Thursday, April 30, 2009

John Sentanu at St Michaels's

Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
The Archbishop of York paid a visit to St Michael's Macclesfield this afternoon, I took a break to hear him and take a few

How not to apply computer techniques

.. particularly Microsoft ones. Hat tip to MaggiDawn

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

curtains for Sid

curtains for Sid
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Sid enjoying the replaced curtains.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 28 April

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 and author 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 is our current book group selection:
As he trudged through the new snow cover, tuning out the low grumbling of the Leitwolf's engine, Raclin glanced up at the rock buttresses above him. Not a nice way to go, he decided, swept off a mountain or buried in an avalanche.

From Jack Drummond's Avalanche I'm keen on climbing and skiing - these days as a spectator - so I shall be keeping an educated eye on this one!

Monday, April 27, 2009

the rockery

the rockery
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Our garden rockery coming into life after a week's sunshine and the recent rain.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coming EU election

Thanks to this profiler it looks as if my voting mind is made up (assuming you can trust the profiler!)
Hat tip to Elizaphanian

Preferring to live in darkness

David Keen reports that the Brewers owners of the ex-SPCK bookshops are still skulking around trying to hide things - getting google to remove a blog post containing questions they'd rather not answer. Unfortunately google have caved in to these playground bullies.

Mutterings - 26 April

And this week's Unconscious Muttering word associations:
  1. Soul :: friend
  2. Fold :: origami
  3. Breakup :: tragedy
  4. Will :: Shakespeare
  5. Fond :: affection
  6. Powers :: Super
  7. Ho-hum :: Hi-Ho
  8. Hustle :: Propel
  9. Avenue :: trees/France
  10. Tower :: Mordor/Twin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The apostrophe as a lifestyle

Some time ago I put my name on one of the American Family Association petitions - just to register my opposition to something they were proposing, that act signed me up to their newsletter, I try to skip over the parts of content I don't like but what I find interesting is the 'recurrent' 'use' of 'a' particular item of typography. Mostly it's around 'gay' particularly with reference to 'marriage', 'bisexual' is another good one. What sparked this post was this which has as a headline (you may need to scroll down at the link if you really want to see it):
Dems caught in 'lie' during hate crimes debate
either it is a lie or it isn't, don't these folk believe it in plain speaking? Or is the hope just to fling around accusations and hope some mud sticks!

One with no apostrophes which I did like
Take the pledge not to vote for any politician who votes to raise taxes or increase spending
I would guess that rules most of them out at some time or other!

Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty

Went to the Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope party at the BBC in Manchester.Lucy opens the event
We had some debate as to whether the cake was going to have 9.04 candles (picture in this flickr tag set)
I had a bizarre experience trying to run Jaunty on the laptop during the evening. Tony had a bootable USB stick with Jaunty which he had just demonstrated. I tried it on mine, it got to the Ubuntu splash screen and just sat there never getting to the booting progress bar, lots of flashing the wireless and disk lights but no reading of the USB at all (except initially). Eventually I got some cryptic error message (sorry can't remember!) tried a couple of things but then tried again and got the same issue. I then tried the Jaunty cd they had around and that wouldn't boot either!?
I then tried booting off the hard disk (Ubuntu Intrepid) and that also failed with some weird gdm error - I use this version on a daily basis, so it normally works. Laptop battery then died (it is not lasting well) so when I found a mains socket I think I then tried a Jaunty DVD which someone else had used which didn't work either, then I managed to boot my hard disk Ubuntu - much to my relief! - tried again with the USB and the same failure, refusing to read the USB stick.
On the way home on the train the cd which didn't work at the BBC put me into Ubuntu Jaunty with no problems - bizarre - I'll blame too many laptops too much wireless network or something!
Jaunty has a very impressive review here and I will be installing it on the laptop - but not that one - I hope a new machine will be delivered early next week!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Mort et L'Amour

Just had a very pleasant meal at the local college catering training department (yes, this does link with the subject!) with a poetry evening and the Macclesfield and Alderley Francophiles(facebook group). Ended with recitations of poetry, I was tempted to read Peguy's Heureux ceux qui sont mort - but decided we'd still be there at closing time and so I settled for Desnos final poem to his wife:
J’ai rêvé tellement fort de toi,
J’ai tellement marché, tellement parlé,
Tellement aimé ton ombre,
Qu’il ne me reste plus rien de toi.

Il me reste d’être l’ombre parmi les ombres
D’être cent fois plus ombre que l’ombre
D’être l’ombre qui viendra et reviendra dans ta vie ensoleillée

Flying penguins

.. via Slashdot

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

About sums it up

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
I'm sure things will improve!

I've plunged

The blog roll is missing a bit at the moment, but things will gradually get back to normal! Have patience!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 21 April

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 and author 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!

When they had gone, the helicopters rose from their waiting grounds along the highway. Trabert looked up as the sky was filled with these insane machines. Yet in the contours of his wife's thighs, in the dune-filled eyes of Karen Novotny, he saw the assuaged time of the astronauts, the serene face of the president's widow.

Provoked into re-reading and posting this teaser by the death of J G Ballard yesterday, from his The Atrocity Exhibition, strong meat! not for the timid! As I quoted yesterday:
You need to be well hard.

Monday, April 20, 2009

J G Ballard

Following the news of J G Ballard's death, let me post a few disorganised thoughts:
I first read Ballard back in the 60's I think introduced through an early evening programme on The Third Programme on contemporary SF writing, at the time I was familiar with Bradbury (and English master's enthousiasm) so it wasn't a big leap. Drowned World seemed to resonate with my end of teen years, I read his short stories many times over the years - recently acquiring the two volumes. For a long time I was convinced that I'd nicked part of a plot idea of his for my Cambridge entrance exam - but the device I remember isn't in any of his works, I think now it was a self invented extension inspired by the claustrophobia of his writing.
I've taken longer to get to his later works - some are still unread, maybe I don't want to meet another Ballard style which I might not like!
I'm puzzled that searching this weblog for Ballard gives no hits when I know I've posted at least two items which refer to him, it looks as if Ballard doesn't match Ballard's I think this is a bug, but this post will ensure at least on hit!
From a summary of his work posted last year linked by the Guardian bookblog tribute
A warning: Don't start with Crash or The Atrocity Exhibition, unless you're feeling well hard. They will do serious damage to your head. (Either you will throw the book across the room, or the book will throw you across the room.) Work up to them.(Yes, I know some of you ARE well hard. Fair enough, OK, go for it.)
- he has lots of links to the novels (from Amazon).
If you only know the Ballard of The Empire of the Sun and afterwards, do read The Drowned World, The Crystal World with the early short stories - I will try to reciprocate!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Summer approaches

Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Next door's cat enjoys the sun whilst his housemate tries to ignore the exhibitionism.

Mutterings - 19 April

This week's word associations from Unconscious mutterings
  1. Lease :: hold
  2. Dead :: wrong
  3. Removed :: stolen
  4. Broke :: stoney
  5. Lips :: sealed
  6. Flight :: of the Heron
  7. Three hours :: at the Cross
  8. Give :: 'n'take
  9. Technical :: paper
  10. Hurry :: rush

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Terragen 2

Back in Spring last year I posted a render produced with a beta of terragen 2 and mentioned that it had taken around 30 hours to produce. Planetside are now nearly at the release point - folks like me who have pre-paid can download - release is waiting for the website and maybe a few other things. I'm running it using Linux and wine and something has definitely speeded up - maybe the betas had some debugging code, maybe it is better at spotting dual cores (though that fix appeared to go in an earlier beta), I've just repeated that render - well same base file, slightly different camera position and it now takes just over 7 hours! I didn't really notice much of a slow down either.

Four times the speed is certainly appreciated!


Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
The azaleas are out at Harehill, we walked over from Alderley Edge this afternoon. See here - the first few - for other pictures from the walk

Rachmaninov (lots of)

We went to the Bridgewater Hall on Thursday to hear an all Rachmaninov concert. I wanted mainly to hear the 3rd concerto - never heard it at a live concert (obviously excluding broadcasts) - though I seem to remember the college rehearsal orchestra may have performed it - with Nick Redding in spite of his piano teacher issuing an interdict - but it was a long time ago.
This week's concert consisted of the Vocalise, 3rd concerto and 3rd symphony, a little nervous whether I could handle so much romanticism! Cristian Mandeal, Nikolai Demidenko and the Halle.
No reviews on the internet so far that I've found - let me give a few impressions. Not sure whether it's where we were sitting - side circle - but much of the 1st movement of the concerto descended, as far as the piano part was concerned, into a high-class mush, with at one point a mis-hit A(?) emerging from the gloom. By the time he got to the cadenza, the balance problems - or whatever it was - seemed to have been sorted and the rest of the work was rather more involving - even to the bronchial audience participation which seemed to kick in at that point!
Demidenko played an encore I couldn't identify, Chopin arranged by Rachmaninov? - if it was I couldn't identify the original, lots of hand crossing and much feux-follet style fireworks. Kelvin suggested the Polka de [VW]R but no it wasn't that.
I don't know the 3rd symphony well wasn't too taken my it, lots of SR trademarks recycled, slavic sighing and rather more effect than (I thought) substance. Looks like we'll be walking near the Villa Senar where this was written this summer, I'll try to walk by! Interesting that the programme note highlighted similarities between the finale and that of the Walton 1st - both of which were written in the 30's and in both cases the composer had a block before he was able to complete the finale.
Before the concert, some hurried rearrangement, as our normal pre-concert restaurant appears to have disappeared! We'd arranged to meet outside so a quick move to another eating location!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Design your own motherboards

We're waiting for some laptops to be built for us at work. While we wait, thanks to B3TA comes this.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How indeed!

'How is it that in the 2000 years since Christ came, we have managed to make generations of gay and lesbian people believe that they are not welcome in our churches?'
said from the platform at Spring Harvest. Go to the Changing Attitude Blog to read the rest. Pebbles beginning to move.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 14 April

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 and author 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!

Grateful for this temporary relief Bridget took down one of her glasses that she had brought back from Limoges and filled it to the brim; the white milk glowed green behind the thick glass. She poured herself coffee and sat down opposite the boy across the kitchen table. 'I am Mrs Hansome,' she said.
couldn't avoid adding that final sentence!
Salley Vickers, Instances of the Number 3 - reviewed here by Penelope Lively.
Also can't resist adding the classic quote from last weeks teaser Zazie dans le métro:
- Qu'est-ce que c'est un hormosessuel? demanda Zazie
- C'est un homme qui met des bloudjinnzes, dit doucement Marceline.
- Tu me racontes des blagues, dit Zazie
I hope I don't need to translate - best read aloud with conviction!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

They always do this in Belgium

well it beats waiting for the train.
I think the auditions office is next to the booking office! Hat tip to uk.rec.humour

An award for promoting cross-cultural understanding?

James Holden has a web page, enabling you to improve the current British transport police campaign.

Hat tip to the Wardman wire, who does a lot better than me in his slogans!

Mutterings - 12 April

This weeks free associations from Unconscious mutterings
  1. Animal :: Vegetable
  2. Temporary :: /tmp
  3. Moan :: grumble
  4. Rapid :: flow
  5. That’s for me to say :: intolerance
  6. City :: subway
  7. Bumper :: to bumper
  8. Eclipse :: solar
  9. Problematic :: challenge
  10. If? :: then (I was tempted to respond ':')

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A mature debate?

From Blake Morrison on the Edlington and Bulger cases:
In the UK you have to reach 16 legally to have sex or marry, 17 to drive a car, and 18 to drink in a pub, serve on a jury, or vote in a general election. Yet at 10 you can be found guilty of murder or rape.
When are we going to have a mature debate on age, responsibility and crime, it is far easier to demonise young criminals and lock them away...

Well it may be more exciting than preparing tomorrow's talk

over the top
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
The local URC minister Marion Tugwood abseiled from the Church tower this morning to raise money. More pictures of the descent on my flickr pages - and on the church's website (in time)

Update - the official pictures are here

Rain coming

Rain coming
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
A Good Friday walk around Bakewell/Chatsworth - around 9 miles in rather wet weather. Here the rain approaches, rest of the photos are here. Ended with a long pull up the hill from Edensor back to Bakewell. Then a restful meal at the Cock and Pullet in Sheldon.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Doty on poetry and silence

Mark Doty on really listening to poetry
At the Zendo, I felt that I was placing the poem into the space in front of me, where it sort of hung for a moment as it was being taken into a deeply receptive listening.
Go and read the whole post!
I need to look up Fanny Howe too!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

This week

Rowan Williams thoughts on Easter

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 7 April

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 and author 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!
- Vous êtes un vieux salaud, oui.
- Absolument pas, déclara le type avec une véhémence qui étonna Zazie.
I think I'd better attempt a translation:
'You're a real dirty old man'
'Certainly not, said the guy with a force which astonished Zazie.

As I've blogged here, I'm reading Queneau's 'Zazie dans le métro' - 50 years old this year. I'm currantly finding spotting the buns a little difficult. Knowing the film well has been a great help though!

Connecting arcs

Bond Street
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Spotted these patterns on the way to church on Sunday. The vertical line is the sun but some form of diffraction pattern caused by that building having two grilles has caused that arc of light - I didn't take a very, very long exposure!
And then there's the vapour trails criss-crossing it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Berlusconi has a sense of humour!

I am tempted to direct and strong actions against the media because of their disinformation about me

Go to boing boing to read the rest of Silvio's latest tantrum.


funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

With gratitude to Niles for hilighting these Dr Who tribute felines.

Mutterings - 5 Apr

This week's free associations from Unconscious Mutterings
  1. Log :: cabin
  2. Plaything :: toy
  3. Broom :: sweep
  4. Heels :: dig in your
  5. Smoke in :: your eyes
  6. Guests :: celebration
  7. Attraction :: magnet
  8. Shiny:: kde
  9. Risked :: gambled
  10. Velvet :: underground (-teen rabbit)

Saturday, April 04, 2009


From today's GuardianInsert some meaningless verbiage here to finish off the weblog posting nicely.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wonderful anarchaic fun

Spent an evening (re-) watching Malle/Queneau's Zazie dans le métro, the book was published 50 years ago this year and the film followed it a year later. Zazie is well into bus-pass territory.
Dangerous, edgy, non-PC, fun, with, in the film, Philippe Noiret (a breakthrough role for him) and Catherine Demongeot (her first and practically only role) giving it verve and off-the wall lunacy. Vittorio Caprioli does a wonderful prophecy of Berlusconi in the final scene...
I don't think the Pythons and the Goodies would have happened without the powerful influence of the film.
I've not read the Queneau book but it is downstairs and I think the challenge will be worth it!
Don't watch the clip if you're scared of heights.

It's a bit late

but I did enjoy it when I got around to reading the email advertising the Swiss keeping their mountains clean

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Towards a reopening

News from the Scargill movement site that there will be a day of commemoration to celebrate the completion of the sale this(!) Saturday at the House. I'm considering at least when I recover from the present state of exhaustion, I'm also preaching the next day.
It should be a good day though!

It's that day

Guardian switches to Twitter#