Saturday 31 August 2013

...but I'm Feeling Good

.. rather physically better than I have for a long, long time. If something is working then you tend to do more of it , even if it may not seem logical or you don't actually know why it's really working. Still I haven't noticed that I've lost any weight but three sets of scales say I have , so I'm going to try and keep doing what I've been doing in the hope that I can get weight down a lot further.

I've made efforts in the past and read articles that diet drinks can actually cause you to put weight on because they mess with your metabolism , but the six teaspoonfuls of sugar in your average full fat Coca Cola can't do you any good either.  The guy at the hospital says if I lose too much weight I'll be pulled from the trial for the fatty liver treatment , but if I'm losing weight I'm not going to stop for the sake of a trial , they can find something else, just hope it's not the tablets that are causing the weight loss.

I think it's something else that is helping me with the weight loss though , which will sound too mental to be true , but I'm going to keep on with it. Anyway basically despite the odd cloud on todays horizon , I feel good and we had victories for Preston , Newcastle and Crystal Palace which also means Sunderland are still without a win in the League so good times are coming ..

Disturbed By Payday Loans Companies

Today is really sunny and has been fine but my walk from The Stateside Diner to the Green Market took me past a few payday loans places. The purported concept of a payday loan is creditable , a short term loan to cope with an unexpected event. The reality is that for people in a reasonable financial situation that can easily be resolved using a credit card , overdraft or similar.

The reality of payday loans company is that their main users are people who cannot go to banks to help them , and often end up having to pay the extortionate rates for a very long time because they end up taking a short term loan to pay off your previous short term loan.

The thing that shocks is how mainstream they have become , with TV advertising, celebrity endorsement (I saw one featuring David Dickinson today) , and sponsoring of football teams such as Newcastle United , Blackpool and Hull. So they are obviously raking in the money with an effectively captive market , standing between their clients and either loan sharks or destitution. That makes them sound good.

I really don't what the answer is, bar ensuring employers pay a living wage and ensuring that essentials such as food, utilities , transport and power are not allowed to hike their prices as and when they deem fit for the benefit of the shareholders. And this is not the fault of the companies , they have to answer to shareholders and their only purpose is to fill shareholders pockets. It is the fault of governments who sell off services in the name of "giving people a chance to share in the profits" when in reality what happens is that the people who can't afford to buy shares (the payday loans companies' captive market) line the pockets of those who can afford to buy shares.

There's something wrong when a county's utilities are owned by a foreign company.

Anyway that's my post over . Sorry it's been a general downer. But at least it's a reason to post the excellent Aloe Blacc song "I Need A Dollar".

Behind The Wall Of Sleep

When I was young I had problems sleeping , which persisted up to getting a job as a computer operator working continental shifts which meant I learnt to sleep anytime anywhere when the opportunity came. Certainly didn't do me any harm . I can sleep on buses , trains anywhere where it's safe to do so. In my life I've never missed a train stop and only missed a bus stop twice so I do have it down to a fine art.

The problem is my body is so well adjusted to the concept is I get  situations like now. Yesterday I had a lot of important stuff on at work , I had a hospital appointment in the morning and needed to provide one small report ideally by ten o' clock , plus some data extracts.

Something woke up , I don't know what , so then my mind started racing and thought if I spend an hour now I can get that report done, then I can have a nap during the day when I am bound to need one. Well report and data extracts got done , went back to bed , got up , went to hospital got back and worked through to just after five  (why does everything become really important at 4:30 on a Friday?) , then eventually got out to meet some friends at The Strawberry at six o'clock.

A good night was had by all severely tempted by Lynn and Julie's bowls ofchilli and chips / curry and chips (you must try if you ever go in there), but I resisted , and came home. By half past nine was shattered so went to bed.

Half past three I woke up. I've had six hours of sleep so it's time to get up my body say. My eyes say different , but thought I may as well write this down. I hope what will happen today is that I will have a lie in or nap or something and by tonight I will be back to normal , in fact I know that's what will happen. Anyway I thought an excellent song for this post was The Smithereens "Behind The Wall Of Sleep" , Black Sabbath do a song of the same name probably based on the HP Lovecraft story.. Maybe I can find that soon .

Friday 30 August 2013

Can You Make A Wasp Smile?

For some reason I am posting a lot at the moment. I don't know why it's nt as though I have anything interesting to say. But was getting buzzed by a wasp and wondered if it makes them happy that they annoy and frighten people. Although wasp could be WASP , the acronym for White Anglo Saxon Protestant or the 8o's beat combo, famous for the ditty recommending you to be like Doctor Dolittle.

Anyway as the Ape of Wrath stated wasps are the insect world's own football hooligans. One is bad enough but swarms are downright scary. I once saw a column of wasps in Sedbergh, mesmerising and frightening at the same time. However wasps are mere amateurs compared with hornets as this attack in Yorkhire states, when some runners had the temerity to disturb some hornets. Hornets can be up to 2.2" in length , so that's a big aggressive insect you don't want to get on the wrong side of.

Anyway I have been wasp and hornet free, so I chose a Jonathan Richman song to soundtrack this post, so life is good for me.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Going Down

Enough of these positive vibes , people really don't like them. Only joking , but lots of people really don't . Yesterday I had a shock when I weighed myself on the Wii and it told me I had lost 13 lbs since I was lost on (admittedly a while back) but it's  the biggest loss I've recorded on there. I'm still lardy as hell and the Wii reckons I should be 11 stone , but that's more than a way off yet.

This is coinciding with a dramatic reduction in my insulin intake which was ludicrously high at one point , nearing 200 units a day.  I'd got it down to 150 a day then someone put me onto to some positive thinking stuff, and the insulin has come down to 100 a day now , that's a 33% reduction , which in turn stops you from putting lots of weight on. So the two are working in tandem , losing weight means lowering insulin intake which in turn helps you lose weight.

So basically weight is going down and insulin requirements are going down. I cant see that I've lost any weight but some people have said they have noticed. However tomorrow is a moment of truth when the hospital weigh me and hopefully I don't find the Wii is faulty.

Can Negativity Be A Positive Experience?

I feel that I'm getting like a stuck record , but woke up early and this phrase  / posit came to mind. The sayings "Some people are only happy when they're miserable" and "A pessimist is never disappointed" come to mind ,  and given the success of Eastenders ,Coronation Street and Emmerdale you can see why . People enjoy at least seeing and sometimes causing other peoples misery .

Comedy is very close to tragedy , the old banana skin joke requires (literally) a fall guy. It's difficult to come up with comedy that doesn't involve someone elses misfortune or putting them down.

Anyway it's back to my previous post , where a negative statement would be "don't cross the road without looking , you might get knocked down by a car" , whereas a positive statement would be "Look before you cross the road" . Possible pitfalls are implied , but don't need explicitly stating, if they do , your subject is in need of help.

The word STOP is actually a positive statement , it is telling you to take an action, which is probably for your own good and will at least allow you to take stock of the situation.

However really I cannot see negativity as being a positive experience , in any circumstances. Yes be prepared , yes be sensible , but always stay positive, and that will keep you spirits up and keep you happy as a bonus side effect. Anyway I promise my next post will be technology or music related and not full of my cod philosophising and analysis.

Wednesday 28 August 2013


I don't know if it's a real word , but if it isn't it certainly should be. And it certainly is a way towards finding true happiness, if someone is positive they cannot be miserable. I was watching a TED talk about creative genius today and learned quite a lot from it , one of which is to seize the moment when something comes into your head . And this is what happened with this post. I hadn't thought about posting but something just sparked it off. This is the talk , it's about twenty minutes from Elizabeth Gilbert where she talks about coping with the success of "Eat , Pray, Love"

It is amazing how some people can always put a negative spin on great success. Great success should be celebrated. It's irrelevant whether you do it again , firstly you HAVE done it , secondly it gives you something to aim for in the future and you can always say I did that. Having a success like that you make the rest if your life something to be enjoyed.

I would love to write a book , but as yet haven't come up with an idea , maybe one day I will , I certainly have a long way to go and have no intention of taking my foot of the pedal for many years yet.

Anyway basically if there are setbacks learn from them , go on further and just do better next time , and when you do succeed , enjoy the moment and you will have set your marker for the next time.

Focusing On The Good - Don't Stop Believin'

I always to try to write posts with a positive spin , because always try to look for positives however bad the situation. It's the easiest thing in the world to find fault with things. I've known people who when they couldn't find fault would criticize a person for being "too perfect" , or who's measures consist of "not enough" or "too much" ensuring things can never meet their expectations.

The thing is life is what it is and is complicated beyond belief , but is easy and rewarding beyond belief if you look for the good and positives in situations. Take the two statements "Remember" and "Don't Forget"  , the first is a forceful positive one the second negative and implying that you may be at fault. They both mean the same thing but negative words can have negative effects.

If I just miss a bus I use the opportunity to walk to the next stop and in theory reduce my lardiness, I don't stress about it , and sometimes things like that open up new opportunities.

Sometimes in the world there are great tragedies, which the only positives I find that at such times people are willing to help those affected by the tragedies , restoring faith in humanity.

So today if something goes wrong in life learn from it , and take the opportunity to see if you can benefit from it. You may be surprised by the support and kindness of others and always take help if it's offered and it will benefit you , and if you can't take it then still engage with the offerer.

I don't know if this post has been positive , I didn't know what I was going to write about when I started it , but hope that someone enjoys it and finds some empathy.

And remember tomorrow is your change to improve on today. I chose the final scene in the Sopranos with Journey's  "Don't Stop Believin'" soundtrack because I love that scene so much , it's just perfect . Have a totally brilliant day - I know I will.

Monday 26 August 2013

Birthdays and Bank Holidays

I can't remember so many birthdays coming in such a short period of time , starting with my sisters on Thursday and my friend Claire's today. On Saturday was at a surprise party for my friend Sheelagh's 60th which she was lured to under the pretext of Theresa (the fantastic organiser and host) had broken her ankle or something. I'm sure no one will mind me mentioning them in this context , and lets face it with the internet and Facebook , privacy is at a bit of a premium these days.

Yesterday was another great day at The Schooner with Big Ray and The Chestwigs (see here) and today we have a High Bridge Quarter Festival again , which will mean street food and great music.

It's amazing that although I've had a three day weekend , I haven't had a second to relax , and enjoying yourself is the best form of relaxation possible in reality and I've certainly enjoyed this weekend.

Started on Friday with a great night in The Stand , then Saturday's party , Sunday's gig as well as a stop off at the Stateside Diner for a five dollar shake. All in all a brilliant weekend and looking forward to an even more brilliant week even though I have to go to wok.

The video is Big Red and The Grinners covering Aerosmith at a previous High Bridge gathering

Saturday 24 August 2013

Unlimited? Really?


  1. Not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent.
  2. (of a company) Not limited.

boundless - unbounded - limitless - infinite

One of my biggest annoyance is the number of phone and broadband companies who offer (in usually BIG type) UNLIMITED* services , the in small type somewhere on the page or brochure often in type that is unreadable to me (I am old and decrepit)  a *subject to fair usage policy which may imply that that they will limit or stop your plan if you exceed that amount.

The problem is that texts and voice time minutes are now almost not bothering about and can be made truly unlimited , but if your text or minutes limits are say 5000 why not say that?   Companies should not be redefining language - that is a euphemism for lying.

I am not going to mention any companies by name , though everyone knows who I work for , and am pleased that at least they are showing plans with defined data amounts that are in your face when you buy it. I admire honesty.

One thing I've recently learned is that 15 minutes browsing on Facetime will use 20MB of data , that's a short time on one app , I could to three or four times that amount on my way to and from work . You can see how that mounts up. People often just see their plans in terms of minutes and texts, not realising that they are actually using data.

Lots of friends including people going abroad (where data can cost £8 a Mb ! 15 minutes of Facetime £160 !! - Downloading a film you'll pay for the rest of your life :) ). Fiona just uses Facetime and The Guardian yet is racking up 1.5 GB a month - in certain countries that would cost  £12000 if my maths is correct.

So next time you see someone offering UNLIMITED* subject to fair usage policy , check it out or ask the person in the shop what it means and get them to put their signature on it.

I think Eddie Izzard's rant on iTune's Terms and Conditions is very pertinent here.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Blue Sky Day and Data Usage

Today started grey and rainy but things took a major turn for the better and by the time I left work it was actually very hot . I don't know if feeling good in myself affects the weather or it's the other way round , but a very difficult day  was dealt with and things just improved and got better throughout the day. So this is one of those blog posts which actually about nothing , there will probably be no tags unless it's about the terrible phone signal I had on my journey from Darlington to Newcastle, quite often dropping out making things unusable. It was a Cross-Country Train and some people hve said that they scramble the mobile signal so you have to use their extortionate and flakey wifi , though I'm sure that is just some kind of urban legend.

On thing though is that a signal along a main railway line should be reasonably strong , although ironically it does disappear as you approach London's Kings Cross station. These days Mobile Phone companies are heavy on the data sell , but if are going to use data you need a signal. My first desk top PC had a hard drive capacity of 10 Mb , that would store a pop song these days. My phone , a Samsung Note 2 has 48 Gb of memory and you will use 20Mb of data browsing Facebook for 15 minutes. You're gobbling and you don't realise it.

Anywa I am home now and probably have about a thousand time more processing power than what they used to  put a man on the moon. We live in privileged times and it's only going to get better. The music is appropriate and Nazareth cover of a Yardbirds song. Ended up rambling on and managing to fit one or two tags in.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Chestwigs in the Night

This morning was the first time for months where when I got up it was still dark . Admittedly it was 5am and had not slept well due to a very mild tummy upset , but it's still a bit disconcerting to think that the days are drawing in once again . Not that it stops you doing anything and it does mean you get to see the sun rise.

Also it means I get to write this blog post and have a look see what's happening in the world today before I make my way to work.

I am looking forward to this weekend with a great gig on Sunday with The Star Spangled Chestwigs supporting Big Ray and The Hipthrusters at The Schooner and lots of other secret Bank Holiday fun. Enjoy their version of By The Rivers of Babylon (s Burning)

Anyway time to do what I need to do before another day doing what I do.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Blue for You

This morning one of my favourite albums came into my mind , and I fancied posting a music video on Facebook. I thought a quick youtube search would return one of the songs I wanted , but no , no sign. Maybe it was because it was ten to seven and my bus was at seven. Then I got to thinking how much in life gets taken for granted. We expect the sunto rise and set , that's a given. We expect the light to come on when we press a light switch , we expect water to flow when we turn on the tap, we expect our buses and trains to turn up and deliver us safely to our destinations , when we get in our cars we expect it to fire up and go in whatever direction we point it. Anyway that the sort of deep stuff.

In relation to the internet we are used to searches returning us what we want , or at least something relevant (unless it's Bing or Ask,com). Then I remembered certain bands such as "A" and "!!!" (pronounced chk chk chk apparently) who are unsearchable on most search engines so you need to know exactly where you are going. The song I was thinking of was "Another Night Time Flight" from the eponymous album by Blue . You can sample it here. I was listening to the album on the way to work and posted a couple of comments asking iof people could get what I was listening to. Despite a few clues and one fairly close guess no one got it so I will be making a donation to St Catherine's Hospice unless someone has worked it out while I am writing this post. Their Wikipedia entry is here fronted by ex Marmalade guitarist Hugh Nicholson , so the answer is out . One of mine and the late John Peel's favourites. Well worth a listen.

No one guessed so , St Catherine's Hospice will get the donation.

About The Weather .. And Newcastle

I seem to have been posting a lot about the weather recently, mainly to report biblical deluges. It's funny how the bad things usually get people's attention, while the good stuff is taken for granted and not remarked upon. We've had an excellent summer, plenty of sunbathing opportunities and I haven't needed a jacket to go into work. When you point this out the good summer seems to have passed people by. It's the best we've had for years .

I've been to several music festivals and all have had great weather . Not only that we've had overnight rain which has meant that the hosepipe has not come out for the garden. This morning the sun is shining again boding well for another great day.

Last night Newcastle started their season with a 4-0 defeat at Manchester City. The result was not unexpected , but Newcastle fans see it as a disaster. They were playing a team who are tipped to win the Premiership , on their own home ground and due the Stephen Taylor's red card played half the match with ten men. I didn't watch it , but don't see it as a disaster either . Write that off and start with the next match at St James' Park against West Ham.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Don't Give Me Space(s)

There is one thing , well there are a lot of things , that so called data suppliers and system designers seem unable to grasp. The one I'm on about is the processing of leading and trailing spaces in data strings. While this may be required for data formatting in say a Word document or on a web page , it should never be treated as an integral part of the data. At this point to have to remember that computers are essentially dumb and just do what they are told ...... perfectly  ..... too perfectly at times.

So at work I find that on certain systems , searches and comparisons are unable to take into consideration spurious leading and trailing spaces , when the simple application of the trim function (preferably on data entry , but also in the actual search / comparison)  would save a lot of messing about. To me FIVE = FIVE  . Doesn't it? Oh no the second on has an extra trailing space! The n there's also case sensitivity which should be i the control of the user but often isn't.

Anyway the thing that got me going on this was the changing of my iTunes id. Fairly simple I though, until verification of the new email. Then I kept getting password doesn't match error. Tried the old . the new and my nick name. Nothing worked. Then thought , no , it can't be , there was a space at the front of the email field but because of kerning it was hardly noticeable. Removed it , and it worked. Why couldn't Apple trim the input ? Or are leading and trailing spaces allowable in a name?

Thought this gave me an excuse to post Space Is Deep by Hawkwind , featuring one of my favourite saxophone solos of all time, starting with some brilliant drone guitar about 3:20 , though listening to this it sounds more like a synthesiser , but who cares it is brilliant.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Early Morning Rain

Well a trip to Penrith today , and hope the weather turns out better that it is looking now. Yesterday was like that a deluge during the night followed by early morning rain and then by home time blue skies. Check out my Instagram feed here . Hope the light will be good enough to take some photographs and I'm takeing both my cameras and my iPad just in case I get the opportunity for some good shots.

I will be traveling along the route of the River Tyne from Newcastle parallel to Hadrians Wall , which I helped light up in 2010. Check the link above and you will find some video . One thing about taking photographs and videos is that you never actually appear in them , although then again I could not afford to keep replacing the broken lenses, I think I've only seen a handful of acceptable photographs of me and the current profile pic is over five years old , so need to replace that soon .

Anyway , I know today will brighten up , there are lots of good things happening , and I will see some wonderful scenery, but will leave you with the excellent Gordon Lightfoot song eponymous with this post:

Friday 16 August 2013

More Rain

Last night at 2am I was woken up by a huge downpour. The upside is that I don't have to water the garden , but as my contact lenses settled in my eyes , focusing slowly on a magazine ensuring the right lens in the right eye, I could still hear the rain coming down , admittedly not as bad during the night. I had been tempted to video it as deep rivulets streamed down the road outside, but decided not to (it was 2am).

Hopefully the trains will still be running on time and the tracks haven't been washed away. We shall see. Not sure if the song is appropriate as it's now after the deluge, but there's still a lot of rain in the sky , so who knows I may be boating home and it's and excuse to play the wonderful Jackson Browne. 

Oh I managed to export a picture from Artrage, amazing how an unconnected event can stimulate the mind into working out how to do things. It's definitely not intuitive , but that's down to Apple's super intuitive interface. Thing is generally iPads are mostly for looking not doing , but I can actually start working on pictures in Artrage. It's very primitive but this is the first one I've done , mainly to test that I can actually get stuff out  of it!


Thursday 15 August 2013

Blank Canvas and Saltires

It's funny when you want to really do something but every time you try , it just doesn't work out. I'm working with a program called Artrage and am amazed how counter intuitive the software is. Basically I what to draw a picture , and it gets part of the way the screws up my picture. I'm having similar problems with Garageband. Have my first completed piece but it won't export to iTunes, I've just removed all the music and it still seems to hang.

 Having said that the pict, is getting better each time so, who knows it may turn out OK in the end.

The thing this calls to mind Robert The Bruce and the spider which  I thought was immortalised in a poem by Robert Burns . I must have been imagining it . So we'll just go for this Eddi Reader singing "Ae Fond Kiss" , and why not:

Monday 12 August 2013

Three fingers , Left Hand and a real Bass Guitarist

The little finger is slowly improving , I think , but still waiting to see a neurologist. The muscle wastage is visible , and not sure what that will mean in the future, I've been playing about with Garageband on the iPad and still trying to extricate my first (very basic) composition out of it. Each time it just stops working but it's great to play with . Anyway, I'm still having difficulty with guitar , though I've taught myself a rudimentary "Smokestack Lightnin'" m but still trying .

So I thought I'd maybe try the Tanglewood . I still can only use three fingers, but thought I'd try a bit of bass improvisation . Just recorded this too iPad so not trying to impress anybody , but it's ages since I even held a bass and so just did a little two minute improvisation , on quiet so not to annoy the neighbours too much. Stanley Clarke it is not!

I'm happy with the first try as nothing was planned and only just decided to do it now. So it's just a progress report and the hand is doing OK!!

Here's some real bass playing !!

Sunday 4 August 2013

Impatience and Doctor WHo

Why is it that people can't wait for anything these days. I'm made up that we have Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor , but couldn't they have kept it under wraps until the next generation. I've loved Peter Capaldi  from his role in the funnily atrocious Lair Of The White Worm , a Ken Russel excess fest full of single entendres , then Local Hero , and his probably crowning character as the swearily inventive spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.

So we now know robbing Matt Smith's exit of a huge chuck of suspense. If I were to choose some music to play it could be the Theme from Local Hero but instead I'm going to post Brian Eno#s "This" where the word this is repeated as the rhythm to the song. Has no bearing to what I'm talking about but I dont really care,

Friday 2 August 2013

Heat and Silence

This is going to be a very short post, but it's August now and trying to think of something to say. The weather is still hot , and there was a bit of rain today. That's about it. Somewhere down this blog there is an exercise that I carried out in Craster to write two thousand words with no planning whatsoever and it turned into an essay on the difficulties of trying to write two thousand words.

Anyway was talking with someone yesterday about how you can integrate silence into talking to enable things to sink in to a potential audience. almost all of us have filler words because we are uncomfortable with silence. Once these are pointed out you can eradicate them , because we tend to take our own behavior as the norm. So when we repetitively reuse a phrase it dilutes the meaning.

So that's