farse_sm.jpg EneryVIII.jpg

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

At last...

An answer to long-posed question.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Oh, post something, for goo'ness sakes.

I am so sick of looking at that same bloody thing, over and over, day in day out.



Anyone who can watch this and not love it is dead to me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thirty Years Ago Today...

Thirty years ago; this awkward, scruffy, hippy-haired, rotten-mouthed, teen-fugged lump, still fifteen, began his first day of work.

Thirty damned years: long enough to break a year-long silence.

Feeling old today. But not too old, not yet. Back then, on that day and in that place, there were men who'd worked forty years and more, every day of which spent in that same grim shipyard.

Well: I escaped that fate at least; as indeed I had another just by being there - the only viable alternative to the 'yard was a job "doon the Pit", as they say, digging coal.

First day of a four-year apprenticeship (remember those?), and I loved almost every minute of it. Started smoking in those first few weeks, tied to metalwork benches learning to file, and saw, and "chip" with a chisel. Loved it all indeed, though I was, the whole time and ever after, a most useless sparky.

Must have been two hundred boys started work that day - no female apprentices for another year or so - most of them not knowing what their trade would be. There'd been an exam in early spring, that we'd all passed, but trade choices were dispensed by rank - the higher you'd scored the likelier you were to be granted a trade you preferred. There were a ton of trades available - can't remember them all now, and some may even be extinct - but the big three were Electrical Fitter (sparkys), Mechanical Fitter (meccys), and Shipwright (chippys). Or if that didn't take your fancy you could be a Joiner (carpenter), a Boilermaker, a Welder; or even a Pattern-maker, who'd carve patterns for castings in the Foundry, a Sailmaker or a Rigger.

What do I remember of it? A boyish excitement, that stayed. A large black toolbox filled with gleaming tools that, sure as the sun never shines on Cowdenbeath, did not. Of being introduced to the clock, and clock-cards to be stamped in and out; to the Recorders whose job it was to read the cards and tally time and MULCTs; to the ubiquitous green overalls we all had to wear, and the complaints of a militant protestant boy who insisted he'd only ever wear white. And our instructors, all idling their time till retirement teaching teenage boys to cut and crimp, and all the rest. All white-haired and easy prey... old DH with his hearing aid that never worked; or old AS, all Captain Mainwairing, with a son in the Hong Kong police; or my first instructor, TS, who chewed his nails to the knuckle. These guys, how they survived a month at that job I'll never know: when things blew up they were always so shocked, and confused. Never worked out that it was us doing the whistling, not the hearing aid; or that it was us who'd screwed the lock on their office door so they couldn't reach their fiercely-screaming kettle, spewing all that steam. Only one of them, gravel-voiced ST, the oldest too, knew what to expect, had seen and swatted every trick there was, the only one never taken by surprise. Who laughed all the same.

Aah. Long, long time ago. But for now, it's back to work.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

À la Recherche des Disques Perdus

I am a man of many, many petty and annoying neuroses, deprecated as the term may be. As with all such, the tiniest infraction causes unseemly distress; always real, and always way out-of-proportion to the [very] particular complaint. My kids have long known, for example, that the easiest way to Off The Old Man Without Being Caught would be to arrange for something sticky to fall onto his fingers while he is driving. I wouldn't think to stop the car, or pull over to the verge - I'd be so lost in eliminating horrorstory tackiness that I'd be over the cliff and into the sea before I knew it. Although it's entirely possible I might have signalled first.

One of those neuroses manifests as a need to have disky things - CD's, DVD's, records - kept well-ordered and pristine - a case for everything, and everything in its case, says I.

My belovèd family, other hand, are total anarchists when it comes to the orderly maintenance of Home Entertainment media. Worse: they're animals, I tell ya! Not only do they not put disks away, they'll leave them lying around unprotected, where the dust and detritus and jam can eat them. They trash a case, they don't care: throw it under a bed, or - grraaagh! - stuff a half-case, empty, back in its place where Pops won't notice until he goes to pull it out one day to play in the car on his way to work.

But worst of all, worse even that the sly culling of my collection that leaves me tearing around headless after Exit Stage Left (I'm on that CD, you bastards, singing along to Closer to the Heart, from wenawiz your age!) or La Damnation de Faust - worst of all is that often they do appear to play the game. They do put them back, but they put the wrong disk in the wrong case. So you're in the car, you think you've just put Bach in the player, but what flies out the speakers is some shite like Bananafeckinrama or Disco Doozies! And that just drives me mental.

Anyway. So we're remodelling, still - the other rooms, remember? New floors and new paint in the computer room where my CDs live, and this morning I'm emptying the bookshelves so we can paint the shelves and finish the room. I'd emptied the book half of the shelves the other week, and today I've been emptying the CD side: loading the remnants of my music collection, and a gazillion old computer games, all into boxes. Take each CD in turn, dust it, open the case, check contents for correctness. This way, I figure, I stand a chance of making things right again before they're dropped in the box. I'll sort them later, says me, when I put them back on the shelves after the room is done, when I'm sure no-one is looking. They'll slag me rotten if they see me doing that.

So, picking through the piles, semi-sorting into Classical, or Opera, or Rock, or Wierd, or Mom's - the better to pull them out later - when I hit upon this one that I'd totally forgotten I'd bought. Must be twelve, fifteen years old, because it came from the Marconis era. And right there, right then, like some erstwhile reprobate Proust, it took me back to all those drunken parties where everyone, at some point, did this:

My pal Iain had the face - the rest of us just clumped around like gormless pratts. Which of course, we were.

It also brought back my first ever trip to America, and my horror at how they poured Guinness, which was to skoosh it straight out the tap and into the glass like it was Miller-Lite or some other such fizzy dross. No delay; no two-minute careful pour, no three-minute desperate wait watching it settle; just straight-out Splat! This was in Boston, too, where you'd think they'd know better.

This in turn prompted an internal debate, which I won't bore you with, discussing the question: Why Are American TV Commercials So Crap? They're not, of course - just mostly crap. Same in Britain: but good commercials in Blightey are, on-the-whole better, than good commercials here. And Guinness has always been particularly good.

I found the case for Exit Stage Left. It was empty.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Nae Photies

Sorry, but all my blog photos are down. I keep them at home, and am tinkering with the server. Normal, crappy service should be restored shortly...

Meanwhile I'm coming to grips with a new job, new hardware, a pile of strange code, and a hundred new interfaces - new to me at least. Never had to drive PCI devices before, let alone exotic novelties such as PCI Express or serial RapidIO or RaceWay switch fabrics. Lots of fun (honest!) but a very steep learning curve.

Which is all just another excuse for not posting much. Although it has to be said, for the first time in twelve years, I don't have remote access to the workplace. I can't [yet] work from home at nights, as is my wont, so I do kind of have more actual free time. It's just that it's filled with reading specifications and other crap right now. And with trying to tweak my own systems in ways I'm going to have to do at work - sort of offline practising.

Today's new adventures, for the sad ones among you, are called Xen and git.

Ho hum.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Seven Things

Tagged by DarkoV and, truth be told, nothing better to write about - this was going to be another post-free weekend - try to write seven random things about Me-Me-Meeeeee! that you probably don't know. The problem I have with this kind of thing, as you surely must know by now, is a characteristic pre-onset Alzheimer memory. I may remember tales from the old days, or whenever, but I won't recall that I've bored you with them before. And though I may have seven things to tell you now, guaranteed I'll have forgotten four of them after writing the first three. That ought to count as one thing right there?

  1. I gave my boys The Talk - yeah, that one - completely impromptu while hopelessly drunk at our Halloween Party and dressed-up as morning-after Patsy from Ab-Fab. This was around the time our second eldest broke his voice, so to speak. Thing is, I only sputtered half the story - the "soon ye'll be wantin' tae spread yer seed all over the place" part - before the bastards ran away. Reduced to shouting "but don't you DARE!!!" at their fleeing backs.

  2. At dire risk of incurring the Wrath of Fate, in forty-four years I've never broken a bone, despite numerous futile attempts. Sure, I've fallen forty feet off a rope swing into gorse bushes, and I've ripped or torn every ligament in my body; but so far, tap head touch wood, no broken bones. Although... it must be said, last time I was really drunk - must be seven years now - I think I cracked my thumb? It hurt like a bugger for months afterwards. But it wasn't broken - fractured at best. What a night that was. Last time I got drunk, and the very last time I drank whisky. Or "Satan's Semen", as my wife prefers we call it.

  3. We married in a taxi, in a drive-thru Tunnel of Love - but I can't imagine you haven't heard that already? Best. Day. Evah! It was the same taxi, turns out, that had driven us from the airport to the Clark County Registrar, where we fetched the license. By the time we came out, our driver had reached the front of the line. They gipped us on the service, though - we asked for non-religious, but they sent out a preacher anyway, who leaned in the window and gave us - three of us, including the driver - the "Dearly Belovèd. We are gathered here today..." line.

  4. I was right!

  5. Oh - I've been run over by my own car. My last house, back there, was a cottage stood on a main road, with only a narrow sidewalk between its door and the road. I'd parked in front, and was unloading all the shopping for Christmas dinner from the trunk when some other driver plowed into the front, pushing the car - and me underneath, clinging desperately to the back - fifteen feet backwards down the street. It was a hatchback, and rather luckily I'd been leaning in to the trunk when the other car hit. I'd no real idea what was happening until it was over, but remember my car lurching in to me, and the tailgate whumping down on my head, and my arms being caught on the lip.

  6. That same car was stolen twice in one week. The first time was the night John Major won re-election as UK Prime Minister - that was bad enough. The car was recovered, but had been vandalized. So we got it fixed, and the day we got it back from the shop it was stolen again. It was discovered - gutted, no engine, no wheels, no seats - in a lock-up garage some weeks later.

  7. I have no hair in my armpits: almost as embarrassing in my youth as the puppy-fat man-boobs that never did go away when I was twelve, like my mother swore they would. Well, they're not entirely Kojak: there is some hair there - maybe five or six each side - but imagine if you can the whisperied chins of those ladies we sometimes see who are desperately intent on enhancing their masculinity, and have tried to goatee? Like that.

  8. I once watched Goldfinger dubbed in german, with a very good impersonation of Sean Connery's voice. "Ich heisshe Bondt. Jamesh Bondt". Almost as funny as watching the Blues Brothers on the same channel:

    Penguin: Es betrübt und verletzt mich, daß die zwei jungen Männer, denen ich anhob, um an die 10 Gebote zu glauben, zu mir als zwei Diebe, mit schmutzigen Öffnungen und schlechter Haltung zurückgekommen sind.
    (It saddens and hurts me that the two young men whom I raised to believe in the ten commandments have returned to me as two thieves, with filthy mouths and bad attitudes.)

That'll do - always a struggle when forced to remember anything. Usually dependent on whatever bubbles its way out the swamp.

I'm not going to pass it on. I don't know seven people! This meme dies here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Always Get Fooled Again...

No matter what the song may advise, I'll always get fooled again - even when I see it coming.

I think I realized, maybe one or two seconds before my wife did, that "Nooo! THAT WAS IT! - that was the end!", but not quickly enough to stop her pinging other channels fore and aft to make sure it wasn't the feching Cable. And then, fit of utter disgust, she cut straight to The Tudors on Showtime, leaving me to complain that "Nono - we need the watch the credits to the end, case something happens."

The real surprise, it was she, not me, who had so wound herself up in anticipation all week, to the point that she couldn't wait those extra three hours to the West Coast viewing, that we ate our dinner and watched the East Coast feed. It shouldda been me that needed to jump the gun, but I'd only just finished explaining that Sopranos season endings had always disappointed in the past, and that this would be no different. Still: hope against hope, all that.

A disturbing end, in retrospect: he looks up from the table at the sound of the door, then BLAP! The Great Black Nuthin, like he'd been popped and never heard it coming. And hey, no matter what else I might feel about it, I have to admit that, for an instantaneous cut to black screen and total silence, it was hugely loud.

But in the end, be honest, go with my gut: it sucked ass.

Oh sure I can see a hundred different ways that it was a clever, even profound ending: but none of them wash, and most of them involve me being suckered, cheated, played for a fool. And that, too, is part of it: the Mob is a cheat - that's what they do.

Sucked ass, total rip-off.

That said, the Leotardo sequence, where his baby-laden SUV slowly rolled and popped his now-dead head, causing onlookers to vomit six feet - that scene took me back to the very first episode of the very first season, to the scene that hooked me to the show in the first place: where Christopher and somebody else were trying to throw a body in a dumpster, but it kept falling back out. It seemed, back then, to exemplify the notion of mobsters as ruthless-but-useless. Dumb as bricks, but murderous. Keystone Thugs.

Sucked ass, and blew chunks.

Boom-boom in your eye, right enough.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What's today?

Can't let the day pass without at least a mention of the likes of Lovat, or Todd, or Durning, with whose names we may feel some familiarity, and of the many thousands more who planted their boots in the sand that day and walked them, fighting every step, across beaches, through bocage and bulging forests, and over the rivers to Berlin and beyond.