Sunday, June 28, 2009


It has been an incredibly "english" day. Around us all the villages have started vying for attention now that summer is here. So they all start to put on fete and events. One local town, Olney, had their annual duck race and raft race. The duck race is first and is a way to raise some money for the scouts. Simply put, you buy a raffle ticket but rather than a straight draw the ticket numbers are painted on to rubber ducks, whcih are all then thrown in the River Ouse and the first to reach the bridge is the winner. There were over 1100 entries this year. And we came second - go us!

Then the raft race - a number of slightly deranged people build a raft, dress up in fancy dress and paddle down the river. And this isn't a short race, they have to go a long way. About half way along they have to go under a bridge, which is lined with people armed with water pisotls, flour and eggs. It's all rather cruel. At the end there is a bit of a party going on, live music, vintage cars, bouncy castle, ice cream van, and in the background a game of cricket. Throw in a morris dancer and it couldn't have got more english!

Mad dogs and englishmen go out in the midday sun. Well, we were all there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


You say you don't believe,
Don't believe in unicorns,
In the pot of gold
At the end of the rainbow.
You've never seen
A dragon in flight,
Or a choir of elves
Singing to the skies.

But within me
The dragon lives,
In my soul, giving fire,
My ears hear song
That lifts me high,
I found the gold
(and lost it, I know),
And one day,
One heart stopping day,
I will see
The unicorn
In front of me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Finally watched the last episode of "Ashes to Ashes" tonight. A strange series. In many ways enjoyable. But would have been so much better if it had just been a straight cop drama. The flash forwards and mysterious "caught back in time" bit of the storyline didn't just not work, it actually spoilt the story. OK, so I have to overlook the fact that the Masons were rather picked on (and I admit that back in the 80's there may well have been some corruption anyway). But the music was good, and the starring car was the forerunner of what I have just ordered (I think the A5 is descended from the Quattro!). Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt was excellent. Not really happy with the ending, again, the bullet in the brain part of the story letting down the otherwise great acting.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Money Bags

As a race you do sometimes have to question our learning ability. Stephen Hester, CEO or the Royal Bank of Scotland, is on a potential £9.6 million award. Banks have been seen to be rather careless with their money, and there are already rightful questions about how much tax payer money is tied in to the RBS. So, when people are losing jobs and strggling to make ends meet, it seems a bit insulting to offer so much of our money to one man.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Head Down

A weekend spent working on the Water Dragon. The new computer had been delivered during the week while I was away so I needed to get it set up. And it has taken quite a while. In fact still an ongoing process. The main thing left now is restoring missing links for photos in Lightroom, and a few minor discrepencies in iTunes. A bit of a problem with the on-board soundcard but I had a spare Soundblaster Extreme Audio card which seems to be working fine. It will be worth it in the long run, but maybe I should have spent more time with my daughter seeing as I had been away for so long.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Slippery Stuff

Is there something important to know about pride? Yes, that's it, it is closely associated with the great banana skin on the path of life. Now, recently I have done some presentations at some big meetings, and I have been filming for Sky again. And the fact that people kept telling me that I am actually quite good was rather going to my head. To be fair, I realised this and was thinking I had better be careful. Unfortunately it appears that thinking you should be careful and actually being careful turn out to be completely different things. So there I was yesterday ready to give a talk to an international group. I had been playing around with the presentation the night before as I wanted to add a few of my own photos to showcase (OK, so double problem here, rather proud of some of my photos as well). Not that the presentation was about photography, but I was able to add some of my sheep and cattle photos. That morning I had brought in my memory stick and transfered the presentation over to the main computer. I started off with my presentation, and briefly thought my agenda on the first screen was slightly longer than I meant, but I continued on. I hit a series of slides which, while roughly appropriate, I had thought I had taken out. I continued. I got to the final slide and then announced to the group something along the lines of "damn, you know what, I just gave you the wrong presentation". I had suddenly realised that I had just run the entire way through the presentation written for the International Sheep Congress the week before. Both had been on Bluetongue which was why I had been able to continue, and why it came out of my mouth so smoothly, but the take home messages of the two talks were supposed to be extremely different. I had completely failed to cover the particular points required for the meeting. Which would rather explain why people had been looking at my print outs with confusion (the print outs had been taken from the earlier version without my photos and so were correct). While I rescued the situation by going through the print out and discussing the important missed slides I have to say that I was fairly mortified as I have NEVER done that before.

A few lessons to learn, along with don't be proud. Firstly, as part of the title include the name of the meeting the talk is intended for. Both presentations had very similar names hence I had managed to transfer the wrong one. Secondly, run through the presentation quickly once transfering it. This I usually do but didn't in this case because we couldn't see how to blank the projector in the room and I was too cocky to worry about it. Thirdly, should I start thinking that the presentation has the wrong slide in it then I should listen to myself rather than blithely charging onward. And fourthly, there's nothing like a good cock up to bring you sharply back down to earth.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sparks Fly

Despite l1z suggesting that my source of computers might be the root of my problem, I have to say I think she is wrong. I have had Evesham, Gateway and HP computers in the past. Then I bought one from the local computer shop. They all went wrong so I may as well try something as joyously named as Yoyotech Water Dragon.

However it is possible that a clue for my destructive ability with computers can be found at the gym. In between each piece of equipment I go to take a drink. We have some of those water fountains that I last saw at school. Big metal things with a button to press that shoots water into the air. Which is fine at the beginning, but by the end of a session it is hard to keep the head still and the water goes up the nose. But, and here's the important part, I almost invariably get an electric shock from whichever one I go and use. Thinking about it I also often get electric socks from the cats. And from metal hand rails. Is there a common theme. Doh, yes, me. Maybe, just maybe, I am supercharged!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Get Carter

Or, more accurately, Karta. Karta is an orangutan at Adelaide Zoo. It seems that on Mothers Day she decided that she wanted a different perspective on things. So she stuck a branch into the electric fence, thus shorting it. Then she used shrubs, bushes and branches to build a ladder. She climbed up the ladder and out of the enclosure. After spending some time on top of the wall, basically long enough for the zoo to be evacuated, she then calmly returned to her pen. More a grand day out than the great escape!

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I'd have to say that the more I watch "The Apprentice" the more I decide I do not want to buy anything that Alan Sugar is involved with. I don't think he does himself or his business any favours. The end impression is that he favours cheap and tacky over quality. There is no weighting towards repeat business or trust. Get a quick cheap sale and run like heck is the message consistently received. The sandwich episode was a case in point, the team than won made the most profit but no-one would have ever have bought another sandwich from them again, the quality was so poor that reputation was blown. And tonights winner made chocolates that made people gag. Yes they were cheap, but it showed on peoples faces just how cheap they were. It is all short term focus. You know what, those who considered quality as important are just too good for him, and they should be grateful they didn't get the job. They would have been dragged down to the lowest denominator.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

In the RAW

The new computer is ordered. This is good news. {Although, going off on a tangent, caused me some card issues. I ordered it using a credit card. But when I first tried to put it through the transaction was blocked. Apparently the fraud team were a bit nervous. I rang them up and they asked the necessary questions. I said that the amount was right and then they said who it was being paid to. Bearing in mind this is a computer I was therefore a bit surprised when the company showing the transaction was Chalston Motor Homes! After a bit of a panic we cleared it all up and everything went OK. Until today and trying to pay for the riding lesson, when my card was blocked again. Ringing up the fraud squad again it appears they had spotted the transaction again and once again were panicking, mainly because the name of the company had changed to the correct one rather than anyone trying to deal in motor homes. We cleared up the confusion and life returns to normal.}

Anyway, tangent over. Yes, good news. but in the meantime while waiting for delivery I have to try and sort out my files. Which means I realise I have a lot of photos on file. In RAW format (photographing in RAW leaves more flexibility for image manipulation later), so they ain't small, in fact almost 30gB of data. So I now have to transfer them all on to the new external hard drive that I have bought for image storage (the new computer will have only one hard drive which will be used for programs type information). And I also need to redesign my folder categories, the simple by date structure was becoming too cumbersome. Finally, once all of that is built, I then have to restore all the links for Lightroom so that it can find the photos.

I might be some time!

Friday, June 05, 2009


Looking at the ballot papers yesterday what really amazed me was how many different names there were to put my cross against. Not amazed because it showed that politics was alive and well. No, I was amazed because none of them, not one, had knocked on our door to tell us what they stood for. And if you don't tell people what you stand for then how on earth do you expect to get a vote. For all I know some of the small groups may have had some good points, I may have felt that they deserve a voice. But if I don't know what their platform is then I am not going to stop my train there.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Creating a Splash

I am so pleased that Boris is in this world. Surrounded by politicians that take themselves too seriously and the public not seriously enough, Boris bucks the trend. He is able to laugh at himself (well he has to, so many things happen to him) while he does seem to genuinely care. Never worried about being correct, he is worried about doing right. And he really seems to enjoy being mayor (you can follow his reports on Facebook, they are wonderful reading). Anyway, it had to be Boris that found the hole to put his foot in when wading through a river.


There is a certain irony that, in a world where people with nothing to say are desperately searching for their 15 minutes of fame, today is the anniversary of a crushed attempt at democracy. The irony is that the defining image of Tiananmen Square is that of a man standing in front of a tank, trying to turn it back. While here we have people trying to show themselves off on "Britains Got Talent", "Big Brother" (back this week), "The Apprentice" and a host of other reality shows. And yet that man, with what appeared initially a futile gesture after so many deaths the day before, is only known as "Tank Man". No-one knows who he was, what his name was, where he came from, or where he has gone. No-one knows what he shouted at the tank once he had clambered on its roof. No-one knows what it was that gave him the strength to stand there blocking the icon of war and destruction. The gesture was not futile as it gave inspiration, it gave hope. It was not futile because it demonstrated that one individual can rise above the dross. It was the complete opposite of all that reality TV represents. It was a real moment of reality.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Computer Woe

My computer is really not well. It appears that out of the USB ports, the network, and the second hard drive I can have two working at any one time, but not all three. And I don't have the choice, the computer decides as it boots up.

My history with computers is not good. I have got through 5 laptops at work in eight years. At home I get through a desktop computer every 2-3 years. I just seem to burn them out. Not exactly sure why, but computers and I are not compatible.

The thing is that I don't read computer magazines these days so I don't even know what I am now looking for. So I think I will just buy the A list computer in PC Pro. I don't know how good it really is but the name is fantastic - the Yoyotech Water Dragon 3.6

Monday, June 01, 2009

Hot Times

Overheard in the sauna - "Christ it's f......g hot in here"

There's not a lot you can say to that really.