Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 30 March

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!
She hoed, but she was hoeing mechanically now. Twice she caught herself about to decapitate a potato.
I'm still with Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin (published in the US as 'Every Man Dies Alone') which I teased from two weeks back. This quote comes from a brief (and very welcome) pastoral interlude before the darkness closes in.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Steps to Lucidity

Some of you might venture to disagree with the title of this posting as it is an account of the various issues I've had (so far) with the upgrading of the laptop to the beta version of Lucid Lynx the next release of the Ubuntu version of the Linux/FSF operating system. I did this as part of the global bug jam at Madlab in Manchester.
I started off with
sudo update-manager -d
which told me there was a new release (in Beta) I proceeded and almost immediately got a python crash:
ImportError: No module named deprecation
a bit of web searching gave me the solution and I downloaded and installed python-apt_0.7.94.2ubuntu3_amd64.deb. This took me once I restarted the upgrade, a little further until it stopped with the cryptic error:
E:Error, pkgProblemResolver::Resolve generated breaks, this may be caused by held packages.
and told me that I might be trying to install a beta version (gosh!). This took me a little time to resolve, did a lot of searching around broken packages and removed a few which really ought to have long gone but a look at /var/log/dist-upgrade/main.log and the apt.log should have told me that the problem was the empathy package (an instant messenger) which claimed that there was a broken depends upon empathy-common (which I didn't have!) I removed empathy and it started downloading the new version of the operating system (all 2000+ packages!) this took some time but eventually prompted me to reboot. I rebooted and got to the screen where I select which operating system to run and the new version wasn't there! I tried the old version(which was still there and inevitably that crashed nastily as the only thing left of that was the Linux kernel! Fortunately I had installed other versions of Linux on the hard drive - if not I could have used a rescue disk - and from one of those edited the grub menu - which allows selection between them - to include the new version.
Reboot, select the Ubuntu Lucid and I got a black screen with a scary message about ureadahead having crashed and mountall being unable to connect to Plymouth (that's the graphical boot screen not a port in the south!). Booted back to a alternative working system to web search and after quite a few false trails looked at the /etc/fstab and spotted a line which I'd included to mount /proc/bus/usb which got Aladdin dongles working with the previous version of Ubuntu (as I no longer have the Aladdin dongle - used by my ex-work - I didn't need it). Then having edited that file (mounted the Ubuntu partition from the working OS) I rebooted, I still see that message about ureadahead but it quickly vanishes - so it was a red herring apart from telling me where in the boot process it was bombing out - and I could login to the upgraded Lucid Lynx system. Thanks to all at the bugjam for assistance. Now for testing of the running system!

There you are, wasn't that Lucid!
I meant to take some pictures of the day but, alas forgot!
Later Looks like the issue with grub was due to my having installed another version of Linux which, without asking, moved the MBR (master boot record) somewhere else where the Ubuntu system wasn't expecting it!

Mutterings - 28 March

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Bow out :: Resign
  2. Relationships :: Network
  3. Facebook :: Network
  4. Items :: List
  5. Ours :: Theirs
  6. Sting :: Wasp
  7. Hangover :: Alcohol
  8. Contacts :: Battery
  9. Lonely :: Solitary
  10. Seven days :: 'not one in seven' (George Herbert)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Magda Olivero

The Italian soprano Magda Olivero is 100 years old today, here's a clip of her being interviewed a few days ago - from a 3 hour session!

And here she is discussing and singing at her 99th birthday

She initially retired before I was born...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Typos Untie

But maybe the authors don't think they are typos?

Some Americans are revolting (or maybe it's just the stewed tea?).
Hat tip to Grandmère Mimi


Thanks to an article on fondues on the Guardian website - we have two contraptions for cooking fondue - I've been thinking of those dishes and a comment took me to shellfish and now I find this glorious poem quoted here on Mark Doty's weblog:
Blue inside
obsidian, blue of compression,
blue of the fleck

and of flash-
cooled glass. We anchor
volcanic, and fast.

We embrace
and make changeful our
beach. We bury.

Between, we
breach -- our numbers our
read -- but do

not be fooled
by the forfeit of blue,
that sad shadow mim-

icry shift-
ing on waves, or within.
Not slate, nor

azure, we
are devotion to tidal

we turn to the
backing away of the ocean
as cicadas

turn to their
seventeenth year, as delphinia
gravely follow

the sun, not
unlike some seraphim long
after faltering.
from torch song tango choir by Julie Sophia Paegle to be published in the Summer (University of Arizona Press)- unfortunately I can't find a good link for the book, but enjoy the poem it reminds me of hot summers and rockpools!

Oscar Romero

Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of Oscar Romero Archbishop of San Salvador. Here are some words from another South American Roman Catholic also concerned with justice.
I love flowers more and more.
They speak to me
of how ephemeral life is
and make me face up
to eternity.
Dom Helder Camara

The Amaryllis is currently flowering in our dining room.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 23 March

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!
I'm still in the midst of Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin but I've been needing some light relief, the book is far too dark to read at bedtime and so this week's teaser is from Lily Prior's La Cucina:
I was filled with so much love for Bartolomeo that I feared I would burst if something did not happen soon. What that something was I did not know, for Mama kept me in a state of such complete innocence that at the age of seventeen I still did not know where babies came from, and thought that menstruation was the monthly consequence of eating too many artichokes.
Innocence, librarianship and cooking in rural Sicily. A sort of Italian equivalent of 'Like Water for Chocolate'. From the comments on Amazon it looks as if the resemblance to that book is a little too close! I'm also reading this as part of my 2010 Bibliophilic books challenge.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mutterings - 21 March

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Burrito :: sour cream
  2. Spike :: Milligan
  3. Tougher :: Boots
  4. Mock :: Dave (and Turtle)
  5. Slurp :: Soup
  6. Knock :: School of hard ...s
  7. Conference :: Call
  8. Madness :: Scene (from opera)
  9. Minds :: Simple (ah, the pop group connection caught up from the last one)
  10. Connection :: USB

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Teach yourself English

I've been to a day at the Manchester Alliance Francaise in celebration of Francophone Day, we learned the differences between French and the variations spoken in Belgium, France and Romania. So here to redress the balance is an English lesson.

I was introduced the deschiens today with this clip with its impenetrable Belgian accents - it does include substance abuse and the punchline is rather obvious - but I enjoyed it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

WInter Wind

As Spring seems to be here, let's hark back to the cold with Samson François playing 2 Chopin Studies - Op 25 no 5 and 11 (the second being popularly called Winter Wind)

Hat tip to 'SG' on
I think 'Paul Procopolis' was a Barrington Coupe invention which the you tube poster is gently recalling.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2 days in Paris

The final SilkScreen of the season, last night, was Julie Delpy's 2 days in Paris. You probably needed to like Woody Allen's work to enjoy this evisceration of certain attitudes and styles. Funny, bawdy and a delight. It took me a little time to get into - and that was combined with the SilkScreen's twitchy sound system and some projection issues but it is a lovely frothy comedy of manners - it had its dead moments - that argument by the canal just didn't work for me at all - but I would otherwise recommend it. I didn't realise until afterwards that Delpy's father, in the film, is her real father, their interaction is wonderful. Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Photohunt suggests blogging pictures of spirals this week. This has circles within circles, from the pots to the earth in narrowing circles and finally the bulbs with their own expanding growths.


Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
The sun is out this lunchtime - at least it is here - and the spring bulbs are loving it. Our garden comes back to life after the winter!

Teaser Tuesday - 16 March

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!
As things stand the Persickes are somewhat compromised. They won't suffer any consequences, but they'll be the subject of gossip within the Party. They'll lose a little of their reputation for reliability.
From our book group's book of the month - Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin (aka Every Man Dies Alone). A story of ordinary people under the 3rd Reich and the resistance of an isolated couple. It's a long read - apparently it was written in a month. Here's the review from the Independent, the Guardian was less keen.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Sunday steal

  1. What were doing 10 years ago?
    Precisely? Tuesday in 2000? Getting through my last few weeks working at Bechtel
  2. Five snacks that you enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world
    Gain weight? me? Dark chocolate. More dark chocolate. More, more, more!
  3. Five things you would do if you were a billionaire:
    Retire! Give money away. Time for interesting research. Definitely a holiday with friends. Excavate a wine cellar
  4. Three of your habits:
    Answering a question with a question? fiddling nervously. Procrastination
  5. Five jobs that you've have had:
    software engineer. numerical analyst. supermarket checkout operator. deputy head of kitchen.
  6. Five places that you've lived:
    Southport. Leeds. Kettlewell. Cambridge. Macclesfield
  7. Five things that you did yesterday:
    blogged. shopped. cooked. watched theatrical performance at church. slept.
  8. Five people you would want to get to know more about:
    I am so not into celebrity culture
  9. Abortion: for or against it?
    in particular circumstances
  10. Do you think the world would fail with a female president?
    Why should it more than it would with an equally fallible male?
  11. Do you believe in the death penalty?
  12. Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?
    Not terribly
  13. Are you for or against premarital sex?
    Bit late for me!
  14. Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?
  15. Do you think it's wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA?
    Don't live in the USA - I think it's fear rather than actuality (transplanting the issue to the UK)
  16. Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen?
    It is 18! (well here it is)
  17. Should the war in Iraq be called off?
    Shouldn't have started, but what we do now without causing more instability is difficult.
  18. Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?
  19. Do you believe in spanking your children?
    They're taller than me!
  20. Do you worry that others will judge you from reading some of your answers?
    Of course

Mutterings - 14 March

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Children :: offspring
  2. Saddlebags :: horse
  3. Restraint :: rein
  4. Awake :: early
  5. Blood :: brother
  6. Shutter :: gîte
  7. Posted :: blog-entry
  8. Corn cob :: butter
  9. Flagrant :: denial
  10. Fart :: wind

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mothering Sunday Lunch?

Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
We live in a rather urban part of Macclesfield, so this was a bit of a surprise. The cats were rather keen on it - alas once they got close enough the pheasant realised that flying was rather a good idea!
There's another picture in the set on flickr

Herb/bulb garden

Herb/bulb garden
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
The picture is of the old bath we use as a herb garden in the back yard. The bulbs are out in the garden - more than just snowdrops now but here is Louise Glock's poem Snowdrops

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring--

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Via SueM comes this call to perform a Myers-Briggs analysis on the blog via this test script. You'll be pleased to know that this blog comes out as ESFP:
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.
I think I cam out as INFP last time I tried one of these (no doubt approximate) web forms - but tested on myself.
However, as you see, you can pull up a chair and relax here. Must be all that music I've been embedding!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 9 March

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!
Irresistible! -
In different species, I noted varieties of modesty or arrogance, honesty or shiftiness, and in one 150-kilovolt type in ubiquitous use in southern Finland I even detected a coquettish sexuality in the way the central mast held out a delicate hand to its conductor wire. The unspoken challenge for transmission engineers seemed to be to fashion a pylon which would subliminally read as possessing much the same blend of psychological and physical virtues as one might search for in an ideal friend or lover.

Alain de Botton's The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work a journey through 10 occupations with some imaginative photography.
When I was working - it was on software which assisted in the design of transmission networks...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday meme

From Sweet memes comes this meme which Sunday Stealing stole
  1. Are you currently in a serious relationship?
    Been married nearly 27 years... (is that flippant enough?)
  2. What was your dream growing up?
    Define growing up? (sorry) pre-teens it was definitely Space
  3. What talent do you wish you had?
    Finding a job which doesn't blow up in my face
  4. If I bought you a drink, what would it be?
    Red wine
  5. What was the last book you read?
    Emma Craigie's 'Chocolate Cake with Hitler' ( very dark! )
  6. What zodiac sign are you?
  7. Any tattoos and/or piercings? Explain where.
    No, couple of geeky stickon tattoos on the bedside table which I've never been uninhibited enough to attach (or had the right excuse)
  8. Worst habit?
    Fuming (not so silently)
  9. What is your favorite sport?
    sport?? probably skiing
  10. Do you have a pessimistic or optimistic attitude?
  11. Worst thing to ever happen to you?
    Definitely not going there
  12. Tell me one weird fact about you.
    You go to my and see the mixture of the terribly serious and trashy
  13. Do you think clowns are cute or scary?
    Scary - ran away from one on a pier when young and I haven't changed
  14. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?
    Don't look serious/authoritarian enough but don't know how you change that
  15. Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?
  16. Ever been arrested?
    No, came close with an Italian police car
  17. If you won $10,000 today, what would you do with it?
    Where's the pension fund?
  18. What's your favorite place to hang out at?
    sadly the computer, would like it to be the piano
  19. Do you believe in ghosts?
    Probably yes.
  20. Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
    Piano when I can motivate myself.
  21. Do you swear a lot?
    Only inwardly
  22. Biggest pet peeve?
    Other people
  23. In one word, how would you describe yourself?
    Odd mixture of intensely serious/shy and flippant
  24. Do you believe/appreciate romance?
  25. Do you believe in God?

Tod ist Tove!

Ann Murray singing the song of the wood-dove from Schönberg's Gurrelieder, the tragedy at the heart of that work.

Ann Murray was the wife of Philip Langridge who died on Friday. There's some examples of his work on also on youtube - but I wanted to mourn. Stay for the denouement! - alas the video cuts off the closing orchestral bars. I'll be listening to Langridge in Peter Grimes later..
PS (Monday) the Guardian obituary of Langridge is now available.

Mutterings - 7 March

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Detective :: Clouseau
  2. Bangs ::Bombs (with the appropriate cod-French accent)
  3. Consultant :: Paid
  4. Puzzle :: Monkey (araucaria)
  5. Learn :: Look (and) - children's magazine of the 60's
  6. Necklace :: pearl
  7. 184 :: 1984
  8. Stimulation :: sleep
  9. Layered :: narrative
  10. Police :: car

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mouths and eyes

The Silkscreen - our local world cinema club - showed Susanne Biel's 'after the wedding' this week.
Here's the trailer:

A Danish charity worker returns from his work at an Indian orphanage in order to seek much needed funding from a wealthy potential donor. He is then invited to the daughter’s wedding held at a beautiful house outside Copenhagen. Your prejudices are engaged and overturned again and again, I thought it a wonderful film though there were times when I felt beaten over the head to emote. Powerful though and the concentration upon eyes (human and animal) and mouths as a means of carrying the drama lends it a certain atmosphere. I did spend some time in the early part of the film thinking 'must suspend disbelief' but it is definitely worth it! See it before they release the English language re-make! Here's the Guardian review - this one is ok but some reviews and the wikipedia page contain major spoilers!

Thursday, March 04, 2010


I listened to Carl Ruggles Sun-treader yesterday afternoon.

An inspiring prickly work which didn't get its US premiere until 1966 - it was written in 1931 and takes as its title part of a line from Robert Browning:
Sun-treader, light and life be thine forever!
a homage to Shelley and as such acts as a fitting tribute to that lover of Shelley, Michael Foot, who died yesterday.A man of principle who remained positive even when the rubbish of politics was being thrown at him. He didn't fit well with today's image conscious media driven politics. As the Guardian obituary (linked above) records:
When a general election was called in 1935, he walked into Labour's headquarters, asked for a list of constituencies that needed candidates, and was adopted the next day for Monmouth. Politics was simpler in those days.

Ruggles died at the age of 95, Foot at 96.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Herb Garden

Snowdrops in the bath tub we use as a herb garden. And here's a poem by Paul Eluard (in French)
Une herbe pauvre, sauvage,
apparut dans la neige,
c’était la santé.
Ma bouche fut émerveillée
du goût d’air pur qu’elle avait,
elle était fanée
Here's a link containing an English translation (pdf document) if you need it.
And here's Francis Poulenc's setting of those words:

Simple and luminous, 90 seconds of mastery!

Teaser Tuesday - 2 March

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!
Those sunny days in Clare Street, working in Aunt Florence's shop, for example. They made things then. Things that would last, things that you could look at, admire.
From Part 2 of Christine Dwyer Hickey's Dublin Trilogy 'the gambler'. Having enjoyed her latest book 'The Last train from Liguria', I wanted to try some of her other work, I'm currently struggling rather with this, but am still hoping that I, or it, settle down!
Here's the Amazon page for the book, curiously there are no reviews, interesting for a book published in 1996!