Wednesday 31 May 2017

The End of May

This is the last post for May, I've just watched the Tory / UKIP roadcrash of an election debate and will leave it to others to comment.

It's funny , after driving 450 miles yesterday and feeling wide awake, today I am actually tired, maybe work does tire me out because I have to think more. Also I have to cram all my start of month stuff into two days, but I should be able to prioritize and get the main stuff done.

My step challenge is back on course and tomorrow I have to go to the Post Office depot to pick something up, so should have a good start as well tomorrow. I'm way past a third of the way there, so the million steps will happen sooner rather than later.

Anyway this is a short one so we will finish with the Blue Oyster Cult's "Then Came The Last Days of May" , because it's the end of May.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

I Would Drive 450 Miles

That's what I did between 10AM and 8:30 PM today, between Newcastle and a hospital in Coventry that thinks is a great idea not to put it's name on any of the signs, unless it's "Main Hospital" , "Wadsworth" (or something) when I was looking for the University Hospital. They have the name over the front entrance which is recessed between some fairly tall structures.

So I went to park and then they give you ten minutes free without the option to pay any more. For most people it's probably fifteen minutes walk to the hospital front door. I got there in five and spoke to security about it who were fine and said if I get any problems give them a ring. I was willing to pay £2.50 but didn't get the option.

Anyway I said the the journey would give me something to write about and it was going brilliantly till I pulled out of Wooley Edge and straight into a traffic jam. due to an unspecified "police incident". An hour later I had moved three miles. The electronic signs about were saying "40" , maybe that was feet per minute.

Coming out of the jam , I thought I had my directions sorted but then junctions were confusing me, they didn't match what I thought I had read so ended up going up and down the M18 . off to Sheffield and back onto the M1 resulting in maybe forty miles of detour, when I saw MY mistake , not Google Maps (which I have history of it misdirecting me), though it's funny how you annoyance disappears when you realise that it''s your fault.

Well Fiona got her chauffeured ride home, and is now asleep.

My reward is a 12 hour fast and a hospital appointment tomorrow morning , that's after taking the car back and before going into work.

Going down and back I had tp stop at several service stations to take blood sugar readings (I have to do it every two hours otherwise I'm breaking the law) and really they haven't progressed much since the sixties, the only one that has is Tebay and that's on the M6 (and they have another on the M5) not the M1, so I thought an appropriate song was Roy Harper's "Watford Gap" which he got severely sued for, but it's still funny and descriptive of most service stations today except these day's they're branded.

Sleep well my friends.

Monday 29 May 2017

So Much For Obsession

Well the last two days I haven't made my 11K steps, I still am 12K ahead of my target and could possibly nip out for another walk and make up the 3.5K steps that I am short today.

I am feeling lethargic and apathetic, because I am waiting for a call that means that I need to drive down to Coventry and back, that's eight hours driving and I'm not a huge fan of driving, but it's far better than being stuck in hospital which is Fiona's situation at the moment.

I didn't even write yesterday but managed to catch up on "American Gods" so that's fine. The weather is grey, so not exactly inspiring.

The problem is when you are waiting on a call, you can't really start on something else or go out to a film or a gig, there's more important things in life than being selfish. I'm looking forward to having Fiona back and catching up on TV and then having a week's holiday next week.

So I though "The Waiting" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would be appropriate for the whole of this Bank Holiday Weekend. See I can't even write that many words even though I haven't written anything for two days. I am still keeping up the number of posts so have maintained #ATuneaDayinMay but I really should be writing more about stuff that is interesting really.

I'm sure the journey to Coventry and back will give me lots to write about, and I suppose the 250 or so words that are in this piece is not that small. I seem to remember doing 100 word essays at school, or maybe I am just imagining that, I wonder if my teachers ever counted how many words I wrote or was it just a threat to make sure I wrote enough to be read.

Who knows.

Anyway I will go out for another walk now , even though the weather is still greay.

I may have an early start tomorrow

Saturday 27 May 2017

Obsessed? Moi?

I started walking today before 5AM, did lots of things was absolutely shattered watched the English Cup Final and glad to see Arsene Wenger get his hands on some silverware and he still has his outrageous French accent and I love it.

When he came to Arsenal from the J-League's Grampus-8 (if my memory is still functioning) he transformed "boring" Arsenal into THE team you want to watch and that has been the situation for most of the last twenty years, no mean feat and while ALex Ferguson may have been a little more successful there's no doubt that Arsene Wenger transformed modern football.

But after the football I decided to rack up another thousand steps because I wanted a drink. I could have gone to the corner shop but went to the next one along, because I knew it would be further to walk and would mean I would hit 14K for today, that's a 3K surplus.

So am I obsessed? I see it as building in contingency for the days when I can't hit 11K and that may happen this week as a drive to Coventry and back in a day beckons, I am not sure an 11K (5 miles) walk will be first on my list.

This is my third post today so my average of #ATuneaDayinMay has been maintained and then some. I will leave you with Air's "La Femme D'Argent" which was the first thing I ever heard by them and is a perfect day closer, and maintains a tenuous French Connection.

Sleep well my friends

Here Is A Thing

When you wake up at 4:30 AM , even when it's sunny, even when it's a gorgeous day, go back to bed, you need your sleep. I thought I could do all my steps , and a lot of other things then spend the afternoon doing even more.

No way.

Admittedly I got the garden stuff done, washing done, went on to check finances and possibly ended up £300 better off , saw a downpour , went out to complete my steps and now I am hot and tired and a bit headachey , although still compus mentis enough to write this.

There are still things that I want to do but my body is revolting (so I'm told) and just wants to lie down and watch TV or read.

Rest always does you good so I am going to catch up on what I missed this morning,

So I have to leave you with some music, they are reissuing Sergeant Peppers by The Beatles, though I've always rated Abbey Road and Revolver higher, but that's my preference. The other thing is that my two favourite Beatles songs are the "A" and "B" sides of the same single, "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" and apparently McCartney's bass on "Rain" was so heavy it often caused the needle to jump out of the groove on the vinyl version. Maybe I should get a vinyl copy and check this out, though I am sure I've written about this before. The "Rain" video is actually a cover, all done by the same guy (Stevie Riks) and very good it is too.

Anyway the sky has gone black so maybe we are in for more rain, I think I can hear thunder. It is raining now.

Early Saturday Morning

This morning I did something unusual for me. As Fiona is still in hospital 200 miles away I am home alone, she is being well cared for, and her Kindle is a godsend although her dislike of headphones means she can't watch any video but has a whole library and more thanks to her Amazon Prime subscription. It's 16 years since I was last in hospital for a long stay (ITP) and technology has advanced significantly since then.

Anyway I was awake and put on "A Kiss In The Dreamhouse" by Siouxsie & the Banshees which had been on when I went to sleep last night, then realised I was sort of awake and thought maybe I should get some steps in for my Million Step Challenge, yesterday I passed 300K a day ahead of schedule, it is a gorgeous morning and people at work were talking about rain so I thought why not get some in before the day really starts, so I did.

Walking up Two Ball Lonnen I noticed the lights were on in Subway, it wasn't even 5AM then I started thinking of all the people who have to get up each day virtually in the middle of the night just so that you can have a coffee or bacon sandwich before you get to work. It turns out that there was no one there yet but maybe the lights are left on all night.

Walking past Morrisons at Cowgate I saw the biggest slug I've ever seen outside of a David Attenborough program, it was big, and like the coward I am when it comes to those creatures I tepped round it, and continued. Maybe they only venture out at night normally.

Anyway I walked over Nunsmoor Park and took some video on instagram here , and when you have days like this it's great to take advantage of it.

I'm still enjoying the random play on my player and David Bowie's "Janine" was followed by Tom Waits' "Jayne's Blue Wish" , two "J" girls names (and I have Facebook friends with those names too), but then another song came on with a gorgeous fluid piano which I recognised as Mike Garson and his incredible contributions to Bowie's "Aladdin Sane". The song was "Lady Grinning Soul" and Garson's contributions were similar to Roy Bittan's contributions to Bruce Springsteen's songs, in never afils to amaze me how fluid their playing is and can hardly imagine the songs without them.

So this morning you get Bowie's "Lady Grinning Soul" and listen to that piano.

Have a good one.

Friday 26 May 2017

Hot Stuff and No Jazz

I'm talking about the weather. This is summer. It's hot. Walking over parks and fields is great. It sets you up for the day. It lifts your spirits before you hit the often mundanity of the daily drudge of work or whatever.

It's a day for drinking cold stuff, and not really putting a lot of effort into anything but relaxing.

I'm wanting to do things, but feeling absolutely drained. I managed to watch a TED talk on feminism (here) while walking home, dangerous I know, but I didn't walk into any lamp posts or in front of any cars, and gained a few new insights into why we should all be feminists ( you don't have to be a woman).

I'm really wondering whether to take a cold shower , just to cool down before I hit bed. Maybe I will and maybe I won't. Again it's that personal laziness setting in, but who knows , I'm writing this with no shirt on and the window open to keep a little cooler.

So currently listening to Iggy Pop on 6Music who is playing a lot of Charles Mingus, but I won't treat you to any of that jazz. If you like jazz you will have some Mingus, if not you wont.

Wondering what to play and I came upon an illustrated version of "Supper's Ready" by Genesis from the album "Foxtrot" , when Peter Gabriel was upfront and Phil Collins proving what a great drummer he was , and still is. It is very English, probably influenced by Lewis Carrol among others. This clocks in at 23 minutes, and is one of the few pieces that took up virtually  a side of vinyl that I am always happy to listen to from start to finish, though possibly my favourite bit kicks in about six and a half minutes in with some wonderful keyboard and guitar sequences from Tony Banks and Steve Hackett. It is up there with "Close To The Edge" by Yes, "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" by Van Der Graaf Generator and "Echoes" by Pink Floyd.

Anyway enjoy it and check out the other pieces too.

Sleep well my friends.

Thursday 25 May 2017

Forced March II (Being Boring)

I got home today and had 8.5K steps on the clock. Google Fit seems to be working OK. Fiona is in hospital in Coventry and there is no phone signal, but the good news is that she will be out soon and won't miss our holiday. Hospitals are brilliant places but you never ever want to be a patient.However thanks to our brilliant NHS they diagnosed and sorted her, which really puts your mind at rest.

Have done loads at work and started on some lyrics for song that my friend Sarah wrote, just need to kick on with the home recording. That may happen this weekend.

I had no need to walk any further but thought I could maybe do another 2.5 K, the weather was good and so I set off. I got to the top of the road realised I'd left my bus pass (in case I wanted to ride back) and wallet at home. But decided to continue and wander round taking in a few streets that I've not been down before managing to hit over 11K again.

I apologise for writing about walking, as I do like to write about interesting stuff, but I suppose I have just been very boring over the last few days, but it's got to 10:30 and I haven't even found an interesting piece of music to play, then I found this recent take of King Crimson playing "Heroes" no Bowie , but Fripp is going strong, and forty years on it sounds amazing.

"King Crimson performed Heroes at the Admiralspalast in Berlin as a celebration, a remembrancing and an homage. The concert was thirty nine years and one month after the original sessions at the Hansa Tonstudio overlooking the Berlin Wall. This is released in the Fortieth Anniversary year."

Robert Fripp.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Forced March

Well not exactly. Today when I got home I had done 9.7K steps. This was enough to keep me ahead of the game, I need to average just under 10.9K a day to hit the million i three months but I wanted to be far enough ahead so that if I lie in bed all day tomorrow I'll be still ahead, so I went for another walk and finished up with just over 12.5K meaning that even if I don't walk tomorrow I would still be 800 steps ahead of my target (more because I am basing it on 11K a day).

Anyway all is good. The title is stolen from an author called Sven Hassel , a schoolboy favourite because of the bloodthirsty graphic violence that the books contained apparently. I never read any but he was certainly prolific and had some great titles lifted by metal bands for song and album titles. I've just looked and  "Forced March" was by Leo Kessler who had the same modus operandi as Hassel. Kessler also wrote "March or Die" lifted by Motorhead for their 2003 album.

While I am a horror fan, I am not a fan of war or gratuitous graphic violence, hence my boyhood and adulthood avoidance of authors like Kessler and Hassel.

So what song to we go with, I think Edwin Starr's War is as good a one as any. It's time for bed now. Sleep soundly my lovelies.

On The Move

I'm Top 10
Rightly or wrongly, these days I probably listen to most of my music on the move. The is wholly due to my decision to walk 10K steps a day after Fiona had asked if I wanted to take part id a 15K step challenge. Then she told me about One Million Step Challenge to raise money for Diabetes research. Amazingly when I searched on Google two of my posts in the top ten, how long they'll be there I don't know.

Anyway, as usual I digress, but when I say wrongly  it' because I love listening to music either on my player in a room at home, preferably loud. I remember the first time I played "Court of The Crimson King"  by King Crimson on my home cinema system on the remastered DVD audio, I was stunned, the sound and detail was amazing (it still is), this was a late sixties album (admittedly by some top notch musicians) but this was a revelation to me.

When I was a teenager one Christmas I got Blue Oyster Cult's "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" and put it on my record player. I was so disappointed. This was one of the top heavy metal bands and it sounded , well weak. Then I thought,  TURN IT UP. I did , and I was blown away. My parents weren't too happy, so loud stuff like this had to be heard on headphones, or just when I had the house to myself.

I also love hearing music live as well and have recently seen The Coyotemen, Simon Wood, Staggerin' Jon Lee, Go Go Midgets, Brent and The Brads and next Sunday I am going to see my friends Sophia and Sophie debut with their band The Citrines here.

Anyway I've not really kept up the #ATuneaDayinMay , but given what happened last night, I'm going to put in New Order's  "Blue Monday", Manchester will bounce back. Just feel for the families devastated by the cowardly bullying attack.

Keep positive... don't let the bullies win.

Monday 22 May 2017

A Little Further

I could write about the incredible ineptitude of the current government and the gullibility of a great deal of the public. When I see some body with a copy of the Daily Mail I am tempted to say "You don't look like an racist nazi" except saw two guys with a copy who actually did look like racist nazis. It's funny how the spell checker wants me to capitalise nazis, I won't.

I am keeping on with this million step challenge despite technology having the odd hiccup. Technology can be amazing but it can also be frustrating, but due to technology I can write this and share this with you, twenty years ago I probably couldn't have done this like this, but now I can. A great help with teh walking is the fact that I am listening to my music collection on random play.

Yesterday I was treated to "Yours Is No Disgrace" the amazing opening track from "The Yes Album", ludicrous lyrics but majestic music which really hit me the first time I heard it. I actually learned to play the main chord sequence from it, but I've since forgotten it, but was always impressed by Steve Howe's playing with Yes. Random play is great although you need to give it a good musical base.

I've included two versions including one from the "Yessongs" live album, so you have twenty five minutes of excellence to listen to.

Saturday 20 May 2017

Middle Of The Night

That's when I thought I would be writing this but I actually slept all the way through (from 11 til 6). Technology has been slightly annoying with Google Fit seeming to stop recording steps , then starting up after I'd erased all the data and restoring everything including the steps that it supposedly hadn't recorded.

Today's weather really doesn't know what it's going to do , it could rain, it might not but that's the weather for you.

Newcastle is full of Rugby fans for the Dacia Magic Weekend at St. James Park, apparently annoying my friend Rachel , demanding odds on short priced accumulators.

Tonight The Late Shows are on across the region , loads of artistic events including lots of events at The Grainger Market where all the cool shops are open til 9 pm. Here's the blurb (hope the links work)

"The Late Shows – supported by Port of Tyne and Sofa Workshop – is a free late-night culture crawl in NewcastleGateshead on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May 2017. Download the programme brochure. Find out about the free bus services. During The Late Shows, museums, galleries, studio collectives and landmark historical buildings come together to offer visitors one-off events including hands-on workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, performances and parties. It's all about encouraging people to do something cultural with their evening in celebration of the national event Museums at Night."

Anyway I have things to do, it's now pouring down outside so I leave you with The Darts "It's Raining" .... those Rugby players will be getting wet.

Friday 19 May 2017

After All ... How Good Is The Man Who Sold The World?

One of the good things about walking and having mobile music and random play technology is that as well as hearing tracks from albums that hadn't caught your attention the first time round (Sparks and XTC are currently doing this for me) you are also thrown stuff that you haven't heard in ages because you haven't played the album and it doesn't get radio play.

If you analogised David Bowie's album output to a terrestrial mountain range it would be The Himalayas and in my opinion "Station To Station" would be Everest, and "The Man Who Sold The World" would be K2. Like Station to Station every song is amazing and it has a no skip factor from the eight minute opener "Width of a Circle". Everyone knows the brooding title song covered by Lulu, Nirvana and many others, but a few weeks ago "All The Madmen" came on to my player, which made start to remember how good the album.

The yesterday "After All" came on , an almost twisted Victorian music hall piece that could have come from some Neil Gaiman / Salvador Dali scripted take on Oliver.

Every collect should have a copy of  "The Man Who Sold The World" and "After All" is just another amazing piece of that wonderful musical jigsaw that fits together so perfectly. I was unaware that Tori Amos had also covered it , she makes it a Tori Amos song but for me it loses the sinister aspect of the Bowie version but it made me think I would love to hear a Joanna Newsome take on it.

I spent yesterday afternoon fight with my Windows roaming profile, therefor not actually getting any work done. The positives is that it gave me a reason to speak with the support guys and girls. I am hoping it's sorted this morning, but we shall see.

It's Friday, so have a great day.

Thursday 18 May 2017

#LikeNoOther #6 Its Only A Painted Chariot - The Incredible String Band

One of the good things about doing this Million Step Challenge is that I am listening to part of my record collection on random play and some corkers have come up over the last few days.

 I'm fast thinking that David Bowie's "Man Who Sold The World" is one of his best with songs like "All The Madmen" , "After All" and Width of A Circle" , very dark and sister, and in a similar vein this morning The Incredible String Band's "Painted Chariot" came on.

I must have first heard this when it came out, I'm not sure if it was a single or I heard it on John Peel, but t has a very Celtic Pagan feel to it , like something that slipped away from the soundtrack of The Wicker Man. It starts out as rickety solid folk before descending to an almost hymnal finale. I really haven't heard anything like it before or since, and this morning I thought I need to put this on the blog.

My Million Step Challenge is over 92 days so I need to hit just under 11K per day, Today is day 18 and I have hit 210K steps so far so I am still on target to hit it. I was going to catch a bus this morning but kept on walking listening to the Incredible String Band and visiting a herd of cows on Nunsmoor (see here for video evidence).

Anyway I intend to be in bed a little earlier than last night, but enjoy  "Painted Chariot" and sleep well.

Wake Up

This is post number 1300. It's a gloriously sunny day. I will probably walk into work.

I love the light on the leaves of the trees, and I often try and capture that in photographs, though surely you can only see so many green leaves but every combination is different, it's the same with clouds. The number of times I've thought, that looks amazing, and two minutes later I decide to take a picture and it's gone. Clouds are big things but very volatile, and when you see that combination of cloud and light you need to capture the moment, although it will be there in your memory.

Imagine if you could photograph your memories or imagination, now that would be an amazing thing and I think it's probably not that far away. As I mentioned in my last post we now have the technology to do things on tap. The film Tangerine was filmed on iPhones, I don't know about the editing and stuff, but you could make a movie with your hand held device.

The film Monsters had all the special effects and CGI done on an everyday PC, so YOU can make your own film too. I've just noticed there's a follow up Dark Continent so need to check that out, both Monsters and Tangerine are great films.

We live in an age where we have the ability to do amazing things.

So for some reason "Amazing Journey" from Ken Russell and The Who's "Tommy" came to mind so that's what you get today. It contains some amazing imagery,

Enjoy yourself today , enjoy the sunshine and do something amazing.

Wide Awake

It's almost midnight and I am wide awake but shattered. I finally finished watching The Fall, and managed almost 11K steps today. I didn't intend to write anything, but thought maybe I could have a midnight themed #ATuneaDayinMay , I mean there are load of songs with a midnight or night time them aren't there....

The first that comes to mind is "Midnight Rambler" by The Rolling Stones then you have "Midnight Rider" by The Allman Brothers both very worthy songs, and both favourites of mine. I remember I was going to do a post about Half Man Half Biscuit but that's just fallen by the wayside at the moment.

I've just had a decent payout from TopCashback which I took as an Amazon voucher and have spent some of it on a Digitech guitar pedal processor thing which you can see here. It's funny whenever you put a link on the word here Blogger messes up the link processing.

Hopefully this will make me do something with my home recording set up, which is probably better than a lot of bands had in the sixties. My basic problem is having the discipline to do it all on my own. I have an idea of the sound I want and need to actually create some recordings before I can think of playing live again. Another problem is that I am not a musician, I am undisciplined , but I used to record a lot of solo stuff to tape, it;s just getting the hang of my digital tape recorder. I have a lot of fragments recorded , so it's just a question of putting them together and getting stuff done.

Anyway, it's now crept past midnight so we will go with The Rolling Stones "Midnight Rambler" as that's what I am doing now, midnight rambling when I should be sleeping.

Goodnight mes amigos.

Monday 15 May 2017

Time Sharing

When I started first in programming at Littlewoods we were given access that used a "Time Sharing System" which we were told would make it seem as though we were the only person using the system. It was a lie of course but we dealt with it.

In life we often have to work out how to share time between work , chores , stuff that needs doing , time to be alone, do what you want and rest , and spending time in a social environment with friends, family and loved ones. I try to load mine in favour of the last two, but each of these groups can also be subdivided into sub groups.

Today I have to go to work so that's eight hours out of my day , after six hours sleep, ninety minutes of getting up and showered and writing this, then an hour to walk in to work , to try and hit my 11K for today, but I need to get the bus home as I have a delivery from Iceland coming. How mundane is this post? Still these things may be the highlights of some people's lives.

Ideally aim to do what you want and enjoy , and be happy. Life is difficult and confusing at times, but if you do things you want, then life improves wonderfully.

So before I leave , here's #ATuneaDayinMay , what more appropriate that The Buzzcocks "Boredom" from the "Spiral Scratch" EP. This allows me to have a brief rant on the genre of "indie" music. Many "indie" bands are on major labels, so how can they be "indie". It's 1984 doublespeak (which the governments in the UK, USA and Russia seem to use as a matter of course where the words used mean the opposite of their real meaning) . "Spiral Scratch" however was real "indie" , the Buzzcocks first release which they organised end to end. Ironically in this digital age we all have the technology available to record and release stuff from our own bedroom or office.... and that is still on my "To Do" List.

I decided to include the whole of the EP for you so you have eleven minutes of real "indie" music.

Anyway, have a great Monday everybody.

Sunday 14 May 2017

Catching Up

Due to one thing and another , rain and Andrew and Glen's wonderful wedding , I didn't even hit 6K steps yesterday, although I am still 1K steps past the required target, so today I need to catch up.

As a start I thought I would walk down Two Ball Lonnen to Westgate Road, then back all the way up Wingrove Road to the Central Motorway , then along the Motorway to Morrisons, pick up a few essentials and walk back down Two Ball Lonnen then eventually home. That clocks in at 10.5 K steps which puts me just ahead of the required number but I need to do another few thousand. We shall see.

Yesterday I ran out of data on my EE phone plan. Because of EE's grabbing top up policy (like every mobile phone company) I am going to try not to buy a day add on. They put a time limit of a week on the data you buy, 1Gb would last me a fortnight, but there's not much one can do if you want to stay on the same number.

It's a bit weird not having information at your fingertips but if you walk along Westgate Road there is free on street wifi provided by the shops via XLN and it works (unlike As You Like It when I was at Andrew and Glen's wedding, which spent an age before timing out, like several bus companies I could mention), a sensible concept but mobile phone companies like EE won't like it.

Without data the step monitoring app doesn't update (but it records steps) , so having done 10.5K I wanted to hit 12K, but had to just guess and when I got home I found I'd done another 5.5K so that's 16K for today and I am back to 6K over my required target.

I wrote this in two parts as I was incredibly tired after my first walk, and still feel awfully tired and achey, almost as though I have the physical aches of 'flu' without the cold symptoms , I should have really had a bath , but it's too late so I will probably just go to bed.

I haven't really done much today apart from catch up on some TV (Broadchurch, The Fall, The Aliens, Doctor Who) and am enjoying Darwin's Armada although Charles Darwin liked a fight and hunting animals, odd as he wanted to be a clergyman.

So #ATuneaDayinMay, , what's it to be, it's just come to me , as my may walk today to catch up on my walking was a big rectangle we'll have Dave Brubeck's "Unsquare Dance", which all based on the handclap rhythm then everything hangs of that. The piano is almost superfluous.

There's a load of  other things I was going to write about but they will keep for another day.

Saturday 13 May 2017

Sleeping In

My body has stopped letting me sleep in at weekends. I used to be able to sleep til mid day quite easily. Now it's like I have an internal alarm that kicks me out of bed as early as 6 am, sometimes leaving me til 7 am. But both are a lot earlier that it used to be. My eyes are tired and my body and brain are, but something is pushing me to get up, and by the time I have washed and shaved I think I may as well have a shower and by that time I am awake and up.

So while it's 7:45 when I am writing this, I have done everything I mentioned and gone out and got the papers, done my first thousand steps of my Million Step Challenge , and need to iron a shirt or two because later I am going to Andrew and Glen's Wedding.

I need to update Song of The Salesman , and see if I can fly that drone again , write some songs (and more importantly record them) and walk at least another ten thousand steps and probably a lot more things.

I have ripped a couple of music DVDs including The Who at the Isle of White, Public Service Broadcasting at Brixton Academy and Van Der Graaf Generator at Metropolis Studios, because I am now so lazy I can't be bothered to get up and put the DVD in the player, though that same Sony Player plays the ripped DVDs from my home network as I become "Homo Sedens".

I also found a load of rare David Bowie songs on Youtube and need to update the MP3 tags and ad to my already vast Bowie collection, and although I've used it before I will use the Spiders from Mars version of "Holy Holy" which is not on official CD release but in my opinion one of Bowies's finest songs (but how many songs could you say that about). His original was good but a little pedestrian and both version are available in the Five Years Box Set here, a ittle expensive but ten discs for £90 is not that bad really.

Anyway I will let you listen to both versions so you get two candidates for #ATuneaDayinMay,  enjoy your Saturday my friends.

Friday 12 May 2017

Stepping Into Space

I'm still ahead of the game on the Million Step Challenge and I am managing at least #ATuneaDayinMay musically. Today has been a grey day, but there wasn't any rain where I was, so I managed another 13K steps. That was helped by a working app and a walk into work this morning and a walk up to Wildflower for lunch and the back to work.

This weekend I may fall off a bit as I have two of my good friends Andrew and Glen geting married , although that is later in the day so I need to get my walking done early.

I have just tried booklet printing on my Canon Printer to print a copy of The Hawkwind Log to go with my vinyl copy of  "XIn Search of Space"  by Hawkwind. Some of the print is small , but for an original copy you would pay upwards of £50.

So it has to be "Master of The Universe" just a simple riff , six minutes of space rock to take you into your heavens , loved this as a teenager and it's a perfect song because anyone can pick up a guitar an play it, with only the most rudimentary musical knowledge.

Time for me to hit the sack, spacemen.

Stepping Out

Today is a bit grey and I am still just ahead of my target for my Million Step Challenge. The thing is we all can do a million steps , eventually, just by walking around, my slight problem is that I still have a target of 10K a day when it needs to be 11K a day, but this challenge allows me to slip back as long as I make up the deficit.

I'm finding some annoyances with my Sony Xperia XA, file management is really awkward and every time you connect to your computer to put stuff onto it it asks how you want to use your USB connection, then often mid transfer will finish the the transfer to ask you what you want to do with the USB connection. Also it wont block spam calls and texts. You have the option of blocking all calls (with some broad definitions like international, incoming and outgoing) but nothing about individual numbers. Apparently there are apps to do these tasks which I will look into.

Also you can copy and delete files using Windows Explorer but not move them , so you have to delete and recopy from the source.

I've managed to watch some TED talks on it and they are fine, but I lost all the downloads I had on the old Samsung Note, but they are all somewhere online.

Anyway it's time to start and see if I can hit 11K steps today (I did 13K yesterday), also I will be visiting Wildflower for lunch today and Fenham Fish Bar for tea , so that should be about 5K steps accounted for , as well as 5K from walking in.

I was going to use Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" but decided that John Kongos' "He's Gonna Step On You Again" was a better option. This is where The Happy Monday got "Step On" from.

It's Friday, It's weekend, have a good one.

Thursday 11 May 2017


It always makes me laugh the concept of a four letter word being offensive, The sort of people who use that term and the sort who are continually looking to be offended. "ooh he used a four letter word!! How disgusting" , well I use lots of four letter words. At this point in this post I have used about fourteen four letter words . Are you offended. It's like the Americanish of the bathroom or the rest room or if you are really daring the john, actually there's no bath in there, and you don't go in there for a rest. It's for a wee or a poo.

Ironically I suppose a thing that offends me is people finding something to be offended by without actually checking it to see if it's actually offensive. Remember Monty Python's "Life of Brian".

People get offended by women breastfeeding , and an exposed female nipple is deemed mor eoffensive that an assault rifle by some people. I saw two armed policemen at Central Station with machine guns. That offended me.

 So four letter words, what about :

  • WORK
  • LOVE
  • POLE
  • HOPE
  • NEWS
  • WHIP
  • STOP

The list could go one, but I think you get my point. If something is demonstrably bad you a free to be offended and take appropriate action, but not cos someone comes from Sunderland, wears a short skirt , feeds her baby , is a morris dancer, likes a kebab, wears a hat.... these are not reasons to take offense.

So we'll go for "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's "Life of Brian" because is cheerful , funny and will only offend those who want to be offended, so they won't be reading this..... or maybe they should be ... think how offended people could get with me.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Books, Evolution and Heavy Metal at Download

A lot of my reading recently have been influenced by books I've been reading , namely "Tom Waits on Tom Waits" (I don't know if the pun was intended) edited by Paul Maher and "The Age of Bowie" by Tony Morley , so I thought my next would be fiction, possibly in the realms of Michael Moorcock, JG Ballard or John Niven. I'm amazed to find this is the first time ever in this blog that I've mentioned JG Ballard as he's my favourite author. But no, I picked up "Darwin's Armada" (another FOPP capture from Edinburgh) by Ian McCalman and very good it is, essentially the grounding for the Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin and contemporaries. Here's the blurb:

"Darwin's Armada tells the stories of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Joseph Hooker and Alfred Wallace, four young amateur naturalists from Britain who voyaged to the southern hemisphere during the first half of the nineteenth century in search of adventure and scientific fame. It charts their thrilling voyages to the strange and beautiful lands of the southern hemisphere that reshaped the young mariners' scientific ideas and led them, on returning to Britain, to befriend fellow voyager Charles Darwin. All three crucially influenced the publication and reception of his Origin of Species in 1859, one of the formative texts of the modern world. 

For the first time the Darwinian revolution of ideas is seen as a genuinely collective enterprise and one that had its birth in a series of gripping and human travel adventures. Many of the most urgent ecological and social issues of our times are seen to be prefigured in this compelling story of intellectual discovery."

I do find it amazing that the idiotic anti thought concept of Creationism actually exists, but when you look at how easily people are influenced , a thoughtless concept that means you don't have to think becomes attractive to some people.

I'm agnostic, there might be a God, but I have certainly seen no evidence of a God in my lifetime and doubt I will. Also the "you can't prove that God doesn't exist" is not really a valid argument. The only God I will acknowledge is on Facebook here. In fact I just this minute signed up to his mailing list.

So today's #ATuneaDayinMay obviously has to be "Charlie" by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing , who I first saw at the behest of my friend Gillian and recorded it on Spoongig here in November 2014. I found a live performance of them at Download at Donington and "Charlie" starts about three minutes in after some serious metal assault. I once described them as a cross between Anthrax and Chas and Dave. Watch the clip and you will see what I mean. Enjoy.

It's a beautiful day, so enjoy yourself and I hope to see you soon.

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Always Crashing

Tried the drone again tonight. Crashed it several times . Doesn't want to fly when linked to my phone but it takes photos and videos when it has crashed. It is resilient I'll say that.  You can see it in action below but I am along way off that at the moment.

I've passed 100K in the Million Step Challenge after nine days so I am just slightly ahead of schedule, but I do need to keep ahead of the game because I don't think I will hit 11K every day. Rainy days make it difficult , and we are supposed to be getting rain at the weekend , plus I have a wedding of two great friends to attend, so walking won't be at the top of my list.

Another slightly worrying thing is that my knee is giving me a lot of pain tonight. My joints are generally ok (though I am no athlete), but hopefully it is just an extreme twinge. Pain however is a way of telling you that maybe something is wrong. Though I remeber true pain being my burning hands when I received the ferula at school (I was an annoyance to authority then too, and it never stopped throughout my life).

Anyway that scenario has just brought to mind Malcolm Mclaren's take on  Puccini's "Boy's Chorus" from the wonderful album "Fans" , a heavenly choir juxtaposed  with Mclaren's cocky cockney artful dodger figure. I loved it when first heard it and I love it. If you don't have the album get it, a culture and rebellion cocktail, and it'll do for my #ATuneaDayinMay sequence,

Sleep well my lovely friends

Doctor Who?

I wasn't going to write anything this morning, but I have a friend, Richard, who does a lot of walking and running and it's his birthday today, so I thought I'd post The Proclaimers' "500 Miles", a bit obvious I know, but  you know.

Then I saw this Doctor Who Cast version and it is brilliant, it's soundtracked by The Proclaimers version but it it a truly brilliant video, watch it and have your spirits lifted.

Also listening to 6Music I heard a great song by The RPMs called "Oh My God" which you can listen to here , and that led to "Satellite" by  Bouncing Souls (listen here) . The RPMs feature among their number Jack Valero , Billy Bragg's son.

Anyway it's time for work now, so have a great Tuesday everyone.

Sunday 7 May 2017

Too Many Things

I'm male.. so I can only do one thing at a time. Sometimes if I am well prepared I can start things off and let them run on their own while I get on with something else, but often that means I forget that I have kicked things off and then usually I'm pleasantly suprised when that task is done.

This morning I was feeling under pressure because I needed to print a CD with my new Canon printer but the software included is atrocious and and only has pre prepared templates that you can use. I also knew the lawn needed mowing and some of the  surrounding jungle needed cutting back. But it looked like rain.

Add to that that I wanted to fly my new drone , and also needed to do my 11K steps for the Million Step Challenge , I sort of feel that everything needs to be done at once.

The thing is , it doesn't. I sorted the lawn out, had a wander out and then had some unfruitful searches to sort out the printer. I tried the old Epson CD Printing software but that only works with an Epson printer. I eventually found some free software from NCH. and it does the job perfectly, I've been trying it with these vinyl style CDs here. 

I didn't get to fly the drone, but did get my steps in for my Million Step Challenge .

The thing is you need to schedule things, which means sometimes putting things off to the next day. Also when you get something new it takes time to learn it. I'm still getting the hang of my Sony Xperia, but I know things will come good.

So another for the #ATuneaDayinMay,  sequence Imelda May and Jeff Beck's cover of the Shangri-La's "Remember, Walking in The Stand" from the Les Paul Tribute Concert. 

Sleep well my friends.

Sunday Morning

And it hardly looks like summer, the ground is wet and the clouds are grey and it's cold out at the moment. Yesterday the five o' clock EFL League Two program was very exciting , if heartbreaking for Hartlepool fans, and their most famous one Jeff Stelling. Sky have cruelly put it up on their web site here , am I evil for sharing. The thing is they will be winning next season and that will put a smile on his face. The coverage was far more animated that the Premier League coverage early in the day.

Anyway it's Sunday morning and I have some much to do today I can't begin the think about it. I have a more reliable step counter (I think, for my Million Step Challenge, I'd hit 68K steps in the first six days and this was missing, I reckon about 10K steps from Thursday and Friday). I'm using Google Fitness and manually recording my daily steps on Google Sheets.

Anyway I will leave to with John Martyn's "May You Never" for my #ATuneaDayinMay sequence. I have a feeling I won't keep this going, but this is a week so far and I have had only one deviation with David Bowie's "All The Madmen" , but I did have to include that.

So have a brilliant Sunday my friends, either relax or do something really fun and positive.

Saturday 6 May 2017

Sometimes The Dream is ... Well ... Weird

I had a dream last night. The bit I remembered was looking out of my window on to may neighbours' garage / extension (they don't have one) to see their big cat sitting on the roof. Then I something and said something along the lines of "Bugger .. look at that..." A rather large snake appeared and made short work of the cat ... my neighbours' cat world never get bested by a snake. Just a totally weird dream.

I have found a solution to my Step Counter problem, I installed Google Fitness and then found a "Track Workouts" button in Samsung Health, switching it on seems to have let it capture the steps I'm making, I will be able to certify that tomorrow.

Anyway today I got my drone and crashed it three times, also got a few photos out of it. My new Canon printer has been set up and used to print a couple of duplex sheets. I also want to print a couple of CDs so am going to try that tomorrow, as well as mowing the lawn and watching the Championship season come to an end.

I also want to look at printing a copy of The Hawkwind Log from the album "XIN Search of Space". I got a vinyl copy of the album to add to my collection for the wonderful Barney Bubbles cover and packages , but the Log would complete it but an original copy would set be back about fifty quid. I managed to acquire a PDF version of it, so that is a challenge for me as well.

It's time for bed so I'll leave with "Hair Like Brian May Blues" by Half Man Half Biscuit for my #ATuneaDayinMay sequence, sleep well my friends.

Friday 5 May 2017

Sometimes The Plan Just Falls Apart

It's that thing called life. On Monday I started my Million Step Challenge, but my phone started playing up , which I was using as my tracker. My printer failed so I bought a new "small footprint" one, and I bough a new phone. The new phone had a major flaw so I got another one, which seemed to be doing the business, but yesterday I took a walk down to Denton Burn and I thought my phone wasn't tracking my steps, well the S-Health app on my Sony Xperia XA phone wasn't.

A walk to the Post Office depot this morning proved it wasn't tracking correctly last night, and today it stopped again (it's more that 200 steps from Wildflower Cafe back to work, even if it is downhill, and it recorded 800 steps to get there, though with my old phone it recorded closer to 1500 steps. So my step recorder doesn't seem to be working, so I will have to choose another pedometer app. For the first time in two months I haven't hit 10K steps in a day according to the app. Still it's another challenge to get that sorted.

Then my printer, and it is very good, but obviously some new previously unknown definition of the word small, but I have managed to deal with it and fit it in with all the other stuff on my desk.

That's life , if stuff were guaranteed it might become very boring. My life is certainly not that (although it may seem that way to you).

Anyway it is late for me, although I will probably wake up in a few hours, but one of my #ATuneaDayinMay, is Kevin Ayers' "May I" (in English this time, I let you have the French one on Monday) , but if I remember rightly this features a young Mike Oldfield on guitar.

Sleep well my lovely friends.

Thursday 4 May 2017

How Mad Must I Be?

One of the the problems with anything new is that you have to learn how to use it. One of the benefits of the Sony Xperia XA is that I can use my bluetooth headphones but I hadn't sorted random play so I went for "The Man Who Sold The World " album by David Bowie.

"Width of A Circle" has that ace opening riff and goes on for eight minutes or so then next.....

.... next ..... .....

Black and White Madman Sells The World
"All The Madmen". I had forgotten how awesomely alien and scary this song is, and it is truly wonderful. Like when I first heard it 45 or so years ago , it still sound as fresh and threatening as ever. The dark malevolent spirit of Bedlam and abandoned Victorian asylums when the inmates have been left behind to fend for themselves.

The cover of the album was the two colour black and white Bowie not the original dress cover, and the song cuts your mind in black and white slices veering from rock to creepy children's song with some disconcerting woodwind sections.

I know this song has nothing to do with theme of May but it ii a song that hit me as hard this morning as when I first heard hit. It's frightening but you don't want it to finish... like fraying rope on your sanity .. you become more and more frightened that it's going to break .. and after five minutes ... wel did my mind break?

You know what I'm like , would I have been different had I not heard this?  Probably

For better or worse?

We'll never know

Listen and Experience

Tomorrow is Friday.

So Much For May Songs

Games For May - 1967

I was going to post a tune a day in May but I thing two songs in four days has scuppered that idea, although I will maintain the May theme if I can, and today's will be "See Emily Play" by Pink Floyd which features the line "Games For May" the titles of summer events Pink Floyd were involved in around 1967.

This week has been a little fraught to say the least, starting the Million Step Challenge then my Samsung Note becoming unreliable, replacing it with a Huawei P8 that wouldn't run the Barclays banking app (this has been the situation since January with no resolution in sight. Huawei blamed Barclays, Barclays pretend nothing is wrong much like Apple. EE gave me a refund on condition I bought another phone. I pointed out it wasn't actually fit for purpose and they replied "we just sell the phones"

Anyway I ended up with a Sony Xperia XA which was much cheaper and isn't too bad, apart from slow start up. I'm also worried it is not recording my steps properly . What I was sure was 4K steps recorded on the Samsung (home to Denton Burn) was recorded as less than 2K steps. Tomorrow I will walk to the Post Office Depot to pick something up and that should be about 2.2K . If it's less I will know I have a problem.

Anyway if I post another May Song tonight I could be back up to speed tonight, though I am feeling very tired.

So that;s what's happened this week so far, I'm sure it's not finished yet.

Monday 1 May 2017

...and Another and Another

It's May Day and the first day of my Million Step Challenge , and what happens? The phone I use to track my steps finally gives up the ghost (well it's a bit like Meg Shelton, it keeps pretending it's OK then when you want to do something returns to it's death state) , but I have just gone for a new phone. The old one probably just needs wiping and reflashing, but I think it's quicker to go with a new one.

The old one was a Samsong Note 4 and the new one is a Huawei P8 Lite with a much faster processor and apparently greater reliability that Samsung. We will see. It took and age to copy my stuff but then found it needs a nano SIM and the Note has a micro SIM, so have to sort that tomorrow.

I managed to get my step data over and I have managed to clear 13K steps today, that's six miles which is good considering the technological problems. I think I've had enough technological failures today and intend to be a bit closer to normal tomorrow.

So it's back to work tomorrow, and I will leave you with "Puis Je" by Kevin Ayers, so we have the first two #ATuneaDayinMay songs on the first day, it's one to hold in reserve in case I miss a day.

Time for bed 

One Thing Leads To Another

My phone has been playing up, but I have a feeling it's the battery, so I ordered one online. It came quickly, I put it in and nothing. I tried leaving it charging a few times , but nothing. My current battery just seems a bit temperamental and can shut the phone down when it gets down to less than 30% charge. So today I will hopefully buy a new battery (hopefully from the Asian guy in the Grainger Market near Pumphreys coffee, reasonably priced and knows his stuff but the battery is not a Samsung - the last one lasted over a year for a tenner so that's good, my current Samsung one has lasted six months BUT it had been sitting in a drawer for over a year so you know).

Anyway to return the faulty battery I need to print off a label and an email, then I find my printer has decided it's not printing three colours including black. The printer is an Epson, and prints CDs and has been fine, but it's way past it's sell bay date (I do have a grammatical problem with when I should use "past" and "passed" so apologies if I get it wrong).

The point is the the failure of by phone then just highlighted the failure of my printer when I needed it. My printer is like a spare tire, I only need it every so often. Anyway I managed to find a Canon printer for under £50 that prints CDs , is also does double sided printing and uses wifi, so I've ordered that here , it's not a scanner but I can use a camera or the local library for that.

So I have a feeling that this Samsung battery may sit around for a year in a drawer too.

The thing is I need my phone to track my steps for my Million Step Challenge that starts today, and I need to maintain 11.5K steps a day. SO far I have done 104 steps, but I still haven't taken drugs or had a shower.

So do I do the #ATuneaDayinMay with May themed music? I did one in 2012 here, but that was just a post a day in May and I did 37 posts that month, and you can see lots of link failures due to the fact that technology changes, companies go to the wall, and things don't work any more, much like the initial reason for this post.

I will start with Queen's "Keep Yourself Alive" which features Dr. Brian May on guitar , no synthesisers and a great phased guitar intro and great lyrics, which was one of the reasons I bought it straight away when I heard it on John Peel. Amazingly this doesn't appear on Queen's Greatest Hits. I loved Queen's singles but the first album I liked was "Sheer Heart Attack" still one of my favourite Queen discs.

It looks beautiful outside so I thing a wander into town to track down a new battery is called for.

Have a great Bank Holiday Monday my friends