T In The Park 2006 takes place at Balado , Kinross near Glasgow .
Saturday, January 28, 2006 8:12 PM
On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, killing all seven crew members: flight commander Francis R. "Dick" Scobee; pilot Michael J. Smith; Ronald E. McNair; Ellison S. Onizuka; Judith A. Resnik; Gregory B. Jarvis; and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.
Saturday, January 21, 2006 12:38 PM
ASBOs in the 17th Century? For non-UK readers this is an attempt by the British goverment to limit hassles caused by "chavs". Seems they had similar issues in 17th Century Italy!
"A 1659 Decree fixed to a wall in the Tartuca.
S[UA] A[LTEZZA] S[ERENISSIMA] E D' ORDINE DELLA MED[ESIMA], I SIG[NORI] ESECUTORI DI GABELLA [P]ER LORO BANDO DEL 17 7BRE 1659. HANNO ORDINATO CHE IN QUESTA STRADA, E NELLE CASE CHE CORRISPONDO IN ESSA CON PORTE, NON ABITINO MERETRICI, E DONNE DI MALA VITA, ANCHORCHE MARITATE, SOTTO LA PENA DI SCUDI DIECI.
HIS MOST SERENE HIGHNESS, AND BY ORDER OF THE SAME, THE LORD EXECUTORS OF THE GABELLA, BY THEIR DECREE OF THE 17th SEPTEMBER 1659, HAVE ORDERED THAT IN THIS STREET, AND IN THE HOUSES WHICH OPEN OFF IT, ARE NOT TO LIVE ANY WICKED WOMEN, OR WOMEN OF BAD LIFE, EVEN IF MARRIED, UNDER PAIN OF TEN SCUDI.
There are various versions of similar Decrees scattered around the city, identifying for us where the shady areas were in the 16th Century. His Highness is the Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Gabella was the principal tax gathering authority of the city. Ten Scudi was a considerable sum of money at the time."
A lovely image copyright to
Wednesday, January 18, 2006 9:29 PM
Alex St Clair obituary from the Times..
September 14, 1941 - January 5, 2006
Influential guitarist and founding member of Captain Beefheart's Magic
ALEX ST CLAIR was responsible for bringing the voice of Captain
Beefheart to the world.
In early 1965 St Clair invited him to sing with his band at a
Californian college. Beefheart, who had never performed in public, went
on to become one of the most extraordinary and influential figures in
As the leader of the first line-up of his Magic Band, St Clair played a
key role in helping to forge the radical sound on such seminal Captain
Beefheart albums as Safe as Milk and Strictly Personal.
Born Alexis Clair Snouffer in 1941, he grew up in Lancaster, a
satellite town of Los Angeles about 80 miles from the city. At school
his fellow pupils included Frank Zappa, leader of the Mothers of
Invention, and Don Vliet, the future Captain Beefheart.
While St Clair and Zappa both played in the high school band, Vliet was
a more retiring musician, concentrating on painting, although he did
add some vocals to early recordings with Zappa and St Clair.
In 1964 St Clair left town to take a job at a casino in Lake Tahoe but
on his return to Lancaster, he put a group together to play R&B covers,
with the guitarist Doug Moon, the bassist Jerry Handley and the drummer
Paul Blakely. He also asked Vliet to sing with them at their first gig,
a “battle of the bands” contest at Pomona College, Claremont,
“I don’t think we knew how to play together but we knew we had
sufficient music in us to beat the other group,” St Clair recalled.
According to Beefheart’s own account, he told St Clair: “I never sang
anything. I don’t know anything about music.” St Clair said: “Tonight
you’re going to sing.” St Clair then told Vliet his voice was
undeniably “horrible”, but if they played the gig, it could only get
St Clair also played a key part in the strange names that became part
of the Beefheart legend. When he decided to rename himself Alex St
Clair, Vliet followed suit, adding Van as a middle name. “We changed
our names because the police were after us for smuggling sponges into
Nevada,” St Clair claimed in a typical example of the zany humour of
Soon the group was known by the even more exotic appellation Captain
Beefheart and His Magic Band, and Vliet gave all of his musicians
pseudonyms of studied weirdness.
The band’s new name betrayed the shifting balance of power between the
two men. Initially Magic Band had operated as a collective, with
Beefheart contributing lyrics and St Clair taking the lead musically.
But Beefheart swiftly emerged as the dominant and ultimately
dictatorial personality, shaping the band to reflect his own musical
vision and his growing confidence as a writer and singer.
By 1966 the group had secured a recording contract and cut their debut
single, a version of Bo Diddley’s Do Wah Diddy, improbably produced by
David Gates, who went on to fame with the middle of the road soft-rock
group, Bread. The single attracted the support of John Peel, then
working as a disc jockey in California and who became the band’s most
ardent fan. But after a second single, A&M dropped the Magic Band.
With the addition of Ry Cooder on slide guitar, they then signed to
Buddah and in 1967 rerecorded the material A&M had rejected. The result
was Safe as Milk, a remarkable record that marked the first flowering
of Beefheart’s warped blues sound, but was also characterised by St
Clair’s impressive, staccato guitar playing.
He stayed for a second album, Strictly Personal in 1968, but after a
European tour St Clair left the band, to be replaced by Bill Harkleroad
(also known as Zoot Horn Rollo).
By then St Clair was married, and — uncomfortable with what he saw as
Beefheart’s rapidly expanding ego — was also looking for greater
financial security. This meant he did not appear on Trout Mask Replica
in 1969, one of the great cult albums, although given the stories of
what Beefheart put his musicians through during its recording, he may
well have regarded this as a blessing.
Yet he remained on friendly terms with Beefheart and after some old
sessions featuring St Clair had been belatedly issued on the album
Mirror Man in 1971, the following year he rejoined the line-up.
An apparently contrite Beefheart apologised in an interview for his
past attempts to “sculpt” his musicians in his own image. Yet the
rapprochement did not last long. After playing on the Unconditionally
Guaranteed album, St Clair left again in 1974 after a confrontation
with Beefheart over money that resulted in the entire Magic Band
Beefheart did reach out one last time, when Vliet recorded the song
Owed T’Alex on the 1978 album Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), with
lyrics that recalled St Clair’s visits on a motorbike to see his mother
in Carson City in the 1960s.
Beefheart gave up music in the early 1980s to return to his first
passion of painting, and St Clair was never to play in a successful
In later life he worked as a gardener and a barman and he also spent
time in a rehabilitation facility. He was found dead in his apartment
in Lancaster, California.
Alex St Clair, guitarist, was born on September 14, 1941. He died on
January 5, 2006, aged 64.
Saturday, January 14, 2006 12:28 PM
After two days of torrential rain, today I can sun-bathe on my terrace, watching the sea slowly lap on the clean(ed) sand. Reading The City Of Falling Angels by John Berendt. Highly recommended!
Saturday, January 7, 2006 2:28 PM
Happy Xmas, Happy New Year. Rolling Stones booked for May in Barcelona and The Who are touring! 2006 should be fun. Apart from that, busy as a very busy thing. Thought I'd updated this more recently but looks like not. London maybe mid month. More later folks :)
Oh, the hotel in Barcelona? Here:
C/ Rambla del Raval, 4C- 08001 Barcelona
Tlf. +34 902 153 163 - Fax. +34 93 363 23 33
And this is the bar:
and the rooms:
Friday, December 30, 2005 9:46 AM
Useful additional menu options:
Sunday, December 25, 2005 00:01 AM
Egg nog binge shuts down ceebee.com :)
Happy Xmas to all my loyal readers! :) Have a great time and see you in 2006.
Friday, December 23, 2005 6:45 AM
You a US citizen (or even just live there)? You need to read this article in full then:
We know that technology can be used to track people's location via a cellphone, but how difficult is it for law enforcement to get a court order and do this legally?
An old physics joke recounts that Werner Heisenberg (of the uncertainty principle) is pulled over by the police for speeding one night. The police officer asks the professor, "Do you have any idea how fast you were going?" Heisenberg replies, "No, but I know exactly where I am."
Being tracked via your phone
Recent court cases in the United States raise the question of the standard required when the police want to know exactly where you are, using your cell phone to track you down. The issue again raises the question of how new technologies can invade privacy rights, and how quantitative changes in the type and amounts of data collected and stored result in qualitative changes in privacy rights. These require a reexamination of even established laws of privacy and of probable cause. These precedents also apply to entities like ISPs and telephone companies that routinely collect massive amounts of data about individuals which may be subject to eventual discovery or disclosure. It is important that we establish and apply the correct legal standard for obtaining this information now.
Whenever you carry (much less use) a cell phone that is turned on, the cellular network is constantly "scanning" to determine where you are so that it can route telephone calls to the appropriate cell location. By examining the relative signal strength of three of these cells, through a process called "triangulation" the cell provider can determine - with relatively low level of precision, where you are at any point in time. Other technologies employed by cell providers, such as those employed with E-911 services, can determine your location with greater precision. Finally, some cell phones are also equipped with GPS capabilities, which passively receive certain data from geosynchronous satellites to enable the phone (but not the provider) to determine its precise locations - often within a matter of feet.
This digital location information, coupled with high-speed internet access in some cell phones, can be a great boon to users. They can use cell phones to locate restaurants, theaters, or other entertainment in their area, make reservations or arrange for carry out as they travel. They might use such technology to locate family members, including children. In a disaster situation (assuming the cell towers continue to work), the technology might be useful in locating survivors - well, at least locating the survivor's cell phones. One can imagine their use by law enforcement agencies in kidnapping cases.
Such data is already being used by cellular providers to determine demand for and therefore location of new cell towers. It is not difficult to imagine the economic usefulness of this data as well. Cell providers can collect this information, link it to specific users as well as the demographic information provided when the subscriber initiated the cellular contract. They can then sell, lease or otherwise provide this information to third parties. In addition, cell providers are increasingly becoming indistinguishable from Internet Service Providers, as people use their handheld devices to access the Internet from anywhere. Thus, cell providers will have the ability to collect records of every place you have been, who you have talked to, and collect location and content of text messages, e-mails, web traffic, IP video and downloaded or streaming audio. It is time to set some rules on what information can be collected, and what can be done with all of this information.
Location, Location, Location
In at least three separate cases, the U.S. government has attempted unsuccessfully to obtain court order to require the cellular providers to provide them information about the location of a cellular customer gleaned from the triangulation of the signals they have received. This in and of itself is remarkable. When the government wants a court order to obtain a wiretap, a pen register, or to search for or seize documents or records, it files the paperwork ex parte and in camera. What this means is that only the government is represented. If the government believes that a certain law applies, it and only it presents the law to the magistrate judge. In fact, for virtually all such applications, the records relating to the application are sealed - either automatically by statute or as a matter of routine by application of the government. Thus, we have no idea how many times the federal government has gone to court to obtain cell phone location data and been granted the data, with no questions asked. The fact that three magistrates refused the government's request is itself amazing.
What the government was trying to do in these three cases, one in the Eastern District of New York (Long Island), one in Maryland, and one in Texas, was to obtain "prospective" cell location data. That is, they wanted the court to order the cell companies to tell them whenever a particular cell phone moved, where it went, and how long it was there.
It is important to note that all three of the courts recognized that the government could get this information if it needed it. All three courts also recognized that they had the authority to order such prospective cell location data. At issue was the legal standard the government had to meet to obtain the information.
Legal requirements for cellphone location information
Essentially, there are four legal standards for the government to obtain cellphone location information. First and lowest is a pen register or a trap and trace device. This is simply a record of the telephone calls made (from and to) and the time of each call. Because of an assumption that these are merely records of the telephone company, and therefore one can't possible have an expectation of privacy in such records, for a court to order the production of such records (even prospectively), all that needs to happen is for a prosecutor to certify that the records are relevant to some ongoing investigation. Indeed, with such a certification in hand, the court is not even permitted to question or challenge this - it MUST give the government the power to obtain the records from the provider.
Next on the list is stored communications and subscriber records. This would include things like stored SMS messages, stored e-mails, and the information provided to the telephone company when the customer created the account. To obtain these records, the government would need to meet a slightly - and only slightly - higher standard than the above. The government would have to demonstrate specific and articulable facts as to why such records are relevant to an ongoing investigation. Congress made a distinction between communications in transmission or in temporary storage versus those that are incident to transmission and are actually stored. In the former case, the "interception" of the electronic communication is similar to eavesdropping on a telephone call, and in Congress' opinion the same kind of warrant should be required. For stored communications however, since the records already exist and are stored somewhere, its more like seizing a printed document (a printed e-mail). Thus, Congress presumed that a lower standard should apply.
A third standard applies for the installation of "tracking devices" to monitor the location of people or things. To install or monitor such a device, the government would have to show (albeit in an affidavit that the target never gets to see or challenge in advance) that it was more likely than not that this would reveal evidence of some crime by somebody - and not necessarily that the person being tracked was committing a crime.
Finally, as noted above, the highest standard is for the interception of the contents of communications (voice or electronic) in transmission. These warrants can be issued either on a finding of probable cause by a regular court, or on certain finding by a special intelligence court, or as recently disclosed by the New York Times, by executive order and with no warrant (as was done with the National Security Agency).
Government argues "real time" electronic data doesn't exist
In the New York, Maryland and Texas cases, the government wanted to track the location of cell phone holders in advance under the lower standard of simply demonstrating some facts as to why they wanted it, rather than the slightly higher standard of providing probable cause. They argued that the records are merely stored records of "communications." The courts in these cases pointed out that the signal being measured (for signal strength to determine location) was not a "communication" under the statute. The government then argued that, despite language in the statute mandating that phone companies cooperate in pen registers or trap and trace installations (the infamous Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA), which stated that "the authority for pen registers and trap and trace devices cannot be used to obtain tracking or location information…" that they could get such information under a lower standard than probable cause.
The next government argument is somewhat astounding. The courts all agreed that the lower standard of "articulable facts" would apply to the disclosure by the cell phone company of "historical call site information." That is, if your phone company retained records of where you were, the government could get them with a subpoena, a search warrant, or even a warrant on a lower standard. Indeed, the court recognized that the government could demand that the phone company retain and not destroy such records in anticipation of a later court order. The higher "probable cause" standard applied only to the creation and dissemination to the cops of records that didn't yet exist. This is where the astounding argument comes in - the government claimed (with a straight face, no less) that as soon as the cell towers in question determined your location and recorded this fact, these were now "historical" records subject to the lower standard. Thus, according to the government, there is no such thing as "real time" data or even data "in transmission."
As a technical matter, this is likely true. Indeed, I have argued that there is no such thing as interception of packets "in transmission." The packets have to be stopped, copied, and reassembled to be read. Nevertheless, the law makes a distinction between historical data and real time data. That the government would seek to extinguish this distinction in this case does not bode well for the government's position in other cases. The government could then argue that it could listen in on your VOIP calls with nothing more than a subpoena (for which no probable cause is required) because all it is doing is looking at "historical" packets - albeit merely hundredths of a second in the past. This is clearly the opposite of the delicate balance Congress sought to strike. Thus, it appears that the government is seeking to convert all interceptions into seizures of "historical" data, and adopt the lower standards for such data.
What about your privacy?
All of this discussion is somewhat beside the point, however. The real issue is whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location data in the first place. As a general rule, the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted what I call the "breeze rule." Effectively, if I am outside (and can feel a breeze), I probably don't have an expectation of privacy in what I am doing. Thus, if I am growing pot in my backyard with a 20 foot un-scalable fence, the cops with a helicopter and a telescope (or, presumably a geostationary satellite and a keyhole telescope) can monitor me without probable cause or a warrant. If I am walking or driving down the street, the cops can follow me without a warrant or even suspicion. The same goes for using technology to enhance the ability to search. Thus, drug, money or explosive sniffing dogs can sniff me, my briefcase, my car, and presumably my house (if there is no trespass to do so) without any legal restriction. If I walk into my house however, the Supreme Court has ruled, the cops can't for example use and infrared detector to monitor my activities in the house without some kind of warrant.
Thus, the cops can follow me around, either directly or using technology. If they use their eyes, binoculars, a telescope, a helicopter or other similar technologies, they don't need probable cause or a warrant. If they install a tracking device on me, however, they do need probable cause. But what do they need to simply obtain records from the phone company (whether in real time, slightly historical or historically) to accomplish the same thing?
The real problem here is that the cell phone providers have the ability to collect, store, collate and aggregate location data on hundreds of millions of people. These records then become a commodity: subject to use, sale, transfer, subpoena or other discovery. In past cases, the government (with a warrant) has turned on people's On*Star GPS tracking and telephones to track them and listen in on their conversations. Technically, the government isn't "installing" a tracking device on you - it is merely retrieving the records of a tracking device you didn't know you already had. What this means is that Congress needs to step in and establish guidelines for both private, public, law enforcement and intelligence acquisition and use of this passive tracking information. Will they do this? As Dr. Heisenberg might say, it's uncertain.
Thursday, December 22, 2005 9:07 AM
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No new content, blah, blah, blah :) Google won't like me. You won't like me. Just too fsck'ing busy ATM, so much to do before year end. Promise to do something then with all the 'photos and writings that I've got stashed away.
Thursday, December 15, 2005 10:31 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:07 AM
Right, spent today moving the large amount of photos around discarding the ones that were useless or out of focus or unrecognisable inc. shots of the volcano spewing lava unfortunately :( I'll be putting those onto Flickr (my area is in this link) within the next 24 hours and am finishing off the highlights report ready to go up here in hopefully the same time-scale!
Wednesday, December 7, 2005 0:09 AM
Yes, I know! Sorry folks. Just back to Spain with lots of catching up to do. Bad Net access in Costa Rica (READ: slower than a piece of wet string in a hurricane!), so no chance to keep this thing uptodate but from tomorrow that'll be rectified.
Monday, November 21, 2005 9:55 AM
Great week at work and also had some really fun times at Kennedy Space Centre on Saturday PM and then on Sunday off to scare ourselves to death at Universal Studios and some of the most exciting rides I've ever been on :) Lots more photos to come, including one of me standing beside a real, live Saturn 5. Since childhood, I've wanted to go into space, so much so that if I was offered a chance to go today with no gurantee of a return flight, I'd take it like a shot!
Thursday, November 17, 2005 9:51 AM
Sorry for the lack of updates, Michael & I have been really busy here in Orlando. Weather has been fantastic. Strange wild-life here. Armadillos running round behind the office. "Football roadkill" as they call it in the office. Hadn't really realised how flat Florida is. We're some way away from the Everglades but it's still incredibly green & verdant. Managed to get lost on numerous occasions driving around - neither Michael nor I seem to be able to work out left from right or East and West. We don't appear to have done anything illegal (well, apart from a U-turn that I think may have been pushing the envelope!) and they drive so slowly here that driving into somebody wouldn't cause any damage. The limit is a maximum of 75mph for Heaven's sake! Most areas it's around the 40/50 mph mark, so you find yourself continually taking your foot off the accelerator and just coasting.
Monday, November 14, 2005 11:37 AM
Finally arrived in Orlando! 24 hours late, thanks to a system wide (all London airports) failure of their on-line check-in systems. By the time the manual processes had been worked, the crew had gone over their legal hours so we were forced to spend a night in the Hilton at Gatwick. Chaos! Finally left on Sunday (unfortunately too late for Austen's party), arrived at Orlando at about 5.30pm and were picked up by the delightful Jasmine and the even more delightful Tara from the office and delivered to our hotel. Checked in, grabbed a quick shower and then off to Charley's for the most enormous steaks I've ever seen in my life and a great wine list. Slept for England and woke about 7am to get ready for the office.
Beautiful day here, not too humid, no clouds and spent the trip to the office gawking at all the sights. More later.
'We cannot risk changing course now', Tony Blair said today, as the government published proposals to cancel parliamentary elections.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said that "even the chance of a change of government would be a
victory for the terrorists".
"We must not let them change our way of life", said Mr Blair. "Terrorism will not be defeated until our determination is as complete as theirs, our defence of freedom as absolute as their fanaticism, our passion for our way of life as great as their passion for tyranny."
Advice from the police
Mr Blair said that the police had advised him that elections would be dangerous. "They would divert attention from the war on terror", he said. "If the public chose a new government, that would be a victory for terrorism. We must not take that chance. Holding elections would be contrary to the strong advice given to us by our security services and our police, and I am simply not prepared to do it."
"This is not an issue to play around with," he said, accusing critics of trying to generate a propaganda victory for terrorists.
"The civil liberties of the majority who need protection should come first," the prime minister said. There had to be a "very good reason" for politicians to say to the police, "no, we know better than you", he argued.
Conservative leader David Davis said that his party would fully support the government's proposals. "We recognise that times have changed", he said. "The most important liberty is the right to life, and we have to accept that some of our other liberties must be curtailed.
Mr Blair has announced that MPs will in future be nominated by the Government. He is under pressure from backbenchers to create a Parliamentary Appointments Panel to advice on nominations. But a Downing Street spokesman ruled out any concessions: "We have to be make sure that only properly vetted people are appointed", he said.
The security services and the police are advising us that we need to take these unusual steps to defeat those who are planning and plotting terrorist activity in our country
Home Secretary David Blunkett, whose return to front-line politics has caught Westminster by surprise, said that "middle class do gooders are putting our lives at risk". Speaking to the Sheffield Echo, he said "They complained when we abolished trial by jury. They complained when we introduced detention without trial. They complained about the introduction of ID cards. They wanted us to stop using evidence obtained by torture and to end rendition. But the vast majority of hard-working families up and down the land don't want all these procedures: they want speedy and effective justice. They are fed up with the civil liberties lobby crying wolf. "
Stan Miner, MP for Yorkshire North, said he would reluctantly support the idea. "The Prime Minister would not be proposing this unless he had clear advice from the intelligence services", he said. Angus McFaddyn, who represents a constituency in the Scottish highlands, said that he too would be supporting the Government. "This is a necessary evil in England and Wales", he said. "I am pleased that the Government has accepted that, with the lower risk of political instability here in Scotland, we should to continue to hold elections."
Addressing MPs at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mr Blair added: "What I have to do is to try to do my best to protect people in this country and to make sure that their safety and their civil liberty to life come first, and that is what I'm going to try to do."
Packing for the USA now. 10 days from Friday in the Orlando, Miami and Dominican Republic offices, then 12 days with Val in Costa Rica. Want anything bought back? Put your wish list in now!
Couldn't afford the car
so bought the pen instead:
Sunday, November 6, 2005 6:36 PM
I realise I'm, in comparative terms at least, "old" but having Iggy Pop advertising everything from a car to a Nick Cage film in the space of five minutes is a little bit scary. So is reading the contents of my iPod. 500Mb plus on generally "old" stuff. Just like the Teds idolising that one time in their life (Elvis etc.) when it all came together (sex, music, life) and that I used to both sympathise with and simultaneously decry so much.
Easy to do this. Not interesting, but easy.
Saturday, November 5, 2005 1:22 PM
Sorry folks, really, really busy. Trip to UK and blown away by how good Microsoft's CRM and BizTalk is. More news and updates later.
Monday, October 31, 2005 8:56 AM
Quiet weekend. Lovely massage from Veronica (with Michael in attendance!).
Work has finally started apace on the building site below us:
It's important to have your facts straight before you begin piloting a car
in an underdeveloped country. For instance, which side of the road do they
drive on? This is easy.
They drive on your side. That is, you can depend on it, any oncoming
traffic will be on your side of the road. Also, how do you translate
kilometers into miles? Most people don't know this, but one kilometer = ten
miles, exactly. True, a kilometer is only 62 percent of a mile, but if
something is one hundred kilometers away, read that as one thousand miles
because the roads are 620 percent worse than anything you've ever seen. And
when you see a 50-kph speed limit, you might as well figure that means 500
mph because nobody cares. The Third World does not have Broderick Crawford
and the Highway Patrol. Outside the cities, it doesn't have many police at
all. Law enforcement is in the hands of the army. And soldiers, if they feel
like it, will shoot you no matter what speed you're going.
Learning to drive like a Native
It's important to understand that in the Third World most driving is done
with the horn, or "Egyptian Brake Pedal," as it is known. There is
a precise and complicated etiquette of horn use. Honk your horn only under
the following circumstances:
1. When anything blocks the road
2. When anything doesn't.
3. When anything might.
4. At red lights
5. At green lights.
6. At all other times.
Animals in the Right of Way
As a rule of thumb, you should slow down for donkeys, speed up for goats,
and stop for cows. Donkeys will get out of your way eventually, and so will
pedestrians. But never actually stop for either of them or they'll take
advantage, especially the pedestrians. If you stop in the middle of a crowd
of Third World pedestrians, you'll be there buying Chiclets and bogus
antiquities for days.
Drive like hell through the goats. It's almost impossible to hit a goat. On
the other hand, it's almost impossible not to hit a cow. Cows are immune to
horn blowing, shouting, swats with sticks and taps on the hind-quarters with
the bumper. The only thing you can do to make a cow move is swerve to avoid
it, which will make the cow move in front of you with lightning speed.
Actually, the most dangerous animals are the chickens. In the United
States, when you see a ball roll into the street, you hit your brakes because
you know the next thing you'll see is a kid chasing it. in the Third World,
it's not bills the kids are chasing, but chickens. Are they practicing punt
returns with a leghorn? Dribbling it? Playing stick-hen? I don't know. But
Third Worlders are remarkably fond of their chickens and, also, their
children (population problems notwithstanding). If you hit one or both, they
may survive. But you will not.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 1:03 PM
Why are men so bad at romance? No point asking me but this clip may make you laugh. Its a 2MB download, so take care if you're only on dial-up.
Monday, October 24, 2005 6:46 PM
Booked for the meeting with AT Comms here in Essex from the 2nd to the 3rd November..
Sunday, October 23, 2005 12:01 PM
Left work early on Friday as feeling so lousy. Gobbling lots of tablets in an attempt to stave off what is only a bad cold/cough and not Avian Bird Flu after all!
Up to the campo house. Dell and Harlee have been keeping an eye on the place and the flowers and plants have bloomed dramatically after their brush earlier in the year with the frost. Jason not in town, he's apprently setup a removals business, so was away "removing" but met D & H for a nice meal courtesy of Juan at the Bar Piscina. No gossip though, everything seems pretty laid back at the moment. Met the delightful (and, as always, beautiful) Carmen, back for a week on holiday from her teaching at a private school in London. Have her email and mobile now, so will stay in touch. Mariano is in Glasgow for his first trip outside Spain with Trish and Iris. Should have a great time shopping there.
Lunch today with Ray & Teresa (a full English roast which I haven't had for ages) - the quid pro quo is that I sort out her Skype problems :)
The Florida hotel Michael and I are booked into is here - looks like a nice place, with apparently, some really good bars!
Thursday, October 20, 2005 4:10 PM
Busy as a very busy thing. Must upload some shots of the work going on on the building site below our terrace.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 2:08 PM
How to Start Each Day with a Positive Outlook
1. Open a new file in your PC.
2. Name it "George W. Bush"
3. Send it to the trash.
4. Empty the trash.
5. Your PC will ask you, "do you really want to get rid of George W.
6. Answer calmly "yes," and press the mouse button firmly.
7. Feel better and vote in November 2008....
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 5:19 PM
Just uploaded a Google Site Map. Will be interesting to see what effect it has.
After two days of rain and cloud in Marbella, I'm getting bored with this English type weather! Bring back the sun please whoever took it? Thanks.
Sunday, October 16, 2005 7:57 PM
Luton Airport has to be the vent point of the universe. Spending 4 hours there after a flight from Nice (after a night at Cannes Casino with my namesake) isn't fun and I have no intention of doing it again.
The Nice office likewise is a change. I sooo love French food, wine and women!
Lots done there and some good friends made. Hope to be back there soon!
Sunday on the beach (less than sunny today I'm afraid) with a long meal at the chiringuito talking to Paccqui (and her boyfriend Paola who works for Ericcson), then home to wash the apartment of dust after the storms whilst I was away, loads of washing and a report to finish.
Oh, and bird flu may kill 50K+ people in the UK? Finally a few warnings are being given.
Why does e.g. MCR spend only 25% of their funding on male prostate cancer against female breast cancer when the incidence is the same?
A great mini-biog of Jon Courtney-Grimwood. The reason I post it? More books due this month inc. 9Tail Fox and End Of The World Blues ! Yeah! You may of course choose to buy these through the Amazon link above:
" Born in Malta, 10 weeks early following a water-skiing accident, he was kept from his family and cared for by Catholic nuns for the first week in case he died. During this period the ghost of a black-robbed priest was seen bending over his crib. Christened in the upturned bell of a destroyer, he spent his early years in a house on the walls of Valetta, Malta. Sent to an English boarding school at the age of 7, he retaliated by demolishing the heraldic beasts on a great wooden staircase in his frenzied search for (non-existent) buried treasure. Moved to another school, he lived for his summers spent in the Far East. His first brush with mysticism came when a fakir on a breach in Penang tried to teach him, without success, to turn a piece of driftwood into a snake and back again. He left school with enough O and As to get a place at Sandhurst, but refused out of sheer bloody mindedness. Following a year spent washing planes and plates in Oslo, he took an honours degree at Kingston in English, History and Philosophy. In the summer of his second year, managing again to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was on board an Italian train hijacked by fascists (or it may have been the red brigade, he wasn’t very coherent at the time). Finding himself next to a woman from the Chinese Embassy in London he joined her in singing the Red Flag, survived his own idiocy and later established diplomatic relations on the floor of a train to Copenhagen. A year later he joined book publishers Benn Brothers, and within 2 years rose by accident to head-up a production department. Still in his early 20s but rapidly developing an ulcer, he resigned and went to Spain, where he wrote a bad, unpublished novel. On his return he worked as a freelancer for Weidenfeld, writing captions, reading manuscripts and editing. Then in the early 80s he was offered the job of editor by Blandford Press and moved from London to Dorset. During the next few years, while working for BP, he wrote extensively for magazines and newspapers. In 1985 he wrote Mrs T's Bedside Book. Two more books, A Photohistory of the 20th Century and The Royal Bedside Book followed a year later. Mrs T's Election Bedside Book came in 1987. The following year he helped ghost Inside Intelligence, the memoirs of a MI6 man. Returning from a trip to New York, he found the Treasury Solicitor camping on his desk and discovered himself minus his job as publisher of Javelin Books (paperback division of United Newspapers). He spent the next two years dead for tax reasons. Eventually he settled on a job as fiction editor for a women's weekly, to which he contributed innumerable stories, before being fired when the company accountant discovered how much he was being paid. A stint as consultant editor at Boxtree followed where he commissioned novelisations of video games and graphic novels of Aliens, Predator, Spiderman, Wolverine and Ghost Rider. He then worked as "men's news editor" for women's glossy New Woman, while writing features for a number of men’s magazines including Maxim and reviewing Japanese films for Manga Mania. He now lives with his son in North London, tries to spend a month each summer at a small house in the mountains in Spain and is currently writing his fourth novel. When not working on books he writes for a number of glossy magazines/papers and designs web sites. He is also working on a TV series."
And finally, some more images from CR:
Thursday, October 13, 2005 5:32 PM
The business park is huge and we managed to get slightly lost both mornings driving in. Luckily we hadn't realised how big it was, stretching almost 20 miles along the coast or we'd have been more worried when we kept taking turnings leading us away from where we thought we ought to be. The map here gives you some idea of the scale.
France office is fun. On a very large and inpenetrable jungle of a business park outside Nice. Hotel in the old town of Nice. Some fine restaurants there which of course we've had a brief opportunity to sample.
Saturday, October 8, 2005 1:40 PM
And two more trips, France for a couple of days at the beginning of next week and London for a couple in early November. Drove up early this AM to see John & Lourdes in Mojacar. Only took 2 hours and 35 minutes, nice fast trip as the roads were really clear. Couple of days of R&R :)
Friday, October 7, 2005 10:27 AM
Looks like a business trip to the USA, encompassing Miami, Florida and the Dominican Republic. A little bit of re-jigging of my flights to fit around this before I go to Costa Rica (i.e. cancelling the Gatwick - Atalnat leg) but in the USA from the 12th to 22nd November, then off to Costa Rica on the 23rd!
And this old joke of course doesn't apply to me:
Yuppie BMW driver pulls over in his new BMW to use a public phone, don't
know why, must have forgotten his mobile.
As he is getting back in the BMW a lorry speed past very
close by and rips the drivers door off. The BMW driver was distraught and
when a policeman pulls up the BMW owner shouts "Look what that lorry has
done to my beautiful new BMW."
Policeman replies "I don't know, you BMW drivers, all you think about is
your car, you haven't even noticed the lorry has also ripped your arm off"
The BMW Driver looks down at his missing arm and says "Oh God, not my Rolex"
Thursday, October 6, 2005 7:33 AM
Some more shots from Costa Rica, downtown La Heredia which despite appearances is an Intel centre for chip manufacture!:
Tuesday, October 4, 2005 11:13 PM
After a truly, truly shitty end to the day at the coal face for reasons I won't go into here, this made me laugh when I finally got home. Anybody who's offended can just FROAD:
A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the
Afghanistan desert when he saw something far off in the distance.
Hoping to find water, he walked toward the object, only to find a
little old Jewish man sitting at a card table with neckties laid out on
The Arab asked, "My thirst is killing me. Do you have water?"
The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a
tie? They are only $150. This one goes very nicely with your robes."
The Arab shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an overpriced tie. I need water!"
"OK," said the old Jew, "it does not matter that you do not want to
buy a tie. I will show you that you have not offended me. If you walk
over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a
lovely restaurant. Go! Walk that way! The restaurant has all the
water you need!"
The Arab staggered away toward the hill and eventually disappeared.
Four hours later the Arab came crawling back to where the Jewish man
was sitting at his table.
The Jew said, "I told you, about two miles over that hill. Could you
not find it?"
"I found it all right," rasped the Arab. "Your brother won't let me
in without a tie!"
Tuesday, October 4, 2005 9:36 AM
Busy weekend, in the office all day Saturday and Sunday. Hey, one day we'll have a period of calm! (Dream on Bulow!).
Those who know me will know how keen are my powers of observation. How then did I fail to notice that the BMW X3 had six gears plus reverse? Anyway, that minor omission aside, it runs really nicely and the CD player (currently playing The Ramones Live) is pavement rocking loud :) NOTE: for the USAnians out there, "pavement" is the correct word for "sidewalk" :)
Don't forget Macmillan Cancer Relief's "The Worlds Biggest Coffe Morning". Register here and make another persons life better. Do it now!
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:34 AM
Email from John Allison of NYC. "And from a
Bulow/Allison geosynchronous view, their wedding was held all of 24km from the Allison family home in Costa Mesa - still home to my brother, and frequent lodging to myself. Small world gets smaller every day." Small world indeed.
Monday, September 26, 2005 7:21 PM
Apologies folks, normal service will be resumed shortly. Incredibly busy weekend, so no time to keep this uptodate.
Sister Kate should by now be well and truly married. More news and photos later this week.
Friday, September 23, 2005 11:49 AM
Donald Rumsfeld is giving President Bush his daily briefing. He concludes by
saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed in an accident'
"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"
His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as
the President sits, head in hands. Finally, the President looks up and asks:
''How many is a Brazillion ??!'
Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:00 PM
Sorry about the deathly hush. Busy clearing the house of the detritus that has accumulated and has been carried from house to house over the last 20 years or so. Plus the laptop PSU died a death, so no access to the laptop and only sporadic access via the kind offices of Jeff at the Deal Hoy to email. Plus, with the laptop dead in the water, the mobile couldn't be charged, so frantic calls on people to allow me to charge it from their car cigarette lighter!
Completed on the afternoon of the 19th - much stress and pressure dropped away when I could logon to my HSBC account and see the transfer going through.
Still at work as I type, so more later...
....later. Three days of dumping stuff at the tip, dropping off books and curtains and clothing at the Oxfam shop, finding a "man and a van" to take away all the rather lovely pine furniture that we hadn't time to sell, chasing the solicitor for news of what was happening whilst he gave a very good imporession of being deaf, dumb and blind. Jeez, I really do hate most of the members of that "profession". If I ran my work like that, I'd have been sacked or escorted off site in a very short space of time, whilst these sharks swan around (sorry for the mixed analogy) with all the time in the world whilst causing severe heart strain to their long suffering clients and then are the first to be paid when it finally comes to fruition.
Managed to see Jeff and Amanda who will be coming out soon, they promise :) Mum's fine and I stayed with her on Monday night just before she jetted off to the USA for the first time ever to attend Kate's wedding. And Aileen and Pete popped round for a drink - I donated to her the plants as she's kept them alive for the last 12 months or more as well as some alcohol and a rather lovely, delicate silver bracelet and ear-rings as a "thank you" for looking after the place whilst I've been away and for being such a good friend. Didn't get to London as, for once, the train system worked well and routed me via Tonbridge direct to the doorstep at Gatwick. Hopefully next time!
Deal is dead - nowhere to eat or drink at what I now consider a reasonable time i.e. after 10pm at night or before 10am in the morning. Sooooooo glad to be back here in Spain.
A couple of items turned up in the mess of drawers and cupboards that we emptied, including my Father's old watch and Zippo lighters, my first ever drawing from primary school, lovelingly annotated by Mother, my very first passport, issued just before my first trip to New York with a picture of me sporting a rather fetching (and frankly scary) Afro hair-do and a picture of me at a very tender age (12? 13?) in woolly tights performing in some Becket play at the Grammar School. You'll need to pay a lot of money to see either of the latter :)
Wednesday, September 14, 2005 8:53 PM
Won't be seeing any London friends I think, as they're all busy on the only day I can get up there and I'm rushing around as well. Great shame, but will aim to get in touch and plan further in advance for the next "home coming" visit.
Dull, cloudy and misty day here today. The surf is high as well. Beautiful moon though. Hope that's not a precursor for the UK! Plus I hear the lemmings are chasing around after any sniff of petrol as we're "running out" or "it'll all be blockaded soon" and the UK will collapse into the Dark Ages in a matter of days. Jesus. Is stupidity being bred into more and more English people? From here, it looks like it. Whilst I goggle at some of what the Spanish deem entertaining on TV, I despair about my fellow (ex) countrymen.
At least Aileen will be in Deal. Which is good news! We've missed her. Well, I certainly hope she is. After all, she has the keys to my house!
Bloody solicitors! I should have remembered how completely pants they are at (a) doing anything at all and (b) staying in touch. If you're selling in Deal, I don't recommend CM Robinson for your conveyancing needs. Joe at Bright & Bright, the estate agents, has on the other hand been a complete star. He and I have done all the work, told the solicitor who's said what to whom and generally agreed that if we could drop these leeches from the whole chain it would be a Very Good Thing Indeed. And for this they charge me over UKP800 plus VAT? fsckwits of the first order. There. That's off my chest. Must dig out that page of lawyer jokes soonest for your delectation.
Remind me some other time to tell you of the travails experienced with Spanish banks?
Had enough of junk calls and telemarketers? Try this superb solution. Elegant and funny at the same time.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 8:29 AM
I spoke too soon about the reduction in accidents! Rounding a corner, co-incidentally to the sound of the Stones singing the line, "you're driving too fast" from their new album, I see the normal hazard flashers blazing away and a lorry atop a car. Ambulances and police in attendance and the normal delays as the Spanish drivers exhibited their inherent desire for a sight of gore and slowed to a crawl!
A lot quieter on the beaches now; loungers being removed as the "holiday season" has finished. Far fewer people there at the weekend. And not a single overnight party all weekend either. The topless lady is still there every Sunday I believe however.
Sad news from Aileen - Scully died last night. Not sure of the reason, although possible kidney failure following ingestion of some form of poison has been suggested. I'll miss that dog, she was a lovely creature.
Full steam ahead planning for the house sale trip and, further down the line, for Costa Rica. Hope to be able to get all the old furniture out by the Saturday, leaving the house empty for completion on Monday. And then get the necessary jabs for all the many and varied diseases that conspire to kill me in Central America!
This is the "Ooops! List", a truly inspired collection of photos of that moment when you go "Oops" or words to that effect. Very funny and well worth a visit.
And two London friends, highly recommended:
Sunday, September 11, 2005 8:53 AM
Far less carnage on the N340 now that the tourists (both Spanish & foreign) have started leaving. I haven't seen an accident or the remnants of one for two or three days now.
Friday, September 9, 2005 11:53 AM
yeah yeah I know you've heard them before, but...
FROM BRITISH NEWSPAPERS!
1) Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas
bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, "We agree it was rather high
for the time of year. It's possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the
gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house." (The Daily
2) Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami
in her underwear. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing
her Italian boyfriend. (The Manchester Evening News)
3) Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van,
because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and
they don't want the public to know what it looks like. (The Guardian)
4) A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was
rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coast guard spokesman
commented, "This sort of thing is all too common". (The Times)
5) At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguard and
asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he
didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown
his Land Rover off the cliff. (Aberdeen Evening Express)
6) Mrs. Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue, Boscombe, delighted the audience
with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week
to do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled.
"He'd always seemed a nice friendly chap, but when the crocuses came up in
the middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out 'Heil Hitler.'"
(Bournemouth Evening Echo)
Wednesday, September 7, 2005 11:46 AM
A further dash to the hospital with Val as she was in so much pain. Puked in the car but bravely missed the upholstery and contained the fluids in her skirt! Further blood tests, X-Rays and a final diagnosis of both a small stone (which has now been passed) and a kidney infection and together they were causing her a major amount of pain. She seems to be much, much better now, I assume just waiting for the kidney to come back to its normal size!
A friend sent me this "Public Service Announcement": "If you sell your old mobile phone it is a good idea to clear the phone
memory first. It is a particularly bad idea to leave the SMS memory full of messages
which reveal that you are arranging assignations with multiple girls at
any one time. It is an even worse idea to leave the land line number of your drug dealer
- clearly labelled as such - in the phone book.
Roger - who has just bought a second hand mobile."
Is it too early for this? I don't think so:
The tattooist entrusted with the work on my latest work of art is here, called La Geisha Tattoos.
And this is my next vehicle, the BMW X3:
Monday, September 5, 2005 8:42 Woken at 3.30 AM as Val in lots of pain again. A quick dash to the Costa Del Sol Hospital in Marbella. And a less quick wait for all the tests (blood, urine, X-Ray etc) to be undertaken and processed. Finally got home at 8.30 after the kidney was pronounced fit and healthy but likely to have a very small stone, so "the patient" needs to make sure that she takes in at least 3 litres of water aday in an attempt to flush it out. If not, then probably an ultra-sound smash will be needed. But good news as Val was fearful that she might have something more serious wrong with the kidney.
As I type, some pasta is cooking as I'm starving! And Val's asleep in the sofa.
Off to work after I've eaten but probably a reasonably early night beckons :)
No idea how many generations of wild cats we've seen born below us on the waste ground since we arrived back in April but there are yet another 5, jet-black kittens, bouncing around now.
Sunday, September 4, 2005 2:42 PM
Forgot to mention that the house sale is confirmed for completion on the 19th! Assuming that the buyers don't drop out at the last minute, that is. Why we don't get a 10% deposit in the UK, I don't know! So, back to UK between 15th and 20th of this month. Hopefully, in between moving and dumping and packing (want to make sure my lovely pictures get safely packed & despatched), will have time to catch up with old friends and family.
Worked all weekend and Ray arrived yesterday to finalise cabling. We had major problems finding the actual block in which his apartment was located (every other one apart from Block 1, Apartment 1611!), so after driving around miles of unlit and un made-up roads and virtual building sites of developments, we decided to call it a day (as it was early morning), so he stayed over last night (we got home around 1pm!) and then straight into work for 7am. Knackered. And an early start also tomorrow :( I hope that I get a chance to go to the beach next weekend. Obviously, only to improve my tan ready for Costa Rica and absolutely nothing to do with the plethora of topless Spanish ladies parading or laying around!
Val had to go to hospital on Friday night (I drove her into Fuengirola and we found a great little Emergency place open) as the kidney infection had got worse, despite her self-dosing with antibiotics. Luckily after a couple of hours she was well enough (having been pumped full of strong antibiotics and even stronger happy juice which caused much mirth as she staggered around and giggled!) to come home. She seemed a lot better when I left today. Good that it was before her visit to Costa Rica.
Did you think that Steve Ballmer would love Google? Of course not! "In a sworn statement made public Friday, Mark Lucovsky, another Microsoft senior engineer who left for Google in November 2004, recounted Ballmer's angry reaction when Lucovsky told Ballmer he was going to work for the search engine company. At some point in the conversation, Mr. Ballmer said:
'Just tell me it's not Google" Lucovosky said in his statement. Lucovosky replied that he was joining Google.
"At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office," Lucovosky recounted, adding that Ballmer then launched into a tirade about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "I'm going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again.
I'm going to f***ing kill Google." Schmidt previously worked for Sun Microsystems and was the CEO of Novell."
Saturday, September 3, 2005 4:42 PM
The beautiful invitation from Kate Bulow and Tom Earle (apologies for the crap scan, this is lovely in the "flesh"!) to their wedding dropped onto the mat at work:
A writer put these words to paper in 2004:
"It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana,
the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured
outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those
inside paid silent homage to the man who invented
air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a
hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there:
Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as
hangovers on Ash Wednesday.
But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the
city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than
a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000
remained, however--the car-less, the homeless, the aged and
infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any
excuse to throw a party.
The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead,
pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water
crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake
and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies
below sea level--more than eight feet below in places--so the
water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick
ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth
Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District,
until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon
Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25
feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto
roofs to escape it.
Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated
by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the
flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited
to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by
then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment,
a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was
the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.
When did this calamity happen? It hasn't--yet. But the
doomsday scenario is not far-fetched.
- Joel K. Bourne, Jr., Writing in the October 2004 National
His imaginary scenario took less than a year to
Friday, September 2, 2005 8:39 PM
Terrible sights and news from New Orleans and surrounding areas. This page is the official site for the city, normally with news of tourism and other good things. At the moment, it's filled with very sad updates about how this city is quite literally sinking.
One wonders quite why it's taken 3 days to even start getting some aid into this area. If this was Iraq, they'd have pin-point bombed the entire area within a few hours. Is it because it's not a white, financial city but instead a black, poor area that everybody from Shrub on down seems to be saying things will get better instead of actually doing anything?
Busier than I have ever been in my entire life. I gobble stress every minute. And gallons of fine coffee. But it's still fun.
And finally, a warm welcome back to everybody who's been on holiday in August and are now drifting back as visitors to the diary.
Monday, August 29, 2005 4:46 PM
I've got me an iPod, so a very big vote of thanks to all my friends in Marbella who clubbed together and bought me one for my birthday together with a bottle of cava and some good red wine. Thanks guys and girls. I'm very touched :) Am now busily filling it up with ripped MP3s from my CD collection and will spend tomorrow on the beach listening to Spurts the new Richard Hell and the Voidoids collection!
Sunday we drove to Mojacar to stay with John and Lourdes, along the coastal N340 through mile after mile of plastics. Some bits of dual carriageway where you can reach up to 220Kph but still large stretches where it's down to single lane traffic behind a lorry and negotiating extended sets of traffic lights. The new road, still being built (which has been the source of much local discontent!), can be seen in parts with massive towering bridges spanning heart stopping drops. Once complete it'll take this trip down from 3.5 hours to closer to 2 which will be a boon. You can still see the even older road that hugged the cliffs and that must have made this drive even scarier and slower 20 years ago.
The plastics are used to force grow vegetables and fruits and stretch from the shoreline right back up to the foothills. Not the most attractive area in the world by any stretch of the imagination but apparently, the per capita here is the highest in Europe! Once past that you reach the very wild and barren hills of Almeria and finally, Mojacar, which until about twenty years ago was a deserted village with barely a property in sight. It's now a wild beach with even wilder night venues and bars. Managed to find two good restaurants and at lunchtime a delightful cave bar with fantastic decor and food where we managed to get slightly drunk whilst looking out over the fantastic view into the valley. It seems to have attracted that sort of English person who's as thin as a pin after 20 years of drinking all day, every day, with no food and having been lucky enough to have bought a property for 2 shillings back when there was nobody else here and have managed to hang on ever since!
Bought a gold Indalo Man - apparently it's been a good luck symbol for over 12,000 years, so here's hoping:
Spoke to Mum who sounds fine and excited about her trip to Kate's wedding. I really don't think I'll be able to make it. The house sale should complete around then and Val is off to Costa Rica, so need to be available for both of these. A real shame but Kate understands and I'll be there in spirit.
Speaking of which, I'm designing my last tattoo - to celebrate Liz, who if she was still around would laugh like a drain and tell me not to be so stupid! But am asking a friend who translates Arabic to transcribe it into that language for me and then off to a local emporium to have the last damage done to my body!
And equally strange heiroglyphs are being painted on the building site below us in blue and orange:
Friday, August 26, 2005 11:30 AM
Looks like I won't be able to make London next week :( The house sale seems to be going through OK, so will have to pop over in a couple of weeks to arrange for furniture to be sold/stored/dumped.
This one should have you exploding coffee over your keyboard or partner depending on where you read it. Copyright and all credit to Joe Wall 2005 whose other LJ entries are here as well:
dialogues from the grand salon
"Damn automated phone calls…"
(interrupted sigh of relief)
falsely friendly bill collecting corporate whore: "Hello, can I speak to Joseph Wall?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Hello, sir, this is Beneficial/Household Finance calling in—"
me: "The whole corporation is calling?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Pardon me, sir?"
me: "The entire Beneficial/Household Finance Corporation is calling?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand what you're saying."
me: "You said 'this is Beneficial/Household Finance calling.' I wasn't aware that entire corporations were able to make phone calls. Are you a gestalt being?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm sorry, sir, I'm a little confused."
me: "Apparently. Are you, in fact, an account representative for the Beneficial/Household Finance Corporation?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Ah, okay. Yes, sir, I am."
me: "Do you have a name?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm calling in reference to your account, which is currently showing a late balance of…"
me: "I'm sorry, do you have a name?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm calling in reference to your account."
me: "So you don't have a name?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "That's not important, sir."
me: "Someone thought so."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Pardon me, sir?"
me: "That you were worth having a name."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm calling in reference to your account with Beneficial/Household Finance, which is currently showing a late balance, and I'd like to schedule a payment this morning."
(mental cogs turning)
* reaches over to answering machine *
me: "This call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Umm…pardon, sir?"
me: "This call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm calling in regards to your account with Beneficial/Household Finance, which is currently showing a balance of—"
me: "Okay, as long as you understand that this call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm not sure I understand you, sir."
me: "This call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Okay, sir, but that is not important at this time."
me: "So you consent to said monitoring or recording?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, may I schedule a payment to your account at this time?"
me: "You may, I guess."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "When would you like to schedule a payment, Mr. Wall?"
me: "I wouldn't."
me: "I wouldn't like to schedule a payment. You asked if you could, and I said 'you may,' which is true. You may schedule a payment."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Okay, sir, when would you like to schedule a payment?"
me: "I wouldn't."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm asking you when I can schedule a payment."
me: "I haven't the slightest clue as to when."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, your account with Beneficial/Household Finance is currently showing a late payment amount."
me: "I would imagine so, yes."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, sir, I need to get a date from you on which I can schedule a payment."
me: "You need to get a date from me?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Yes, sir."
me: "But you're a woman. It wouldn't work out."
me: "I don't date women just yet."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, what I am asking is for a date when you would like me to schedule a payment."
me: "Ah, clarity at last."
me: "Just sayin'. Sorry, but I can't schedule a payment."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Umm, why not, sir?"
me: "I have no money."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, sir, I can schedule a payment for a future date."
me: "Can you see into the future?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Pardon me, sir, I did not understand your statement."
me: "That was a question, actually."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm having a hard time following you."
me: "You're following me?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I need to schedule a payment. Your account with Beneficial/Household Finance is showing an overdue amount."
me: "That's all well and good, ma'am, but you will be unable to schedule a payment until I have money to pay said payment."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "And when will that be, sir?"
me: "I have no idea."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm confused, sir. Why are you unable to make a payment at this time?"
me: "I have no money."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Then can I schedule a time when you will know when you will have funds available?"
me: "That depends."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "It depends on what, sir?"
me: "On whether you can see into the future."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I don't understand what you're saying, sir."
me: "What I'm saying is that I have no money, or to put it another way, no money is what I have."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, would you like me to schedule a time when Beneficial/Household Finance can call to schedule a payment?"
me: "The whole corporation will call?"
me: "Only if you know when I'll know when I have money so I can schedule a payment."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, is there a reason why you cannot schedule a payment at this time?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "What is the reason, sir?"
me: "I have no money."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Can we schedule a payment on a future date?"
me: "Only if you can see into the future."
(sound of sighing in the phone receiver)
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, is there a reason why you have no funds at this time?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "What is the reason?"
me: "I'm unemployed."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Can we schedule a payment for a time when you will be employed?"
me: "That depends."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "It depends on what, sir?"
me: "On if you know when I'll be employed again."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Is there a reason why you are not currently employed?"
me: "Karma, I guess."
me: "Can't find work, and I've been writing a book."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, sir, that's nice that you've been keeping busy, but you're currently overdue on your account with Beneficial/Household Finance and I need to schedule a payment."
me: "But I have no money, ma'am. What part of that is not working for you?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, are you currently disabled or otherwise unable to work?"
me: "No, ma'am, but no one in my field wants to hire me. Well, the fact is that my field doesn't really exist anymore. I learned my family business and am one of the best in my field, but the field itself has disappeared."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Why's that, sir?"
me: "Damn computers."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Is there no work outside your field?"
me: "I'm writing a book."
me: "It's called Scaggsville. It's about my life, you know—essays about my childhood and a friend whose life went sorta wrong."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Umm, sir, what I mean is 'why can't you work outside your field?'"
me: "For what?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "For income, sir, so you can pay your debts."
me: "But then I couldn't work on my book."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "You could, in your spare time."
me: "But I never had any spare time when I had a full-time job."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, get a part-time job, then."
me: "But I can't pay my bills on a part-time job."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, you can't pay them when you're not working, either."
me: "Well, then it really doesn't matter, does it?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, your account with Beneficial/Household Finance is currently showing an overdue amount and I need to schedule a payment."
me: "Well, have you, meaning the Beneficial/Household Finance Corporation, charged me a late fee for my overdue balance?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm afraid so, sir."
me: "And you can't waive that fee?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm afraid not, sir."
me: "Well, I guess I'm not going to worry about my overdue balance until the next due date, then."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Why is that, sir?"
me: "Because you've already charged me for being late. I've paid a price for being late and until I'm late again, I have the moral high ground to hold out on you."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm confused."
me: "Why should I rush to get up to date when I've already, in effect, paid a penalty for being late?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "What are you saying, sir?"
me: "I've already been penalized for being late. Are you going to raise my interest rate AGAIN or charge me another late fee or report me as late AGAIN?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Umm, sir, you've already been charged and—"
me: "—so I have no incentive to find money I don't have to rush to make a payment that won't make any substantial difference at this point."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I'm trying to collect an overdue balance on your account at Beneficial/Household Finance."
me: "I understand that, but I have no money."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "And you have no money because…"
me: "Because I'm unemployed."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "And you refuse to find employment to pay a debt that you incurred voluntarily?"
me: "We've already explored that subject."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "And you cannot get a job in a grocery store or retail outlet to keep you going until you find work in your field?"
me: "My field doesn't exist anymore, alas."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, then, until you find work in a field of your choosing."
me: "Not really."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But-but-but you are currently in default on several loans."
(sound of keyboard on the other end of the line)
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But, sir, you made a payment on your account with MBNA last month."
me: "I made some money doing handyman work."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, then, why did you pay your payment with MBNA and not Beneficial/Household Finance?"
me: "It's a smaller payment, and they're nicer to me."
me: "And besides, my mom cosigned that loan, so I don't want to screw up her credit."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "What about your credit, sir?"
me: "I'm sure you can see the status of my credit on your computer."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "You're going to damage your credit if you refuse to pay your obligations, Mr. Wall."
Ugh, "Mr. Wall." Elementary school all over again.
me: "As you can see, I have no credit."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But you may need credit in the future, sir."
me: "For what?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "To buy a house or a car."
me: "I have a car, and I'll never be able to afford a house."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But your car won't last forever, and you may eventually be able to afford a house."
me: "Not the way I'm going."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Eventually, though, sir."
me: "I tend to doubt that, but by the time I'm in that position, my credit rating will have recovered."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But you can't get credit right now, sir."
me: "Are you kidding me?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "You can't get credit with your current credit rating."
me: "You think I need more credit? Are you insane?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "A good credit rating is important, Mr. Wall."
me: "Why? So I can get more in debt with cards and accounts that jump to 31% the second I'm a minute late with a payment and have my phone ringing from exactly eight o'clock every damn morning to ten at night, with insane people telling me how important credit is to me?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "A good credit rating is important in society, sir, and it's the right thing to do."
me: "The right thing? What on earth do you mean?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "It's irresponsible to take on a debt that you are not prepared to pay, sir."
me: "I was prepared to pay the debt when I took it, ma'am. Then I lost my job. Are you saying I'm immoral?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "That's not my place to say, sir, but you are refusing to make good on the terms of your loan."
me: "Because I have no money."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But you could have money if you wanted to, sir."
me: "Umm, okay. Could you please tell me how, so I can make this amazing transition to a happy, credit-filled life of joy and fun?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, there's no cause for abusive language."
me: "'Joy' and 'fun' are abusive language?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "No, sir, but your tone is aggressive."
me: "My tone is aggressive? I have an aggressive tone? I'd say my tone was more incredulous than aggressive."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "At any rate, sir, your account with Beneficial/Household Finance is currently showing a late amount, and I need to schedule a payment."
me: "Fine, schedule one."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "When, sir?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I need a date, sir."
me: "Don't we all."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "No, sir, I need a date for your payment."
me: "That sounds complicated."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, can you please give me a date?"
me: "That's between you and fate, I think."
me: "Tomorrow, then."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, will funds be available to make that payment?"
me: "Probably not."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Then why are you scheduling it for tomorrow?"
me: "To make you happy."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "My feelings on the matter are not important."
me: "Well, then it's to give you a date to stick in the little box on your computer that says you scheduled a date."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But a payment won't be made on that date."
me: "I don't think so."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Well, then, sir, when can I schedule a payment?"
me: "I have no idea."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "You have no idea when you can make a payment."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "When will you know when you can make a payment."
me: "If I knew that, I could probably schedule a payment."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, your account is overdue, and you need to make a payment."
me: "Well, I think I've pretty clearly demonstrated that I don't need to make a payment, and am unable to make one whether I need to or want to, so why don't you just schedule a call to ask me the question again a little later?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I'm not prepared to do that, sir."
me: "So I'm the first person you've ever talked to who won't schedule a payment?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "That's neither here nor there, sir."
me: "But it makes me kinda special, doesn't it?"
me: "We all need to feel special sometimes, ma'am."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I don't understand what you're saying."
me: "What I'm saying is this, ma'am: I'm thirty-seven, I have a college degree and twenty years experience in a business that no longer exists, I'm seventy pounds overweight, getting a hairy back and sore knees, and I've got a book I can't seem to finish, more unpaid work than I have time for, and I'm hopelessly in love with a man who is unavailable to me. I've been single for almost a decade, have been rejected by my own dog, for god's sake, and am such a pain-in-the-ass that my friends and family can hardly stand me most of the time, and the rest of the time, I'm like a hermit, hiding in my apartment. Some days, I just get up, shower, sit in front of the computer for a while, then just give up and sit on the couch, staring at the wall, waiting for the day to end. When things get really bad, sometimes, I end up in the kitchen in my underwear, which is full of holes because I can't afford new drawers that fit right, sitting on the floor compulsively eating half-frozen Food Lion store brand nondairy whipped topping right out of the container because it's about the only thing left in the fridge and I'm just so damn depressed that I can't be bothered to even get up and go outside to even buy some damn ramen for ten to a dollar, and all day long the phone's just ringing endlessly with people like you telling me what a big fat stupid loser I am, and that's all there is. Sometimes, you just need to feel like it's all adding up to something, you know, even when it's not. Sometimes you just need to feel like you're special. Is that wrong?"
(long, long pause)
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I just need to schedule a payment."
me: "Schedule it for Friday, then."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "And you'll be able to pay it by then?"
me: "Probably not."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Then can we schedule it for a time when you will?"
me: "Sure. Schedule it for May 16th, 2010."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I can't schedule that far, sir."
me: "Friday, then."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "But you've already said you won't be making a payment then."
me: "I won't, but some other account representative will be on duty then, so it'll be their problem."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, you're being very difficult."
me: "Yeah, my mom says that's how I am."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "I've scheduled your payment for Friday, August 26th."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "If you don't make a payment then, you will be flagged as overdue."
me: "I'm already flagged."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, that is not the point."
me: "Sounds to me like it sorta is, really."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "No, sir, it is not."
me: "Ma'am, can I tell you something?"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "What's that, sir?"
me: "You're on my hidden camera show!"
me: "You're on my hidden camera show! Look behind you!"
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Are you kidding me?"
(sound of nervous laughter on the other end)
me: "Yeah, I'm kidding. If I had a hidden camera show, I could probably pay my bill on time."
f.f.b.c.c.w.: "Sir, I've scheduled a date for you. Have a good morning."
me: "Wait, wait, how will I recognize him?"
me: "Hello? Hello?"
"Good morning, sir. This is Beneficial/Household Finance and I need to speak with you about your account."
me: "Ummm, I just got off the phone with someone."
"Someone from Beneficial/Household Finance?"
me: "Yep, but she wouldn't give me her name."
"You've just spoken with a representative?"
me: "Yeah, like thirty seconds ago. She got me a date!"
"Umm…okay, yeah, I'm showing that a date was scheduled for Friday."
me: "Is he cute? Does he like husky guys?"
me: "Look behind you! You're on my hidden camera show!"
"Thank you, sir. Thank you for doing business with Beneficial/Household Finance. Good day."
me: "You're always welcome, and—"
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 9:04 AM
Kate is getting married in September! Here's her email to me:
"Actually invites haven't gone out yet so you haven't been left out! But of course I'd love you to come if you can. We've only just got it sorted. We wanted to get married in London but Tom would have to get some stupid "fiancee" visa and then establish residency etc.. so we're getting married over here on Sept 24th.
I'm happy to say that Mum is coming over for it although I think she's a little scared but she'll be fine and she can stay with us so at least she won't be in a hotel.
E-mail me your address and I'll send you an invite. I think they'll be going out early next week.
It's a very casual affair - the groom will be wearing shorts! And after the ceremony we're just having a bbq before the London/New York lot come to dinner with us aboard the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach. The bbq is really for the locals!
Anyway, enough wedding stuff. Did you know Glen and I are going hiking in the Himalayas in Oct/Nov for 3 weeks? We hike around the Gokyo lakes and go to Everest Base Camp. I can't wait! So Tom's going to be a lonely husband just 3 weeks after we're married! Oops!
What with the wedding, the hike and me turning 40 in October, it's a busy year!"
Not sure I'll be able to make it as (a) work is a busy bitch at the moment and (b) I may need to go back to the UK at short notice to sort out clearing out the house and arranging for bits to be sold off or dumped as the intended buyers seem keen on completing ASAP.
Saturday, August 20, 2005 9:37AM
Fantastic day on Thursday at the Malaga feria and some shots from the ´phone camera:
The main street covered in a delightful set of shades.
Decorations and more shades and balloons. And a couple dressed in traditional feria costume. A local band playing some fantastic tunes with grandfather, father, son and daughter all taking turns with the twirled flag.
The young son twirling the flag to great effect. And a group of old men in typical Spanish pose relaxing between beers and more tapas.
The entrance to the main street with a magnificent Dali/Picasso inspired gateway which was thronged with people all day.
Another shot of the gateway. And a kissing couple.
The block in which I'd love an apartment. The cleaning workers fanning out to start removing the days rubbish. And my newest girl-friends.
A group celebrating the appointment of Malaga as the 2016 City of Culture.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 06:19AM
Looks like I could be in London for the 1st September and the previous evening.
And this "viral ad" that apparently "escaped" from Volkswagons ad agency is really rather funny. Sick, but funny.
ACTUAL HOSPITAL NOTES (or so we are asked to believe!):
1. The patient refused autopsy.
2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
6. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission
10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
12. She is numb from her toes down.
13. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.
14. The skin was moist and dry.
15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
23. Skin: somewhat pale but present.
24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities
Friday, August 12, 2005 06:09AM
Having finally convinced Banco de Andalucia to find my credit card amongst their paperwork and having placed it in my Prada card holder securely, I now need to spend on it. And Prada seems like a logical site to start with, except that it's just a place-holder, with nowhere to view or buy! :) This site has some great shots of the Tokyo shop whilst this one will probably put you off shopping at the Knightsbridge branch if the customer comments are anything to go by! And for men, this slide show shows actually that they can still "cut" it. Wish they had an on-line shopping facility as the nearest outlet for me is in Italy I'd imagine. Mind you a shopping trip there sunds like a good idea for my birthday on the 29th! :)
Looks like I may have possibly, maybe, crossing fingers, have sold my place. A cash offer arrived today from Bright & Bright which was less than I'd hoped for but if all goes well will mean a much quicker sale!
A very funny Dilbert for those of us called upon to discuss project progress:
One assumes they're fuelling the B52s as I type, in preparation for the invasion and bombing of Iran? Jeez, here we go again.
The N340 reminds me of that old James Caan movie, Rollerball where sheer carnage reigns. Three or four accidents last night. One looked quite serious but they were at least only a stones throw from the hospital at Marbella. You really do take your life in your hands when setting out each morning and evening. Must buy one of those lucky charms that all the Spanish seem to have dangling from their rear view mirror!
Wasn't able to get to the UK in July as I'd hoped. Maybe August? Although that may also be problematic! Lots of good stuff happening here at work but means project managing is a 24 hour a day job!
A friend, Chris Comley, posted this and I have to say I screamed with laughter when I first read it:
My First Taser Experience
My wife is fond of saying that my last words on this earth will be
something akin to "Well, I have out done myself once again." No doubt
you will see this true story chronicled in a Lifetime movie in the near
Last weekend I spied something at the pawn shop that tickled my fancy.
(Note: Keep in mind that my "fancy" is easily tickled). I bought
something really cool for my wife.
The occasion was our 18th anniversary and I was looking for a little
something extra for my sweet girl.
What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized Taser gun with
a clip. For those of you who are not familiar with this product, it is
a less-than-lethal stun gun with two metal prongs designed to
incapacitate an assailant with a shock of high-voltage, low amperage
electricity while you flee to safety. The effects are supposed to be
short lived with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, but
allowing you adequate time to retreat to safety.
You simply jab the prongs into your 250 lb. tattooed assailant, push the
button, and it will render him a slobbering, goggle-eyed,
muscle-twitching, whimpering, pencil-neck geek. If you've never seen one
of these things in action, then you're truly missing out--way too cool!
Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two
AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was
so disappointed. Upon reading the directions (we don't need no stinkin'
directions), I found much to my chagrin that this particular model would
not create an arch between the prongs. How disappointing! I do love fire
for effect. I learned that if I pushed the button, however, and pressed
it against a metal surface that I'd get the blue arch of electricity
darting back and forth between the prongs that I was so looking forward
to. I did so. Awesome! Sparks, a blue arch of electricity, and a loud
I'm easily amused, just for your information, but I have yet to explain
to her what that burn spot on the face of her microwave is.
Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it
couldn't be all that bad with only two AAA batteries, etc., etc.
There I sat in my recliner, my dog looking on intently (trusting little
soul), reading the directions (that would be me, not the dog) and
thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh and blood
I must admit I thought about zapping the dog for a fraction of a second
and thought better of it. He is such a sweet pup, after all.
But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself
against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as
advertised. Am I wrong?
Was I wrong to think that? It seemed reasonable to me at the time.
So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my glasses
perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand,
Taser in the other. The directions said that a one-second burst would
shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to
cause muscle spasms and a loss of bodily control; a three-second burst
would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out
All the while I'm looking at this little device (measuring about 5"
long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference, pretty cute really, and
loaded with two itsy, bitsy AAA batteries) thinking to myself, "No
Friggin' way - trust me, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best.
Those of you who know me well have got a pretty good idea of what
followed. I'm sitting there alone, the dog looking on with his head
cocked to one side as to say, "Don't do it buddy," reasoning that a
one-second burst from such a tiny lil hole thing couldn't hurt all that
bad (sound, rational thinking under the circumstances, wouldn't you
I decided to give myself a one-second burst just for the hell of it.
(Note: You know, a bad decision is like hindsight-- always 20-20. It is
so obvious that it was a bad decision after the fact, even though it
seemed so right at the time. Don't ya just hate that?) I touched the
prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY*********!
I'm pretty sure that Jessie Ventura ran in through the front door,
picked me up out of that recliner, then body slammed me on the carpet
over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the
foetal position, nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found,
soaking wet, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest
position. The dog was standing over me making sounds I had never heard
before, licking my face, undoubtedly thinking to himself, "Do it again,
do it again!"
(NOTE: If you ever feel compelled to mug yourself with a Taser, one note
of caution. There is no such thing as a one-second burst when you zap
yourself. You're not going to let go of that thing until it is dislodged
from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the
floor. Then, if you're lucky, you won't dislodge one of the prongs 1/4"
deep into your thigh like yours truly.)
SON-OF-A-***** that hurt! A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time
was a relative thing at this point), I collected my wits (what little I
had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My glasses were on the TV
across the room. How did they get there??? My triceps, right
thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had
been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. give or
take an ounce or two, I'm pretty sure.
By the way, has anyone seen my testicles? I think they ran away. I'm
offering a reward. They're round, ! kinda hairy, and handsome if I must
say so myself. Miss 'em; sure would like to get 'em back.
Never Touchin' the Taser Again!
Sunday, August 7, 2005 12:09AM
Planning has started for the Costa Rica trip in late November, early December. This is one I'm going to have to do, flying along over the top of the rain forest canopy on a wire!
Ate at Restaurant Aroma last night. We'd booked in advance as it's always been busy when we've tried before. Disappointing. More style than substance. A lot of thought had gone into the layout of the reataurant and the decor and the food but ultimately not as good as we'd hoped. Finished the night in our local chiringuito which is cheaper and more fun :)
Off to the beach today as next week promises to be another busy one. Have to drop into the bank Monday AM as they seem to have screwed up my online codes so I can't actually spend my money!
Saturday, August 6, 2005 07:09PM
Politically incorrect and will no doubt bring a sackful of hate-mail (assuming they know how to use email!) but this made me laugh:
Birmingham Tornado Fund
As you are probably aware, recently, a serious tornado hit parts of
News of the disaster was swiftly carried to the civilised world by
pay-as-you go SMS messages. Victims were seen wandering around aimlessly
muttering 'blooooodyell' and 'yourite?'. The tornado decimated the area
causing several pounds worth of damage. Several priceless collections of
mementos from the Balearics and Spanish Costa's were damaged beyond
repair. Several historic Ford Sierras and Nissan Bluebirds were blown off
their brick plinths. A large number of 3 series BMW's had their alloy
wheels damaged and a quantity of Renault Clio's had there tinted windows
blown out. Many locals were woken well before their giro arrived.
One resident, Sharon Knowles, a 15yr old single mother of seven said:
"It was such a shock, my little Beyonce came running into my bedroom
crying. My youngest two, Azif and Delbert slept through it all. I was
still shaking when I was watching Trisha the next morning".
Another resident, Community worker Royston Akimose, 38, said: "I was
'avin' a meetin' wiv a business associate, the sky went dark, an, de next
fing I know, me ganj is blown all over 'is Impreza!"
Apparently though, looting and car crime did carry on as normal.
The British Red Cross has so far managed to ship 4,000 crates of sunny
delight to the area to help the stricken locals. Rescue workers are still
searching through the rubble and have found large quantities of personal
belongings, which include benefit books, jewellery from Elizabeth Duke at
Argos and bone china from Pound Stretcher.
How Can You Help?
This appeal is to raise money for food and clothing parcels for those
unfortunate enough to be caught up in the disaster.
Clothing is most sought after, items needed include:
Fila or Burberry baseball caps
Kappa tracksuit tops (his & hers)
Von Dutch t-Shirts
White sports socks
Any large gold plated accessories
Food parcels may be harder to come by, but are needed all the same.
Required foodstuffs include microwave meals, tins of baked beans, ice
cream, and bottles of Smirnoff Ice. 22p buys a biro for filling in the
compensation forms, £2.00 buys fish, chips & blue fizzy drinks for a
family of 9, and £5.00 will pay for a packet of B&H and a lighter to calm
the nerves of those affected. Please do not send tents for shelter, as the
sight of posh housing is unfair on the population in neighbouring areas.
Friday, August 5, 2005 07:59PM
A couple of 'photos from the feria using the Motorola. Considering they were taken at about 4pm after a long night and in the dark, I think it performs pretty well:
3G (UMTS) enabled now on the 'phone so in the event of ISDN failure or elsewhere, can now surf at up to 34MB speeds (assuming I can get a signal) and if that fails it falls-back to GPRS. Off to test this now.
A friend (Ray) is here to undertake some work for the next week or so. I arranged for him a nice apartment on one of the nicer developments near Elviria which we've just heard on local radio (just as he leaves to drive from the airport) is in the middle of a huge fire that has closed the N340 and has meant the deployment of Guardia, hundreds of fire-fighters and helicopters dumping water on the inferno. Typical. Looks like he'll have to make do with a simple hotel instead :)
Aileen's back from her holiday having had a great time apparently. No word from the other people - assume they're busy!
And finally here's a picture of my new toys:
Thursday, August 4, 2005 07:59PM
This could almost have been a shot of us in the village had (a) the bull-run happened (b) I been awake to undertake it and (c) actually been taken in Casarabonela rather than Pamplona. But you get the idea:
Wednesday, August 3, 2005 07:59PM
Spoke to Jason in Casarabonela and he confirmed that a security guard from the club is in custody. Apparently Antonio (Banderas, but not the actor) tried to enter the club with a drink in a bottle, was told by the security guard that it wasn't allowed and insisted he was coming in. After that, it's all a bit vague but it appears his head hit the floor somehow and this was sufficient to kill him. What a crap ending for everybody to the feria.
Ebola as well now in China? Another report from recombinomics.com:
Ebola Recombinant Linked to Mystery Illness in Sichuan China?
Recombinomics CommentaryJuly 30, 2005
D: "It's alright. We ran tests on those samples and isolated the SZ77++A3231 virus."
I: "What is this SZ77++A3231 virus?"
D: "This is a strain of the Ebola virus."
I: "Would you like to comment about it?"
D: "It's rather impossible to totally explain it."
I: "I can understand so, but why is the term "less-infectious" always affixed to our version of the Ebola virus?"
D: "There are 2 reasons for doing so. First, to reduce panic among the people should it ever leak. And second, the Ebola virus has evolved in China. Re-combination has been detected. Most prominently at the portion which determines its effect on humans (very technical description, I can't describe it. sorry.). Also, abrupt breaks in the sequencing were detected, leading to changes in the incubation period. (Or possibly "changes in the incubation period were detected")
I: "How were these viruses classified then? / Could you elaborate more about the various strains?"
D: "Previously, strains of Ebola in China always had the EBO prefix. Subsequently following information leaks, the classification method was changed. We stopped using the EBO prefix. Instead, coupled with the discovery that the virus had become more virulent and lethal, we re-named the strains according to the placed where they were first discovered. For example, the strain in June became the SZ77++A3231. Sometimes, we don't even use their place of discovery, instead directly naming it the ++A3231."
I: "In that way, the Ebola virus wouldn't even be brought into the picture."
D: "Precisely, viruses such as the Ebola are national secrets."
The above comments by a physician involved in testng samples from patients in the mysterious swine outbreak in Sichuan indicate that one of the agents isolated is a recombinant Ebola virus originally isolated from Shenzen. Prior reports had listed the names and characteristics of various Ebola isolates and EB-SZ-277 was capable of infecting birds. SZ277++A3231 is a recombinant version of SZ-277 isolated from a patient. The discussion indicates China has an active Ebola project and the virus is rapidly evolving via recombination. It was not clear from earlier reports if the agent was isolated and sequenced, but this interview leaves little doubt that both isolation and sequencing of Ebola is quite active. It is unclear if the recombination is related to the region of identity between Ebola and H5N1. Ebola is considered a state secret, so there are no reports of the virus or availability of virus or sequences.
The interview also indicates that the streptococcus suis is not the cause of the illness. It is present in pigs and is merely activated by infectious agents, which include Ebola, plague, and an un-named virus which is considered "dangerous". The emphasis is on the bacteria because it can produce similar symptoms. The symptoms of the patients match pandemic flu of 1918, and H5N1 can produce such symptoms.
The interview, if accurate, would support the role of agents other than the bacteria, in the spread or progression of the illness. Streptococcus Suis does not produce the high case fatality rate, and can be treated with antibiotics, as can plague. The high case fatality rate also supports the involvement of a virus. The proximity to Qinghai Lake keeps H5N1bird flu and migratory birds on the short list of explanations for the rapid spread of the fatal disease that is resistant to antibiotic treatment. "
And good to see that even the highest in the land are taking care in these troubled times:
Monday, August 1, 2005 07:59PM
Another accident yesterday on the same bit of road. Guardia in attendance, cars halted on the same side of the road and a worryingly still, young lads body, lying on the pavement. Looked like he'd been on a scooter and a car took him off.
Picked up the new hire car today, a Ford Focus 1.9 diesel which moves at rather an impressive speed - except this morning when the N340 was moving slower than a slow thing from slow land. Partly the number of Spnaish holiday makers and also because everybody seemed to choose the centre lane to break down in causing huge bottlenecks from the Airport turning onto the N340 almost to the Benalmadena turning!
The weekend was fun, meeting Veronica and Michael for firstly a meal at the Pool Bar with Joe and family and then a long siesta to prepare for the rigours of the night of the feria. Michael and I got home about 5pm having watched a Spanish band perform in the square. No idea what they were called and very 70s style but seemed to go down well with everybody, old and young, singing along to all the songs. The lead guitarist bore an unfortunate resemblance to one of the characters off The Muppet Show and as he mugged it up more and more as the evening/morning went on, this only served to make us laugh louder. Michael and I managed a couple of the eaiser choruses! We went back for a quick sleep in preparation for the bull run which after a couple of years of being banned because of the injuries sustained to the runners (often when they attempted to leave the pathway only to be punched back into the path of the bulls by onlookers!) was being re-instated (with "calves"!). We both overslept! And woke to find that the remaining two days and nights of the feria had been cancelled by the Guardia Civil as a prominent local businessman had died at about 5.30 in one of the clubs under what sounded like very suspicious circumstances. A great shame for the entire villlage, not least his family, friends and workers. I suppose the only upside was that I didn't therefore sustain bruises and broken limbs after being tossed around by 1/2 ton of angry cow!
On that rather sour note, the four of us decided to spend the day at El Chorro and drove over, walked for a couple of hours, ate at our favourite mountain top restaurant and then back for another siesta!
Friday, July 29, 2005 07:59PM
Funny how an accident can really fsck up your day. Driving in early to work, I came round a bend to see the almost standard hazard lights flashing. When I got closer, the reason was obvious - a brand new BMW was sitting athwart the central reservation with large chunks of its bodywork missing and a large group of people clustered around a group of what looked like bikes/scooters. Luckily the Local Police were already attending, so I carried on. Hope everybody was OK, it may have been worse than it looked.
The annual migration that is the August holiday (when seemingly the entire Spanish economy closes down for a month - can I get hold of my gestor, Telefonica or Dell account manager etc. etc.? No!) started early. It appears that every third car or van in the slow lane is French plated and filled with most of the expatriate North African community who have loaded up their vehicles with the entire contents of Mercadono and a ferrteria to take back to their families in Morocco etc. The accident rate will climb steeply for the next month! The N340, never the fastest of roads (except at 4am in the morning when getting up to 180kmh is easier) grinds regularly to a halt and getting out of Marbelle in the evening is an exercise in patience. Oh well, only another 30 days to go.
Very sad to hear from Mum that Glen's Dad died recently. I've not been able to speak to him but this has to be the shittiest year ever. His Mum is intending to come over here from the Caribbean to live but an leg infection is delaying her deaprture. Will try and speak to him this weekend.
Mum seems fine, still a bit vague on names and dates etc. etc. but apparently after she comes back from a 3 day trip with Rob to Oxfor, her new pill regime will start. She (and the Doctor) seem confident that this will help. Time will tell ;)
And one for my female friends. A new thong that gets rid of VTL (Visible Thong Line) is available from here. As a taster, here's a photo:
And finally, this weekend is feria in the village, so back to the campo for 4 days of non stop partying. If you want a quiet, relaxing time in Spain, make sure it's not feria time! Having said that, I'mgetting far too old for such a long haul, so will probably just make Friday/Saturday the "crawl from bar to bar and club to club" and then spend Sunday recovering ready for work on Monday :)
Thursday, July 28, 2005 07:59PM
No word from friends in UK all of whom I believe are on holiday in exotic locations; they've not even visited the site so are obviously having fun :)
China and Russia are a long way away. But not by ´plane. So I'm not sure how worried we should all be about the reports (some heavily censored) coming out of these two countries which seem to show a frightening rate of expansion and high mortality rates of the new Avian Flu.
BANGKOK, Sept. 29 - With Thai and international experts confirming the first probable human-to-human transmission of a virulent strain of avian influenza in this country, public health officials around the world are facing major hurdles as they try to prepare for a possible pandemic.
Scientists say they cannot predict how quickly, if at all, the strain may develop the ability to spread easily among people, and whether it will remain as lethal as it has proven so far.
The strain, A(H5N1), has killed 30 of the 42 Southeast Asians it infected in the past year, and millions of chickens and wild birds, across wide areas of Asia, and has infected some pigs, household cats and even zoo tigers. A handful of cases of human-to-human transmission may have occurred during bird flu outbreaks in Hong Kong in 1997 and in Europe a year ago, but neither resulted in a pandemic.
Still, public health experts say it would be irresponsible not to prepare for a worst-case situation. The so-called Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919 killed at least 20 million people, and that was before the development of the modern transportation system, with its fleets of jumbo jets linking remote areas of the world - and taking microbes with them. By comparison, AIDS has killed an estimated 22 million since 1981, according to the United Nations.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization held a meeting in Geneva of representatives of the drug industry to demand that they speed vaccine production. In the United States, scientists with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are racing to complete a genetic sequence of the virus from this case to determine if it has acquired any mammalian influenza genetic material, which could make it more transmissible, and the government has ordered two million doses of experimental vaccine.
Health officials would normally look to vaccines and antiviral drugs to control a pandemic, but in this case, those tools have yet to be fully developed and tested. Conventional flu vaccines are not believed to provide any protection against A(H5N1) avian influenza.
Human trials of the new vaccine ordered by the United States government are not expected to begin until the end of this year, at best.
Washington, like the governments in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and a few other countries, is also stockpiling the only antiviral medicine that may work against the strain, Tamiflu, but there have been too few human cases to document its effectiveness.
The symptoms of human bird flu appear to be indistinguishable from severe cases of conventional flu, with fevers, sneezing, coughing and aches. Scientists have yet to determine why the A(H5N1) strain is so lethal.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the United States government was "doing everything that is technically and feasible to be done at this time - essentially, loading up and stockpiling Tamiflu to the extent of almost exhausting the manufacturer's capabilities."
But the absence of a tested vaccine and the scarcity of the antiviral underline what many health officials say is a chronic mismatch of public health needs and private control of production of vaccines and drugs.
"The market has failed here to drive companies into research, and we believe that's something public health should be looking at much more closely in the future," said Klaus Stöhr, the W.H.O.'s top influenza expert, before Wednesday's meeting.
Only two large vaccine manufacturers, Aventis Pasteur, based in Swiftwater, Pa., and the Chiron Corporation, based in Emeryville, Calif., are braving a thicket of patent issues and financial concerns to try to use advanced genetic techniques to develop vaccines against so-called bird flu. And they have proceeded only with National Institute of Health contracts to do so.
Other drug makers have given several reasons for not making vaccines: that production is expensive and investment may not be recouped if there is no pandemic, and that intellectual property rights on new techniques used to make the vaccine remain unsettled. The standard method for making flu vaccines - growing virus in chicken embryos - does not work because the A(H5N1) virus is so deadly that it kills the developing chicks before they can grow enough virus to be worth harvesting. The new techniques alter the strain's genetics so it can be grown in the fertilized eggs.
Drug makers also worry that they could be exposed to considerable liability if they put out a new vaccine without lengthy safety tests first.
Because the clinical trials have not been done, "nobody can go into full-scale production now, nobody," Dr. Stöhr said.
When vaccines are not available, doctors can turn only to the antiviral Tamiflu. But it is expensive and may work only if it is given in the first two days after the onset of symptoms.
Tamiflu is made only by Roche Holding, a Swiss company, at a single small factory in Europe, although the company has said in recent months that it plans to build another production line in the United States. Some public health experts are strongly critical of Roche for not increasing production of Tamiflu sooner, saying the company should have expanded production early this year, when avian influenza started becoming a problem across much of Asia.
"You're dealing with very conservative Swiss bankers - to me, they don't see the opportunity yet," said Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan influenza expert, pointing out that Tamiflu not used for an avian influenza pandemic could be used instead to make human influenza less severe.
A Roche spokesman, in an e-mail message responding to questions, said the company had been supplying Tamiflu at levels demanded by the market and was now increasing its manufacturing capacity, but declined to provide details. The company recommends that governments hold enough Tamiflu in stockpiles to treat a quarter of their population - which would translate into more than 70 million people in the United States - but notes that few countries have shown much interest in such stockpiles, at least until recently.
Stockpiles are expensive because the drug is costly: $68 at retail for a 10-capsule treatment course for one adult.
Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the C.D.C., said that the federal government had bought enough Tamiflu to treat one million Americans, but added that if the manufacturing capacity were greater, "we would certainly want to have a supply that was closer to 100 million than to a million."
Drawing on lessons from past pandemics, Dr. Fauci, the federal official, said that an avian influenza pandemic might start with an initial wave of cases in one region of the world, but that the epidemic, if it occurred, might not become a global problem until the next year, giving vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturers more time to respond.
But it is not clear when the confusion may be resolved over the patents on the reverse genetics process used to grow the new vaccine. Several universities and an American company, MedImmune Inc., based in Gaithersburg, Md., hold the patents and have allowed research using the techniques. But no deal has been reached on how much money vaccine makers would have to pay before beginning production.
Distributing limited stocks of vaccine and antivirals could also be difficult in a pandemic, officials warn.
"It will be a very difficult decision to take by governments to decide who is going to receive the vaccine, who is going to receive the antivirals - or even more importantly, who is not going to receive the vaccine or the antivirals," said Dr. Stöhr. "A simple question would be, if we vaccinate health care workers, would the nurse also be allowed to vaccinate his child? Would the nurse take the antivirals or would he take it home? There will be limited resources and all this has to be thought through now."
Research at Hong Kong University has found that the virus is more active at cooler temperatures, suggesting that the slow spread of the disease this summer may not mean it will move as slowly this coming winter. "It is kind of a warning," said Malik Peiris, the leader of the research team, "that we should be prepared particularly for bigger problems in the months ahead."
Keith Bradsher reported from Bangkok for this article, and Lawrence K. Altman from Bangkok and New York. "
Then these two more recent reports: from Sichuan in China and Altai in Russia and this earlier one on the Bird Flu background.
As I say, how scared should we be here? Possibly very. Anybody who sneezes near me will be shot on general principle! ;)
For the techies, check out YubNub.org (click on the image to go there):
It's got some amazingly useful command line tools to do some really useful (and cool!) things on the web.
And one other amusing snippet for the tech folks. Windows Vista (née Longhorn) the next release of Windows has already had its initials used as:
Held at La Cabane beach club at the Los Monteros Hotel which is a fabulous venue; right on the beach, linen draped "soft" areas and a lovely swimming pool (into which more than a few people were pitched or jumped as the evening turned to early morning). And the fireworks at the end were bettered only by the display last week! Oh, and it's only two doors down from Antonio Banderas' house (allegedly built illegally!), so mixing with the rich and famous comes easy now :) More details on the venue here if you want to spend more than a few Euros! Oh, and the actor chappie mentioned above is due back in Spain on the 4th August as he's filming in Spain shortly and intends spending most of his time there...
And these images made me smile:
Monday, July 25, 2005 06:54AM
Celebrated Pete's life on Friday night together with John and Lourdes (who'd also had a crap week, but that's another story) at the chiringuito on the beach. We were the last to leave (after ordering one brandy after another) and the staff were falling asleep with boredom at their stations and, I'm sure, were very pleased to see us go! Suffered big-time for this on Saturday morning and, although I went into work, I was there in body and don't think the flesh was willing. Went home, collapsed into bed, slept for about 3 hours and felt a whole lot better. Popped out for a (comparatively) non-alcohol evening and a bite to eat (at the same bar and apologies for keeping everybody up so late).
Must remember to ring Mum and Glen today as I haven't spoken to either of them for nearly two weeks now.
Sunday was beach day. Found some shady beach chairs for 5 Euros a day and 2 minutes crawl to the bar and 2 (feet burning) steps to the sea and just chilled. Somehow, I seem t have found the topless bathing end of the beach. Not sure how that happened!
Jazztel in Spain are offering a 4MB ADSL connection for only 26 Euros a month, so have ordered that and will see how long it takes to be delivered!
Thursday, July 21,
Pete Finnigan's funeral is this coming Friday. Much as I'd really
have loved to have gone, work here makes the logistics impossible, so
will raise a glass to his memory at 2.30PM UK time on Friday. Flowers
have been despatched and a donation to his nominated charity, The
British Heart Foundation, is also in hand. I'm going to miss him, he was
always available for a chat, to pick his brains on a technical problem
or even just to bitch with. We'll be thinking of you my friend.
Some shots of the night of the Festival Of Carmen in Fuengirola where
the Virgin is paraded through the streets accompanied by thousands of
people and then she's (slowly) taken into the sea where a service of
blessing is given for the boats and small craft that cluster close to
the shore. The fireworks at the end were the best I've ever seen - truly
stunning and the picture here do them no justice. We watched the
display, after eating at a road-side restaurant, from Jan's father's
flat close to the shoreline and the fireworks looked for all the world
like jelly fish clawing their way across the sky towards us or,
alternatively, like the lovely pictures of the Crab Nebula shot
recently, exploding galaxies.
Saturday, July 16,
Ever wondered about where your DNA started from? The National
here can show you your earliest ancestors.
Thursday, July 14,
Some pictures of the girls:
The girls dining out on their last night at La Primavera with
doting father (the old one on the right) and at the Pool Bar in
Casarabonela earlier in the week with Joe.
Beth, Amanda and local "musician" at La Primavera earlier on
their last night and Beth and I on the beach at Fuengirola.
Later on in the evening with Amanda, Val and Beth and another shot
(with Amanda being coy) at the Pool Bar.
Taken on the balcony at the house in Casarabonela and almost the end
of the evening on the Paseo Maritimo on their last night.
The girls left here yesterday morning, I kissed them good-bye at the
check-in and there were a few tears. Got a text later to say they'd
arrived safely home in the UK. Quite strange in the flat now with so
much space and no piles of washing to step around! Beth emailed later to
say she and Amanda had a a fantastic time (not surprising in view of the
cash they were given by the Big Man!) and would love to come back again.
So, will see what next year brings.
Just heard that Pete's funeral (cremation) is next Friday, the 22nd
in Middlesex, so am looking for flights now.
Email from a friend in the UK confirming her agreement on the
Scientologists! Good to hear from her.
Monday, July 11,
I see that the Scientologists are being their normal scum-sucking,
bottom feeding selves and targeting people in London for "bereavement
counselling". The sooner this "religion" which is actually a total con
has any charitable and other benefits removed the better. And if anybody
wants me to host anything on the anti- side, feel free to mail me. Just
as a reminder of how insane and wrong they are,
this page by Karin
Spaink shows some of the mind-bogglingly stupid theories espoused by
the lunatic Hubble that they've attempted to suppress in case such
high-profile supporters as Tom Cruise and John Travolta decide to stop
funding them and instead use their status to go public about them. One
clip ought to give you a flavour of how laughable this idiot and his
"religion" is (except for the harm that it causes). He can't even write
"Without the biogenetic meddling of those who stand outside time (who cannot yet
directly influence our world and must work through others) the dwindling spiral
is not nearly as automatic and self-perpetuating as it appears. There are
regions even in isolated parts of the Milky Way where poets are free to poet
and magicians can paint reality with their magic wands and exteriorize without
body kickback. But these areas unfortunately are fewer and fewer."
So are you a poet and want "to poet"? Just hitch a ride on their
money escalator and away you go.
Oh, and anybody hoping for payments in Spain from The Riverside
Group (a warehousing operation) based just outside Fuengirola along
the Mijas/Coin road, shouldn't hold their breath! I'm owed 200 odd from
January this year and they're waffling and saying "later, later". This
outfit is going down the tubes (unless anybody knows better?). In my
humble opinion, get cash for anything you do.
And does anybody know what's happened to Gold Coast Estates?
Another one whose office in Fuengirola seems to have closed with no
forwarding address (and also owing me money!).
Saturday, July 10,
Some good news that I failed to mention from earlier this week. Ben
did really well in his exams, passing his first year with a high 2:1! He
got 67% over the two semesters (69% and 65% for each), so looks like
he's OK to stay at university for another year! Great stuff and credit
to him in spades! He's also moved into the shared house; he and 7
others! Not sure I want to see what state that'll be in after a couple
of weeks :)
Friday, July 8,
The autopsy on Pete showed that he was suffering unbeknownst to him
from a heart disease. Here's the posting from Tony (a mutual friend and
"Coroners report states that Pete had ischemic (sp.) heart disease,
arteries completely furred up and the heart just stops so he would not
have suffered (unlike a heart attack). Will post funeral details as
soon as we get to know them."
I'm so glad that's the case. My first thought was that he'd have been
alone, in pain in the house and secondly that maybe he'd picked up a
problem in Spain when he came over here recently. Not much consolation
as he's no longer here with us, but some, none the less.
Ray popped over for a day's site survey and we had a good talk about
Pete in between measuring and surveying and more measuring and lots of
strong espressos, and then we despatched him off
to the airport. He'll speak to Alison when he gets back as well.
If anybody has been trying unsuccessfully to get hold of the Google
Earth program file,
clicking on the
link will give you a copy (all 10MB+ of it). It's similar to
NASA's World Wind
but more fun to use in my view (and this one comes in at a stonking
180MB for a full download, so a lot quicker as well!). This has been A
Public Service Announcement.
The Telefonica saga at the apartment is
moving on a bit. After telling us that (a) we couldn't get ADSL (too far
from the exchange) and (b) we couldn't even get a 'phone line (no free
pairs at the exchange), a call to our account manager (thanks Ignacio!)
produced an ISDN installation yesterday, so can now connect at 128K
rather than have to rely on GPRS thru' the Motorola. And (allegedly!) we
may even be able to get ADSL connected over the ISDN line (unlike the UK
but like Germany where this is common practice). Even more exciting
for those of us who need SPEED at all times on our Net connections is
this quote from a colleague: "Actually,
I saw Ignacio from Telefonica last week and they will be offering 3G in
1 or 2 months for a reasonable flat rate and with ...... 27Mbps download
speed (Twenty seven big ones). Sound unreal? I think I will be the first
customer." Actually, he won't as I fully intend to order this on Monday!
The battery is crap on the V3 by the way; your first purchase after
the 'phone should be a spare battery and a charger. Apart from that, I
still like this beastie esp. with the enhanced Phone Tools software. The
only thing I haven't yet sussed out is how to call out with the
Bluetooth headset live - it seems to over-ride it. I suppose I'll have
to read the manual :(
A shot of the exposed pilings.
I didn't hear Ken Livingstone's speech but this is transcript which
strikes me as a lot more honest and true than Bliar's pious Vicar
This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of
Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones.
want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.
Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th in America we conducted
series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an
attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and
the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of
multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour.
The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with
remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are
I'd like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have
to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police
Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, do everything possible to assist the police
and take the advice of the police about getting home today.
I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope
the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground
that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I
have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent
that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the
at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable
effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.
I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a
terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed
Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class
Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young
old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any
considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.
That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith. It is just an
indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is.
They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each
other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the
city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives
by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly
They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been
injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be
the mayor of that city.
Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to
I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order
take others, that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that
you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and
can show you why you will fail.
In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and
look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you
will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the
world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their
and achieve their potential.
They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they
come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be
able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they
should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us
you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and
where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do,
however many you kill, you will fail."
Thursday, July 7,
Terrible news. My good friend and long-term colleague Pete Finnigan
died last night. He'd been working over here with me only recently, had
complained about "indigestion" and had been to see the Doctor the day
before yesterday. His partner, Alison, came home to find him dead on the
floor from an apparent heart-attack. What a shitty, shitty, shitty thing
to happen. I've known Pete both professionally and personally for 10
years now and he was unfailingly helpful, kind and professional. I will
miss him terribly. I've no idea yet when the funeral will be but will be
back in the UK as soon as I know. My thoughts are with Alison.
God, what a crappy year.
And now of course the terrible bombings in Central London. My
heartfelt sympathies to anybody affected and to friends in the UK who've
offered to get in touch with anybody I'm worried about. Looks like the
mobile networks have been switched off, at least in London and
land-lines out of Spain are at the moment impossible to get hold of.
As a small side-bar, I've been told off by a good friend in London
for denigrating the Olympics "win" for London. I take her point but in
view of the above I'm not going to waste any time congratulating
everybody on this. And the gratuitous swipes at the French are
distasteful as well. So there :)
Wednesday, July 6,
So London gets the Olympics? Whoopee doo. Does anybody think this
will be good for anybody apart from the politicians, builders and
(briefly) the athletes? Answers to the normal address - any with green
ink will hit the bit bucket. And already the jokes start:
And why the hell do my Google ads keep disappearing? A real PITA.
Must check out why as I'm losing a fortune in click-throughs! :)
Girls having lots of fun apparently. Spent a day at the Aqua Park in
Fuengirola, one day shopping in Marbella, most of the rest on the
beach or by the pool and managed to squeeze a few hours work in for
their school! Off with Victor's daughter today to La Canada to
shop, bowl, eat, shop, eat etc. etc.
No time to send emails to friends, so apologies to everybody who's
apparently being ignored - you're not but it's majorly hectic here
still. Lots of planning for various installs and upgrades and will be
working with Richard at Merula and Mac and Pete (whose real name I now
know, but my lips are sealed!). And Pete and Ray will be out here soon
as well for various electronic related items.
The building site is being re-dug - the long steel girders they drove
down into the cliff are now being re-exposed and it looks as though
they'll be the basis for the foundations. Time will tell if my guess is
right. The standard people out each morning - the guy who feeds the
birds, the blonde, pony tailed jogger and the insane cyclist who every
day cycles up hill at a major rate of knots.
Val's on her 4 week intensive Spanish course, 4 hours a day, 5 days a
week. Good preparation for her time in Costa Rica. Seems to be enjoying
it as the students and level are about right.
And a quote from a friend of mine:
"I love Americans, but not when they
try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk
Saturday, July 2,
Missed The Who at Live8 - they apparently tore the stage up and were the
best act there (of course!).
Pete Townsend's diary is fun to read. Hopefully he'll update it with
his thoughts from the two song show they did. A friend has captured all
10 hours on his hard drive, so I'm aiming to get hold of a copy and
wallow in nostalgia.
And a close friend in the UK sent me
which looks a lot of fun to play. Haven't had a chance to yet but will
keep you all posted.
A fine way of seeing the countryside - a trike tour run out of
Fuengirola. This one was taken at the top of El Chorro.
Mike looking pensive at the Pool Bar!
The girls sipping (non alcoholic) cocktails at The Hollywood Bar
on the Paseo Maritimo. For those of you not sure, Beth is on the right
and Amanda on the left.
The girls arrived safely on Tuesday and after stopping off at the
flat to freshen up, we went to Marbella and started them working :)
After three days they were exhausted with filing, photocopying,
shredding, spreadsheet work etc and we decided that to take pity on them
and that they needed some R&R and so armed with a handful of Euros they
headed off to the beach every afternoon. Met John on Tuesday night and
had a fun evening with Beth and Amanda spending most of the time
exploring the beach and promenade. Next night we ate along the Paseo
and after being served found ourselves dining by candle-light as the
entire strip had a 30 minute power failure. Fascinating evening people
The annual Summer Party tonight, so off to buy some new glad-rags -
the dress code is "casual but smart" which must mean at least Hugo Boss
and a nice little unstructured suit plus maybe some Prada shoes?
Work is extremely busy, everybody is frazzled but this weekend
is a relaxing one, so back into the fray on Monday. Lots of good stuff
been finished and the towering wave seems to be slightly less
over-hanging above my head although knowing this contract, that'll
change very soon!
More later on technical stuff.
Saturday, June 25,
Working on the office move all week and this weekend. Some hilarious
incidents. The Telefonica engineer who turned up completely pissed and
seemed surprised when we told him he couldn't work on terminating our 3
PRI circuits. The shipment sent from the UK that it took us 3 days to
locate, finally finding it in an obscure little industrial park not far
from our campo house. And seeing a car speeding through Marbella, losing
a hub cap which hurtled along the road at an incredible rate of knots,
narrowly missing decapitating a little old lady.
Wednesday night was the feast of St. Juan. The beach was packed with
people from about 7pm onwards with incredible setups, tents, barbeques
etc. As midnight approached, the moon came out from behind the cloud and
everybody dived into the sea to cleanse themselves and (apparently)
ensure a beautiful body for the next year. Sadly I was exhausted and had
flaked out on the couch by 10pm and missed all the fun. They were still
there next morning at 7am when I got ready to go to work and the bongo
drummer(s) (all credit to their stamina although not their musical
abilities) were still pounding away. An incredible mountain of debris on
the beach which must have more than slightly dis-spiriting for the army
of municipal cleaners who descended there.
It's hot hiring time in China now! If you want to have a paid
vacation for 6 months or 1 year, think about coming to China! Your
English skills and IT skills are in demand right now.
Since I finished my last round of graduate school a few years ago, I
have had some chances to live a Gypsy lifestyle, traveling around the
world to exotic places, meeting interesting people, and learning about
strange foreign cultures. It is the exciting part of IT some people may
only dream of. In reality, I have spent the past 5 or 6 years moving
from one place to another, packing, unpacking, looking for lost things,
buying replacements, and then finding the lost things. There is little
glamour, but lots of moving.
I have been in China for the past four years; half of that time in Inner
Mongolia, half in the Shanghai area. My job has recently taken me back
to Inner Mongolia, in Northern China. The job consists mostly of
computer support for foreign language teachers, but I also lecture, have
tutorial students, support an educational website, and care for our
language college servers. The other foreign language teachers and I help
prepare Chinese college graduates to take your IT jobs.
So, are you in danger of being outsourced?
Sure you are. Let me explain some of the cultural realities of Middle
Kingdom computing first, then I will come back to the outsourcing issue.
I recently completed what should have been a simple and quick job of
moving some servers and setting up a new educational web site server for
English teachers at our university. There is no preferred vendor for our
university (others usually pick Lenovo, if there is one), so I made a
list of what parts were needed for the whitebox server. No problem. All
the parts were ordered immediately. If you work in IT in the West, admin
or trenches, when was the last time you spec'd a whitebox? Or, rather,
when is the last time you spec'd a whitebox without even looking at
vendor quotes? My guess is not recently.
Waiting for all the parts to arrive for the new server, and waiting for
my other servers to get on the schedule for moving from university IT,
back to our college server room, I thought it would be a good time to
check all the high and low voltage wiring, air conditioning, plumbing,
and lighting. I do not mean call facilities and have someone come check
these things, oh no. I got out my assortment of testers and tasters.
Checked all the mains for proper grounding. Checked the hubs. Checked
the routers. Made a list of leaky faucets, replaced fluorescent tubes
and faulty fixtures, "acquired" a comfy chair and a big desk for myself,
and "found" a refrigerator that is now an officially listed, numbered,
and inventoried part of the language college server room. The phrase,
"that's not part of my job description" never came to mind. Of course
there are no legal, union, or contractual problems with me doing these
I personally did these things because that is what an admin at a
university in China can do if they are motivated. They can do what they
need to do to get the job done. Oh, sure, I had some help. I can speak a
little Mongolian, so I had some university workers help move the
furniture. I can speak a little Chinese, so I got replacement lighting
fixtures from facilities. Mostly, however, it was me, my wits, and my
two hands that got everything in order. My Chinese counterparts could
not believe all the initiative.
When it came to getting the hubs and routers set for the new server
configuration, I discovered there were hundreds of meters of new CAT5
cable, bags and bags of new RJ45 connectors, and a box of 1 meter patch
cables. No crimpers to be seen. The university IT department of course
had a set, but they just smiled if I even hinted that I even wanted to
look at them.
This part of Inner Mongolia is a little less advanced than some places
in South China, but by no means backwards. I called all over the city
for crimpers. No luck. The next day, university IT called and told me
that my servers were on the way over. Not that they would be moved soon,
but, rather, that they had already been taken out of service,
disconnected, and were on the way to my building via a convoy of
About this same time, I started getting calls from language teachers. We
can't get any language files for the listening lab, what have you done?
Students can't access their web-based assignments, what have you done? I
can't access my email, what have you done? My only reply to any of these
questions was, "yes, it is my fault. I am so very sorry," because that
is the way these questions must be answered. This was, in fact, my
fault, because for the past few days it was my responsibility to keep
the systems working. The servers were not in my server room, but that
made no difference, because it was my job to care for them, and they
were not in operation. I was not doing my job.
Servers? What servers? Oh, those servers.
Panic was starting to set in. I rounded up some of the people from
telephony (next door), got some rolls of black poly tape, and gave them
some quick lessons in how to twisty-splice CAT5. While the pedal-powered
server convoy lumbered toward my server room, we cut patch cords and
cobbled together a dozen or so of the highest loss cables you might
imagine.The servers arrived, and the cab peddlers carried boxes, cables,
monitors, and such to the server room. I got the servers slapped
together in short order, and mostly up. A few all-nighters later, things
were more or less running normally. I got all the parts for my whitebox
server, put it together, and started the process of centralizing from 6
different servers to 2. One primary and a backup.
A couple of weeks later, I got a shiny new set of crimpers and replaced
the last cobbling. A couple of months later, my servers are up all the
time. My users are amazed at the speed and reliability. I no longer
spend all my time responding to little emergencies.
The server room story is not really an example of "normal IT" here. It
is an example of what I did to establish myself as someone who takes
responsibility and gets the job done. A person can still do that sort of
Jobs? What Jobs? Oh, those jobs.
Now, back to the question of outsourcing. In my opinion, yes, many jobs
in Western IT are likely to be outsourced. I think it is because Western
IT has been taken over by marketing departments and plug-and-play
experts. Most people involved in IT in the West are either specialists
of one sort or another, with very specific skills; or they are
generalists to the point where they no longer have any specific skills
Here in China, they teach IT students how computers operate. Students
learn about ergonomics, and they learn where to find specific
information and how to apply it to the real world. They learn how to do
their jobs, but they don't learn about "can-do," or self-reliance. Those
are Western things that don't fit on a curriculum.
My drive to get the job done comes from "Western culture." I don't mind
getting my hands dirty, and I think it is still the case that many
Westerners have a "can-do" attitude that makes them well suited to
handling quick decisions and getting things done. If a Chinese IT
manager were in my position, there would still be 6 servers, and they
would still be in the university server room. The network would still be
slow, unresponsive, and inadequate.
The "can-do" of Western culture is slipping away, being replaced with
"no-can-do." Western IT professionals have had their hands tied more and
more over the past couple of decades. Middle management and marketing
departments control IT departments now. Mediocrity is the order of the
day. MCSE replaced common sense, and IT professionals are now a "cost
IT is hot in China now. Sort of like it was a couple of decades back in
the Western world. Mediocrity is showing signs of creeping in, however,
and soon IT workers will be churned out by post-high school trade
schools. Then the outsourced jobs can be re-outsourced to India. Then
maybe to an African country. Then somewhere else.
On the other hand, there will always be a job for someone who can get
things done. If you want job security, give up on the idea of
specialization and a comfortable life of sitting around making up new
acronyms. Get off your butt and diversify your skills. I don't mean go
to college and learn plumbing theory; I mean learn how to actually do
things. Meet people. Go outside. Then consider a management position in
one of the "hot new places for IT."
Don't sit around being depressed by a threat of being outsourced;
outsource yourself! If you are a native English speaker with IT skills
and a can-do attitude, you are hot in the world IT market right now. The
IT world needs your maverick spirit and can-do attitude! ฎ
Doctor John has been in China for the past four years. He has worked in
a variety of IT positions and taught at BaoTou Teacher's College,
Zhejiang University, and Inner Mongolia University for Nationalities.
Doctor John was born in Spain, studied for his doctorate in the US, and
has worked in many places worldwide. He now lives in Inner Mongolia.
And finally an allegedly true story:
A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and
March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then
late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been
now is somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to
Family Member: "I am calling to tell you that she died in January."
Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees and charges
Family Member: "Maybe, you should turn it over to collections."
Citibank: "Since it is two months past due, it already has been."
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?"
Citibank: "Either report her account to the frauds division or report
to the credit bureau, maybe both!"
Family Member: "Do you think God will be mad at her?"
Citibank: "Excuse me?"
Family Member: "Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about
her being dead?"
Citibank: "Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor."
Supervisor gets on the phone:
Family Member: "I'm calling to tell you, she died in January."
Citibank: "The account was never closed and the late fees and charges
Family Member: "You mean you want to collect from her estate?"
Citibank: (Stammer) "Are you her lawyer?"
! Family Member: "No, I'm her great nephew." (Lawyer info given)
Citibank: "Could you fax us a certificate of death?"
Family Member: "Sure." (fax number is given)
After they get the fax:
Citibank: "Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more
can do to help."
Family Member: "Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could
keep billing her. I don't think she will care."
Citibank: "Well, the late fees and charges do still apply."
Family Member: "Would you like her new billing address?"
Citibank: "That might help."
Family Member: "Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69."
Citibank: "Sir, that's a cemetery!"
Family Member: "What do you do with dead people on your planet?
Tuesday, June 21,
Don't offend your partner! A DJ's wife sold his Lotus for 50p:
Some fantastic 'photos from the
Mars Express mission. Here's one to whet you appetites (if such a
thing rocks your boat of course):
Big office move this weekend, so rushing around making sure all the
PM stuff is being taken care of. Looks like the 27th will be busy, busy,
busy so won't be able to make any dates
for Monday that aren't strictly work related, so unfortunately, no trip
to the out-flung areas of the Spanish empire!
Saturday, June 18,
Back to the campo house for the weekend. Seems like months since I
was last here. Lots of changes on the drive back there, esp. around Coin
with new roundabouts and roads being opened to open up the link between
Antequera and the coast. Huge holes in the rest of the countryside. Not
quite sure what they're going to be. Houses? Sewage plants? Who knows.
Could be ages before they get completed or I could be surprised and see
the results next time we drive up. Bought some fantastic cherries off a
little old man at the side of the road. All along the Churriana road are
little one man and his van setups offering potatoes, oranges etc at
amazingly low prices. Well worth the effort involved in screeching to a
halt, bringing a long line of traffic to a stop (as is after all the
Spanish way) and buying a huge bag or two for about 5 each, often less.
The work below our flat carries on - the latest involves a large
machine drilling holes and then inserting metal rods into the
(crumbling) cliff-side. Why they bother I don't know - it's be easier
(and safer for the future purchasers) for the cliff to be levelled and a
proper set of footings dug. As I mentioned before it's not exactly
granite they're building on and the crumbling slatey type "rock" on
which this new development is to rest doesn't inspire much confidence in
their eventual longevity! What'll probably happen is that they cover the
cliff face with fine metal netting and then coat this with concrete.
The grape vines at the house are enormous now and groaning under the
weight of huge bunches of young grapes. Not quite sure what we'll do
with them all so will check with the villagers and see if there's a
community effort to harvest, press and use them. May wind up with our
very own "Casa Las Bravas" vintage :) The orange tree is now past
it's fruiting stage but other varieties lower down in the valley seem to
be just coming into crop.
The countryside is starting to look less green, scorched areas
already apparent and it's only mid-June. God knows what'll look like
come the end of August/September! The garden is still a mass of colour
but that involves gallons of water day after day, so thanks heavens for
Maria our neighbour who pops in un-announced when we're not there to
Mike's apparently on his way up to see us and we'll have dinner at
the Pool Bar. On his new Harley as well (having just reclaimed it again
from the tender ministrations of the local garage). May well have a bad
head tomorrow morning...
Thought a lot about Liz over the last week, kept hearing music that I
know she loved. Strange feeling knowing that certain songs will now for
ever be linked to thoughts of her. Others still bring the hairs on the
back of my neckercet but these ones now make me more than a little sad.
Friday, June 17,
You have to feel sorry for this
pair of motor cyclists who lost ฃ10,500 when the cash flew out of
their rucksack on a motorway!
For the Linux gurus out there, this will be an easy picture to
understand. For those less blessed, it may mess with your head when you
realise what's being done. Using
you can run a virtual machine on another without affecting the
underlying OS and/or hardware. When you get really clever, this is what
you can do: The four xterms on the left are the Slackware virtual
machine's consoles, and the four on the right are the SuSE virtual
machine's three consoles, plus its syslog in a fourth console. The Xnest
in back is the local X server for the Slackware machine. The xterm
inside it running on the SuSE machine, displaying over to the Slackware
X server. The shell inside the xterm is telnetted back to the Slackware
Wednesday, June 15,
And to my recently returned viewer from Central London, yes, that is
really me in the film and yes, it did really happen like that. I wasn't
Cats below us on the waste ground are very cute. Early morning
they're chasing each other around the bricks, pallets, undergrowth and
playing ambush games on each other whilst Mum looks patiently on. I
think part of the reason they perform so well is that we feed them
little delicacies each morning :)
Beth's birthday tomorrow and only just over a month before she comes out for
her "work experience". I think she'll be spending more time on the beach
etc than working but that's OK.
Aileen has a new car - seems very pleased with it. Stay away from
Deal until she's got used to it? Well, that's my suggestion anyway.
Sorry Aileen :) No interesting post from the house now, just lots of
estate agents saying they can sell my house for me. May have to take
them up on the offer as nobody has made said they want it :(
'photos are funny - but should the photographer be pilloried for
Today's Dilbert is a joy
for anybody who has (a) had the misfortune to sit through some overpaid
and under qualified consultants pitch or (b) needs guidance as to how to
become such a beast :)
And a realisation that Sal's Paradise the blues club we go to,
wasn't a contraction of Sally or anything similar but a reference to
Kerouac's On The Road. The only excuse I have for not remembering
was that the last time I read this classic was in my late-teens which,
for various reasons I won't enumerate, were, er, cloudy :)
Sunday, June 12, 2005 11:44PM
Well, finally worked out how to use
VirtualDub which is a great
piece of software for playing around with video capture files. And the
results are available here now. There's a 2MB .AVI file that is our
Moment Of Fame In Rome.
I suggest you play it frame by frame, or you'll miss the fine acting,
depth of characterisation and the general overall wonderfulness of our
joint performance marred only by some unknown American hopeful hogging
the fore-ground. Or below there's a few .BMP files (static images) that
you can use as (for example) a desktop wallpaper :) The file should
download and play in most players perfectly well i.e. RealPlayer,
Windows MP, Nero etc. etc. If you have problems, drop me a line.
Here's one to show you the flavour of what joys await you. In case
it's not clear, I'm the one in the right mid-ground, white short-sleeved
shirt, espresso raised to my lips, a "devil may care" smile on my
face and a general rakish attitude that reminds me so much of Errol
Flynn in his prime :)
The other ones are numbered sequentially, so you get a choice of
which one is your favourite :)
I now await a Hollywood bidding war with some trepidation. Whether to
hold out for the 3-part mini-series. Who to play me in the story of my
life? De Niro? A bit old? Brad Pitt? Doesn't capture my more rugged good
looks. Hell, it's going to be difficult but life's tough in Tinseltown
and only the top actors survive :)
Saturday, June 11, 2005 4:44PM
Not much news from the UK. Mum seems fine. Had a slight fall but all
seems well. Glen sounds a bit more up - he's looking very closely at the
Gap Year idea. Ben's exams went really well - one he felt unhappy with
but apart from that, everything went well. Great news. To celebrate, he
drank a lot. Like father, like son eh? No news from Aileen - assume
she's even busier than normal :) No word from London, so hope all is
well? Not even a trace in the web-logs.
In office all day Saturday, then off to renew the car at
Thinking about a BMW Series 1 as they seem really cheap (comparatively).
Shopping also for some brand new shiny servers for work. Shame I can't
really justify the Apple blade-servers :)
Marco on Tuesday to sort out Residencia and final bits of paperwork
for autonomo status. Then I'm fully legal in Spain :)
Friday, June 10, 2005
Possibly the busiest week I've had for many a long year. Apologies to
people who've been owed calls, emails, texts etc. etc. Just had no time.
Working tomorrow and possibly Sunday as we've got so much stuff on at
the moment. Pete Finnigan came over on business and we got the chance
for a few drinks and a quick bite to eat. Hoped to meet Mike this
weekend but that's gone by the board. A shame as he has his Harley over
for a "test run" :) No word from my friend in the UK who seems to have
had a crap week and hasn't been in touch. We live in hope :)
You got Bluetooth equipment? Thought it was safe to go out with it?
Think again! This
story shows an attack vector that could very easily be exploited.
More tonight or tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
The end of Apple?
"It's kind of sad and depressing, in that it means the whole world is
basically now dependant on a single hardware architecture for
Having grown up in a world where hundreds of different instruction sets
existed, and where VLIW machines and stack machines were mainstream
architectures, I find it sad to see all of the things that made
interesting and exciting have been reduced to this."
And from a friend David Morton:
"At first sight it strikes me as another excellent candidate for the
description "longest suicide note in history"
And from Mr Honeyball:
"Nah, it is an excellent and well timed move by apple. They couldn't
done this earlier because OSX was too shaky to support such a move.
with Tiger, they have a fully rounded OS which has credibility. We know
will go to Intel and it will work.
Moving to Intel rather than AMD? I'm a bit disappointed its not AMD, but
they don't have the range of processors that Apple will want to tap into
over the next 10 years.
From a financial point of view, it makes perfect sense -- the G4/G5 is
cripplingly expensive as well as hitting speed/heat walls. Take the G5
iMac, pop in a 4gig Intel chip so it runs twice as quick, and drop the
price 200 quid. Well, that was a hard choice.
And Apple is being scalped at the high end. My twin 2.5 G5 with 4 gig of
ram is *sluggish*. I think all concerns about performance will evaporate
when the high-end Apple/Intel box is dual-cpu or quad-cpu all with dual
core and 64-bit everywhere."
Monday, June 6, 2005
A week on hot days. Saturday and Sunday the same with Saturday
reaching 92 degrees!. Busy as always but lots done and lots more planned
with a new hire who'll be acting as my number two. Glad when Friday came
though as was exhausted and decided not to go in on Saturday.
Spent both days relaxing. Walked from the beach all the way up
through the urbanization behind us eventually emerging just below the
N340 when it sweeps up over the hills behind Benalmadena. Great views of
the sea below and some lovely villas tucked away behind high ornate
gates with lovely mature gardens spilling out and around their walls.
Sunday dozed, read my books by the pool, swam and got browner. The first
time I've sun-bathed all this year. The beaches were heaving with people
who come prepared with tents, sun shades and apparently enough food to
feed any army. They start arriving in a constant steam of cars which in
typically Spanish fashion they park anywhere they can find a few spare
inches from 9am onwards and spend all day there, often until 9pm. We
have the hippy/house crowd who start partying late at night and whose
music and light-shows is a constant accompaniment all night. Lots of
advertising light airplanes buzz back and forth along the coastline. I'm
sure the cats see them as giant insects that they'd love to sweep out of
Watched Part Two of Battle Of the Bands on Sunday PM. Two were
excellent, one was just a heavy metal rip-off. The first band pulled off
a killer version of Voodo Chile. Ben? If you're reading this,
then there's a place to come and play your guitar when you get out here
to visit. Looks like Sunday's are generally a jam session with anybody
welcome. Better start practicing! Some very strange looking types there,
two elderly ladies who looked like they were part of the Marbella set,
all gold and shades and makeup and attitude and they looked as though
they had just wandered in off the street having got lost, but even they
seemed to enjoy the early evening sessions. Found a good looking
Japanese restaurant close by which I'll visit and report back on,
hopefully next weekend.
Feeding the cats who occupy the waste-land below us on a regular
basis. Something we swore we wouldn't do but...
Met Mike on Thursday night and had a fun meal in Calahonda and caught
up on the gossip. He's still good fun and is coming down to visit us
next week (this time the meals on him!). Lots of changes in his office
but business seems good.
And A Star (or Stars) Is Born. Some years back we were in Rome
for a few days en-route to Perugia for the annual jazz festival. We had
just been to the Parthenon to marvel at the amazing building work and
were wandering around the outside of the square watching the other
tourists milling about and the Romans going about their lives, when I
spotted two nuns sitting in a cafe, smoking. Not being too au fait
with the intricacies of the Roman church and their feeling about nuns
smoking, I put it down to nothing more than an obscure sect that did
allow nuns to enjoy themselves. So, seating ourselves at a convenient
cafe we ordered some grossly over-priced coffees and pastries and sat to
watch the world go by. I suppose I'm not the sharpest knife in the tray,
so it took me some time to realise that there were lots of Kleig lights
being moved around, cameras being moved importantly and various other
film type things being done. It eventually dawned on us that we were in
the middle of a film-shoot. The stars? David Duchovny and Minne Driver.
The film? Return to Me. Sitting there, watching nuns being
carried on bicycle panniers and various other forms of madness, we were
approached by an American who introduced himself as the "unit director"
and asked us to "act like tourists, as we were in the full shot". I
asked "as opposed to what?" but this totally passed him by. So, that's
exactly what we did, passing a pleasant couple of hours sipping espresso
and wondering if we'd actually make it past the cutting room floor.
And we did. A few days ago we saw the DVD in a local shop, took it
home, watched a lightweight but enjoyable love-story and saw us in full
shot for the first time (albeit right at the very end in the final 5
minutes)! We're film stars! I've grabbed a copy of the scenes where we
appear and am now attempting to work out how to edit it down to a small
video clip and maybe some freeze frame shots (see how easily I slot into
Director speak?). Watch this space - we're naturals and I fully expect a
Hollywood contract to come through our door anytime now! :)
Sunday, May 29, 2005
AND LATER STILL: if you want to climb to the top of the Sagrada
Familia in Barcelona (which I thoroughly recommend as it's a truly
magical building) and in the process throw yourself off or accidentally
drop a few hundred feet to the cold, hard pavement below, there's very
little to stop you. A couple of small balustrades that a kid of 2 could
easily mount, maybe a railing or two. The Spanish view is simple. If
you're stupid enough to fall, then that's your problem. Think Of It As
Evolution In Action. In the UK it's slightly different. As The
Register says, "The British Medical Journal has
discovered something which may have escaped the attention of the less
well-informed reader: that long pointy knives are sharp and can be stuck
into people thereby causing them damage or even provoking a
death-related incident. The solution? Oblige long pointy knife
manufacturers to make the knives less pointy by rounding off the tips.".
Well, that will work, won't it? Sheesh.
LATER: Spent the afternoon and early evening at Sal's Blues Bar in
Fuengirola where they were having a Battle Of The Bands contest. Fun,
first act on was a group of English school-kids who were pretty good and
were brave enough to attempt Anarchy In The UK and Teenage
Kicks. Full marks for trying and full marks for making a creditable
fist of it. The second band were some slightly older Spanish lads from
Marbella who seemed time-locked in the sort of late 70s, early 80s Kiss
mould. Not much idea of dynamics and light and dark in their music, but
their front-man was a little bundle of energy. He'll go far :) The third
were apparently the best of the bunch bu the mixing was dire and they
didn't seem to be muck cop, so I left for the flat. They're running 3
more of these over the next few weeks, so aim to be there. It's a nice
bar, good photos, good drinks and a nice layout for the bands.
And glasses seem to be a necessity now, so I'm constantly swapping
them off and on as I need to read things and then have to walk without
falling over! The perils of growing older I suppose :(
Heard from Robyn. Reg died peacefully in his sleep a week back. She's
staying at the beach house until everything is sorted out. Sympathies to
her. She seems to be bearing up OK at the moment.
Boy! Can't drink as I used to - a bottle of wine and a few G&Ts on
Friday night left me with a bad head all day Saturday. To be honest, I
don't have time at the moment to keep in practice which is, no doubt,
good for both wallet and liver. But must plan a few weeks holiday and
get back into training. At work Saturday AM until about 2pm and as the office was generally
quiet it gave me a chance to catch up on some admin outstanding, get an
additional drive fitted to the IT server and generally tidy my desk and
pile of paperwork. Chased Telefonica about the ADSL install here at the
apartment - they said it was delayed as (a) there's no room in the
exchange for more ADSL lines (which happens in the UK, so I can belive
that) and (b) no engineers available (which happens in the UK, so I
believe that as well!). Looks like it'll be another week or so before
this goes live. Must find out what sort of bundle we have on the GPRS
Saturday very chilled after that. Spent a relaxed lunch at the
chiringuita on the beach and had a few drinks, an excellent
lovely paella and then a siesta. The beach was absolutely packed with
Spanish tourists, some equipped as though for a siege with tents,
barbeques and massive amounts of food. Some of them stayed there
partying and didn't leave there until this morning! Caught up with email
and some research via the GPRS link and then watched The Score,
an fun, easy viewing romp with De Niro as the lead and the lovely Angela Bassett
as the (still to me!) incredibly, sexy love interest. A nice sting in the tail at the end and then
off to bed comparatively early. Hope Katja managed to get all her
spreadsheet reports sorted - she was severely stressed when I left
Planning 10 days in Costa Rica in November. Off to find the
Guide for the area and see what it has to say about food, drink and
culture. And dangerous wildlife :). This is the intro from the Rough
In sharp contrast to
the brutal internal conflicts in Guatemala or the
grinding poverty of Nicaragua, Costa Rica has
become synonymous with stability and prosperity Costa
Ricans enjoy the highest rate of literacy, health care,
education and life expectancy in the isthmus. Unlike so
many of its neighbours, the country has a long
democratic tradition of free and open elections, no
standing army (it was abolished in 1948) and even a
Nobel Peace Prize to its name, won by former president,
Oscar Arias, a key architect in the Peace Plan that
helped bring an end to the conflicts in the region
during the 1980s.
years Costa Rica has also become the prime
eco-tourism destination in Central America, if not
in all the Americas, due in no small part to an
efficient promotion machine that trumpets the country's
complex system of national parks and wildlife refuges.
Every year hundreds of thousands of visitors mainly
from the United States and Canada come to walk trails
through million-year-old rainforests, raft
foaming white-water rapids, surf on the Pacific
beaches and climb the volcanoes that
punctuate the country's mountainous spine. More than
anything it is the enduring natural beauty that
impresses. Milk-thick twilight and dawn mists gather in
the clefts and ridges divided by high mountain passes;
on the Pacific coast, carmine and mauve sunsets splash
down into the sea like meteors; vaulting canopy trees
and thick deciduous under-storeys carpet large areas of
undisturbed rainforest, and vestiges of high-altitude
cloud-forest offer glimpses into a misty, primeval
universe, home to the jaguar, the lumbering Jurassic
tapir and the truly resplendent quetzal.
One glib accusation you're almost
certain to hear lobbed at the tiny nation is that it has
no culture or history. It's certainly true that
there are no ancient Mesoamerican monuments on the scale
of Guatemala or Honduras, and just one percent of the
population is of indigenous extraction, so you will see
little native culture. However, anyone who spends some
time in the country will find that Costa Rica's
character is rooted in distinct local cultures,
from the Afro-Caribbean province of Lim๓n, with its
Creole cuisine, games and patois, to the traditional
ladino values embodied by the sabanero
(cowboy) of Guanacaste. Above all, you're sure to be
left with mental snapshots of la vida campesina,
or rural life whether it be aloof horsemen
trotting by on dirt roads, coffee-plantation
day-labourers setting off to work in the dawn mists of
the Highlands, or avocado-pickers cycling home at
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Last nights full Moon was beautiful over the sea from the balcony. A
shimmering path leading to infinity that almost looked solid enough to
walk along. Late-ish home and early in today as a lot of admin to catch
up on. D has agreed that when Beth comes over in July, she can come here for
work experience and he'll even provide a few Euros as an incentive. Top
V has put the house on the market, the dogs still being a real killer
as far as sleep is concerned. Planning still to have a place in the
campo but not right next door to the howling pack of hunting dogs
that we find ourselves saddled with :)
And the way to setup a GPRS connection on the Motorola V3 Razr with
Telefonica (or Movistar) in Spain? Just use these settings:
Connection Name: Internet GPRS
Data Bearer: GPRS
Access Point Name: p.movistar.es
User name: MOVISTAR
Prompt password: no
Gateway IP address: 0.0.0.0
Phone IP address: Dynamic
Primary name server: 126.96.36.199
Seondary name server: 188.8.131.52
I haven't played around with the QOS settings yet - they're set to
default, but will report back when I can find some time to experiment!
Monday, May 23, 2005
So, Revenge of the Sith is the biggest seller ever in the US
at the moment. And one of the guys at work here has already seen Lucas'
latest epic, as it's showing in Fuengirola in English, so that's one
night this week booked :) Steve Palmer has posted a
He also mentions a very useful site
BugMeNot that allows you access to lots of news sites etc that
normally expect you to go through a tedious and long-winded process of
registration (even down to inside-leg measurements!) before giving you
access to news. This site cuts through all that rigmarole and gets you
straight to the meat! Good idea.
Looking at the Microsoft mouse/keyboard with
fingerprint reader for even more data security. Looks like you can
do a complete "lockdown" on your PC/laptop which with encryption really
puts the icing on the cake. Off to try this one out.
Really warm here already. 25 degrees and it's early! Stuck in the
office. Oh well, it pays the bills of course :)
Sunday, May 22, 2005
LATER: decided to look at programming the Motorola V3 as the details
for GPRS setup on Movistar are incomprehensible (even in the Spanglish
that I've managed to translate them into) so will wait for one of the
Spanish speaking team to undertake the spade work for me! To change the
'phones firmware, you need the Motorola
PST programming file and the
latest Monster pack from
the first one, patch with the second piece of software included in the
.ZIP file and then
using the second file above, you can improve the firmware and uplift some of the
'phone functions i.e. additional skins, video etc. etc. I've also made
available here the Motorola Phone
Tools upgrade which improves the interface somewhat as well as (no
doubt) doing some bug-fixing. Full instructions on the site credited
above or from here.
NOTE: Do this
at your own risk - if you don't want to run the (faint but possible)
risk of winding up with a dead 'phone, don't do it kids :) One other
really useful site is:
who are linked from MotoX.us and have a lot of good software and some
excellent forums for questions and discussion. Worth well joining.
And here's some shots of the 'phone (mine is the much more chic black
model, natch) - I know, sad, but having roasted in the sun for the
weekend, coming indoors and taking a few shots with the Canon seemed
like a good idea:
Do I need to say it's been another busy week? No? Thought not. The "big man" has
returned, so, in a manner not dissimilar to that seen when a stick is poked
into an ants nest, everybody was running around making sure they'd
not forgotten anything that had been requested. Inevitably, nearly
everybody had :) A fascinating, almost larger than life, character. Even on first meeting you could see (a) why he's so successful at
what he does and (b) why he's where he is at the age that he is. I
believe I'm getting some "face-time" with him next week, to explain my
plans for the future. Should be fun! Also, jealous as hell as he has a black
Aston Martin DB9 (the only car in the world that, as a non petrol-head,
I lust after) that I drooled over whilst having a quick cigarette
outside. Which reminds me. There's no comparison in speed terms with the
DB9, but the Hyundai can reach 190kmh downhill. Er, allegedly :)
Den have expressed some interest in my house! Den
apparently hankers after a sea-side place; so I've said we can
definitely come to a
mutually profitable arrangement if they do decide to go ahead - if nothing else it'll save me a
shed-load on fees to estate agents. Not sure they'll necessarily want to
move from the lovely place they've got in Clerkenwell, but Robert's work
and indeed Den's can be undertaken from anywhere, so it's a possibility.
Having now a Motorola V3, I've had to fend off accusations of being a
"city boy" again from Ruth and Katya. Hey, I can't even get GPRS working
on it, so how can I be? :) And in a slightly related vein, Vodafone tell
me they owe me money on my monthly contract. So that's a result.
7 to spend madly as I wish :)
Met Rupert and Susie again who we hadn't seen since we last visited
Rural Caicune for a meal. They've finally completed their finca
and it's available for rent. Rupert's work in Telecomms management
consultancy may be useful, so will be placing a call to him on Monday.
Coming back from La Piscina you can see thousands of swallows
wheeling around the church and the buildings at the top of the village.
They've not been conspicuous until now, so I assume they're here for a
while before heading North again after their winter sojourn in Africa.
Frantic call from Mike asking me to setup another drive in his server and Rsync
all his data across. Will get to that early next week in some free time!
And Michelle's laptop still need to be flattened and the apps and data
re-installed. There aren't enough days in the week, let alone hours in
the day :)
Leisurely drive up to the campo yesterday morning (I'll be working next
Saturday, so am making the most of my leisure time) and then spent the
day relaxing on the terrace, soaking up the sun (it was at least 32
degrees there today), drinking endless cold drinks and reading the book
I mention below. Intending meeting Jason tonight at the pool bar if he
wakes up in time :) Susan from Serena's (local estate agents) came round
to measure and photograph the house as Val is thinking about putting it
on the market. Val spent some time with Carmen helping her in
preparation for her exams next week in English.
The grape-vines are taking off. They seem to grow almost as fast as
the legendary bamboo shoots that move at inches per day. If all of these
little buds grow into grapes, I'll have enough here to keep me in
alcohol for more than a few months :)
And took a shot of the beautiful bell-lilies on the terrace wall:
Listening to - Smile by The Beach Boys (thanks to Nick Cavell
for burning me this copy) and a collection of tracks by Ali Farka
Toure and Ry Cooder that I found via Limewire. Off to Amazon
to buy the latter!
Reading - The New Great Game, Blood and Oil in Central Asia -
a fascinating account of the reasons behind the USA's (and England's)
realpolitik in and around the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan and the
reasons why "we" went to war there. Highly recommended as an erudite
exposition on the history of this area and the oil that is and will be
so important to the USA, China and Russia. And still working through the
second volume of Neal Stephenson's Baroque trilogy. Lots of fun
and a huge span and no time to read it now :(
And finally? Well, this explains a lot:
"George's solution to any problem on the ranch is to use a chainsaw.
That's why he gets on so well with Cheney and Rumsfield." -- Laura Bush
Saturday, May 14, 2005 5:26PM
Interesting wild-life displays today. Wasps in profusion, one of whom
having died earlier was then carried up a sheer wall by three ants.
Probably their equivalent of three humans climbing El Capitan in
Yosemite National Park in an hour whilst lifting a motor-bike! Lots of
geckos, one of which ran over my feet as I sat on the terrace steps.
Incredibly fast creatures. I love them. And hundreds of swifts, swooping
and diving on the myriads of small flying insects. And finally, a huge
flying beetle, whose wings make the loudest noise imaginable. They're an
incredible dark, dark gun-metal blue almost an iridescent black that
shimmer and glint in the sun.
A reminder that Beth is coming out here at the end of July for 2
weeks "work experience". I feel sure more time will be spent sunning
herself, shopping and exploring than actually doing any work :)
A busy. busy week. Lots of useful work done and am speaking to
Mac about some interesting stuff
that we really need. For obvious reasons, not very much more to be said
on the technical side, so anything else herein will be either "public
domain" stuff or personal musings which should keep my valued readers
happy, as a number have complained about too much technical content and
not enough gossip :) My thanks to H. for his thoughts on Dell kit though
and am seriously looking now at HP as we both agree on how dire their
corporate support has become. Chatting with Ruth and Katja and laughing
at the Macdonald's drive-through in Estepona -- only in Spain would they
come out, take your order on paper, then deliver it to the car.
Good news on the coffee front - we have a new machine (not as good as
the canonical Krup model that I still lust after but...) that turns out
excellent espressos very quickly, so normally by about 8.30am I'm
buzzing :) My thanks to the aforementioned ladies for keeping me
caffeine-fuelled during the day.
My friend called and we overcame the "missed appointment" problem.
Hopefully a visit will follow shortly. More news on that shortly once
she's sorted out the logistics and the planning.
I assume you're all aware of the Downing Street Memo
which makes it quite clear that the US were determined to invade Iraq
even though there was no backing for this and that the UK were prepared
to follow even though there was no legal justification, Saddam didn't
have WMDs and both the US and the UK agreed that North Korea and Iran
posed much more serious threats? And if you are, what the hell are you
going to do about it?
Email from Ben. It's sunny in Manchester and things seem good -
"Workload = non-existent, cause I ROCK. It's exam period, so it's just
revision, but because I'm so top-ace, I've got on top of almost
everything and only need to skim a couple of topics :D"
Back in the campo this weekend and after a couple of days of
rain earlier this week, the weather is again fantastic so plan to be
outside as much as possible. Sorry to just hear from Vic that Joe is in
Malaga hospital with some sort of colon problem. He's still in pain but
is supposed to be out again on Monday, so will give him a call later in
the week to check how he's doing - he missed the property inspection
trip to Bulgaria which was probably a good thing as I doubt very much
that the health system there is as good as Spain.
Thanks to Jason and
his contacts, I've a great deal on the car I've hired (an Hyundai Getz)
which is mine (with all the excesses and insurances) for the small sum
of 350 per month. It's not bad (albeit petrol rather than diesel) and
potters along quite nicely (have managed 180km. per hour downhill and
with a following wind) and gloms nicely to the road even on some of the,
er, sharper bends on the N340 from Marbella to Benalmadena.
An article in this weeks Sur that indicates that Spain has as
big a pensions time bomb ticking away as that in the UK. Just as in
England, we've got a bulge that's getting bigger at the far end of the
age spectrum and fewer and fewer people at the young end paying in to
the system, so although I'm now officially registered as autonomo
in Spain (with thanks to Marco for his swift help on this) and have
started paying into the Social Security fund, I probably shouldn't count
on getting a pension either here or in England. Looks like I'll just
have to depend on Ben and Beth making huge amounts of money in the
future and looking after me in my old age (just kidding you two). At
least I'm now entitled (well, after a month anyway) to use the doctors
and hospitals here free of charge. It looks like the cluster headaches
have finished for this year, thank the Deity, but assuming they come
around again next year, I'll be able to see the doctor over here rather
than having to go back to the UK.
Attempting to attend at Torremolinos National Police station to start
the residencia process was a wasted trip - they'd closed the
section for the day! No warning but hey, that's Spain. Off there again
this coming Tuesday. The guys in the office are all waiting for their
renewals as well, some of them have been waiting for 8 months. Partly I
think to do with the amnesty recently granted to illegal immigrants
causing a flood of new applications before the deadline.
Should have ADSL up and running in the flat soon, so will mean that I
can stay on the coast over the weekend if necessary and not be out of
touch. Well, assuming that Telefonica get their act together. But
it's still so much more expensive here than the UK, especially now that
BT are offering 1MB lines as standard. I assume that sooner (or probably
later) Telefonica's effective monopoly will be removed and we can start
looking at realistic pricing for higher speed lines. Well, one can
dream. As the deals with Telefonica, can't take advantage of Wanadoo or
ya.com for the 4MB lines :(
Like Mac I'm aiming to put more stuff including an RSS feed onto the
site but am working long hours and quite honestly can't be arsed to
fiddle around with the site at the weekend when the alternative i.e.
food, drink, sun and general relaxation is so much higher up the agenda.
But I promise the bits 'n pieces will slowly filter though.
Met John after work
yesterday and we ate at our favourite little chiringuita on the
beach and after talking for hours over copious brandies found that they
were closing up the place around us, so left when prompted as we want to
stay friends with them. John's snowed under with work as well and is off
for two weeks R&R in Thailand with Lourdes after the obligatory visit to
his mum in Dorset. Off to the pool bar tonight.
Listening to: Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis.
Apposite and still as fresh and stunning as the day it was released,
nearly 28 years ago.
Sunday, May 8, 2005
Returned from the UK. And it's at least 31 degrees here today. It's
now you see how nice the Spanish houses are when, after an exhausting
hour or so sitting in the sun, you can come in to an oasis of coolness
Having managed to miss my flight for very early on Friday AM I caught
an EasyJet flight out of Gatwick on Saturday and got back to Malaga at
about 4.30PM. The train ride down to Deal was punctuated by a stop at
Folkestone - they're doing major works on the tunnels between there and
Dover for the next four months, then a bus-ride to Dover only then to be
told that "signalling failure" meant yet another bus trip to Deal. God,
the rail-system is worse than a 3rd world country despite the billions
thrown at it and Byer's (increasingly seemingly illegal) "grab" a few
years ago. And in further proof that I shouldn't travel in the UK, Kings
Cross Cross-Link services don't run from there on a Sunday (again,
building works), so had to drag my sorry ass and baggage down to
Victoria where the Gatwick Express did exactly what it says on the tin.
Firstly, my apologies to the friend I was due to meet in Covent
Garden on Friday evening. I did get the texts but only after the
Tube had finally managed to make it to Holborn (I've no idea what the
holdup was as is usual on London Underground) and by the time I emerged
blinking into the sunlight, you'd had to leave to meet somebody else -
and that was the first text I saw. Next time I hope? May well be back in
June as Glen, Kate and friends are undertaking a walk for Breast Cancer
and I've said that I'll try and make it over. Am I forgiven? And you can
always come over here of course :)
It was a good few days. The house felt strange - I'm a lodger in my
own building. And I'd forgotten where things were stored - cutlery,
plates etc. A big "thank-you" to Aileen who, despite leaving for Turkey
with Pete had managed to stock my fridge with lots of goodies from
Sainsbury's. No points to me for failing to realise this until 48 hours
after I'd entered the house! And no points for managing to burn the
bottom out of the saucepan whilst attempting to boil water for a cup of
tea, not once but three times. In the absence of a kettle, which had
blown up whilst Robyn was there, this was the only way of getting water
for drinks but...
Not much post apart from huge volumes of party political literature
exhorting me to vote for one or other of the candidates. After much soul
searching I decided I would vote so cast my mark mid-morning.
Labour of course. Couldn't vote for the Tory's (sorry, the re-branded
Conservative party) or the Lib-Dems however much I disagreed with
Tony's policies and what he'd done over the last 4 years. And that was
also why I was late for my flight - Glen and I met at Richmond and after
a long bus ride back to Ealing, we sat up for hours talking about what
he now wanted to do and Liz and her absence from our lives. And over a
bottle of red-wine we watched the first results coming in - after
crashing into bed at about 2am, there was no chance that I'd make the
alarm call at 4am - and I didn't, not hearing that or the cab
company ringing the 'phone and the door-bell.
So a frantic call to Dorothy who agreed to put me up that night. And
whilst speaking to her, I managed to shut Glen's front-door leaving me
with no key, no shoes and socks and only the hope that he hadn't gone
off early to work. Luckily he hadn't. I really shouldn't be left to
travel on my own :) So, a tube to Finchley Road and Dorothy was there to
let me in and leave me to relax for the rest of the day. As I start
full-time at my new role on Monday, it also gave me time to catch up on
emails and start preparing some plans and reports for the work that I'd
like to implement over the next few months. Jill wasn't around (visiting
her mother in Brighton), so we had a chance to gossip and catch up on
what's happening in Finchley.
Glen's almost certain to give up his job as it's not what he now
wants to do after Liz's death. It's no fun anymore now that he's got
nobody to work for and he's talking about working abroad on a volunteer
basis and I know that India (or around that area) attracts him greatly,
so I won't be surprised to hear that he's made plans to depart the UK
later this year. I think (a) he'd be great at doing this as he's an
incredibly human and sympathetic person and (b) it will be really good
for him to get away from the house and the memories of Liz that make his
day to day life so painful at the moment. On Election Night he also had
a call from his Mum to say that his father is unwell. Here's hopimg that
he recovers. It's not been a good year for a lot of us but Glen's has to
have been the worse.
Stayed in Deal and caught up with Mum. We had a long, relaxing and
tearful talk over a good meal at Charleigh's - a new chef since Brian
and Lou moved on and some good new dishes. We talked about Liz, about
Dad and Pop (Mum's father) and I was the one in tears this time.
Killed a couple of bottles of good red (mainly down to me I hasten to
add) and walked her home having had a really fun and interesting
evening. It was probably the longest that Mum and I had had a chance to
speak since Dad died. Didn't feel like partying so managed to finish off
the excellent book on the Spanish Armada called
The Confident Hope Of A
Miracle. It's a superb read, full of detail but brought alive by the
standard of writing and giving great insights into why the the venture
that should have made Spain rulers of the known world, failed in such a
spectacular fashion. Well worth looking out for a copy. And the other
book I've spent some time with is Hugh Thomas' The
Spanish Civil War - another masterly work.
Caught up with Jeff at the Hoy and we chatted about his plans for the
future. Which basically mean waiting until Amanda can leave the UK and
they can setup abroad somewhere. He's promised to visit next month or so
but I'm not holding my breath -- he's even more unreliable than I am :)
Staying overnight tonight at the campo house and pick up the
hire car (so Val can get her wheels back) from the airport early
tomorrow before heading for Marbella and work. It also gives me time to
water the garden - it's so hot her and the plants are gobbling up water
and spouting in an almost rain-forest display of luxuriant foliage and
colour. News reports are warning that this may be the hottest summer for
60 years and the water reserves are at only about 45% of the level they
need. There's already talk of cut-backs and dry days. At least here in
Casarabonela we're on our own springs. Why they can't stop the
golf-courses wasting millions of gallons daily I don't know - well, of
course I do, it's good for tourism but not so good for the poor sods on
the coast who will probably see their taps dry up on a regular basis.
LATER: a helpful email from a long-term resident pointed out that all
such water used on gol-courses must be "residual water" i.e. it's
been used already and would otherwise just disappear down the drains.
She also corrected me on the religious holidays I'd mentioned earlier -
Semana Santa starts on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and continues
through to Easter day (Domingo Santo). Every day of the intervening week
is called a holy day, ie Lunes Santo, Martes Santo, etc. So, that's
Tried to meet Phil and Pia only to find out that Phil had had a
stroke not many weeks ago. He's mobile again, can talk perfectly well
but still has numbness on one side. That's put paid at least for now to
his move to France and he's now working part-time as an
accountant/auditor which allows him to set his levels of stress. His
brother has just been diagnosed with cancer, so has lost his job at
Barcelona University and Phil is now thinking of moving to Spain once
he's built up some pension money. He's said that he'd like to come over
to explore possibilities down here, so there's a standing invitation to
stay here in the village or in the flat on the coast.
Kate has got engaged to Tom! Only found out from Mum (as did
everybody else), which is great news. He's older than her, is a builder
and has children from a previous marriage but he seems to be really good
for Kate and she seems very, very happy with him. No idea if or when the
wedding is planned for but a card and flowers are now winging their way
to LA to congratulate them both.
Finally, my apologies for anybody who has sent email to me at either
casarabonela.net of griffinassociates.org. They both managed to be
omitted when I moved everything to the new box and it was ony today that
I realised and rectified that! If you've sent me stuff over the last few
weeks and have had no reply, feel free to email me again. This time I'll
receive it and promise to answer!
Will post more later in the week once I've had a chance to see what's
needed at the new job and I get a few minutes to spare!
Sunday, May 1, 2005
Back to the campo for the long Bank Holiday weekend.
Left work rather late as (in a classic example of Sods Law) the
one PC needed to complete a deadline piece of graphics work decided that
late Friday afternoon was the time for it to curl up its toes and refuse
to work. A prompt response by our support company meant that I was only
two hours late leaving work and got to the campo by midnight! Saturday
was a completely chilled day -- rose late, ate breakfast on the terrace
and spent the day sunning myself (rather too enthusiastically in the
case of my legs, which, not having seen the sun for some months,
promptly turned stingingly red) and then a bite to eat at the Pool Bar
after dropping in on Irish Joe for some large Gin and Tonics to fuel the
walk to the top of the village.
The rate of growth of plants and flowers here is quite
amazing. The roses on the terrace are huge and profuse and smell
gorgeous (in a way that I rmemember from my parent's gardens, years ago,
before English roses seemed to have all their scent bred out of them),
whilst the grape vines seem to be intent on covering the entire side of
the house, so am frantically putting up more wire to train them. Green
and colour everywhere - the road-side wild flowers have sprouted
apparently overnight, with rich fields of poppies turning the fields
blood-red, interspersed with the delicate blues of purples of others
whose names I know not.
As I'm now to go Autonomo in Spain i.e.
self-employed here rather than in the UK, I met with Markko and for less
than 500 he'll take care of all of the requirements needed i.e. adding
myself to the padron on the coast, getting residencia
status sorted out and the many and varied forms completed that need
filing with Hacienda (the tax office over here). Stonkingly good
value. And for 70 per month, he'll also make sure that I pay as little
tax (read: none, hopefully) as possible. Some strange rules about what
can and can't be claimed - for example meals during the week are
generally OK, but not at weekends.
Lots of reports and planning to do before the 2nd week
in May, so as Sunday is designated as a day walking at El Chorro,
Monday is now ear-marked for work. The mountain of paper that I have to
overcome will probably mean that next week's trip to the UK will also be
a time to carry on typing to make sure that I don't drown when I get
back to start full-time!
Found that I can buy Imigran over the counter at
pharmacies here (unike in the UK where it's prescription only) but at
50 per two injections, I won't be buying too many of these without
staring bankruptcy in the face! Luckily, and touching any wood items to
hand, the cycle seems to have finished now, so I can stock up on new
supplies in the UK and store them until this cycle comes around next
year. As part of the autonomo process, I'll also be registered
with the Spanish Social Security system and that entitles me to (I
think) about 50% off the cost of drugs and medicines as well as giving
me a (small) pension in 15 years. At 234 per month, I'd bloody well
hope so :) The SS covers married partners and dependent children and
also same sex relationships but not couples "living in sin" (as befits a
good Catholic country?) so, if you're intending to move to Spain, marry
your partner first! :)
A few items of post from the UK, courtesy of Aileen who
has also been tending to my plants and the general care of the house.
Mainly junk-mail still being sent, a note from the Inland Revenue and a
reminder that I owe some money for my Council Tax. Will get all of those
paid when I'm over there next week. I'm probably still eligible to vote
and will be there for the 5th but quite frankly, can't bring myself to
raise any enthusiasm for the exercise. With Bliar having shown himself
in his true weasly colours, the AG wriggling frantically to explain his
volte face over the legality of the "war" in Iraq, he of
"something of the night" and typical racist policies and the Lib Dems
still too far down the running order to make any difference as the
contenders, I can't be bothered and consider myself as living in Spain,
so don't really think that I can or should vote for policies in another
country that isn't really mine any longer.
Had a "life flashing before me moment" last week, whilst
stopped at a set of traffic lights in Marbella. Looking in my rear-view
mirror, I saw a large van hurtling down on me. I'd no where to go and
was convinced that the next few seconds would hear the crunch of tangled
metal as the Spaniard met the rear of my car. Clouds of smoke and loud
screeching tires meant that he'd managed to stop with millimetres of
space to spare and a typical Spanish shrug and smile from the driver as
if to say "well, I missed you - what are you worried about?". The car
had been damaged earlier in the week - whilst parked, somebody had
managed to reverse past me, whilst departing, and smashed the rear light
fitting which the Fiat garage tells me will cost 120 to fix. So, the
car now looks like most others here i.e. scrapes and dents even on the
newest models. And as Fiat is owned by Ferrari, I'm now saying that it's
"of the Ferrari stable" and leaving it at that when people ask what I
Looking for a long-term rental for the next couple of
months, to free up the Fiat and Jason seems to have good contacts, so
the rate should be around 85 per week for a reasonable model i.e. one
with air-con and a CD player.
Sad or what? Looked in more detail at this sites stats
and note that I'm getting visitors from Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Iceland
and quite a few from Brazil. Heaven alone knows what they make of this
site! They're probably here by mistake, take one look and head quickly
off in another direction.
The wild cat next door seems to have had her fourth
litter of kittens since last year. The little lady who lives next door
(whose name I can't even spell let alone pronounce!) seems sanguine
about the prospect of feeding a few more mouths and I helped today with
the carcass of the chicken from the village shop, left over from last
night. It disappeared in a few minutes, so they won't starve today.
And what a fantastic day it turned out to be. Glorious,
glorious weather and no people at El Chorro in sight on a new
walk we discovered. It loops around and under the face of the massive
dam containing a reservoir built on the mountain overlooking the gorge.
If you've ever flown into Malaga, you'll have seen this as you begin the
descent into the airport. Beautiful flowers everywhere, birds singing,
lizards scuttling through the undergrowth and nary a person around. The
only man-made sounds were the jets dropping down as they flew into and
out of Malaga, at the rate of about one every two minutes. A friend
whose son works for MyTravel said that he was meeting forty flights
today for the Bank Holiday weekend.
Some shots with commentary below:
Two shots of the dam and reservoir which you can walk or
drive around. Mind you driving looks a bit hairy, the "road" is barely a
car-width wide. Interestingly, it also seems to be used by horses -
whether the wild ones that I saw near the restaurant or trekkers I'm not
All along the base of the dam are these inspection
gates. All but one were locked and I ventured into the one that wasn't.
Although it had lights fitted they didn't work, so after a few tens of
meters and with no torch, I came back out into the sun-light. Was rather
grateful that they didn't decide now was the time to reduce the water
level in the reservoir - those pipes are BIG.
This strange rusted tube appears to have been dumped
below the dam in the pine woods. I've no idea what it was originally
used for. Maybe part of the construction work on the dam? If anybody has
any ideas what it is or what it was intended for, drop me a line? I of
course had to climb it, so apologies for the human spoiling the shots!
From the bottom of the gorge, this strange structure can
be seen. It's obviously something to do with the reservoir and the
electricity generation taking place there. The chimney is huge and
visible for miles (I'm sorry that this shot doesn't really give you any
idea of the scale) and the building on the left looks like it should be
a restaurant from the other side when viewed from the valley. It's
approached by a cordoned off road and I managed somehow to find myself
in the grounds but wary of people with guns or attack dogs didn't screw
up my courage enough to explore any further into it. On my next visit I
A few of the wild flowers growing in profusion.
Obviously I've no idea of their botanical names :)
Finally two shots taken from the road leading to the
chimney, one looking down onto Chorro on which you can just see the
tunnel leading into the mountain-side that I walked through on my last
visit here and the bridge at the start of the Camino del Rey and
the other shot taken looking towards a delightful little restaurant
(reached by driving all round the perimeter of the dam) set against (in
the far distance) the newly built wind farm that can be seen from the
house in Casarabonela.
And as a last sign-off this there's this hilarious
exchange I've just been pointed at on the insanity of religion (in this
case Orthodox Jewish but it, whatever your chosen poison is, remains
"Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality who
dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she
said that as an
observant Orthodox Jew - homosexuality is an abomination according to
Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned in any circumstance. The
following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident, which
was posted on the Internet.
Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding
God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share
that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to
defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that
18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.
End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other
specific laws and how to follow them.
1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odour for the Lord - Lev. 1:9. The problem is my neighbours.
They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of menstrual unseemliness - Lev. 15:19-24. The problem is, how do
I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend
of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you
clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2
clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.
don't agree. Can you settle this?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have
a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does
my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me
unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two
different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments
made of two
different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to
curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the
trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? -
Lev.24:10-16? Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family
affair like we do
with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you
can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal
unchanging. Your devoted disciple and adoring fan. Jim
Saturday, April 23, 2005 10:15AM
Well, looks like I may only get around to updating this once a week
as things is hectic around here and look like staying that way for some
little while. So, with apologies to all my loyal readers who'll miss
their daily fix, but I'll try and make the content more the
highlights/lowlights of the week, rather than an incredibly long list of
minutiae that probably bores the pants off everybody anyway! :)
So, to cut to the chase:
I've been thinking about Liz a lot of the last week, often at
the strangest times and because of the strangest "triggers". One for
example was when ironing my shirt one morning - I remember Liz
saying last year that Glen had finally agreed that her ironing
standards for shirts now matched his and he'd let her iron his
work shirts without feeling the need to re-work them :)
The second one was whilst reading an excellent book, "The
Shadow Of The Wind" as I recalled that I'd started it whilst
visiting them both just before she died and I'd been accommodated in
their basement surrounded by towering masses of books. Like Liz and
Glen, I didn't sleep that well (for once!) on that trip and it was
nice to be able to just reach out and grab, at random, a book I
hadn't read, knowing that it would appeal. She did have good taste
I'm glad I'm not trying to sell the apartment we're renting at
the moment. Except at weekends, the work is incredibly noisy and
incredibly dusty and would put off any buyer who arrived during
day-light hours! This week they been drilling in an apparent attempt
to sink 40' lengths of piping, secured by large volumes of concrete
in an effort to "anchor" the cliff in place! This is not hard
granite we're talking here - it appears to be earth/mud cemented
together with a few rocks and boulders. Having seen this work, the
new flats strike me as a very poor buy - I'm convinced that
the first gust of wind will drop them to the road level in very
As my new job is the first time that I've had to be "suited and
booted" for some time, I'm buying ties and white shirts as though
they're going out of fashion. I didn't bring any with me from the
UK, indeed I think I binned most of my old formal gear when I was in
the UK last time on the basis that Spain was still pretty informal.
Bad mistake - it's costing me a fortune!
Dawn over the sea and beach here is beautiful. Watching the
small fishing boats, dropping their nets close into shore and seeing
the water boil behind them as the fish attempt frantically and
unsuccessfully to escape their eventual destination - a plate in one
of the many beach-side bars serving incredibly fresh and tasty
dishes. Will add some more pictures either here or to my
account. There's not much there (or here) at the moment, but I
promise to rectify that very soon!
Friday morning watched the chain of tractors with "sieves"
attached to their backs, remove all the rubbish from the beach below
us and leave it crisp and smooth ready for the next onslaught by
tourists (and locals walking their dogs). It works really well.
The N340 between Fuengirola and Marbella has some very, very
sharp long turns. Causes crashes all the time and the last one
looked rather nasty. Coming back from Marbella, I rounded a corner
to see right in front of me, the barrage of flashing hazard lights
that indicates a problem on Spanish roads. I must have missed the
actual accident by only a few minutes as almost directly to the side
of me was a lorry, on its side that had obviously come round too
fast. It had managed to smash two of the huge concrete barriers from
the middle of the road into the fast lane on my side of the road
(and these things are BIG) and had lost its load of avocados across
both lanes of the highway. Anybody for guacamole? The driver had
been rescued from his cab and was being attended to by two drivers
at the road-side (it's an offence in Spain not to stop and offer
assistance) and the buzz of the medical helicopter and the
ambulances sirens was clearly audible. I hope he survived OK. Rush
hour morning and night is the time when you're almost guaranteed to
see some form or another of the "death before glory" style of
driving that a lot of the (mainly) male drivers seem to practice
There is apparently a cash buyer coming to look at my house
today. Hopefully, I'll get a call to say they've made an offer. I
asked Roger my bank manager if they were still cool with the
borrowing and whether I should start thinking about auctioning the
place. He said they were and not to worry for a few months. The
weather has been bad and the market appears to be warming up a bit,
so will give it another couple of months before I start considering
Aileen completed her Marathon in about 5 hours. I assume that
she failed to beat Paula on this occasion as she was nursing her
sisters around the course! Well done girl. Now may be a good time to
Chris and Tine got in touch again - he's setup his own mortgage
business and Tine's running a rentals company which may come in
useful if we decide to move from the flat closer to Marbella and a
new one. She's a finca on offer at only 500 per month, close
behind Peurto Banus.
Still getting the cluster headaches but found a few of the
Imigram hypodermics at the house, so hopefully will have enough left
to get me through until I can get some more back in Deal - they're
very expensive over here although available without prescription.
May as well make the most of my NHS entitlement until it finishes in
December of this year. Of course, the cycle could just finish anyway
but I'd rather have a few months stock available in case they carry
on for much longer.
And finally, a report about a speeding policeman. Anybody lay
any odds that he'll get off? Thought not!:
Chief Superintendent Les Owen's official driver has received 3 points, ฃ250 fine and 'words
of advice' on his future conduct, for speeding. According to the
car's /own/ video camera (this just gets better:) he achieved an
impressive 82mph in a 40 and 86mph in a 50 zone, on the N. Circular.
The video was examined by other officers examining footage of a
fatal accident the car passed on its journey, who dobbed him in.
Chief Superintendent Owen now faces misconduct charges for allowing
to be driven at such illegal speeds in a non-emergency. He is
deny acting improperly.
Chief Superintendent Owen has led several high profile road safety
initiatives, is a leading figure in the London Safety Camera
and given to public pontifications warning drivers about the dangers
Chief Superintendent Owen is believed to be human after all.
Saturday, April 16, 2005 6:15PM
Beautiful day. Warm and sunny. The orange blossom is wonderful on the
tree on the terrace and smells superb. Spent the day re-arranging the
house as we seem to have so much clutter from the office that a Spring
clean was needed. Commenced a long report for the boss and hope to get
this finished before Doctor Who appears on British TV later on.
So far only one "migraine" this week and that was fixed with an Imigran
injection - must remember to pick up another few months supply on my
next trip back to the UK. Booked the flight for the 3rd to the 6th and
should be able to fit that in whilst visiting Mum, Glen and a few other
I really must stop calling what I get as "migraine". In fact, it's
"cluster headaches" and Val found this group, The Cluster Headache
Support Group whose site makes fascinating reading, showing as it does
lots of other sufferers in the same situation as me as well as having
great detail on possible strategies to reduce the periodicity and
strength of attacks. If you're one of the 2 in 1,000 people who are
subject to cluster headaches, then this is thoroughly recommended!
Sorry about the paucity of detail about the last week but it's been
incredibly hectic - 3 days with clients and then another two settling in
to the new role, meeting the team getting a feel for the place and
people. So far, so good. It's going to be a long slog but I think we've
got an exciting few months ahead of us all.
Meeting planned with Mike and Ed and John on Tuesday afternoon to
discuss the handover.
Intend taking it easy tomorrow - may even get time for the long
delayed walk in the mountains. Weather looks set fair for the next few
days. And don't forget that Aileen and her sisters are running the
London Marathon tomorrow. Best wishes to them all and everybody else
making huge demands on their bodies for such a wide range of good
And watching all of the Spanish in the village carefully tending
their fields and vegetable patches makes me realise how little I know
about the subject despite the fact that I lived in the country on a farm
for so long! Lots of "green things" being carefully watered, pruned and
weeded. Most of them I know not what!
Saturday, April 9, 2005 4:15PM
An interesting article from The Register fromwhich
I've reproduced the salient points and graph. Apparently, life on earth
follows a mysterious 62 million year cycle and fossil analysis seems to
show that biodiversity moves according to this cycle. Neither of the
scientists involved at The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, have an
explanation. One thinks that it's related to volcanic activity, but
equally, he says, it could relate to the earth's passage through the
Milky Way. The other has posited that gravitational attraction from
stellar objects such as galaxies or molecular clouds could in turn
influence the number of generations.
Drove back to the campo today and have been catching up with email
from the terrace as today has been beautifully warm and sunny. The
terrace has suddenly bloomed green after all the rain. The plants and
shrubs that we thought had died off are now showing strong signs of
growth, the grape vine has sprung back to abundant life and the orange
tree blossom although not yet fully developed already smells delicious.
Hope it stays like this for tomorrow as I'd love to get out for a long
walk in the mountains.
Mentioned the new job to a couple of people. Ben said "do not
decline this job or I will kill you!". And from
Jon Honeyball "don't fsck this
up, don't use public IP address spaces internally and the best of luck
Have also got
Mike's new server on-line
and am just configuring all his new domains and emails accounts with
help from Matt.
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 11:15PM
Two tales that made me laugh out loud today despite a bad migraine
the night before, one from a policeman friend in the UK, one from
another friend in Sweden:
(a) "Britain's dumbest criminal?
Been dealing with a local scrote recently who had managed to acquire
himself some stolen cheques (stolen in a commercial burglary). So, being
he criminal mastermind that he is, he went into a bank branch in a
neighbouring town to cash one. He had sussed out the CCTV cameras in the
bank and stood with his back towards them almost all the time, with his
numpty hat obscuring his face when he had to face towards them.
The flaw in his grand plan? He paid the cheque into his own account..."
(b) "Obviously the cousin of some scrotes in Stockholm many years
These geniuses broke into our local bar/restaurant, nicked the booze and
the roulette chips from the table in the back room. Bar promptly buys
chips in a different design. 3 days later, scrotes come back and try and
cash in a large tote-bag full of old-style chips..."
For my non UK readership, a "scrote" is defined by Chris Dryden as:
"The phrase "scrote"
refers to someone having "scrote-like" qualities. There are many
qualities that define a scrote, so to make things a little bit easier,
here are some very common qualities of a scrote:
- A scrote will usually have the appearance that he/she hasn't had a
clean shave, and/or shower in a few days, if not weeks/months.
- Scrotes are mainly unattractive, or have that "I hang out in the back
of 7-Eleven near the dumpster" look to them.
- Four words: Coke, lots of coke. And not the bottled stuff....
- There are many other qualities of the scrote, but you should have the
general idea now. "
Phew. Another busy week. Lots of work for clients which seems to be
24 hours a day. Weather has been variable to say the least. Today we had
waves breaking over the harbour wall as it had been so windy. The day's
generally sunny and warm but as always, I'm too busy to take advantage
of them! :)
New job agreed! Should be fun as I can setup a brand new, scaleable, resilient
operation and save them a lot of money which will hopefully be reflected
in nice bonuses as well :)
Have yet to speak to Mike about this as he's in the UK and is
suffering with a bad back and root-canal work, so isn't at his best. As
said before, I'm unhappy about dropping our of our operation but I can
handle the clients we have now, draw them to a close and there are one
or two people who Mike can use for the more mundane work that's needed.
I think he'll understand that this is such a great opportunity.
Apologies for the down-time on the site. Not quite sure what broke
(something in the logging that Apache took exception to) but Richard is
checking and things look back to normal now.
Saturday, April 2, 2005 6:15 PM
It was ordained wasn't it? Head off the the campo for a nice,
relaxing time with some walks in the countryside. And of course it
rains. Mucho agua is the order of the day. Worked at a client's
house - I've no idea how to find it again, somewhere in the campo
through miles of winding torrents and mud through fog. The gas fires are
on all over the village and umbrellas are much in evidence. Have stayed
in for much of the day therefore, catching up on admin, finishing off
time-sheets and client billing etc.
Spoke at length to Glen last night. He's still very down and
although talkative, feels that every day is an effort. He's going back
to work part-time on Monday but isn't sure that he's really motivated to
undertake what is a challenging and pressured role. As he said, "what's
the point when I'm not doing it for another person". Jasper is OK and I
think gives Glen a bit of structure through the day. He's had lots of
regular visitors and has agreed to come out and see us soon. I'll be
back in the UK for the first week in May (as the flat is needed for a
week by the owner!) and will see Glen and my Mum plus some old friends
who I hope will be free to get together for some uninterrupted, quality
time without any distractions or unexpected interruptions .
Why so much fuss over an old man? I sympathise with his friends but
will the absence of John Paul II make much difference to my life or that
of others I know? And of course, it's very important to emphasise as
they do every two minutes that he's "not in a coma" - apparently there's
no provision for an incapacitated Pope, so his death allows them to move
on and elect some other poor soul who'll be forced to mouth the same old
tired clich้s whilst watching his (and it won't be a her!) "audience"
diminish and grow older as the Papacy becomes less and less in-touch
with what's happening in the world. I'll of course now get emails
berating me for my apparent callousness...
A very funny site, not work-safe at all, that is dialogue
taken from IRC channels and
cross-posted. Quite hilarious.
And a recommendation for a useful piece of software that enhances
Outlook's built-in rules called Auto-Mate,
Helps if, like me, you have a lot of emails that need sorting to
different folders and action taken upon them. Wouldn't surprise me if
Microsoft decides to buy it :)
And if you can't find the time to write a letter, locate a stamp or
find a Post Office that's open to buy one, lick the envelope and stamp
and post it, then this site is for
Friday, April 1, 2005 4:15 PM
So, anybody get caught by any April Fool's spoofs? The only one I
heard about was something to do with a new breed of cow and some type of
milk. As it's now long after midday (and anyway, the Spanish don't
recognise today), I'm safe I think.
Something Ben reminded me of and which is proof of how much
embarrassment this here Internet can be, take a look at these pages
(HINT: search for Christopher Bulow). At
least there aren't any 'photos that are available to Google!:
Proof, if proof was needed that (a) we all have skeletons in our
closets and (b) I wasn't cut out to be an actor!
Thursday, March 31, 2005 3:15 PM
Today dawned bright and clear. Spent breakfast on the terrace
watching the fishing boats put to sea and cast their nets. The sea was
so calm, not even being ruffled by any breath of wind. I must try and
capture some of the sun-rises from the terrace - although they never
appear as they appear to the eye.
At clients today installing Small Business Server 2003 and upgrading
a couple of PCs. Lunched at a lovely little sea-front cafe on the front
with some lightly grilled pork chops and salad (and chips of course).
I've been suffering with migraines at night for a week or so now. I
think partly the work, partly the fact that I'm not drinking enough
water and partly that I keep missing meals because of the client
demands. So, no more of that. Breakfast, midday meal and evening for me
from now on. Plus litres (gallons?) of water.
Really good to see that with only about 150 Iberian Lynxes left in
Andalucia and Portugal, the breeding program established at the Cota
Donana reserve appears to be working with the birth of 3 cubs (is
that the right word for a collective of lynxes?). They've been dying out
as their natural prey, rabbits, in turn die off from disease and also
the attention of Spanish motorists who seem to kill them off with
Have contacted a guy called John Spackman who I came across
re-building a Linux box on the fly from Jan and Jayne's Net cafe!
It looks as though he could be a useful addition to our tem - he's
excellent on Linux and software development, so we're looking at how we
can jointly market ourselves to new potential clients.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 6:15 PM
God, it's been glorious weather. Too bad that I'm stuck in offices.
Maybe now is the time to start looking at being a tree-surgeon,
hedge-trimmer or the man who plays with the newly built crane next to
Met Sarah in Peurto Banus last night and had a pleasant hour or so
networking. It's reassuring that somebody so seemingly confident and and
competent also has douts about what they're doing and how they're doing
it, even after 3 years in Spain. It's not that I've made the wrong move,
far from it, but things change here so rapidly that you almost have to
turn on a half-penny when the client(s) change their minds after weeks
of negotiation, or turn up for a meeting scheduled for 6pm at 9.30pm on
a Friday and then wonder why you're less than bouncy!
Lovely views along the beach - must try and get out more! :)
Monday, March 28, 2005 5:45 PM
The laptop appears to have swallowed the last few entries for some
reason. Which is a pain as I'd written rather a lot. Oh well, that'll
teach me to save locally before I try and upload and manage to
overwrite the old file. I'd hoped that this and all the other
files would be on the new server by now but
Richard needs another day or so for
the domain changes from Chris to
himself to filter through.
Worked at the Cabopino
office all day Thursday (a Bank Holiday and all), took Friday off
and drove back to the village. Saturday moved all of the remaining gear
from the old office into Jason's basement, setup a wireless LAN for him
and then came back to the coast on Sunday morning. Watched the first
episode of the new Doctor Who on the BBC. Not sure how I feel
about it yet. The old music and visuals were fun but I think I'll need
to see the next few episodes to make a judgement call. The source of the
Doctor Who leak which saw the first episode of the new series
splashed across the web has been sacked, the BBC
It's not, however, a Beeb insider, but rather someone working for
"third-party company in Canada". BBC international production partner,
the Canadian Broadcasting Company, probed the outrage and tracked down
the culprit who had access to a preview copy of Rose. The
individual responsible was duly sacked.
Had all day off on Sunday and spent the day strolling along the
front with Bob and Liz who'd driven over from Salobraina for the day.
Caught the sun, watched the bodies on the beach, ate and drank and
generally had a chilled time which made up for the last few busy weeks
(partly, anyway!). The fish restaurant that we found, literally under
our noses on the beach under the flat was superb. And fantastically good
value. And the bottles of wine we drank had no bearing on my "critics
choice" for this week!
Liz and Bob aren't sure where they want to finally end up in Spain
and are off skiing and then back to the UK until May at which point
they'll return and spend another couple of months looking along the
I've some lovely shots of the beach front from the balcony and
various others that will go up as soon as Richard has worked his magic.
The Qube is groaning really badly now and I don't want it to fall
over and take all my data with it! Yes, it is all backed up but it's a
PITA to have to start afresh. At least the
Attix 5 software is
working its magic, so all my files and Val's pictures and designs are
safely stored on Clueless and Witless servers back in the UK. In the
meantime, here's a couple of thumb-nails to whet your appetites:
No word from Aileen about the viewer for my property that she'd
managed to snag for me - hopefully he'll get in touch and view the place
and make an offer (!) soon as I'd rather like to to get this place sold
as soon as possible and then look at buying a loft-type place in the
centre of old Malaga. A friend has just snapped up a town house just
along the street from the Picasso Museum for an amazingly low price,
hopefully I can do the same! Well, that's the plan/dream at the moment.
Won't have it in time for my friend to come over and stay but I think
the plan is that she'll use a hotel rather than the flat and we can meet
in the town. Should be a lot of fun as it seems ages since I last saw
Working all day in the Cabopino tomorrow - new drive for the Linux
box, a migrate of the email to the new hosting server, a new PSU for
Vicky's PC and anything else that they've forgotten to tell me! And am
finally getting my head around the
Open Source PBX that is Asterisk so may soon be able to offer
this as a service to replace all the expensive and too complicated
switches that the telcos insist on supplying. I may of course be opening
up yet another world of pain and misery, but it's fun learning new stuff
and this looks as though it could be a good earner as well as being good
for the clients, so a winner all round.
With both Friday and Monday being Bank Holidays in the UK, all the
people I need or want to talk to are out sunning themselves. And the
weather here is gorgeous - acres of flesh being exposed on the beaches,
some good, some not so :) Oh well, the rest of the week looks set fine,
so I may take a day off and just spend some hours improving my rather
winter-white flesh tones.
And one final nail in the coffin that's Labour's attempts to subvert
Magna Carta et al is seen in this report from
The Register "One of the UK's
most dangerous terror suspects (allegedly...) was free to walk into the
offices of a major newspaper this week, despite being subject to a
control order, and despite intense (or not...) surveillance by the
security services. Mahmoud Abu Rideh, one of the terror suspects
recently released from custody into a regime of restrictions, tagging
and surveillance was we stress able to do this entirely in accordance
with the terms of his control order - he was merely dropping in to the
Guardian in order to
explain the confusion and sheer, barking madness of Britain's new
'prison without bars' system of terror controls. "
Wednesday, March 23, 2005 6:45 PM
It's interesting watching the progress of the builders working on
the new block of flats next to ours. So far, they've removed tons of
earth, shifted quantities of building materials from one end of a trench
to another (for no apparent reason) and this morning before I went off
to work, were working on a complicated set of strands of metal that I
assume will be used as the base for the huge amounts of concrete that
need to be poured soon. The point of this? We're not alone in building
works - most of Fuengirola for example is grid-locked as (a) thousands
of tourists descend on the town for Easter and (b) the Town Hall decides
that now is a good time to tear up streets and whole blocks to build new
car parks etc. All of the work is needed but maybe they could have
scheduled it for a better time?
Getting around now is a nightmare - it's quicker to walk between
clients than find the car, remove the parking ticket, drive round for
hours to find a spot to park, re-seat the parking ticket, do the work
and then reverse the process. I may even get fit :)
Another supportive email from my very good friend in London, based
in turn on her experience supporting a friend who lost a daughter and
suggesting that the best way to approach Glen is just to let him talk
and talk and tell him not to look forward more than a day at a time and
to take things in bite-sized chunks rather than trying to integrate it
all at once and to expect the pain to go away immediately. It's
basically what we've been doing, but nice to hear it from an "outsider".
Thanks Outsider, my love as always :)
Dashing hither and thither again as it looks as though a lot of the
work will flow over on the Bank Holiday but I'd still like to get a few
hours off to meet some friends from San Pedro for a meal and gossip.
Weather very strange today, hot, sunny, muggy and rain all at the same
Have some good 'photos to upload and will do this later or maybe may
just wait until Richard moves the data over to the new blade-server and
gives me so much more disk space to work with. Watch this space as
Monday, March 21, 2005 8:45 PM
Back to the coast for me, Val saying back at the house as she's
still finalising her designs for the various bits of publicity material.
Hopefully, today's work which all went well is a precursor of the rest
of the week, after last weeks horrendous set of problems.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, so lots of parades in the village
and everybody was carrying round palm fronds. Next weekend starts on
Thursday (two Bank Holidays) ready for Semana Santa (i.e. Easter)
which is also an excuse for a lot of celebrations all over Spain as well
as the village.
Long email from Kate bringing me up to date with her news. Glen
still is not coping very well at all. He is very low. I think he's
utterly devastated by it all and can't see a way out. I call him most
days but it's hard to know what to say, particularly from this distance.
He's in Cornwall now with Rob. I may well pop over in April for a few
days as Kate is planning to do that as well, so we could all meet up.
Lovely weather today, tomorrow's supposed to be cloudy but as I'm
with clients all day, I'm not that fussed.
Saturday, March 19, 2005 5:45 PM
Strange how music gets to you when other things can't or don't.
Catching up on admin here at the house after seeing a couple of village
clients (and earning a few cash Euros which will of course be
reported to Hacienda), I was half listening to the radio and an old Joan
Armatrading number came on. I remember her memorable tones coming out of
Liz's room as a teenager (her, not me) and for no reason I could see,
burst into tears. Yes, miss her a lot.
Off to see Del and Harleigh tonight for a meal, to catch up on
gossip from the village and see how they're getting on with their
planned move to a cave house. The other choice was catching somebody
called Suzy Q performing at the Oasis - no contest as I'm sure it's not
her of Devil Gate Drive fame (ah, memories of teenage hormones
kicking off) :)
Tomorrow is when we have to schlep all of the heavy stuff from the
old office to a suitable storage place. Jason seems to be back-tracking
on his promise to let us use his basement, which is a complete PITA. Oh
well, I'm sure we'll be able to find somewhere, it's just the
thought of moving huge great bits of furniture up and down these hills
(after only a week, I'd forgotten how steep they were!). Nice that the
lady in the tobacco kiosk remembers my brand - or is that a Bad Thing
meaning I'm still smoking too much?
A nice note from my friend at Hammersmith reminding me that I'd
moved out to Spain to get away from the rat-race and work smarter, not
harder. You're right of course, just haven't yet got that balance right
just yet! But I'm working on it, learning to say "No" or "Not now, but
later" to clients, a skill that had got rather rusty over the last year
or so. So, don't stop reminding me eh? :)
Thursday, March 17, 2005 12:45 PM
Haven't stopped working. Long days and late nights. Mike
seems happy, invoices are going out and hopefully, some cash will start
flowing soon into the depleted reserves :) We seem to have cured the
blocked plug-hole in the bath thanks to a plunger and some fearsome
chemical from a Spanish hardware store. If the US had used this in
Vietnam, there'd have been even more of an outcry than with Agent
Orange! Weather has been good, 24 to 25 degrees yesterday but I was
stuck inside :( I know why servers have to be located in
closed, cool rooms but it doesn't help my tan.
Spending all weekend at the village as we have to move the
last items from the shop into Jason's basement and there are 3 or 4
people who've got home computer problems that I've been promising to
look at for weeks but haven't had a chance to as I've either been away
or on a flying visit to the village and then straight back to the coast.
The flat's fine, and the absence of a 'phone line or (even
worse!) broadband isn't as bad as I feared as I've been able to use the
clients net connections or pop in to see Jan and Jayne to catch up.
Meeting him for lunch today - the first time I've even stopped
for lunch all week! A nice fish restaurant on the front beckons us :)
Haven't spoken to the family at all this week, which makes it
a week since the last time, so am feeling pretty guilty and have
resolved to call them all for a long chat on Friday night when we get
back to Casarabonela and with a large gin and tonic to hand, can relax.
And a message to all my wonderful readers - don't forget that
clicking on the Amazon links or the Google ads gives me a little bit
extra cash, so make my day as our American cousins are wont to say :)
Monday, March 14, 2005 11:27 PM
Phew! I worked less hours sometimes in the UK. Saturday was a
quick trip back to the village, fix a new PC for Jason to his network
and get him and his brother working again, then a dash back to the
coast as Mike's server had died. Unfortunately, that needs a new drive,
so thank the Deity for Artemis
remote backup which meant that at least could drag 'n drop all his
data back to the Samba box. Sunday was more relaxed. Lovely warm, sunny
day so a stroll down the sea-front, newspapers, coffees, beer and food
and time to relax.
Monday dawns bright and warm and a number of clients to see
first thing. The rest of the week looks busy as well, which is good.
All I need to do now is make sure the invoices are paid quickly!
Couple of warnings for security: The first one is a way of
infecting IE with Spyware even if you only use Firefox. Details and a
here. The second is more laughable. After the UK government's
abominable attempts to put in place a piece of legislation removing
most rights to suspects, it's strangely reassuring to see that this
happens when they rush things through.
And portable notebooks with a "roll-up" screen more like
paper (and how good will that be!) comes a step closer with
this from Phillips. Can't wait! Er, how sad does that make me?
Answers on a post-card please to the normal address of /dev/null :)
Thursday, March 10, 2005 9:27 PM
Phew! What a week back. Clients demanding work left, right,
centre and any other direction they could find. Finished the move into
the apartment on Sunday, ready for work on Monday. It's small but
perfectly formed. Two bedrooms, small but extremely functional kitchen,
large living/sitting room, a shower and bath (the latter with a rather
alarming whirl-pool effect) and a terrace that looks straight down onto
the sea and beach. The sun-rises here are superb with the sea turning
almost bright yellow as the sun climbs. The block has even a swimming
pool although you'd need to be slightly masochistic to want to use it
at the moment although the day-time temperatures are climbing (today
was close to 20 degrees at time). The building work, although it's
omni-present, doesn't really bother us as we're out until after they've
packed up work. It's fun watching the huge diggers tearing great chunks
out of the hill-side and loading the spoil into lorries, which trundle
continually up and down the hill-side all day, dumping it, I know not
where, although they seem to be liaising with the workers on the new
section of railway line and the (I think) ship-looking edifice being
erected on the opposite hillside so it's obviously being used
somewhere. Probably best not to ask eh?
Have spoken to Kate and she's made it back safely to (as she
puts it) "La La Land" aka Los Angeles after a long, tiring
flight. Glen and Mum appear to be holding up OK but I'm ringing both of
them far more often than even before Liz's death. I think I've
convinced Glen to use some of his compassionate leave to come out here
and just to chill. Not so sure about Mum - her aversion to travelling
anywhere now caused I think by her lack of confidence in her ability to
work out (in a way that prior to Dad's death she'd have had no problem
doing) where she is or should be, which means that I may need to
convince Glen to bring her out.
Still love watching the Spanish drivers trying to kill
themselves and each other - as I commented to a lovely friend when we
met in Hammersmith on my last visit, you should assume that everybody
is (a) drunk and (b) totally insane and (c) possibly blind as well. At
least that way, you're somewhat prepared for the insane way they drive!
Working with four systems at the moment, one, a VPN between
two offices, marred by the fact that they had no idea of passwords and
logins to their (Telefonica supplied) routers (despite my numerous
emails pointing out that these were, er, necessary)which
put rather a crimp in my ability to setup any links. Attempting to
obtain this information from Telefonica is as difficult as finding out
where Bluebeard buried his treasure. One is more simple, an additional
server (although again, a glitch as finding a simple PCI video card is
well nigh impossible now) and again a VPN link, one is a small hardware
upgrade desperately needed before their server curls up its toes and
shuffles off to the junk yard in the sky and finally, there's Mike's
office where we need to rationalise his email and Samba setups. All are
good though and there's lots more work both from them and courtesy of
Ron's new introductions. We intend lunching him royally next week to
say "thanks" and to ensure the leads keep flowing! Had a fun dinner
with Mike earlier this week although I didn't get home until gone 1am
(sober, having not drunk a thing apart from still-water!). Some
fabulous gambas piri piri and a lovely sea-bass. He has
been a naughty boy in his past :) And then found a jewel of a new Thai
restaurant in Fuengirola that is packed with beautiful artefacts and
has the most delightful staff.
Dinner planned with Jan and Jayne on Saturday in Fuengirola
at Ponchos (fabulous Argentinian steaks), so will head back to
the village late tomorrow night, giving us a chance to pick up any mail
(thank the Deity that junk mail is virtually unknown here), catch up on
sleep (I've been working until 9 or 10 at night and starting again at
8am!) and handle a few small jobs in the village. Then back to the
apartment on Sunday, catch up on any urgent emaisl and then the
roller-coaster starts again on Monday. I'm not complaining but could
almost do with a holiday!
Richard at Merula is
currently migrating my Qube to a new blade-server, so will be able to
do some more cool things on the new box. Watch this space for items
that I'd planned long ago (almost from when this diary started) but
couldn't bring to fruition until this had been done, inc. an IRC/Jabber
And that's about it for the moment. Still thinking of Liz and
still find it so hard to believe that she's not there at the end of the
'phone. And I'm glad about that as it means she's still very much
inside my head and heart. Thanks to everybody who's sent emails, or
called or IRC'ed or generally supported me in so many different ways.
It's been appreciated more than you'll ever know. And if my reporting
of her death and the funeral made you laugh and/or cry, then again I'm
glad as it means that my writing worked. Liz would approve! (that
doesn't sound too Saint'ed Di does it? Deity, I hope not, it's not
meant to be mawkish).
Saturday, March 5, 2005 10:27 AM
Updated Monday 7th
It's been a roller-coaster couple of days. So many tears but
also lots of laughter. Liz would have loved the party following the
cremation and church celebration service. Such a shame she couldn't
have been there although she was - she was a constant presence for
The cremation at Barham was for family only. A horrible cold,
slushy day but the the snow started falling whilst the ceremony was
going on and we came out to see the grounds covered in a virgin blanket
of snow which was lovely. Dorian (Glen's brother) managed to go to the
wrong crematorium but got to the right one in time for the last half of
the service). Glen's Mum had flown over all the way from Dominica but
his father was still suffering from bronchitis, so sadly wasn't able to
make it. Glen and I helped carry in the coffin. I couldn't see anybody
through my tears but it was such the right thing to do.
Lots of tears.
Then off to drive through the thickly falling snow to
Ringwould church (where she and Glen had been married only a year
before) for the service of celebration. Dropped Sian and Rees off and
then found it well nigh impossible to find anywhere to park. This was
explained when I got to the church. It was filled to bursting with so
many people. Luckily they'd remembered to save me a seat next to Mum!
The service started with one of Glen's nieces singing an unaccompanied
version of Amazing Grace that brought tears to the eyes of
everybody. She had such a fantastic voice. The makers of tissues must
have made a fortune :)
Kate and Rob both gave beautiful elegies through their tears
and Liz's friend Laura read a piece from The Lion, The Witch and
The Wardrobe one of Liz's favourite books and also the present that
she'd given to Laura's son, Ben, when she became his God Mother. Glen's
reading of W H Auden's famous poem was so beautiful, so sad and so
John Winn's sermon and elegy caught Liz to perfection. I
couldn't have spoken at all and have no idea where Kate, Rob, Laura and
Glen found the composure to speak through their tears without
collapsing in a sodden heap.
The service finished as it began with everybody trying to
stifle their tears and then an apparently endless stream of people
filed out talking to Glen and Mum and the rest of the family. I know
it's not a contest, but I was so proud of the collection after the
service for the church which raised nearly £650. The sun had come
out just as the final hymn was being sung and had lit up the altar and
was there when we all emerged from the church.
Off the the town for the "party". The champagne started
flowing and the laughter started. It was a joy talking to so many
people who'd travelled such long distances in such crappy conditions to
be there. People I only vaguely remembered from Liz's school days were
there as were friends and colleagues from the last twenty years. Mum
enjoyed talking to so many people about Liz and Glen's Mum was a joy!
The party lasted for about 4 hours - it could/should have gone on for a
lot longer but a lot of people had come a long way and the weather was
threatening to cut them off from any chance of getting home.
Everybody was drained - we met Skip and Glen and Kate for a
few drinks at Dunkerley's but called it a day and crashed exhausted
Friday dawned cold and wet. Glen and the family met at the
church for a small interment of the ashes. It was a strange,
dispiriting ceremony, so very unlike the previous day's and almost
nothing to do with the bright. living Liz that we all remembered.
However. Liz has asked for a memorial stone to be carved and inscribed
with her name and Dad's to ne placed over the site of her ashes and
that will follow shortly, so I'll be back to see that unveiled. Long
talks with Glen, Kate, Rob and Nick about Mum and how she was coping
but in the end we decided that she was currently OK but that we'd all
be visiting and calling regularly, and her friends would be in constant
touch with her and us if things got worse.
Flight back via an overnight stop with Dorothy and arrived
exhausted in the village at about 9pm on Sunday. Back to "harness" on
Monday, February 28, 2005 4:27 PM
Last day in the office in the village, so cancelling 'phone
lines, sweeping floors and removing the accumulation of 5 months work
there. It doesn't help that the rain is still pelting it down and the
streets are rivers (well, OK then, small streams). Off to pick up flat
key tomorrow AM and then off to finalise some work for two clients in
Fuengirola before I have to leave them for the funeral.
Picked up some cash Euros sorting out a badly infested Win XP
home-luser box that wouldn't boot.
It's cold, very damp and misty but at least, no chance of the
snow that seems to be affecting most of the rest of Europe. Hopefully,
by Wednesday AM, the rain will have stopped and the road(s) to the
airport won't have been washed away!
Sunday, February 27, 2005 8:27 PM
Today dawned overcast and cloudy and we finally got some of
the much-needed rain, indeed it hasn't stopped all day and looks like
it's set to carry on tomorrow as well. Spent the day tidying up the
office in preparation for our move to the coast to the temporary
apartment due on Tuesday.
Spoke to Kate and Glen who'd just returned from Deal having
taken Mum home and spoken to the vicar and local undertaker. All is set
for Thursday. The dress code for the day is "not black!" exactly
as Liz insisted upon. Left calling Mum until tomorrow as Nick and Julie
are with her tonight - hope they don't talk or work her to death!
Satellite TV seems to be glitched by the weather, so my much
needed Spanish learning is being forced to the fore to cope with their
game and chat shows. They seem just as inane as those in the UK, the
only upside is that the Spanish language still gives them an exotic air
Saturday, February 26, 2005 5:07 PM
Today dawned warm and sunny, so we took the opportunity to
walk the old Roman road around the back of the village. Thought a lot
about Liz and knew that she'd have enjoyed the area and walks around
here. Spent about 3 hours following the "road", in places, in truth,
little more than a mountain track littered with stones and boulders
from the annual rains and which was generally all bathed in sun light
and had a chance to relax and get my head around the idea of her going.
Wore, for the first time for about 4 years, a pair of socks that I'd
last used on the Macmillan Cancer Relief "Walk The Sahara" expedition
(boy, you get interesting stuff here don't you?)! Which in turn
reminded me of the Macmillan Nurse (amongst so many other
professionals) who'd attended Liz over the last couple of weeks and how
good she'd been for her. Can I suggest (again) that you put money their
way to help and support the truly fantastic work that they do (and in
memory of Liz)? I hope my old friends there are still enjoying being
part of such a great organisation. Just click here
and dig out that plastic card!
Towards the end Liz said that she hoped she'd see Dad soon.
Today I felt for whatever reason (maybe the light, the quiet or just
the simple act of walking) that she and he were together again. So glad
that that's true.
Hope to be able to meet up with one or two friends on Friday
or Saturday next week after the funeral and service of celebration. If
you fancy that, drop me an email to the usual address or text me on the
usual numbers and tell me what time(s) suit you.
Friday, February 25, 2005 7:27 PM
Slept like a log last night. Spoke at length to Kate, Mum and
Glen all of whom sound exhausted but slightly brighter than yesterday.
Glen said that it didn't matter how prepared you think you are for the
end, it still comes as a profound shock when it actually happens. We've
had confirmation that Liz's doctor will be able to sign the necessary
form in time for the cremation to be held at Barham next Thursday at
11am for family and then the church service that Liz has all planned
out will be held at Ringwould (the scene of her wedding just over a
year ago) at midday. I'll be flying back on Wednesday and staying in
the UK until Sunday. Nick and Julie arrived too late to speak to Liz
but saw her before the funeral director took her away. They're staying
with Rob for a few days and then will take an hotel in Deal until after
Spoke to Ben and Beth and they're both so upset at the news.
In Ben's case, the news came just after he'd found out that in his
"mocks" held last month, he was only one mark away from a First (and
this having taken the exam in the middle of a bout of flu!). I'm so
very proud of him and know that Dad and Liz would have been as well.
Both Beth and he have either important exams or lectures on the day of
the funeral, so they won't be able to attend. I told them that I knew
that Liz would understand and wouldn't want them to miss these rather
than being at the funeral.
Drove to sort out one client on the coast and plan to see a
couple more before I fly back as I'd rather keep occupied in the
interim. Still in shock I think and find myself crying whenever anybody
says some kind words!
Thursday, February 24, 2005 3:27 PM
Liz died peacefully in her sleep at 7am this morning.
Ironically, that was the time that I was stepping onto my flight back
to Spain as we'd agreed that she'd been stabilised with a new drug
regime and she appeared to be more lucid. I feel terrible that I wasn't
I think she felt the time was right and just drifted away. Mum
was there as was Kate and Glen. There's a great hole in my and our
lives now. I got back from the airport to a message from Kate, telling
me the news. Whilst I'm missing her terribly, I'm happy that she's
peaceful now. She was in great pain and the new brain tumour meant that
she was disorientated for much of the time. I had a chance to talk to
her and tell her how much she meant to me, and so many others and how
much I loved her. She broke my heart when she said "sorry" for not
being able to fight this last attack as she'd done so
We're all in shock and at the moment, I'm not sure what the
plans are. I miss her terribly. Spoke to Mum and Rob. Glen is working
on things but is devastated. I miss her. I loved her.
Monday, February 21, 2005 1:17 PM
Stayed with Dorothy and Jill and had a relaxing evening over
pasta and red-wine. They're as fun as ever and it was a tonic to relax
for a while. This AM am sorting out D's wireless network. All appears
to be OK now. She's running now Second Copy to backup all her data to
an external drive and has access on all her machines to the others, so
she's a happier bunny.
Spoke to Kate. Liz back home but is weak and according to Kate
isn't eating or drinking at the moment. I'm intending getting there
late PM but have said to Kate that she should tell me what's best for
Liz. Not sure if this is just a temporary glitch after the liver drain
or something worse. Whatever, will probably cancel the meeting in
Milton Keynes on Wednesday, although planning still to fly back on
Thursday but will play that by ear until I know what Liz wants and how
Good article by Bruce
Schneier - on another interesting research product from Microsoft
that may not see the light of day.
Saturday, February 19, 2005 10:17 AM
Liz went into hospital yesterday to have the liver drained.
Not out yet but Kate say's although she's listless she's doing OK. Will
find out tomorrow whether to stay with her on Monday or leave it for
another day. Will be in London from tomorrow night though and will stay
with Dorothy and Jill until I know how Liz is doing.
Quiet couple of days. Bought Mum back to Deal and we ate at
Charleigh's yesterday and chatted for hours. Mum saw the sense in
signing an Enduring Power of Attorney, so she and Rob will get that
sorted. Thank heavens! One less worry for the future.
Ben is now penniless having paid his part of the deposit on a
house for him and some others for next year but having fun. Exam
results due soon. He's quietly confident.
Liz is OK but having a lot of sleepless nights because of the
pain. All quiet in Deal. Robyn and Reg marry today after the special
licence was granted (Robyn having to prove after 30 years in England
that she wasn't an illegal immigrant!). Nothing much else here has
changed - the house now on the market with two other estate agents as
well, so hopefully, the new publicity will start it moving soon. Popped
into the Hoy and caught up with a few old friends. Quiet night and off
to bed early with a book on the Spanish Civil War.
Called in by Kim at Charleigh's as their till keeps
re-booting, which is sub-optimal on their busiest day of the week. Not
much I could do as it looks as thought the software needs a re-install.
Kim leaving increasingly threatening messages on the support-line
'phone number :)
Wednesday, February 16, 2005 2:17 PM
Arrived in Ealing after an easy journey, mid-afternoon. Liz
has a few more weeks, maybe a couple of months depending on the course
of the illness and how quickly it progresses. Her liver has swollen by
about 4-5 cm. which doesn't sound a lot but then there isn't much spare
space in there to start with! As she says, she looks 6 months pregnant!
Liver function, bloods and other indicators are all over the place and
both her consultants agreed that the proposed chemo treatment wouldn't
in any case do any good as her body is at such a low ebb and would more
likely lead to a further breakdown across other functions leaving her
in hospital, attached to drips until she dies. She's much happier at
home. She's on no medication now apart of course from her pain-killers
and she's finding the right level for them on a trial and error basis
which still leaves her in a lot of pain at times. Kate is there and is
briefly flying back to LA at the end of next week, to clear her flat
having resigned from PPC and then will return for as long as necessary.
Glen is a star and I love him for his love for Liz. We spent a long
time alone chatting last night over wine and both of us are resigned to
the inevitable and just want to make sure Liz is as comfortable and
tranquil as we can all make things.
We're all acting as gate-keepers as Liz only really wants to
see close family as she's often tired and hazy with the morphine and
other pain control meds she's taking.
She's being driven to see her healer in Suffolk by Kate today,
who she's been visiting since August last year. There's not really any
thought of a miraculous cure rather that he brings calm and a reduction
in pain to her. The puppy (Jasper) is a joy and I think Liz finds him a
help in his playfulness and high spirits. Mum has been there since the
weekend and she's on her way back to Deal with me now. Lots of tears
when she told me that Liz had spoken to the rector at our local church
and had already planned the order of service and how she'd like it to
be held. She really is the best of us all.
We've agreed that I'll spend a few days back in Deal with Mum
and then go back to London and stay with Liz until it's time for me to
fly back unless the worst happens in the meantime. I'm re-arranging
commitments on the coast now and have told people that I can't agree to
any firm dates until I know how things are with Liz. Mike has said
he'll take care of anything that needs a visit and I can always access
systems remotely if necessary.
Time to visit my house, chase the estate agents for a quick
sale, see how Reg is doing and catch up with a few friends down there.
I don't really feel like socialising.
Monday, February 14, 2005 9:08 PM
Sorry, today has been hectic. Lots of clients to see before I
fly out tomorrow, a meal and then home to pack. The weekend was more
relaxing with a day in Peurto Banus to chill amongst the jet-set trash
and then a day at El Chorro exploring some new walks. One 'photo I
missed taking was of the sign commemorating the high-waters in 1949.
The scary thing was that this was at least 30ft above where I
stood at the edge of the start of the gorge! A few 'photos below. More
updates tomorrow as I'm quite frankly shattered! :)
Proof that Superman's secret hide-away is not in the
A sort of mirror image of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park:
And your hero, boldly venturing across the dam at the top of
El Chorro gorge. What you can't see is the vertiginous drop to one side
that ends in what looks like about 30ft. of stinking mud, as the waters
are so low at the moment. For obvious reasons this access is now fenced
off but somehow I seemed to stray through:
Saturday, February 12, 2005 7:08 PM
Yesterday was busy. Three clients on the coast and a further
visit to one on Monday before I fly out next day. And another
introduction from Mike at a further real-estate agent in Fuengirola
who's looking for network upgrades. Suzanne's office is still without
ADSL after nearly 4 weeks - the moral of that story is "don't order
Drove Bill and Caroline to the airport as they had to fly home
at very short notice as her mother is going downhill rapidly. Another
piece of bad news for a friend.
Am hoping to meet Mac and Pete as they're making one of their
rare trips up to London at the same time as I'll be there. One or two
others as well hopefully, inc. Jon and Robert and one other dear friend
who's suggested we should meet for coffee and to catch up after so long
:) The plan is to spend a couple of days with Liz, then take Mum back
to Deal and spend some time with her (and see how bad she is now!) and
then back to Liz's for the last few days. Also have a seminar in Milton
Keynes on 23rd with Mike and after staying overnight at his place, fly
back to Spain on the 24th.
Thursday, February 10, 2005 9:58 AM
Spoke to Mum and Glen. Liz not good. The specialists say that
it looks as though the liver is incredibly swollen and function is
failing fast. She's not in too much pain as yet but is very
uncomfortable as the liver is pressing onto other organs. Glen sounds
exhausted. He's planning to take a sabbatical from his firm to be with
Liz for as long as necessary. Tuesday seems a long way away but there
doesn't appear to be any pressing need to get a flight earlier. Mum is
also worried and now showing it. Thank heavens. She'll be there with
Rob and I'll take her back to Deal, spend a few days with her and then
back to Liz.
In the midst of all this, some good news on the work front.
Three new clients with interesting and meaty work to do. Couple of VPN
connections, a large network re-configuration and other work inc. ACT!
database integration and training. Trying to sort out a short term
microwave link for the apartment on the coast. A new (to me) firm
appears to be offering short-term rentals which would be ideal. And Artemis IT Solutions, a
Spanish registered company is now up and running. We're authorised Dell
and HP Compaq re-sellers and carry a number of other badges as well.
All the clients will be rolled into that company as from today and
we're speaking to another large reseller to undertake joint marketing
and sales. Busy times ahead!
Driving back late (after midnight) from clients on the coast
and seeing Laurel (the local brothel) all lit up and neon
lights a-flashing made me laugh. Seeing the washed underwear being hung
out to dry on the roof during the day is quite surreal.
This song is truly
hilarious but isn't office friendly, so take care when playing. And
quite what the grande dames who support Macmillan Cancer Relief
will make of it. I'm not sure.
Monday, February 7, 2005 10:58 AM
Two nights of rain but today's dawned bright and sunny again.
I love this place!
Liz called yesterday. She's doing OK. Spoke to Mum who's very
worried but is trying not to show it. Why? Told her I'd be over on the
15th and would stay with her and Liz for some days and then get her
back to Deal. Will probably have time to chase up the estate agents and
see if there's any chance of selling my place before the heat death of
Report to the Spanish developers went down well yesterday.
Another meeting next week to thrash out some more detail and then we
can discuss exactly how we provide guaranteed bandwidth to 800 houses
all of which will depend on it to run all the goodies we're planning on
Sorted out a nagging problem with aSMTP traffic, so more
bounces because Wanadoo are blacklisted all over the place inc
SpamHaus. And they capture traffic to port 25 so have to go via 587.
Glad that's sorted. AOL addresses amonngst others will now accept my
Stupid letter from the Inland Revenue. (WARNING: rhetorical
question coming). Does one department not have access to the others
data? Anyway, have told them that I don't owe them over £3K as
they seem to think and have a letter from them saying the same thing!
UPDATE: in the post today is another letter from the same
department saying that they owe me over £2K. Well, that's
better. I'm sure if I ask for that to be deposited into my account
though, that the figure will change again. We'll see - a letter to that
effect is winging its way towards their Belfast office today :)
Reading: "1421" - a fascinating tale of the
Chinese discovery and mapping of the world long, long before any
Europeans and "The Murdoch Archipelago" - a warning if such was needed
of Murdoch's plans to dominate media world-wide.
Saturday, February 5, 2005 11:58 AM
Torrential downpour last night that only lasted for a couple
of hours. It's a start I suppose. Nowhere near enough for the farmers
who've also lost over €100 million of crops after the recent cold
spell. Lots of fruit trees and vegetables dying or died off :(
Woke this AM to see snow on the highest peak behind the
village. Lovely contrast with the other green mountains. Some 'photos
Working with Ray Dick
to see if we can get the contract to cable (LAN and electrical) for a
major new development of 800+ houses near the next village. If we do,
it'll be a feather in our caps as it's going to be a very prestigious
development and should give a steady income stream from the costs
charged to the owners i.e. Internet, 'phone, TV etc. Mike has a lot of
major developments on the cards both here and in Turkey, so we're
aiming to become the contractors of choice there as well. Report and
quote went off to Suzanne and she emailed to ask if I could start work
on Monday without even seeing my email! Nice piece of work; Windows
Server 2003, three offices, ADSL and VPNs between them all (inc. one in
More bad news, this time from Robyn (my lodger and
friend). Her partner Reg collapsed on Thursday and whilst at first they
feared a stroke, a subsequent CAT scan has revealed secondary tumours
in the brain. Not sure of the prognosis yet, so our sympathies and best
wishes. Christ - this is turning out to be a shitty, shitty year for
people health-wise. Just heard that Jon Honeyball's Mum succumbed to
the breast-cancer that she'd been battling against for the last few
years just after the New Year. Another lovely lady gone :(
Barcelona, is digging a new tunnel for their Metro. After one
section collapsed, they filled it in with concrete and promptly the
next section collapsed. As did houses and flats. There are some very
unhappy people in the city - saw a Spanish TV report where the guy in
charge of development was almost physically assaulted! Reminds me of
the dam they built some time back. They'd failed to notice that the
ground underneath was porous. Result? The water just went underneath
bypassing the barrier. So they're now left with a huge dam and no water
Apparently an earthquake in Murcia province. Around 4.5
Richter scale. Lots of damage but thankfully, no reported deaths.
Reading Neal Stephenson's book The Confusion
arrived from Amazon. Glad I was able to resist the temptation to read
the third one of the trilogy first.
Listening to More Virgin Classic rock tempered with
some Patti Smith, Nick Drake and The Kings of Leon.
Friday, February 4, 2005 10:58 AM
Spoke to Liz. The stomach pain seems to have gone away. She
feels incredibly lethargic now but at least she's not hurting so much.
Her main worry? The dog! :) Mum will be at Liz's when I arrive, so will
spend some time there and then take Mum back to Deal. Will be able to
catch up with a few old faces during that time. Kate's talking about
coming over but probably not until March. Liz is off to the Marsden to
see if the insurers will cover her for the cost of this treatment which
isn't one of the "normal" ones that they cover automatically.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 9:36 AM
UPDATE: I've a flight booked to go and see Liz on the 15th
(after finally getting British Airways Spain to accept a credit card.
Why do they make booking a flight so difficult? It can't be security as
other sites, lastminute.com for example, don't have anywhere near the
same hoops to leap through) and will aim to see Mum at the same time
and hopefully, if she's back, Kate as well.
Sister Liz rang. News is not good at all. She's been taking
the oral chemotherapy (which was the last drug available in the
arsenal) since September for the breast cancer but that started to fail
around Xmas and she's been feeling progressively worse ever since and
is in a lot of pain. The last scan and examination was on Monday and
her consultant told her that the cancer has now spread to the stomach
lining and the outside of other organs. Liver function is way down so
it's back there as well. She'll start on the last drug they have
available at the end of the month. But her consultant wasn't hopeful at
all and has said she should make sure "your affairs are in order". Oh
fsck, fsck, fsck. Why her?
Will fly back at the end of the month. Not much I can do
physically. Glen of course is in shock. Kate is still in LA but will
probably come back shortly as they've always been so close.
Monday, January 31, 2005 4:36 PM
Well, not sure what I did but it rained last night. Not much
but it's a start. Today has dawned a lot warmer which is nice. All day
in the office today calling Mike's contacts to see what we can offer in
Read it and weep. This Dutch town has fibre optic to the
front-door. God knows what band-width they get but I'm extremely
Oh and I'm now a moderator on the technical forums for two
discussion boards. One for Malaga and one for Almeria. Drop
in if you're interested in either of these areas?
And finally, if you're attempting to use the Inland Rvenue
site to do your tax return, be aware that it's severely under pressure.
You've got until midnight (with no extensions) to log-in, complete it
and get it submitted. If you can! :)
Listening to: Virgin Classic Rock.
Sunday, January 30, 2005 5:04 PM
Sorted out the Google ads so they should be serving OK now.
Bitterly cold again for the past few nights. Lots of plants
and flowers have died off on the terrace and friends in the campo
report avocados and even some citrus trees being severely affected.
Dark clouds gathering overhead as I type, so we may still get some rain
in January. Lots of reports of pools and depositos freezing
over, some to a depth of a couple of inches of ice! The almond tree
blossom that was starting to look so pretty on the hill-sides is now
Mike who's in the UK called yesterday as he was undertaking a
"simple" network for a friend. 5 hours later we decided that he'd do
better just buying a new PC and binning the old one! I'd forgotten how
horrible Windows 98 was esp. when trying to trouble-shoot from so far
away. And thank the deity that it was his 'phone bill and not mine :)
Dee's laptop now all sorted. The worst infestation of malware
I've seen for a long time with over 45 viruses and trojans lurking.
Staying today in front of the fire and gorging on The
Horror Channel and chicken soup :)
Thursday, January 27, 2005 12:23 PM
Today has dawned bright and sunny but soooo cold! Last night
was, according to local radio, the coldest night in Spain for 20 years.
It certainly felt like it. Dug out the hot-water bottle and the
electric blanket and the gas-fire is on here in the office.
The Google Ads appears to be broken. Will sort this out later!
And by the way, if you want to help me earn through Amazon, just click
on the link above when you're searching for Amazon goodies. Go on, make
me a few centimos :)
And the last picture from El Chorro, showing the rather
gut-churning bridge that gives access to The Camino Del Ray:
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 10:36 AM
Firstly, some of the pictures from the weekend's visit to El
The Camino Del Rey, almost lost against the gorge
Lots to report. Some new clients being quoted for, thanks to
Mike, which should lead to some good meaty network stuff as well as
on-going support and miantenance. Should also hopefully get a response
saying "Yes, start work on this now" from Riverside Centre today. It
looks from all the conversations I'm having that there's a huge pent-up
demand for reasonably priced, reliable support.
Sorted out an interesting Mac iBook problem in 5 minutes for
20 Euros at The Oasis Cafe, so not a bad return on my time! :) Wish
they were all that easy and remunerative
We've paid now for the flat in Benalmadena and will take up
residence during the week, on March 1st, thanks to Paul and Ruth. The
more we look around, the better the deal seems!
Brother Rob was made redundant from Barclays after 18 years
just before Xmas. He's on 3 months "help to find work" paid leave now.
He managed to miss the first round early last year and sensibly took
out redundancy insurance when buying his new house, so when the package
comes through in March I think he's just going to kick back and relax
for a few months until he decides what to do.
Buying some advance WiMax kit with John Pinkerton so we can
experiment and see what sort of network we could build once the
standard is finally approved.
Liz is going down to see Mum this weekend and convince her
that she should get a "health check" from the doctor as she's admitting
herself that she's gradually losing the plot. We don't want to railroad
her into anything but we want to make sure things are in place before
things go rapidly downhill. Am also going to suggest that Aileen has
some time with her as she knows Bar well and can give a professional
opinion on what she thinks. Will fly over later in February via
Manston, when hopefully Kate will be back from LA, and we can see how
Liz cancelled the skiing trip on the advice of her consultant
as she's a weakness now where the tumour was zapped and he didn't think
Canada was a good idea. She's another scan on Monday, so we'll know
Just seen that Neal Stephenson has two new books (The
Confusion and System of the World) out completing the
trilogy started with Quicksilver, so they've been ordered
from Amazon. Looking foward to spending a good few hours working my way
The weather was fantastic. Great news for us and the other
mainly Spanish people walking, climbing, dog exercising all along the
route we'd chosen. The Camino Del Rey is a fantastic if scary sight.
There's some 'photos below showing these maniacs abseiling off the very
rickety looking bridge as well as a number walking along the 3 k. or so
of un-fenced, narrow decaying concrete. There's a shot of the bridge
that you can use to access it now (as the closest end has been
deliberately removed because of the danger) from the railway track. The
tunnels were fine, although the first express we encountered rather
took us by surprise. Whilst you know intellectually that the train can't
leave the track and run over you, the sight of it howling down the
tunnel towards you is a bit heart-stopping the first time. God alone
knows what the driver must think as he sees so many people walking
along, around and over the line and bridges in front of him!
The good weather isn't so good for the crops and water
prospects later this year. Water levels are down to only 20 months
supply. We've already been through the generally wettest months and
we've got nowhere near enough. Everybody is hoping for a lot
to fall over the next few months.
Saturday, January 22, 2005 10:38 AM
Off to El Chorro again. It's a rock-hounds paradise
with over 100 routes rated up to 8
or harder. We won't be doing that but have found two good walks mapped out and may also try the
routes through the railway tunnels mentioned here. As the trains are very infrequent,
it's not considered too foolhardy to venture through the
wider ones. Time will tell! If you don't see anything else here, you
know that oncoming light got us! :)
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 9:50 AM
Had a very exciting meeting with Mike Knivett of Artemis
Data Solutions. He has an amazing array of contacts amongst the
business community on the Costa and we've agreed to work together,
working both on the remote backup solution from Artemis and network
installation, support, optimisation etc. etc. Henrik at Arup's has kindly
agreed to give me a reference! The on-line product is one that I'd
recommend to anybody - it's easy, inexpensive and quite
honestly, a no-brainer for anybody who needs to be sure they've got
data that's backed up and in the event of an emergency can actually be
Spoke to Suzy at Easy Spanish Property following our lunch meeting
at Sarah's house and she's keen for me to do some work on network
optimisation and a "sanity check" for her company, so will be meeting
here on the coast next week.
The report has been received and appears to have gone down
well with the directors, so hopefully it'll be full steam ahead on this
project as well from next week.
Ben's birthday today, so called late AM there. He was awoken
by the call having had a late night. Seems like the same thing (only
better) is planned for tonight. Good luck mate. Lots of love from here
in sunny Spain. See you in February.
Listening to: Lester Bangs & The Delinquents
"Jook Savages On The Brazos", Little Feat "Waiting For Columbus" and
Lou Reed "Ecstacy".
Monday, January 17, 2005 10:58 AM
Finally completed the report to my satisfaction and it went
off to the directors yesterday afternoon. Hopefully, they'll like it
and if so, could lead to a good contract for the next month or so.
Have almost decided 100% on the Benalmadena flat Have two more
to view but unless they're (a) as centrally placed and (b) also inc.
all the bills for 400 Euros, we'll tell Paul and Ruth that we'll take
it from the end of February.
Lovely warm day yesterday, so walked up the river gorge behind
the village and then circled back round the mountain-side via a grove
of trees named after me!:
Saturday, January 15, 2005 11:30 AM
Apologies to anybody who's tried calling the office and has
had problems getting through. It seems to be working OK but
as I haven't paid the bill to Telefonia, I should expect some problems.
Can't make outgoing calls obviously! At least broadband is with
Wanadoo! Will pay the bill on Monday as there's no provision on either
Unicaja or Telefonica's site to pay on-line.
A web-cam that you can take control of for a nice view of Narbonne in France.
Looking along the coast for cheap flat/studio rentals from the
end of February when the office lease expires (and we've decided it's
too expensive to renew) and have seen one very nice one in Benalmadena
for Euros 400 per month. Newly built block, fully equipped (even
broadband I think!), terrace with a sea and beach view, 5 minutes brisk
walk from the train station and a skip to the main beach road to Malaga
and Fuengirola. Will allow us to work more easily with clients on the
coast during the week and come back to the village to relax!
Del and Harlee have decided to put their house in the village
on the market and are looking at cave
houses further inland in Baza. Will be a shame to see them go as
they've become good friends in the few months we've been here, but
we've insisted they buy one with a guest room! Sounds like they're
great fun: town water, electricity and 'phone lines, so they can get
broadband which will be useful when we visit.
Caroline and Bill have finally settled in. The house is
effectively being gutted (new sewage piping, electricity and walls!)
starting on Monday by Benny, a local Spanish builder and they've
arranged to hire a house for a month in the village, so they'll have
somewhere to sleep and bathe :)
Wednesday, January 12, 2005 9:10 AM
I see that Macmillan
Cancer Relief in the UK have teamed with Waitrose to offer
broadband access. Waitrose have promised to donate any profits made to
charities of which Macmillan is one. Good bit of marketing there guys!
If you haven't got ADSL and want to support this charity (or one of the
others), then click
here to feel good about your broadband usage.
Microsoft are apparently releasing a new anti-virus tool. It
seems from initial reports not to be a fully-fledged package but rather
an extension of their earlier tools to remove Slammer et al.
here indicates that it'll be available via WindowsUpdate but no
sign of it as yet. Ah, I tell a lie. Just had a popup to notify me that
it's been downloaded and is ready to install! Will report back when
And Apple have announced a new sub-£400 stripped
down Mac with no monitor. Will be interesting to see if it takes
off into a part of the market that until now has seen Macs as "too
I appear to have about 40 free Google Gmail accounts to give
away, so if there's anybody reading this who still hasn't got one, drop me a line and I'll send out an
Be careful what you say about your employer in your blog! This
chap has been fired from Waterstone's for being too expressive of
If done in the public interest and not for profit, it's legal.
What's more, Google can't block you if they can't find you.
Public Information Research, Inc., the nonprofit public charity behind www.google-watch.org
and www.scroogle.org , has been
running a Google proxy for more than two years. On January 3, 2005 we
released the source code for our proxy. Our review of the legal
situation has convinced us that we are covered by "fair use" under the
This step that we have taken has implications for all search
engines. These engines crawl the public web without asking permission,
and cache and reproduce the content without asking permission, and then
use this information as a carrier for ads that generate private profit.
We are convinced that if citizens scrape Google and strip the ads, and
make the scraped results available as a nonprofit public service, that
this is legal. This is especially the case if there are public policy
concerns behind the scraping.
Google Watch has been the most prominent critic of Google's
outrageous privacy policies for more than two years. This is why we
started the proxy, and it's why we continue the proxy. We invite Google
to serve us with a cease and desist letter as a first step toward
resolving this issue. So far, we have yet to hear from Google's
lawyers. By releasing the source code for our proxy, we're trying to
escalate the issue.
If it can be established that what we're doing is legal -- or
at least sufficiently legal so that Google is not eager to challenge us
-- then this will begin to restore a public-interest balance to the web
that has been declining ever since big money got behind the dot-coms.
There is the additional problem of whether anyone who scrapes
Google can avoid getting blocked by Google. We experienced this when
Google blocked Scroogle in December, 2003. We moved to a different
server and continued as before, because Google could no longer find us.
In our opinion, it's legal for Google to block whomever they want, even
while it's also legal for us to scrape them if we can.
If the scraping is done properly, it is not worth Google's
trouble to find you. Our source code separates the "fetch" portion of
program, which is done by curl or wget ,
from the searcher interface and parsing of the fetched results. If the
fetching is done by a server on a different Class C address from the
website that shows the scraped results, there is little that Google can
do to find the IP address that is responsible for the actual fetch.
The worst-case scenario we can think of would involve a
two-pronged attack by Google. The first prong would be a legal effort
by Google to stop us. We welcome this, and believe that we can prevail
even though our market cap at PIR is somewhat less than Google's $50
billion. The second prong would be an effort to block us once again.
Currently our proxy is doing the Google fetch from the same
Class C that our domains are on. This amounts to an invitation for a
block. If this happens, all we would need is some John Doe with access
to a server on a different Class C to do the fetching portion of the
proxy. Our proxy would send the search terms to Mr. Doe's server, which
would fetch the results from Google and send the file back to us.
Because it's not difficult for us to arrange this, we don't think
Google will block us again. Furthermore, it would cloud the legal issue
for Google if a John Doe was responsible for the actual fetch.
The larger issue here is that the commercialization of the web
became possible only because tens of thousands of noncommercial sites
made the web interesting in the first place. All search engines should
make a stable, bare-bones, ad-free, easy-to-scrape version of their
results available for those who want to set up nonprofit repeaters.
Even if it cuts into their ad profits slightly, there's no easier way
to give back some of what they stole from us."
Tuesday, January 11, 2005 11:11 AM
Client on dial-up called to say that although he could connect
to Wanadoo, he couldn't do anything else when connected. A quick check
showed that DNS servers were showing correctly etc etc but, indeed, he
couldn't do anything else that involved DNS stuff. A tracert failed,
with an error message "no resources". A quick Google showed this article
from Microsoft and also why it had happened - the client had
installed AdAware and this had (unusually in my experience of it) blown
away a couple of important registry keys for the TCP/IP stack. Rather
than go through them all, I used WinsockXPFix, a free tool that
restores the default Winsock registry settings and executes netsh
int ip reset . You can download this tool here
if you wish.
A quote from a Wired
article about BitTorrent and its creator, Bram Cohen, made me
laugh: "The Pirate Bay is a BitTorrent tracking site in Sweden with
150,000 users a day. In the fall, it posted a torrent for Shrek 2.
Dreamworks sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding the site remove it.
One of the site's pseudonymous owners, Anakata, replied: "As you may or
may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of
America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe [and] US law does not
apply here. … It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you
are fscking morons." Shrek 2 stayed up."
As did this
article which appeared late last year, a spoof about the arrest of
Shrubya by the Canadian authorities on charges of war-crimes!
And as always, the writer Bruce Sterling's blog
is well worth a regular read, even if, like me, you can't always grasp
what he's saying! If nothing else, he takes damn fine 'photos...
A friend, Bruce Ure is
running this years London Marathon and you're encouraged to sponsor him if you've no specific
charity already in mind.
A new tool from Microsoft for use on Windows
2003 Server to help in analyzing performance problems. In their
words: " Service Performance Advisor is a server performance diagnostic
tool developed to diagnose root causes of performance problems in a
Microsoft® Windows Server™ 2003 operating system,
particularly performance problems for Internet Information Services
(IIS) 6.0 and the Active Directory® directory service. Server
Performance Advisor measures the performance and use of resources by
your computer to report on the parts that are stressed under workload.
Other server roles include system overview (hot files, hot TCP clients,
top CPU consumed), print spooler, context switch data and preliminary
File Server trace data. "
Monday, January 10, 2005 9:45 AM
A comment from a reader on the UK (who wishes to remain
anonymous!) on the post re: Bob & Caroline "forgive me,
but who hands over £1k in cash to anyone, anywhere??? honestly.
yours harshly". Not sure I'd take issue with that to be honest
Much as it grieves me to say it, the purchase by Microsoft of Giant Software's
AntiSpyware package looks like a very good thing. Run, don't walk, to
this link to download Microsoft's beta version of this program. It
picks up a lot more than Spybot and AdAware combined. The only fly in
the ointment is that Microsoft at this time want to make it a
subscription model. Not necessarily a bad thing but they
produced the buggy software that lets this stuff proliferate so easily
in the first place! Shouldn't they therefore offer this as a free
If you think Google is just to find cheap flights, DVDs for your
Grannie and other such goodies, then think again. This site is an excellent one
for showing how Google manages to find lots of things that web-sites
and companies would much rather had stayed hidden! User names and
passwords? Security CCTVs? Router logins? A lot of these are accessible
and shouldn't be! Take the time to look at your site,
intranets and all and make sure your're not leaking information to the
An interesting article by Wendy
Grossman on what she'd like to see happen for Xmas/New Year. Also
take the time to check Guy's site
as well if you've any interest in mobile tech. stuff.
Thought again about running an IRC server on the Qube but decided that
this might be the straw that breaks etc etc. so will be running this IRC server on my
network here very shortly. If you want to join in, keep an eye on this
page and I'll leave details of how you can drop in and chat.
Thursday, January 6, 2005 8:53 PM
A busy few days.
Picked up the new car from Fuengirola - lots of paperwork
(inc. a dash to our solicitor for a paper copy of the copia simpla)
but after that, drove it away. It's a lovely beast - ugly, but lovely -
and handles really well. Lot of space and driving it is easier than Val
Bill and Caroline arrived after finally sorting out all their
paperwork to take up residence in their new house. Their arrival in
Spain was marred by two things: (a) Paddy, the dog contracted some bug
and was sick all the way down whilst (b) they lost all their money in a
well planned "con" on the motoway outside Madrid. They were flagged
down by an official looking car, flourishing paperwork through their
window. Approached by two smartly dressed occupants, who had badges and
official looking cards, they were told that a garage further back down
the motorway had been given fake currency by two foreigners driving an
English car and checks were being conducted on all UK plated cars
(which of course theirs was). They were asked to produce passports etc
etc. and then to show any currency they were holding. B & C
complied (assuming they were plain-clothes Guardia), handed over more
than £1,000 in Euros and Sterling and the two "police" said
they'd need to make a radio check on the notes. Getting back into their
car, they executed a high-speed get-away and disappeared back in the
direction of Madrid!
With no insurance, no idea of the number plates, no sign of
local police and with a dog spewing regulary in the back seat, they
decided just to drive to here. At least they were left with credit
cards and passport but still, a crap start to their time in Spain.
Beth's confirmed as coming out here for her "work experience"
in late July for two weeks. Will be great to see her again.
Had a fantastic 5 hour hike over the mountains behind Yunquera
with Davey Johnson again.
Weather was warm, calm and the views across the whole of the area to
the snow-capped Sierra Nevada was well worth the climbing. Even more
fantastic, we saw an Ibex at very close range. Only a shame that this
is the only 'photo we were able to capture of it:
Monday, January 3, 2005 3:53 PM
Despite what the weather button above says, today has dawned
cloudy and misty and cold, with no sign of the sun:(
Click on this button to give to the Tsunami Appeal.
If you haven't done so already, do it now!
An interesting chart of Microsoft v. Google share prices.
Found on the blog
of a Microsoftie which makes very interesting reading (unless
you're his line manager, in which case I'd be very worried!). Pointed
out in hisblog,
by an old contact, Steve Palmer (of Ameol and Vienna
fame) who himself works at Microsoft, although Steve sounds as though
he's considering moving back to the UK after 7 years in Seattle.
Sunday, January 2, 2005 4:34 PM
Have recently been commissioned (on New Years Eve!) by a large
warehousing/cash 'n carry operation on the coast to generate a report
on what and how they should undertake their IT. Hopefully, this will
also lead to the installation work. The down-side is that (a) THEY
WANT TO GO LIVE BY MID-FEB and (b) absolutely nothing has been
done until now apart from the bare-bones of the warehouse being fitted
out. The words "challenging" and "mad" spring to mind. Oh well, it's
the type of work I was after, so who am I to complain? The other
problem is that I'm sitting here in the office now whilst most of Spain
seems to be still partying and look as though they will be until after
Three Kings. Or taking advantage of the warm, sunny day to parade
around the village. Did I mention that it was warm and sunny here? :)
Secondly, in a further reminder that you need to make sure you
practice safe Hex, is this advisory from Symantec about another hole that
Microsoft are busy trying to fix.
Thirdly, if it wan't already obvious in view of the above item
and others I've posted here, I'm a great fan of Firefox (an alternative
web-browser to Internet Explorer). It comes without a lot of the
baggage that IE is forced to carry and you should very seriously
consider installing it on your system. Just click on the link below for
furter details about how to improve your system security without doing
very much at all!
Fourthly, and finally, and again in a security vein, take the
time to read this article esp. if you're in the
unfortunate position of having to support friends and relatives who may
be less than er, clueful, about things computer related. For
those of you tired of lusers, then the quintessential BOFH column can
be read here.
Saturday, January 1, 2005 4:43 AM
Back from the celebrations. Happy New
Year/Feliz Años to everybody. I hope 2005 is good for you
Midnight struck on the Town Hall clock and everybody attempted
to eat the traditional twelve grapes in the space of a few seconds!
Most seemed to succeed but one or two had problems with pips and seeds.
Streamers, confetti and copious amounts of cava flew through the air as
the fireworks started over the town. The Spanish people had been
conspicuous by their absence until just before midnight. After that
they flooded out into the village and started seriously partying. Met
the usual suspects out and about and had an enjoyable few hours but we
called it a day early (at about 3am) and having rung or texted
everybody I could think of, decided that discretion was the better
part, and retired to bed.
New Years Day dawned bright and warm. Breakfast on the
terrace. Then a decision about what to do and where to go. Looks like
we're off walking in the hills to collect some more wood and pine cones
and recover from the (very slight) hangover I seem to have acquired.
In contact with John Pinkerton of SPF fame. He and I and a few
others are making serious in-roads into the possibility of some Mesh
wireless stuff in and around Malaga. He's got a large pipe from Equant
going into Manchester and we can stick a controlled box into the
technical park in Malaga (which is easier to kick if it falls over than
one co-located in the UK!) and with some serious bandwidth
available to us, can start a lot of Mesh and WWAN setups around the
area. We may also make some money in the process which would be nice to
off-set against my horrendous bar-tab at El Oasis.You can
meet us on IRC
at irc.freenode.net, channel #malagawan for a chat (if this makes sense
to you) and you'd be interested in helping, contributing expertise,
money or time etc. etc..
A quick couple of shots of yours truly breakfasting on the
terrace in the sun-shine and then contemplating the forest at the back
of the village and a couple of the village from the tracks at the back
of Venta de Carmen: And lastly one (at her insistence!) of
the photographer. NOTE: apologies for the "artefacts"
showing. Once I've had a chance to re-do the photographs (which
strangely don't show anything wrong in their RAW state), I'll get them
Thursday, December 30, 2004 7:23 PM
Decision made - the new mode of transport for Val and I over
here is a Fiat Multipla. Have found (what to car virgins
like us, seems like) a bargain at less than 7,000 Euros (inc. the gestor
costs) for a 2001 model. And a nice colour as well! People more
knowledgable than I tell me it's (a) a great vehicle for the area and
(b) although only 1.6 litres it has 16 valves and therefore goes like
the proverbial off a shovel. Time will tell. Final payment and delivery
not until Wednesday at which point and with much sadness, we give up
If it appears that the Cudeca palliative cancer care charity
web-site has disappeared off the web, that's my fault as the earlier
link (now corrected) was wrong, so if anybody feels like contributing,
they can be contacted here: CUDECA. My apologies to them for that cockup.
It appears that the Swedish community in Fuengirola (thanks to
Jan and Jane) are now aware of me and the work I do, so off to
Fuengirola tomorrow to meet 3 new clients! Then to grab a long siesta
as the New Year celebrations go on for a loooonnng time here
And finally, on the eve of these celebrations, it's more than
appropriate that we should all attempt to help and remember all of the
victims of the horrendous disaster in the Indian Ocean. Friends of mine
in the UK have friends still unaccounted for in Thailand. My sincere
hopes that they're located safely goes out to them. More practically,
give money! In the UK, there are a large number of charities working to
get assistance over there as soon as possible. If you're not sure who
to approach, then OXFAM are already doing work there and you can
contribute by clicking here. If you're not in the UK, then
have a look at your countries efforts and support them. In the immortal
words of Saint Geldof, "give us yer fsckin' money". Do it now.
Sunday, December 26, 2004 6:42 PM
Boxing Day dawned bright and sunny but with a very cold north
wind howling around the village, which hadn't died down since Xmas Day
and which blew two large potted trees across the terrace and lost more
than a few tiles for people in the campo.. Yesterday had been warmer
and we'd spent the morning and early afternoon on the coast with Jan
and Jayne, sitting in cafes and bars watching both Spanish and English
luxuriate in the sun. All manner of dress was on show inc. large
English girls with mini-skirts and thongs and mothers complaining about
"Spanish people and their cooking" elegant and Spanish matrons with
incredibly expensive looking furs. Lots of dogs being walked, again,
ranging from bull mastiffs to large rat types that the Spanish seem to
favour. Dinner was later. 'Phone calls made to Ben and Beth but they
had, unbeknownst to me, decided to visit Tina' parents. Spoke to Liz,
Kate, Rob and Mum. Liz has had the perennial news - yet another cancer.
This time it's spine and pelvis. She's incredibly upbeat, as the latest
brain scan was so good but for her it means another debilitating round
of radio-therapy and, possibly chemo. Why her?
Yesterday, after the coastal sun-shine, we settled down with
turkey, a large, blazing fire and masses of DVDs. Then to bed. And
that's another Christmas out of the way and our first in Spain. Off to
purchase some red underwear and twelve grapes for the traditional
Spanish New Years celebrations. At midnight, we're supposed to be in
the main square in the town, wearing our new red underwear for luck and
on the stroke of midnight, we have to eat one grape for each of the
bell's chimes. Best practice is to find small, seedless ones otherwise
you spend most of the time spitting pips and, if you fail to eat all
twelve, will lose out on the good luck for next year!
No email from Jan, so I fear that our attempt to become
millionaires in El Gordo has failed for this year. Maybe
we'll have more luck in El Nino which is held on the 6th
January after the Feast of the Three Kings, when these worthies come
into the village on horseback and throw sweets to the children. A more
important festival to them than Christmas Day and the time when Spanish
children traditionally receive their presents.
Saturday, December 25, 2004 9:27 AM
Feliz Navidad to everybody. I hope you all have a
great Xmas. We're off to the coast to visit friends today then (having
succumbed yesterday), will be cooking the turkey later on this
afternoon. Lots of 'phone calls to be made to the UK inc. Ben and Beth
staying at their mother's and Mother who's spending Xmas with Liz,
Glen, Robin and Kate. Today is bright, sunny and sufficiently warm that
I'm able to breakfast on the terrace. England sounds a lot colder - it
looks as though the bookies may well have to pay out this year for a
White Christmas. I don't envy you guys.
Anyway, no more from me today. Normal service will be resumed
between now and the New Year. A big "thank you" to everybody on Andalucia.com
for all their help over the past 6 months. That's all for now folks.
Oh, one last thing! In the UK Macmillan Cancer Relief is very deserving of your
support. In a smaller but no less excellent operation, Cudeca in Spain
needs as many pesetas as you can afford, so now would be a good time to
consider giving them some help in their work.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004 8:39 AM
Two more visits to El Chorro as the weather has been
so consistently good, with daytime temperatures averaging 24 degrees.
Lots of people taking the opportunity to climb the fantastic walls
there. Spent some time exploring Bobastro, a fascinating church carved out of
a dolmen high above El Chorro. The wind has been incredibly strong and
nights are getting colder but it's the 22nd December so we may well yet
eat Christmas lunch on the terrace. La Prieta ("The Dark
One") is the largest mountain rising behind the village and it's
permanently veiled in cloud as its name suggests but no less powerful
for that. Another community wireless initiative is getting off the
ground in the Genal valley, so we're talking about how we can usefully
No idea yet what and where we'll be at Xmas. Probably go for a
walk in the mountains first thing, then maybe a trip to the coast to
see how the towns look and then eat at home with lots of DVDs to hand.
I'd imagine Spanish TV will be re-runs just as in the UK.
And, of course, having typed the lines above about the
weather, today dawns with rain dropping down but even so, it looks as
though this will clear. The forecast seems to be for dry and sunny over
the next week, which still sounds a lot better than the UK.
Our (part) ticket for El Gordo stored away safely.
This time next week, we could well be multi-milllionaires.
Saturday, December 18, 2004 11:13 AM
Lunching with Jan and Jayne today but first a difficult file
recovery problem. His annual Excel Sales spreadsheet was torched by two
different AV programs running at the same time. No backup. Touching it
in any way in Windows causes the PC to hang. So, off to find a solution
if possible. Lovely weather today - sitting eating breakfast in just a
T-shirt on the sea-front, the sweat was running off me. Martin and Ruth
have agreed to meet later this week for a visit to Rural Caicune
so looking forward again to a fabulous meal! Lots of emails now from
peope on Andalucia.com with ADSL etc. problems. Not chargeable but
improves my profile no end.
Sunday, December 12, 2004 12:40 PM
Tonight is the Festival of The Procession of The Virgin de Los Rondeles to celebrate another
successful Olive harvest. Also known as the Fire Festival, a
procession winds its way from one church in the village through the
streets to the main church in the town square lit only by burning
brands with sweets and herbs strewn on the streets.Looking forward to
this a lot as it's a spectacular event. Just hope the rain holds off!
Mistakenly managed to re-flash my Wanadoo router (a Thomson
510 Speedtouch) with a UK firmware rather than Spanish. Embarrassing as
it will no longer allow me to use PPPoE and insists on trying to talk
PPPoA. That'll teach me to check that it's backed up before I do it
again. Luckily my trusty Zxyel 642R-11 from the UK was easily persuaded
to talk the necessary talk and I was back on-line in a few minutes
after LART'ing myself for such stupidity.
Not sure what damage they'll do to it but Google have acquired
Picasa which until now has
been a main-stay of quick and easy 'photo manipulation.
Thursday, December 9, 2004 9:50 AM
The fact that I can eat breakfast and lunch in only shirt and trousers
out on the terrace looking out all the way to Malaga, 20 miles or so
down the coast and to the mountains left and right is one of the many
reasons that I'm here. Daytime temperatures are still balmy (hovering
around the 17 degree mark) although the nights are getting colder. So,
we've bought a Calor gas fire which heats the place nicely and means
that shirt-sleeves are the order of the day (or night) indoors as well!
Made some more contacts with a couple of IT people who're in the area
and are interested in a partnership or loose grouping to undertake
larger contracts. Work in the village is slowly getting better as word
of mouth spreads and as my Spanish improves, I'm picking up a few local
contracts as well. We're of the opinion that the office is possibly
over-priced and over-sized for what we need, so are looking for an
Friday, December 3, 2004 9:4
Time flies when you're either busy or enjoying oneself. And
this has been the case since the last post. Found a very useful contact
in Peurto Banus at the Business Centre who is offering me
contract/consultancy work and then we flew off for a few days back to
the UK. Visited Val's dad who was in fine form. Spoilt only by the
continuing inability of British Rail (or whatever they're called now)
to run anything to time. It took me longer getting from Sleaford in
Lincs back to Deal than it did from Casarabonela to Sleaford! Deal is
still unchanged. Robyn is lodging at my house (still unsold) until such
time as the damage caused when she accidentally set fire to her kitchen
is fixed! Excellent day in London visiting the National for the Dega
exhibition and the Royal Academy for the Carslberg. Rounded off by
watching Enduring Love - an excellent film.
Friday, November 19, 2004 10:14 AM
An interesting article as a follow-up to the Ballmer piece
from yesterday, is here
on The Register.
Thursday, November 18, 2004 8:26 PM
Apparently the forerunners of every fir tree in Europe after the rest
were killed off and the last Ice Age retreated. We were given an
insightful guided tour of Yunquera and the surrounding area by Davy Johnston last
Sunday and he provided this detail, along with some other fascinating
nuggets of information. Yunquera
is a beautiful town and it and the surrounding country-side deserves to
be seen by lots of people, so I would recommend Dave for (a) his Irish
humour and (b) the fact that he guarantees to carry you off the
mountain-side if you're in difficulties! The bodega in the town isn't
bad either! So, can I have that 9GB image now Dave? :)
I see Steve Ballmer of Microsoft hasn't lost his ability to
use FUD to try and re-define reality again. This time warning
against the dangers of litigation if large organisations and
governments etc. etc. dare to try and put Linux on their desk-tops.
Val has been looking for a suitable location for her painting
classes and we seem to have found the ideal location. Called La
Cartuja de Cazalla, it's located about an hour North of Seville
and is an old Carthusian monastery which has been abandoned since 1836
and has been renovated over the course of the last 27 years by one
woman, Carmen Ladron de Guevera y Bracho, in a seemingly Olympian feat
of stamina, patience and sheer bloody-mindedness. The site is here and you can see
some of the work that has been undertaken to offer an art-gallery,
studios, accomodation, pool and a riding school! We spent all day
Thursday and most of Friday exploring the place and stayed overnight,
leaving after a fantastic lunch (did I mention how good the cooking
was?). It's a great place, ideally suited to artists, writers and
anybody else who wants some solitude and loves the country-side.
Monday, November 8, 2004 12:17 PM
Aileen ran in the NY Marathon together with Jamie and Gail.
She decided to let Jamie and Paula Radcliffe have the glory this time,
so sportingly came in at a time of 5 hours and 5 minutes, whilst Jamie
did it in a very respectable 4 hours 1 minute. No idea if Paula even
ADSL has finally gone live, so this is coming to you now from
my shiny new Wanadoo ADSL 512k connection. At last. It's been agony
here without a broadband link. Now at last I don't have to go off and
make a cup of tea whilst emails are downloading.
Jason seems to be geting on OK back in England which I
understand is cold and windy. The weather here is still generally
Sunday, November 7, 2004 11:58 AM
The recent spells of rain showers and sun mean that the 22
oranges on our little tree on the terrace are ripening nicely. Can't
wait to put them into the juicer!
Spent yesterday writing an information
paper on Community Wireless for all of the people in the campo
who are unable to get access to the Internet either because Spanish
Telefonica won't put in a 'phone line or because they can't get line of
sight for microwave setups. Hopefully this will take off and we can
offer this on a Mesh basis soon to everybody who needs it. We're making
this a "not-for-profit" operation similar to the same initiatives in
the UK. Heck, we may even be able to pay people small dividends if
income exceeds the fixed running costs!
Yesterday afternoon, the delivery of what seemed like a ton of
wood for the fire in winter arrived at the foot of our hill. Apart from
myself, Antonio and two others, there was no way to get it up the slope
apart from carrying bundles of it. Eventually a kind neighbour provided
a wheelbarrow and then an old shopping trolley! We've vowed that next
time we sort out a dumper truck. It was exhausting. We then lit a fire
and the house promptly filled with lemon-scented smoke but it was a
fine conflagration, so we're happy that winter won't mean death from
Another two clients have poked their head around the office
door, so looks like that investment is slowly paying off.
We voted yesterday at the library against the establishment of
a new quarry on the side of the valley here. The voting came in at 39
in favour and a resounding 550+ against. The interesting point here is
not that the "ex-pat" community voted against (a sort of NIMBY
attitude) but that the local Spanish residents after initially being in
favour decided (a) that they weren't looking forward to the noise,
lorries and general desecration and (b) that they could do
something about it and use the ballot-box to tell the Mayor
and Town Hall in no uncertain terms, that they were strongly against
it. Democracy being used here by people who until quite recently were
firmly of the line that "we've voted the Mayor in, so what he says
Saturday, October 30, 2004 11:24 AM
Lots of rain but only at night means that the countryside is
incredibly lush and verdant. Unfortunately, that also applies to the
weeds which are multiplying at an alarming rate.
The office line is ADSL enabled now but, frustratingly, my
Zyxel router won't see it. Have tried lots of combinations as I'm not
sure what parameters the Spanish lines expect but it looks as though
I'll have to wait for the ADSL modem to arrive before I can finally get
back on-line at a decent speed :(
Beth and her friend were "mugged" on a trip to Thorpe Park and
she was relieved of her mobile 'phone. Luckily neither she nor Amanda
were hurt, indeed they were sufficiently brave to chase after the boys
concerned but they lost them and the 'phone hasn't been retrieved.
Ben continues to enjoy UMIST as well as finding time to attend
20+ hours of lectures a week. He tells me that he's covered over 90
pages of double-sided A4 with notes, so although the social life is
still going strongly, he also seems to be able to fit in work in his
Jason has flown back into the village for a week or so,
getting to the Giri bar at about midnight. And as Bar Neuvo
re-opens tonight after a month of refitting, it looks as though we'll
all have extremely bad hangovers tomorrow. And it's All Saints Night on
Monday, so candle processions shuttling between the bars and the
cemetery mean that Tuesday may be wiped out as well :)
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 3:58 PM
Two items that confirm why I love Spain so much:
- an advert for a new dental practice opening near us. Nothing
unusual about that except that the ad says "come in and relax and enjoy
a couple of glasses of wine"!
- last week there was a "bank holiday" to commemorate St Pila
(the patron saint of policeman). So all of the police stations closed
and (as far as I know) there wasn't a policeman in sight on duty around
Spain. So what were they doing I hear you ask? In the case of
the Guardia Civil here in Casarabonela, holding a party to
which we were kindly invited with free beer, wine, fino and
lots of food cooked on the premises. A quite surreal sight, to see a
rather attractive female Guardia officer in high heels,
makeup and and armed with a rather large pistol, wandering round
topping up peoples glasses and taking round bowls full of a delicious
goat stew. And an incredible number of other officers with more medals
than Patton and Eisenhower combined!
Monday, October 11, 2004 12:37 PM
The first real rain over the last two days which has made the
Spanish very happy. To be honest, it was very pleasant and I was
dragged out of the bar by Andreas and friends to get soaked whilst
being told emphatically that "this is a good thing as we've had no rain
for 6 months". Bright and sunny again today. Tomorrow is a Bank
Holiday, so some shopping necessary. Picked up another 3 clients over
the past few days plus another potential one in Seville which will give
me an excuse to take the train from here through some lovely
countryside, including the El Chorro Gorge
which is spectacular. Rather too many drinks at The Oasis bar last
night but another client came on board so the bad head is justified.
Val is organising her studio and has already had a number of
people asking for works to be undertaken.
Mosquitos at El Chorro have left their mark but apart from
that, no other injuries as yet. Well, apart from the rather fetching
scars left on the side of my head where I rather too enthusiastically
danced at Jason's barbeque into his rather low slung satellite-dish.
But they're healing and at the time I felt no pain :)
Saturday, October 9, 2004 12:10 PM
A long time since the last update and a lot has happened.
Ben was delivered safely to the clutches of UMIST, his room
was filled with boxes and we went out to sample the delights of
Manchester night-life, which I have to say is fantastic. I confess I
dropped out early, but Ben didn't apparently get back in to the room
until about 5am. Subsequent sporadic texts and emails seem to indicate
that he's ideally suited to student life i.e. lots of parties, alcohol,
late nights, alcohol, parties and the occasional attendance at
lectures. Can't see him getting bored for the next 4 years. Oh and did
I mention that I'm very proud of him?
The trip over on The Bilbao from Portsmouth to Bilbao was fun.
Cabin small but functional. Dolhins and whales sighted and performed
accordingly. Bilbao and the North of Spain are totally different to The
Costa area. Rich, verdant, green (and wet) make it look far more like
Northern Europe than a part of Spain.
Once we'd travelled a few hundred klicks though, the sun came
out and Spain started to look, er, more Spanish. The drive down took
about 11 hours and was generally pretty monotonous esp. around Madrid
with mile after mile of scorched, flat, almost barren land.
Arrived in Casarabonela at about 7pm, a few drinks at the bar
and then to bed. More later when I've rebuilt the server after a major
power failure took out the PSU.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004 9:42 AM
Ben has finally been given a place in Halls after they managed
to lose his original application. A moment of worry there as we
envisaged trying to find him somewhere to put all his junk (aka
possessions) competing with hordes of other 1st Year students who were
also in the same boat! One less worry off the agenda then. His
accomodation is here.
Not the one he was after and apparently no broadband in the room but at
least he's on campus and it does have "the best student bar in
Manchester", so he'll be OK there :)
Monday, August 23, 2004 7:34 AM
Somw good news, some not so. Great news that Ben has got the
grades he needs for UMIST and has received confirmation from UCAS that
his place is there. So we're now working out when he can travel up to
his new accomodation. Should be around the second week in September.
Off to hire a van for all his musical gear and the accumulation of 18
years worth of junk.
Liz has had a not so good liver function scan, so has to start
yet another course of chemo this week. She is also due for another
brain scan, so we're all crossing all fingers here for her.
Monday, July 26, 2004 5:37 PM
Ben's results are due around the 18th of August, but he's not
sure yet when he can go up to university and move into the student
accomodation at UMIST but the plan is to go up a couple of days before
freshers week i.e. the second week in September with a van and all his
baggage. Assuming that is the case, then it looks like the 25th of
September is D-day. Have provisionally booked passage on the Portsmouth
to Bilbao ferry for that day. The plan is to take the BMW down on
the ferry and drive
from Bilbao to the south, stopping off at the Guggenheim in
Bilbao to see the current exhibitions by Rothko and Rosenquist as
well as the permanent collections. Not least I want to see this
fantastic building by Gehry in
Some exciting news from Mariano. Apparently the Casarabonela
Town Hall has commenced the install for ADSL in the town and August
looks as though it will be the date from which it goes live. Excellent
news as until now I'd been looking at the economics of satellite
broadband for the house(s) and the shop/office. I'll still be offering
this as a service to the outlying areas however, as (in the UK) they'll
be unable to receive wired broadband for some time I'd imagine (MEMO
TO SELF: check the Spanish Telefonica site for details of
their range limitations).
Mariano has emailed me some 'photos taken of the town about 50
years ago (for which grateful thanks) and they're viewable here.
Monday, July 12, 2004 11:58 PM
Ben has moved back in as my mother is showing more than one or
two worrying signs of dementia. Really, really good to see him (and
another person to Hoover) and a chance to sort out his room before he
shoots off to UMIST but I do need to make sure that she is seen by a
professional to confirm our thinking. She's staying with Liz this
weekend, so will wait ans see if there's any feedback from there.
Sunday, June 27, 2004 9:22 AM
Now have two nice, new, shiny beta Gmail (Google mail)
accounts, courtesy of some friends on CIX. So, I can now store 2GB of
data accessible from anywhere. Very useful! Have grabbed the domain casarabonela.net and with
Val's assistance we're setting it up as a portal for the town and local
villages. We'll also be linking it to the Sierra Nieve biosfera
site which is a publically funded resource dedicated to the whole area.
June 18, 2004 3:12 PM
Well, the house has now completed in Casarabonela and we've
moved in. The office space has been hired. About 20 square meters at a
very reasonable 300 Euros a month. And a nice client list is already
building up. It appears that there's nobody doing this work within
about 20-30 klicks of the village, so initially anyway, will have a
clear playing field. My first three clients (a complete flatten and
rebuild, one with an obstinate Trojan infestation and one with a
recalcitrant video card) seem happy and more importantly (a) have paid
cash and (b) have a list of about a dozen others with fee-paying work
Telephones ordered via Spanish Telefonica. All should be in
before we have to head home again. And residency applications have been
stamped and paid for at the National Police station in Fuengirola.
The new house is gorgeous. Lots of space, cool and a terrace
and a view to die for. The sun rises over the mountains in the morning,
directly in front of our bedroom window, so you're woken by the most
stunning sun-rises. Will put some of V's photos up here as soon as I
can. Bad hangovers as we partied with the locals on two different
nights. A fun, friendly bunch but boy, oh boy, do they drink. Anyway, a
quiet day shopping, catching up on email and generally chilling in the
35 degree heat! Meeting Chris and Tine tonight for a quick drink and a
meal and then Jan and Jane are visiting tomorrow to see the house and
explore the bars and restaurants with us.
Sunday I've a lot of work to undertake at the Oasis Web Cafe,
so next week can concentrate on the other new clients around the area.
Have found an ideal partner over here. A native of the village
with fluent, colloqiual English (with a Hull accent!) who's well up on
basic PC and comms work. Mariano is a star and wil be very useful when
dealing with Spanish clients and suppliers. And as he's the barman at
our favourite local as well...
Friday, May 28, 2004
Some good news, some not so. Sister Liz's brain scans have
turned out clear, so all she has to do now is wait for mobility to
return fully to her legs and she'll be feeling a bit better. Not so
good on the Val front. A visit to the neurologists at King's tells her
that she has a 15% chance of losing the sight in her good eye. She has
to keep blood-pressure under control at both ends of the spectrum.
Monday, May 3, 2004 7:02 AM
For a delightful seaside property have a look
here. All reasonable offers considered!
Wednesday, April 14, 2004 9:51 PM
Ah, just found the Insert Date function in DW. All I
have to do now is work out how to make it bold
....later. E-Smith is too tied down for what I need it to to
do - it's great for a bare-bones, no-frills "appliance" type setup - so
(Thanks Sandy!) to a friend on CIX,
have decided to try SUSE v9
instead. And now that this has been bought by Novell, there could be
some fun times ahead.
So far, so good. A nice clean and simple install routine and
it automatically updated the latest patches from the SuSe web-site. Now
to see what kind of load it can handle and how easy it is to admin.
Will try out Webmin and see if it's SuSe aware. Hmmmmm. I suspect that
a problem with video drivers downloaded as part of the update process
is causing the system to hang after booting as booting into non-GUI
mode seems OK. Off to investigate further...
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Am considering E-Smith
as a server appliance type distro. More news as I see what the
downloaded .ISO brings to light.
For those of us not blessed with guru status on Linux, this is
resource for learning the nuts 'n bolts and "under the hood" stuff
that makes Linux so powerful, responsive and (most of the time at the
moment for me!) frustrating.
And have decided to stop date/time-stamping the blog unless
it's needed. A complete PITA until I find a way of automating it! And
instead, I'll use something else to indicate "time passing" (cue Dylan
Thomas here) such as a star or something similar.
Which will be useful, as the recent unexpected and hurried
trip to Spain meant that clients were calling me, unaware that I was
OOTC, and costing me a fortune in roaming bills.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Installing Fedora (the off-shoot of Red Hat) on a Dell
Poweredge 2100 to use as the replacement for the Qube. So far, so good.
A useful exercise for a number of reasons, not least that I'm starting
to remember where all of the various text confuguration files are kept
and what they're used for and will also ensure that I've a crudless
machine for the hosting that we're planning on.
More updates as the installs and RPM package updates
At the moment I have Webmin
1.130 installed and running happily as is Virtualmin
for configuring virtual servers and email.
For both reasons of increased speed on the new box and to
improve my knowledge of Linux, I'm running it all via the command line,
even down to Lynx, a text-based browser. Makes for interesting times.
Tuesday, March 21, 2004
Another trip undertaken and this time we've managed to get our
NIE numbers sorted out. The company registration and domain name
registration which depended on this are now moving ahead and an
application for Spanish nationality will start on the next trip.
Have had the property valued and the local estate agents
have placed a figure of around £270K thereon! Which is good news
- so I'm off now to (a) start tarting the place up for potential buyers
and (b) have a look here
for a suitable property to be renovated.
Found the most delightful rural hotel and restaurant.
A gourmet three course meal plus fantastic bottle of local dry white
wine and some fino's plus other items came in at only
€50 for 2 people.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Fantastic news! My sister Liz has just had a scan to see how
the radio-therapy worked and it would appear that the brain tumours
have been well and truly zapped. And (touching wood!) there appears to
be nothing new to worry about. So, so very pleased for her. After her
third separate cancer in as many years, this is just the best news
Well, back in the UK now. And boy, it's cold. Lots of work to
be done now on follow-ups to possible clients and suppliers in Spain as
well as keeping our eyes open for suitable business offices. Really
don't want to be here with the weather like this. Even the dullest day
over there was a lot warmer than this.
Have decided to upgrade the Qube which has done sterling work
running the ceebee.com domain and my emails for the last 5 years or so,
but it's creaking at the seams now, so will take the opportunity to
install a gutsier box and upgrade the Linux to a newer version as well
as giving me the chance to run a lot more interesting software thereon
which the Qube just isn't equipped to handle as well as handle the new
domains and hosting that we're putting up.
Shouldn't be too much of an increase in the
bandwidth needed, so hopefully Richard won't want to charge an arm and
a leg :)
Monday, February 02, 2004
Found an ideal shop with studio flat accomodation for 1000
Euros a month -- good value. Shame that it went the day before we spoke
to the owner... Oh well, we'll keep looking.
Have an enormous quantity of information to digest so will
take tomorrow off to write it all up and produce a suitable report for
Still great weather BTW -- seems that the UK has been rather
hammered, so I don't feel any rush to dash homeward!
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
In Spain where the temperature hasn't fallen below 17 degrees
and has topped 24! Looking for commercial properties to rent/lease as
well as checking on local competition. An excellent Web
cafe run by Jan (a Dutchman) and Jane (a lady, coincidentally, from
very near Deal) provides connectivity via a 2MB ADSL line and wireless
link, so can sit on the terrace drinking coffee whilst checking emails,
updating web-sites and contacting clients.
Looks like they'll be our first commercial clients over here.
Still reading email to the ceebee.com domain but have a
temporary address courtesy of Mr Comley and Budder's excellent Wizmail
web interface, so email me as normal and I'll reply from that one
More news as things progress...
Friday, January 2, 2004
Well, another New Year has dawned. Last month was
"interesting". Returned from Marrakech (more later), only to find that
Val's mother had been rushed into hospital after suffering two heart
attacks. She, her father and sister then spent all their time with her
for the next three weeks, but sadly, she died on Boxing Day. A merciful
release I think, for her and for those close to her. I have a sneaking
feeling that she knew what she was doing and didn't want to spoil
Christmas Day for those close to her. She certainly wasn't the Joyce
that I'd known over the years at the end though.
New Years Eve wasn't a time to party, so a couple of glasses
of champagne with Val and Aileen and then home to bed -- I "saw in" the
New Year but only because the bloody fireworks, sounding like the
beginning of WWIII, kept me awake for hours. Ho hum.
The funeral is on the 6th, so I'll be away for a few days in
I certainly hope that 2004 is better for those people I love
-- it's been a tough past 12 months.
Wednesday, December 16, 2003
Re-elect "The Shrub"? Here's a very funny link
explaining why you this may not be the best idea you've ever had:
Friday, November 14, 2003
Off to visit my sister Liz in Ealing, whose recent fits
prompted an MRI scan. They've found 3 separate tumour sites in the
brain, so are starting chemotherapy immediately and radiotherapy (not
the whole brain one thankfully, a brand-new "targetted" approach which
means that, hopefully, she won't lose her hair permanently) mid-next
week. Just as we were all hoping that the breast and liver cancer had
gone into remission :(
And a new game -- try substituting the first 3 or 4 letters of
your name as the input to tinyurl.com i.e. try this link tinyurl.com/chri or tinyurl.com/chr and see where they
Friday, November 14, 2003
An excellent piece in this months PC Pro by Paul Ockenden on
Website design. He mentions a BBCi document which I've made available here called The Glass Wall
which shows the thinking and some innovative concepts behind the BBC's
recently re-engineered website.
A great time had in Cyprus. Spoke to a lot of Greek-Cypriots
forced to flee their homes after the unlawful invasion by Turkey, inc.
a gentleman called Thiakos Zissis who has produced the thought
provoking Famugusta - A
Town In Hostage. An interesting, passionate man who is located only
1/2 km away from the Green Line outside Famagusta.
Must get around to putting in a larger box than the Blue Qube
for my site - the recent set of photographs easily topped the 1.5GB
mark (uncompressed, unoptimised .JPEGs), so will only be putting a few
on-line until a replacement can be sourced. Used the truly excellent Minolta
DiMage 7Hi camera for all the shots taken there. Makes even a
complete amateur aka me, produce decent shots.
Fascinating article from Al
Jazeera'sweb-site about a new way of fighting bacteria via
Wednesday October 21, 2003
Have booked a flight to Cyprus to visit V in Limassol in the
first week in November. And the job market appears to be improving
albeit slowly. Have had three calls from pimps over the last few days
-- the first for months. To be honest, I'm not sure that I necessarily
want to dive back into full-time employment, at least not in England.
The advent of the cold, wet, windy weather makes me even more
determined to finalise the arrangements for Spain. Nick has just been
diagnosed with shingles, so things are on the back burner until he
recovers. Poor sod.
He tells me that the tablets are working and isn't anywhere
near as painful as a week ago!
Monday, September 29, 2003
Well, safely back from Barcelona and the Spanish Pyrenees.
Fantastic time. A large number of highly interesting photos (sic.) will
soon be available to browse
here but in the meantime, this is a collage of
images produced by Val from the trip via Photoshop 7.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
devoted to the ongoing (and so far, thankfully, unsuccessful) saga of
the Scientologists attempts to curb disclosure of their "trade secrets"
which reminds me so much of the Mason's attempts to portray themselves
as nothing sinister.
Packing now for Barcelona. Fly out tomorrow AM early. Bloody
Mary's at the airport beckon..
Interesting site dedicated to AI work sent to me by an
old friend from NY (take a bow Mr DeLorenzo of Brooklyn). Takes me back
to my CompSci A-level days when a program written in Fortran based on
John Horton Conway's Game
of Life (first published in Scientific American in 1970!)
helped gain me an A grade.
Like lots of people, I run the grid.org Cancer
Research Project client but another one that's just been drawn to
my attention (assuming you don't want to work on SETI) is the Climate Prediction
grid modelling project. Either one seems very worthy of your
computer(s) spare cycles, so download one or the other and let your
machines do some good.
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Have decided to walk the Silk Trail. No idea when,
how or whatever but am starting to plan now. Samarkand beckons.....
Aileen bought me the most wonderful book for my birthday on
the art and history of the Silk Trail -- if I don't now start seriously
planning, she'll kill me :)
And here and
are yet more reasons not to go with BT Openwound for your ADSL needs...
Sunday, August 10, 2003
Yes, I know. Sorry. A quick plug for TinyURL -- a nice way to ensure that
horribly long and convoluted links don't break over many lines. Visit
them and see.
Oh, and by the way, only 19 days to my birthday.
Friday July 18, 2003
Lots of news from the last few weeks which I'll try and
summarise for the log, inc. a major issue with the blog code which
caused me to think that Dreamweaver was damaged when it fact it was
just taking an age to load the page code - no idea why as yet, so must
make a special effort to move my HTML knowledge from something that on
this showing closely approximates nil to something more acceptable.
My apologies to the tens of thousands of you out there,
religously reloading this site, minute by minute, day in, day out,
searching for more timeless prose gems (inc. a well known reader from
NY City, Mr Boney Dog Jackson aka the excellent Mr John
Allison of the S&S 1997 Tour of Europe fame) all of whom will have
found it strangely silent for the past few weeks. Well, that's about to
change and you'll all no doubt be delighted to know that Googling
"Chris Bulow" now gives this site as the first link :)
Should try and find out how easy it would be to RSS enable
this site. And am getting incredibly bored with the site layout, so if
anybody has any suggestions for appropriate changes.......
And two new(-ish) eating/drinking establishments have opened
recently - The Chequers near Sandwich doing excellent food but
currently being over-run by golf fanatics and The Bohemian on Deal
sea-front run by John Brown of Deal Hoy fame. Both emminently worthy of
And now a question - does the hypocrisy of some of the
born-again, fundie type Christians annoy you? In that case, you won't
be surprised by this story
by Rupert Goodwin.
BT Openwound and their (out-sourced) associates in the DNS
area seem to be unable to handle a simple move of domain away from
their greedy clutches - a request to transfer two domains that went in
at the end of last month is still outstanding. Heroic efforts are being
made by the estimable Mr Palmer
to expedite this for our client (the excellent Charleigh's restaurant in
Deal). In the meantime, as the latters web-site is now 404'ing,
personally, I'd suggest nuking all of BT from orbit - it's the only way
to be sure :)
Aileen and Jamie are working at the 2003 Open (a golfing event
m'lud) and seem to be having a great time. Jamie is acting as a press
runner (and has an Access All Areas pass to prove it), whilst Aileen is
making the most of her more er, modest role in the Left
Luggage area to mischievously tease the "foreigners" (i.e. anybody not
local to the area) seemingly to great effect. STOP PRESS: a big hello
to Mike from Philly - a caddie for some US golfer of whom I've not
heard called Ben Crane - who found her irresistible :)
Apropos the above, I heard a lovely comment from a local Royal
and Ancient golfer when asked about the windy conditions that seemed to
cause the world's greatest golfers to collapse into blind panic and
fury - "why, that's nothing but a mild breeze". Mind you, with bottled
water at £3.50 and beer at only £2.80, I think you can see
where they're coming from?
Val is preparing for her many moves abroad taking up most of
next year - which includes finally getting around to filing the 10
million cuttings, photos and articles upon which she depends for her
research needs. Oh, and she's also awaiting her BA Fine Art results, so
if any of the examining body powers that be are reading this, perhaps
they could extract the many digits that seemed to be jammed in dark
orifices and actually get the mark to her and her fellow students:) Off
to the Spanish Pyrenees firstly, which will probably mean a drive up
from Barcelona (so I get to spend a week in my favourite city in
exchange for being a chauffeur - sounds a fine plan to me!) and thence
on to Limassol, Cyprus for another couple of months. After that, things
are more fluid although she's nearly convinced now that she should
undertake a PhD..
Spain is being actively worked upon. A trip there earlier this
month was extremely useful in identifying what we want to do and more
importantly what we don't want to do and where we don't want to be.
Went to the final day of the Open - great atmosphere helped by
the magnums of Bollinger :)
Friday June 20, 2003
Not politically correct I 'spose but:
What's your Blues name?
If you, too, yearn to bin your old identity and assume the
mantle of a venerable African-American bluesman, the procedure is quite
straightforward. Simply consult the following three lists. From the
first list, take the name against the initial of your first name. From
the second list, do the same with your middle name. From the third,
your surname. And et voila!
A question for you all
(assuming that anybody is actually paying any attention at all to this
blog which may well be a triumph of hope over experience). Does anybody
recognise or lay claim to this body
part?. A small prize to anybody able to confirm the identity :)
'tis a lovely warm sunny day
here by the sea. But the day wouldn't be complete without some problem.
Have just been told by the CSA that I owe them over £7K payable
immediately. Quite how they work this out is beyond me -- unless
they're basing it on an entire years worth of contributions not paid on
the old salary that I no longer receive. The sooner I can make it to
Spain's sunny climes the better.
Yes, definitely have bronchitis. Interesting security issue
though: the entire practices network went down, so no access to my
notes (have they all been scanned and therefore no
paper copies?) for the GP concerned. He asked for name,address and date
of birth. Now, whilst it was pretty obvious that I was suffering from a
chest complaint, I could at the same time have presented myself as A N
Other who (for the purposes of this exercise) has a bad methadone habit
and without any apparent check, been given a scrip in his name for
another months supply. I am led to believe Your Honour, that said item
has value on "The Streets". For further interesting debate on all risks
involved in computer systems then the RISKS Digest is a useful
So, more antibiotics and an almost 100% commitment to giving
up smoking once and for all. Intend spending most of day in bed.
Grimwood novel arrived, or rather postie did, but I didn't hear him. Oh
well, prolly good to get a "breath of fresh air", as my Mother would
say, tomorrow when venturing out to the Post Office.
Feel lousy -- dosing myself with multifarious chemicals trying
to throw off this cold/cough. Oh well, at least I'm better off than the
poor soul who felt compelled to throw himself into The Channel just out
of Calais last night on a ship I was on. My initial reaction that he'd
make me late back to Dover when all I wanted to do was go home and
sleep has been tempered by the thought of all the people who've been
affected by either seeing him take a swan-dive off the aft end or were
involved in the recovery of the body. 45 minutes in the water meant
unfortunately that there was very little chance they'd find anything
other than a corpse :(
News reports today confirm he was a 58-year old man. My
sympathies to his family and friends. Not the nicest way to die...
On the brighter side of things, Amazon have just confirmed
that they've shipped the Grimwood novel to me, should be here tomorrow,
so can spend the day in bed indulging myself. Or if the weather
improves, sitting outside.
Certainly don't feel like painting the house today. Hell, I
don't even feel like having a drink and that is unusual!
Mat The Gloss has just 'phoned to say that last nights
electrical storm took out his PC and hence his accounting data. Have
agreed to struggle out of my death-bed to attempt to resurrect it.
Windows 95 <yuck>. However, as an officially accredited Reverend
in the Universal Life Church of America ,
I feel it's my bounden duty :)
Hope to meet Nick tonight
to discuss the Spain venture.
Can I just say what excellent meals can be had at Charleighs -- so glad that
they've re-opened again with Brian and Lou. Just eaten a lovely club
sandwich and vegetable soup. Made me feel a whole lot better.
Chris Comley of Wizards quoted
in yesterday's Sunday Times. Buy your ADSL from this man! Or indeed
from Richard at Merula :)
Realised I hadn't posted for a while. Rescued a couple of
laptops from the skip and am now running Mandrake 9.1 and SuSE 7.1
thereon via a Netgear wireless card and router. All seems well so far
except that as always lack of RAM means that the graphical interfaces
are slower than a very slow thing.
Just ordered from Amazon and
read William Gibson's latest novel, Pattern Recognition .
Can't recommend it highly enough. Much more focused than his last
couple and, as always, his use of language continues to stun me.
Suffering from a severe sore throat and sweats -- I'm assuming
for the moment that it isn't the SARS virus come to get me.
Still lots of work to be done on the web-site inc. the long
promised conference and real-time chat areas. Will get round to them
real soon now.
Need to also paint the house. Not sure when but have been
advised in view of the fact that I'll be renting at some point to
ensure that I use neutral colours -- by which I
assume everybody means magnolia.
Congratulations to Aileen
for her time of 4hr 50m in the London Marathon . You can
money to her :)
Aaaah. CIX broke themselves again today. Changes to their WCS
system meant that accounts with addresses of @cix.co.uk now had FROM:
and REPLY TO: addressess set to @cix.conferencing.co.uk which caused
more than a few squeals of pain as mailing lists and rules broke all
over the place.
Pleased to see that a new Jon Courtney Grimwood novel, felaheen,
will be available in May. JCG's site is an excellent introduction
to a set of books (of which this is the third) set in a world where
Germany won WW1 and the Ottoman Empire still dominates and North Africa
is a very different place..
Well, back now in the UK . An er, interesting start
to the holiday. Arrived at Portsmouth only to be told that my passport
had expired in February and I couldn't travel! The only slight
consolation was that I was apparently the third person
that day to have done the same thing. Went instead to a St Patrick's
Day dinner with friends
and then rang the Passport Office and booked an appointment
to collect a new passport. Stayed overnight in London with Jill and Dorothy
and on Monday after a delay of four hours finally got a new
passport issued. Booked a last minute flight and was in Malaga in time
to collect my rental car. After that, things went slightly more
The hire car (a diesel Peugot 206 )
showed just over 4,500 k on the clock by the time I handed it back. We
seemed to visit everywhere along the Andalucian coast (sometimes more
than once!). I intended taking a lot of photographs but somehow
signally failed but my thanks to Jeff
for lending me his Sony vid-cam at such short notice. There
are a couple of images here to wet
your appetite for this most gorgeous of places.
Bizarre -- post-war planned reconstruction attempts are
already being subject to a US jingoistic approach. Rather than deploy
GSM networks (which work most everywhere except the USA), a congressman has
decided that as GSM is "French" (and thus suspect as we all know how
these cowardly frogs have failed to back the war), the US should
instead use/deploy their CDMA technology instead.
Nothing to do with dollars and jobs and blinkers then. And an excellent
open letter by Guy Kewney ,
skewering the wrong-headedness of Congressman Issa's original letter is
Last minute packing. Ship
sails from Portsmouth to Bilbao at 8pm tonight. 36 hours
on-board then a day in Bilbao with a visit to the Guggenheim
and then catch the 12 hour overnight train from Bilba to
Malaga. After that it's slightly less structured!
On the recommendation of Simon Pride am looking at JAlbum a Java based
slide-show piece of software for the inevitable pictures. And am
wondering whether I can integrate Groove
into the site to give bulletin board discussions and
real-time chat. This will have to wait until I return..
Finished off two more friends PCs inc. the Outlook Express
question (for which this site
came in handy) -- must remember to post invoices! Looks like BT
Openworld are having problems with their Radius servers though. Not for
the first time either..
Have a giggle at this posting
re: arms inspectors and Iraq . Isn't every mother like this?
Problems with a friends PC - a reinstall of XP needed after
SP1 blue-screened half way through (looks like the CD is duff and the
DLL that it fell over on was more than slightly important) and the
install now fails to correctly setup the "Simple PCI Controller".
Removing all the PCI stuff fails to get it recognised. Company web-site
no good for any drivers that apply and without this correctly
installed, their WinModem doesn't appear. Oh well, off to badger the
Ah. What I'd read as "simple" is in fact "Simple" -- a
manufacturer of OEM PCI modems. A quick visit to their web-site and all
is well again modem-wise. Now all I need to do is find out where
Outlook Express stores email messages and I'll have one happy friend.
Tickets for ferry from Portsmouth
to Bilbao arrived and car booking confirmed. Only 5 more days
before I'm off. Looking forward to the Bay of Biscay (the rougher it
is, the less likely it will be that the bars and restaurants will be
busy) and the overnight train journey down through mainland Spain which
takes 12 hours. Should be some fantastic views.
Quiet day and a few drinks with friends. Carole announced
engagement to a sweetheart from over 25 years ago! Have insisted on
invite to wedding especially as he lives in the Caribbean !
posted by Chris at 17:41
Saturday, March 08, 2003
ADSL line went down at 17.22. Not sure if it's a general fault
yet or just mine which has had one or two glitches over the past two
weeks. Have to revert to POTS -- how charmingly retro if a complete and
utter PITA at 28.8k <sighs>.
Ah, that's better. Turn router off, leave for 10 minutes (as
recommended by Mr Comley )
being as patient as possible and then power back on. One tends to
forget how much a permanently on connection means on a daily basis.
Having had leased lines and ADSL for a long time, reverting to modems
is painful <g>
posted by Chris at 17:41
Saturday, March 08, 2003
And that's now done (many thanks Pete!). Next project planned
is to upgrade the Qube's kernel from the ancient 2.x variant thereon
but that "can wait for another day" to quote Pete.
Have also decided that it's easier to just hack the HTML for
this blog and FTP changes up to the Qube rather than use the Blogger
site's software which has fallen over too many times today.
Now off to attempt to install the IkonBoard software to allow
discussion groups and either Jabber
IM (an open source version of ICQ or AIM) or dIRC Proxy (an IRC server) to
allow real-time chats. I may be gone some time! :)
......some time later. I'm now in a whole world of pain and a
maze of dark and twisty passages :(
I now need to know what goes into files called "modules.info"
as the installs fail through Webmin without
these! Hmmmmm..... may be gone for longer than I thought.
posted by Chris at 1:20
Saturday, March 08, 2003
My good friend Pete
Jordan is just fettling the Cobalt Qube to compile and install an
upgraded version of the Apache web-server upon which this site runs to
a less antique model -- will close any security holes and (hopefully)
give me more control over my setup :)
posted by Chris at 11:57
Saturday, March 08, 2003
Now is anybody surprised at this story
from today's Guardian - I'd imagine not :(
posted by Chris at 11:41
Saturday, March 08, 2003
A welcome note to anybody stumbling over this blog.
This page will be a respository for any stray thoughts and musings. I'm
not however guaranteeing that anything will appear nor that if it does
that it will be on a regular basis :)
Yes, definitely have
bronchitis. Interesting security issue though: the entire practices
network went down, so no access to my notes (have they all
been scanned and therefore no paper copies?) for the GP concerned. He
asked for name,address and date of birth. Now, whilst it was pretty
obvious that I was suffering from a chest complaint, I could at the
same time have presented myself as A N Other who (for the purposes of
this exercise) has a bad methadone habit and without any apparent
check, been given a scrip in his name for another months supply. I am
led to believe Your Honour, that said item has value on "The Streets".
For further interesting debate on all risks involved in computer
systems then the RISKS Digest
is a useful resource.
So, more antibiotics and an almost 100% commitment to
giving up smoking once and for all. Intend spending most of day in bed.
Grimwood novel arrived, or rather postie did, but I didn't hear him. Oh
well, prolly good to get a "breath of fresh air", as my Mother would
say, tomorrow when venturing out to the Post Office.
Feel lousy -- dosing myself
with multifarious chemicals trying to throw off this cold/cough. Oh
well, at least I'm better off than the poor soul who felt compelled to
throw himself into The Channel just out of Calais last night on a ship
I was on. My initial reaction that he'd make me late back to Dover when
all I wanted to do was go home and sleep has been tempered by the
thought of all the people who've been affected by either seeing him
take a swan-dive off the aft end or were involved in the recovery of
the body. 45 minutes in the water meant unfortunately that there was
very little chance they'd find anything other than a corpse :(
News reports today confirm he was a 58-year old man.
My sympathies to his family and friends. Not the nicest way to die...
On the brighter side of things, Amazon have just
confirmed that they've shipped the Grimwood novel to me, should be here
tomorrow, so can spend the day in bed indulging myself. Or if the
weather improves, sitting outside.
Certainly don't feel like painting the house today.
Hell, I don't even feel like having a drink and that is
Mat The Gloss has just 'phoned to say that last nights
electrical storm took out his PC and hence his accounting data. Have
agreed to struggle out of my death-bed to attempt to resurrect it.
Windows 95 <yuck>. However, as an officially accredited Reverend
in the Universal Life Church of America,
I feel it's my bounden duty :)
Hope to meet Nick
tonight to discuss the Spain venture.
Can I just say what excellent meals can be had at Charleighs -- so glad that
they've re-opened again with Brian and Lou. Just eaten a lovely club
sandwich and vegetable soup. Made me feel a whole lot better.
Chris Comley of Wizards
quoted in yesterday's Sunday Times. Buy your ADSL from this man! Or
indeed from Richard at Merula :)
Realised I hadn't posted for a
while. Rescued a couple of laptops from the skip and am now running
Mandrake 9.1 and SuSE 7.1 thereon via a Netgear wireless card and
router. All seems well so far except that as always lack of RAM means
that the graphical interfaces are slower than a very slow thing.
Just ordered from Amazon
and read William Gibson's latest novel, Pattern Recognition.
Can't recommend it highly enough. Much more focused than his last
couple and, as always, his use of language continues to stun me.
Suffering from a severe sore throat and sweats -- I'm
assuming for the moment that it isn't the SARS virus come to get me.
Still lots of work to be done on the web-site inc. the
long promised conference and real-time chat areas. Will get round to
them real soon now.
Need to also paint the house. Not sure when but have
been advised in view of the fact that I'll be renting at some point to
ensure that I use neutral colours -- by which I assume
everybody means magnolia.
Congratulations to Aileen for her time of 4hr 50m in
the London Marathon. You can still give money to
Aaaah. CIX broke themselves again today. Changes to
their WCS system meant that accounts with addresses of @cix.co.uk now
had FROM: and REPLY TO: addressess set to @cix.conferencing.co.uk which
caused more than a few squeals of pain as mailing lists and rules broke
all over the place.
Pleased to see that a new Jon
Courtney Grimwood novel, felaheen, will be available in May.
JCG's site is an excellent
introduction to a set of books (of which this is the third) set in a
world where Germany won WW1 and the Ottoman Empire still dominates and
North Africa is a very different place..
Well, back now in the UK. An
er, interesting start to the holiday. Arrived at Portsmouth
only to be told that my passport had expired in February and I couldn't
travel! The only slight consolation was that I was apparently the third
person that day to have done the same thing. Went instead to a St
Patrick's Day dinner with friends and then rang
the Passport Office and booked an appointment to collect a new
passport. Stayed overnight in London with Jill and Dorothy
and on Monday after a delay of four hours finally got a new passport
issued. Booked a last minute flight and was in Malaga in time to
collect my rental car. After that, things went slightly more smoothly!
The hire car (a diesel Peugot 206)
showed just over 4,500 k on the clock by the time I handed it back. We
seemed to visit everywhere along the Andalucian coast (sometimes more
than once!). I intended taking a lot of photographs but somehow
signally failed but my thanks to Jeff
for lending me his Sony vid-cam at such short notice. There are a
couple of images here to wet
your appetite for this most gorgeous of places.
Bizarre -- post-war planned reconstruction attempts
are already being subject to a US jingoistic approach. Rather than
deploy GSM networks (which work most everywhere except the USA), a congressman
has decided that as GSM is "French" (and thus suspect as we all know
how these cowardly frogs have failed to back the war), the US should
instead use/deploy their CDMA technology instead. Nothing to
do with dollars and jobs and blinkers then. And an excellent open
letter by Guy Kewney, skewering
the wrong-headedness of Congressman Issa's original letter is here.
Last minute packing. Ship sails from Portsmouth to
Bilbao at 8pm tonight. 36 hours on-board then a day in Bilbao with a
visit to the Guggenheim
and then catch the 12 hour overnight train from Bilba to Malaga. After
that it's slightly less structured!
On the recommendation of Simon Pride am looking at JAlbum a Java based
slide-show piece of software for the inevitable pictures. And am
wondering whether I can integrate Groove
into the site to give bulletin board discussions and real-time chat.
This will have to wait until I return..
Finished off two more friends
PCs inc. the Outlook Express question (for which this site came in handy) --
must remember to post invoices! Looks like BT Openworld are having
problems with their Radius servers
though. Not for the first time either..
Have a giggle at this posting
re: arms inspectors and Iraq. Isn't every mother like this?
Problems with a friends PC - a
reinstall of XP needed after SP1 blue-screened half way through (looks
like the CD is duff and the DLL that it fell over on was more than
slightly important) and the install now fails to correctly setup the
"Simple PCI Controller". Removing all the PCI stuff fails to get it
recognised. Company web-site no good for any drivers that apply and
without this correctly installed, their WinModem doesn't appear. Oh
well, off to badger the supplier!
Ah. What I'd read as "simple" is in fact "Simple" -- a
manufacturer of OEM PCI modems. A quick visit to their web-site and all
is well again modem-wise. Now all I need to do is find out where
Outlook Express stores email messages and I'll have one happy friend.
Tickets for ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao arrived
and car booking confirmed. Only 5 more days before I'm off. Looking
forward to the Bay of Biscay (the rougher it is, the less likely it
will be that the bars and restaurants will be busy) and the overnight
train journey down through mainland Spain which takes 12 hours. Should
be some fantastic views.
Quiet day and a few drinks with
friends. Carole announced engagement to a sweetheart from over 25 years
ago! Have insisted on invite to wedding especially as he lives in the
Caribbean! posted by Chris at 17:41
Saturday, March 08, 2003
ADSL line went down at 17.22.
Not sure if it's a general fault yet or just mine which has had one or
two glitches over the past two weeks. Have to revert to POTS -- how
charmingly retro if a complete and utter PITA at 28.8k <sighs>.
Ah, that's better. Turn router off, leave for 10
minutes (as recommended by Mr
Comley) being as patient as possible and then power back on. One
tends to forget how much a permanently on connection means on a daily
basis. Having had leased lines and ADSL for a long time, reverting to
modems is painful <g> posted by Chris at 17:41
Saturday, March 08, 2003
And that's now done (many
thanks Pete!). Next project planned is to upgrade the Qube's kernel
from the ancient 2.x variant thereon but that "can wait for another
day" to quote Pete.
Have also decided that it's easier to just hack the
HTML for this blog and FTP changes up to the Qube rather than use the
Blogger site's software which has fallen over too many times today.
Now off to attempt to install the IkonBoard software to allow
discussion groups and either Jabber IM
(an open source version of ICQ or AIM) or dIRC Proxy (an IRC server) to
allow real-time chats. I may be gone some time! :)
......some time later. I'm now in a whole world of
pain and a maze of dark and twisty passages :(
I now need to know what goes into files called
"modules.info" as the installs fail through Webmin without these! Hmmmmm.....
may be gone for longer than I thought. posted by Chris at 1:20
Saturday, March 08, 2003
My good friend Pete Jordan is just fettling
the Cobalt Qube to compile and install an upgraded version of the
Apache web-server upon which this site runs to a less antique model --
will close any security holes and (hopefully) give me more control over
my setup :) posted by Chris at 11:57
Saturday, March 08, 2003
Now is anybody
surprised at this story
from today's Guardian - I'd imagine not :( posted by Chris at 11:41
Saturday, March 08, 2003
A welcome note
to anybody stumbling over this blog.
This page will be a respository for any stray thoughts
and musings. I'm not however guaranteeing that anything will appear nor
that if it does that it will be on a regular basis :) posted by Chris at 9:54