Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bad News

With Janine  March 1972
With Janine at Cardiff University Rag Ball, March 1972.

I have posted previously about a friend from undergraduate days and more latterly a hero of uncommon stature. Janine was an incredibly buoyant, optimistic person whose love for life was totally infectious. Sadly, I had an email from her husband last week so say that she had lost her 15 year battle with breast cancer. Today is her funeral and in a small way I’m paying tribute the passing of one the most sparkly, positive and brave individuals I’ve had the privilege of knowing. She leaves behind husband John, daughters Helen and Claire as well as new grand-daughter Freya Jane; they will all miss her terribly. The absence of her occasional chirpy emails in my inbox will also leave a void. Tonight I will raise a glass in memory of an exceptional person and one of life’s “good guys”.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

I've just finished the latest link tidy-up. Here it is in summary:

Derelict London
Geoffrey Chaucer
Jon Swift
Life of a Lab Rat
Puget Sound Aikikai
Wiki Leaks

Black Rat
Jaundice James
Ramblings of a Scientist (Dr Jim, it pains me to take you off my site but you haven't blogged since January; if you re-start I'll be delighted to reinstate you)
Shamus O'Drunkahan
Shakespeare's Sister
Sir Findo Gask
Where’s the Ka-Boom (same as for Dr Jim)
Whiskey Bar
Zemblan Grammar

Twenty Major

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Link Purge

I'll be updating my links over the next few days. As before I shall remove hypertext connections to sites that are dead, boring, dead boring, offensive or terminally dull. I will deem a site dead if it's been inactive for three months (unfortunately some of my favourites have gone quiet and I will excise them with regret). Oh, and to redress the balance I shall add a few new ones. TTFN!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Musical Notes: Going Retro

Mad Dog's latest foray into the world of materialism

To continue the musical leitmotif of the last few days I have to brag about my latest acquisition. I managed to obtain on eBay the little gem pictured above. It's an Italian valve/tube amplifier (definition depends on which side of the Atlantic you live) which I got for an absolute steal of a deal. I've been fancying one of these beauties since I saw one displayed in a hi-fi shop off Marylebone High Street about 10 years ago. So when my faithful Rogers amplifier expired (I paid over a hundred quid for it just 30 years ago and now they tell me it's out of warranty -I don't know what's happening to customer service these days) earlier this year I started searching. I'd almost given up looking for a used item when this one popped up and I secured the auction a week ago. Yesterday it arrived and after making the wiring connections and giving the valves a couple of hours to warm up I then proceeded to play a large part of my CD collection. All I can say is the sound is quite heavenly: very open, warm and detailed. With every album I could hear musical nuances that I hadn't previously noticed. By the end of the evening I had a broad grin fixed on my face. Yay for valves and analogue kit!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lightweight Friday Blogging

I'm probably the only person in the world who doesn't own an iPod but here are the top ten most played songs (popular category) in my iTunes library.

1. "Light Flight" Pentangle
2. "Sama Amie" Wock
3. "Bourrée" Jethro Tull
4. "Classical Gas" Vanessa-Mae (yes, I know...)
5. "(I don’t want to go to) Chelsea" Elvis Costello
6. "Theme from Harry's Game" Clannad
7. "All Along the Watchtower" Jimi Hendrix
8. "Just a Gigolo" Barbie & The Kens
9. "House of the King" Focus
10. "Tam Lin" Fairport Convention

I'm unrepentant about apparent naffness of some of my choices or the predominance of 60's music. At least there's no Coldplay, Phil Collins or pretentious stadium rock bands.

Jazz and Classical categories to follow...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Life's Rich Pattern

Jaguar steering rack: from the price you'd think it was constructed from 24 carat gold

This week I discovered Murphy's corollary to Occam's Razor. The Good Friar's hypothesis can be paraphrased, more or less as: "All things being equal, the simplest explanation of a phenomenon tends to be the best one". Murphy's addendum, however, states that "In the case of matters automotive, the converse is true". I can certainly attest to the veracity of Murphy. Last Saturday my car's power steering started to groan like a Tottenham Hotspur fan who has just witnessed the team lose 5-4 after being four goals up. "AhHa", I thought, after checking the reservoir and noticing that the fluid level was more than a bit low, "this is probably a leaking high pressure hose; it's unlikely to be the steering rack as they are very well engineered and a defect here is the more complex (not to mention expensive) explanation". The need to top up ("top off" in American) the reservoir after 20 miles seemed to confirm my suspicions. On Sunday afternoon I dropped the car off at the garage and left a detailed message on their voicemail instructing them to replace the leaking hydraulic hose. On Monday I received a call from the service manager who politely told me I was nothing more than a weekend mechanic with the diagnostic insight of a gerbil (OK, OK, he didn't actually say that but his tone was very clear) and the problem did, in fact, lie in the steering rack. So much for the simplest explanation! So, $1800 later the offending part was replaced and I drove home to have a warm milk and a valium. All part of Life's Rich Pattern I suppose...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Backed Up

The blog backup software finally arrived last week after the slowest, most convoluted and nonsensical transaction known in the history of personal consumerism. However I'm pleased to say that the blog is now backed up and if I wish I can print it out in treeware format if I ever want a hardcopy of my memoirs. New posts about life in the kennels will be forthcoming...