Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Well, the carpet men didn't come yet. And the floorboards aren't nailed down. And there are guys doing something about the damp in the basement, but there is no guarantee that it will be effective. And (as ever) I am probably glad I do not own property.

Although renting has gone out of fashion, and 'ownership' has come in, it is just a trick of the language. Previously you could rent a place and, if you stayed long enough, acquired some rights to stay. Now you stay, and pay 'rent' to the banks and other money-lenders, and they pretend you already 'own' the house even though they will take it back the minute you stop paying off your 25 year loan. Because I went to the USA at the end of the Sixties (when every one else was going off to live in in India) I saw what happpens. You go from this 'Live Now, Pay Later' form of ownership back into what is effectively renting. Americans seemed to lease cars and houses and whiteware, and so on - as part of their 'mobility' model, if they were going to move they didn't pack it all in a van and take it with them - they dumped it, traded it, passed it on.

For such a materialist culture it was interesting to see how unpossessive they were. It goes with true wealth, I guess. If you are nouveau riche you want the big house and car and clothes, etc. When you are very, very rich you probably don't bother. Personally, I'd travel with just a passport. Why carry clothes when you can buy new ones? Why carry a toothbrush when wherever you stay there will be a fresh one? Why stay in one place when you could afford to keep moving, and hiring what you need when you arrive?

I remember that Bucky Fuller went from owning cars to renting them (in his multiple circumnavigations of the globe) for similar reasons. This hasn't help me convince anybody that this ownership thing is already out of date. You can't tell them it is a gamble and a house of cards. It's like telling people that their ticket will not win the lottery - you're probably right (they even admit it sometimes) but you can't be sure. Well no, I can't be sure things are hopeless, but if I want a glimmer of hope in life it has to be more than a vague promise from a huge corporation that a worthless piece of paper which they have sold me just might turn out to be worth lots!

Still, I guess I am only bitter and impoverished, having not climbed on this particular bandwagon. And like any of my rants against cars and mortgages, and hire purchase - there's an old fashioned term for what we now call ownership (it used to be more obvious that you were renting something up until the day you had paid the capital costs, at which point the owner might not want it back, used, and could afford to 'let it go' to you) - it's all considered to be 'sour grapes' rather than despairing humour.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Had a quiet holiday for a couple of days. Carpet layers arriving tomorrow.

Now listening to Jerry Mander on the PC (while I write) - one of those great thinkers that I love. I highly recommend that you investigate, at least, his book 'Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television', which I read decades ago, and it only becomes more relevant as time passes.

I don't want to be a Luddite (its a pejorative term), but in many ways I am. I don't like cars, or know how to drive, or even aspire to drive. I have now joined the computer world (mostly as a research and writing tool).

We are all compromised - but at least we can make our own choices about our level of involvement.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

I was a bit disappointed, in my tea-break, to put 'atheist christmas' into Google hoping to find a little like-mindedness, and finding instead a bunch of atheists explaining why it's OK for them to be celebrating Christmas anyway (it's secular, it's family, it's pagan, it's historical - it's memories of their childhood, etc).

Doh! I guess it really will have to be a Buddhist Retreat next year. I've already done the research. But then again, how hypocritical is it for me to zoom off and meditate and so on, when I am not a Buddhist either!

At least Jews don't tell me off for not celebrating Channukah......

And then, the final bizarre touch - all the Google pages of Christians who don't celebrate Christmas because of its pagan roots!

It was a real joy, and a relief, to finally come across the Xmas Resistance Movement, and even such a simple letter as Why I Don't Celebrate Christmas.

They call this Christmas Eve. In Europe (notice how the British still don't think they are part of Europe) - well, OK, 'on the mainland' they open their presents tonight.

Don't forget to show how much you love someone by how much debt you are willing to go into, to give them something unnecessary.

Don't forget to consume far more than normal, so that you feel bloated and uncomfortable. Ideally, eat things you don't normally eat, and drink alcohol, even if you don't usually.

I guess all this started when I found that even my household (I grew up as a vegetarian) used to have a dead bird on the table at Christmas (for relatives). How can I offer meat-eaters a glimpse of how that felt? How about a baked dog with an apple in it's mouth? Pretty horrible, anyway (although the cat used to like it).

And then there was the State Religion aspect of it. This is what people believed if they were good citizens. It was irrelevant what a small boy thought about it - what a transparent hoax the whole story is - more improbable than the Tooth Fairy (and I am not talking Santa here). Compulsory Belief. Well, to me, you can't make anybody believe things. You can make them confess, admit or falsely claim to believe, if you are the Spanish Inquisition, but you can't (I believe) make people truly believe anything.

Ho hum. I am just using this for my rant, so I can clam up 'in real life' and not spoil people's parties. Then all I have to get through is that 'Oh you shouldn't have, I didn't get you anything' bit, and the 'no, no not for me thank-you, I've had enough' and the sentimentality and the envy, and the anti-climax...the pause...and then that whole New Year's schtick as well...and I'll be able to relax.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Well, the season is almost upon us now. I guess I may have to join in with the party game I mentioned before. This seems to involve the shops and warehouses piling up every bit of tat they have, and us all going round collecting it all up and redistributing the stuff around the city. Every household does is duty - taking in all the forlorn objects, nick-nacks, bits of furniture, plastic toys, etc. The object is to rehouse ALL the stuff by Christmas. I feel guilty every time I see an unsold item now - I can't look them in the eye. Left on the shelf. I can't even say 'I can't afford you' as I pass by on the other side, because this is the season of over-indulgence, 'treating' yourself, going wild, nothing to pay for a year, zero interest credit, reckless spending, etc. (sorry, delete that last one, it sounds negative).

Of course, you need tokens and tickets to play, but they'll lend them to you, so there's no excuse if you simply can't afford it.

And guess what happens if we successfully find a home for EVERY GI Joe and bottle, every wicker work chair and DIY tool, every game and every piece of jewellery - that's right, they fill the stores back up with CHEAPER stuff for the sales. And the Sales are not in January nowadays, they start on Boxing Day.

In fact, I am told, I will not even be able to wander around the wreckage on Christmas Eve (as I used to) - picking among the flotsam and jetsam - the shop-soiled, customer-ransacked shelves - amid the weary assistants praying (religiously) for the end - unable to find the colour or size I want, of course - until finally BLISS - it's too late, and everything closes.

Nope. No peace - they are pumping up Christmas Eve with 'early Sales'... And they are going to have open hours throughout the holiday. I despair, I really do.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Happy Solstice every pagan!

Anyway, where was I? I don't know what to buy the woman who has everything, but I wander around without a thought in my head. I know the world is full of wonderful gizmos, but do we really need any more things?

"Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste...." Actually, I can't compete in the wealth range of presents because they are all designed to be bought on credit for future earnings. And as for taste, well I have rarely successfully bought anything pretty, or fragrant, or stylish for anyone (especially women). Taste is a tough and personal area. It's why I prefer book tokens to books...

Anyway, Shop Surly for Christmas might be my slogan, except for the fact that I am a reformed man. After a long stressful period of my life I am resolved to cheer up. I have always preferred putting on the attitude, putting on the style. Optimism is a tactic.

I just can't get rid of my wider world view. Last week we were all walking around looking at concentrations of objects in shops, and now most of those objects are scattered throughout the surrounding buildings. Shops empty, Houses full.

And somehow this is all supposed to keep us employed and affluent. It was OK when I was a performer, and could milk the season for which people wanted 'hired jollity'. I had plenty of goodwill for people (once I got over the temptation to do children's parties!)

I never was a very good 'punter'.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Definitely more energised.

If it wasn't for the fact that I am tired of trying to defend Astrology as a useful, mythical, psychological language (a jargon) even, I would say I was enjoying the Sagittarian influence, galloping around and aiming high. Think about a Centaur with a bow and arrow....

Anyway. Over the early Winter slump, and running around like a mad thing. I just went over to a neighbours house, to a computer which wouldn't talk to them, even.

Went into DOS (that feels like speaking Latin) and saved their documents, and then did the *full, automatic re-install and restore* which came with Packard-Bell and it put back Windows ME, and all the Works, with nothing much more than observation from me.
Still, young Arran was sitting beside me, so I was trying to get the family data through DOS and explain what I was doing - when I was never that fluent in DOS anyway, and the keyboard was odd and hid the ~ (tilde) - DOH!

Finally it re-installed everything (including the junk which came with the package).

I left it with a boy willing to kick out the programs he doesn't want, and re-arrange all the stuff. Great! I never really believe I can do this stuff. It takes too long, of course, when you are going cautiously - but it is a great feeling of success when the system all comes up again.

Monday, December 16, 2002

A much better few days, recently. I feel happier and healthier. Last night, Ben and I started to play with Movie Maker and the webcam, and he made a short movie of a sketch he had done at school (in mime, but he later added narration), and I caught various clips of him dancing, etc, which I later compiled into a rave clip... It's the way to learn....

Also spoke to Michael Nielsen yesterday. Nice to hear from him (and be forgiven for missing an appointment!) He did point out (discretely) that people at Jedicon didn't think much of the quality of image I had in my pictures - true (I agree), and I already acknowledged it on the day, but there was little I could do. Keili and I did Photoshop tweaks to the low rez images I had, and the printer was miles away, so I couldn't get a sample. I'll learn. Meanwhile, apologies to anyone who did buy one of these unsatisfactory prints (signed). The only thing I can say is that they will remain rare (early and imperfect) items from my first ever public show. By the time I have got high gloss pictures and posters and cards (like most other people who do conventions) these will turn into rare treasures...(maybe)

And yes, I have lots left, if you want to email me for a cheap souvenir (and we can arrange postage, etc). Of course, they would be unsigned - because it would be unfair to the people who came to Jedicon to devalue what they have bought in good faith. If you want one signed (and the Jabba pointing finger seems OK, even if the Princess Leia pic is not too good), then the standard rate seems to be £10. I will also sign your own stuff for £5 if you send it to me - but you send it at your own risk (and please email me that it is on the way - so if there are any problems we will know. I would hate people to be waiting for something to come back which I haven't even received).

For this Star Wars stuff, it is best to email me on


All the best everybody.....

Friday, December 13, 2002

'It's just bad luck that Friday is so often the 13th'

I hope none of you suffer from triskaidekaphobia (fear of 13s) or tridecaphobia (as some dictionaries give it).

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

It's beginning to freeze here, now. Really bleak weather. I've put my long-johns on today - not glamorous, I know, but they work!

Saw Mr Jules in the library [if that link to his page is a bit slow, try this link to one of his agents] - but I didn't get to juggling or the pub afterwards. I'd lit a fire and opened a bottle of wine, and was watching the current David Attenborough on Mammals...herbivores (my veggie buddies) or 'plant predators' as he called them.

Going to the convention meant I had time off work without any rest - so I am a bit shattered at the moment - and just want to hibernate. Still, it was fun, and a distinct change of routine. [Yes, Wayne, I did get Mike Q to sign your cards, they're on the way].

Bits of me still seem to ache. I have a kind of RSI in my right hand/arm, from mouse use and abuse...so I switched the buttons, and am using mouse left-handed, both in work and at home. Now my left arm hurts too! Doh!

Just gotta find some other activities.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Well, I am back from Jedicon. First of all a big apology to HR, as I really did try to get across town to meet up, but had a slight emergency arise, and then it all went out of control!

It was nice to meet everybody on Sunday - and to be able to give people a bit of time. The official Q&A sesion was a bit sluggish, but the people who came to meet me in person were great - so thanks for making me welcome at my first (but perhaps not last) convention.

And a particular big hello to Mike Quinn and John Coppinger and Michael Nielsen. Nice to see you!

Friday, December 06, 2002

I got an email from Aurélien Lukowski this morning, who has connections with a Star Wars shop in Paris. I am sending him some pictures, and he has invited me to visit next May...

Pretty exciting, as I haven't been travelling for a while. It will be fun to be in Paris again, and with a purpose (I always prefer that, I was never a very good tourist...)

Hi Aurélien!
I figured I should try to borrow back my crew shirt, for a picture, and yeh, has been is a joke....(you can also find it on the Home Page - click to enlarge).

When I said how many people would offer serious money for it, I think Tim (who owns it now) got a bit worried it wouldn't come back to him! Basically, it sat in cupboards and drawers for years, in 'almost new' condition (because I can't wear synthetics), and when Tim heard about it he was so excited I handed it over. Unlike me, he has actually worn it, lived in it and worked in it. It's pretty battered now, but I was never a hoarder, and I prefer things to be used. Apologies to all the collectors out there.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Steve Langfield contacted me for a picture for his fanzine Coruscant Skyline so I dug out a couple of old ones, and took a quick pic in the den. It's getting close to Jedicon now, and I am getting a little bit wired with anticipation and not knowing quite what I am walking into.

I just know I know so little of the Star Wars world.

Friday, November 29, 2002

I just rang Keili, and he was sitting on a plane at Heathrow, about to take off ..... off to hotter climates ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

To add to all the chaos of the last few weeks, I had some post go astray. Wayne Boulton (click on his name to go to his good-looking Star Wars collectors' website) contacted me, and sent some Star Wars stuff to sign. It didn't arrive, so I emailed him and asked around the house. For a while it seemed as though other post might have gone astray. As we've got the builders in, it was all too possible, with the street door open a lot. Now we seem to have accounted for everything except Wayne's package, so I can only assume it disappeared somewhere in between. I used to love snail mail as a kid - and I never had losses or late deliveries - I thought it was brilliant.

Now I am not so sure. Someone wonderful sent me a £50 note on my 50th birthday (knowing I was down on my luck) and it never arrived. I have heard other stories of cash going astray - I have no idea how, unless someone has a detector which picks up the metal strip. It's possible my pressie was sealed like a birthday thing, and looked potentially valuable, but it is sad to think that that reliable way of getting things around has gone. Old man stuff, I guess - "It's not like it was in my days...."
Phew, slightly happier. Is this news?

It's still a rough ride at the moment, but I guess I have to report both the ups and downs.

Keili was rather ill yesterday (infection of the inner ear) and we ended up running around to an out of hours doctor. Then miscommunicating a bit with Julie about a lift, and finding ourselves wandering about in a taxi trying to cash a prescription. Finally reached a 24-hour superstore with a pharmacy. Keili ran inside while I waited with the cab, chatting. I saw a mate called Dave climb into the car in front...and just as I was thinking 'small world' I saw Julie cruise by - she had not got my cancellation message and had gone to the surgery who told her where we were going. I didn't manage to flag her down, and by the time I got to a public phone to ring her mobile she was on the way home. Doh!

A lot of us went to The Oak for an end of the day drink, as they are changing management after many years.

I then had a very bad night and a very good night and it's none of your business.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

There was a party last night at Ali's, for the lad. A nice smaller gathering.

I have a new computer game. I play one of my music tracks, and at the same time go off to the Web to try to find the lyrics so I can sing along with it. I've never shown any real talent for singing (I certainly don't karaoke), but I like the sensation in my chest, so I carry on doing it, but it is just for my own amusement really. And now I have found and marked a few key lyric sources, the hunt is not so difficult every time. It's one of the reasons that I have not got into 'computer games', as there are so many ways to play with a PC anyway - and if I want puzzles and cryptics to crack, I just have to work on the mysteries of Microsoft...fixing or changing my system and settings. Tougher than killing the villains and grabbing the gold (or whatever they do...)

Saturday, November 23, 2002

It was Keili's birthday yesterday, and we managed to find some time for each other. Spoke to Kim on the phone. Had an email from Mali. Family all over the world.

As of yesterday, the UPS in the room I work in has been beeping its alarm (to be fixed Monday!) so I am finding it hard to think, and am finding all sorts of excuses to wander around the building and do work elsewhere. Classic jokes from the cosmos. Stuff comes in clusters. At home the builders are drilling at 7:45 a.m. even on my day off. They are not working today, of course - Saturday - and the house is quiet, so I have to come into the beeping office. Classic.

I had a nice email from Richard, who has a Star Wars page.. When I am a little less jangled by life events I will try to carry on with our chat, but things are both hectic and weird at the moment.

Friday, November 22, 2002

And here's a phrase I heard somewhere recently, I can't pin it down. The rythm of it caught me:

"If I'd known I was doing it for the very last time, I'd have paid more attention"

Is that those iambics again....?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Pete sent me a couple of tough crossword challenges. I found the first quite quickly, but I was stumped by the last. However, while researching I came across John Gay's self-penned epitaph:

Life is a jest, and all things show it; I thought so once, but now I know it.

I like that.

PS: he's most famous for writing The Beggar's Opera
Well, this is why I am getting fed up with 'long-term' illness. I was exhausted over the weekend, (two days off) and just curled up under a duvet with a book. It meant I missed Ali's 40th birthday, which was a real pain (these things only come once). People were up all night laughing I hear, but I was curled up miserable.

Them's the breaks.

I am back at work today, because if I start going off sick with this I will never go back. It's more or less the same every day, so I'll just struggle on, but it's making me feel pretty over the hill - and no-one knows how to fix it. Grind the teeth and carry on......

Friday, November 15, 2002

It was nice to talk to Michael Nielsen again last night. We should be meeting up at Jedicon.

I believe that John Coppinger will be turning up, too. Mike Quinn is flying in from the States. I think Dave Barclay will already be back in the States before the convention, and rumour has it that Mike Edmonds is working in Edinburgh (?) so this probably won't be the great Jabba get-together, but it might still happen one day, now we are all in touch. You never know (my motto).

I just finished a four day First Aid course - imagining all the horrible things that can happen to people. And then imagining that I am the person who is expected to deal with it..... I didn't sleep well, this week. But I passed, and am qualified again.

Keili is still here, helping me with my artwork. I am still enjoying the novelty of bonding with such a great person, and then realising that we really are related...closely. It's a flash. And stories about my own dad sound different when I tell them to him.

Very glum, hibernating weather now, in Cardiff. Cold, wet and windy.

I think I am due for a bit of a holiday soon - having not had a break since I got back from Hawaii in March. Phew! I am pretty tired.

And that's it for trivia thinking again.

¡Hasta la Mañana!

Friday, November 08, 2002

Apologies if my lack of communication continues. I've been a bit ill, and am feeling all of my 56 years, and when I am not working I have been curled up. Some of it is the usual hibernation tendency, some is the chronic pain (two and a half years and running) sliding up to the worse end of the scale, and some plain old misery.

Really, this stuff should be going into my private blog - it isn't important to people who don't have to put up with me each day - but at the same time I am no longer in show business, and all that brave 'Show Must Go On' cheerfulness just isn't needed (or even wanted).
Where I work, if you came in whistling from the rain, people would make sarcastic remarks. Far better to be glum - and that's really easy for me at the moment.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Having a bit of a bad week - if anyone was trying to get through to me. I don't know if it's just anniversary phenomena, for this time of year, or the clocks going back, or Halloween, or whatever. Just the old S.A.D. kicking in.

No doubt I'll pull myself together, meanwhile, please don't take it personally if I am a bit uncommunicative.

More news, when the news gets better. (Who needs bad news?)

Saturday, October 26, 2002

I just saw an article about a book which finally sounds like a psychologist who understands me. She is talking about defensive pessimism - a strategy, not an illness. The opposite of all that bright-eyed optimism (which can only get disillusioned). Of course, fundamentally, I seem to have a great deal of faith in Universe or Nature, or whatever you prefer to call it - but from day to day I don't think it is a good plan to be cheerfully ignorant. I use the aphorism of the conjuror who said he didn't fully know his act until 'everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong'. And I know that all that 'confidence in the markets, or the house prices, etc' is a confidence trick, a house of cards.

It's true that housing is becoming endlessly more valuable, but to me that is partly because of the population explosion, and partly because of the infinite credit (debt) that has been offered out (so that we are no longer slaves to landlords and rent, just slaves to bankers and mortgages). I must try and work out the difference one day (apart from the fact that it was easier to move or be moved in the days of renting....)

Anyway, enough of all that.
Ah, Saturday. And back into work. Cold and windy in Cardiff, now - although not raining, as in the last few days. Winter is definitely upon us. Julie is looking at brochures for Winter Sun, and fully intends to go cruising, I think. I can't go, not having the time or money, but I hope she enjoys it - after all, I got to Hawaii in February this year, and, although a two week break felt like a bit of an anti-climax to me ( who never previously had 'holidays' as I was, for most of my life, on what Ian Dury called the "4,000 week holiday") it was still worth it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Keili brought his mate Ian around today. We squashed into my den for a bit, and rattled a few ideas around. I am still having troubles with the PC (which was pretty smooth for my first few months of XP). Whether it is the security updates, or what, I don't know. Windows Media Player doesn't seem to want to play DVDs from work. The damn PC is still dialling out of its own accord at times (luckily, I don't pay by the minute) which is still spooky, as I can't see any scheduled tasks, and have no idea which bit of software is doing it, or whether I have a nasty little bug in there somewhere.

Fortunately, anyone who thinks I am worth cracking into - some sort of Star Wars star with a big bank account, or any secret diaries - is much mistaken. I have no property, little credit, and no secrets. It's a pretty dulll little life if you are wandering around in here. I was, am and will remain lowlife. That I got lucky here and there is only fair, I reckon.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

I started a boring day-off with a bit of cleaning. Then Michael came online, and I stopped my dull cleaning job to find him working on activating his Webcam. We had a really good hour sorting that out, until we could see each other, type words, or talk live.

Nice one, Michael! Sorry I didn't get back online later. Things happened.

Back to work tomorrow, but I learned something new, and that is ALWAYS good. Keeps you young....

Hello everyone - I will TRY to be online, but if I even HAD a mobile phone I would probably keep it switched off, because I like my ALONE time. Great though communication is, I like to be alone with my thoughts, too.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

A FIRST! I had been emailing Michael Nielsen about the SciFi convention, and he asked if I was using any online messaging (after we exchanged a flurry of emails, almost in real time). I said no, but started installing MSN Messenger, just to experiment. We started with typing, then I wanted to try talking, so we switched to Yahoo Messenger, and got the microphone going. We don't have the webcam connection going yet, but it was a blast to see how it was all done. My computer did lock up eventually, but hey...

Another thief of time, no doubt - after chatting for a couple of hours I thought that (after avoiding the mobile phone invasion, for so long) I might be opening the door to being permanently out in the market place, chatting, instead of alone with my thoughts. Still, I will give it a try. I just keep remembering the thing I put on a poster for a children's project for the Millenium.

It started with "How long would it take to count up to 1000, at one number per second? 17 minutes.
A Million? 12 days. A (US) Billion? 32 years.

So it would take 192 years just to say Hello to all 6 Billion people on the planet right now!"

Monday, October 14, 2002

It looks like I am going to do my first Star Wars Convention on December 8th.

1st World Appearance at Jedicon in Basildon UK
Went up to London on Friday. Judith followed on Saturday. We had a nice day, in spite of the rain; met Jean in the pub, and went to a delightful Spanish Restaurant, but the combination of drinking several pints first and then eating left me (speaking for myself only) feeling like a snake that swallowed a pig, so rather than more pub, I voted to go homeward - and we ended up watching Harry Potter on Pete's huge tv with whoosh whizz bang sounds.

Judith made more effort than Pete and myself to make the original plan manifest, and lo and behold, on Sunday morning we found ourselves committed to getting down to the London Eye for 11.30. It was all a bit hectic and confusing collecting tickets, and Pete got disability access (with me as carer) and we got separated from Jean and Judith, and rode alone. The view was terrrific, higher than I had imagined, even. I think Pete enjoyed it. When we all met up again later, Judith pointed out the Dali Exhibition almost next door, so I went to suss it out, found we could get a wheelchair, and we went and did that too. It was terrific.

All through the day Pete was very brave about the walking...there's some quite longish walks, not just on the South Bank, but even just changing tube trains. We did have an angel help us (in the form of a woman taxi driver who spotted our plight and ran us 250 yards to the right place to be on time). Still, (apart from the moment when I got Pete running up a down escalator by mistake - thereby losing all hope of a carer's badge!) it was worth all the travel and effort to find ourselves having successfully completed the mission.

Yes! [punches the air]

Thursday, October 10, 2002

A bit of a wild ride recently. Lots of ups and downs, comings and goings. I am learning a lot at work, right now. I am trying to collate all the material in what we call the Ethnic Dept of the library. This has all the Asian material, in about 16 languages, and it hasn't always been well maintained (not easy with Arabic script, Chinese, Urdu, etc). The new librarian for the department wants to rationalise it, and I decided to get on with learning enough Access to be able to give her my research (done in TCL - a 'programming' language) in a convenient form.

I am still poking around in the library online conference, as the magical Sysop (power!), while we put another group of staff through ICT training. Sue is the tutor, but is very tolerant of my constant flow of interruptions and comments.

Keili ricocheted back from London, after a wild ride of his own (lost the current modelling contact, so feeling a bit stranded, I guess). He has gone to stay at the Circus house for the while. No doubt we will cross paths soon, but I am probably off to London this weekend. Round and round we go.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

And the Nortons Subscription wouldn't go in, so I reinstalled until the sign came up 'you have reached your maximum number of installs - contact the firm...) Thanx fellas for the automated response to my urgent request.

Keili is setting off to London tonight - a change that has lurched into view suddenly, and rapidly accelerated. So little time.

I am alone in the computer turret this week (at work, that is) so I do what I can, but I still have large areas of ignorance, and (worse than that) have to pass things through a bureaucracy to people with large workloads and ever-shifting priorities and SLAs.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Phew! Yesterday morning Keili rang to say that my Windows XP computer would not start. I had turned it off the night before (to have a little time in my room without the background hum - that noise I live with all day at work). No joy with its recovery console, but once I had settled down, and taken a deep breath, I reinstalled XP OK, and found all the data intact (even Outlook backup files, when I thought I might have to let all those recent emails go). It took ages to download my Nortons again, and even longer to get all the bits to work.

Anyway, it's back in place, so I haven't got to apologise to contacts this way, as there has been almost no break in service. Yippee!
I am a bit haggard today, though (bed at 5, up at 8).

It sounds as though Keili is heading back off to London to tackle the modelling world again. I may well be going that way myself to fulfil a trip promised by me and Judith to Pete (now he's back out of hospital). We were talking about going up in the London Eye.

Rhiannon, too, is going away - she's off to Greece this evening.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Another Friday at work. I was glad to hear that Pete made it home yesterday, even if the medical community has given him a hard time again. It is Amanda's 40th birthday 'do' tonight, so I will go for a drink or two. Keili is back around, having vanished into mainland Splott for a while. The kitchen is still in upheaval (and apparently the ceiling has to come down!) I still bath while everyone else uses the new shower (nothing like a hot soak for the old aches and pains, and you can't read in the shower...)

It all seems very hectic to me this year, without actually going anywhere. As an old fireside dog I feel sort of chivvied and hustled. When I was a puppy it would have been me bouncing around waiting to 'do' things, but now I just want to curl up and snooze. This is when I REALLY hate youth culture worship - as I am supposed to be aspiring to 'not looking my age' (although I am expected to act my age, I notice).

Growing old as disgracefully as ever. Irresponsible and incorrigible to the last.

Still, with the autumn coming on, and the light fading early, it would be strange not to be doing a little nostalgia for the summer that never (quite) was.

Friday, September 20, 2002

I have just noticed that (when testing the possibility of posting to the blog by e-mail) I sent one from my work mail (Council's version of Outlook) yesterday, and it didn't arrive, even yet. Nor did I get a message back (as happens) about inappropriate use of Council resources or whatever. I'll wait and see.

If anyone wants to know, I did the posting in my teabreak, and it is all (anyway) part of my job to understand the new resources becoming available - right now I am mentoring various members of staff in how to use online conferencing, for instance. So there.

Actually, I don't understand why it would be particularly useful, as most places I could email from would also let me visit Blogger direct. Still, perhaps that curious 'mobile phone' culture out there could use it.

I am a Selective Luddite.
You'd have to understand my delight in Dylan Moran or WC Fields or Diogenes (to name but three) to see why I don't think of my despairing rants as negative.
I WILL delete the tests eventually...meanwhile I think the only way I can use this is to drop random thoughts into it, and then feel so guilty about half-formed thoughts and half-baked ideas that I will feel forced to shape them up.

Last night I reminded Julie that a few weeks ago I was doing one of my rants, and she expressed boredom. I said, flippantly, that I was practising my rants (like Bill Hicks or George Carlin, say) - and her devastating response was, "Yes, but the difference is that you're not funny!"

Actually, she didn't remember any of that, last night.

I realise that I go and on about my main obsessions, and that (as those include capitalism, the folly of mortgages, the horror of cars, the nightmare of a civilization built on debt, etc) she is entitled to feel 'got at'. Hey Ho.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Hardly a prize winning site are we? I have enjoyed the growth of blogs, but only have a little time to explore them.

I enjoyed digging around in the 5k sites, however. That's some achievement! [non-programmer speaking]. If you don't know about this, there is an explanation here

On we go. I am feeling a bit old right now, with Keili here [I am two and a half times older than him, and he's a grown man] - as he and Rhiannon hang out like siblings. On my day off now I can find R on the sofa with the remote control and the phone, and K locked into the computer. I don't quite know how to act, of course, having never been an effective parent figure. I am neither an equal nor an elder. It's all too noisy and bouncy for me - and combined with the building work reminds me what an old buffer I have become, after all...

It comes to us all. At a Travellers Awareness day at the library recently I was reminded that the average life span for male Gypsy/Travellers in the UK - RIGHT NOW - is 54 years...so I guess I am doing well.

The autumn is on its way, the sun sinks lower over the house, and there is less time (almost none) to bask after a working day.

The rains will start all too soon - and the wind, of course. Fireside time coming up. Could be worse. [Like we could lose the roof in the middle of winter. Oh, that IS THE PLAN.] sigh.

You can tell the gloom is upon me - but these are passing clouds. I don't mean to just drag everyone down, but it's a diary, and I go up and down. It's just the way of the bodymind. May you be healthy and happy - and have some fun, all in your own good time.

There. Happy now?

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Time flying by. I completely missed my sister's birthday on August 31st. I had a week in which I performed, worked in the library, put up our big top to be the drag queen cabaret for Mardi Gras, worked in the library, then took the tent down again - all while other people were having a National Holiday, etc.

I mised snail mail card, then email on the day, then the belated birthday greeting. Sorry Julia, I hope it was a fine time, and the usual Aquarian apology for missing it completely, while thinking about you throughout the day in question (but that hardly counts, except to an Air sign, I guess.)

Busy times.

Keili is still here, and we are squeezing in some good talks. The building work drags on, but the kitchen is beginning to look pretty amazing (no thanks to me). I still dread the loft conversion (taking the roof off in the winter!)

I must get back into Blogger, and explore some of the wonderful new controls that come with ProBlogger. I can't put this up for competition with so little thought put into the 'look' OR the content. Ho Hum.

I still have three other blogs on the system, a couple of private hidden ones and the previous public one. I should work out how to pull them down and archive or store any of the good stuff.

There's Dog Tired and Bone Weary
Thinking Allowed
and Home from Home

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Well, look at this! A month or more has gone, and this is just another dead site on the Web. In my last posting I even managed to leave a dead link to a temporary page of other performers from Cardiff (I've removed it now).

A lot has happened. Keili came to visit, and is still around, which is gr-r-r-r-eat. The circus finished their Sci Circus tour in the little blue tent, and also staged a large-scale community show, ImMortal in their new UFO tent (I was even talked into making a phoney 'contactee' site to back up a letter written to the local press about allowing the UFO tent to be put up on ley lines, or some such nonsense.

I just received a multiple signing picture from Brandon York, which I signed and sent back. I seem to have vaguely committed myself to going to a JediCon in December, as I couldn't make the one in August. 'HR' Nielsen kindly offered to help me make pictures up for signing. He told me all about how conventions work, and then I thought I'd like to play with making the pictures myself, until I found that I don't have any high quality images for printing (they look alright on the Web). I may have to humbly return to him for further help and advice.

Just in passing (and this is NOT a dig at you, Brandon!) people send me International Reply Coupons for which they have paid good money - which I can trade for return stamps. Each one that Brandon sent (for instance) cost him $1.75, but all I get for that is a first class stamp to the States, (47p). That's a big markup for the postal services, and I often end up paying the balance of air mail stamps out of my own pocket. This is fairly typical of my life, when something I do (which should make a profit) ends up costing me!

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Back from Glastonbury. There are a few pictures of my mates - Fair Play - freaking people out by being ticket touts INSIDE the festival.

Andy and Jamie are Fair Play.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

I just got hold of Kazaalite (Kazaa without the spyware), and have downloaded several recorded bits of George Carlin. Stand-up is great, and the voice is crucial - no doubt the face and body language are important, too - but he writes great lines. Gotta get the books -Brain Droppings and Napalm and Silly Putty. How about:

The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.

I found that on his site under One Liners.

Friday, June 14, 2002

You've gotta bear in mind that I wanted to draw people's attention to the fact that there there is a big gap between what people SAY, and what they DO. For instance, I love Bill Hicks (see any search engine) and (rather belatedly) George Carlin ( who I kept hearing ABOUT) (but not hearing) (because I grew up under censorship) even though 'They' tried to stop me hearing Lenny Bruce in my childhood. Lenny was turned back at London Airport when I was at school, even though he was the most honest person I had ever heard of.

I was in my 'English Sixth Form', then (British school pattern for 16-18 year olds - I was doing ''letter to the editor' to Private Eye, and even got published ). You wonder why I 'dropped out?' It's just words. guys. [This is long before we twigged Neuro-Linguistic Programming - see Neal Stephenson's 'Snow Crash'.

I was lucky enough, in my early training, to do 'clown' workshops with fellow 'students' who were anarchic geniuses like Chris Lynam , (when I later copped out to cute acts, for kids, to stay alive), and to meet people who could do that dangerous stuff and still take their audience WITH them, like Mr Jules.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Here's a weird fragment for those of you who don't know my name is one of those archetypal ones like Robin Hood or John Bull.
I'll add my previous research at some point, but this came out of the Cardiff Library Local Study department.


"The last official Aletaster of Cardiff was named 'Toby Philpot' and he was sworn in to watch (under a penalty for failure) that no ale was sold in the town before he had officially pronounced it 'Good and wholesome for Man's Body'."
Cardiff and Suburban News 23rd January 1932.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

And the weather continues to match my lowering mood - we are slowly getting the network migrated onto the Council Servers.

The house is still in DIY chaos - and my body is still refusing to get well - as another of my peer group goes into hospital for (possibly) the last time - asbestos from work in the Seventies doing it this time. thoughts of mortality strike again - testing my amateur Buddhism to the limit.

Bob is still singing for me like an older brother - he's always just a couple of years ahead of me - in spite of living an entirely different life, he gets the mood spot on. [I know, all the fans feel like that - but that's why I consider him a superior artist - it's precisely the endless ambiguity which allows us to project ourselves into the work - just as it is the wonderful openness, and bare-bones theatre, of Shakespeare which gets rediscoverd over and over again as relevant to people.]

Monday, June 03, 2002

Time flies by, and I am still stuck with the puzzle of using this as a diary which gets published, so it isn't really very intimate. Too many people I know would not like me to be really honest in a medium which anyone on the planet could read (or take the wrong way).

At the same time, I don't really think many people drop in and read it, because I am not publishing it as a deliberate attempt to get my views better known. This is not a place for opinions - it really is a jotting pad which I access from here and at work, and anywhere else I travel. Perhaps I should put more thought into it, but I tend to find out about things by doing them first, and considering them afterwards.

Being an introvert / thinker / air sign I can just get stuck if I try to think first. I liked this phrase when I first heard it: It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting.... Not that I am naturally an 'actor', but it was a good cure for my tendency to get stuck in indecision, trapped in paradox, and fretting about getting all the evidence in before deciding anything.

It also led to some fairly bad 'impulsive' decisions (like dropping out of school) which I might have taken a little more time over...but on the whole 'plunging in' has been a tactic I have employed when feeling stuck. Similarly, things like the I Ching (which a lot of rationalists think are mystical rubbish) are actually quite useful for breaking deadlocks in thinking. I haven't decided whether there 'is' some wise old grandfatherly spirit advising me through these translations, or whether it is 'just my imagination'. I don't think it is an either/or issue. Using random stuff to generate alternatives is just a way to try to 'think outside the box' (or 'think in other categories' as Ouspensky puts it). For instance, if I am stuck I might toss a coin to decide - but that is not evading responsibility because I use my reaction to the result to decide - I don't just blindly follow chance.

If that isn't clear - what I mean is this: I toss the coin and if the result makes me feel 'You see! I knew it!' then I go ahead. If the result makes me go 'Oh no! How about I make it the best of three....' then I don't do it.

Of course, THAT annoys people who think that if you are going to introduce chance, then you shouldn't overrule it. They are always annoyed to find out that Burroughs only used cut-ups as a starting point - like a brainstorming session - and then went in and edited with a critical eye.

Hey ho - what AM I on about today? I am just warming up the fingers on the keyboard, to get down to some real writing offline...and sticking this in here for the random browsers who may wander in from my Home Page - Hi! - although (as I said) these are mostly random jottings for my future self.

I heard from Dan Ferguson, and found myself playing a computer game (not something I normally do) and even enjoying it and feeling a bit competitive. Not like me at all! The strange connections which emerge from the Star Wars connection are keeping me amused, now that my circus/juggling connections are not so frequent or vivid - although I WILL be going into Glastonbury Festival to take down the Circus tent, move it to London and put it back up, as the have a 'two tent' weekend, and need the crew. I always look forward to Glastonbury (even though I have suffered and just about survived some of the really wet and muddy ones - ones where I have actually lost my sense of humour and sworn never to do it again, etc. Sadly, there were a shortage of spare tickets, so Julie may not be able to go, but she is going to try to get access by offering her services to the Welfare People. More on this later.

Monday, May 27, 2002

I got a call to go to Glastonbury with the circus, but there's only one ticket available, so perhaps I can't go - I know Julie hates us doing thing separately. It's a shame - to me, as all the little self-employed bits and pieces contribute to making my steady job bearable.

Hey ho - got to decide today.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

I am at work right now. We are still quite busy getting ready to migrate our system to the Council network, prior to actually installing a new library system in the autumn.

I have found a copy of 'You can't beat people up and have them say I love you' by Murray Roman. This is a 60's album [bit of nostalgia] a one-off mixture of jokes and music. Rather a scratchy old copy, but when I tried using the library system their record player didn't seem to grab the stereo effects properly - so my rough old needle at home will have to do for now....I sent a copy to Judith for a belated birthday present. It still makes me laugh even now....

Friday, May 17, 2002

And now it's Friday - but I work Saturdays, so the weekend DOESN'T start here. I was up all night on Wednesday (couldn't sleep) and decided to find the old cards I made up...like a Tarot set, but 24 cards related to the Eight Circuit model of the brain. I found them, and scanned them ,and then put them onto a page. Because they are a private thing, I didn't stick up any kind of link to the Website as such....they are too contentious for that...but I will put a link here, so long as you understand that they are just a little bit of art-in-process.

The background story is that I was stuck in a little bed-sit room for the winter; no money; no prospects; all my library lost in a personal disaster. I cheered myself up by deciding to reconstruct what I could remember of the 8-Circuit model, and make up a pack of cards, using only what I could find in my papers...old magazine pics, photocopies of books, etc. This is why they are such a mixture of faded B&W and glossy colour. There is no special pattern to this, I just used what came to hand that day (similarly, two of the cards display in landscape orientation and there is no significance in this....

Note, too, that circuits 6 and 7 seem to have been reversed in the last few years...but in the higher circuits....who knows? Anyway, I have left them as they are for now.....and will no doubt be redoing them as soon as I find some time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

See how time flies? I have been through another month of The Spring not quite arriving....

Bob Dylan came to Cardiff with his current band, and was excellent. My friend Judith came over from Somerset to watch - it was my present for her Sixtieth birthday (no secret, I hope Judith!) For Judith on her miscellaneous birthday........

I love the new band - especially playing the stuff from the new album - their album - Love and Theft - and we had a great view, as I had somehow bought tickets in the balcony, front row, centre stage. We could have done with binoculars, for close-ups, but we were right in the sound mix... Just up and behind the sound man.

Down on the floor people had to take their chances - thousands of standing, milling, dancing people below us. I heard good and bad reports about the sound and view down there - but there was no doubt that people mostly had a pretty good time. After the second encore Judith asked if it was the interval. Over two hours continuous music had flown by..........

The circus has its new show on the road - Sci Circus. The original crew do not appear on stage this year. Everyone is new (except Peter who joined recently, but has appeared in several shows). I saw the opening night, and enjoyed it a lot, in spite of my doubts (even rebels resist change) and after a wobbly start (it isn't easy telling the audience they don't have seats to settle into, but have to MOVE) I really got into it and enjoyed it a lot. The kids I was with thought it was great, as they milled around in the crowd, finding their own viewpoint, while the action moved from place to place within the tent.

I loved Dan's hat routine, but I didn't get to tell him that.

Sponsored by Science Year - the theme of SciCircus is the place where science and circus meet - gravity, friction, inertia, centre of balance, fulcrums, pulleys, it's all there. This is not a pompous lecture, however. When the audience arrive they find lots of 'things to do' with a science theme - there are booths with distorting mirrors, and puzzles, and disorientation tricks. The show emerges from all this, and wanders about the space, incorporating shadow shows, theatre in the round, booth stage, and aerial circus feats, with the audience breaking and moving and reforming as they go and performers popping up all over the place, and the lights shifting. There are many amazing props, too, but I won't spoil that for you by describing them - large and small.

The circus skills were excellent, and eventually we were charmed by this strange crew......good clowning....great disruptive fun.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Just finished reading Tony Allen's Speaker's Corner Journal - it's a great read. It's on the New Agenda site, which is his charitable arts trust thing.
It is very evocative writing: not only can I hear/see his stand-up act (as was) but also the rather different style that he evolved for the particular oddity of Speaker's Corner's dynamics. It is both a guided tour and a critique; you are introduced to colourful characters, given an analysis of the various other speakers, and are even allowed a glimpse backstage of the creative process.

I also emailed his publisher and found that his book "Attitude: Wanna make something of it?" will be out in early October 2002.

If you don't know who Tony is, then check it out - without his influence a lot of what we now glibly call Alternative Comedy would never have happened, or not exactly in this form. He's the eminence gris - the Godfather of it all. You don't see him on tv much, so he doesn't have that widespread fame thing [but then again, he doesn't sell his soul to advertising, either].

I had the privilege of hanging out with him, being helpful, back a few years. This didn't involve much - taking money on the door at clubs, helping with leaflets, setting up workshops, etc. It helped me feel more like a friend than a ligger, at least! And (most importantly) I got to see him perform often, and in many different venues - as well as socialising a little. Still, the stand-up scene is a little daunting for a timid old fool like me - I have never been very Alpha - and Tony knows EVERYBODY.

Saturday, April 13, 2002

Just finished Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson, and in spite of the hassles of trying to read 900 pages while you are in a working week I have to say I've really enjoyed the ride. I am not going to do a precis here. It's too soon since I finished it.

Some of the links on the site seem to be having problems. Even this Blogger thing, since I now do it in BloggerPro, but often find myself in the standard format, too. Or is the server just slow at times?

Thursday, April 11, 2002

It's a funny old world - just as I was expecting a dull year. [The only excitement was a very vague possibility of a Jabba get-together at a Texas Star Wars Convention in October.]

A man stepped out of the elevator today, who said he was a researcher for a daytime tv programme (and in case they want me to be secret plant in the audience, I won't say who, just now) who might consider me a 'colourful local character'. I rarely say no to stuff (that's how I ended up in ALL the good things I did, and a few of the bad.)

They'll let me know.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

I have been neglecting this diary for a while - so here's just a quick update. Keili came for a whirlwind visit, and is as amazing as I expected and more (we didn't meet for a long time).

Spring has arrived, bright but cold.

I spotted Tony Allen's site at last: NewAgenda
He's the original alternative comedian - the godfather of it all - a 'mixed ability shaman' - an act you shouldn't miss if you ever get the chance. And he's got a book coming out, too: "Attitude: Wanna make something of it?". Look out for that.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Things change fast, don't they? Yesterday was Julie's 40th, and also the day that my son Keili rang me to say he was in London, and hoping to get down to visit for the weekend. We haven't met in many years, as he was living in Australia, and more recently America.

So it's another of those big change moments - just when I thought life was drifting into dull and routine again.

And it means that I am not going to the British Juggling Convention, in Whitstable, even though Graham and Irene will be there. I wasn't going to go (indeed I am cat-sitting for the circus), but I could have made up for missing him in Hawaii. Priorities shift, and now I am definitely going to be here on homebase. I gather there is a video of the festival available now, which I will try to get hold of, and I was sent a list of people's contacts.

And so it goes.....

Monday, March 18, 2002

Oh - it's still grey and wet here, I am afraid. Tans fade fast.

And I am still very wary about doing things with the servers at work, as they play up a little when I am on my own [our technical whizz is on leave] - I am surviving, however, and providing a reasonable [if not perfect] service, so I must have learned a fair amount in the last year, since joining this department.

I did return to aches and pains though - after three weeks of feeling OK in Hawaii. Whether that is just rheumatic stuff from the climate, or stress from the work, or what, I have no idea. I wasn't exactly burning with energy while I was away, but I was jumping up in the mornings [tropical dawn]. Now I have that hibernating sloth about my mornings again...hey ho.

Julie is doing loads of work to the garden, [with the help of younger, stronger, cleverer men], setting out to build a verandah, as well as paving the 'sunning space' in the middle. Photos wil go up when my new PC is in place. I am having a blessed rest from computers at home right now - reading books and stuff - it's great!

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

I am not getting a lot of time on here at the moment. Still got erratic sleep patterns, and no direct access to the Net from home at the moment. I will try to get more interesting material into this at some point, but right now it is just a useful diary....

Aloha! to everyone who was in Hawaii - and a special big hug for Irene and Graham. Mahalo!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

I am fairly sure that it was my CPU which burned out. No P.O.S.T. beeps, and the last message I saw from my hardware doctor was CPU fan overheating.

I could start playing around replacing parts, but it could be a rather expensive project, so I am going to bite the bullet and go into debt [that is cheerfully known as 'credit' to this generation] to buy a new PC. I might as well get up to speed - it doesn't stop me tinkering in my spare time....

Really, I am more inclined to get on with writing, and designing, than the hardware geek stuff [even though I find that more interesting than I did before]. Dull stuff, right now, I am afraid, but it's just diary notes to self, not publising as such. Blog has become such a phenomena that I feel I should be making more effort, but I just find it useful for quick diary notes to self....I could almost make this a private Blog with very little loss. It's only because I tagged this one to the website that I leave it open to view....

Saturday, March 09, 2002

I have been stumbling through a week at work. Let me tell you - jet-lag when travelling West to East is a real effect! I thought I was good at late nights, and wayward bodyclock behaviour, but this turned me inside out. I arrived at work at what felt like midnight, and by the end of the working day it is like watching the dawn come up after an all-night rave....

So when people ask me if I enjoyed the break, I can't really remember, I feel so weird. Hey Ho.

And while I was gone the home computer developed strange noises and behaviour, and I started fiddling with it on my return, and now it is off-line, and semi-dismantled, as I try to decide which fan is making a noise, whether the CPU is overheating, whether my motherboard is burned out, etc. I suppose I shouldn't have started messing with it in the jet lag mode.....I was only gone three weeks, and the household machines started playing up. The video wouldn't work for those left behind [although I have reset that].

So don't expect many changes in the webpage, until I get myself back online. I can just about monitor my emails, and do these blogs, but that's about it.

[Just a wave to a face in the crowd] "Great news, Caroline!"

Monday, March 04, 2002

And now I am back. Jet-lagged. Stiff neck. Disorientated. Back to work in about 6 hours.

I am a little bit browner, (in spite of the tropical downpours which dominated the end of the festival); a bit older; only slightly wiser.

I don't regret having a trip instead of buying a new computer (when you're poor all choices are either/or). I met some great people, who put up with my wayward ways and funny attitiudes - and I learned a couple of new tricks (although I still didn't get into club passing, which seems to dominate the juggling sub-culture even now). And I don't have time to sort through the photos just yet, but I will post a few at some point.

I had a bit of time to think, and saw some very funny acts, and talked to some fascinating people. The journey was pretty tough in both directions (thanks to delays, American Security issues, etc) but was a price worth paying, I guess.

More soon.

Aloha to all friends (past, present and future) and family (wherever you are).

Friday, March 01, 2002

And I didn't get my standby in San Francisco, so I have pounded the streets around my old haunts in North Beach (1971?), found a nice (cheap) hotel, and this Internet Cafe. Went to City Lights, (good to find continuity in an ever-changing world)...didn't spend TOO much....

Back to UK tomorrow...........

Thursday, February 28, 2002

This is from an Internet cafe in Honolulu on the way back from the Festival...and I am using a Japanese keyboard, so it is forcing me to touch type. I have had a great time, despite all sorts of difficulties (and my own timidity). It has also not been sun-bathing, but tropical stuff - ending with three days of torrential downpours (just like Glastonbury Festival....)

I haven't got time to do a long version now, but should be back at my homebase in a few days.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Well, I don't think I should be allowed to cross the road on my own, let alone go around the planet! I was packed and ready to go, doing the last minute bits....then I thought 'I'll just post that letter and go'. As the Post Office is next door, I nipped out to post Judith an ephemeris I found (it used to be a tradition), but, as the door clicked, I thought - 'I've already put the keys in the bag' - not thinking I would need them for a couple of weeks! Locked out! And although Julie normally works a quarter mile away - just today she is on a training session miles away...her sister (who has a key) is out...and I'm standing on the road in the drizzling rain - kicking myself. Hawaii seems a long way away. Well, there again, it really is! I am not flying until tomorrow, but I wanted to catch a little bit of London - so it is only stupid, and not disastrous. ["Dis-aster" OR the stars are making things difficult]

When I used to travel quite a bit, I didn't make many mistakes - I had routines. One of them was to never put keys in the bag until you've left the city...It's a funny old time. Still, I popped in to the circus house and caught a couple of friends to say goodbye to...Peter in from Finland and Dan (going out with the circus tour for the first time this year). So that was nice. I am just so jittery - it is weird. Of course - it's Chinese New year tomorrow, so it's a new moon...and (if you believe this stuff) there are loads of planets in Aquarius - including the Sun conjunct Uranus, and the moon just passed Neptune...and so on.

It's just me. I know this is some sort of Vision Quest to regain my perspective, or enthusiasm or something...It is a bold and dramatic move for no apparent reason. Still, I am not doing it very well. It was only on Saturday that I lost my wallet - so I will be a cash traveller, just as I always was before. I thought (just this once) I would be like everyone else and have a credit card backup. Well, I've had to stop that. I only got one two years ago to buy a computer, and do a bit of online shopping - I don't really use credit the way most people seem to these days.

Still, and all - what kind of clown am I? Take a deep breath - and 'Take Two'. I am sitting at the circus computer (where it all started a couple of years ago, as Ali and I took our first tentative steps out into the Internet, under Steve's guidance). I confess my inablity to do things smoothly....it's just craziness, but I guess that is what is all about...I have been sensible and reliable for quite some time now, and it is driving me nuts - well, no, it's not that bad, but I am dog-tired and bone weary, and that's for sure.

Friday, February 01, 2002

I have knocked the adverts off this page now, with my great new PayPal account....

I'll calm down, soon - I get excited about all this. Even paying my Income Tax electronically was a gas! Sad, huh?
Well, I don't know how I am going to do this without stress - when all I want to do is potter along on an adventure...
I don't want to be much more organised than not missing crucial planes....
That's it, for me...

I have started by becoming a Pro Blogger - I mean, I am VERY pro-blogger as it happens. I just got grumpy when my ISP decided not to let me publish it direct on my website [Thanks ntl] [Irony] because I had just sussed out how to put pictures on, and I couldn't do that with BlogSpot...or at least, I couldn't work out how to....

I greatly empathise with Evan William's efforts [sounds like a Welshman - I live in Cardiff, now] - as I seem to have ended up at a node in the local library's network in the middle of an upgrade AND and network merging, so I spend a LOT of time with people asking me why it doesn't work...and trying to stay both polite AND enthusiastic...

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

I am just beginning to realise how close I am getting to going around the planet. A bit of a shock for someone who doesn't even like getting into cars unless it seems absolutely necessary.

Planes! Several planes - through a war zone!

Perhaps this is really the last fling, before settling down to going no further than I can walk...like a good peasant, and timeless human.
One last extravagant gesture. Of course, the average worker in the UK expects a couple of weeks every year in a sunny place nowadays...so I am actually the old stick-in -the mud. Yet I work with people who remember going to Greece in 1971 and not liking all that foreign language and changing of money. And I thought 1986 was a long time ago for travelling off the island.

But then again, when I went to The USA [between 1969 -71, and again, briefly, in 1986] I suddenly realised that being a big country, with travelling an essential part of the culture, and plenty of wealth, doesn't mean that people ever leave their own culture. So many Americans who don't even have a passport. Amazing.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Apparently the Gig raised about £4000 for the Red Cross. That's got to be good.

It would have been the birthday of my much beloved friend Mick Swain [now in another dimension] on Friday, and it will be W.C.Fields' birthday on the 29th. I don't really DO birthdays myself [much to the annoyance of people who do], but I try to make an effort sometimes.

My own is coming up, and will [hopefully] be spent on the far side of the planet...just for the hell of it.

As Fields wrote to one of HIS friends, however, 'If you keep on having these birthdays, you're going to die.....'

Or, even better [if you can hear the voice in your head] 'It's a funny old world, a man's lucky to get out of it alive...'

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Last night a lot of artists donated their services free for a fund raiser for the Red Cross in Afghanistan....local bands like Doofer, Captain Paranoid and the Delusions and Talkshow where excellent; I enjoyed Flannel from Brighton. We also had a DJ set from two of Alabama Three, and a guy from the Super Furry Animals. The dance troupe Neutrino did a piece, and members of the circus could be found juggling and stilt-walking in the crowd.

I have no idea how much money might be raised, after paying for the hall, etc - but it was a great little mid-winter festival.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Reading Simon Louvish on The Marx Brothers.....

His W.C.Fields book is winging its way to me too....
Monday arrived, and the system was not entirely back in place. This evening I decided that I could not put off the Inland Revenue any longer - if I don't pay by the end of January, I get fined...

I decided to use an online tax calculator, and register with the e-government version of the IR. Go the whole hog. Still, at least it's pay day tomorrow, although this month the money is gone before it arrives. Only that damned cheque from my online tutor job stands between me and oblivion....and I have been waiting a month.

Ho Hum - I do have a little bit of a credit rating, now [steady job], so it's not like 4 years ago, when penniless really was PENNILESS, and I finally gave up on the show biz dream after all those years. When it's November, you have no money or credit, no work coming up, and the welfare are not interested in helping [because they said I had a 'notional income' of £118 per week!] it gets rough, especially if you've turned 50. That's how I ended up in the library.

I thought, "if I am not going to perform, then I have to either work with books or fruit and vegetables." Not being a gardener, nor wanting to get up at the crack of dawn to go to the market - it had to be books. Then it was just commercial books [shops] or non-commercial [libraries].

It was an OK decision in the circumstances. Especially as they started getting modern, and introducing other services like CD-Roms, videos, Internet access, etc. It's just so badly paid for the number of hours we do - but then, Wales is a poor relation in the UK and in Europe....and the Library Service [being non-profit making] is the poor relation in political circles. So that side of my life has remained the same....

Saturday, January 12, 2002

And here I am at the library on a Saturday. The Council workers, integrating the systems, told us at 4.30 yesterday that they were taking the system down today, at lunchtime.

Of course, politicians have the weekend off, and Saturday [for a library] is our busiest day! We were told so late that my department boss is away, and I have just returned from an optician's appointment...

Now I sit here with my fingers crossed that they don't take longer than necessary to get the system working....otherwise, in half an hour, my phone is going to jump off the hook, as 16 branch libraries come back from lunch, and can't log back in!

We are lucky here, at the Central Library, because we are still on our reliable old private, exclusive network....but that will not be true for much longer. We are just going to have to train them to remember us / and our opening hours / before they tackly changes to the system in the future.

Gotta go - try it all again...of course, I can't contact them, BECAUSE THE SYSTEM IS DOWN. Don't you love it. :-(

Thursday, January 10, 2002

It's a hard time for computers. Blogger has got a very slow server at the moment, so you can't always publish on the spur of the moment; one of my webmails at www.postmaster.co.uk has got spam/viurs/hacker problems [I am not sure which] which means email is not getting through; now my ISP has trouble with it's email, so I can sometimes Send, and sometimes not.

I won't even mention my job - moving an old but functional network [for just the library service] into a highspeed connection, integrated with the rest of the Council network, all during working days - and trying to keep the level of service up....all for peanuts [no I won't say what kind of low pay library people get in Wales, suffice to say it is well below what is considered a minimum wage in the rest of Europe. Hey Ho. It's OK so long as I am learning something new.........

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Howling Wolf

spoken: Man, you know I've enjoyin' things that kings and queens will never have
In fact, things kings and queens can't never get
And they don't even know about it
And good times? mmmmmmmmm-mmmh)

I have had my fun, if I never get well no more
I have had my fun, if I never get well no more
Whoa, my health is fadin'
Oh yes, I'm goin' down slow

(spoken: Now looky here
I did not say I was a millionaire
But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire
'Cause if I had kept all of the money I had already spent,
I'd would have been a millionaire a long time ago
And women? Well, Googly Moogly)

Please write my mama
Tell her the shape I'm in
Please write my mama
Tell her the shape I'm in
Tell her pray for me
Forgive me for my sins

Blues Lyrics Site

Sunday, January 06, 2002

I have been neglecting this blog slightly. I have been busy as an online tutor for the library staff, and my health hasn't been great [and it's mid-winter over here, let's face it!]

I was trying to find the best way to use the [very limited] holiday allocation which the library gives me [as a relatively new member of staff], and messed up. A series of events, choices, hesitations and misunderstandings led to my booking a place at the Juggling Festival in Hawaii, when my partner would not be able to free up enough time to join me. Doh!

I have tried to go to this event for 15 years or so. My son and his mother have been, many years back; most of my circus friends from here in Cardiff have gone at one time or another. I never have much money [especially in February] and the few times I COULD have afforded the trip I was working! I shuffled, and juggled, and figured that I could just about make it this year...and was pretty selfish to make the final impulsive decision without properly warning or consulting my partner that she would have to organise her own end of it if she wanted to come too.

I have no excuse. I was tentatively putting it all into place, trying to make it possible, still suspecting it would be another year when I would miss the boat [plane], but it was the day George Harrison died [and you might have to be my generation to care] and I knew I couldn't put it off another year..... Seize the Day!
I have been using blogs [web logs] for a while now. I have a private diary blog [which I can use for notes to myself, rants, grumbles, or whatever]; I tried a family forum blog but that didn't keep going, and now drifts in cyberspace like a ghost ship]; and this one, which is written knowing you [whoever you are] MIGHT be reading over my shoulder. It's really a notebook, however. It's not carefully written, so I might sometimes be rude, inaccurate, or indiscrete, but it's NOT AIMED AT YOU [you read it at your own risk].

I recommend signing up at www.blogger.com. You can always keep your own blog private - but it gives you access to other published blogs, so you can see what people are doing with them. You'll find exhibitionists; self-publishing artist/writers; forums; journalism [for instance during the terrible days in September last year the New York blogs gave a much more vivid account of what it was like to be there than the media did - and the online media was so swamped with demand that you couldn't get in, anyway]. The blogs got me straight there -

I think I upset a couple of people with one of my postings [so I've deleted it] but it really is supposed to be a quick update page for me to use for sketching, jotting, etc. My website is the only bit which I would consider to be 'published' - and there I try not to upset people, or mislead them.
Happy New Year [if you are using the Gregorian Calendar].
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