - a moment of passing

Friday, February 06, 2009

First pitch!

Ella, Russ and Mustafa
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Just back from a trip to the Manchester Climbing Centre with folk from work, here are some colleagues, the set of photos are here. (Maybe this link is better - as it has just the pics from yesterday). An impressive place!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday Teaser - 3 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
Abdul Haq unslung his barrel-chambered Kalashnikov and handed it to me. It was heavy.
.. this is a travel book! Rory Stewart 'The Places in Between' - walking through Afghanistan in Spring 2002! Photo of Abdul Haq and his treasured possession. New York Times review is here.I'm still only about 50 pages in...I acquired it in an unwanted and in this case also chewed stock sale at the local library. I shall see whether it gets fraught enough for me to chew the book a bit more!

Monday, February 02, 2009

108 steps

108 steps
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
On the way to work this morning. No one wanted to use the hand rail but those steps are a lot gentler than they look!

Mutterings - 31 Jan

I'm a bit late getting to Unconscious Mutterings this week:
  1. Take :: That
  2. 350 :: Underground (do I have the number wrong there?)
  3. Stand :: and deliver
  4. Raspberry :: sorbet (phhhhhht coming a close second)
  5. Turnstile :: football
  6. Infomercial :: eugh!
  7. Dejected :: down
  8. What’s the word? :: errrrrr
  9. Awestruck :: Christopher Wren
  10. Smashed :: Pumpkins

The perils of too much security

from today's xkcd

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It appears to be missing Prince of Darkness

There's a wonderful set of titles on this Royal Opera House registration page. Somone has had a lot of fun entering all those - 'Your Majesty' also appears to be missing!
Via Geoff Coupe

Might as well join in the fun

Generate your bus slogan here. Here's my weak effort

Clarity from Poster

Went to the Macclesfield Music Society last night to hear Tom Poster in an interesting combination of works:
  • Mozart Sonata Eb major K 282
  • Chopin B minor Sonata
  • Brahms Klavierst├╝cke Op 118
  • Stravinsky Three Movements from Petrouchka
  • encores were the Schubert Gb Impromptu and Gershwin 'Someone to Watch over me'
The interval was after the Chopin but it was a concert that could have done with two short intervals, as I'm not sure that going straight from the wonders of the Brahms Op 118 No 6 to Stravinsky's Yule Tide Fair without even leaving the platform really worked! A great evening of communication - we got the Chopin B minor last year from Andrew Brownell. I think I preferred last night intense clarity and control, and the detail he put into the Stravinsky... (Holmes Chapel had a chance to hear that work last week from another pianist!). I don't think I'd heard the Mozart before - as Poster said, unjustly neglected!

A long way from Rovno Gubernya!

Christa Ludwig hamming it up in I am Easily Assimilated from Candide

thanks to Al on rmcr for finding this.
I remember seeing it many years ago - though I thought it was from New York - but maybe she repeated the treat?