Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Deep Purple

Ah, the heady days of the late 60's. Deep Purple were one of the first groups I saw live. I was a student at Guildford Tech and I believe they played Guildford Civic Hall with one of their early line ups, c1968. I've loved them ever since. But how they avoided getting their arses sued off by this piece of shameless plagiarism I'll never know.

P.S. The question of authorship of DP's "Sweet Child in Time" song is really quite curious. For a long time I've been of the view that the band plagiarised "Bombay Calling" by San Francisco-based band It's a Beautiful Day as per my video link above. However since posting earlier today I've done a bit more digging and the story becomes more intriguing. Apparently the song was written by one Vince Wallace 1n 1962 (7 years before DP got their fingers on it) who played briefly with IABD leader David LaFlamme and taught him the song. Wallace claims that LaFlamme stole the song from him and now, 45 years later, is still pretty irked about the matter as you can see here and here (scroll to bottom of page). Talk about a parcel of rogues...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Then and (Almost) Now

at Barts 1994
Mad Dog at the square of The Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital, June 1994

at Barts 2006
Mad Dog at the same spot, June 2006: clearly the trees have matured!

Yesterday's post mentioning Barts Hospital induced a few pangs of nostalgia. A year ago to the day I paid a flying visit to my former workplace to attend a conference on avian flu. It was most odd being there as a 'tourist'. Somehow voyeuristic or even slightly surreal. On one coffee break I took the lift (a point of much irritation in the past -remind me to write a few column inches on this) up to my former department -closed since 2003 in a restructuring exercise. The door was locked but I could clearly see through the glass my old office and the lab. It looked the same as the day I left in 2001 and had a Marie Celeste feel. Actually it was quite creepy, even down to the verbina paintwork. Perhaps more accurately it gave the impression of a video game where a doorway, usually back to a previous level, becomes sealed. Definitely a case of life imitating the virtual world...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Reflections

William Wallace
Sir William Wallace's commemorative plaque at the site of his torture and execution in Smithfield, London, 1305. The plaque is affixed to the wall of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where approximately 700 years later Mad Dog was routinely tortured in meetings concerning the Research Assessment Exercise.

It occurred to me as I watched a re-run of Braveheart on television last night that Sir William Wallace must be chortling in his grave as yet another Scotsman takes up the mantle of leadership in the UK this week. Now I don't know what it is that troubles me about Gordon Brown as he's certainly been a very astute Chancellor for the past 10 years but somehow he seems to lack something –maybe it’s the chewed fingernails and that 1950’s “out of shape” look that puts me off. On the other hand, dear Tony, who was loaded with charisma and worked on by an army of image consultants, still managed to author the current foreign policy disaster. Oh well, history will be the ultimate judge…

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Blodwyn Pig

I wonder how many of you remember this great little combo? The lead guitarist, Mick Abrahams, was originally with Jethro Tull and played on their first and arguably best album, This Was, but then left the band following "creative differences" with Tull leader, Ian Anderson. The result of this bifurcation was Blodwyn Pig -a tremendous blues band which apart from Mick featured the astonishingly good Jack Lancaster on sax and flute. I saw them at least once at the Gin Mill, Godalming, c1970 and I think again at a festival somewhere but it's all a blur now. The Blodwyns hung around the club/university scene for about five years before fragmenting and were moderately successful. After a 30 year hiatus, I'm glad to say they have recently reformed although I somehow doubt they'll be touring the USA. Mick Abrahams remains the only rockstar with whom I've been in email contact (bless you, Mick). Above is a wonderful clip of the group performing on the BBC's sadly defunct Top of the Pops.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Goal Setting: 101 Things in 1001 Days

I got this idea from Caroline at Dai Kyo Soku Kei. These internet meme things can be a bit corny but I'm generally a sucker for them and in any case I love goal setting exercises. So here are 101 things I'm proposing to do or achieve in the next 1001 days. So according to Time and Date I have until March 15th, 2010 to get through this stuff. Actually the clock started running on Monday when I began to compile the list. You will note that one thing, yoga, is already done (started Monday, the same day as the list). Also items 87-100 are very tangible things but I don't want to put every detail of my personal and financial life on the internet. From time to time I'll publish an update on my progress.

1) Write book on Vaccines
2) Start a not-for-profit institute
3) Begin research to improve one existing vaccine
4) Get at least one diagnostic to market
5) Start developing an autoimmunity multiplex diagnostic
6) Obtain a new academic affiliation

Domestic and House Restoration

7) Build two car garage
8) Remodel kitchen and master bedroom
9) Remodel basement with additional bathroom and utility area
10) Set up a media room with quality A/V surround sound
11) Complete study decor
12) Paint in and out
13) Replace front lawn with patio
14) Plant ferns as groundcover
15) Install rear deck with Snorkel hot tub
16) Clear out basement
17) Set up a workbench (in basement)
18) Replace glass in all artwork with the UV absorbent kind


19) Visit Greece in 2007
20) Visit Zanzibar in 2008
21) Visit Hawaii in 2009 (July 22nd ) for total solar eclipse
22) Visit either Machu Picchu or Thailand
23) Plan visit to Loch Ness
24) Go to Victoria, British Columbia with Olivia
25) Go sea kayaking off the San Juan islands
26) Visit at least three new US states (there are 20 on the list)


27) Bring Jaguar E type in storage up to Seattle
28) Complete restoration of E type
29) Rebuild Mini Cooper
30) Find sponsors
31) Write article for MC2 Mini magazine
32) Attempt Monte Carlo Historique rally one more time
33) Bring Mini Cooper to USA, sell or commit to another MC rally
34) Compete in one West Coast road rally with daughter
35) Begin (if possible complete) book on classic car restoration
36) Investigate the purchase of a classic convertible

Martial Arts and Related Activities

37) Grade Shodan in aikido
38) Grade Shodan in iaido
39) Obtain a modern shinken for tameshigiri (sword cutting)
40) Obtain a modern shinken (already have antique) for kata only
41) Rewrap and change koshirae on modern shinken
42) Learn tameshigiri
43) Wrap and change koshirae on wakizashi
44) Continue logging training on Funbeat
45) Begin tai chi classes
46) Begin regular gym exercise regime for core strength
47) Start yoga classes

Other Sports
48) Scuba dive to PADI open water diver level
49) Learn to do a cartwheel
50) Learn to ride a horse
51) Learn to shoot a shotgun

52) Have my flute cleaned and serviced
53) Re-start semi-regular flute practice: all major and minor scales
54) Acquire a Fender Rhodes electric piano
55) Make plans for formation of a jazz group

56) Learn conversational Japanese

57) Make website for friend, Mel
58) Learn to use iMovie for slide shows and movie clips
59) Buy a new Intel core MacBook laptop and load it with Windows
60) Back up my computer properly on hard disk

Other Hobbies

61) Restore an 1849 pocket Colt revolver (family antique)
62) Purchase “Real Flight” r/c flight simulator, install on new Mac and practice
63) Learn to fly a real r/c model airplane
64) Build a semi-scale flying model of a De Havilland Mosquito
65) Go solo in an ultralight

Rampant Materialism
66) Acquire a high quality mechanical watch
67) Acquire an inflatable rubber boat with small outboard motor
68) Acquire a quality digital SLR camera


69) Complete James Joyce’s Ulysses
70) Complete Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year
71) Read at least six other important books (not airport novels)


72) Maintain posting on blog
73) Meet a blogger in person
74) Print and self-publish blog (the first 5 years) for family and friends

75) Start sitting/zazen

Personal and Miscellaneous

76) Make digital scans of all family photographs
77) Make digital copies of all Dad’s 8mm cine films
78) Find and frame Dad’s degree certificates
79) Convert all LPs to CD format
80) Convert all CDs onto computer/iPod
81) Check all old floppys and transfer to hard disk
82) Commemorative photograph in boat with Olivia
83) Start plotting a family tree on GenesReunited
85) Send e-cards (with personalized letters) to all of my family and friends this Christmas
86) Throw a large party at my house and invite friends I haven’t seen for years
87-100) 14 personal and private goals not listed here


101) Donate $10 to UNICEF for every goal not met

Sunday, June 17, 2007

That Was The Week That Was

The past week was a bizarre mix of good and bad. Consider the following:

1) My colleagues and I obtain three grants from various branches of the US government worth a total of $1.6 million over two years (good).

2) Two other grant applications get submitted ahead of the deadline (stressful but amazing that they went in comfortably on time: this is almost a career first for me).

3) The Food & Drug Administration calls to announce an unannounced site visit to my workplace (a biotechnology company) this coming week (stressful; all staff are in hyperactive mode if not blind panic getting ready for this inspection).

4) At iaido, the activity I do for stress relief, my Sensei collapses four feet in front of me with severe chest pain. The "heart attack" turned out to be an aortic aneurysm which is A Very Bad Thing because of its pessimistic prognosis (stressful, sad and depressing).

5) On Wednesday I managed to leave a super-dooper-purchased-in-UK-and-very-expensive saucepan on medium heat all day. I came hope to find a distorted steel skeleton sitting in a puddle of molten aluminium (its construction was complicated and a work of engineering genius) on the range top and the cats were improvising gas masks and not impressed (stressful and annoying but a relief that I didn't burn the house down).

As the song from the old TV show goes "That was the week that was, it's over, let it go..." No problem there. Now roll on Monday...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dragging On

dog tick
This little bug(ger) is a type of tick known to spread typhus-like diseases and other nasty infections. Avoid like the plague!

The typhus grant is dragging on and I have less than 48 hours to complete it. I'm making good progress but there's a lot of polishing to do. When this chore is completed I'm going to give serious consideration to a vacation somewhere...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Remember Renaissance?

Thanks to YouTube I've uneartherd all sorts of hitherto forgotten gems that remind me of my youth and devotion to progressive music as 'twas called at the time. Above is a clip from Renaissance, a tremendous band formed by ex-members of the Yardbirds including Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty. Initially Keith Relf's sister Jane was on vocals but she was replaced by the wonderful Annie Haslam whose pristine voice and reputed near five octave range became the band's trademark. I saw them a couple of times in the early 70's including a gig at Shoreditch Teachers' Training College, Egham, Surrey. Those were the days, my friends...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rallying Again

Merde 2
Bill observing that the tracking is a bit out after PRX 720B's flirtation with a mountain wall back in 2005

Mini after paint

The Mini looking a lot better after new body panels, paint and a subframe

After a lot of soul searching Bill Richards and I have decided to have another crack at the Monte Carlo Historique rally so preparations for the 2008 event have started. Our altercation with a wall on the infamous Col de Turini 50Km from Monaco in 2005 left us both with a feeling of "unfinished business". I have gone back and forth as to whether to sell the car and hang up my driving gloves but a winter evening over dinner with Bill and a bottle or two of excellent shiraz persuaded me to have another go. Now, with certain big personal projects behind me I can focus on the event. The clock is running and we have just under eight months finish the rebuild and sort out the logistics. In future posts I'll describe our campaign plan. Hopefully this will be fun: watch this space...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This Day in History 63 Years Ago: D-Day Blogging

June 6th, 1944: The Battle of Normandy

From "A Friend Consigned to Death" in The Iliad by Homer,
translated by Robert Fitzgerald. copyright © 2004 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

"Sleeping so? Thou hast forgotten me,
Akhilleus. Never was I uncared for
in life but am in death. Accord me burial
in all haste: let me pass the gates of Death.
Shades that are images of used-up men
motion me away, will not receive me
among their hosts beyond the river. I wander
about the wide gates and the hall of Death.
Give me your hand. I sorrow.
When thou shalt have allotted me my fire
I will not fare here from the dark again.
As living men we'll no more sit apart
from our companions, making plans. The day
of wrath appointed for me at my birth
engulfed and took me down. Thou too, Akhilleus,
face iron destiny, godlike as thou art,
to die under the wall of highborn Trojans.
One more message, one behest, I leave thee:
not to inter my bones apart from thine
but close together, as we grew together,
in thy family's hall. Menoitios
from Opoeis had brought me, under a cloud,
a boy still, on the day I killed the son
of Lord AmphĂ­damas--though I wished it not-
in childish anger over a game of dice.
PĂȘleus, master of horse, adopted me
and reared me kindly, naming me your squire.
So may the same urn hide our bones, the one
of gold your gracious mother gave."

I wish to acknowledge Daughters of D-Day for the content of this post.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Typhus Recrudescence

scrub typhus_poster

The wretched typhus grant has come back to haunt me. The deadline is next Tuesday so you know what I'm going to be doing over the next week. Blogging will be hit-or-miss depending on my need for displacement activity...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

WeakEnd Activity

Samurai battle
Mad Dog spent Saturday and Sunday engaged in swordplay

Well a couple of you quite correctly pointed out that the item in my last post was a "tsuba" or the handguard part of a Japanese sword. Actually it's from my own iaito or practice sword (it looks exactly like the real thing except only the point is sharp and believe me this is scary enough). Anyway I've just spent the the entire weekend at one of the most amazing martial arts seminars I've ever witnessed. It was an iaido seminar taught by three esteemed instructors from Japan: Noguichi Sensei (8th Dan) Aoki Sensei (7th Dan) and Suzuki Sensei (6th Dan). In addition from my own dojo there was Murasako Sensei (7th Dan), Konno Sensei (7th Dan) and Seto Sensei (5th Dan). Furthermore there were several other noted Sensei from all over the western United States and numerous yudansha. Quite an astonishing group. The demonstrations were all inspiring and I was trying to absorb facts like a dry sponge and I just hope I can retain a few percent of what I was taught (damn the aging grey matter). Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to limp off to soak myself in a hot bath and swallow a handful of ibuprofen...if I can summon the energy to open the container, that is.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Now What's This...?


Here's an interesting item: it's part of an instrument I'll be playing with continuously over the weekend. Anybody know what it is? Clue: it's nothing to do with gardening.