Thursday, 27 December 2012

Review time

I don't know what the next line of this entry is likely to be but as we're coming toward the end of the year I normally write a little review bit and I think I shall tonight.
I'll start of talking about the sites I joined or belong to where a number of you readers belong, where we talk about all manner of things such as current affairs, music, fashion and anime. Well I'll take my hat off to you  all as even with the Presidential Election we didn't have much drama and certainly at Google Plus we had some interesting conversations as well as people sharing their talents in photography and digital art.
We had the Olympics and Paralympics, held in London which went extremely well showing just what people really are capable of, those amazing volunteers who helped everyone out.
When it comes to music, I was really impressed with the Roxy Music studio albums cd collection and deserved moans about manufacturing quality control of the American made copies aside, the new Beatles stereo lps that offer some real advantages over previous editions that had been out of print for good period of time.
I'm enjoying having a fibre to the cabinet broadband connection that is reliable and jolly fast for downloading files and watching video content which seems to be altering my habits as regards using the internet goes.
This blog gained some new followers and a big increase in readers over the year so I guess I must be doing something right.
I'd love to see the back of the rain we've had for most of the year flooding people out, damaging crops and leaving me soaking wet when goings.
Thank you, angelic types, bones, Google plusers, weird people of CR for being around
Happy New Year

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The changing face of computing

I just love this illustration  for the Microsoft Surface tablet that converts to a netbook although one hopes you can tweak the operating system to restore the Start button replace Internet Exploder 10 with Firefox or Chrome and install Foxit PDF reader rather than the bloated Adobe one that nags you every two to three weeks.
In 2012 we expect to keep up to speed with life online so products like this slot much better into our personal lives than old style desk top computers that still may have advantages for some types of work.
Having just visited one forum where this came up, I''ll end by saying online North American English is very prevalent and whatever your feelings around that might be, it's as well to get to grips with it.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

R.I.P Tinier Me

Some three and a bit years ago, a buddy of mine invited me over to a manga style gaming site with social interaction called Tinier Me cos we were hacked off with those other kinds of social sites whose patrons were either clingy, stalkers or playing mind games.
Unfortunately they appear to be have been another victim of the Gamification of the internet not least social networks such as Facebook and so yesterday 12/12/2012 closed down for good having put new membership on hold for three weeks previous.
Although sadly I wasn't able to use it as much as I'd of liked, I thought I'd save a screen image for posterity.
Some patrons have moved on over to Subeta

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Image capture - a few thoughts

I was just reading for what was for  once an interesting discussion on Amazon and feel like writing an extended response here.
Man has been in love with images for a extremely long time, noting his favourite or most important images in caves or drawings on paper moving into what we call today painting with paints. They document his times, his civilization and important events he wanted permanent records of to share with subsequent generations. The Victorian era saw advances in chemistry making it possible to store images using emulsion based film moving through ever more easier to use film based cameras before in the last decade of the twentieth century it became commercially viable to store such images as digital images on silicon chips both in cameras and also other devices such as cellphones and tablet computers.
That series of changes over time fuelled millions of people to create and store their own images of family, vacations past, their local communities as well as those who were paid to create images for local media initially newspapers and magazines but increasingly internet based sites.
For much of this era regardless of the final means of capture and storage their have been two main types of camera made depending very much on personal needs.
The first group were mainly for ordinary people who required something simple to use usually a single item of equipment for capturing family pictures and vacation snapshots with a single unchangeable lens.
The second was more around people who needed equipment that allowed a higher degree of control, the options of many interchangeable lenses for specialized uses such as close ups, sports, etc, elaborate flash systems for low light photography and so on.
These were aimed mainly at professionals who work for the press, magazines and the wedding and glamour market.
A secondary line was established using less expensive  camera bodies designed for more delicate usage by amateurs who wanted more control  than everyday cameras supporting a smaller and usually less expensive set of lenses and accessories, trading on the image of the professional models.
Such cameras were the first to use plastics initially for levers and take up spools and later on to the whole outer body.
The digital revolution  has to an extent blurred the line between so called compact cameras and  the pro sumer all in ones that offer the equivalents of 7 or more fixed focal length lenses on a single long zoom lens. Often compact cameras have 3.4 or more times zoom lenses fitted too.
Equally for all those whose employers wanted digital from the mid 1990's,  it led to Nikon and Canon ditching their professional single lens reflex film bodies with interchangeable lenses, that move lead to packaging plastic digital bodies and lenses to offer the same immediacy to enthusiastic amateurs.
The battleground for sales it seems is routed in the numbers of megapixels each body uses in much the same way that in pre-digital times the numbers of exposure modes offered and their metering options were pushed.
It always amazed me the number of times I showed people of photographs shot on a camera system focused by hand, carefully metered by a human, shot using a single focal  length high quality lens properly supported.
They didn't understand my equipment with less bragging rights than theirs produced better pictures for intervention, human knowledge and an oft forgotten maxim an image is only as sharp as the optic focused on it itself permits.
Many of the cheap zoom type lenses packaged with them, were of lower quality and critically offered less scope for controlling how much in front and behind of what you had focused on was in sharp focus.
An unfortunate by-product of using lenses designed originally with film use in mind on digital bodies is that it's harder to get background out of focus because the focal length for any setting is bigger and also the sensors don't render as much out of focus at wider aperture settings. The only real cure would be to have designed new lenses to work with digital sensors in  mind which is what Olympus did with their digital single lens reflex bodies.
This problem may not be an issue for vacation snapping where most of the time you want most things in sharp focus but is for creative photography.
It is one reason apart from some undoubtedly preferring the kind of image film makes for some of us to continue with their older film systems for work with less of short time frame requirement having our images scanned at the point of processing 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

On gender transition

As some may know I'm very much in favour of equal opportunities, supporting those who challenge older stereotypes as well as supporting groups like Press For Change. 
In the last few days the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees approved the latest proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders otherwise known as DSM-5 to the effect that unlike previous guidance no longer places being Transgendered as a mental disorder.
Today I felt like talking about it.
There are and have been many definitions   of what Transgendered means so much so fallings out over them aren't exactly uncommon but the simplest is you feel an overwhelming urge from within to present socially in a gender role the opposite of what the social norm of someone with your anatomical appearance.
I can see how that can regarded as progress although you say if you yourself are Transgendered, well how do I argue I have a medical need for say re-assignment surgery?
I've always had a this take on it.
It's a language issue at the core. Mental Disorder to some equals mental health issue and you don't wish to be bracketed say with people who maybe deluded. I'd say it's a social/psychological issue stemming from other peoples refusal to allow you to be you.
In order to live you life as you, you don't have to go down the route of taking hormones or having body surgery although hormones apart from developing the breast tissue also have other effects such as mood and so on.
It's a step that takes you toward 'full participation' in the gender role you feel but it's not the whole of it. The whole of it is about your personality, how you project that out in that World that may not know what to expect and for male to females the whole of ones femininity.
Sometimes I feel some people obsess more around GRS as a procedure that has to be gone through rather than the cultivation and expression in their lives of their sense of self.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Keeping warm in style

For a period I was in love with sports leisure  wear and one example of it is this.
This Baseball jacket is by Henley's with stud fastening but you know there's  quite a few variations on this theme out there. The pink lining is a nice touch just taking the masculine edge off of it but I'll guess most of us could get away with a guys!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Prom-a-lot

You know apart from just getting soaked in today's downpour it's not the only reminder that we're approaching that time of year, girls, that has us on the one hand super excited about being with friends and yet at the other worried about how we look as well as if we have anything in that might cut it.
Well if you're in the UK with a reasonably slimish build this might be a dress that would work.
It's by Diamond stocked by Debenhams and designed by Julien McDonald.
Although it's shortish so you need legs, it's reasonably full with a mesh skirt with net trimming underneath to pouf it out a bit while the contrasting top half is simple leading itself to accessorising but with the cut outs at the side.
Available in UK sizes 6 through 18, teamed with heels you'll stand out without looking too out of place.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Less productive time

I only wish I felt this alive right now.
I've had a long day not really being helped by spending the preceding day catching up on sleep from the day wired to the blood pressure monitoring that wasn't much fun.
We did some works case records training and it was obvious from the outset that not one of liked or used the scripts and that we feel we're being held to account for outcomes that were those chosen by supervisors all of which having differing ideas on what is best outcome and if appointments are needed. And that's one thing we can marked down on.
I always record as joint me plus supervisor determines outcome to throw back some ownership for the decision making.
I felt they needed to have common training for supervisors first so they all know when an appointment was needed etc and then cascade that down to us.
It's not that training around this isn't a good idea it's simply you have to start from the top having established common practise .

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The skinny cat returns!

Well, after a long time campaigning  in what at times has been a bitter and somewhat personal affair it's all over with.
He's back and I can come out of the coal bunker!
Really as Americans it's your affair, it's your gig, but what those of us outside of the States want from a President is a person who knows it's your job as the leading democracy in the World to engage with that World, a person who knows how to use those special relationships especially with the English speaking democracies such as Canada and Great Britain to improve international trade, co-operate in the attempt to resolve conflicts peacefully and encourage those where democracy isn't the norm to transform their own societies. We don't need more regime change that destabilizes regions, allows less amenable regimes in and cost all our soldiers their lives.
You know it takes a long time before any one can see what their programs are set out to deliver.
If, whatever your own misgivings and the difficulties your Country is going through,  you gave him a chance in the polling stations yesterday may I say thank you for returning him to office.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

We want our EU contributions cut!

No apologies to returning to a grown up topic I've spoken about in the past on this blog namely Great Britain and its relationship with the European Union. If you haven't read them, no doubt searching the blog would bring them up.
Anyway, I think most of know the UK has got a large deficit which regardless of what our opinions on how we're reducing it and how that is affecting ordinary folks, we are doing it by reducing the amount of money we spend on government services.
One item of expenditure we have over here is our contribution to the budget of the European Union and there is a lot of talk from them about increasing by around 4 or more percent the budget contributions because it says it needs that to pay for its programs even though most National Governments like ours are doing the opposite ironically to pay for bailouts from the EU!
It is fair to say their is a schism between the opinions of the Political Establishment  here and that of many ordinary people regardless of party politics and it can be summarized as this:
Most Britons like people from Europe, they are happy to visit, co-operate trading with and certainly have no desire for conflict never mind war with them. The one thing they will not accept is a political Europe with it's own sovereign parliament, binding Europe wide laws, financial regulation and currency.
That's because they have a proud history of having one of their very own to which they remain happy with.
Now in the last few days because their is a split between the generally pro EU Liberal Democrat half of the Government and the more anti Political EU Tories meetings were held and the Tory Prime Minister decided he was going to argue at the upcoming EU Budget meeting for a Freeze in contributions , the idea being in time it would have to reduce some of its ambitions.
Unfortunately for him many of those of his party not in the Cabinet thought otherwise wanting a cut on the grounds that it was unfair to expect people to have to accept cuts in what National Governments spend on goods and services we use and for them not to do the same.
I'm not a Tory but I have to say I agree completely with that especially when the spending is not and hasn't been accounted  for properly year on year for a very long time.
Last night in the vote on the proposition, just for one this once rebel Tories and the Labour party defeated the Government by 307 votes to 294 making it clear through our representatives what is is so many of us feel.
I only hope the message isn't lost on people involved in the European Union not least the Comissionaires.
Today Britons have spoken.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Charred past

11 followers at Daytime Office Girl Crisis and only a tiny handful of you even know the history of this unique blog! It was underground for quite a period when I was avoiding places I felt rather uncomfortable at but now it's back out in the open.
If you clever people were wondering what this weeks title is referring to, unless you were on Mars, I'm talking about a major public scandal in the UK (that strange place that gave us English) that centres around the deceased disc jockey and tv presenter Sir Jimmy Saville who worked for a long time at a veritable UK institution, The BBC.
If you'd been in the UK for over 15 years, you'd of know of him presenting such shows as the pop music show Top of the Pops, radio shows like Saville's Time Travels, the Old record club, his past as a club MC in Leeds, Yorkshire and his charitable works and he did raise an awful lot for places like the  spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandiville.
No one would dispute his achievements as an entertainer, indeed many of us us watched and listened to his shows.
There is no nice way to say this - and I wish I didn't have to - but he had another side a very hidden one from the public and it was he enjoyed having sex relations with children  15 or under something general morality aside, is against the law.
Some of these at least were clearly 'forced', they involved boys as well as girls, either on BBC property or in accommodation provided for his charitable work.
A good number were invited backstage from shows such as Jim'll fix it or Top of the Pops to his dressing room arguable with some knowledge from associates where they were abused; in others they were taken from Hospitals or Corrective Schools. It also has been said he attempted to interfere with some during the filmed dancing at Top of the Pops when he was on the show.
If this wasn't enough earlier this week I read a harrowing account of how even a niece at 13 and 15 of his was molested and abused.  I cried reading it.
I can't presume to speak for everyone that may be reading this blog, but there are a couple of things that come to mind of which the first is I feel a part of my past has been sullen not least for seeing people on a show and then finding out what happened later to them.
The other is why it was he was allowed unaccompanied access to minors to the point even of being given a key to one hospital that he kept with him. Thinking back as a 13 or 14 year old, at the time I'd loved to met my idols and gotten their autograph but you'd of expected someone to be over that person you were seeing not least for their own protection.
It also appears a number of people were aware of his 'interest' in minors but didn't act. Was this because he was viewed as too important to the BBC and various charities to tackle?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Media bais

Hi.
This week's post is a little different than the normal kind of post I make here but then that's not so untypical of me as I can be a bit random.
Anyways, this is the first post going out mainly for two circles at a social networking site one of which kindly offered  to have me, ironic really as I've said a few times the people who wanted me at that site seldom use it and I've ended up having interchanges with people I never encountered before around MLP, anime and what we call loosely gender politics among many things.
Media coverage is something that's always interested me right from high school where because of timetabling I missed taking Media Studies lessons although our Economics lecturer talked a lot about often in the context of social economics and associated poltical activity of the day.
Following on from a  post, I feel there are class based biases around what stories newspapers cover and the angle they portray them in.
For instance one well known UK newspaper  seldom reports events affecting Britain's black community outside of the context of immigration abuse or criminality and had for a period ignored major stories of crime against black people but suddenly shifted a gear in campaigning for justice in the Steven Laurence case.
That was very commendable but the presentation was more one of worthy of support as 'black young man and his family made good' -fellow 'middle class' solid types wronged rather than the injustices of the initial inquiry and how the racial biases of the investigating force hampered the search for justice.Injustice itself should be worth of reporting and campaigning against.
In the ongoing reporting of messing people too it's often the case those seen to be of that that stereotype 'worth solid middle class' who  were wronged often with reference to abilities rather than the many ordinary people, often young people who just seem to vanish and they become the focus of campaigns.
Since 9/11, if you were to read some newspapers the only reference to Muslims is in the context of terror plots or mistreatment of women and minors that sure should be reported and acted upon but ignores the lives of many peaceful followers of that religion and what they contribute to our society.
Do you think our media is biased?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Clutter

Sometimes I think I'm jinxed as it seems I have the return of a rotten cold, an everyday thing although not pleasant for most of you but something once I get on, I never really seem to shake off.
I'm not house moving, but in the last few weeks and probably continue on for a few more weeks, I'm de-cluttering the house and while I'm at it, rearranging things.
I haven't had a bad life even if lots of things didn't quite go to plan, but one common factor with many of them is they left me with heaps of paper files in either wallet document folders or huge lever arch files from many activities and courses I took that took over room after room!
I've finally gotten shut of the 1999 Roxy Music remasters - nasty harsh things -having got  that awfully nice sounding new box set plus a few other don't really need discs plus a massive hardback copy of Websters dictionary that was too heavy for me to turn the pages over.
As well, I'm thinning out a mountain of home made VHS video cassettes going back some twenty-five years that are taking up space and yet I haven't watched in several years so I figure I really do not need them.
Makes you wonder how much stuff we really need in our lives.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Love Me Do

Well in October 1962 before I was born, a group with a local and German port following issued a bluesy 45 following their first ever UK recording sesson at Abbey Road, London.
Nobody knew if this group would really take of or just remain one of several provincial groups just selling a few copies to fans.
This Group was of course, the Beatles and that single reached number 17 on the UK charts although it was to go top five in the States in 1964 in an era off unprecedented adoration.

Although it's been released several times before being only deleted briefly during the late 60's and very early 70's with a famous 20th anniversary issue in 1982 where it climbed to number 5 in the UK charts that I bought in high school, this week it comes out in a retro label design complete with company inner bag.
I've ordered a copy for my collection as I believe they *may* use the original singles version for this that was switched in early 1963 to the now familiar version featured on the Please Please Me album.

NEWSFLASH:
Somebody goofed big time.
http://wogew.blogspot.ca/2012/10/lov...ry-mix-up.html

Quote:
Word is that EMI have recalled all the stock of the 50th anniversary edition of the Love Me Do 7" vinyl single , because the version on the single is incorrect. Under strict instructions from Apple the stock is to be destroyed.
The single version as you probably know featured Ringo, and the album version featured Andy White with Ringo on the tambourine. The mistake is that they have supposedly put the album version on the new 7 inch.
At the moment EMI have no plans to replace it with the correct version.
This information came from one of the retailers who had already shipped their pre-orders, so there will be a number of lucky owners of this rarity when the post arrives tomorrow....
Coming soon is the much waited for stereo  vinyl issues of September 2009's album remasters. One hopes the three year and two months wait is worth it.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The great flooding of Northwich

We've had heavy rainfall this week causing considerable difficulties although where I am we've not flooded being just removed from the paths of the Rivers Dane and Weaver here in Cheshire.
Unfortunately in one of towns the organization I work for has offices, we suffered extensive problems with flooding, road closures and so on.
Northwich town centre.
As you can see not much moving there!
Hopefully it'll be over in a few days time although that'll be when the insurance claims and visits by loss adjusters will be set up.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Don't Go

Frankly I'm dogtired, unwell and you might be feeling like say, get your %^* in bed young lady and take a rest but I'm not cos I'm a bit stubborn at times even though I'm not related to a donkey!
But anyway I'll be good and not spend so long on this!!!
The early 80's for those of us around at the time were a pretty amazing period to live through musically and one of the big things was the synthesizer what could make pretty much any sound you cared to program it and it was possible to for the frist time to remove the traditional structure of the rock band or backing group completely.
This freed up the options and one very popular synthesizer group option was the Duo examples of which are Soft Cell, the Pet Shop Boys and Erasure but that latter group had someone who came from a group that was famous for 15 minutes - well okay two years - before splitting up and getting together again a few years back.
That group was called Yaz or Yazoo if you're a Brit who came from Basildon, Essex with Vince Clarke being a previous member of the highly successful Depeche Mode with Alison Moyet who came from the same school.
They had two hit albums Upstairs at Eric's named after a nightclub they went to and You and Me Both and a number of hit 45's Don't Go, Only You, Nobody's Diary, The Inside of Love and Situation (at least in North America).
Recently Music Club Deluxe issued this double album with those hit 45's most of the bands two albums and some hard to find 12" mixes which I got as a pre-order for a fiver as I don't have any Yaz on cd.
Alison had a successful jazz/blues solo career with Columbia records issuing a compilation in 1995 while Vince had a quite a time of chartoppers Erasure with hits like Sometimes, Stop! and the Abbesque EP all featured on their 1992 compilation Pop! which isn't available to download so you'll need to get the cd and rip it for your music player! (Groans)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Wall Street shuffle

"The online Miss with masters degree in punnery" is the tag line at my account at a certain social network which as those unfortunate enough to encounter me know is true enough so why would it surprise anyone that among many music acts I liked 10cc, a Manchester based on would be one?
Simply apart from their excellent musicianship each being multi-talented coming on as a budgie on supercharge Trill, the bands lyricists shared the same love of punnery as I do as well as sending whole genres of music with style.
Recently I got this Dutch 3 cd compilation:
This is a distillation over three cds and 51 tracks of the total output of the group from 1970 as Hotlegs through the peaks of tracks like 1975's Life's a Minestrone with epic punnery and great use of nonsense chanting of minestrone in syllables to their last album from 1983 plus for good measure some 80's gems by Godley and Creme such as Cry and Under Your Thumb that are in the same style.Tracks like I'm Mandy, Fly Me, Good Morning Judge, One Night in Paris (a mini opera of Parisienne fun set in Stockport of all places) are all desert island stuff for me. Did UK pop in the 70's get anymore intelligent without getting all po-faced?
Including tracks by Wax, the band formed by Graham Gouldman and Andrew Gold, might of appealed to completists but I feel regardless of merit, they would just jar next to the 10cc material and in any event are included on the Music Club Deluxe Andrew Gold double compilation issued a few years back that I'd recommended to Andrew Gold fans.
The mastering for those are concerned as much as I am about the trend in the last 15 years toward louder more bloated sounding cds is pretty good if not quite up to the dynamic contrasts of the original  mid 80's Mercury era 10cc albums issued in Europe or the original Greatest Hits cd issued in the 80's.
For the modest price this set cost's it's worth owning either on it's own or in conjuction with a collection of original studio albums.
1997's remasters done by Roger Wake which remain the only in print regular editions are frankly crap -a word I'd seldom use on this blog ever - lacking detail, distorted complete with obvious tape drag. People, don't waste your money on them as even the original artwork included in say the 80's cd of  How Dare You has gone AWL for the remastered edition replaced by an essay of sorts.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

An end of an era

This isn't a a post I personally felt like making earlier on but actually with some some redacts I shall.
As many of you are aware I enjoy anime and manga reading much about it, buying magazines and spending money on it.
Here in the UK there is a very good 4 weekly magazine, NEO, published by Uncooked Media that has played a big role in popularizing anime and it's subcultures such as cosplaying as well as Asian culture.
Well from the moment I first saw it, I bought every issue and one of the things it had was  a website that offered more up to the minute news and a lively forum where people talked about things, contributed to threads that influenced the magazine covering  suggestions for content, reviews.
Coming from a close involvement with a forum with more drama than Shakespeare could come up, with it was a forum where I felt everyone gelled well together sharing their mutual interests even if complaints about a prominent magazine advertiser stocking counterfeit goods tended to be ignored time after time and anything critical regarding this disappearing.
Then at the beginning of this year, there was a bombshell as the Magazine and by extension its owner ditched the forum for a Facebook page as its sole means of communicating with it's readership with not even an announcement to forum members, dropping of any mention of it in side the magazine.
Because it relied as some forums do on manual authorizing of accounts for a period new members couldn't use it and because no one with administrator privileges was dealing with this, it was ripe for spamming.
Somewhat belatedly a person was given responsibility for looking after it but without making any personal comments the impression one forms is it isn't really their priority and attempts to allow involvement by long standing responsible members stalled for reasons I'm not going into.
The problem as anyone who knows about these things are, your core members drift off  - and many have - and with the problem around authorizing, moderating and banning spammers not really solved and looking very much that it won't be  is simple: Over time the forum dies off.
Now I have no issue with using differing media to interact with readers but a forum is a very different beast than a Facebook page with 'likes' and entries to just reply to and treating a community you created like that comes over as very shabby.
I shall be at Anime UK news under a new username. If you're at CR too you can message me there for it.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Music reset!

I've spend a few days remaking a number of MiniDiscs of Diana Ross following acquiring newly remastered cds and writing edited versions of the Mp3's from the laptop.
To recap for those who weren't around in the 90's they looked like this and run up to 80minutes and 59 Seconds.
One reason and I'm not alone in saying this is although it uses a data reduction format, it actually sounds better than many contemporary digital music players such as iPods even when playing lossless files because the electronics are geared more around high quality sound than running lots of features and making the most of a weak current low voltage power source. The people at the MiniDisc forum on Sonys website feel the same.
MiniDisc Forum @ Sony
The output stages in particular are limited in how well they can drive headphones well so even when you take a Mp3 intended for one and copy it over to MiniDisc, it sounds better via the MiniDisc than being played on a solid state player. Ironically the best headphone output I have from a solid state device is this laptop but that's hardly portable!
You just have to remember to pack a few discs in your coat or short pockets which is where these 2 albums per disc compilations come in missing off less essential bonus tracks come in. Diana Ross's music is enjoyable on long bus or train rides so having her studio albums from 1970 thru 1980 on just five MiniDiscs will keep me entertained!
My Sharp runs off a single AA cell for over 20 hours too.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Rod The Mod

If you were around in the 70's you could not of escaped Rod Stewart, the UK singer-songwriter responsible for many of decades top selling records but where do you start if you're not a rabid fan of his given many compilations have been issued in the passing decades most of which had cd re-issues?
I did have the 2004 Changing Faces set but it was mastered rather loud and my copy wasn't playing to well for some reason so a while back I did some investigations on what to replace it with.
At the risk of sounding like a boring old fart, I feel his best solo material was recorded for Mercury between 1969 and 1974 taking in such gems as You Wear it Well, Gasoline Alley, Reason To Believe and unforgettably, Maggie Mae.
While some of these albums have been re-issued by specialty labels such as Audio Fidelity and Mobile Fidelity, these discs will be dear to track down regardless of sonic merit  so I'd suggest most would be better of getting new a 3 cd set called "Reason To Believe -The complete Mercury studio recordings " having all the albums and some bonus tracks in a single inexpensive set.
For an overview of his career from the mid 60's to 1990 I feel there's one which is a complete no-brainer  and that's "Storyteller" as it does just that telling the story of Rod's music career over 4 cds that originally came out in 1990 costing a small fortune.
It was recently repackaged but keeping the notes and can be got from Amazon UK for £7.99 shipped. Although a few tracks from the mid 60's were sourced from records, most of this set sounds really good.
I would put this now above "The Story So Far - the best of" a 2 cd set issued by Warners in the UK in 2003 as Storyteller has more 'classic' Rod while all The Story So Far adds is some remakes and less essential tracks he did with Helicopter Girl even though I bought "Story So Far" on release.
Finally, Rod was an essential part of the Faces who emerged from the Small Faces and you simply have to have a selection of their rootsy bar music that included tracks like Stay With Me and Cindy Incidentally. Although there's a new double cd set due out in October which I hope to get, One that can be got cheaply and is very good is The Best of the Faces (Good boys ...while they're asleep).
Currently available on Rhino and priced at £2.99 on Amazon UK you really cannot go wrong with this single cd retrospective..

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Turn, turn, turn

Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows I've always loved the Byrds one of the most important American rock groups of the 60's and beyond not just for the individual talents within  the group in its differing lineups but the fact they got to what was new and hip before anyone else did, pioneering whole new musical genres such as Country-Rock that lead us to The Eagles and Poco.
I grew up on the UK import History of the Byrds double compilation lp which for its time give a well rounded assessment of their abilities and not a few hard to find vital 45's such as Lady Friend although in time I bought a number of studio albums plus the good if slightly flawed Original singles masters lps issued in the UK in 1980 and 1982 respectively supply all the singles with matching b sides. People remarked on the music I played at high school during that period as it was so different than anything they were familiar with.
Anyway in 1990 I was based in Surrey, just outside of London, when the news broke that a new box set of their work freshly remastered and even remixed in parts was coming out October 19th on CBS over here (the US edition was on Columbia)  which appealed not least because some of the  early Byrds cds although having the original mixes didn't sound so hot in this new format.
The set also content 6 new recordings made that year showcasing their talent even now.
 I remember saving up for it, intending to buy it in a store in Kingston Upon Thames only to find some so and so had stolen all my money so as I was short on funds for meeting my other obligations, I never got around to getting it.
I bought all the remastered individual cds from 1996 and 1997 that were issued  featuring many bonus tracks but still hankered for this attractively packaged set
Each disc is titled with its own cover art and there remains a good number of alternate mixes and material not carried over to the "There Is a Season" box set of a few years ago.
Fortunately I was able to track down an as new US copy used for a cheap price from a Amazon vendor which should be here in a minute.
I'm really looking forward to finally getting it.
Tracklist:

We Have Ignition
1. Mr Tambourine Man
2. I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better
3. Chimes Of Freedom
4. She Has A Way
5. All I Really Want To Do
6. Spanish Harlem Incident
7. The Bells Of Rhymney
8. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
9. She Don't Care About Time
10. Turn Turn Turn
11. It Won't Be Wrong
12. Lay Down Your Weary Tune
13. He Was A Friend Of Mine
14. The World Turns All Around Her
15. The Day Walk (Never Before)
16. The Times They Are A-Changin'
17. 5D (Fifth Dimension)
18. I Know My Rider
19. Eight Miles High
20. Why
21. Psychodrama city
22. I See You
23. Hey Joe

Cruising Altitude
24. Mr Spaceman
25. John Riley
26. Roll Over Beethoven
27. So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star
28. Have You Seen Her Face
29. My Back Pages
30 Tim Between
31. It Happens Each Day
32. Renaissance Fair
33. Everybody's Been Burned
34. The Girl With No Name
35. Triad
36. Lady Friend
37. Old John Robertson
38. Goin' Back
39. Draft Morning
40. Wasn't Born To Follow
41. Dolphin's Smile
42. Reputation
43. You Ain't Going Nowhere
44. The Christian Life
45. I Am A Pilgrim
46. Pretty Boy Floyd
47. You Don't Miss Your Water

Full Throttle:
48. Hickory Wind
49. Nothing Was Delivered
50. One Hundred Years From Now
51. Pretty Polly
52. Lazy Days
53. This Wheels On Fire
54. Nashville West
55. Old Blue
56. Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man
57. Bad Night At The Whiskey
58. Lay Lady Lay
59. Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood
60. Ballad Of Easy Rider
61. Oil In My Lamp
62. Jesus Is Just Alright
63. Way Beyond The Sun
64. Tulsa County
65. Deportee
66. Lover Of The Bayou
67. Willin'
68. Black Mountain Rag
69. Positively 4th Street

Final Approach:
70. Chestnut Mare
71. Just A Season
72. Kathleen's Song
73. Truck Stop Girl
74. Just Like A Woman
75. Stanley's Song
76. Glory Glory
77. I Trust
78. I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician
79. Green Apple Quick Step
80. Tiffany Queen
81. Bugler
82. Lazy Waters
83. Farther Along
84. White's Lightning

From The 1990 Roy Orbison Tribute:
85. Turn Turn Turn
86. Mr Tambourine Man

The Nashville Session: New 1990 Recordings:
87. He Was A Friend Of Mine
88. Paths Of Victory
89. From A Distance
90. Love That Never Dies


A link is on the Favourites tab for Tom's Gene Clark blog (The Clarkophile) that I feel is one of the best music blogs out there.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tv or not tv as we know it?

Isn't modern life surprising,eh?
Take Tv for instance in the UK we had four followed by Five free to air tv channels available by an antenna in the 1990's.
If you wanted more channels you'd either get cable which Cranford Central sure isn't an option or you'd subscribe to Sky TV a subscription based satellite service that provides packages which I had for several years changing from analogue to digital over that time.
The service wasn't bad, but it was expensive and you have to take all the subscription regular channels to get either sports or film channels. I wasn't in much to take full use of it.
I tried ONdigital which reception issues aside (believe you me I had to have the biggest most sensitive antenna fixed in the whole neighbourhood to get this part subscription digital tv via the antenna service with reasonable reception out here) wasn't bad as it gave most of the stuff I wanted at a reasonable price only to have it go in administration.
When the digital tv over the antenna service was reconfigured in 2002 to a very wide choice of free to watch channels from the likes of the BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and five, I stuck with that, just keeping the old sky box for a select few satellite only free channels I  watch downstairs.
Imagine my surprise then to find it was possible to subscribe to the sports channel British Eurosport which I missed entirely online in HD widescreen for a mere £2.99 per month and having now gotten decent fibre broadband I had a fast clean connection to make it work.
Plus connection permitting I can use it on a tablet PC via Wifi anywhere!
With that I updated the M$Silverlight to the latest version on the laptop having deleted the old one and immediately set up an account paying via PayPal cos I don't like handing my card details out if I can help it.
It really works so with a combination of two British Europsport channels (with extra one offs) streamed HD anime from CR and my free to air tv channels I'm getting just the kind of tv I like at a price I feel is reasonable.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

MPs need to grow up!

While most of the UK basks in its very impressive standings in the 2012 London Olympics being currently 3rd on the medal table, a different kind of a game is being played out by the politicians on the streets  of London.
There are two piece of legislation that the two parties in the Coalition want and each has something to gain from one but there's a problem with how it can be delivered.
The Tories want to reduce the number of Members of Parliament probably a good thing given how much is done in Europe and the Devolved assemblies of of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but by changing the constituencies in way that generally favours them.
The Liberal Democrats want to 'reform' the second chamber - the House of Lords - by having nearly all the Lords elected for 15 year period because they believe that gives them a ' democratic mandate' to act.
The problem with this is simple: Ever since the 1909 Peoples Budget and the constitutional clash between the Lords and The Commoners, the Commons had the final say and the Lords was a revising Chamber where members with experience and no party system to make them vote along those lines examined and suggested improvements to bills and could introduce new bils but they had to go the the Commons for approval.
It worked well in practise even if the Lords weren't elected and some who were entitled to attend didn't  but Tony Blair MP as Prime Minister half reformed it, removing some lords and putting political appointees in living it in limbo and creating a Supreme Court usurping some of the Lords former powers.
Now the one thing Commoners do not is a House of Lords that says "We represent the people" and start to challenge directly them so many Tories and a good many others who aren't Liberal Democrats have made it plain they won't vote for this.
In a pique of childish  behaviour, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister has decided to block the changes in the number of MPs championed by the Prime Minister, Tory David Cameron.
To some as one who will admit to voting LD in the elections over here I find this stupid simple because of all the many pressing issues in modern Britain there's next to no interest by the public at large in changing how the House of Lords works. Actually outside of the Liberal Democrat supporters most would say they like it how it is.
If the Liberal Democrats had concerns about how the new seats proposed to reduce the number of MP's (and I can think of some affecting people near here ), then they should oppose them for those reasons alone, not childish tit for tac revenge.
Is there a grown up in the House of Commons?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Surrender

HP wireless Lan on, that's a good start to blog I think sat in front of the laptop today.
Well, over here we're in awe of the Olympics with some events taking place in nearby Manchester despite all that London 2012 stuff, it's much wider than that and I'm thinking back to the first Olympics I recall watching, the '76 ones in Montreal, QE.
That takes me back to an artist who was jam hot back then, Diana Ross and specifically the 'Black Album' that helped rise the bar of  emergent disco with the classic Love Hangover seguing from soft soul to full on disco as well as tracks such as Do You Know Where You're Going To? and her cover of the Charles Chaplin song, Smile. Well recently the specialty arm of Univerrsal, Hip-O reissued it with alternative mixes and previously unreleased songs all freshly re-mastered on 2 cds.
That's no bad thing as a number of those early Motown cds do sound at best mediocre and some downright edgy and for years they've been the only ones on the market. This double issue of Diana Ross (1976) is a big improvement on the old 80's American cd and comes close to my original UK Tamla_Motown lp with more transparency and presence.
I also got a number of other titles issued over the years in this series by Hip-O although one - the Expanded edition of Last Time I Saw Him - is out of print on cd so I went to my favourite download store, 7Digital and bought a 320Kbps download of it. You don't have install any fancy software on your computer as you can get the 'Zip file' download option, and using the extraction tool built into Windows, extract to the Music library to ply or share with your digital music player.
I'll proceed to annoy the audio purists by saying in my opinion, the download did sound really good being better than a number of cds I've bought new!
The titles so far In I have are, Diana aka Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Everything Is Everything, Surrender including the UK#1 I'm Still Waiting, Touch Me In The Morning, Last Time I Saw Him (Her country flavoured set) and Diana Ross. I hope they tackle Baby It's Me as my old cd suffers from 'sticky top syndrome' being made by Nimbus here in the UK when this accident was common in the late 80's and I'd love to replace it.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Communication breakdown

Getting hot don't you think?
The day got off to good start when my digital set top box that thing that feeds my old school tv decided to expire. I mean I woke up earlier with it still being warm at 4:30AM putting on the BBC's news channel to catch up with the latest G4S disasters, dozed back of to sleep only to wake up at 5:15 to an alternating black screen and white noise from the old built in analogue tuner in the TV itself!
I bought this around late October 2006 when my old STB a Nokia left by ONdigital, the worlds first Digital tv via an antenna company, was liquidated in 2002 and I've a fair idea of what happened. It's most likely to be  power supply issue involved a couple of capacitors that have gone short circuit having leaked. It's a very common problem in consumer electronics as to keep costs down, they use underrated components assuming by time they've failed, you'll sent it to landfill and buy another. I just might unscrew it and have a go fixing it although I found a dirt cheap replacement in a local charity store that's a deadringer for it using the same chassis but just different switches and a marginally different remote.
I'm tempted to look for a FreeviewHD USB adapter for the laptop instead as it can handle 720P pictures. 
Sunday saw a big fibre trunk outage that made using the internet for chat rooms a pain as it was taking over a minute for a few words you typed to come back. From what I read while at work, it covered Devon up to Manchester via Birmingham as as somehow they internet things I'm in Wolverhampton of all places and they'd get their feed from Brum, that's what happened running through midnight Sunday. It's been fine afterwards but after  over a week of well nigh perfect broadband and darn quick uploading, it left me a bit down.
This afternoon I'll watch the Women's soccer on the BBC the first pre Olympic event.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Olympic blues

This week here in the UK, we've been getting ready for the upcoming Olympics and what an interest week it has been for some of our companies providing services starting with the missing  or otherwise lost bus drivers who are meant to take the incoming sports stars to their accommodation. Like how does it happen in a Capital that prides itself on driver knowledge for its Taxis can people get so lost for four hours or more? Every modern bus has satellite navigation aids, most of the drivers are experienced and the Olympic lanes are marked on the asphalt.
Then there's the great G4S fowl up who were given the job of providing security both at the stadia and also at the accommodation effectively placing them in lockdown only to find less than a quarter of those selected show up, those who want to haven't been told when they're wanted, the senior execs are very late founding out what is really happening and the Taxpayer pays twice providing the Army and Police to fill the gaps. The Home Secretary knows nothing and her opposite number is more interested in political point scoring when these contracts go back to when they were in office, a period I'm regretting with every month of fresh disclosures. Then there's the small matter of the M4 Highway cracking up that links London Heathrow and the venues that wasn't picked upon regular inspection.
It's such a pity when everything else was carefully checked and rechecked months ago with everyone looking forward to the opening day.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sunshine girl

Downpours, eh? We sure had them in the last few days here with me doing a drown rat impression while catching the bus to walk or strolling down toward the corner store and as I commented to the Nurse a week back, it sure gets me down not being able to go out.
Still, today at long last we have sunshine so much so that my idea of great stuff to put and and sit out in is more like this:
Exactly! Modest, comfortable, and ideal should you still have a mania for jumping around water be it a pool or playing with water pistols as that sure would cool you off.

The internet got changed over this week without incident and so far I've only had a one minute dropout which is so much better than what I was experiencing before and that's before you take into account  the radical improvements in download and upload speeds which makes watching or listening to streamed service a much better experience. So much so I was able to listen to the HD streamed audio of the Fist Night of the Proms classical music concert in better than FM quality last night.

I'm streamlining some of the programs on my old desktop before it inevitable makes it way to the scrapyard in the sky as some like Thunderbird while being an excellent Email program, is something I haven't used since switching to webmail in 2008, I no longer use the sector to sector cd copying program EAC and I no longer have many office documents to deal with so I've replaced OpenOffice.org with AbiWord that just does word based documents. Having a Google account, I have web access to Google Docs for more if I really need a spreadsheet or database.
I may try installing and running CCCleaner to remove the rubbish that gets stick in the registry over the years.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Downpours!

I don't know what happened to "Flaming June" but July sure isn't shaping up into anything better having gotten drenched from visiting my Doctors yesterday. Fortunately most of this district hasn't been subject to flooding although some twenty miles south of here some people have been flooded out of their houses when the rivers overflowed and the back roads here need to be treated with a bit of caution as the fields do flood frequently.
As it was sunny when I got up first thing, I decided to get my long walks in early as the forecast for the afternoon wasn't good at all and nothing but nothing is gonna stop me from exercising! And as my blood pressure is a tidgy bit high it's as well to continue with it as I've lost so far over 1 stone and 2 pounds.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Neil Young box set

Around the same point as the album I was talking about  last week came out another man was making waves less for his sense of showmanship rather his lyricism and yes he was a Canadian.
Well he was a big influence on my tastes around the 70's, spending time with those with copies of his albums although what I could buy was kinda limited cos I was skint .
For a very long time as Neil himself complained bitterly his albums on cd sounded 'weedy' and in 2009 his first four which I consider essential listening, were remastered carefully using the enhanced cd sound system know as HDCD.
These four albums I feel set his reputation covering such gems  as The Emperor of Wyoming, Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand, After The Gold Rush, Southern Man ( a song that really got under the skin of Southerners!), Cripple Creek Ferry, Heart Of Gold, The Needle and the Damage Done (recalling the loss in the late 60's, early 70's of so many promising young artistic talents to drug and alcohol abuse) and  many more.
Recently Reprise/WME reissued the set on cd with bare bone covers in jewelcases  over a slip case for a really low price - around £10.99 so if you were curious about these albums  or maybe want to replace your old cds it's not gonna break the bank no more.
In other news this week I'm watching the animes Narutu Shippuden volume 9 and Stigma of the Wind (streamed for a site a friend of mine sent me a link to).


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Ziggy Stardust

A few weeks and forty odd years ago an album was issued that became in many respects bigger than the artists own profile dominating the popular music scene for 1972/3.
It's an album almost  every student of any generation feels they have to heard never mind own regardless of what format may be prevailent at the time and it was a major musical and social influence either on me at that time.
Ziggy Stardust is a character - a singer in a rock band - and through him we see his raise to fame and tellingly his burn out that mirrors all too sadly what actually happens in real life. Everybody wants a piece of his pie from the management team, record label  even ultimately, the fans themselves and the artist struggles to "Hang on to yourself" to quote the title of one of the songs featured.
If the Monkees were a made for TV fabrication of a rock group based upon the Beatles, here was in many ways a more credible fabrication for the modern era -  a complete fabrication from individuals persona onward.
If one goes down Heddon Street, London the buildings in the cover shot can be seen although the trash can and K West sign are long gone.
The first single off the album was Starman and I recall the first time I heard that on the radio well being aware from the billboards and older friends of this Bowie character. What got to me about was -and still is - is the sense of detachment, alienation even of the lead character in the lyrics and the unamerican style of singing.
I first had the album on RCA 8 track tape although my brother had the lp and have been through cassette and cd versions.
This album has been re-issued numerous times and unfortunately like most of David Bowie's back catalogue their is no such thing as a really good cd version although on the advice of a friend of mine, Keith H in Ohio, I got the original RCA cds from the mid 1980's which were more listenable than either the thin sounding EMI (US: Ryko) titles from 1990/91 with bonus tracks or Peter Mew's bloated and highly compressed versions from 1999 on EMI (US: Virgin).
In 1990 a boxed edition was issued by EMI with a  72 page booklet with the regular cd
recognizing it's iconic status and this June  two new editions came out.
The cd version is just a straight re-issue of the 11 track album in a card digpack cover which I can't say I really like as packaging preferring Mini Lp style i we're having paper based.
While there is a little compression on it compared to the 1984 RCA, the tonality is spot on and let's be honest here the analogue to digital conversion technology has come an awful lot in 28 years (I can hear the convertors' sound on many older cds) so for the first time ever there is a pretty acceptable in print cd even though I won't be tossing out the RCA.
Secondly and even better news is that there was a new lp lovingly mastered by Ray Staff who used to work at Porky's mastering that many of us feel surpasses the original UK orange RCA lp when it comes to sound quality and dead quiet surfaces. It comes with a audio dvd that will play on a computer or Blue-ray player capable of 96khz/24Bit resolution (most do) offering  both stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes with bonus tracks which will sound smoother than the regular cd.
Recommended.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

400 entries!

Did anyone notice something last week?
Actually peoples that was the 400th post of this blog of mine that has been running for just over 6 years and in it's current form for about three when I woke up around 4AM with this amazingly amazing idea of what I wanted by way of content and critically how I wanted the whole look to be including its new title. Good job I had a note pad and pen by my bed don't you think to write it all down, eh?
And if you haven't sussed it out, I talk here about anything really from furry creatures to the state of the Euro taking in the odd thing about music so it's very eclectic.
When I first started it, it was only a few weeks after getting a broadband internet connection which for the benefit of younger readers meant not only didn't you hear no funny dialling up tones every time you wanted to connect and no more missing phone calls cos the computer was using the line, it now was permanently on. It made using websites and writing a blog a lot easier.
Well kinda as those of you who know me know how goddam awful my current providers service is not helped for good measure by being over 2 miles from the telephone exchange so soon I'll be switching provider and upgrading to Fibre to the cabinet as at long last the major telecoms provider here has fibre connected the area up.
I've been spending part of the week tidying up  some of my account details as back in 2008 I switched most of my email to  professional web based  services in part to enable easier email access form places like work and also to reduce any issues if I moved home or changed provider as many people back then had their email provided by whoever their  internet. provider was whereas today most of use don't (hands up you GMail users!) and check our emails on smartphones, tablets as well as laptop or desktop computers. Otherwise it would be change your provider, lose your emails unless you backed them up and even then you'd have to change all your details up again which is a pain for internet shopping and that.
I set a number of old accounts just to redirect to my web mail for speed but only discovered a few I still use a lot  hadn't be properly changed on the sites so I changed my details at Serif and Bestuff amongst others ready for when this internet provider gets turned off. Equally I got a Type N 150 USB wifi adaptor for this old desktop although I plan to get a laptop with built in wifi soonish, as there's quite a distance from where my phone master sockets is  where the engineers will install their stuff and where the desktop is situated and I'll be using both through the transition no doubt.
Until the next entry folks, bye and thanks for reading the blog all those years.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Grey day

Greetings on a recovering from a bad migraine Friday here which is why the blog update is kind of late as put quite simply I've been in bed for two days and have been struggling to make coherent sentences earlier today which is what I was off work with. I may just get around  next week to writing the entry I had thought out earlier this week
I've had these lousy migraines from early childhood that without giving away my age is quite some time really and while I know the whole drill, it's still yukky.
I went out for a walk earlier and on my second walk this afternoon I got back soaked to the skin as it rained  really really hard and I couldn't find a place to shelter. This meant drying my coat that was 'showerproof', trainers and tracksuit followed by myself with a  thick towel like you do with dogs!
Woof!!!
Anyway so far in I've lost 11 pounds and can run a bit too.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Happy anniversary

As we're marking the diamond anniversary of our Queen here in the commonwealth, I'll wish Her Majesty  a wonderful Diamond anniversary. One amazing intelligent lady.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Passing through

While continuing  with this walking thing and enjoying the sunny weather over here, I saw this so took a photo.
The narrow boat on the right was just coming in as I stood holding the shutter ready for 'the moment. With my old analogue SLR it was always screwed down tight to a tripod and pre-framed focussed by hand.
I've left the exposure as is as I can't see any need to tweak this.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

It's a bright May afternoon

I had a totally different idea for this entry yesterday but my ISP for the 700th time went down for several hours so I thought better of it. As soon as BT Fibre up this area I'll switch to them even if it needs a wifi add on for this PC  and some work in the hallway to fit the gear. I've had enough of my current provider. (rant)
I've spent part of the week listening to the classical composer Britten specifically his Spring symphony, Five Flowers Songs and the War Requiem  in performances conducted by John Elliot Gardener following a discussion in a classical music thread elsewhere. Britten never did the most commercial thing  with much of his output being as far removed from so-called 'Pastoral' English music following Vaughan Williams and Walton.
Although they are 'challenging' structurally I enjoyed the experience of hearing them for the first time.
Also Phil Collin's But Seriously gold AF cd came this week and it sounds great well worth the $16 plus shipping I paid for it.
I've also been walking rather a lot  not just cos the weather's been better but also I felt a bit stiff getting into a vicious circle of to hard to move so don't move, so even harder to move.
I'm purposely not setting targets, creating schedules or anything that may make it seem like a chore or worse still, remind of you school PT instructors barking instead I'm incorporating walks into everyday activities by extend the stroll to the corner store or just taking off any old how  for a mile or two whenever  I get a 'wanna be outside running around' feeling.
So far in I've lost five pounds without making any diet changes and more importantly can do a mile without feeling tired.
Now to root out my Roxette cds and set controls to 11!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Whisper in your ear!


This entry is having to be prepared in Notepad(tm) as throughout today my internet has been flipping itself off just at the moment when you've typed a well thought out comment and hit 'submit'.  Most frustrating.
Frustrating also is when HMRC decides to apply VAT on a item posted in the European Union  which realy isn't ment to happen however I feel they often make up the 'rules' as they go along.
Anyway to business and matters soulful.
In 2002 apart from the Shalamar reissues I once talked about Sanctuary who own the UK rights to the SOLAR back catalogue decided to start a complete Whispers reissue campaign which got me interested as someone who did like this soul groups music having bought both the 1994 30th Anniversary set and 1999's And The Beat Goes On 2 cd compilation albums.
For reasons that I honestly can't remember, this 8 cd series laid incomplete in my collection as I think I'd started at the end(!) probably because my original cd of 1987's Just Gets Better In Time had gone all sticky in the way many cds made by Nimbus in the UK during that period were prone to and I was thinking more about getting a  replacement.
In time I did get "The Whispers" famed for the smash hit And The Beat Goes On as well as My Girl coupled with 1987's seasonal album Happy Holidays and Imagination from 1981 with its smash It's A Love Thing coupled with This Kind Of Loving from the same year that suffered from the same fate as other albums on SOLAR at this period little promotion as the distribution deal was changing. A few years later I found the second disc in the series Bingo-The Janus Years which as the name suggests covered all the material recorded for Janus Records  a division of Chess featuring the Bingo album and a favourite song  by them of mine Mother For My Children from 1974 but that was it.
Recently I've finally get around to completing it aided by something I didn't have back then - Amazon - although quite a number of these discs are discontinued with single cds versions still available new from Unidisc of Canada.
The Whispers story on album begins around 1969/70 and the Soul clock label so I picked up 'Planets Of Life the Soul Clock recordings' because apart from that album you do get the other non album 45's which set the scene for the moved to Janus from 1972 through 1974. A word of warning the Canadian cd doesn't have the title track and the German is poorly copied from a lp with lots of filtering to hide crackles etc.
From Janus they moved in 1975 to Soul Train a label created by the people behind the legendary Soul Train black music tv show releasing One For The Money (also a 45) and Open Up Your Love from 1975 and 1976 respectively.
1979 saw the release of the acclaimed Headlights abum a favourite of mine a with it's singles (Olivia) Lost and Turned Out and the 'quiet storm' Lets Go All The Way which in this series is coupled Whisper In Your Ear featuring the single Can't Do Without Your Love. These were the first albums they issued on the SOLAR imprint.
Finally we get to 1981's Love Is where You Find It featuring In The Raw as well as Emergency, one of the first albums to have a uptempo dancing and slow romancing side configurations which for this series is coupled with 1983's Love Is Love released during a period of very rapid change in R&B  music as electro and rap was making its way into the mainstream.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Down with Austerity!

Okay, I could easily write about other stuff here in this Blog, really I could and I have something altogether different in mind for next week but it seemed when I woke up this morning to make more sense to continue with  what we were talking about last week.
Well, Austerity it would appear isn't terribly popular with the voters when one looks at the results of elections either here in the UK, France or Greece although apathy was the biggest winner of all underlining that disconnect between politicians and people.
In the UK some but not all Council elections place and the governing parties (Tory and Liberal Democrat) lost over 800 seats with most areas offered Elected Mayors rejecting the offer outright in referendums with the opposition Labour Party being the big winner.
Depressingly so much of the talk was less about local politics but more on National issues which local councils have little or no say over, so much so that in some respects it was more like an opinion poll on that rather than the proper business of what and how the Council should be doing for its citizens.
To that extent, we can say most appear to disagree with at least how the "Austerity" is being implemented with a strong feeling some are more in this together compared to others (The rich, bankers, corporate chair people etc.).
People see pay cuts, job loses, increasing prices, reduced public services and others doing well thank you from it and say NO!
The anti European Union party UKIP doubled its vote underlining this countries schism with Europe I wrote about over a year ago and probably not helped being asked to pay for another currency blocs mistakes when your own are experiencing sharp cuts in the standard of living.
People here expect it it's a matter of time before the Euro implodes.
The French had a Presidential election resulting in Mr Hollande the socialist winning on a rewrite the Euro stability agreement ticket which didn't go unnoticed by the Gerrman Chancellor Mrs Merkel who has issued a warning shot already of this although he's a clear mandate to seek it.
The Greeks bless 'em had a General Election that saw the Socialists and Conservatives lose to more left wing and even Fascist parties but with a twist. They as of now can't appear to form a coalition and any coalition is very likely to reject the terms of the next financial bailout because that was the overriding message of the voters.
The result genuinely shocked the financial institutions who didn't realize how unpopular the measures agreed between Greece and the reminder of the Euro zone really were on the ground.
It would be inconceivable any new Greek government would cave into to demands  to honour it so it looks likely Greece will default and at some point have to exit the Euro adopting a new currency which may not be a bad thing for Greece but as the Euro was at least as much about politics - one bloc united by a common currency and economies - it's the one thing others especially Germany not would wish for because it would leave the door open for Spain, Italy and even Ireland to follow suit.
The patient indeed doesn't like and refuses to take the medicine prescribed.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Political reflections

I've been spending the last few weeks watching a series on England's BBC2 tv channel about the 1970's after which there has been a series called sounds of the 70's 2 of half hour programs looking at one type of 70's music.
In some respects the present time reminds me of the 70's as for one thing we seem to be stuck  in a stagflation (rising prices and diminished economic growth), we have  Queens Jubilee like we did back in '77 and government is making all manner of cuts (and then panicking when some unfortold event happens because of them).
The one thing I say was different though was the contempt people hold politicians and the political system in is at a record high something not helped by the intermeshing uncovered between the two main parties and News International the global media concern that owns a large chunk of the UK newspaper market and the popular pay tv service BskyB.
Effectively News International was allowed to get way with phone hacking and widescale breeches of UK law because the political parties owed so much to them they didn't wish to upset them.
Then there's Jeremy Hunt MP who thought it was perfectly in order while sitting in a quesi-legal way over allowing News International to buy a majority shareholding in BskyB to argue in News Internationals favour, receive lavish hospitality, give one sided advice to them.
That was never right as anyone who has had to carry such task knows and a clear breach of the Ministerial code he'd agreed to and yet the Prime Minister gets into a right hissy fit in parliament when the opposition make the point.
This Thursdays local elections may prove most interesting....

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Still missing her

As a number of you know, I lost Moomin April 14 waking up that morning to find her to find her flat out in liquid on the kitchen floor first thing. The day had began pretty regular, getting out of bed, visiting the rest room and getting to the living room door. I guess I should of  realized something was up as I was greeted by a 'eeking' sound from the male cat sounding like he'd been doing it for a long time, it was so pitiful.
After a few minutes I'd wondered where she could be as even if he'd been chasing her overnight she'd soon emerge from the dining room or maybe behind the dryer so it was only when I went to investigate I made this distressing discovery whereupon when |I put my hand on her, she was stone cold, so I cleaned her up moved her on at a blanket before cleaning up and waiting for the vets to open to take her there as it's just around 12KM's away.
I'll be quite upfront here and say I've been struggling as each day I find fresh things that remind me of her and have been spacing out.
The picture was one I took a few years back of her resting by the Microwave where if you went near it, she'd say "Can I have some warm food please" or rush in when she heard the pings to say it had finished cooking say a lamb pie.
Thanks everyone for your support that day.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Angel Beats!






















I had this about a month back as it came out in the States earlier which is why the cover is slightly different to the one shown on some sites which is listed to come out UK June 25th, I thought I'd write about it.
Produced by Clamp that brought us such series as Clannad, Diamond Daydreams, Lucky Star and a host of much loved fan favourites, the series embodies the same high production values.
We kick off with Otonashi appearing on the school grounds confused, without any memory of where and how he got there, he encounters a girl called Yuri who's gun aimed at 'Angel' he immediately springs into action not realizing he's dead, and in limbo.
In a quick attempt to deal with the situation he has found himself in, he joins a group of students who are fighting against God and 'Angel' called 'Afterlife Battlefront'
Otonashi's school is populated by what fellow students describe as NPCs, that's to say students created to populate the school but don't possess a soul or anything.
When you break it down this anime is more a slice of life centred one, but it is also very tragic in that each and every character in this series has a story to tell about how they died, and why they are there. All the characters have issues to deal with and this is where this anime really scores.
While initially you notice all the comedy and action scenes, there is also a 'rock' band called Girls Dead Monster, who perform extremely well too adding interest to this anime.
Although some of the stories in Angels Beats! are quite sad I really enjoyed watching it.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Naruto update 2012




















I've been following the Naruto Shippuden anime series for a good while now and here's an update:
Volume 8
The starting off point for this editon is the end of volume 7 where having defeated the Akatsuki member Kakuzu with his new jutsu, the Rasen Shuriken, Naruto discovers the moves worrying side effects. In order to learn a less dangerous technique Naruto trains with Jiraiya to perform a move combining his abilities with one of his summoned frogs. Whilst all this is taking place, Orochimaru is beginning to move once more and Kakashi is assigned to lead a team to discover his hideout but come up against a ninja with a powerful and unique technique.

Bonds: Bonds is the latest release to date of the full length movie tie in releases this time centring around the Invasion of the Sky Ninja.
A group of mysterious flying ninja have arrived from overseas to launch a sudden attack against the Hidden Leaf Village, leaving behind a wake of destruction. The group is revealed to be the "Sky Ninja" from the Land of Sky, a nation thought to have been destroyed by the Hidden Leaf Village long ago. To save their village, Naruto and his friends set out to stop this new threat. During the course of the mission, Naruto crosses paths with Sasuke, his friend who has parted ways from the Leaf Village not realizing he is only wanted for his body parts.
The end of the movie sees Narutu and Sasuke reunite, ity seems some bonda may be unbreakable.